EV Manufacturers Expect Surge in Demand

Despite lingering anxiety over their range, interest in electric cars is rising, especially in industrialized countries. Manufacturers say they are improving the mileage by building more charging stations, but the industry is still waiting for a major breakthrough in battery technology. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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IT Workers, Companies Cautious on H1B Visa Program Review

During a recent visit to Wisconsin, President Donald Trump announced he was signing an Executive Order reviewing the visa program that brings many technical workers to the United States, known as the H1B visa. About 85,000 workers come to the United States annually using an H1B visa. More from VOA’s Kane Farabaugh

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Strato-glider to Explore Little-known Mountain Waves

Later this year, two pilots in a sailplane will try to break the world altitude record for a glider, soaring more than 27 kilometers above sea level. But their primary mission will be to explore the little-known phenomenon called “mountain waves” and to carry a number of experiments designed by school students. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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Beyond ‘Fake News:’ Facebook Fights ‘Information Operations’

Facebook is acknowledging that governments or other malicious non-state actors are using its social network to sway political sentiment, including elections.

That’s a long way from CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s assertion in November that the idea that bogus information on Facebook influenced the U.S. presidential election was “pretty crazy.” It also illustrates how the world’s biggest social network has been forced to grapple with its outsized role in how the world communicates, for better or for worse.

In an online posting Thursday, the company said that it would monitor efforts to disrupt “civic discourse” on Facebook. It is also looking to identify fake accounts, and says that it will warn people if their accounts have been targeted by cyber-attackers.

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Apple Cuts Off Payments, Qualcomm Slashes Expectations

Qualcomm slashed its profit expectations Friday by as much as a third after saying that Apple is refusing to pay royalties on technology used in the iPhone.

Its shares hit a low for 2017.

Apple Inc. sued Qualcomm earlier this year, saying that the San Diego chipmaker has abused its control over essential technology and charged excessive licensing fees. Qualcomm said Friday that Apple now says it won’t pay any fees until the dispute is resolved. Apple confirmed Friday that it has suspended payments until the court can determine what is owed.

“We’ve been trying to reach a licensing agreement with Qualcomm for more than five years but they have refused to negotiate fair terms,” Apple said. “As we’ve said before, Qualcomm’s demands are unreasonable and they have been charging higher rates based on our innovation, not their own.”

Qualcomm said it will continue to vigorously defend itself in order to “receive fair value for our technological contributions to the industry.”

But the effect on Qualcomm, whose shares have already slid 15 percent since the lawsuit was filed by Apple in January, was immediate.

Qualcomm now expects earnings per share between 75 and 85 cents for the April to June quarter. Its previous forecast was for earnings per share between 90 cents and $1.15.

Revenue is now expected to be between $4.8 billion and $5.6 billion, down from its previous forecast between $5.3 billion and $6.1 billion.

Shares of Qualcomm Inc. tumbled almost 4 percent at the opening bell to $51.22.

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Driverless Apple Car Spotted in Silicon Valley

Just weeks after receiving official approval, an Apple self-driving car has been seen making its way through the streets of Silicon Valley.

The Lexus fitted with various sensors is the latest entrant in the quest to make driverless cars commercially viable. Apple, a late comer, likely will face fierce competition from Google’s Waymo, which has carried out millions of miles of road testing, and Uber, which has been testing autonomous cars for months.

Apple’s initiative, officially called Project Titan, is driven by hardware developed by Velodyne Lidar, while Apple is expected to develop the software.

Based on documents obtained by Business Insider, Apple’s cars sound very much like other self-driving cars. The cars are “capable of sending electronic commands for steering, accelerating, and decelerating and may carry out portions of the dynamic driving task,” according to the documents.

As with other driverless cars, humans are still present and can override the self-driving mode at any time.

Despite being somewhat late to the game, Apple may find an opening in the way of a potentially lengthy legal battle between Waymo and Uber, with Waymo alleging that Uber stole its trade secrets.

On Thursday, Uber executive Anthony Levandowski recused himself from work on driverless cars in the wake of the lawsuit, which alleges he stole intellectual property while employed at Google.

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Most US Teens Have Taken Social Media Break, Poll Finds

The common stereotype has teens glued to their phones 24-7. But nearly 60 percent of teens in the U.S. have actually taken a break from social media – the bulk of them voluntarily, a new survey found.

The poll, from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, surveyed teens aged 13 to 17 and found that most value the feeling of connection with friends and family that social media provides. A much smaller number associate it with negative emotions, such as being overwhelmed or needing to always show their best selves.

The survey, released Thursday, found that teens’ social media breaks are typically a week or longer, and that boys are more likely to take longer breaks.

Teens were allowed to cite multiple reasons for their breaks. Nearly two-thirds of teens who took a break cited at least one voluntary reason. Amanda Lenhart, the lead researcher and an expert on young people and technology use, said she was surprised by this, as it counters the broader narrative that teens are “handcuffed” to their social media profiles.

Today’s teenagers might not recall a time before social media. MySpace was founded in 2003. Had it survived, it would be 14 years old today. Facebook is a year younger. Instagram launched in 2010. For an adult to understand what it might be like for someone who grew up with it to step back from social media, consider disconnecting from email – or your phone – for a couple of weeks.

Among the teens who took voluntary breaks, 38 percent did so because social media was getting in the way of work or school. Nearly a quarter said they were tired of “the conflict and drama” and 20 percent said they were tired of having to keep up with what’s going on.

Nearly half of teens who took a break did so involuntarily. This included 38 percent who said their parents took away their phone or computer and 17 percent who said their phone was lost, broken or stolen.

The involuntary break “is sort of its own challenge,” Lenhart said. “They feel that they are missing out, detached from important social relationships (as well as) news and information.”

About 35 percent of teens surveyed said they have not taken a break, citing such worries as missing out and being disconnected from friends. Some said they need social media for school or extracurricular activities.

“I like to see what my friends and family are up to,” said Lukas Goodwin, 14, who uses Instagram and Snapchat every day. He said he took a break from Instagram “a few years ago” but not recently. Now, he says, “I wouldn’t want to take a break from them.”

Among the survey’s other findings:

– Lower income teens were more likely to take social media breaks than their wealthier counterparts, and their breaks tended to last longer. The study points out that educators who use social media in the classroom need to understand that not every teen is online and connected all the time.

– Boys were more likely to feel overloaded with information on social media, while girls were more likely to feel they always have to show the best version of themselves.

– Teens who took breaks typically did so across the board, checking out of Facebook, Snapchat and all other services all at once. And they were no more or less likely to take breaks from social media based on the type of services they use.

– Although they felt relief and were happy to be away from social media for a while, most teens said things went back to how they were before once they returned to social media.

The AP-NORC poll was conducted online and by phone from Dec. 7 to 31. A sample of parents with teenage children was drawn from a probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Parents then gave permission for their children to be interviewed. The panel, AmeriSpeak, is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

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Hackers Exploited Word Flaw for Months While Microsoft Investigated

To understand why it is so difficult to defend computers from even moderately capable hackers, consider the case of the security flaw officially known as CVE-2017-0199.

The bug was unusually dangerous but of a common genre: it was in Microsoft software, could allow a hacker to seize control of a personal computer with little trace, and was fixed April 11 in Microsoft’s regular monthly security update.

But it had traveled a rocky, nine-month journey from discovery to resolution, which cyber security experts say is an unusually long time.

Google’s security researchers, for example, give vendors just 90 days’ warning before publishing flaws they find.

Microsoft Corp. declined to say how long it usually takes to patch a flaw.

While Microsoft investigated, hackers found the flaw and manipulated the software to spy on unknown Russian speakers, possibly in Ukraine.

And a group of thieves used it to bolster their efforts to steal from millions of online bank accounts in Australia and other countries.

Those conclusions and other details emerged from interviews with researchers at cyber security firms who studied the events and analyzed versions of the attack code.

Microsoft confirmed the sequence of events.

The tale began last July, when Ryan Hanson, a 2010 Idaho State University graduate and consultant at boutique security firm Optiv Inc. in Boise, found a weakness in the way that Microsoft Word processes documents from another format. That allowed him to insert a link to a malicious program that would take control of a computer.

Combining flaws

Hanson spent some months combining his find with other flaws to make it more deadly, he said on Twitter. Then in October he told Microsoft. The company often pays a modest bounty of a few thousands dollars for the identification of security risks.

Soon after that point six months ago, Microsoft could have fixed the problem, the company acknowledged. But it was not that simple. A quick change in the settings on Word by customers would do the trick, but if Microsoft notified customers about the bug and the recommended changes, it would also be telling hackers about how to break in.

Alternatively, Microsoft could have created a patch that would be distributed as part of its monthly software updates.

But the company did not patch immediately and instead dug deeper. It was not aware that anyone was using Hanson’s method, and it wanted to be sure it had a comprehensive solution.

“We performed an investigation to identify other potentially similar methods and ensure that our fix addresses more than just the issue reported,” Microsoft said through a spokesman, who answered emailed questions on the condition of anonymity. “This was a complex investigation.”

Hanson declined interview requests.

The saga shows that Microsoft’s progress on security issues, as well as that of the software industry as a whole, remains uneven in an era when the stakes are growing dramatically.

The United States has accused Russia of hacking political party emails to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, a charge Russia denies, while shadowy hacker groups opposed to the U.S. government have been publishing hacking tools used by the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.

Attack begin

It is unclear how the unknown hackers initially found Hanson’s bug. It could have been through simultaneous discovery, a leak in the patching process, or even hacking against Optiv or Microsoft.

In January, as Microsoft worked on a solution, the attacks began.

The first known victims were sent emails enticing them to click on a link to documents in Russian about military issues in Russia and areas held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, researchers said. Their computers were then infected with eavesdropping software made by Gamma Group, a private company that sells to agencies of many governments.

The best guess of cyber security experts is that one of Gamma’s customers was trying to get inside the computers of soldiers or political figures in Ukraine or Russia; either of those countries, or any of their neighbors or allies, could have been responsible. Such government espionage is routine.

The initial attacks were carefully aimed at a small number of targets and so stayed below the radar. But in March, security researchers at FireEye Inc noticed that a notorious piece of financial hacking software known as Latenbot was being distributed using the same Microsoft bug.

FireEye probed further, found the earlier Russian-language attacks, and warned Microsoft. The company, which confirmed it was first warned of active attacks in March, got on track for an April 11 patch.

Then, what counts as disaster in the world of bug-fixers struck. Another security firm, McAfee, saw some attacks using the Microsoft Word flaw on April 6.

After what it described as “quick but in-depth research,” it established that the flaw had not been patched, contacted Microsoft, and then blogged about its discovery on April 7.

The blog post contained enough detail that other hackers could mimic the attacks.

Other software security professionals were aghast that McAfee did not wait, as Optiv and FireEye were doing, until the patch came out.

McAfee Vice President Vincent Weafer blamed “a glitch in our communications with our partner Microsoft” for the timing. He did not elaborate.

By April 9, a program to exploit the flaw was on sale on underground markets for criminal hackers, said FireEye researcher John Hultquist.

The next day, attacks were mainstream. Someone used it to send documents booby-trapped with Dridex banking-fraud software to millions of computers in Australia.

Finally, on the Tuesday, about six months after hearing from Hanson, Microsoft made the patch available. As always, some computer owners are lagging behind and have not installed it.

Ben-Gurion University employees in Israel were hacked, after the patch, by attackers linked to Iran who took over their email accounts and sent infected documents to their contacts at technology companies and medical professionals, said Michael Gorelik, vice president of cyber security firm Morphisec.

When Microsoft patched, it thanked Hanson, a FireEye researcher and its own staff.

A six-month delay is bad but not unheard of, said Marten Mickos, chief executive of HackerOne, which coordinates patching efforts between researchers and vendors.

“Normal fixing times are a matter of weeks,” Mickos said.

Privately-held Optiv said through a spokeswoman that it usually gives vendors 45 days to make fixes before publishing research when appropriate, and that it “materially followed” that practice in this case.

Optiv is now comparing the details of what Hanson told Microsoft with what the spies and criminals used in the wild, trying to find out if the researcher’s work was partly responsible for the worldwide hacking spree, the spokeswoman said.

The spree included one or more people who created a hacking tool for what FireEye’s Hultquist said is probably a national government – and then appearing to double-dip by also selling it to a criminal group.

If the patching took time, others who learned of the flaw moved quickly.

On the final weekend before the patch, the criminals could have sold it along to the Dridex hackers, or the original makers could have cashed in a third time, Hultquist said, effectively staging a last clearance sale before it lost peak effectiveness.

It is unclear how many people were ultimately infected or how much money was stolen.

 

 

 

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Scientists Find Ways to Use Wood in Electronic Devices

Wood is usually not associated with water filters, even less with electronic devices. But scientists at the University of Maryland say we have not yet discovered all the possibilities of this cheap, natural and sustainable material. VOA’s George Putic reports.

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Security Firm: Cyberattacks Against Saudi Arabia Continue

Researchers at U.S. antivirus firm McAfee say the cyberattacks that have hit Saudi Arabia over the past few months are continuing, revealing new details about an unusually disruptive campaign.

Speaking ahead of the blog post ‘s publication Wednesday, McAfee chief scientists Raj Samani said the latest intrusions were very similar, albeit even worse, to the malicious software that wrecked computers at Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company in 2012.

“This campaign was a lot bigger,” Samani said. “Way larger in terms of the amount of work that needed to be done.”

It’s a striking claim. The 2012 intrusions against Saudi Aramco and Qatari natural gas company RasGas – data-wiping attacks that wrecked tens of thousands of computers – were among the most serious cyberattacks ever publicly revealed. At the time, the United States called it “the most destructive attack that the private sector has seen to date.”

Echoing research done by others, McAfee said the most recent wave of attacks drew heavily on the malicious code used in the 2012 intrusions. McAfee also said that some of the code appears to have been borrowed by a previously known hacking group, Rocket Kitten , and used digital infrastructure also employed in a cyberespionage campaign dubbed OilRig . U.S. cybersecurity firms have tied both to Iran, with greater or lesser degrees of certainty.

McAfee stopped short of linking any particular actor to the most recent attacks.

Saudi officials and news media have given little detail about the intrusions beyond saying that more than a dozen government agencies and companies were affected, and a government adviser did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The Iranian Embassy in Paris did not immediately return messages.

 

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Wikipedia Founder Launches Site to Fight Fake News

The founder of Wikipedia is starting a website he says will fight so-called fake news.

Jimmy Wales says his Wikitribune site will bring journalists and volunteer fact checkers together to stop the spread of false news stories.

“We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events,” according to the group’s website.

The volunteer fact checkers’ role will be similar to how editors work on Wikipedia. Any changes will be reviewed by other fact checkers.

The site will also carry stories by professional journalists.

Unlike most news sites, Wikitribune says it will post full transcripts of interviews “to the maximum extent possible.”

“It takes professional, standards-based journalism, and incorporates the radical idea from the world of wiki that a community of volunteers can and will reliably protect the integrity of information,” said Wales, according to CNN.

Money to fund the site will come from contributions as opposed to advertisements or subscriptions.

“[Fake news] is literally designed to show us what we want to see, to confirm our biases, and to keep us clicking at all cost,” Wales said. “It fundamentally breaks the news.”

Some experts as skeptical, saying the site may only appeal to journalists and people who read a lot of news.

“I wonder whether it will be able to scale up to make a significant impact on the information sphere, especially on social networks such as Facebook where the main problems of fake news and misinformation occur,” saidCharlie Beckett, a professor at the London School of Economics, in an interview with CNN.

Wales’ Wikipedia has long battled criticism that it contains misleading or false information.

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Google Targets ‘Fake News,’ Offensive Search Suggestions

Google has sprinkled some new ingredients into its search engine in an effort to prevent bogus information and offensive suggestions from souring its results.

The changes have been in the works for four months, but Google hadn’t publicly discussed most of them until now. The announcement in a blog post Tuesday reflects Google’s confidence in a new screening system designed to reduce the chances that its influential search engine will highlight untrue stories about people and events, a phenomenon commonly referred to as “fake news.”

“It’s not a problem that is going to go all the way to zero, but we now think we can stay a step ahead of things,” said Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of engineering for search.

Correcting autocomplete

Besides taking steps to block fake news from appearing in its search results, Google also has reprogrammed a popular feature that automatically tries to predict what a person is looking for as a search request as being typed. The tool, called “autocomplete,” has been overhauled to omit derogatory suggestions, such as “are women evil,” or recommendations that promote violence.

Google also adding a feedback option that will enable users to complain about objectionable autocomplete suggestions so a human can review the wording.

Facebook, where fake news stories and other hoaxes have widely circulated on its social network, also has been trying to stem the tide of misleading information by working with The Associated Press and other news organizations to review suspect stories and set the record straight when warranted. Facebook also has provided its nearly 2 billion users ways to identify posts believed to contain false information, something that Google is now allowing users of its search engine to do for some of the news snippets featured in its results.

Why Google cares

Google began attacking fake news in late December after several embarrassing examples of misleading information appeared near the top of its search engine. Among other things, Google’s search engine pointed to a website that incorrectly reported then President-elect Donald Trump had won the popular vote in the U.S. election , that President Barack Obama was planning a coup and that the Holocaust never occurred during World War II.

Only about 0.25 percent of Google’s search results were being polluted with falsehoods, Gomes said. But that was still enough to threaten the integrity of a search engine that processes billions of search requests per day largely because it is widely regarded as the internet’s most authoritative source of information.

“They have a lot riding on this, reputation wise,” said Lucy Dalglish, who has been tracking the flow of false information as dean of the University of Maryland’s journalism department. “If your whole business model is based turning up the best search results, but those results turn up stuff that is total crap, where does that get you?”

To address the problem, Google began revising the closely guarded algorithms that generate its search with the help of 10,000 people who rate the quality and reliability of the recommendations during tests. Google also rewrote its 140-page book of rating guidelines that help the quality-control evaluators make their assessments.

Google as referee

Fighting fake news can be tricky because in some cases what is viewed as being blatantly misleading by one person might be interpreted as being mostly true by another. If Google, Facebook or other companies trying to block false information err in their judgment calls, they risk being accused of censorship or playing favorites.

But doing nothing to combat fake news would probably have caused even bigger headaches.

If too much misleading information appears in Google’s search results, the damage could go beyond harm to its reputation for reliability. It could also spook risk-averse advertisers, who don’t want their brands tied to content that can’t be trusted, said Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University in New York.

“Fake news is careening out of control in some people’s eyes, so advertisers are getting very skittish about it,” Chiagouris said. “Anything Google can do to show it is trying to put a lid on it and prevent it from getting out of hand, it will be seen as a good thing.”

Although it also sells ads on its other services and independently owned websites, Google still makes most of its money from the marketing links posted alongside its search results. Google says its new approach isn’t meant to placate advertisers.

 

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Fiat Chrysler, Google Begin Offering Rides in Self-driving Cars

Fiat Chrysler and Google for the first time will offer rides to the public in the self-driving automobiles they are building under an expanding partnership.

 

The companies announced in the spring of last year that they would build 100 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrids minivans. Those vehicles have been tested in Arizona, California and Michigan.

 

Waymo, Google’s self-driving care project, said Tuesday that it will allow hundreds of people in Phoenix to take rides in the vehicles so that it can get feedback on the experience. People can apply on Waymo’s website.

 

The company also said that it’s expanding its fleet to 500 Pacifica hybrids.

 

Waymo – created by Google in 2009 – has given rides to the public before in its hometown of Mountain View, California. In 2015, it let a blind man ride around Austin, Texas, in one of its completely self-driving pods. The Phoenix program will be much larger in scale, and it will be the first to use the Pacifica minivans.

 

Others in the race to develop self-driving vehicles have been putting people in their cars since last fall. Uber has had self-driving Volvos on the road in Pittsburgh for some time. Boston startup nuTonomy is giving taxi rides to passengers in Singapore and Boston. In all cases, there is a backup driver behind the wheel.

 

Waymo said it wants to learn where people want to go in a self-driving vehicle, how they communicate with it and what kinds of information and controls they want.

Fiat Chrysler builds the Pacifica minivan in Windsor, Canada, just across the border from Detroit. It adds Waymo’s self-driving software and hardware, including sensors and cameras, at a facility in Michigan. Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. headquarters is in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

 

“This collaboration is helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realize the safety and mobility benefits of this technology,” said Waymo chief John Krafcik in a company release.

 

Our early riders will play an important role in shaping the way we bring self-driving technology into the world – through personal cars, public transportation, ride-hailing, logistics and more. Self-driving cars have the potential to reshape each and every one of these areas, transforming our lives and our cities by making them safer, more convenient and more accessible.

 

Waymo has made clear that it intends to form partnerships with automakers and not build its own self-driving cars. It’s also in talks with Honda Motor Co. about a potential collaboration.

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Tesla’ Big Model 3 Bet Rides on Risky Assembly Line Strategy

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk took many risks with the technology in his company’s cars on the way to surpassing Ford Motor Co.’s market value.

Now Musk is pushing boundaries in the factory that makes them.

Most automakers test a new model’s production line by building vehicles with relatively cheap, prototype tools designed to be scrapped once they deliver doors that fit, body panels with the right shape and dashboards that don’t have gaps or seams.

Tesla, however, is skipping that preliminary step and ordering permanent, more expensive equipment as it races to launch its Model 3 sedan by a self-imposed volume production deadline of September, Musk told investors last month.

Musk’s decision underscores his high-risk tolerance and willingness to forego long-held industry norms that has helped Tesla upend the traditional auto industry.

While Tesla is not the first automaker to try to accelerate production on the factory floor, no other rival is putting this much faith in the production strategy succeeding.

Musk expects the Model 3 rollout to help Telsa deliver five times its current annual sales volume, a key target in the automaker’s efforts to stop burning cash.

“He’s pushing the envelope to see how much time and cost he can take out of the process,” said Ron Harbour, a manufacturing consultant at Oliver Wyman.

Investors are already counting on Tesla’s factory floor success, with shares soaring 39 percent since January as it makes the leap from niche producer to mass producer in far less time than rivals.

There are caution signs, however. The production equipment designed to produce millions of cars is expensive to fix or replace if it doesn’t work, industry experts say. Tesla has encountered quality problems on its existing low-volume cars, and the Model 3 is designed to sell in numbers as high as 500,000 vehicles a year, raising the potential cost of recalls or warranty repairs.

“It’s an experiment, certainly,” said Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher, who has done extensive testing of Tesla’s previous Models S and X. Tesla could possibly fix errors quicker, speeding up the process, “or it could be they have unsuspected problems they’ll have a hard time dealing with.”

Musk discussed the decision to skip what he referred to as “beta” production testing during a call last month with an invited group of investors. Details were published on Reddit by an investor on the call.

He also said that “advanced analytical techniques” — code word for computer simulations – would help Tesla in advancing straight to production tooling.

Tesla declined to confirm details of the call or comment on its production strategy.

The auto industry’s incumbents have not been standing still.

Volkswagen AG’s Audi division launched production of a new plant in Mexico using computer simulations of production tools — and indeed the entire assembly line and factory – that Audi said it

believed to be an industry first. That process allowed the plant to launch production 30 percent faster than usual, Audi said.

An Audi executive involved in the Mexican plant launch, Peter Hochholdinger, is now Tesla’s vice president of production.

Making Tools Faster

Typically, automakers test their design with limited production using lower grade equipment that can be modified slightly to address problems. When most of the kinks are worked out, they order the final equipment.

Tesla’s decision to move directly to the final tools is in part because lower grade, disposable equipment known as “soft tooling” ended up complicating the debut of the problem-plagued Model X SUV in 2015, according to a person familiar with the decision and Tesla’s assembly line planning.

Working on a tight deadline, Tesla had no time to incorporate lessons learned from soft tooling before having to order the permanent production tooling, making the former’s value negligible, the source said.

“Soft tooling did very little for the program and arguably hurt things,” said the person.

In addition, Tesla has learned to better modify final production tools, and its 2015 purchase of a Michigan tooling company means it can make major equipment 30 percent faster than before, and more cheaply as well, the source said.

Financial pressure is partly driving Tesla’s haste. The quicker Tesla can deliver the Model 3 with its estimated $35,000 base price to the 373,000 customers who have put down a $1,000 deposit, the closer it can log $13 billion.

Tesla has labored under financial pressure since it was founded in 2003. The company has yet to turn an annual profit, and earlier this year Musk said the company was “close to the edge” as it look toward capital spending of $2-2.5 billion in the first half of 2017.

Tesla has since gotten more breathing room by raising $1.2 billion in fresh capital in March and selling a five percent stake to Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings

Ltd.

Musk has spoken to investors about his vision of an “alien dreadnought” factory that uses artificial intelligence and robots to build cars at speeds faster than human assembly workers could manage.

But there are limits to what technology can do in the heavily regulated car business. For example, Tesla will still have to use real cars in crash tests required by the U.S. government, because federal rules do not allow simulated crash results to substitute for data from a real car.

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Internet Access More Important than Laundry Facilities for Apartment Dwellers

In a sign of just how important internet access is, a new survey suggests rental apartment hunters are more concerned with high-speed internet and wi-fi than they are with in-home laundry facilities.

The survey commissioned by cable television and internet provider Comcast, found 34 percent of the 205 building managers, building owners and real estate developers of multifamily properties surveyed in the United States ranked wi-fi as the most important amenity. After that, 25 percent said high-speed internet was, while a mere 13 percent said in-room laundry facilities.

Furthermore, the survey found that 87 percent of those asked said technology “plays either an extremely or very important role” in renter satisfaction.

Thirty percent of those surveyed said high quality internet service increased property values by 20 percent.

Another 89 percent said technology was an “important factor” in a renter’s choice to sign or renew a lease.

The importance of technology varied by age, with 88 percent saying younger tenants aged 18 to 34 found technological amenities more important than among those 52 and up.

The survey was conducted by researcher firm Precision Sample and was given online between December 7-10, 2016.

Comcast said it provides services to 189,000 properties and 14.7 million units in the United States.

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Supply Ship Named for John Glenn Arrives at Space Station

A supply ship bearing John Glenn’s name arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday.

 

Astronauts used the station’s big robot arm to grab the capsule, as the craft flew 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Germany.

 

NASA’s commercial shipper, Orbital ATK, named the spacecraft the S.S. John Glenn in honor of the first American to orbit Earth. It rocketed from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Tuesday with nearly 7,700 pounds of food, experiments and other goods.

 

Glenn died in December at age 95 and was buried earlier this month at Arlington National Cemetery. His widow, Annie, granted permission for Orbital ATK to use his name for the Cygnus spacecraft. The company, in fact, sent up some memorabilia for the Glenn family.

 

Glenn made history in 1962 when he soared into orbit aboard Friendship 7, his one-man Mercury capsule. He returned to space in 1998 aboard shuttle Discovery, at age 77, right before station construction began in orbit.

 

Space station commander Peggy Whitson — who on Monday will set a U.S. record for most accumulated time in orbit — notified Mission Control when the capsule was captured.

 

“We’re very proud to welcome on board the S.S. John Glenn,” said French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who took part in the operation. The contents “will be put to good use to continue our mission of research, exploration and discovery.”

 

Whitson and Pesquet have been living on the space station since November, along with a Russian. They were joined by another American and Russian on Thursday.

 

Whitson is making her third space station flight. Early Monday, she will surpass the 534-day, two-hour-and-change mark set by astronaut Jeffrey Williams last year. President Donald Trump will call her from the Oval Office to offer congratulations.

 

The S.S. John Glenn, meanwhile, will remain at the orbiting outpost until July, when it is let go to burn up in the atmosphere.

 

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