Dirty lies: how the car industry hid the truth about diesel emissions for profit at the expense of many lives

Date Published: Sat, 23 Mar 2019 12:35:44 +0200

It was clear right away that something was off. At first, German wondered if the cars might be malfunctioning, and he asked if a dashboard light had come on. That didn’t really make sense, though – the cars had just passed the California regulators’ test. His partners thought there might be a problem with their equipment, and they recalibrated it again and again. But the results didn’t change. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution from the Jetta’s tailpipe was 15 times the allowed limit, shooting up to 35 times under some conditions; the Passat varied between five and 20 times the limit. German had been around the auto industry all his life, so he had a pretty good idea what was going on. This had to be a “defeat device” – a deliberate effort to evade the rules.

Months later, California ran new tests. Emissions were still far over the limit. Now regulators wanted to see the software controlling the vehicles’ pollution systems. And they made an extraordinary threat to get it: if Volkswagen did not turn over the code, it would not get the approvals it needed to sell cars in California and a dozen states that used its standards. The EPA threatened to withhold certification for the entire US market. “That,” German says, “was when VW came clean.”

Dieselgate, as it became known, exploded into one of the biggest corporate scandals in history.

The software detected when emissions tests were being run, and pollution controls – components inside the engine that reduce emissions, sometimes at the expense of performance or fuel consumption – worked fine under those circumstances. But outside the lab, the controls were switched off or turned way down, and NOx levels shot up as high as 40 times the legal limit. With mind-boggling gall, Volkswagen had even used the software update it was forced to carry out to improve cars’ ability to detect when they were being tested.

In Germany, testers found all but three of 53 models exceeded NOx limits, the worst by a factor of 18. In London, the testing firm Emissions Analytics found 97% of more than 250 diesel models were in violation; a quarter produced NOx at six times the limit. “As the data kept coming in, our jaws just kept dropping.

In the US, where only around 2% of cars are diesel, the rule-breaking had an impact. But the health consequences have been far more severe in Europe, where drivers had been encouraged for years to buy diesel cars – when the scandal broke, they accounted for more than half of all sales. In 2015 alone, one study found that failure to comply with the rules caused 6,800 early deaths. To put it more plainly, tens of thousands of people had died because carmakers felt so free, for so long, to flout the law.

A shocking and fascinating story at…

#dieselgate #NOx #airpollution

Jaguar’s R1.7-million I-Pace electric car test drive in South Africa - But best news is charging station installation footprint for long distance

Date Published: Fri, 22 Mar 2019 20:13:45 +0200

I won't comment on the very hefty price tag except to say they could have included the home charging station for free at that price!!

The car has a respectable 470km range on a tank but the interesting news for me (well this is quite big in SA) is that Jaguar South Africa has rolled out 82 public charging stations across the country, which can also be used for any other electric vehicle with a type-2 connector. These AC/DC combination chargers are at dealerships and shopping centres around major hubs in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and East London.

Long-distance travel between cities is also possible through 52 charging stations. These stations are a network that Jaguar calls the “Jaguar Powerway”. It allows travel between Johannesburg and Durban, and Durban and Cape Town via the Garden Route without worrying about an empty battery.

The I-Pace can be recharged with a 22kW AC charger, taking it from 0-80% in two and a half hours, and a 60kW DC charger does the same job in 72 minutes. The 7.4kW home chargers (available separately) takes just under 13 hours for a full charge. The idea is to charge it overnight at home, and using a smartphone app, one is able to select a time for it to be ready.

It's all about building out the infrastructure and sharing it with others...


#EV #jaguar

NexDock 2 Turns Your High-End Android Phone or Raspberry Pi into a Laptop for $179

Date Published: Fri, 22 Mar 2019 18:27:57 +0200

Yes I know it is a Kickstarter project but it is a second iteration done to a higher standard, and they did deliver the first time around to thousands of backers.

The new NexDock unit is a 13.3-inch laptop shell that turns smartphones and small-form factor PCs into fully-fledged computers. The chassis is made from aluminium, a major step up from the cheap plastic-construction of the OG unit. Also benefitting from a notable upgrade is the screen. The NexDock 2 features a 13.3-inch IPS LCD display at full 1080p resolution (and 16:9 aspect ratio).

With no CPU, RAM or graphics to house there’s more room for a beefy battery, which for this model is rated for 38Wh. Built-in speakers, a full-size keyboard, and multi-touch trackpad also feature, as do a wide range of ports and connectivity options, including USB-C in, USB-C charging, and full-size HDMI.

Anything that can be connected to an HDMI in port will, in theory, work with the NexDock too, e.g., Raspberry Pis, small form factor PCs, even FireTV sticks, and games consoles.


#convergence #nexdock2

uMap let you create maps with OpenStreetMap layers in a minute and embed them in your site

Date Published: Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:09:55 +0200

* Choose the layers of your map
* Add POIs: markers, lines, polygons...
* Manage POIs colours and icons
* Manage map options: display a minimap, locate user on load…
* Batch import geostructured data (geojson, gpx, kml, osm...)
* Choose the license for your data
* Embed and share your map
* Its open source

I created a quick sample at to show where Cape Town is and the code embed will allow the map to be easily embedded on a web page. See UMap at

#umap #openstreetmap #googlemap

How to stream music from your phone in an older non-Bluetooth enabled car using a simple Bluetooth FM transmitter

Date Published: Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:10:09 +0200

We're seeing more and more automakers incorporating Android Auto-compatible displays into their vehicles, but you don't need to buy a brand new car to take advantage of Android's car-optimized way of interacting with Google Assistant, maps and music apps. The mobile app can give you the same experience right on your phone, with a Bluetooth FM Transmitter and your choice of car mount completing a seamless setup.

See how to set it up at……

Survey of 1,705 people who live near wind turbines prefer them to solar and fossil plants - The preference for wind is strong even in US coal-producing states

Date Published: Wed, 20 Mar 2019 18:57:57 +0200

The results came from a survey of 1,705 people living less than five miles from at least one commercial-scale wind turbine across the United States. The survey, conducted in 2016 by the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, included a hefty set of questions aiming to get a full understanding of how community members feel about their local turbines. It asked questions like how involved people felt in the planning process for the project, how noticeable the turbines are from people's homes, and whether they notice the impact of things like turbine noise.

Because the data from the survey was publicly available, Firestone and Kirk were able to use part of it to delve into the question they were interested in: how did people feel wind power compared to other options? Research on people's acceptance of wind power, they write, usually frames the question as being a choice between wind power or no wind power. But that's unrealistic: society needs to generate electricity somehow, so they argue that the real question should be "whether society should generate electricity by wind or from some other source."

So, they focused on the survey questions that explored people's preference for wind power relative to other options. Those results were stark: around 90 percent of the respondents said they would prefer their local wind farm to a hypothetical nuclear, coal, or natural gas plant at the same distance from their homes. There was even a preference for wind over solar power, although that was less stark—around a third of respondents had no real preference, 15 percent said they would prefer solar power, and 45 percent said they were happier with wind power.

Those results were stable across different demographics. Across urban and rural areas, red and blue states, states that produce coal and those that don't, people overwhelmingly preferred wind power. This held true even for the people who lived closest to the actual turbines, sometimes just around half a mile away from one. And this wasn't just a case of people begrudgingly choosing the option they'd hate the least: on average, people had positive attitudes to their local wind farms.

Quite interesting as I would have expected "noise" or "hum" or similar to be an issue vs silent solar...



As air pollution gets worse, a dystopian accessory is born - Will we all soon be wearing face masks like we wear sunglasses?

Date Published: Wed, 20 Mar 2019 18:39:49 +0200

The global future of air quality doesn’t look so good. As humanity continues to make little progress fighting climate change, fires are expected to get more frequent. And in some cases, like in California, that new pollution is erasing decades of improving air quality.

The American Lung Association estimates that 133.9 million people in the United States are exposed to unhealthy air conditions every year. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.2 million people die every year from exposure to air pollution. A recent report from IQAir, a group that surveys air pollution worldwide, highlighted the cities with the worst pollution, many of which were located in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Most of this air pollution comes from industry and other emissions.

Enter the face mask, an accessory ripe for the market in these dystopian times. People who live in desert areas have long known to cover their mouths and protect their lungs from dust. But in the past few years, a handful of companies have started making air filtration masks engineered specifically for both fashion and function. In California, a company called Vogmask has all but cornered the market with its brightly colored designs. And abroad, companies like Airpop and Respro are entering the fold, hoping to provide an attractive alternative to the standard white painter’s mask. But how does a new accessory category take off — especially one that covers a good portion of a wearer’s face?

In these Asian countries, courtesy masks are common enough that pop stars even influence the styles — when bands started wearing black masks instead of the usual white ones, the trend spread to the masses. But these masks do nothing to filter out particulate matter like dust or pollution, and the PM2.5 masks that do that kind of filtering still aren’t nearly as popular.

Today, Airpop masks are sold all over China as well as online for $50. They come in a variety of colors and look more like a fancy Nike shoe than a surgeon’s protective covering. And Airpop is not alone. A company called Freka sells stylish masks for more than $100 apiece. Lifestyle bloggers in places like China and India even review masks as fashion items.

Seems inevitable this may be the future. I actually a surgical mask around with me to the various offices I sit in, to prevent breathing in the dust emitted from cheap vacuum cleaners. Maybe I need a nice colorful one like the ones mentioned 😉


#environment #facemask

Why Do We Need So Many Different Messaging Apps? Slack, Signal, Hangouts, Wire, iMessage, Telegram, Facebook Messenger - There is no SINGLE messenger

Date Published: Wed, 20 Mar 2019 18:20:13 +0200

Sending a message to a friend is now an exercise in mental gymnastics: that one friend doesn’t use iMessage, but will reply if I send a WhatsApp. Another friend has WhatsApp, but never replies there, so I have to use Telegram. Others are available on Signal, SMS, Facebook Messenger and everything else, all at once.

How did we end up in this messaging mess, when everything was so easy before? Why do I have a whole folder of apps called ‘Messaging’ on my home screen just to contact my friends?

There is no easy answer actually but chiefly most of these services want to be walled gardens. Can you just imagine only being able to send e-mail to people on the same service you use? It's unthinkable. There are actually some technical options but the usual excuse from users keeps them stuck in their boxes - "my friends are not there". And no, Facebook's new consolidated messaging service is not the solution - they just want to build their wall into a single bigger one.


#messengers #openstandards

Inside Garageband, the Little App Ruling the Sound of Modern Music

Date Published: Tue, 19 Mar 2019 23:12:50 +0200

Musicians’ applause for Apple’s Garageband — which celebrates its 15th birthday this year, humbly, still living in the media shadow of many of the tech giant’s more glittering products — is similar across genres and skill levels. Artists from Radiohead to Kendrick Lamar have used the app to demo, produce and sometimes even finalize master recordings.

Aspiring artists, naturally, take advantage of free products. (All the pre-loaded loops in Garageband are also royalty-free.) “Some people are so good at making demos in Garageband that they bring in something and I’m like, ‘We can use 80 percent of that as the final record if you want,'” says Mike Elizondo, who’s produced with artists such as Dr. Dre and Eminem and also worked as an A&R executive at Warner. “There have been times an artist will bring in a vocal they recorded in Garageband just using a laptop internal microphone and it sounds cool.

In the first media visit Apple has ever allowed to its under-the-radar Music Apps studio, the team of engineers showed Rolling Stone how the creation process for Garageband’s two types of sounds — synthetic and “real” — can span weeks or sometimes months per instrument, with new hurdles at every turn. Synthesized sounds (i.e. the type of obviously artificial notes often heard in EDM) are made from code and tweaked by code; “real” sounds have to be recorded in a drop-dead-silent studio setting, dozens of times, then pieced together like patchwork to form single perfect notes, one by one.

More interesting insights into the secret recording studio at Apple at…

#garageband #recording #artists

How farmers could help save South Africa from rolling blackouts

Date Published: Tue, 19 Mar 2019 22:58:34 +0200

While the electricity price increases for the next three years are expected to negatively affect the agricultural industry, farmers have the capacity to run renewable energy projects on their farms to not only reduce their costs, but support the national grid. Eskom has announced tariff increases of 9.4%, 8.1% and 5.2% for the next three financial years.

Nicol Jansen, Agri SA chairman: economics, says farmers can apply to implement renewable energy for their own use, while remaining connected to the grid and feeding any additional power into the national grid. Farmers must register with energy regulator Nersa to do this, for an application fee of R200. “There are already about 400 farmer applications in the system and there is great interest in building solar capacity for this purpose,” he says.

Jansen notes that both Eskom and Nersa need capacity to process the 400-odd applications from farmers efficiently. “Once those applications have all been approved, we (the agricultural industry) could reach a targeted 1 000MW of power and it is quite possible that the contribution of the agricultural industry to the national power grid could prevent stage-one load shedding,” he says.

Jansen says that typical installation costs for renewable energy projects range from R1-million to R20-million and the repayable timeline for installation costs would be five to eight years, before farmers start seeing a financial benefit.


#eskom #blackouts #solar

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