Product Recall

Robots Grooving to Motown Classic

Atlas and Spot robots dancing to Do You Love Me by The Contours

These robots can probably dance better than you.

Before 2020 came to a close, Boston Dynamics shared a fun (or, for some, eerie) video featuring four of its robots dancing to the tune of the 1962 Motown hit “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours.

“Our whole crew got together to celebrate the start of what we hope will be a happier year. Happy New Year from all of us at Boston Dynamics,” the Waltham, Massachusetts, company wrote in the caption.

The clip began with two of the company’s humanoid Atlas models performing various classic dance moves, such as the twist and mashed potato. A doglike robot named Spot joins them a minute into the video. It even mouthed a few lines of the song as it danced!

The trio later does the running man in perfect synchrony.

Handle, a wheeled robot designed to move boxes in warehouses, completes the groovy quartet as it wheels itself in while dancing to the music’s rhythm.

The mobility and coordination of their choreography—put together by dancer Monica Thomas—is impressively smooth that it’s hard to believe they’re merely inanimate objects!

Atlas can jump and do high leg kicks, Spot can mimic a ballerina, and Handle makes the most out of its long and flexible neck.

This isn’t the first time that Boston Dynamics shared a video of their machines in action. In one inevitably viral clip, Spot was seen grooving to a Bruno Mars track. Atlas was seen performing gymnastics and parkour tricks in another video, such as backflips, 360-degree turn-around jumps, and aerial somersaults. This latest one, however, is their most elaborate yet.

Of course, these robots do more than just dance. The MIT spinoff offers them to warehouses, police, utilities, laboratories, and factories to help with various tasks that robots can do better and more safely than humans. YouTube

2020 has been a big year for the robotics company. Spot, its most famous product, made its commercial debut in June. Each unit is being sold for $74,500 each. It can run, climb stairs, and even remind people to practice social distancing. The machine is generally used for inspections on construction sites or similar settings.

Hyundai Motor Group also bought a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a $1.1 billion deal in December 2020.

The video spread like wildfire on social media, where it gathered a mix of reactions from viewers. Thousands praised the brilliant technology behind these dancing robots, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“This is not CGI,” he noted in a tweet sharing the dancing video. YouTube

Others seem to be a little bothered by their almost human-like proficiency.

“Slightly creepy, I have to admit. Robots from Boston Dynamics are having a party and seem to be throughly enjoying it. What’s next?” tweeted Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt.

“Do you love me? Not when you come to annihilate us,” wrote photographer Jan Nicholas.

“This is cool and all,” one user said. “But when they rise up and destroy us all, I won’t feel very good knowing there could be a Boston Dynamics robot Default Dancing over my grave.”

Nevertheless, we can’t deny that the creation of these robots is a testament to how far we’ve come in the world of artificial intelligence. Humanity—and robots—are literally changing the future. Let’s just hope with fingers crossed that these machines don’t turn against us and start an uprising!

Watch the jaw-dropping performance of Atlas, Spot, and Handle in the video below.

If you would like to see more videos of the same robots performing various feats and tasks, you may visit the Boston Dynamics YouTube channel.

Safety Tips for Using a Space Heater

How Not to Burn Down Your House With a Space Heater

The tiny radiators, while useful, cause thousands of fires and hundreds of deaths each year. Here are some tips to stay safe while you stay warm.

Despite the fires and injuries they sometimes cause, space heaters are much safer now than they used to be. Many come with modern safety features that can make better decisions than you in a cold room.
Despite the fires and injuries they sometimes cause, space heaters are much safer now than they used to be. Many come with modern safety features that can make better decisions than you in a cold room.Credit…Michael Hession

By Thom Dunn

Mr. Dunn is a staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

  • Dec. 11, 2020

One day last winter, I was down in my unfinished basement working on some music, and my fingers were too cold to play the guitar. So I grabbed a space heater that I was long-term testing for Wirecutter, placed it on the wooden workbench where my audio workstation was set up, and plugged it into the nearest power strip — the one my Marshall amplifier was also plugged into.

I turned the heater on and waited five seconds. The power strip blew up.

It might not have been the dumbest thing I’d ever done, but as I watched the sparks fade from the smoldering lump of burned plastic, I knew it was high on the list.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 25,000 residential fires are associated with the use of space heaters every year, causing more than 300 deaths and 6,000 trips to the emergency room. Despite the frightening numbers, though, space heaters are actually much safer now than they used to be.

“The electric heaters that I grew up with were open-element,” said Linda Hotz, category director for the Home Comfort team at the home appliance maker De’Longhi. “Most heaters today are 100 times better, but it still has a heating element, so it isn’t as safe as an air purifier, for example.”

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While electric, radiant, or convection heating is typically safer and more efficient than a combustion heating system, heat production still requires heat, which always carries risks. Fortunately, space-heater designs now have better insulation around the heating coils and smaller grates to prevent curious fingers from finding their way inside. Many modern space heaters — including those recommended by Wirecutter — also have an automatic shut-off that cuts the power when the device reaches a certain temperature, and a sensor to detect a blocked air passage that could cause heat to build up. Some have tip-over switches that shut down the heater if it’s not flat on the ground.

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As Ms. Hotz noted, most home space heaters must now be approved by an independent safety testing laboratory, such as Intertek (whose certification often appears as an “ETL” seal on the item) or UL. But as I demonstrated in my basement, nothing is idiot-proof. So here are a few ways to ensure you’re using a heater safely.

 The Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater lets you tilt the heating element upward. Other models are angled slightly upward by default, but you can’t tilt them any further.
The Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater lets you tilt the heating element upward. Other models are angled slightly upward by default, but you can’t tilt them any further. Credit…Michael Hession

It may be tempting to place your space heater somewhere so it blows right in your face. Don’t do that — unless you’re lying flat on the floor, which is just about the only place it should ever go. Don’t set it on a shelf or a stool or a wooden workbench in the basement. If possible, keep it off the rug, too, and definitely off your bed. While these scenarios might appear safe, they increase the risk of the heater falling, tipping over or otherwise overheating, which could start a fire.

To avoid that, we generally recommend placing your space heater on the flattest, smoothest surface available. Some of Wirecutter’s picks, including the Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater, let you tilt the heating element upward; the Vornado VH200 and AVH10 are angled slightly upward by default, but you can’t tilt them any further. Don’t try to find a way around that.

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This should go without saying, but electricity and water are an even deadlier combination than orange juice and toothpaste. Keep your space heater out of kitchens and bathrooms.The T List: A weekly roundup of what the editors of T Magazine are noticing and coveting right now.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission calls it the “three-foot rule,” and it’s pretty simple: Avoid placing a space heater within three feet of anything flammable. Some manuals list curtains, papers, furniture, pillows and bedding as objects to stay away from. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers recommends further precautions, including keeping flammable materials like paint and matches far away. If there’s even a slight risk of a pillow or another flammable object falling, such as in an earthquake, set the space heater somewhere the object won’t land on it.

Some models, such as the De’Longhi TRD40615T, come with timers and automatic shutoffs. Oil-filled radiators like the De’Longhi retain heat for longer and continue emitting warmth after shutting off.
Some models, such as the De’Longhi TRD40615T, come with timers and automatic shutoffs. Oil-filled radiators like the De’Longhi retain heat for longer and continue emitting warmth after shutting off.Credit…Michael Hession

The best way to prevent a fire is to never leave a space heater running unattended. If you have children or pets that could knock over a heater or drape fabric on it, keep a close eye on its operation. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends keeping young children at least three feet from a space heater, but it’s best not to leave one in a room or closet within reach of children, even if it’s unplugged — beyond the fire risk, the heater is a 15-amp appliance drawing considerable current. The plug and cord, combined with some intuitive on/off switches, pose a hazard to a curious toddler who won’t be anticipating an electric shock.

The instructions with many space heaters also warn not to leave them on while you sleep. Several of Wirecutter’s favorites, such as the De’Longhi TRD40615T, and the Lasko FH500 All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater in One, come with timers to minimize the chance of their running unattended. (Oil-filled radiators like the De’Longhi are particularly good for bedrooms because they retain heat for longer and continue emitting warmth after they shut off.)

Most modern space heaters should come with enough cord slack to allow you to plug them into a wall outlet and still position them conveniently in the room for maximum warmth. Notice that we said wall outlet: Manufacturers advise against plugging space heaters into surge protectors, extension cords, plug timers, G.F.C.I. outlets (the kind with the test and reset buttons) — anything that’s not a wall outlet. Those added layers of electrical connection can overload the circuit, or create additional resistance that allows heat to build up, potentially resulting in a fire or internal electrical damage.

Many manufacturers also recommend keeping your space heater a few feet away from the wall where it’s plugged in, to avoid overheating the wall itself. A lot of the picks in Wirecutter’s guide fill an entire room with heat, so you should be able to get adequate performance with the heater at a safe distance.

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If you find yourself with extra cord slack, or you need to use a wall outlet in an adjacent room, resist the urge to hide the cord from sight. Don’t stuff it under a rug or a couch, which could prevent heat from escaping. Also avoid pinching or bending the cord, such as passing it through a tightly closed door hinge, which can impede the electrical current, contributing to a buildup of heat and energy.

Models including the Vornado OSCTH1 feature digital readouts for easier operation. The OSCTH1 also oscillates, spreading heat more evenly through a space. 
Models including the Vornado OSCTH1 feature digital readouts for easier operation. The OSCTH1 also oscillates, spreading heat more evenly through a space. Credit…Michael Hession

Space heaters with smart-home functionality are rare in the United States. But the technology and the regulatory standards are moving quickly, and we can expect more smart space-heater tech in the next year or two.

In the meantime, if you want use a heater remotely or on a schedule, a few of Wirecutter’s picks can do that. The Lasko FH500 All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater in One, and the Vornado OSCTH1 have digital timers built in. Wirecutter’s oil-filled radiator pick, the De’Longhi TRD40615T, has an analog 24-hour dial you can use to set a schedule.

If your space heater lacks a timer — or if you’re just determined to bark heating orders at your voice assistant — consider a plug-in smart outlet like the Wemo Mini. Although most manufacturers discourage plugging a space heater into an extension cord or surge protector, a representative of the Wemo outlet’s manufacturer, Belkin, said in an interview — confirming Wirecutter’s interpretation of the product specs, as well as our tests — that a Wemo Mini should be safe to use with space heaters for up to 15 amps or 1,800 watts of power. Most of Wirecutter’s picks max out at 1,500 watts. But not all heaters are the same, and the Belkin representative did add a caveat: “Some space heaters with embedded fans might consume more power and cause a high inrush current, which could damage or wear out the switching contacts.”

So you should be good to go — but remember, don’t turn on a heater without first making sure it’s positioned safely, and don’t leave it running unattended.

A version of this article appears at Wirecutter. Interested in learning more about the best things to buy and how to use them? Visit the site, where you can read the latest reviews and find daily deals.

Britain’s oldest polar bear dies aged 22 at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

By Joseph Laws For Mailonline 16:55 22 Aug 2020, updated 17:13 22 Aug 2020

  • Oldest polar bear in Britain dies aged 22 after suddenly falling ill in wildlife park
  • He had terminal kidney failure and after he suddenly fell ill vets put him to sleep 
  • Victor was rehomed in Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster in 2014

Britain’s oldest polar bear has died aged 22 after falling ill on Friday.

The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe. 

He had terminal kidney failure and after he suddenly fell ill, vets put him to sleep. The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe

Victor was born at Rostock Zoo in Germany, before moving to Rhenen in the Netherlands. 

After he retired from the European breeding programme, he was rehomed in Yorkshire in 2014. He fathered 13 cubs during his time in the breeding programme.

The directors of the park thanked the team of vets from Portland House Veterinary Group who responded so quickly and the ‘dedicated’ team who had ‘loved and cared’ for the bear since his arrival.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park said: ‘Victor was a great ambassador for his species, inspiring generations and drawing attention to the plight of his species in the wild and the threat of climate change. He will be greatly missed by everyone.’ The animal, named Victor, was living at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster after being moved from various zoos in Europe

Making room for new technology they don’t handle mail they sort magazines… ballots never go here…

WOKE AF: Verizon Is Pulling Advertising From Facebook And Instagram

Verizon is the latest corporate business to bow to the mob and boycott advertising on Facebook and Instagram—-an apparent attempt to be extra woke.

The wireless carrier joins Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, The North Face, REI and others in the “#StopHateForProfit” campaign, a movement aimed at pressuring social media companies to restrict certain speech.

“We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” Verizon’s John Nitti said. “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”

The “#StopHateForProfit” campaign was started by far-left groups claiming Facebook “turned a blind eye to blatant voter suppression on their platform.”

The group, led by the Anti-Defamation League, the Color of Change and the NAACP are outraged that, among other things, Facebook labeled Breitbart News a “trusted news source” and made The Daily Caller a “fact checker.”

The Color of Change website states: “From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms. And what has allowed Facebook to continue racist practices is the $70B of revenue from corporations every year. Companies have a choice to make about whether they want their businesses featured on Facebook’s platforms side-by-side with racist attacks on Black people.”

Updates to Coverage of NASA SpaceX Commercial Crew Test Flight

Sean Potter 6-8 minutes

May 28, 2020


NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken (right) participate in a dress rehearsal for launch

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken (right) participate in a dress rehearsal for launch at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 23, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Demo-2 will serve as an end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, providing valuable data toward NASA certifying the system for regular, crewed missions to the orbiting laboratory under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The launch is now scheduled for 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30.

Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA will provide live coverage of prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, for the launch of the first commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft carrying astronauts to the space station. The first launch attempt, on May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Full mission coverage begins at 11 a.m., and will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as numerous other platforms. The launch broadcast commentators are: Marie Lewis, Dan Huot, Gary Jordan, Derrol Nail, and Tahira Allen from NASA; and Lauren Lyons, John Insprucker, and Jessie Anderson from SpaceX; with special guest host and former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. Postlaunch coverage commentators are Leah Cheshier, Courtney Beasley, Gary Jordan and Dan Huot from NASA; and Kate Tice, Siva Bharadvaj, and Michael Andrews from SpaceX.

Prelaunch coverage also includes a special performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Grammy Award-winning singer Kelly Clarkson.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31.

This will be SpaceX’s final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations. 

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX currently is readying the hardware for the first space station crew rotational mission, which would happen after data from this test flight is reviewed for certification.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, media participation in news conferences will be remote, with only a limited number of media, who already have been accredited, will be accommodated at Kennedy. For the protection of media and Kennedy employees, the Kennedy Press Site News Center facilities will remain closed to all media throughout these events.

To participate in the Kennedy briefing by phone, reporters must e-mail no later than one hour prior to each event.

To participate by phone in the post-arrival news conference held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, reporters must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than one hour prior to the event.

Live NASA coverage is as follows. All times are EDT:

Friday, May. 29

  • 10 a.m. – Administrator Countdown Clock Briefing (weather permitting; limited in-person media only, no dial in)
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana
    • NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
    • NASA astronaut Nicole Mann

Saturday, May 30

  • 11 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
    • 3:22 p.m. – Liftoff
    • 4:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn 
    • 4:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test 
    • TBD p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 6:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
    • Administrator Bridenstine
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

A media phone bridge will be available for this event. Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA TV’s Media Channel.  

Sunday, May 31

  • TBD a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 10:29 a.m. – Docking
  • 12:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
  • 1:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
  • 3:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

A media phone bridge will be available for this event. Launch commentary will switch to NASA TV’s Media Channel.

Monday, June 1

  • 11:15 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
  • 12:55 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley

The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed, but more information about media accreditation is available by emailing

This test flight is a pivotal point in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil to the space station for the first time since 2011.

The goal of the Commercial Crew Program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including preparation for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:


Last Updated: May 28, 2020

Editor: Sean Potter

Read Next Related Article

Virgin Orbit sending first payload to space Sunday |


The launcher will be released from a Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl. Author: JOHN ANTCZAK Associated Press Published: 12:29 AM EDT May 21, 2020

LOS ANGELES — Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is targeting the coming weekend for its first attempt to launch a demonstration payload into space aboard a rocket released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747.

The air launch is scheduled for Sunday off the coast of Southern California and will only proceed if conditions are satisfactory, the company said Wednesday.

“Although air-launched systems like ours are less vulnerable to bad weather than fixed ground-launch systems, we’ll be watching the weather closely and being cautious for this maiden flight. Should our flight slip, we have a launch window open at a similar time on May 25th,” it said.

The carrier aircraft, named Cosmic Girl, will take off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the Mojave Desert and fly out over the Pacific.

Release of the LauncherOne rocket would occur near San Nicolas Island, part of the Channel Islands off the California coast.

19dcc5a0-7d62-4422-9d3f-afb41b196839_1140x641This April 12, 2020 photo shows a Boeing 747 with a rocket slung beneath a wing in its final major test before an upcoming demonstration of its system in which the rocket will be carried aloft and launched.   Virgin Orbit

RELATED: NASA’s human spaceflight chief resigns just days before historic SpaceX launch

RELATED: Try this SpaceX simulator and dock with the International Space Station

Earlier this year, Virgin Orbit conducted a rehearsal flight that simulated release of the rocket.

Headquartered in Long Beach, Virgin Orbit is a sister company to Virgin Galactic, which is preparing to carry tourists on suborbital flights high over New Mexico.

Virgin Orbit’s system will be capable of launching small satellites into space from locations around the world.

The launch rehearsal comes after years of development and recent extensive modification of operations because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as putting team members to work on the development of medical ventilators.

Petition: Tell PM Trudeau to bring WiFi to Indigenous reserves


Sign the Petition Maxie Liberman started this petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

I have created this petition on behalf of Paula Laing, who lives on Six Nations without internet access. This is her plea: My name is Paula Laing and I am an educator. I live with my two children on Six Nations Reserve. I would like to speak up for all Six Nations students going to school off reserve and remind you that not all of us have access to internet. The success of our students depends on them risking their lives and their family’s lives by having to send them to someone else’s house to acquire internet. Case in point, my son who just returned from Queens University engineering had to leave our home to access internet for his midterm exams. Then return home to us, having exposed himself to another family. This is the same thing all high school students on reserves will need to do to access your learning plan. This exposure to families and Covid 19 is exactly what our Prime Minister is asking us not to do! Sadly, Bell and every other provider I have tried has advised me to cut down my trees or put up my own individual internet tower at a cost of $7000 because Bell has not invested in putting any towers, fiberoptic etc. in our area. Our success depends on access to technology in this difficult time of Covid 19. This is an opportunity for Reconciliation as our community is about to go on lockdown to spare losing our elders. I have spent my career as an educator advocating for our students. You can be assured as a parent with two kids in your system I will continue to fight for their right to not be left behind! Success for All students! Please sign this petition and ask Justin Trudeau to bring internet access to reserves across Canada.

How to enable Twitter ‘Lights Out’ dark mode on Android – 9to5Google

Since the unveiling of Android 10, dark mode has been one of the most hotly requested features for almost every app. As of today, Twitter is finally rolling out their AMOLED-black “Lights Out” dark mode on Android, but you might need a trick to enable it. On those platforms, Twitter has long offered a dark mode which replace the blinding white background with a more subdued blue hue. Twitter for Android and iOS even allow this dark mode to be triggered automatically based on sunset.


Wow! This Is What SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites Look Like in the Night Sky | Space

You have never seen a night sky sight quite like this.

It’s been one day since SpaceX launched its first 60 starlink internet satellites into orbit, and sky watching sleuth has already spotted them soaring across the night sky.

Neverlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek stunned space fans tonight (May 24) with this jaw-dropping video of dozens of Starlink satellite soaring overhead.

Continue reading here and watch this amazing video.

ConnecTable Solar Charging Products | Universities, Resorts, Corporate Campus

The ConnecTable offers three sustainable outdoor solar charging products, the ConnecTable Café, the ConnecTable Hub and the Grid2Go solar mobile charger.

Solar Charging ProductsConnecTable Café
ConnecTable Café solar powered charging stations are an attractive, powerful business investment for those looking to keep technology-hungry consumers connected in outdoor areas.

These sustainable outdoor charging solutions utilize off-grid, solar photovoltaic technology and possess high-powered charging capability. They have been engineered to harvest more energy than any other solar charging table on the market, and to optimize the storage of that energy, providing reliable power for high volumes of daily users.

Popular with Universities, Corporate Campuses, Malls, Parks, Resorts and Theme Parks, the ConnecTable offers the perfect green solution that reduces your properties carbon footprint while also creating a clean gathering space.

HubConnecTable Hub
The ConnecTable Hub is our newest model of solar table charging station. The Hub offers the same great performance as our Café model, with key material and structural modifications that have enabled us to offer this solar charging solution at a more economical price point.

Designed for our customers looking for a more “out-of-the-box” sustainability solution, the ConnecTable Hub is the ultimate outdoor workstation.

Solar Charging ProductsGrid2Go
Grid2Go is a sustainable outdoor charging solution that provides portable solar charging to anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s perfect for a day at the beach, camping trips, or as a backup emergency charger in any environment.

Grid2Go can fully charge an iPhone four (4) times before it needs to be recharged itself. Simply lay it in the sun, solar panels facing up, and recharge begins! In the case of multiple poor-weather days, the Grid2Go can be easily charged indoors with the included computer and wall attachments. Solar panels power the high-capacity battery, which charges up to two (2) cell phones at once.

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Did your smart thermostat contribute to last week’s big cyberattack? | Grist

Massive Attack
Did your smart thermostat contribute to last week’s big cyberattack?
By Heather Smith on Oct 26, 2016 3:33 pm

In the future, we will live and work in buildings where the heat, lighting, and appliances are controlled by smart, internet-connected devices that save energy and money and help the grid work more efficiently. Isn’t that great? It seems great.

But then, what to do with the news last week that a robo-mob of clever internet-enabled gadgets was hijacked and used to temporarily bring down many of the most popular websites in the U.S.? Could our smart thermostats go rogue and help take out the internet?

It doesn’t look like internet-connected energy-saving devices were affected by the cyberattack, experts say. So this attack is not a reason to avoid buying or using them. It is, though, a reminder to make sure all of your smart devices are protected by top-notch security.

Here’s what you need to know:

What was the deal with this attack?

The Internet of Things — or IoT, for short — consists of more than 6 billion devices connected to the internet: security cameras, Fitbits, learning thermostats, what have you. Last week, hackers used malware named Mirai to create a botnet gang of several hundred thousand of these gadgets and attack Dyn, one of a handful of companies that direct traffic across the internet. An estimated 1,200 websites, including Twitter, Reddit, and the New York Times, didn’t so much go down as become impossible to find, because Dyn was too flooded with meaningless requests from Mirai’s zombie bot army to help real humans get where they were trying to go.

Dyn weathered that attack (and the attack after that, and the attack after that attack), but the episode left a lot of people wondering just how great the Internet of Things is after all.

Here’s how Justine Bone, CEO of MedSec, which studies security in internet-enabled medical devices, described the IoT security challenge to me: When you have a bad chip in your high-tech toaster, there’s not too much that can go wrong. Maybe you get some bad toast out of it. Maybe it catches on fire. But when a whole series of badly designed devices are connected to the internet, that can make everyone miserable, not just toast eaters. “An army of toasters can cause trouble,” she said.

You’re sure my thermostat wasn’t involved?

Yes. Here’s how we know: Brian Krebs, a former reporter for the Washington Post who now runs his own site on computer security, became an involuntary expert in Mirai when someone used it to attack his site in September. Attacks like this are fairly common (they’re called distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks), but the size of the one on his site attracted some attention. Akamai, the company that keeps Krebs’ site running, claimed at the time that it was one of the largest botnet attacks in the history of the internet.

A few weeks after the attack on Krebs, the source code for Mirai was publicly released onto the internet, probably to confuse any law enforcement agencies trying to trace the program back to its source. The code revealed that Mirai works by constantly scanning the internet for IoT gadgets with usernames and passwords that are still set to the factory defaults. Mirai then uses those passwords to make itself administrator of the devices.

So here’s where your thermostat gets a pass. None of the passwords used by the Mirai code are for smart home energy-saving devices.

Craig Young, a security researcher with Tripwire, told Consumer Reports, “I would be confident in saying that most popular IoT devices have not been exposed to the Mirai threat — thermostats, fridges, name-brand cameras, smart outlets, and lighting.”

Thermostat company Nest, perhaps the most well-known maker of smart home energy-saving gadgets, believes none of its products were affected: “To our knowledge, no Nest device has been involved in any of the recent attacks,” it said in a statement.

So what devices were hijacked?

Last week’s attack primarily involved security cameras and digital video recorders being used for surveillance.

The hackers who write botnet software are looking for the low-hanging fruit — usernames and passwords that will let them unlock as many devices as possible. So they targeted products from a handful of companies that make low-cost electronics in high volume, and with terrible security features.

Most consumers who buy easily hackable devices aren’t thinking about internet security — in part because DDoS attacks and the like target public websites rather than individuals. “People just plug in these things and forget about them,” Krebs said when I called him to ask about the latest attack.

“People want to blame the Russians or something, but there’s lots of blame to go around,” Krebs continued. “This is a case of some companies wanting to own this market and dumping cheap hardware and flimsy software. The IoT storm has been a decade in the making, and now it’s happening. The longer we ignore it, the harder it is to fix.”

Many of the insecure devices hijacked last week contain hardware manufactured by Chinese company XiongMai Technologies. When word got out about this, XiongMai announced that it had tightened its security standards and was recalling millions of cameras — even as it threatened legal action against media outlets that it said were issuing “false statements” about the company.

How can I make sure my smart gadgets are protected going forward?

Figuring out how secure your devices are can be tricky, but it’s important — not just to make sure you don’t facilitate DDoS attacks, but to protect your personal data and ensure that you’re the one controlling the heating, lighting, etc., in your home.

A device with good security will require you to come up with a new username and password before you connect it to the internet. A device with not-so-great security will make it possible to change the factory default username and password. A device with terrible security will come with a factory-installed username and password that you can’t change, making it a sitting duck for any program crawling the web and looking for machines that can be turned into zombie minions.

If you’re going to connect something to the internet, go with a brand that emphasizes its attention to security. Companies that are trying to establish or maintain a reputation for security will be much more motivated to patch a security hole than companies that don’t mention security at all.

Smart thermostat makers Nest, Ecobee, and Tado have security information clearly posted on their websites. Nest goes even further; it’s owned by Google, which offers a reward to anyone who can find a security hole in the system. In contrast, thermostat manufacturer Trane, whose various past security holes are described in this blog post, does not highlight security on its website.

“At the end of the day, security is just a symptom of the quality of the product,” said Bone. “If a product is badly designed, that will flow through to mistakes in the underlying software.”

Going for a cheap, off-brand model is not a good idea. “Basically, you get what you pay for,” said Krebs.

What’s the solution to all this poor security?

As security expert Bruce Schneier put it after the attack on Krebs, “the economics of the IoT mean that it will remain insecure unless government steps in to fix the problem. This is a market failure that can’t get fixed on its own.”

The owners of the security cameras that are being used to attack the internet don’t know that their devices have been taken over. Meanwhile, the manufacturers are busy trying to sell new models, instead of patching up old ones. “There is no market solution,” Schneier concludes, “because the insecurity is what economists call an externality: it’s an effect of the purchasing decision that affects other people. Think of it kind of like invisible pollution.”

But neither Bone nor Krebs have faith that governments will effectively regulate the Internet of Things, especially given the hot mess that is international trade. More than anything, they think it will be the fear of losing customers that will motivate companies to tighten up their security.

So, do I even want to be a part of this Internet of Things?

Well, you’re reading this on the internet, so you’re already partway there. If you like gadgets, don’t be frightened off from buying smart devices as long as they’re from reputable and well-reviewed companies.

On the other hand, if you think gadgets are overrated, you can feel smug in knowing that there are plenty of low-tech ways to conserve energy.

A Beacon in the Smog®

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Should I keep my laptop plugged in while I use it? | Grist

Q. Dear Umbra,

I work all day on a laptop (a MacBook Air). I’d like to prolong the life of my computer and battery so I don’t have the expense and waste of having to replace the laptop earlier than necessary. So what’s the best approach to plugging the laptop in vs. running it off the battery? When it’s 100-percent charged, should I unplug it and let the battery charge drop down low before plugging it in again? Or should I keep it plugged in all day long while I work?

Jamal J.
Princeton, New Jersey

A. Dearest Jamal,

Most people understand that repurposing or recycling something is better than throwing it away. But you know what’s even better than that? Not recycling that thing, because it still works perfectly — or, at least, postponing that inevitable moment of mortality as long as possible. In our culture of planned obsolescence and gimme-that-hot-new-tech upgrades, this is a somewhat radical idea. I tip my hat to you, my status quo–shaking friend.

“Maintain it, don’t disdain it!” could be your creed. Apply it to most material things, but it’s particularly important with laptops and their lithium-ion batteries, as well as other electronics. Not only do these gadgets cost a pretty penny, but manufacturing them (and their batteries) requires water, energy, and rare-metal mining, and also brings up concerns about potentially toxic substances and human rights for miners. In short: The fewer you go through in your working life, the better.

To that end: There is indeed a plug-in protocol you can use to maximize your battery’s overall lifespan, Jamal, and it’s all about minimizing stress on that hardworking power pack.

The No. 1 thing that shortens a lithium-ion battery’s life? Letting it drain to zero. So try never to do that.

Why? Let’s start with a quick vocabulary primer. Depth of discharge refers to how much of a battery’s power has been used up: 40 percent depth of discharge means it has 60 percent of its life left, and 100 percent means you’ve let the battery run dry. A charge or discharge cycle is one full drop from 100-percent charged to dead as a doornail (or multiple partial discharges that add up to 100 percent). These two concepts are directly connected: The larger the average depth of discharge, the fewer total discharge cycles you get out of the battery.

In other words, if you regularly let that battery gauge dip into the red zone, then fully recharge it, the battery will degrade more quickly. And we’re not just talking a little difference: According to Battery University, an online juggernaut of battery information, if you tend to drain your battery low and then charge it back up to 100 percent, you’ll get about 300-500 discharge cycles before the battery starts losing capacity. But if you go with frequent partial recharges, you can boost total discharge cycles up as high as 4,700 before the battery’s performance starts slipping (and before you have to get much more aggressive about commandeering the outlet at the coffeehouse).

So is it best to just leave it plugged in at 100-percent charge all the time? Nope. As it happens, being completely full also stresses out a lithium-ion battery, aka the Goldilocks of portable power sources. The sweet spot, according to battery experts, is between 40 and 80 percent charged. In a perfect world, then, you’d drain the battery to 40, recharge it to 80, and repeat for years of top-notch battery performance. If monitoring your battery levels to this degree sounds a bit obsessive, well, it is. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find any easy apps or settings tweaks that would do this automatically for you. (Hey, developers: Opportunity alert!)

That said, it’s not a terrible practice to leave your laptop plugged in at times. You won’t “overcharge” a lithium-ion battery; once it tops up, the battery essentially steps off to the side and lets the power grid run the computer, waiting until you need it again. So while keeping the battery full does cause strain, it’s better than a 100-percent depth of discharge.

If you are tethered to the outlet for a while, some experts suggest removing your laptop’s battery entirely (though that’s not an option for Macs because they have integrated batteries). Removing it protects it from a lithium-ion battery’s No. 2 nemesis: heat. A battery’s optimal temperature zone is about 62 to 72 degrees (what a coincidence — that’s my optimal zone, too), and anything hotter than about 95 degrees can really wreak havoc. So keep your laptop out of hot cars, direct summer sunlight, Bikram yoga class, etc. And make sure to keep the cooling vents clear — work at a table or desk, not in bed with your computer on a quilt on your lap.

There you have the secret to long life: Watch your power levels, and keep it cool. And you know, I suspect following that advice might translate to a longer, happier life for ourselves as well as our batteries.


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Safety alert and recall: 26,000 baby monitors recalled due to burn hazard | WPMT FOX43

A popular brand of baby monitor is being recalled over the possibility that the video monitor’s batteries can overheat, swell and expand and cause the battery cover to open or come off. This can expose hot batteries, posing a burn hazard to consumers.

The recall is for about 26,000 units of the Lorex CARE ‘N’ SHARE Series video baby monitor (in addition, 8,000 were sold in Canada.)

The model numbers included in this recall are WL3520, WL4320 and WL3401. The model numbers are printed on the back panel of the monitor. The monitors were sold in bundles with cameras. The monitors contain a blue lithium polymer battery and measure about 4 inches tall by 5 inches wide. The monitors have a white plastic back and either a white or black border. “LOREX” or “The Lorex Baby” is printed below the monitor screen.

Picture: Lorex Technology

Babies “R” Us, B&H, Best Buy, Target, The Home Depot, Walmart and online at from May 2013 through April 2016. The video baby monitors were sold in bundles for between $60 and $140.

The firm has received 488 reports of batteries overheating and expanding; about 140 reports involved the swelling of the battery pack, causing its plastic casing to open or come off. No injuries have been reported.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled monitors and contact Lorex to receive a full refund.

Lorex toll-free at 844-265-7388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday

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