Pelotons autonomous trucks use the human touch to speed L4 onto roads

first_imgIn PlatoonPro, two trucks are interconnected. The driver in the first vehicle steers, accelerates, and brakes as normal; the second truck, connected by a direct V2V (vehicle to vehicle) link, also has a human driver, but only for steering. The second truck’s speed is controlled by that of the first truck, maintaining a relatively tight distance between the two.Both vehicles still require a driver, of course, but there are still savings available in the system. PlatoonPro is already operated with six fleets, with more in the pipeline, with Peloton claiming a “perfect safety record” in use. Customer trucks have shown average fuel savings of over 7-percent, which could add up to as much as $10,000 in savings per truck each year. Peloton Automated FollowingThe Peloton Automated Following system builds on the same concept as PlatoonPro, but removes some of the drivers. The Level 4 system still has a human driver in the lead vehicle, who operates it as normal. They’re followed by a driverless truck, however, linked by the direct V2V connection with minimal latency, and following it closely. Peloton’s argument is that this human-machine hybrid approach has some big advantages that more aggressive Level 4 and 5 automated driving systems being developed miss out on. Humans, the company points out, are really good at analyzing data from our physical senses and reacting accordingly. “We continue to leverage drivers for their skills, experience and intuition,” the company says.At the same time, the efficiency benefits of a closer-following second vehicle – and, in time, longer series of vehicles – are unmistakable, but only the computerized system is capable of reacting instantly to emergency braking or other maneuvers and stopping before an impact takes place. Then there’s the issue of driver shortages, something which the haulage industry struggles with. Not only are drivers in short-supply, they also typically switch companies regularly.Peloton’s Automated Following doesn’t represent the same job dilemma as fully automated systems might to human drivers. Peloton also points out that it can potentially double the quantity of goods that a single trucker could haul in a trip, leading to better compensation and more efficient routes. All aboard the truck trainPeloton’s timeline for Automated Follow is fairly vague right now. Testing is underway currently, with a commercial launch some way out. Still, the company insists that it could have Automated Follow commercially deployed before fully-driverless Level 4/5 systems, because of the human driver element. More efficient use of roads by haulage is going to be a benefit to regular drivers like the rest of us out of the gate. However Peloton envisages other potential benefits for the system, which could one day expand to include non-commercial vehicles. There’s the possibility, for example, of regular passenger cars joining a truck platoon and handing over their controls to the snake of vehicles for periods of extended highway driving. That would have fuel economy advantages for the passenger car, as well as comfort benefits for the driver who wouldn’t have to operate the vehicle themselves. You could, for instance, choose to join a platoon for the more mundane sections of your twice-yearly road trips, or hop into the line for an easier commute. We’re not at that stage yet, though Peloton’s pricing structure is already built with such possibilities in mind. Currently, PlatoonPro customers don’t pay for the initial installation of the V2V and other hardware. Instead, they pay when they use the following system. Passenger cars could take the same approach, meaning you’d only ever pay for an eventual Automated Follow service if you opted to use it. You may not have heard of Peloton – not to be confused with the bike company – but you’ll probably know some of its backers. BP, Intel Capital, Lockheed Martin, UPS, and Volvo are all among the roster of investors, along with Tier 1 auto parts suppliers and others. That has not only given the startup its funding but a shortcut into tight integration with the underlying systems of modern truck models. Indeed, this new Level 4 system is not Peloton’s first ride on the automated truck rodeo. The company already has a Level 1 system, PlatoonPro, on the market, tailored for the particular nature of long-distance trucking. Autonomous cars may be a sexy, sci-fi vision of the future, but autonomous trucks could be far closer to reality – and a lot more beneficial. Peloton today is showing off its new Automated Following system, a straightforward name for Level 4 autonomy that the company believes is far closer to public highways than others might have you think. last_img read more

BlackBerry KEYone screen problem acknowledged downplayed

first_imgSome might look at it like the Galaxy Note 7 all over again, though this time thankfully with less dangerous consequences. The BlackBerry KEYone allegedly had a very week, almost no, adhesive binding the screen to the rest of its body, resulting in the screen popping or falling off with very little force involved. In a statement to CrackBerry, BlackBerry Mobile somewhat admits that there might issues with adhesives, but also limits it to a “small handful” of affected units. Many teardown personalities, like iFixit or JerryRigEverything, usually bemoan the amount of work needed to pry apart the display assembly from a smartphone’s body, usually because of the amount of adhesive used. It seems that TCL took a completely different approach by using very little glue instead.The result is that a simple bend test by JerryRigEverything caused the display to pop off and the display cable to tear, rendering the KEYone useless.If it were just a single case, it could be attributed to Zack Nelson’s unusual strength. But apparently some users have experienced similar cases where simply dropping the phone causes the display to detach from the body. BlackBerry Mobile acknowledges hearing about the concerns but also says that only a handful out of a thousand users have reported such issues. Here’s the statement in full:TCL Communication has a long-standing track record of delivering high-quality devices to our customers around the world, and the BlackBerry KEYone is no different. To ensure the highest quality in the BlackBerry KEYone, we used strong, durable premium materials and conducted rigorous stress tests on the device throughout the product development cycle to meet the real life use standards our customers demand. While the BlackBerry KEYone is being met with great enthusiasm, we are aware of the concerns around potential display separation on the device. Out of the thousands of BlackBerry KEYone smartphones that have been shipped and sold globally, only a very small handful of customers have reported this kind of issue.Our teams are actively examining additional adhesive measures that might further strengthen and eliminate any possibility of display separation occurring. If a customer does experience this however, they’re encouraged to contact us for a device warranty replacement.For its part, CrackBerry claims that its own tests yielded didn’t exactly confirm Nelson’s conclusions. After dropping and even throwing their own KEYone, the phone’s display remained attached to the body. And when it did finally pop off, it was because of purposely bending the phone. Even then, they did find some adhesive in place, contradicting Nelson’s observation. If anything, the situation only shows how uneven and inconsistent the issue really is.last_img read more

Vivo X20 Plus with indisplay fingerprint sensor launch details

first_imgStory TimelineSynaptics Clear ID in-display fingerprint scanner to go on a “Tier 1” phoneSynaptics in-screen fingerprint scanner to debut in VivoVivo in-display fingerprint scanning phone ready for production Vivo may not be one of the most well-known Chinese smartphone brands across the globe, but it is definitely one of the most adventurous. It was one of the first to make the world’s thinnest smartphone (back then only 0.7 cm thick) and was one of the first to jump on 6 GB of RAM and deca-core processors. And this week it will be making history again by becoming the first to use the in-display fingerprint sensor technology that should have been in the Galaxy S8 and iPhone X first. The technology would have been great on last year’s flagships but, due to time constraints and development delays, it didn’t make it in time. Synaptics, the first to commercialize such a feature, is now trying to catch up and it is getting help from a “Tier 1” OEM. Of course, by now, everyone knows that OEM is Vivo.The Vivo X20 Plus that will launch this week isn’t actually new. Instead of making a new phone, the company will apparently repurpose last year’s model. Presuming it will be similar in almost all aspects, this upcoming Vivo X20 Plus with an in-display fingerprint scanner will feature a 6.43-inch 2160×1080 18:9 Super AMOLED screen, a Snapdragon 660 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and dual 12 megapixel and 5 megapixel cameras, among other things. TENAA’s listing for the newer phone modifies built-in storage to 128 GB and the lowers the battery to 3,800 mAh.While it’s your typical mid-range Android phone, still running 7.1.1. Nougat unfortunately, its highlight will be the fingerprint scanner. New and untested, Synaptics and Vivo naturally boast of the in-display sensor’s accuracy and security over that of 3D facial recognition like on the iPhone X and easier to reach compared to rear fingerprint scanners.AdChoices广告How true those claims are we will know soon enough, though perhaps indirectly. Vivo is holding a press event on 24th January in China, at 7:30 pm local time (6:30 am ET) to unveil this revamped Vivo X20 Plus. It will most likely be sold only in China for 3,998 RMB ($625) and perhaps some other Asian markets as well.VIA: ZDNetlast_img read more

The Pixel 2s custom image chip is going live for all apps

first_imgIndeed, it took until late November last year for developers to get access to the Pixel Visual Core. At that point, they were able to start getting to grips with just what the camera addition can do, primarily things like HDR+ which combines multiple exposures of the same scene for a greater overall dynamic range. Now, however, the special silicon is going live across the board.In an update set to roll out over the next few days, Google will turn on the Pixel Visual Core for every app that taps into the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL’s camera. The biggest upshot, at least initially, will be that third-party apps will be able to use Google’s proprietary HDR+ algorithms. It should mean clearer images where there are areas with a mixture of bright and shaded light.“Pixel Visual Core is built to do heavy-lifting image processing while using less power, which saves battery,” Ofer Shacham, engineering manager for the chip at Google says of its enabling. “That means we’re able to use that additional computing power to improve the quality of your pictures by running the HDR+ algorithm.”That’s not all, mind. The Pixel Visual Core also use RAISR, which should mean an improvement on zoomed-in photos. Usually that’s a shortcut to pixelation. Zero Shutter Lag technology, meanwhile, promises to speed up the time between when you hit the capture button on-screen and when the photo is actually taken. Google is calling out Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp as the first third-party beneficiaries of the Pixel Visual Core going live, but of course they won’t be the only ones. Indeed, as long as developers are using the more recent APIs for Android’s camera – and of course as long as you’re using a Pixel 2 phone – their apps will automatically get to take advantage of the imaging hardware. The early-February update to enable the Pixel Visual Core will be rolling out over the coming days. If you’ve got a compatible Android phone, keep an eye out on the notification bar for it. Meanwhile, further updates later this week will add Augmented Reality Stickers that will interact with the Pixel 2 camera and each other. Story TimelineGoogle Pixel 2 Review: Android camera magicPixel 2 Portrait Mode unofficially on OG Pixel, Nexus 6P, 5XiPhone X and Pixel 2 camera features hit your Android phone today Google has fired up the Pixel Visual Core, activating the custom imaging chip that was the surprise hidden in the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. News of the company’s very first homegrown picture-processing silicon broke a month after the smartphones themselves hit shelves, a secret addition to the Android handsets’ logic boards. However, at first they weren’t actually available to use. last_img read more

Original Dropbox seed pitch remains fresh a decade later at IPO

first_imgThe document began with a simple concept. “It’s 2007, and it’s still a pain to work on multiple computers, share files across a team, put [media] onto the web, [and] protect files from loss.” Fast forward to 2018 and what’s changed for millions of people around the world? Not a whole lot. Not unless they’ve adopted systems like what Dropbox now offers. Dropbox is far from capturing the whole industry.The pitch continued, asking “What are people doing now?” The document mentioned email attachments, USB drives, browser uploads, and “piecemeal solutions.” Sound familiar? What do you use at your workplace? I personally still default to email, even though “better” solutions are available.Above you’ll see what Dropbox was up against back in 2007. What a pitiful group of competitors. The cloud storage universe wasn’t much larger than a tiny system of planets. In this regard, things have changed a bit more than others. Major names in storage have cropped up: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Azure, Amazon S3, and more. Look at these goofballs. They included this slide in their actual real-life pitch for investment money. Imagine trying to get your company a whole boatload of cash so you can take over the digital world, and using a photo of your 2-man team in t-shirts, kinda like… leaning over… in a hallway? That’s daring – but it seems to have worked. Ten years later and Dropbox is a multi-million-dollar public company. The folks at investment group Sequoia put the Dropbox experience in simple terms as the company joined the market: “Delight. You felt it the first time you installed Dropbox. Finally, your digital life was simplified and empowered by a service working magically on your behalf.” For the moment, it would appear that the folks at Dropbox grabbed onto success and stayed the course – so far.As a company like Facebook’s shown over the past few years, a company can change pretty drastically once it’s gone public. Cross your fingers Dropbox’s changes from here on out are all positive. Story TimelineDropbox Paper adds Sketch previews, mobile folders, archiving and moreDropbox Professional plan arrives: Smart Sync, Showcase, and extra sharing toolsDropbox to go public with $500M IPO filing Today Dropbox launched their IPO to what’s currently considered a rather excited public. The stock sits at +35.67% this afternoon, and it’s daily high is at $28.49 USD. This public offering came just over a decade after Dropbox showed their first presentation for seed money. Today we’re having a peek at that original pitch, finding it just about as fresh as it was 10 years ago. A surprisingly small amount has changed in Dropbox’s business space since then.last_img read more

Huawei P20 Pro and P20 handson Triple Leica lenses and AI

first_imgHuawei’s flagship finish has been called “Twilight” but, rather than spangly vampires, it has a graduated paint job on its glass back that runs from purples to blues. If it’s a little too much for your tastes, the P20 also comes in black, champagne gold, pink gold, and midnight blue, while the P20 Pro will be offered in black, midnight blue, and pink gold. Certainly, I’m all for more color options than the black/silver/gold most smartphones stick to, though expect to be polishing Huawei’s handsets frequently as they’re voracious fingerprint and smudge magnets. Of the two, the Huawei P20 Pro is unsurprisingly the more interesting – and higher-spec’d – phone. It’s fronted with a 6.1-inch, 18.7:9 aspect OLED touchscreen running at 2240 x 1080 resolution. The P20, in contrast, gets a slightly smaller 5.8-inch LCD screen, at 2244 x 1080 resolution. Like the iPhone X, there’s a notch in the upper section of each display so that Huawei could accommodate the various front-facing sensors. Huawei P20 Pro and P20 Gallery Huawei is bringing color back and baking AI into its camera, with the P20 Pro and P20 Android phones officially unveiled in Paris today. Latest additions to the P-series, the Oreo duo represent another collaboration between the Chinese phone-maker and camera company Leica, not to mention being the most colorful devices we’ve seen since the Nokia Lumia days. Story TimelineHuawei CEO goes off-script with strong words for competition (again)The US needs Huawei more than Huawei needs itHuawei’s Best Buy nightmare just got worse However, figuring that’s a matter of taste, Huawei allows you to hide the notch by default, if you so prefer. That way, you get a flat upper edge, though at the sacrifice of a little overall resolution. The P20 Pro’s notch is a little narrower than that of the iPhone X, though still wider than the cut-out on the Essential Phone.As you’d expect, Huawei has taken advantage of that particular design conceit to shrink down the bezels. Not entirely, though: the P20 Pro and P20 each their fingerprint sensor on the front, rather than on the rear as has become the trend of late. Huawei says that’s a decision based on user preferences, and it sweetened the location by adding a smart navigation mode. Rather than on-screen Android keys for home, back, and the app-switcher, you can have different combinations of long-press and such on the fingerprint sensor to do that instead. AdChoices广告Inside, both phones use Huawei’s Kirin 970 chipset. The P20 Pro pairs it with 6 GB of RAM; the P20 with 4 GB. Both have 128 GB of storage, a USB-C port, WiFi a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2, and no 3.5mm headphone jack. The P20 Pro is IP67 water and dust resistant, while the P20 makes do with IP53 splash-resistance. The P20’s 7.65 mm thick body accommodates a 3,400 mAh battery. The P20 Pro sizes that up to 4,000 mAh, in a 7.8mm thick chassis. Huawei is keen for you to remember that those batteries are bigger than what the Galaxy S9 and S9+ offer you, respectively, while also being slimmer. Of course when each phone is in your hand, it’s probably the cameras that you’re thinking about, not the heft. Huawei has been chasing a strong camera message for some generations of smartphone now, and the P20 Pro and P20 are no different. This time around, the argument is that, while you can have the best camera hardware, without the software and advanced camera AI to go with it, you’re missing out. You can’t, Huawei points out, be a master painter merely by having the best tools. The Huawei P20 gets an all-new Leica dual camera, therefore. There’s a 12-megapixel RGB color sensor with f/1.8 lens, and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor with an f/1.6 lens. The RGB sensor has 1.55um pixels, each 61-percent larger than those of the iPhone X, and 22-percent larger than what you find in the Galaxy S9’s camera. More complex still, the Huawei P20 Pro has a Leica Triple Camera. Its RGB color sensor is 40-megapixels and f/1.8, while its monochrome sensor is 20-megapixels and f/1.6. It adds in an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor too, with 3x optical zoom or a 5x hybrid zoom based on optic and digital enhancement. Unexpectedly, there’s only optical image stabilization on the telephoto camera: none of the other sensors, on the P20 Pro or P20, get OIS, Huawei opting for a software system instead.It’s called Huawei AI Image Stabilization – or AIS – and as the name suggests it relies on computational photography to smooth out hand-shake. Active in regular still photography, while recording video, and in a handheld long exposure mode, it claims to be able to work in up to four second exposures. The AI applies machine learning frame to frame and edge to edge across a variety of exposures, combining the results HDR-style for a shake-free image. The P20 Pro’s talents don’t end there. There’s laser autofocus – its transmitter and receiver better integrated into the body of the phone than on previous iterations – that combines with phase detection, depth, and contrast based autofocus. Huawei also includes a color temperature sensor on both phones, a first for the company. That can measure temperature between 1,000 to 10,000 Kelvin. What Huawei can achieve with software runs the gamut from “deeply impressive” to “the jury’s still out.” On the former, the 4D Predictive Focus is a clear improvement over what rival phones offer, able to use object motion prediction to track and anticipate where moving objects – like swaying flowers – might drift and keep them locked in focus. Ultra Snapshot, which takes the P20 and P20 Pro from screen-off to capturing a shot in 0.3 seconds when you double-click the volume down button, is more than twice as rapid as it was before. Then there’s 2018’s must-have, a 960 fps Super Slow Motion mode. Like the Galaxy S9 – but unlike the Sony Xperia XZ2’s Full HD – it maxes out at 720p, stretching around 0.2 seconds of action into roughly four seconds of video. You still get a 240 fps mode too, at 1080p resolution. Still to prove its worth is the extreme low-light performance. The P20 Pro, Huawei says by example ,can shoot usable photography at a mere 1 Lux. Max ISO is a DSLR-like 102,400, versus the 6,400 that the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X top out at. Combined with the AIS it should leave Huawei’s new phones at the top of their game. All the same, in my – limited – time with each, I’m not entirely convinced. To be upfront, both the handsets I tried were running pre-final software, and with so much of the P20 and P20 Pro’s talents depending on algorithms that could mean a lot changes between that and the version of the smartphones that arrive on shelves. All the same, while many of the sample shots I took in near-darkness were impressive in terms of getting a visible picture, their subjects often suffered fuzzy edges where either shake or a patchy AI couldn’t get things crisp. Perhaps it’s unfair to hold Huawei to the DSLR-level standard the company is hinting at. After all, these are still smartphone cameras. A big component of the AI play is to help novice users get better results: the Mate series’ object-recognition camera mode has been upgraded for 2018, with what Huawei is describing as “AI-driven professional photography skills.” It’s like a smart auto camera mode that can recognize a landscape, night screen, or fast movement, but with even more differentiation between scenes. The P20 and P20 Pro promise they can tell the difference between group shots and close-ups; text or other documents; greenery, flowers, or fireworks; sunsets and waterfalls; snow and beaches. It even claims to understand that cats and dogs look different, and adjust its settings accordingly. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to put all that AI through its paces. Arguably more useful day-to-day, though, are the ways in which the artificial intelligence promises to nudge photographers into making better decisions around composition and framing. If you’re shooting a landscape and have the phone tilted, for example, it’ll prompt you to move it level; if you’re taking a group photo, it might recommend tweaking the framing so that the resulting picture is more pleasingly set out. You can, of course, turn the AI off. There’s a pro-mode with manual control over the various settings, embedded in what’s already a fairly complex camera app. There are the faintly ridiculous beautifying tools, too, which range from mildly artificial to outright disturbing in their quest to smooth out blemishes from either the main or the 24-megapixel front-facing cameras. Huawei’s other improvements over 2017’s P-series phones are relatively minor. There’s a new face-unlock system that’s billed as being faster than both Face ID on the iPhone X and Intelligent Scan on the Galaxy S9, but it’s not as secure as the scanning system Apple uses. You can’t, for instance, use the P20 Pro’s face-unlock for mobile payments, always a sign that the security has been dumbed down in the name of convenience. Huawei Share 2.0, meanwhile, gains Mac compatibility, and without requiring drivers either. You can wirelessly transfer content between Android devices, Windows PCs, and macOS now, which is a boon if you’ve ever tried plugging in an Android handset to your MacBook Pro and wondered why you needed a separate app in which to browse its files.Finally there’s Wireless HiFi with HWA (High-res Wireless Audio), a 990 Kbps Bluetooth standard that Huawei is pushing. That, the company points out, is comfortably higher-resolution than the 576 Kbps of aptX HD or the 320 Kbp of an AAC file. Huawei already has commitment from Onkyo, TEAC, Pioneer, Tacsam, Foster, and others for hardware that supports the format. What it doesn’t have, of course, is US carrier support. Indeed, Huawei has no current plans to sell either the P20 or P20 Pro in North America. For the moment, they’re headed to Europe among other regions, but the Mate 10 Pro remains the company’s focus in the US. That’s both frustrating and understandable. Huawei is deeply controversial right now, the subject of widespread mistrust among lawmakers and regulators in the US for its possible connections to the Chinese government. Its anticipated deal with AT&T fell apart; its arrangement with Best Buy, one of the largest names in retail to stock its unlocked smartphones is reportedly about to expire. It’s a shame, from a consumer standpoint at least, because Huawei has made some fascinating decisions with the P20 and P20 Pro. They represent another facet of the growing role computational photography plays in smartphone cameras, alongside technologies like Google’s single-lens portrait mode and Apple’s depth scanning. Whether you call that AI, as Huawei does, or see that as more of a buzzword is, frankly, incidental. Here’s hoping US smartphone users get a chance to taste what Huawei’s AI is cooking at some point, because the P20 and P20 Pro are certainly intriguing. last_img read more

Rootless Pixel Launcher is dead long live Rootless Launcher

first_imgWho would have thought making an Android app launcher would be this much trouble. Amir Zaidi probably didn’t think so when he tried to make users’ lives easier and safer by putting the popular Rootless Pixel Launcher up on Google Play Store. But trouble he did encounter and a bit of drama did ensue. The good news: Rootless Pixel Launcher is now back on Google Play Store. The bad news? You will need to do a bit more to make it work perfectly. It’s one of those cases where neither Google nor the developer can really be blamed, though Zaidi does accept responsibility for overlooking an important policy. To protect users from potential malware and scams, Google forbids apps distributed on the Play Store from prompting users to install something outside of the Play Store. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Rootless Pixel Launcher did.While the launcher can function without it, you will need to install the Rootless Pixel Bridge to get features like the Google Now Feed and At a Glance. The nature of that package, however, prevents it from being made available on Google Play Store. The Launcher previously would prompt users to install it because few might now they have to. And that’s what got the Rootless Pixel Launcher banned from the Google Play Store.Now it’s back, somewhat. It’s using a different name now, just Rootless Launcher, without the Pixel. Probably just to distance itself further. And you’ll still need to install the Bridge but this time you won’t be reminded to. The option just won’t be there and you won’t even be told where to look.AdChoices广告You can, however, just download it from Zaidi’s GitHub page. It’s practically the same as before, but everything has to be done manually and explicitly by users now. Hopefully, that’s the last we’ll hear of the issue.last_img read more

SpyFinder Pro camera detector review fight fire with fire

first_imgIt doesn’t take much to visually spy on people. Cameras have become so small and so discreet that they can be placed in almost anything and anywhere. Those include lamp, mirrors, picture frames, smoke detectors, and more. And you might be shocked to know that these can be found not just in hotel rooms and AirBnB lodgings but also in dressing rooms, gyms, and maybe even that house you’re moving into.Hidden cameras have also become more sophisticated and more careful about how they’re transmitting data. Some store footage locally, making RF-detecting anti-spycam devicss ineffective. But just as spying measures have stepped up their efforts to violate privacy, so do countermeasures level up their methods.To be honest, the SpyFinder Pro’s solution is genius in its simplicity that it’s surprising very few have capitalizes on it. It basically uses 6 bright LEDs to strobe lights on suspected areas. Becuase cameras require a reflective lens to function, they have no choice but to betray their location by reflecting that light. What makes this method the most effective anti-spycam strategy is that it works even when the cameras aren’t actually working. Their mere presence is reason enough to pack up and leave anyway.There are a few things that make the SpyFinder Pro special. One is its compact and lightweight design, making it possible to simply drop the camera detector in your luggage or bag. That said, the SpyFinder Pro is unabashedly made of plastic, so you might need to be a bit more careful what you store it with.The camera detector is also simple to operate. Just press and hold its main button on its side to run on the LED lights. You then peek through the viewfinder as you scan the area searching for such hidden contraptions. The viewfinder only accommodates one eye, of course, and its proximity might present a small hurdle for those wearing glasses. It’s not unusable in that regard, but something you’ll want to keep in mind nonetheless.There’s another button on the SpyFinder Pro, and it’s actually essential in how effective it is in detecting hidden cameras. The button cycles through three LED intensity levels that you can use depending on how far you are from target objects and the kind of surfaces you’re shining it on. For scanning walls 50 feet away, it’s recommended to use the brightest intensity while nearby reflective surfaces like glass or chrome should use lower intensities. That’s because you’re bound to get some false positives on the latter, especially with brighter flashing. And while some of the objects these materials are used on might be unlikely to hide a camera, it’s sometimes better to err on the side of finding too many, including false positives, than finding too few.But while the the SpyFinder Pro is simple to operate, looking for hidden cameras isn’t a walk in the park. As you might have guessed by now, you have to make a sweep of the entire area so really make sure it’s clear. That can get pretty tiring, especially with bigger areas and when you need to take into account distances and materials and the proper intensity to use. Sadly, there’s really no escaping that unless you already know or suspect where hidden cameras might be. If you’re using this device in the first place, chances are that you don’t. And the biggest catch of all is the price. At $395, it’s not an inexpensive kit, especially for a plasticky, single-purpose device. SpyAssociates has a pre-order discount that lets you grab one for $248 but if you hurry and make it to their Kickstarter, you can even get it at half the price at $198.The fight to protect privacy has become more complex thanks to technology. But also thanks to technology, regular people can equip themselves with tools to fight back. The SpyFinder Pro is admittedly an expensive tool, but if you find yourself always traveling and always worrying about your privacy every time you book a room, then it might be worth rushing to Kickstarter to add this to your travel kit. Today’s age is a privacy nightmare made real. Never mind rampant spying and hacking of our digital lives, technology as also made it easier for others to spy on us in places where we should feel safe. All hope is not lost though. Because while technology enables such illicit not to mention illegal behavior, it also empowers regular people to take their privacy back into their own hands. One such product is SpyAssociates’ new SpyFinder Pro hidden camera detector, which turns you into somewhat like a spy to fight other spies.last_img read more

Alpine debuts 7inch indash receiver with wireless CarPlay

first_imgWhile CarPlay implementation in vehicles and aftermarket systems has continued to grow over the last few years, wireless support has almost nonexistent, only recently turning up in the new 2017 BMW 5 Series. Alpine’s iLX-107 will pair with an iPhone over 5GHz WiFi. After it’s been setup for the first time, the system will automatically recognize the most frequently used iPhone when users get in the car. From there they’ll be able to use the native iOS UI to make and receive calls, view messages, control music, and get directions on the receiver’s display. The iLX-107’s other features include built-in AM/FM radio and LED backlighting for the display. It will be priced starting at $900, and Alpine says it will be available starting in February.SOURCE Alpine Alpine, the aftermarket car accessories maker, has taken to CES 2017 to announce its first in-dash receiver/infotainment system with wireless support for Apple’s CarPlay. Dubbed the iLX-107, the unit features a 7-inch touchscreen, but more importantly it will allow iPhone users to connect their device over WiFi instead of a Lightning cable. Story TimelineFord SYNC 3 brings Apple Carplay, Android Auto to all 2017 modelsVW’s SEAT gets first automaker app into Apple’s CarPlayApple CarPlay gains 50 new car models, over 200 vehicles now supportedSony XAV-AX100 Now Shipping, Adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to your Ridelast_img read more

Theres a cheaper Aston Martin DB11 and its even more sporty

first_imgA “cheaper” Aston Martin DB11 sounds like a contradiction in terms, but a new twin-turbo V8 engine in the range does at least bring the sticker down a little. The new DB11 V8 may be smaller than the V12 with which the DB11 launched with in 2016, but that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing too much on performance. In fact, the DB11 V8 will still do 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds. New engine mounts allow the smaller V8 to be fitted lower under the hood than the V12, dropping the car’s center of gravity in the process. Meanwhile, since it’s lighter, the car sheds 253 pounds in total – though not solely from the engine switch, it has to be said – bringing curb weight down to 3,880 pounds. AdChoices广告 It’ll rocket on to a top speed of 187 mph, courtesy of 503 horsepower and 513 lb-ft. of torque from its 4-liters. The engine is supplied by Mercedes-AMG, so while it may not have the Aston Martin heritage, it does have some pedigree of its own. It builds on the recent collaborations between the companies, which have also seen the DB11’s cabin get a variation of Mercedes-Benz’ infotainment system and controls. For the DB11, the V8 came in for some changes, too. It’s been outfitted with a bespoke air intake, exhaust, and wet sump lubrication system, for a start. A new version of the ECU software, along with reprogramming for the engine and throttle mapping, should make it feel – and sound – like an Aston Martin, the automaker promises. Indeed, while you might assume the V12 is automatically better, just because of the four extra cylinders, that might not be the case for all drivers. The change brings more of the car’s mass centered in the wheelbase, and combined with changes to the suspension bushing, geometry, anti-roll bars, springs, dampers and ESP software, an overall drive feel more sporting than that of the V12 is promised. NOW READ: 2017 Aston Martin DB11 V12 first-driveOn the outside, there are new alloy wheels and dark headlamp bezels, while the hood has a pair of vents instead of the V12’s four. They can be finished in either black or titanium mesh. Climb inside, and there’s the same range of cabin trims and options for both cars, including the Q by Aston Martin Collection.The big difference, of course, is the price. The V12 version of the DB11 starts from $216,495, while this new V8 DB11 goes up for sale this week in the US from $198,995. Deliveries are expected to begin in Q4 2017.last_img read more

2019 iPhones reportedly dash our USBC hopes and dreams

first_imgStory TimelineiPad Pro review roundup: The good, the bad, the USB-CApple 18W USB-C Charger finally here to fast charge iPhonesiPod touch 7th gen, USB-C iPhones coming very soon For years now, Apple has relied on its proprietary Lightning connector for iPhone and iPad charging, but when the company started shipping modern MacBooks that support USB-C, that led to a lot of speculation that Apple’s mobile devices were next. In the case of the iPad, that turned out to be true, as the latest iPad Pro features charging and over USB-C. That leaves the iPhone as the next in line for a USB-C makeover, but a new report suggests that such a change won’t be coming anytime soon. Instead, Apple is said to be sticking with Lightning in its next batch of iPhones, which we expect to be revealed in September. That doesn’t necessarily mean that USB-C iPhones are never coming, just that if they are, we may not see them until 2020 at the earliest.Japanese site Macotakara has the details this time around, saying that Apple will stick with Lightning as something of a cost-saving measure. The decision to save money makes some degree of sense, as Apple’s 2018 iPhones haven’t been selling all that well. While it sounds like there still might be a possibility of Apple opting for a USB-C connector in this year’s phones, at least one accessory maker said that chance is decreasing.As Macotakara points out, a decision to switch to USB-C charging in iPhones would mean more changes for Apple aside from just the connector. Apple would need to pack-in a new set of USB-C Earpods with each iPhone sold, along with an 18W power adapter for USB-C fast charging, which means it would likely have to spend more money on iPhone pack-in items than it does currently.Assuming this is true, then it sounds like Apple will be playing it very safe with 2019’s iPhones in the name of keeping costs down. Previous reports have claimed that the first 5G iPhone won’t be here until 2020 as Apple takes its usual “wait and see” approach to new standards. Obviously, take what you hear with a grain of salt, but don’t be too surprised if 2019’s iPhones are revealed with that same old Lightning connector where a USB-C port should be. last_img read more

2020 Ford FSeries Super Duty promises 73L V8 and record ratings

first_imgThe third engine will be a diesel. That’s a third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8, which has a new 36,000 psi fuel injection system. It promises more economy, more horsepower, and more torque than before, but with lower noise levels. 2020 F-Series Super Duty Gallery In the cabin, there’s a tech and comfort upgrade. 4G LTE with a WiFi hotspot for up to ten devices is standard; leather, real wood trim, and a B&O audio system are among the options. Wireless charging is available, as are USB-C ports. Like the new Super Duty’s capacities, pricing will be confirmed closer to the trucks’ release. They’re due to arrive in US dealerships this fall, Ford says. The entry-level engine will remain Ford’s 6.2-liter V8. However it’ll be joined by a 7.3-liter V8, which the automaker says will be “the most powerful gas V8 in its class” when it arrives under the Super Duty’s hood. Final power and economy figures haven’t been confirmed yet. center_img Ford has revealed the 2020 Super Duty range, and the new F-250, F-350, and F-450 promise to be the most powerful, tech-savvy trucks from the automaker to-date. A range of new gas and diesel engines are joined by a new 10-speed automatic transmission, along with some big promises from Ford. Both the 7.3-liter V8 gas and 6.7-liter diesel engines will be paired with Ford’s latest 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission as standard. It’ll be an option on the 6.2-liter V8, which will come with the 6-speed as standard. Ford says that the 10-speed does better at towing, but also includes live-drive power takeoff, which can engage industrial equipment and accessories while the truck is already in motion. It also adds a number of drive modes. There’ll be normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery, and finally deep sand and snow. AdChoices广告What Ford isn’t saying yet is just how much the F-Series Super Duty will be able to tow. All the automaker is promising is its “highest conventional, gooseneck and fifth-wheel towing and payload ratings ever” from the Super Duty. Indeed, it’s warning that trailer manufacturers may have to raise their game when the new trucks hit the market. Like the F-150, Ford will give the new 2020 Super Duty features like Pro Trailer Backup Assist. That uses a knob on the dashboard to reverse, rather than the steering wheel, with the reverse camera showing exactly where the boat, trailer, box, or whatever else is positioned. Trailer Reverse Guidance, meanwhile, shows the angle and direction of the trailer, along with steering suggestions. Both work with all trailer styles, Ford says, including fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers. The same is true for features like blind-spot warnings and lane-keep alerts, which have been upgraded to suit longer vehicles when towing is underway. Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and adaptive cruise control also take potential towing into account. last_img read more

Hondas restored 1961 Chevy truck is very cool

first_img American Honda 60th Anniversary Chevy Delivery Truck American Honda has announced that it has restored a Chevy truck. Why would Honda be restoring a 1961 Chevy Apache 10 truck? In the early ’60s, American Honda used these trucks to deliver motorcycles to dealers. American Honda went into business in Southern California in 1959, and not long after, it purchased a fleet of Chevy trucks to delivery motorcycles to its dealers across southern California. American Honda 60th Anniversary Chevy Delivery Truck American Honda 60th Anniversary Chevy Delivery Truck One of these fleet trucks is seen in an iconic American Honda photo from 1961 sitting in front of the original American Honda office at 4077 Pico Blvd in LA. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of American Honda; it has restored a 1961 Chevy Apache 10 truck to exactly match the one in that iconic photograph. The truck debuted at the June 11 60th anniversary celebration.The restored truck has hand painted graphics and has Honda 50 and CB160 motorcycles from the era in the bed. The delivery truck has a half-ton chassis, 8-foot bed, 283 CI V8 engine making 160 horsepower and a 3-speed manual transmission.The little scooter on the left side of the truck bed is a 1965 Honda 50 known as the Super Cub in other parts of the world and is credited with putting Honda on the map in the early days. The bike has a 49cc single cylinder engine and 3-speed semi-automatic transmission with centrifugal clutch.AdChoices广告center_img The right side of the Chevy truck bed has a 1965 Honda CB160 and was completely restored. It has a tubular steel backbone, 161cc SOHC V-twin engine, 16.5hp, and a 4-speed manual transmission. The bike also has an electric starter. Honda may have had a humble start in the US in 1959, but by 1965, it was the best selling brand of motorcycle in the country. American Honda 60th Anniversary Chevy Delivery Truck In 1959 American Honda established itself in the U.S. selling motorcycles out of a small storefront in Los Angeles, Calif. Honda has steadily expanded its U.S. presence to encompass a broad range of products andoperations. Today, Honda employs more than 27,000 U.S. associates engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, sale and servicing of Honda andAcura products including automobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, personal water craft, power equipment, and an advanced light jet.last_img read more

Medicaid Budget Issues Mean Tough Choices Across Nation

first_imgMedicaid programs in Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and California deal with swelling rolls, tight budgets and reimbursement decisions.The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Hits BudgetThe larger-than-expected demand for Medicaid health coverage for needy adults, a contributor to Connecticut’s latest budget shortfall, is being felt across the state, according to a review of Department of Social Services statistical reports. Average monthly caseloads in cities and towns during the last three years show the state’s three largest cities have the greatest jump in numbers of residents seeking coverage under Medicaid for Low Income Adults or LIA (11/23).The Dallas Morning News: Texas Health Care Facing Big Changes, Tough Spending DecisionsGov. Rick Perry has promised to fight tooth and nail against implementing the Affordable Care Act. But that doesn’t mean big changes aren’t coming to Texas health care, and it won’t save lawmakers from facing tough spending decisions. … Signs of conflict are already showing. For the 2014-2015 budget cycle, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that runs the Medicaid program has asked the Legislature for an additional $6.7 billion. Republican leaders, meanwhile, have already pledged to increase the entire state budget by only $7 billion. If they plan to maintain their spending cap, they will need to pare down spending on health care (11/24).The Record (New Jersey): N.J. Bill Seeks To Limit Cuts By InsurersOne of the four private insurance companies that manage the state’s Medicaid program is seeking to cut reimbursement rates for home care to the elderly and the sick, but some lawmakers want to limit their authority to do so. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, said she hopes that the Senate will pass legislation next week to require that managed-care companies get written approval from the Department of Human Services to lower homecare reimbursement rates and that a public hearing be held first. Weinberg introduced the legislation in response to pleas from home-health agencies, which expressed concern in September when Horizon NJ Health — the largest of the four managed-care companies that administer the state’s Medicaid system — said it would decrease the hourly reimbursement rate for home care from $15.50, to $13.95, a 10 percent drop (Diskin, 11/24).California Healthline: Letter From Congress Focuses On Healthy Families TransitionCalifornia’s effort to move approximately 860,000 children from the Healthy Families program has drawn national attention. Twenty-two members of the House of Representatives, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), last week sent a letter to state health officials, urging caution in the Healthy Families transition to Medi-Cal managed care. The transition is slated to begin Jan. 1 when almost half the Health Families kids — about 415,000 — make the switch. The state still needs CMS approval for the plan (Gorn, 11/26). Medicaid Budget Issues Mean Tough Choices Across Nation This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

First Edition September 13 2013

first_imgFirst Edition: September 13, 2013 This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Today’s headlines include stories highlighting how the health law factors into Capitol Hill’s current political dynamics.Kaiser Health News: Each Marketplace Plan Must Offer 10 ‘Essential Benefits’ (Video) Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews helps you navigate the new insurance marketplaces that are scheduled to launch on Oct. 1, answering a question about the basic benefits package health plans must offer on the new health exchanges. Watch the video or watch other earlier videos that were part of this series. Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Insurance Exchange Outreach In Connecticut Goes Far Afield; Campaign To Enroll LBGT Community In Health Coverage Launched At White HouseNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, WNPR’s Jeff Cohen, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on Connecticut’s health exchange outreach: “Across Connecticut, you can see billboards and television ads, hear radio spots and get pamphlets, all about how to get insurance under the new federal health law starting Oct. 1. But the state also is spending big bucks on less traditional ways to get the word out” (Cohen, 9/12).Also on Capsules, Ankita Rao reports on the launch of a new effort to enroll the LGBT community in health coverage: “The Obama administration and community advocates touted the effort to reach out to those communities about new online health insurance marketplaces, where people can compare insurance plans and find out if they’re eligible for government subsidies.  The marketplaces open for enrollment Oct. 1, and will sell policies that take effect beginning Jan. 1” (Rao, 9/13). Check out what else is on the blog. The Wall Street Journal: Poll Finds Republicans Gain Favor On Key IssuesOn topics such as health care, Democrats have seen their long-standing advantage whittled to lows not seen in years. … The poll found Americans giving the party increasingly less credit as stewards in areas long seen as Democratic franchises. The party holds a 17-percentage-point advantage in looking after the middle class, the lowest in decades of Journal polling on the issue. The Democrats’ eight-percentage-point advantage on dealing with health care also was a new low, and half the edge the party held on that issue in February (King, 9/13).Politico: White House Determined Not To Give Ground On ObamacareDon’t blink first. That’s the strategy President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats are pursuing as the nation faces a government shutdown, a historic default on its debt and the final phase of Obamacare (Allen, 9/12).The New York Times: Boehner Seeking Democrats’ Help On Fiscal TalksBut a bloc of 43 House Republicans undercut the speaker’s deficit-reduction focus, introducing yearlong funding legislation that would increase Pentagon and veterans spending and delay President Obama’s health care law for a year — most likely adding to the budget deficit. That bloc is large enough to thwart any compromise that does not attract Democratic support (Weisman, 9/12).The Wall Street Journal: Boehner Wants Joint Talks On Debt, BudgetMr. Boehner said he made the same case in a private meeting with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday. But Mr. Lew said the White House wouldn’t agree to such talks, following the 2011 political showdown that nearly led the government to begin missing payments. Mr. Boehner didn’t specify the spending cuts, “changes and reforms” he would seek in exchange for raising the debt cap, but a clamor is growing among House conservatives to demand that no funding measure be approved unless it strips money from the federal health-care law. Conservative opposition to the health law is making it difficult for the House to pass a short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, that would keep the government operating after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1 (Hook and Boles, 9/12).The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Leaders Confounded On Stopgap Spending Bill Over Conservative Assault On ‘Obamacare’GOP leaders eager to avoid blame for a possible government shutdown next month appear confounded by conservatives’ passion for using fast-approaching deadlines to derail the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded Thursday his plan was all but dead for quickly passing a temporary spending bill that also defunds Obamacare, make the Senate vote on each idea separately and then send only the portion for keeping the government open to the White House for the president’s signature (9/12).The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: Obamacare Created 22 New Health Insurance Plans. Can They Succeed? The  Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or Co-Ops, are a small part of the health care law that could have big implications for its success. Nonprofits in 24 states have received over $2 billion in federal loans to essentially start new health insurance products from scratch. And the health care observers I talk to think that these plans have the potential to upend the health insurance market — or end up as the next Solyndra. Right now, it’s too early to tell which direction they’ll go (Kliff, 9/12).The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Passes Bill To Delay Health Care Subsidies, Imposing New System To Verify EligibilityThe House passed a bill Thursday to ban new subsidies to help people buy health insurance until the Obama administration enacts a new verification system to ensure benefits go only to those who are eligible. Democrats say the bill, which has no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, would unnecessarily delay subsidies slated to start next year. The White House has threatened a veto (9/12).Politico: House Passes Obamacare Verification Bill The House notched its 41st Obamacare vote on Thursday, this one aimed at the insurance subsidies to be handed out on the exchanges opening in less than three weeks. The bill, which passed 235-191, would mandate a verification program to make sure Americans don’t collect more insurance subsidies than they’re qualified for. HHS is already putting such a program in place, but Republicans insisted their measure is necessary in light of extra leeway the Obama administration granted states over the summer (Cunningham, 9/12).Politico: Obamacare, Keystone Collide In Senate Energy FightThe Senate’s first big energy debate since 2007 quickly devolved into an accidental collision between Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline. On one side is Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who has halted action on a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill while demanding a vote on an unrelated Obamacare measure. On the other is Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who wants to use the energy bill as a vehicle for a pro-Keystone amendment that he’s crafted to make as much bipartisan noise as possible (Goode and Restuccia, 9/12).Politico: Sources: Tom Corbett Preparing To Embrace Pennsylvania Medicaid ExpansionRepublican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is planning a Monday press conference to throw his support behind a version of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, industry and legislative sources tell POLITICO. Corbett’s eyeing versions of expansion that rely on private-sector health plans rather than adding to the public Medicaid rolls, similar to approaches being considered in Iowa and Arkansas, according to the sources. The approach would bring in billions of Obamacare dollars marked for states that back expansion and use them to buy private insurance for the state’s poorest residents (Cheney and Millman, 9/12).Politico: Arizona Activists Fail To Get Medicaid Expansion On Ballot – But Turn To CourtsThe tea party just got iced in Arizona. Conservative activists narrowly failed to gather enough signatures for a 2014 ballot initiative to derail Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in the Grand Canyon State by the Wednesday night deadline (Cheney, 9/12).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Unfinished Business: Unions Press For Obamacare ChangesThe AFL-CIO wound up passing a watered-down version of a resolution affirming what individual labor groups have been complaining about for nearly a year:  Higher costs related to the Affordable Care Act could force millions of their members to lose coverage under union-sponsored health-care plans. The resolution underscored the extent to which organized labor is trying to reach a peaceful resolution with the Obama administration, which wants to smooth out the wrinkles without a messy fight (Trottman, 9/12).Politico: AFL-CIO Demands Changes To ObamacareAFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the resolution raises the issue of whether “low- and moderate-income union members and their collectively bargained health care plans will be able to benefit from the same premium support that big insurance companies will receive and if they will have to pay fees to subsidize big insurance companies,” a statement on the AFL-CIO site reads. “There also are concerns that smaller employers will be able to get away with taking health care away from workers while paying no penalty” (Norman, 9/12).Politico: 5 Questions About The Unions’ Beef With ObamacareKey parts of organized labor have a case of buyer’s remorse over Obamacare and they’re letting everyone know about it. The AFL-CIO at its convention this week passed a resolution calling President Barack Obama’s health law “highly disruptive” to some union insurance plans, “substantially changing the coverage available for millions of covered employees and their families.” The labor federation did back the sweeping goals of Obamacare — covering people and restraining costs —but that wasn’t the part of the message that resonated politically (Norman, 6/12).The Wall Street Journal: Budget Deficit On Track For Smallest Shortfall Since 2008August was the eleventh month of the 2013 fiscal year, and the September data will likely show that 2013 was the first year since 2008 that the government had an annual deficit of less than $1 trillion. The Treasury Department said the August spending level was elevated because Social Security, Medicare, and other benefit payments scheduled to go out Sept. 1 were pushed to Aug. 30 because payments can’t go out on the weekend (Paletta, 9/12).Politico: Eli Lilly Sues Canada On Drug PatentsU.S. pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has filed a $500 million international lawsuit against the Canadian government, saying it unfairly shortened the life of patents for its best-selling drugs. The case, filed Thursday under the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement, threatens to shed a negative light on a dispute resolution mechanism also being proposed by the U.S. as part of the Pacific trade deal (Behsudi, 9/12).  Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.last_img read more

State Highlights Enrollment In NH Medical Marijuana Program Nears 5000 Ga Lawmakers

first_img New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program has more than doubled in size since 2016, according to the latest available data from the Department of Health and Human Services. About 4,700 patients were enrolled as of Dec. 20, up from just over 2,000 patients the same time last year. (McDermott, 1/8) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: Enrollment In N.H. Medical Marijuana Program Nears 5,000; Ga. Lawmakers Focus On Data, Solutions To Improve Care Media outlets report on news from New Hampshire, Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Kansas, Colorado and California. Denver Post: There Were Numerous Mental Health Warnings Leading Up To The Douglas County Deputy Shootings. Why Wasn’t The Gunman Hospitalized?  KCUR: University Of Kansas To Receive $25 Million Grant For Clinical Research  Adfinitas Health has acquired a majority stake in Advanced Inpatient Medicine, continuing the expansion of the Hanover-based hospitalist group. The acquisition adds four regional hospitals in Northeast Pennsylvania to Adfinitas portfolio, which already provides health care professionals to 14 hospitals and more than 40 post-acute facilities in Maryland, Virginia and Michigan. (Cohn, 1/8) Acting on the first day of the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session, a task force of state lawmakers approved recommendations Monday to create two centers that its leaders say will develop data and solutions to improve health care in Georgia. Led by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Georgia Health Care Reform Task Force proposed a Health Coordination and Innovation Council and a Health System Innovation Center to boost collaboration and help create a more efficient delivery of care. (Miller, 1/8) For the man who killed a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy and wounded six other people, the warning signs were abundant. At various points over the past three years, Matthew Riehl’s parents, friends who served with him in the Wyoming National Guard, professors at his former law school and law enforcement officers in two states all expressed concern about his mental health, according to official documents and interviews. His mother told police last year that he had stopped taking medication for bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders. A sheriff’s deputy and a mental health professional went to his apartment last month and had the door slammed in their faces.But, despite those concerns, Riehl was not placed on an emergency mental health hold in recent years and was not apparently receiving treatment of any kind when deputies arrived at his doorstep on New Year’s Eve morning. (Ingold and Phillips, 1/8) Today, the University of Kansas announced a $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the KU Medical Center’s program, Frontiers: University of Kansas Clinical and Translational Science Institute (KU CTSI). Frontiers began five years ago. It’s a clinical science institute dedicated to connecting scientists at the KU Med Center to resources and innovative research tools. It’s one of just 57 institutes of its kind in the country. The university has become known for this program, along with its cancer center, and Alzheimer’s disease center. (Tudhope, 1/8) center_img The Star Tribune: Eden Prairie-Based Metavention Gets $65 Million To Test Diabetes Treatment  Georgia Health News: Task Force Proposing Two New Centers To Boost Georgia Health Care The Baltimore Sun: Maryland-Based Adfinitas Health Buys Stake In PA Hospitalist Group  New Hampshire Public Radio: 4,700 Now Enrolled Under N.H.’s Medical Marijuana Law KQED: L.A. County Mobilizes To Bring Homeless In From The Cold L.A. County has opened more than a dozen temporary winter shelters, with about 1,500 beds. Hinderliter says the shelters give LAHSA outreach workers a chance to offer services to people who can otherwise be hard to reach and track at a time when there isn’t enough supportive housing to shelter the county’s surging homeless population. (Cuevas, 1/8) Eden Prairie-based Metavention, which is designing a machine to treat type 2 diabetes by burning away nerves thought to drive glucose dysfunction, has raised $65 million in venture capital. Metavention announced Monday that Menlo Park, Calif.-based New Enterprise Associates led the series C funding round that includes several new investors. (Carlson, 1/8) last_img read more

News 2018 Nissan Kicks

Source: Electric, Hybrid, Clean Diesel & High-MPG Vehicles Nissan’s New Kid On The BlockHave you seen the 2018 Nissan Kicks on the road yet? If not, you will soon. This all-new five-door (hatchback), small crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is predicted to become a very common sight, especially in cities where projected sales will be the strongest.Likely showing up on a street near-you soonThe brand-new Kicks more-or-less replaces the Juke as the subcompact crossover in the Nissan line-up. The Kicks joins the Rogue Sport, Rogue, Murano, Pathfinder and Armada, allowing Nissan the opportunity to say they have a size and model for everyone. Whether it’s a first car for young adults or families wanting up-to eight passenger capacity, Nissan feels they have what you will need.A shared project between Nissan’s design teams in Japan, Brazil and the U.S., the Kicks has a flair to it that reflects Rio de Janeiro as well as the practicality of the United States. The Kicks design will be familiar as it carries Nissan’s V-motion grille, “boomerang” head and tail lights, and floating roof that ties the windshield into the front windows. Nissan says the Kicks has “an expressive sense of style” and it “combines emotion and practicality.” In the very crowded compact crossover segment, it is a challenge to design a vehicle that will stand out. Nissan has included design cues of a blacked-out C-pillar, and wheel arches that accentuate the Kicks’ stance and presence.The Power DetailsThe 2018 Kicks is powered by a 1.6-liter, non-turbo four-cylinder engine. Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) drives the front wheels. AWD is not offered. This combination puts out 125 horsepower and 115 pound-feet of torque, and delivers an estimated fuel economy of 31 city/36 highway/33 combined. These numbers make the Kicks best-in-class.The interior seats up to five, but four would be more comfortable. However, if Nissan hits its targeted buyer—young adults and singles—then plan on the 60/40 split, fold-down rear seat to be lowered most of the time. Packing for weekend outings and long road trips will be a breeze, as the Kicks will handle pretty much what needs to be stowed for two people.It’s a kick inside, tooThe infotainment system offers all the sound and music sources you want, with an optional Bose system that could become the best stereo you own. Advanced driver assistance technologies, expected on all new cars, are either standard or available as part of trim line packages.There are three 2018 Kicks models, with these base prices:S at $17,900,SV at $19,690, andSR for $20,290.Options and the $995 destination and handling fee are extra.Clean Fleet Report will have full reviews soon of the 2018 Nissan Kicks. Until then, you can visit your local Nissan dealer and check it out for yourself. [See image gallery at www.cleanfleetreport.com] Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Slick Subcompact CrossoversRoad Test: 2017 Mazda CX-3Road Test: 2018 Toyota CH-RRoad Trip: 2018 Ford EcoSportRoad Test: 2015 Chevrolet TraxRoad Test: 2016 Fiat 500XRoad Test: 2017 Jeep RenegadeRoad Test: 2016 Honda HR-VRoad Test: 2018 Hyundai KonaRoad Test: 2015 Buick EncoreRoad Test: 2018 Kia Niro PHEVRoad Test: 2018 Mini Countryman PHEVRoad Test: 2018 Subaru CrosstrekRoad Test: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport& a look back at the Kicks’ kickass predecessor, the Juke NismoThe post News: 2018 Nissan Kicks appeared first on Clean Fleet Report. read more

On National Drink Beer Day AB InBev Agrees To Pay 6 Million

first_imgYesterday was National Drink Beer Day.Fitting then that yesterday the SEC announced this administrative cease and desist order against Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgium brewer with American Depository Receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The conduct at issue involved improper payments by an Indian joint venture “to Indian government officials to obtain beer orders and to increase brewery hours.” AB InBev held a minority interest in the joint venture which marketed and distributed the beer of AB InBev’s wholly-owned Indian subsidiary.The SEC found that AB InBev violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, AB InBev agreed to pay approximately $6 million to resolve the matter. As highlighted below, the SEC also found that AB InBev entered into a separation agreement with a former employee that violated an SEC Rule implementing Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower provisions.In summary fashion, the SEC’s order states:“This matter concerns AB InBev’s violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA, which occurred at its Indian wholly owned subsidiary, Crown Beers India Private Limited (“Crown”). From 2009 to 2012, AB InBev held a 49% interest in an Indian joint venture, InBev India International Private Limited (“IIIPL”), which managed the marketing and distribution of Crown beer. During this period, IIIPL used third-party sales promoters to make improper payments to Indian government officials to obtain beer orders and to increase brewery hours for Crown in 2011. IIIPL invoiced Crown for reimbursement for certain of these expenses, and Crown paid or accrued them. In doing so, Crown recorded certain of these expenses in its books as legitimate promotional costs. During this period, Crown had inadequate internal accounting controls to detect and prevent these improper payments and to ensure that transactions involving these promoters were recorded properly in its books. As a result, Crown’s books, which were consolidated into AB InBev’s books and records, did not accurately and fairly reflect the nature of the promoters’ transactions.”Crown is described in the order as a wholly-owned subsidiary of AB InBev headquartered in India whose financial results are consolidated into AB InBev’s financial statements filed with the SEC.IIIPL is described as follows.“[A] defunct company formerly based in Gurgaon, India, was a joint venture between AB InBev and RJ Corp, an Indian corporation. InBev (AB InBev’s predecessor) and RJ Corp formed IIIPL in 2007 to brew and sell beer in India and Nepal. Prior to its dissolution in early 2015, RJ Corp and AB InBev owned 51% and 49% of IIIPL, respectively. AB InBev and RJ Corp each had the right to appoint four IIIPL directors, with RJ Corp having the right to appoint the Chairman, who cast the tie-breaking vote on all but certain specified matters. RJ Corp appointed the IIIPL CEO, who had the power to appoint the other members of the IIIPL management team, except for the CFO, whom AB InBev appointed. Throughout the relevant period, the top financial officer at Crown acted as the top financial officer at IIIPL. From mid- 2011 through early 2014, Crown’s in-house counsel also acted as IIIPL’s in-house counsel.”In terms of background, the order states:“Pre-merger, Crown controlled the marketing, distribution, and sale of the beer it brewed. The Anheuser-Busch/InBev merger, however, triggered a provision in the IIIPL joint venture shareholders’ agreement that required IIIPL to manage the marketing, distribution, and sale of beer brewed by Crown. Thereafter, IIIPL controlled the third-party sales promoters that were used to facilitate the sale and marketing of Crown’s beers in both Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Among other tasks, these promoters administered retail promotional programs and liaised with Indian state government authorities.The sale of beer in India is predominantly regulated by individual states. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Limited (“APBCL”), an instrumentality of the government of Andhra Pradesh, purchases beer directly from brewers and sells beer directly to private retailers. In the state of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (“TASMAC”), an instrumentality of the government of Tamil Nadu, controls both wholesale and retail beer sales, purchasing beer from brewers and selling to consumers through TASMAC retail outlets.”Under the heading “Third-Party Promoters of AB InBev’s and IIIPL’s Beers Provided Improper Benefits and Payments to Indian Government Officials,” the order states:“In early 2009, IIIPL’s CEO and his appointed executives formulated a plan to increase IIIPL’s market share in Andhra Pradesh by providing improper benefits and payments to government officials through third-party sales promoters.Promoter Company A In 2009, IIIPL hired a promoter for the state of Andhra Pradesh, Promoter Company A. Promoter Company A had no experience in the alcohol industry. Promoter Company A received excessive commissions and reimbursements for questionable promotional charges. For example, Promoter Company A sought reimbursement from IIIPL of certain “display” charges that had no substantiation and were billed on a “per case” basis rather than based on the actual amount spent on the display. Promoter Company A used these excessive commissions and reimbursements to make improper payments to government officials at APBCL.There was no executed contract in place to govern the relationship between Promoter Company A and IIIPL. Neither IIIPL nor Crown conducted any due diligence on Promoter Company A. Instead, the contractual terms of IIIPL’s agreement with Promoter Company A were documented only in two short internal emails between IIIPL employees. Promoter Company A was replaced by a successor entity in April 2012, but neither IIIPL nor Crown conducted any due diligence on the successor entity at that time. Even though Crown’s inhouse counsel forwarded AB InBev’s FCPA due diligence forms to IIIPL staff and offered to help complete them, the due diligence forms were never completed. Neither company executed a written contract with the successor entity until September 2012.In December 2009, AB InBev received an internal complaint regarding compliance and internal control issues at IIIPL, including potential FCPA issues related to Promoter Company A. In response, AB InBev expedited an already-planned internal audit of IIIPL, which AB InBev staff conducted in early 2010. This audit did not scrutinize Promoter Company A’s activities or expenses. Still, the 2010 audit identified various deficiencies at IIIPL, including (a) a lack of documented business policies and procedures for significant functions such as procurement, vendor selection, and expense reimbursement; (b) a lack of awareness about FCPA compliance; and (c) inadequate information technology controls regarding financial processes and expense payments. AB InBev did not rectify many of the issues identified in the audit until 2011 or early 2012.From April 2009 until March 2012, IIIPL generally incurred the initial costs of marketing and selling Crown’s beer and then sent invoices to Crown for reimbursement. Crown, in turn, recorded certain of these costs as expenses on its books and records. Crown thus either incurred or accrued certain of Promoter Company A’s expenses and recorded them as legitimate commissions or promotional costs, even though some of those amounts included improper payments to government officials.Despite the internal complaint and the 2010 audit results, Crown personnel did not verify that a contract was in place with Promoter Company A and did not ensure that IIIPL personnel had performed due diligence on Promoter Company A. As a result, Crown recorded certain Promoter Company A expenses on its books in a manner that failed to accurately and fairly reflect their true nature and purpose.Promoter Company B In or about 2011, IIIPL began working with an individual (the “Principal”) who had connections in Andhra Pradesh, including to the son-in-law of the Andhra Pradesh Excise Minister. The Principal used his local connections to secure extra brewing hours for Crown after the Andhra Pradesh Excise Commissioner limited Crown’s production time to 8 hours per day. On April 1, 2011, before the Principal was hired in any capacity by IIIPL or Crown, and before the Principal had entered into any contract, the Principal emailed IIIPL a signed order from the Andhra Pradesh Excise Commissioner that gave Crown an additional 7.5 brewing hours per day. The Principal helped IIIPL obtain further authorizations from the Andhra Pradesh Excise Commissioner to operate for an additional 7.5 hours per day in May 2011, and an additional 7 hours per day in June 2011. Neither IIIPL nor Crown held any contractual relationship with, or had performed any due diligence on, the Principal when he helped secure the additional brewing hours.Around the same time, IIIPL engaged the Principal to assist in generating beer orders from TASMAC in Tamil Nadu. In April 2011, the Principal secured orders of more than 534,000 cases of beer in Tamil Nadu, resulting in gross profits of approximately $637,000 to Crown. This was the first and only time that IIIPL ever sold Crown beer in Tamil Nadu.IIIPL utilized the Principal’s company, Promoter Company B, to promote beer in Tamil Nadu despite the fact that Promoter Company B had no experience, staff, or infrastructure in Tamil Nadu.IIIPL personnel did not conduct due diligence on the Principal or Promoter Company B before they began performing work for IIIPL. To conceal this fact, IIIPL employees subsequently completed and backdated Promoter Company B’s due diligence forms to make it appear as though they were completed in April 2011, when IIIPL initially engaged Promoter Company B. In addition, IIIPL employees allowed the Principal to complete the due diligence forms in the first instance, and then altered his responses to make them more suitable.Neither Crown nor IIIPL had a written agreement in place with the Principal or Promoter Company B. Rather, the basic terms of the engagement were first set out in an internal email between IIIPL employees in June 2011, several months after IIIPL had begun to sell beer in Tamil Nadu and after Promoter Company B had already invoiced IIIPL for its services. The terms included an inflated commission rate, which Promoter Company B used to make improper payments to TASMAC officials. IIIPL employees subsequently drafted and backdated a contract with Promoter Company B to create the appearance that the contract had been executed on the date that IIIPL initially engaged Promoter Company B. In reality, IIIPL did not execute a formal contract with Promoter Company B until approximately January 2012.Although they were on notice of internal controls issues at IIIPL and had received a complaint about the Principal and Promoter Company B, Crown personnel did not verify the existence of a written contract with Promoter Company B and did not confirm that IIIPL personnel performed due diligence on Promoter Company B.”Based on the above findings, the SEC found that AB InBev violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions.A separate set of findings in the Order related to AB InBev’s separation agreement with a former Crown employee. According to the Order:“[I]n December 2012, AB InBev entered into a separation agreement with a former Crown employee containing language that impeded the employee from communicating directly with the Commission staff about possible securities law violations. AB InBev had also used the same or similar language in other separation agreements in the past.”According to the order:“After signing the Separation Agreement, the Crown Employee, who was previously voluntarily communicating directly with the Commission staff, stopped doing so. The Crown Employee stopped doing so because he believed that he was prohibited by the recently executed Separation Agreement and any violation of the Separation Agreement would risk triggering the Separation Agreement’s liquidated damages provision. Only after the Commission issued an administrative subpoena for testimony and documents did the Crown Employee resume communicating directly with the Commission staff.AB InBev has used the same or similar language in other agreements in the past.”Based on these findings, the SEC found that AB InBev violated Dodd-Frank, specifically Rule 21F-17 which provides that “No person may take any action to impede an individual from communicating directly with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation, including enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement . . . with respect to such communications.”For other recent SEC enforcement actions concerning employee severance agreements, see prior posts here, here and here.Under the heading “Document Destruction at IIIPL,” the order states:“In or about May 2013, Commission staff learned of IIIPL’s plans to destroy or hide documents. The Commission staff informed AB InBev immediately thereafter, but the company took no immediate corrective action. In September 2013, AB InBev notified the Commission staff of a meeting in which several IIIPL managers instructed top IIIPL employees to remove potentially inculpatory data from their offices and computers. Crown and IIIPL’s in-house counsel attended the meeting, but never alerted AB InBev management to the document removal instructions. Other IIIPL employees reported that they had helped or observed IIIPL managers take several binders out of the building to destroy or move to a “secret location.”Under the heading “AB InBev’s Investigation and Remedial Efforts, the order states:“AB InBev did not report the 2009 and 2011 complaints to the Commission staff before the Commission first contacted AB InBev in October 2011. During the investigation, AB InBev did not respond to subpoenas in a timely manner, and made broad assertions of privilege that required significant resources from the Commission staff to address and delayed the production of responsive, non-privileged documents. The timeliness of AB InBev’s responses to the Commission’s requests for documents and information improved over time.After the 2010 internal audit, AB InBev did improve some internal controls at Crown and IIIPL, including by adopting AB InBev’s own policies, due diligence questionnaires, and checklists; more sound controls over expenses and cash; and tighter controls over IIIPL’s accounting software, and the eventual replacement in 2012 of a flawed accounting system with a more sophisticated system. However, IIIPL employees were still able to circumvent many of these controls between 2010 and 2012. AB InBev also conducted FCPA training at both IIIPL and Crown, albeit over a year and a half after it received the first complaint regarding potential FCPA violations.Additionally, AB InBev and RJ Corp terminated their joint venture and dissolved IIIPL in early 2015. AB InBev now operates in India solely through its wholly owned subsidiary, Crown, and has consolidated its Indian production, sales, and marketing functions at Crown. Following the dissolution of IIIPL in 2015, AB InBev conducted extensive FCPA training for Crown’s staff, and implemented improved compliance policies and controls at Crown, including policies and controls relating to third-party due diligence and contracts. AB InBev also has hired a dedicated India compliance manager who reports to a new India Legal Counsel and Head of Compliance.In September 2015, AB InBev amended its separation agreements that impose confidentiality restrictions on departing employees of its United States entities to make clear that they do not prohibit the employees from reporting possible violations of law to governmental agencies. Those separation agreements now include the following language: “I understand and acknowledge that notwithstanding any other provision in this Agreement, I am not prohibited or in any way restricted from reporting possible violations of law to a governmental agency or entity, and I am not required to inform the Company if I make such reports.”As noted in the SEC’s release:“Anheuser-Busch agreed to pay $2,712,955 in disgorgement plus interest of $292,381 and a penalty of $3,002,955.  For a two-year period, the company must cooperate with the SEC and report its FCPA compliance efforts while making reasonable efforts to notify certain former employees that Anheuser-Busch does not prohibit employees from contacting the SEC about possible law violations.”The SEC’s order does not state what portion of the overall settlement amount was for the FCPA violations vs. the Dodd-Frank violations. By way of background, the prior whistleblower severance agreement cases were resolved for $130,000; $265,000; and $340,000.In the release, Kara Brockmeyer (Chief of the SEC’s FCPA Unit) stated:“Anheuser-Busch recorded improper payments by its sales promoters in India as legitimate expenses in its financial accounting, and then exacerbated the problem by including language in a separation agreement that chilled an employee from communicating with the SEC.”Jane Norberg (Acting Chief of the SEC’s Whistleblower Office) added:“Threat of financial punishment for whistleblowing is unacceptable. We will continue to take a hard look at these types of provisions and fact patterns.”The SEC’s order requires AB InBev, for a two-year period, to report to the SEC on the “operation of AB InBev’s FCPA and anti-corruption compliance program. In addition, AB InBev agreed to “make reasonable efforts to contact former employees … and provide them a copy of this Order and a statement that AB InBev does not prohibit former employees from contacting the Commission regarding possible violations of federal law or regulation.*****Steven Fagell (Covington & Burling) represented AB InBev.last_img read more

This Week On FCPA Professor

first_imgFCPA Professor has been described as “the Wall Street Journal concerning all things FCPA-related,” and “the most authoritative source for those seeking to understand and apply the FCPA.”Set forth below are the topics discussed this week on FCPA Professor.As highlighted here, Stryker joined the FCPA repeat offender club as the SEC announced a $7.8 million enforcement action against the medical device company for not having internal accounting controls “sufficient to detect the risk of improper payments in sales of Stryker products in India, China, and Kuwait” and because “Stryker’s India subsidiary failed to maintain complete and accurate books and records.”As highlighted here, the DOJ and SEC announced an enforcement action against Brazil-based Petrobras based on its interactions with Brazilian politicians and political parties and related financial disclosure issues. The net FCPA settlement amount was approximately $170 million. The enforcement action is believed to be the first FCPA enforcement against a foreign government in that Petrobras is an alleged SOE and thus considered by the FCPA enforcement agencies an “instrumentality” of the Brazil government. This post highlights additional issues to consider from the enforcement action.As highlighted here, former SBM Offshore executives Anthony Mace (the former CEO of SBM Offshore) and Robert Zubiate (a former sales and marketing executive at a company subsidiary) were sentenced. Mace was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison and a fine of $150,000 and Zubiate was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and a fine of $50,000. As highlighted in this prior post, the Mace enforcement action, in particular, should be required reading for all corporate executives.As summarized in this post (with commentary), Deputy Assistant AG Matthew Miner gave a speech that touched upon a number of FCPA issues including: the DOJ’s Corporate Enforcement Policy, voluntary disclosure, so-called declinations, coordinated resolutions, general compliance issues, and M&A transactions.As highlighted here, Stephanie Avakian (Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division) recently delivered a speech in which she pondered the meaning of success in enforcement.So much for that tone at the top thing as the SEC returned to bring an enforcement action against SQM’s former CEO Patricio Contesse Gonazlez (see here).This FCPA Flash podcast episode is a conversation with Judge Shira Scheindlin. Judge Scheindlin served as a federal trial court judge in the Southern District of New York for 20+ years until May 2016.  Most federal court judges go their entire career without an FCPA case being placed on their docket. However, Judge Scheindlin is an exception and during her time on the bench she refereed more disputed FCPA issues than any other federal court judge in FCPA history. During the podcast, Judge Scheindlin describes how she was generally on a judicial island when interpreting the FCPA and the difficulty of interpreting the “ambiguous” FCPA. The podcast is a must listen for anyone interested in FCPA jurisprudence.As highlighted in this guest post, Canada now has deferred prosecution agreements. How much do you know about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act? Let’s find out in this week’s FCPA challenge.Elevate your FCPA knowledge and practical skills at the FCPA Institute – Philadelphia on October 18-19. Click here to learn more and register.last_img read more