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Battery Life

The Free Press WV

It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to talk about something that we seriously struggle with: The ridiculously-short lifetime of our devices’ batteries!

When we get a new phone, the battery seems like it is never going to be emptied and we will forever stay that way. But a few weeks later, the battery starts to decrease without us even touching the device, which is frustrating.

Nowadays, our devices have a different type of batteries that are Lithium-ion based, while the old ones were Nickel-cadmium based. The latter used to have a “memory effect”, which means the battery would lose its life every time the device is used when it is not fully discharged.

The new ones don’t have this effect, but they still lose their lives faster than we want them to. If you want to keep your batteries life longer, then here are the most effective ways to improve battery life on your devices.


Avoid Heat

The heat is one of the worst things to happen to your battery, and it happened to me personally. My laptop used to have an 8-hour lifespan, but after leaving it in the car during one hot summer day, it decreased to about two hours.

Also, in case your fan is blocked and your laptop is getting overheated, the batteries will be affected. So make sure to avoid exposing any of your devices to any form of heat.


Charge

If your devices are new with Lithium-ion batteries, then you don’t have to wait until it is fully drained to zero. In fact, it is best to charge it when it is around 50%, then recharge it when necessary. Once it hits 100%, unplug it as soon as you can.

Once a month, you have to discharge your device’s battery completely because many laptops and smartphones’ batteries tend to focus on how much time you still have. This way the clock will be able to recalibrate for a more accurate estimate of how much time your battery still has.

These were the basics of how to take care of a battery, now let’s talk about the way you will be able to extend your batteries life.


How to extend battery life in:


– Smartphones:

Owning a smartphone can earn the medal for being the one thing that always causing us anxiety for its battery that always drains fast every day. So here are the key things to save its time to the maximum:

You have to reduce the brightness on your phone screen in order to tone down the backlight needed, therefore, a longer battery life. Turn off your apps that keep on running in the background in order to reduce the work your phone has to do, especially when you are not using it.

There are many apps that take up more life than others, including social media and location tracking apps. If you are not using them, it is best to turn them off or they will gradually kill your battery.

Moreover, you should consider turning off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 3G/4G. These tools connect with other devices and communicate with them wirelessly, which drain the battery even faster.

Me, for instance, I always keep my Wi-Fi on because I know I will forget to turn it on when am back home. But then I sit there trying to know why the battery is almost dead before I even step inside my building. Just make sure to turn them on and off based on your personal needs.

Lastly, if you only want to play a game or listen to an audio, then you should definitely turn your smartphone into airplane mode to save a ton of your battery life. But keep in mind that you will not be able to receive or send any calls, text messages, emails or data.


– Laptops:

You don’t have to worry about turning off apps when it comes to your laptop. But just like smartphones, turn the brightness down and decrease the number of programs you have opened for a longer battery.

The things that will drain your laptop’s battery life the most are any processor-intensive and graphics programs. The tools you use for video and picture editing, or games with 3D graphics. All these programs need a massive amount of power that will definitely drain all your battery.

A few other things that will drain your laptop’s battery are the things you attach to it, like a USB hard drive, flash drive, mouse, and basically anything that needs power. So if you don’t really need them, you don’t have to use them.

Here is a sum up of all the tips that will help your Lithium-ion batteries stay alive longer:

– Don’t fully discharge or charge your batteries for a long time.

– Turn all your wireless communication off that you are not using.

– Don’t leave your devices in the heat.

– Turn your apps and programs off once you are done using them.

– Don’t leave other devices attached to your laptop for a long time.

5 reasons why autonomous cars aren’t coming anytime soon

The Free Press WV

In the world of autonomous vehicles, Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley are bustling hubs of development and testing. But ask those involved in self-driving vehicles when we might actually see them carrying passengers in every city, and you’ll get an almost universal answer: Not anytime soon.

An optimistic assessment is 10 years. Many others say decades as researchers try to conquer a number of obstacles. The vehicles themselves will debut in limited, well-mapped areas within cities and spread outward.

The fatal crash in Arizona involving an Uber autonomous vehicle in March slowed progress, largely because it hurt the public’s perception of the safety of vehicles. Companies slowed research to be more careful. Google’s Waymo, for instance, decided not to launch a fully autonomous ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area and will rely on human backup drivers to ferry passengers, at least for now.

Here are the problems that researchers must overcome to start giving rides without humans behind the wheel:

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SNOW AND WEATHER

When it’s heavy enough to cover the pavement, snow blocks the view of lane lines that vehicle cameras use to find their way. Researchers so far haven’t figured out a way around this. That’s why much of the testing is done in warm-weather climates such as Arizona and California.

Heavy snow, rain, fog and sandstorms can obstruct the view of cameras. Light beams sent out by laser sensors can bounce off snowflakes and think they are obstacles. Radar can see through the weather, but it doesn’t show the shape of an object needed for computers to figure out what it is.

“It’s like losing part of your vision,” says Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers are working on laser sensors that use a different light beam wavelength to see through snowflakes, said Greg McGuire, director of the MCity autonomous vehicle testing lab at the University of Michigan. Software also is being developed so vehicles can differentiate between real obstacles and snowflakes, rain, fog, and other conditions.

But many companies are still trying to master the difficult task of driving on a clear day with steady traction.

“Once we are able to have a system reliably perform in those, then we’ll start working toward expanding to those more challenging conditions,” said Noah Zych, Uber’s head of system safety for self-driving cars.

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PAVEMENT LINES AND CURBS

Across the globe, roadway marking lines are different, or they may not even exist. Lane lines aren’t standardized, so vehicles have to learn how to drive differently in each city. Sometimes there aren’t any curbs to help vehicles judge lane width.

For instance, in Pittsburgh’s industrial “Strip District,” where many self-driving vehicles are tested, the city draws lines across the narrow lanes to mark where vehicles should stop for stop signs. Sometimes the lines are so far back and buildings are so close to the street that autonomous cars can’t see traffic on the cross street if they stop at the line. One workaround is to program vehicles to stop for the line and creep forward.

“Is it better to do a double stop?” asked Pete Rander, president of Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle company in which Ford has invested heavily. “Since intersections vary, it’s not that easy.”

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DEALING WITH HUMAN DRIVERS

For many years, autonomous vehicles will have to deal with humans who don’t always play by the rules. They double-park or walk in front of cars. Recently in Pittsburgh, an Argo backup driver had to take over when his car stopped during a right turn, blocking an intersection when it couldn’t immediately decide whether to go around a double-parked delivery truck.

“Even if the car might eventually figure something out, it’s shared space, and it’s socially unacceptable” to block traffic, Rander said.

Humans also make eye contact with other drivers to make sure they’re looking in the right direction, something still being developed for autonomous vehicles.

Add to that the antagonism that some feel toward robots. People have reportedly been harassing Waymo’s autonomous test vehicles near Phoenix. The Arizona Republic reported in December that police is suburban Chandler have documented at least 21 cases in the past two years, including a man waiving a gun at a Waymo van and people who slashed tires and threw rocks. One Jeep forced the vans off the road six times.

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LEFT TURNS

Deciding when to turn left in front of oncoming traffic without a green arrow is one of the more difficult tasks for human drivers and one that causes many crashes. Autonomous vehicles have the same trouble.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a recent interview that his company’s vehicles are still encountering occasional problems at intersections.

“I think the things that humans have challenges with, we’re challenged with as well,” he said. “So sometimes unprotected lefts are super challenging for a human, sometimes they’re super challenging for us.”

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CONSUMER ACCEPTANCE

The fatal Uber crash near Phoenix last year did more than push the pause button on testing. It also rattled consumers who someday will be asked to ride in self-driving vehicles.

Surveys taken after the Uber crash showed that drivers are reluctant to give up control to a computer. One by AAA found that 73 percent of American drivers would be too fearful to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle. That’s up from 63 percent in late 2017.

Autonomous vehicle companies are showing test passengers information on screens about where the vehicles are headed and what its sensors are seeing. The more people ride, the more they trust the vehicles, says Waymo’s Krafcik.

“After they become more and more confident they rarely look at the screens, and they’re on their phones or relaxing or sleeping,” he said.

Scientists Find Culprit in Starfish Devastation

The Free Press WV

“This thing was as common as a robin,“ Cornell’s Drew Harvell tells the Atlantic of the sunflower sea star. No more. The creature that once thrived off the West Coast was decimated along with other starfish species by a disease that surfaced with a vengeance around 2013. Scientists previously figured out that a virus was to blame, and a new study in Science Advances helps explain how it turned so lethal. The main villain: warming ocean waters. Harvell and her team found a correlation between unusually warm ocean temperatures around that time and the plunge in starfish numbers, reports the New York Times. Think of it as a “one-two punch,“ explains Smithsonian: The warmer water served as a trigger of sorts for the deadly pathogen to emerge and flourish.

“This is shocking,“ marine ecologist Mark Carr of UC Santa Cruz, who wasn’t involved in the study, tells Science. “This is not just a population reduction, this is virtually the loss of a key species over thousands of miles. We’ve never seen anything like this before.“ Scientists focused on the sunflower sea star because it’s so well-known—capable of growing up to 3 feet in diameter—and is a vital cog in the ocean ecosystem. For example, it feeds on sea urchins, which are now destroying kelp forests off the coast, reports Discover. One brighter spot about the study: Harvell says the impetus came from a $400 donation she received from schoolchildren in Arkansas who’d read about the starfish problem. She matched the amount with her own money, then got more funds for the initial work.

NASA Preps for Visit to ‘Mysterious World’

The Free Press WV

A puzzling moon. A risky mission. A hunt for ETs. NASA knows it has a sexy mission on its hands with the Europa Clipper: “People care about it, people want to know about this mysterious world that might harbor life,“ NASA scientist Robert Pappalardo tells Space.com. But NASA is still designing the spacecraft that will launch as early as 2023, then pass Jupiter’s icy Europa moon about 40 times to gather data about its composition, geology, and unseen ocean. Any life would lie down below, where microorganisms might feed on seafloor geologic activity; radiation blocked by the ice above wouldn’t be able to hurt life there. And “there” is huge—about twenty times deeper than Earth’s oceans, per Boise State Public Radio.

NASA will also measure the shell’s thickness and see if gaps let seawater plumes burst into space (like on the Saturn ice moon, Enceladus). And because radiation prohibits the spacecraft from orbiting Europa, it will move around the Jupiter system and catch a glimpse of other moons. “Io happens to be right there,“ says NASA scientist Christina Richey. “Who doesn’t want to look at the planetary body that looks like a pox-ridden abyss?“ For now, NASA is still analyzing the design, finishing the budget, choosing the trajectory, and deciding which launch vehicle will carry Europa Clipper on a three-year or five-to-six-year journey. With any luck, it will send back revealing images: “Europa we don’t really get—there are these really key mysteries we’re trying to understand,“ says Pappalardo.

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