China’s transition to electric vehicles

By 2030, 40 percent of vehicles sold in China will be electric; MIT research finds that despite benefits, the cost to consumers and to society will be substantial.

In recent decades, China’s rapid economic growth has enabled more and more consumers to buy their own cars. The result has been improved mobility and the largest automotive market in the world — but also serious urban air pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions, and growing dependence on oil imports.

To counteract those troubling trends, the Chinese government has imposed policies to encourage the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). Since buying an EV costs more than buying a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, in 2009 the government began to provide generous subsidies for EV purchases. But the price differential and the number of buyers were both large, so paying for the subsidies became extremely costly for the government.

As a result, China’s policymakers planned to phase out the subsidies at the end of 2020 and instead impose a mandate on car manufacturers. Simply stated, the mandate requires that a certain percent of all vehicles sold by a manufacturer each year must be battery-powered. To avoid financial penalties, every year manufacturers must earn a stipulated number of points, which are awarded for each EV produced based on a complex formula that takes into account range, energy efficiency, performance, and more. The requirements get tougher over time, with a goal of having EVs make up 40 percent of all car sales by 2030.

This move will have a huge impact on the worldwide manufacture of EVs, according to William H. Green, the Hoyt C. Hottel Professor in Chemical Engineering. “This is one of the strongest mandates for electric cars worldwide, and it’s being imposed on the largest car market in the world,” he says. “There will be a gigantic increase in the manufacture of EVs and in the production of batteries for them, driving down the cost of both globally.”

But what will be the impact of the mandate within China? The transition to EVs will bring many environmental and other benefits. But how much will it cost the nation? In 2016, MIT chemical engineering colleagues Green and then-graduate student I-Yun Lisa Hsieh PhD ’20 decided to find out. Their goal was to examine the mixed impacts of the mandate on all affected factors: battery prices, manufacturing costs, vehicle prices and sales, and the cost to the consumer of owning and operating a car. Based on their results, they could estimate the total societal cost of complying with the mandate in the coming decade. (Note that the Chinese government recently extended subsidy support for EVs for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that this analysis was performed before that change was announced.)

Looking at battery prices

“The main reason why EVs are costly is that their batteries are expensive,” says Green. In recent years, battery prices have dropped rapidly, largely due to the “learning effect”: As production volumes increase, manufacturers find ways to improve efficiency, and costs go down. It’s generally assumed that battery prices will continue to decrease as EVs take over more of the car market.

Using a new modeling approach, Green and Hsieh determined that learning effects will lower costs appreciably for battery production, but not much for the mining and synthesis of critical battery materials. They concluded that the price of the most widely used EV battery technology — the lithium-ion nickel-manganese-cobalt battery — will indeed drop as more are manufactured. But the decline will slow as the price gets closer to the cost of the raw materials in it.

Using the resulting estimates of battery price, the researchers calculated the extra cost of manufacturing an EV over time and — assuming a standard markup for profit — determined the likely selling price for those cars. In previous work, they had used a variety of data sources and analytical techniques to determine “affordability” for the Chinese population — in other words, the fraction of their income available to spend on buying a car. Based on those findings, they examined the expected impact on car sales in China between 2018 and 2030.

As a baseline for comparison, the researchers first assumed a “counterfactual” (not true-to-life) scenario — car sales without significant adoption of EVs, so without the new mandate. Under that assumption, annual projected car sales climb to more than 34 million by 2030.

When the subsidy on EV purchases is eliminated and the mandate is enacted in 2020, total car sales shrink. But thereafter, the growing economy and rising incomes increase consumer purchasing power and drive up the demand for private car ownership. Annual sales are on average 20 percent lower than in the counterfactual scenario, but they’re projected to reach about 30 million by 2030.

The researchers also projected the breakdown in sales between ICE vehicles and battery EVs at three points in time. According to that analysis, in 2020, EVs make up just 7 percent of the total (1.6 million vehicles). By 2025, that share is up to 21 percent (5.4 million). And by 2030, it’s up to 37 percent (11.2 million) — close to the government’s 40 percent target. Altogether, 66 million EVs are sold between 2020 and 2030.

Those results also track the split between two types of plug-in EVs: pure battery EVs and hybrid EVs (which are powered by both batteries and gasoline). About twice as many pure battery EVs are sold than hybrid EVs, even though the former are more expensive due to the higher cost of their batteries. “The mandate includes a special preference for cars with a longer range, which means cars with large batteries,” says Green. “So carmakers have a big incentive to manufacture the pure battery EVs and be awarded extra points under the mandate formula.”

For the consumer, the added cost of owning an EV includes any difference in vehicle expenses over the whole lifetime of the car. To calculate that difference, the researchers quantified the “total cost of ownership,” or TCO, including the purchase cost, fuel cost, and operating and maintenance costs (including insurance) of their two plug-in EVs and an ICE vehicle out to 2030.

Their results show that before 2020, owning either type of plug-in EV is less costly than owning an ICE vehicle due to the subsidy paid on EV purchases. After the subsidy is removed and the mandate imposed in 2020, owning a hybrid EV is comparable to owning an ICE vehicle. Owning a pure battery EV is more expensive due to its high-cost batteries. Dropping battery prices reduces total ownership cost for both types of EVs, but the pure battery EV remains more expensive out to 2030.

Cost to society

The next step for the researchers was to calculate the total cost to China of forcing the adoption of EVs. The basic approach is straightforward: They take the extra TCO for each EV sold in each year, discount that cost to its present value, and multiply the resulting figure by the number of cars sold in that year. (They exclude taxes embedded in the purchase prices of the vehicle, of electricity and gasoline, and so on, as the society will have to pay other taxes to replace that lost revenue.)

Using that methodology, they calculated the incremental cost to society of each EV sold in each year as well as the extra cost per kilometer driven, assuming that the vehicle has a lifetime of 12 years and is driven 12,500 kilometers each year. The results show that the incremental cost of owning and driving an EV decreases from 2021 to 2030. The cost declines more for pure battery EVs than for hybrid EVs, but the former remain more costly.

By combining the per-car cost to society with the number of cars sold, the researchers calculated the total extra cost incurred. In their results, the total number of EVs sold in a year more than offsets any decrease in per-vehicle cost, so the incremental cost to society grows. And that cost is sizeable. On average, the transition to EVs forced by the mandate will cost 100 billion yuan per year from 2021 to 2030, which is about 2 percent of the nationwide expenditure in the transport sector every year.

During the 10 years from 2021-30, the annual societal cost of the transition to almost 40 percent EVs is equivalent to about 0.1 percent of China’s growing gross domestic product. “So the cost to society of forcing the sale of EVs in place of ICE vehicles is significant,” says Hsieh. “People will have far less money in their pockets to spend on other purchases.”

Other considerations

Green and Hsieh stress that the high societal cost of the forced EV adoption must be considered in light of the potential benefits to be gained. For example, switching from ICE vehicles to EVs will lower air pollution and associated health costs; reduce carbon dioxide emissions to help mitigate climate change; and reduce reliance on imported petroleum, enhancing the country’s national energy security and balance of payments.

Hsieh is now working to quantify those benefits so that the team can perform a proper cost-benefit analysis of China’s transition to EVs. Her initial results suggest that the monetized benefits are — like the costs — substantial. “The benefits appear to be the same order of magnitude as the costs,” she says. “It’s so close that we need to be careful to get the numbers right.”

The researchers cite two other factors that may impact the cost side of the equation. In early 2018, six Chinese megacities with high air pollution began restricting the number of license plates issued for ICE vehicles and charging high fees for them. With their lower-cost, more-abundant “green car plates,” EVs became cost-competitive, and sales soared. To protect Chinese carmakers, the national government recently announced that it plans to end those restrictions. The outcome and its impacts on EV sales remain uncertain. (Again, due to the pandemic, policies restricting car ownership have mostly been relaxed for now.)

The second caveat concerns how carmakers price their vehicles. The results reported here assume that prices are calculated as they are today: the cost of manufacturing the vehicle plus a certain percentage markup for profit. With the new mandate in place, automakers will need to change their pricing strategy so as to persuade enough buyers to purchase EVs to reach the required fraction. “We don’t know what they’re going to do, but one possibility is that they’ll lower the price of their battery cars and raise the price of their gasoline cars,” says Green. “That way, they can still make their profits while operating within the law.” As an example, he cites how U.S. carmakers responded to Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by adjusting the relative prices of their low- and high-efficiency vehicles.

While such a change in Chinese automakers’ pricing strategy would lower the price of EVs, it would also push up average car prices overall, because the total car sales mix is dominated by ICE vehicles. “Some people in China who would otherwise be able to afford a cheap gasoline car now won’t be able to afford it,” says Hsieh. “They’ll be priced out of the market.”

Green emphasizes the impact of the mandate on all carmakers worldwide. “I can’t overstate how hugely important this is,” he says. “As soon as the mandate came out, carmakers realized that electric vehicles had become a major market rather than a niche market on the side.” And he believes that even without subsidies, the added expense of buying an EV won’t be prohibitive for many car buyers — especially in light of the benefits they offer.

However, he does have a final concern. As more and more EVs are manufactured, global supplies of critical battery materials will become increasingly limited. At the same time, however, the supply of spent batteries will increase, creating an opportunity to recycle critical materials for use in new batteries and simultaneously prevent environmental threats from their disposal. The researchers recommend that policymakers “help to integrate the entire industry chain among automakers, battery producers, used-car dealers, and scrap companies in battery recycling systems to achieve a more sustainable society.”

This research was supported through the MIT Energy Initiative’s Mobility of the Future study.

This article appears in the Autumn 2020 issue of Energy Futures, the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative.

Satya Nadella: We must strive for inclusion in the digital economy | Forum Insight

Can our technology reflect the diversity of the people who use them? At Davos 2019, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlines the challenges tech giants face to provide products for our complex world. He also lays out how his company tries to live that reality in everything it does.

Information from: Click Here

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Global game developers see growth opportunity in ‘world no. 1’ Chinese market

The Chinese market for video games, estimated to be the largest globally, is set to further expand in terms of size and quality, according to industry players who met at Asia’s biggest gaming fair, the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference, better known as ChinaJoy, in Shanghai.

Many gaming companies have said the COVID-19 pandemic caused challenges, but also offered an opportunity to win fans. As more global players aim to expand their market share in China by introducing new games, many say adding Chinese classics is key to design and localization.

French video game developer Ubisoft said that it noted an “increase in playtime” during the recent COVID-19 lockdown period especially among Chinese players, and expressed optimism in the further growth of the market.

“I think the Chinese gaming market is the number one market in the world. It has been increasing a lot in the last few years,” Jean-Francois Vallee, studio manager of Ubisoft China told CGTN at the fair.

China is said to be the largest games market currently, with revenue estimated to reach 41 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, followed closely by the U.S at 37 billion U.S. dollars, according to estimates by games and esports analytics firm Newzoo. The total game industry revenue from consumers will reach 159.3 billion U.S. dollars, a 9.3 percent increase year on year, Newzoo predicts.

The firm also said that 2.69 billion people will play video games this year (from 7.8 billion global population), with over half of those in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vallee said that gamers in China now have access to very high quality games, and this will be boosted by 5G technology and the availability of mainstream consoles like the Nintendo Switch, which received its own Chinese version after working with Tencent in December last year.

He also said that Ubisoft, which has been in China for over 23 years, aims to tap into the growing market and now has over 1,000 staff in Shanghai and Chengdu.

“Really our strategy is to leverage Ubisoft’s high quality IPs and try to infuse that with Chinese cultures like ‘Journey to the West’,” he said, referring to the Ubisoft Rabbids: Adventure Party for Switch launched last year.

The China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association says games developed by Chinese companies earned nearly 7.6 billion US dollars from overseas markets last year, up 36 percent annually. The United States, Japan, and South Korea are the three top markets, with the U.S. and Japan together accounting for more than half.

Liu Zhipeng, assistant general manager of Market Platform Department of Tencent IEG, said they’ve brought out around 30 new games. But because of the pandemic, they’ve moved esports games online, and have had to delay some of their game launches.

With over 660 million gamers, roughly twice the population of the U.S., China has become the world’s largest mobile games market.

Meanwhile, other developers also told CGTN that games with Chinese characteristics have not only been a large hit in China, but game developers are even taking games with Chinese elements to the world.

Case in point, China-based developer Perfect World’s Chinese-themed games was created by a group of French developers. And the game, released three years ago, now has 80 percent of its players outside the Chinese mainland.

“We are using different ways, using different eyes to look at Chinese culture, not only us, but utilizing different people to interpret this culture and utilize the characters in this culture,” said Robert H.Xiao, CEO of Perfect World.

“We have been in presence from outside China for the past 12 years. But still we are developing a different understanding of different people from different cultural backgrounds. So the key is to blend Chinese culture with whatever culture or behavior they have,” added Xiao.

The Shanghai Online Game Association went as far as saying that Chinese-elements are a factor for worldwide popularity of a game in recent years.

“The more Chinese elements a game involves, the more popular it will become worldwide. That has been proven in many fields. For example, some films and animations with Chinese characteristics have gained great market performance globally. The style can be very Chinese, but the story telling should be very international,” said Shanghai Online Game Association secretary general Han Shuai.

The China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference 2020 showcased over 400 exhibitors with games, devices and experiences.

Fuente: https://news.cgtn.com

Three Common Marketing Communication Mistakes — And How To Fix Them

Over the past year, we’ve all been inundated with messages. Stores were at limited capacity or completely closed, employees shifted to remote work and virtual school took over, so our inboxes and social media became our primary avenues for communication.

No longer are we catching up at the water cooler, but instead via email or messaging apps, and it’s noisy in there. Businesses grasping to keep revenue flowing found their marketing efforts buried deep under the urgent messages of “don’t forget your 8 a.m. meeting” and “your child’s virtual class meet is starting now”— oops, is he still in his pajamas?

According to industry benchmark data from HubSpot, companies on average sent 49% more marketing emails and 79% more sales emails since the onset of Covid-19. And yet, the reply rate for sales emails has steadily stayed 30% below the benchmark since April 2020. I think it’s safe to say that we’re doing more in marketing and sales but producing less. You’ve probably personally felt the increase in communications in your own inbox.

While we could (but shouldn’t) have gotten away with these mistakes pre-Covid-19, now it’s really not going to work. 

Let’s take a “not this” but “do that instead” approach to these three mistakes.

Mistake No. 1: You’re trying to win everybody and anybody.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? And, in desperation, you might be using a universal approach to win everybody and anybody over who will listen — or at least open the message. You’re not sure who your ideal client is or what they want, but instead, you’re taking the chameleon approach to marketing. Spoiler alert: even if you can get them to open it, they are not really listening if the contents don’t apply to them. 

Instead: find out who your ideal client is and get more targeted. 

To help navigate this, think of who your product or service best fits. Who finds the most success with your product? Who was and is easy to work with, and why? It’s also an excellent time to think about who would not be a good fit and why not.

Mistake No. 2: You’re spamming your community with generic messaging.

Take a peek inside your inbox or LinkedIn messages, and you probably don’t have to go back very far to find “unprecedented times” coupled with a sales offer or “I see we have this person in common.” It’s a copy-and-paste approach to building community and connection quickly, but instead of achieving this, it often turns people off to whatever value you might be able to provide. Also, I think it’s safe to drop the word “unprecedented.” Let’s just accept that these are the times.

Instead: choose personalization and build relationships by offering something of value. 

Often, we praise quantity instead of quality. Let’s reverse that. Instead of focusing on the number of mass communications you send out, choose to send fewer higher-quality messages through a more personalized, customized approach. Do your research. If you are going to ask your community or potential new client to give you their time, then provide something of value within their inbox through personalized messaging or share an offer that feels unique and helpful in their current situation.

Mistake No. 3: You talk more about yourself than you do about them.

Most people find it easy to talk about themselves and their accomplishments; just pause and listen to the room at the next dinner party. And, while it’s necessary to build trust and authority with your messaging, it’s also essential to make sure your prospect or client feels seen and heard. 

Instead: share how your product or service can make their lives better and back it up with your expertise.

Let’s face it: Many of us are a part of the “skimming” generation. You may even be skimming this article. It’s okay; no hard feelings. So long proposals, conversations and websites that focus primarily on you and what you’ve accomplished will not win them over because at the end of the conversation or site visit, they will know a lot about you, but you will not have demonstrated that you know much about them. Get to know your ideal clients. What goals are they hoping to achieve? What hurdles are standing in their way? And, what steps do they need to take to overcome these challenges and win the day? Then, back it up with what qualifies you to help them achieve success.

It’s easy to fall into the typical generic, blanket messaging approach or the habit of trying to be all things to all people. But the brands that correct these three mistakes can stand out as more genuine, more conversational and more successful brands: brands that are easier to say “yes” to.

Original publication: Click Here

7 Ways To Boost The Security Of Your WordPress Website

If you have an eCommerce business, a blog, or even a website, chances are it runs on WordPress CMS. With up to 30.5% of websites using WordPress, it is no surprise then that WordPress sites have a higher rate of hack attempts than any other platform. 

So, it would help if you ensure the security of your WordPress website is at its most optimum. You can protect WordPress site from hackers by following the seven key steps below:

1) Disable WordPress Theme & Plugin Editor

Firstly, in making WordPress secure, you need to disable its theme and plugin editor. WordPress platform has a useful feature ensuring that users have higher flexibility to customize themes and plugins right from the dashboard.

But, this feature has a downside, because the smallest mistake can cause a site crash and other problems for you. A crash hacker can take advantage of to plant malicious codes in your topic to access the site through the backdoor. They can then gain control over your website if it has enough privileges to use the topic editor and plugin.

To protect your website, disable WordPress theme and plugin editor by adding the code: define(‘DISALLO W_FILE_EDIT’, true ) to your WP-config.php file. This will eliminate hacker’s ability to change your website topics and plugins without FTP access. 

2) Limit the Amount of Login Attempts

When you are thinking of how to secure a WordPress site, you should take note of the disadvantages of unlimited login attempts. We know this is a major benefit if you are someone who forgets passwords quickly, but it is a security threat to your website. 

Having an unlimited login attempt on your website will give a hacker more chances to hack into your website using a brute force attack. 

Limit the number of login attempts on your website by using WordPress security plugins like WP Limit Login Attempts

3) Use Two-Factor Authentication on Your Website

Also, using two-factor authentication on your WordPress website can significantly improve your site security. 

With Two-factor authentication, asides using a password to log into your website, you need to provide additional verification. The extra verification step is usually providing a uniquely generated code you alone can receive.

Every WordPress user must have two-factor authentication enabled on their site to protect them from brute force attacks. 

To set up, simply:

  • Login to your WordPress website backend
  • Click on security: link. 
  • From there, you will see an option for two-factor authentication.
  • Then, add a cell phone number or email address for the authentication process. This will be how the unique code will be sent to you every time. 

4) Make Sure Your Database is Secure & Separate

In making WordPress secure, your database plays a key factor. Simply because a website’s database stores all site information, history, etc. of the site. So, hackers are prone to go for a website’s database. They can do this via methods like automated codes for SQL injections.

So, if you are a WordPress site owner running multiple websites from a single database, it means that should hackers get access to your database, all your websites are at risk. 

So, isolate your database. Here is some advice for ensuring you are running a secure database:

  • Use separate databases for any website, blog, eCommerce site, etc. you own. 
  • Have dedicated employees called database personnel who have access to your database. Meaning, only database personnel should be granted access to the database. 
  • Reduce the number of database privileges database personnel has. For example, you can revoke all privileges asides data read and write. 
  • You can also rename your database to throw hackers off. 

5) Hide WordPress Website Login details

Another way to boost the security of your WordPress Website is to hide login details. By merely leaving your WordPress defaults the way they are, you can be opening your websites to substantial security threats. 

If you don’t hide your site’s admin name, all a hacker will have to do is add ?author=1 after your URL, and it will pop up. Then, they can easily use brute force once to hack into your website. 

So, make sure you aren’t leaving all that information out in the open to prevent hackers from being the target. 

6) Have a Regular Backup Routine

Backing up is extremely important for any WordPress owner because 100% security is never guaranteed. So, make sure you are regularly following proper backup procedures. Also, create copies that you can restore, so you never have to worry about losing your information.

This way, if anything happens to your server, you know you can always rely on your backup. 

Several WordPress hosting services offer backup services or automatically back up your data daily. If you want to backup your WordPress website manually, then back up your entire WordPress directory.

7) Ensure you use SSL Encryption

Not all hackers will be able to use brute force on your website. Especially if your website is secure. In such a case, they will try another method. They may try to steal your information or try to break your connection. Using a secure socket layer encryption will protect your WordPress site from hackers. 

You can get a secure socket layer certificate from your site :

  • Through your hosting company: Most hosting companies provide SSL certificates for you. 
  • From a third party supplier: This can be an alternate method. 

We advise all websites have SSL not just for the security, but also to appear high on Google ranking. 


As a serious website owner, you shouldn’t ignore any of these security tips mentioned above. We advise that you take all these security measures soonest because hackers hit fast, and the effect of a hack is enormous. Just like a writing amateur can use sites such as Online Writers Rating and Best Writers Online to get writing service reviews, if security is something you can’t stay on top of, using various WordPress plugins can help make your website secure.

Farmers in the Netherlands are growing more food using less resources | Pioneers for Our Planet

This pioneering Dutch farm has found clever ways to generate higher yields using less space and fewer inputs. They’re growing food that’s more sustainable and economical too. Despite being a small, densely populated country, the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest vegetable.

Visual Studio Code vs. Visual Studio: How to choose

Deciding between Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio may depend as much on your work style as on the language support and features you need. Here’s how to decide.

For decades, when I got to work in the morning, I would start Microsoft Visual Studio (or one of its predecessors, such as Visual C++ or Visual InterDev), then brew tea and possibly attend a morning meeting while it went through its laborious startup. I would keep the IDE open all day as I went through develop/test/debug cycles to avoid another startup delay. When I worked on a C++ project with ~2 million lines of code, I also jump-started each day’s work by automatically running a batch script that did a code checkout and full rebuild of the product in the wee hours.

These days, I don’t feel the need to open my code projects first thing every morning, or to keep them open all day. Visual Studio Code usually starts up quickly enough that I can be productive in a few minutes, even for large projects. I said usually, not always: Visual Studio Code itself needs a monthly update, and the many extensions I have installed often need their own updates. Still, even updating a dozen extensions in Visual Studio Code takes much less time than Visual Studio takes to rebuild the symbol tables of a large C++ project.

What is Visual Studio Code?

Visual Studio Code is a lightweight but powerful source code editor that runs on your desktop and is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It comes with built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js and has a rich ecosystem of extensions for other languages (such as C++, C#, Java, Python, PHP, and Go) and runtimes (such as .Net and Unity).

Aside from the whole idea of being lightweight and starting quickly, VS Code has IntelliSense code completion for variables, methods, and imported modules; graphical debugging; linting, multi-cursor editing, parameter hints, and other powerful editing features; snazzy code navigation and refactoring; and built-in source code control including Git support. Much of this was adapted from Visual Studio technology.

VS Code proper is built using the Electron shellNode.jsTypeScript, and the Language Server protocol, and is updated on a monthly basis. The extensions are updated as often as needed. The richness of support varies across the different programming languages and their extensions, ranging from simple syntax highlighting and bracket matching to debugging and refactoring. You can add basic support for your favorite language through TextMate colorizers if no language server is available.

The code in the Visual Studio Code repository is open source under the MIT License. The VS Code product itself ships under a standard Microsoft product license, as it has a small percentage of Microsoft-specific customizations. It’s free despite the commercial license.

What is Visual Studio?

Visual Studio (current version Visual Studio 2019) is Microsoft’s premier IDE for Windows and MacOS. With Visual Studio, you can develop, analyze, debug, test, collaborate, and deploy your software.

On Windows, Visual Studio 2019 currently has 17 workloads, which are consistent tool and component installation bundles for different development targets. Workloads are an important improvement to the Visual Studio installation process, because a full download and installation of Visual Studio 2019 can easily take hours and fill a disk, especially an SSD.

Visual Studio 2019 for Mac has a less complicated installer than the Windows version, mostly because it doesn’t support as many targets. It allows you to develop for web, mobile, and desktop with .Net, with Unity, Azure, and Docker support included by default. The .Net Core, Android, iOS, and MacOS targets are optional; the latter three use Xamarin.

Visual Studio 2019 comes in three SKUs: Community (free, not supported for enterprise use), Professional ($1,199 first year/$799 renewal), and Enterprise ($5,999 first year/$2,569 renewal). The Enterprise Edition has features for architects, advanced debugging, and testing that the other two SKUs lack.

Visual Studio or Visual Studio Code?

You would think that deciding between Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code for any given software development task would be as simple as deciding between an IDE and an editor. It’s not, mostly because VS Code can be configured to be quite close to an IDE for many programming languages. However, along this configurability come a number of trade-offs.

For example, if your development style is test-driven, Visual Studio will work right out of the box. On the other hand, there are some 15 test-driven development extensions for VS Code supporting Node.js, Go, .Net, and PHP. Similarly, Visual Studio does a good job working with databases, especially Microsoft SQL Server and its relatives, but VS Code has lots of database extensions. Visual Studio has great refactoring support, but Visual Studio Code implements the basic refactoring operations for half a dozen languages.

There are a few clear-cut cases. For instance, if you are a software architect and you have access to Visual Studio Enterprise, you’ll want to use that. If you need to collaborate with team members on development or debugging, then Visual Studio is the better choice. If you need to do serious code analysis or performance profiling, or debug from a snapshot, then Visual Studio Enterprise will help you.

VS Code tends to be popular in the data science community. Nevertheless, Visual Studio 2019 has a data science workload that offers many features.

Visual Studio doesn’t run on Linux; VS Code does. On the other hand, Visual Studio for Windows has a Linux/C++ workload and Azure support.

For daily bread-and-butter develop/test/debug cycles in the languages supported in both Visual Studio and VS Code, which you choose really does boil down to personal preference. If you tend to work on a development project for hours at a time, then Visual Studio might be a better fit. If you tend to dip into development for brief periods and rotate between other tasks, then Visual Studio Code might make you happier.

Orlando gets ‘future-ready’ with its first smart city strategy

Orlando, Florida, has launched its first-ever smart city strategy to “guide [its] efforts to be a centre of innovation, technological advancement and resilience”.

The Future-Ready City Plan has been presented – via a virtual meeting room – for additional feedback from residents and will be taken to City Council for approval next month.

It includes measures to close the digital divide, ensure resilience for all citizens and prepare the way for future mobility systems.

Orlando has already run several smart city initiatives. In 2017, it was named an autonomous vehicle (AV) proving ground by the US Department of Transportation. The city also has an open data portal and launched a “digital city hall” to improve the efficiency of services for citizens. It is targeting getting all of its energy from clean sources by 2050.

“We wanted to step back and create a more comprehensive plan as we move forward with some of these innovative approaches,” Michael Hess, Director of Future Ready, City of Orlando, told Cities Today. “We also really wanted to reach out to our community.”

Creating the plan

To create the roadmap, the city partnered with VHB and a group of other local consultants. It engaged internal stakeholders, the business community, educational partners, utility providers, non-profits and residents in the process.

Several “foundational elements” underpin the plan, including transparency, collaboration, security, resilience and prosperity for all. The strategy has then been organised into seven pillars: connectivity, energy, health and safety, materials, mobility, placemaking and water.

Hess said: “A lot of people hear smart city and they instantly jump to technology. To me, that’s not the right approach. If it’s technology-led, you might end up with a [lot] of technology that your community doesn’t even want. For us, the key thing is, it has to start with community engagement.”

Following roundtables, public meetings and workshops and an online survey, community priorities emerged around connectivity and resilience, Hess said, and these are among the short-term strategies outlined in the plan.

As well as providing  immediate relief through Wi-Fi hotspots and learning pods at community centres and exploring ideas such as a tablet loan programme, an initial focus will be defining the digital divide. This includes partnering with an Internet speed test company and using the data to target areas which have slow speeds, or where Internet speed tests are not being run – and therefore probably don’t have broadband.

In terms of resilience, Hess noted: “We are a hurricane-prone climate but not every person can afford to have a back-up generator and to stock up on food. That sparked the [conversation] around equitable resilience and how we can start to provide community assets to make sure that everyone has additional resiliency built-in for the hurricanes and other events that come our way.”

Orlando is looking to convert some of its community centres into resilience hubs, where residents can go to access connectivity, power, food and other resources in case of emergencies.


Other actionable short-term strategies, which are all budgeted for, Hess said, include developing a digital twin, implementing an integrated public alert and warning system, installing more smart IoT systems into buildings, and setting up a food recovery network. Orlando will also explore urban air mobility and the operation of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) city taxis.

Hess said: “This points to one of the reasons why we like the term ‘future-ready’. These technologies are coming: how are we going to prepare for that?”

He added: “If you think back to when Uber all of a sudden showed up in cities, most cities just weren’t ready.” The city will explore identifying appropriate take-off and landing spots, and collaboration with urban air mobility companies and local businesses.

Longer-term plans include deploying fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure, digital kerbside management, expanding fibre infrastructure, air quality initiatives, a single payment scheme for transportation, an energy microgrid, smart street lighting and more.

10 Reasons To Use Email Marketing (As Told By Small Businesses)

Deciding where to invest marketing dollars isn’t a decision small businesses take lightly.

You know you need to attract new customers and keep existing clients coming back, but you can’t afford to invest time or resources into something that isn’t going to deliver the expected results.

Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives businesses the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox.

There’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of email marketing. For example:

  • 91 percent of US adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with (MarketingSherpa, 2015)
  • Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping a business acquire new customers. (McKinsey, 2014)

But if you really want to find out how email can work for your business, why not ask other small business owners and see how it worked for them?

Here are 15 great examples from real small businesses that have discovered the power of being a marketer, with email marketing.

1. Build credibility

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Email gives you the ability to build credibility with your audience by sharing helpful and informative content.

“For years, in large part to the newsletter I think, I’ve never had trouble attracting new clients and the right kinds of clients. People will read my newsletter and be able to tell if I’m the right person for the project before they even call me.”

Tom Ahern, founder of Ahern Donor Communications

2. Boost sales

When you have an audience of people who are interested in receiving updates from your business, you’ll be able to think differently about how you boost sales throughout the year. This has been especially valuable for a business like Colorado-based Allegria Spa, which communicates with local residents and visitors from around the country.

“It has definitely been the easiest way to reach people. If we have a slower day and know that we want to reach local people, we can create a quick email and will get at least a few calls right away. The response is immediate.”

Christine Copertino, spa director for Allegria Spa

3. Strengthen relationships

If you want to build strong customer relationships, it’s important to have an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. Email gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged with your business during your busy season and the slower times of the year.

“Being able to get our message out there is important to us. It gives the members a feeling of being included. They know what’s going on with the gym and know that they aren’t just a number on a list.”

Nicole Sanders, founder of Ladimax Sports and Fitness

4. Learn what works

Email marketing gives you the metrics you need to see how your emails are performing. These insights help you market smarter, and also give you the advantage of better understanding the needs and interests of your customer base.

“Email has definitely helped us with web traffic and attendance at our events. I like that after I send an email out, I can go back and see how many people clicked through on which links. That way I can tell people are interacting with our content and click through to our website.”

Ally Whittaker, public relations manager for The Local Good

5. Reach people on any device

With nearly two-thirds of all emails being opened on a mobile device, email marketing is one of the best tools that can help a business take advantage of the growing popularity of mobile technology.

“We are definitely focused on mobile devices now. I want to know that if someone gets our email, no matter where they are, they can look at it. In fact, when I sent our last flyer I got three phone calls! That’s big! And I am almost positive that all of those people reading the flyer were on their phones, not in an office.”

Carol Singer, owner of Arlington Promotional Products

6. Look professional

Email templates aren’t just easy to use; they’re also designed to make sure you look professional when you reach your audience member’s inbox. You can insert your own content and customize each template with your logo and colors to make sure it matches your brand.

“We get really good feedback from the newsletters and the new templates have been working great for us, we’re getting a lot of opens.” 

Todd Starnes, president, Bicycle Adventures

7. Get immediate results

When running a small business, every sale, order, or appointment can have a significant impact. With email, you’re able to get the results you’re looking for right away and easily track how your different campaigns are performing.

“It’s rewarding because we always get an immediate response through orders. Whenever we need to trigger sales, we’ll think of a great special to put out there.”

Karen Kowal, founder, Mother Earth Pillows

8. Generate leads

Not everyone who joins your email list will be ready to make a purchase or sign up for a service. Email gives you the opportunity to capture new visitor’s attention and nurture the relationship with helpful and informative content.

“It’s been great for generating leads. People that are thinking about using our service will usually sign up for the newsletter. I’ll see them pop up for a couple of weeks in my reader-base, and then they’ll call and make an appointment. It’s not long until we pull them in as a customer.”

Meghan Blair-Valero, owner, Fogged in Bookkeeping, Inc.

9. Promote services

Service businesses face the difficult challenge of keeping clients interested in their business, even when they aren’t looking for services at different times of the year. Email gives you the opportunity to keep your client’s attention without overwhelming them with unwanted information.

“Our email marketing started off as an experiment. But our open rates are usually higher than 50 percent and we get service calls every time we send a newsletter out, so I think it’s working.”

Matthew Taylor, co-owner, Green Solutions Lawn Care & Pest Control

10. Attract new clients

In addition to connecting with the people on your email list, you can also share your newsletters and announcements on your own social networks to bring new people to your business.

“People get to see my work, which is great, and these are often people who I never get to meet with one-on-one. The timing of each newsletter is going to be right for somebody, and having the opportunity to show people what I’m doing has just been a great way to grow my business and my reach.”

Jill Singer, owner Jill Singer Graphics

Ryan Pinkham is a member of the Constant Contact team who is interested in helping small businesses and non-profits recognize their full-potential through marketing and social media. Ryan has worked in small businesses his entire life and is excited to work with them.

As you can tell, we love to hear the stories of businesses that have used email marketing to grow their business. If you’re already using email marketing and have seen great results, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

original publication: click Here

Vivienne Sze on crossing the hardware-software divide for efficient artificial intelligence

Her research focuses on more-efficient deep neural networks to process video, and more-efficient hardware to run applications.

Not so long ago, watching a movie on a smartphone seemed impossible. Vivienne Sze was a graduate student at MIT at the time, in the mid 2000s, and she was drawn to the challenge of compressing video to keep image quality high without draining the phone’s battery. The solution she hit upon called for co-designing energy-efficient circuits with energy-efficient algorithms.

Vivienne Sze; faculty; Electrical Engineering and Computer Science;

Sze would go on to be part of the team that won an Engineering Emmy Award for developing the video compression standards still in use today. Now an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Sze has set her sights on a new milestone: bringing artificial intelligence applications to smartphones and tiny robots.

Her research focuses on designing more-efficient deep neural networks to process video, and more-efficient hardware to run those applications. She recently co-published a book on the topic, and will teach a professional education course on how to design efficient deep learning systems in June.

On April 29, Sze will join Assistant Professor Song Han for an MIT Quest AI Roundtable on the co-design of efficient hardware and software moderated by Aude Oliva, director of MIT Quest Corporate and the MIT director of the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Here, Sze discusses her recent work.

Q: Why do we need low-power AI now?

A: AI applications are moving to smartphones, tiny robots, and internet-connected appliances and other devices with limited power and processing capabilities. The challenge is that AI has high computing requirements. Analyzing sensor and camera data from a self-driving car can consume about 2,500 watts, but the computing budget of a smartphone is just about a single watt. Closing this gap requires rethinking the entire stack, a trend that will define the next decade of AI.

Q: What’s the big deal about running AI on a smartphone?

A: It means that the data processing no longer has to take place in the “cloud,” on racks of warehouse servers. Untethering compute from the cloud allows us to broaden AI’s reach. It gives people in developing countries with limited communication infrastructure access to AI. It also speeds up response time by reducing the lag caused by communicating with distant servers. This is crucial for interactive applications like autonomous navigation and augmented reality, which need to respond instantaneously to changing conditions. Processing data on the device can also protect medical and other sensitive records. Data can be processed right where they’re collected.

Q: What makes modern AI so inefficient?

A: The cornerstone of modern AI — deep neural networks — can require hundreds of millions to billions of calculations — orders of magnitude greater than compressing video on a smartphone. But it’s not just number crunching that makes deep networks energy-intensive — it’s the cost of shuffling data to and from memory to perform these computations. The farther the data have to travel, and the more data there are, the greater the bottleneck.

Q: How are you redesigning AI hardware for greater energy efficiency?

A: We focus on reducing data movement and the amount of data needed for computation. In some deep networks, the same data are used multiple times for different computations. We design specialized hardware to reuse data locally rather than send them off-chip. Storing reused data on-chip makes the process extremely energy-efficient.  

We also optimize the order in which data are processed to maximize their reuse. That’s the key property of the Eyeriss chip that was developed in collaboration with Joel Emer. In our followup work, Eyeriss v2, we made the chip flexible enough to reuse data across a wider range of deep networks. The Eyeriss chip also uses compression to reduce data movement, a common tactic among AI chips. The low-power Navion chip that was developed in collaboration with Sertac Karaman for mapping and navigation applications in robotics uses two to three orders of magnitude less energy than a CPU, in part by using optimizations that reduce the amount of data processed and stored on-chip. 

Q: What changes have you made on the software side to boost efficiency?

A: The more that software aligns with hardware-related performance metrics like energy efficiency, the better we can do. Pruning, for example, is a popular way to remove weights from a deep network to reduce computation costs. But rather than remove weights based on their magnitude, our work on energy-aware pruning suggests you can remove the more energy-intensive weights to improve overall energy consumption. Another method we’ve developed, NetAdapt, automates the process of adapting and optimizing a deep network for a smartphone or other hardware platforms. Our recent followup work, NetAdaptv2, accelerates the optimization process to further boost efficiency.

Q: What low-power AI applications are you working on?

A: I’m exploring autonomous navigation for low-energy robots with Sertac Karaman. I’m also working with Thomas Heldt to develop a low-cost and potentially more effective way of diagnosing and monitoring people with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by tracking their eye movements. Eye-movement properties like reaction time could potentially serve as biomarkers for brain function. In the past, eye-movement tracking took place in clinics because of the expensive equipment required. We’ve shown that an ordinary smartphone camera can take measurements from a patient’s home, making data collection easier and less costly. This could help to monitor disease progression and track improvements in clinical drug trials.

Q: Where is low-power AI headed next?

A: Reducing AI’s energy requirements will extend AI to a wider range of embedded devices, extending its reach into tiny robotssmart homes, and medical devices. A key challenge is that efficiency often requires a tradeoff in performance. For wide adoption, it will be important to dig deeper into these different applications to establish the right balance between efficiency and accuracy.

Google’s Sundar Pichai doesn’t want you to be clear-eyed about AI’s dangers

Alphabet  and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is the latest tech giant kingpin to make a public call for AI to be regulated while simultaneously encouraging lawmakers towards a dilute enabling framework that does not put any hard limits on what can be done with AI technologies.

In an op-ed published in today’s Financial Times, Pichai makes a headline-grabbing call for artificial intelligence to be regulated. But his pitch injects a suggestive undercurrent that puffs up the risk for humanity of not letting technologists get on with business as usual and apply AI at population-scale — with the Google chief claiming: “AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so” — thereby seeking to frame ‘no hard limits’ as actually the safest option for humanity.

Simultaneously the pitch downplays any negatives that might cloud the greater good that Pichai implies AI will unlock — presenting “potential negative consequences” as simply the inevitable and necessary price of technological progress.

It’s all about managing the level of risk, is the leading suggestion, rather than questioning outright whether the use of a hugely risk-laden technology such as facial recognition should actually be viable in a democratic society.

“Internal combustion engines allowed people to travel beyond their own areas but also caused more accidents,” Pichai writes, raiding history for a self-serving example while ignoring the vast climate costs of combustion engines (and the resulting threat now posed to the survival of countless species on Earth).

“The internet made it possible to connect with anyone and get information from anywhere, but also easier for misinformation to spread,” he goes on. “These lessons teach us that we need to be clear-eyed about what could go wrong.”

For “clear-eyed” read: Accepting of the technology-industry’s interpretation of ‘collateral damage’. (Which, in the case of misinformation and Facebook, appears to run to feeding democracy itself into the ad-targeting meat-grinder.)

Meanwhile, not at all mentioned in Pichai’s discussion of AI risks: The concentration of monopoly power that artificial intelligence appears to be very good at supercharging.

Funny that.

Of course it’s hardly surprising a tech giant that, in recent years, rebranded an entire research division to ‘Google AI’ — and has previously been called out by some of its own workforce over a project involving applying AI to military weapons technology — should be lobbying lawmakers to set AI ‘limits’ that are as dilute and abstract as possible.

The only thing that’s better than zero regulation are laws made by useful idiots who’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for industry-expounded false dichotomies — such as those claiming it’s ‘innovation or privacy’.

Pichai’s intervention also comes at a strategic moment, with US lawmakers eyeing AI regulation and the White House seemingly throwing itself into alignment with tech giants’ desires for ‘innovation-friendly’ rules which make their business easier. (To wit: This month White House CTO Michael Kratsios  warned in a Bloomberg op-ed against “preemptive, burdensome or duplicative rules that would needlessly hamper AI innovation and growth”.)

The new European Commission,  meanwhile, has been sounding a firmer line on both AI and big tech.

It has made tech-driven change a key policy priority, with president Ursula von der Leyen making public noises about reining in tech giants. She has also committed to publish “a coordinated European approach on the human and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence” within her first 100 days in office. (She took up the post on December 1, 2019 so the clock is ticking.)

Last week a leaked draft of the Commission proposals for pan-EU AI regulation suggest it’s leaning towards a relatively light touch approach (albeit, the European version of light touch is considerably more involved and interventionist than anything born in a Trump White House, clearly) — although the paper does float the idea of a temporary ban on the use of facial recognition technology in public places.

The paper notes that such a ban would “safeguard the rights of individuals, in particular against any possible abuse of the technology” — before arguing against such a “far-reaching measure that might hamper the development and uptake of this technology”, in favor of relying on provisions in existing EU law (such as the EU data protection framework, GDPR), in addition to relevant tweaks to current product safety and liability laws.

While it’s not yet clear which way the Commission will jump on regulating AI, even the lightish-touch version its considering would likely be a lot more onerous than Pichai would like.

In the op-ed he calls for what he couches as “sensible regulation” — aka taking a “proportionate approach, balancing potential harms, especially in high-risk areas, with social opportunities”.

For “social opportunities” read: The plentiful ‘business opportunities’ Google  is spying — assuming the hoped for vast additional revenue scale it can get by supercharging expansion of AI-powered services into all sorts of industries and sectors (from health to transportation to everywhere else in between) isn’t derailed by hard legal limits on where AI can actually be applied.

“Regulation can provide broad guidance while allowing for tailored implementation in different sectors,” Pichai urges, setting out a preference for enabling “principles” and post-application “reviews”, to keep the AI spice flowing.

The op-ed only touches very briefly on facial recognition — despite the FT editors choosing to illustrate it with an image of the tech. Here Pichai again seeks to reframe the debate around what is, by nature, an extremely rights-hostile technology — talking only in passing of “nefarious uses” of facial recognition.

Of course this wilfully obfuscates the inherent risks of letting blackbox machines make algorithmic guesses at identity every time a face happens to pass through a public space.

You can’t hope to protect people’s privacy in such a scenario. Many other rights are also at risk, depending on what else the technology is being used for. So, really, any use of facial recognition is laden with individual and societal risk.

But Pichai is seeking to put blinkers on lawmakers. He doesn’t want them to see inherent risks baked into such a potent and powerful technology — pushing them towards only a narrow, ill-intended subset of “nefarious” and “negative” AI uses and “consequences” as being worthy of “real concerns”. 

And so he returns to banging the drum for “a principled and regulated approach to applying AI” [emphasis ours] — putting the emphasis on regulation that, above all, gives the green light for AI to be applied.

What technologists fear most here is rules that tell them when artificial intelligence absolutely cannot apply.

Ethics and principles are, to a degree, mutable concepts — and ones which the tech giants have become very practiced at claiming as their own, for PR purposes, including by attaching self-styled ‘guard-rails’ to their own AI operations. (But of course there’s no actual legal binds there.)

At the same time data-mining giants like Google are very smooth operators when it comes to gaming existing EU rules around data protection, such as by infesting their user-interfaces with confusing dark patterns that push people to click or swipe their rights away.

But a ban on applying certain types of AI would change the rules of the game. Because it would put society in the driving seat.

Laws that contained at least a moratorium on certain “dangerous” applications of AI — such as facial recognition technology, or autonomous weapons like the drone-based system Google was previously working on — have been called for by some far-sighted regulators.

And a ban would be far harder for platform giants to simply bend to their will.


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Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will build its largest solar project to date: 250-MW Pisgah Ridge Solar in Texas

Charles River will invest in a portion of the solar power generated by the site.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.June 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions*, a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), today announced the start of construction of the 250-megawatt (MW) Pisgah Ridge Solar project in Navarro County, Texas.

Once in operation, it will be the largest utility-scale solar facility in Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions’ fleet.

Charles River Laboratories International Inc. (NYSE: CRL), a leading provider of critical research tools and integrated support services that enable innovative and efficient drug discovery and development, has signed a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) for 102 MW of the project over 15 years. This commitment will address the entirety of the company’s North American electric power load with clean, renewable energy by 2023.

“We’re excited to continue to grow our Texas solar portfolio, which will provide additional energy resources for the citizens of Texas to help meet their growing demand and need for a more diverse energy infrastructure,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “This project demonstrates how we can address the community’s need for clean energy resources, while providing unique sustainability solutions for customers like Charles River.”

“This VPPA is the first step toward our commitment to source 100% renewable electricity globally by 2030. The benefits of the Pisgah Ridge Solar project move us substantially closer to achieving that goal,” said Gregg Belardo, senior director of EHS & sustainability at Charles River.

Charles River was advised on the VPPA by Schneider Electric, who assisted the company in its project selection and negotiations.

Two other corporations have signed separate 15-year VPPA agreements for the remaining 148 MW of solar energy generated by the Pisgah Ridge Solar project. All three VPPAs associated with the site will settle on an as-generated basis tied to the project’s real-time energy output.

The engineering and construction for the project are being performed by Moss, while Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will own and operate the project. The team expects to achieve commercial operation of Pisgah Ridge Solar by the end of 2022.

The project is expected to employ 200 to 300 workers at peak construction. Along with indirect economic benefits that accompany solar project development, such as increased local spending in the service and construction industries, the Pisgah Ridge Solar facility will also have a positive economic impact on the local community by providing significant tax revenues for the Corsicana Independent School District.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions currently operates nearly 1,500 MW of wind, 500 MW of solar and a 36 MW battery storage facility in Texas. The addition of the 250 MW Pisgah Ridge Solar facility, which will be located outside of Dallas, will generate enough energy to power approximately 63,000 additional residences in the state.

As one of the nation’s top renewable energy providers, Duke Energy plans to double its enterprise wide renewable portfolio from 8 GW to 16 GW by the end of 2025.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) – a Fortune 150 company and one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. – headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a leader in sustainable energy, helping large enterprises reduce power costs, lower emissions and increase resiliency. The team provides wind, solar, resilient backup power and managed energy services to over 1,000 projects across the U.S., with a total electric capacity of more than 5,100 megawatts of nonregulated renewable energy. Visit Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and follow on LinkedIn and YouTube for more information.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Charles River

Charles River provides essential products and services to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government agencies and leading academic institutions around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Our dedicated employees are focused on providing clients with exactly what they need to improve and expedite the discovery, early-stage development and safe manufacture of new therapies for the patients who need them. To learn more about our unique portfolio and breadth of services, visit www.criver.com.

Cautionary language concerning forward-looking statements

This document includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are based on management’s beliefs and assumptions. These forward-looking statements are identified by terms and phrases such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend,” “estimate,” “expect,” “continue,” “should,” “could,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “will,” “potential,” “forecast,” “target,” “outlook,” “guidance,” and similar expressions. Various factors may cause actual results to be materially different than the suggested outcomes within forward-looking statements; accordingly, there is no assurance that such results will be realized. These risks and uncertainties are identified and discussed in Duke Energy’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and available at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the events described in the forward-looking statements might not occur or might occur to a different extent or at a different time than Duke Energy has described. Duke Energy expressly disclaims an obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

* Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a non-regulated commercial brand of Duke Energy Corporation, which includes the following subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corporation that are registered to transact business in various states and may be branded as Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions for marketing purposes: Duke Energy One, Inc.; Duke Energy Commercial Enterprises, Inc.; Duke Energy Renewables, Inc.; Duke Energy Renewables Commercial, LLC; Duke Energy Renewable Services, LLC.; Duke Energy Renewables Storage, LLC; Duke Energy Renewables Wind, LLC.; Duke Energy Renewables Solar, LLC.; and REC Solar Commercial Corporation.

Media contact: Jennifer Garber
Media line: 800.559.3853
Email: jennifer.garber@Duke-Energy.com

SOURCE Duke Energy

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Discover The Urban Side Of China – The Good & The Bad Side Revealed

Carlo Ratti, an Italian architect and engineer who is also a leading voice on technology in urban space considers China to be ‘the inspiration’ to the rest of the world competing in the smart city development race.

According to Ratti who is co-curating Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture 2019 in Shenzen, the country has a unique perspective towards how technology can be used to enhance public space. It offers great lessons to learn for architects and urban planners.


He takes the example of Shenzhen as a smart city and reveals some interesting facts about its development. So, let’s begin discovering urban China from here!

How Is Shenzhen As A Smart City?

While in 2019 Shenzhen stands in the top 50 lists of smart cities, 35 years ago its existence hardly mattered. Today, the city is counted among the world’s most vibrant metropolises.

Although in the 1990s the city had rapidly turned into an industrial area, it transformed over time in different ways, embraced nature and began allowing the city to grow organically. Unlike so-called smart cities including Masdar City in the UAE and Songdo in South Korea, the city of Shenzhen is emphasising on the human side instead of technology.

That being said, it is also focusing on technology. In fact, the city is using technology to accelerate its smart city development plans. And so, Ratti finds Shenzhen and other Chinese cities to have promising signs with acceleration being the most exciting aspect.

Shenzhen has all the feedback loops that traditionally every city around the world has it. But in case of this smart city, it’s happening at a greater speed, as per the architect.

As per Ratti, smart cities have the potential to create more valuable feedback loops as networks and exchange of information is an integral part of the urban system. He suggests doing this not by top-down planning but going for the bottom-up approach. Carlo Ratti along with researchers at the South China University of Technology and Politecnico di Torino is working on a proposal for a project called ‘Eyes of the City’.

Until now architecture has been responding to various sensors and mobile phones, but for the first time ‘Eyes of the City’ plans to develop an environment that identifies and responds to us on an individual level.

According to Ratti, China is an extremely interesting place to experiment as so they are planning to build a platform that supports the project and enables invited participants to work on it.

Shanghai On Becoming ‘International City of Excellence’

As experienced by Paul Shorthouse, Senior Director of Partnerships at Globe Series, Shanghai has innovative-thinking and is inspiring in many aspects.

As far as the advancement all over China is concerned, the country is shifting from being the ‘global factory’ to an innovative and clean economy backed by enhanced manufacturing and premium quality production powered by green and clean technologies.

Owing to a lot of initiatives going live in Shanghai, the city ranked among the top 10 smart cities of 2018-19. The city is already working on its third smart city strategic plan that aims to position its existence as ‘international city of excellence’ by 2040. At present, their focus is on addressing issues including rapidly increasing urban demographics, land and energy limitations, service delivery while encouraging inclusiveness and equitability for all the residents across the city.

In fact, Shanghai has made big strides with ‘Big Data Exchange’ idea that makes open data from sensors accessible by people through a broad range of useful public information platforms and dashboards, helping the city to make improvements that are essential for a good-quality life.

Three Key Elements To Note

Invest in the right direction of foundational infrastructure to bring high returns – Shanghai along with the Chinese government, in partnership with private firms and state-owned enterprises have been investing in the foundational infrastructure including ICT that is today serving as the backbone of smart cities. With the development accomplished, the city and the nation are receiving benefits via enhanced delivery of services, cost savings, and increased connected citizens.

Embrace innovation and collaboration to address 21st-century challenges – As discussed that Shanghai is facing land and energy limitations, increasing population and economic retardation.  It is overcoming these challenges by embracing innovation and collaboration to rapidly discover solutions which are eventually contributing to smart city development.

Consider cross-border collaboration as a high priority – China is concentrating on cross-border collaboration and is enthusiastic in sharing its knowledge and learn from others. It also aims to develop cross-border mutually beneficial partnerships with organisation and governments across the globe.

Is China Obsessed With Surveillance Technology?

Recent reports show that China finances more on monitoring citizens than defending against external threats.

At the beginning of 2019, US Congressional Committee (USCC) charged a report on smart city development in China with an aim to clarify whether the country is smarter than the American equivalents. The report found that most of the resources used in Chinese smart city development have gone into enhancing surveillance of the citizens by the domestic security services.

This situation is more intense in the western region of Xinjiang where the predominantly Muslim minority society is monitored and strictly controlled. Besides cameras that are ubiquitous, citizens are required to download apps on their mobile devices to enable the authorities to track their movements and keep watch on their online presence. Content considered inappropriate by the Communist Party is not allowed to be viewed.

With this kind of surveillance in Xinjiang, there comes a converse picture where the technology is also used to improve the lives of the people. For instance, the cameras that capture license and driver face on all Chinese highways are connected to provide real-time traffic conditions in order to manage congestion.

A report from Deloitte reveals Chinese smart cities have not reached their goal to improve the lives of the citizens. Many developments are facing challenges like unclear strategic goals, insufficient technology implementation and poor execution models. However, the Deloitte report does not focus on the use of smart city technology to assist security system and secret police or surveillance which has been more successful in fulfilling the goals.

The report from USCC indicates that smart cities in China need to be aware of how and in what manner the technologies need to be used.

On the other hand, Carlo Ratti believes that unlike the western world, China is building a comprehensive surveillance system that combines digital and real-world lives of the people to award a credit score to an individual. Known as the “citizen score” this enables access to better internet service, fast-tracked visa to Europe and more.

Ratti also thinks that technology and surveillance need not go hand in hand. “It depends on how we use these technologies. That’s why we should have an open conversation about the type of cities we want.”

Architect Rem Koolhaas says that because of its “sense of superiority” towards China, Russia and the Arab world, the west is disregarding on critical conversations.

Hence, it is time that the west comes forward to have an open conversation over the global smart city concerns.


Every language has its own idioms and expression and the English language has plenty of phrases that is useful to learn. Idioms are words or phrases that aren’t meant to be taken literally and usually have a cultural meaning behind them.

Most of the English idioms you hear are offering advice’s but also contain some underlying principles and values. You have probably heard some of them, especially in TV-shows and movies, and wondered why you can’t understand these idioms even though you fully understand the words.

To learn English idioms and expression it can take some time but there are some of them that are more popular than others that will come handy if you know them.

When you learn English idioms and phrases you will sound more confident especially when you speak with native English speakers. If you can’t understand idioms you will not be able to understand the context. That is why we have gathered some of the most common English idioms and phrases so you will understand the true meaning of them.

Here are the most common English idioms and phrases that will enrich your English vocabulary and make you sound like a native speaker. Now with even more idioms and phrases added!

1. ‘The best of both worlds’ – means you can enjoy two different opportunities at the same time.
“By working part-time and looking after her kids two days a week she managed to get the best of both worlds.”

2. ‘Speak of the devil’ – this means that the person you’re just talking about actually appears at that moment.
“Hi Tom, speak of the devil, I was just telling Sara about your new car.”

3. ‘See eye to eye’ – this means agreeing with someone.
“They finally saw eye to eye on the business deal.”

4. ‘Once in a blue moon’ – an event that happens infrequently.
“I only go to the cinema once in a blue moon.”

5. ‘When pigs fly’ – something that will never happen.
“When pigs fly she’ll tidy up her room.”

6. ‘To cost an arm and a leg’– something is very expensive.
“Fuel these days costs and arm and a leg.”

7. ‘A piece of cake’– something is very easy.
“The English test was a piece of cake.”

8. ‘Let the cat out of the bag’ – to accidentally reveal a secret.
“I let the cat out of the bag about their wedding plans.”

9. ‘To feel under the weather’ – to not feel well.
“I’m really feeling under the weather today; I have a terrible cold.”

10. ‘To kill two birds with one stone’ – to solve two problems at once.
“By taking my dad on holiday, I killed two birds with one stone. I got to go away but also spend time with him.”

11. ‘To cut corners’ – to do something badly or cheaply.
“They really cut corners when they built this bathroom; the shower is leaking.”

12. ‘To add insult to injury’ – to make a situation worse.
“To add insult to injury the car drove off without stopping after knocking me off my bike.”

13. ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ – to not judge someone or something based solely on appearance.
“I thought this no-brand bread would be horrible; turns out you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

14. ‘Break a leg’ – means ‘good luck’ (often said to actors before they go on stage).
“Break a leg Sam, I’m sure your performance will be great.”

15. ‘To hit the nail on the head’ – to describe exactly what is causing a situation or problem.
“He hit the nail on the head when he said this company needs more HR support.”

16. ‘A blessing in disguise’ – An misfortune that eventually results in something good happening later on.

17. ‘Call it a day’ – Stop working on something

18. ‘Let someone off the hook’ – To allow someone, who have been caught, to not be punished.

19. ‘No pain no gain’ – You have to work hard for something you want.

20. ‘Bite the bullet’ – Decide to do something unpleasant that you have avoiding doing.

21. ‘Getting a taste of your own medicine’ – Being treated the same unpleasant way you have treated others.

22. ‘Giving someone the cold shoulder’ – To ignore someone.

23. ‘The last straw’ – The final source of irritation for someone to finally lose patience.

24. ‘The elephant in the room’ – matter or problem that is obvious of great importance but that is not discussed openly.

25. ‘Stealing someones thunder’ – Taking credit for someone else achievements.

Art – Minoan civilization from about 2600 to 1100 BC. – Civilización Minoica y su Arte

Minoan art is the art produced by the Minoan civilization from about 2600 to 1100 BC.

The largest collection of Minoan art is in the museum at Heraklion, near Knossos, on the northern coast of Crete. Minoan art and other remnants of material culture, especially the sequence of ceramic styles, have been used by archaeologists to define the three phases of Minoan culture (EM, MM, LM).

Since wood and textiles have decomposed, the best-preserved (and most instructive) surviving examples of Minoan art are its pottery, palace architecture (with frescos which include landscapes), stone carvings and intricately-carved seal stones.

Frescoes were the stereotypical type of Art that depicted natural movements. Several frescoes at Knossos and Santorini survive. Arthur Evans hired Swiss artist Emile Gilliéron and his son, Emile, as the chief fresco restorers at Knossos. Spyridon Marinatos unearthed the ancient site at Santorini, which included frescoes which make it the second-most famous Minoan site.

In contrast to Egyptian frescoes, Crete had true frescoes. Probably the most famous fresco is the bull-leaping fresco.They include many depictions of people, with sexes distinguished by color; the men’s skin is reddish-brown, and the women’s white.

Many different styles of potted wares and techniques of production are observable throughout the history of Crete. Early Minoan ceramics were characterized by patterns of spirals, triangles, curved lines, crosses, fish bones, and beak-spouts. However, while many of the artistic motifs are similar in the Early Minoan period, there are many differences that appear in the reproduction of these techniques through out the island which represent a variety of shifts in taste as well as in power structures.

During the Middle Minoan period, naturalistic designs (such as fish, squid, birds and lilies) were common. In the Late Minoan period, flowers and animals were still characteristic but more variety existed.

One of the earliest styles in EM I was the Coarse Dark Burnished class. The dark burnished class most closely mimics the techniques of the Neolithic era. After new techniques allowed for the development of new styles of pottery in the early bronze age, Coarse Dark Burnished class remained in production, and while most wares from the Coarse Dark Burnished class are generally less extravagant than other styles that utilize the technological developments that emerged during EM I, some examples of intricate pieces exist . This may suggest that there was a desire within the communities who produced Coarse Dark Burnished ware to separate themselves from the communities who produced wares with the new techniques.

The Aghious Onouphrios and the Lebena classes were two of the most widespread styles of pottery that used techniques of which there are no antecedent examples . Both techniques utilized a variety of new techniques, for example the selection and handling of materials, the firing process, sapping and ornamentation. Both styles used fine patterns of lines to ornament the vessels. In the case of Aghious Onouphrios, vessel had a white backing and were painted with red lining. Conversely, in the case of the Lebena style white lines were painted above a red background.

Another EM I class was Pirgos ware. The style may have been imported, and perhaps mimics wood. Pirgos wares utilize a combination of old and new techniques. Pirgos wares are a subdivision of the Fine Dark Burnished class that have characteristic burnished patterns. The patterning is likely due to an inability to effectively paint the styles’ dark background.

These three classes of EM I pottery adequately reveal the diversity of techniques that emerged during the period. The Coarse Dark Burnished class continued to use techniques that were already in use, the Aghious Onouphrios and Lebana class used completely new techniques, and the Fine Dark Burnished class used a combination of old and new techniques. However a variety of other EM I wares have been discovered, e.g. the Scored, Red to Brown Monochrome, and the Cycladic classes. Additionally, all of the classes utilized different shapes of pottery.

Metal vessels were produced in Crete from at least as early as EM II (c. 2500) in the Prepalatial period through to LM IA (c. 1450) in the Postpalatial period and perhaps as late as LM IIIB/C (c. 1200), although it is likely that many of the vessels from these later periods were heirlooms from earlier periods. 

The earliest were probably made exclusively from precious metals, but from the Protopalatial period (MM IB – MM IIA) they were also produced in arsenical bronze and, subsequently, tin bronze. The archaeological record suggests that mostly cup-type forms were created in precious metals,  but the corpus of bronze vessels was diverse, including cauldrons, pans, hydrias, bowls, pitchers, basins, cups, ladles and lamps. The Minoan metal vessel tradition influenced that of the Mycenaean culture on mainland Greece, and they are often regarded as the same tradition. Many precious metal vessels found on mainland Greece exhibit Minoan characteristics, and it is thought that these were either imported from Crete or made on the mainland by Minoan metalsmiths working for Mycenaean patrons or by Mycenaean smiths who had trained under Minoan masters.