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What Travel Will Look Like After Coronavirus

Thu, 2020-08-06 21:44
When will we be traveling again in large numbers? And what will travel be like in the future? The first question depends on a medical solution to the coronavirus pandemic. The second is best answered with experience. From a report: I asked eight travel pioneers for predictions on what the future of travel will be -- current and former chairmen and chief executives of travel companies and a former secretary of transportation. All have experience from past crises and recoveries. Most foresee a lasting decline in business travel, but think leisure travel will bounce back robustly. That means airlines and hotels will have to change their business plans, being unable to rely as much on rich revenue from corporate travelers. Expect higher ticket prices and room rates for vacationers to cover the costs with fewer high-dollar customers to subsidize bargain-seekers. "The airline industry is going to have to examine its business plan," says Robert Crandall, former chief executive of American Airlines. "You are never going to see the volume of business travel that you've seen in the past." He estimates one-third to one-half of business travel will go away. More meetings will take place electronically. Trips once thought necessary will be seen as superfluous. "Everybody who depends on business travel is going to have to rethink their game plan," Mr. Crandall says. The pandemic has forced widespread, rapid adoption of videoconferencing technology. The technology is mature, easy to use and available on any device.

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Categories: Technology

The Next Step In SSD Evolution: NVMe Zoned Namespaces Explained

Thu, 2020-08-06 21:02
FallOutBoyTonto writes: In June we saw an update to the NVMe standard. The update defines a software interface to assist in actually reading and writing to the drives in a way to which SSDs and NAND flash actually works. Instead of emulating the traditional block device model that SSDs inherited from hard drives and earlier storage technologies, the new NVMe Zoned Namespaces optional feature allows SSDs to implement a different storage abstraction over flash memory. This is quite similar to the extensions SAS and SATA have added to accommodate Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) hard drives, with a few extras for SSDs. 'Zoned' SSDs with this new feature can offer better performance than regular SSDs, with less overprovisioning and less DRAM. The downside is that applications and operating systems have to be updated to support zoned storage, but that work is well underway. The NVMe Zoned Namespaces (ZNS) specification has been ratified and published as a Technical Proposal. It builds on top of the current NVMe 1.4a specification, in preparation for NVMe 2.0. The upcoming NVMe 2.0 specification will incorporate all the approved Technical Proposals, but also reorganize that same functionality into multiple smaller component documents: a base specification (one for each command set of block, zoned, key-value, and potentially more in the future), and separate specifications for each transport protocol (PCIe, RDMA, TCP). The standardization of Zoned Namespaces clears the way for broader commercialization and adoption of this technology, which so far has been held back by vendor-specific zoned storage interfaces and very limited hardware choices. [...]

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Categories: Technology

Massive 20GB Intel IP Data Breach Floods the Internet, Mentions Backdoors

Thu, 2020-08-06 20:23
FallOutBoyTonto writes: A leaker today posted on Twitter a link to a file sharing service that contains what an anonymous source claims is a portion of Intel's crown jewels: A 20GB folder of confidential Intel intellectual property. The leaker dubbed the release the "Intel exconfidential Lake Platform Release ;)" The folder has been posted by an anonymous source that claims more is coming soon, and while we don't know the exact specifics of the folder's contents, we have verified that it does exist. In fact, the title of many of the documents do correlate to the list of purported information posted by the leaker: Intel ME Bringup guides + (flash) tooling + samples for various platforms Kabylake (Purley Platform) BIOS Reference Code and Sample Code + Initialization code (some of it as exported git repos with full history) Intel CEFDK (Consumer Electronics Firmware Development Kit (Bootloader stuff)) SOURCES Silicon / FSP source code packages for various platforms Various Intel Development and Debugging Tools Simics Simulation for Rocket Lake S and potentially other platforms Various roadmaps and other documents Binaries for Camera drivers Intel made for SpaceX Schematics, Docs, Tools + Firmware for the unreleased Tiger Lake platform (very horrible) Kabylake FDK training videos Intel Trace Hub + decoder files for various Intel ME versions Elkhart Lake Silicon Reference and Platform Sample Code Some Verilog stuff for various Xeon Platforms, unsure what it is exactly. Debug BIOS/TXE builds for various Platforms Bootguard SDK (encrypted zip) Intel Snowridge / Snowfish Process Simulator ADK Various schematics Intel Marketing Material Templates (InDesign)

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Categories: Technology

Apple Launches Public Beta of macOS Big Sur, Its Biggest Desktop OS Update in Years

Thu, 2020-08-06 19:43
The public beta of macOS Big Sur, the next major release of Apple's Mac operating system, is now available. From a report: The new update brings a big visual overhaul to macOS while also adding a number of brand-new enhancements. If you're thinking about installing the macOS Big Sur public beta, be warned that it's still, well, a beta. That means you could experience some unexpected bugs, and software you rely on may not work with the new OS just yet. Before you install Big Sur, make sure all of your important documents are backed up somewhere safe, and if at all possible, you should only install this on a secondary Mac. But if you do roll the dice and install the Big Sur beta, you'll immediately see that it looks much different than previous versions of macOS, as Apple has made significant design changes across the entire operating system. Windows have a whole lot more white, for example (unless you're using dark mode, in which case, there's still a lot of black). Apple's app icons have received a major facelift and are now rounded squares, like iOS's app icons. And the menu bar is now translucent, blending into your wallpaper.

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Categories: Technology

How To Build a Nuclear Warning For 10,000 Years' Time

Thu, 2020-08-06 19:01
Faizdog writes (edited for clarity): The BBC has a fascinating story about the struggle we are facing today as we work on finding ways to warn future generations about nuclear waste dumps. How does language or knowledge survive over 300,000 years? Even today, only about 6% of the world's population recognizes the nuclear danger symbol, and we've forgotten the purpose of Stonehenge. Language, culture, history all change and are forgotten in a relatively short period of time on a nuclear scale. From a report: "This place is not a place of honor," reads the text. "No highly esteemed dead is commemorated here... nothing valued is here. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger." It sounds like the kind of curse that you half-expect to find at the entrance to an ancient burial mound. But this message is intended to help mark the site of the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) that has been built over 2,000 feet (610m) down through stable rocks beneath the desert of New Mexico. The huge complex of tunnels and caverns is designed to contain the US military's most dangerous nuclear waste. This waste will remain lethal longer than the 300,000 years Homo sapiens has walked across the surface of the planet. WIPP is currently the only licensed deep geological disposal repository in operation in the world. A similar facility should also open in Finland in the mid-2020s. When the facility is full sometime in the next 10 to 20 years, the caverns will be collapsed and sealed with concrete and soil. The sprawling complex of buildings that currently mark the site will be erased. In its place will be "our society's largest conscious attempt to communicate across the abyss of deep time."

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Categories: Technology

Capital One To Pay $80 Million Fine After Data Breach

Thu, 2020-08-06 18:21
Capital One Financial Corp will pay an $80 million penalty to a U.S. bank regulator after the bank suffered a massive data breach one year ago. From a report: The fine, announced Thursday by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, punishes the bank for failing to adequately identify and manage risk as it moved significant portions of its technological operations to the cloud. "Safeguarding our customersâ(TM) information is essential to our role as a financial institution," said a bank representative in a statement. "In the year since the incident, we have invested significant additional resources into further strengthening our cyber defenses, and have made substantial progress in addressing the requirements of these orders." In July 2019, the bank disclosed that personal information including names and addresses of about 100 million individuals in the United States and 6 million people in Canada were obtained by a hacker. The suspected hacker was a former employee of Amazon Web Services, a cloud provider where the bank had moved some of its data.

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US Now Offers $10 Million Reward For Election Interference Tips

Thu, 2020-08-06 17:41
The US Department of State announced today rewards of up to $10 million for any information leading to the identification of any person who works with or for a foreign government for the purpose of interfering with US elections through "illegal cyber activities." From a report: This includes attacks against US election officials, US election infrastructure, voting machines, but also candidates and their staff. The announcement was made today, less than 100 days until the 2020 US Presidential Election that will have incumbent Donald Trump face off against Democrat candidate Joe Biden. Nevertheless, the Department of State said the reward is valid for any form of election hacking, at any level, such as elections held at the federal, state, or local level as well.

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Google Has Already Discontinued the Pixel 4 and 4 XL

Thu, 2020-08-06 17:01
Google has already discontinued the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, its flagship phones that were released in October of last year. Both devices are out of stock in Google's store in the US, though some variants are still available in other regions for the time being. A Google spokesperson told The Verge that the company will honor its three-year commitment on timely OS and security updates.

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US Steps Up Campaign To Purge Chinese Apps

Thu, 2020-08-06 16:25
The Trump administration said late Wednesday it was stepping up efforts to purge "untrusted" Chinese apps from US digital networks and called the Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok and messenger app WeChat "significant threats." From a report: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said expanded US efforts on a program it calls "Clean Network" would focus on five areas and include steps to prevent various Chinese apps, as well as Chinese telecoms companies, from accessing sensitive information on American citizens and businesses. Mr Pompeo's announcement comes after US President Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok. The hugely popular video-sharing app has come under fire from US lawmakers and the administration over national security concerns, amid intensified tensions between Washington and Beijing. "With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP [Chinese Communist Party] content censorship," Mr Pompeo said. In an interview with state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said the United States "has no right" to set up the "Clean Network" and calls the actions by Washington as "a textbook case of bullying." "Anyone can see through clearly that the intention of the US is to protect it's monopoly position in technology and to rob other countries of their proper right to development," said Mr Wang.

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OnePlus is Bogging Its Phones Down With Unremovable Facebook Bloatware

Thu, 2020-08-06 15:44
An anonymous reader shares a report: Remember back in the early days of the smartphone when carriers would install all kinds of bloatware on devices sold through their channels? For the most part, this practice has kind of stopped, or at least it isn't as bad as it once was, but unfortunately it looks like OnePlus users have to grapple with another kind of bloatware -- Facebook. This is according to a tweet by XDA's Max Weinbach who discovered that the Instagram app on his OnePlus phone was updating through a Facebook App Manager instead of the Play Store, where one would normally expect to see app updates. Android Police dug further and discovered that this Facebook App Manager tool is present on the company's more recent handsets that are shipped with OxygenOS. According to OnePlus, they claim that by using the Facebook App Manager, it will apparently offer "better battery efficiency," although we can't really see why that would be the case. They also allege that this would allow for enhanced HDR playback on Netflix. The bad news is that you canâ(TM)t even uninstall them.

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Categories: Technology

Scientists Rename Human Genes To Stop Microsoft Excel From Misreading Them as Dates

Thu, 2020-08-06 15:07
There are tens of thousands of genes in the human genome: minuscule twists of DNA and RNA that combine to express all of the traits and characteristics that make each of us unique. Each gene is given a name and alphanumeric code, known as a symbol, which scientists use to coordinate research. But over the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates. From a report: The problem isn't as unexpected as it first sounds. Excel is a behemoth in the spreadsheet world and is regularly used by scientists to track their work and even conduct clinical trials. But its default settings were designed with more mundane applications in mind, so when a user inputs a gene's alphanumeric symbol into a spreadsheet, like MARCH1 -- short for "Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1" -- Excel converts that into a date: 1-Mar. This is extremely frustrating, even dangerous, corrupting data that scientists have to sort through by hand to restore. It's also surprisingly widespread and affects even peer-reviewed scientific work. One study from 2016 examined genetic data shared alongside 3,597 published papers and found that roughly one-fifth had been affected by Excel errors.

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Categories: Technology

YouTube Bans Thousands of Chinese Accounts To Combat 'Coordinated Influence Operations'

Thu, 2020-08-06 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: YouTube has banned a large number of Chinese accounts it said were engaging in "coordinated influence operations" on political issues, the company announced today; 2,596 accounts from China alone were taken down from April to June, compared with 277 in the first three months of 2020. "These channels mostly uploaded spammy, non-political content, but a small subset posted political content primarily in Chinese similar to the findings in a recent Graphika report (PDF), including content related to the U.S. response to COVID-19," Google posted in its Threat Analysis Group bulletin for Q2. The Graphika report, entitled "Return of the (Spamouflage) Dragon: Pro Chinese Spam Network Tries Again," [...] details a large set of accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media that began to be activated early this year that appeared to be part of a global propaganda push: "The network made heavy use of video footage taken from pro-Chinese government channels, together with memes and lengthy texts in both Chinese and English. It interspersed its political content with spam posts, typically of scenery, basketball, models, and TikTok videos. These appeared designed to camouflage the operation's political content, hence the name." It's the "return" of this particular spam dragon because it showed up last fall in a similar form, and whoever is pulling the strings appears undeterred by detection. New, sleeper and stolen accounts were amassed again and deployed for similar purposes, though now -- as Google notes -- with a COVID-19 twist. When June rolled around, content was also being pushed related to the ongoing protests regarding the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and other racial justice matters.

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Categories: Technology

NASA Researchers Demonstrate the Ability To Fuse Atoms Inside Room-Temperature Metals

Thu, 2020-08-06 11:00
Researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center have now demonstrated a method of inducing nuclear fusion without building a massive stellarator or tokamak. In fact, all they needed was a bit of metal, some hydrogen, and an electron accelerator. IEEE Spectrum reports: The team believes that their method, called lattice confinement fusion, could be a potential new power source for deep space missions. They have published their results in two papers in Physical Review C. "Lattice confinement" refers to the lattice structure formed by the atoms making up a piece of solid metal. The NASA group used samples of erbium and titanium for their experiments. Under high pressure, a sample was "loaded" with deuterium gas, an isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron. The metal confines the deuterium nuclei, called deuterons, until it's time for fusion. "During the loading process, the metal lattice starts breaking apart in order to hold the deuterium gas," says Theresa Benyo, an analytical physicist and nuclear diagnostics lead on the project. "The result is more like a powder." At that point, the metal is ready for the next step: overcoming the mutual electrostatic repulsion between the positively-charged deuteron nuclei, the so-called Coulomb barrier. To overcome that barrier requires a sequence of particle collisions. First, an electron accelerator speeds up and slams electrons into a nearby target made of tungsten. The collision between beam and target creates high-energy photons, just like in a conventional X-ray machine. The photons are focused and directed into the deuteron-loaded erbium or titanium sample. When a photon hits a deuteron within the metal, it splits it apart into an energetic proton and neutron. Then the neutron collides with another deuteron, accelerating it. At the end of this process of collisions and interactions, you're left with a deuteron that's moving with enough energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier and fuse with another deuteron in the lattice. Key to this process is an effect called electron screening, or the shielding effect. Even with very energetic deuterons hurtling around, the Coulomb barrier can still be enough to prevent fusion. But the lattice helps again. "The electrons in the metal lattice form a screen around the stationary deuteron," says Benyo. The electrons' negative charge shields the energetic deuteron from the repulsive effects of the target deuteron's positive charge until the nuclei are very close, maximizing the amount of energy that can be used to fuse. Aside from deuteron-deuteron fusion, the NASA group found evidence of what are known as Oppenheimer-Phillips stripping reactions. Sometimes, rather than fusing with another deuteron, the energetic deuteron would collide with one of lattice's metal atoms, either creating an isotope or converting the atom to a new element. The team found that both fusion and stripping reactions produced useable energy.

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Categories: Technology

SpaceX's Starship SN5 Testbed Successfully Makes 150m Controlled Flight

Thu, 2020-08-06 08:00
Zitchas writes: On Tuesday evening, SpaceX launched a testbed system which flew 150m into the air, hovered, and made a controlled landing. This testbed is noteworthy for being made out of stainless steel, as well as for being powered by a single off-center raptor engine. It demonstrates that the propulsion system can successfully compensate for the off-balanced propulsion via vectored thrust, as well as handle the stresses involved with landing and take-off. You can watch the testbed system launch here. Important note: The vehicle that was launched was not the entirety of Starship, the large spacecraft that will be launched into orbit atop a Super Heavy rocket. "This prototype lacked key structural elements, including a large nose cone, flaps, an interstage, and more. But critically, this vehicle contained Starship's propulsion system," reports Ars Technica. "Among the key aspects of Tuesday's test was demonstrating that Starship's stainless-steel structure could withstand the harsh environment of a launch and landing."

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Categories: Technology

Cluster of 295 Chrome Extensions Caught Hijacking Google and Bing Search Results

Thu, 2020-08-06 04:30
An anonymous reader writes: More than 80 million Chrome users have installed one of 295 Chrome extensions that have been identified to hijack and insert ads inside Google and Bing search results. The malicious extensions were discovered by AdGuard, a company that provides ad-blocking solutions, while the company's staff was looking into a series of fake ad-blocking extensions that were available on the official Chrome Web Store. AdGuard says that most of the extensions (245 out of the 295 extensions) were simplistic utilities that had no other function than to apply a custom background for Chrome's "new tab" page. In addition to the 295 cluster, AdGuard also found a large number of copycat extensions that cloned popular add-ons to capitalize on their brands, and then load malicious code that performed ad fraud or cookie stuffing. ZDNet has the full list of 295 Chrome extensions embedded in their article.

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Categories: Technology

Microsoft Isn't Renaming Xbox Live and Has 'No Plans' To Discontinue Xbox Live Gold

Thu, 2020-08-06 03:03
Last month, Microsoft removed the option to purchase 12 months of Xbox Live Gold from the Microsoft Store, leading many to believe the company could be planning to phase out the service altogether with the launch of the Xbox Series X. When asked about the plans by The Verge, Microsoft said: "We have no plans to discontinue Xbox Live Gold at this time. It is an important part of gaming on Xbox today, and will continue to be in the future." The Verge's report also notes the company isn't planning to rename Xbox Live: Rumors of an Xbox Live rename appeared this week, after Microsoft announced changes to its services agreement. The software giant started referring to Xbox Live as the "Xbox online service," prompting some to assume Xbox Live was going away. "The update to 'Xbox online service' in the Microsoft Services Agreement refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests," says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. "This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription. There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold." While it's clear Xbox Live Gold isn't going away, Microsoft's statement doesn't mean the service won't be made free at some point in the future. Microsoft still requires Xbox One owners, and potentially Xbox Series X owners, to purchase an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play multiplayer games online. Windows 10 players of Xbox Live-enabled games do not require the same subscription, however. This split gets especially tricky for games like Halo Infinite, which Microsoft has promised will have a free-to-play multiplayer mode. If Microsoft does continue Xbox Live Gold as a paid service on Xbox consoles, then PC players will get totally free access to Halo Infinite and Xbox players will not.

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Ryzen 4000 Notebooks Delayed By At Least Two Months Due To Shortage of Processors

Thu, 2020-08-06 02:25
New submitter spth writes: Demand for notebooks with AMD Ryzen processors is far higher than supply. Following a reddit post by a Schenker (German computer manufacturer) employee about Ryzen 4800H shortages, Heinz Heise (Heinz Heise is the publisher of some leading German computer magazines, such as c't and iX) journalists investigated and found that the shortage apparently affects all Ryzen 4000 mobile APUs, and according to AMD is an industry-wide phenomena. Apparently, a large part of TSMC production capacity is needed for production of the APUs of future PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, and cannot be used to compensate for increased Ryzen 4000 demand.

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Japan Is Running Diagnostic Tests On Its First Real Gundam

Thu, 2020-08-06 01:45
New submitter nightflameauto writes: Japan has a working prototype of a real Gundam that is currently undergoing testing at the Gundam Factory. No, that's not the plot of some silly sci-fi movie, it's actually happening. There's a somewhat sensationally-titled video available of the 18-meter (60-foot) robot assembly running some small movement tests where it twists its torso and lifts a leg, then places it back down. Small steps, but the initial plan is to have this beast debut this October in free-standing/walking form. Welcome to 2020. We may have calamity upon calamity, but at least we've got a Gundam.

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US Reaches $1 Billion Deal For Doses of Potential Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Thu, 2020-08-06 01:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a deal worth approximately $1 billion for the manufacturing of 100 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson that the federal government would then own. The move is the latest in a series of agreements the Trump administration has made with several companies making potential coronavirus vaccines. The goal, through the Operation Warp Speed program, is to make bets on a wide array of vaccine candidates with the hope that at least one and maybe more will end up proving safe and effective through clinical trials. The companies will begin manufacturing the doses even before the results are in to accelerate the process. Johnson & Johnson said its goal is to have 1 billion doses made available throughout 2021, if the vaccine proves to be safe and effective.

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Here's Exactly How Inefficient Wireless Charging Is

Thu, 2020-08-06 00:25
News outlet OneZero crunched the numbers on just how inefficient wireless charging is -- and the results are pretty revealing. From the report: On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There's no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone's battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat. While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren't aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem. [...] To get a sense of how much extra power is lost when using wireless charging versus wired charging in the real world, I tested a Pixel 4 using multiple wireless chargers, as well as the standard charging cable that comes with the phone. I used a high-precision power meter that sits between the charging block and the power outlet to measure power consumption. In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable. Charging the phone from completely dead to 100% using a cable took an average of 14.26 watt-hours (Wh). Using a wireless charger took, on average, 21.01 Wh. That comes out to slightly more than 47% more energy for the convenience of not plugging in a cable. In other words, the phone had to work harder, generate more heat, and suck up more energy when wirelessly charging to fill the same size battery. [...] The first test with the Yootech pad -- before I figured out how to align the coils properly -- took a whopping 25.62 Wh to charge, or 80% more energy than an average cable charge. Hearing about the hypothetical inefficiencies online was one thing, but here I could see how I'd nearly doubled the amount of power it took to charge my phone by setting it down slightly wrong instead of just plugging in a cable.

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