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A Tesla Megapack burst into flames at ‘Victorian Big Battery’


A Tesla Megapack caught fire today during initial testing of a highly anticipated new utility-scale battery in Victoria, Australia. Luckily, there were no injuries or disruptions to the local electricity supply, CNBC reports. The blaze posed no risk of spreading to the nearby community, according to Bloomberg, but it did trigger a toxic smoke warning for residents who were told to stay indoors, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The cause of the fire is still unclear.

The fire affected the aptly named “Victorian Big Battery.” Spanning an area nearly as big as a football stadium, it’s one of the largest in the world. It’s scheduled to be operational by the end of this year, and the 300MW battery should be able to store enough energy to power more than a million homes in Victoria for half an hour.

That’s supposed to help prevent blackouts that have affected hundreds of thousands of homes in the region in recent years, especially in the summer when demand for electricity spikes. Giant batteries are also crucial to meeting environmental and renewable energy goals. The state of Victoria aims to get half of its electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2030. Batteries can fill in the gaps in energy supply when the sun doesn’t shine and winds don’t blow.

French renewable energy company Neoen is developing the Victorian Big Battery alongside Tesla and energy company AusNet Services. Neoen and Tesla brought another grid-scale battery online in 2017, which was the largest lithium-ion battery in the world at the time. Neoen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.



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Amazon gives Alexa a new iOS widget and the ability to assign reminders


Amazon has updated the Alexa app on iOS so that you can access the voice assistant right from your home screen via a new widget. Everyone can use the assistant to remind specific members of your household to do tasks through a new “assign reminders” skill.

Due to the somewhat restrictive nature of the widgets on iOS, the new Ask Alexa widget isn’t so much Alexa itself as it is a link directly to the iOS app. But if you have the Alexa widget placed on any of your screens and you’ve already given the Alexa app permission to use your iPhone’s mic, you’ll be able to start making requests with a tap.

The Ask Alexa widget in iOS.

And now those requests can get a bit more granular. Amazon’s given Alexa the ability to assign reminders to specific members of your household if they have a Voice Profile set up on the same Amazon Alexa account. So if you say “Alexa, remind Jeff to take the lasagna out of the freezer at 10AM,” Alexa will be able to deliver the reminder to the right person, at the right time, through the Alexa app. You can add profiles to your Alexa account in Settings under Your Profile, and Amazon says you can assign relationship nicknames to each one, like mom, dad, daughter, etc.

Alexa picks up new features and skills on a monthly basis, but Amazon also announced plans in June to open up Alexa even further to third-party developers. Among many new APIs, developers will be able to create custom widgets for the Echo Show.



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Gurman: Face ID on the Mac Coming Within a ‘Couple of Years’


Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac within the next “couple of years,” respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter.

In the newsletter, Gurman says that he believes Apple’s ultimate goal is to shift all of its products to Face ID, including the lower-end iPhones such as the iPhone SE and the iPad Air, which feature Touch ID. Gurman says ‌Touch ID‌ remains an important part of Apple’s product lineup, especially for lower-end models, thanks to it being a “cheaper alternative” to Face ID while continuing to provide security to users.

But I expect that to eventually change. It won’t happen this year, but I’d bet Face ID on the Mac is coming within a couple of years. I expect all iPhones and iPads to transition to Face ID within that timeframe, too. Eventually, a camera embedded in the screen would help differentiate Apple’s pricier devices by eliminating the notch at the top. The facial recognition sensor gives Apple two central features: security and augmented reality. Touch ID, more convenient or not, only provides the former.

Gurman had previously reported that as Apple was planning its recently launched redesigned 24-inch iMac, it had initially planned to include Face ID, but that Face ID implementation has been delayed to an upcoming ‌iMac‌ redesign instead. Unlike iPhones and iPads, Mac laptop screens are significantly thinner, making it harder to fit the necessary depth sensors for Face ID, Gurman notes.

Further down the line, Gurman says Apple will eventually embed Face ID into the screens themselves, abandoning the need for a notch on the iPhone. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes such an ‌iPhone‌ may debut as early as 2023. As for the Mac desktop, Apple is continuing to develop a replacement for the 27-inch iMac which may feature a larger screen and a more powerful “M2X” chip. Apple earlier this year paused work on the larger ‌iMac‌ to focus on the 24-inch ‌iMac‌, which was released this past April.



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Amazon Set to Accept Bitcoins, Develop Crypto Strategy


While there are big companies that do accept cryptocurrencies as payments, Amazon is not one of them, perhaps because of its unpredictable volatility. Yet the company is about to change its attitude towards cryptocurrencies and even plans to develop a special cryptocurrency and blockchain strategy. 

Business Insider has found an Amazon job listing that seeks a leader who will develop the retailer’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy as well as a product roadmap. The future employee of Amazon will be a part of The Amazon Payment Acceptance & Experience Team is responsible for ‘how Amazon’s customers pay on Amazon’s sites and through Amazon’s services around the globe,’ which pretty much implies that one of the world’s biggest retailers will start accepting cryptocurrency as payments sometimes in the future. 



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Guide to complete Sacrificial Offering quest


Genshin Impact 2.0 is full of new quests to complete and puzzles to solve, and players may have come across the Sacrificial Offering quest during their travels through Inazuma.

This tricky quest is full of exploration and puzzle solving and players will need to have a keen eye to complete all of the tasks to finish this new Inazuma quest. Players can learn how to find the barrier that is required to complete this quest, along with a guide on completing the other steps required to finish it.


Genshin Impact: How to complete the Sacrificial Offering quest

The Sacrificial Offering quest is a new Genshin Impact quest that players can acquire during their travels in Inazuma, and it requires players to perform several tasks to unlock some great rewards. It can be a pretty long quest, so players should make sure that they are ready before they undertake this new mission in Genshin Impact 2.0.

To begin this Genshin Impact quest, players will need to head to an Abandoned Shrine that can be found northeast of Konda Village. This shrine is marked on the image above, and players can head there to learn about the history of the shrine and begin the next portion of the quest.


Gathering the Mysterious Shadows

In the next portion of the quest, players will need to locate several Mysterious Shadows that have been scattered around the area and speak to them, which will cause them to disappear and reform at a trio of Fox Statues. Players will need to find all of these Mysterious Shadows to progress the quest, and they can be found in these locations:

The first Mysterious Shadow is found near the Shrine(Image via ZaFrostPet)
The first Mysterious Shadow is found near the Shrine(Image via ZaFrostPet)

Genshin Impact players can find the first Mysterious Shadow standing in front of the shrine, and interacting with it will make it vanish, prompting Paimon to note on how strange it is.

The second Mysterious Shadow can be found south of the first (Image via ZaFrostPet)
The second Mysterious Shadow can be found south of the first (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Players can find the second Mysterious Shadow by turning around from the first one and heading towards the Fox shrine a small distance away. Talking to this Mysterious Shadow will also cause it to vanish, leaving more Shadows to find.

Another Mysterious Shadow can be found here (Image via ZaFrostPet)
Another Mysterious Shadow can be found here (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Players can find a third Mysterious Shadow near another smaller shrine, and talking to her will cause her to disappear like the others.

A fourth Mysterious Shadow can be found on the roof of this building (Image via ZaFrostPet)
A fourth Mysterious Shadow can be found on the roof of this building (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Another Mysterious Shadow is located on the roof of a building a good distance away from the other Shadows, and talking to it will cause it to disappear, leaving just one more Shadow for players to interact with in this Genshin Impact quest.

The final Mysterious Shadow (Image via ZaFrostPet)
The final Mysterious Shadow (Image via ZaFrostPet)

The final Mysterious Shadow can be found under the branches of a tree just to the side of the trio of Fox Statues, and once it is spoken to, it will join the other two Mysterious Spirits, granting players three chests and progressing this new Genshin Impact quest.


Heading to the Narukami Shrine

Players will next need to head to the Narukami Shrine for some professional help (Image via ZaFrostPet)
Players will next need to head to the Narukami Shrine for some professional help (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Paimon will suggest to players that they get some professional help to solve this problem, and so they will journey to the Narukami Shrine to get some aid. Genshin Impact players will receive a new item called the Memento Lens that they can use to progress this quest.

Once Genshin Impact players get the Memento Lens, they can use it to obtain information by looking at small Fox statues through the lens, which will be an important part of progressing the quest.


Using the Memento Lens on the Kitsune statues:

Players will then be tasked with scanning the small statues with the Memento Lens, which will provide them with phrases they will need to progress the quest further.

Players can scan the Earth Kitsune with the Memento Lens (Image via ZaFrostPet)
Players can scan the Earth Kitsune with the Memento Lens (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Once players scan all the Kitsune, they will have learned the words they need to recite in front of the larger statue.

Players will need to return to the Shrine and recite the sacred words (Image via ZaFrostPet)
Players will need to return to the Shrine and recite the sacred words (Image via ZaFrostPet)

Genshin Impact players will be tasked with reciting the sacred words in front of the Sky Kitsune statue, and the order is simply the verses from the top to the bottom of the list. Players will need to input them in this order:

  1. “In the name of Narukami’s envoy.”
  2. “And of the Hakushin bloodline.
  3. “Bring forth the fried tofu!”

After this has been completed, players will be able to move on to the final stage of the quest.


Finding and destroying the barrier in the Sacrificial Offering quest:

Players will need to make their way to the final barrier of the quest, which can be found in a cave nearby the shrines. Players will need a special key to unlock the gate, which can be found by completing the quest A Strange Story in Konda. Players can also find an Electroculus inside once they open the gate. Once players unlock this gate, they will need to input this pattern into the surrounding statues.

Genshin Impact players can do this by interacting with the statues until the ones on the outside feature three Electro symbols, the one in the center has two, and the one on the bottom has one. After this, players will need to interact with the shrine and pray, which will summon an enemy samurai. After players defeat it, the quest is complete.


This Genshin Impact quest can take players a while, but it is part of a long questline in Inazuma that is definitely worth completing for both the rewards and the storyline.

Also read: Perpetual Mechanical Array in Genshin Impact: How to unlock, use, and more details






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Xbox Series S Is “An Ambivalent Piece of Hardware,” Says Blacktail Developer


In an interview with Gamingbolt – CEO and creative director at THE PARASIGHT, the developer behind Blacktail, gave some great insights about Microsoft’s next-gen budget offering, the Xbox Series S. Kapron believes that the Series S is an ambivalent piece of hardware.

The Xbox Series S is a drastically weaker console when compared to its bigger brothers such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X. In terms of raw TFLOPs, the Series S just has a third of the graphical grunt of the Series X. Thus, many seem to have doubts regarding its future, and whether it would be able to hold it’s own in next-gen titles. Kapron shares the sentiment to some extent, but also seems grateful that budget gamers can now get into next-gen gaming with the Series S.

“I think Series S is a very ambivalent piece of hardware. On the one hand, it makes the new generation much more affordable. On the other hand, everyone has doubts as to whether it won’t be a ball and chain, especially when the next gen will kick off for good. Personally, I think that despite the obvious difference in the target resolution in the future, we may also witness setting scaling between series X and S.”

While Microsoft’s claims of providing 1440p/60fps next-gen gaming looks to be an outstretched one, but the giant seems to be doubling down on making Series S as affordable as possible. In addition to providing gamers in select countries the option to purchase the console at a monthly payment with the Xbox All Access program, Xbox Game Pass ensures gamers get a healthy chunk of fresh offerings on a regular basis.




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Restoration Hardware (RH) Outpaces Stock Market Gains: What You Should Know


Restoration Hardware (RH) closed the most recent trading day at $685, moving +1.48% from the previous trading session. This change outpaced the S&P 500’s 1.02% gain on the day.

Heading into today, shares of the furniture and housewares company had lost 0.32% over the past month, lagging the Retail-Wholesale sector’s gain of 0.19% and the S&P 500’s gain of 3.01% in that time.

RH will be looking to display strength as it nears its next earnings release. On that day, RH is projected to report earnings of $6.45 per share, which would represent year-over-year growth of 31.63%. Meanwhile, our latest consensus estimate is calling for revenue of $972.26 million, up 37% from the prior-year quarter.

For the full year, our Zacks Consensus Estimates are projecting earnings of $22.62 per share and revenue of $3.68 billion, which would represent changes of +26.86% and +29.23%, respectively, from the prior year.

Any recent changes to analyst estimates for RH should also be noted by investors. These revisions typically reflect the latest short-term business trends, which can change frequently. With this in mind, we can consider positive estimate revisions a sign of optimism about the company’s business outlook.

Based on our research, we believe these estimate revisions are directly related to near-team stock moves. We developed the Zacks Rank to capitalize on this phenomenon. Our system takes these estimate changes into account and delivers a clear, actionable rating model.

The Zacks Rank system ranges from #1 (Strong Buy) to #5 (Strong Sell). It has a remarkable, outside-audited track record of success, with #1 stocks delivering an average annual return of +25% since 1988. Over the past month, the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate remained stagnant. RH currently has a Zacks Rank of #3 (Hold).

Looking at its valuation, RH is holding a Forward P/E ratio of 29.85. This represents a premium compared to its industry’s average Forward P/E of 15.56.

Meanwhile, RH’s PEG ratio is currently 1.7. This metric is used similarly to the famous P/E ratio, but the PEG ratio also takes into account the stock’s expected earnings growth rate. The Retail – Home Furnishings industry currently had an average PEG ratio of 1.45 as of yesterday’s close.

The Retail – Home Furnishings industry is part of the Retail-Wholesale sector. This group has a Zacks Industry Rank of 18, putting it in the top 8% of all 250+ industries.

The Zacks Industry Rank gauges the strength of our individual industry groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups. Our research shows that the top 50% rated industries outperform the bottom half by a factor of 2 to 1.

You can find more information on all of these metrics, and much more, on Zacks.com.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
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MagSafe Battery Pack teardown confirms dual-cell design


A teardown of Apple’s new $99 MagSafe Battery Pack from Charger Lab has given us our best look yet inside the new accessory, and revealed more details about how it works. For starters, it confirms recent speculation that it uses a pair of battery cells wired in series like Apple’s previous Smart Battery cases, but it also gives us a look at the NFC circuitry and heat shielding within.

A dual-cell design is important, because it allows the voltage of the battery pack to be higher than a comparable single-cell design. While each individual cell is labelled as being 3.82 volts, the overall voltage of the battery pack is 7.62 with them wired in series. It means the pack should be capable of supplying more power than its 1,460mAh capacity would suggest when compared directly with the battery capacities of the iPhone itself, with a total power output of 11.13Wh. AppleInsider has a good writeup of the science if you’re after more detail.

The dual-cell design of the MagSafe Battery Pack.
Screenshot: Charger Lab

Beyond the battery cells, the teardown gives us a good look at how the battery pack dissipates heat. In February, when Bloomberg first reported the existence of the pack, it noted that development had been set back because the iPhone’s software kept thinking the accessory was overheating. It’s unclear if this problem was overcome with software or hardware fixes, but clearly a lot of effort has gone into keeping the pack cool while allowing it to supply enough power.

Unlike the right-to-repair advocates over at iFixit, Charger Lab doesn’t offer a repairability score at the end of its teardowns. But the amount of adhesive and concealed tabs holding the battery pack together don’t make it look very user serviceable. We’ll have more details on how it performs in practice in our forthcoming review.



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Hardware looted and torched – South Coast Herald


During last week’s unrest, a well-known family business, Dumakude Hardware at Ma Afrika in Merlewood was looted and torched.

The newly renovated hardware was fully stocked with building materials. After being repeatedly looted last Monday (July 12), the building was set alight later that day.

All that remains of the Dumakude Hardware is burnt rubble.

The owner, Yaasir Mahomed took over the business from his father, the late Imraan Hansbhai Mahomed who was well-known in the community.

A social media post doing the rounds in the community stated that the store and building was the legacy of one of the most generous and helpful men in Port Shepstone (the late Mr Mahaomed) and that he gave generously of his time and experience, as well as carried out charity work in the surrounding communities.

“We have not as yet calculated the cost of the loss,” said Nabeela Mahomed, Yaasir’s wife.

“We are grateful to those who were so generous with their time at the clean-up event last Sunday.”

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Banks, brokerages, PSN, the Steam Store, and more went down in massive internet outage


Many websites — including banking pages, brokerages, and gaming services — were affected for just over an hour Thursday, as part of a major internet outage. During the outage, consumers were unable to access services like Ally Bank, Fidelity, Sony’s PlayStation Network, Airbnb, and more. Several airline sites were also affected: Delta, British Airways, and Southwest’s sites were either down, or had important functionality like flight check-ins broken.

Many sites appear to be functional again after Akamai, a content delivery network that hosts much of the internet, started rolling out a fix to its service. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and can confirm this was not a result of a cyber attack on the Akamai platform” says Akamai in email to The Verge.

It quickly became clear that Akamai was involved, with many websites attributing the outages to the CDN provider. Larger outlets included the New York Metro Transportation Authority and The Times of India, who tweeted that their service outages were due to Akamai. Cloudflare’s CEO has chimed in to say that its service isn’t to blame.

Gaming services were also hit hard by the internet issues. DownDetector reported a spike of over 40,000 users who were having issues with the PlayStation Network, and the Steam store also had functionality issues. DownDetector also reported issues with games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. Sony’s PSN status page acknowledged an issue shortly before we published this post: “PlayStation Network services are up and running, but there are external, internet-wide issues that might affect your experience,” the company wrote.

Some sites displayed error messages during the outage, and some fail to load all together.

Pingdom’s live map shows that the issue was global.

As far as more essential services, a number of banks’ websites also appeared to have been rendered non-functional during the outage, and there were reports of 911 systems being down across multiple states. It is, however, unclear if the emergency services outage was related to the other web outages — the Sheriff’s Department of Grayson County, Virginia, reported that its 911 outage stemmed from a fiber cut, which has now reportedly been fixed.

Outages like this show that, while the web is decentralized in theory, many major sites’ functionality is dependent on a handful of companies. In June, a single customer hit a bug that brought down Fastly’s CDN service — and Reddit, Twitch, and The Verge went down with it. Problems with Amazon’s Web Services have also caused major outages in the past.





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