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Electrify America will expand its EV chargers to four more states by early 2022

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Electrify America is continuing to build out its network of electric vehicle chargers. The company plans to install charging points in four more states by early 2022: Hawaii, South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont. That will take Electrify America’s coverage area to 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Elsewhere, the company will add more stations later this year in states that have a small number of chargers, such as Montana, Minnesota and New Hampshire. It’s also set to expand the network significantly in Washington, which has set a goal for every model year 2030 and later light-duty vehicle that’s sold, bought or registered there to be an EV. Electrify America expects to have 800 charging stations with around 3,500 chargers open or in the works by the end of 2021.

Having easy access to charging stations is critical for widespread EV adoption, so the rapid expansion of networks is a positive step. This week, GM announced a partnership with seven charging networks that will allow drivers of the company’s EVs access to almost 60,000 EV chargers across the US and Canada.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/electrify-america-ev-chargers-more-states-hawaii-south-dakota-wyoming-vermont-193734979.html

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Colonial pipeline hackers say they’re ‘apolitical’ and only out to make money

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The hacking group suspected of launching the cyberattack that choked a major US pipeline last week has issued a statement declaring it has no political motivations. “We are apolitical, we do not participate in geopolitics, do not need to tie us with a defined government and look for other our motives,” the Darkside ransomware group said on its site on the dark web, according to Motherboard

The aftershocks from the attack on the Colonial pipeline, which supplies half of the fuel consumed along the East Coast, are still being felt. Local news outlets are reporting risks of gasoline shortages, while Reuters reports that several US refiners are booking tankers to store refined oil off the Gulf Coast. Colonial, which shut down the pipeline in response to the ransomware attack, has said that it hopes to restore services “by the end of week.”

For its part, Darkside claims its aim was to “make money” and not to cause large-scale disruption. In the future, it said it would change its approach to choosing targets to avoid “social consequences.” The group’s statement arrives as US law enforcement continues to unearth more details about the origins of the attack. While officials are trying to uncover whether this was a coordinated effort from a nation state. 

Yesterday, the FBI confirmed that the Darkside ransomware — believed to be operated by a Russian cybercrime gang of the same name — was used to carry out the attack. According to The New York Times, federal officials believe the malware was directed at the back-office operations of Colonial instead of the pipeline’s control systems. A preliminary investigation reportedly revealed poor security practices that made it “fairly easy” for hackers to infiltrate the company’s network.

President Biden has said that while there’s no evidence of Russian government involvement, “there is evidence that the actor’s ransomware is in Russia.” He continued: “We have efforts underway with the FBI and DOJ [Department of Justice] to disrupt and prosecute ransomware criminals.”

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/colonial-pipeline-darkside-hackers-statement-115542642.html

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NVIDIA’s Broadcast app gains echo and video noise removal in new update

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NVIDIA has made it easier to remove room echo, sounds of pets and video noise with the latest version of its Broadcast app. The manufacturer launched the app last year to provide people an AI-driven toolset they can use to make livestreams from their homes look and sound more professional. Upon launch, it gave people using PCs equipped with RTX GPUs the ability to remove background noise and to blur or replace the background of their webcam feed with game footage or an image. It also has the ability to track users’ head movements as they move around. Now, NVIDIA is rolling out two new features with Broadcast 1.2, alongside improvements to its original toolset.

One of the new features is called Room Echo Removal, because it can remove the echo in the streamer’s voice. People don’t always have access to rooms with excellent acoustics in their homes, and audiences may not appreciate having to listen to echoey voices for hours. Meanwhile, Video Noise Removal can help lessen video static caused by lower quality cameras, which can be especially noticeable in low-light environments. It’s still a beta feature at the moment, though, and its final version may be vastly different from what it is today.

NVIDIA has also updated Broadcast’s noise removal tool to add profiles that better separate the sounds of cats, dogs and even insects in the background. It could be a godsend for streamers with noisy pets or those who live in places with plenty of cicadas. In addition, the new version of Auto Frame lets subjects move within a frame without moving the camera, as well. With the updated tool in place, the camera will only move when the subject leaves the middle-third of the screen. Finally, Broadcast now gives users a way to combine multiple AI effects on a single device, so users can, say, use background blur with auto frame at any one time. 

The company has been working with content creator partners to integrate Broadcast’s tools into streaming apps for RTX GPUs, as well. OBS Studio 27 added the noise removal last month, while Notch integrated its body tracking and virtual background features. Now, AVerMedia has also added Broadcast’s audio noise removal and virtual background effects to its apps.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/nvidia-broadcast-app-update-1-2-110034015.html

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SkulptSynth SE is a $199 portable virtual analog synth with MPE support

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Modal Electronics made a heck of play for the budget synth market with the one-two punch of the SkulptSynth and the CraftSynth 2.0. The Skulpt was a $299 virtual analog that took aim at the Uno and Volca Keys by trading in true analog for a wealth of sound shaping features. The Craft on the other hand went for a wild wavetable engine that is unlike anything else in the $150 price range. The SkulptSynth SE builds on the success of the original Skulpt by slashing the price to just $199 and improving the build quality.

People have regularly complained about the build of the Skulpt and Craft 2 — including me. They’re impressive sounding, but feel kind of cheap and flimsy. The Volca line isn’t exactly a beacon of premium materials, but they feel far more robust than Modal’s budget instruments. I’ve yet to try the Skulpt SE for myself, so I can’t confirm just how much better the build is, but I’m cautiously optimistic. 

Under the hood though, the SE is almost exactly the same as the original Skulpt. It’s a four-voice, 32-oscillator virtual analog synth with a two-pole resonant filter that can sweep from lowpass, to bandpass, to highpass. There are also dedicated envelopes for filter, amp and modulation, as well as two LFOs, one of which is polyphonic. While the controls on the SE are not MPE ready, you can connect a compatible controller like the Sensel Morph and have expressive per-note control, which is practically unheard of at this price point for a hardware synthesizer.

There’s also a solid arpeggiator and a 256-step sequencer. Plus there’s built-in distortion and delay effects for beefing up your sound and adding some space. Not to mention a host of connections, including USB, full-sized MIDI in and out, 3.5mm headphone and lineout jacks, and analog sync in and out for connecting to Volcas, Pocket Operators and the like.

And, being a Modal synth, it can of course connect to the Modal app. The app is excellent and gives you fine grained control over what is a deceptively deep synth engine. Of course, the app is much more of a necessity with the Craft 2 which has limited hands-on controls. 

The biggest immediately different between the OG Skulpt and the SE is the design. The original was dark gray on dark gray with orange highlights and the labels on the controls were slightly confusing. The SE has a lighter easier to read design with the signal path more clearly laid out on the front. 

The SkulptSynth SE is available now for $199.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/modal-electronics-skulptsynth-se-affordable-portable-synthesizer-mpe-100523052.html

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid probe begins its two-year journey back to Earth

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On May 10th at 4:23 PM Eastern, OSIRIS—REx bid asteroid Bennu farewell to begin its 1.4-billion-mile journey back to our planet. The probe has been observing the asteroid since 2018 and even touched down on its surface last year to collect samples scientists can examine here on Earth. In fact, it scooped up so much more than the 60 grams of regolith its ground team expected to get that small particles kept leaking from the sample container until it was stowed away ahead of schedule. 

OSIRIS—REx will spend the next two-and-a-half years flying back so it can drop the sample containers, which will parachute to the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s West Desert. No, the probe itself won’t be landing back on Earth — it will stay in space for good. To be able to rendezvous with our planet, the ground team will have to do regular corrections so that it can bring the probe’s trajectory increasingly closer to Earth’s atmosphere. OSIRIS—REx will have to circle the sun twice inside of Venus’ orbit first before it can get close enough for sample release. 

NASA expects the probe to drop its sample capsule on September 24th, 2023. The process is a tricky one, because dropping it too low will cause the container to bounce out of the atmosphere, but dropping too high will cause the capsule to burn up during re-entry. That’s why the agency prepared a backup plan that would give OSIRIS-REx the chance to try again in 2025, in case the first attempt wouldn’t be possible. After all, getting the samples intact is of paramount importance. Scientists believe the asteroid Bennu has been around since the formation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. The debris OSIRIS-REx collected could hold the answer to whether asteroids helped deliver ingredients for life to Earth as we know it today. 

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, said:

“OSIRIS-REx’s many accomplishments demonstrated the daring and innovate way in which exploration unfolds in real time. The team rose to the challenge, and now we have a primordial piece of our solar system headed back to Earth where many generations of researchers can unlock its secrets.”

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/nasa-osiris-rex-journey-back-to-earth-092045332.html

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