This self-drying dish rack uses an organic mineral to instantly evaporate water


The Dorai Dish Rack comes from the same guys who invented the Dorai Bath Stone that could instantly dry your feet in the time it takes to step on a mat and step off it. Building on this quick-drying aspect that is slowly becoming the company’s specialty, this is the Dorai Dish Rack. It uses a special fossilized-algae base that absorbs water at lightning speeds, drying your dishes out without creating a puddle of water, detergent, dirt, leading to mold and bacteria buildup at the base of the rack.

The Dorai Dish Rack is a radical rethinking of the age-old dish rack that we’ve been blindly accepting for centuries. While old dish-racks rely on water dripping off the dishes and onto your kitchen countertop (you could add a kitchen towel, but we all know that doesn’t help), Dorai comes with its proprietary Diomat built in. This Diomat is made from a rare-earth-mineral better known as Diatomaceous Earth, that forms from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. Diatomaceous Earth has the ability to instantly absorb and dissipate water or moisture, accelerating evaporation while preventing mold and bacterial growth. Using this feature as its core strength, the Dorai Dish Rack allows your wet pots, pans, bottles, wine glasses, knives, and cutlery to drip directly onto the Diomat. Within seconds, the water is evenly dispersed across the mat and evaporates instantly into the air. Designed in aluminum, the Dorai Dish Rack is lightweight and resistant to rust. It comes with the ability to dock glasses, cutting boards, and even your knife-block, giving all your cutlery and crockery enough space to dry to perfection. The Dish Rack is collapsible, letting you to store it in narrow spaces when not in use, and the Diomat is removable too, allowing you to clean the mat and the rack periodically, keeping your entire kitchen space dry and sanitary.

For more flexibility, there’s the Dorai Dish Pad, a foldable mat that you can open out on counter-tops to lay out wet utensils onto. Centered around the quick-drying Diatomecious Earth baseplate, the Dorai Dish Pad comes with a silicone outer, giving the pad its hinged, flexible nature, as well as a food-safe, toxin-free construction. Designed to be quick-drying, reusable, sustainable, and healthy, the Dorai Dish Rack and Pad give our hand-washing and drying practices a much-needed upgrade.

Designer: Aaron Nelson

Click Here to Buy Now: $39 $65 (40% off). Hurry, only 6/195 left for the Dish Pad.
Click Here to Buy Now: $69 $89 (22% off). Hurry, only 57/100 left for the Dish Rack.

Dorai Dish Rack

Dorai Dish Pad

Dorai Self-Drying Dish Rack & Pad

Their self-drying dish rack uses Diatomaceous Earth, an organic material that evaporates instantly.

How it Works

Diatomaceous Earth, or grass of the sea, is a naturally occurring mineral that is made from the fossilized remains of tune aquatic organisms. When moisture hits the surface, the material attracts and binds bacteria and parasites, causing them to dry out and die. Water rapidly eveaporates from the product through millions of pores.

Dorai Dish Rack

Dorai Dish Pad

Below: Features

Built in cutting board holder and add-on protective knife block.

Padded hooks for wine glasses, baby and sports bottle.

Food-safe, antimicrobial Diatomaceous Earth ‘Diomat’ base.

Collapsable rack and foldable pad for easy storing.

Click Here to Buy Now: $39 $65 (40% off). Hurry, only 6/195 left for the Dish Pad
Click Here to Buy Now: $69 $89 (22% off). Hurry, only 57/100 left for the Dish Rack

from Yanko Design

The 15 highest-paying tech jobs for recent college grads and Gen Z


Long Beach City College graduation ceremony

  • Colleges graduates from the class of 2019 represent the first majority-Gen Z class entering the full-time workforce.
  • For recent grads looking for tech jobs, there are several high-paying options, including senior developer, lead engineer, and mobile developer. 
  • Employees in the San Francisco Bay Area have the highest salaries for 12 of the 15 jobs.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Colleges graduates from the class of 2019 represent the first majority-Gen Z class entering the full-time workforce. Many of them will be considering roles in tech — though, jobs at places like Facebook are seemingly less popular among this crowd — and looking for the highest-paying positions. 

According to a recent study by salary and compensation website Comparably, 88% of Gen Z college graduates are conservatively optimistic about their futures — hoping for the best, but expecting to work harder than their elders. One-third believe gender has been an obstacle in their burgeoning careers. Only 65% are happy with their work-life balance; and if they quit tomorrow, the last straw would be pay.

Comparably found that in more than half of the 15 roles it highlighted, women are paid more on average. However, Comparably clarified that this appearance of higher salaries for women could simply mean that there are less women holding these roles, and those few women are being paid more in progressive cities. 

The study also broke out cost of living by city: Employees in the San Francisco Bay Area have the highest salaries for 12 out of the 15 tech jobs listed, but those employees also have the highest cost for apartment rentals. Seattle pays the most for the remaining three tech roles. 

Here are the top 15 highest-paying jobs in tech for recent grads: 

SEE ALSO: The New York Times’ crosswords group wanted to reach non-native English speakers. The result is the free ‘Tiles’ game and it’s catching on

15. Sales Manager

Job description: Leads and coaches the sales team, focusing on individual sales territories. Duties include assigning sales territories, setting quotas, building sales plans, and managing staff.

Skills needed: Degree in business or management. Experience in sales platforms like Salesforce. Leadership, analytics, customer service, and interpersonal skills.

Average salary: $64,412

14. Web/Visual Designer

Job description: Improves the aesthetic appeal of products via visual design choices (i.e. illustration, photography, typography, or color).

Skills needed: Degree or certificate in graphic design. Understanding of Gestalt principles of design, which are based in psychology and describe how humans perceive objects and patterns visually. Artistic ability.

Average salary: $64,478

13. Operations Manager

Job description: Oversees technical processes, from planning to coordination to execution. Keeps staff within technical guidelines.

Skills needed: Degree in business administration. Leadership skills, conflict resolution ability, and HR acuity.

Average salary: $64,608

12. Financial Analyst

Job description: Guide potential investments. Follow performance of stocks and bonds.

Skills needed: Accounting. Analytic savvy and problem-solving ability. Experience working with executives.

Average salary: $65,687

11. Quality Assurance Analyst

Job description: Often employed by software and manufacturing companies, quality assurance (QA) analysts work with software and websites, testing for issues and correcting those errors when found.

Skills needed: Degree in computer science. Mastery of QA methodology, structured query language (SQL), and scripting.

Average salary: $66,358

10. Business Analyst

Job description: Business analysts bring the needs of a business together with IT resources, identifying areas for improvement in processes and operations.

Skills needed: Degree in business, marketing, advertising, or public relations. Some computer programming and data analysis skills needed.

Average salary: $67,364

9. Marketing Manager

Job description: Develop strategies for marketing products and services. Collaborate with sales, PR, product, finance, and advertising teams.

Skills needed: Degree in business, marketing, advertising, or PR; MBA preferred. Communication and interpersonal skills.

Average salary: $67,687

8. Business Development Manager

Job description: Sales role focusing on entire company. Aims to increase revenue, identify new business trends, and manage client relationships.

Skills needed: Degree in business, marketing, or communications; MBA preferred. Project management, negotiation, and interpersonal skills.

Average salary: $68,588

7. User Interface (UI) Designer / User Experience (UX) Designer

Job description: Assures user experience on a website aligns with the company’s overall vision. UX designers create a path for users, while UI designers make sure that path is visually clear.

Skills needed: Understanding of UI/UX principles and wire-framing (laying out the interface elements of a website). Proficiency in Sketch, Figma, Balsamiq, Adobe XD, Marvel App, and Invision App.

Average salary: $71,691

6. DevOps Engineer

Job description: Automates systems and oversees software deployment. Improves deployment processes with IT developers.

Skills needed: Web language, SysAdmin, continuous integration tools, automation tools, and scripting.

Average salary: $86,094

5. Product Manager

Job description: Guides the success of a product by leading cross-functional team design, mapping different development stages including launch, and maintaining a product.

Skills needed: Degree in business. Coding, time-management, and interpersonal skills.

Average salary: $87,947

4. Data Scientist

Job description: Interprets data using statistical analysis tools and machine-learning.

Skills needed: Degree in IT, math, or computer science. Experience with metrics and analytics.

Average salary: $88,813

3. Mobile Developer

Job description: A mobile developer — more specifically, an Android or iOS developer — works on new apps for mobile devices.

Skills needed: Modern language programming skills, back-end computing skills, cross-platform app development, and mobile user interface design ability.

Average salary: $92,654

2. Lead Engineer

Job description: Manages a team of engineers through product development and execution.

Skills needed: Degree in management science or engineering, participation in cooperative engineering programs.

Average salary: $103,237

1. Senior Developer

Job description: Oversees coding, web development, and app development.

Skills needed: CSS, HTML/HTML5, JavaScript, JSON, mobile-optimized web content and applications.

Average salary: $109,957

from SAI

Shortlisted photos of 2019 Astronomy Photographer of the Year will take your breath away


Here’s a real treat for all astrophotography fans and space enthusiasts. Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year has just announced its shortlisted images of the 2019 competition. And just like in the previous years, the selected images are absolutely breathtaking!

The 2018 Astronomy Photographer of the Year is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Both professional and amateur photographers submitted their work for the eleventh contest so far. This year, the record has been broken once again with over 4,600 entries submitted from 90 countries across the globe.

 © Miguel Claro (Portugal), A Titanium Moon

When the selection is completed, the overall winner will take the title of the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019. Just like last year, the photographers are competing in nine categories:

  1. Skyscapes
  2. Aurorae
  3. People and Space
  4. Our Sun
  5. Our Moon
  6. Planets, Comets and Asteroids
  7. Stars and Nebulae
  8. Galaxies
  9. Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year (astrophotographers under the age of 16)

Other than the overall winner and category winners, the judges will also award two special prizes: The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer and The Robotic Scope Image of the Year.

The winners of the 2019 contest will be announced at an award ceremony at the National Maritime Museum on 12 September 2019. The winning photographs, alongside a selection of shortlisted images, will be exhibited in the National Maritime Museum from 13 September 2019.

© Yifan Bai (China), Albany Milkyway

The overall winner will receive £10,000. Winners of all other categories and the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year will receive £1,500. There are also prizes for runners-up (£500) and highly commended (£250) entries. The Special Prize winners will receive £750.  All of the winning entries will receive a one year subscription to BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

As I was preparing the images for the article, I would exclaim a loud “wow!” I always look forward to seeing the amazing images that get shortlisted and awarded at this contest. And just like before, I wasn’t disappointed. Check out the rest of the photos below, and for more amazing photos from previous contests, see the shortlisted and winning images of 2017 contest, as well as 2018 winners.

© Nicolai Brügger (Germany), View Point

© Bernard Miller, Martin Pugh (USA), The Sculptor Galaxy

© Steven Mohr (Australia), The Running Man Nebula

© James Stone (Australia), Aurora Australis from Beerbarrel Beach

© Marcin Zajac (Poland), The Remnants

© Zhengye Tang (China), The Perseid Fireball 2018

© Jordi Delpeix Borrell (Spain), The Lord of the rings and his court

© David Ros Garcia (Spain), The last of us 2.0

© Connor Matherne (USA), The Horsehead and Flame Nebula

© Petar Babić (Croatia), The Carina Nebula

© Alan Friedman (USA), Silent Spring Sun 

© Masoud Ghadiri (Iran), Sharafkhaneh port and lake Urmia 

© Yiming Li (China), Seven-colour feather of the moon 

© Nicolai Brügger (Germany), Road to glory 

© Marc Toso (USA), Reflections of Mount Hooker 

© Angel Yu (China), Reflections of aurorae and meteors 

© Xiuquan Zhang (China), Polar 

© Alastair Woodward (UK), Out on a Limb 

© Tom Mogford (UK), Our Moon 

© Raul Villaverde Fraile (Spain), Orion 

© Péter Feltóti (Hungary), Milky Way Centre 

© Eddie Trimarchi (Australia), Gum 12 

© Gordon Mackie (UK), Grand Finale 

© Alessandro Cantarelli (Italy), First of All 

© Suavi Lipinski (Australia), Fiery Lobster Nebula 

© Majid Ghohroodi (Iran), Embrace of the mountains, heart of the universe! 

© László Bagi (Hungary), Depth and height, Ngc7822 Devil’s Head nebulae-komplex 

© Andrew Campbell (Australia), Deep in the Heart of Mordor – NGC 7293 

© Sutie Yang (China), Dancing in the Goðafoss 

© Bud Martin Budzynski (UK), Coming in to land at Mare Crisium Spaceport! 

© Kevin Palmer (USA), Comet and Mountain 

© Jason Perry (USA), Catching Light 

© Keijo Laitala (Finland), Bloodborne 

© Sutie Yang (China), Aurora outside the tiny cave 

© Wang Zheng (China), Aurora like phoenix 

© Alexander Stepanenko (Russia), Aurora is a bird 

from -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time

Meatless Fast Food Burgers Are Having A Moment But Are They Actually Healthier Than Beef Hamburgers?

Are vegetarian meatless fast food burgers such as Impossible Burger or Beyond Meat more healthy than traditional hamburgers?

iStockphoto / Sebastian Alcover

Meatless burgers are so hot right now. It seems that every popular fast food chain is now offering a vegetarian version of the typical hamburger. But are these play-based burgers actually healthier than your great American hamburger made of beef?

Brands such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have created near-replicas of the beloved traditional burger. Through extensive experimentation in research labs, they have developed plant-based burgers that have the texture, flavor, smokiness of beef burgers, and they even “bleed.” The current-day plant-based burger is not the off-putting veggie burger of the past and is a scientific marvel.

Many people see that these fake burgers are plant-based so they automatically assume that the vegetarian version must be healthier. But are they really?

First off, these plant-based burgers are highly processed and that means that you are going to lose some of their important nutrients that make vegetables so good for you.

“The issue is that highly processed foods are often left with highly absorbable carbohydrates, and little of the important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals,” dietician Sharon Palmer told Men’s Journal.

There are 21 ingredients in an Impossible Burger:

Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

Impossible Burger has genetically modified soy, which has drawn plenty of criticisms from anti-GMO groups. Beyond Burger does not use GMOs.

RELATED: Taco Bell Is Testing Out New Dedicated Vegetarian Menu In One Market

There are 18 ingredients in a Beyond Burger:

Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color)

Since there is no animal fat in these burgers, they make up for it by using coconut oil, canola oil and/or sunflower oil. Those oils aren’t particularly great for the human body when consumed in high amounts, plus the veggie patties have high saturated fat levels to the point that they’re comparable to beef burgers and sometimes higher.

Vegetables lack flavor, that’s why people love regular burgers because fat equals flavor. To make up for the lack of flavor, veggie burgers add a ton of salt. These plant-based burgers can have more than five times as much sodium as an unseasoned beef patty. High sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Are they healthier as far as sodium, calories and fat content? Definitely not,” said Sharon Zarabi, a registered dietitian and bariatric program director at Lenox Hill Hospital.

MarketWatch compared the nutritional value of meatless menu items at McDonald’s, Burger King, White Castle and Del Taco with the plant-based equivalent.

RELATED: World’s Strongest Man Eats The Entire Taco Bell Menu And Talks About The Aftermath Of Consuming 20,000 Calories

They not only found that the meatless foods were more expensive in every case, but also that they were about as healthy, sometimes less healthy, as the beef products. Some of the meatless offerings had more saturated fat and calories than the beef equivalent.

Business Insider also found similar results that may surprise people, the meatless veggie patties aren’t necessarily healthier than the beef versions.

The area where the meatless burgers are better is in cholesterol. The plant-based burgers have little to no cholesterol whereas a Whopper can have 90 milligrams of cholesterol. Consuming too much cholesterol can raise LDL levels, which is linked to heart disease.

RELATED: Chick-fil-A Introduces Keto Menu But That Means You Can’t Have Some Of Your Favorite Fast-Foods

Eating too much red meat is also linked to cancer, especially when it is grilled or pan-fried, according to the World Health Organization. Red meat was classified as Group 2A carcinogen, with elevated risk for colorectal cancer.

The other positive of plant-based food is that it is better for the environment. Cultivating livestock not only sucks up a lot of resources but it is also a huge emitter of methane. Livestock were responsible for approximately 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The biggest offender was cows and their burps (not their farts). Cutting down on greenhouse gases is believed that it would slow and potentially reverse global warming trends from climate change.

So go out there and have a Whopper or an Impossible Whopper or chicken sandwich, whatever makes you happy, just remember that a diet with moderation is generally best and not to overdo it with any one particular food.

RELATED: McDonald’s Gives You A Taste Of Their Favorite Foods From Around The World With New International Menu



Facebook announces Libra cryptocurrency: All you need to know


Facebook has finally revealed the details of its cryptocurrency Libra, which will let you buy things or send money to people with nearly zero fees. You’ll pseudonymously buy or cash out your Libra online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet that will be built into WhatsApp, Messenger, and its own app. Today Facebook released its white paper explaining Libra and its testnet for working out the kinks of its blockchain system before a public launch in the first half of 2020.

Facebook won’t fully control Libra, but instead get just a single vote in its governance like other founding members of the Libra Association including Visa, Uber, and Andreessen Horowitz who’ve invested at least $10 million each into the project’s operations. The association will promote the open-sourced Libra blockchain and developer platform with its own Move programming language plus sign up businesses to accept Libra for payment and even give customers discounts or rewards.

Facebook is launching a subsidiary company also called Calibra that handles its crypto dealings and protects users’ privacy by never mingling your Libra payments with your Facebook data so it can’t be used for ad targeting. Your real identity won’t be tied to your publicly visible transactions. But Facebook/Calibra and other founding members of the Libra Association will earn interest on the money users cash in that is held in reserve to keep the value of Libra stable.

Facebook’s audacious bid to create a global digital currency that promotes financial inclusion for the unbanked actually has more privacy and decentralization built in than many expected. Instead of trying to dominate Libra’s future or squeeze tons of cash out of it immediately, Facebook is instead playing the long-game by pulling payments into its online domain. Facebook’s VP of blockchain David Marcus explains the company’s motive and the tie-in with its core revenue source, telling me “if more commerce happens, then more small business will sell more on and off platform, and they’ll want to buy more ads on the platform so it will be good for our ads business.”

The Risk And Reward Of Building The New PayPal

In cryptocurrencies, Facebook saw both a threat and an opportunity. They held the promise of disrupting how things are bought and sold by eliminating transaction fees common with credit cards. That comes dangerously close to Facebook’s ad business that influences what is bought and sold. If a competitor like Google or an upstart built a popular coin and could monitor the transactions, they’d learn what people buy and could muscle in on the billions spent on Facebook marketing. Meanwhile, the 1.7 billion people who lack a bank account might choose whoever offers them a financial services alternative as their online identity provider too. That’s another thing Facebook wants to be.

Yet existing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum weren’t properly engineered to scale to be a medium of exchange. Their unanchored price was susceptible to huge and unpredictable swings, making it tough for merchants to accept as payment. And cryptocurrencies miss out on much of their potential beyond speculation unless there are enough places that will take them instead of dollars, and the experience of buying and spending them is easy enough for a mainstream audience. But with Facebook’s relationship with 7 million advertisers and 90 million small businesses plus its user experience prowess, it was well poised to tackle this juggernaut of a problem.

Now Facebook wants to make Libra the evolution of PayPal . It’s hoping Libra will become simpler to set up, more ubiquitous as a payment method, more efficient with fewer fees, more accessible to the unbanked, more flexible thanks to developers, and more long-lasting through decentralization.

“Success will mean that a person working abroad has a fast and simple way to send money to family back home, and a college student can pay their rent as easily as they can buy a coffee” Facebook writes in its Libra documentation. That would be a big improvement on today, when you’re stuck paying rent in insecure checks while exploitative remittance services like charge an average of 7% to send money abroad, taking $50 billion from users annually. Libra could also power tiny microtransactions worth just a few cents that are infeasible with credit card fees attached, or replace your pre-paid transit pass.

…Or it could globally ignored by consumers who see it as too much hassle for too little reward, or too unfamiliar and limited in use to pull them into the modern financial landscape. Facebook has built a reputation for over-engineered, underused products. It will need all the help it can get if wants to replace what’s already in our pockets.

How Does Libra Work?

By now you know the basics of Libra. Cash in a local currency, get Libra, spend them like dollars without big transaction fees or your real name attached, cash them out whenever you want. Feel free to stop reading and share this article if that’s all you care about. But the underlying technology, the association that governs it, the wallets you’ll use, and the way payments work all have a huge amount of fascinating detail to them. Facebook has released over 100 pages of documentation on Libra and Calibra, and we’ve pulled out the most important facts. Let’s dive in.

The Libra Association – Crypto’s New Oligarchy

Facebook knew people wouldn’t trust it to wholly control the cryptocurrency they use, and it also wanted help to spur adoption. So the social network recruited the founding members of the Libra Association, which oversees the development of the token, the reserve of real-world assets that gives it value, and the governance rules of the blockchain.

Each founding member paid a minimum of $10 million to join and optionally become a validator node operator (more on that later), gain one vote in the Libra Association council, and be entitled to a share (proportionate to their investment) of the dividends from interest earned on the Libra reserve users pay fiat currency into to receive Libra.

The 28 soon-to-be founding members of the association and their industries, previously reported by The Block’s Frank Chaparro, include:

  • Payments: Mastercard, PayPal, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), Stripe, Visa
  • Technology and marketplaces: Booking Holdings, eBay, Facebook/Calibra, Farfetch, Lyft, Mercado Pago, Spotify AB, Uber Technologies, Inc.
  • Telecommunications: Iliad, Vodafone Group
  • Blockchain: Anchorage, Bison Trails, Coinbase, Inc., Xapo Holdings Limited
  • Venture Capital: Andreessen Horowitz, Breakthrough Initiatives, Ribbit Capital, Thrive Capital, Union Square Ventures
  • Nonprofit and multilateral organizations, and academic institutions: Creative Destruction Lab, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Women’s World Banking

Facebook says it hopes to reach 100 founding members before the official Libra launch and it’s open to anyone that meets the requirements including direct competitors to like Google or Twitter. The Libra Association is based in Geneva, Switzerland and will meet biannually. The country was chosen for its neutral status and strong support for financial innovation including blockchain technology.

To join the association, members must have a half rack of server space, a 100Mbps or above dedicated internet connection, a full-time site reliability engineer, and enterprise-grade security. Businesses must hit two of three thresholds of a $1 billion USD market value or $500 million in customer balances, reach 20 million people a year, and/or be recognized as a top 100 industry leader by a group like Interbrand Global or the S&P.

Crypto-focused investors must have over $1 billion in assets under management, while Blockchain businesses must have been in business for a year, have enterprise grade security and privacy, and custody or staking greater than $100 million in assets. And only up to one-third of founding members can by crypto-related businesses or individually invited exceptions. Facebook also accepts research organizations like universities, and non-profits fulfilling three of four qualities including working on financial inclusion for over five years, multi-national reach to lots of users, a top 100 designation by Charity Navigator or something like it, and/or $50 million in budget.

The Libra Association will be responsible for picking recruiting more founding members to act as validator nodes for the blockchain, fundraising to jumpstart the ecosystem, designing incentive programs to reward early adopters, and doling out social impact grants. A council with a representative from each member will help choose the association’s managing director who will appoint an executive team, elect a board of 5 to 19 top representatives.

Each member including Facebook/Calibra will only get up to one vote or 1% of the total vote (whichever is larger) in the Libra Association council. This provides a level of decentralization that protects against Facebook or any other player hijacking Libra for its own gain. By avoiding sole ownership and dominion over Libra, Facebook could avoid extra scrutiny from regulators who are already investigating it for a sea of privacy abuses as well as potentially anti-competitive behavior.

The Libra Currency – A Stablecoin

A Libra is a unit of the Libra cryptocurrency that’s represented by a three wavy horizontal line unicode character ≋ like the dollar is represented by $. The value of a Libra is meant to stay largely stable so it’s a good medium of exchange since merchants can be confident they won’t be paid a Libra today that’s then worth less tomorrow. The Libra’s value is tied to a basket of bank deposits and short-term government securities for a slew of historically stable international currencies including the dollar, pound, euro, swiss franc, and yen. The Libra Association maintains this basket of assets and can change the balance of its composition if necessary to offset major price fluctuations in any one foreign currency so that the value of a Libra stays consistent.

The name Libra comes from the word for a Roman unit of weight measure. It’s trying to invoke a sense of financial freedom by playingon the French stem “Lib” meaning free.

The Libra Association is still hammering out the exact start value for the Libra, but it’s meant to somewhere close to the value of a dollar, euro, or pound so it’s easy to conceptualize. That way, a gallon of milk in the US might cost 3 to 4 Libra, similar but not exactly the same as with dollars.

The idea is that you’ll cash in some money and keep a balance of Libra that you can spend at accepting merchants and online services. You’ll be able to trade in your local currency for Libra and vice versa through certain wallet apps including Facebook’s Calibra, third-party wallet apps, and local resellers like convenience or grocery stores where people already go to top-up their mobile data plan.

The Libra Reserve – One For One

Each time someone cashes in a dollar or their respective local currency, that money goes into the Libra Reserve and an equivalent value of Libra is minted and doled out to that person. If someone cashes out from the Libra Association, the Libra they give back are destroyed/burned and they receive the equivalent value in their local currency back. That means there’s always 100% of the value of the Libra in circulation collateralized with real world assets in the Libra Reserve. It never runs fractional. And unliked “pegged” stable coins that are tied to a single currency like the USD, Libra maintains its own value — though that should cash out to roughly the same amount of a given currency over time.

When Libra Association members join and pay their $10 million minimum, they receive Libra Investment Tokens. Their share of the total tokens translates into the proportion of the dividend they earn off of interest on assets in the reserve. Those dividends are only paid out after Libra Association uses interest to pay for operating expenses, investments in the ecosystem, engineering research, and grants to non-profits and other organizations. This interest is part of what attracted the Libra Association’s members. If Libra becomes popular and many people carry a large balance of the currency, the reserve will grow huge and earn significant interest.

The Libra Blockchain – Built For Speed

Every Libra payment is permanently written into the Libra blockchain — a cryptographically authenticated database that acts as a public online ledger designed to handle 1000 transactions per second. The blockchain is operated and constantly verified by founding members of the Libra Association who each invested $10 million or more for a say in the cryptocurrency’s governance and the ability operate a validator node.

When a transaction is submitted, each of the nodes runs a calculation based on the existing ledger of all transactions. Thanks to a Byzantine Fault Tolerance system, just two-thirds of the nodes must come to consensus that the transaction is legitimate for it to be executed and written to the blockchain. A structure of Merkle Trees in the code makes it simple to recognize changes made to the Libra blockchain. With 5KB transactions, 1000 verifications per second verifications on commodity CPUs, and up to 4 billion accounts, the Libra blockchain should be able to operate at 1000 transactions per second if nodes us at least 40Mbps connections and 16TB SSD hard drives.

Transactions on Libra cannot be reversed. If an attack compromises over one-third of the validator nodes causing a fork in the blockchain, the Libra Association says it will temporarily halt transactions, figure out the extent of the damage, and recommend software updates to resolve the fork.

Transactions aren’t entirely free. They incur a tiny fraction of a cent fee to pay for “gas” that covers the cost of processing the transfer of funds similar to with Ethereum. This fee will be negligible to most consumers, but when they add up the gas charges will deter bad actors from creating millions of transactions to power spam and denial-of-service attacks.

Currently, the Libra blockchain is what’s known as “permissioned”, where only entities that fulfill certain requirements and are admitted to a special in-group that defines consensus and controls governance of the blockchain. The problem is this structure is more vulnerable to attacks and censorship because it’s not truly decentralized. But during Facebook’s research, it couldn’t find a reliable permissionless structure that could securely scale to the number of transactions Libra will need to handle. Adding more nodes slows things down, and no one has proven a way to avoid that without compromising security.

That’s why the Libra Association’s goal is to move to a permissionless system that will protect against attacks by distributing control, encourage competition, and lower the barrier to entry. It wants to have at least 20% of votes in the Libra Association council coming from node operators based on their total Libra holdings instead of their status as a founding member. That plan should help to appease blockchain purists who won’t be satisfied until Libra is completely decentralized.

Move Coding Language – For Moving Libra

The Libra blockchain is open source with an Apache 2.0 license and any developer can build apps that work with it using the Move coding language. The blockchain’s prototype launches its testnet today, so it’s effectively in developer beta mode until it officially launches in the first half of 2020. The Libra Association is working with HackerOne to launch a bug bounty system later this year that will pay security researchers for safely identifying flaws and glitches. In the meantime, the Libra Association is implementing the Libra Core using the Rust programming language since it’s designed to prevent security vulnerabilities, and the Move language isn’t fully ready yet.

Move was created to make it easier to write blockchain code that follows an author’s intent without introducing bugs. It’s called Move because its primary function is to move Libra coins from one account to another, and never let those assets be accidentally duplicated. The core transaction code looks like: LibraAccount.pay_from_sender(recipient_address, amount) procedure

Eventually, Move will be able to create smart contracts for programmatic interactions with the Libra blockchain. Until Move is ready, developers can create modules and transaction scripts for Libra using Move IR, which is high-level enough to be human-readable but low-level enough to be translatable into real Move bytecode that’s written to the blockchain.

The Libra ecosystem and the Move language will be completely open to use and build, which presents a sizable risk. Crooked developers could prey on crypto novices, claiming their app works just the same legitimate ones, and that it’s safe since it uses Libra. But if consumers get ripped off by these scammers, the anger will surely bubble up to Facebook. Even though it’s tried to distance itself sufficiently via its subsidiary Libra and the association, many people will probably always think of Libra as Facebook’s cryptocurrency and blame it for their woes.

Libra Incentives – Rewarding Early Businesses

The Libra Association wants to encourage more developers and merchants to work with its cryptocurrency. That’s why it plans to issue incentives, possibly Libra coins, to validator node operators who can get people signed up for and using Libra. Wallets that pull users through the Know Your Customer anti-fraud and money laundering process or that keep users sufficiently active for over a year will be rewarded. For each transaction they process, merchants will also receive a percentage of the transaction back.

Businesses that earn these incentives can keep them, or pass some or all of them along to users in the form of free Libra tokens or discounts on their purchases. This could create competition between wallets to see which can pass the most rewards on to their customers, and thereby attract the most users. You could imagine eBay or Spotify giving you a discount for paying in Libra, while wallet developers might offer you free tokens if you complete 100 transactions within a year.

“One challenge for Spotify and its users around the world has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems – especially for those in financially underserved markets” Spotify’s Chief Premium Business officer Alex Norström writes. “In joining the Libra Association, there is an opportunity to better reach Spotify’s total addressable market, eliminate friction and enable payments in mass scale.”

This savvy incentive system should massively help ratchet up Libra’s user count without dictating how businesses balance their margins versus growth.

Using Libra

So how do you actually own and spend Libra? Through Libra wallets like Facebook’s own Calibra and others that will be built by third-parties, potentially including Libra Association members like PayPal. The idea is to make sending money to a friend or paying for something as easy as sending a Facebook Message. You won’t be able to make or receive any real payments until the official launch next year, though, but you can sign up for early access when it’s ready here.

None of the Libra Association members agreed to provide details on what they’ll build on the blockchain, but we can take Facebook’s Calibra wallet as an example of the basic experience. Calibra will launch alongside the Libra currency on iOS and Android within Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and a standalone app. When users first sign up, they’ll be taken through a Know Your Customer anti-fraud process where they’ll have to provide a government issued photo ID and other verification info. They’ll need to conduct due diligence on customers and report suspicious activity to the authorities.

From there you’ll be able to cash in to Libra, pick a friend or merchant, set an amount to send them and add a description, and send them Libra. You’ll also be able to request Libra. It’s also likely that Calibra will offer an expedited way of paying merchants, liking scanning your or their QR code.

Privacy – At Least From Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained some of the philosophy behind Libra and Calibra in a post today. “It’s decentralized — meaning it’s run by many different organizations instead of just one, making the system fairer overall. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and has low fees and costs. And it’s secured by cryptography which helps keep your money safe. This is an important part of our vision for a privacy-focused social platform — where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately, from messaging to secure payments.”

By default, Facebook won’t import your contacts or any of your profile information but may ask if you wish to do so. It also won’t share any of your transaction data back to Facebook, so it won’t used to target you with ads, rank your News Feed, or otherwise earn Facebook money directly. Data will only be shared in specific instances in aggregated, anonymized ways or due to a request from law enforcement.

In case you are hacked, scammed, or lose access to your account, Calibra will refund you for lost coins when possible through 24/7 chat support. Given Calibra will likely become the default wallet for many Libra users, this extra protection is essential.

For now, Calibra won’t make money. But Kevin Weil, the head of product for Facebook’s blockchain team, tells me that if it reaches scale, Facebook could launch other financial tools through Calibra that it could monetize such as investing or lending. “In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, such as paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass” the Calibra team writes. That makes it start to sound a lot like China’s everything app WeChat.

Today, Facebook is coming together with 27 organizations around the world to start the non-profit Libra Association and…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Global Coin

If Facebook succeeds and legions of people cash in money for Libra, it and the other founding members of the Libra Association could earn big dividends on the interest. And if suddenly it becomes super quick to buy things through Facebook using Libra, businesses will boost their ad spend there. But if Libra gets hacked or proves unreliable, it could cost lots of people around the world money while souring them on cryptocurrencies. And by offering an open Libra platform, shady developers could build apps that snatch not just people’s personal info like Cambridge Analytica, but their hard-earned digital cash.

Facebook just tried to reinvent money. Next year, we’ll see if the Libra Association pulls it off.

from TechCrunch

Toyota’s anti-EV ads aren’t just deceptive, they also push science illiteracy


Toyota has been dragging their feet on new vehicle technology for some time now, seemingly happy to continue selling their antiquated gas-powered fleet, with no battery electric vehicles and only one plug-in hybrid and one fuel cell vehicle (powered by 95% fossil-sourced hydrogen) across their entire lineup.

But if you watch their recent ads, the deceptiveness of which we’ve covered before, you wouldn’t know this.  Because they continue to deceptively advertise their “self-charging” “hybrid electric Corolla” as if it’s anything other than a 100% fossil-powered gas guzzler.  And in case it wasn’t apparent already: “self-charging” is not a real thing, as the entire concept violates the basic laws of physics.

Wait…gas guzzler?

It may seem silly to call a hybrid a “gas guzzler”, but all conventional hybrid vehicles, of the type that do not include a plug, are 100% powered by gasoline.  Every bit of energy they use comes from gasoline and no other source.  The hybrid system on these cars manages to recapture some of that energy which would otherwise be lost in braking and then reuse that energy to accelerate the car, but the original source of the energy is always gasoline.

So I’m being a little cheeky by calling it a gas guzzler, as it is true that hybrid vehicles are more efficient than non-hybrid gas-powered vehicles, and hybrids are better than non-hybrids for that reason.

But compared to electric vehicles, which use zero gasoline, the hybrid and its 100% fossil-powered nature certainly seems like a “gas guzzler.”  While most EVs do get some fossil-sourced power from the grid, it is usually far less than 100%.  For example, in the largest EV market in the world, Norway, all electricity is generated through low-carbon sources (almost all hydro, with a little wind and geothermal).  In California, nearly half of grid electricity is from renewables.

Further, EVs can be driven entirely on rooftop solar (and many are – EV drivers have home solar systems at much higher rates than the general public), whereas conventional hybrids must always be driven only on gasoline.  But even on the dirtiest electric grids, EVs are still cleaner.

And in so many other ways, electric vehicles are simply better to own, not just in efficiency.

Is it electric?

Toyota has been confronted with the superiority of EVs because they keep losing sales to them.  So instead of actually making a good car, they’ve decided just to pretend their car is something it’s not.

In their recent advertisements for the Corolla, instead of being honest about their fossil-powered gas guzzler, Toyota is advertising the car as a “hybrid electric” which “never needs to charge.”

The standard term for a hybrid is simply “hybrid,” not “hybrid electric.”  This is especially important in a world where electric vehicles now exist, and where electric vehicle sales are surging (and hybrid sales are flagging since people realize full EVs are better).  Using the word “electric” in the description of a vehicle that doesn’t have a plug is deceptive.

Even their website distinguishes between “hybrid” and “plug-in hybrid”, correctly noting the difference between cars with plugs (plug-in hybrids, which could be described as “electric,” as they can run entirely on electricity) and cars without (hybrids, which necessarily get all of their energy from burning gasoline).

A little physics lesson

Every car needs energy to run.  That energy can enter the car in various ways, but for this discussion let’s limit it to gas tanks and batteries.  Gas cars need to fill up on gas, electric cars need to charge their batteries.  This energy is referred to as “potential energy.”

Then that energy is converted to kinetic energy either through the gas engine or electric motor which produce rotation.  This rotating motion gets delivered to the wheels and the car moves forward.

That kinetic energy is gradually dissipated while the car drives via friction with the wind and road, and also dissipated when the car uses friction brakes.  While gas cars waste all of their kinetic energy whenever they hit the brakes, electric and hybrid cars manage to recapture some of that kinetic energy and turn it back into potential energy, thus reducing the loss of energy from braking.  This makes them more efficient than cars which use only friction brakes.

When Toyota refers to their car as “self-charging,” they’re talking about the regenerative braking system.  But this merely recaptures energy the car already had.  And that energy, in the case of a conventional hybrid vehicle like the Corolla hybrid, came from gasoline.  If burning gasoline to charge a battery counts as “self-charging” then you might as well call any gas car “self-charging,” since all of them charge a 12 volt battery with an alternator.

It may seem silly or obvious to many of our readers that this is all the case, but physics literacy is not necessarily particularly high among the populace.  Many people don’t understand how conservation of energy works.

Every electric car advocate who has been around long enough can tell you that they’ve heard this question: “why don’t they just charge the battery with the motion of the wheels while the car is driving, that way you never have to plug in?”  We EV advocates have to spend a lot of our time playing the role of a high school physics teacher, going over kinetic vs. potential energy and the laws of thermodynamics.

And Toyota’s advertising, which claims their car is a hybrid “electric” which “never needs to recharge” makes people think this is possible.  It is not, and it never will be.  Perpetual motion does not exist.

The engineers at Toyota know this.  The product managers know it.  Anyone who paid attention in high school physics knows it.  Anyone in an ad agency that works on technical products ought to know it.  And yet, they still push this deceptive narrative that it’s possible to drive a car without ever putting energy into it.

Toyota’s car does need to “recharge” – by going to a gas station, and filling itself with potential energy.  At great cost, of course, to the driver’s pocketbook, environmental health, and ethical wellbeing (given that the money goes to the oil industry, which is not a good industry to fund).

And nevermind that EV owners, for the most part, find charging more convenient than getting gas, because you can plug in at home in seconds, instead of having to go out of your way to go to a gas station.

More cynicism from Toyota

Even when advertising their one car which is partially electric, the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid (which Seth drove and didn’t like at all), they often neglect to mention at any point during the ad that it can be plugged in and only mention that it qualifies for carpool access and government incentives.  Because, just as with the original Prius, Toyota is only cynically interested in selling this car as a way to qualify for incentives and comply with mandates, not actually interested in making a compelling vehicle.

So in a way, the incentives have worked – they’ve resulted in an automaker who doesn’t care about the environment or new technology to make a car they didn’t want to make.  But the point of the incentive is to stimulate development, not just to force stubborn compliance from backwards companies.

And like the other manufacturers, rather than looking forward to the future (or even to the present), Toyota has instead participated in lobbying the US government to relax fuel economy standards (which, oops, they now realize was a mistake).

Toyota’s ads are a cynical move – they are deceptive and attempt to make the public stupider, just to try to stem the tide of their lost sales to EVs.  Instead of actually making a good car, instead of actually leveraging the engineering and manufacturing capabilities of one of the world’s largest companies, Toyota has decided to lie to the public.  They should stop, and they should put their focus on making a car fit for the present, instead of cars fit for the past, like all of their current models are.

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from Electrek