The two-century history of the battery

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy: The battery — BBC World Service

200 years ago scientists tried to use batteries to reanimate the dead. Now they’re trying to use batteries to make renewable energy practical.

Murderers in early 19th century London feared surviving their executions. That’s because their bodies were often handed to scientists for strange anatomical experiments. If George Foster, executed in 1803, had woken up on the lab table, it would have been in particularly undignified circumstances. In front of a large London crowd, an Italian scientist with a flair for showmanship was sticking an electrode up Foster’s rectum. This is how the story of the battery begins – a technology which has been truly revolutionary. As Tim Harford explains, it’s a story which is far from over.

ABC Cancels Time After Time

Daniel Holloway at Variety:

ABC has pulled drama “Time After Time” from its schedule, effectively canceling the freshman drama series.

Well shoot. We just started watching a few days ago and have been enjoying it.

The show is based on a 1979 movie, with the premise that H.G. Wells invents a time machine and uses it to pursue Jack the Ripper to the present day.

Too soon?

Lyft Shuttle is an experimental new Lyft Line feature that works like a bus route

Darrell Etherington on TechCrunch:

Lyft has a new offering in testing called Shuttle, which is part of its Lyft Line commuter ride sharing option, and which operates along a set route with specific pickup and drop-off points. The trial for Shuttle is currently on offer in San Francisco and Chicago, and is intended to offer increased reliability for users who tend to travel the same path every day.

I wonder whether Lyft will turn out to be the tortoise that beats Uber’s hare? Barrier to entry in the rideshare business is relatively low. It’s an app and a dispatch system.

Indie smartwatches are doomed as long as Apple and Google have control

Chaim Gartenberg on The Verge:

… there’s no way around the fact that the technology we have today for smartwatches is simply too tied to a host smartphone for core functionality. And when you rely on a smartphone, Apple, Google, and even Samsung have such a home court advantage that it’s nearly impossible for even the scrappiest Kickstarter to overcome. It was a core factor in hastening Pebble’s demise, and it’ll continue to shut down future contenders until smartwatches can somehow break free of their inherent reliance on smartphones.

A few months ago, I switched from a Pebble to Apple Watch. The capabilities I wanted in the Apple Watch that the Pebble did not have were there because of the Apple Watch’s iPhone integration.

The stubborn persistence of email

Walt Mossberg at Recode:

In 1998, it was possible to make a big-screen romantic comedy about email….

Back in the day, television was supposed to kill off radio, but radio gradually saved itself by dropping the programming TV did better (like dramas and variety shows) and starting to focus on playing hit songs and hosting political and sports talk shows.

I think something similar is going on with email.

Where I work, we still do a lot of our collaboration and communication over email. We’ve resisted the lure of Slack and the like. At least for now.

Andy Coulson, British journalist who went to prison in phone wiretapping scandal, hired to do PR for the Telegraph

Roy Greenslade at The Guardian:

Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World who was jailed following the phone-hacking scandal, has been hired to do PR for the Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

His public relations firm, Coulson Chappell, has been awarded a contract to improve the standing of the company’s publications, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. His main brief is thought to be to promote the papers as truthful and authoritative.

Anti-establishment GOP candidate in Virginia governor’s race looks to ride Confederate nostalgia to Richmond

Graham Moomaw at the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Near the end of a recent campaign event at a seafood restaurant in Roanoke, Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart called for somebody to bring out a prop that he joked could get the group “kicked out.”

“Whoaaaaa!” a woman in the crowd blurted out as a Confederate battle flag was pulled from a pouch and unfurled in full view of the camera being used to stream video of the rally on Facebook Live.

“Folks, this is a symbol of heritage. It is not a symbol of racism. It is not a symbol of slavery,” Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors who is running a fiery, anti-establishment campaign for governor, said at the March 18 event. “I’m proud to be here with this flag.”

Stewart was, of course, a prominent Trump supporter in Virginia, because the Trump campaign and administration attracts every moron and feeb in the US and parts of Europe.

A scramble at Cisco exposes uncomfortable truths about U.S. cyber defense

Cisco, a major US technology company, had to rely on WikiLeaks for information about security vulnerabilities that was well-known to US intelligence agencies.

Joseph Menn at Reuters:

When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange disclosed earlier this month that his anti-secrecy group had obtained CIA tools for hacking into technology products made by U.S. companies, security engineers at Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) swung into action.

The Wikileaks documents described how the Central Intelligence Agency had learned more than a year ago how to exploit flaws in Cisco’s widely used Internet switches, which direct electronic traffic, to enable eavesdropping.

Senior Cisco managers immediately reassigned staff from other projects to figure out how the CIA hacking tricks worked, so they could help customers patch their systems and prevent criminal hackers or spies from using the same methods, three employees told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The Cisco engineers worked around the clock for days to analyze the means of attack, create fixes, and craft a stopgap warning about a security risk affecting more than 300 different products, said the employees, who had direct knowledge of the effort.

That a major U.S. company had to rely on WikiLeaks to learn about security problems well-known to U.S. intelligence agencies underscores concerns expressed by dozens of current and former U.S. intelligence and security officials about the government’s approach to cybersecurity.