Fisker’s High-Performance Karma Hybrid is Still Behind the Curtain

Last Updated Aug 18, 2010 6:25 PM EDT IRVINE, CALIFORNIA -- As production approaches for its heralded high-performance plug-in hybrid, Fisker is being unusually protective of its car. No journalist has yet driven one, and even the final spec sheet is something of an unknown. Reporters are left trying to read the tea leaves at Fisker's evolving website. While this no doubt increases Fisker's mysterious appeal, it also raises questions about what exactly is behind that black curtain. My recent visit to Fisker headquarters in California failed to penetrate the force field. The Karma, which will sell for $87,900 (before a $7,500 federal income tax rebate), will be marketed to much the same customer base as Fisker's arch-rival, the Tesla Roadster (sales of 1,200 cars to date). The company says it has 2,000 advance orders, which isn't surprising, given Fisker's exotic appeal, and a small but enthusiastic dealer network. To ramp up sales past the early adopters, however, it has to build a reputation for engineering excellence, thrilling performance on the road, and green achievement matching the 100 mpg equivalent claimed on the company's website. I am in what looks to be a giant office park, punctuated by the occasional Starbucks Plaza. The Los Angeles smog hovers, as I pull into the parking lot of one of the many square boxes on Corporate Park. It wouldn't look like the headquarters of a hip, high-performance car company, but the Maserati in the parking lot and the boldface name "Fisker" on the building gives the game away. As it prepares to unleash its plug-in hybrid Karma early next year (and provide test cars to journalists, hopefully sooner rather than later), Fisker is still mightily quiet. The lobby (where they parked me) was a gateway through which I did not pass. It was considerably enlivened with the presence of a Fisker Sunset, the convertible version of the Karma. It's production-intent, but there's no date on that yet. The car is beautiful but lacks any Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Feds To Scrap High-Tech Census System

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez was scheduled to tell a House subcommittee Thursday that the government will scrap plans to use handheld computers to collect information from the millions of Americans who don't return census forms mailed out by the government. The decision is part of a package of changes that will add as much as $3 billion to the cost of the constitutionally mandated count, pushing the overall cost to more than $14 billion. The project to develop the computers "has experienced significant schedule, performance, and cost issues," Gutierrez said in prepared testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee. "A lack of effective communication with one of our key contractors has significantly contributed to the challenges. "As I have said before, the situation today is unacceptable, and we have been taking steps to address the issues," he said. This was to be the first truly high-tech count in the nation's history. The Census Bureau has awarded a contract to purchase 500,000 of the computers, at a cost of more than $600 million. The devices, which look like high-tech cell phones, will still be used to verify every residential street address in the country, using global positioning system software. But workers going door-to-door will not be able to use them to collect information from the residents who didn't return their census forms. About a third of U.S. residents are expected not to return the forms. The Census Bureau plans to hire and train nearly 600,000 temporary workers to do the work. Interviews, congressional testimony and government reports describe an agency that was unprepared to manage the contract for the handheld computers. Census officials are being blamed for doing a poor job of spelling out technical requirements to the contractor, Florida-based Harris Corp. The computers proved too complex for some temporary workers who tried to use them in a test last year in North Carolina. Also, the computers were not initially programmed to Continue Reading

The Minnesota Department of Education recognizes 22 high performing schools

“I want to congratulate these schools for this incredible accomplishment,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Minnesotans should be proud of the work going on in our schools. I look forward to continue learning about their successful efforts to ensure all students succeed and share that work with other schools across the state.” Some of  metro-area schools receiving the honor include: Cedar Park Elementary in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District, Oak Grove Elementary in Bloomington, Huddleston Elementary and Oak Hills Elementary in Lakeville, Richardson and Weaver Elementary Schools in North St.Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, the Hmong College Prep Academy and KIPP Minnesota Charter School. St. Paul Public Schools did not have any schools picking up the designation. Minneapolis Public Schools had one - Kenny Elementary. Another notable school picking up the honor is The FAIR School downtown. Recently, the West Metro Education Program announced that it was considering transferring ownership of The FAIR School to the Minneapolis or Robbinsdale school districts or possibly giving management of the two FAIR campuses to another member district. You can see the entire list of schools earning the Celebration designation here. The "Celebration" designation is part of the state's new school accountability system. Under that system, schools that receive federal poverty aid are eligible to receive designations that signify how they're faring academically. Reward Schools are the top 15 percent of schools receiving Title I money. Celebration Schools are the 25 percent of schools directly below Reward Schools and Priority schools are in the bottom five percent. Continue Reading

USDA cuts back high performance rankings

USDA has introduced a more stringent employee performance system that could essentially eliminate the top two rankings, memos obtained by POLITICO as well as interviews with employees and union representatives show. Union officials are in the process of trying to change the newly announced policies. But the stricter requirements are already playing out.Story Continued Below Employees have complained that their superiors have told them that staffers will require them to “walk on water” to receive top reviews, said Joshua Rider, a USDA attorney for the last 16 years and the new president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1106 in San Francisco. The new evaluation system has added more anxiety for workers at a department undergoing a reorganization that has left many staff members fearing for their careers as civil servants. “The hits keep coming,” Rider said. “I can’t recall a time in my career where federal employees that I work with, that their morale has been this low and that folks are truly worried about their jobs and working conditions.” These changes at USDA also reflect a broader overhaul of performance evaluations across the federal government. President Donald Trump made an oblique reference in his State of the Union address last week, asking Congress "to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.” He referenced the VA Accountability Act, which makes it easier to fire employees at the Veterans Affairs Department. In the case of the USDA, a two-page memo dated Oct. 19 from Donald Bice, then acting deputy assistant secretary for administration, describes a new policy requiring that “U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees meeting the full performance of their position should receive 'Fully Successful' as a rating of record. 'Superior' and 'Outstanding' ratings should be reserved for the rare instance when an Continue Reading

One Stop System goes public at $5 a share, below expected range

One Stop Systems, an Escondido maker of high performance computing systems, became a publicly traded company on Thursday, raising $19 million in the first public stock offering of the year for a San Diego company. The company’s shares opened at $5, below the expected range of $6 to $8 in its prospectus. One Stop sold more shares than projected, offering 3.8 million compared with the 2.9 million targeted in the prospectus. The company will use the proceeds to pay down debt and for working capital. Roth Capital Partners was the lead underwriter on the deal, with Benchmark Co. as co-manager. One Stop’s shares ended trading Friday at $4.70 on the Nasdaq exchange — which fell nearly 3 percent for the week. One Stop and Chief Executive Steve Cooper, who is also selling shares, granted underwriters a 45-day option to purchase up to 570,000 additional shares at the IPO price. Founded in 1998, One Stop designs powerful computing products that drive fast processing in big data applications, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, seismic exploration and defense. Customers include Cisco, National Instruments, Northrop Grumman, Oracle and Raytheon. Products range from Flash storage arrays to custom computer servers and GPU compute accelerators, among others. Through the first nine months of 2017, One Stop posted revenue of $20.5 million, up from $12.4 million for the same period the prior year. The company has 75 employees and offices in Escondido and San Diego. [email protected]; Twitter:@TechDiego 760-529-4973 Continue Reading

Escondido’s One Stop Systems aims to be the first local IPO of 2018

One Stop Systems, an Escondido company that makes high performance computing systems for defense, manufacturing and telecommunications, is on deck to become the first IPO of the year for a local company. The 75-employee firm expects to sell 2.9 million shares at $6 to $8 each in its initial public offering. Shares will trade on the Nasdaq exchange with the ticker symbol OSS. One Stop is scheduled to go public this week, according to Renaissance Capital, a global IPO Investment advisory firm that produces the Renaissance IPO Index. Roth Capital is underwriting the deal, along with The Benchmark Co. One Stop hopes to raise up to $20.5 million in the IPO, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. After a slow year for IPOs in 2016, investors’ appetite for newly minted public companies rebounded nationwide last year — with 160 companies raising $35.5 billion, according to Renaissance Capital. Among the best performers was San Diego therapeutic developer AnaptysBio. Its shares soared from $15 to $110 since it went public on Jan. 25, 2017. Driven by a strong stock market, IPO momentum is expected to continue this year, according to Renaissance Capital. Founded in 1998, One Stop designs powerful computing products that drive fast processing in big data applications, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, seismic exploration and defense. “Military video imaging applications are a prime example of mission-critical use of this technology where the ability to quickly and accurately identify battlefield parameters is paramount,” the company said in SEC filings. Customers include Cisco, Disguise, National Instruments, Northrop Grumman, Oracle and Raytheon. Products include Flash storage arrays, custom computer servers and GPU compute accelerators, among others. One Stop expects to use the money for working capital and to pay down debt – including loans guaranteed by long-time Chief Executive and Chairman Continue Reading

Nova Homes of South Florida introduces ‘high performance’ homes

A new Marquesa model is now under construction in Golden Gate Estates in Naples. As one of Nova Homes of South Florida’s 2018 collection of ‘high performance’ homes, this three-bedroom, plus office/flex space, two-bath home features 2,212 square feet of living space with 3,130 total square feet.Customized to fit the lifestyle and needs of the owners, the plan features an open floor plan concept with a great room, kitchen, and dining room sharing 12-foot ceilings and easy access to the outdoor living space. The home offers energy-efficient features and functionality, which are found in every Nova Homes high performance home.What is a high performance home?John Blaine, vice president of marketing and development, said, "The three characteristics of a high performance home are efficiency, innovative design, and a personalized approach. Each home is customized to fit the lifestyle and needs of the homeowner. The key to designing or customizing a new home is making sure it meets the family’s present and future needs, including flexible living areas, linked indoor/outdoor spaces, and home workstations. The Marquesa model includes all of these features."The Energy Act of 2005 defines a ‘high performance building’ as one that integrates and optimizes all major high performance building attributes, including energy efficiency, durability, life-cycle performance, and occupant productivity. "A high performance home, like the Marquesa, will not just be energy efficient, but will also incorporate wider sustainability, durability, safety, and cost-in-use features," adds Blaine. Durability is a factor in every decision made on materials, finishes, and construction methods to ensure the home lasts not just one lifetime, but several lifetimes. This new Marquesa will use more resilient alternatives to some traditional products.Building a home with a great thermal performance lowers energy bills and helps Continue Reading

Oscars’ Sci-Tech Awards Go to Animation, Rigging, Crane Systems

The awards will be handed out at the annual Sci-Tech Awards on February 10 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Steve Pond, provided by Published 9:57 am, Thursday, January 4, 2018 Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Oscars’ Sci-Tech Awards Go to Animation, Rigging, Crane Systems 1 / 1 Back to Gallery And the year’s first Oscars go to… …the BlockParty procedural rigging system, the Premo character animation system, the Presto Animation System’s high-performance execution system, the Nuke compositing system and the mechanical design and integration of the Hydrascope telescoping camera crane systems. Those are some of the scientific and technical accomplishments that will be honored at this year’s Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, the Academy announced on Thursday. The awards will be given out at three different levels, with the top level — which carries with it an Academy Award statuette — going to Mark Elendt and Side Effects Software for the creation and development of the Houdini visual effects and animation system. In addition, Jonathan Erland will receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the highest honor the Academy bestows in the Sci-Tech arena. Latest entertainment videos Now Playing: Now Playing Things You Never Knew About Chip And Joanna's Growing Family CountryLiving Paris Hilton Got Engaged in the Most Fairytale-Worthy Way InStyleTime Red Balls Follows Chain Reaction Through Wooden Maze Storyful 5 Most Controversial YouTube Celebrities Wibbitz YouTube Star Logan Paul Apologizes to Fans After Sharing Video From Japanese 'Suicide Forest' EWTime Boss Receives Gift From Employees After Losing Belongings in Hurricane Harvey Storyful A fresh start to the new year Euronews_News Jessica Alba Welcomes Third Child with Cash Warren InStyleTime Gadot: Highest-grossing actress is 'just another title' AP Parents Prank Kids With Light Bulb Continue Reading

40 Under 40: Jibonananda “Jibo” Sanyal, 37, Staff Scientist & Team Lead for Scalable and High Performance Geocomputation, ORNL

As hurricanes Harvey and Irma made landfall this summer, emergency response teams used an interactive web-tool managed by Jibo Sanyal to track power outages.“It tracks what the current state of electrical outages looks like for the country at the county level and updates in real time,” Sanyal said of EAGLE-I.Local to federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, use the data provided by the situational awareness tool to identify energy infrastructure impacted by events like hurricanes and coordinate response, recovery and restoration efforts.Sanyal, an ORNL staff scientist and team leader for Scalable and High Performance Geocomputation at the lab, serves as project manager for EAGLE-I, as well as other projects that leverage ORNL’s supercomputing capabilities to solve problems related to the lab’s clean energy mission.He works with the Energy-Water Nexus Knowledge Discovery Framework, which helps stakeholders understand the interdependence of water and energy systems, as well as the Urban Exascale Computing Project, a collaboration with other national labs that uses supercomputers to simulate dynamics in urban environments.“This project is expected to catapult the current one-off capabilities into a holistic tool that allows stakeholders to rapidly modernize how urban choices are made with regards to long-term planning, as well as shorter-term dynamic urban scenarios,” Sanyal wrote.In addition, Sanyal leads a project that uses supercomputing to analyze satellite imagery to detect human settlements. The Global Accelerated Settlement Discovery research, he said, can inform humanitarian efforts, such as the Gates Foundation’s disease eradication efforts.Budhu Bhaduri, ORNL’s group leader for Geographic Information Science and Technology, said Sanyal’s unique background brings a valuable perspective to his work.“He has a very strong, contagious influence on his peers about really moving Continue Reading

As poverty rises, one Maryland school system tries a longer school year

The number of students living in poverty has been rising in the Washington suburbs, and leaders in Montgomery County’s high-performing school system have looked for ways to boost their academic success. One idea that has sparked growing interest: more days in class. The sprawling suburb in Maryland plans to experiment with a longer school year — extending into mid- to late July at two high-needs elementary schools in 2018-2019. The plan aims to help economically disadvantaged students, who lose the most ground during long summer breaks. “There’s a lot of evidence that more time makes a difference in learning progression, and we want to see if we can do that effectively as part of the school year,” Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said in an interview Wednesday. The initiative comes as another sign of increasing diversity in a school system once regarded as largely affluent and white. Now, more than 55,000 of its students are from low-income families — about 20,000 more than a decade ago. Enrollment in the state’s largest school system is 32 percent Hispanic, 28 percent white, 21 percent black and 14 percent Asian.Details of the plan are being worked out, but officials say it would add four to five weeks to the school schedule, blend experiential learning with classroom instruction and involve changing the curriculum across the school year. It would start at two Silver Spring schools — Arcola Elementary and Roscoe Nix Elementary — and be expanded in two to three years if results warrant such action. “We think it’s an excellent idea and much, much needed,” said Diego Uriburu, a longtime community leader and executive director of Identity Inc., a nonprofit organization that advocates for Latino youths in Montgomery County. “It is something that was needed years ago.” Smith and others say the idea is to stave off “summer learning loss” Continue Reading