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Bird plans launch of shared e-bikes and e-scooters in Ireland

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Bird is getting into the shared e-bike business and sees Ireland as one of its ‘priority launch markets’.

Micromobility player Bird is adding shared e-bikes to its shared e-scooter business, and plans to launch both in Ireland later this year.

The US company currently operates e-scooters in more than 250 cities globally and said earlier in the year that it would invest considerable funds into the European e-scooter market.

Now, it also plans to bring shared e-bikes and an accompanying smart platform to select locations this year, including cities across Ireland.

“Shared e-scooters catapulted shared micromobility to the centre stage of eco-friendly transportation in cities,” said Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird.

“We are launching our shared Bird Bike and Smart Bikeshare platform to meet fast-growing demand from cities and riders for more sustainable transportation options, while expanding our serviceable addressable market by 5bn trips per year.”

Bird revealed its intention earlier this year to launch its e-scooters in Ireland once legislation allows. While e-scooters are currently illegal on Irish roads, the Government is in the process of legislating regulations.

The legislation will also introduce new regulations for e-bikes, but other e-bike sharing companies are already operating in Dublin.

The bike

The new Bird Bike will be equipped with an electric motor, a front basket and large pneumatic tires. It will also include geolocation and geospeed technology and a self-automating onboard diagnostic system.

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The bike is designed to complement or be integrated into existing transportation networks, and Bird has stated its intention to partner with transit apps for comprehensive trip planning.

Bird Bike is currently planned for locations in North America, Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland and France this year. Riders will be able to access bikes via the Bird app’s ‘scan and ride’ feature, with QR codes on each e-bike.

“Ireland will be one of our priority launch markets,” said Charlotte Bailey, general manager for UK and Ireland at Bird.

“We know how important multimodality will be to councils and, with this announcement, consumers in their area will have the choice of Bird’s electric scooters, the Bird electric bike and even bikes from the existing operators in their locality, all on the one platform.”

Current legislation

Bird said it is eagerly anticipating the passing of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which will legislate for the use of e-scooters on Irish roads and pave the way for e-scooter sharing companies to launch operations.

Dublin City Council is currently collecting feedback from e-scooter companies via a Prior Information Notice. Bird is drafting information to submit to this notice, which aims to to prepare the city for the intended legislation.

Up until 13 July, companies can provide technical expertise on logistical issues such as safety features, sustainability and emissions, and the required operator experience. The question of docking stations is also a matter of debate, with different groups arguing for and against fixed stations for the vehicles.

Despite these barriers, several e-scooter companies are already priming for launch once legislation is introduced, including Zeus, Zipp, Dott and Bleeper.

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‘I hope the world will be safer’, says Molly Russell’s father after inquest – video | Technology

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Molly Russell’s father has accused the world’s biggest social media firms of ‘monetising misery’ after an inquest ruled that harmful online content contributed to the 14-year-old’s death.

Ian Russell accused Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, of guiding his daughter on a ‘demented trail of life-sucking content’, after the landmark ruling raised the regulatory pressure on social media companies.

The inquest heard on Friday that Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, had viewed large amounts of content related to suicide, depression, self-harm and anxiety on Instagram and Pinterest before she died in November 2017

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Google delays execution of deprecated Chrome extensions • The Register

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Google has delayed its browser extension platform transition for enterprise customers, giving those using managed versions of Chrome with the deprecated Manifest v2 (MV2) extensions an extra six months of support.

The Chocolate Factory has also redefined its deadlines for general Chrome users to make the transition to the new platform, called Manifest v3 (MV3), less of a shock to the system.

“Chrome will take a gradual and experimental approach to turning off Manifest V2 to ensure a smooth end-user experience during the phase-out process,” explained David Li, a product manager at Google, in a blog post. “We would like to make sure developers have the information they need, with plenty of time to transition to the new manifest version and to roll out changes to their users.”

Chrome will take a gradual and experimental approach to turning off Manifest V2 to ensure a smooth end-user experience

Developers, in other words, need more time to rewrite their extension code.

Previously, as of January 2023, Chrome was to stop running MV2 extensions. Enterprise managed Chrome installations had an extra six months with MV2, until June 2023.

The current schedule says MV2 extensions may or may not work in developer-oriented versions of Chrome used outside of enterprises. “Starting in Chrome 112, Chrome may run experiments to turn off support for Manifest V2 extensions in Canary, Dev, and Beta channels,” the timeline says.

And then in June 2023, MV2 extensions may or may not get disabled in any version of Chrome, including the Stable channel used by most people.

New MV2 extensions could no longer be added to the Chrome Web Store in June 2022, and that remains unchanged under the new roadmap; MV2 extensions already available the Chrome Web Store can still be downloaded and can still receive updates.

As of June 2023, MV2 extensions will no longer be visible in the store (so they can’t be newly installed, but can still be updated for existing users).

Come January 2024, nothing will be left to chance: the Chrome Web Store will stop accepting updates to MV2 extensions, all MV2 extensions will be removed from the store, and the MV2 usage in enterprises will end.

Li suggests developers make the transition sooner rather than later “because those [MV2] extensions may stop working at any time following the aforementioned dates.”

In recognition of the confusion among developers trying to adapt their extensions to MV3, Li said Google has implemented new APIs and platform improvements and has created a progress page to provide more transparency with regard to the state of MV2-MV3 transition.

Since 2018, Google has been revising the code that defines what browser extensions can do in Chrome. Its outgoing architecture known as Manifest v2 proved too powerful – it could be used by rogue add-ons to steal data, for example – and Google claimed use of those capabilities hindered browser performance. Critics like the EFF have disputed that.

Coincidentally, those capabilities, particularly the ability to intercept and revise network requests based on dynamic criteria, made Manifest v2 useful for blocking content and privacy-violating tracking scripts.

Under the new Manifest v3 regime, extensions have been domesticated. As a result, they appear to use computing resources more efficiently while being less effective at content blocking.

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Whether or not this results in meaningful performance improvement, the MV3 change has been championed by Google for Chrome and the open source Chromium project, and is being supported by those building atop Chromium, like Microsoft Edge, as well as Apple’s WebKit-based Safari and Mozilla’s Gecko-based Firefox.

However, Brave, Mozilla, and Vivadi have said they intend to continue supporting Manifest v2 extensions for an indeterminate amount of time. How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

Brave, like other privacy-oriented companies and advocacy groups, has made it clear this regime change is not to its liking. “With Manifest V3, Google is harming privacy and limiting user choice,” the developer said via Twitter. “The bottom line, though, is that Brave will still continue to offer leading protection against invasive ads and trackers.”

With Manifest V3, Google is harming privacy and limiting user choice

Google, on its timeline, suggests MV3 is approaching “full feature parity with Manifest V2.”

Extension developers appear to be skeptical about that. On Friday, in response to Google’s timeline revision posted to the Chromium Extension Google Group, a developer forum member who goes by the pseudonym “wOxxOm” slammed Google for posts full of corporate lingo about safety and security and pushed back against its statement about feature parity.

“[T]his definitely sounds reasonable if you don’t know the context, but given the subsequently plotted timeline it becomes a gross exaggeration and a borderline lie, because with the progress rate we all observed over the past years it’ll take at least several years more for MV3 to become reliable and feature-rich enough to replace MV2, not half a year or a year,” wOxxOm posted.

“Neither the issue list nor the announcement acknowledge that MV3 is still half-broken and unusable for anything other than a beta test due to its unreliable registration of service workers that break extensions completely for thousands of users, soon for millions because no one in Chromium has yet found out the exact reason of the bug, hence they can’t be sure they’ll fix it in the next months.”

This may not be the last time Google revises its transition timeline. ®



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Irish Research Council pumps €27m to fund next generation of researchers

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A total of 316 awardees of the IRC’s Government of Ireland programme will receive funding to conduct ‘pioneering’ research.

Postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers in Ireland are set to get €27m in funding from the Irish Research Council (IRC) through its flagship Government of Ireland programme.

In an announcement today (30 September), the IRC said that a total of 316 Government of Ireland awards will be given to researchers in the country, including 239 postgraduate scholarships and 77 postdoctoral fellowships.

Awardees under the scheme will conduct research on a broad range of topics, from machine translation and social media to protecting wild bee populations and bioplastics.

“The prestigious awards recognise and fund pioneering research projects along with addressing new and emerging fields of research that introduce creative and innovative approaches across all disciplines, including the sciences, humanities and the arts,” said IRC director Louise Callinan.

Awardees

One of the science-focused postgraduate awardees, University of Galway’s Cherrelle Johnson, is working on the long-term sustainability of bioplastics as an alternative to fossil fuel-based plastics.

Another, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s Tammy Strickland, is studying the role of the circadian rhythm, or the sleep-wake cycle, of immune cells in the brain in epilepsy.

Khetam Al Sharou of Dublin City University, one of the postdoctoral researchers to win the award, is looking into the use of machine translation in social media and the associated risks of information distortion.

Meanwhile, Robert Brose from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies is investigating the particles and radiation that are emitted by high-energy sources in our milky way to try and find the most likely sources of life.

Diana Carolina Pimentel Betancurt from Teagasc, the state agency providing research and development in agriculture and related fields, is looking for natural probiotics in native honeybees to mitigate the effect of pesticides.

“Funding schemes like the IRC’s Government of Ireland programmes are vitally important to the wider research landscape in Ireland, as they ensure that researchers are supported at an early stage of their career and are given an opportunity to direct their own research,” Callinan said.

53 early-career researchers across Ireland got €28.5m in funding last month from the SFI-IRC Pathway programme, a new collaborative initiative between Science Foundation Ireland and the IRC. SFI and IRC are expected to merge to form one funding body in the coming years.

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