iMac Pro: Save some cash & buy from B&H/Expercom, RAM upgradeable only by Apple

Apple officially released its ‘most powerful Mac ever’ earlier this morning in the form of the iMac Pro. After initial availability through Apple’s Online Store, the machine has now become available through authorized resellers like B&H.

Furthermore, we’ve learned a bit more about the upgradability of the iMac Pro…


 First off, the iMac Pro is now available from select authorized resellers. B&H for instance, has a slew of different configurations available for pre-order. Prices range from $4,999 all the way to $13,199. Shipping times vary with 8-core and 10-core variants generally shipping in 2-4 weeks and the 14-core and 18-core models are simply listed at “coming soon.”

Furthermore, Expercom also has the iMac Pro available for pre-order with 4-6 week and 6-8 week shipping estimates for the 8-core/10-core and 14-core/18-core models, respectively. You can configure it from $4,999 all the way up to $12,799. That’s $400 off Apple’s maxed out price.

Last but not least, MacMall has the iMac Pro available in the single entry-level configuration. You can get the base model for $4,994, which is a minuscule savings compared to Apple.

One notable factor here is that, depending on your location, you can save some serious cash by buying through Expercom or B&H as purchases are free of sales tax. If you’re sales tax rate is 7 percent, for instance, you can save $350 on the entry-level iMac Pro and a whopping $923 on the maxed out configuration.

Tax details below:


Orders or partial orders shipped to Utah, California, and Massachusetts, Tennessee, and other localities may be subject to applicable sales tax or sales tax reimbursement due to warehouse location.


B&H only charges tax for New York and New Jersey customers at the time of purchase.

We also learned a bit more about the iMac Pro’s upgradeability today. While it was initially believed that the iMac Pro’s RAM would not be upgradeable at all, it turns out you will be able to visit an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to have your RAM upgraded without voiding your warranty.

Currently, Apple offers 64GB of DDR4 EEC RAM for $800, while 128GB of RAM will cost you a cool $2,400.

If you’re buying from B&H or Expercom, you could put some of your sales tax savings towards a RAM upgrade – either at time of the initial purchase or after the fact.

Did you order an iMac Pro today? Let us know down in the comments!

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Can AI make a better future for workers and employment?

Since its advent, AI has been put to use to make our lives easier and smoother. With the vast amount of computational power available, AI systems can churn through data a lot faster to detect trends and patterns which might evade the human eye. At the same time, assigning AI to complete repetitive and monotonous tasks can free human operators for more “creative” pursuits.

Image: Pixabay

There is little doubt AI will radically transform employment in the future. Over the coming years, the fusion of AI into most fields will open up varied opportunities in sectors ranging from manufacturing to education. For example, if you want to become an astrophysicist, an AI software could easily generate a customized educational experience based on your interests and learning pace in a matter of minutes. We might not even need teachers anymore in a few decades, as information moves from television screens to eye lenses or even cybernetic implants.

Calling all Delhi startups! We are organising a meet-up focused on challenges faced during scaling up, and building great customer relationships on

This may be a turning point in treating neurodegenerative diseases

Success in trials for Huntington’s and Spinal Muscular Atrophy raises hopes that diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS could be tackled using a new class of drugs

 Surgeon examining MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans of brain Photograph: Ben Edwards/Getty Images

They are diseases that threaten more than physical health: memories, personality, and the ability to move and speak are incrementally stolen. And until this year neurodegenerative diseases, from Alzheimer’s to ALS, had been entirely unstoppable.

However, a breakthrough in Huntington’s disease this week suggests this bleak picture could be about to change. The landmark trial was the first to show that the genetic defect that causes Huntington’s could be corrected, raising hopes that the drug will become the first to slow the progress of the disease – or even stop it.

The Huntington’s results alone would have been remarkable enough, but they come just a month after the same experimental class of drugs were revealed to help patients with a different degenerative disease, called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Babies with the most severe form of SMA normally never develop the strength to sit up or roll over, but after four years on the drug, some of these children are starting to stand and take their first steps with a walker.


What is Huntington’s disease?


The two trials have triggered a wave of optimism that drugs built on similar principles could be used to target a wide range of deadly brain disorders, possibly even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. “I don’t want to overstate this too much, but this could be a turning point,” said Prof John Hardy, a neuroscientist at University College London who was awarded the Breakthrough prize for his work on Alzheimer’s.

Hardy describes the results as potentially the biggest advance for neurodegenerative disease in 50 years. “If it’s worked for one, why can’t it work for a lot of them? I am very, very excited,” he added.

The power of this new class of drugs – called antisense oligonucleotides – comes from their unique ability to home in on genetic flaws and shut down their destructive effects at source. They work by intercepting messenger molecules known as RNA, which are responsible for translating instructions in the genetic code into proteins.

The synthetic DNA used in the treatments can be built in the lab, like Lego, meaning that scientists can now use nature’s own machinery to intervene and switch the production of proteins on and off.

In Huntington’s, the drug called Ionis-HTTRx works by killing off the messenger molecule that is responsible for producing a toxic protein called huntingtin. A larger trial is expected to show whether this also slows or reverses the progression of the disease.

The SMA drug, Nusinersen, has already crossed this milestone. When babies were injected with the medicine in a phase 3 trial, they not only stabilised but began to gain strength. In fact, the success was so striking that the trial was stopped early so the babies who had been placed on a placebo treatment could be immediately switched to the drug.

“It’s a sentinel moment,” said Richard Finkel, the paediatric neurologist at the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida, who led the trial. “Having spent 30 years telling parents that we had nothing to offer their baby except for comfort care, basically sending them home with a death sentence, having something that can be offered to them is remarkable. It’s not a cure, but it’s a great first step.”

The SMA drug works in the reverse direction – instead of blocking the production of a bad protein, it manages to restore the body’s ability to make a protein that is essential for the survival of neurons in the base of the brain and spinal cord.

Preliminary results from a new trial suggests that when the drug is given before symptoms appear (typically about three months old) its effects can be even more profound. Babies in the latest trial, who were given the drug from shortly after birth, are, incredibly, showing no physical signs of their illness.

They have learned to sit and roll over, and two of the three babies Finkel is treating were walking at their first birthday. “The [third one] is a little hesitant, but she’s healthy as can be,” he said. “These babies are doing remarkably well.”

Finkel said there is now a strong case for adding SMA to the panel of diseases such as cystic fibrosis that are routinely screened for at birth because, for the first time, there is a treatment.

Since bad proteins, or missing proteins, lie at the heart of all neurodegenerative diseases, a race is now underway to find new targets that synthetic DNA drugs could be applied to.

A protein called synuclein is implicated in Parkinson’s and the production of amyloid and tau are known to run out of control in Alzheimer’s and some other dementias. However, it is not yet clear whether blocking these substances in the brain will help – and the many previous drugs aimed at doing so have failed in clinical trials.

Prof Sarah Tabrizi, director of University College London’s Huntington’s Disease Centre who led the trial.
 Prof Sarah Tabrizi, director of University College London’s Huntington’s Disease Centre who led the trial. Photograph: David Bishop, UCL Health Creatives

Tim Miller, David Clayson professor of neurology at Washington University in St Louis, led the preclinical testing of a drug aimed at lowering tau in the brain. In mice, it reversed the animals’ brain damage, halted memory loss and extended their lives.

The biotech company Ionis, which was behind the Huntington’s success, is now carrying out a clinical trial of the treatment in early Alzheimer’s patients that is expected to end in 2020.

Miller describes the recent results in SMA and Huntington’s as a “massive deal”, that have added to his confidence in trying the approach for other degenerative diseases. He is also involved in a trial for a genetic form of ALS. “We don’t know whether there will be success yet,” he said. “I want to be a little bit careful, because we just don’t know yet.”

If the drugs were ultimately shown to help treat the kinds of dementias that affect millions of people, it would pose a new problem of economics rather than science.

DNA strands cannot be conveniently packaged into a pill form, and the drugs have to be spinally injected in order to have an impact in the brain. In a recent talk, Hardy estimated the current cost of treating a single patient with this kind of drug at $750,000 per year. Of course, the figure would come down if more patients were treated, he said, but from a high starting point. There would also be the question, ethical and economic, of whether treatments that just slowed the progress of dementia, potentially prolonging the period of decline, could be justified.

“These are very complicated questions,” said Hardy. “It’s going to be a challenge for neurologists and the health service in general.”

This electric truck startup thinks it can beat Tesla to market

Norse god, Marvel hero, and now an EV company

A new electric truck startup came out of stealth this week to announce its plan to bring its heavy-duty electric vehicle to market before the Tesla Semi hits in 2019. Thor Trucks’ prototype, the ET-One, is a “Frankenstein” built from parts cobbled together from other tractor-trailers. It has a range of 300 miles, a full load capacity of 80,000 pounds, and will eventually retail for $150,000. It’s also working on a 100-mile-range version.

It seems that everyone from tiny startups to established OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are taking a stab at battery-electric trucking these days. And Tesla made a big splash last month with its 400-mile-range Semi. But Thor Trucks thinks it can stand out by converting fossil fuel-burning trucks into battery-electric ones with its unique powertrain technology and in-house battery production. That said, the startup is realistic about its expectations, admitting it lacks the resources to build its own truck from scratch.

“There’s been smoke and mirrors in this space, and a lot of buzz,” Thor co-founder Giordano Sordoni told The Verge. “We want to be mindful about how long it takes to engineer hardware that’s super safe and effective.”

Sordoni, who suffered from asthma as a child, said he and his partner Dakota Semler were motivated to start a project that would be a “triple bottom line play” — something that would have a social impact, an environmental impact, and could be a sustainable business. Semler, who converted his mother’s SUV to run on vegetable oil, grew up around the trucking business; his family owned a fleet of 150 trucks based out of Riverside, California. An electric truck startup seemed like a perfect fit. “This checked all the boxes,” Sordoni said.

Their prototype is called the ET-One. The chassis comes from a Navistar commercial truck. It uses heavy-duty Dana axles and an off-the-shelf motor from supplier TM4. They decided to build their own battery modules from cells and packs purchased from a vendor. “We don’t want to literally reinvent the wheel,” Sordoni said. “We don’t have a billion-dollar factory set up in Nevada.”

This modest approach may serve them well in an industry wary of hype. Unlike the passenger vehicle market, fleet owners and delivery companies are motivated by cost savings and economies of scale. And there’s a lot of baked-in skepticism about electric vehicles, thanks to concerns about weight and the amount of time it takes to charge a vehicle. “We understand the thinking in the trucking industry, it is what it is,” Sordoni said. “It’s not broken, but we want to help modernize it.”

Thor is tiny compared to its competition, with just 18 employees. Meanwhile, giants such as Cummins, Daimler, Bosch, Tesla, and Toyota are all working on their own green semi-trailers. Thor is trying to take advantage of the glut of EV talent in Los Angeles to build up a larger team, recently poaching engineers from Navistar, US Hybrid, and electric bus manufacturer BYD.

The ET-One is no static concept. The co-founders recently demonstrated its towing capacity in a short drive around LA, pulling around 60,000 pounds of cargo. And they hope to test the Class 8 load limit of 80,000 pounds soon. That said, Thor says it will build a scaled-down, medium duty truck, too, which will be good for short hauls between a port and an urban center.

“A lot of players are coming in the commercial EV industry, because it’s a good time to get into it,” Sordoni said. “In comparison to other folks, I think what we’re talking about is all super reasonable. We’re not promising thousands of charging stations and millions of trucks. What we’re offering is scaled down and realistic.”

How Apple Watch saved one man’s life — and how it’s empowering him after his heart attack

Apple and Stanford are currently conducting a heart study with Apple Watch

Scott Killian never imagined his Apple Watch might save his life, but that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago when he had a heart attack in the middle of the night. Killian recently shared his personal experience with 9to5Mac, and the details of his story are absolutely amazing.

“Big fan of the Apple Watch right now,” he told me. It’s easy to understand why.A few months shy of turning 50, Killian says he recently underwent a nuclear stress test and metabolic workout to rule out any health concerns associated with his age. After thousands of dollars of tests, he was cleared without issue.

Killian is an attorney so his job comes with a high level of stress, but he also works in law enforcement and regularly boxes and runs to maintain proper physical health.

He had no reason to expect a heart attack and actually took steps to proactively be aware of any pending medical issues.

Then Killian, who wears his Apple Watch to bed three to four nights a week for sleep tracking, says his Apple Watch woke him up around 1 am with an alert from a third-party app saying his resting heart rate was elevated while sleeping (Apple recently introduced a built-in feature that can do this with Apple Watch Series 1 and later). Killian experienced mild indigestion which can be a sign of a heart attack, but says he generally didn’t feel sick.

His Apple Watch charted his heart rate at around 121 beats per minute in the middle of the night while data previously captured showed his average resting heart rate at around 49 beats per minute. The data also showed that this was the first time his resting heart rate had reached this level since he began wearing Apple Watch, so he decided to go to the emergency room as a precaution.

Killian says he told his wife while they were waiting in the ER that he felt like they were wasting time and money, then the hospital connected him to an EKG machine.

While the results reported back as normal, he says he noticed his heart rate was still elevated. His Apple Watch was “dead accurate” with the beats per minute reported by the hospital’s machinery.

Then the hospital took a blood test and discovered an elevated enzyme that signals a heart attack has occurred or is occurring. Further testing revealed four blocked arteries which required the insertion of four stents (inflated titanium carbon fiber sleeves) to correct.

“Ten thousand dollars in tests. None of this came out,” Killian says. He told his surgeon that the Apple Watch is what prompted him to go to the ER, and his surgeon’s response was remarkable.

“He said had I kept sleeping, I probably wouldn’t have woken up. I would have died in my sleep.”

This especially struck me personally because my grandfather died at 55 from a heart attack in the middle of the night — 13 years before the Apple Watch existed. Now, this technology is accessible for a few hundred dollars and can actually save lives.

I asked Scott Killian why he originally bought an Apple Watch. His answer was not for health and fitness tracking, but instead for productivity. Now, he says every time he looks at his watch, it clicks in his head that it saved his life.

“I always wore good Swiss watches and the only reason I switched to an Apple Watch is because it sets alarms and timers that keep me on task at work. The thing actually saved my life. I think every man 50 years old should be wearing one of these things.”

Killian plans to stop boxing after his heart attack, but he purchased a home workout machine to maintain his physical activity. He also purchased AliveCor’s Kardia Band for Apple Watch — an FDA approved EKG reader — so he can have access to EKG readouts that can be shared with doctors in seconds without going to a hospital.

The combination of Apple Watch and Kardia Band, which costs $199 and requires a $99/year subscription for its medical service, is giving Scott Killian the chance to continue a healthy workout routine without unknowingly putting his heart in danger.

“There’s a really big psychological deficit to having a heart attack in that your feeling of being strong and healthy evaporates overnight,” Killian told me.

Any bit of discomfort understandably creates anxiety that your heart is failing. Apple Watch not only saved Scott Killian’s life, but now it’s empowering him to manage his life after the heart attack.

“How good is it to know that you’re having a problem right now? Whenever I feel a little bit unsettled, I can just press a button and get an EKG. That in itself is going to make me feel a lot better.”


Laser-Boron Fusion Now ‘Leading Contender’ for Energy

A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers.

Dramatic advances in powerful, high-intensity lasers are making it viable for scientists to pursue what was once thought impossible: creating fusion energy based on hydrogen-boron reactions. And an Australian physicist is in the lead, armed with a patented design and working with international collaborators on the remaining scientific challenges.

boron2.jpgIn a paper in the scientific journal Laser and Particle Beams, lead author Heinrich Hora from UNSW Sydney and international colleagues argue that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable, and may be closer to realisation than other approaches, such as the deuterium-tritium fusion approach being pursued by US National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.

“I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies,” said Hora, who predicted in the 1970s that fusing hydrogen and boron might be possible without the need for thermal equilibrium.

Rather than heat fuel to the temperature of the Sun using massive, high-strength magnets to control superhot plasmas inside a doughnut-shaped toroidal chamber (as in NIF and ITER), hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts, which apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.

boron3.jpgHydrogen-boron fusion produces no neutrons and, therefore, no radioactivity in its primary reaction. And unlike most other sources of power production – like coal, gas and nuclear, which rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines – the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity.

But the downside has always been that this needs much higher temperatures and densities – almost 3 billion degrees Celsius, or 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun.

However, dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an ‘avalanche’ fusion reaction could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.

“It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations,” said Hora, an Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at UNSW. “Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”

boron4.jpgTogether with 10 colleagues in six nations – including from Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Centre and the University of California, Berkeley – Hora describes a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design, bringing together recent breakthroughs and detailing what further research is needed to make the reactor a reality.

An Australian spin-off company, HB11 Energy, holds the patents for Hora’s process. “If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have a prototype reactor within a decade,” said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.

“From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf,” he added.

Other researchers involved in the study were Shalom Eliezer of Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Centre; Jose M. Martinez-Val from Spain’s Polytechnique University in Madrid; Noaz Nissim from University of California, Berkeley; Jiaxiang Wang of East China Normal University; Paraskevas Lalousis of Greece’s Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser; and George Miley at the University of Illinois, Urbana.