Peek into an empty Steve Jobs Theater before tomorrow’s big Apple event

What are you up to this afternoon? If your answer is anything “watching the livestream of an empty Steve Jobs Theater,” honestly, I’m not sure how you call yourself an Apple fan.

A day before the company’s event in Cupertino, Apple’s streaming video of what looks to be an empty theater, bathed in darkness, with some swirling psychedelic designs playing on the big screen. The whole thing is almost certainly a bid to drum up more interest a day out, as fan scramble to figure out if someone accidentally left the feed running after morning rehearsals.

Most likely, what we’re seeing is a composite, CG mockup or pre-recorded video of the space. There’s even the occasional odd pop up on the big screen. Apple’s been known to have fun at our expense just ahead of the big event. Call it a fun goof or good natured trolling, but the company’s certainly got out attention. Not that is needed it.

Apple is expected to launch a number of new products tomorrow, including a  Netflix competitor, news offering and gaming service. There’s even a credit card rumored to be in the works.

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Meet the Texas startup that wants to decarbonize the chemical industry

Solugen, a startup that has set itself up with no less lofty a goal than the decarbonization of a massive chunk of the petrochemical industry, may be the first legitimate multi-million dollar company to start out in a meth lab.

When company co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt began hunting for a lab to test their process for enzymatically manufacturing hydrogen peroxide they only had a small $10,000 grant from MIT — which was supposed to pay their salaries and cover rent and lab equipment. 

Chakrabarti, who now jokingly calls himself “the Heisenberg of hydrogen peroxide” says that the lab spaces they looked at initially were all too pricey, so through a friend of a friend of a friend, he and Hunt wound up leasing lab space in a facility by the Houston airport for $150 per month.

It was there among the burners and round-bottomed flasks that Hunt and Chakrabarti refined their manufacturing process — using fermentation based on Solugen’s proprietary enzyme made from genetically modified yeast cells to produce hydrogen peroxide. 

“In 2016 I went to visit Solugen’s headquarters in Houston, They were subleasing a small part of a bigger lab and it was one of the sketchiest labs I’d seen, but the Solugen founders liked it because the rent was low” recalls Solugen seed investor, Seth Bannon, a founding partner with the investment firm Fifty Years. “Sean and Gaurab were incredibly impressive. They had their prototype reactor up and running and were already selling 100% of its capacity, so we invested.”

Creating a process that can make thousands of tons of chemicals — without relying on petroleum — would be a hugely important step in the fight against global climate change. And Solugen says it has done exactly that — while getting the chemical industry to subsidize its development.

The chemicals industry is responsible for 10% of global energy consumption and 30% of industrial energy demand, while also contributing 20% of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions, according to the website Global Efficiency Intelligence.

As the world begins to confront the effects of global climate change, curbing emissions from industry will be critically important to ensuring that the world is not irrevocably and catastrophically changed by human activity.

As columnist Ramez Naam wrote in TechCrunch:

Our hardest climate problems – the ones that are both large and lack obvious solutions – are agriculture (and deforestation – its major side effect) and industry. Together these are 45% of global carbon emissions. And solutions are scarce.

Agriculture and land use account for 24% of all human emissions. That’s nearly as much as electricity, and twice as much all the world’s passenger cars combined.

Industry – steel, cement, and manufacturing – account for 21% of human emissions – one and a half times as much as all the world’s cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes combined.

Greenhouse gas emissions are only one of the dangers associated with the petrochemical industry’s approach to production. The processes by which chemicals are made are also incredibly volatile, and the work is dangerous for both employees and the communities in which these plants operate.

Last week, a chemical plant explosion has led to one of the worst fires in the city’s history. Firefighters in the city spent six days trying to contain a chemical fire that has burned 11 storage tanks managed by Intercontinental Terminals Company.

“They’re moving chemicals exposed to the environment, and those chemicals are not designed to be transported in that way,” Francisco Sanchez, the county’s deputy emergency emergency management coordinator told The Houston Chronicle

Man in protective workwear with Caution cordon tape (Courtesy Getty Images)

By contrast, Solugen’s process is only a little more dangerous than brewing beer.

In the years since Bannon came to visit the company in its first lab, Solugen has built a working production plant capable of making enough hydrogen peroxide to bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the company.

In addition to its current mobile manufacturing facility, a skid mounted 1,000 square foot mini plant, Solugen is using $13.5 million in new financing from investors to build a new, 2,500 modular facility which will produce 5,000 tons of hydrogen peroxide per year. 

That new money came from the investment fund Founders Fund (co-founded by the controversial libertarian investor, Peter Thiel), Fifty Years, and Y Combinator.

Solugen’s secret sauce is its ability to create oxidase enzymes cheaply that can be combined with simple sugars to make oxidation chemicals — which account for roughly half of the $4.3 trillion dollar global chemical industry.

The companies bioreactors have been specifically designed fir the chemicals it makes, but the real innovation is looking at enzymes as a tool for oxidation chemistries.

Companies are now able to engineer these enzymes thanks to advances on computational biology and the newfound ability of biochemists to engineer DNA, Chakrabarti says.

Solugen uses CRISPR gene editing technologies to modify yeast cells. It has identified a certain transcription factor which acts like an accelerant to producing the enzyme that Solugen’s process requires. Messenger ribonucleic acid overwhelms most of the typical processes if a celll to force the cell to dedicate most of its function toward enzyme production. The company then uses a contract research organization to cheaply make the enzyme at scale.

Companies also have driven down the cost of manufacturing these specialty enzymes. “The revolution is the commoditization of biomanufacturing specifically enzyme production,” he says. “Instead of our enzymes costing $1,000 per kg… It’s $1 to $10 per kg.”

Once Solugen proves that the new facility can work, the only issue is scaling, according to Chakrabarti. “We use enzyme technologies to create chemical mini-mills [and] each mini-mill can do 5,000 tons of products,” says Chakrabarti.

A typical chemical [lant has a production capacity of 50,000 tons, but the Solugen process is orders of magnitude more inexpensive, says Chakrabarti. That allows the company to build out a network of smaller plants profitably. “These are huge industries where we can make cheaper products,”he says.

And for every ton of product that Solugen makes and sells, it’s the equivalent of removing six tons of carbon from the atmosphere, Chakrabarti says.

Oil and gas companies have already signed contracts and are ordering the company’s products to the tune of several million in sales.

“It’s a nice way of funding us and funding the oil and gas industry’s demise,” says Chakrabarti of the company’s sales to its initial customers, “They give us money and allow us to go after other chemistries that would have been petroleum based… Our ultimate goal is to wipe them out.”

 

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Best logo designer 2019: top picks for branding your company

Having an iconic and recognisable logo and branding is essential for any business, especially one that's looking to stand out from the crowd, which is why investing in the best logo designer software is a wise move.

To make things as easy as possible, we've rounded up the best logo designer software, along with logo generators, makers and creators, that offer easy-to-use tools to produce effective and professional-looking logos for your business.

When picking the best logo designer software for your needs, you'll want to make sure you get software that has an easy-to-use interface, but still offers plenty of features to allow you to create good looking logos. It should be able to allow anyone to create a logo no matter if they are good at art. There should be a good balance of ready-made assets, as well as offering users the change to create their own artwork from scratch.

Above all, they should allow you to produce professional results. A badly-made logo that looks cheap (or is similar to other logos) can actually cause more harm to your business than no logo at all.

So, with that in mind, let's take a look at our pick of the best logo designer software of 2019.


Image credit: Adobe

The very best logo design software money can buy in 2019 is easily Adobe Illustrator. This is the software most professionals use, and with it you can create truly unique and impressive logos, and other marketing material. It comes with a huge amount of features to help you create your logo. This does mean the software can be overwhelming at first, and for beginners and smaller businesses, this may be overkill. However, if you (or an employee) have digital art and design experience, then Adobe Illustrator will be an essential tool. It's expensive, but with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription you can pay monthly and get the very latest features as they are released.


Image credit: Logojoy

If you're a complete beginner and don't have the time to learn how to use complex software for designing a logo, then Logojoy is a great choice for you. It's a web based service that can auto generate logos – all you need to do is input your company's name, as well as provide information on what sort of company it is, as well as picking a few color choices. Logojoy will do the rest and will automatically generate a variety of logos. Although they are quite simplistic, they look good, and you can customise them further. You can use the logos Logojoy creates for you, or simply use it as inspiration to create your own logo using another service. You need to subscribe to see the logos and to use them in marketing materials.


Image credit: Summitsoft

Logo Design Studio Pro has been used by companies to make their logos for 17 years, and that expertise has led to a nicely-designed package that is easy to use, but offers enough tools to allow more experienced users to further customise their logos. It only takes a few minutes to create a good looking logo using Logo Design Studio Pro's collection of graphics and fonts. It offers over 500 different objects to add to your logo, and 120 unique fonts, and with a bit of time and care, you can make an eye-catching logo that suits your business.

https://hatchful.shopify.com

Image credit: Shopify

You don't need an expensive image editing application and powerful PC to design your own logos, as Hatchful proves. It's a free service that makes it incredibly easy to design your own logos, and there's also versions for your Android smartphone or iPhone. It's incredibly easy to design your logo, just choose what sort of industry your business is in, your company's name and slogan and choose from what sort of artwork you're after. Hatchful then creates several potential logos for you, and you can then edit them using the app or through your web browser, then download them. Best of all, the service is completely free.


Image Credit: Squarespace

If you want a really simple, easy and quick tool for coming up with a logo for your business, then Squarespace Logo Creator is a good choice. Squarespace is better known as a company that provides web hosting and website creation tools, which are well known for their simple-to-use interfaces. Its logo creation tool is similar, and you can make a good looking logo for your company in a matter of seconds. You can tweak your logo using the web-based editor, though it's a bit limited in what it can do. You can download your logo in a low res form for free (and it's watermarked), or you can buy a high-res non-watermarked version for $10 (or it's free if you're already a Squarespace customer). If you've built your company's website with Squarespace, then its logo creation tool is definitely worth using.

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