Thursday, March 16, 2017

Science Makes America Great, and President Trump's Budget Aims to Destroy It

President Trump's first budget proposal is calling for dramatic cuts to many agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the leading funders of research in the USA - the NIH would face around a $6 billion cut (~20%). The NIH is the largest funder of medical research in the world, and back much of the medical research in universities and labs around the country. Many of the medications and treatments used today had their start in NIH grants, and key research leads to entire industries, such as what arose from the Human Genome Project. The NIH have a nice list of the value they add to society, the economy, and our lives, here.

In large part it's the Research and Development funding from the US federal government that makes the USA the global leader in technology. Studies demonstrate that funding at the R&D level result in up to $8.38 of economic activity 8 years later for each $1 invested - infrastructure debt, that supposedly we'll find $1 trillion for under the mattress, would be expected to show around $1.92 return per dollar within a few years, and about $3.21 over 20 years

By a factor of 3 or more, spending on basic R&D returns huge economic benefits to the country compared to infrastructure, and it's simply short sighted to cut. (Of course a functional infrastructure is also needed, hard to drive to your research lab without roads! But it's not a binary either/or choice - and 'infrastructure' like a pointless/counterproductive border wall will cost more than is saved with the NIH cuts) This has been something that every administration for over 40 years has recognised, and can be seen in data collected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


The Clinton years saw a massive rise in NIH spending, and we're reaping the benefit of that investment now. Even in the Bush through Obama years, while NIH remained flat (barring the ARRA boost), other agencies saw an increase. The cuts in the Trump budget are unprecedented in the last half century.

The smartest students from around the world come to US universities to study, both as undergraduates and researchers - and the US gains the best and the brightest of the rest of the world, and without paying the cost of raising those people. It's a huge net positive for the country, especially when those people stay, become citizens, and have children, as people tend to do when they are welcomed and given a chance to contribute. Those children of immigrants themselves are typically far more likely to contribute to the advancement of the country in science. Consider this statement from a Forbes article on immigrants:

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. ... In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States.

So this science spending results in economic returns of at least a factor of 8 within 8 years, and encourages smart, law abiding, company founding, job creating immigrants to come to the USA, have children who are then the most driven of their generation, will improve society and the economy decades from now, and make sure we can all retire well in a booming economy. Why would you destroy that?

Well allow me to answer that. It could be you are:

A) Ridiculously stupid and short sighted, utterly unaware, and uncaring, of the consequences
B) An idealogical zealot intent on destroying goverment at any cost
C) Racist and want to discourage immigration
D) Intent on damaging the tech industry out of spite
E) An agent of a foreign power intent on destroying the long term effectiveness of your enemy
F) All of the above

Given this current administration, it's 'F', with each person in it more of one of those than the other. Bannon and Miller are simply white supremacists and want to end all immigration, legal or not, to the country - they've literally said "legal immigration is the real problem". The tech industry has been vocal in its opposition to the Executive Order that has now been rejected by the courts twice, and by cutting science funding it harms them, despite the negative consequences to the country - a price the likes of Bannon would pay given he doesn't like the race of many Silicon Valley company CEOs. Price, as head of Health and Human Services, is a member of a group that is anti-vaccine - which is one of the greatest success stories in saving lives and health in the 20th Century. The President shrugged his shoulders last week claiming "Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated", which even for Donald Trump manages to rank as one of the dumbest things he's ever said (despite the pretty stiff competition). 

And then there's the 'agent of a foreign power' - Vladimir Putin must be giving himself a hernia from laughing so much at the self inflicted damage the USA (and the UK with Brexit) are inflicting on themselves. There's no proof it's a direct agent doing this, but "useful idiots" helped into positions of power are achieving what Russia and other unfriendly nations can only dream of.

While the administration has to get this budget through Congress (Republican controlled and so far they seem unwilling to stand up to even the most ridiculous of his behaviours, even when he literally fabricates a felony perpetrated by his predecessor.) but the President has lost on pretty much everything he's pushed as signature policies over the last 2 months (still waiting to be "so sick of winning"). Hopefully the worst of this will be stopped, but will only happen if Congress sees their own hides, or money to their constituencies, threatened. Sadly, 'upset scientists' is not a key demographic - at least not yet - and regardless of what happens here, it's clear that the President and his administration are intent on gutting one of the great American success stories of the last half century.

Science is global, it doesn't care about national boundaries, and published research is by definition known to all, not restricted to a few. Scientists want to educate children to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, inquisitive, and also work with the best and the brightest wherever they are, whatever their gender, religion, race, or country of origin. It's what's raised our life expectancy, our quality of life, our productivity, and our opportunities, and been part of what has kept the USA as a global leader. And all these things are antithetical to a group of people mired in the past, who are wanting to divide us based on religion and race, and destroy one of the most critical things that Made America Great.

What can we do? It's important that those who will vote on this budget know these cuts are counter productive. Call your House and Senate representatives, let them know this can't be allowed to pass in the budget. Make no mistake, there's no sense or logic in these cuts, and the country will be damaged because of them - and for the people proposing this, that's seemingly the intent.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

Hot on the heels of uBeam's apparent demo of a phone screen turning on, it seems there's been a change at the company. Their COO appears to have departed and become the EVP of Operations at Fitbit. Stunning that a C-level exec would leave when the company is on the verge of greatness, especially an Operations person who is not so much R&D but very much product delivery, exactly what you need when looking to transition to a new phase of growth. Here is one of the announcements of his joining the company from 18 months ago, along with then CFO Monica Hushen (who left the company last year).

Devine was one of the three executives, along with Taffler and Chandler, mentioned by name by the lead investor in his defence of uBeam in May last year as being key in the company's progress. All three have since left the company.

Per LinkedIn, this leaves Larry Pendergrass as the sole executive with significant industry experience. He joined last September, announced here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

uBeam - Still All Sizzle?

An eventful day yesterday on the uBeam front, with Meredith Perry finally giving a demo of uBeam technology and showing it charging a phone at the Upfront Summit - well more precisely showing a big box and then a light on a phone coming on if it was put in front of it. Essentially a slightly more glitzy version of the "All Things D" demo done in 2011, showing what 6 years and $25 million gets you.

From what we see here, in my opinion, is proof that you can take a non-technical audience and baffle them with bullshit - if you want to know that the phone is charging, you need to do more than turn a screen on. Perhaps there is more not seen here, I'm just going on the info that's public, but you need to show voltage, current (at both transmitter and receiver to get efficiency), and the phone sitting in front of that panel for several minutes and see the actual charge level increase over time. But that isn't what they showed - and if it isn't, please enlighten me and tell me what is the difference between what's shown in that video, and what was shown at All Things D 6 years ago.

It seems at least some are not convinced and there are journalists taking a sceptical view, such as Axios (albeit promoted with a tweet that is more sensational than what was shown and the content of the article, and sadly is all that is quoted by most)

This is a science project that is clearly progressing, but not nearly finished yet.

Pretty faint praise after $25 million. There was also this interesting statement:

we're told Perry picked that particular Android for the demo because of its highly-visible charging icon

Why would that be mentioned so specifically by the company, and why does it make me raise an eyebrow?

Now, let's be clear, no-one ever said that transmitting power via ultrasound is impossible, of course it's possible - but is there a way to do so in a safe, efficient, and cost effective manner? That's the challenge, and in any practical sense it had never been shown publicly. In my opinion, it still hasn't. All that has been shown is a screen lighting up.

I'm sure uBeam now have potential funders lining up outside willing to throw money at them, based on this, even though nothing was really shown. And if I'm wrong about that, tell me what was shown that proves it works. What's the charge rate? How long to charge a phone? What is the efficiency? How does this line up with "4 meters, any angle, multiple devices, faster than a wire" touted before? Is it a safe and legal level? (OSHA now seems to have gone back to a 115 dB limit, not the 145 dB from a few years ago, I certainly hope there's no-one in the way of that beam, or there are any grating lobes giving the audience a facefull.)

Now the fact the phone charge indicator comes on proves they are charging at a minimum of 500mW (around 5 volts at 100 mA) needed on the USB port, which is awesome as that's enough to at least trickle charge a phone over about 10 hours. Or does it? Potentially you could access the Qi chipset on the phone to show the charging light when at <500 mW, or other similar bypassing of standard input methods, but in the end there's no way to know without looking at actual charge rate - which isn't shown in any form. If it works so well, I'm surprised those numbers aren't released - "more than 500mW" is a very straightforward statement to make. Or leave the phone in front of the transmitter and see it gaining battery level during the talk. But that would be too easy.

And at what efficiency? At 30% end-to-end it's incredible, at 1% it's very difficult to justify, at <1% it's ridiculous. We don't know those numbers.

How many devices can this charge at a time? What does the system cost? Can it track the phone? What happens at an angle? Was the beam always on, or did it switch on when it saw the phone? What were the safety measures to stop an always on-beam being pointed at someone accidentally? If this is the best case demo today, why were some people saying they had seen a similar working demo years ago? Weren't they moving to production 18 months ago? All questions still unanswered.

I'm really sad, of course, for the senior staff who just left the company over the last couple of months, and what I guess is the closure of the San Jose office (or that's how it appears if you check the LinkedIn profiles). Amazing they would leave just on the verge of a breakthrough like this, but more fool them I guess, what do they know? Passing by on the billions... 

Overall, with a skeptical eye, there's nothing new here. IMO, no significant new information, nothing to show commercial success or capability, and no path to a realistic product. But it won't stop investors from piling in without doing significant due diligence (investors, feel free to call me and prove me wrong), and it won't convince anyone with one iota of technical capability that there's more there than they thought a week ago. More of the same, move along.

For those of you with a technical bent, I'm including a more detailed analysis from what I saw in that demo below. Anyone non-technical, you may want to stop now.

Taking a technical look at what's there and bearing in mind this is with a lot of assumptions - the video shows an array that seems to be made up of a (approx) 30 by 30 collection of circular transmitters, and given what I see on stage it's about a 30 by 30 cm panel, so each is a 1 cm diameter cylinder. Very much like the Murata MA40S4S used in car parking sensors and available off the shelf at around $3 each in bulk. Of course they couldn't use them because that would be a $2700 transmitter BOM component right there, but let's use them as a starting point.

Assume 40 kHz, and let's say we can drive much harder because why not, something like 6 times more (120 volts p-p, or approx 16 dB in sound pressure) to be generous so that's 120 + 16 = 136 dB sound pressure level. They are circular, so we lose 2 dB from area, that's 134 dB out, across a 0.09 m2, and at that level that means a peak pressure of 180 Pa and about 37 W/m2 or actual 3.35 W transmitted. Incidentally the capacitance of those devices at 2550 pF means (at P=nCV2f) gives 1.3 kW (900 * 2550e-12 * 120 * 120 * 40e3) so right there is around 0.25% efficient on transmit at best, along with a one bar electric fire. A few million people doing this every day means GW more generation capacity, so I hope I'm wrong or we better start building some power stations. (updated efficiency numbers below - a bit better than here, but still pretty awful).

As a side note, those values of amplitude, if I'm in the right ballpark, may avoid the worst effects of acoustic nonlinearity in the distances shown, but in my opinion (and that of physics), would result in nonlinearity if you tried to increase from there, decreasing efficiency considerably.

Now at 1 to 2 m distance you're probably looking at around 3dB loss in the air (pretty low, yay, but still 50% efficiency), so saying you get all of that power at the phone (about 5 by 10 cm) you'd have an focus gain of around 18 times (25 dB), so now we're at 156 dB (wow, that's loud). Now we convert back to electricity, let's say 30% efficient there (massively higher than the Murata MA40S4S), and around 90% on some awesome conversion electronics, it's about 27% conversion efficiency, and you now get to 450 mW to the battery which is almost enough to charge it. Let's go with that - yay we're charging a phone in about 11 hours. If I'm assuming low numbers, then divide that by about 5 to get a 5% overall rate and 90mW, maybe enough to turn on the charging light (and about 2 days to charge your phone, if you don't move it)

At what efficiency? 0.25% at transmitter (I'm ignoring some losses here, but they're minor in comparison to that capacitive loss), a further 50% in the air, and 27% at the receiver, and you've got 0.034% efficiency. (As noted earlier, not including non-linearity). At 12 c/kWh, that's $2 to charge your phone. Ouch. OK, I'm being mean, let's say it's 10x more efficient, it's 20 cents to charge your phone, only $70 per year done every day, still an ouch. And you can heat your room at the same time with a kW scale transmitter, that costs $7500 because of the high BOM and doesn't make you feel so bad about having spent $1500 on a toaster oven.

As an added note from the original post, I noticed on a Twitter feed that some there indicate that the transmitter seemed to be covered by some form of fabric, which looking again at the video you can see is there. This does not mean that ultrasound can pass through clothing, as was previously claimed, but a thin membrane that is significantly smaller than a wavelength and is of a low enough impedance material will not be 'seen' by the ultrasound, for example a mylar film on the order of 10s microns compared to around 8mm wavelength in air at 40 kHz will likely have a minimal effect. Just as with the membranes or meshes used on car parking sensors like the Murata mentioned above... 

I'll add to this as I have time to do so, and check my calcs for any mistakes. Comments welcome on why I'm wrong, and just a disgruntled former employee :)

Edit: Just an update to some of my numbers here. Looking at the Murata data sheet is seems that SPL was measured at 30cm, not at the source, so some modification needed to the calcs. Using Murata's published factors, a further ~10dB needs applied for the diffraction and absorption (BTW that's quite a good document on how those transducers work), so they could be producing as much as 130 dB at source, so I can reduce the applied voltage by a factor of around 3 to around 40 volts, and does reduce the capacitive loss to around 130 W for 3.35 W acoustic transmitted, meaning 2.5% efficiency in that portion of the calculation, so it's overall 0.34% efficient at best, not 0.034%. Yes, that means the sound field could be of greater intensity and higher power, however that would start to push it into the nonlinear regime, and also you'd then be beaming very high sound levels at that cameraman and of course they totally considered safety in this demo...

Interestingly, this means those Murata's can put out over the 115dB level mandated by OSHA, however I'd note that a) the Murata operate at a duty cycle of about 0.4% or less (20 cycle bursts until return signal at up to around 2 m, another good link on car parking sensors), and b) there is a single transmitter, that is as loud as it will get, and decay rapidly after that - unlike a phased array for power which operates at a 100% duty cycle and uses antenna gain to amplify the sound by a factor of several hundred.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Right vs Wrong

It's not about Right vs Left anymore.

It's about Right vs Wrong.

Old labels, old enmities over the trivial that we could afford when times were easy, don't apply anymore.

Everyone who knows right from wrong has to work together no matter what tribe we used to think we belonged to. 

We can't be divided, we have to stand up for the weakest and easiest targets, no exceptions.

Support those who stand for what's right, condemn those who promote and enable what's wrong. 

There's no hiding anymore, no more abdication of responsibility. This is where we learn who we really are. Don't disappoint your children.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How Do These Keep Becoming Things?

Two weeks ago the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gave its yearly insight into the tech we'll all be getting to buy in the coming months and years. Companies reveal major products like cool new TVs with more pixels and better colours, the latest phones, new processors and things we actually use - and then there are the more bizarre things which continue to show that for every joke idea an engineer can come up with, there's a marketing manager who is dumb enough to run with it.

This year had a high bar to try to beat the previous competition, with the likes of Juicero and the June Oven, but the tech world rose to the challenge and brought us toothbrushes with AI, mirrors to tell you that you are not the fairest of them all, and my favorite being the smart hairbrush to help you brush better. All these paled in my reaction, however, to the incredible wonder that was forwarded to me today - Moodo, the smart home fragrance box.


Moodo is an electronic air freshener, programmable with a variety of scents, and you can even create your own scent with it and then share with others. Who wouldn't want to create their own 'Gardens of Isphahan' or 'Cozzzy' scents and share them? It's an amazing package, and only took three years from concept to delivery (well, promised delivery), where you just pop your Keurig style pods in (yay for the consumable business model!), and use the wifi connection to your smartphone app (of course) to dial in the aroma of your dreams from anywhere! Who wouldn't want one?

Now, at least they aren't asking for $700 or $1500 for it, the Indiegogo campaign seems to have it listed around $230 retail for each unit (only moderately outrageous but still pretty expensive for an air freshener), but only $140 or so if you are an Indiegogo 'early bird'. It's the $20 per set of four fragrances for the consumables where the money likely is, following the printer model of giving the printer itself away at cost or small profit, but charging heavily for the ink. Except a printer is actually useful.

Normally I'd say I can see the pitch to the VCs, who really weren't paying attention to the product but saw the consumable sales, the hockey stick revenue growth, and the smartphone/wifi/app nature of it and the cheque was written - but in this case it may not be so ridiculous. The parent company seems to be Agan Aroma/ADAMA Agricultural Solutions which produce chemicals and components for the fragrance industry, and so if they can sell their products direct to consumers at whatever x000% markup compared to industrial purchasers then it's a good deal. So this is something that really seems like a pointless product, but you can understand why the company pursued it. What I can't understand though, is why a company that supposedly has between 1000 and 5000 employees (according to LinkedIn) would use an Indiegogo campaign to get $50,000 of funding to promote it? Seems an odd mix of approaches, and I don't follow the combination of bootstrapping and larger company product promoter. I'll keep following the Indiegogo numbers, as of now 44 people have put in $8,726, let's see if it hits the goal by the end of the month.

Before I leave this topic, there's an update to the Juicero story from the first "How is this a Thing?" Fortune reports that Juicero's new CEO has slashed the price on their product from $700 to $400, after he remembered his Economics 101 class where someone said that you sell slightly more of a useless thing at $400 than at $700. Or was it that you take a loss on each but then make it up in volume? Still, I laughed at the report saying:

Dunn and his team made the decision to cut the cost now after running a test on Black Friday. They priced the machine for less than $400 and doubled their current number of users in one day.

Great, you went from 1 unit sold to 2, (though maybe that was the new CEO's granny feeling sorry for him). Still, you have to wonder about the journalist who didn't follow up on this obvious statement and ask "How many have you sold in total then?". Even if they got a "Can't release sales figures" answer, it takes it from a marketing piece to something more akin to journalism. Come on reporters, how can you build credibility if you can't even take a swing at softballs like that?

Consider the Lily

Once again there's a ton to write about - Brexit, Theranos, Energous, Erin Griffith's article on Ethics in Silicon Valley, and recent developments with uBeam, but a combination of work plus, hunting for a house, buying a house, getting contractors in, and moving, are eating up all my time. Hopefully next month things will be a little more settled and I'll be back to writing more like a post a week.

In the meantime, I wanted to cover the startup story of the moment, Lily Robotics. Lily is a drone company, promising a simple to use drone (throw it in the air, that's it), that follows you and uses a superb camera to take great videos and stills without a controller - ideal for sports enthusiasts to create videos of themselves doing cool stuff. It looks fantastic, with great demo videos and a strong demand. They raised $1 million in seed funding in mid-2014, and then in mid-2015 started taking pre-orders following some amazing videos and marketing - its pre-order list reached 60,000, at over $500 each, for around $34 million in pre-sales. At the end of 2015 they then raised a further $14 million in VC (no surprises - who wouldn't invest with pre-orders like that!)


Units were supposed to ship to customers in Feb 2016, but that was delayed until summer 2016 - no surprises as hardware is hard, give the newbies a break. Then it was delayed again, this time until December 2016 (time-to-carrot of around 6 months), but once again that date came and went, until suddenly last week they simply closed down with a message to their pre-customers that they were sorry, they couldn't manage to make it, but refunds were on offer. A sad tale, a startup that bit off more than it could chew, and ultimately had to close but sought to return the money to the customers and make them right. Sad until it became public that the same day they shut down, they were sued by the San Francisco DA for misleading business practices and false advertising.

I'll leave the other details to The Register, sUAS News, and the EEV Blog, and hone in on a couple of the most interesting points in this case. Remember that one of the key parts of fundraising is to get VCs to think that there are huge numbers of customers out there for your product, and so once you have 'traction', that they want to invest (de-risked is a term used, others simply wonder why you need a VC once you have customers and profits). If you plan on 'hacking' the system to get the VC money, then you aim to get customers - but what if you have no product to sell? Then go with pre-orders! Show the customer an imaginary future product you plan to make, play up the 'plucky little startup' card, and before you know it you've got $34m in sales and VC's knocking down your door, giving you all the money and time you need to make the product and get it to your customer.

That would be the (mostly) legal way to do it, tell pre-customers it's a planned product, tell them what you are showing them is "hoped for" or "aspirational" and do your best to hit it. Or you could simply show them a faked demo and video and hope you've got time to make it a reality by the date delivery is due - 'fake it til you make it' - and this is what the SFDA is claiming Lily did. In effect, it's a variation on what it appears Theranos and others did, except faking the demos to customers, not to investors (who are still likely defrauded, if this is true).

The customers were led to believe the company had more than it did through their promotional video of the Lily in action, however all was not what it seemed. From the SFDA complaint:

Lily Robotics did not have a single Lily Camera prototype that had all of the features advertised in the Promotional Video. Instead, its co-founders Balaresque and Bradlow, who were present during the filming, brought several prototypes to use during the filming. Some, which looked good on the outside but were not fully functional, were used only for “beauty shots.” Others had some functionality but did not look like the product being advertised. Some were able to film video but even those were merely Lily Camera prototypes with GoPro-branded cameras mounted on them.

This is an important point as it highlights something I've seen happen and I think is more prevalent than most want to believe - showing mockups as working devices, claiming many features and achievements in the product, yet not revealing that not only are they not currently available simultaneously in the same product, but that they may even be mutually exclusive. The analogy would be to claim that your company's new aircraft can fly at 90,000 feet, at Mach 1, with a range of 5000 miles, carrying a 100,000 lb load and leading people to believe it can do all at the same time, when that is impossible. It can be done to investors, though they should have the resources and experience to vet such claims, so let's do it to consumers instead - they're gullible and good natured, let's fleece them! 

Of course, I'm being cruel to Lily here, founders never think like that. They're all starry-eyed idealists just looking to follow their dreams and change the world, at worst you can say they are true-believers who wanted to make it all happen, but their reach exceeded their grasp. Let's forgive them, they tried and failed, but at least they tried. 

And then you read excerpts of emails from a Lily founder talking about their demo video:

Are you sure that the GoPro lens does not create a unique deformation/pattern on the image? I am worried that a lens geek could study our images up close and detect the unique GoPro lens footprint. But I am just speculating here: I don’t know much about lenses but I think we should be extremely careful if we decide to lie publicly.

The founder was worried that smart people would find out the demo was faked, and explicitly and in writing admits that they know they are lying. It's the equivalent of being found at the murder scene, covered in blood and carrying an axe, with a signed letter about how you have to be careful if you decide to kill someone with an axe. Despite knowing it was lying and fraudulent, they decided to go ahead with it anyway. Why? Because the funding 'game' is structured to incentivize exaggeration, fabrication, and lying, and to punish honesty. Honesty doesn't get you funded, lying does. When there's millions of dollars at stake (amounts that people kill for), why wouldn't someone tell a few lies, especially when if they succeed, no-one will ever know? And that part is critical - they didn't think they'd get caught, and why would they? How many startup founders have you heard of going to jail for this kind of thing?

A further question that springs to mind is why the VC firm that invested after the pre-sales didn't spot this during their due diligence. Surely they learned that the promo video didn't match what was shown? If they didn't, they were either lied to and also defrauded, or it smacks of incompetence if they missed it. If they did find it, then it's even worse, because they're then complicit in the deception. Faced with being labelled incompetent, fraudsters, or themselves defrauded, I wonder how long before the VC in question joins in the complaint against Lily and sues.

Which then brings the next question - who gets paid back first? Normally in liquidation the VCs get pain off first (preferred stock), but if there is debt then that has to be paid first. In suing to get back their $15m the VCs will have to wait behind the customers' $34m of refunds (who themselves are behind a $4m bank loan) - thus surprising the investors that for once, they aren't at the front of the line. This is something I expect we'll see more of later this year, from companies where debt and convertible debt are sitting ahead of the institutional investors. It will be interesting to see how the VC community reacts to these new circumstances, and how they explain it to their LPs.

As for the customers and their refunds? Apparently there is over $25m in the company accounts, with the accounts now frozen other than to pay employees and debts, so once there is at least a chance customers will get some money back. Glad to see consumer protections working, while we still have them that is...