Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Global Tech in an Upward Trajectory

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an adventurous branch of tech that has flung us into a new era, infinities beyond just the internet. According to a recent McKinsey report, the next decade will see IoT shoot up in worth to as much as US$11 trillion. It is also predicted to drastically transform industries like agriculture, health, and transport. IoT is opening up a whole new world – and it has already started evolving.

From Smart Homes to Outsmarting Sharks

It is no longer just about smart fridges reminding us to buy eggs and smart sneakers telling us how many calories we’ve burnt – there are Tesla cars that use big data to predict demand and update their operating systems remotely, there are clever buoys that alert lifeguards to sharks, there are even sensor networks called Pips, that help dementia sufferers maintain independence. 

The Next Step in the Evolution - Smart Factories

Believe it or not, ‘things’ are getting even more interesting, let’s take a look at the average modern-day factory… Just like our homes, manufacturing facilities these days are technology hubs. There are electronic controls, sensors, and automated equipment, all interconnected to form a highly efficient production force. These links and intersections between people and machines, tools, and systems are opening up a new field of development which Jason Prater of Plex Systems has cleverly described as The Internet of Making Things. 

A New Ecosystem for Added Value

As manufacturing plants produce more and more products, productivity in factories continues to rise. The tools and machines that are connected to this production are vital to its efficiency. For example, an Internet Protocol (IP) torque wrench that forms part of an assembly line. It captures the torque that is applied, the last time it was calibrated and which employee used it. This information is sent via the cloud so that every part affected can be quickly identified. Automation like this decreases downtime and makes it possible for a larger variety of products to be produced faster. 

Flexibility and programmability have been around for several years, but the Internet of Making Things, which involves sensors, connected devices, and cloud computing is relatively new – and it is very exciting. It's answering the need for customization, incorporating wearable tech in manufacturing systems, and bringing people and processes together to create a new ecosystem that can take production and productivity to the next level and increase added value. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Drone Tech can Help Save the Planet

Drone-Tech Benefiting the World

Technology and environmentalism are not usually terms used in the same context. But even though tech brings to mind mass production and mass waste, increased power consumption and increased pollution, it is not all bad for the earth. Technology could actually be the key to saving the world - if it is used in the right way. A great example of this is drone technology.

Aren’t Drones Toys?

Some would see drones as toys for children (and big children…) but these gadgets are not only there for entertainment. Professional drones are used for an increasing variety of environmentalist tasks and recent developments in drone technology are helping scientists tackle major challenges. Aerial imaging can give environmentalists detailed geographic data making previously out of bounds areas accessible – no matter how harsh the terrain is. Data gathered by the drones are used in areas like the Himalayas where the melting rate of glaciers is being monitored, and the migration of animals is tracked. This important information is giving environmental scientists incredible insights into the complexities of our ecosystem and is equipping them to do their work which ultimately benefits the entire planet.

How Drones are Helping Conservationists

Besides tracking environmental changes passively, drones are also valuable tools in aiding conservationists. Damien Mander, the founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, is advocating using drones to combat elephant poaching in Africa, and several national parks in African countries like Kenya have already consented to using this technology. Drones can also help when environmental disasters strike and teams need to get to affected communities without maps. Instead of risking human lives in assessing damage in forest fires, drones can be used to assess the situation safely from the air. With this accurate information, cautionary measures can be implemented and risk areas can be evacuated.

This is Only the Beginning

Environmental and conservation efforts around the globe are already benefiting from the technological advancement of drones, and this is only the start of it. It will be exciting to see how different groups will be using drones to help save the planet in the future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Never Mind Immigrants – Robots are Taking Over

Tech Advances in the UK Threatening Workers

Despite overwhelming evidence that immigrants are not taking jobs away from born and bred Brits, it has been a contentious topic for several years, even after Brexit. The truth is that it has nothing to do with foreigners. In fact it’s more likely that robots will threaten British jobs.

The Rise of the Machines

A couple of years ago Oxford University, Deloitte and the Oxford Martin School published a report that hints at as much as 35% of existing jobs in the UK are at risk of being eradicated by robotics, automation and technology within 20 years. What’s more is that lower paid jobs are five times more at risk than jobs in the higher salary bracket. Is the middle class about to be effectively hollowed out by tech? Angus Knowles-Cutler, senior partner at Deloitte states that imminent changes should be completely understood by companies and policy makers and preventative steps should be taken, or there will be a serious risk of mass unemployment. More recently the numbers have started looking even more dismal. The right-of-centre thinktank Reform purports that as many as 250,000 public sector workers are at risk of losing their jobs to robots in less than 15 years. According to this report machines will be more efficient and save billions of pounds. 

Not all Doom and Gloom

Progress is inevitable and not always a bad thing. Two hundred years ago a large chuck of the population lived on farms. Today all but about 1% of their jobs have been eliminated and replaced with automation - even farm animals have been replaced by machines. Yes, doctors and nurses could lose their jobs to machines that can outperform them with diagnoses and surgical procedures, but this kind of increased performance could save lives. The Oxford report also revealed that over 70% of businesses in London have concrete plans to increase staff numbers with the aim of bringing in new skills to accommodate planned advances in technology, and this was already in place two years ago. Is Knowles-Cutler correct in saying that this is simply a matter of educating the masses to prevent disaster? Is it a problem that politicians should solve, or does the tech industry have a social responsibility to tackle issues associated with the rise of the machines? These are only some of the many questions that are begging to be asked as it is fast becoming a reality.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Drones in the service of film making

Despite the fact that drones are utilized in several industries, their contribution is about is yet to achieve its optimum possibility. Maybe this is not the case in film and film production, a business at which drones became essential in the last years.
In the time of billion dollar hits and computer generated imagery, getting superb shots during filmmaking is essential. It is fair to say that they've changed the way directors shoot movies.

With the aid of drones, a camera men today can shoot impossible shots. They're simple enough for cinematographers who're comfortable with remote controls and joysticks to get exceptional shots. Drones made techniques like airborne and crane shots easly doable if you are an excellent drone pilot. Particularly that the cameras linked to drones are equipped with 3 axes equilibrium, which virtually guarantees an ideal shot, even when you aren't actually that good of the pilot. Lately in a section in Good Morning America, a business called DJI that makes drones for filmmaking.

Prior to the debut of drones, such footage was extremely difficult to take. It'd been too dangerous for humans and too far to the satellites, which neither had the lens or the angle to seize such identifying footage. The footage appeared as if an item from the natural science documentary. It had been equal quality as ground footage shot with camera men. DJI, owned by sir Frank Wang, announced on the seventeenth of Apr the release of the most strong drone ever for use in filmmaking, the Matrice 600. A brief video was launched on-line demonstrating how strong this new drone is.

The video highlighted a cinematography representative filming a martial arts scene utilizing the drone in Beijing. The new Matrice 600 is suitable with a broad range of attachable cameras. It allows professional cameramen to utilize little DSLR cameras like Canon, Panasonic, Black Magic, Sony, Nikon, and big RED cameras as if they are being handheld. The footage shown was magnificent, to say the least.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The 4 Biggest Digital Security Breaches of 2016

The global digital security realm was put in a precarious position over the past year with several serious breaches happening in countries across the world. Yahoo achieved hacking history not just once but twice. Millions of compromised DVRs and webcams crashed the Internet for users in the US, and Russian voting results were placed under scrutiny after the balloting system was allegedly hacked. And that's only a fraction of the cyber calamities that took place this past year. Let's take a look at the 'stars', maybe we can learn something and make 2017 safer.

1. Ransomware Holding Files Hostage

A fangled and very nasty new type of malware reared its head in 2016: Ransomware. Ransomware kidnaps files through encryption, holds them hostage and then demands payment before releasing them. Many variants of Ransomware made the news in 2016, the scariest one an amateurish version called Ranscam that deletes files whether you pay or not. Ransomware became so popular as a method of exploitation that it affected as much as half of all businesses in the US.

2. Yahoo was Hacked

In case you were wondering what happened with Yahoo, in September the company revealed that its users were severely compromised when over 500 million accounts were hacked. To make matters worse, it was later disclosed that the hack actually happened in 2014 - which means that hackers had access to sensitive user information for years. As if this is not enough, in December it was revealed that more than a billion users were already hacked in August 2013.

3. Apple Stopped Patching QuickTime

QuickTime was once one of the most pervasive pieces of software on PCs as it was crucial for watching videos in early days. Today of course, the situation has changed, and there are several video options to choose from, which is a good thing. Why? Because after two serious vulnerabilities were uncovered in the QuickTime software early in 2016, Apple decided that fixing these issues was too much of a mission and rather decided to condemn QuickTime for Windows. In other words, if you're using QuickTime for Windows on your PC, it might be a good idea to look for additional video viewing options.


There was also the SWIFT hack in which a Bangladeshi bank was attacked by hackers targeting their software. SWIFT very swiftly reached out to security professionals from outside to contain the widening hacking epidemic.

Believe it or not, these four major breaches were not the only serious security breaches in 2016. Even the NSA was hacked this past year. Internet security safety is rapidly becoming a very serious global issue with a veritable army of 'smart' devices linked together in the ‘cloud’, we are becoming more and more vulnerable. Let's hope that active cyber defense evolves as quickly.

Friday, January 6, 2017

How Secure are Messaging Apps?

The EFF Explores Messaging App Security

Most of us can hardly remember the time when a telegram was the quickest way to send a short message. Many don’t even know what a telegram is (or was). We now not only have mobile devices to send instant messages anywhere in the world, we also have a massive range of messaging apps to choose from. Understandably, popular apps like BBM, Hangouts, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have millions of users around the globe with no idea whether these are secure methods of communicating or not. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) decided to find out just how secure these apps actually are and launched a campaign to achieve this.

A Secure Messaging Scorecard

The EFF developed a scorecard with which messaging apps can be rated. It uses criteria like whether messages are encrypted in transit and whether the encryption is to such an extent that the provider can’t access the content. It also looks at whether the code is available for independent review, if it has been audited, and if the security design is well documented. The scorecard is the first phase of what is known as the ‘EFF Campaign for Secure & Usable Crypto’ and the findings were quite interesting. 

Security vs. Popularity

The apps that scored the highest in terms of security included: Signal, ChatSecure, CryptoCat, and TextSecure. Have you even ever heard of any of these?st at all. On the other hand, the better-known apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook chat, Google Hangouts, and BBM did not score well at all. The only mainstream app that did relatively well is Apple’s iMessage. Will this research serve as encouragement to trendy app vendors to beef up their security? Otherwise people who are conscious of security will only have the option to message likeminded people on the more secure apps, or start sending telegrams again.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Five Funky Little Android Widgets

 The World of Wonderful Widgets

Who would have thought that something with a silly name like ‘widget’ would one day play such a big role in our daily lives? We’ve all heard Apple’s slogan, ‘there is an app for that’ and there is an app for just about everything under the sun, but what about widgets…

There’s a Widget for That

In an age where time is a precious commodity, minutes – and even seconds are becoming more and more valuable. And this is why widgets are so important. The basic difference between apps and widgets is that you have to open an app to access its functionality, whereas a widget functions in the foreground and thus saves you precious seconds. 
Here is a list of some of the best widgets around:

1. The Dashclock Widget

Everybody needs a clock, but this is no average clock. Dashclock is customisable with various extensions including world time, battery stats, weather updates, and even a word of the day. You can also customise the way it looks. 

2. Google Keep

The Google Keep app is great for things like making notes, drawing up to-do lists and saving images, but the widget is essential for seeing everything you kept with the app in one place. It can easily be set up on your home screen and syncs smoothly and quickly over multiple phones and tablets.

3. Plume for Twitter

If you are a Twitter fan Plume lets you set up more than one Twitter account if you need to. If you set it up full-length on the home screen it makes replying and re-tweeting super-quick - and it updates Tweets in real time.

4. Power Toggles

Power Toggles does exactly what it says on the tin, it toggles powerfully between functions like GPS, Mobile Data, WiFi and more, saving users a good few swipes and taps.

5. Zooper

If you are into epic looking home screens and creating your own custom widgets, the Zooper Widget is for you. It is all about preferences and the possibilities are endless. 

There are tons of widgets available for Android phones and tablets – if you can think it up, it's probably out there.