Posted by & filed under Big Data, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics.

racking pathogens that could spark future pandemics is no easy feat, but thanks to the help of a supercomputer, a Canadian researcher is among a team of scientists who’ve uncovered thousands of viruses that might one day pose a threat to humans.

Dubbed the Serratus Project, the international collaboration recently shared its findings in the journal Nature — which included the discovery of nearly 10 times more RNA-based viruses than were previously known, totalling more than 130,000 new species, all lurking in more than a decade’s worth of publicly available genetic data.

Those types of pathogens are known for causing a wide variety of human diseases, ranging from COVID-19 to Ebola to the common cold. And this knowledge could “improve pathogen surveillance for the anticipation and mitigation of future pandemics,” the team wrote in their paper, which was published at the end of January.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Date: February 18th, 2022

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/supercomputer-virus-study-disease-1.6345158

Discussion

  1. The article says that the study “relied on cloud-based supercomputing power provided by Amazon Web Services in collaboration with UBC through the school’s Cloud Innovation Centre.” What is ” cloud-based supercomputing power “?
  2. “We reanalyzed all public sequencing data — so this is genetic data from pretty much every corner of the planet you can think of,” Babaian told CBC News. “It has soil samples from Vancouver… all the way down to anal swabs from penguins in Antarctica.”
    This is pretty amazing. What sort of work would be needed to gather together ” genetic data from pretty much every corner of the planet “?

Posted by & filed under Apple.

Amber Norsworthy lives in Mississippi with her four children.

It had just turned 3pm when she got home on 27 December. She received a notification on her phone.

“My phone made a ding that I’d never heard before”, she says.

The notification told her that an unknown device had been following her movements.

Ms Norsworthy, who’s 32, went on to the ‘Find My’ app on her iPhone.

“It showed me my whole route. It said ‘the last time the owner saw your location was 15:02’ and I was like, ‘that’s now, I’m at home’.”

She rang the police, who told her they didn’t know what to do. She has yet to find the device, which she believes is somewhere in her car. She says Apple Support was able to confirm it was an AirTag. “I watch my surroundings very closely now,” she says.

Source: BBC

Date: February 18th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-60004257

Discussion

  1. Why is Apple making a device that is perfect for stalking?
  2. What could Apple do better to make this device safer?

Posted by & filed under Consumer Technology.

Argus II device screen grab

Hundreds of people who had retinal implants to improve their sight face an uncertain future as the technology they rely on is now obsolete.

Second Sight stopped making its Argus II bionic eyes several years ago to focus on a brain implant instead.

According to IEEE Spectrum, which broke the story, it is now hoping to merge with a biopharmaceutical firm which does not make eye implants.

Second Sight was contacted by the BBC but has not yet responded.

Enhancing lives

Adam Mendelsohn, chief executive of Nano Precision Medical, with which Second Sight is planning to merge, told the BBC it would consider the issues raised by IEEE once the merger, scheduled for mid-2022 – was completed.

“I do intend to make this one of our priorities if and when I assume my leadership position in the combined company,” Mr Mendelsohn said.

According to Second Sight’s website, its Argus II offers life-changing benefits for those with sight impairment, including “enjoying mobility and independence”.

Source: BBC News

Date: February 18th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-60416058

Discussion

  1. This is an extreme example, where people’s sight is being impacted by obsolete technology. Is there any way to prevent this?
  2. What sorts of obsolete technology exist in businesses, and how does it impact them?

Posted by & filed under Space-based internet.

SpaceX’s newest fleet of satellites is tumbling out of orbit after being struck by a solar storm.

Up to 40 of the 49 small satellites launched last week have either reentered the atmosphere and burned up, or are on the verge of doing so, the company said in an online update Tuesday night.

SpaceX said a geomagnetic storm last Friday made the atmosphere denser, which increased the drag on the Starlink satellites, effectively dooming them.

Ground controllers tried to save the compact, flat-panel satellites by putting them into a type of hibernation and flying them in a way to minimize drag. But the atmospheric pull was too great, and the satellites failed to awaken and climb to a higher, more stable orbit, according to the company.

SpaceX still has close to 2,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth and providing internet service to remote corners of the world. They circle the globe more than 550 kilometres  in altitude.

Source: Toronto Daily Star

Date: February 10th, 2022

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/spacex-satellites-solar-storm-1.6344938

Discussion

  1. A solar storm wipes out 80% of the new satellites put up to provide low-latency (quick upload and download) internet broadband. Is internet broadband still a good idea?
  2. Why is SpaceX so keen on building out a low-earth-orbit (LEO) low-latency ( quick upload and download) internet broadband system?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency, Cyber Security.

rhonda and megan kampert

Rhonda Kampert was an early adopter.

She bought six Bitcoins in 2013, when they cost about $80 (£60) each, and were the chatter of niche corners of the internet.

“I used to listen to a radio talk show and they started talking about crypto and Bitcoin so I got interested,” she says.

“Back then buying it was so complicated but I fumbled my way through the process and bought my coins.”

Rhonda, who lives in the US state of Illinois, spent some of her digital money over the next year or so, then forgot about it.

But when she saw headlines late in 2017 announcing that the value of Bitcoin had risen to nearly $20,000 she excitedly went to her computer to log in and cash out.

Source: BBC

Date: February 10th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-60318946

Discussion

  1. This story really is about nothing more than a lost password. It just happens that the lost password was to something worth a lot.
    What are some ways to safely store passwords?
  2. Why are password managers (like 1Password: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5x0GVimhBU) a very good idea?

Posted by & filed under Drones.

Jetson One

Peter Ternstrom was about nine years old when he first saw the movie, Return of the Jedi, at the cinema. The scene in which Luke and Leia take to hover-bikes on a high-speed chase through a forest left a particular impression on him.

“Absolutely, that has been an important inspiration for me,” says Mr Ternstrom, who co-founded Swedish firm Jetson with Tomasz Patan.

Recently, his company released a video of its prototype personal flying machine, the Jetson ONE, in action. The clip quickly clocked more than 12m views on YouTube in about four weeks.

The filming location, a desert-like area, was deliberately chosen for its sci-fi feel. It is actually a military training ground in Poland.

A helmeted pilot sits in the centre of what looks like a large drone, with its multiple spinning rotors. The craft zooms across the landscape, blowing up dust.

This is an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, or eVTOL. Personal eVTOLs are among the smallest rideable aircraft around and generally have capacity to transport just one passenger – the pilot.

Source: BBC Technology

Date: February 7th, 2022

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-59372326

Discussion

  1. What sort of business could you build around this technology? (think beyond just using the drone….drone mechanics, logistics of using drones…)
  2. What are the MIS issues surrounding this technology?

Posted by & filed under Deepfake video.

Movie director James Cameron says he hopes critical thinking will help people identify deepfake videos.

So-called deepfakes use machine learning to modify video footage, usually replacing one person’s face with another, with realistic results.

Source: BBC News

Date: January 31st, 2022

Link to 4 minute 43 second video (usually a 30 second advert before the video starts): https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-60083090

Discussion

  1. Why does it matter that one person’s face in a video is replaced with someone else’s?
  2. What sort of legitimate business could you build around deepfakes?

Posted by & filed under Google, Privacy.

Crowd of people

The legal action refers to a widely reported 2018 revelation turning off one location-tracking setting in its apps was insufficient to fully disable the feature.

It accuses Google of using so-called dark patterns, marketing techniques that deliberately confuse.

Google said the claims were inaccurate and outdated.

The legal action was filed in the District of Columbia. Similar ones were also filed in Texas, Indiana and Washington state.

It refers to an Associated Press revelation turning off Location History when using Google Maps or Search was insufficient – as a separate setting, Web and App Activity, continued to log location and other personal data.

Discussion

  1. Does you consider it a ” dark patterns, marketing techniques that deliberately confuse ” if an app provides a way to turn off location-tracking, but the phone is still doing it anyway and you’re not told about that particular setting?
  2. Why does Google do this?

Posted by & filed under Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

A few days after Christmas, Aaron Worley and his wife began feeling ill. Fearing they may have contracted Covid-19 over the holidays, Worley, a 32-year-old quality assurance tester from Las Vegas, joined millions of other Americans in a desperate search — “rush mode,” he called it — for rapid test kits that were evaporating from store shelves. Every place he tried was sold out. Then Worley looked at his Twitter (TWTR) feed. An account he followed known as Wario64, which normally focuses on restocks and deals on video game consoles, had just blasted out a link to Walmart’s website, where an undetermined number of Covid tests were now back in stock for around $20 apiece. Clicking the link, Worley rushed to place an order in hopes of beating out the masses — and was rewarded moments later by a Walmart confirmation email. Winning the supply-chain lottery felt surreal, Worley said, even if Walmart (WMT) later had to cancel his shipment due to other inventory issues. “I’ve never been a gambler, but I can absolutely say there’s a thrill to getting something that you know seconds later will be gone,” he said. “It’s almost indescribable. It’s the opposite of FOMO [the fear of missing out]. There’s a huge dose of serotonin the second you get that ‘order completed’ screen.”

Source: CNN Tech news

Date: January 31s, 2022

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/30/tech/stock-hunting/index.html

Discussion

  1. ” At first, many began with simple programs that mimicked, in an automated way, what a live human would do: Load up a retailer’s website in a browser, then look for an add-to-cart button. Most of the time, the button would be grayed out and inactive. But if the button changed color to reflect a restock, the program would blast a notification to its Twitter followers or on messaging apps like Discord.” This is basic Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Makes sure students understand that just using basic automation tools like Microsoft BI can get jobs like this done.
  2. ” StockDrops, a stock-hunting community of 125,000 that organizes primarily on Discord, can peer directly into Best Buy’s product database using the retailer’s publicly available API, or application programming interface. As soon as the StockDrops program detects a change in Best Buy’s inventory, it sends an alert to subscribers — no browser scripts necessary. “
    Explain to students what an API is: just an interface that tells you how to interact with that particular program. They are very common, and there are many APIs for most programs that are out there.
    How could you set up a business around using APIs to get information?

Posted by & filed under Smartphone.

BlackBerry Ltd. says it has agreed to sell its non-core patents to Catapult IP Innovations Inc. for $600 million (U.S.)

BlackBerry Ltd. says it has agreed to sell its non-core patents to Catapult IP Innovations Inc. for $600 million (U.S.)

The company says Delaware-registered Catapult was formed specifically to acquire the patents, with funding from a group of lenders led by Toronto-based Third Eye Capital that also includes an unnamed Canadian pension fund.

Waterloo, Ont.-based company says the patents being sold are not essential to its current core business but that it will receive a license back to them.

It says the patents relate primarily to mobile devices, messaging and wireless networking and that the deal won’t affect the use of BlackBerry’s products, solutions, or services.

Source: Toronto Daily Star

Date: January 25th, 2022

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/01/31/blackberry-sells-legacy-patents-to-catapult-ip-innovations-for-600m-us.html

Discussion

  1. Blackberry was once the dominant smartphone platform. What happened? (In 2008 Apple launched the touchscreen iPhone which replaced Blackberry’s button-keypad device)
  2. Would it actually make better sense to still have real button keyboards for most business-related uses of a smartphone?