Posted by & filed under App Economy, IT and Politics.

If you think everyone who designs software is a genius, remember that software developers created Healthcare.gov, Windows 8 and iCloud. And they redesigned Snapchat. User interfaces are tricky, and they too often take intuition for granted. Bugs happen. And developers are human, eager to rush their products out the door — often before they’ve been adequately tested.That appears to be what happened at Iowa’s caucuses Monday night. Precinct chairs were supposed to enter primary election results into a new election app, but many had trouble getting the app to work. That held up the tabulation of results, and just about every voter, candidate and campaign staffer in Iowa went home disappointed, confused and anxious.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: February 6th, 2020

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/04/tech/iowa-app-voting-failure/index.html

Discussion

  1. The article mentions the issues with Healthcare.Gov and iCloud. Was this Iowa election app anywhere near as complex, do you think?
  2. The article says that precinct chairs “had trouble getting the app to work.” How can an app be roled out that people have trouble getting to work?
  3. This is the first year for the app. For many years there were other procedures in place that allowed election results to come in and be complete within hours. It is now days since the election, and the results are still not in. Even if the app failed completely, how can it be that doing what you did last year without an app doesn’t work this year?

Posted by & filed under Automation, Robotics.

Japan is rolling out robots in nursing homes, offices and schools as its population ages and workforce shrinks. What can it teach other countries facing the same problems?

Source: BBC Future

Date: February 6th, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200205-what-the-world-can-learn-from-japans-robots

Discussion

  1. ” One resident, a woman with dementia, holds a Telenoid as 27-year-old staff member Minami Okabe, down the hall, sings a Japanese folk song into a headset. The smiling resident holds Telenoid like a baby and says, “Let’s sing a song again”. The staff say that this particular patient is usually very quiet, but not with the robot. “It’s fun, seeing them react like that,” says Okabe, who’s worked at the nursing home for five years. “They react differently to the robots than they do to us.”
    In what other ways could a robot like this be put to good use?
  2. ” One area that needs workers is housekeeping services. With more pensioners and fewer workers, demand for in-house caregivers and cleaners is on the rise. That’s why Mira Robotics has also created a butler robot that can do simple tasks like wash dishes, fold clothes and vacuum, which are actually quite complex tasks for a robot. In other countries, like Hong Kong, the solution is to have more immigrants, but it’s not a perfect solution. Japan is quite domestic-oriented, and we don’t accept many immigrants, so robots are more suitable.”
    What do you think about this argument that robots are “more suitable” than immigrants?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, IT and Politics, Politics, Systems Development, Uncategorized.

Badges saying Vote 2020

Results from voting in Iowa, the first round in the contest to pick a Democratic candidate to face President Donald Trump, have been plunged into chaos by apparent technology issues.

The state’s Democratic party said the holdup was a “reporting issue”, adding that it expected to “have numbers to report later today [Tuesday]”.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: February 4th, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51367291

Discussion

  1. There are 1,681 reporting precincts in Iowa. Each has to report on the 12 candidates, and there is an “other” and “uncommitted” category too, for a total of 14 categories. Three results are reported. That means that there are 1,681 x 14 x 3 pieces of data, which is just over 70,000 pieces of data. Is the this a lot or a little for a smartphone app?
  2. What steps should have been taken to make sure the app did not have what has been called a “coding error”?

Posted by & filed under 5G, Huawei.

By cautiously allowing Huawei into only select parts of its 5G cellular networks, Britain is charting its own course in cybersecurity, while seeking to appease both China and the U.S.

But the unique nature of the British strategy means it is untested and could yet prove impossible to carry out.

And as Canada moves closer to its own decision on whether to allow the Chinese telecom manufacturer into this country’s 5G systems, Britain’s plan will serve as an example to either follow or avoid.

“They are putting together a policy for themselves which, on paper, is logical,” said Catherine Rosenberg, the Canada research chair in future internet at the University of Waterloo. “But is it going to work the way they want? It’s unclear.”

Source: CBC News

Date: January 30th, 2020

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/uk-huawei-5g-analysis-1.5443904

Discussion

  1. Why is important, or not, for Canada to consider what the UK is doing in relation to using Huawei for 5G technology?
  2. Does Canada have different security needs than the UK?

Posted by & filed under Space-based internet.

Kepler Engineers Assembling Hardware

Satellite communications startup Kepler will manufacture its small satellites going forward at a new 5,000-square-foot facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada . The company is working with partners, including the Canadian Space Agency and the University of Toronto, on the new facility, which will also incorporate design and development of its satellites in addition to manufacturing.

Source: Tech Crunch

Date: January 30th, 2020

Link: https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/28/kepler-will-build-its-small-satellites-at-a-new-manufacturing-facility-in-toronto/

Discussion

  1. ” This will help the startup achieve its goal of producing, launching and operating a constellation of 140 satellites in total, which will provide high-bandwidth connectivity aimed for use in a range of industries, including agriculture, transportation and maritime shipping and logistics.” Why is space-based internet so important, particular for Canada?
  2. Why is Kepler not focusing on the consumer market here, do you think?

Posted by & filed under 5G, Cyber Security, Huawei.

Man walks in front of a Huawei sign

Huawei is one of the world’s biggest mobile phone makers. It’s also at the centre of a row over cyber-security and the next-generation 5G phone networks being built.

The UK government has decided to allow the Chinese tech giant to be part of its 5G network – but with restrictions.

At the heart of the debate is a simple question: can the West trust Huawei or will using its equipment leave communication networks, and our own mobile phones, vulnerable?

The US says Huawei could be used by China for spying, via its 5G equipment. It points to Mr Ren’s military background and Huawei’s role in comms networks to argue it represents a security risk.

Source: BBC Analysis

Date: January 30th, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-47041341

Discussion

  1. How would it be possible, do you think, for Huawei to embed secret spying tools and technology in the 5G technology they sell?
  2. Why should we believe China, or not, when they say that they won’t use Huawei products to spy on other countries?

Posted by & filed under Civil Liberties, Electronic Surveillance, IT and Politics.

Facial recognition equipment and a screen designed to shame jaywalkers at a busy intersection in Xiangyang on 26 June 2017

Picture the scene: you’re trying to cross a busy road in the city of Xiangyang. You should wait for the lights to change, but you are in a hurry, so you make a dash for it, weaving through the traffic.

A few days later, you might see your photo, name and government ID number on a huge electronic billboard above the intersection, outing you as a jaywalker.

But it is not just about the public shaming: surveillance cameras will feed into the country’s planned “social credit” scheme. Exactly how the national system will work remains unclear, but various trials are using both public and private sector data to score people on whether they are a good citizen.

You might lose points for driving inconsiderately, paying your bills late, or spreading false information. Score high, and perks might include free use of public bikes; score low, and you might be banned from taking trains.

Source: BBC Future

Date: January 30th, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50673770

Discussion

  1. How worried should you be about surveillance?
  2. What can you do about government surveillance, if anything?

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Lightning and USB-C cables

Apple could be forced to abandon its Lightning connector cable if European lawmakers get their way.

The cable is used to charge and sync Apple devices, including the iPhone.

But members of the European Parliament urged the European Commission on Monday to force tech giants to adopt a single universal charging method.

Apple products do not accept the other two non-wireless types of charger which are available – USB-C and micro-USB, which work on Android devices.

Regulators will vote on the matter on a yet to be determined date, but Apple says the proposed regulation would stifle innovation and be disruptive to consumers.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: January 22nd, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51137069

Discussion

  1. Many have said that Apple created the Lightening Cable not as an “innovation”, but so that it could charge a licensing fee to anyone who wants to make one. Lightening cables are almost five times more expensive than other cables. What do you think?
  2. How would a single standard charging cable help consumers (as opposed to being disruptive to consumers)?

Posted by & filed under Microsoft.

Satya Nadella

Microsoft has pledged to remove “all of the carbon” from the environment that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975.

Chief executive Satya Nadella said he wanted to achieve the goal by 2050 .

To do so, the company aims to become “carbon negative” by 2030, removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.

That goes beyond a pledge by its cloud-computing rival Amazon, which intends to go “carbon neutral” by 2040.

“When it comes to carbon, neutrality is not enough,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: January 22nd, 2020

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51133811

Discussion

  1. Is there a business reason for Microsoft to go “carbon negative”?
  2. How bad is Microsoft with its carbon footprint compared to Apple or Google, do you think?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, App Economy.

YOU might expect to hear an angry buzzing when honeybees have been disturbed. But some apiarists reckon they can also deduce the condition of their bees from the sounds they make. A steady hum could be the sign of a contented hive; a change in tone might indicate that the bees are about to swarm. That intuition is about to be put to the test. Soon, beekeepers will be able to try to find out what is troubling a colony by listening to the buzz using a smartphone app.   

The app, which is in the final stages of testing, has been developed by Jerry Bromenshenk and a group of fellow bee experts at the University of Montana. It uses a form of artificial intelligence to analyse the sound that bees are making in order to deduce whether they are suffering from a number of maladies.

Source: Bee Culture Magazine

Date: May 3rd, 2019

Link:
https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-a-new-app-listens-to-the-problems-of-bees-matching-honey-bee-noises-to-their-ailments/

Discusssion

(Note: David Firth, the author of this blog, is the business manager and co-developer of the Bee Health Guru app

  1. What are some of the issues of pushing a smartphone technology app on to beekeepers?
  2. What are some other possible applications of this app?