Monday, February 29, 2016

New Data Rules between the U.S. and E.U.

Details are forthcoming about a new trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement so that companies such as Google and Facebook can keep digital information flowing between the two regions while paying greater heed to privacy concerns. Under the so-called E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield, companies will face stricter rules over how they move people’s digital data from the European Union to the United States. American officials have also agreed to new limits on the powers of the country’s intelligence agencies to gain access to Europeans’ online information when it is transferred to the United States. As usual, the conflict between the EU and US is over balancing individuals’ privacy concerns with national security, supposedly. Most controversial were requirements from the European Commission to limit how U.S. intelligence agencies collect data on Europeans when companies send their personal information to the United States.

Read more at the Harvard Business Review...

Leap Day 100 Years Ago - the Cloverleaf

The cloverleaf interchange (junction) was patented in the US by Arthur Hale, a civil engineer from Maryland. It is a two-level interchange in which left turns (in countries that drive on the right) are handled by loop roads (US: ramps, UK: slip roads). To go left (in right-hand traffic), vehicles first pass either over or under the other road, then turn right onto a one-way three-fourths loop ramp (270°) and merge onto the intersecting road.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

Netflix Goes Full-on Cloud Only

Netflix closed its last remaining dedicated data center. All of Netflix' business infrastructure -- and there is a lot of it -- runs in AWS. This includes the streaming video we all enjoy, to managing its employee and customer data. Leveraging scalability of Amazon Web Services seems to be the main motivation: these days, Netflix has "...eight times more customers using its video streaming service than it did in 2008, when it started using AWS. The streaming application is also constantly changing as more and more features get added and relies on more and more data." While Amazon and Netflix are competitors, this also makes them business partners.

And Netflix is not just innovative, they share. At Network World, we read that "...During the past two years Netflix has pulled back the curtains to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how it runs one of the most popular video streaming websites on the Internet, almost entirely in the public cloud. The company has open sourced dozens of tools it’s developed internally. In doing so, some argue that Netflix is turning into one of the most important cloud computing companies in the industry, not only by proving that a company making $3.7 billion annually can run some of its most critical workloads in the public cloud, but also by sharing with developers how it’s being done and providing others with a path to follow."

Remember that is built around the model of high-volume, low-margin e-commerce, while its Amazon Instant Video and other streaming services are basically add-ons. For Netflix, video streaming is the company.

So if Netflix can be 100% cloud-based, who else will follow?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Smart Home Devices... Government Spying Conduit into Your House

Many surveillance experts believe we are entering the “golden age of surveillance”, and privacy advocates have known about the potential to exploit the internet of things for years. Law enforcement agencies are increasingly serving court orders on companies for data they keep on citizens. In testimony by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, we learn...

that the internet of things – the many devices like thermostats, cameras and other appliances that are increasingly connected to the internet – are providing ample opportunity for intelligence agencies to spy on targets, and possibly the masses. And it’s a danger that many consumers who buy these products may be wholly unaware of.

Read more at the Guardian...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Government says A.I.s are to be treated the same as Humans

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it possible for Google to create a self-driving car that doesn't also have a human driver inside the vehicle that can take over if necessary. In this setup, the autonomous driving software itself would be the vehicle's legal "driver"; none of the human passengers would require a driving license.

"In this setup, the autonomous driving software itself would be the vehicle's legal 'driver'; none of the human passengers would require a driving licence." \\

Read more over here...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Porsche Completes Photovoltaic Monolith

At StackOverflow, we read about Porsche's commitment to electrifying vehicles. While the car maker is not so keen on autonomous drive, they are interested in the performance and reliability of electric motors.

The company is making significant investment in photovoltaics demonstrates Porsche’s drive for additional electric car research, as well as conservation of resources. Porsche announced that its first all-electric car would be available by the end of this decade.

According to this article, Porsche does not plan to develop self-driving vehicles.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Coffee + Science = Yum

As one of the most popular beverages on this planet, coffee has a mostly unique place (and tea). And we know there's benefits -- such as this study from Korean researchers, who found that study participants who consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were less likely to show the beginning signs of heart disease.

PS writes,

Coffee doesn't just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well.
The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
Caffeine's primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function

Bottom Line: Caffeine potently blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to a net stimulant effect. Controlled trials show that caffeine improves both mood and brain function.

At Ars Technica, they write, "There are more than 1,000 chemicals in a typical cup of coffee. While scientists haven’t yet teased out each one individually for closer examination, they have nailed down the big players in terms of taste and potential health benefits..."

Read more here...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Raptors to take down Drones

In the Netherlands, the police are training eagles to attack unauthorized drones!

See the video here and read about it here...