Monday, December 30, 2019

Intellectual Capitalism is moving... and expanding

Intellectual Capitalism is a repository for all things that embody the interests and spirit of Bluedog. We believe an intellectual capitalist pursues freedom of choice -- and what counts is freedom in the marketplace, in the home, in one's thoughts.

In 2020, Intellectual Capitalism will evolve as the repository of information for those who intersect with the interests of Bluedog -- consultants and entrepreneurs, those who serve in the government marketing arena, and anyone with an interest in managing and orchestrating your organization's communications.

This means Intellect Capitalism will continue to be a place for anyone who have an interest in the craft of corporate communications, the application of technology, and the fun of business.

Friday, December 6, 2019

What Are the Biggest Cyber Risks in the Upcoming Year?

What are the expected trends in cyber security in the upcoming year? According to a report from Trend Micro--

  • Third-party libraries, container components and even remote workers represent a major supply chain risk to organizations as they head into a new decade.
  • Continued user misconfigurations will exacerbate cloud security challenges, while developers’ reliance on third-party code could expose countless organizations, it continued.
  • Shared container components containing vulnerabilities as exposing organizations to attacks across the IT stack.
  • Supply chain risk will extend to managed service providers (MSPs), especially those with multiple SMB customers.
  • Home and remote working environments are potential hotspots for supply chain attacks -- everything from weak Wi-Fi security in public workspaces to smart home challenges posed by unsecured smart TVs, speakers and digital assistants.

The security firm's 2020 predictions report, The New Norm, emphasizes the cloud as a likely attack objective, as near-do-wells  focus efforts on code injection attacks to obtain sensitive information — either directly or via third-party incursions.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Small Business GDPR Requirements Differ from Large Business

Are small businesses required to keep the same records of compliance as large businesses?
Although Article 30 of the GDPR states that companies must “maintain a record” of their processing activities, the provision contains an exemption for small businesses. Specifically, it states that if a company employs “fewer than 250 persons,” it is generally not required to maintain a record of its processing activities. The exception does not apply, however, if one of three conditions is present:
  • The small business carries out processing that “is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects,”
  • The small business carries out processing that “is not occasional,” or
  • The small business carries out processing that “includes special categories of data” or that involves “data relating to criminal convictions and offense.”
The small-business exception been interpreted very narrowly by the Article 29 Working Party. A small business of course maintains personal data concerning its employees. As that data is maintained throughout the employment relationship (and typically beyond) it is subject to systematic and periodic processing (e.g., to run payroll, collect and pay taxes on behalf of employees, evaluate performance, etc.). The Article 29 Working Party assumes that such processing cannot be characterized as “not occasional.” In order for processing to be considered “occasional,” it cannot be “carried out regularly” and it cannot be carried out within “the regular course of business or activity” of the company.  In such jurisdictions that so permit, employers often collect “data relating to criminal convictions” prior to offering an individual employment and periodically throughout the employment relationship. It is also common for an employer to hold some information about employees’ health. As a result, even if a company has fewer than 250 employees, it may still be subject to the same record keeping requirements as larger companies with respect to its human resource related data. 

Read more here...

Friday, November 22, 2019

US Patent and Trademark Office Wants to Know if A.I. Can Own Its Own Creations

Can an artificial intelligence (A.I.) own what it creates? The USPTO wants the public's opinion:

The US office responsible for patents and trademarks is trying to figure out how AI might call for changes to copyright law, and it’s asking the public for opinions on the topic. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register last month saying it’s seeking comments...
The office is gathering information about the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property rights. It outlines thirteen specific questions, ranging from what happens if an AI creates a copyright-infringing work to if it’s legal to feed an AI copyrighted material.

Read more here...

Monday, November 18, 2019

Achieving Simplicity in a Complex System

Mumbai is one of the largest cities in the world and an average working professional leaves home pretty early in the day to take the local train to commute to the work. Each day approximately 4,000 dabbawallahs deliver almost 250,000 home-cooked meals (for late breakfast and lunch) from the kitchens of suburban wives and mothers direct to workers in “the world’s most ingenious meal distribution system.”

The foot soldiers are Dabbawallahs, who pick up the home-cooked lunches in the suburbs, hop on trains, and deliver them, on foot or bike, to office workers in Mumbai. Later on, they pick up and bring back the same empty tiffins (the name for the metal containers used).

The tiffins consist of several stacked aluminum boxes with a carry-handle. Each container carries individual portions that separate curry dishes, bread, rice, desserts, and more. This means multiple courses. Tiffins come in several different compartments so as to separate starter, mains, and dessert. The tiffin serves to keep food in its original shape - no bruised fruit or mashed roti. The tiffin’s handle is at the top, keeping everything upright when being carried. Home-cooked meals are economical and can be more healthy.

While the system seems very complicated, it is the coming together of many elements, including the railway system in Mumbai. The dabbawallah rely on the train to deliver the lunch boxes around the city. Stefan Thomke, the Harvard Business School professor studied the system: “[the railway] sort of helps them in unexpected ways. It synchronizes the system because in Mumbai the railway is one of the few things that always runs on time. It forces the entire organization to run according to a rhythm.”

Another example of how simplicity aids the dabbawallah system is  the labeling of the tiffins. There’s very little information coded on the boxes. “For example, there’s no return address,” says Thomke, “but these boxes have to go back to the person who gave them to you.”  The simple color coding system acts as an identification system for the destination and recipient and origin of the tiffin.

The Dabbawala Association has been in business for over last 125 years. In 1998, Forbes Magazine recognized its reliability to match the Six Sigma standard. This means that the dabbawalas make less than 1 mistake in every 6 million deliveries. Be it a Steve Jobs or Picasso, all the great artists always had a penchant for simplicity. Value and efficiency is maintained by  keeping to basics. The process is very lean and uncomplicated. And the customer is the most important cog in this machine.

Read more here

Sunday, November 3, 2019

WFH isn’t the only way to achieve improved productivity

Asynchronous Communication is the real reason remote workers are more productive. Studies show remote workers are more productive than their office-bound counterparts. As mentioned in the linked article, "...people gain back time (and sanity) by avoiding rush hour commutes. They avoid the distractions of the office. They regain a sense of control over their workdays. They have more time to dedicate to family, friends, and hobbies."

This is where asynchronous communication stands out -- when you send a message without expecting an immediate response. For example, you send an email. I open and respond to the email several hours later.
Synchronous communication is when message is sent and the recipient processes the information and responds immediately. In-person communication, like meetings, are examples of purely synchronous communication. You say something, I receive the information as you say it, and respond to the information right away.
Digital forms of communication, like real-time chat messaging, can be synchronous as well. For example Slack or other chat tools: someone sends a message, I get a notification and open up Slack to read the message and respond in near real-time. Even email is treated largely as a synchronous form of communication. A 2015 study conducted by Yahoo Labs found that the most common email response time was just 2 minutes.

Read more here...

Friday, November 1, 2019

Giant-Sized Drone for Cargo

From Engaget:

While Volocopter's been busy working on its air taxis, it's also preparing to enter the utility drone market using a similar design. Much like the company's experimental 2X and upcoming VoloCity, the aptly-named VoloDrone announced today is yet another 18-rotor electric aircraft, which can be remote-controlled or set to a pre-planned route in autonomous mode. But instead of carrying passengers, the VoloDrone is designed to fit various types of cargo and equipment under its belly -- be it a box, an agricultural sprayer, a sling or disaster relief tools.
Watch the video for more... 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Digital Crypto Currency from... the US Central Bank?!

Over at SlashDot, we read:

America's lawmakers and Federal Reserve officials "are so concerned about Facebook's plans to launch a new digital currency," reports Politico's financial services reporter, "that they're contemplating a novel response -- having the central bank create a competitor."
Momentum is building for an idea that was once considered outlandish -- a U.S. government-run virtual currency that would replace physical cash, a dramatic move that could discourage major companies like Facebook from creating their own digital coins. Facebook's proposed currency, Libra, has forced the Fed to consider the issue because of a fear that private companies could establish their own currencies and take control over the global payments system. Some Fed officials share the concern about a new balkanized currency system outside government control that Facebook has threatened to unleash. "Libra bust this way out into the open," said Karen Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics who advises executives on coming policy shifts. 

But it's not just Facebook. The matter is also taking on urgency as other countries consider creating their own digital currencies -- another potential challenge to the primacy of the U.S. dollar. The head of the Bank of England has floated the idea that central banks could create a network of digital currencies to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency... The Bank for International Settlements, which represents the world's central banks, said early this year that most were conducting research into central bank digital currencies and many were progressing from conceptual work into experimentation and proofs-of-concept...

The details of a possible [U.S.] Fed-developed digital currency are still vague. But advocates and experts say such an instrument could give consumers a new way to make payments without having to rely on banks and without incurring fees when they transfer money. The digital currency would likely take some inspiration from the technology that underpins other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The discussions are informal at this point. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have written to the central bank asking officials to consider how they might approach a digital currency, and some Fed officials have begun to acknowledge the government might someday play a role. "It is inevitable," Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said at a recent conference, according to Reuters. "I think it is better for us to start getting our hands around it."
Read more here and here...

Monday, October 21, 2019

Alphabet (Google) Wing Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Virginia

Alphabet's Wing drone delivery service made its first commercial delivery in Christiansburg, Virginia on October 18, 2019. Wing is a spinoff from Google's parent company, Alphabet. The drone (UAV) service delivered a package through the air from a distribution center to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia, on behalf of FedEx.

Wing received Federal Aviation Authority approval for door-to-door drone delivery. Wing’s partners for this service include FedEx Express, Walgreens, and Sugar Magnolia (a local Virginia retail operation). This constitutes the first businesses in the United States to offer this form of local air delivery to customers.

FedEx is also participating in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program in conjunction with the Memphis Shelby-County Airport Authority, conducting drone operations on airport property to generate data to help inform future UAS policymaking.

During the trial, Wing drones will transport select FedEx packages to qualifying homes in Christiansburg, demonstrating last-mile delivery service.

Read more here and here

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Waymo Placing Fully Autonomous Vehicles on the Road

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle business under Alphabet (neƩ Google), sent an email to customers of its ride-hailing app in Phoenix, Arizona (USA) that their next trip might not have a human safety driver behind the wheel. Fully autonomous / robot cars are here!

Waymo opened a testing and operations center in Chandler, Ariz. in 2016. Since then, the company has ramped up its testing in Chandler and other Phoenix suburbs, launched an early rider program and slowly crept toward commercial deployment. The early rider program, which required vetted applicants to sign non-disclosure agreements to participate, launched in April 2017.

Read more about the service here...

Boeing Wins at the WTO against Airbus

The World Trade Organization (WTO) found in favor of Boeing and the U.S. in retaliation for the unlawful EU subsidization of Airbus. The October 2, 2019, $7.5 billion annual award is the largest made, and comes after almost 15 years of litigation at the WTO. The U.S. successfully argued that the EU / four of its member states conferred more than $18 billion to Airbus in subsidized financing.

This entitles the U.S. to impose an additional 10 percent duty (tariff) on airplanes from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as an additional 25 percent duty on certain goods including single malt Irish and Scotch whiskies, coffee from Germany, cheeses from several countries, and certain garments from the United Kingdom.

EU officials claim to have little interest for mutual imposition of countermeasures. They have emphasized that such countermeasures strain transatlantic trade relations and inflict damage on citizens and businesses. The timing of the new tariffs is politically sensitive given the recent global imposition of national security tariffs by the U.S. on steel and aluminum, as well as the potential addition of global national security tariffs on automobiles and parts.

Read more here...

Thursday, October 3, 2019

UPS First out of the Gate in the US for Drone Delivery

The FAA has settled on UPS to be the first nationwide drone delivery service. The company’s drone subsidiary just got the official nod to take its delivery service nationwide.
UPS announced today that it is the first to receive the official nod from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate a full “drone airline,” which will allow it to expand its current small drone delivery service pilots into a country-wide network. In its announcement of the news, UPS said that it will start by building out its drone delivery solutions specific to hospital campuses nationwide in the U.S., and then to other industries outside of healthcare
With the FAA’s approval, the company appears ready to ramp up its drone operation to go head-to-head with competitors like Alphabet's (formerly Google) Wing, DHL, and Amazon.

Read more here ...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A Huge Multi-National That Only Utilizes Remote Workers

There are obvious benefits to remote workers. Staff are more productive. It improves morale. It enhances talent recruitment and retention. And remote work offers cost savings. But how can a large organization manage?

Take page from GitLab, which has an all-remote policy. While officially based in San Francisco, the company has 850 employees across more than 55 countries, all of whom work from home. Company culture, of course, can be difficult to maintain when everyone is remote. GitLab workers stay connected through daily team calls and watercooler chats on Zoom and Slack, where employees often gab about non-work activities. "Visiting grants" help cover costs when staffers travel to regions where other employees are located.

Remote work can ease the carbon footprint of companies. It can also boost productivity and lower operating costs. But how to deal with the obstacles to effective dispersed teams? GitLab offers a few model processes.

For example, organizations should address how to ensure workers are,w ell, working. One of GitLab's core values: Measure results, not hours. "We can't measure how long you work," he says. "We don't want to measure it. We don't want your manager to even talk about it with you unless they think you work too much," says GitLab CEO Sijbrandij.

One area to address is to coordinate and communicate effectively across time zones GitLab does this by documenting everything. In addition to the publicly viewable merge requests, meetings and presentations get uploaded to YouTube. When employees have questions, they're encouraged to search the company's comprehensive (1,000 printed pages) online handbook.

Read more here ...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

UAS-Based Radar Suite for Sounding and Mapping Glaciers

Emily Arnold, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas, was awarded a five-year, $609,000 National Science Foundation grant to customize an unmanned helicopter with two radar arrays so she can explore Greenland’s Helheim Glacier in 2021.

Carrying two bespoke radars powered by the aircraft's electrical system, the professor and her fellow researchers plan to not only map the glacial surfaces, but probe hundreds of meters into the ice. This kind of detailed data collection is not possible with satellite imagery, which covers great expanses but with less precision/far less resolution than low-altitude radar grid mapping. The UAV will operant in an environment of extreme cold temperatures with winds that can reach 55 knots — all while carrying a 10-pound payload. The specifications are for a mission endurance longer than 25 minutes. This means hardware more capable than the typical off-the-shelf solution.

Arnold and her other University of Kansas collaborators aim to gather data that will help scientists better understand the physics and dynamics of ice. “We want to know what [glaciers'] contribution is to global sea level rise” will be, says Arnold.

See the details here:

Friday, September 6, 2019

Remote Workers are not just more happy, but more productive

Companies that let their employees "work from anywhere and work whenever they want," end up with employees who are more loyal, more productive, and lower overhead expenses.

In a recent study, Harvard associate professor Prithwiraj Choudhury and his colleagues compared how productive, loyal, and cost-effective employees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were when they were allowed to work flexibly.

A government office was selected because it had recently implemented a wide-scale pilot program to facilitate a number of patent examiners to work remotely when they wanted, while still requiring others to remain in the office.

The results showed a 4.4 percent higher productivity among those in the pilot program, while doing the exact same work as those who were required be in the office.

Read more at:

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Republic of Ireland Workers Have the Highest Productivity

In 2017, Irish workers crossed the line to becoime the most productive in the world, adding an average of $99.50 (€87) to the value of the economy every hour they work, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Monday, September 2, 2019

Small Businesses Need to Know about GSA Professional Services Schedule PSS 99

The Professional Services Schedule is the second largest GSA Schedule after IT70.  It is the combination of 30 unique professional services many of which have few similarities to each other.  Therefore, the reality is the Professional Services Schedule or 00CORP in many ways is the combination of many niche services to form one large inter working grouping.
The purpose of combining all these services into one schedule was to reduce the administrative burden for firms that need access to more than one of these unique niches.  We learned that most small businesses utilize on average 3.78 niches or SINs and most large businesses utilize 4.88 SINs.  Consolidation makes sense for ease of access and simplicity of award.

Professional services tend to have high sales volumes even though many of the firms in this grouping are niche players and often smaller than the average federal contractor.  The average small business that holds the Professional Services Schedule conducts over $1MM per year in federal sales.

On PSS, all GSA contracts under $10,000 will be direct no bid awards. (Small Business only)
All contracts under $250,000 will be GSA Small Business Elite Direct Awards. (Small Business only). GSA will break out over $900 million in GSA Prime Vendor Contracts for re-distribution to GSA Small Business Schedule Holders in 2020.

In FY2017, GSA saved taxpayers over 10% of the dollar amount spent through the GSA. This increased efficiency and reduction of administrative burned resulted in $6.8B in savings. GSA enables 15,000 small businesses $1MM plus per year in direct federal contract awards. This means 37% of every dollar spent through the GSA schedule system are with small business —  the highest utilization of small business throughout the federal government.

Read more at:

The GSA PSS Contract only covers the categories detailed below. Certain IT, HR, and energy related services can be offered through PSS, but only to complement the core service offerings.
  • Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services (MOBIS) (formerly Schedule 874)
  • Professional Engineering Services (PES) (formerly Schedule 871)
  • Financial and Business Solutions (FABS) (formerly Schedule 520)
  • Advertising and Integrated Marketing (AIMS) (formerly Schedule 541)
  • Logistics Worldwide (LOGWORLD) (formerly Schedule 874 V)
  • Environmental Services (formerly Schedule 899)
  • Language Services (formerly Schedule 738 II)
Services including IT, HR, energy, travel, security, and healthcare staffing can be offered under different GSA Schedules.

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Certification Rules from the EU Cybersecurity Act

In June 2019, the European Cybersecurity Act was instituted, introducing the first-ever EU-wide rules on the cybersecurity certification of products, processes, and services. This serves to strengthen the role of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA).

The European cybersecurity certification framework establishes tailored and risk-based EU certification schemes, aiming to increase the cybersecurity of online services and consumer devices. Such European cybersecurity certification scheme comprises a comprehensive set of EU-wide rules, technical requirements, standards and procedures serving to evaluate a specific product, service or process on the basis of its cybersecurity properties. Each certificate will carry one of three assurance levels, and will be recognized EU-wide.
The harmonized rules are expected to facilitate cross-border trade of relevant products and services, reduce market-entry barriers, and simplify the process of cybersecurity certification.
ENISA has received a permanent mandate with additional responsibilities and resources to better help Member States in addressing cybersecurity threats and incidents. This includes support to policy implementation, standardization, certification, crisis management and coordinated vulnerability disclosure. ENISA's mandate has been applicable since 27 June 2019. The Commission is currently preparing the requests for ENISA to design certification schemes and to establish two expert groups:
the European Cybersecurity Certification Group, consisting of Member States representatives; and
the Stakeholder Cybersecurity Certification Group, mandated to advise ENISA and the Commission.
I.a. on the basis of a public consultation, the Commission will identify strategic priorities for certification and a list of ICT products, services and processes to be included in the scheme.”

See further information here...

Friday, August 16, 2019

Abuse of Online Privacy Rules Means Personal Info Can Be Compromised - So Require Credentials

With the introduction of Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, firms in Europe and around the globe should be aware that social engineering tactics can be used to acquire an individual’s sensitive data.

“…For social engineering purposes, GDPR has a number of real benefits, Pavur said. Firstly, companies only have a month to reply to requests and face fines of up to 4 percent of revenues if they don't comply, so [the] fear of failure and time are strong motivating factors.

In addition, the type of people who handle GDPR requests [is] usually admin or legal staff, not security people used to social engineering tactics. This makes information gathering much easier….” See this article.

Direct email marketing, for example, is already regulated under the EU's e-Privacy Directive. Such rules require consent before someone can be sent direct marketing. A so-called "soft opt-in" makes this slightly easier. If a firm has an existing relationship, for instance, if a customer has bought a product from them before, they may still contact that recipient.

The European Union is updating the rules on electronic communications just as the UK is hustling to engage its own Data Protection Act in place, considering how Brexit will affect tech firms. The continued flow of data between the UK and the rest of Europe (and the world) depends on governments’ ability to interact.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Is LIDAR going away for A.I. vision? Elon Musk says yes, others disagree

Cornell researchers published a research paper that is somewhat critical of about lidar. Using nothing but stereo cameras, the computer scientists achieved breakthrough results on KITTI, a popular image recognition benchmark for self-driving systems. Their new technique produced results far superior to previously published camera-only results—and not far behind results that combined camera and lidar data. LiDAR sensors use lasers to create 3D point maps of their surroundings, measuring objects’ distance via the speed of light. Stereo cameras, which rely on two perspectives to establish depth, as human eyes do, seemed promising. But their accuracy in object detection has been woefully low, and the conventional wisdom was that they were too imprecise.

Radar sensors deliver images similar to optical sensors. LiDAR delivers points which measure the distance between the instrument and the target. Cameras plus lidar performed better than cameras alone had nothing to do with the superior accuracy of lidar's distance measurements. Rather, it was because the "native" data format from lidar is easier for machine-learning algorithms to work with.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Finnish Approach to Flexible Work is a Model

By now many employers recognize that remote workers tend to be more productive because they don't need to commute into work. Many often finish their work on their own time and they aren't distracted by their coworkers -- maintaining that crucial state of "flow" that intellectual capitalists workers.

Finland has a decent idea of how to make flexible work part of the culture. According to a survey commissioned by the EU, Finland is the leading teleworking country in Europe. The use of information technology, in its various forms, is the driving force behind teleworking, also known as distance working

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Known Apple Vulnerability Remains Unpatched

Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL) is at the core of Apple services like AirPlay and AirDrop, and Apple has been including AWDL by default on all devices the company has been selling, such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple watches, Apple TVs, and HomePods.

It seems that the AWDL protocol, installed on over 1.2 billion Apple devices, contains vulnerabilities that enable attackers to track users, crash devices, or intercept files transferred between devices via man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.
These are the findings of a research project that started last year at the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, and has recently concluded, and whose findings researchers will be presenting later this month at a security conference in the US. The project sought to analyze the Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL), a protocol that Apple rolled out in 2014 and which also plays a key role in enabling device-to-device communications in the Apple ecosystem. While most Apple end users might not be aware of the protocol's existence, AWDL is at the core of Apple services like AirPlay and AirDrop, and Apple has been including AWDL by default on all devices the company has been selling, such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple watches, Apple TVs, and HomePods. But in the past five years, Apple has never published any in-depth technical details about how AWDL works. This, in turn, has resulted in very few security researchers looking at AWDL for bugs or implementation errors.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Mars Colony Progress Report - Not Good

Will we ever get to live on Mars? The Red Planet is a cold, dead place, with an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth’s. The paltry amount of air that does exist on Mars is primarily composed of noxious carbon dioxide, which does little to protect the surface from the Sun’s harmful rays.

The average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-63 degrees Celsius), with temperatures dropping as low as -195 degrees F (-126 degrees C). By contrast, the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was at Vostok Station in Antarctica, at -128 degrees F (-89 degrees C) on June 23, 1982.

But interest in living on Mars persists. Evil Bond Villain Elon Musk and his SpaceX are anticipating colonies on Mars as early as the 2050s. Astrobiologist Lewis Darnell, a professor at the University of Westminster, makes a more modest estimate: about 50-100 years before “substantial numbers of people have moved to Mars to live in self-sustaining towns.” Crazily enough. the United Arab Emirates is aiming to build a Martian city of 600,000 occupants by 2117, in one of the more ambitious visions of the future.

November 2015 saw Administrator Bolden of NASA reaffirm the goal of sending humans to Mars. He laid out 2030 as the date of a crewed surface landing and noted that planned 2020 Mars rover would support the human mission.

Humans have made giant strides over recent years with robot rovers and space probes. But there is much to learn about getting people to Mars safely -- and within reasonable cost.

Read more here...

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

New Rules for On-Line Platforms in Europe

We learn that...

The European Union approved new regulations promoting fairness and transparency of online platforms, coming into effect in summer 2020. 
This regulation is based on two key areas. First, several online platforms have superior bargaining power, enabling them to behave unfairly towards the many business users that need those platforms for selling their products and services. Second, many online businesses rely on their website ranking by search engines, which justifies transparency requirements for those search engines. The new Regulation aims to ensure a fair, predictable and trusted online business environment for the benefit of all consumers in the EU.
The main instrument in achieving these goals is the terms and conditions, which must clearly set out the rules for operating the platform. The platform operator can only amend its terms and conditions with 15 days’ prior notice and must give the platform’s business users a further 15 days to terminate the contract if they do not accept the proposed amendments. To ensure that all these principles are complied with, the new Regulation contains a full range of remedies. Platform operators must provide for an internal complaint-handling system that is easily accessible and free of charge. Complaints that are not resolved may be submitted to impartial and independent mediators.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

EU Regulations on UAVs (drones) Updated

In the Cyber and Copyright Group’s June 2019 Newsletter, we read:

The European Union has published common rules on the use of drones, aimed at harmonizing the law on this issue across the 28 member states of the EU, so that drone operators better understand what they may and may not do. According to the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), “once drone operators have received authorization in [their] state of registration, they are allowed to freely circulate in the European Union”. Although the common rules formally take effect on July 1, 2019, they will become mandatory only in June 2020 so that member states in the EU have sufficient time to adjust their local laws to the new regulation.
One of the new rules requires drone operates to register before using a drone. The rules prescribe three categories of drone operation – ‘open’ (for low-risk drones of up to 25Kg in weight), ‘specific’ (where drones require authorization to be flown), and ‘certified’ (a high risk category, such as using drones for delivery of shipments or flying over large crowds). Each category will be subject to its own set of regulations. The rules also deal with privacy matters, including provisions that require operators of drones with sensors capable of collecting personal data, to register them as such.

Updated rules are published here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

US Department of Defense JEDI cloud contract under fire from Oracle

From The Register:

Ahead of its first day in a U.S. federal claims court in Washington DC, Oracle has outlined its position against the Pentagon's award of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract to Amazon Web Services. Big Red's lengthy filing questions the basis of Uncle Sam's procurement procedure as well as Amazon's hiring of senior Department of Defense staff involved in that procurement process. Oracle's first day in court is set for 10 July. The JEDI deal could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. The Department of Defense handed the contract to AWS after deciding that only Amazon and Microsoft could meet the minimum security standards required in time. 

Oracle's filing said that U.S. "warfighters and taxpayers have a vested interest in obtaining the best services through lawful, competitive means... Instead, DoD (with AWS's help) has delivered a conflict-ridden mess in which hundreds of contractors expressed an interest in JEDI, over 60 responded to requests for information, yet only the two largest global cloud providers can clear the qualification gates." The company said giving JEDI, with its "near constant technology refresh requirements", to just one company was in breach of procurement rules. It accused the DoD of gaming the metrics used in the process to restrict competition for the contract. Oracle also accused Amazon of breaking the rules by hiring two senior DoD staff, Deap Ubhi and Anthony DeMartino, who were involved in the JEDI procurement process. Ubhi is described as "lead PM." A third name is redacted in the publicly released filing.

Monday, June 24, 2019

More Robot Cars, More Fun in the City

Drivers are already ditching their cars because of apps like Uber. Imagine what happens when driverless cars hit the roads.

Why bother owning a car when you can easily get where you want via your iPhone? This concept is known as “mobility as a service”, where passengers no longer own to their own cars, instead signing on for transportation-on-demand booked through smartphones.

Perhaps, for instance, a commuting plan that charges by the mile or through a monthly fee, like Netflix. Getting rid of cars in growing urban centers is a smart idea, and the world’s automakers are preparing in various ways. A major switch to subscription transportation requires two components. The first is already well underway: the explosion of ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, Grab and others.
The second is still in the works — driverless cars.

Removing the human from behind the wheel slashes the cost of a taxi ride which will make mobility as a service so cheap in many places, it won’t make financial sense to own a car any longer. Lowering the cost per mile will turbo-charge demand for mobility as a service, likely to become a $10 trillion business, according to Ford Motor Company.

That's why tech giants like Google and Apple are developing their own self-driving systems to take on the world's leading automakers, including Volkswagen, General Motors, Ford, and Toyota.

Eventually, a single smartphone app could connect us to a web of options, such as robo-taxis, self-driving shuttles, on-demand subway or tram, e-bikes, and electric scooters. No more driving ourselves though congested cities. All that parking freed up means more space for pedestrians and parks. Unless it is bad — fleets of individually-owned driverless vehicles loosed upon streets and highways, randomly ferrying individual occupants near and far. Or, with so many shared rides, significantly fewer vehicles will be on the road, where is the need to spend billions on bigger highways?

Autonomous vehicles will revolutionize passenger transport, but they are also rapidly changing the delivery business. Data generated from self-driving cars will provide cities with “a more granular viewpoint into everything from infrastructure wear-and-tear to detailed traffic flow information and even sidewalk congestion patterns,” says Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities.

Read more here…

Monday, June 17, 2019

How to Make Continuous Delivery a Reality in an Agile Environment

Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) are core elements of successful DevOps. Systems engineers may start with CI because it is familiar. With a DevOps focus, organizations uncover configuration, packaging, and orchestration that are necessary to effective software development life cycle (SDLC). This empowers developers, administrators and engineers to create valuable CD practices, adding to agility.

Where less experienced developers might struggle with CI/CD performance, testing delays and other bottlenecks, the enterprise would do well to develop processes and best practices to make DevOps in the cloud a value-driven methodology. To save money, this will shorten the SDLC — because CD is all about updating web services. In public clouds such as AWS and Azure, this is done through pipeline stages (e.g. dev, test, staging and production). When containers are implemented with a platform-as-a-service (PAAS) approach, stages become sandbox environments, scratch instances, and production instances.

The benefit of such an approach is that the work outputs and products themselves benefit from flexibility. Regular face-to-face interactions and collaborations between team members are conducted to ensure the scrum teams level-set expectations. Finally, add value by continuous delivery throughout the life cycle, so that the end product is more secure and more reliable. Implementing an agile manifesto tracks with addressing evolving end user requirements. 

For CD, ensure user stories are married correctly to those requirements and that each story rolls up to an Epic that represents a standalone feature. This enables the devops team to release reasonably sized components of functionality that are consumable by users. These are also traceable back to the release plan. We want to ensure verification at each stage because this process defines acceptance criteria — so the stakeholders know when something is declared “finished.”

Schema, user interface, access control rights and static resources such as icons and images are all part of the creation process and we manage them just as diligently as source code. The DevOps team checks assets into a version control system as a single source of truth (GIT or Subversion). This benefits the client by ensuring that developers are making changes in a segregated environment — catastrophic failures are completely avoided with such approach, and integration into a risk management-based security framework is seamless. 

The organization should understand automated quality processes are essential — Selenium is a go-to tool for testing functionality. There are several verifications to make before functional testing. Static code analysis tools, such as PMD, are essential to ensure code conforms to a single style. Unit test coverage is also essential — establish a set of Key Performance Inidcators (KPIs) for coverage of at least 75% of code. Finally, after these automated tests pass, implement a manual peer review. This enables seasoned developers  to spot opportunities for performance improvement where automated tools can’t.

Monday, June 10, 2019

GDPR will impact more than privacy

Similar to how GDPR hugely impacted how millions of organizations handle personal data when it was enforced last year, Strong Customer Authentication (or SCA) will have profound implications for how businesses handle online transactions and how we pay for things in our everyday lives when it is enforced on September 14.

SCA will require an extra layer of authentication for online payments. Where a card number and address once sufficed, customers will now be required to include at least two of the following three factors to do anything as simple as ordering a taxi or pay for a music streaming service. Something they know (like a password or PIN), something they own (like a token or smartphone), and something they are (like a fingerprint or biometric facial features).

Without careful preparation, failed transactions and additional friction may have a significant negative impact on conversion rates.

Monday, April 29, 2019

How Software Was Egregiously (and Poorly) Used to Hide Major Engineering Deficiencies

In this article on IEEE Spectrum, we read:

It is astounding that no one who wrote the MCAS software for the 737 Max seems even to have raised the possibility of using multiple inputs, including the opposite angle-of-attack sensor, in the computer's determination of an impending stall. As a lifetime member of the software development fraternity, I don't know what toxic combination of inexperience, hubris, or lack of cultural understanding led to this mistake. But I do know that it's indicative of a much deeper problem. The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it.
So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737's dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3... None of the above should have passed muster. None of the above should have passed the "OK" pencil of the most junior engineering staff... That's not a big strike. That's a political, social, economic, and technical sin... 
The 737 Max saga teaches us not only about the limits of technology and the risks of complexity, it teaches us about our real priorities. Today, safety doesn't come first -- money comes first, and safety's only utility in that regard is in helping to keep the money coming. The problem is getting worse because our devices are increasingly dominated by something that's all too easy to manipulate: software.... I believe the relative ease -- not to mention the lack of tangible cost -- of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering -- like building airliners. Less thought is now given to getting a design correct and simple up front because it's so easy to fix what you didn't get right later.
The article also reveals that: "not letting the pilot regain control by pulling back on the column was an explicit design decision. Because if the pilots could pull up the nose when MCAS said it should go down, why have MCAS at all?  ...MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane." 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Knowledge Worker Productivity Improvements with Machine Learning

Leveraging machine learning to enhance capabilities that can recognize context, concepts, and meaning means there are interesting new opportunities for collaboration between knowledge workers and computational power. For example, Bluedog’s experts can now provide more of their own input for training, quality control, and fine-tuning of algorithm-based outcomes. We use the computational power of our servers to augment the expertise of human collaborators — this helps to create new areas for our experts to leverage.

For example, at Bluedog, we utilize several algorithm-based tools to help us quickly assess opportunities for our clients. We extract information from Word Documents locally for multiple uses. With one tool, we take advantage of each Word document’s XML metadata. From there, we use a regex library to find each targeted word or phrase in the document, then adding them to a list. Our toll then performs for-loops to scan for relevant patterns in the XML to extract data.

Knowledge workers — the staff or consultants who reason, create, decide, and apply insight into non-routine cognitive processes — can contribute to redesigning work process roles and team member roles. Consider financial auditing, where AI is likely to become pervasive. Often, when AI offers a finding, the algorithm’s reasoning isn’t obvious to the accountant, who ultimately must offer an explanation to a client — characteristic of the “black box” problem. To improve this outcome, Bluedog recommends providing an interface so experts to enter concepts they deem important into the system and be provided with a means to test their own hypotheses. In this way, we recommend making models accessible to common sense. 

As cybersecurity concerns mount, organizations have increased the use of instruments to collect data at various points in their network to analyze threats — and to address “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) devices. However, many of these data-driven systems do not integrate data from multiple sources. Nor do they incorporate the common-sense knowledge of cybersecurity experts, who know the range and diverse motives of attackers, understand typical internal and external threats, and appreciate the degree of risk to an organization. 

Bluedog’s experts specify the use of Bayesian models — which employ probabilistic analysis to capture complex interdependence among risk factors —  combined with expert systems judgment. In cybersecurity for enterprise networks, complex factors may include large numbers and types of devices on the network. It is crucial to access the knowledge of the organization’s security experts about attackers and risk profile to better intercept cybercriminals.

Monday, April 22, 2019

SIFT Score - the West's Answer to China's Social Credit Rating. Thanks, Big Brother

Data on what you buy, how, and where is secretly fed into AI-powered verification services, according to the Wall Street Journal. These are supposed to help companies guard against credit-card and other forms of fraud.

More than 16,000 signals are analyzed by a service called Sift, which generates a "Sift score," used to flag devices, credit cards and accounts that a vendor may want to block based on a person or entity's overall "trustworthiness" score. From the Sift website: "Each time we get an event -- be it a page view or an API event -- we extract features related to those events and compute the Sift Score. These features are then weighed based on fraud we've seen both on your site and within our global network, and determine a user's Score. There are features that can negatively impact a Score as well as ones which have a positive impact."

The system is similar to a credit score except there's no way to find out your own Sift score. This sounds a lot like the data that China's social credit system, in part, uses. In the PRC, a person's social score can vary depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online. While Edward Snowden certainly demonstrated the global extent of the US surveillance state, corporate entities have not implemented anything on the level of the Chinese social scoring system. Yet.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Using Containers for Secure Web Services

Containers are a means to install and run applications in an isolated environment on a server (physical or virtual). The application running inside a container is limited to resources (CPU, memory, disk, process space, users, networking, volumes) allocated for that container. Access is limited to that container’s resources to avoid conflict with other containers. Think of a container as an isolated sandbox for an application to run in.

The concept is similar to virtual machines, but containers use a light-weight technique to achieve resource isolation, whereby they use the Linux kernel (as opposed to a hypervisor-based approach taken by virtual machines). Containers issue Linux commands to make use of a subset of system resources.

Docker is a popular tool to create and start a container. Docker Community Edition (CE) is ideal for developers and small teams looking to get started with Docker and experimenting with container-based apps. It enables packaging of an app with all its dependencies and libraries.
Here’s more information on using AWS to build secure services with containers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

End of The Jasons? Who Will Lead if this brain trust is disbanded?

The Department of Defense says is ending a decades-long, open-ended agreement with a legacy science advisory board, a move that has set off alarm bells for some analysts. But the department has not ruled out relying on that office for more information in the future.

The Jasons — an important advisory committee that assessed many difficult issues. Named for Jason of the Argonauts, luminaries on this panel answered (in secret) pressing questions the government had, such as:  Are there UFO? No. Should we nuke Vietnam? Also, no. What is Quantum Computing? Using the spin of quarks like bits. All answered in the 1960s!

As a Federally Funded Research Bureau (FFRB), MITRE doesn’t implement ideas, only the non-profit only consults. After WWII, the government decided it would not be caught with its pants down again (having been severely understaffed after the Depression, at the start of the war). MITRE and other FFRBs are funded as a percent of the total budget — MITRE isn’t taking work from contractors, it is providing neutral oversight and guidance. 

Read more about the Jason at 

Monday, April 15, 2019

This day - April 16, 1178 BCE - was the Return of Odysseus to Ithaca after his Travels

On this day, in 1178 BCE, Odysseus arrived in Ithaca, having begun his way home when the Trojan War ended. He had served ten years as one of the most distinguished leaders of the Greeks. His voyage was fraught with perils: the Cyclopes, Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and other obstacles.

Read about it at

Automation from Robots -- What Jobs are at Risk?

Twelve jobs have a 99 percent chance of being automated, according to a study by Oxford:

  • Data Entry Keyers
  • Library Technicians
  • New Accounts Clerks
  • Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators
  • Tax Preparers
  • Cargo and Freight Agents
  • Watch Repairers
  • Insurance Underwriters
  • Mathematical Technicians
  • Hand Sewers
  • Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers
  • Telemarketers

Whenever a job has a pattern of repetitive activities, they are most likely to be replicated with machine learning algorithms. Most studies on automation stop short of saying that jobs will be completely eliminated by automation. Rather, workers will be redeployed.

Automation is coming to the most common jobs...

Graphic courtesy of

Friday, April 12, 2019

Project Management Tools - Analog and Digital - Have a Place in Agile

The value of cloud-based task and project management software is obvious -- link teams, keep all information in one place, automate workflow and progress monitoring.

With a good interface, an online tool enables teams to manage Agile projects to plan, assign, prioritize and track tasks efficiently. Use drag 'n drop kanban and backlog/sprint planners for easy and smooth overviews and assignments of tasks.

In the case of scrum, we find there will be multiple sprints. Teams needs to plan quickly for each daily standup. Does this preclude upfront identification of milestones with a WBS? Marrying the two styles is not as incompatible as one might think.  One can use an issue tracker as a to-do list that is focused on accountability. Such issues are the building blocks for progress and can be classified as tasks, bugs, or change requests. Being able to plan out milestones on Gantt charts might seem a strange crossover when applying Agile project management techniques such as Scrum or Kanban. But a timeline-based view of tasks and sub-tasks can aid in communication.

When a project management tool is highly integrated with Git, Subversion, or other code repositories, an integrated workflow is possible. We have found using a wiki to document projects is handy for its simplicity of use.

Read more here...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Google is Delivering Packages via Drone in Australia

Touted as the world's first commercial drone deliveries, a Google-funded startup won approval from the Australian aviation authority. Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) gave approval to Wing -- a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet -- to deliver packages via unmanned aerial vehicle. An earlier trial of the service proved successful. At the moment, about 100 homes in a suburb of Canberra will initially be eligible for the drone deliveries. A wider roll-out is expected. The Wing team started as an ambitious "moonshot" project inside Google X, testing drones in Australia since 2014.

Friday, March 29, 2019

What You Experience Could Impact Your Offspring

Based on this article in Nature: In 1864, nearing the end of the US Civil War, conditions in the Confederate prisoner of war camps were at their worst, with overcrowding in some camps that Union Army soldier (prisoner) death rates soared. For survivors, the harrowing experiences marked many of them for life -- returning to society with impaired health, worse job prospects, and shorter life expectancy. Such hardships also had an effect on the prisoners’ children and grandchildren, which appeared to be passed down the male line of families. While their sons and grandsons had not suffered the hardships of the PoW camps -- they suffered higher rates of mortality than the wider population. It appeared the PoWs had passed on some element of their trauma to their children.

Your experiences during your lifetime – particularly traumatic ones – would have a very real impact on your family for generations to come. There are a growing number of studies that support the idea that the effects of trauma can reverberate down the generations through epigenetics. For the PoWs in the Confederate camps, these epigenetic changes were a result of the extreme overcrowding, poor sanitation and malnutrition. The men had to survive on small rations of corn, and many died from diarrhoea and scurvy. “There is this period of intense starvation,” says study author Dora Costa, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles. 
For a long while we have understood that child abuse, for example, is very often passed from one generation to another. And as to how far back some of these cycles of abuse go is hard to determine. There are many cases of a person who was abused themselves -- and they also know what it feels like -- yet, they repeat to another what was done to them. This suggests in some cases a human being appears to have no control over their actions.

Read more here...

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Remote Work - In the future, the norm, not the outlier

Throughout history, control has traditionally been centralized into various structures (governments, information providers, banks, corporations, etc). Certainly, some of this was necessary. Before the telegraphy,  the only way to get information was from newspapers. Depending on where a person lived, they may only have access to “stale” information many days or weeks old. And these information sharing mediums were limited to those who could physically get their hands on a copy, (or have it read to them when literacy rates were only a fraction of what they are today). Telegraphs and telephones increased the speed at which information could travel from point to point. Naturally, the internet changes the landscape for decentralized communication. So why sit in an office?

Clark Valberg, CEO of design software company InvisionApp, has made it his mission to modernize the workplace... by eliminating [the office] altogether. A decentralized workforce enables employers to access "passionate talent anywhere in the world irrespective of any geographic boundary," Valberg says, but implies "a renewed respect for the need for people to have a door that closes."

Today's world is built around instant, worldwide communication. Mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have shown that anyone, anywhere can disseminate information to millions of people, with just an upload. The nature of a team might be distributed -- or scattered. In either case, the actual number of working locations might be the same, but esprit de corps is very different. People on distributed teams arrive in that situation by design -- creating a stronger team by hiring the best people, regardless of location.

Read more here... and check out WeWork's first Dublin operation...

Friday, March 22, 2019

Why Process is Important to Scale Agile

Using SafeAgile and other lean software development approaches require customization for the organization. It isn’t good enough to just duplicate the efforts of others. Organizational change management means addressing top-down control that is in opposition to change — this will undermine agility.

Each agile team is different and needs to learn what works. In many cases, this means scaling agility outside of functional areas. Breaking down silos is key to the cross-over benefits of agile, reflecting the cross-functional nature of agile. Agility means putting in place defined engineering practices, with process controls.

While daily stand-ups and Kanban boards are important, to build high-quality software quickly, organizations should incorporate automated builds, automated testing, and automated deployments, among other things.

Read more... about SafeAgile

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Will Robo-Cars be Unaffordable?

Many are eagerly awaiting self-driving cars -- but we should recall that all of Silicon Valley’s big bets don’t always pay off.

Silicon Valley is pouring billions into robot cars. Soon – although the time scale keeps shifting – tech manufacturers say driverless cars will replace their traditional counterparts, car parks will become parks again and road fatalities will plummet. People have argued over ethical concerns surrounding the technology, the ensuing job losses and the public’s antipathy to this robot revolution. But the biggest obstacle may well be money.

The article continues, "Driver wages are a key part of taxi fares today. The average cab ride in San Francisco, for example, will cost you around $13. The driver keeps most of that. There is one caveat, however. Taxis are inefficient – so inefficient in fact that cabbies only spend about half their time earning fares."

Read more here....

Monday, March 11, 2019

Tim Berners-Lee Warns of a Breakdown of the World Wide Web

Global action is required to tackle the web's "downward plunge to a dysfunctional future", its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has told the BBC. He made the comments in an exclusive interview to mark 30 years since he submitted his proposal for the web.

Read more here:

Friday, March 8, 2019

Oracle Java Copyright is Dangerous to the Developer Community

The US Supreme Court has been urged to hear Google out in its long-running copyright battle with Oracle over the search giant’s use of Java technology in Android. A number of amicus briefs have been filed with the top court in support of Google, with Microsoft, Red Hat and Mozilla, along with the Python Software Foundation, Developers Alliance, and the EFF, backing the web titan against database-slinger Oracle.

These recount an earlier court ruling in Oracle's favor on the fair use of Java APIs – stating, as it stands, that it sets a dangerous precedent that breaks long-standing and well-understood rules on software development, risks confusing the community and will damage innovation.

Google insists it built the Android platform on the computer industry’s “long-accepted practice of re-using software interfaces” – and that Oracle is "trying to profit by changing the rules of software development after the fact."

The Developers Alliance also sought to emphasize the knock-on effects of the decisions. “The current case has implications that go far beyond the two litigants involved,” as written in this PDF...

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ireland's First Report on GDPR

Last month marks the release of the first annual GDPR report from Ireland’s data protection supervisory authority, the Data Protection Commission (DPC). This is a follow-on from the DPC’s final pre-GDPR annual report and covers May through December of 2018.

The report confirms the DPC’s role as the clearinghouse for cross-border privacy complaints: A new category, termed ‘multinational complaints – others’, makes up 22% of all GDPR complaints in the report. These complaints are second to access rights as the largest category of complaint. 

This document also sets out the DPC’s views on the new complaint-handling mechanism under the Data Protection Act of 2018. When a negotiated resolution is not possible, the DPC is no longer legally obliged to make a formal, statutory decision. Instead, the DPC has a range of options: providing advice to the complainant; issuing statutory notices to controllers or processors; and, opening statutory enquires.

If a non-EU company is offering services over the internet to consumers in the EU, these companies are required to have a  data protection representative due to increased territorial scope. Article 3 of the GDPR applies to any ‘data subject’ in the EU, i.e. a person living in the EU. Notably, Article 3(2) applies to the processing of personal data of any individual “in the EU.” The individual’s nationality or residence is irrelevant. The GDPR protects the personal data of citizens, residents, tourists, and other persons visiting the EU. So as long as an individual is in the EU, any personal information of that person collected by any controller or processor who meets the requirements of Article 3(2) is subject to the GDPR. Learn more about having a data representative here.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Global Mobil (cellular) Roaming via Satellite - with your current iPhone!

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ubiquitilink said, by employing a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, that pretty much any phone from the last decade should be able to text and do other low-bandwidth tasks from anywhere, even in the middle of the ocean or deep in the Himalayas.

The way the business would work is because the satellites operate on modified but mostly ordinary off-the-shelf software and connect to phones with no modifications necessary, Ubiquitilink will essentially be a worldwide roaming operator that mobile networks will pay to access.

Friday, March 1, 2019

EU Copyright Agreement is Reached for Digital Content

A new EU directive will effectively ban buyout contracts, require producers and publishers to give authors information about the economic performance of their work, and offer the possibility of renegotiating the terms of your contract if your work is significantly more successful than anticipated.

Read more here...

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Want a Better Way to Do Things? Start Fresh with Zero Based Design

Want to achieve radical changes in your business? Have you become distracted from long-term goals? Are you too busy putting out fires to look past short-term tactics? Perhaps it is time to consider a shake-up

Zero-based design (ZBD)encourages people to cast aside assumptions to expand the scope of discovery. It comes from the term “zero-based budgeting,” an accounting principle that implies every line item in a budget is to be reevaluated on an annual basis, under the assumption that nothing should be sacrosanct.

The name was first coined by Paul Polak and Mal Warwick in their 2013 book, The Business Solution to Poverty. The authors delineated their methodology for building a business from a frugal, grass-roots “Zero Point,” that grew to deliver economic value on a societal scale.

While ZBD has evolved since 2013, a few activities stay central to its approach:

  • Defining the Zero Point: More than a fictitious “blank slate,” the Zero Point is the suite of capabilities, systems, and processes you would keep if you were to rebuild your business all over again.
  • Designing the North Star: A clearly articulated and accepted description of the ideal target state is given for the business, its people, and their customers.

With ZBD, it is necessary that the North Star is visionary. It frames the ambition for business and informs the roadmap of labor required to succeed in this best target state. It helps to elevate the thinking within the business and stimulate the proper designing and activity within the short and medium term.

ZBD starts with an observation, then looks for the simplest and most likely explanation. As a result, it can appear foreign to those familiar with the traditional inductive or deductive thinking that permeates business management. It some ways, it resembles the Lean (Toyota) Method for problem-solving.

For example, ZBD practitioners tend to observe human behavior and distill the most likely insights from what they have witnessed. Abductive reasoning is a form of logical inference which starts with an observation or set of observations then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation for the observations, and the resulting insights, then inspire designers to generate game-changing ideas and then pose the question “how might we” rather than ask “why can’t we.” Such priming questions are crucial, as they foster the belief that innovative outcomes are achievable and that we can overcome obstacles that would otherwise be considered insurmountable.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What is Kubernetes?

The rise of technology called containers, popularized by the company Docker, has helped spread virtualization of apps by simplifying building VM images for deployment. This approach lets a developer package their app or micro service with everything needed to run, so it works the same way the development sandbox as it does in Amazon's or Microsoft's cloud. While Docker's containers provide the tools for making code portable, developers needed a way to coordinate these containers to work with each other across servers and clouds, at massive scales — and Kubernetes, an open-source software project that started at Google, is the most popular approach. It has exploded in popularity, now being used by at more than 54% of the Fortune 500.

Kubernetes (an ancient Greek word for "pilot.”) was started by a group of Google engineers based on an internal project to help manage the search giant's massive infrastructure, but it is now an independent open source project that anyone can use or contribute to — and it has grown faster than the creators ever imagined. In a nutshell, Kubernetes helps developers run their applications at massive scales, taking advantage of lessons learned at Google. Because Kubernetes is open source, the code can be used, downloaded, or modified by anyone for free.

Just in the last year, we've seen some major acquisitions that signal how seriously tech giants are now taking Kubernetes: IBM spent $34 billion to purchase Red Hat; VMware's acquired Heptio. Both these moves have a lot to do with Kubernetes.

There are three typical ways of using Kubernetes: most popular is to run it from a major cloud provider like Amazon, Microsoft or Google, all of whom offer hosted Kubernetes services. Or, enterprises can buy a customized, fine-tuned version of Kubernetes from a company like VMware's Heptio to install on its own servers. The third way is to just download and run the free project and create an environment in a hosted private cloud or datacenter.

Kubernetes is able to manage all these clusters at once, and keep the code running continuously even as it organizes and re-organizes these containers on the fly. The end result is that developers can build, test, host and run large-scale applications on the cloud, with the Kubernetes software doing much to keep everything running smoothly.

As an added benefit, Kubernetes users get one more key advantage from all of this: Because Kubernetes runs on just about any kind of server, and most of the major cloud platforms, it's easier for users to take their application and move it from one to the other, or just write their software to run on multiple clouds at once.

Read more here...

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bicycles for the Older Generation

Cycling isn't just for young people. From this article in the Guardian, we read, Rowntree says her range is intended for “people who want to ride under their own steam for as long as possible, and then might switch to an e-bike when they need to....”

"Islabikes came about after friends and relatives asked their resident cycling expert – Rowntree is a former UK cyclocross champion – for advice on bikes for young children..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

From SlashDot: “It's as dystopian as it sounds," opines The Verge:

Chinese schools are now tracking the exact location of their students using chip-equipped "smart uniforms" in order to encourage better attendance rates, according to a report from state-run newspaper The Global Times. Each uniform has two chips in the shoulders which are used to track when and where the students enter or exit the school, with an added dose of facial recognition software at the entrances to make sure that the right student is wearing the right outfit (so you can't just have your friend, say, wear an extra shirt while you go off and play hooky). Try to leave during school hours? An alarm will go off.... 

There are additional features, too, according to a report from The Epoch Times: the chips can apparently detect when a student has fallen asleep in class, and allow students to make payments (using additional facial or fingerprint recognition to confirm the purchase). The uniforms are being used in 10 schools in China's Guizhou Province region, and apparently have been in use for some time -- according to Lin Zongwu, principal of No. 11 School of Renhuai, over 800 students in his school have been wearing the smart uniforms since 2016.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Proof of Concept Super-Secure Quantum Cable

A fibre optic cable is in use that harnesses a new kind of quantum computing power:

The cable's trick is a technology called quantum key distribution, or QKD. Any half-decent intelligence agency can physically tap normal fiber optics and intercept whatever messages the networks are carrying: They bend the cable with a small clamp, then use a specialized piece of hardware to split the beam of light that carries digital ones and zeros through the line. The people communicating have no way of knowing someone is eavesdropping, because they're still getting their messages without any perceptible delay.

QKD solves this problem by taking advantage of the quantum physics notion that light -- normally thought of as a wave -- can also behave like a particle. At each end of the fiber-optic line, QKD systems, which from the outside look like the generic black-box servers you might find in any data center, use lasers to fire data in weak pulses of light, each just a little bigger than a single photon. If any of the pulses' paths are interrupted and they don't arrive at the endpoint at the expected nanosecond, the sender and receiver know their communication has been compromised.

Encryption is worthless if an attacker manages to get the digital keys used to encode and decode messages. Each key is usually extra-encrypted, but documents disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 showed that the U.S. government, which hoovers up most of the world’s internet traffic, can also break those tougher codes.

Read more here...

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Dislocation of the Workforce Known for Decades

Knowledge workers can work wherever is needed, as the communication infrastructure and information management systems support the workforce. Working from home (wherever that might be) is not limited to only when the weather kills your commute. With today’s internet, ever-evolving collaboration tools, and forward-thinking leaders, remote work is becoming the norm.

See this interview with the head of Intel, from 1981.

Productivity is enhanced. From a 2014 study, in which the travel website CTrip enabled a subset of  workers to work remotely on a regular basis, they then compared productivity to office-bound counterparts. With all other factors being equal, the remote workers ended up making 13.5 percent more calls than their comparable office workers. According to a 2016 survey of American remote workers, about 91 percent of people who work from home feel that they’re more productive than when they’re in an office.

Working remotely can make a worker more productive; according to studies, as long as the job is one that can be performed in such an environment, most people are more productive. Of course, raw productivity isn’t the only benefit. Having employees work from home can save businesses thousands of dollars per month (per employee) depending on office expenses, and could also raise employee morale, improving retention and collaboration. On top of that, remote workers take fewer sick days and less vacation time, giving them more work days overall.