Tag: technology

Tech is behind most crime

High-tech crimes, such as document fraud, money laundering and online trading in illegal goods, are at the root of almost all serious criminality, according to Europe’s cops.

Europol said in a study of organized crime that it publishes every four years that cross-cutting criminal threats enable and facilitate most, if not all, other types of serious and organized crime,” such as drugs and people trafficking.

Ransomware, which blocks a person or company’s computer until a fee is paid to unlock it, has become a major concern.

But traditional crimes also now rely increasingly on new technology, such as the drug trade’s use of drones, and burglars using computers to scout neighbourhoods online and track social media posts to see when people are away from home.

Europol says there are some 5,000 international crime groups under investigation, with members from more than 180 nationalities.

Drug trafficking remained the largest criminal market in the European Union, generating some $25 billion of profit per year.
People smuggling has become more lucrative as wars and unrest in the Middle East and Africa have pushed record number of people to try to reach Europe, with 510,000 illegal crossings into the EU in 2016.

“Nearly all of the irregular migrants arriving in the EU along these routes use the services offered by criminal networks at some point during their journey,” Europol said.

2016 a bad year for tech celebs too

idbb_02_img0118While the world moaned about the surprise exit of so many celebs in 2016 it was a pretty rubbish year for tech celebs logging off too.

Most of them were pioneers but others wer important to the technology of humanity in general. For example David Balme, who was the royal navy bod resposible for capturing the the Nazi’s Enigma encryption device finally bought it.  Then there was Jane Fawcett who deciphered a crucial Enigma-encoded message during the war.
Erich Bloch who developed the first IBM mainframe and Intel CEO Andy Grove.
Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email pressed send, and John Ellenby, who invented the laptop clamed up for the last time. Bill Campbell the brains behind Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Larry Page, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos stopped giving his sage advice.
John Glenn the first American to orbit the earth took off for the last time. Joe Sutter the main who gave us the 747 jumbo jet departed. Bob Ebeling, who warned that the Challenger space shuttle could explode went the way of Kassandra. Vera Rubinm, who confirmed the existance of Dark Matter has stepped into the light.
It was game over for Jory K. Prum, who scored 120 video games and the final edition for David Bunnell who founded more computer mags than you could point a stick at.
Finally our very own Tone the Phone, Tony Dennis, the pioneering reporter who covered mobile phones before anyone else went to the snug in the great Hart and Gartner in the sky.
Yeah it was a pretty shit year for technology too.  Their like will never be seen again.



German robot maker divorces US arm

9001fd8dad9c18686a3bd19bd803603cGerman industrial robot maker Kuka has flogged off its Systems US-Aerospace-Business to Advanced Integration Technology to satisfy demands from US watchdogs who were unhappy about its takeover by a Chinese buyer.

Home appliance maker Midea  launched its offer for Kuka in May, the biggest Chinese deal for a German industrial technology company.

Kuka said its takeover by Midea needed the approval of the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.

“The sale of the Systems US-Aerospace-Business is a crucial prerequisite to obtain these approvals,” it said.

However there is a wave of hostility in the US over Chinese firms coming over there and buying up their companies particularly if these have strategic technologies abroad without allowing reciprocal transactions at home. The US earlier this month blocked a deal for a Chinese buyer to take over German chip equipment maker Aixtron for this reason.

Kuka’s Systems Aerospace business focuses on tooling and the automation of assembly processes such as drilling and riveting for aircraft manufacturing.

Trump fear being used to lure tech migration

trumpuckerA Canadian startup is using the fear of Donald Trump to lure tech talent across the border.

“Thinking of moving to Canada? Sortable is hiring,” the advertising company wrote on its website over a snap of Trump.

The Ontario startup claims 31 percent of Americans would think about escaping to Canada if Trump is elected. Odd really given that if 31 percent would do something as drastic as move, you would think they could just vote to prevent him being elected.

“Now, while we don’t think Americans will actually move en masse to Canada if the election doesn’t go their way, we do want to extend an offer. Because it’s the polite, Canadian thing to do,” the advert said.

Google has reported that searches for “how can I move to Canada” surged last month after Trump proved a favorite in the Super Tuesday primaries, and the Canadian government’s immigration site is being hit with heavy traffic.

Canada is serious about poaching Silicon Valley tech talent. A group of Canadian mayors will visit California next week to encourage Facebook, Twitter, Square and Google to have a look at Canada’s growing startup scene.

Trump has been criticized for his inflammatory stance on immigration — among other things — calling for a wall along the Mexican border and a ban on Muslim immigrants. Canada’s newly elected prime minister Justin Trudeau has welcomed Syrian refugees to Canada, was elected because he did the opposite.

Still it is not clear what the US immigrants would do in Canada. True, they would get the Queen as the head of state, which is something they always wanted, but there would be a lack of guns and violence, not to meantion socialist healthcare, they will not know what to do with themselves.

Luddites were wrong — tech does not kill jobs

luddites-textile-mill-2Technology creates more jobs than it destroys, and while we might fear robots coming over here and taking our jobs, actually they will be doing us a favour, according to a new report.

Economists at Deloitte were crunching the numbers of census results in England and Wales since 1871 and have found that the rise of machines has been a job creator rather than making working humans obsolete.

Findings by Deloitte such as a fourfold rise in bar staff since the 1950s or a surge in the number of hairdressers this century suggest that technology has increased spending power, and created new demand and new jobs.

Their study, shortlisted for the Society of Business Economists’ Rybczynski prize, argues that the debate has been skewed towards the job-destroying effects of technological change, which are more easily observed than its creative aspects.

Authors Ian Stewart, Debapratim De and Alex Cole said that going back over past jobs figures paints a more balanced pictures.

“The dominant trend is of contracting employment in agriculture and manufacturing being more than offset by rapid growth in the caring, creative, technology and business services sectors,” they write.

“Machines will take on more repetitive and laborious tasks, but seem no closer to eliminating the need for human labour than at any time in the last 150 years.”

The study found that hard, dangerous and dull jobs have declined.

In some sectors, technology has quite clearly cost jobs, but Stewart and his colleagues question whether they are really jobs we would want to hold on to. Technology directly substitutes human muscle power and, in so doing, raises productivity and shrinks employment.

“In the UK the first sector to feel this effect on any scale was agriculture,” says the study.

In 1871, 6.6 percent of the workforce of England and Wales were classified as agricultural labourers. Today that has fallen to 0.2 percent , a 95 percent decline in numbers.

The census data also provide an insight into the impact on jobs in a once-large, but now almost forgotten, sector. In 1901, in a population in England and Wales of 32.5 million, 200,000 people were engaged in washing clothes. By 2011, with a population of 56.1 million just 35,000 people worked in the sector.

“A collision of technologies, indoor plumbing, electricity and the affordable automatic washing machine have all but put paid to large laundries and the drudgery of hand-washing,” says the report.

Caring professions like healthcare make up a bigger proportion of the workforce.

The report cites a “profound shift”, with labour switching from its historic role, as a source of raw power, to the care, education and provision of services to others.

It found a 909 per cent rise in nursing auxiliaries and assistants over the last two decades. Analysis of the UK Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics suggest the number of these workers soared from 29,743 to 300,201 between 1992 and 2014.

In the same period there was also a 580 per cent increase in teaching and educational support assistants, 183 per cent increase in welfare, housing, youth and community workers and a 168 per cent increase in care workers and home carers

At the same time we say a 79 per cent drop in weavers and knitters from 24,009 to 4,961, a 57 per cent drop in typists and a 50 per cent drop in company secretaries.

What is a little more alarming was a 20-fold rise in accountants. The 1871 census records that there were only 9,832 accountants in England and Wales and that has risen twentyfold in the last 140 years to 215,678.

In some sectors – including medicine, education and professional services – technology has raised productivity and employment has risen at the same time, says the report.

“Easy access to information and the accelerating pace of communication have revolutionised most knowledge-based industries,” say the authors. At the same time, rising incomes have raised demand for professional services.

Technological progress has cut the prices of essentials, such as food, and the price of bigger household items such as TVs and kitchen appliances. The real price of cars in the UK has halved in the last 25 years, notes Stewart.

That leaves more money to spend on leisure, and creates new demand and new jobs, perhaps explaining the big rise in bar staff, he adds.

“Despite the decline in the traditional pub, census data shows that the number of people employed in bars rose fourfold between 1951 and 2011,” the report says.

‘Rising incomes have enabled consumers to spend more on personal services, such as grooming,’ says the report.

So while in 1871, there was one hairdresser or barber for every 1,793 citizens of England and Wales; today there is one for every 287 people.


Apple shares plummet

elepantsThe Tame Apple press is desperately searching for scapegoats as the share price in Jobs’ Mob plummeted like a free falling skydiving team of elephants.

It is inconceivable that the shares should take a tumble after it was reported that sales of Apple’s flagship iWatch had fallen by 90 percent, so the Tame Apple Press decided to blame China.

The Chinese share market is suffering from a bad case of burst bubble and the Tame Apple Press logically felt that since China is a key market for iPhones the company would suffer.

While that is true, many analysts in China had been suggesting that sales of expensive smartphones in China were slumping anyway and Apple was about to get a sales shock.

Apple shares were down two percent at $120.15 in afternoon trade and have lost about four percent since July 1.

Some investors fear that the turmoil could hurt consumer demand and the Chinese economy as a whole, after all it is impossible that the shine could go off Apple. Apple’s favourite press agency Reuters quoted FBR analyst Daniel Ives as saying that China was poised to be Apple’s “high-octane fuel for the next few years, especially for iPhones” Given a lot of the dark clouds we are seeing in China, that has spooked investors, he claimed.

Of course it was nothing to do with the Slice Intelligence that sales of the Apple Watch have dropped since its launch in April and the fact the product has not seen any significant boost for profits.

One of the big difficulties here is that independent analysts and journalists who have not sold their credibility by advertising for Apple can’t get their hands on data to tell what is really going on.

If Apple was seeing a crash in iPhones in China and a general iWatch product failure, that would be enough in its own right to cause shares to fall. If the problem is being caused by the Chinese share market then why are all the stories about how it will affect Apple?

Tech workers boycott IBM, Infosys and Manpower

Three US tech worker groups have called for a boycott of IBM, Infosys and Manpower, saying the outfits discourage US workers from applying for US IT jobs and doctor employment ads so that only foreigners can apply.

Bright Future Jobs, the Programmers Guild and WashTech have said it was time that companies look first for US workers to fill US IT jobs,

Donna Conroy, director of Bright Future Jobs, said the boycott aims to attract attention to the problem and put pressure on the IT staffing firms to change their practices.

Conroy claimed that a Manpower subsidiary has advertised for Indian IT workers to come to the US for openings anticipated more than a year in advance.

The advertisements in India are being placed even though “most Americans believe the nature of the tech industry is so fast-paced that staffing projections cannot be predicted a year a head.

Les French, president of WashTech said the boycott should also raise concerns about staffing firms violating equal employment laws.

Infosys has denied it avoids recruiting US IT workers. It said that it is recruiting for over 440 active openings across 20 states in the US.

The company’s external job posts give “everyone an equal opportunity to apply,” she added. The company supports several minority advocacy groups, she said. 

Indian email tsar has security fail

The man responsible for protecting India from evil US snooping has committed a security booboo of his own.

India has been designing a new email policy to secure government communications in the wake of US spying disclosures. This is top-secret stuff but apparently, the chap in charge, IT Minister Kapil Sibal,  favours Microsoft’s Hotmail.

According to RT it is hard to see how different it would have been from photocopying his emails and sending the NSA copies. Vole has since tightened up its email connections.

In this case, Sibal’s dirty American secret became known to the public after he sent an email inviting journalists to the launch of his new personal website using his Hotmail account.

Sibal refused to comment but other officials have indicated that most people in the Ministry seem addicted to US spy friendly web mail such as Gmail.

It has been estimated that 90 percent of Indian government officials use private email accounts for professional purposes.

The thing is, they say, that they keep moving, get different designations, go different places and with that, their emails change. They lose contacts and important emails, the official said.

The official email system is rubbish and needs a lot of work, one official claimed to the local press.

Senior government workers like foreign ministry officials, the information and broadcasting minister and the health ministry secretary, also use Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo instead of their work accounts.

India announced it was spending $11 million to bring around five million public employees onto the government’s email domain, powered by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) as early as mid-December. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen


Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU: Part One

Wednesday’s IDF Keynote started by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of lives lost on 9-11 in 2001. From there, it was business as usual with product hype and promises of future success.

Intel seems to be spotlighting health. It opened with a feel-good video of Jack Andraka, child prodigy and biology whiz. Andraka is a high school sophomore who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in December 2012 for inventing a new method to detect a lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

From there, Intel moved into its theme of “The Internet of Things.” One thing that aroused curiosity was a dull white plastic wristband on every seat. It became an attention-getter later in the programme. In the meantime, everyone got a shot at the podium to talk about their pet project.

Doug Fisher, VP General Manager Software and Services Group, gave a few brief remarks, then introduced Dr. Herman Eul, VP General Manager Mobile and Communications Group. He started off with a video about MTV and Intel getting together to improve the audience’s experience because they do not really understand how wireless works, and what are its limitations.

Eul said the goal is to make the mobile platform smarter, the CPU more powerful, and the imaging performance better. He did a brief introduction of “Bay Trail,” the next-generation Atom Z3000 ,  focusing on it being used as a gaming platform. He showed that it is capable of running Windows – which is called heavy legacy software – or running Android OS, Apple OS, Chrome OS, or Linux OS. Bay Trail is a 64-bit processor, built using Intel’s Silvermont 22nm micro-architecture. There will be six variants of the chip available – with dual and quad-core configurations. Clock speeds will range from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Bay Trail’s Hardware and Software supports:  

  • Windows (32/64-bit) and/or Android and/or Chrome
  • Displays resolutions up to 2500 x 1600 (Retina display)
  • Dual independent displays
  • Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • USB 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, NFC, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS
  • X 11, Open GL 3.0 graphics
  • Up to 13MP camera on the rear with Zero shutter lag, burst mode, digital video stabilization, 1080p recording at 60FPS and up to 2MP on the front.

Eul then brought Victoria Molina on stage, a fashion industry consultant and former executive for Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and the Gap, who explained her virtual shopping experience application. They developed it using the Intel Android SDK in about a week  – but gave no information on the experience level of their programmers.

Molina said the most important part of this application is the fit map, an important factor in making the apparel attractive on the wearer, to attain a “cool” outcome. The application uses an avatar based around the person’s measurements, height and weight, and a facial photograph. The shopper goes out to the web site where they want to shop and chooses the clothing to virtually try on before purchasing. Next, the website pulls up sample clothing from their product lines.

After you build your ensemble of clothing, then you can adjust the clothing so the fit is tight, medium, or loose. After deciding on your look, you go through the “Cat Walk” show-n-tell process. That means the avatar is dressed with each one of the outfits in the size and drape you want and it looks like you are a model on a fashion show runway. Molina said, “This will revolutionise the online shopping experience. Because of the huge “cool factor”.

Next, Intel focused on a Bay Trail small-form-factor tablet running and editing videos. Eul invited Jerry Shen, chief executive of Asus, to introduce its T100, a 2-in-1 Bay Trail notebook with over ten hours of battery life. “We are very excited about the Bay Trail quad-core promise,” Shen said.

Asus is more optimistic than Intel regarding battery longevity. Intel claims Bay Trail tablets could weigh as little 14.1 ounces and offer more than eight hours of battery life when the users are watching high-definition video.

Neil Hand, Dell’s VP of Tablets, showed its  Venue 8-inch, Windows 8.1, Bay Trail tablet that is going to be shipping soon. He said it has 4G LTE.
Eul talked briefly about upcoming Merryfield, a 22nm SoC which is build on the Silvermont architecture specifically for smartphones. We were told that Airmont, a 14nm process engineering SoC with all the features of Bay Trail for tablets, is on schedule for Q3 2014 release.

Finally, Eul satisfied our curiosity by showing his audio DJ idea which activated those dull white plastic bracelets that were sitting on each chair. A video was projected onto the giant screens in the auditorium showing the Keynote audience and the wristbands lighting up in synch with Eul’s music.

The presentation took another turn with Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel which will be covered in part two.