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This unplayable wax recording from 1885 is now playable due to modern technology. The voice: telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell at the Smithsonian Institution.

Researchers have identified the voice of Alexander Graham Bell for the first time in some of the earliest audio recordings held at the Smithsonian Institution.

The National Museum of American History announced Wednesday that Bell’s voice was identified with help from technicians at the Library of Congress and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The museum contains some of the earliest audio recordings ever made. Researchers located a transcript of one recording signed by Bell. It was matched to a wax disc recording from April 15, 1885.“Hear my voice,” the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, said. The experimental recording also contains a series of numbers. The transcript notes the record was made at Bell’s Volta Laboratory in Washington. Additional recordings  include lines from Shakespeare.

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There’s a new way to charge your smart phone with the charge card

ChargeCard utilizes standard USB 2.0 allowing for simultaneous data transfer and charging of your phone. This allows you to tether internet, transfer photos and charge your phone all at the same time. Or you can just use it to charge your phone and your data will stay safe and protected on your phone.

 ChargeCard allows for high-output charging which means that you can super-charge your phone when charging from a high amp output USB charger.

ChargeCard works just like your standard USB smartphone cable which you currently use to charge or sync your phone. As such, it will work on all the same USB ports, from your computer to flat screen TVs, game consoles, cars and beyond.

ChargeCard  fits in your wallet! ChargeCard is the world’s slimmest USB charging and sync cable

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Bitcoins

Bitcoin collecting has caused a wave of supercomputers techies hoping to make them a small fortune – even if it costs load of cash to power.

Specially developed Bitcoin ‘mining’ computers are either homemade or can be purchased from one of the growing number of online stores dedicated to cashing in on the supply side of the cult currency trend.

The 21 million Bitcoins hidden across an internet-based network,  are expected to all be found by 2040. To unearth them computers have to solve the complex processor-intensive equations which hold them.

What is a Bitcoin?

It’s a piece of data locked in an internet-based network by a complex equation computers can break.

Once released it can be traded and used like money online and can be purchased with real cash.

Many websites are now taking Bitcoins as a form of currency. As well as digital currency, Bitcoin miners enjoy the competitive nature of unlocking the coins.

Famous fans include the Winklevoss twins who own around 1 percent of Bitcoins – currently worth around $11million

It has been dismissed by some as a Ponzi Scheme and touted by others as the future of money. It is not centrally controlled and it’s unique and complex set up means the market cannot be altered or hacked, according to the developers

There are 21 million coins predicted to last until 2140 and their finite nature means they perform more like a commodity, such as gold. The coins first emerged in 2008 and launched as a network in 2009.

They were introduced by an obscure hacker whose identity is a mystery but is known as Satoshi Nakamoto, which is thought to be a pseudonym. Users choose a virtual wallet from one of the various providers which enables them to receive, give and trade coins from other users.  Bitcoins can be bought from specialist currency exchanges and online marketplaces such as eBay. Bitcoins mining machines can unlock many of the potentially lucrative coins – essentially computer codes – which are then used as currency online making their collectors potentially very rich.

The Bitcoin network, set up by a mysterious programmer under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, is also designed to get more complex the more miners there are looking for Bitcoins – opening the potential for ever-developing mining machines.

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CourseSmart, a new Silicon Valley  tracking technology that allows professors to track their students’ use of digital textbooks. The program is the ultimate academic Big Brother. The New York Times, reported that thanks to the program, professors “know when students are skipping pages, failing to highlight significant passages, not bothering to take notes – or simply not opening the book at all.”

CourseSmart gives each student using its text an “engagement index,” based on how many times the e-textbook was opened, for how long, how many pages were read, how much and what sort of material was highlighted, and whether notes were taken. That “engagement index” is available for professors to use to understand how individual students are responding to course material.

The CourseSmart technology, is expected to be widely adopted by universities this fall. Currently, more than 3.5 million students and educators use CourseSmart textbooks, according to the NYT. Among the schools that have already adopted the program are Clemson University, Central Carolina Technical College, Stony Brook University, and Texas A&M San Antonio. 

Big Brother is Watching! But CourseSmart’s proponents say it comes with a bevy of benefits.

The technology offers educators a powerful tool in tracking how students absorb and respond to course material. That feedback then allows professors to adjust how they present course material, tailor curricula to different sets of students, even reach out to individual students with low “engagement indexes.”

Eventually, CourseSmart says the “engagement index” data will help its publishers, including Cengage, Macmillan, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Wiley, design more effective e-textbook editions.

There are predicting that today’s students, who have grown up in a digital world that tracks their every move – from Facebook to Google to Amazon – won’t be bothered by CourseSmart.

 

Is Wifi Signal Harmful?

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Gadgets that we use to connect or to stream WiFi signals work under safety standards in order to protect us from harmful effects. These devices have its own emission of microwave radiation, especially when you have your WiFi card on and you are connected to a router. The signal transmitted by a WiFi router is 100,000 times less than a microwave oven. WiFi routers work with low voltages and broadcast the signals in all directions.  Every time you double the distance between you and the router, you will reduce the intensity of the transmitted energy by 3/4. This means that the highest radiation can be found closest to the router, and as you move away, you will encounter lower radiation. (this is the  same principle of the inverse square law).

People  have reported symptoms like headache, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances, skin symptoms and muscles stress, all associated with the presence of a WiFi router in their home or at the working space. This happens more often amongst people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

World Health Organisation conducted a study on this subject and concluded that there is no current evidence to confirm the harmful effects of WiFi signal (low-level radiation) on the human body. However, there are few gaps in the current documentation and more research is needed in order to be 100% accurate.

Suggestion:  Try keeping your router at least 3 meters away from your body. Try to switch off your laptop’s WiFi card if you’re not using it and, if you can, use a LAN connection. The best case scenario is to place it away from the room you sleep in.

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Much of the big data tools have been developed at the Walmart Labs, which was created after Walmart took over Kosmix in 2011. The products that were developed at Walmart Labs are ‘Social Genome’, ‘ShoppyCat and Get on the Shelf.

The Social Genome product allows Walmart to reach customers, or friends of customers, who have mentioned something online to inform them about that exact product and include a discount.
 Public data is combined from the web along with social data and proprietary data such as customer purchasing data and contact information. The result is , constantly changing, up-to-date knowledge base with hundreds of millions of entities and relationships. this provides  Walmart with a  better understanding of  the  what their customers are saying online. An example mentioned by Walmart Labs shows a woman tweeting regularly about movies. When she tweets “I love Salt”, Walmart is able to understand that she is talking about the movie Salt and not the condiment.

The Shoppycat product  developed by Walmart is able to recommend suitable products to Facebook users based on the hobbies and interests of their friends. 

Get on the Shelf  a crowd-sourcing solution that gave anyone the chance to promote his or her product in front of a large online audience. The best products would be sold at Walmart with the potential to suddenly reach millions of customers.

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A study published in The American Journal of Medical Quality has found a connection between hospital quality and Facebook ‘likes.’ The study investigated customer satisfaction surveys from 40 hospitals in New York City, and found a correlation between online popularity (Facebook likes) with patients’ propensity to recommend these 40 hospitals. The study found an even stronger relationship between Facebook likes and mortality rate, which was used as a (morbid) indication of overall hospital quality.

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This spring,the Brown University Library will host a series of talks  to celebrate the opening of the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library. Speakers will include Brown faculty and visiting scholars from across the academic disciplines who will discuss and use the Lab to demonstrate ways in which digital technologies have impact on their teaching and research and enable new forms of student learning and interaction

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The  petition asking President Obama to oppose a new rule restricting cell phone owners from unlocking their devices has passed the 100,000 signatures needed, meaning the White House now must respond.

The petition,  that now has more than 102,000 signatures, protests a regulation from the Library of Congress that prohibits unlocking phones without the carrier’s permission — even when a customer’s contract with the carrier has expired.

CTIA general counsel Michael Altschul wrote in a blog post  It “makes our streets just a little bit safer by making it harder for large-scale phone trafficking operations to operate in the open and purchase large quantities of phones, unlock them, and resell them in foreign markets”.

The petition is partly symbolic: The Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office are part of the legislative branch, not the executive branch, meaning that Obama cannot overturn the decision even if he disagreed with it.

Congress has the power to rewrite the law, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which hands the Library of Congress the effective power to regulate certain gadgets in the name of copyright law. And a nudge from the administration would speed up any DMCA legislative fixes. Under the DMCA, Americans are broadly prohibited from “circumventing” copyright-related technologies, with criminal penalties targeting people who profit from doing it. But the DMCA gives the Library of Congress the authority to grant exemptions, which it did for cell phone unlocking utilities in 2006 and 2010.

The Library of Congress reversed their position last fall, after lobbying from CTIA, which represents carriers including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel. It ruled (PDF) the exemption was no longer necessary because there are no “adverse effects” relating to locked phones, and unlocked phones are now readily available.

The Library of Congress’ regulatory turn around doesn’t affect jail breaking or rooting mobile phones, which is currently permitted through at least 2015.

 

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There’s a Petition to reverse a decision by the Library of Congress making the unlocking of mobile phones illegal that needs 15,000 more signatures by Saturday.

Over 85,000 people have signed a Whitehouse.gov petition asking President Barack Obama to reverse a decision by the Library of Congress making the unlocking of mobile phones illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

As of Wednesday morning, the petition, started by phone unlocking entrepreneur Sina Khanifar, still needed nearly 15,000 signatures by Saturday to trigger a response by the Obama administration.

Unlocking a phone is typically used to switch carriers. Jailbreaking a phone for the purposes of adding software unauthorized by the carrier or phone maker remains legal under the DMCA. It’s unlikely mobile carriers will seek prosecution for individual phone users, but operators of businesses that help consumers unlock their phones could face penalties of up to a $500,000 fine under the DMCA.

Khanifar said this week he’s optimistic 100,000 people will sign it by Saturday. The petition has recently won endorsements from Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat,

BIG DATA AND THE OSCARS

 

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DH Awards Voting 2012

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President Obama  has issued 23 executive actions on gun control and is  encouraging research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. He also challenged the private sector to develop innovations in gun safety.

One order calls for the issue of “a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence”. Obama is additionally asking Congress to provide the CDC $10 million to conduct research into the relationship between video games, violence and media images.

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