Facebook Decides to do Some Spring Cleaning

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Let’s face it…. Facebook is getting extremely buy nowadays. People are constantly making accounts on the social media network to connect with loved ones, communicate with friends and to strive to be the most popular person online. However, with so much traffic, FB is in a constant state of deletion. How many times have you seen a fake account, or a message that was considered spam and even accounts that people set up and never use. Because all of this is an issue, the social network has decidedly done some spring cleaning. For the first time, they released their Community Standards Enforcement Report which details how many fake accounts its taken down in the first quarter of 2018. The numbers were indeed staggering; a whopping 583 million fake accounts were removed during the first three months of this year alone, most of which were blocked within minutes of registering. This equates to an average of over 6.5 million attempts to create fake accounts from the beginning of January to the end of March.

These numbers are a bit scary. Knowing that so many people are out there creating these fake accounts make you wonder what the motives are and if Facebook is ever going to be 100% secure. Although hacking has become a constant in our present day with the advent of enhanced technologies, Facebook, as a number one social network needs to be properly prepared to deal with such. Although they deleted so many accounts already, what’s to say about those few million that have slipped through the cracks. And these few million could still have malicious intentions in harming the system. Not to mention Facebook has already been dealing with the increased pressure from lawmakers about how powerful a network it has become. It has also dealt with disinformation campaigns from Russian trolls and data scandal involving almost 100 million individuals. Although FB believes it is prepared with its AI in blocking these fake accounts, AI is not always reliable. Combating such issues will only get tougher as technology continues to expand and become more complex.

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Technology Review (5/18)

SELF DRIVING CARS

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For years we have heard rumors about autonomous vehicles and now they are in the process of full development. Vehicles that have been coined self-operated have actually been around for a while now.  In fact, self-driving cars should be of no surprise to most people as the NYC subway is controlled by an AI and there are military aircrafts that strictly fly based off of computerized demands. A company called Waymo officially abandoned test drivers behind the wheels of their autonomous vehicles in Arizona back in November of 2017. They are now in the process of launching a self-driving taxi service in the suburbs of Phoenix. The development of these vehicles, although a bit scary at first thought, could offer many potential benefits; more efficient commuting, more free time, fewer traffic incidents and of course a major step in innovative technologies.

In fact, the Tesla company states that their auto-pilot option will be ready to drive itself from California to New York in the near future. This is good news for Tesla owners as all they would need is an update to their vehicle and it will already be capable of self-driving. However, even with such a major leap in technology and other benefits there is still a fear that many could lose their jobs and many jobs could become more demanding. This innovation is advantageous, but it could result in an economic rift.

COMPUTATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

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Computational photography is a feature that is on the up and up. It refers to the many avenues taken by engineers with advanced software that will enhance digital cameras. The camera pieces and parts we all know and admire are not being replaced, but the software being implemented by engineers will make many new magical moments possible when it comes to getting the best and most desired shots, while also making these devices affordable. In case you haven’t noticed, our phones are constantly getting sleeker, thinner and more covertly portable and the images captured from such devices are only getting clearer and highly defined. One of the biggest influences in that feat is software which adds better depth of field effects. Even professionals are beginning to shoot with iPhones, Samsung Phones and Google Phones as they have each exhibited superior HDR processing and integrate many AI features.

UPDATED NINTENDO

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Nintendo is back and better than ever! The death of the Wii U was an unfortunate event in early 2017 although it was a promising console. The simple fact is that it was never able to take off in the way it needed to to gain fame from audiences. Although upsetting, many were taken aback when the Switch hit the market. The Switch brought back the classic sense of the Nintendo platform; inexpensive, gimmick-focused and a shitload of excellent, nostalgic titles. However, it was its signature feature that brought many past and present fans flocking to retrieve it. The Switch can go seamlessly from console play on the TV to mobile play (a feature that made me think hmmm if this was possible on the PS Vita would it still be popular today?). Ports of older games like Skyrim and Doom are actually fresh takes because they are now mobile games that are almost as good as their counterparts on other consoles. Although not a recent technology, the Switch is still popular and deserves praise for its features especially games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild which was one of the best high quality games produced on the system. The Switch also gives some of the popular systems such as PS4 and XBox One a run for their money.

PROOF WRISTBAND

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Driving drunk is both incompetent and dangerous for anyone and no one should ever do it. However, sometimes we are in a position where making that choice may be difficult even after having several drinks that you assume may not have gotten you intoxicated. Monitoring your blood alcohol content without a proper breathalyzer test is not always possible until now. Proof is a unique and elegant solution to this problem; it is a wearable wristband that can discretely analyze your BAC levels through your skin. Developers of the product were able to successfully reach their target goal for funding and Proof will begin shipping at full production capacity sometime this year.

 

REVERSE MICROWAVE

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The microwave was originally produced to heat up meals in a rush. However, sometimes people need things frozen quickly. Some may say “why not just use a freezer?”, but freezers take time to do their job. Frigondas, is an innovative home kitchen technology which can cool and freeze food and drinks in mere minutes and can also serve a dual purpose as a standard microwave as well. There is no set release date for the product, but it will be available in the U.S. in the near future.

8 Google Reveals

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Google recently held a developer conference in which major new developments and improvements to current technology are discussed. This year executives graced the stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California and introduced changes in Android, Google Assistant, Maps, Photos and other AI.

Some of the major highlights are listed below:

Gmail can now AutoComplete entire emails!

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Now this is impressive. Through a new feature called Smart Compose the user will keep hitting the tab button and Google will automatically complete your message. I was surprised at this as it demonstrates the capability of Google’s intuitive nature. It will analyze how you have been responding to emails in the past as well as the type of people who you have been responding to as well as evaluating your email patterns. This feature could save many people time wasted throughout the day when having to respond to multiple emails. In fact, any one could test out the featue right now!

Google Photos feature will Share Photos w/ Friends in the Photo

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Another interesting development is the Suggested Actions feature. This feature can easily spot friends in your photos and offer to share those photos with those people at the press of a button. For those that are photo buffs or social media addicts, this could be a great addition to devices. Friends can easily attain photos that they are in and then quickly share the photo with others.

Google Photos Improvement

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Further additions were added to Google Photos. One of them is the ability to convert the photo document into a PDF. Another addition is being able to remove color from photos which sounds familiar, but you can also remove color in specific areas. You are also capable of re-colorizing black and white or any older photos to reinvigorate the image. These features will automatically convert the simple Google Photos application to a more powerful image editing application.

Google Assistant Upgrades!

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Google Assistant has indeed been a success for the company. It has become just as popular, if not more popular than its counterparts; Siri, Cortana and Alexa. However, the assistant lacked something in comparison to those devices; a natural feel. But this will change as CEO Sundar Pichai said the new voice Google Assistant will be modeled after is none other than R&B star John Legend. This is exciting to hear as many are fans of his because of his soothing vocal. The change to Assistant will however be coming later this year.

In addition to sounding more natural, Google Assistant has also become much smarter. A new feature called Continued Conversation will get the conversation going instead of having to say “Okay Google” every time. With Continued Conversations you could ask as many questions as you’d like and Assistant will recall past answers.

Google Releases New Android

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Android P, Google’s new Android will focus on “digital well-being”. Something that many people need to do is not be so focused on technology especially when around family and friends. Technology has undoubtedly created a society in which we prefer to communicate through digital means. However, Android P will help you spend less time on your phone and more time with loved ones. The new technology will give you information about how you use your phone and even create controls to limit screen time.

In addition, the Android P is paving the innovative road for the future of mobile devices. They are developing the phone without buttons so that emphasizing gestures in reception of responses will be the new norm. Android P will also enable a “shush mode” so that when your phone is facedown on a table, it will automatically activate the “do not disturb” feature.

Google Subscribe

Logging in and viewing multiple publications has never been so easy with Google’s new Subscribe feature. If you have subscribed to multiple publications like newspapers and online magazines it will let you access all your paid content anywhere.

Improved Google Maps

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A very interesting new technology has been designed for Google Maps. The new technology will let you use your own phone’s camera to navigate around town using Street View. If you waved your phone in front of you, you’d see the Street View version of what you’re seeing. If you needed directions, giant arrows or even animated characters you could easily be pointed where to go next.

Google Lens Upgrades

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An interesting new feature for Google Lens has been developed. If you point your phone’s camera at an excerpt in a book, you can easily highlight the text with your finger and copy it to your phone. This can be useful for those who have favorite books and favorite sections in each book, and even for students who use certain books for studying. No matter the use this is a pretty cool feature.

In addition, Google Lens will also include a feature called Style Match. Pointing the phones camera at an outfit will activate the object-recognition and machine-learning features for buying that item online as well as displaying similar styles to your liking.

 

 

Robot Bees on Mars???

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So NASA has a plan to place robotic bees into outer space. Although this ma sound odd, there has been a history of different specimens other than humans who have gone beyond our Earth. The first supposedly being fruit flies in 1947 who reached an altitude of 68 miles and were recovered alive by parachute. A mouse was launched in 1950 and reached an altitude of 85 miles but died when the rocket disintegrated. Several monkeys have been launched as well Albert’s I – IV all having died due to rocket failure. And a myriad of other specimens such as stray dogs, rabbits, cats, turtles, jellyfish and even spiders have been sent to outer space. Having said this, bees are now the least oddest things that people have decidedly sent into space, but the fact that they are robotic makes it interesting.

NASA is supposedly working to design a robotic bee that can fly to Mars. Officially announced on March 30th of this year, the bee is in its early stages of development, but the idea stems from the need to replace rovers. Rovers have for years been the go to device for NASA to gain insight into life outside of our planet, but they have proven to be too slow, bulky and very expensive to build and manage. The bees in development will be quite the opposite, small, fast-moving and with a swarm can cover relatively more ground than a few rovers at a lower cost. One may wonder how such a small device will be able to sustain its robotic life; the answer is due to Mars’ low gravity which carries one-third of Earth’s gravitational pull which gives “Marsbees” the advantage over the thin atmospheric pressure. Marsbees will actually be able to do more than a rover by mapping Martian terrains and collecting viable samples of the air which intentions on discovering life. Although still in the early stages their flapping-wing designs allows teams to integrate low-power, highly efficient technology which is integral for exploring the Red Planet. Hopefully the plan is successful and these bots can explore not just Mars, but other planets in the future.

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Development of Killer Robots!

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We have all witnessed movies such as iRobot, The Machine, The Terminator, The Matrix and even the Time Machine. Many of these settings portray an often futuristic, dystopian society where humanity is pitted against artificial intelligence in a war for survival. Technology in these films are often revered as far more capable than humans, in a multitude of skills, strength and mind. And we are often seen as succumbing to these feats. Although a horrific thought sweeps through our minds upon watching these films, the concepts are not as farfetched as we may believe afterwards. Robots are frequently being developed to do a number of things in society and has not failed to replace humans in a number of different jobs. For example, the NY city subway has replaced many tellers with kiosks which is also the case at grocery stores with self checkout machines. For years robots have been used in automation in factories and are constantly being upgraded to provide more efficiency and better features.

It is no wonder that researchers from KAIST, a public university in Daejeon, South Korea, have been developing artificial intelligence technologies to be applied to military weapons; joining the global competition to develop autonomous arms. KAISR is researching the most efficient and effective ways of making military grade AI weaponry. However, robotics experts from nearly 30 different countries have collaborated on an open letter to call for a boycott against this project. AI experts claim that KAIST developed a “front facility” called the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence to continue development of suh weapons even though the UN is making attempts at safeguarding the world against killer AI. To combat KAIST’s new project researchers from different countries are boycotting the university until the president declares their execution of the killer AI project. There is a fear that such development could lead to a third revolution in warfare as these weapons would encourage war. There is an ethical concern with this as terrorists could use these to decimate innocent populations. KAIST has in the past had a reputable stance in technology and should instead focus their work on AI devices that improve life instead of harm it.

Smart Cities: Quayside, Toronto

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Recent uses of remote sensing in coverage of land mapping has drawn favorable attention and some desirable results. Remote sensing is literally used in thousands of applications such as sea ice monitoring, ship tracking and national defense in dangerous areas such as the Arctic and for light detection and ranging to accurately measure how far things are when it comes to airplanes and drones. Remote sensing has also been used in the active development of smart cities. A smart city is designed to address the needs of the various businesses, institutions and the citizens that reside within it by employing the use of information-communications systems to optimize management of energy resources, decentralize energy production and integrate business models and economic models for support. Smart cities often combine information technology with infrastructure, architecture and human power to address major issues. Objects in such cities are infused with intelligence factors with a basic concept of integrating both the physical and the virtual world. Most objects in smart cities are given additional competencies involving sensing so they can share data and optimize their own functions.

Although there have been a number of smart city projects, most of them have failed to accomplish their full potential or ultimate goals. A new project in Toronto, called Quayside, is hoping to change the pattern of failure within smart city projects, by rethinking an urban neighborhood from the ground up and rebuilding it around the latest digital technologies. Sidewalk Labs, an affiliate of Alphabet Inc, an urban innovation organization to improve urban infrastructure with technological solutions, has teamed up with the Canadian government to develop this project scheduled for Toronto’s industrial waterfront. One of the major focuses of Quayside is the ability to evaluate solutions of design and technologies on information from networks of remote sensor based objects which gather and supply data on everything in the city including air quality, noise levels and human interaction, behavior and activities. Further plans intend on developing vehicles that are autonomous, having robots move beneath the surface doing menial chores like delivering mail and garbage removal and having sensors that have extended capabilities. In addition, Sidewalk Labs intends on leaving their software and systems open for others to create and develop additional services that could be beneficial within the city much like developers build apps for mobile devices. The company will develop technologies to manage sun, wind and rain which could double the number of daylight hours and also technology to improve on construction whereas cost of living is decreased.

Check out a video about Quayside on YouTube.

Siri, Cortana, and Alexa: Are They Spying on Us?

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iPhone’s Siri

Apple’s intelligent personal assistant titled Siri has been instrumental in sparking a new wave of other personal assistants from other notable companies. Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant have all been on the competitive edge of smart operating systems that help in making our lives a bit simpler. Such assistants use voice queries and analyze language patterns to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions through delegation in Internet services. Assistant’s as of late have been able to order us food, play music, play games with us, and even control other devices connected through similar smart systems.

Although these assistant’s are helpful in our daily activities, they do listen to EVERYTHING we say when active. There is something very uncomfortable about the idea that everything you are saying is being listened to, especially by a robotic device and not an actual person. In addition, the companies that we are allowing to do so are the ones that are making money off of us. Big companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon could potentially be using such as a form of business intelligence which is to learn what their customers desire in a product or service and supply it. This would of course let the companies tap into the minds of consumers and generate products that will inevitable supply them with greater revenue. However, privacy becomes a central issue when devices are continuously listening to everything that goes on.

Some may say that the idea of Big Brother is ingrained in us and that we are being paranoid to believe they are listening to our every word. However, vast amounts of data are constantly being processed through technological devices that are everywhere around us. It is difficult to go anywhere without some device being present in your surroundings. Most devices also save all the data and files it acquires for later use.  There is undoubtedly benefits to these devices such as correcting human error, providing accurate maps for travel, making appointments, looking up information, getting updates, being compatible with other devices, and also being able to call other services amongst many other advantages. Nonetheless, it begs the questions:  Should we sacrifice our privacy, and possibly security, for artificially intelligent systems and their short-lived rewards? My suggestion is to be more cautious when using them!

 

Technology Review (4/18)

TOP 5 TECHNOLOGIES OF APRIL 2018

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Dell XPS 13

Dell’s most popular line of laptop computers is about to be redesigned. The new line is said to be thinner and lighter than the original versions. The new line will also feature new crystalline silica material with white color woven in like fabric in nine composite layers.

SPEAKER

Smart Speakers

Competition for Amazon’s Echo has finally arisen from Google. Google plans on bringing the smart speaker to the market called the Google Home Max, which is a larger version of the $129 Google Home Speaker. Max is pricey at $399, but buyers will get their money’s worth. Max is made up of dual 4.5-inch woofers and smart sound which employs machine learning to adjust the equalizer settings to match the acoustic in the room it is in. It is also built with voice activated Google Assistant. It is also compatible with services like YouTube Music and Spotify and can stream over WiFi or Bluetooth.

PHONE

Galaxy A8

One of the best phones to hit the market in 2018 is the Samsung Galaxy A8 model. This sleek new model already feels more comfortable with a more distinctive grip than its other model the Galaxy S8. This less pricey Galaxy phone has what looks like a bigger screen then the S8 because its lacks the screen curves. The camera and the fingerprint sensor are strategically places in a vertical layout on the back of the phone for ease of use and feasibility. It is ultimately a compact phone that is secure in the user’s hands while also adhering to the new cutting edge designs in mobile devices. The A8 devices run on an Exynos 7885 octa-core processor paired with 4GB of RAM. The AMOLED panel offers a resolution of 1080×2220 pixels and provides 2 more hours of charge than the S8 for an average of 26 hours of battery life. The A8 is an overall impressive device… check it out.

CAR

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the most impressive vehicles on the market as of late. It has been so anticipated by buyers that pre-order numbers reached a whopping 400,000 with no other automobile maker pulling off such a remarkable feat. However, the Tesla Model is not being praised here for performance, but for its use of cutting edge technology. This car is one of the most popular electric cars to date and has already created an iPhone-level buzz about its release. Accident prevention technologies are hard-wired into the interior as well as the latest connectivity ports for audio devices. Some believe that eventually the vehicle will be built with sensors and computing power needed to drive itself. Wouldn’t that be something!

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Magic Leap One

Magic Leap is one of the most interesting technologies of 2018. It employs wearable devices that are meant to augment or develop mixed realities for the wearer. Magic Leap One includes both the augmented reality headset seen above and the website seen below to allow non-technical creators to build their own applications, content and experiences. Do not get this confused with three dimensional applications however, as this augmented version allows users to tie the 3D world to real spaces. You can decorate spaces with items that will stay placed after u leave and even play games that interact with elements of the same physical space. Magic Leap is still a complex platform that will introduce elements completely new into the consumer market. They have even paired with Madefire to add comical depth to their platform for a more creative experience.

Cloud Computing: Is it safe?

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We are on the advent of continuous innovation with technological advancement in this time we call the Information Age. One such technology that is on the peak of the horizon is Cloud computing. Cloud computing, any of those who are unfamiliar with the term, deals with using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data rather than on a local server or personalized computer. Most popular services nowadays are backed by Cloud computing such as Shopify, Microsoft Office 360, Adobe Creative Cloud, Intuit Quickbooks, Rosetta Stone Catalyst and a myriad of other services and products. The Cloud is becoming so popular not only because it others several models of service; Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service, Database-as-a-Service, but it is also flexible, scalable, cost efficient, offers unlimited storage, provides backup and recovery features, offers automatic integration and and can be quickly deployed.

However, hindrances to its growing popularity continue to be the same; a lack of efficient security. For instance, public clouds are just that PUBLIC. With any public system, there is a greater risk associated. Public clouds offer multi-tenancy features and the number of users continues to increase. As users increase it is possible for them to gain access to other organizations and their private data. There are also malicious insiders who may want to obtain or leak data from organizations. Since the cloud is hosted by a third party we have to trust that they operate with integrity which is not always the case. There is an increased exploitation of this innovative technology and this paves the way for such significant research interests. Common sense helps us realize that no system can be completely rid of all security threats especially when so many businesses of the present are constantly being hacked. No system can be completely immune to risk or attack, however, a system can be managed effectively against security threats. Studying paradigms like security with the cloud can effectively alter the way in which we consider how to protect data an how we an mitigate threats to cloud systems.

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