This sounds like something out of a Dan Brown book, but it isn't: The whole Internet is controlled by seven actual, physical keys.
The Guardian's James Ball was recently allowed to observe the highly secure ritual known as a key ceremony.
The people conducting the ceremony are part of an organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is responsible for assigning numerical Internet addresses to websites and computers and translating them into the normal web addresses that people type into their browsers.
For instance, type 126.96.36.199 into your browser, and you'll be taken to Business Insider's web page. But www.businessinsider.com is easier for people to remember. ICANN maps the numbers (easier for computers to use) with words (easier for humans to use).
If someone were to gain control of ICANN's database, that person would control the Internet. For instance, the person could send people to fake bank websites instead of real bank websites.
On the other hand, if a calamity happened, the ICANN database could need to be rebuilt. So ICANN came up with a way to do that without entrusting too much control to any one person. It selected seven people as key holders and gave each one an actual key to Internet. It selected seven more people to be backup keyholders: 14 people in all.
The physical keys unlock safety deposit boxes stashed around the world. Inside those boxes are smart keycards. Put the seven smartcards together and you have the "master key." The master key is really some computer code, a password of sorts, that can access the ICANN database.
Four times a year since 2010 the seven keyholders meet for the key ceremony where they generate a new master key, i.e. a new password.
The security to be admitted to the ceremony is intense, Ball reports, and involves passing through a series of locked doors using key codes and hand scanners, until entering a room so secure that no electronic communications can escape it.
The group conducts the ritual, then each person files out of the room one by one, and then they all head to a restaurant and party.
Mary-Ann Russon , - March 3, 2014 - ibtimes.co.uk It probably won't sing and dance like the Tupac hologram, but researchers with the University of Kent and the University of Portsmouth are working to develop an artificially intelligent hologram avatar that can be used to help elderly people continue to live independently.
The avatar could potentially save the NHS a lot of money as it would be able to take over some of the tasks performed by human carers, appearing as a virtual figure on the television, a tablet or as a hologram, with the sole purpose of watching out for the care recipient.
The avatar would be able to remind a person to take their medication, monitor their blood pressure and heart rate, analyse their speech patterns and facial expressions to gauge their mood, and detect if the person were in pain or had fallen over. It would also be able to contact emergency services for help.
A holographic avatar like Tupac could one day be used by the NHS to care for elderly peopleYouTube
This is the vision of the team behind the Responsive InTeractive Advocate (Rita) project, who have been awarded £500,000 from the Technology Strategy Board to create innovative solutions to public sector challenges.
"Although this project is at an early stage, with a number of technical, moral and ethical issues to be addressed, the development of Rita in the form of a humanised avatar could revolutionise how an individual's personal, social emotional and intellectual needs are met in the future," said Dr Jane Reeves, co-director of the University of Kent's Centre for Child Protection.
"Rita would exist as a digital champion, an advocate in the form of an avatar, providing a friendly interface between the individual, family, friends, professions and services."
Portsmouth will focus on developing the interactive avatar, while Winchester-based company Affective State will work on sensing and forecasting emotional well-being and Glasgow-based We Are Snook is focusing on the user experience design.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the strategy board said: "This is an expanding market and we need to radically rethink our approach to long-term care provision, providing options that will enable people to live with more dignity and autonomy.
"We focus innovation activity on areas where we think it can make the biggest difference. Late-life care is often regarded as an economic liability but it can actually be an engine for economic growth."
Tales From The Cloud - by Matt Weinberger - citeworld.com
The place: Salesforce's annual Dreamforce user conference.
The time: Late 2012. Ken Grady, CIO of New England Biolabs (NEB) -- a forty-year-old vendor of over a thousand different specialized enzymes, reagants, and the like for life sciences laboratories -- had made the trek with a few members of his team to San Francisco to learn more about how his company could leverage Salesforce's cloud-based CRM, which it had recently adopted.
After a long day of conference sessions, Grady returned to his hotel room with his head in the clouds. His team had recently tasked itself with coming up with a better way of distributing the vials of reagents to the scientists who make use of it. Under the current system, researchers would go to a NEB-owned freezer in their own institution, take out a vial, and mark what they took on a clipboard. An administrator would tally up what was taken and send New England Biolabs an invoice. Grady knew that there was a smarter way that would generate better insight into what was taken, when, and why.
"We were looking for the Apple Store experience," Grady says.
Must-read: Apple gets serious about serving IT He reached for a beer from the hotel's minibar. Which is when the penny dropped -- just as the hotel staff would notice the beer was gone the next day and charge him accordingly, the solution was a smarter freezer. Grady took his team to the bar that night and they sketched out their solution on a cocktail napkin.
Today, New England Biolabs' solution is made manifest in the form of a self-service experience. Scientists use a Dell Windows tablet embedded in the freezer and powered by a cloud app to scan their badge's barcode, scan the barcodes of whatever products they take, and complete the order. It enables NEB to keep better track of which scientists needed which products how often, and makes sure that stocks were being replenished and special requests ordered in a timely fashion, keeping users happy, says Grady.
In other words, these "talking freezers" report back to home base when they need to be refilled. It's a pretty cool example of how the Internet of Things will shape business.
If these freezers sound simple, that's because they was designed to be. The old clipboard-centric model worked for making sure New England Biolabs was paid whatever profits from the consignment it was due, but didn't have any clue about buying habits or rate of depletion. The company was at the mercy of research lab administrator to find out when they needed to come back and reload the freezer.
"It was a real arm's-length understanding of who's using our products," Grady says.
Just like any other commercial enterprise, NEB is looking for insights into and deeper engagement with its customers. There are plenty of other companies that sell enzymes and reagents, Grady says, and by making it simple for users to browse and special-order a reagent directly from the source, it speeds up the pace of the scientist's research while ensuring NEB maintains the customer's business. It's a win-win, Grady says. And since the interface is designed to be as close to a smartphone or tablet app as possible, Grady says that it's required virtually zero user training. You can see it in action in a video produced by Salesforce here.
According to Grady, there are two pillars that keep this system up behind the scenes.
The first is Heroku, the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) public cloud that Salesforce pitches as perfect for building and scaling customer-facing apps. Because New England Biolabs were Salesforce customers already, using Heroku to power the application made perfect sense: It hooks into the CRM they were already using to maintain customer relationships (especially important since different research institutions negotiate different discounts for NEB's products), while still enabling the all-important user-friendly experience for the researchers who make use of them. Grady says they tried other PaaS solutions, but Heroku was the obvious choice once they realized how well it fit into what they'd already built.
"Choosing Heroku was half natural evolution and half 'a-ha!' moment," Grady says.
The second pillar is a willingness to use consumer-grade hardware. The first version of the "talking freezer" project was built over only 100 days in early 2013. They were able to get it done relatively quickly by using Dell Windows tablets and servers you can buy in most electronics stores. By circumventing the need to go through a traditional enterprise procurement cycle, Grady's team was able to hack early and hack often, drastically shortening development.
Those first versions resembled an airport ticket kiosk, with a fair measure of the user-unfriendliness that implies, Grady says. But my maintaining the team's "willingness to hack" on the hardware, they were able to take a second hundred days and come up with a new revision that got much closer to the simple, intuitive interface they were looking for. Now, NEB's IT team expects to deliver new versions of the freezer solution every further hundred days going forward.
The project still has a way to go before it's ready for all of their hundreds of customer sites, Grady says. For instance, in some government research facilities, the freezers aren't allowed on to the local WiFi for security reasons. But by taking lessons from other early Internet of Things success stories, especially the FitBit, which stores data locally until it can do a Bluetooth sync with a device, Grady anticipates a solution isn't far off.
Similarly, in some international markets, New England Biolabs places their products in other companies' freezers, meaning they can't deploy the tablet. Solution? Make a downloadable smartphone app that does the same thing. Since it's all on Heroku anyway, building a mobile app that connects up to it is relatively trivial.
It's that approach that basically sums this project up, Grady says: if you're going to try to do what New England Biolabs has done and use the Internet of Things to deepen your relationships with your retail customers, "you have to do it in the cloud
If you've ever wanted to know how the iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint security works beyond a basic overview, you'll be glad to hear Apple has just delivered a motherlode of new details. An updated version of its iOS Security white paper (PDF) explains much of what happens to your finger data after you touch the sensor. In short, your information may be more hack-resistant than it seems at first glance. Each A7 chip has a unique secure space that neither the A7 nor Apple can read, and every authentication session is encrypted end-to-end. The company is also offering a deeper explanation of what it does with your fingerprint image, noting that the print only lasts in memory until it's turned into a decryption key. As we've known for a while, there are safeguards that wipe out that key after 48 hours of inactivity, a reboot or five failed login attempts. While the new insights will only have so much usefulness when developers can't use Touch ID for their own apps, they suggest that there's little to no chance of fingerprint theft or a large-scale data breach.
Telco claims users have been given ample warning about 20CN network's withdrawal. BT has dismissed claims the imminent shutdown of its first-generation broadband network will have “catastrophic consequences” for businesses that haven't upgraded.
The telecommunications giant plans to switch-off its 20th Century Network (20CN) at the end of next month, having gradually wound down its coverage over the past several years.
The network, which provides standard copper broadband speeds of up to 8Mbps, has been superseded and replaced by BT’s 20Mbps 21CN network in many places.
“Businesses cannot operate these days without decent internet access, so this is something that needs attention straightaway. ”At the moment, around 92 per cent of the UK is served by BT’s 21CN network, and in these areas its 8Mbps products will be withdrawn from 31 March.
In areas not covered by 21CN, BT has promised to maintain its legacy broadband network until the end of September 2014.
However, hosting provider Timico claims some businesses maybe ill-prepared for the looming withdrawal date and the move to 21CN.
Tony Tugulu, director of managed networks at Timico, said: “This switch-off will have catastrophic consequences for businesses who are unprepared for the migration to 21CN.
“In a worst case scenario, businesses could see their services cut off completely, leaving them with no internet connection and the potential for expensive reconnection charges.
“Businesses cannot operate these days without decent internet access, so this is something that needs attention straightaway,” Tugulu added.
BT dismissed the Timico’s assertions in a statement to IT Pro, explaining the retirement of its legacy broadband products has been well publicised to end users and the wider industry.
“The retirement of BT Wholesale’s legacy broadband products should come as no surprise to UK communications providers as we notified industry of our intention to retire the IPStream and Datastream products as far back as 2008,” the statement reads.
“Since then, we have been encouraging industry to migrate their business and consumer customers onto our next generation broadband network which delivers much faster speeds via advanced copper and fibre.
“Most communications providers have already completed or are nearing the end of migrating their customers across to the next generation network,” it added.
The company then went on to reiterate its commitment to maintaining its legacy networks in areas where 21CN has not yet been deployed.
“There is still plenty of time for end customers to migrate as we will continue to maintain the legacy broadband network until the end of September 2014,” the statement added.
“We would urge communications providers to migrate their customers onto the next generation network by the end of June 2014 however, and to contact us should they experience any problems.”
Microsoft will undergo another major management reshuffle under new CEO Satya Nadella, with former Skype boss, Tony Bates, and executive vice-president of marketing, Tami Reller, set to leave the company.
Executive vice president of advertising and strategy Mark Penn will become Microsoft’s chief strategy officer, and is set to have a bigger hand in decide which markets the company should be in and where it should make further investments, according to the New York Times.
Bates, currently in charge of Microsoft's business development, will leave immediately, according to Recode, citing anonymous sources. Bates has previously worked at Cisco and was considered one of the potential CEO candidates to succeed Steve Ballmer, who announced his retirement in August. Eric Rudder, head of advanced strategy, will temporarily take up Bates' duties, while marketing executive Chris Capossela will replace Reller, according to the report. Reller, one of the top female executives at the company and co-head of Microsoft's Windows unit, will remain with the company for some time to help with the transition.
The report said Nadella, who was appointed CEO on earlier this month, told staff of the changes on Friday and the company plans to announce them publicly on Tuesday. The news comes after Julie Larson-Green, another top Microsoft exec, shifted from heading up the Devices and Studios group to make way for former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. Microsoft declined to comment on the reports.
After powering the world's most retweeted tweet, Samsung has also revealed a suite of app-based upgrades that future GS5 owners will receive, free, alongside their new smartphone. While Evernote and Linkedin's premium services only extend to three months, we have no complaints about six free months of the Wall Street Journal and year-long access to Bloomberg's Businessweek.
The Galaxy S5 will also include a year of Run Keeper Premium, as well as limited-time premium services for Map My Fitness and Skimple. There's no Dropbox this time, but there is 50GB of free cloud storage -- for six months -- from Box. Also, in case you forgot about the Galaxy S5's heart-rate sensor, you'll also pick up a year's subscription to Lark's personal wellness app, which will plug into (and monitor) all your health metrics... until you're ready to pay another 36 bucks to extend the service. But then, who can put a price on good health?
Samsung made some bold claims about the battery life of the upcoming Galaxy S5, and while history shows that battery claims like this one rarely prove to be true, Samsung might actually deliver on its promise here. Ultra Power Save has been explained and it’s more intriguing than we would have guessed.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 was announced with a slightly larger battery than its predecessor, and despite packing a larger screen the phone is supposed to be able to deliver far greater levels of battery life. The GS5 is capable of dramatically limiting performance to save power in two different ways; there’s a normal power saving mode and an Ultra Power Saving mode that claims to be capable of 24 hours of battery life using just 10 per cent of the battery.
These battery saving techniques are different from what we’ve seen on other Android handsets, due to new technologies Samsung is using to help with navigation and individual app optimisation.
Samsung’s power saving mode is derived from some of the same techniques we’ve already seen on Qualcomm-based handsets before, with a little something extra tossed in. The Galaxy S5 runs a Snapdragon 801 processor, which when combined with Qualcomm’s battery saving software, will cause the chipset to run significantly slower and idle for several hours with almost no battery consumption. On top of this, Samsung is working with Lucid NavExtend to offer greater battery life when using location based services. Since location based services are used in a lot of Android apps and services, this will go a long way to delivering a better experience on the S5.
Samsung will also be using Lucid’s WebExtend and GameXtend services as well, but it’s not clear exactly how those services will be used and whether or not the benefits will be limited to specific apps. For example, if WebExtend works on the browser Samsung provides and now Chrome, users will need to choose their apps carefully.
At last June’s WWDC keynote, Apple unveiled a bunch of stuff — including a sleeper sort of product it called iOS in the Car. The idea was to let auto makers give their vehicles the ability to serve as a second screen for a driver’s iPhone, with bigger-screen versions of apps such as Music and Maps and voice control provided by Siri.
Now iOS in the Car is ready to hit the road. Confirming a story reported last week by the Financial Times, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are at the Geneva International Motor Show announcing that they’re rolling out the feature — which is now called CarPlay — in new vehicles this year. If you aren’t planning to buy a Ferrari a Mercedes or a Volvo anytime soon, you might still be able to put CarPlay on your shopping list next time you get new wheels: BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and others are also planning to support it in future models.
With all due respect to the automotive industry, which has made a lot of progress in the last few years modernizing its entertainment and information systems, its standards of interface polish still don’t come anywhere near Apple-like levels. So it’s good news that Apple itself is building a car-friendly interface. Unlike a smartwatch or a TV, it may not count as the all-new product category which people are sitting around waiting for Apple to enter, but it’s closer than anything else that Apple has done in the Tim Cook era.
cnet.com - by Chris Matyszczyk - February 25, 2014
A UK man using his phone to find a shortcut ends up cycling down a freeway, until police catch up with him.
(Credit: Surrey Police/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
If we let cyclists wander down freeways, there would be a fresh outburst of self-righteousness.It's bad enough with truck drivers and those in Priuses.
However, one perhaps misguided Englishman seemed oblivious to the perils of freeway cycling when he rode his bike on the highly populated freeway known as the M25.
This is a freeway that goes around the outside of London and is well-known for its excessive levels of traffic and road work.
As the local Surrey Police reported on YouTube, its cameras picked up the man as he merrily crossed the freeway with his bike.
Why on earth was he doing this? Why, this was just another example of humanity's blind faith in technology.
Sgt. Phil Dix waited for him to arrive at an exit. He explained on YouTube: "The gentleman told me that he'd been looking for a short cut to get home on his bike -- and that he'd entered his address into the satnav on his mobile phone."
The satnav, should you be unfamiliar with this term, is what some call the GPS.
Sgt. Dix continued that the satnav had given the intrepid cyclist "a route which led him onto the motorway."
You might imagine that those with intact faculties and secondary education would think twice before cycling where everyone is going 70 mph."Obviously, he'd not set the button for cyclists and pedestrians," mused Sgt. Dix. Perhaps not, but the cyclist hadn't set the button for thinking before doing either.
"He was blissfully unaware he'd committed any offense," added Sgt. Dix.
This was before issuing him a fine of 50 British pounds for being a complete nincompoop. I'm sorry, I meant for contravening a road traffic sign.
Naturally, this isn't by any means this first human being who has blindly followed the directions given to him by an infallible device. It seems only yesterday that a couple followed a GPS, only to become stuck for three days.
Technology requires participation. Ideally, not of the submissive kind.