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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 26th Apr 2016

Slow recovery from disasters or other downtime handicaps organisations' ability to respond to unforeseen events, and less than a quarter of companies are confident of making a "full recovery to agreed timescales", according to research commissioned for the V3 Cloud & Infrastructure Summit.

Peter de Vente, a systems consultant and business continuity specialist at Dell, suggested that organisations need to make sure that disaster recovery plans include prioritising systems, databases and data so that IT staff can focus on getting the most valuable IT assets up and running first.

"It's a good question. How much time do you need for your restore? And you have to put that against how much data you need to restore. Then it becomes another story," he said.

Vente suggested that organisations ought to look at how much raw data they store and then scale up to take account of how much data they are likely to store in 10 years' time in order to build an enduring data recovery and back-up strategy.

"I always joke that in 10 years' time I won't have a job anymore, because if you look at the pace of data growth and how we deal with data protection, it simply won't work anymore when organisations have hundreds of petabytes of data. You can't do that in the old-fashioned way," he warned.

One of the challenges many organisations face when disaster strikes is that staff supposedly working to bring up the same systems don't communicate and work together effectively.

"In a lot of companies, I see different admins: someone is responsible for data and data protection, and another person for the application. As long as they do back up, it works. At the point of restore, though, they need to work together. It's not that they can't, but that suddenly they need to talk to each other," said Vente.

"They need to ask each other: 'How does this relate to our backups? How can I know what version is what?'. There's sometimes a language difference, too. The database administrator wants 'this', but the back-up administrator only has 'that'."

Vente was speaking in a Summit panel debate entitled 'Identifying the cost benefits of a strategic approach to enterprise backup and recovery' alongside Andy Boura, senior information security architect at information company Thomson Reuters.

Boura pointed out that, while building and maintaining a backup and recovery infrastructure does cost money, the cost in terms of lost business is even greater, as reflected in the Computing Research among CIOs and other IT leaders.

"The average for a Fortune 1000 company would be $100,000 per hour. If you have a day's outage, that's an awful lot of revenue," said Boura.

The research also noted a big difference between the time IT leaders think it would take to recover data in the event of a disaster, and the time it might take to bring applications back online. "There's pressure to keep that [time] down, but I'm not surprised that it is expected to take longer to restore applications than data because there's a lot of additional complexity with applications," said Boura.

"You have dependencies - potentially external dependencies - versioning, and you have the risk of partial or incomplete processing of data [when the application went down]. You may even have corruption of data that you have to deal with and that can mean an awful lot of high-adrenaline work."

Restoring data, he added, is typically more straightforward than getting an application back up and running, provided backups are up to date and easily accessible.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

Wearable technology is playing a growing role in sport all over the world, from the UK's football Premier League, worth more than £5bn ($7.1bn; €6.3bn) in global TV rights alone, to Aussie Rules Football, the first to pioneer the use of location-tracking GPS devices in 2004.

Analysis of data transmitted to the cloud from increasingly sophisticated sensors is helping teams keep their players at the peak of physical fitness.

Leicester City Football Club, for example - currently clinging to the English Premier League's top slot against all odds - has also had the fewest injured players over the season, a fact that may have a lot to do with the club's clever use of technology.
Players wear Catapult Sport's OptimEye S5 device, which collects data relating to acceleration, direction, position and, crucially, the impact of collisions. These sensors can collect 800-900 data points per second.

Scott Drawer, formerly Rugby Football Union's performance manager and now with cycling's Team Sky, says: "It may be that they have been using the data in a much smarter way to rest, rotate and recover players appropriately.

Players wear their own personalised trackers during training and live games
"Fundamentally, they are able to have their best players available a lot more, so there is no doubt some of their processes are helping them to do that."

Rival club Southampton FC makes its players wear GPS units during training, and Alek Gross, the club's head of sports science, says players have experienced fewer soft tissue and overuse injuries since introducing the tech.

And Richard Byrne, business administrator at StatSports, another tracking device manufacturer, says: "One of our biggest European clients recently reported having only 20 muscular injuries last season once they started using [wearable] technology, compared to 44 the previous season," he says.

Scrum down
Rugby has also been a big convert to this type of analysis.

Every club in UK rugby union's Aviva Premiership - and a number of international sides - has adopted the tech, with players wearing GPS units between their shoulder blades to measure speed and distance covered while training and playing.

All teams in rugby union's Aviva Premiership have embraced wearable tech

Australia's Wallabies rugby players fix tracking devices to each other
"Heavier rugby players often find that if they run over a certain distance in a week they can inflame an Achilles [tendon], so some want to spend more time off their feet to maintain fitness and minimise injury risk," explains Corin Palmer, head of rugby operations for Premiership Rugby.

"Wearable technology is able to monitor that load on a day-by-day basis to ensure those players are not just injury-free but in peak condition for competition," he adds.

When it comes to American football, NFL team the Cincinnati Bengals uses Viper Pods - monitoring devices made by StatSports - for GPS data collection during on-field training sessions.

Players also wear Polar heart rate monitors during conditioning sessions and circuit weight training, to monitor response to the training load.

Catapult's Adir Shiffman says algorithms can measure the impact and velocity of tackles

A Cincinatti Bengal player crunches into a Pittsburgh Steelers catcher
"Anytime you can quantify what you are doing, it allows you to see the results in concrete terms," says Chip Morton, the Bengals' strength and conditioning coach.

"Having the data from wearable technology has helped the head coach to make positive adjustments to our weekly practice schedule. The data can also alert us to the recovery and preparation needs of the individual athletes."

Data insights
But while wearable tech provides reams of data, it is what you do with it that counts.

Bill Gerrard, professor of business and sports analytics at Leeds University Business School, has worked with the Saracens rugby team and with baseball's Oakland Athletics, whose executive vice president of baseball operations, Billy Beane, was made famous in the film Moneyball.

Mr Gerrard believes the ultimate goal is to combine data from wearables with other data sets, such as tactical analysis of previous games and opponents' playing styles.

Would Franz Beckenbauer (right) or the late Johann Cruyff have benefited from data tracking?
"That is where the cutting edge is - pulling tactical and physical data together to optimise training workloads on an individual basis."

But can too much data mean you lose sight of the ball?

"Our greatest asset is that we coach players and not spreadsheets," Mr Gross reminds us. "If you don't understand the context in which the numbers were found, they don't mean an awful lot."

And it's not just about fitness, he suggests.

Revered football players like Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer "read the game so incredibly well," he says, "they didn't need to sprint to get into position."

Too much, too little

But if you don't have that degree of natural ability - and you're a bit lazy, frankly - the data will catch you out.
Andrew Gray, physical performance manager at Australian rugby league club, Cronulla Sharks, says data gathered from wearable devices during training makes it easier to manage the under-training player.

"Providing these athletes with a clear picture of their performance at training compared with what is required in competition at the highest level can be a real eye-opener for them and helps them to gain a more complete understanding of what is required to perform at their best," he says.

Cronulla Sharks rugby league players celebrate, but are some under-training?

Southampton FC's Mr Gross observes that under-training increases the risk of injury.

"If a player hasn't hit a certain percentage of high speed runs during a given week, for example, they are more susceptible to a hamstring injury.

"The GPS data has been useful because when we individualise training programmes we can see if people drop below or above a certain point."

Coming to you, live

This kind of data is also used real-time analysis during matches by some Premiership and international rugby teams, including England and Ireland, helping to inform their decisions about when to make changes.

"You can see the coaches with laptops in the stands; they have a constant live feed on each player, their fatigue index, collision load, distance covered et cetera," says Mr Byrne.

Pitchside coaches can monitor performance data in real time

"This can allow them to make in-game decisions regarding substitutions or injuries."

Premiership football teams are also now allowed to use wearable devices during games, although the data gathered can't be applied in real-time. Yet.

In this data-saturated age, sporting purists may take some comfort from the fact that natural born skill still matters.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

Companies that cold call customers will no longer be able to hide or disguise their phone numbers, under government plans to target nuisance calls.

The new measure will force firms registered in the UK to display their phone numbers, even if their call centres are based abroad.
The government says the move will make it easier for consumers to report nuisance callers.

But the Fair Telecoms Campaign said the move would not stop cold calling.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport is expected to announce the amendment to existing legislation on Monday. The changes will take effect from 16 May.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister for data protection, said the change will send a "clear message" to rogue companies.
"Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society."
The government was committed to tackling the problem, she said.

'Range of options'
John Mitchison, from the Direct Marketing Association - the UK marketing trade association that represents official telemarketing firms - said displaying phone numbers had been its recommendation to companies for "many years".

"This change will make it easier for consumers to identify the legitimate companies and report the rogue operators to the relevant authorities," he added.

However, the Fair Telecoms Campaign - which campaigns for consumer rights - said the move will not stop rogue firms.
David Hickson, from the campaign, said: "It's absurd to think that seeing a number that you don't recognise is any different from not seeing any number at all.

"What they should be doing is taking action where they can to prohibit the whole practice of making unsolicited telephone calls and see that consumers have a good range of options on their telephone networks to help protect them from this nonsense."

Last year, the government introduced changes to make it easier to impose fines on the companies behind cold calls and nuisance text messages.

In February, Brighton-based firm Prodial was given the largest ever fine by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - £350,000 - for cold calling.

It was responsible for making more than 46 million automated nuisance calls.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

In the world of glorious accidents this could well prove to be the greatest,

Scientists who were messing around with a gel have accidentally worked out a way to make batteries last forever.

The researchers at the University of California at Irvine realised that by coating a brittle component in batteries in a shell they can be recharged (or cycled) hundreds of thousands of times and not lose any power.

The components – nanowires – don’t usually deal well with charging in a typical lithium battery and usually wear out after 7,000 cycles or so.

But with a manganese dioxide shell they lost no power despite being cycled more than 200,000 times in three months.
This could lead to laptop, phone and tablet batteries that last forever. It might also benefit commercial batteries in cars and spacecraft.

The person to thank for the breakthrough, is Mya Le Thai, a PHD student at the university.

Reginald Penner, chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, said she was ‘playing around’ when she coated the wires in the thin gel layer.

He told The Inquirer: ‘She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.

‘That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.’
Mya said the coat helped the nanowire electrode hold its shape much better, therefore making it more relaible.
She added: ‘This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.’

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

Have you ever considered getting involved in competitive tooth brushing – against yourself?

No, we’re not making this up. A new app has been released that analyses how you brush your teeth and sets you challenges against yourself.
According to its developers in Japan, the G.U.M PLAY app will turn ‘the usual three minutes of brushing into an exhilarating three minutes of discovery’.

All you have to do is attach the G.U.M device to the end of your toothbrush and away we go.

This ridiculous app means brushing your teeth will never be the same

The small device will monitor your brushstrokes, and send data to your phone or tablet app using Bluetooth.

You can then choose one of three options: ‘Mouth Monster’ (oh, behave) where you ‘play a game to defeat oral bacteria’; ‘Mouth Band’, where you ‘make music as you brush’; and ‘Mouth News’, to ‘listen to news as you brush’.

This ridiculous app means brushing your teeth will never be the same

All of the data from your brushing is then recorded in a Mouth Log – so you can see how long you brushed for, and which parts of your mouth you might be neglecting.

You can buy it for 5,000 Yen, which is around £35.

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 25th Apr 2016

If you regularly send WhatsApp or Facebook messages while at work, this might be worth reading.

UK employees are sending up to 100 private messages every day without realising that their employers might be monitoring their content.

The tech career site Dice has released new research which indicates that employees in British companies are sending large volumes of private messages including applications and inquiries relating to other jobs.

Just under 70 per cent of workers in the UK admit to using email, text, WhatsApp, Facebook and other platforms for personal use during work hours, but research shows a large proportion are unaware of the regulations when it comes to the monitoring of private messages.

Almost half had no idea that their employer may be entitled to monitor the content of the messages they send on company devices. The rule came in this year after an employee was fired for messaging his fiancée on Yahoo Messenger while at work.
The research shows it isn’t just the fact that employees are sending private messages that could be problematic, it’s the indiscretion they show in what they discuss too. Forty per cent have communicated with a new or potentially new employer from work, nine per cent have discussed personal matters about their relationship or flirted with a co-worker and 31 per cent have spent their time shopping.

So be careful.

Source: metro.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

TORONTO (Reuters) - Tech companies should comply with lawful requests to access protected data, BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said on Monday, in thinly veiled criticism of rival Apple for its recent standoff with the FBI.

Chen made the comment in a blog posting after reports by Vice and Motherboard last week that threw a spotlight on a 2014 case in which Canadian law enforcement authorities used intercepted messages between some BlackBerry devices to unravel an organized crime network.

The devices were consumer phones that were not protected by BlackBerry's BES server, which helps secure any devices running within corporate networks.

"We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests," said Chen in the post.

"We are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," said Chen, who is known to not shy away from publicly sparring with rivals.

Chen, who maintains the BES is "impenetrable" and that only BlackBerry's clients can grant access to messages secured by it, has weighed in on the lawful access topic a number of times in the last few months, including in another blog last December.

He also commented on the topic at a media roundtable earlier this month, when asked to comment about BlackBerry's security capabilities in light of the FBI's hacking of an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple had declined to help authorities unlock the encrypted device.

"Not that we can crack every phone, but from the standpoint of BlackBerry's philosophy, policy, and principles, we will help whenever there is a formal subpoena that comes to us and we have been doing it for many, many, years," said Chen.

"But since we don't have a backdoor and since the encryption technology has now gotten to a point where we may, or may not be able to penetrate it, we will have the same difficulties, but we won't have the same attitude about it and it won't be front page news."

"Of course we are not Apple, so it may or may not make front page news either," added Chen with a coy smile.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

Construction giant Dewalt has entered the smartphone market with a tough Android-powered handset designed for building industry workers.

The £379 ($544) device is designed to survive a 2m drop on to concrete and can operate in temperatures ranging from -20C to 60C.

Rival firm Caterpillar has already established itself as a brand in the physically tougher smartphone sector.

The so-called "tough phone" market is flourishing, a retailer told the BBC.

"Lots of people in the trade and construction industries, as well as outdoor sports enthusiasts, have realised that just having a thicker case isn't going to see them through," said James Booker, purchasing manager at UK firm Tuffphones.

Caterpillar's latest model features a thermal imaging camera

To be be certified as a "tough phone", handsets have to undergo more rigorous physical tests, including being subjected to tumbling - turned over and over inside a device for long periods of time, Mr Booker explained.

They also have to be water and dust proof.

Because they are sturdier, they can also incorporate a bigger battery, he added - the Dewalt phone claims to offer up to eight hours of talk time.

"One of the main things about traditional smartphones is that they are svelte and slim - there's an obvious correlation with how large a battery they can get in there," Mr Booker said.

While most of its specifications are fairly standard for the sector, Dewalt's MD501 phone comes with in-built QI wireless charging, which is unusual, he added.

Its touchscreen is made of commercially manufactured Gorilla Glass - a highly robust but thin type of glass that works with gloved hands.

The handset is a collaboration with Global Mobile Communications, a rugged phone specialist.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

The UK steel industry is doomed unless it embraces cutting-edge technology, a Cambridge professor has warned.

Prof Julian Allwood said the only way to save steel jobs was to make high-value products for industries in which the UK leads the world.

New methods could scrub impurities from recycled steel to make products for the aerospace and car industries, he said.
It comes as efforts are being made to save thousands of jobs at Tata Steel's Port Talbot steel plant in south Wales.
The announcement by the Indian company that it is to sell its UK business is the latest blow to an industry which has seen a succession of job cuts.

New steel

Prof Allwood said current plans for the steel industry did not go far enough, because they did not utilise the latest technology.
In his six-year study on the steel sector, the predicament of the industry appears stark.

"The global steel industry today has more capacity for making steel from iron ore than it will ever need again," he said.
"On average, products made with steel last 35 to 40 years, and around 90% of all used steel is collected. This is easy because it's magnetic.

"The supply of steel collected from goods at the end of their life therefore lags the supply of new steel by about 40 years."

UK steel crisis

Prof Allwood said the steel market would continue to grow - but all future demand growth could be met by recycling the existing stock of steel.

And it was, therefore, futile for the UK to attempt to compete against low-wage economies for mass market steel.
Reducing industrial electricity costs in Britain would help, but only a little, he said, and the UK should instead concentrate on recycled steel.

That is what is proposed by Sanjeev Gupta, the entrepreneur who has expressed interest in turning the Port Talbot works into a recycling plant.

But Prof Allwood said that plan did not go far enough, because most scrap metal contained impurities that made it suitable for only low-value products, such as steel reinforcing bars, which were subject to heavy international competition.

It would be far better, he said, to harness science to make pure hi-tech steel that met the needs of the UK's leading industries.

"UK taxpayers will have to bear costs of Tata Steel's decision to close the Port Talbot plant," he said.
"If the existing operations are to be sold, taxpayers must subsidise the purchase without the guarantee of a long-term national gain.

"If the plants are closed, the loss of jobs, income and livelihoods will reverberate throughout the UK steel supply chain.

"Instead, the strategy presented here enables taxpayers to invest in a long-term structural transformation.

"This would allow UK innovation ahead of any other large player."

'Common sense'

While many will applaud his analysis, some will ask how this theoretical model can be translated into real equipment and jobs - especially as the UK does not have an industrial strategy that would encourage this sort of thing.

Prof Allwood pointed towards the Danish wind industry as an example of successful government strategy to create jobs with a new product.

The steel transformation in the UK could be funded by a long-term loan from the government, which will have to bear the costs one way or another.

It would involve many of the current jobs being saved, but workers would need to retrain.

Prof Allwood said the hi-tech transformation had not happened yet because low margins in the European steel industry had squeezed investment - and China did not have the stock of old steel to make it relevant yet.

He said it might take three to five years to develop the technologies needed to transform the industry.

It would be estimated to cost £1-2bn, which he said was good value compared with the social costs of shutting the industry.

Dr Sarah Green, a metallurgist from Lancaster University, said: "It's common sense to maximise recycling efficacy in the UK steel materials cycle.

"Whether this alone will generate sufficient economic activity on a suitable timescale to offer a substitute for the current steelmaking sector is something that I am less certain of."

Denmark's wind turbine industry has created hundreds of jobs

Gareth Stace, of UK Steel, told BBC News: "We don't agree that there won't be a new need for virgin steel - we think we need more capacity.

"But we welcome this report - especially the recognition that the steel sector has been starved of investment in technology because of the crisis we have been in for years.

"There are steelmakers in the UK that make world class steel, but we are desperate for more investment."

Another expert also called for more research.

"The task is getting harder at the moment because impurities from copper get greater the more wiring there is in cars," said Prof Sridhar Seetharaman, chair in low carbon materials technology at the University of Warwick.

"Britain could lead the way by government supporting funding in this."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 19th Apr 2016

The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Google in its 11-year legal battle with an authors group.

The Court said it would not hear an appeal from the Authors Guild, which claimed Google breached copyright laws by scanning books without permission.

he technology giant began the process in 2004, so it could include extracts in a searchable database, and it was sued by the Authors Guild in 2005.

The Supreme Court's judgement is the final ruling on the matter.

Fair use

Google's database of books lets people search through millions of titles and read passages and selected pages from them.
While some of the books in the database are old titles that are no longer protected by copyright, millions are more recent publications.

The Authors Guild had argued that the project undermined authors' ability to make money from their work.
Google said its database was a "fair use" of protected works, describing it as "a card catalogue for the digital age".

The firm could have faced billions of dollars in damages claims from authors if it had lost the case.

The Authors Guild said it was "disappointed" that the Supreme Court would not hear its appeal.

The organisation's president Roxana Robinson said: "We believed then and we believe now that authors should be compensated when their work is copied for commercial purposes".

A Google spokeswoman said: "We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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