Sunday, 17 December 2017

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Experience the timeless appeal of this majestic Commencement Address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Studios in 2005 at Stanford University. The stories he shares are moving and still very relevant, particularly for the youth. Read on...

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down — that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Buckle up for the new passenger economy

A hundred years ago, few thought that the clunky automobile that broke down so often would ever replace a horse. In the 1970s, people wondered if the personal computer that a few eccentrics were using would have any use beyond storing recipes. It's safe to say that these innovations, along with many of the technologies we now use daily, were once considered impossible dreams.

Right now, the most-talked-about piece of technological innovation that is poised to transform our lives is the autonomous or self-driving car. As self-driving cars gain widespread adoption, analysts are predicting the rise of what is known as the passenger economy - a term coined by Intel - that is expected to be worth $7 trillion by 2050 as validated in a new report by analyst firm Strategy Analytics.

Seven trillion dollars is a lot of money! A decade ago, people couldn't fully imagine the way smartphones would give rise to the app economy. Today we are at the threshold of something equally momentous - that's why entrepreneurs and investors are now beginning to imagine the economic possibilities tied in with autonomous cars.

The following are five big areas of opportunity that will unfold in the passenger economy era.

Time will be on people's side. One of the most obvious benefits of a self-driving car is the amount of time it frees up. Drivers become passengers, and so will be able to concentrate on other tasks. Not only will people be able to work or watch a movie on their way to work, but the commute itself will be shorter, since traffic congestion will become a thing of the past.

With smarter analytics, it's estimated that by 2050, the widespread use of autonomous cars will free up over 250 million hours of commute time per year in the most congested cities.Apps were only the beginning. As more people use autonomous cars, companies and entrepreneurs will respond by developing innovative applications that will entertain and provide services to passengers.

Just like innovators used smartphones to unlock the sharing economy, there will be opportunities for startups to discover new "car-veniences" that will be expected to generate some $200 billion in revenue.A new world of advertising. From the late '90s, we started seeing new forms of advertising emerge on the web. With self-driving cars, we are poised to see powerful new opportunities that deliver personalized messages to consumers. For instance, algorithms can compute routes and route history to hone in on passengers with specific onboard advertisements from surrounding businesses or attractions. This could be a huge boost to local businesses and will be much more effective than the primitive billboard.

Mobility-as-a-service. Imagine ordering take-out, or having your groceries or a package of diapers come to your door via a driverless car.

This is something that we're likely to see fairly soon. Shipping and freight companies, local delivery services and internet giants will make use of autonomous vehicles to transport goods across the country. These types of services will likely generate $3 trillion in revenues by 2050.New business models. Today, many companies offer perks such as work-from-home days or the option for people to leave the office to work in a cafe or wherever is most suitable for them. In the not-too-distant future, the workplace will further transform as the commute evolves.

The self-driving car will blend with the office, turning the commute into a productive part of the workday. In turn, this will allow people to go home earlier and spend more time with their families.The advent of the passenger economy will contribute to a safer and more efficient world. Those who can imagine and anticipate the coming changes will be in the best position to get the most out of it.

Friday, 1 December 2017

WHAT IS WORLD AIDS DAY?

World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.


WHY IS WORLD AIDS DAY IMPORTANT?

Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year thousands of people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.


WHAT SHOULD I DO ON WORLD AIDS DAY?

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV worldwide. Most people do this by wearing an HIV awareness red ribbon on the day.

Key facts

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally.

There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2016 globally.

54% of adults and 43% of children living with HIV are currently receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Global ART coverage for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV is high at 76% .

The WHO African Region is the most affected region, with 25.6 million people living with HIV in 2016. The African region also accounts for almost two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.

HIV infection is often diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), which detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. Most often these tests provide same-day test results, which are essential for same day diagnosis and early treatment and care.

Key populations are groups who are at increased risk of HIV irrespective of epidemic type or local context. They include: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people.

Key populations often have legal and social issues related to their behaviours that increase vulnerability to HIV and reduce access to testing and treatment programmes.

In 2015, an estimated 44% of new infections occurred among key populations and their partners.

There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives.

It is estimated that currently only 70% of people with HIV know their status. To reach the target of 90%, an additional 7.5 million people need to access HIV testing services. In mid-2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally.

Between 2000 and 2016, new HIV infections fell by 39%, and HIV-related deaths fell by one third with 13.1 million lives saved due to ART in the same period. This achievement was the result of great efforts by national HIV programmes supported by civil society and a range of development partners.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people's defence systems against infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. Immune function is typically measured by CD4 cell count.

Immunodeficiency results in increased susceptibility to a wide range of infections, cancers and other diseases that people with healthy immune systems can fight off.

The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections, or other severe clinical manifestations.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash, or sore throat.

As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi's sarcoma, among others.

Transmission

HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected individuals, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water.

In India, there are 2.1 million people living with HIV (2015 report). According to National AIDS Control Programme, the annual AIDS-related deaths have declined by 54 percent and new HIV infections dropped by 32 percent between 2007 and 2015.

National Aids control programme (NACP) is a 100% centrally sponsored scheme by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The programme is being implemented through the State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) and District AIDS Prevention and Control Units (DAPCUs) in the country to reduce new infections by 50% (2007 Baseline of NACP III) and to provide comprehensive care, support and treatment to all persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Even though the prevalence of HIV is decreasing over the last decade, following activities under the NACP would provide essential support in arresting new infections and thereby achieving the target of "Ending the epidemic by 2030" for Sustainable Development Goals.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease (AIDS) Prevention and Control Bill to ensure equal rights to the people infected with HIV and AIDS in getting treatment and prevent discrimination of any kind.

‘Test and Treat Policy’ for HIV with the objective of “as soon as a person is tested and found to be positive, he will be provided with ART irrespective of his CD count or clinical stage.”

The life-saving third line ART treatment for HIV patients free of cost.

90–90–90 strategy will identify 90% of people living with HIV, place 90% of people identified as living with HIV on treatment and ensure that 90% of people on treatment have sustained viral load suppression by 2020.


Red Ribbon Express- It travels across the country through a specified route chart to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS, promote safe behavioural practices, strengthen people's knowledge about the measures to be taken to prevent this epidemic and develop an understanding about the disease to reduce stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Riding is the new driving: How to make the most of your ride

New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike in India. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.

One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you're set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can't find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.

1. Riding shotgun - Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn't a wrong answer - just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you're visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.

2. Feeling TIPsy? - After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.

3. Safety first - Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they're permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.

4. Ride your way - You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.

5. Best of both worlds - If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom's flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.

What do you think about ridesharing? Will you use the service if it takes off in India?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

5 easy ways to turn your house into a smart home

There was a time when setting up a smart home was a labor-intensive endeavor. You had to know which devices worked together, spend tedious days getting everything to work just right, then master complicated software to control the whole experience.

Things have changed. Nowadays, smart homes are more sophisticated than ever. You can set up your entire home right from your smartphone, and everything can be controlled by your voice.

That's right, you don't need to know any codes or remember any complex steps to reap the benefits of a smart home. Do you want to dim the lights for movie night, listen to your favorite album while cooking dinner or turn on the lawn sprinklers without leaving the couch? All you have to do is ask.

At the center of a smart home is a voice service like Amazon Alexa on the Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show, which allows you to control more than 1,000 devices using just your voice. You can connect to as many or as few smart devices as you want. Services like Alexa also let you access the latest news and weather, set reminders and even order dinner for the night.

For a sample of what's possible with a smart home, here are five devices that can lead you to a whole new home experience!

Wemo Mini Smart Plug. This Wi-Fi-enabled plug can transform almost every appliance in your home into a voice-enabled device. Plug your coffee maker, lamp or fan into it, then simply pair it with your voice service. With just a simple command like "Alexa, start the coffee," you'll soon smell the heavenly aromas of fresh-brewed java.

TP-Link Multicolor LED Bulb. There are light bulbs, and then there are smart bulbs. This LED bulb contains multiple colors, from warm reds to cool blues, plus hundreds of other shades and tints that allow you to light your space according to the mood or occasion, all through a simple voice command.

Neato Botvac. Not too many people like cleaning, so when they hear there's a Wi-Fi-enabled robot vacuum that automatically cleans floors for you, their ears perk up. Connect the Neato Botvac to your Amazon Alexa and voila, cleaning the floors is as easy as, "Alexa, ask Neato to start cleaning."

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat. Smart thermostats are wildly popular for the simple reason that they save homeowners money. If you forget to turn down the heat when you step out, you can do so from your smartphone. With sensors that manage hot and cold spots, easy programming features and more, this smart thermostat can save you an average of 23 percent on heating and cooling costs each year.

Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show. A smart home is not just about smart devices, it's also about making your life easier. For instance, if you're throwing a dinner party and want music to set the mood, just ask "Alexa, play jazz music." The same is true if you want to check the weather, order food for a night in or see what's on your calendar for the day. If you find you're out of laundry detergent or cooking oil, you can easily order by asking Alexa to have it delivered to your home. All you have to do is ask.

The beauty of a smart home is that you can pick and choose the features you want. Whether you want to clean, adjust the lighting or listen to your favorite song, with a voice service like Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo, you'll experience convenience and the fruits of technology in a whole new way.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Don't get hacked! Time to get serious about password safety

Top tips for locking down your online security

We all know hiding your house key under the doormat is a terrible idea, but we do it anyway because it's a convenient backup. When it comes to safeguarding passwords, especially in a family setting, people often choose convenience over safety.

As families manage their digital information and online accounts, many end up opting for that less secure key-under-the-doormat solution. People are already sharing passwords, and their methods of sharing are not always the best. Some 41 percent of adults with online accounts admit to sharing passwords with friends and family, according to a Cybersecurity survey by Pew Research Center. Yet, 90.8 percent of respondents say they know that having strong passwords helps them better protect their families.

Consider the number of security breaches that continue to make national news:

* In 2016, we learned the Yahoo data breach compromised 1 billion accounts.
* In that same month, we learned 167 million email addresses and passwords were stolen from LinkedIn.

* In September 2017, a security breach at Equifax was reported, exposing Social Security numbers and other personal data of 143 million users, which is nearly half the U.S. population.

Now more than ever, it's clear how important it is to protect our personal information online. According to a Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, 81 percent of data breaches involve weak, reused or stolen credentials. That's significantly higher than the 63 percent it was in 2016.

"If you were to dig into the reasons behind these repeated, overly simple, shared passwords, it's actually pretty understandable as to how this happens," according to LastPass Senior Director of Product, Steve Schult. "The average person has some 200-plus logins. If you were to give each its own strong, unique password, that's way too many for one person to keep track of and remember, let alone all the other family members that might also use some of those accounts."

But there's no need to trade security for the convenience of digital access. With a password manager designed for individual or family use, you can create those strong passwords for all the accounts you and your family use, and store them within a secure vault that's accessed by a single master password only you know. These digital lockboxes protect your information under multiple layers of security, making it impossible for digital thieves to hack and access.

If you're debating whether to make the switch to a digital password manager, here's a few ways it can improve your family's online security and help stop the struggle with passwords.

Create rock-solid passwords: Most password managers offer a secure password generator that allows you to set and create a long, strong and unique password for every online account. You can create a password up to 100 characters long, including numbers and symbols. Another way to do it is by using the "passphrase" approach, meaning string together words that create a phrase. Be sure to steer clear of birthdays, anniversaries, street names and other specific personal details that can be found through a simple social media search.

Secure more than just passwords: There's an endless number of passwords and sensitive information you can store in your password manager, including banking logins, passport and license numbers, shopping accounts, email and social media passwords and more. By storing all of this information in your secure vault, you'll always have access to the information whenever and wherever you may need it.

Safely share passwords with family members: One benefit of a password manager that's designed for family use is that it lets you safely and conveniently store passwords and valuable documents in folders for flexible sharing with others in the family. LastPass Families includes unlimited shared folders, which means you can create multiple folders and store an endless number of passwords and share with those in your family. For example, you could put your banking account password into one folder and share access with your spouse, have another folder for your favorite streaming services and securely share access with the whole family. All the while, you can keep your personal accounts private.

Use it as a teaching moment: Have a talk with your family about how passwords are the keys to our digital lives, and how good password habits help protect everything from personal details to finances. Show them how to build a good password, and how tools like a password manager can create a safe way to access and share accounts. It's an important life skill that will help them protect themselves for years to come.

Plan for the digital afterlife: When there's a death or serious emergency, it turns out that laws, along with service agreements, can block your family from getting access to your online accounts. With a password manager that allows emergency access, family members can get into your password vault and have access to whatever they need.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Mars study yields clues to possible cradle of life



The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.

A recent international report examines observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet's crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

"Even if we never find evidence that there's been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth," said Paul Niles of NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. "Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time -- when early life was evolving here."

Mars today has neither standing water nor volcanic activity. Researchers estimate an age of about 3.7 billion years for the Martian deposits attributed to seafloor hydrothermal activity. Undersea hydrothermal conditions on Earth at about that same time are a strong candidate for where and when life on Earth began. Earth still has such conditions, where many forms of life thrive on chemical energy extracted from rocks, without sunlight. But due to Earth's active crust, our planet holds little direct geological evidence preserved from the time when life began. The possibility of undersea hydrothermal activity inside icy moons such as Europa at Jupiter and Enceladus at Saturn feeds interest in them as destinations in the quest to find extraterrestrial life.

Observations by MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) provided the data for identifying minerals in massive deposits within Mars' Eridania basin, which lies in a region with some of the Red Planet's most ancient exposed crust.

"This site gives us a compelling story for a deep, long-lived sea and a deep-sea hydrothermal environment," Niles said. "It is evocative of the deep-sea hydrothermal environments on Earth, similar to environments where life might be found on other worlds -- life that doesn't need a nice atmosphere or temperate surface, but just rocks, heat and water."

Niles co-authored the recent report in the journal Nature Communications with lead author Joseph Michalski, who began the analysis while at the Natural History Museum, London, and co-authors at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and the Natural History Museum.

The researchers estimate the ancient Eridania sea held about 50,000 cubic miles (210,000 cubic kilometers) of water. That is as much as all other lakes and seas on ancient Mars combined and about nine times more than the combined volume of all of North America's Great Lakes. The mix of minerals identified from the spectrometer data, including serpentine, talc and carbonate, and the shape and texture of the thick bedrock layers, led to identifying possible seafloor hydrothermal deposits. The area has lava flows that post-date the disappearance of the sea. The researchers cite these as evidence that this is an area of Mars' crust with a volcanic susceptibility that also could have produced effects earlier, when the sea was present.

The new work adds to the diversity of types of wet environments for which evidence exists on Mars, including rivers, lakes, deltas, seas, hot springs, groundwater, and volcanic eruptions beneath ice.

"Ancient, deep-water hydrothermal deposits in Eridania basin represent a new category of astrobiological target on Mars," the report states. It also says, "Eridania seafloor deposits are not only of interest for Mars exploration, they represent a window into early Earth." That is because the earliest evidence of life on Earth comes from seafloor deposits of similar origin and age, but the geological record of those early-Earth environments is poorly preserved.

Monday, 23 October 2017

5 secrets of success: Traits to help you live without fear and reach your full potential

Do you ever wonder what's holding you back? A lot of people have all the skills and opportunities they need to reach their personal and professional goals, yet they fail to truly succeed.

In reality, the path to success isn't so clear, and when you add fear and doubt into the mix, it's easy to lose drive. Smart entrepreneurs know that success is more than just raw ability; it comes from having certain traits and staying dedicated through all the highs and lows of the journey.
Connie Tang is the perfect example of someone who's harnessed fear, set difficult goals and reached success throughout her life. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Tang became the first woman president and CEO of Princess House, a premier direct selling company of unique and exclusive cookware, food storage and home and entertainment products. Throughout her career she's learned to be strategic, intentional and resilient.

Her book, "Fearless Living: 8 Life-Changing Values for Breakthrough Success," offers insight into specific traits that, when put into practice, will enable anyone to navigate through virtually any business or personal situation with grace and without fear.

Tang shares some of the most important aspects of those traits to help people reach their full potential:

Determination: Do what needs to be done even when you don't feel like doing it. One of the most crucial elements of determination is daily discipline. Set small, achievable goals for each day and set out to crush them. Do not procrastinate! Putting things off can snowball and cause you to become overwhelmed and lose focus.

Accountability: Own and take full responsibility for your decisions, your actions and your results - good, bad or ugly. Don't play the blame game or the victim card. Understand that you can rise above your circumstances and demonstrate ownership in order to achieve the results you want.

Drive for results: Equip yourself to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. Put together a plan of action and allow it to become a living document, referencing it often. Execute daily action to make your goals a reality. When things change or don't go as planned, be agile and resilient. Seek solutions and be a problem-solver.

Passion: Passion is often sparked by something you've experienced or maybe something you've heard or read. It rises up from deep within to becoming a driving force in your life. Let your passion rage like a fire. It's one of the most important elements of success, and when it's truly present, work rarely feels like work.

Collaboration: You can't do it alone. You must collaborate and come together with others to bring projects and strategic initiatives to fruition. Successful outcomes are easier when it's a team effort. Collaboration allows you to maximize the knowledge and expertise of the people around you, which can be incredibly satisfying.

Want to learn more about these traits and others? You can visit Tang's website at www.8fearlessvalues.com. The website also includes an opportunity to join the Fearless Living movement and receive a free fearless bracelet. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and other websites.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A refreshing inside story

“At the core, Hit Refresh is about us humans and the unique quality we call empathy, which will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before, " says Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, in his latest book Hit Refresh.

Microsoft’s CEO tells the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, tracing his own personal journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant technological changes in the digital era. Satya Nadella explores a fascinating childhood before immigrating to the U.S. and how he learned to lead along the way. He then shares his meditations as a sitting CEO—one who is mostly unknown following the brainy Bill Gates and energetic Steve Ballmer.

He reveals how a company rediscovered its soul—transforming everything from culture to their fiercely competitive landscape and industry partnerships. As much a humanist as engineer and executive, Nadella concludes with his vision for the coming wave of technology and by exploring the potential impact to society and delivering call to action for world leaders.

“Ideas excite me,” Nadella explains. “Empathy grounds and centers me.” Hit Refresh is a set of reflections, meditations, and recommendations presented as algorithms from a principled, deliberative leader searching for improvement—for himself, for a storied company, and for society.

The foreword has been penned by Microsoft's legendary founder Bill Gates. "Satya has a lot of interesting things to say about the transformation of both Microsoft and the tech industry at large. I’ve benefitted from his insights for decades, and I’m glad everyone else will now have the same opportunity to learn from him."

Read the foreword from Gates

I’ve known Satya Nadella for more than twenty years. I got to know him in the mid-nineties, when I was CEO of Microsoft and he was working on our server software, which was just taking off at the time. We took a long-term approach to building the business, which had two benefits: It gave the company another growth engine, and it fostered many of the new leaders who run Microsoft today, including Satya.

Later I worked really intensely with him when he moved over to run our efforts to build a world-class search engine. We had fallen behind Google, and our original search team had moved on. Satya was part of the group that came in to turn things around. He was humble, forward-looking, and pragmatic. He raised smart questions about our strategy. And he worked well with the hardcore engineers.

So it was no surprise to me that once Satya became Microsoft’s CEO, he immediately put his mark on the company. As the title of this book implies, he didn’t completely break with the past—when you hit refresh on your browser, some of what’s on the page stays the same. But under Satya’s leadership, Microsoft has been able to transition away from a purely Windows-centric approach. He led the adoption of a bold new mission for the company. He is part of a constant conversation, reaching out to customers, top researchers, and executives. And, most crucially, he is making big bets on a few key technologies, like artificial intelligence and cloud computing, where Microsoft will differentiate itself.

It is a smart approach not just for Microsoft, but for any company that wants to succeed in the digital age. The computing industry has never been more complex. Today lots of big companies besides Microsoft are doing innovative work—Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and others. There are cutting-edge users all around the world, not just in the United States. The PC is no longer the only computing device, or even the main one, that most users interact with.

Despite all this rapid change in the computing industry, we are still at the beginning of the digital revolution. Take artificial intelligence (AI) as an example. Think of all the time we spend manually organizing and performing mundane activities, from scheduling meetings to paying the bills. In the future, an AI agent will know that you are at work and have ten minutes free, and then help you accomplish something that is high on your to-do list. AI is on the verge of making our lives more productive and creative.

Innovation will improve many other areas of life too. It’s the biggest piece of my work with the Gates Foundation, which is focused on reducing the world’s worst inequities. Digital tracking tools and genetic sequencing are helping us get achingly close to eradicating polio, which would be just the second human disease ever wiped out. In Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries, digital money is letting low-income users save, borrow, and transfer funds like never before. In classrooms across the United States, personalized-learning software allows students to move at their own pace and zero in on the skills they most need to improve.

Of course, with every new technology, there are challenges. How do we help people whose jobs are replaced by AI agents and robots? Will users trust their AI agent with all their information?


If an agent could advise you on your work style, would you want it to?

That is what makes books like Hit Refresh so valuable. Satya has charted a course for making the most of the opportunities created by technology while also facing up to the hard questions. And he offers his own fascinating personal story, more literary quotations than you might expect, and even a few lessons from his beloved game of cricket.

We should all be optimistic about what’s to come. The world is getting better, and progress is coming faster than ever. This book is a thoughtful guide to an exciting, challenging future.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

5 food trends impacting what, and how, we eat

Today's consumers market view their food choices with a more critical eye than ever before, and this pressure is placing higher expectations on food manufacturers, not only in terms of how consumers' food is made but what it's made from, where it's sourced and how it's delivered.

To discuss these topics and more, investors, scientists and food makers recently gathered at the Future of Food Tech summit in New York City to talk about what's behind the trends in food innovation and investment. Of all the topics discussed at the summit, these five key takeaways stood out the most.

1. Personalization is key

From meal delivery services that customize meals for dietary needs to companies that create products tailored to an individual's health, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to food. In fact, today's consumers are starting a movement toward personalization, which in turn is changing the way people shop. "The food industry is getting closer to the consumer," says Raven Kropf, director of emerging customers with Cargill's protein business.

2. Ethical production matters

Consumers continue to seek products that align with their values and are responsibly produced. The same goes for investors looking to participate in the food industry. In fact, many investors today are choosing projects based on ideology and a drive toward ethical food consumption.

3. There's growing interest in alternative proteins

A burger made entirely from lab-cultured meat and sushi made from eggplant are just two of the innovations showcased at the summit. "There's a lot of excitement around alternative sources of protein, but consumer acceptance is key," said Dominique Harris, business development adviser for Cargill's protein business. "We want to provide what consumers want, and in protein that means offering a variety of options. It doesn't have to be either/or."

4. Consumers want to know where their food comes from

Imagine being able to trace any food product back to the field or the animal from which it came. That's the potential promise of blockchain technology, which could essentially create a digitalized traceability system for food. From supply chain management to food safety, the potential for this technology is nearly limitless.

5. Food start-ups are on the rise

As more entrepreneurs get into the food business, they're looking for investors of all kinds. Likewise, traditional consumer packaged goods companies and ingredient suppliers are keeping their eyes on the newcomers for opportunities to connect. "I would encourage start-ups to seek out strategic partners in the food industry," said Chris Mallett, corporate vice president of research and development at Cargill. "Together we can create and sustain a healthy ecosystem for innovation in the industry."

These five trends are grabbing 2017 by storm. As the calendar rolls toward 2018, it will be interesting to see what the future of food has in store.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Feeling stressed? Have some salt

Stress. No one wants it, but we all experience it from time to time. Higher levels of stress can cause problems at work and at home. But stress is not just hard on your mental well-being; it is also hard on your body and can lead to many negative health outcomes.

Stress levels can also increase significantly when economic times are tough. In England, the British Health and Social Care Information Centre found that stress had increased by 47 percent during that country's recession and that stress was the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, affecting 20 percent of the population. Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, an expert on stress, was alarmed and told The Independent, "I have never seen figures like this before. Stress is a trigger mechanism for a whole range of conditions, from heart attacks to immune system disorders, mental illness and depression and anxiety."

Everyone is familiar with comfort foods, but the key comfort foods that have been shown to actually reduce stress all contain salt. Stress is characterized in the human body by high levels of the hormone cortisol, referred to as the "stress hormone." Scientific research has shown, in animals and in humans, that increased levels of salt consumption are effective in reducing levels of cortisol.

Research from the University of Haifa, published in the science journal Appetite, confirmed the relationship between salt and stress in humans. Researchers found an inverse correlation between salt and depression/stress, especially in women. Craving salty foods may very well be a biological defense mechanism we evolved to cope with daily stress.

The researchers reviewed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) using 10,000 individuals and demonstrated that depression and stress were higher in individuals who consumed less salt, a trend more prevalent in women than men. They noted that the relationship of higher depression with lower salt intake in humans was consistent with the results of other animal studies. They also found that young people, up to the age of 19, selectively choose foods that are higher in salt, indicating a natural feedback mechanism driving them to consume higher salt foods and rewarding them with more vigorous growth.

Other good stress-relieving tips include getting a good night's sleep and taking time off to focus on relaxation and regular exercise, which has added health benefits. Of course, with exercise, another benefit of salt becomes apparent, as this vital nutrient is necessary to remain properly hydrated and healthy. When you sweat, you lose not just water but also electrolytes (including sodium) which need to be replenished.

The fact remains that whether they are called comfort foods or mood stabilizers, research indicates salty foods are effective at making us feel better and reducing our heightened stress levels, a common condition in today's ever-changing world. So, the next time you finish a stressful day and want to wind down and relax, don't be surprised if you instinctively reach for a salty snack.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Getting to the truth behind news sources

We need help understanding the source and the truth behind news media, says Kelly Walsh, the brain behind EmergingEdTech, a weblog he runs to interact with a worldwide community of other educators and technologists. Here's an interesting article from him.

For centuries, it has been important for people to realize that “news” is often delivered with a specific agenda in mind and to have an eye open for that. Here in the early decades of the 21st century, our web-enabled, media-drenched, smartphone-tapping lifestyles add more layers of obfuscation … too much, too fast, with too little effort to understand what we are sharing or “reporting”. Top all of that off with an American President who has a rather bizarre relationship with the media and the truth, and you have a real formula for fogginess and “news” fatigue.

We are losing our connection with, and perhaps even our respect for, real information, from genuine, unbiased sources.

We need to try and make sure that our students can understand what lies between the tremendous volume of media many consume every day and the actual truth and intent of a news items. I think that having an understanding of these “layers” can go a long way towards opening students' eyes and minds.

Layer 1: Social Media

Often, the first we may hear of some new event or announcement may come to us through social media. This article, “Information Wars: A Window into the Alternative Media Ecosystem” by Kate Starbird, Asst. Professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, provides an in-depth look at how social media is often used by non-mainstream media sources to drive alternative narratives.

Social media is a powerful platform for spreading misinformation, twisting the truth, and promoting an agenda. It is rarely a primary source of original reporting. Of course, there certainly can be original content published on blogs or reported via YouTube, but far more often, social media is used to rebroadcast content (with or without a “spin”). If your first awareness of some new information comes via social media, dig deeper to try to identify and understand the source.

Layer 2: Sponsored Content

Next on the list of scourges that cloud our perceptions of what is or is not news is the ever-growing use of sponsored content. Yes, organizations, even legitimate news organizations, need the income from these sources to help keep the lights on, but I wish many would try a little harder to differentiate sponsored content from other content.

Most major news outlets do this sort of thing now. Perhaps it is just a necessity of today's business environment for news publishers, which makes it a necessity for us as readers (and teachers) to keep an eye out to differentiation news from what are essentially just ads.

Layer 3: Syndicated and Recycled Content

News agencies like The Associated Press have been supplying news to publishers for decades, and that's fine. We just need to be attuned to it. It is interesting to note that sometimes this results in “left leaning” publications publishing “right leaning” content and vice-versa. (Well maybe that's one way of achieving some sort of balance.)

A similar “syndication” that has grown rapidly thanks to shrinking news budgets and the ease with which anyone can publish via the web is the re-reporting of news items. We've all seen or heard the “as reported by …” news piece, wherein one newspaper or program reports something that they picked up from another news source. This is logical – if something new is reported that you think your audience should know about, then it should be shared. As long as it is labelled appropriately, with the source cited, it's perfectly okay. Unfortunately, sometimes the original source is not noted, and that is not good practice.

In any case, this is one more layer that exists between the original source of a news item those who consume the news.

Layer 4: The Original Source!

So, if we can drill down and peel away social media, sponsored content and “advertorials”, the tremendous amount of re-published content … somewhere under all of that we will find some original news sources. (Kind of leaves you wondering what percent of all of the media we see is original source content? 10%, 5%, less than 1%?!)

Layer 5: Underlying Agendas: Do the owners of the news outlet or the original source have an “agenda” that influenced the piece?

Okay, so we've found some original source news content. Perhaps an article a journalist wrote while researching a topic. There is still another set of questions to ask, which are similar in nature.

Did the journalist, or the organization he or she works for, have an agenda to push that may have influenced what was reported and how it was reported? For example, in my experience, many people believe that Fox News is conservative leaning and CNN in more liberal. Don't these “leanings” stand a good chance of influencing what they publish?

Lastly, there is the same consideration to be given to the sources in the story itself. We often hear about scientific studies that have been conducted, written up, and published (and maybe even peer reviewed). These studies are common sources for news items. But what, if anything, was the agenda driving the people who worked on those studies, the organizations they worked for, and/or the organizations or people who paid for those studies to be completed?

Of course, this is not to conclude that all news items are published with some alternative agenda, this is clearly not the case. Many news pieces are simply efforts to share something new someone learned or experienced. But having a sense of the many things that can cloud the picture and mislead can help students to differentiate real and “fake” or influenced news items.

Courtesy: EmergingEdTech

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Transformed by the Internet


In the last two decades, the Internet revolution has destroyed traditional ways of working but has also created entire industries with countless opportunities for innovation.

We take a quick look at 5 industries radically transformed by the Internet. According to marketing expert Douglas Karr, these five industries are music, retail, publishing, travel, and transport.


Let's start with music


With physical sales largely redundant and digital revenue growth slow, many high street music sellers are facing the music and artists are now finding additional revenue sources in live gigs and music festivals. The power has now shifted from big corporates to consumers and artists.

Retail

The convenience of online shopping where items can be searched for, purchased and delivered with just a few clicks of a mouse has to lead to the death of the high street, with beloved brands having faced cutbacks or liquidation including HMV, Woolworths, and Blockbuster. In UK, one in 4 pounds spent at Christmas on entertainment goods went to Amazon

Publishing

Physical book sales are down as the popularity of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle continues to grow. Traditional publishers dealing in books, newspapers or magazines, have had to find new efficiencies to avoid becoming obsolete. The internet has also enabled the growth of self-publishing, giving authors greater control.

Travel

Holidaymakers are now saying bon voyage to the travel agent because there's no need for a middle man when you can book flights and hotels online and organize activities once you've arrived using your smartphone. The internet has also rocked the hotel industry by allowing people to rent out their own accommodation. Airbnb gets more than 4 million guests in a year.

Transport

Traditional cab drivers are being pushed aside as mobile apps make it easier for consumers to book their next ride. The internet has also given rise to a number of digital companies focused on transport, whether it's apps helping people to get around a city or urban planners tracking the movements of vehicles. Uber is said to have earned over 26 billion dollars in 2016.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Two-faced 2-D material: flat sandwich of sulfur, molybdenum and selenium

Materials scientists at Rice University replace all the atoms on top of a three-layer, two-dimensional crystal to make a transition-metal dichalcogenide with sulfur, molybdenum, and selenium. The new material has unique electronic properties that may make it a suitable catalyst, says Mike Williams in an article written for Science Daily.

Hear the experts talk about trends like these and discoveries sweeping Chemistry at the 2-day lecture cum workshop on Aug 28 and 29. For details: bit.ly/2wPhqVy

Like a sandwich with wheat on the bottom and rye on the top, Rice University scientists have cooked up a tasty new twist on two-dimensional materials.



The Rice laboratory of materials scientist Jun Lou has made a semiconducting transition-metal dichalcogenide (TMD) that starts as a monolayer of molybdenum diselenide. They then strip the top layer of the lattice and replace precisely half the selenium atoms with sulfur.

The new material they call Janus sulfur molybdenum selenium (SMoSe) has a crystalline construction the researchers said can host an intrinsic electric field and that also shows promise for catalytic production of hydrogen.

The work is detailed this month in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.

The two-faced material is technically two-dimensional, but like molybdenum diselenide, it consists of three stacked layers of atoms arranged in a grid. From the top, they look like hexagonal rings a la graphene, but from any other angle, the grid is more like a nanoscale jungle gym.

Tight control of the conditions in a typical chemical vapor deposition furnace -- 800 degrees Celsius (1,872 degrees Fahrenheit) at atmospheric pressure -- allowed the sulfur to interact with only the top layer of selenium atoms and leave the bottom untouched, the researchers said. If the temperature drifts above 850, all the selenium is replaced.

"Like the intercalation of many other molecules demonstrated to have the ability to diffuse into the layered materials, diffusion of gaseous sulfur molecules in between the layers of these Van der Waals crystals, as well as the space between them and the substrates, requires sufficient driving force," said Rice postdoctoral researcher Jing Zhang, co-lead author of the paper with graduate student Shuai Jia. "And the driving force in our experiments is controlled by the reaction temperature."

Close examination showed the presence of sulfur gave the material a larger band gap than molybdenum diselenide, the researchers said.

"This type of two-faced structure has long been predicted theoretically but very rarely realized in the 2-D research community," Lou said. "The break of symmetry in the out-of-plane direction of 2-D TMDs could lead to many applications, such as a basal-plane active 2-D catalyst, robust piezoelectricity-enabled sensors, and actuators at the 2-D limit."

He said preparation of the Janus material should be universal to layered materials with similar structures. "It will be quite interesting to look at the properties of the Janus configuration of other 2-D materials," Lou said.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Nanotechnology 101

Physicist Richard Feynman, the father of nanotechnology.
Does Nanotechnology excite you? To begin with, it is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.

Physicist Richard Feynman is considered the father of nanotechnology. Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.

The ideas and concepts behind nanoscience and nanotechnology started with a talk entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” by physicist Richard Feynman at an American Physical Society meeting at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) on December 29, 1959, long before the term nanotechnology was used.

In his talk, Feynman described a process in which scientists would be able to manipulate and control individual atoms and molecules. Over a decade later, in his explorations of ultraprecision machining, Professor Norio Taniguchi coined the term nanotechnology.

It wasn't until 1981, with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope that could "see" individual atoms, that modern nanotechnology began.

Medieval stained glass windows are an example of how nanotechnology was used in the pre-modern era.

It’s hard to imagine just how small nanotechnology is. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, or 10-9 of a meter. Here are a few illustrative examples:

There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch

A sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick

On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometer, then one meter would be the size of the Earth

Nanoscience and nanotechnology involve the ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. Everything on Earth is made up of atoms—the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the buildings and houses we live in, and our own bodies.

But something as small as an atom is impossible to see with the naked eye. In fact, it’s impossible to see with the microscopes typically used in a high school science classes. The microscopes needed to see things at the nanoscale were invented relatively recently—about 30 years ago.

Once scientists had the right tools, such as the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and the atomic force microscope (AFM), the age of nanotechnology was born.

Although modern nanoscience and nanotechnology are quite new, nanoscale materials were used for centuries. Alternate-sized gold and silver particles created colors in the stained glass windows of medieval churches hundreds of years ago. The artists back then just didn’t know that the process they used to create these beautiful works of art actually led to changes in the composition of the materials they were working with.

Today's scientists and engineers are finding a wide variety of ways to deliberately make materials at the nanoscale to take advantage of their enhanced properties such as higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity than their larger-scale counterparts.

What's so special about nanoscale?

Nanoscale particles are not new in either nature or science. However, the recent leaps in areas such as microscopy have given scientists new tools to understand and take advantage of phenomena that occur naturally when matter is organized at the nanoscale.

In essence, these phenomena are based on "quantum effects" and other simple physical effects such as expanded surface area (more on these below). In addition, the fact that a majority of biological processes occur at the nanoscale gives scientists models and templates to imagine and construct new processes that can enhance their work in medicine, imaging, computing, printing, chemical catalysis, materials synthesis, and many other fields.

Nanotechnology is not simply working at ever smaller dimensions; rather, working at the nanoscale enables scientists to utilize the unique physical, chemical, mechanical, and optical properties of materials that naturally occur at that scale.

Monday, 31 July 2017

20 Surprising Facts About Warren Buffett

From buying his first stock at age 11 to having his face on Cherry Coke cans in China, these Warren Buffett facts might surprise you.

From using a Nokia flip phone to pledging 85 percent of his Berkshire Hathaway stocks to various charitable foundations, check out these 20 Warren Buffett facts that might surprise you.

1. He bought his first stock when he was 11-years-old.

While most 11-year-old boys were playing T-ball and reading comic books, Buffett bought stocks. In the spring of 1942, at 11-years-old, Buffett purchased shares of Cities Service Preferred for $38 a piece.

2. He made $53,000 by the age of 16.

Even since he was young, Buffett’s not only been tactful, but also an extremely hard worker. When his family moved to Omaha, Buffett delivered The Washington Post every morning and brought in about $175 a month (that’s more than most teachers made during that time).

He also pursued a few side gigs such as selling used golf balls and collector stamps. By the time he turned 16, he had amassed the equivalent of $53,000.

3. He was rejected from Harvard Business School.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska in three years, Buffett applied to Harvard Business School. But during a brief interview with the school that would determine his acceptance, the staff said to Buffett: “Forget it. You’re not going to Harvard.”

After much disappointment from the rejection, Buffett discovered that his idols Benjamin Graham (“the father of value investing”) and David Dodd were professors at Columbia Business School.

“I wrote them a letter in mid-August," Buffett shares. "I said, 'Dear Professor Dodd. I thought you guys were dead, but now that I found out that you're alive and teaching at Columbia, I would really like to come.' And he admitted me."


4. He eats like a 6-year-old.

Buffett’s secret to staying young? Coca-Cola and ice cream.

In an interview with Fortune, Buffett claimed he is “one quarter Coca-Cola” -- "If I eat 2,700 calories a day, a quarter of that is Coca-Cola. I drink at least five 12-ounce servings. I do it every day."

Sometimes for breakfast, he eats a can of Utz potato sticks (yes -- a can, not a bag) to accompany his soda. Other times he takes a sweeter approach and indulges in a bowl of ice cream to jump start his day.

When asked how he’s managed to stay healthy with such a salty and sugary diet, he said, "I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among 6-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a 6-year-old."

5. He’s lived in the same house since 1958.

When you think of a billionaire, you typically think of mansions, vacation homes and expensive cars. That’s never been the case for Buffett. (Perhaps that’s why we’re all so fascinated by him.)

Buffett has lived in the same Omaha house since 1958 that he originally bought for $31,500. The house is a simple five-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house.

6. His father-in-law told him he would fail.

After proposing to his wife in 1951, Buffett’s father-in-law asked him to come over for a “talk.” Turns out, his father-in-law didn’t have much faith in Buffett and his plans for the future. In fact, he was adamant that Buffett would fail.

Buffett recalled the words from his father-in-law during an interview with CNBC: "I just want to absolve you from any worries. You're going to fail. And the reason you're going to fail -- my daughter may starve to death and you're going to fail, but I'm not going to blame you because it's because the Democrats are in and they're all Communists."

7. People will pay millions to have lunch with him.

Who wouldn’t want to have lunch with the Oracle of Omaha? Without a doubt, there’s a lot he could teach you. Some people are so eager to sit down with Buffett that they’ve bid up to $3.4 million to have lunch with him.

Since 2000, Buffett has held an annual fundraiser, auctioning off a charity lunch with him on eBay. In 2012 and 2016, people were so eager to sit down with Buffett they placed bids for more than $3.4 million. The money raised went to the San Francisco-based anti-poverty charity GLIDE, and the winner (who typically remains anonymous) gets to invite seven friends to lunch with Buffett at Smith and Wollensky steakhouse in New York City.

The auction has raised more than $20 million in total.

8. In 2013, Buffett earned $37 million a day.

By the end of 2013, Buffett had a net worth of $59 billion -- up from $46 billion at the beginning of the year. On average, Buffett made $37 million a day in 2013, which was fueled by rising stock prices.

9. Nearly 94 percent of his wealth was earned after he turned 60.

Success comes at any age. Although Buffett was extremely successful before the age of 60 -- his net worth was a noted $376 million when he was 52-years-old -- nearly 94 percent of his wealth came after he turned 60. At 60, he was worth more than $3.8 billion.

10. He’s never tweeted before.

Although Buffett has a Twitter account (@WarrenBuffett) with more than 1.25 million followers -- it only has nine published tweets, and it turns out none of them were written by him.

“I have this friend that talked me into getting a Twitter feed. She's put up a couple things. But, the answer is I've never tweeted anything really myself,” he told CNBC.

11. Buffett owns 20 suits, but has never paid for any.

Buffett owns close to 20 suits, all made by the same designer -- Madam Lee. There's an interesting story here.

During a trip to China, upon arriving to his hotel, “Two guys jumped in the room. … They started sticking tape measures around me and everything, then they showed me a book with a whole bunch of samples and said ‘pick out a suit. Madam Lee wants to give you one,’” Buffett shared with CNBC.

Without meeting her, Buffett picked out a suit and later picked out another. Finally meeting the mysterious designer, Buffett developed a professional relationship with Madam Lee and she continued sending Buffett suits. Lee has attended Buffett’s annual meetings and she’s even begun making suits for other successful executives such as Bill Gates.

12. He spends 80 percent of his day reading.

From the moment he wakes up, Buffett has his nose in a newspaper. In fact, he estimates that he spends around 80 percent of his day reading.

When asked the key to his success, Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.”

13. Buffett will give an employee $1 million every year for the rest of his or her life if they can guess the NCAA’s sweet 16 teams.

Since 2014, Buffett has held a contest among all of his employees, challenging them to guess who the sweet 16 teams will be during NCAA March Madness, he tells CNBC. If someone guesses all of the teams correctly, he promises to pay them $1 million every year for the rest of his or her life.


No one has ever won the $1 million prize -- the person who gets the closest will win $100,000. In 2016, two employees tied and each took home $50,000.

14. He uses a Nokia flip phone.

In a 2013 CNN interview with Piers Morgan, Buffett shared his take on everything from politics to parenting to technology. Buffett even revealed that he was still using a Nokia flip phone. “This is the one Alexander Graham Bell gave me,” Buffett joked. "I don't throw anything away until I've had it 20 or 25 years."

15. He takes a dozen kids to Dairy Queen every Sunday.

Buffett, whose holdings include Dairy Queen, treats a group of 12 kids -- usually his grandchildren and their friends -- to DQ every Sunday, he shared with Joe Kernan on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Watching them, he can’t help but notice how glued they are to their iPhones -- “they barely can talk to me except if I'm ordering ice cream or something like that,” he said. Buffett will ask them questions such as what they are doing on them and how, and if they could live without these tech tools. “The stickiness really is something. I mean, they do build their lives around it. … They love it.”

16. Buffett rarely emails.

Buffett rarely emails -- in fact, he claims that he’s only sent one email in his life and it ended up in federal court.

In 1997, Buffett responded to an email from a close friend, former Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes, that read, "Doesn't Microsoft meet all your tests for a wonderful business.” In his response, Buffett laid out all the reasons why he doesn’t use Microsoft. The U.S. government pulled in the email as support for Microsoft’s position in the economy, and Buffett later saw his email in a Wall Street Journal article, he shared in an interview with CNBC.

17. He plays the ukulele.

When he was 18-years-old, Buffett developed a crush on a local Omaha girl, Betty Gallagher, Hear Nebraska Radio reports. To his dismay, Gallagher had a boyfriend at the time. So Buffett brainstormed what he could do that Gallagher’s boyfriend could not, and that was to play the ukulele.

After Buffet learned to play the instrument, he serenaded Gallagher, but she still chose the other guy. He still uses his ukulele skills, and you can catch Buffett performing at meetings and during interviews and conventions, sometimes with pal Bill Gates singing along.

18. Buffett pledged to donate 85 percent of his Berkshire Hathaway stocks to charitable foundations. On top of being a successful investor and business executive, Buffett is also a huge philanthropist. In 2006, he announced that he planned to gradually give 85 percent of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to five foundations -- and he’s been fulfilling his promise since.

In July 2016, Buffett donated more than $2.86 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the five foundations -- one of which is The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He donated around $2.8 billion in both 2014 and 2015.

19. He was awarded the “Presidential Medal of Freedom” by Barack Obama.

On Feb. 16, 2011, Buffett was awarded the highest civilian honor, the “Presidential Medal of Freedom,” by former President Barack Obama. Due to his philanthropic donations -- since 2014, Buffett has donated more than $2 billion to charitable foundations -- Buffett was chosen to receive such a prestigious award.

Obama described Buffett as "not only as one of the world's richest men but also one of the most admired and respected" who had "demonstrated that integrity isn't just a good trait, it is good for business."

20. Out of all investing legends, Buffett has the best track record for beating the market.

From Charles Munger to Peter Lynch, out of all the world’s biggest investors, the 86-year-old investing tycoon has the best track record of beating the market.

Monday, 24 July 2017

What is innovation, and how can we awaken its dormant traits and cultivate them?



'We do not need to try to create innovative characteristics in the individual, we simply need to show them how to cultivate innovative thought.'

What innovation is and how it can be cultivated are two of the compelling questions raised in a paper exploring the potential for fostering innovation in students in the new issue of Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors.

"Relatively little is known about how we can cultivate innovative thinking," said paper lead author Victor Poirier of the Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation at the University of South Florida (USF), "and even less is known about how we can help individuals use and improve their innovative powers."

According to the authors, innovation can be defined as "the introduction of something new and different" that is created by inspiration and creativity. Innovation, they said, is "critical to improvements in how we live" and provides "social value." The beginning of the innovative process is usually associated with "a fragmented inspiration" that is further developed by "joining with other fragmented thoughts to finally arrive at a creative inspiration."

The authors pointed to six key characteristics of innovation:

* The timing of an innovative idea;

* The environment in which the idea is formulated and developed;

* The time to develop an idea or inspiration;

* The time and organizational environment that allows for idea cross-fertilization;

* Learning from errors; and

* The development of an idea in one field that can be adapted in another.


While education may not be able to create innovative traits in individuals, education may be able to improve the ability of individuals to better utilize the traits of creativity and innovation they already possess. However, how do we cultivate innovative thinking processes and unleash the creative powers of the individual? And, by what processes can educators help individuals to better utilize their innovative traits?

"It takes a village," explained Poirier, pointing out that Thomas Edison's Menlo Park was an environment in which a variety of minds and skills came together to achieve innovative processes. Innovative industries such as Bell Labs, Xerox, Apple, and Google, as well as many of the federal government's laboratory systems, such as NIH and NASA, are examples of creative environments that foster innovation collaboratively.

Innovative processes do not always create something new, said the authors. Sometimes they greatly improve something already in existence or help to solve a problem. Motivation, persistence, and goal setting may also be keys to this process.

"Contrary to the view that inspiration is purely mystic or divine, [it] is best viewed as an interaction between one's current knowledge and the information one receives from the world," suggested the authors. "We do not need to try to create innovative characteristics; rather, we simply need to show individuals how to cultivate innovative thought."

The first step in encouraging and nurturing inspiration and innovation, said Poirier, is to identify the characteristics and traits that can be fostered and developed through education. These include: abstract thinking and problem solving; a desire to 'fill gaps'; motivation; creativity; curiosity; taking risks with no fear of failure; a positive attitude; persistence and passion; dissatisfaction with what exists; open-mindedness; and vision.

These characteristics can be foundational to an educational process aimed at unleashing the creative and innovative potential that students possess. Therefore, as Poirier explains, our goal is "to develop an educational process whereby we could show individuals how to fully utilize the [innovative] traits they have, [and] awaken traits that are dormant."

The authors acknowledged that there may be roadblocks or resistance to this process from both students and faculty, as there are many who think that innovative thinking is something inborn in the individual and cannot be learned. However, the potential rewards -- including an increase in innovative production -- are substantial and warrant meeting and overcoming these challenges.

To that end, Poirier and his co-authors are part of a team at the University of South Florida involved in an experimental training program in innovation.