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Archive for January, 2015

31 January
Comments Off on Treating China’s Internet Addicts

Treating China’s Internet Addicts

In 2008, China became the first nation to declare Internet addiction a clinical disorder. Recently, the Spanish photographer Fernando Moleres spent three days documenting patients at an Internet-addiction treatment center outside of Beijing.

Residents are required to spend a minimum of three months at the center, and treatment consists of exercise drills, therapy sessions, reading, and games. Moleres told me that, above everything, the center seeks to promote the socialization of its residents, to counter the sense of isolation associated with this type of condition. What struck him most, he said, was how readily patientsĀ seem to adapt to life at the center.

31 January
Comments Off on D-Wave keeps dreaming of quantum computers everywhere, takes $23.1M more

D-Wave keeps dreaming of quantum computers everywhere, takes $23.1M more

D-Wave Systems, a company building what it calls quantum computers, is announcing today that it has taken on around $23.1 million, or $29 million in Canadian dollars, in additional funding.

Burnaby, British-Columbia-based D-Wave claims its hardware is capable of quantum computing. In contrast to classical computers, which deal in bits, each of which carries a value of either zero or one, quantum systems work with quantum bits, or qubits, each of which can be zero or one or both. The superposition of these qubits can allow great numbers of computations to be performed simultaneously, making a quantum computer highly desirable for certain types of processes.

Some researchers have wondered if D-Waves machines really do achieve a quantum state. Even so, D-Wave has landed some prominent deals in the past couple of years. In 2013, Lockheed Martin, D-Waves first customer, shelled out for an upgrade to a D-Wave Two computer. That same year, Google and NASA announced that they had picked up a D-Wave Two system for a joint project, the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, at NASAs Ames Research Center.

The new money will help accelerate development of D-Wave’s quantum hardware and software and expand the software application ecosystem, according to a statement from the company. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been incubating a quantum computing initiative of its own on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

D-Wave, for its part, started in 1999 and is based in Burnaby, British Columbia. To date the company has raised $138.7 million, or $174 million in Canadian dollars.

In-Q-Tel and Bezos Expeditions, among others, have previously backed D-Wave. This time around, D-Wave is not disclosing the identity of the large institutional investor dropping cash into the company for the first time.

In July, D-Wave disclosed a $28.4 million round.

31 January
Comments Off on Editorial: Proposed school calendar with shorter summer vacation worth exploring

Editorial: Proposed school calendar with shorter summer vacation worth exploring

JACKSON, MI Its called a balanced calendar, and it has the potential to put Jackson County schools on the map.

This week, Jackson Countys public school superintendents announced plans to explore the possibility oftransitioning from a traditional school calendar to a balanced calendar, which shortens summer vacation by several weeks, while adding in extra weeks off through the fall, winter and summer.

This is not year-round school. Its still 180 days in the classroom, just spread out more equitably through the year. In other words, its more balanced.

31 January
Comments Off on Find a thinner, stronger you on your next vacation

Find a thinner, stronger you on your next vacation

Ready to return home from vacation a changed person? A stronger, slimmer version of yourself? The booming wellness-travel trend means there are countless ways to have a great vacation while reconnecting with your fitness goals.

Inspiring options abound. Try a surf fitness camp in Hawaii, a military-style boot camp on a Scottish estate, or mixed martial arts training in Thailand. Hike away the pounds, cycle your way to a better you, or train with Olympians. Your new arm definition and reduced waistline wont be the only lasting effects, either; many of these programs offer guidance on healthier living and eating, so you can sustain that vacation glow.

Stronger, cooler, tanner: Surf fitness camp in Hawaii

Ty Gurney Surf Schools Surf Fitness Camp on Oahu delivers a potent Hawaiian cocktail of vitamin D, surf skills and body toning. The combination of surfing lessons, stand-up paddleboarding lessons, yoga and fitness classes and hikes delivers both fun and sun. And the full-body fitness assessment and personalized nutrition plan mean youll be able to measure results and keep up the good habits even after surf camp ends.

Cost: The four-day surf fitness camp costs between $1,720 and $2,000 (depending on accommodations); the seven-day camp costs $2,760 to $3,100. The price includes lodging and camp activities but not meals or airfare.

Total-body overhaul: Medical expertise meets can-do fitness attitude

Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami takes a whole-body approach with its all-inclusive program. Book a week-long stay, and youll kick things off with a comprehensive medical health evaluation and fitness assessment by the centers board-certified physicians, then dive into days full of fitness, health education and cooking classes led by experts. Some weeks feature a special focus such as heart health, womens health or diabetes. In summer, theres also a Family Health Camp with kid-centered exercise, nutrition and cooking classes as well as full offerings for adults.

Cost: One week this spring is $4,400 per person, based on double occupancy ($5,750 based on single occupancy). Summer Family Health Camp rates are slightly lower, and childrens rates are significantly lower.

Swimsuit-season prep: Spring cycling in the Carolinas

Power your exploration of the world with your own two legs–thats the theme behind Backroads many cycling and multisport tours to destinations in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Build strength and burn calories on one of its upcoming Spring Training trips, aimed to help people get in shape for spring and summer activities. The Asheville to Greenville Bike Tour, for instance, is geared to a range of fitness levels and can include per-day elevation gains of up to 5,400 feet. The tour also includes stops at attractions including George Vanderbilts Biltmore Estate and stays at Hotel Domestique, the biker-friendly boutique hotel owned by cyclist George Hincapie.

Cost: The May 18th departure of the five-day, four-night tour is $2,598 per person, based on double occupancy. Add $1,020 to the price for single occupancy.

Serious sweat: Military boot camp in Scotland

Ex-UK Special Forces Military Instructors, nutritionists and sports physios lead campers down the path of sustainable weight loss and improved muscle tone and overall health, all in gorgeous surroundings and luxe digs. The Camp, a military weight-loss boot camp for fitness, has two locations: one on a country estate in Scotland, another at a mansion in Andalucia, Spain. The Camp prides itself on being effective but kind; they promise not to yell as they help find the leaner, stronger you.

Cost: At the estate in Scotland, seven days with shared accommodations starts at $1,287; private accommodations are $1,817. In Spain, seven days with shared accommodations starts at $2,044; private accommodations start at $2,650.

Triathlon prep: Gold-medal training in the Southwest

Athletes in need of a pre-triathlon tune-up can find Olympic gold medalists ready to coach them into shape at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. The three-day Triathlon Prep Program includes swimming with champion Misty Hyman, a desert bike ride and a guided run with on-staff experts, as well as core training, spa treatments and luxe accommodations.

Cost: Prices change based on current room rates, but at press time, a three-day, three-night stay in early May is $1,641 per person, based on double occupancy in a mountain casita. Call 855-245-2051 to find rates for your dates.

Hike off the fat: Backpacking Americas treasures

Fitpacking targets nature lovers who are 15 to 75 pounds overweight and want to get fit and lose weight while on a backpacking adventure vacation. Hiking delivers great cardio, and the weight training is built in, too: Fitpacking participants carry their own food and equipment, sharing the responsibility of toting group gear such as stoves and water filters. Trips happen year-round in inspiring destinations around the country. The Crater Lake National Park trip, which departs in late July, includes a few days on the Pacific Crest Trail as well as rim hikes around the lake and hikes to some of the nearby mountain peaks.

Cost: The July Crater Lake trip costs $1,225 per person, based on double occupancy (meaning youll share a hotel room with another participant during the first and last nights).

Martial arts madness: Fitness and Muay Thai in Thailand

Channel your inner butt kicker at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand. The facility offers accommodations, a restaurant, and training in Muay Thai, krabi-krabong, Western boxing, and other mixed martial arts. Yoga classes and weight and fitness rooms round out the offerings. The centers BodyFit boot camp suits every fitness level and adds a body-trimming boost to the martial arts training most people come for. The daily boot camp consists of an hour of working with your own body weight to tone and strengthen, plus a once-a-week beach workout and run to a giant Buddha statue and back.

Cost: A basic all-inclusive one-week package, which includes meals, accommodations and training, is $399. The weight-loss all-inclusive package, which offers three additional private sessions and a private fitness consultation, is $675 per week. Per-week prices for just training (if you want to stay and eat off-site) start at around $100.

Arm strengthening and character building: Kayaking in southern Florida

Outward Bound wants to help you find yourself. But along the way, its going to do wonders for your body as well. The company is best known for its rugged, character-building excursions for teens, but it also offers programs for adults. Some trips are geared specifically to adults 30 and older, including select dates of its Ten Thousand Islands Sea Kayaking expedition. The seven-day trip through the Everglades includes days spent kayaking, nights camping on white-sand beaches and time spent developing skills such as map reading and problem solving.

Cost: Seven-day trips cost $1,823 per person. Some trips are for adults 18 and older, others are for adults 30 and older.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Eight great ways to find a thinner, stronger you on your next vacation

31 January
Comments Off on Is The Internet of Things IPv6 Ready?

Is The Internet of Things IPv6 Ready?

When we read about the Internet of Things (IoT) we see where people are breathlessly expounding the virtues and perils of the latest marketing terminology. To be fair there are a lot of great opportunities that present themselves as a result of all of the hyper-connectivity that comes with the Internet of Things. There is the ability to track power consumption in your house. Keep tabs on the diagnostics of your car. Even the ability to manage your health related data with wearable devices like the Fitbit.

One of the interesting aspects of the Internet of Things is the scale issue. I have bought and fiddled with wireless cameras, home automation devices, wearables and so forth. The issue that has cropped up in my mind is the IP addressing with regards to these devices. So many of the devices that I have tested over the last few months have been limited in that they would only use IPv4 as their addressing. This is the Internet Protocol that is used to route most of the traffic on the Internet. The problem being is that there is a limit to the number of available IPv4 addresses. The IPv4 address field is a 32 bit field and that brings with it limitations. There are almost 4.3 billion IP addresses available in this space and they are almost exhausted now.

With this pool of addresses dwindling there was a need for something to replace it. Enter, IPv6. Today more than 90% of the traffic on the Internet is IPv4 and that will soon be a significant problem. IPv6 was developed in the late 90s by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to address this issue. This scheme has in excess of 7.9times;10^28 times as many addresses. This would easily tackle the growing demand of Internet connected devices.

The problem I’ve seen is that time to market has caused security issues as well as scaling problems. These devices that cannot leverage IPv6 will be of limited use in the future.

IPSec was originally a mandatory element of IPv6 which would have added a layer of security to the Internet of Things. However, this was later made into an optional requirement. Pity.

As the Internet of Things continues to crash forward we run into time to market issuesthat are leading to security deployments that are weak or even absent all together. Now, we see that so many of these devices are limited in that they will not be able to scale to use IPv6. To use the simple cop out, I will point to the commonly referenced Information Security CIA triad which means Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. As the Internet of Things grows will it be able to talk to the rest of the world if and when IPv6 takes a solid foot hold?

I’ve got my share of reservations about the Internet of Things. I can also see a great deal of benefit to be had if we tackle security and privacy issues sooner rather than later. My concerns grow when I realize that a lot of the devices that we now use may not be able to communicate. Nothing would charm me more than a securely designed defined repeatable process to tackle future deployments.

(Image used under CC from Skley)

Follow Dave Lewis on Twitter @gattacaand read more of my Forbes articles.

30 January
Comments Off on Computers Seized From Former California Public Utilities President’s Home

Computers Seized From Former California Public Utilities President’s Home

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif. (AP) State investigators have searched the homes of Californias former top regulator and an ousted Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive at the heart of a judge-shopping controversy.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/15WgBfE ) court documents show agents on Tuesday searched former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peeveys home in La Canada Flintridge of Michael Peevey. They seized computers, smart phones and a small data-storage device.

Agents also seized a computer and other items from the Orinda home of former PGamp;E Vice President Brian Cherry.

Cherry was fired in September when the utility released e-mails showing he had negotiated with Peeveys chief of staff and other officials to name a judge PGamp;E wanted to oversee a rate-setting case.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the US attorneys office opened separate investigations to determine whether any laws were broken.

___

Information from: The San Francisco Chronicle, http://sfgate.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

30 January
Comments Off on 13 Reasons The Mall Of America Is Possibly The Most Surprising Vacation Spot

13 Reasons The Mall Of America Is Possibly The Most Surprising Vacation Spot

Normally, it is not advisable to vacation in a mall — unless Auntie Annes and discount shoes are your idea of a stimulating trip, we advise you visit an island instead.

But there is an exception to this rule, and its the Mall of America. Lets start with numbers: at seven Yankee Stadiums in size, this place is HUGE. You could fit 258 Statues of Liberty in there, or 32 Boeing 747s.

In a place so big, there are shenanigans for every type of traveler, from foodies to sports buffs to shopaholics and fitness fiends. Oh, and there are plenty of quirky tidbits that make this place even more weird-slash-exciting. We never thought wed say this, but… were considering a mall vacation.

30 January
Comments Off on ITS encourages students to back up computers

ITS encourages students to back up computers

Assignments, games, music, presentations and more exist on a college laptop – until it crashes.

ITS recommends students and faculty back up their computers on a regular basis. Backing up important files to an external hard drive can save lots of time, money and pain.

Luke Papenfuss, student manager at ITS, said there is almost no way to retrieve lost files from a crashed computer. Recently, some people on campus have gotten a virus called Crypto Locker on their computer, which encrypts the computer and holds important files ransom.

ITS doesn’t pay that ransom.

“In those circumstances the only reliable way to get your data back is by having it backed up,” Papenfuss said.

Computer hackers aside, there are other reasons to back up a computer. Hard drives can fail without any warning. In the past month, Papenfuss has seen one faculty member with Crypto Locker, one faculty member with a failed hard drive and one student with a failed hard drive come into ITS. These people hadnt backed their computers; most of their data was lost.

ITS worker Mark Switajski said there are many “free or cheap” ways to back up important files.

“It’s all beneficial,” Switajski said. “Theres no harm to backing up your computer.”

Students can store up to 30 gigabytes of data for free using Google Drive, which is accessible through the internet. Faculty members have the option to backup up their data to the “X drive,” which can only be accessed on campus. The X drive itself is backed up, so if harm came to it, files would still be safe.

ITS also suggests buying an external hard drive, which can store large amounts of data safely. Files on an external hard drive are very easy to transfer to new computers, should ones current hard drive fail.

ITS cannot provide the external drive, but theyre available just about anywhere. Papenfuss said one can even find them at Amazon, Wal-Mart or Target for around $50-$100, depending on storage space.

However, most people can get by using free online storage space.

“I just use Google Drive because I don’t have large files. It really comes down to personal preference,” Switajski said.

Switajski said ITS is happy to help students back up information to external hard drives. In fact, the ITS web page has a link that explains the process of backing up to a hard drive, which can be found here. He also said not many students come in to get help with backing up their computer. Recently, a few students have come in because of emails about Crypto Locker, but few have taken the initiative to back up files.

Papenfuss said most of the time if someone comes in to back up their computer, it is faculty or staff.

Generally, computers take an hour or more to back up the first time depending on how much data is transferred. After that first transfer, backing up new data usually takes much less time.

30 January
Comments Off on HBO tech executives leave ahead of Internet launch as network’s strategy changes

HBO tech executives leave ahead of Internet launch as network’s strategy changes

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Time Warners TWX.N HBO is preparing to sell a standalone service over the Internet for the first time, in one of the most closely watched moves in pay TV history. Yet the road to the launch has been far from an easy one – marked by changes in strategy, deadlines, and the departure of its chief technology officer along with two of his lieutenants.

Otto Berkes, who was previously a Microsoft executive, resigned from the CTO position in December, only a matter of months before HBO is expected to start selling the new product, and two senior vice presidents on the technology team, Mark Thomas and Drew Angeloff, are also leaving, sources familiar with the situation said.

The original plan discussed by the networks top executives was to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a sophisticated streaming platform that would make HBO, one of the best-known premium channels in the United States, capable of challenging streaming video services from Netflix NFLX.O and Amazon AMZN.O head on. Berkes, who was also a cofounder of Xbox, was a key part of that ambitious project – he had been hired by HBO in 2011 to set up a new office in Seattle, initially hiring 80 engineers with plans to grow much bigger.

The idea was that the technology would not only support HBO but potentially other Time Warner offerings, such as Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros. The platform, which would power a product that doesn’t require a cable subscription, would be used globally and was supposed to be ready in 2016, said the sources, who worked on that effort.

But these sources said that much of the plan was changed when Rupert Murdochs Twenty-First Century Fox Inc FOXA.O made a surprise takeover bid for Time Warner last summer.

To justify to shareholders why they shouldnt consider the Australian-born media tycoons overtures, Time Warner said that its own strategic plan would deliver more value to shareholders than Murdoch could.

COST CUTTING

In October, at its first investor day in four years, Time Warner outlined a series of measures aimed at bolstering revenue growth and cutting costs. Among those was an announcement by HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler that the standalone HBO was going to launch in 2015, news that quickly became the main headline from the event.

Time Warner needed to show investors that they had a plan that the Murdoch bid was not factoring in, said Michael Nathanson, a media analyst at MoffettNathanson research.

At the time, HBO also decided to cancel the internal technology investment, and to use a third party to provide the new HBO service, a move in sync with a cost efficiency plan driven by Time Warners Chief Financial Officer Howard Averill.

The more ambitious platform was going to eat up too many dollars and be too slow to come to market, sources familiar with Time Warner’s thinking said.

The sources said the decision to speed up the standalone product was not related to the battle with Murdoch. They said this year was viewed as simply the right time for the initiative given that rival media companies were starting to debut online offerings outside of a traditional cable subscription. Dish Network is launching its own $20 per month Internet service later this month and CBS CBS.N has said that its Showtime network, the biggest direct competitor to HBO, will sell its own separate offering later this year.

Shortly after the October announcement, HBO told its engineering team about the decision to cancel plans to develop its own technology platform. Instead of being developed internally, technology would be handled by MLB Advanced Media, a subsidiary of Major League Baseball best known for powering the technology that streams live baseball games. Going with this vendor would save millions, one of the sources close to Time Warner said.

A person who had worked on the earlier HBO strategy said that pulling back from building its own platform may come back to haunt the network. “HBO and Time Warner lost the appetite for the investment required to go big here,” the person said. “Old media lost its nerve.”

The people who worked on the earlier effort say there are drawbacks to having a third-party handle distribution of the product, including having less control over how subscribers experience it. They say HBO could be missing out on the long-term potential of owning all of the software behind the standalone service.

An HBO spokesman, in a statement, said “any business strategy undergoes many iterations,” and that it was confident in its decision. We believe we landed in exactly the right place with MLB Advanced Media as our partner, and we will deliver a great product later this year that fully lives up to the reputation of the HBO brand, he said.

DEPARTURES

Among the casualties of the decision was Berkes. He left amid tensions with HBO management over his role following the change in strategy, the people who worked on the effort said. Thomas and Angeloff are leaving for similar reasons, these people said.

The 80 or so employees in Seattle still have jobs but HBO is without a CTO and has no immediate plans to hire a new one.

HBO declined to comment on the departures.

As for the big debut, the launch plans are still vague. Company insiders had anticipated an April start date to leverage off the fifth season of the top HBO series Game of Thrones. But a source close to the matter said HBO has other big shows beginning in the summer, such as a new series of True Detective, that any launch could leverage off.

The pricing of the new product and how it will be sold could not be learned. The company is exploring a number of options, including selling the standalone through pay-TV providers like Comcast Corp CMCSA.O, and through the likes of Apple AAPL.O and Amazon, one source close to the company said.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Martin Howell)

30 January
Comments Off on FBI agents in St. Bernard government offices examining computers, contractor …

FBI agents in St. Bernard government offices examining computers, contractor …

Six FBI agents were in the St. Bernard Parish Government Complex on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, examining computers in what one parish contractor said was a probe related to illegally downloaded software.