May 09, 2015

Can Bitcoin Kill Central Banks?
Central banks are currently the dominant structure nations use to manage their economies. They have monopoly power and are not going to give up that power without a fight. While Bitcoin and other digital currencies have generated significant interest, their adoption rates are miniscule and government support for them is virtually nonexistent. Until and unless governments recognize Bitcoin as legitimate currency, it has little hope of killing off central banks any time soon. That noted, central banks across the globe are watching and studying Bitcoin. Based on the fact that metal coins are expensive to manufacture (often costing more than their face value), it is more likely than not that central banks will one day issue digital currencies of their own.

A Better Way to Build Brain-Inspired Chips
Brain-inspired—or “neuromorphic”- chips have been made before, and IBM is trying to commercialize them. They generally use the same silicon transistors and digital circuits that make up ordinary computer processors. But those digital components are not suited to mimicking synapses, says Dmitri Strukov, an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who led work on the new memristor chip. Many transistors and digital circuits are needed to represent a single synapse. By contrast, each of the 100 or so synapses on the UCSB chip is represented using only a single memristor. “A [biological] synapse is an analog memory device, and there is really no good way of implementing that in a compact, energy-efficient way with conventional technology,” says Strukov. “Memristors by themselves are an analog memory device; it’s a perfect match.”

Threat Spotlight: Rombertik – Gazing Past the Smoke, Mirrors, and Trapdoors
The process by which Rombertik compromises the target system is a fairly complex with anti-analysis checks in place to prevent static and dynamic analysis. Upon execution, Rombertik will stall and then run through a first set of anti-analysis checks to see if it is running within a sandbox. Once these checks are complete, Rombertik will proceed to decrypt and install itself on the victims computer to maintain persistence. After installation, it will then launch a second copy of itself and overwrite the second copy with the malware’s core functionality. Before Rombertik begins the process of spying on users, Rombertik will perform once last check to ensure it is not being analyzed in memory.

How much can technology actually improve collaboration?
People are the most important aspect of collaboration, digital or otherwise. If they are unwilling -- or as is often the case, simply don't have the skills and resources to enable them -- to collaborate together openly as a team, then you won't seem results, tactically or strategically. This means that virtually all digital communication tools can be used to collaborate -- as it is peoples' activities and decisions within them that make collaboration happen -- and today's major collaboration platforms tend to focus on features that actually enable this teamwork. These features are typically activity streams to encourage sharing, rich user profiles to help put people in the center, search and discovery mechanisms to enable and encourage learning from prior activities, and so on.

Fortnum & Mason selects open source over commercial software
“The concept of doing a product as part of the pitch is not a traditional consulting approach,” said Cain Ullah, CEO of Red Badger. While consultants often rely on previous case studies, Ullah wanted to to get Fortnum & Mason involved.  “We wanted to use a new piece of technology – Spree,” he said.  To prove it could do the job, the team ran a 48-hour hackathon involving a fully functional multidisciplined, cross-functional project team and invited Fortnum & Mason to see the prototype being developed. “When Red Badger showed us what it had done, we were open to its ideas. From a partner perspective, you want to work with people who have your best interests at heart,” said Zareem-Slade.

Telerik pitches new framework for building Android, iOS, Windows apps
The foundation of the framework is the so-called NativeScript Modules Layer, which translates NativeScript to platform- specific code. Telerik has focused on NativeScript’s user interface, which is one of the biggest challenges when building applications for multiple OSes. With NativeScript, features such as navigation are automatically adapted to work the way users on each OS expect. To help developers get started, Telerik has a dedicated website for NativeScript. Here, developers can find documentation, a showcase of apps built using the framework and a roadmap detailing future upgrades. The plans for developing NativeScript were first made public in June last year, so the company has been working on it for a long time.

The Business Economics And Opportunity Of Open-Source Data Science
The combination of open source software, affordable hardware and reliable high-bandwidth Internet services meant that data storage was no longer an ongoing financial dilemma. The advanced analytics that extracted the value from the data - developed using open source tools - could be updated and modified much more quickly and easily than proprietary software from traditional vendors. The rise of big data was evolutionary, not magical. To be sure, it was a fairly rapid evolution - but it didn’t take place overnight. Many of the advances in big data analytics were written in R, a programming language devised in the late 1990s by two academics in New Zealand. R was developed specifically for statistical analysis, and is consistently ranked the most popular language for data science.

Inside the Internet of Things: The things, and the everything
New, lower-cost technologies and communications tools are making it easier for businesses to stay in contact internally and externally to maximize opportunities and profits. Add to that things like sales/field force automation, fleet management, service/support routing and businesses just need more efficient, more effective communications. People may have a horrible time communicating when they’re sitting across the table from each other; but don’t worry, IoT will make things better. Actually, it’s already underway. IDC estimates that last year, we had over 200 million M2M devices deployed using very slow 2G connections. But the industry plans to speed all that up to 3G/4G connections even if they have to take away some of your cat video streams because we’re talkin’ serious business.

Cisco’s Chambers: A retrospective
One of Cisco’s, and Chambers’, chief failings was a stretch to get into the consumer market. After acquiring Linksys for home routers and Flip for pocket video recorders,Cisco divested these business and product lines for much less than they acquired them for when the potential Cisco initially saw failed to pan out. Apple beat Cisco’s Flip to cloud-based videocam hosting and storage. Linksys hung around for much longer but was ultimately sold off as Cisco honed in on enterprise IT. Cisco’s Eos media and entertainment, and umi consumer telepresence efforts were also killed off. ... “Not everything is going to work out,” says Forrester’s O’Donnell. “Cisco is now facing a big challenge going forward (with initiatives like Internet of Everything and digitization of companies, cities and countries), but it will be faced by Robbins instead of Chambers.”

Identity is key to meeting IoT security challenges, says NetIQ
“Identity is the one thing that is still under the control of the organisation and the individual, and it can help balance the needs of users with the needs of risk managers,” he said. Attacks are inevitable, therefore there is a need to work to mitigate the effects of attacks, and key to this is getting the basics right when it comes to identity and access, said Mount. ... Security needs context, said Mount, which means security and identity can no longer be separate silos within organisations. “The key to delivering context is identity: verifying actors are who they claim to be, seeing how they are using their entitlements, and evaluating whether that use is normal and appropriate,” he said.

Quote for the day:

“To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen.” -- Stephen Richards