August 09, 2016

Why All The Fuss About Blockchain?

There are so many people discussing blockchain today that the terminology has become incredibly confusing. Some talk about permissioned ledgers versus permissionless; consensusversus distributed ledgers; public versus private blockchains; and so on. It has, in other words, become a madness of markets in which everyone talks about it and few understand it. The only agreement is that this is a shared system, which means that more than one player must be in the game in order for a blockchain development to work. Those players may be internal – you could use blockchain protocol as a shared database of employee identities and authorizations – but most startups are looking externally. There is some method in the madness, however. Five of the leading lights in blockchain developments for banking are Ripple, R3, Digital Asset Holdings, Life.Sreda, and—perhaps surprisingly—Swift.

Dust-Size Sensors Could Heal You From The Inside

Once the sensors are that small, researchers say they could be implanted inside the brain, as well as in muscles or nerves. The sensors would be powered by a piezoelectric crystal, which can convert ultrasound vibrations outside the body into electricity that is used to run the sensor’s onboard transistor. Piezoelectricity is the charge that builds up in certain solid materials, such as bone, DNA and crystals, because of applied mechanical stress. In lab tests, so far, the sensors have been covered in surgical-grade epoxy. However, scientists are working on what they call "biocompatible thin films," which could one day cover the sensors and last as long as a decade inside the body. “The original goal of the neural dust project was to imagine the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, and to make it a viable clinical technology,”

Regulators Struggle to Deal with Fintech and Emerging Technologies

The great news, he says, is that the building blocks for transformation are already in place. Camden has an open data platform and an associated business intelligence stack. The systems have been used to help the council change its financial planning processes and move towards outcome-based budgeting based on citizen need. ... “I’ve been brought in to positively disrupt how we deliver public services. As someone that’s fresh to the organisation and sector, I’m able to see things and ask questions that others might miss. I think I have a talent for spotting where services might be more joined up.”  Shiraji expects to be at Camden until the end of the year and possibly longer. For now, he is continuing to focus on creating a platform for delivering business change.

The parallel universe of Indian fintech

With the foundation for identification, verification and underlying bank accounts falling into place, policy makers have also taken aim at digital payments. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is an open API that banks can implement to allow phone-to-phone payment transfers directly from bank accounts. In theory, this will allow the 1B+ mobile phones and an estimated 500M smart phones (by 2020) to be used for everything from peer to peer transfers, kirana store payments, migrant worker remittances and other common financial use cases. So, in a short span of time, India could potentially go from being a laggard to having cutting edge transaction infrastructure better than what’s available in developed countries. The interesting part is that this is being made available as free, neutral, open APIs that can be incorporated into any service.

Why building microservices may call upon your gardening skills

Losing the ability to grok the entire system is a major challenge to consider when building microservices, Rolnick pointed out. Often, the scale of the complexity that comes with microservices can be overwhelming for some, and preparing for that complexity is essential. "That's where really understanding that scale is going to get away from you, unless you plan for it from the beginning," he said. "The network effect of all these services quickly gets away from people, and they don't realize it until it's too late." As Rolnick said, management was simpler in the days of macroservices when IT depended on a single server, especially in the case of a crash. "Somebody might log in and start it back up -- that was easy."

A new flaw puts nearly a billion phones at risk

The problem is there are still so many hands in the pot when it comes to updating Android. Google updates its software, but device makers have to tailor it for their phones — and sometimes they get their software not from Google, but from chipmakers like Qualcomm. And then sometimes mobile carriers want to do their own testing to make sure they aren’t inadvertently introducing other problems onto their network. All that means the time from when a flaw is identified or disclosed to when it is fixed is longer than it should be, sometimes leaving hundreds of millions of phones vulnerable for weeks or months. “The problem continues to be that Android security updates are really hard because of [their] fragmented ecosystem,” said Check Point mobile security evangelist Jeff Zacuto told Recode.

Guide To Budget Friendly Data Mining

The easiest way to identify a business’s need for ETL processes or automated reporting is to find out who is reading data from a transaction database and then manipulating the data using a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet is the same structure as a database table. Both contain rows and columns. If you have end-users manipulating data on their own, you should ask yourself, “Why can’t that process be automated?” Automating business processes provides an immediate return on investment and should always be considered before moving on to more expensive projects, such as data warehousing. Identifying end-users manipulating data via a spreadsheet may sound simple but there is a caveat to this process. Developers like to automate processes; it’s what they do. End-users don’t necessarily like automated processes, especially if they threaten their job.

Are Financial Services Ready For The Cloud?

A year ago, the Cloud Industry Forum survey revealed that 55 percent of organizations were planning to run their IT on a hybrid cloud basis. In the most recent survey, the number had reduced to 37 percent. “The point here is that there’s a plan for the adoption of cloud-only technology. The desire of organizations to move to a cloud-only IT environment is quite apparent,” says Hilton. While financial services run the risk of running into regulatory issues – in particular problems surrounding extraterritoriality – and management may be mired in legacy integration challenges, the position among many UK firms was aspirational, according to Hilton.

Dataiku Offers No-Code Machine Learning

"Dataiku DSS 3.1 introduces new visual machine learning engines that allow users to create incredibly powerful predictive applications within a code-free interface," the company said in a statement this week. "Users of all skill levels can now leverage HPE Vertica machine learning, H2O Sparkling Water, MLlib, Scikit-Learn and XGBoost directly from within the visual analysis section of Dataiku DSS 3.1 to apply powerful machine learning algorithms to their data science projects without having to write a single line of code." Visual capabilities help data jockeys gain new insights into ML models, said Dataiku, which now provides the visualization of trees to better illustrate decision tree, random forest and gradient boosting algorithms, along with the visualization of partial dependency plots for the latter.

There's Never A Shortage Of Security Holes

Three thoughts. One: When you’ve been caught selling an insecure product, is that really the best time to enforce a warranty time limit? Presumably, customers weren’t aware that the Anker product was ludicrously insecure until Bastille reported it. Two: If customers had wanted Bluetooth, they would have purchased that initially. Three: Here’s a wacky thought. How about fixing this product by adding encryption and then offering to send the fixed units to all customers for free, with no limits? That’s how you regain customers’ trust.  Anker also said it had received no customer complaints, but it at least didn’t sound as if its internal communications were a giant mess: “We are happy to inform that we haven’t received any reports or complaints concerning this issue, to date.”

Quote for the day:

"Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle." -- Dr. Robert Anthony