Magic Calendar: Combining Paper And Digital

If you’re someone who likes to hang up a paper calendar up on the wall at home or at the office, this bold and somewhat whimsical product could be the perfect combination of paper and next generation digital. The Magic Calendar appears like a regular wall calendar except it can be edited and manipulated using an Android phone. The product aims to make a big impact on using less paper in everyday life while keeping the paper-like and physical feel of a calendar.

Slashgear explainsPaper to digital that the always-on dashboards like the Magic Calendar are usually run by small computers such as a raspberry pi. This one though, uses an e-ink display rather than an LCD. This gives the Magic Calendar the advantage of running for up to 30 months on a single charge. The e-ink reportedly doesn’t use any power when displaying static content, only drawing energy when the schedules to be displayed are adjusted.

“I came up with the design for Magic Calendar based on the idea of having a product that would inherit the characteristics of both smartphone and paper calendars so that the schedules inputted in calendars can be quickly checked. I believe there is a kind of surprise or a certain type of impression that will come from the ability to put changeable information on a media that has a similar weight, texture, or smooth feeling that we associate with touching paper,” designer Kosjo Tsuboi said in a video introducing the Magic Calendar.

The Magic Calendar is one of many potential Android-powered ideas. It’s part of a Japanese Android Experiments campaign but has the potential of being developed into an actual, commercial product. It responds to the challenge of having a calendar that combines the best features of paper and smartphone.

The calendar is always on, and this makes sharing events and schedules between people easier and more natural. However, one of its limitations is its dependence on a computer or phone when editing. The changes have to made first on Google Calendar before it is reflected on the Magic Calendar, Design Milk explains.

Magic Calendar is not something totally new, but it is a bold idea that could be adapted a lot sooner than we think to make more homes and offices all over the world “paperless” places. This is another area where digital transformation can help make the world a better, and greener place to live in.

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Rise Of The Machines: New Era For Technology

The inevitable has arrived. We’re now at what is called “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, a phase where a confluence of technology is making a remarkable and bold impact on how society operates. It dictates how people live and work, and changes lifestyles, economies, as well as industries. The question is: should people do something to prevent the machines from truly ‘taking over’?

Johan Aurik, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board at A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm that focuses on strategic and operational CEO-agenda issues facing businesses, governments and institutions around the globe, discussed how the current “tsunami of technological change” is re-shaping everyday life and painting a very different picture for the future.

In a We Forum article, Aurik cited artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality and advanced biology as among the technological developments to watch out for in the fourth industrial revolution.

“Although at different stages of development and adoption, as these technologies bed in, becoming more widespread and convergent, we will see a radical shift in the way that individuals, companies and societies produce, distribute, consume and re-use goods and services,” Aurik said, stressing: “Disruptive technologies are dictating a new future for humankind. Almost every day we hear of new advances that blur the lines between the realms of the physical, the digital and the biological.”

The article mentioned robotic surgery, automation of industries, and even growing human bone extracted from a patient’s own stem cells with the use of 3D imaging. Additionally, it noted how 3D printing is altering the way raw materials are used and recycled – even repurposed in order to minimize waste.

Aurik also wasn’t afraid to address the elephant in the room: the fear that industrial revolution will make humans obsolete in the workforce. There are two factions in this issue, one side that believes humans should work with machines and not against them; and another that aims to challenge the mighty machines by merging withTechnological Developments Fact Box them.

Billionaire and tech proponent Elon Musk belongs to the latter, and his bold concept of becoming “one with the machines” is reportedly coming to fruition soon. Musk was said to have formed a company called Neuralink which endeavors to merge the human brain with a robot or artificial intelligence.

Aurik, however, is optimistic that automation and human workers will co-exist.

“It’s impossible at this point to predict what the overall impact on employment will be. Disruption will happen; of that we can be certain. But before we swallow all of the bad news, we should take a look at history. Because this tells us that it is more often the nature of work – rather than the opportunity to take part in work – that will be impacted,” he said.

It is undeniable that there will be visible disruptions brought about by the fourth wave of the industrial revolution, but humans have survived and moved on from the first three. Aurik believes that workers should be re-educated and re-skilled to take advantage of new opportunities and fields opened by these new technologies. He likewise stressed on the role of the government and the business sector in ensuring that the technological advancements become an economic advantage which benefits everyone.

The time has indeed come for the machines to take their rightful place in society. There are countless more bold ideas which can become real and tangible in the next few years. It may do us good to welcome these advancements with optimism rather than fear.

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The Danger Of The Internet Of Things

People are interested and fascinated with an intelligent home or business which enables remote monitoring/manipulation of the thermostat, the lights, an empty soda machine that can send a message to be re-filled or the driverless car you took to work this morning. The future of an intelligent home or business uses continuously evolving ‘smart’ technology and devices under the umbrella term of the Internet of Things (IoT) and it basically means that many of these smart devices can be interconnected and connected to a common network. The devices using the Internet of things (IoT) concept are thought to be built and used in a secure way. However, when there is a lack of thorough security regulations for the manufacturing of these smart devices, when individuals and businesses don’t necessarily know what they are exposing themselves to, let alone how these devices operate and where they connect to, the security risks increase dramatically.

Reports said that on October 21, 2016, a virus called Mirai was used to highjack an unknown number of IoT devices into flooding an Internet Service Provider (ISP) named Dyn. The company itself was relatively small. However, due to the nature of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, there was a lot of collateral damage. People were not able to use their accounts on large websites and content providers like Netflix, Twitter and Spotify.

In this instance, IoT devices are being attacked in a similar way as devices were in the 1980s, when they were relatively new developments, and it can also be compared to the 1990s when viruses started to run through the internet. The tools and know-how for fighting viruses are already in place, but these are not being used enough due to the lack of information about how a ‘smart’ light bulb, as part of an IoT network of connected devices, can lead a hacker to gain access to other connected devices in your business and home.

The simplest way to keep smart devices away from viruses is to update the device with the latest software/firmware. Unfortunately, users of these devices are unaware of the risks of not updating regularly.

IoT is about connecting things. This is a fundamental characteristic of the technology. For IoT to be secure, security has to be in the minds of everyone. The following are ways to keep your smart devices secure:

  • Buy trusted brands. In general trusted brands have teams of programmers constantly working on the code for these devices. They are also the same team responsible for updating the software, as well as testing the software for any security vulnerabilities.
  • Trusted brands use security companies to test devices before releasing them to the marketplace.
  • Use passwords that are difficult to guess. The reason that smart devices have passwords is for security purposes. However, a majority of people do not change the passwords from the default, or worse, change the passwords to something which is easily broken. The first thing that you should do once you have a smart device is to change the default password to something you can easily remember but would be hard to crack.
  • Change passwords regularly. Besides changing passwords regularly, you should try to have different passwords for different devices. It is recommended that you change your password at least every 90 days.
  • Keep software on your devices updated. Updates have the latest security patches. In addition, there are regularly scheduled updates and there are priority updates. If you regularly check for updates, you would not be left behind without patches to known security vulnerabilities.

Security concerns are valid and should be considered as top priority. This ensures that your smart devices function as expected, and are not hijacked for nefarious purposes.

Businesses and organizations are at risk from unsecured IoT devices. Like any connected computer, the open connections of an unsecured network is like an open door for malware to enter. Owners must treat their IoT devices like any other computer: with a vigilant eye on security vulnerabilities. The threat is real and growing as more and more IoT devices get deployed. Users have to take the necessary precautions. For companies, they should also take the additional precaution of using a security agency to test for vulnerabilities regularly.

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Cable vs. Wireless: Who’s Closing The Gap In 2017?

AT&T seems to be in a collision course with Comcast and other cable providers as it has acquired DirecTV to go into video and TV distribution, while Comcast is planning on rolling out their own mobile service. The telecommunications giant will be in a position to provide content and tap into a potential customer base courtesy of DirecTV customers. Comcast has been trying for years to get into the mobile telephone business which has proven to be a great source of growth for telecommunications giants.

According to Forbes, AT&T had recently bought DirecTV, the largest satellite TV provider in the United States. This broadens AT&T’s reach and expands its markets. On the other hand, the two largest cable TV providers, Comcast and Charter are planning to provide a bundled service in mid-2017. For Comcast, this is expected to be a mobile service where it will make use of Verizon’s cell services. Charter’s bundled plan is expected to follow the same route.

This may look like companies poaching on each other’s turf. However, there are several things to also consider. For one, Comcast and Charter have a prior agreement with Verizon to make use of Verizon’s airwave rights. For another, cable companies also happen to lead in providing broadband internet service. In addition, Comcast can also make use of their existing WiFi routers to route mobile calls. They have more than 15 million hotspots already installed.

For the consumers, this can be a big source of savings as they align their service preferences. Additionally, it can also be a way for those without cable to sign up with either DirecTV or with Comcast with compelling bundled service offerings. It is also expected that this trend would continue beyond 2020.

This is a competition based on convergence. Call centers, technical and customer support services have long been relying on information and communications technology convergence to run their businesses better. Voice-over-IP is based on a convergence of technologies.

The delivery of internet, broadband, cable, mobile and wireless services is about getting data, media content and voice from source to the end-user. For data and voice users, they don’t really care what technology is used as long as they can get online, or make a call. This kind of competition is happening all over the world, in different forms.

With an expansion in services, there is also a need for expanded support. Comcast and Charter will need to have support for their expansion to mobile, and WiFi, while AT&T will have to provide additional support for DirecTV Now.

The support itself will not only be for these companies’ customers but also for their own equipment. Smaller regional third-party companies provide the necessary support for end-user equipment installation. They lay down the cables up to the home or office installation point. They also install the equipment for the towers, cell sites, junction boxes and exchanges.

For these third-party companies, they can expand their services to better serve these mega companies. Alternatively, they can stick to their specialization and keep to their core business of providing a specific type of support.

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How Sweet It Is: Are We Turning Our Kids Into Sugar -holics?

Restricting sugar on the breakfast table may be the best thing parents can do for their children.

Health officials are trying to open parents’ eyes on the sheer volume of instant breakfast treats and sweet cereals. Touted as the most important meal of the day, it is also here that children are fed the highest amount of sugar in the form of cereals, pop tarts, pancakes and syrup, granola bars, and even flavored yogurt.

With children consuming more than 50% of what should be their daily sugar intake in just one meal, nutritionists say they’re becoming “sugarholics” – the equivalent of alcoholic adults – since it can be seriously damaging their livers and brains, The Guardian revealed.

Fructose, one of the two molecules which make up dietary sugar, is metabolized in the human liver in the exact same way as alcohol. High doses of fructose is toxic to the liver, making children develop fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes even while they’re young. Additionally, frequent intake of sugary drinks such as iced tea, sodas, and juice boxes are causing behavioral problems in children. They exhibit being “hyper” and uninhibited, which are traits usually associated with being under the influence of alcohol.

Dangerous Treats

In 2011, the US Environmental Working Group identified 17 breakfast cereals with exceedingly high sugar contents. Four years after, the EWG reported that none of these brands made an effort to lower the percentages in their products. Even something as seemingly innocent as raisin bran is filled with 19 grams of sugar per serving. While the raisins are already sweet, they are still dipped in a sugary solution to make them even sweeter. Flavored yogurts also contain 19 grams compared to plain yogurt which only has 7 grams which all come from lactose.

Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t end with breakfast. Infant food and snacks and even pasta sauces have been found to contain more sugar than commercial pizza or fast food fare.

The Sun reported a study made by DW Fitness Clubs on regular supermarket-bought pasta sauces revealed as much as 7.3 grams of sugar 100 grams of sauce. Take note that this just added sugar and doesn’t factor in the natural quantities from other ingredients. The American Heart Association has set the ideal sugar consumption to no more than 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories per day for men. This runs to about 6 and 9 teaspoons per day, respectively. In reality, the average American consumes up to 17 teaspoons, and that adds to a lot of problems over time.

Cutting back not only contributes to weight loss but also cardiovascular health. This would mean withholding some of your kids’ favorite treats in favor of natural and healthier alternatives.

One Woman’s Crusade

Former dentist and University of California- San Francisco researcher Cristin Kearns has revealed a conspiracy against making the harmful effects known to the public. Unlike salt, sodium, and tobacco, which have all been tagged as “harmful” and come with a warning to take with caution, sugar has been left alone for decades.

The Pacific Standard ran Kearns’ story and proposed that the sugar industry has been hiding the real effects on people’s health.

“If sugar industry efforts skewed research about sugar’s harmful health effects, then national and international guidelines about sugar consumption are, in fact, based on flawed science. Until recently, federal organizations such as the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration had never officially recommended caps on the amount of sugar a person should eat, even though caps for nutrients such as fat and sodium have existed for more than 20 years,” the report said.

The sugar dilemma is prevalent all over the world, not just in America. It’s affecting not only adults, but kids as well, turning them into “junkies” with adverse effects on their bodies and brains. While it is impossible to ask for global action, parents can make the bold initiative and limit the amount they serve at the breakfast table and make healthier choices when shopping or dining out. The battle can be fought one day at a time.

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Beyond Nutrition: Understanding the Psychology Behind Eating

Nutrition is about more than simply eating to stave off hunger pangs, it is of course about the quality of the food eaten. However, researchers are also presenting a bold concept when it comes to nutrition, suggesting that other factors should be considered and encouraging people to take a long hard look at when, how, and why they eat.

According to the Seattle Times, understanding the underlying psychology behind eating will help people follow better nutrition. It negates the notion that food is food, and that proper nutrition depends only on the food a person consumes.

1. What Time You Eat is Important

It is important to keep to a schedule when eating in order to train your body to eat at regular times. The body becomes hungry just before it is time to eat. However, if you have an irregular schedule, your body rhythm gets messed up. You would either eat too much or not at all. Either way is not good for your health.

2. Your Reasons for Eating Affects How Much You Eat

Stress eating can lead to overeating. Depression, food cravings, boredom, a need for comfort, as well as impulsiveness also contribute to overeating. If you find yourself in this predicament, you would not be mindful of what you eat, nor notice that you are already full. Stressful situations have a profound impact on overeating or for consuming sugar-rich and salty fare. Everyday Health reports that this has a direct effect on the continuing rise of obesity in America.

3. How You Eat Determines Your Satiation Levels

If you eat with a mindset to enjoy the food, you would eat only until you are full. Being mindful of your eating and the food you eat helps to keep you from consuming more than what you need. Instances where you are surrounded by junk food also trigger a need to eat, even if you are not hungry. According to a Huffington Post article, mindful eaters have been proven to have healthier body weights, were less susceptible to eating disorders and had a more developed sense of well-being compared to those who simply wolfed down their meals. People are encouraged to chew their food slowly in order to explore and fully appreciate the taste, smell, texture and combination of flavors.

4. Carefully Choose Where You Eat

When you eat at your desk, amid clutter, or any reminder of stress, you are distracted from the primary activity. In this environment, you might miss clues telling you that you have had enough food. There is also a feeling of well-being when you eat well in a good environment, surrounded with intelligent conversation, in clean surroundings. British researchers revealed that the location where one eats impacts awareness, memory, and attention. Being distracted when eating also causes people to eat more and eat more frequently afterwards.

5. There are Patterns to Eating

Keep a journal to keep tabs on all these details. In order for your journal entries to be effective, you have to keep track of what you eat, what time, what you were craving, how much you ate, how you felt, and what your motivation was. With an objective journal, you would be able to see patterns of behavior or triggers for specific behavior. Bad behavior or eating habits can be seen beforehand and you can change your habits when you recognize these patterns.

Taking a long, hard, and honest look at a person’s eating behavior and patterns is a notable suggestion which will make bold impact in people’s health over the long run. Americans are growing heavier and becoming more unhealthy as the years pass due to increased food consumption and lack of physical activity. These two are truly a lethal combination and steps, no matter how small, must be taken to prevent this from getting out of hand.

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Surviving Dessication – Learning From A Strange Protein

Scientists have discovered a unique protein which could be the key to increasing food stability and increasing human resistance to X-ray radiation.

The water bear or the tardigrade may not look like much, but scientists have just proven that they are one of – if not the most- resilient creatures on the planet. This microscopic critter can survive drought, freezing temperatures, cosmic radiation, and even starvation by turning itself into ‘glass’. The water bear can stay in suspended animation for decades by activating a unique protein; but what is even more amazing is that it can make a full recovery after just a few hours of being re-hydrated.

This ground-breaking discovery was recently published by researchers at the Molecular Cell science journal. The results have excited the scientific community because of its wide-range of applications and bold potential in various fields. reports that tardigrade protein can make yeast drought-resistant and can boost the resilience of different organisms by as much as 100 times. Looking ahead, the tardigrade protein can be worked into plants to make them impervious to drought. It can likewise be used to stabilize sensitive vaccines and break cold-chain dependence which is a big hurdle in the pharmaceutical world.

However, it does not stop with plants and vaccines. Last year, Japanese researchers revealed that water bears have a radiation shield protecting their DNA. According to researchers, this discovery can help make humans more resistant to X-ray radiation by as much as 40%. More importantly, the tardigrade’s ability to go into suspended animation and be re-animated in a short period of time can advance the study of cryogenics or finally send astronauts to Mars in the near future.

Postdoctoral researcher Thomas Boothby from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the study’s co-authors. He revealed that tardigrades can be revived by placing them in water. Within a few hours they eat, ‘run’ around, and reproduce without difficulty even after going into hibernation for decades.

Protein not Sugar

The CS Monitor explains how water bears survive dessication, not with a sugar called trehalose as was originally believed, but through a process called vitrification. As their environment dries out, the water bears activate the special genes in their DNA which create the disordered proteins that protect their cells.

As the tardigrade protein fills up the cells, they later dry out and become a glass-like Continue reading “Surviving Dessication – Learning From A Strange Protein”