Girl Scouts Now Can Earn Cybersecurity Badges

Girl Scouts are trading cookies for computers, as the organization has added cybersecurity to the list of badges available for youngsters to earn.

Girl Scouts are trading cookies for computers, as the organization has added cybersecurity to the list of badges available for youngsters to earn. From September 2018, children as young as 5 will be able to qualify for a cybersecurity badge in a program intended to prevent future cyberattacks. The program will be offered in partnership with… Continue reading “Girl Scouts Now Can Earn Cybersecurity Badges”

Texts, Internet, Social Networks are “gift of God” if used wisely says Pope Francis

Pope Francis, who has acknowledged being “a disaster” when it comes to technology, said on Friday that the Internet, social networks and text messages were “a gift of God” if used wisely.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, who has acknowledged being “a disaster” when it comes to technology, said on Friday that the Internet, social networks and text messages were “a gift of God” if used wisely.

“Emails, text messages, social networks and chats can also be fully human forms of communication,” the pope said in his message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Communications.

“It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal,” said.

Last year, the 79-year-old Francis told a young girl he was embarrassed to admit that he did not know how to use computers and was an overall “disaster” with technology. He has also said smartphones should be banned from the family dinner and children should not have computers in their rooms.

Whether by divine providence or human coincidence, Francis’ message was released as he was meeting with the head of a company whose brand is synonymous with those products – Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook.

In his message, the pope appeared to take a more conciliatory stand towards modern technology than in the past, saying “the Internet could be used to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing”.

“Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarization and division between individuals and groups,” he said.

Modern communications were “a gift of God which involves a great responsibility,” he said.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

How close are we to the Internet of Everything?

The Internet of Things is expanding at a rapid rate. But exactly how close are we to the Internet of Everything?

By Henri Pearson

Internet of things conceptIt’s a little difficult for us to imagine at this stage: a connected world where everything has the potential to operate online, even your clothes; as difficult, perhaps, as the original concept of the internet was to those who lived before it was introduced.

But maybe it isn’t as far away as you might think. Like many of these things, the progression towards it will be slow, and we’ll likely see the idea evolve in series of distinctive stages. If you look close enough though, these stages have already begun. The smart phone revolution is obviously the first step, and we’ve seen this technology become the norm across the developed world. Alongside that was the introduction of public WiFi, which is available in a range of train and bus services. The next stages are already developing around us: cars are now going online, self-parking technology is being perfected, and some washing machines are now also connected to the internet. Things like Google Glass may look like something out of a Science Fiction movie, but they may well be the must have accessories in years to come.

What next? Well, plenty of things. After the various stages are completed and the fully operational Internet of Everything is more recognisable, we may see a world where your car already knows the route to work before you do and plans according to traffic, your fridge tells you you’re low on milk or that your diet is too salt-heavy, or your tennis racket texts updates to your phone on how your form is improving. It has the potential to stretch into almost anything you can think of.

Like the original internet, it will bring an entirely new way of doings things, which will of course affect all aspects of business and commerce. In a recent interview, future technology expert Kevin Parker said that “Data is the new oil: extract it, refine it and fuel your business with it.” Harnessing the network for your business will be the key to surviving the revolution. But the operational aspect of companies won’t be the only thing affected, and economics as a whole may find itself in mid upheaval. Business technology futurist Jack Shaw believes that the growing network will herald a new wave of digital currency, for example Bitcoin. “The advantage of Bitcoin,” he says, “is that it has an unchangeable public record, meaning every transaction can be traced. We could get to a stage where business deals are brokered entirely online by an intelligent agent that’s been told to find the best deal of its own accord.” This will be key to the distant future of the Internet of Everything: things that operate without the need for our express direction.

This all seems a little overwhelming, but how close are we really? To find out, I had the chance to chat with this site’s very own Graham Jones to get his take:

Q: So thinking about the “Internet of Everything”, which is the next aspect of our life that will involve the internet?
A: That is rather hard to predict because so many developers are working on such a broad range of concepts and ideas. With the massive use of mobile for the Internet these days, however, it could well be something to do with our mobile activities, such as things used in transportation, or our clothing. But given that anything could be connected to the Internet, it is largely down to the imagination and creativity of developers.

Q: How long do you think it will be until pretty much everything we use is part of one giant online network?
A: That will take a long, long time. For a start, half the world isn’t even connected to the Internet yet. Even within countries like the UK where there is high penetration of the Internet, a sizeable proportion of people have no intention of ever using it. Over time, that will change, of course. But there are economic considerations as well as attitudes – some people and many countries simply cannot afford widespread Internet usage. Plus the way the control of the Internet is going, it looks increasingly likely that the global network is going to be broken up into several smaller interconnected networks. We may be living in the era of greatest connectivity ever known at the moment.

Q: What do you think it will mean for traditional media? Will things like paper be obsolete in a couple of years?
A: The “death” of paper has been suggested ever since the invention of computers. Yet every year, paper sales go up and up. Far from reducing our need for paper, computing in all its guises has increased our need for paper. There is also an important psychological factor involved here. We live in a three dimensional world and the Internet is two-dimensional. People like to touch things, feel them, experience them. Studies show that when people print things out and read them, rather than experiencing them solely on screen, they have a different kind of experience. Indeed, around 15% of people are what psychologists call “kinaesthetic”, which means they can best experience the world around them through feelings and touch. Some of these people even print out emails to decide how to answer them. So paper is unlikely to disappear any time soon. What the Internet of things really means for traditional media is the overwhelming need to be even more creative and to change the way they work to be able to respond even faster than before to changes in the way people use the Internet. It is about the way the media is organised and structured and the kind of people it employs more than anything else.

Q: How will it affect businesses?
A: The whole arena will put some businesses out of business. It will also change who runs these industries. For instance, online retail was not invented by retailers, ebooks were not invented by publishers, blogging was not invented by content producers. In other words, traditional industries that have been around for centuries found their world dramatically changed by imposters. Yet, they failed to come up with these ideas themselves. Indeed, the whole field of search was invented by a couple of computer scientists, yet the world of search prior to that was dominated by the Yellow Pages, who failed to come up with the idea of web search themselves. Traditional industries in a wide range of sectors are finding themselves too stuck in their ways, too slow to react and facing competition from unknown quarters. With the rapid rise of the Internet of Things we can see even more than this. The result will be one of two things – either traditional businesses and sectors will die, swallowed up by the upstarts, or traditional businesses will rapidly change the way they work and operate. We can expect to see many well-known businesses disappear and others dramatically change. What is for sure, though, is that change is inevitable and it will come fast.

About the Author
Henri Pearson is a Content and Online PR Executive.

 

Crowdfunding Inspires Entrepreneurs to Achieve Dreams

Big dreams are even more in reach for entrepreneurs as Forbes projected last year that crowdfunding transactions could reach as high as $500 billion annually, growing from about $1.5 billion in 2011

Big dreams are even more in reach for entrepreneurs as Forbes projected last year that crowdfunding transactions could reach as high as $500 billion annually, growing from about $1.5 billion in 2011. Data supports the continual emergence of crowdfunding by reporting that proven numbers show investment crowdfunding provides access to capital, funds startups and drives job creation. In the words of The Crowd Cafe, “investment crowdfunding works.” For example, by mid-October 2013, crowdfunding platform FundingCircle raised a total of $239,625,664. Crowdcube raised a total of $20,746,183, and Seedrs raised a total of $2,698,898. For any entrepreneur with a philanthropic spirit and business-driven ambition, learning more about crowdfunding and its two basic models could greatly benefit you. The following two success stories will also inspire you to never short yourself of your dreams and passions.

Crowdfunding

Kickstarter, Inc. describes crowdfunding as the process of bringing creative projects to life. Forbes describes crowdfunding as collaborative funding on the Web supporting a collaborative economy. The two crowdfunding models include donation-based funding and the formerly mentioned investment crowdfunding. Crowdfunding originated with donation-based funding in which people make donations to a project to meet a collaborative goal, receiving perks and rewards in return. Although emerging entrepreneurs could cash in annuity payments sooner for a business investment through companies like J.G. Wentworth or apply for a loan from a bank, crowdfunding pulls monetary resources from outsiders who believe in the vision and mission.

Investment crowdfunding is a model in which funders become owners or shareholders of a company. These owners and shareholders provide capital for businesses that sell ownership stakes, such as equity and debt. Other crowdfunding developments include mobile solutions and localization, which fund geo-specific projects. Top platforms participating in this modern form of entrepreneurial finance and social entrepreneurship include Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, RocketHub, Crowdrise and StartSomeGood.

Do Good Bus

Rebecca Pontius spearheaded the organization Do Good Bus by raising $100,000 on crowdfunding platform StartSomeGood. The mission of Do Good Bus is to show people how to volunteer. Pontius used her 10 years of volunteer experience in L.A. to help others get involved and help communities. Volunteers ride a bus to an undisclosed location for a specific cause, from improving a neighborhood to disaster relief. The organization’s mission is to drive awareness, create community, encourage support and do good — all on fun community bus rides.

SMAC! (Sock Monkeys Against Cancer)

Jennifer Windrum created SMAC! by raising $35,000 on StartSomeGood. Sock Monkeys Against Cancer was inspired by Windrum’s mom who was battling cancer — making appointments and getting treatments — 1,200 miles away. The sock monkey became Windrum’s mom’s comforting buddy since she couldn’t be nearby to provide support. Smacancer.com offers the philanthropic monkeys as “tangible support to those battling cancer – reminding them that no one fights it alone.” Sock monkeys NoMo and Phoenix provide the love and comfort people impacted by cancer need. The goal of SMAC! is to create custom monkeys for each type of cancer, and their dream is for hospitals to provide a SMAC! monkey for anyone diagnosed with cancer.

Will Google Glasses be the Next Big Craze?

Only time will tell whether Google’s Glasses will be a good investment for everyone involved

By Susan Varano

Google Project Glass first started testing their eye-wear product in April 2012, however, the launch date has been pushed further and further back. According to The Verge, the new product is due for release for developers sometime around the end 2013, with the customer release now scheduled for 2014.

Google glasses are an attempt to make wearable technology mainstream, and is effectively a step up from the smart technology that is available today, providing end users with quicker and easier communication. Even though the idea is not new to tech fans, Google’s rapid growth over the past few years means that this project could actually materialise into something tangible.

So how does Project Glass work? According to a Google blogger, the glasses will probably use a transparent LCD or AMOLED display in order to put information in your line of sight. They are equipped with a camera and a GPS in order to know your location and you can tilt your head to scroll and click on selected information. Recent news revealed that the glasses may be compatible with smart phones (Androids), suggesting the technology also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in order to send information such as pictures and articles.  Voice controls will also be a feature on the Google Glasses.

The glasses are designed to be a stand-alone device rather than connected to a phone, and communicate directly with the cloud for fast and accessible communications. Other features include a front-facing camera and a flash, although this is still being tweaked by Google developers.

Some however, argue that these fragile glasses are impractical for the everyday user. Alongside the glasses being flimsy and easy to break, the fact that users will be reading information in their line of sight means that they can be easily distracted. This would create a dangerous situation whilst driving for example.

Another con against the glasses is the fact that millions of people wear vision correction glasses – around 75% of the American population wear some kind of eyewear – and sunglasses are a popular choice during the warmer months. However, Google plans to tackle these issues as they are experimenting with designs which fit over existing glasses in the hopes of selling the glasses as mainstream communication tool. Sceptics are also concerned that as this is a Google product, buyers of the glasses will be inundated with advertisements, which will create of sort of spooky, ‘Big Brother’ type scenario.

At the moment the develop version of the product (traditionally more expensive that the more widely available consumer units) were made available for pre-order for $1500. It is hard to speculate the future success of the Google Glasses until the product goes on the shelves for consumers. Currently people are divided about the new wearable technology so only time will tell whether Google’s new plan will be a good investment for everyone involved. Over the coming year, look on tech sites such as Visopix to see where this story goes.

About the author
Susan Varano is a freelance copywriter from London. Her passions are art, photography, ballet and mango sorbet. When she’s not copy-writing, she enjoys spending time abroad in her villa in Seville practising her photography skills.