Ransomware Rundown

Though some experts predicted the final payoff would hit one billion dollars, Friday’s ransomware attack – believed to be one of the largest ever perpetrated – ended with a fizzle over the weekend with the hackers barely pulling in $26,000 before being  temporarily stopped in their tracks by an anonymous cyber security expert. Summarizing the situation Monday morning, Jan Op Gen Oorth, senior spokesman for Europol, told the AFP, “The number of victims appears not to have gone up and so far the situation seems stable in Europe, which is a success.” “It seems that a lot of internet security guys over the weekend did their homework and ran the security software updates.” A Simple Fix According to Gizmodo the damage was mitigated, in part, due to the quick action of an “anonymous 26-year-old security researcher” named MalwareTech, who managed to temporarily slow the spread of the ransomware attack late Friday. After discovering the domain name associated with the ransomware, iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwe- a.com was available for purchase for just $10.69, MalwareTech bought the domain and halted the attack. “Initially someone had reported the wrong way round that we had caused the infection by registering the domain, so I had a mini freak out until I realized it was actually the other way around and we had stopped it,” MalwareTech told The Guardian. According to Matthieu Suiche, founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, MaltechWare’s registration of the domain stopped the malware from spreading throughout the US. “The kill switch is why the U.S. hasn’t been touched so far,” he told the New York Times on Saturday. “But it’s only temporary. All the attackers would have to do is create a variant of the hack with a different domain name. I would expect them to do that.” A Global Attack The flurry of ransomware attacks shut down several...

Smarter Buildings

Energy management software not only reduces waste and electricity costs, it can also provide responsive, optimized energy solutions for smarter, more efficient buildings. For owners and operators of smart buildings, energy management data can be an embarrassment of riches. The latest technologies allow for tracking of even the smallest detail, from occupancy averages to temperature adjustments of less than one degree. It’s what Matt Eggers describes as “savings by shavings,” and while the level of control can result in significantly smaller utility bills, information overload and lack of consistency can undermine even the most committed energy efficiency strategy. “You can’t expect humans to be sitting at a computer constantly responding to 10th of a degree temperature adjustments and other minutia,” Eggers declared during a recent Realcomm Webinar on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, “but energy management software can handle the task.” “Buildings are complicated, but in the future intelligent software systems will allow for really dramatic savings by optimizing building information for best performance.” Data Captured Equals Dollars Saved Many building owners and operators fail to take full advantage of the phenomenal amount of performance data available in relation to energy use and overall operations. The latest energy management software aims to make all those facts and figures easily digestible to enable the creation of individualized and effective energy efficiency benchmarks and strategies. The panelists agree we are headed into a new era of comprehensive energy data collection and management. All that information has already resulted in real, quantifiable savings, with some buildings reducing energy costs by tens of thousands of dollars. “This [energy information] results in real dollars saved,” said Rob Hamon Director, Energy and Sustainability, Boxer Property during the Realcomm webinar. “Efficiency gains accumulate as we see connections amongst the data.” “This isn’t...

Self-Driving Taxis

Once found only in science fiction, self-driving cars are about to show up on a street near you. Goldman Sachs estimates that the market for advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicles is expected to grow from roughly $3 billion in 2015 to $96 billion in 2025 and balloon to $290 billion in 2035. When two giants meet and start planning together, the world expects great things. One such collaboration, between Daimler — the world’s largest maker of premium cars, and Bosch — the world’s largest automotive supplier, is poised to bring a major change to the auto industry. The two companies are teaming up to develop self-driving cars and speed up the normalization of “robo-taxis.” The fully automated vehicle is planned to be ready for use in urban markets in the early 2020s, the companies say. The autonomous driving system will be designed for city driving. The expectation is that self-driving taxis will improve traffic flows in cities and road safety. The development alliance is on a mission to create a system for fully automated Level 4 and driverless Level 5 vehicles. The Society of Automotive Engineers has defined five levels of driving automation: Level 4 means the car assumes all of the driving in many conditions — it could drive fully autonomously in specific geographic locations, such as a certain route in a city center, or in certain weather conditions. Level 5 is reached when the vehicle can operate in all conditions, without requiring any human intervention at any time. Daimler, through its passenger car brand Mercedes-Benz, has been working on autonomous vehicles for years. At the same time, the company keeps a close eye on the growing group of people who would rather use public transportation and car-sharing than own a car....

Bright Ideas

Energy efficiency remains a largely untapped resource for commercial buildings.  The challenges involved in finding, interpreting and benefiting from data about energy consumption, which represents one of a building manager’s biggest budget items, were the focus of a recent webinar hosted by Realcomm. The instructors for “Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Technology Helping to Set New Benchmarks,” including Yardi Energy’s Matt Eggers, addressed the complexities of determining how much heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) a building needs at any given moment, taking into account occupancy levels, tenant comfort, weather and other factors.  Manually attempting to monitor and react to thousands of constantly changing HVAC data points isn’t feasible for even the best building engineers, according to Eggers, vice president of energy management for Yardi. Additional hurdles to devising a viable building (or portfolio) energy consumption strategy, the instructors noted, include high expectations from tenants and stakeholders; extreme, often unmanageable volumes of data; specialized skills needed for energy management; and diminishing returns after the easy fixes have been made. That’s where dedicated HVAC software platforms come in.  Intelligent optimization systems continuously monitor HVAC performance in real time to allow temperature adjustments—sometimes by a tenth of a degree—that optimize energy performance without compromising building occupants’ comfort, Eggers noted.  This strategy employs “more power tools, not hand tools,” he said, which means automating monitoring and adjustments, a vastly more efficient approach than manually tracking rooms and office space occupancy, water leaks and other malfunctions—not to mention determining the proper fraction of a degree adjustment. Platforms from expert software providers also eliminate the need for specialized maintenance and programming skills.  The ultimate outcome of intelligent HVAC control, he said, is to “continuously optimize energy to keep comfort where you want it.” Building owners and operators who traditionally value...

Grid-Sized Storage

Late last month, Southern California Edison switched on its newest substations, an 80MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility that will manage peak demand and improve grid reliability. Just off Interstate 15, nestled in the heart of California’s Riverside County, one of the world’s biggest energy storage projects recently roared to life. Part of a collaboration between Tesla and Southern California Edison (SCE), the installation at the Mira Loma substation will be used to manage peak energy demand and stabilize the grid. “Upon completion, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world,” declares a Tesla blog post announcing the project. “When fully charged, this system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles.” Managing Peak Energy The Mira Loma project is one of the first to use Tesla’s new Powerpack 2 for utility-scale energy storage. With an 80 MWh capacity, the 400 Powerpacks will allow SCE to manage energy use during peak hours. The Powerpacks will be charged with electricity generated during off-peak hours and then supplement demand during periods of peak demand. This process will not only save energy; it will allow SCE to maintain grid reliability, deliver better power quality to customers and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. “The system will charge using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of Southern California Edison’s electrical infrastructure which feeds more than 15 million residents,” explains the Tesla statement. “By doing so, the Tesla Powerpack system will reduce the need for electricity generated by natural gas and further the advancement of a resilient and modern grid.” Future Expansion Larger utility-scale energy storage projects are already in the works...

Smart Tattoos

Everyday technology  devices have now become so small that that can be embedded into fabrics, worn as accessories or be attached directly to the user’s body on skin. Your next tattoo could be also functional besides aesthetic. Such “epidermal electronics” are promising, they expand the sensing modalities of current mobile and wearable devices by sitting directly on skin, which facilitates direct access to users’ biomedical signals. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices through touch. The team, together with Microsoft Research, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like the gold and silver flash tattoos that are popular mostly at music festivals. DuoSkin is made from gold metal leaf, which is a conductive material that can interact with an electronic circuit that respond to touch. Pretty cool, right? Researches devised three different ways in which the DuoSkin can be used, including as input devices that can turn your skin into a trackpad, or a capacitive virtual control knob for adjusting volume on your connected device. First, they used it as an input device, specifically as a controller for a music player. They created design stencils of traditional use interfaces like buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. They also tried it as an input display that changes pigments, which change to one of its two states when heated beyond body temperature. Another function of these smart accessories is the interface as a wireless communication device that uses near field communication (NFC) tags, which means data can be sent from the tattoo to mobile phones with NFC capabilities. The team from MIT’s Media Lab, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao together with Microsoft Research also made them possible to be worn as jewelries and tried embedding LED...

Snapdragon 835

Back in November, Qualcomm was announcing the Snapdragon 835, a brand-new top-end, tiny chip that will be the heart of the most powerful smartphones to be launched this year. Its arrival will replace the Snapdragon 821 as the company’s flagship chip. The 835 is Qualcomm’s first 10nm chip. Let’s just sit here for a moment and understand what it means. A chip incorporates a circuit and transistors. Think about the transistors as of tiny electronic switches that allow computer systems to get things done. The more transistors you have, the more things you can get done simultaneously. In short, the more transistors you have on a chip, the more powerful the chip is. 10nm reflects a physical distance, but it is a hard size to imagine—1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair or about the size of a few dozen water molecules. What this distance describes is called in technical terms “device half-pitch” and it stands for the distance between a feature on one transistor and the same feature on the transistor next to it. In other words, it describes how far apart the transistors are, or how densely they are packed together. In addition, the device is 35 percent smaller and uses 25 percent less power than previous designs. Currently, Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC are able to manufacture 10nm chips, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep packing transistors more densely. Rumors say that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Microsoft Surface Phone will carry the chip. LG G6, HTC 11 and OnePlus 4 might house it too. However, since Samsung also produces its own processors, the Exynos series, chances are that at least some of their S8 units will feature Samsung’s own custom-built Exynos chips. Qualcomm confirmed that the Snapdragon 835...

AI’s Winning Bluff

Artificial Intelligence has reached a significant milestone: beating professional players at the heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em version of poker. Such advancements make the future use of AI in real estate promising, though limited. DeepStack, the program developed by computer scientists at the University of Alberta, in partnership with a team from the Czech Technical University in Prague, is the first system to beat professional players at this game, according to The Globe and Mail. Researchers chose poker because it is an imperfect information game. Unlike games such as chess—where the state of the game can be assessed by looking at a board– poker players cannot know all the data relevant to the game. They must consider elements that are not visible, like other players’ cards. Michael Bowling, leader of the University of Alberta’s research group, explained that since the same type of “reasoning” is involved when solving real-world problems, poker becomes a relevant factor to relate to when developing AI programs. The Game Started a Decade Ago Scientists have been working at this project for 20 years, constantly improving the system that is based on deep learning programming, which mimics the way the human brain acquires expertise. This segment of the story started in 2008, when the Alberta group developed an algorithm that could defeat top human players at the heads-up limit version of the game, in which all bets are of fixed size. The no-limit version of the game is more complicated. The amount players decide to bet is only limited to the number of chips in their possession. A winning strategy often involves betting high when the opponent believes—incorrectly—that his or her hand is the stronger one. In other words, bluffing is at the core of the game. So how did DeepStack...

Electric Planes

Electricity powers motorcycles, cars and boats, but how about planes? In recent years, research has been dedicated applying such technology to the aviation industry. Even though the price of oil per barrel has dropped lately, we still pay a hefty price for carbon-based fuels, and our planet absorbs ever-increasing levels of pollution. In 2011, the e-Genius, a two-seater aircraft built by the engineers at the University of Stuttgart, climbed more than 20,000 feet in under two minutes and reached speeds of 142 miles per hour. It flew uninterrupted for 300 miles. The aircraft burned no fuel and has zero emissions, because it was equipped with an all-electric motor powered by a single battery. Another fantastic component was the cost: during a 62-mile stretch of its historic flight, the plane used about 25 kilowatts of electricity for a total energy cost of just over $3. NASA has been investing heavily in electric planes, too—the agency has been focusing on designing and building the X-Series, a line of environmentally-friendly airplanes. Test pilots and engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. are “flying” a simulator designed to mirror exactly the specifications of the X-57 Maxwell, which will be NASA’s first piloted X-plane in two decades. The X-57 will be the first NASA X-plane to feature a fully distributed electric propulsion system, which researchers will use to demonstrate an increase in cruise energy efficiency, as well as reductions in carbon emission and aircraft noise. That is expected in early 2018. NASA isn’t the only one interested in the Tesla of the skies. Wright Electric, a U.S. startup, announced on their blog the “Wright One,” an electric 150-seater concept that runs on batteries and can handle flights under 300 miles. These short trips make up to...

Pocket EKG

Ruthless and unbiased, heart disease kills 610,000 people per year in the United States, amounting to one out of every four deaths in the country. A leading cause of death across both genders, the CDC estimates that over half of the nation’s deaths can be attributed to heart disease. Doctors say early detection is key, by the time significant warning signs like chest pain and shortness of breath are detectable, it might already be too late. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a trip to the doctor’s office can be complicated and costly. But what if an EKG could fit inside your wallet? A new mobile EKG device can monitor cardiac health and track the early warning signs of hearth disease and stroke. Mobile Monitoring AliveCor, the makers behind Kardia, a mobile, pocket-sized EKG monitor, believe they’ve found a solution. A little smaller than a business card, the Kardia comes outfitted with two metal plates designed to receive basic information about the user’s heart, including heart rate, blood pressure and – most importantly – atrial fibrillation. Users simply place their fingers on the device and wait for the data to be transmitted to Kardia’s mobile app. The focus on atrial fibrillation is significant because changes in this particular data set are often an early warning signs of stroke. Most hospital-grade EKGs measure 12 different aspects of the heartbeat, but focusing on atrial fibrillation, AliveCor was able to shrink their mobile electrocardiogram down to a gadget that easily fits in the palm of your hand. “[It is] the most common arrhythmia, the one that we need to detect, doesn’t need all 12 EKG leads,” AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra tells Wired. “And it’s not invasive at all, it’s just like brushing your teeth every day.” Comprehensive Reports The Kardia...

Best Smartwatches

The battle for the prized piece of real estate on your wrist is heating up. Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy and they aren’t for everyone. For some, a more basic fitness tracker or watch might suffice. But if you want something more versatile, smartwatches deliver smartphone notifications, fitness features, apps and more to your wrist, allowing you to leave your phone in your pocket. Best overall: Appel Watch Series 2 The Apple Watch Series 2 is the company’s second-generation of smartwatch and iPhone companion. Apple is making a big play for sports watch owners adding GPS track runs and cycling session sans iPhone and it’s now fully waterproof up to 50 meters and offers swim tracking in the pool and in open water. Apple also introduces a Breathe app to help you relax. We all need that, right? And where to put that it has the best band selections for all fashion lovers out there. From ultra-comfy silicone options co-developed with Nike, through thousands of third-party options, all the way to decidedly haute couture offerings crafted by Hermès, the Apple Watch Series 2 comes with better selection of wristbands than any fitness tracker out there. This enables you to switch between sporting a utilitarian health tracker and a high-fashion accessory without losing track of your activity. Features: GPS, Swimming friendly, Apple Pay, two-day battery, heart-rate monitor. Unisex. Price: from $369 Best for fitness tracking: Garmin Vivoactive HR While the Apple watch and the LG Watch Sport are both capable of sport tracking, the Garmin Vivoactive HR features beside a dedicated GPS mode for running, cycling and swimming like Apple Watch and LG Watch Sport does, it also gives you data on golf and indoor gym work. The Vivoactive HR reports metrics into Garmin...

Floating Solar

Floatovoltaics is the name given to the floating solar plants that have started to pop up all over the globe—Japan, the UK, Brazil, the U.S. and Australia. This type of system is relatively new, but seems to gain popularity. It’s easy to understand why, the floatovoltaics preserve land, while minimizing the aesthetic impact. Kyocera TCL Solar LLC is one of the pioneers of the technology; they state that the floating system is not only typhoon-proof (due to their sturdy, high-density polyethylene and array design), but also superior to their land-based counterparts because of the cooling effect of the water, which enables them to work more efficiently. Kyocera’s word is to be listened to as they are the developers behind the largest floating solar power plant in the world—in a joint venture with Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. In 2016, the company started developing a 13.7-megawatt floating solar power plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, managed by the Public Enterprises Agency of Chiba Prefecture in Japan for industrial water services. The system will consist of approximately 51,000 Kyocera modules installed over a fresh water surface area of almost 2 million square feet. The project is expected to generate an estimated 16,170-megawatt-hours per year, enough to power almost 5,000 typical households, while offsetting about 8,170 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The planned launch date for the solar plant on the Yamakura Dam is spring of 2018. Japan was somewhat forced to find new surfaces on which to install photovoltaic panels mostly due to the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants. Other countries and regions view solar power as the solution to the drought that’s been drying up their hydroelectric plans. In 2015, Brazil announced that it will build an overwhelming 350-megawatt...

Travel Tech

For many international business travelers, crossing a border means more than just a stamp in their passport. It also means making sure cell phones and laptops stay secure. Whether it’s an intrusion from foreign hackers or the evermore-invasive surveillance of customs officials, protecting sensitive data – both personal and business – has never been more complicated. As a result, more and more jet-setting corporate employees are making sure to secure their devices before their trip and while on the move. “Although mobile devices can facilitate connecting back to headquarters and maintaining workflow, the risk for exploitation of these devices and the information accessed can greatly increase on overseas travel,” warns the US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Before Departure The OSAC’s best practices guide for traveling with mobile devices suggests several steps business travelers should take before stepping out the front door. As a matter of course, all nonessential devices should simply be left at home. Data can also be kept local through a backup on an external hard drive or a secure cloud-based service. For travelling devices, it’s important to make sure all software and apps are up-to-date. That means upgrading passwords with stronger variables and initiating file encryption with tools provided by BitLocker, TrueCrypt or Apple Firevault. Bluetooth and GPS should also be disabled and available firewalls enacted. During Travel Once you’re on the road, there are plenty of ways for your device to be compromised. In addition to maintaining physical control whenever possible, the best way to protect your device in transit is to power down before entering customs. As an added step, Wired recommends disabling any biometric access – like Apple’s TouchID – and sticking to PIN accessibility. It’s good practice to disable automatic Wi-Fi connections and use a...

Luxer One

Throughout multifamily housing, managers struggle with resident package logistics. The problem spikes in student housing communities. Student properties receive 10-15 percent more packages than conventional multi-family properties. A Growing Problem The convenience of (often free) delivery appeals to busy students. Additionally, companies like Amazon target the student population with incentives. Amazon Prime offers six months of free service and 50 percent off of students’ subscription rate for the remainder of their student status. As a result, student housing staff gets swamped with packages. Leasing office staff juggle a myriad of responsibilities. Pausing potential sales or residents interactions to handle package delivery is not a viable option. Maneuvering guests around recently delivered armoires and mattresses is even less of an option. “We’ve seen communities spend up to 4 hours a day simply dealing with packages,” says Melody Akhtari, Director of Marketing & Communications at Luxer One. “Package delivery causes not only a problem of constant interruptions and wasted time, but it also causes space management issues.” Simple Solutions Luxer One provides storage solutions to address the growing needs of student housing managers. Luxer One’s storage solutions are designed to accept every package automatically and store them securely, without the need for management staff to intervene. This type of automation eliminates interruptions from parcel carriers and gives back time and energy to dedicate to the art of community management. Luxer Lockers are installed on the premises. The courier delivers the package to the locker and scans it. Residents get a mobile notification with a one-time-use access to retrieve their package on their own schedule. Leasing office staff can continue their workflows and other resident interactions without interruption. Locker sizes vary, permitting the storage of a range of packages. “Almost half of all packages delivered go into our small...

Voice Activated

Sitting silently in the corner, Amazon’s Alexa awaits the next command, ready to place online orders, adjust indoor temperatures or even provide a weather update. For senior citizens, the ability to manage a variety of tasks through voice command can help bolster independent living and provide caregivers with the ability to remotely monitor the health and safety of older patients. Whether used in the home or at a senior living facility, voice technology has the potential to modernize and personalize senior healthcare. Specialized Software As part of the Internet of Things (IoT), voice recognition technology has entered the mainstream, with more and more households are adding computerized personal assistants. As the hardware becomes ubiquitous, opportunities to add software specialized for seniors abound. For companies keeping an eye on their bottom line, the ability to add voice-command technology software to existing hardware allows a senior living facility to upgrade services without needing to upgrade current infrastructure. Even multiple operating systems can be navigated with ease, with most emerging software applications designed to be compatible with everything from Apple’s Siri to Amazon and Google home. “I believe the future of senior-related technology is customizing existing products through software,” says Laurie Orlov, the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market research firm that provides thought leadership and analysis on senior care technology. “We aren’t going to see senior living products that have their own hardware succeed [because] they can’t scale. Without the product being able to scale, you can’t make it work.” Virtual Caregivers For older adults, maintaining routines is essential, especially when it comes to medication management and other health-related tasks. While the plastic pill containers labeled with the days of the week can help keep seniors on track, the ability to preprogram voice-enabled...

SuntoWater

The world is getting thirstier. For many people around the globe, access to clean drinking water is still a challenge. Higher average temperatures, increased pollution, rising utility costs and population growth make clean water inaccessible to many. Fortunately, organizations are working hard to change that with innovative solutions. In response, a small, passionate group got together to make water from air. Texas-based SunToWater utilizes solar power to generate power and diminish water scarcity. SunToWater is launching a revolutionary machine referred to as the Atmospheric Water Generator. Through a one-of-a-kind patented design, the device is capable of pulling water from the air and storing it for consumption. How does it work? The process starts with an exterior unit that is about the size of an air conditioner. The first step is absorption: small, energy efficient fans pull humid air into the unit. The air passes over a salt-based element that absorbs water molecules like a sponge. By using salt, the machine is able to absorb only H2O from the air, leaving aside contaminates. The air is then circulated through a patented desiccant technology. During the second phase, the extraction, water is baked from the desiccant with the use of warm air and then condensed into pure water. The last step, remineralization, adds minerals back into the water. Water can then be piped directly into a home, garden, or external water tanks. The quality of the water produced—even when created from smog-polluted air—meets World Health Organization’s standards for drinking water. Desert climates are not an obstacle since the system uses salt instead of Freon to capture and condense humidity into water. Also, if the unit is in a desert climate, the fans work faster to move more air over the salty material. Is it worth the...

The Pulse of Energy

With the ability to collect, analyze and communicate real-time energy information, Pulse Energy adds the power of data to Yardi Energy arsenal. The Power of Data Over the last few years, Jeff Rambharack and the Pulse Energy team have worked to collect data on over a million businesses throughout the US and Canada. That data drives the company’s overall approach and helps provide Pulse clients with strategies tailored to their unique challenges. The company works with utilities and individual businesses, focusing on solutions specifically for different industry segments. “We provide personalized messaging for individual businesses,” explains Rambharack. “We support over 130 different verticals for businesses segments, and we provide personal messaging within each segment. We recognize that every business is different, and we work to identify sources of energy consumption and provide targeted recommendations layered on top of our in-depth analytics we’ve developed to analyze each business’s energy consumption.” Rambharack believes the biggest benefit of this data aggregation is that it allows an energy usage analysis at every level of a company’s organization. By being able to provide personalized insights about of those levels of aggregation, Pulse clients can pursue more effective energy management policies and procedures to reduce energy waste and improve energy efficiency. “Just being able to provide insights and say ‘Hey, you should go look at building X, because we think it has some efficiency problems,’ is so valuable to our clients,” says Rambharack. “Maybe we discover that they are leaving their systems on at night or running their AC and heating simultaneously. Our analytics and extensive database help us detect these sorts of oversights and provide valuable energy consumption insight to our customers.” Tracking Usage against the Baseline One of the most valuable tools for energy management involves developing an accurate...

KDE Slimbook

The world has three major personal computing platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux kernel-based. Though there is no reliable way to know the exact usage share of each of these operating systems, there are estimates. A recent stack overflow web developer  survey says that usage among English speakers is broken down as follows: Microsoft Windows – 52.02 percent; Apple macOS – 26.2 percent; Linux kernel based – 21.7 percent. Despite benefits as an independent, open-source platform, Linux is the orphan child. Unlike Apple, which is dedicated to making sure hardware and software work in sync, and unlike Windows’ licensing fees and requirements to ensure that hardware providers come up with proper drivers and support, Linux users can go through hoops to get running on different hardware. The usual method to get Linux on a computer typically involves digging for information on multiple forums, using how-to-guides and hoping that at least one other member of the community has experienced the issue that you’re facing. You’re probably familiar with this scenario: desktop Linux user buys a Windows laptop, wipes the hard drive and installs Linux on it. Afterwards, he realizes that he is on his own, with no support from the laptop manufacturer. That’s the life of a Linux user— solitary as a trade-off for safety. This segment of users has seen an ever-rising interest from manufacturers—Dell has been selling Ubuntu versions of their XPS laptops for a few years now, as has System76 and Lenovo. More recently, the KDE community in collaboration with Spanish laptop retailer Slimbook launched their very first KDE laptop. Their goal is not (just) to make a lot of money, but through its homogenized hardware to bring Linux to more users. KDE is an international team cooperating on development and distribution...

Save My Spot

Fairness and transparency are essential to every decision a public housing agency makes to determine which households receive housing assistance. Waiting lists, though often loathed by potential residents, are an important piece of keeping that process transparent. PHAs follow complicated rules set by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to maintain waiting lists, which includes information like household income, veteran status, age, disabilities, and more. Depending on regional circumstances, it could be years before an applicant will be considered for housing assistance. PHAs typically open waiting lists to applicants for relatively short windows, since they could quickly become unmanageable if left open in perpetuity. To make waiting lists more manageable, PHAs periodically correspond with households to confirm their interest in remaining on the waiting lists for public housing or voucher assistance. Without routine maintenance, waiting lists would be perpetually clogged with households that have had a change in status, which may affect their eligibility, or are no longer interested in that particular waiting list. As important as waiting list maintenance is, it is also costly. PHAs have historically spent significant time and money on staffing, forms, and postage to keep waiting lists updated. Yardi PHA clients can now take advantage of a cost-cutting solution. It’s called Save My Spot, and it is a new standard feature of RENTCafé PHA. Yardi is the only PHA software provider offering a modernized waitlist management solution, bringing relief to a longstanding industry issue. A RENTCafé PHA Primer RENTCafé PHA gives public housing and voucher applicants, residents and participants, and landlords online access to communicate with their local PHA, without having to visit the agency’s office. Households can sign up for a waiting list, submit applications, complete eligibility forms, upload documentation and more, all from a personal...

Resurrected

Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona this week. Strangely enough, the most popular device is far from being the smartest or most innovative, instead it is all about nostalgia. Yes, Nokia 3310 holds the spotlight once more, 17 years after its original release. If I asked you to close your eyes and remember your first cellphone, a midnight blue and grey device might pop up in front of your eyes. Chances are you’re picturing a Nokia 3310, a device originally presented to the world in September 2000. Obviously, the model presented at MWC is a remake, but not much was really redone. The dumbphone is limited to 2G connectivity for calling and texting, has FM radio and MP3 player for music, 16MB storage (yes, megabytes, this is no typo) expandable up to 32GB through a MicroSD card slot, new UI with plenty nods to the original model and that massive battery life coming from a removable 1,200mAh battery. More precisely, it offers up to 22 hours talk time and up to a month of standby time, 10 times the original’s capabilities. And how can one spend all that juice? Playing Gameloft’s updated version of the original Snake game, of course! Its design is also pretty similar to the Nokia 3310 launched at the millennium. They’re roughly the same size, but the new one has a 2MP camera with flash and a bigger display—a 2.4-inch QVGA with a resolution of 240×320 pixels. The 2017 model has slimmed down over the last 17 years, just like most models. In case you’re wondering what operating system keeps it going, it’s Nokia Series 30+. The new model boasts more rounded edges, subtler buttons—eye-candy for the retro phone fans. And it sells for just $52. The...