Category Archive Technology

ByJayanthi

Tracking

As our dependence on electronic devices increases, from ordering food to paying bills and hailing cab services and making use of online maps to travel to different destinations,  the unseeing eyes are also following us everywhere tracking our every move.

We all know of GPS tracking when hailing a cab but did you know that you are being tracked at all times? By having the smartphone with you at all times, with the ‘Location’ being turned ‘on’, every move is being tracked. Some might not worry about this constant tracking by strange individuals, but I do think that it is necessary  to know all the possibilities that are present before forming our own conclusions about them.

It is quite a possibility that you will be using ‘Google maps’ for taking you to different places and you might be signed onto multiple devices using the same ‘gmail’ account. While, it looks perfectly harmless and seems that your life is getting simplified in every way in this electronic era – the reverse is unfortunately true.

How you are being tracked:

As an example, sign into your Google account and click on ‘Maps’ in the right hand corner. Once inside Google Maps, click on the menu and pick ‘Your timeline’. Now, you can see all the places you have visited in the last couple of years! You can also see the time of visit, the duration of visit,the latitude and longitude of the places that you visited! In addition, all these details are visible for a prolonged period of time too! 

You might have visited 100 places over a period of 5 years and chances are all of them might be listed right there on the screen! You may have forgotten where you went in October of 2017, but your device and ‘Location history’ does not forget!

So, what can be done?

If you would like to delete all of your location data and prevent your  location from being saved in the future, follow the steps below:

  1. After clicking on ‘Timeline’, click ‘Manage Location History’, disable ‘Location History’ under ‘Activity controls’. This makes sure that future Location tracking is disabled. 
  2. In order to delete previous ‘Locations’ go to ‘Timeline’ and under the settings tab click on ‘Delete all Location history’
timeline
Disabling Location history

Once this is completed, your Location history will neither be visible to you or anybody else(at,least for some time!) In today’s age, with so much information and power in our hands, it is up to us to do all the homework and control the data that is exposed to the outside world by disabling the various settings.

Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

Can Blockchain prevent another economic crash?

Like any other system, the global economy is susceptible to failure at many different points. Unfortunately, due to the interconnectedness of the world, an economic crisis in one country could have disastrous consequences for other countries. This was the case during the United States economic crisis of 2008 in which the stock market crashed.

Economic collapse on any scale usually happens as a result of disparities in the system that can easily be overlooked in the absence of clarity. However, blockchain technology could help avoid a financial crisis due to its transparency, security and decentralized mechanism. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are powered by this same technology which acts as a ledger for all transactions carried out on a network.

The endless benefits of the technology have attracted countless investors over the years. Now, it is fast becoming an addition to every major corporation, from IBM and Mastercard to Nasdaq. Its properties are also attractive to financial institutions which constitute the industry that is most in need of the benefits it provides.

The financial crisis of 2008 caused by a lack of transparency, greatly impacted various significant financial institutions and economies on a global scale. Blockchain technology affords banks full transparency, allowing them to spot such a crisis from a mile away. This way, they can take the appropriate preventive measures to ensure that it does not happen again. Banking authorities must make an effort to study the technology and better understand how it can be a force for the prevention of the next financial crisis.

What was the 2008 economic crash?

The economic crash of 2008 was the worst economic disaster in the U.S. and the world since the 1929 Great Depression. The crisis caused a great recession after the cost of housing fell by 31.8%, even lower than that of the Great Depression. Although the crash occurred in 2008, the first signs were observed in 2007 when the prices of homes were too high.

home

As a result, homeowners began to default on mortgage payments, leading to a downward economic turn which spread to the U.S. financial sector and eventually affected other countries. At the time, houses became extremely cheap, and homeowners were given loans worth up to 100% of the value of their new homes. Taking advantage of the profitable real estate sector, banks also made investments in subprime areas.

The affected institutions stretched from investment banking corporations to commercial banks, insurance companies, and lenders. The situation was so bad that financial institutions had to lay off their staff. Apart from financial institutions, the crisis affected individuals and businesses that were reliant on credit payments at the time. The economic disaster led to massive suffering on the part of businesses because banks stopped giving loans out. They did not trust anyone to pay back the loans due to the state of the economy.

Shortly after the crisis began, the American auto industry was on the edge of destruction and pleaded for a federal bailout. Unfortunately, banks were in the middle of damage control and bailouts were nearly impossible to get. Globally, share prices plunged, and the recession trickled down to other countries.

By the end of the year, most countries in the world including Germany, Japan, and China had gone into an economic recession as well. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the great recession had begun in December 2007, making it the third longest recession in the country since World War II.

In Europe, investors who had been involved with real estate securities in the U.S. took a hard hit. The same could be said for investors in smaller countries. However, China and Japan were able to escape that situation but registered huge losses where export was concerned. Their American and European markets were experiencing a fall in demand due to the recession.

Developing countries that depended on foreign investments for growth capital also lost their markets and investments. Since the largest countries were in a recession, the situation became a hopeless one with no chance of an easy recovery. Two years after the end of the recession, the unemployment failed to fall below 9 percent.

Why are banks looking to use this technology?

Banks are looking to use blockchain technology because its transparency can reduce the issue of financial losses that stem from a lack of it. There are three major ways in which the banks hope to achieve this:

1. Maintaining financial security

When banks have a bird’s eye view of all the financial transactions within an economy, it is easier to find discrepancies and adjust them. Due to the immutability and append-only function of a blockchain, it is easy for banks to keep open records of transactions that can be tracked easily.

Tracking cash flow can help institutions find and mitigate economic threats that may arise due to bad policy and bank operations. Using this technology, the banks can determine whether a financial institution, including shadow banks, requires support or control.

Another way that blockchain technology promotes financial security as a way to prevent an economic crisis is by providing access to information. With this information, these institutions can determine risks and potential points of failure within the system. It can also clarify the effects of various monetary policies and help out in the gathering of statistics for research purposes. Generally, if the banks have more information, then they can perform better and cut the costs associated with running separate systems as opposed to a single blockchain.

2. Preventing fraud

Banks can prevent fraud and bad debtors using smart contracts and digital cryptographic identities. Each institution can create smart contracts between the customers and banks, as well as between the banks and the central bank. This creates an immutable record of the exact terms of the contract and will only execute when the terms are fulfilled. Banks can also avoid loan fraud by using digital identities to find out the loan history of each customer, drastically lowering the chances of bad debt in the process.

The use of a cryptographic ledger ensures that stored information can only be accessed using cryptographic keys which are usually in possession of the owner of that information. A hacker would have to compromise every single system on a network to break such a system. This makes blockchain a secure way to store information.  

3. Eliminating shadow banking

According to the People’s Bank of China, shadow banking falls into three main asset classes–  entrusted loans, trust lending, and banks’ acceptances — which saw a $555 million increase in 2017. Using blockchain technology, banks can eliminate shadow banking since all transactions will be recorded.

Final thoughts:

The financial crisis of 2008 left many nations utterly devastated. The trickle-down affected various sectors even outside the financial sector, resulting in a near collapse of the economy. However, the world moved on from the effects of that event, and most countries have been able to pull themselves out of recession. However, it is essential to take measures that ensure that the crisis is not repeated.

For banks, the best bet may be the use of blockchain technology to securely store data, access information and ensure transparency in the system. Used properly, it can serve as an open system in which all transactions within the economy are recorded. With a clearer view of all banking processes, banks and other financial institutions can successfully prevent another economic crisis.

This article originally appeared on Mintdice.com

Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

Introduction to Ethereum

Just like Bitcoin, which is highly known, ‘Ethereum’ is yet another open source implementation of the Blockchain concept. However, the similarity between ‘Ethereum’ and ‘Bitcoin’ ends just there. While ‘Bitcoin’ is a cryptocurrency,  ‘Ethereum’ is a decentralized network for implementing ‘Smart contracts’. Recall, that ‘smart contracts’ are similar to normal contract clauses, but are automatically enforced without any interference from third parties.

The ‘Ethereum’ logo was first used in 2014 and the project was live on 30th July 2015 – so,  it is an absolutely brand new blockchain concept!  The ‘Ethereum’ idea was first conceived by Vitalik Buterin.

Now moving onto the article, the basic idea behind the blockchain technology  is the different nodes agreeing on transactions and having the same copy of the transaction. Instead of all the nodes in a network agreeing on the the coins moving towards and  away from a user(like in a Bitcoin), in a Ethereum network, the nodes have to agree on the smart contract transactions.

So, what can we do with a Ethereum blockchain?

Have an idea for an application? You can get it deployed on the ‘Ethereum’ blockchain. It is no longer a huge chore to build blockchain applications and definitely much more easier to get applications deployed on the Ethereum blockchin.

 You can create your own cryptocurrency, voting ballots, crowdsale or any idea of for a decentralized application without feelings and human emotions entwined in it. For more information about creating your own decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain please visit: https://www.ethereum.org/

Ethereum

To conclude, here are a few terms associated with ‘Ethereum’:

  1. Ether – is a form of currency that fuels the Ethereum network. It is specifically called as a “crypto fuel” and not as a cryptocurrency as it is used to pay for the smart contract services.
  2. Ethereum wallet – where will the ‘ethers’ be stored? In a Ethereum wallet of course! The Ethereum wallet is also used to “write, deploy and use smart contracts”
  3.  ‘EVM’ or ‘Ethereum virtual machine’- The EVM almost reminds me of the JVM or the ‘Java virtual machine’. The EVM runs on the Ethereum network and is a Turing  software. Similar to the JVM of the 90s, the EVM simplifies the process of creating applications. 

It should be noted that Ethereum  is another rapidly evolving technology. How the world will react to it and how the governments will react to it is left to be seen. This article is largely for informational purposes only!

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Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

What are Smart Contracts?

‘Smart Contracts’ is a term that is often used in the Blockchain world. ‘Smart Contracts are similar to legal contracts but are encoded in the ‘Blockchain’ . ‘Ethereum’, the public blockchain is the most popular way to create smart contracts.

We encounter physical ‘contracts’ throughout our life. Contracts are present when we start a new job(detailing the job details and the date of salary payments)  , when we buy a new house(detailing our mortgage payments and the corresponding dates , when we buy a new vehicle(detailing loan payments)

Home loans, car loans and most other critical dealings come with contracts. ‘Contracts’ enable the buyer and seller to keep their word. In a home buying scenario, once the buyer completes all his mortgage payments, the loaner company should release the title and deed and all appropriate paperwork to the buyer. There are lengthy clauses which cover every aspect of our business dealings.

An example of a legal statement might be as follows: ‘If the bill is not paid by a certain due date, then add a corresponding late fee or revoke the license’. 

What if this could be automated and enforced without any manual intervention? Is this possible? yes – by means of smart contracts. 

In a ‘smart contract’ the contract itself is coded and it is further stored and monitored by the Blockchain network.  Once a condition is met, the contract executes automatically. This ensures transparency along with elimination of middlemen.

‘Smart Contracts’ are mostly written in the ‘Solidity’ programming language.

This is just a short glimpse into the world of ‘smart contracts’. Join me as I uncover more technical topics about the ‘Blockchain’ world  in subsequent posts…

 

 

smart contracts

Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

What is ‘Ripple’?

‘Ripple’ may be a totally unknown term to you or you know exactly what I am talking about – either way ‘Ripple’ is creating ripples!

What is it?

‘Ripple’ is one of the implementations of ‘Blockchain’. As you may recollect, ‘Blockchain’ is the decentralized network where different nodes agree on transactions. Each node has a copy of the transaction and none of the transactions can be deleted or modified in any way. You can read more about Blockchain here. 

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Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

Blockchain lingo!

 Blockchain, AI and machine learning are the latest buzzwords in the IT industry. Building a blockchain is also becoming a need for various businesses. Recall, that a “Blockchain” is the distributed shared ledger for recording and storing transactions. Each of the participant in the business network has a copy of the ledger which is updated regularly.

Before building a blockchain, there are a few keywords that have to be mastered and we will discuss them today.

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Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

Mani Prithiviraj ByMani Prithiviraj

Role of Computer Simulations in Design

 

Introduction – reasons for good design:

When we buy a new car, we may have a number of expectations. e.g. We would like the car to be fuel efficient, comfortable in the cabin, be able to ride well in all kinds of roads, provide us a safe ride. When an airline buys an aircraft, they have expectations. e.g. Trouble free operation with minimal down time, integrity of the structure of the airplane, comfort of passengers in the cabin, reliable operation of the engine (from taxi, take off, ascent, cruise, descent and landing). When the government has a power plant commissioned, they would like to ensure that the plant delivers the required power, has the infrastructure to meet environmental emission standards and has good efficiency (conversion of energy into electricity). When an appliance manufacturer designs a washing machine, they would like to ensure that the system ensures good mixing of the water and detergent, proper agitation to remove dirt from the clothes and good ability to remove water from the clothes during the spin cycle.

All these examples show that a good design is needed for efficient functioning of the appliance/airplane/power plant etc

Methods of good design:

There are two principal methods for ensuring a good design:

a) Testing of Prototypes and the Final Product
b) Performing virtual simulations using a computer.

a. Testing:

The traditional method of design predominantly involved testing. Testing was considered to be the only fool proof method of ensuring a good design. However testing is expensive, time consuming, sometimes not possible in hazardous environments, and has difficulty to replicate all real-world operating scenarios.

b. Virtual simulations

Computer Simulations (also known as Virtual Simulations or Numerical Simulations) provide an attractive alternative. Instead of performing a physical test in a lab, one can perform a virtual test on a computer. The virtual test of course needs to be validated against physical tests (or experiments) to build confidence in the computer simulation. The cost involved for performing Virtual Simulations (typically computer hardware, software license and a trained engineer) is a lot cheaper than the cost involved for performing a physical test.
With the ever increasing power of computing, virtual simulations have become a cheaper and time efficient alternative to physical testing.

Now, there are two classes of problems. A) Problems that have an analytical solution b) Problems that do not have an analytical solution. The second class of problems involve modelling assumptions, and the results need to be interpreted carefully, keeping in mind the modelling assumptions. For both class of problems mentioned above, companies have been making a conscious shift from Physical Testing towards Virtual Simulations over the last 15 years.

Companies and design:

Most companies rely heavily on computer simulations at a very early stage of the design cycle to select a group of good designs. During the final stages of design, they test the good designs predicted by simulations. On successful confirmation of the designs, the product is released to the market. This approach enables companies to keep costs reasonable and also shorten the design cycle resulting in valuable time savings. In an evolving, demanding and competitive market environment, Virtual Simulations play a very important role.

Types of simulations:

Simulations themselves could either be 1D or 3D. 1D simulations are faster to run and enable system level simulations (e.g. Entire Powertrain of a Vehicle). 3D simulations take longer to run, but can provide three dimensional information about the system being analyzed (e.g. The temperature and pressure at every location within an Internal combustion engine). Companies typically use a combination of 1D and 3D simulation tools during the product design phase.

Both domestic and multi-national automotive manufactures have traditionally used Wind Tunnels for drag reduction of their vehicles. Reducing drag improves the fuel economy of the car. The manufacturers now use computer simulations to simulate both wind tunnel as well as on-road driving conditions. A computer simulation can provide the manufacturer detailed pressure, temperature and flow distribution around the car (to the tune of several million locations). It would be prohibitively expensive to get the same information from a wind tunnel test (since pressure and temperature transducers and data collection systems are expensive). The computed data can be visualized on a computer.

Conclusion:

As the expectations from the market keep rising every year, Virtual Simulations are now playing a very important role to help companies to come up with designs meeting customer requirements.

ByJayanthi

Did you know?

‘Whatsapp’  is India’s largest and most convenient chat app. The anonymity to send messages without the whole world to view it and the instantaneous way to communicate made the chat app a total winner. 

But the chat app had  one uncomfortable feature – for the multitude of messages sent across different groups and individuals, there was always that one message that was sometimes sent by mistake. It would always land in a group with 10-50 participants who would all be equally puzzled! 

 

 

Whatsapp has solved the unintended message dilemma by enabling a new feature:

  1. You can delete an unintended message from all group members (or individuals)
  2. The unintended message should be deleted within 7 minutes of sending it
  3. In order to make it work , the message to be deleted has to be “tapped, held and deleted” from groups or individuals
  4. Once the messages are deleted, a message “This message was deleted” will appear in the appropriate group. 
  5. In order for the ‘Delete’ feature to work, all users should have the latest version of Whatsapp installed for their phones or desktops. 
  6. If the deletion is not successful for all members of the group, there will not be a separate notification informing of the same.

Note: There is a possibility that a message will be viewed by the recipient before the sender deletes it.

What do you think of this new feature? 

 

Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

The ‘Apple’ of my eye! :)

For most of the Apple lovers possessing iPhones, iPods, Mac books and iPad and so on, this week was an exciting week as it saw the  launch of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8S and iPhone X. How will the new iPhone X be? Pronounced iPhone ’10’ and not iPhone ‘X’, this is the thought for most of the world(if not all!) Till we can lay our hands on it or see someone who lays their hands on it 🙂 we can only surmise a few details as of now:

Features of iPhone XDescription   
Pre-orders starting date in IndiaOctober 27
Sales will start fromNovember 3 in India
Price of iPhone X$ 999 and up

89,000 Rs in India
Wireless charging
Display5.8 inch OLED display

Highest resolution display:

2436x1125 pixels at 458 pixels per inch
Authentication Face ID instead of Touch ID and NO home button

Appearance Durable glass in the front and back

Water and dust resistant


Battery life14 hours of Internet use
ProcessorA11 Bionic chip(can manage 600 billion operations per second)

6 core processor
CameraDual 12MP TrueDepth cameras

Storage64GB

Planning to go somewhere? Try booking flights through ‘Makemytrip‘!!

The most interesting features of the iPhone X  are:

  1. Price – $999 for US markets and a cool lakh for Indian markets(256GB variants)
  2. Processor speed – The iPhone X has the A11 Bionic chip supposedly the most powerful and smartest chip
  3. Battery life – The iPhone X boasts of 14 hrs of Internet usage which will be tested in due time(Scientific American)
  4. Camera – It has a larger and faster megapixel sensor(for camera buffs and geeks, there is plenty in store with the new iPhone X to achieve superior quality pictures) 
  5. Face ID – This is obviously the most talked about authentication feature of the new iPhone X – ‘face recognition’. Apple has done away with the home button and introduced the ‘face recognition’ feature which raises interesting and new questions. While biometrics is always a better way of authenticating a user than the traditional username and password combination(not to forget remembering the umpteen number of passwords) face ID might be much more trickier than  other biometrics.  These are some of the key points regarding Face ID:
  •   For now, only one face ID will be supported per device.
  •   Going by the number of thoughts around the web, what if the device can be unlocked while sleeping or by an identical twin?

           iPhone user experience is always beautiful and in India where owning an iPhone(or any Apple product and any version) is a symbol of pride, it remains to be seen if the new iPhone X will live up to its standards. Most of the details and doubts will only be solved in due course of time – but one final question that is on everyone’s mind – is it too pricey even by Apple standards?

Thanks to Satish for his thoughts, suggestions and tips for this post!

 

 

 

 

 

Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂

ByJayanthi

Captcha!

Have a look at the image below:

Are you squinting and trying to hard to figure what is written in the phrase below?

This was the ‘Captcha’ phrase that was used to differentiate between ‘humans’ and ‘bots’. This has been slowly replaced by the new ‘reCaptcha’. Before we get into the details of the ‘reCaptcha’ let us discuss ‘Captcha’ and what it was meant for.

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Jayanthi Manikandan has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information security from Detroit, MI, USA.

She has been passionate about Information security and has several years of experience writing on various technical topics. Additionally, she loves to pen a few personal thoughts here as well! 🙂