Throughout forward operating bases in Afghanistan, US soldiers are using 3D printers to whip up practically anything they might need. Reminiscent of the replicator device featured in Star Trek everything from storage containers to vehicle spare parts, there’s a fully equipped 3D printing lab only a short helicopter ride away.
In an interview with Fox News, Westley Brin, product manager with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) said:
“[It's] basically like a huge glue gun.”
With this technology, the REF engineers can build almost anything that the soldiers on the ground might require. Mr Brin explained:
“Soldiers walk into the lab and say, ‘this is my problem.’ The PhDs then do the work and show it to the soldiers. The soldiers give them feedback and they work together tinkering with the tech until it is exactly fit for purpose.”
Much like modern architecture, the REF lab’s 3D printer utilises complex computer-assisted design (CAD) software to conceive the design and allow the engineers to analyse its practicality for the task before they build it. Once satisfied with the CAD drawing, the information is then fed to the 3D printer which builds the object from scratch using glue or resin to build it layer by layer.
Currently the CAD-assisted printing technology can only create softer plastics which, while extremely versatile, have a relatively limited lifespan of perhaps one or two months. This means that the objects made are usually short-term solutions to be used in the field. However, the team at the REF lab will create copies to be used as prototypes for more durable versions which are manufactured back in the US or in associated labs in Europe and further afield.
The team at the Afghanistan REF lab will also communicate with engineers and experts in CAD jobs from around the world who will often analyse the specifications of the object that they are building and will offer their advice for solutions to any problems that the team might have.
There are big plans for the lab’s future, involving expansions which will give the team the capability to apply the same 3D printing solutions to more durable materials than plastics. Perhaps one of the most exciting and heartening future plans for this technology is for providing aid while responding to natural disasters. The ability to produce parts for power generators, vehicles and a whole range of other essentials will be invaluable for disaster relief efforts and could save countless lives.
Online Reputation Management, or Online Brand Management, is quickly becoming an essential part of business. With companies’ presence now being so heavily weighted towards the online side of things, it is becoming increasingly easy for a damaged reputation to spread and cost businesses customer interest and money. Online Reputation Management is all about clearing up any negative information there is about a person or business online. Think about it, if you search for a certain company using a search engine and the first page of results is filled with negative reviews and bad press, the chances of you using the company are pretty much nil.
It is next to impossible to actually get this information deleted off Google or another search engine. Therefore, the best way to tackle the situation is to use search engine optimisation to knock it down off page one. Search engine optimisation is an “organic” way of getting websites to be ranked highly in search engine results pages, i.e. methods such as link building are used to get results, rather than simply paying to be the top result on Google.
Baring this in mind, if positive content is created about a company or person, this can be boosted up using SEO, which, in turn, knocks down the negative content. This positive content can come in various forms. For example, social networking profiles can be created on sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
Reputation Management companies are becoming more and more common as the need for the service they provide rises. And it’s not surprising; statistics show that 79% of Brits look for reviews on search engines such as Google and 75% of Brits would change their mind about a purchase after reading three bad reviews. Further, it is rare for someone to search directly for the exact URL of a website. Instead they will search the company or organisation’s name in a search engine like Google; statistics show a huge 63% of people do so. It seems, then, that search engines really do hold an immense power over the success of a business, or the reputation of an individual person!
The industry is a fascinating one and still fairly new, but is unarguably needed for businesses to survive in the online world. The internet is so accessible across the globe now that it is certainly not hard for bad news to spread. With negative reviews being an unavoidable part of most businesses, Online Reputation Management really could save a company from failing.
Business software providers SAP teamed up with Canadian firm Roger Communications to complete a suite of new enterprise analytics software that provides self-service access to reports that scale as the database being analysed grows in data volumes.
The resultant product editions, SAP BusinessObjects and SAP Crystal Server, allow users to make sense of “Big Data” by accessing databases with easily optimised query times that use adaptive enriched embedded data structures. This means that users in SAP jobs can build their reports to quickly pinpoint the exact information that they need and spend less time trying the form intelligible trends from massive quantities of data. This then allows them to spend more time deciding how best to use the accurate analysis of the information, rather than searching futilely for the answer.
John Schweitzer, SAP’s senior vice president and general manager of analytics said: “With the new analytics editions of SAP BusinessObjects BI and SAP Crystal solutions, customers can start driving their own decision revolutions more cost-effectively than ever before. As technologies such as BI, data warehousing and data integration continue to come together, organizations large and small are looking for end-to-end solutions that can turn ‘big data’ into ‘intelligent data’ and quickly answer any business question. The analytics editions take this even further by offering the expert content they need to accelerate return on investment.”
These analytic editions have been specifically designed to be scalable so that as companies (and their data analysis needs) grow, the SAP software can provide the same level of support. This can be particularly important for small to medium businesses (SMEs) who often go through periods of rapid growth and can struggle with overwhelming masses of data as a result.
In another joint development effort, SAP AG and SUGEN have recently announced the launch of the Knowledge Transfer Platform; an online platform that allows SAP customers to intuitively navigate SAP information sources in order to pinpoint the product or resources that they are after. Previously, the multiple SAP information sources were thought to be cumbersome to navigate for customers who had a specific query or market need.
“A number of SUGEN User Groups collaborated with SAP AG to develop a solution to this problem,” said Richard Thorpe, SUGEN Core Leadership member and sponsor of the Knowledge Transfer project. “We have aimed to simplify the way information can be acquired in a manner that can be applied globally by involving the real usage of the knowledge transfer assets of each User Group and to focus on the processes inside SAP, from SAP to partners and from SAP to customers. This will make the User Group the main source of SAP application and technology information.”
Yourvine is doing a cool challenge for Love Da Popcorn, complete challenges and get free Love Da Popcorn! How cool is that?
Don’t watch Dragons Den?
If you don’t watch Dragons Den or missed the episode with the Love Da Popcorn guys in it you might be wondering what “Love Da Popcorn” is.
Love Da Popcorn is traditional and funky popcorn with some odd and interesting flavours such as sea salt & black pepper, white chocolate, sweet chilli & lime and numerous others. You can also watch the clip of them in the den here.
So what’s Yourvine?
Yourvine is an online platform that allows you to interact with your favourite brands and earn rewards (like free popcorn). It looks like a nice way to interact with companies and provides some fun challenges and rewards check it out with an EXCLUSIVE invite just for you -> Join Yourvine
The challenges are simple and fun, and something I’m looking forward to diving into and earning myself some free popcorn!
Level 1 – It takes one to know one
Challenge: It’s time to unveil our magical poster generating machine… Step inside popcorn lovers and make a poster about yourself.
Reward: A large bag of Love Da Popcorn
Level 2 – And they lived happily ever after
Challenge: We’re full of stories, but now it’s your turn. Here you get to tell us a story about a funny failure from your past.
Reward: Break a Guinness World Record and try new flavours before anyone else
Level 3 – Love Da Popcorn Basketball
Challenge: Play a game of popcorn basketball with your mouth as the net.
Reward: Get 5 bags of limited edition white chocolate popcorn and an original signed Love Da Popcorn poster
Level 4 – On a mission
Challenge: We’re on a mission to supply the whole damn world with popcorn. But in the meantime, there are a few people we really want to see with a bag of Love Da Popcorn, and you can help make it happen….
Reward: A year’s supply of Love Da Popcorn
Looks like some fun challenges, and I’m looking forward to jumping in and trying to win myself a ton of Love Da Popcorn… Won’t help with the diet much but I’m sure it’ll taste lush!
In just over 2 weeks I will be moving into my new house, with 6 friends and one of our primary concerns is the cost of bills – Particularly power & Gas.
It’s going to be a fun challenge trying to keep our bills as low as possible and I plan on using as many gadgets and tools to help us stay right on the ball with our energy usage.
British Gas seem to really have this type of easy management of your energy usage online, and on the go with their app (I hope they’ll have a nice Windows Phone version soon ) which allows you to view your energy usage, view bills, book engineers, and manage your account wherever you may be, helping you to stay on top of what you use, an importantly helping to keep your bills low.
British Gas have been researching how to make it easier for busy people and found that busy mums are saving up to an hour a day by doing their routinely daily tasks, like managing their finances and paying energy bills at the same time as doing housework (39%) or even… on the toilet (22%)!
With 7/10 mums heading to the net to manage things it’s easy to see why British Gas have put a lot of effort into making it as easy as possible for them, but it’s not all about mum’s. Youngsters use the internet too for getting things done quickly, with a whooping 83% using it for managing their finances – Thank you internet banking – and of course 85% use it for catching up with friends and social networking.. Which makes me wonder how the other 15% do it?
For those of you with British Gas it’s definitely worth getting on this, Register now and you’ll also nab 2000 Nector points as well as earning rewards for adding your meter readings and using the online tools available, if you’re still not convinced click to Find out more.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are now over 1 billion people in the world who actively use social media.
Of course, it will come as no surprise that Facebook tops the chart as the world’s most popular social network with over 900 million active users (Though differing opinions on what constitutes “active” could make that figure seem a touch optimistic!). Nonetheless, Facebook clearly towers above its closest competitor, Twitter, whose active user count stands at over 200 million strong.
After LinkedIn with its 150 million members, the rest of the big social networks aren’t internationally used (Google is still being cagey about the realistic number of active users currently on Google+) but are very highly localised and enjoy massive popularity in their home territory. China’s QQ, Russia’s Vkontakte and Japan’s Mixi make a significant showing on the ITU’s report in contributing to the vast numbers of people globally who are interacting with social media.
All this interconnectivity through social media has helped to provide a new and more affordable outlet for people to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones. While this benefits the users, telecoms companies now increasingly find themselves competing against social networks like Facebook who provide voice and text services. The partnering of Facebook and Skype has further cemented the social network as a communication medium that is likely to entice more social media users away from telecommunications firms entirely.
However, the ITU report shows that telecoms jobs continue to thrive globally in spite of such competition, as the growth of social media usage is strongly linked to the availability of reliable broadband service. While developed countries have experienced a vast improvement in broadband coverage, the global pace of growth in this area has proved to be extremely uneven. Many industrialised, developed nations have achieved a penetration rate of 26% of internet users, compared with that of developing countries that have as little as 4.8%.
Another key finding of the ITU is that it concurs with Facebook’s claim that mobile is quickly outpacing fixed devices as the main way that users experience social media. Smartphone technology has significantly increased the time spent on social media for the average user in areas where they have access to reliable WiFi coverage. Not only has this opened up a new and fast-growing audience for social networks, companies of every kind are waking up to the vast potential of mobile marketing as a means of connecting with their consumers. As a consequence, developers are finding themselves in higher demand in countries where there is a viable mobile audience. For example, IT jobs in the UK are more widely available to expert developers, as optimising sites for a smooth and simple mobile experience has become a priority for brands that want to cultivate a social media fan following.
The internet is now ubiquitous and for those lucky enough to have access to cable services the cheap cable and internet packages that are available on the market today mean that most people can easily afford fast broadband along with their favourite television channels. Of course there are still large numbers of people who can’t access cable and although their numbers are declining, it could be many years before cable is available to the whole population of the UK.
Fortunately for the majority of them, recent innovations in ADSL mean that, although they are unable to enjoy the superfast broadband services that are available on cable, they can still receive reasonably fast broadband. If you compare broadband speeds that are available on cable with those that are available over standard telephone lines, some of the lower priced cable broadband packages offer the same sort of speeds as the higher end ADSL packages. Typically cable broadband speeds start at around 30 Mbps (megabits per second) and the higher end ADSL speeds can be up to 25 Mbps.
However, for those looking for the higher end cable broadband packages, speeds of up to 100 Mbps are currently available and speeds up to 200 Mbps will be rolled out in the not too distant future. This is well above the maximum currently available over ADSL, but new innovations in that field could mean that in the future it may not be left quite so far behind as it is today.
The problem in supplying fast broadband over telephone lines relates to the amount of interference that occurs between telephone lines. The higher the frequency that is used to transmit the signal, the greater is the interference. The current ADSL technology is ADSL2+, and its broadband speed limit is around 25 Mbps, but there is a more advanced technology called VHDSL, which stands for Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line. In its second generation VHDSL2, this technology is capable of broadband speeds of 100 Mbps, roughly the same as cable. However the maximum distance over which the data can be transmitted at this speed is 300 meters, though already 40 Mbps VDSL services are being made available in certain areas. The technology is mostly used in conjunction for cable. Cable provides broadband to terminals and VHSDL2 provides the final link between the terminal and the user; this is called the final mile.
The latest development in VHDSL2 is called vectoring and is essentially a noise cancellation technique. It is still fairly experimental but it can potentially achieve 100 Mbps and maybe even faster speeds; already 300 Mbps has been demonstrated over short distances.
It will always be expensive and commercially uneconomic to supply users in the more rural locations with cable; however this does not mean that a two speed internet economy is inevitable. Telephone lines are already in place and technologies are being developed that can boost data speeds far beyond those that are available currently. Perhaps in the future rural dwellers will be served by a hybrid service which is partially cable and partially copper.
For further information of Virgin Media’s products and services, visit http://www.virginmedia.com.
I recently ran into an issue installing Logwatch on a cPanel server using yum.
The yum reported that it was unable to install logwatch because required dependency “perl(Date:Manip)” couldn’t install.
Error: Package: logwatch-7.3.6-49.el6.noarch (base)
This is a very simple issue, but one which it seems many people online are having problems with.
cPanel & CPAN like to manage a selection of software, because of this some are excluded in the yum configuration, meaning yum is unable to install them.
In /etc/yum.conf you can simply edit the line using your favourite text editor:
exclude=apache* bind-chroot courier* dovecot* exim* filesystem httpd* mod_ssl* mysql* nsd* perl* php* proftpd* pure-ftpd* ruby* spamassassin* squirrelmail*
And remove “perl*” which is preventing yum from installing the required perl module.
The line should now read:
exclude=apache* bind-chroot courier* dovecot* exim* filesystem httpd* mod_ssl* mysql* nsd* php* proftpd* pure-ftpd* ruby* spamassassin* squirrelmail*
Save the file.
Now you can happily install logwatch using “yum install logwatch” and it will install without a problem.
I would STRONGLY recommend you go back and re-add perl* to the exceptions list after you have installed logwatch to avoid potential issues in the future.
Hope this helps, I’m happy to answer any Q’s in the comments below.