Carbon Fiber Threads Could Protect Old Buildings Against Earthquakes

When it comes to protecting buildings from earthquakes, the more recent the building the more likely it is to stand up thanks to advancements in both technology and structural designs to use supports and designs that will help reduce or even prevent a building being damaged. This doesn’t give you much support for the older buildings that you want to still protect, leaving you with few options to protect precious history, until the creation of carbon fiber threads that was.

Komatsu Seiren Fabric Laboratory has developed carbon fiber-based CABKOMA Strand Rods and suggests they could be used for protecting older buildings against earthquakes by tying the roof to the ground in a similar way to a tents guidelines. The fibers would allow the building to move together, ultimately keeping the roof and floors beneath it moving together.

While the idea of “anchoring” a building may sound silly, the threads are very strong and lightweight, giving you the ability to transport and make the precautions necessary to protect heritage and historical sites.

https://youtu.be/SIorJpr784o

While a great idea, there are limitations. The threads won’t work in dense urban areas or on tall buildings, giving you limited use in cities but it could be the first in many steps to help save lives and buildings when an earthquake strikes.

Iraq Prevents Exam Cheating by Cutting the Entire Internet

There are many ways to prevent cheating in exams, there is the honour system, extra checks, and verifications – or you can go all out like Iraq did last week where it cut off the internet for the entire country for a couple of hours.

What first looked like something that is reminiscent of censorship in the Islamic state, that wasn’t the case according to Dyn Research. Their data showed that the data streams were interrupted between 5:00 and 8:00. The simple answer to why this happened is cheat prevention.

The nationwide school enrollment tests were going on at that time and the internet cut-off was simply to prevent sharing of the papers. The test is crucial for the continued education and thereby a position in the country which highly increases the incentive to cheat, and the simple way to prevent modern cheating is to simply disable the methods of doing so.

It certainly is an effective way of doing so but is it also the right one? What do you think? Is this maybe a method we should start applying in our parts of the world too or is that just taking it all a step too far? Let us know in the comments.

Optical Nanotechnology Sensor Claimed to be as Good as a Dog’s Nose

Researchers for the Oregon State University have created a new technology by combining optical tech with nanocomposite thin-films to develop a new type of cheap sensor, which is said to be fast, highly sensitive and able to detect and analyse a wide range of gases.

The sensor is said to be suited to detect carbon dioxide and may find potential use in industrial applications or systems designed to store the gas underground.

However, there are many other applications for the sensor. The researchers have filed a patent on the invention and are working in collaborating with a variety of industries to perfect and help commercialize the product.

“Optical sensing is very effective in sensing and identifying trace-level gases, but often uses large laboratory devices that are terribly expensive and can’t be transported into the field,” said Alan Wang, a photonics expert and an assistant professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.”By contrast, we use optical approaches that can be small, portable and inexpensive,” Wang said. “This system used plasmonic nanocrystals that act somewhat like a tiny lens, to concentrate a light wave and increase sensitivity.”

The sensor works by having a metal-organic framework of thin films which can quickly absorb gases within material pores and be recycled by simple vacuum processes.

After the thin-film captures the gas molecules near the surface, the plasmonic materials act at a near-infrared range, help magnify the signal and precisely analyze the presence and amounts of different gases.

Detecting gas can also find its use in the explosive diffusion industry, with further applications seen in public places with high risk of terrorism and explosive use, such as airports or border security.

However, a lot of gases required to be monitored in the lab before the sensor can do its job in the field. Other fields that might find potential use for the technology include healthcare, automobile engines and prevention of natural gas leakage.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Gmail Scan Leading to Man’s Arrest Was Not a Privacy Violation

The news from earlier this week, where the scanning of a man’s Gmail account had led to his arrest for child abuse and pornography, sparked quiet the stir in the on-line community. Big brother is watching you and other conspiracy theories started to flourish, as so often when Google is in the news.

Even with the normal mail scanning by Google used to provide you with the most likely ads you’d click, there isn’t any real person sitting somewhere reading your mails and are watching your photos. These are all fully automated systems that work on their own. Looking for keywords to match up an advertisement for you.

But it wasn’t even that system that was in use here, neither was it some big NSA sponsored “tag all crimes” script. Google used an automated PhotoDNA process designed specific to detect child abuse images.

The most used PhotoDNA system is created by Microsoft and converts an image into a common black-and-white format before uni-forming the size. The technology then divides the image into squares and assigns a numerical value that represents the unique shading found within each square. Combining those gets you the “PhotoDNA signature” of an image file. That unique signature can then be used in comparison with other images.

The technology grew out of a partnership between Microsoft, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Dartmouth College. In 2009, Microsoft donated PhotoDNA to NCMEC to aid in the fight against child exploitation.

Microsoft today uses the technology on Bing, Outlook.com and its cloud storage service to identify child abuse images and stop them from being redistributed on-line. When there is a signature match, it is also reported to the NCMEC and Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). In 2012 a partnership with law enforcement agencies was begun, to integrate the system into theirs as well.

However, in this particular case of the Houston arrest, PhotoDNA was not involved, although from what we’re hearing, something similar was. The above however explains how the system works.

Like with everything, Google has its own hashing technology which is uses to detect sexual abuse images. Google, Microsoft and other technology companies however share technology like this to combat this sort of illegal activity. PhotoDNA may not have been the one to find it in this case, it is what laid the foundation for the technology used.

So it is important to remember that Google isn’t playing law and order inside your inbox, it is an automated detection system that looks specifically for child pornography and is part of a large international effort to remove this filth from the internet.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of TechCrunch and Google

Traditional Antivirus Software “Simply Don’t Work” According to Security Specialists

While the National Crime Agency did warn people about the upcoming GOZeuS and CryptoLocker malware, information given by security specialists point to the fact that traditional antivirus software is not enough even for a simple malware prevention, yet alone the more advanced malware types.

Comodo Group‘s CEO, Melih Abdulhayoglu, points out that most traditional antivirus software on the market “simply don’t work” and detects threats such as viruses and malware only when they have already infected the system, rendering them obsolete.

“For years the antivirus industry has been promoting a flawed product to the mass market as a protection product – a huge con. As a result, there are millions of business and home users who think that they are safe online, just by running an antivirus product – this is madness! Traditional antivirus products do not and can not protect you from new malware like Cryptolocker that they can’t detect.”

Melih emphasises that the only method of keeping a system clean is through containment technology. The technology puts unknown traffic coming from the internet into a sandbox environment for further analysis, meaning that the data cannot react or spread within the system until it has been identified as ‘safe’. This way, Melih states that the malware is detected and denied access before it can even get near the system at hand.

Businesses however are more susceptible to viruses and malware than homes. This is said to be due to the fact that hackers are writing specific malware which target a single individual system inside the company, from which it will inevitably grant access to the entire company’s network.

“For businesses, the problem is Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). Criminals are writing specific tailored malware aimed at one person in a company and then stealing data via that person. It’s designed to be undetectable, or viewed as too small a problem to solve. Think of it like this: the pharmaceutical industry wouldn’t bother to spend billions on curing a disease that infects just one person, so these bad guys are hoping that the security industry doesn’t put resources into solving a problem targeted at just one individual.”

However, this does not mean everyone is doomed to have their systems infected. Egemen Tas, VP of Engineering at Comodo, emphasises that a combination of a strong and trusted† antivirus software along with basic execution control (such as the annoying popup in Windows, which everyone tends to deactivate, appearing every time an ‘unknown’ or application requiring elevated privileges wants to launch) is enough to keep your system clean.

“In order to stay protected from GOZeuS and CryptoLocker, users should follow cyber-hygiene best practices,” said Egemen Tas, VP of Engineering at Comodo. “It’s not as complicated as you may think. You should use a certified and proven antivirus product, always installing the latest version and applying updates. Additionally, you should go beyond traditional security prevention by utilizing a HIPS (host-based intrusion prevention system) product, and applying some basic application execution control to prevent these types of malware from taking over your system.”

Also, since there are cases where malware can infect a system through the e-mail service, Egemen states that a good prevention practice is “not opening attachments from unsolicited emails”, meaning that if an unexpected email from an unknown person or even a friend arrives in your inbox containing a strange attachment, it is better to delete it rather than risk opening it.