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March 2016 — April 2016

Scientists Store Digital Images in DNA and Retrieves Them Perfectly (Apr 11, 2016)
Technology companies routinely build sprawling data centers to store all the baby pictures, financial transactions, funny cat videos and email messages its users hoard. But a new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube. The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers has detailed one of the first complete systems to encode, st...
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Computer Science for All (Apr 10, 2016)
The Internet is big—really big! (About one Yottabyte in size, or a quadrillion Gigabytes, which if stored on CDs would stack from earth to moon ... 4000 times.) Did you ever wonder how Google can respond to your search in mere seconds? Your smartphone’s camera records about 8 million pixels when it snaps a photo, and each pixel represents millions of possible colors. That’s millions and millions of possibilities. How does your phone store those pictures in just a few hundred thousand bytes...
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The Delayed Revolution in Digital Financial Services (Apr 10, 2016)
Technology has transformed how we work, communicate and travel. In contrast, modern digital technology has not yet transformed financial services. Open data is the key to change in this sector of the economy. The time has come for the financial services industry to join the open data revolution. Open data means interoperability of digital information to increase its usability and accessibility. The Obama administration has done much to make open data a cornerstone of its digital government strat...
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Breakthrough Technology to Improve Cyber Security (Apr 9, 2016)
With enough computing effort most contemporary security systems will be broken. But a research team at the University of Sydney has made a major breakthrough in generating single photons (light particles), as carriers of quantum information in security systems. The collaboration involving physicists at the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), an ARC Centre of Excellence headquartered in the School of Physics, and electrical engineers from the School of Electrical a...
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How to Approach Machine Learning as a Non-technical Person (Apr 9, 2016)
The last few years have seen an explosion of interest in machine learning technology and potential applications. As a non-expert, you’ve probably either had to assess ML technology for your product and business or as a potential investment. The jargon around ML technology is vast, confusing and, unfortunately, increasingly being hijacked by overeager sales teams. This post is not a primer on ML technology; this post won’t pretend to give you an explanation of deep learning or any specific te...
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The Anatomy of a Nation-state Hack Attack (Apr 8, 2016)
Cyber-security is not all about cyber-thieves. It is about cyber-spies too. Mixed in among the spam, phishing messages and booby-trapped emails that land in your inbox might be the odd message crafted by hackers working for a government rather than a group of criminals. Unfortunately, those messages are not odd in any other way. They look like every other net-borne threat. That is because the creators of these malicious programs usually exploit the same software vulnerabilities as mainstream mal...
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Tech Unicorns Have Hundreds of Job Openings (Apr 8, 2016)
Despite fears about a slowdown in Silicon Valley, tech's unicorns are still hiring. In the past 30 days, Uber has posted 158 jobs in the Bay Area (and that doesn't include drivers). Dropbox has posted 113 jobs. Even Zenefits, which laid off 250 employees in February after its CEO and founder Parker Conrad abruptly quit, has posted 9 jobs. That's according to a new report from sales intelligence company DataFox. The report looked at job postings at the 100 top privately-held companies in Silicon ...
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Why It’s So Easy to Ignore Your To-do List App But Get Distracted by Twitter (Apr 7, 2016)
I’ve spent the past month in a daze, trying to make sense of my own tasks and responsibilities while forcing myself to adhere to a system I came up with that simply doesn’t work. You can never anticipate how your “perfectly designed” task-management system can fail. It’s our own nature — we’re so sure of ourselves — that makes us think our idea will be the magic trick that solves all our problems. For me, this idea came around a month ago, on a rainy street in a cafe mostly fille...
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10 Hottest Tech Skills for 2016 (Apr 7, 2016)
The IT team at HRHCare has seen its workload rise in recent years, as the Beacon, N.Y.-based nonprofit has added facilities and expanded its services. Eric Brosius, the organization's vice president of technology services, wants to expand the staff so his team will be able to cope with the added responsibilities and tackle new technology initiatives. Specifically, Brosius says he wants to add another six or seven full-time people to his staff of 17 full-timers. His first hiring priority: two tec...
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How Virtual Reality Could Change Moviegoing (Apr 6, 2016)
You're standing on the edge of a cliff, hundreds of feet above a snaking river. Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is beating fast. Someone tells you to jump, but everything in your body screams, "Don't do it!" Your brain is having a hard time overriding what your eyes are seeing in the goggles you wear on your face. "Jump!" you're told again. It's actually a harmless request, since this is virtual reality. Instead of a cliff's edge you're standing on a carpeted floor in a lounge at the Sundance ...
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Bacteria-powered Microrobots Navigate with Help from New Algorithm (Apr 6, 2016)
The problem with having a microscopic robot propelled by a horde of tail-flailing bacteria is you never know where it's going to end up. The tiny, bio-robots, which amount to a chip coated with a "carpet" of flagellated bacteria, emerged from the primordial ooze of microrobotics research a few years ago as a concept for building microscopic devices and delivering medication at the cellular level. But as with any robot, the challenge for making them useful is bridging the gap from movement to aut...
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Top 10 U.S. Cities for Women in Technology (Apr 5, 2016)
It’s no secret that Silicon Valley tech companies have a gender equality problem. Of the companies that released diversity reports last year, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google ranked among the worst, reporting that between 13 percent and 18 percent of its tech jobs were held by women. At the top, as the most-inclusive of women in technology roles, were eBay (24 percent), Apple (22 percent) and Intel (20 percent) — still, all far below the target ratio. Though Silicon Valley has ...
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Does 'Pay By App' Mean an End to Shopping Queues? (Apr 5, 2016)
Contactless payments may be all the rage these days, but you still have tap your smartphone, smartwatch or card on a terminal of some kind. And at busy times, this can mean standing in queues or hanging around for ages waiting for the restaurant bill to arrive. All that could be about to change. "Payments are vanishing inside apps," explains Dave Birch, a payments expert at Consult Hyperion. "That's where all the interesting stuff is going on."



Programming Language for Novel Biological Circuits (Apr 4, 2016)
MIT biological engineers have created a programming language that allows them to rapidly design complex, DNA-encoded circuits that give new functions to living cells. Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it. "It is literally a programming language for bacteria," says Christopher Voigt, an MIT professor of biological engineering. "You...
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The Gig Economy as a Driver of Innovation (Apr 4, 2016)
If you are reading this article, chances are you have taken an Uber, are familiar with Upwork and maybe even sold something on Etsy. Business models that fall under the “gig economy” umbrella have been proven for business-to-consumer and peer-to-peer markets because they make it possible to crowdsource products and services from huge communities of people. Large online networks can also be some of the greatest sources of innovation. Led by the enterprise and government research and developme...
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Obstacles to 'Coding While Black' (Apr 3, 2016)
Rodney Sampson helps run Codestart, a 13-month program designed to teach young people from low-income backgrounds or communities about coding, finance and finding jobs. He was partly inspired by the lack of African Americans working in the tech industry - 1% of tech employees at Google, Facebook and other leading Silicon Valley companies are black. But when the program began last month, it wasn't difficulty with Java or finessing career strategies that threatened one student's progress. As part ...
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It Isn't All Horror Stories for Women in Tech (Apr 3, 2016)
It's not all horror stories for women working in tech. The problem is, the positive stories often aren't as visible. Two Facebook engineers -- Zainab Ghadiyali and Erin Summers -- set out to solve that problem. They launched a site called wogrammer to spotlight female engineers and change the conversation surrounding women in tech. "I'm tired of being asked, 'What are the unfortunate things that have happened to me as a woman in tech?'" said 31-year-old Summers, who works on Oculus. "We'd much r...
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Growth in Computer Science Driven by Student Interest, Societal Need (Apr 2, 2016)
Reflecting a growing enrollment and a burgeoning interest in computer science from disciplines across the campus, Princeton University is expanding its computer science faculty by more than 30 percent. The expansion, outlined in an essay this month by University President Christopher L. Eisgruber, will add 10 tenure-track positions to the department's current roster of 28 such positions. The department plans to begin hiring the new faculty members immediately, and the University will raise funds...
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Morphing Metal Shapes Future of Soft Robotics (Apr 2, 2016)
Imagine an aircraft that could alter its wing shape in midflight and, like a pelican, dive into the water before morphing into a submarine. Cornell University engineering professor Rob Shepherd and his group might help make that futuristic-sounding vehicle a reality. The key is a hybrid material featuring stiff metal and soft, porous rubber foam that combines the best properties of both -- stiffness when it's called for, and elasticity when a change of shape is required. The material also has th...
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Clubs Shift Girls' Perception of Computer Science (Apr 1, 2016)
Eighth-grader Quincy Houghton said she knows exactly what she wants to study in college: English and computer science. Quincy's goal is to translate her learning into writing storylines for video games that she expects to create someday. Quincy is among the 30 girls participating in the Girls Who Code club that started in January at Fischer Middle School in Aurora. Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering fields by help...
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Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego Lifts Off with Innovative Summer Program (Apr 1, 2016)
Delivering on the late astronaut Sally Ride’s pioneering spirit, UC San Diego today announced the official launch of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego with a slate of summer workshops in science, technology, engineering, art and math, or STEAM, aimed at young women in middle school and high school. The program is the result of a partnership agreement between UC San Diego and Sally Ride Science, an education company that Ride and her longtime partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy co-founded with three fr...
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Recovering Lost History (Mar 31, 2016)
The story in this podcast revolves around a collaboration of social scientists, humanities scholars, and digital researchers directed at using advanced computing to find and understand the historical experiences of Black women by searching two massive databases (HathiTrust and JSTOR) for written works from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The team also is developing a common toolbox that can help other digital humanities projects.



Microsoft Teams with Rhode Island to Bring Computer Science to Every High School in the State (Mar 31, 2016)
A unique partnership between Microsoft and Rhode Island aims to bring computer science classes to every high school in the state by the end of next year — a new step in an effort to put computer science in the same league as math and science in schools across the country. The partnership was announced by Microsoft and Rhode Island along with the University of Rhode Island, Brown University and the Rhode Island teachers’ union. It will leverage an existing program, sponsored by Microsoft, cal...
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Tiny Chip that Powers Itself from Radio Waves (Mar 30, 2016)
Dutch scientists have developed a tiny sensor powered by the radio waves it uses to communicate information. Such sensors could help advance the nascent Internet of Things industry, researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology said. Increasingly tiny chips that measure temperature, light, and air pollution are being deployed around cities and in smart homes and offices. One the biggest hurdles is to make these sensors battery-free. "We don't want hundreds of these sensors around our homes i...
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JavaScript Most Popular Language (Mar 30, 2016)
According to the latest Stack Overflow developer survey, JavaScript is the most popular programming language and Rust is most loved. Stack Overflow, the popular question-and-answer community site for developers, today released the results of its annual developer survey, which indicates, among other things, that JavaScript is the most popular programming language among respondents.

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