Category Archives: Communications Technology

80 Percent of the Total Bitcoin Supply Have Now Been Mined

Thanks; Jamie Redman

Published; January,15

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

Solving the General’s Problem

This has given individuals reason to believe that Satoshi solved one of the hardest computational equations, the Byzantine General’s problem, a security flaw that had plagued computer scientists for decades. Essentially the problem exists with distributed networks as the issue brings certain faults or security flaws making it easy to attack. This, in turn, makes it hard for protocols to prove something because there is an unsolvability proof within the network.

With Satoshi’s Proof-of-Work in the original bitcoin protocol, the economic measure makes it difficult to attack by making threats to the network costly, and time-consuming. For the first time ever in the world of digital computing, Satoshi introduced an asset that couldn’t be copied or double spent. And at the same time, he limited the supply which also introduced digital scarcity like no other technology before it.

Digital Scarcity and the Next Halving

Because there are only 21 million bitcoins the cryptocurrency’s limited availability make the asset harder to acquire the more scarce it becomes. In most cases when an asset is limited and resources are harder to come by, the supply causes demand for the market. The supply of bitcoin shows a significant gap between how many there are and those who want to obtain some. A great majority of bitcoiners believe digital scarcity will make bitcoin more valuable over time, and with 16.8Mn mined so far it will get harder.

In addition to the difficulty in accessibility miners themselves are going to have to up their processing power constantly. In two years or less depending on hashrate speed, the next miner reward halving is approaching. This means instead of miners getting 12.5 BTC for every block they mine they will get 6.25 BTC in two years time. This network consensus agreement of a halving every four years will make bitcoins more difficult to obtain even for the large warehouses all over the world filled with data processors. Every one of them and ASIC technology itself will have to progress for mining operations to continue profiting. Of course, the price per bitcoin should also be higher than the cost to mine the currency as well.

Unlike Ripple’s 100 Billion There Will Only Be 21 Million Bitcoins

Another thing to consider while observing the vast blockchain environment is that Satoshi’s creation unlike the 1,300 other cryptocurrencies in existence has only 21 million. Other digital currencies have billions already in circulation and billions more to come using other less tested consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Stake. So in essence bitcoin’s inventor created something unique and different than the digital goods we all swap today. Unlike your MP3s or digital movies, bitcoins cannot be copied, and this weekend 16.8 million of them have been mined, hoarded and a large number of them have been lost. To many cryptocurrency investors, this makes Satoshi’s invention a very valuable digital asset, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

What do you think about 80 percent of the bitcoins being mined into existence this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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237 companies worth $6.3 trillion in market cap now backing climate-risk disclosures

Thanks;Ciara Linnane

Published: Dec 12, 2017 3:22 p.m. ET

Task force seeking voluntary climate disclosure has more than doubled its support base since June

The Atlantic hurricane season broke records in 2017.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) now has 237 companies with a combined market capitalization of more than $6.3 trillion that have publicly committed to its goals, according to its head, Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and entrepreneur.

The TCFD was established by the group of global regulators known as the Financial Stability Board, chaired by Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney, and published its recommendations in June with the aim of encouraging companies to help investors understand the risks to their investments from temperature change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

The companies that have signed up include more than 150 financial firms with assets of more than $81.7 trillion, the TCFD said in a statement released at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Climate agreement, which seeks to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius by reducing greenhouse emissions. President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, dismaying climate activists but spurring a greater effort from the private sector to push through its goals without government help. Insurers have said anything higher than a 2 degree-temperature increase would make the world uninsurable.

In case you missed it: U.S. health insurers are in a state of denial about climate change

The companies span a broad range of industries and sectors, from construction to consumer goods, energy, metals and mining, as well as the full capital and investment chain, from companies that issue debt and equity to the largest credit rating agencies and stock exchanges. The list includes Bank of America Corp. BAC, +1.31% , BlackRock Inc. BLK, +1.09% , Citigroup Inc. C, +0.40% JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM, +1.16% , Morgan Stanley MS, +2.05% and investors including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, among others.

http://www.marketwatch.com/video/series/moving-upstream/carbon-from-pollutant-to-product-moving-upstream/5C40BD50-48B0-4401-A2EB-408133634887

“Climate change poses both economic risks and opportunities,” said Bloomberg. “But right now, companies don’t have the data they need to accurately measure the risks and evaluate the opportunities. That prevents them from taking protective measures and identifying sustainable investments that could have strong returns.”

Read now: In Trump era it’s up to companies to push climate agenda, advocates say

The movement won a victory late Monday, when energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.XOM, -0.33% said it would disclose details on how climate change may affect its business, bowing to pressure from shareholders who voted 62% in favor of a resolution on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting this year.

Companies are expected to start making the first disclosures in the coming year and the TCFD will report on their progress this time next year at the G-20 summit in Argentina, said Carney.

The task force is also planning to launch a web-based platform to further support companies that are interested in implementing its recommendations. The TCFD Knowledge Hub will go live in the first quarter and be available via 222.tcfdhub.org.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.15% has gained 19% in 2017, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.49% has gained 24%.

Read now: Axa to spend €1.2 billion to fight climate change

China releases guideline for industrial Internet development

Thanks;Xinhua|

Published;2017-11-27 22:57:30|

Picture ;Building a Continuous Integration & Deployment Solution for the IoT.

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BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) — China’s cabinet has unveiled a guideline for developing the “industrial Internet,” integration of industry and the Internet.

By 2025, industrial Internet infrastructure covering all regions and sectors should be basically complete, according to the State Council guideline.

By 2035, China will lead the world in key sectors of the industrial Internet.

By the middle of the century, China should be among the top countries in terms of the overall strength of its industrial Internet.

The development of industrial Internet is a must for China’s manufacturing sector amid international competition, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The guideline listed major tasks and projects, including increasing the Internet speed and reducing costs, setting industrial Internet standards, establishing innovation centers and improving network security.

Equal market access will be expanded, fiscal support will be strengthened and direct financing will be increased, the guideline said.

Priority will be given to the development of advanced manufacturing that is smart and green, according to the guideline.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has selected 206 pilot projects for smart manufacturing, of which 28 are related to industrial Internet innovation, said Xie Shaofeng, an official with the ministry.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Monday more energy will be channeled into a range of advanced manufacturing sectors including rail transit, automobiles and agricultural machinery during the next three years.

Core competitiveness in chosen sectors will be substantially improved, the NDRC said, stressing combined development of the real economy and the Internet.

Other sectors included high-end medical apparatus and medicine, new materials and robotics.

As its advantage in cheap labor fades, China has encouraged domestic manufacturers to move up global value chain. The “Made in China 2025” strategy, equivalent to Germany’s Industry 4.0, was announced in 2015.

New Lifestyles System Data: 2017 Global Consumer Trends Survey Results

Thanks;  Euromonitor Research

Published; SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2017

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We are excited to announce that the latest consumer survey results from the 2017 Global Consumer Trends survey are now live in the Lifestyles dashboard in our Passport database. Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends surveys help companies stay ahead of a fast-changing consumer landscape by reaching out to internet-connected consumers from across the globe, then translating the results into comprehensive analysis and actionable opportunities.

Euromonitor International’s latest Global Consumer Trends survey data reveals a multitude of information about the 2017 consumer. With a global environment of rapid change and constant innovation, it is no surprise that consumer’s lifestyles are adapting quickly. The megatrend analysis enables Euromonitor International to identify emerging trends, while also monitoring how long-term megatrends are shaping the world. These megatrends are applicable to this year’s survey results.  Read on to learn more about the five key trends shaping consumer lifestyles.

Experience More

Millennials lead the way in trading the accumulation of things for experiences, particularly authentic, international travel opportunities. However, all consumers of all ages are looking for more time to relax.

Middle Class Retreat

Shopping preferences vary widely across markets and consumer segments, with some focused on buying fewer, high quality products and others succumbing to the pull of bargain hunting.

Connected Consumers

Consumers must now balance the benefits of ever-present internet access with added stresses and challenges to focus on “real world” activities.

Healthy Living

While consumers across the globe have nearly-endless access to health and wellness information, those with higher education are most likely to take advantage of tech advancements and opportunities to research and monitor their health.

Premiumisation

Meal preparation from scratch is often the first thing to go as consumers juggle priorities, particularly among younger consumers who are more likely to turn to meal preparation kits or delivery / takeaway options that offer convenience and premium ingredients.

To learn more about the latest Lifestyles trends, download our free survey extract or request a demonstration of Passport. If you’re a current client, the full system refresher highlighting key survey findings across all major consumer lifestyles areas can be found in the Lifestyles system in Passport.

 

Is the open office layout dead?

Thanks;April Kilcrease

Published;August 10, 2017

The open office layout is meant to foster an egalitarian work environment that inspires creativity and spontaneous collaboration among colleagues. Nearly 60 years since their invention, an increasing body of research is beginning to show what many employees already know—open offices often fall short of that ideal.

How we got here

A pair of German brothers developed the original open office in 1958. Gone were managers’ private offices and underlings’ rows of desks. Instead, the new design featured clusters of desks based on departments. By removing physical barriers, the designers were convinced that communication and ideas would flow freely.

Less than a decade later, Herman Miller chief executive Robert Propst invented the cubicle and the walls returned. Propst criticized the open office as a wasteland that “saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment.” He envisioned his cubicles as a way to liberate workers by providing them with privacy and personal space.

Unfortunately, most businesses downgraded his roomy, flexible designs to the depressing, but less expensive, warren of beige cubicles that we all know now. (In a 1998 interview, Propst himself accused companies of manipulating his original idea into “hellholes.”)

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Today, the open office layout is back with a vengeance. In a 2013 survey by CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate managers, more than 80% of respondents said their company had moved toward an open space floor plan. And once again, the backlash has begun. In the last five years, a slew of articles with alarmist titles like “Death To The Open Office Floor Plan!” and “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” have assailed the supposedly progressive design.

So what exactly is wrong with the modern open office layout and how can we create spaces that fulfill the promise of a happy and collaborative workplace?

What isn’t working

By design, colleagues are more accessible in an open office layout. The minute a question pops into your head, you can easily hop over to a co-worker’s desk, or simply swivel your chair to face them. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned intrusions can lead to real problems.

First among those is reduced productivity. According to a study on the cost of interrupted work, a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. Even worse, people often take up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.

And without physical barriers to block it out, noise may be the number one problem with open office plans. Together, loud phone talkers, gossipy co-workers, and that guy chomping on an apple every afternoon can frazzle your auditory system. Researchers have found that the loss of productivity due to noise distraction doubles in open office layouts compared to private offices, and open office noise reduces the ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.

As anyone who’s had to call their doctor from their desk knows, one of the worst parts of open office layouts is that you can’t control who you hear—or who hears you. In a 2013 study about the privacy-communication trade-off in open offices, 60% of cubicle workers and half of all employees in partitionless offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem.

Along with these frustrations, open offices are actually making people sick. A study on the association between sick days and open office plans found that people working in open offices took 62% more sick days than those in private offices. And remember all those interruptions that workers experience in open offices? In a survey in the International Journal of Stress Management, employees who were frequently interrupted reported 9% higher rates of exhaustion.

The office of the future is here

Clearly, open office layouts aren’t the hotbeds of creativity designers originally hoped they would be. And with office space at a premium, private offices for everyone isn’t a realistic alternative, nor is it ideal. The ebb and flow of effective collaboration requires several types of spaces. As workplace experts outlined in the Harvard Business Review, employees tend to generate ideas and process information alone or in pairs, then come together in a larger group to build on those ideas, and then disperse again to take the next steps.

Luckily, the solution is fairly simple—design offices with a variety of areas to suit different kinds of work, including communal hubs and meeting rooms for group work, and smaller private spaces, where people can put their heads down and concentrate. Then give employees the freedom to choose between these places throughout the day.

The best place to start? Talk to your people. When companies understand what types of environments their employees need to do their best work, they can design better offices to meet these needs. Engineers who spend hours brainstorming in small groups don’t always need the same sorts of dedicated spaces for focused concentration as copy editors or financial analysts. Here are three of the more progressive ways to make your space suit your employees:

Privacy pods. Perhaps the most powerful and popular trend in the move away from open offices is an increased number of small private spaces. These include soundproof glass rooms, which provide quiet refuges, while keeping the airy feel of an open office layout, as well as so-called “phone booths,” closet-sized spaces for focused solo work and confidential meetings between two people.

Zoning. Along with building more private nooks, companies are now replacing traditional conference rooms with a greater range of meeting spaces. These include alcoves where groups of three to four co-workers can gather for a meeting on the fly, and team meeting spaces for five to eight people that can be booked in advance or saved for groups that meet frequently. Businesses can also cut down on unwanted distractions by dividing floor plans into neighborhoods based on expected noise levels and locating chattier departments, such as sales and operations, far away from quieter teams. Using desks, shelving, and large plants to create more labyrinthian configurations reduces auditory and visual distractions as well.

No designated desks. Today’s mobile communication tools allow people to work from anywhere, opening up the entire building as a potential workplace. You may want the buzz of energy that a cafe or atrium can provide. Other times, you may find that setting up shop in the fresh air can lead to fresh perspectives.

Moreover, according to the architecture and design firm Gensler, “employers who offer choice in when and where to work have workers who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores.”

These kinds of setups—where people have the autonomy to work in the areas that best suit their tasks and temperaments at any given moment—may just be what offices need. With them, companies can finally achieve the freedom and exchange of ideas promised by the original open office of the 1950s. And that can give us something we can all agree on: workplaces that work for all employees.

Robotics in Rural Lithuania

Thanks:Nikolaj Ambrusevic

Published;AUGUST 31ST, 2017

One of our charity partners in Lithuania, Robotikos Mokykla (Robotic School), recently invited us to participate in a workshop in the tiny village of Karvys, 30km north of Vilnius. Robotic School is a charity working primarily with young people to foster an interest in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) through engaging and practical workshops. The project also aims to create a safe space for young people and help develop social and other skills.

The main idea of this session was to reach out to young people who cannot go to organised classes and who have little access to the internet at home. Robotic School’s enthusiasts Jonas and Evaldas told us not to expect much from the workshop as the majority of rural children are busy helping their parents with agricultural and other duties, so computers and other devices are mainly used just for entertainment.

Robotik-5.jpg

During the workshop, tools based on simple programming for creating animation and games were introduced to two groups of young people from 5-12 years, and 16-18 years. While the younger group were creating their very first cartoon, the teenagers had a chance to get familiar with micro bit programming. Although the majority of participants had little knowledge of computer technologies, they showed a huge interest in programming and shared positive feedback afterwards. It was good to observe how small achievements in a new digital environment changed their attitude, making them more focused and persistent.

The social workers of the club were amazed by the overall impact of our visit and were keen to run similar activities again in the future. I was so glad to be a part of it and am proud that Euromonitor is supporting Robotic School through our CSR programme.

 

UK Bans Card Surcharges, will Merchants Raise Prices?

THANKS ; Ryan Tuttle

Published ; AUGUST 28TH, 2017

Interchange and assessment fees were a fixture in UK news in mid-July as the UK Treasury declared merchant surcharges illegal, beginning January 2018. Heralded as a common sense move by many commenters, the ban does, however, beg the question of whether merchants will raise prices to cover card fees. The decision charts a contrasting course to that of both the US and Australia, which have both made headlines in recent years over challenges to surcharging laws but permit the practice, subject to limitations. The move may also prove valuable ammunition in the future for litigants looking to take up the charge of a recently rejected interchange fee lawsuit in the UK.

Going beyond PSD2

Surcharging – the merchant practice of attaching fees to card transactions – is a contentious issue. For merchants, it represents an opportunity to pass along the cost of card transactions that would otherwise eat into profit margins. For consumers, it is an added cost that can be confusing and at times excessive. In some cases, surcharges can far exceed the actual cost to the merchant of processing transactions, and can serve as a barrier to card usage. While a ban on surcharging under Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) was already imminent for cards affected by the EU’s recent Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR), the UK government opted to extend the ban to all retail payment methods. This ban also includes transactions processed by government agencies. Merchants – now barred from surcharging, but still responsible for interchange fees and assessments – may respond by raising prices, a move which would affect all payment types.

Australia and the US: Surcharging context

The option to implement card surcharges has a long history and is far from universally settled. While the EU has taken steps toward a more unified approach under PSD2, other countries, such as Australia and the US, have taken completely different approaches. Interchange fees in the UK are significantly lower (capped at 0.3% for credit and 0.2% for debit under the IFR) when compared to Australia (which caps interchange on credit cards at 0.8%) and the US (which often features credit card interchange rates well in excess of 3%), but still represent a cost to consumers.

In Australia, surcharges have long been a point of conflict. In the early 2000s, the Australian government began allowing card surcharges, but was forced to set stricter standards for large retailers in 2016 and other merchants in 2017 to curb excessive fees on cards issued in Australia, limiting them to the actual transaction cost.

In the US, the situation is considerably more complicated. Merchants accepting cards are not only subject to government regulations, but also to differing agreements with the card networks. In 2013, a settlement with Mastercard and Visa went into effect which allowed merchants to apply a surcharge to certain transactions up to the actual processing cost as long they also apply it to American Express. This change does not, however, apply to American Express, so merchants that accept all three of these networks are left unable to apply surcharges.

In addition to card agreements, 10 states in the US ban card surcharges. In many of the states with anti-surcharge laws, merchants are permitted to charge a higher price for card transactions; however, they are prohibited from describing it as a surcharge but must instead describe it as a cash discount. Earlier this year, the law in the state of New York was challenged in the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds, however the issue has been returned to lower courts for further litigation and no changes have been made.

IFR and interchange lawsuits

The timing of this announcement is intriguing, given that the British Competition Appeal Tribunal just two days later rejected a GBP14 billion class action lawsuit against Mastercard that centred on merchants passing along interchange fees to consumers that paid in cash. Difficulty proving that merchants passed on fees was a major reason for the Tribunal’s denial of the suit. The elimination of surcharging in the UK should thus prove an interesting study in merchant behaviour. While in some cases these costs may be more or less in line with the costs to handle cash and other payment types, some merchants may nevertheless choose to raise prices in order to bear the burden of interchange fees, leaving January 2018 as a key date in future arguments over interchange fees.

ASIA PACIFIC DRIVES GLOBAL MOBILE COMMERCE, RECORDING 64 PERCENT GROWTH IN 2016 TO REACH US$ 328 BILLION

Thanks ; Press-release  / Euromonitor International
Published  ; 06 July, 2017

SINGAPORE – Euromonitor International and Retail Asia are proud to announce the launch of the
14th ‘Retail Asia Top 500 Retailers Ranking’. According to the report, mobile retailing represents the
fastest growing digital channel in Asia Pacific, with sales totalling US$328 billion in 2016, an increase
of 64 percent year on year. Mobile commerce accounts for over 50 percent of total digital commerce
in China, Indonesia and South Korea. Euromonitor expects the region to reach US$795 billion by
2021, almost tripling North America’s leading mobile commerce market size.
“The success of internet and mobile retailing is a response to the rising demand for convenience
driven by ageing populations, the rise of smaller households, urbanization and hyper connected
consumers,” says Michelle Grant, head of retailing at Euromonitor International. “As shoppers seek
more convenience-based offerings, retailers will meet this demand by developing methods to assist
frictionless shopping, including opening new convenience focused formats and enabling more
purchases via internet – connected devices. Digital commerce is a truly coming force, one that
retailers need to include in their strategy.” Grant added.
Euromonitor and Retail Asia announced that the region’s top 500 retailers recorded total sales of
US$940 billion in 2016. While China and Japan witnessed slowing growth, Southeast Asian
economies performed well in 2016 with many retailers in India, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam
experiencing double-digit sales growth.
The Retail Asia Top 500 ranking, based on Euromonitor International’s retailing data, ranks the top
retailers from 14 key economies across Asia Pacific in terms of total sales, number of outlets, sales
area and sales per square metres.
The top 5 Asia Pacific retailers in 2016 were:
1. AEON Group (Japan)
2. 7-Eleven Japan
3. Woolworths (Australia)
4. Wesfarmers (Australia)
5. Family Mart (Japan)
To download the free report, visit:
http://go.euromonitor.com/FR-170619-Retail-Asia-Top-500_Download-top-40.html

Canada: Consumer Lifestyles in 2017

THANKS;Jennifer Elster / EURO-MONITOR INTERNATIONAL

CL2017-CACL2017-CACanada-Lifestyles-in-2017.png

In contrast to recent years, consumer confidence has strengthened based on an improving economy, supporting growth, albeit slow growth, in consumer spending. Rising levels of spending have also been reflected in greater comfort in consumer borrowing, but rising household debt has become a concern. High house prices have discouraged younger consumers from jumping on the property ladder and slowed demand for a wide range of household items. Younger consumers are driving growth in online shopping.CL2017-CA

Russia has reawakened 3 mystery satellites — and no one knows what they are for

Thanks;Daniel Brown

Published;May 20, 2017, 6:29 AM 1,583

An illustration of the SES-10 telecommunications satellite.

Three Russian satellites that were sent into low orbit in 2013 are on the move again, and no one knows what they are for, The Daily Beast reports.

Having been idle for more than a year, one of the satellites went hundreds of meters off its orbit last month to within 1,200 meters of a piece of a Chinese weather satellite that China smashed in a 2007 anti-satellite rocket test.

The maneuver, which is pretty impressive for such a small spacecraft, is also rather close by orbital standards.

No one quite knows what the satellites are for, but some experts say they could be “technology-demonstrators” or even “precursors to orbital weapons,” according to The Daily Beast.

Code named Kosmos-2491, Kosmos-2499 and Kosmos-2504, the three satellites maneuvered several times in the last three years to within a few dozen feet of their old booster shells.

This means that they could be inspection satellites that can scan and match the orbit of other spacecraft, possibly even interact with it physically for repairs, modifications or to dismantle it.

It’s also possible that these satellites could be used for warfare. “You can probably equip them with lasers, maybe put some explosives on them,” Anatoly Zak, an independent expert on Russian spacecraft, told The Beast in 2015. “If [one] comes very close to some military satellite, it probably can do some harm.”

In 2012, US intelligence completed a report analyzing “the growing vulnerability of US satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches, and provide precise targeting coordinates,” anonymous sources told Reuters.

The report raised many concerns about China’s ability to disrupt satellites in higher orbits, possibly putting sensitive U.S. spacecraft at risk, the sources told Reuters.

But Russian space agency chief Oleg Ostapenko claimed in 2014 that the satellites were for peaceful purposes.