Lessons in the "Technology" Category

Mobile phone banking revolution in Central Europe

In the Central European country of Slovakia, a mobile phone banking revolution is taking place. Thousands of people are now regularly making payments using their mobile phone. It’s all down to new technology that several Slovakian banks have introduced.

The system being used in Slovakia is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This offers users a user-friendly solution to the mobile payment hang-up, but it requires coordination between banks and mobile operators, as well as infrastructure in shops. Slovakia is considered the European leader in adopting innovative solutions.

Category: Economic / Banks / Business

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an innovative payment network. It is a new kind of money. Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital or virtual currency. Bitcoin is money you can send through the internet.

The advantages of using bitcoin is that it can be transferred person-to-person via the internet without going through a bank or clearing house. This results in the fees being lower. They can be used in every country.

Category: Business / Economic / Bitcoin

Solar power mushrooms in Britain

Solar power in Britain over the past few years has mushroomed, especially during the six weeks before December 12th 2011. This is when the British government tried to close a gap in a solar power scheme the previous government created. The reason ‘it seems’ is that the deal was too good to be true!

Homeowners who installed solar panels could receive a tariff rate of 43.3p per kilowatt-hour with returns predicted at 18% per annum on one initial investment over 25 years. In October 2011 the British government announced it would reduce this figure to 21p from December 12th.

This was challenged by the Friends of the Earth in court. On January 25th the Court of Appeal released its verdict on the government’s appeal. The judges agreed it was unlawful to change the feed in rate to 21p before March 3rd 2012. The British government immediately launched an appeal but this was immediately rejected. Homeowners have until March 3rd to get a completed system registered at the 43.3p receivable tariff rate.

Category: Business / Technology / Solar Energy

Sahara desert sun to power Europe

The Sahara desert in North Africa is vast. So is its desert sunshine. If that could be harvested the potential it offers as an energy producing region is huge.

The idea is now within reach of actually happening - using new technologies to capture the sun in the Sahara desert, converting it into energy and transmitting the power generated to Europe. A group in Germany called Desertec, who have heavyweight commercial backers such as Deutsche Bank and Siemens, have chosen Morocco to embark on a huge commercial venture to do just this.

Solar power will be created for Europe; creating clean energy and jobs. The ambitious programme is feasible. Desertec expects to see the first electricity flowing through undersea cables from Morocco in 2014. Its stated goal however is to power 100% of local needs in Morocco and 15% of European demand by 2050.

Category: Business / Solar Energy / Sahara Desert

Apple’s Steve Jobs dies

The co-founder and former chief executive of US technology giant Apple Steve Jobs recently died at the age of 56. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer since 2004. Apple said he had been “the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives” and had made the world “immeasurably better”.

Worldwide tributes were made to the man who introduced the colourful iMac computer, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad to the world. President Barack Obama said the world “had lost a visionary”. He added, “Steve was among the greatest American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

A statement from Mr Job’s family said they were with him when he died peacefully on Wednesday 5th October 2011. The family said, “In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family.” They requested privacy and thanked those who had “shared their wishes and prayers” during his final year.

Category: Technology / Apple / Steve Jobs

Microsoft unveils Windows 8

Microsoft has unveiled its new Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 is designed to run on tablet computers, as well as desktop and laptop PCs. The software, which is due to be released in 2012, will work on the popular ARM-designed low-power processors for the first time. Microsoft has been under pressure to come up with an answer to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.

The new Windows 8 was unveiled recently at the Build developers’ conference in California. Windows division president Steven Sinofsky: “We re-imagined Windows. From the chipset to the user experience.” The system will function through one of two interfaces; a traditional desktop, similar to that seen in previous editions of Windows, and a tablet version, known as Metro.

Metro features larger, chunky controls of the sort that best suit touchscreen use. The current lack of such an input method is widely seen as the reason why few Windows 7 tablets exist. Microsoft said it would also be launching its own online marketplace - the Windows Store – to sell downloadable applications. The new Windows 8 tablet version will also feature a pop-up touch-screen keyboard.

Category: Business / Technology / Microsoft Windows 8

New generation of airships to transport goods around the world

The US space agency NASA is working on a project aimed at revolutionising the way cargo is transported around the world. A new generation of airships using helium rather than hydrogen is set to transport goods around the world that could replace ships, railways and lorries as a means of carrying freight. The first prototype is expected to make its maiden voyage next year.

Scientists leading the project predict airships capable of carrying hundreds of tonnes of cargo at a time will be airborne by the end of the decade. It comes more than 70 years after the Hindenburg disaster, which brought to an end the earlier airship era. With the development of modern materials and aerodynamics knowledge gained from the space race means that the new generation will be capable of safely carrying loads that could not be carried before.

Category: Airships / Technology / Cargo

Are mobile phones safe for children to use?

Are mobile phones safe for children to use? That’s the question many parents face when deciding whether they are or aren’t. There are many arguments for and against.

Children’s nervous systems are still developing, and there are fears that radiation could penetrate into their brains. Experts say there is no link between mobile phone use and cancer in adults but there is still widespread uncertainty about the risks children face. Mobile phones have been in use for a relatively short time and yet cancers can take decades to develop.

Most scientists however agree on one thing and that is children may be more vulnerable than the rest of us to their possible ill-effects. Kids have a skull that is thinner, less protective; they have a higher content of water in the brain, so there are many reasons why they absorb more of the same radiation.

Category: Research / Health / Mobile Phones

Rare earth metals shortage

Look at your mobile phone, Blackberry or low energy light bulb. Now ask yourself what is inside it? Yes, it is made with different components. The technology is great. But what are the components made with?

The chances are some of them are made with rare earth metals. Where do these rare earth metals come from? The answer is probably China. Certainly 95% of the world’s rare earth metals are currently mined there. So why should you worry about it?

Simple, if China stops the exports of these rare earth metals then your mobile phone can’t be built, as it needs certain components made with these rare earth metals to build a part of it. As it goes, China has decided to slash exports of these rare earth metals that have left the West scrabbling for alternative sources.

Category: Technology / Economic / Business

Social networking in today’s world

Hands up those of you who like to chat online? How many of you use Facebook? Probably quite a few of you, as in today’s world we can’t seem to live without it. So what is a social network? It is a way of communicating with other people.

Why do we use them? Because we like to communicate with other people, especially our family and our friends. It is a good way to keep in touch. There are many different forms of social networking. Probably the most popular today are Facebook, Skype, MySpace, Twitter, Google chat and ICQ. All are different...

Category: Lifestyle / Social Networking / Chat