Behind the painstaking process of creating Chinese computer fonts

Bruce Rosenblum switched on his Apple II, which rang out a high F note followed by the clatter of the floppy drive. After a string of thock thock keystrokes, the 12-inch Sanyo monitor began to phosphoresce. A green grid appeared, 16 units wide and 16 units tall. This was “Gridmaster,” a program Bruce had cooked up in the programming language BASIC to build one of the world’s first Chinese digital fonts. He was developing the font for an experimental machine called the Sinotype III, which was among the first personal computers to handle Chinese-language input and output.

At the time, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were no personal computers being built in China. So to make a “Chinese” PC, Rosenblum’s team was reprogramming an Apple II to operate in Chinese. His list of tasks was long. He had to program an operating system from scratch, since Apple … Read the rest

Read more

India is grappling with covid grief

Spring 2021 in India has been horrific and frightening: ambulances wail constantly, funeral pyres are alight 24 hours a day, seemingly endless body bags stack up, and grief hangs heavy in the air.

A year ago, it looked as if India might have escaped the worst of the coronavirus. While the Western world was struggling, India was relatively unscathed, hitting a high of about 1,300 deaths per day in late September 2020 before bottoming out again. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the country had won its battle against the virus. In a virtual appearance at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Dialogue on January 28, Modi boasted about  India’s “proactive public participation approach, [its] covid-specific health infrastructure, and [its] trained resources to fight covid.”

Then, with vaccinations beginning to ramp up and cases continuing to fall, mitigation efforts were relaxed for what turned out to be catastrophic … Read the rest

Read more

How to accelerate the world into the 5G era

Demand for 5G smartphones is reaching an all-time high

In 2021, consumers and institutions alike are fast-tracking a digital revolution in an unprecedented era of social distancing and remote work—a trend that may continue long after the pandemic subsides.

The time is ripe for many commercialized products and services to ride the wave of unparalleled high-speed connectivity and minimal latency enabled by 5G. Yet, the technology at the forefront of them all is without a doubt the smartphone. By combining mobile telephone and computing functions within a singular multi-purpose device, smartphones have brought about a profound scale of mobility and accessibility with one-stop services that empower consumers across every aspect of their daily lives.

Some may look back fondly on the good old days of the mobile phone, when voice calls and text messaging were all we had access to, in the absence of addictive social media platforms and the … Read the rest

Read more

The most detailed dark-matter map of our universe is weirdly smooth

Trying to describe dark matter is like trying to describe a ghost that lives in your house. You can’t see it at all, but what you can see is all the stuff it’s moving around. And the only explanation is an invisible force you can’t observe or measure or interact with directly.  

We know dark matter exists because we can observe its effects on all the stuff that’s swirling around in the universe. Scientists estimate that about 27% of the universe is made of dark matter (68% is dark energy, and the last 5% is ordinary matter and energy). The questions on everyone’s mind: Where exactly is all that elusive stuff located? And how is it distributed throughout the universe? 

An international project of over 400 scientists called the Dark Energy Survey is working on answering them. It has just released the largest and most detailed map of dark matter … Read the rest

Read more

Driving digital transformation for medical tech companies

Medical technology and pharmaceutical companies are transitioning beyond biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and equipment to provide comprehensive patient care. The key is to support proactive, predictive, and personalized care delivery and management that is sustainable. This involves enabling better outcomes, improving patient and clinician experience in care pathways, reducing health-care costs, removing inefficiencies in workflows, and maximizing the convergence of capabilities.

In a bid for relevance and differentiation, many medical technology and pharma companies have embraced digitization. Digitization is now seen as an enabler of this transition as health-care companies strive to enhance value for their customers and partners.

With the availability of digital tools and technologies, the industry aims to accelerate the use of health-care data for process improvement, product development, and value proposition enhancement while looking at new monetization models.

Succeeding with digital transformation

Medical technology companies have always had to choose where to invest their research-and-development resources: on … Read the rest

Read more

Better cybersecurity means finding the “unknown unknowns”

During the past few months, Microsoft Exchange servers have been like chum in a shark-feeding frenzy. Threat actors have attacked critical zero-day flaws in the email software: an unrelenting cyber campaign that the US government has described as “widespread domestic and international exploitation” that could affect hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Gaining visibility into an issue like this requires a full understanding of all assets connected to a company’s network. This type of continuous tracking of inventory doesn’t scale with how humans work, but machines can handle it easily.

For business executives with multiple, post-pandemic priorities, the time is now to start prioritizing security. “It’s pretty much impossible these days to run almost any size company where if your IT goes down, your company is still able to run,” observes Matt Kraning, chief technology officer and co-founder of Cortex Xpanse, an attack surface management software vendor recently acquired by … Read the rest

Read more

Collective data rights can stop big tech from obliterating privacy

Every person engaged with the networked world constantly creates rivers of data. We do this in ways we are aware of, and ways that we aren’t. Corporations are eager to take advantage.

Take, for instance, NumberEight, a startup, that, according to Wired, “helps apps infer user activity based on data from a smartphone’s sensors: whether they’re running or seated, near a park or museum, driving or riding a train.” New services based on such technology, “will combine what they know about a user’s activity on their own apps with information on what they’re doing physically at the time.” With this information, “instead of building a profile to target, say, women over 35, a service could target ads to ‘early risers.’”

Such ambitions are widespread. As this recent Harvard Business Review article puts it, “Most CEOs recognize that artificial intelligence has the potential to completely change how organizations work. They can … Read the rest

Read more

Vaccine waitlist Dr. B collected data from millions. But how many did it help?

When Joanie Schaffer heard about Dr. B, a free covid-19 vaccine standby service, she was running out of options. It was early February, and vaccine appointments were scarce, so Schaffer, who was already vaccinated herself, was volunteering her time to help friends, family, and even strangers secure their shots.

She had read stories about people across the country stumbling upon vaccines that were about to expire: on a highway in Oregon during a snowstorm, or at pharmacies at the end of the day. And so when she heard about Dr. B, a new website which offered to notify people of waitlisted covid vaccines available nearby, it seemed worth a try.

The company had a simple proposition: provide your information, and Dr. B would scour the listings of vaccine providers nearby to find extra doses that needed to be used up. If there was a match, the patient would receive a … Read the rest

Read more

The American West is bracing for a hot, dry, and dangerous summer

Water levels are running dangerously low in rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers across much of the American West, raising serious dangers of shortages, fallowed agricultural fields, and extreme wildfires in the coming months.

Monitoring stations across California’s Sierra Nevada range are registering some of the driest conditions on record for this point in the year. High spring temperatures already mostly melted away this winter’s light snowpack, which usually supplies about a third of the state’s water.

In New Mexico, where half the state faces “exceptional drought” conditions, water districts are delaying allotments to farmers and urging them to simply not plant crops if possible.

All told, nearly 85% of the West is suffering through drought conditions right now, according to US Drought Monitor. Almost half the region is now in an extreme or exceptional drought, following years of dry, hot conditions aggravated by climate change.

The proximate cause of this year’s … Read the rest

Read more

Could the ransomware crisis force action against Russia?

What touches the American psyche more deeply than a gas shortage? If the Colonial Pipeline attack is any measure, nothing. Ransomware has been a growing problem for years, with hundreds of brazen criminal hacks against schools, hospitals, and city governments—but it took an attack that affected people’s cars for the US to really take notice. 

The strike on the Colonial Pipeline may have only led to panic buying rather than genuine gas scarcity,  but it pushed the country hard enough to demand a response from the president of the United States. 

On May 10, after the company had paid $4.4 million to the hackers responsible, President Biden made his argument. While there was no evidence of direct Russian government involvement in the Colonial Pipeline attack, he said, Moscow has a responsibility to deal with criminals residing within their own borders. 

His statement is based on what experts have long known: … Read the rest

Read more