World Bank Foresees Greater Economic Losses as Results of Climate-Induced Water Scarcity

World Bank’s 2021 report states that countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) water remains as a major problem of faced by millions of people. Being the most water-scarce region in the world, access to water, particularly clean, drinking water, could be lost as a result of climate-induced water scarcity already happening across the globe.

Ferid Belhaj, the WB Vice President for MENA said that it’s important that policy makers take actions in ensuring that water becomes an integral part of broader humanitarian development plans and discussions. Otherwise, the region will likely suffer from greater economic losses, currently estimated to reach rates ranging between 6% and 17% by the year 2050.

As it is, the MENA region is facing climate-related water scarcity considering that dozens of smaller cities in South Africa, India, Brazil and Iraq, just to name a few, are already experiencing day-zero water event as results of climate induced droughts. Although such events did not make headlines, they were mentioned in the WB 2021 report to underscore the need for drought-vulnerable countries to sustainably manage and preserve their water resources, particularly those located in the MENA region.

Solutions should include not only providing water, but also instituting long-term measures for addressing structural water issues like poor water quality, which the World Bank cited in its 2019 report.

Poor Water Quality Remains a Threat to Human Health

While desalination of seawater has been the most common method used by nations to satisfy the demand for water, the World Bank previously reported that the deteriorating quality of water has been affecting the health and well being of people worldwide. Although water supply improved theough advancements in technology, water contamination occurring at different points of distribution and storage, has been degrading the quality of water,

Water deemed as good quality and fit for human consumption, conforms with the internationally recognized standards set by the World Health Organization. The metrics include physical, chemical, biological and radiological attributes and composition.

Water that has been directly or indirectly contaminated by human or animal wastes is the most prevalent and widespread human health threat, particularly when linked to drinking water. Many local and international organizations conducted investigations on how such contamination occurs in piped water supply systems. Investigations led to the identification of storage tanks as the main source of contamination affecting the quality of domestic water supply.

Water storage tanks have been found to harbor several disease-causing pathogens. However, other studies show that user-practices also contribute to the degradation of the quality of water.

How User Practices Lead to the Degradation of Domestic Water Supply

Strong evidences gathered from several studies showed that some type of storage tank and/or user practices contribute to the degradation of water quality.

The material of the storage tank in which water supply is stored, as well as the length of time water stays in the vessel, can alter the physicochemical properties of the stored water.

Medical studies have found water tanks made from iron ore as harmful, while the use of fiberglass is also discouraged because the material permits algae and fungal growth. What European health authorities recommend are water tanks made from polyethylene materials.

Improper maintenance of water tanks can lead to microbial growth as microorganisms in the form of biofilms can make their way into water tanks. Proper maintenance involves optimal cleaning methods and frequency, in order to improve the quality of water stored in vessels.

The technology used in modern water tank cleaning allows for hands-free, automated systems that increase the efficiency of tank cleaning. In Jeddah, in which citizens have been complaining about the presence of parasites and other impurities coming out as tap water, building and home owners make sure to hire only the best tank cleaning company in Jeddah شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة

Facebook has Released its RayBan Branded Smart Glasses in Select Countries

Last week, Facebook launched its Ray-Ban= branded smart glasses in several online stores in Australia, US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Italy. Facebook calls the smart glasses “Ray-Ban Stories,” as a pair can take photos and record 30-second long videos at the same time with just a single press of a button.

In addition, wearers of “Ray-Ban Stories” can also make calls, play music and listen to their favorite podcasts. This wearable device includes a virtual assistant that can help in taking photos and creating videos, which users can summon by simply calling it out via the phrase “Hey Facebook.”

Can Facebook’s “Ray-Ban Stories” Compete with Other Smart Glasses Already Available in the Market?

Apparently, Facebook’s “Ray-Ban Stories,”still has to prove itself amidst other smart glasses previously released in the wearables market by Internet giants like Google, Amazon and Snap.

As it is, “Ray-Ban Stories,” still has limitations since the wearable gadget requires recharging every six hours inside its charging case. Moreover, it doesn’t have the ability to browse through Facebook. While the average consumer appears not to be too keen about smart glasses, recent reports have it that Apple and Samsung are currently developing AR glasses for their own brand.

Facebook’s “Ray-Ban Stories” are currently being retailed online at a starting price of $299. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they have plans to improve the features and functions, as well as expand their smart glasses collection by adding AR effects. The goal is to allow users to play with holograms of their friends, as well as experience social media interaction without using their smartphones.
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Dems and GOP Senators Pass Bill to Help U.S. Compete Against China

In a rare show of unity, Democratic and Republican senators agreed to pass a bill that will enable the U.S. to augment its research and production technologies. According to experts, such a course of action will empower the U.S. in countering the effects of a continuously expanding global competition, a tool specifically used by China in advancing its military and economic ambitions.

According to Senate Majority Leader and co-sponsor of the bill Senator Chuck Schumer, he believes that by surpassing the world in terms of innovations, production and competitions in future industries, the country will have the capability to outdo competitors.

What Does the Senate-Approved Bill Include?

The legislation authorizes around $250 billion to fund semiconductor manufacturing and development technologies, subsidies for robot makers and chipmakers, as well as for technology research. The global scarcity of computer chips is one of the important reasons why lawmakers are strongly pushing for this bill.

Furthermore, the bill also has several provisions specifically involving China and this includes prohibition of installing Chinese-developed apps like TikTok, in government devices and computer equipment. The legislation also blocks purchasing of drones manufactured and sold by Chinese state enterprises. The bill also authorizes the U.S. administration and its federal agencies to impose sanctions against Chinese organizations found involved in the theft of US intellectual property, or in launching cyber attacks against the U.S.

President Joe Biden praised the US Senate’s course of action, saying it’s high time for the government to invest in American innovation and workers. He said that the U.S. cannot fall behind because other countries have started investing in research and development in order to stay ahead in the 21s century global competition.

MIT Engineers Develop Method of Turning Plastic Bags into Wearable Fabric

MIT Engineers recently developed a method for recycling plastic bags by turning the basic plastic material polyethylene into wearable, self-cooling fabrics.

 

Polyethylene, the thin and lightweight material used in making plastic wraps and shopping bags, if recycled into wearable textiles can keep the body cool as it lets heat through instead of trapping it in. However, the problem with polyethylene is that it does not wick or evaporate moisture.

That being the case, the MIT engineers devised a way of reversing the anti-wicking property, so that a wearable polyethylene fabric will not lock in sweat and water.

How the MIT Engineers Solved the Anti-Wicking Property of Polyethylene

In order to create wearable fabrics out of polyethylene, the engineers improved the fiber’s wicking ability by making a model of the fibers’ properties. They then aligned the fibers in specific directions and with a particular diameter when spun into silky lightweight yarns. Using an industrial loom, the polyethylene yarn was then woven into fabrics.

The fabric’s ability to soak up and evaporate water was tested, which turned out to be faster, in comparison to ordinary textiles like polyester, cotton, and nylon.

Initially, the testings showed that through frequent soaking, the polyethylene fabric loses its wicking ability overtime. The MIT engineers easily solved the problem by exposing the fabric to UV light and by applying friction. According to Svetlana Boriskina, a research scientist in MIT’s Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, the wicking ability of the material can be refreshed and maintained by simply rubbing the fabric to create friction.

Scientists at the MIT’s Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, hope that in the future the adoption of polyethylene fabrics would encourage recycling of plastic bags and other products that contain polyethylene. According to Ms. Boriskina, instead of throwing plastic bags into the ocean, it can be easily recycled into a fabric for making something wearable like a hoodie or a sneaker. If so, plastic bags will the have more economic value to people.

License of Huawei’s U.S. Suppliers Revoked During Trump’s Final Week in Office

In his final week in office as U.S. president, Trump took a last action to further weaken Huawei by revoking the Chinese company’s U.S. based suppliers. A number of Huawei suppliers received notification from the Trump administration that the US Department of Commerce is revoking their license for continuing to do business with the Chinese communications company. Huawei has been banned in the U.S. for being a national security threat since May 2020.

Moreover, Trump’s executive order includes denying all pending applications submitted by other suppliers signifying intent to do business with Huawei. Their notices include having 20 days to respond to the matter, while the Department of Commerce will have 45 days to give further advice about any changes or give final notice about the rejection of their application. Upon receipt of the final notice, the rejected companies will have 45 days to submit an appeal.

The Semiconductor Industry Association told Reuters by way of an email that for many months, companies had been waiting for the Commerce Department’s decision on their applications. Now with less than a week remaining in Trump’s administration, the affected companies have to deal with the denials. They are yet facing another lengthy period before the department issues a final decision about the rejection of their application covering the shipment of their Huawei orders.

Trump Administration’s Latest Revocation Action Affected at Least Four Companies

A Reuters source who spoke on conditions of anonymity said that at least four companies, including microchips manufacturer Intel received notification that their licenses have been revoked. The license revocation actually covered a broad range of semiconductor products, which denotes that some of the companies had more than one license canceled in relation to their Huawei deals.

However, the official spokesperson of the Semiconductor Industry Association refused to give further details on the matter. So does the White House, the Department of Commerce , Huawei or Intel.

Solutions Provider NVIDIA Unveils Video Call AI Maxine

The latest tech innovation from NVIDIA aims to improve video-conferencing platforms that are now in popular use as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Leading tech solutions provider NVIDIA recently unveiled NVIDIA Maxine, a suite of tools that run on Artificial Intelligence. Providers or developers of video call applications or software can integrate NVIDIA Maxine’s capabilities to resolve certain performance issues being experienced by users of popular platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Skype.

As it is, the features and abilities of existing tele-conferencing platforms like Zoom can be affected by a location’s limited bandwidth. Performance can further be affected by other activities like streaming videos, playing with online games, by uploading as well as downloading large files, Since video calls are apparently becoming the new norm, providers and developers looking to upscale or to improve their services can harness the capabilities of NVIDIA Maxine.

What NVIDIA Maxine Offers as Enhancements or Improvements for Video Call Apps/Teleconferencing Platforms?

Performance as point of reference, means app or platform users can have seamless and fluid sound and images for their video calls. While background noise and poorly rendered images are the most common issues encountered, NVIDIA Maxine’s suite of tools include features that allow face alignment, face re-lighting and gaze correction, which are in addition to incorporating high-definition background image enhancements.

Other capabilities include noise removal, closed captioning, real time translation and even virtual assistants. Such capabilities run in full progress and in real time for cloud-based video streaming apps by way of NVIDIA GPUs.

Resolution upscaling includes capability not only to adjust camera focus that places a video call participant’s face in the center of the frame. The resolution can also reorientate a video call app user’s face; or if preferred, choose an AI avatar to display as image to reduce network usage.

NVIDIA Maxine also comes with a video compression tool that can reduce the bandwidth by as much as 90% of the bandwidth ordinarily required when making video calls. This denotes that those using data to connect can save on data usage in ways that will dramatically reduce costs.

Inasmuch as Maxine runs in the cloud, whilst harnessing NVIDIA’s Tensor Core GPU acceleration, apps integrated with NVIDIA’s Maxine platform can work on any computer or smart device without the need to install graphics cards.

Awesome even is that Maxine-supported apps can easily be deployed as microservices, capable of scaling hundreds of thousands of streams in an extensible open-source environment.

AU’s COVIDSafe App : The Difference a Government Makes

Last April, 26, 2020, the Australian government made a difference by releasing the COVIDSafe App, even if the country had succeeded in flattening the curve.

Today, there are only 8,586 remaining active cases in Australia, while the number of recoveries totals 7,420 and the death toll is 106. Still, Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to listen to the advice of Professor Brendan Murphy, the country’s Chief Medical Officer, about the need to provide people with a contact-tracing app, as part of plans to save lives, which in turn will save livelihoods as well.

Called COVIDSafe, the app is voluntary to download but PM Morrisson made efforts to convince the people about the importance of installing the app in their smartphone. Thanking the people of Australia for doing an excellent job in flattening the curve, the Prime Minister said

“But we cannot be complacent as we still need to contain the spread.”

How the COVIDSafe App Works

COVIDSafe automates the contact-tracing process of identifying people who came into recent contact with person/s who had tested positive of COVID-19. In keeping track of all places and people that a new COVID-19 positive person, the long and tedious manual process of tracing and tracking persons carried out by health workers becomes an easier process.

Through the app, contacts who may have become persons of interest, or persons who have to undergo testing as potential carriers of the novel coronavirus disease, can be immediately warned that one of their known contacts had tested positive; making it necessary for them to get tested s soon as possible in order to immediately know if they have been infected.

In the meantime, persons of interest will have to go into self-quarantine until the results of the test reveals if they have been infected or not. That way, the further spread of the disease can be arrested, instead of causing an exponential rise in the number of infected cases.

COVIDSafe Highlights the Importance of Good Governance in Battling the Pandemic

Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, encourages Australians to install the apps as a continuation of their valuable support in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Hunt gave emphasis to the importance of the app as part of the government’s 3-step requirements in deciding the easing down of restrictions — Testing, Tracing and Responding.

Although the COViDSafe app has attracted its fair share of critics and skeptics, the actions taken by the government of Australia has somehow made a difference. Good governance matters, which is the first and foremost problem in other major countries that are still grappling with a large number of active cases.

Technologies that Enable Outsourcing Firms to Provide Cost-Efficient Support

As most businesses will be looking to cut down costs on the way to a post COVID-19 recovery, many are looking into job outsourcing as a potential solution.

Now more than ever, small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) will find it impossible to install its own in-house IT infrastructure. In fact, many might even find it necessary to eliminate renting an office space and possibly, cut down the size of its workforce at some future date.

Most SMBs are now considering collaborating with a job outsourcing firm that can provide them with the most cost-efficient solutions. Still, SMBs are advised to choose an outsourcing firm not only on the basis of affordable costs; but should also consider the quality of services offered as cost-saving alternative.

Nowadays, most job outsourcing firms invest in technologies that enable them to provide better support services at relatively low costs. The most basic of the technologies used by reputable outsourcing firms are those that allow process automation, social media management and connection, and cloud computing.

How Automation Technologies Bring Down Cost of Outsourced Jobs

The most common example of AI for automating processes is one that enables a company to combine the work processes being carried out by different departments; such as Accounting, Budget, Human Resources and/or Corporate Planning for Production Costing and Financial Projections.

In having a centralized statistical data retrieval system, a job outsourcing company that takes on work for back office transactions, will be able to produce data that are usually required as reports from other departments.

Social Media Management and Connection

Since platforms for social media connection is one of the most widely used by consumers, technologies for managing social media connection and communication, are likewise being used as tools of the trade by outsourcing companies. After all, consumers today greatly appreciate businesses that have multi-channel communications system.

Social media has attained recognition as a game changer, as the different social media platforms allow businesses to gather a wealth of data about consumers. That being said a call center software program must have the ability to connect to customers in real-time via mobile applications, by landline and through social media platforms.

Cloud Computing Technologies

A study conducted by Forbes revealed that about 77% of businesses that outsource, prefer companies that have computing technologies that operate in the cloud, even in part. Mainly because a cloud computing platform, adopts virtual storage, and eliminates the need to access different data centers, procure computer hardware and software, as well as hire and train employees in applying such technologies.

What Call Center Outsourcing Firm 31West Offers

31West (https://www.31west.net), a global and onshore call center outsourcing firm, employs call center talents, administrators, managers and uses technologies in handling and managing customer services, whilst using the best outsourcing support by way of Linux server.

Additionally, the firm’s computing technology enables the company to provide IT assistance and back-office support.

Valorant: Riot Games Banners Use of 128-Tick Servers

Riot Games has given assurance that their new first-person shooter game Valorant will officially launch with the support of 128-tick servers and global data centers. The company said that they have been meticulously pouring over the netcode aspects of the game as a means of providing Valorant players the best gaming experience in competitive play.

In What Way Will 128-Tick Servers Help Valorant’s Competitive Gamers?

Riot Games’ Valorant has been described by beta players as a combination of some of the most addictive first-person shooter games like Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, while equipped with mechanisms and ultra-realistic effects similar to Counter Strike.

In those types of games, server tick rates matter. That is why Riot Games made sure that players in most major cities and highly developed regions will have high tick rates, in order to underscore the competitive aspect that distinguishes the new Riot game from other hero-type plays.

First off, a reference to tick rate indicates the number of times per second that a video game generates and processes data that servers will receive and process in running game simulations. The faster the rate by which a server receives and completes the processing of data, the higher the tick rate.

The high tick rate in turn reduces any delay that transpires between server and gamer. At 128-tick, it means players receive 128 updates per second from the server, leaving a very small window for game cheats to launch their counter attacks.

Valorant games that run on 128-tick servers suggest that quick processing can reduce the timeframe by which server and gamer communicates, which likewise reduces delays by <35 ms. If played on a server that gets too close to the timeframe limit or even fails to process and send data to the gamer, plays can be adversely affected.

Those are the instances when issues like non-registration of hits, rubber banding, or when the physics of things fail to work. Game cheats usually take advantage of slow responses and slow play-simulation registrations.

Simply said, the shorter the delay between server and player, the less opportunity available to game cheats.

Valorant beginners might not find it easy to migrate to Riot Games’ Valorant, even if they have experience playing Counter Strike via 64-tick or 102-tick servers. This suggests that getting embroiled in Valorant competitive encounters in which kill-times are short, might prove to be a new and challenging experience.

Although some may take to valorant elo boosting technique as a means to advance in higher game levels, do so with careful considerations. Be sure to choose a professional player who will not be flagged for obviously playing on another player’s behalf, as boosting is also considered cheating.

Filipino Techs Locally Make Covid-19 Test Kits

A team of homegrown Filipino scientists provided Philippine health authorities with a locally developed Covid-19 test kits to help speed-up widespread testing.

Availability of testing kits was the initial problem met by the Philippine government in combating Covid-19 when it became known that the disease had entered the country. Yet a group of 15 Filipino scientists from the University of the Philippines in Manila’s National Institutes of Health and from the Philippine Genome Center came together to provide the critical tool as early as January 2020.

The Need to Perform Diagnostic Tests of Suspected Covid-19 Cases ASAP

It became imperative for the Philippine government to act quickly when it became known that two Chinese nationals from Wuhan province were able to enter the Philippines and transmit the novel coronavirus during the early periods of the outbreak.

More so when the first case of community-transmitted Covid-19 infection was confirmed last March 02, 2020, involving a 62-year old Filipino male who regularly visited a Muslim prayer hall in one of Metro Manila’s busy communities.

The revelation only denoted that the spread of the disease in the country has become imminent. However, the Department of Health only has 2,000 kits available at present, while the number of people testing positive for Covid 19 infection quickly rose from 5, to 34 to 140, as of this writing. The number is expected to rise further, which means more aggressive testing is needed.

Thankfully, the scientists and researchers at Philippine Genome Center were proactive in performing their mission.

Tasked to conduct researches that work toward the development of low-cost technologies and generating new knowledge that will enable the Philippine government to detect and control infectious diseases using sustainable medical tools and equitable medical solutions, the team of U.P. scientists were able to produce test kits that quickly passed and earned the Food and Drug Administration’s evaluations and approval.

The DOST’s Philippine Genome Center Developed a Test Kit Ahead of News about the Spread of Covid-19 in the Country

Dr. Raul V. Destura, Deputy Executive Director at the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), led the team of Filipino technologists and researchers in developing what is locally known as the The GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit.

According to Dr. Destura, the team started developing the test kit in January, 2020, immediately after Chinese scientists shared information about the entire genome sequence of the virus with the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO in turn, disseminated the information to scientists to countries across the globe; whilst urging all research organizations to use the information in helping their respective country meet the necessary requirements in combating the novel coronavirus that at that time, already showed potentials of turning into a pandemic.

Dr. Destura said they are currently coordinating their activities with the Department of Health to rapidly diagnose people suspected to have spread the Covid-19 plague. The PGC Executive Director also reported that they have already manufactured and stockpiled kits in numbers sufficient to test 1,000 suspected cases.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), under whose administration the PGC operates, said the local scientists will be able to immediately deploy FDA-approved 1,000 test kits In the coming weeks, and that they will be able to supply 2,000 to 3,000 more thereafter. The DOST also said that

”Although raw materials can be a limiting actor, the department gave assurance that their current supply of raw materials is enough to make 6,000 test kits for now.” “Orders to see to the development of 20,000 additional test kits have been placed.”

What makes the locally developed Covid-19 test kits significant is their affordability; an important factor in making the tool more accessible throughout the country.

Whereas the Philippine government has to procure foreign-developed test kits at a cost of ₱8,500 per unit, the GenAmplify™ Covid-19 testing tool developed by Filipino scientists costs only ₱1,320 per unit.

Reports have it that the WHO is also evaluating the testing capabilities of four other Philippine reference laboratories, namely the Lung Center of the Philippines in Metro Manila, the Baguio General Hospital in Northern Luzon, Vicente Sotto Medical Center in Visayas and the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Mindanao.

That way, the Philippine government through the Department of Health will be able to undertake widespread testing throughout the archipelago as soon as possible.

New FCC Rules Block USF Federal Subsidies of U.S. Network Carriers Planning to Buy Huawei and/or ZTE Equipment

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which administers the Universal Service Fund (USF) has added a new rule that bars American telecommunication companies from using and/or buying equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

The new USF requisite is in connection with the FCC’s decision to officially recognize Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security.

FCC Board Chairman Ajit Pai remarked that in light of the threats posed by the aforementioned Chinese companies to the U.S. security and to the integrity of the country’s 5G future, the FCC cannot just sit idly and hope that nothing untoward happens.

The USF furnishes federal financial subsidies amounting to billions of dollars, available to American wireless carriers and network service providers, intending to offer wireless communication throughout the United States. The new FCC rule mirrors the shared views of U.S. intelligence officials and American legislators that Huawei and ZTE telecoms equipment could be used in carrying out espionage activities detrimental to the country’s security.

Actually, the FCC Committee plans to go further as the approving panel is also poised to sign on another ruling that requires U.S. wireless carriers to fully remove all Huawei equipment currently being used by their respective networks. According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, it follows that

”If Huawei equipment poses as a threat to the country’s national security, stopping federal subsidies is not enough.” “The equipment in question must also come out of the network.”

The new rules are set to take effect in February 2020, after having been pushed back several times over ever since the Trump administration took action in barring Huawei and ZTE from bringing their business to the U.S.

The Rural Wireless Association, a group comprised by rural wireless businesses, voiced concerns that making the change will come with significant across-the-board costs. Mainly because as rural wireless carriers and service providers, their plans and projections were based on using the more affordable and at the same time reliable, Huawei equipment.

Huawei Regards the New FCC Rules as Unlawful

Needless to say, the new FCC rules also pose as a major problem for Huawei. A Huawei spokesperson read a statement issued by the Chinese company, which believes the new USF condition is unlawful.

According to the statement, The Commission had adjudged Huawei as a threat to national security based on mistaken assumptions, innuendos and selective information. The FCC panel that approved the new ruling had done so without requiring and examining evidence that proves Huawei is indeed a security threat to the United States.

Huawei Launches Mate 30 Series for the 5G Technology

Huawei, the China-based ICT infrastructure and smart device provider launched its latest mobile devices, the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro. The company touted the new devices as potentially the world’s smartest 5G phone, despite a serious flaw: the lack of popular Google applications. The lack denotes that Mate 30 users will not be able to access Google Maps, YoutTube, Google Drive, Photo Galleryand Gmail. Moreover, Mate 30 series users will not be able to download apps via the Play Store, although Huawei built its own app store as an alternative.

Why the New Huawei Mate 30 Series Cannot Have Google Apps

Huawei CEO Richard Yu confirmed that users of the Mate 30 series will not be able to install the popular Google apps. The new Huawei communication devices they unveiled, are configured to run on an operating system that Huawei developed using the open-source version of Google’s Android OS; sans the latest updates present in the licensed versions.

Google is barred from collaborating with Huawei as a result of the U.S.-China trade war and mainly due to the Executive Order (EO) issued by president Donald Trump last May. The EO prohibits American companies from using information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure provided by blacklisted companies suspected as posing national security threats.

On the same day the EO was signed, the U.S. Commerce Department included Huawei and its 70 affiliates in the so-called “Entity List” of companies that cannot procure components and parts from U.S.businesses without first securing approval from the U.S. government.

That being the case, Google also blocked future Huawei devices from using updated versions of the Android OS. Although there has been some reprieves, to which the Commerce Department gave Huawei temporary and limited exemptions to let the company maintain telecommunications services and updates to existing Huawei users.

The reprieve is slated to end by November 19 of this year, and by that time, Huawei device users would have been weaned from using the brand. Apparently, the ban will stay thereafter, as the Commerce Department added 46 more of Huawei’s affiliates to the “Entity List.”

The larger issues against Huawei are the 21 indictment charges filed by the U.S. Justice Department against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO and daughter of Huawei founder. The charges include allegations of theft of trade secrets, bank and wire fraud, as well as conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Singapore Researchers Develop Highly Advanced e-Skin Sensory for Robots and Prosthetics

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a unique sensor system designed to give robots and prosthetics, artificial skin with human sense of touch. They call it the “Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin (ACES), which is an e-skin that can yield the same or even better sense of touch as the human epidermis. The breakthrough sensor system developed by the researchers enables the e-skin to respond 1,000 times faster than the human sense of touch.

Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee of the NUS Faculty of Engineering and his team, all from the NUS Department of Materials Science and Engineering, have been working for more than a year in developing a sensor system modeled after the human sensory nervous system, but with greater capability at performing better. Although electronic skins have been previously developed, the ACES e-skin is different.

Unlike earlier models of e-skins that have interlinked wiring systems, the ACES sensor system is made up of a network of sensors connected by way of a single electrical conductor. The improvement makes the ACES skin innovation robust, as the absence of wiring systems reduces sensitivity to damage, as well as makes the innovation scaleable.

The ACES Sensory Capability

The electronic skin technology developed by Asst. Professor Tee and his team is touted as the fastest ever developed. Compared to the human sensory system, NUS’ ACES detects touches 1,000 times faster. At a speed of less than 60 nanoseconds, it can differentiate physical contacts when interacting with different sensors, even in large numbers.

Robustness of the ACES-Enabled Skin

Inasmuch as e-skins will experience frequent physical contact with objects in the environment, the NUS research team led by Asst. Professor Tee made sure their design is robust enough to withstand physical damage. In order to attain such a goal, they outfitted the ACES e-skin with sensors that can be linked to a common electrical conductor, while still allowing each sensor to operate independently.

The configuration therefore empowers the ACES-enabled electronic skin to keep functioning as long as there is at least one connection between the conductor and the sensor; making the e-skin on a robot or prosthetics more robust against damages.

Scalability of the ACES Electronic Skin

According to Asst. Prof Tee

“Scalability is an important consideration because large pieces of high performing electronic skins are required to cover relatively broad surface areas of prosthetic devices and robots.”

That being the case, the NUS assistant professor and his team made it possible for ACES e-skins to easily combine with any kind of sensor skin layers; such as those designed to recognize temperatures and humidity by way of touch. Asst. Professor Tee cited the scalability trait as important, as it gives the ACES-enabled skin exceptional sense of touch that can work for a wide range of purposes.

Through scalability, ACES-enabled e-skin can be developed for different potential applications. Some examples include; but not limited to, creating robots that carry out disaster recovery missions, or warehouse-packing tasks, as well as realistic prosthetic limbs that will allow persons with disabilities to restore their sense of touch.

Distinguishing Graphic Designs Thru Effective Application of Design Elements and Fundamentals

Graphic designing, as many have already found out, is no longer a daunting task. After all, there are now tutorials and graphic software like the Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw and Gimp that enable aspiring graphic artists to create designs, even with a minimum of skill and artistic capability. It is now just a question of whether the design created can achieve the desired impact and deliver its purpose as a visual communications medium.

In fact graphic designs are everywhere, from as trivial as a candy wrapper to as common and massive as billboards, signage, t-shirts, coffee mugs and a host of other commercial, cultural and social usages.

Determining their effectiveness is gauged by their ability to influence consumers into buying a product, or in providing information needed, as well as in drawing positive attention to itself as an excellent creative work.

That being said, graphic artwork can take on a distinction of being an effective tool for communicating a specific message. In order to attain that level, designing a visual material requires efficient presentation of the basic elements of art, and proper execution of the fundamentals of graphic design.

Basic Elements of Art and How They are Best Presented

Basic elements of art or design are the lines, shapes and forms used to create artistic compositions, serving as the very foundations of a graphic design. Such elements take on different characteristics like color, form (flat, 2D or 3D), and texture (smooth, rough, hard or smooth), which are means of adding depth, realism or interests to a graphic work.

Efficient use of basic elements means factoring in tone and balance in their presentation. That way the main concept or message conveyed by a visual project is immediately perceived and more importantly, understood.

In order to achieve efficiency in the use of the basic elements of art, there must be proper application and execution of the fundamentals of graphic design.

Fundamentals of Graphic Design and their Significance

The fundamentals of graphic design pertain to the methods applied, in order to make the basic elements and characteristics of an artistic concept, work effectively together.

Fundamentals may pertain to the tone set by lines to suggest moods, such as, but not limited to active, passive, dramatic, stable, unstable and noble.

Color theory is also fundamental to graphic design, as it explains the art and science of color usage, in terms  of combinations, mixes, matches and contrasts. An in-depth understanding of color theory therefore, enables a designer to create visual art that has great potential to achieve its purpose.

Typeface is another graphic design fundamental; being the main carrier of the message. Presented by way of letters,numbers, symbols and punctuation marks, there are no hard rules to follow in the use of typeface; but only adherence to the principle of choosing one that makes the most sensible impact.

Balance as a fundamental aspect of a visual design is often the most influential, because its application in a layout can either emphasize or obscure the focal object of a graphic design.