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first_img NASA SpaceX 4 5:41 Comments Now playing: Watch this: Originally published March 2, 12.01 a.m. PT. Updates, March 2, 5:32 p.m. PT: Adds tweets, images from launch; March 3, 3 a.m. PT: Adds ISS docking information. Tags 7:07 SpaceX’s Crew Dragon launches to the ISS 16 Photos Elon Musk shows off the shiny SpaceX Starship Share your voice Sci-Tech The Crew Dragon trailing the ISS as it prepares for capture. NASA/SpaceX SpaceX has taken another small step toward sending astronauts into space after launching the Crew Dragon capsule early Saturday morning and successfully docking with the International Space Station. spacex-demo1 SpaceX Affixed to the top of a Falcon 9 booster, the rounded cone capsule of the Crew Dragon blasted off in a blaze of fire and smoke from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:49 a.m. ET Saturday. The launch was the first step in the Demo-1 mission, designed to test the capabilities of the capsule over the next week, but it was only the beginning. After launch the capsule coasted to the ISS, making a number of maneuvers to line up with a specialized docking adapter aboard the station. Though live footage of the event appeared low-key, both the Crew Dragon and the ISS were traveling at over 17,500 miles per hour during the monumental docking attempt.  Crew Dragon achieved soft capture with the ISS at 5:51 a.m. ET, but the high-speed space grab wasn’t over. Shortly after, 12 hooks reached out from Crew Dragon to firmly attach it to the ISS, enabling a “hard capture” of the capsule at 6 a.m. ET and marking the first successful docking of a Commercial Crew capsule at the ISS. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft docks with the International… Now playing: Watch this: No humans are on board, but the capsule isn’t empty. Locked within Crew Dragon is a flight dummy nicknamed Ripley and an anthropomorphic plushie of planet Earth designed to indicate when the capsule had reached zero gravity. In addition, the capsule carried around 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the ISS to simulate future missions.  A view from onboard the Crew Dragon as it approached the ISS. SpaceX/NASA On Saturday morning, the historic launch was celebrated with cheers and applause at Kennedy Space Center, after multiple delays pushed the maiden flight back from an expected launch in 2018. The site of the landmark launch was Pad 39A, which has previously seen NASA’s Saturn rockets carry astronauts to the moon aboard Apollo spacecraft and the famous launches of NASA’s space shuttles. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk expressed his appreciation for both the SpaceX team and NASA at a post-launch press conference but noted the mental toll the experience had on him. “To be frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted,” he sighed. “That was super stressful, but it worked… So far.”    Though the launch was a success, SpaceX still has a few more obstacles to overcome before the demonstration mission is complete. The capsule will remain docked at the ISS until March 8, then begin what is arguably the most important part of its demonstration: successfully returning to Earth. The capsule is fitted with enhanced parachutes and is set to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean. The Falcon 9 blasts off, carrying Crew Dragon for the first time. SpaceX Speaking of the Atlantic, the reusable Falcon 9 booster that launched Crew Dragon landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You drifting in the ocean, approximately 10 minutes after liftoff. As part of its Commercial Crew program, NASA handed contracts to both SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop rockets that could send astronauts back to space. NASA hasn’t launched humans to space since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended. In the meantime, the agency has paid for spots on the Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of over $80 million per seat. That makes Saturday’s success particularly important, helping chart a course for NASA to bring launches back to American soil and keep costs down.  “We want to make sure we keep our partnership with Russia, which has been very strong for a long period of time,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before the flight. “But we also want to make sure we have our own capability to get back and forth to the International Space Station.” The Crew Dragon separates from the Falcon 9 in Earth’s shadow. SpaceX The Crew Dragon capsule is an enhanced version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which has ferried cargo from Earth to the ISS on 16 previous occasions. This iteration can carry seven human passengers, which it’ll eventually shuttle to the ISS in low Earth orbit. Provided this demo mission proceeds as planned, the Crew Dragon will have to demonstrate its safety in one more “in-flight abort test,” scheduled for later this year. If it passes that test, SpaceX and NASA will finally be ready to make another giant leap, sending astronauts to the ISS from the US for the first time since 2011. last_img read more

2 sisters killed as bus plunged into roadside canal

first_imgProthom Alo illustrationTwo sisters were killed as a passenger bus fell into a roadside canal at Jaintiapur in Sylhet, witnesses and police said.The accident took place at Katagang area of Sylhet-Tamabil highway on Wednesday afternoon.The deceased are Lubna Begum, 10 and Ahna Begum, 14, daughters of Showkat Ali of Fulbari village of Jaintiapur. More 15 passengers were rescued and they received treatment at Jaintiapur upazila health complex.Quoting witnesses, police said the driver of Sylhet-bound bus from Zaflong lost control over the steering while overtaking another bus at Katagang area of Jaintiapur.The bus overturned and plunged into a roadside canal after hitting an electric pole, leaving two sisters dead on the spot, police said.Jaintiapur police station officer-in-charge Khan Mohammad Moinul Zakir told Prothom Alo that the bodies were sent to MAJ Osmani Medical College Hospital morgue for autopsy. The bus was seized, he added.last_img read more

Race for Houston School Board Headed for Runoff Election

first_img Share Florian MartinFour candidates competed for the open seat for District VII, which includes Lamar High School and Wisdom High School.Two candidates, Anne Sung and John Luman, appear headed for a runoff in the battle for District VII on the Houston Independent School District’s board of trustees.Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016There was no outright winner Tuesday night because no candidate in the four-way race won a majority vote. It’s an open race, as longtime trustee Harvin Moore is retiring early.Sung, a former teacher and education advocate, came the closest to winning: She won about 47 percent of the vote, with more than 68 percent of ballots counted. It’s the second time Sung has run for District VII, which spans River Oaks to Harwin and includes Lamar and Wisdom high schools.Luman came in second, with about 30 percent of the vote and also securing a spot in the runoff. Luman is a lawyer and lobbyist, who led a successful fight earlier this year to stop an affordable-housing complex near his children’s school in Briargrove.The other two candidates, Victoria Bryant and Danielle Paulus, trailed in the vote count.It’s not clear yet when the runoff election will be scheduled.last_img read more

first_imgSo through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm,— A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow How would history be different if, when Paul Revere rode through every Middlesex village and farm yelling, “The British are coming, the British are coming!” if all of his friends and neighbors called him an alarmist, a warmonger, or a guy just trying to hawk sales for his ammunition company? What if they all said, “Go back to bed. He’s just another guy trying to peddle his product.” In my book Retirement Reboot, I shouted an equally serious warning: “Inflation is coming! Inflation is coming!” I’ve been trying to warn my friends and neighbors to take precautions and defend themselves. But I’ve been frustrated, feeling like I’m doing a poor job. Why don’t they seem to see the danger that I see so clearly? When the first issue of Miller’s Money Forever hit the web, I was at my summer home in Illinois. While I’m in the Midwest, I have a regular Tuesday breakfast with the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) club, and my new project was quickly distributed among my friends. Less than two weeks later, an email hit my inbox that was originally from a neighbor across the street. I had never spoken to this neighbor before, but I would casually wave “hello” when he drove by in his new Mercedes. The message was a copy of an email my neighbor had sent to my ROMEO friends, but not to me. Apparently he had shown my material to his money manager, and he proceeded to blister me with harsh remarks. He thought I was just another fearmonger, trying to sell fear to hawk our product. Of course it bothered me, and my first inclination was to defend my motives. To his credit, within a week of distributing that email, I got a very kind, sincere apology from him. He said that his email was inappropriate, and he certainly would not want anyone doing something like that to him. I never did get the whole story. I suspect that some of my ROMEO friends who know me well might have spoken with him. To this day he and I have exchanged a couple of emails, but we have never spoken. He does have a good reputation in the neighborhood. My real concern today, however, is not a spat with my neighbor. Rather, it’s the very personal effect his scathing email had on me. God forbid anyone call me a fearmonger! I found myself writing a bit more timidly, toning down my language and tempering my opinions. Instead of using words like “hyperinflation” – a problem I am damn concerned about – I wrote “inflation or possibly even high inflation.” I wonder what would have happened if Paul Revere had said: “Sorry to wake you. You know the British are a tad peeved about us throwing their tea in the pond. We see some ship movement in the harbor; not sure what it is. I just wanted to share this with you. Oh yeah, I also wanted to mention, we cast musket balls down at the shop.” I will confess: for the last several months, I’ve been tiptoeing around a huge issue facing seniors and savers. I have skirted the issue, only focusing on part of the problem.Why Ask Why? The Federal Reserve recently announced that it is going to continue to clamp down on interest rates until at least 2015. I have been warning folks of the effects this will have on retirement plans for some time. The most recent data from the US Census Bureau indicate that a person with a total net worth of $856,000 (including their home) is in the top 7% of the population. If you estimate that home is worth $356,000, the person would have a portfolio to invest of $500,000. In 2007, before the government decided to clamp down on interest rates, you could invest that money in 6% CDs and earn $30,000 in interest. For decades almost all financial planning tools used 6% as a retirement benchmark. Now, the best rate for a 5-year CD is 1.2% interest. The same CDs would earn $6,000 in interest. The interest does not even cover the government-reported 2% inflation. Add that $6,000 to your Social Security check and that is what you have to live on… if you’re in the top 7% in net worth. I shudder to think about the other 93%. For an investor to earn that same $30,000 today, he would have to have $2,500,000 in CDs; that would likely put him in the top 1% of the population. While I want to stick to the facts, I was beating around the bush when it came to the inflation figure. In the vernacular of my grandchildren, “Grandpa’s copping out!” At the risk of being called a fearmonger, I want to share some additional data with you – data everyone needs to see and understand. If you think I’m a fearmonger, I’m sorry. Take a look and decide for yourself.That Lurking Feeling For the last year or so, I’ve had a very uncomfortable feeling. The stock market has rebounded from the 2008 crash, the government is reassuring us that inflation is under control, and my brokerage account is doing fine. Where is this feeling coming from? Let me start by explaining how government policy has affected the value of your personal retirement savings. Since 2002, the S&P 500 Index – a basket of stocks that Wall Street folks use as a proxy to tell you how most people’s mutual funds are doing – is up a hefty 60% after recovering from 2008 losses. It’s not a pretty picture, but 60% gains over a decade aren’t awful. And most folks have recovered their losses, right? Then how come things just don’t feel that good? You all know what I’m talking about: despite the headlines about record highs for stocks, your savings probably feel much more paltry now than they did 10 years ago. I know mine do. That’s because inflation is running rampant. Surely you’ve read that inflation is only 2%. But anyone who fills up their tank with gas, buys a loaf of bread, or tries to finish their Christmas shopping knows that is complete baloney. You know it the same way you know that 8% unemployment is not even close to the real level. The simple, inconvenient truth that everyone knows is this: the government manipulates the statistics it publishes for its own interests. But the cost of this manipulation is affecting us all, right now. Thankfully, a really brilliant statistician named John Williams has made it his personal crusade to keep all of us informed. At Shadow Government Statistics, Williams digs into the raw data published by banks, universities, and government agencies and applies time-tested formulas that the government once used to report all this data to track the real rate of inflation, unemployment, and other key economic indicators. I’ve been a Shadow Government Statistics subscriber for quite some time, and each new report I read confirms the conflict between the government-reported data and the truth. Williams is constantly warning that hyperinflation is on the horizon, and he gives some doggone good reasons why. At the risk of being called a fearmonger, this data should be a wake-up call to everyone. If Williams is right and hyperinflation becomes a reality, there will be so much panicked selling throughout the world that nearly everyone with even a modest portfolio will take a terrible hit before they have time to react. Our stocks, in real dollars – or “purchasing power parity” (PPP), to dip into economist-speak – are actually worth 40% less than they were 10 years ago. If you adjust the value of the S&P 500 using your ability to buy real goods like food, then the picture is a lot less pretty. That blue line up there: that’s the value of your portfolio over the past ten years if you’ve been following Wall Street’s prescription. According to the government’s official inflation statistics, it’s the red line, which shows the increases in the S&P 500 adjusted by the government-published inflation figures. Oh, and the green line? That is the real value of your portfolio when you adjust for a more realistic rate of inflation. It’s no wonder that so many folks feel uncomfortable. The government estimates for inflation are a joke. It’s easy to overlook that when you don’t see the impact on your monthly statements – that’s what the government is banking on. But in reality, it’s costing you a chance at achieving your retirement dreams. In a paper on wealth trends published earlier this year, New York University professor Edward N. Wolff wrote: ” Between 2007 and 2010, median wealth plunged by a staggering 47 percent! Indeed, median wealth was actually lower in 2010 than in 1969 (in real terms).” When the first TARP bill was passed to bail out the banks, polls showed that 90% of Americans opposed it, but the government did it anyway. Everyone knew it was wrong, but it still happened. Now we have QE programs ad infinitum. We were told that these bailouts would solve our problems, but things continue to get worse. So if all this quantitative easing is making us poorer, why does the government lie about it? It does so because it is in its own best interest; the federal government has much to lose if the population learns the truth. Think back to the Tea Party Taxpayer March on Washington, DC, when a few hundred thousand people from all over the country marched on Washington. Some participants used “T.E.A.” to stand for “Taxed Enough Already!” It was a peaceful tax revolt, but both political parties and the media set out to destroy the message and credibility. “The Tea Party” now has the distinction of being the most negative phrase in US politics. God forbid that anyone revolt against taxes. I can just hear the politicians chuckling to themselves: “The last time the bloody people had a tax revolt they fired the king, threw out the entire government, and had the silly notion to govern themselves. When are they going to learn they are better off with government controlling every aspect of their lives? If we lie to them, it is for their own good.” The government doesn’t manipulate these numbers to suppress the value of your stocks. Wealthy politicians (the average net worth of a congressman is $7.3 million) suffer just as much when that happens, which is why they rush to prop up the market every chance they get. Despite popular belief, they don’t do it just to paint a rosier picture in order to help their chances of reelection. Sure, that’s part of it, but it’s not the biggest part. Mostly, they do it to continue fueling their spending binges… at the expense of your retirement. That spending, of course, has no other purpose than to get politicians reelected and to keep their massive corporate donors happy. The surest vote is the one you buy. Most politicians don’t think about things far enough ahead to be concerned about their constituents’ retirement goals and plans.The Disastrous, Long-Reaching Consequences When the value of the dollar goes down faster than the government-published inflation rate, it’s not just the value of stocks that go down. The value of your Social Security and Medicare benefits drop, too. Remember, our Social Security check is supposed to be indexed to inflation. I recently read that preliminary figures predict a 1-2% annual benefit increase in 2013, the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. If you receive Social Security, you also know that what the government giveth, it may also taketh away. It’s no surprise that the bureaucrats in charge didn’t announce next year’s increase in deduction amounts for Medicare and drug coverage taken out of your Social Security check before the election. The most recent news I read on the subject is pretty clear:“How much will Medicare Part B premiums be in 2013? “Most people will pay $104.90 per month for Medicare Part B premiums, which is a $5 monthly increase from 2012’s premiums. But high earners will pay more, as they have since 2007.” Now in the lowest bracket, that’s only a $5/month increase. Those folks were paying $99.90 in 2012. That’s about a 5% increase, more than double the so-called inflation rate that sets the increase in benefits. Savers who have managed to build up a nest egg will note that their increase is much more significant. I asked our research team to build a graph to show the effects of inflation on our Social Security check. It’s a little scary. Officially, theoretically, your Social Security checks keep up with inflation. I got my first Social Security check in 2002. To keep the math simple, imagine it was $1,000. Today, that check would be $1,270, due to the automatic cost of living adjustment (blue line). The red line represents the “official” cost of living inflation numbers as reported by the government. The $1,270, according to the government’s “official” statistics, will buy the same amount of goods that $1,000 did in 2002. The green line uses the Shadow Government Statistics inflation numbers and factors in the government increases. Even with the government’s automatic cost of living adjustments, my $1,000 check would only buy $477 worth of goods today. Ouch!John Mauldin recently interviewed David Krone, chief of staff for the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Rob Lehman, chief of staff for Senator Rob Portman. As they discussed current interest rates, Lehman remarked: “A 1% increase in the rate of interest adds $130 billion to the deficit.” Krone added that he “saw no problem with interest rates going lower; perhaps we should even charge people for holding their money for them.” The result of QE, QEII, QEIII, TARP, TALF, and all the other alphabet-soup policy changes of the last few years has already reduced the real value of your retirement savings by 40%. And it has already reduced your real Social Security benefits by about 52.3%. What does that mean for retirees? Well, investment income from safe, interest-bearing investments is going to stay in the tank for at least the next decade. In the meantime, the cost of living is skyrocketing as the government keeps the printing press on high. Despite government promises, our Social Security checks are not going to keep up with true inflation, and our nest eggs are at risk. This is the investment challenge retirees are facing. I don’t need to use the word “hyperinflation” to make my point – just some historical data from the last decade. I suspect that Paul Revere might have had a few folks pretty upset when he woke them up in the middle of the night. Today, as a relatively free American, I’d like to thank him.Turn on the Night-light There you have it! I have expressed my concerns, and they are based on real facts. Question my motives if you want, but know that I didn’t ask for this job. I took it on as a personal challenge to help others in my peer group: retirees, seniors, and savers just trying to survive. What would Paul Revere have said about his motives? He likely would have said that he simply wanted his friends to wake up! The danger is imminent, and we need to take precautions to defend ourselves. Only this time, it is not the British: it is our own federal government. If you agree with me, take the necessary precautions. If you have already done so, good for you! Stay diligent. If you don’t agree with me, please roll over and go back to sleep.On the Lighter Side As this is our last issue before Christmas, I want to share a couple of quick thoughts. First, thank you to all of our readers. This has been one of the most exciting years of my life. Our subscriber growth and feedback has been terrific, and I want everyone to know just how much I appreciate it. Today’s article is from my heart. We are in this together, and I want to help all seniors and savers survive and thrive. And finally… Every Tuesday we have a conference call with the core players on our team: Alex, Ann, David, Lee, Vedran, and me. They asked me to convey on behalf of the entire team, our wish that everyone enjoy a wonderful holiday season in whatever manner you and your family choose to celebrate. It is “Merry Christmas” in the Miller household. We will be feeding 17, with the first grandson arriving on the 20th and the entire family departing the 28th. Grandma Jo has the freezer stocked with cookies and fudge; she can’t buy a turkey until the last minute because there is no room left for one. There is nothing better than being a grandpa surrounded by loving family. Until next week…last_img read more

Disabled people should prepare themselves for more

first_imgDisabled people should prepare themselves for more cuts and further attacks on their rights over the next five years disabled campaigners have warned in the wake of this week’s Queen’s speech.The speech, which laid out plans for what the prime minister called a “one nation government”, confirmed his party’s pledge to introduce further sweeping cuts to benefits spending.It also suggested that plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) would be postponed, but not abandoned.Among the bills referred to by the Queen, who delivers the speech every year on behalf of the prime minister at the state opening of parliament, was a full employment and welfare benefits bill.This will freeze most working-age benefits in 2016-17 and 2017-18 across England, Scotland and Wales (including all but the support group top-up element of employment and support allowance (ESA)), although claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) will be exempted.The bill will also lower the cap on total benefits for non-working families to £23,000 a year, although households which include someone claiming PIP or DLA will be protected.David Cameron, the prime minister, said the social security reforms would “incentivise work”, so that people were “always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home”.He said the cuts were “true social justice”, turning “the welfare system into a lifeline, not a way of life”, and “not handing people benefit cheque after benefit cheque with no end in sight”.But Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said there was “nothing in the Queen’s speech for disabled people”.Anita Bellows, a DPAC spokeswoman, said: “Although the government has tried for the past five years to increase the number of disabled people into work, through various schemes or punitive cuts, caps and sanctions, the reality is the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has not narrowed.“The government is now using a freeze to cut further benefits which support disabled people who cannot work, like ESA, and a benefit cap which is likely to push into crisis households who are now just managing to make ends meet.”She added: “A government which financially punishes the poorest is not a ‘one nation government’.”Bill Scott, director of policy for Inclusion Scotland, said: “Even though most of the cuts are not to ‘disability’ benefits, the cuts to child benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, etc, will impact disproportionately on disabled people because they are more reliant on benefits for some or all of their income and of course twice as many disabled people claim ESA as claim DLA – and ESA is not being protected from the cuts.”Scott pointed out that the cuts announced through the Queen’s speech would only “save” about £1 billion a year, while the Conservatives pledged in their general election manifesto to cut £12 billion from the social security bill.He said there was presumably another £11 billion in cuts still to be announced, probably in George Osborne’s budget on 8 July.Scott said: “I fear that for disabled people the worst is yet to come.”Disability Rights UK said that the government’s promise of two million new jobs was “a bold promise”, while the Conservative election manifesto aim to halve the disability employment gap – and therefore create one million more jobs for disabled people – was “a worthy aspiration”.But it said the government’s proposed measures “seem drawn from the view that people are on welfare because of the level of benefits, when it is more often the lack of adequate or effective employment support”, and appear to offer “a crock of gold but no rainbow to get them there”.Disability Rights UK called on the government to introduce a national work experience programme for young disabled people, toughen legislation so people do not lose their jobs so easily “simply because they have acquired a disability”, improve the Access to Work scheme, and allow disabled jobseekers a personal budget so they can commission their own back-to-work support.It added: “On benefits, the government still hasn’t explained where £12 billion of cuts will fall and so we await the budget for the necessary detail.“In advance of that, we call on the government to recognise that disabled people will only be able to reach our full potential as equal citizens if our support needs are met and we can achieve independent living.”Kaliya Franklin, co-development lead for People First England (PFE), said her organisation was “relieved” that the government had not yet suggested introducing means-testing or taxing DLA and PIP.But she said: “However, we are concerned that the further freeze in working-age benefits will particularly impact those disabled people in poorly-paid, part-time work, and for many make the difference between just about surviving and no longer being able to afford the essentials of daily living.“Should inflation rise as predicted over the next few years then this restriction will have a rapid and disproportionate effect on the poorest in society, many of whom are the ‘hard-working strivers’ so apparently beloved by politicians.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said there was no mention in the Queen’s speech of where most of the planned £12 billion in cuts to social security spending would fall.He said: “A lot of disabled people are going to be feeling very apprehensive about the future.”He also said it was “disappointing” to see Labour’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, supporting reductions in the benefit cap, in her response to the Queen’s speech.McArdle said: “The Child Poverty Action Group has said this will plunge more children into poverty. Many of them will be from disabled families.“If we have any hope in Scotland, that is the hope that significant further welfare powers will be devolved.“We look to the SNP contingent in parliament to fight against the cuts tooth-and-nail on a moral basis affecting everybody throughout the UK, as Labour seems to have abandoned any pretence of providing a proper opposition to welfare reform.”There was significant media interest in the reference in the Queen’s speech to a new British bill of rights, particularly the failure to announce that a bill would be put forward this session.The government said only that it would “bring forward proposals”, with reports suggesting that justice secretary Michael Gove would consult on those plans before publishing any new legislation.When asked about the government’s proposals, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said only that ministers would be “discussing their plans on this and making announcements in due course”.When asked whether this meant there would be a consultation on the government’s proposals, and no bill in the current session of parliament, he refused to comment further.Elsewhere in the Queen’s speech, there were concerns about the possible impact of a new enterprise bill, which promises to extend the government’s “ambitious target for cutting red tape to cover the activities of more regulators”, and ensure that regulators “design and deliver services and policies to best suit the needs of business”.Sir Bert Massie, the former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, warned that although deregulation can sound good it “can result in lower standards that exclude disabled people”, for example with standards for accessible homes.There was some support for parts of a new policing and criminal justice bill, which will reform laws on detaining people under the Mental Health Act, banning the use of police cells as “places of safety” for those under 18, and reducing their use for adults.Franklin welcomed the plan to ban the use of police cells for under-18s, but said PFE would like to see it extended to include adults with learning difficulties or autism.She also stressed the importance of human rights legislation to disabled people.She said PFE had lobbied the former attorney general Dominic Grieve on this issue at last year’s Conservative party conference.She said: “As disabled people, we are particularly mindful that the HRA is a vital protection from abuse of state powers.“There are still approximately 3,000 adults with learning disabilities and/or autism being held in the care of the state at huge expense to the taxpayer and frequently experiencing the kind of ‘treatment’ most lay people would describe as torture.”Peter Beresford, co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives and professor of social policy at Brunel University, said: “To make sense of the Queen’s speech for disabled people and other social care service-users, we have to keep this government’s concerns in the front of our mind.“They are committed to regressive redistribution, and reduced public services, and financial and social support to citizens.“There is an overall direction of travel here, whether we are talking about the loss of already inadequate social housing through ‘right to buy’ or the increased availability of free child care to all, including people on high incomes, for all the talk of targeting welfare.“They are committed to a further term after this and want to redirect resources to those who will vote for them, thinking mistakenly mostly that it will serve their interests.“Disabled people, mental health service-users, many older people and people with learning difficulties aren’t the constituency they need or care about. So things will get far worse in my view than many people even now expect.”last_img read more

Fresh concerns have been raised about recruitment

first_imgFresh concerns have been raised about recruitment at one of the outsourcing companies delivering assessments for the government’s new disability benefit, after it sent out a “very urgent” request for 90 more staff.Only two months ago, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how delivery of the personal independence payment (PIP) appeared to have been plunged back into crisis after Capita reception staff were sent scripts telling them how to explain to benefit claimants why their appointments had been cancelled.Because of a shortage of assessors, Capita was forced to recruit 90 more healthcare professionals, just five months after making an estimated 80 of its 400 assessors redundant.Those redundancies followed a huge recruitment drive last summer to cope with PIP delays and backlogs, tempting many staff from stable jobs in the NHS with a promise of better conditions and long-term work.The company said in June that its latest recruitment push was part of a regular review of its “resourcing plans”, and that it was “looking at the number of assessors required to support the introduction of the changes that are expected later this year”.Last month, government figures secured by DNS showed that claimants in areas managed by Atos were six times more likely to wait longer than 20 weeks for a PIP decision than in those parts of the country managed by Capita.Despite those figures, Capita has now launched yet another recruitment drive to find healthcare staff who can assess claimants’ eligibility for PIP, which is replacing working-age disability living allowance (DLA).The new recruitment drive will add to concerns about the number of nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals being tempted away from the NHS to work for Capita, as well as Atos and Maximus, the other outsourcing companies assessing disability benefit claimants.In an email seen by DNS, a Capita recruitment executive says the company is looking for nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and paramedics “who can join us ASAP” in “VERY urgent roles”.When asked why Capita needed to recruit another 90 assessors in “very urgent roles” so soon after the last recruitment drive, a Capita spokesman said: “We continually review our service to ensure we have the right level of people in place to meet the requirements of the Department for Work and Pensions and claimants.“The department’s recent official statistics reflect the good continued progress Capita is making to improve claimant waiting times.“The current recruitment programme reflects our focus on preparing for the full roll out of PIP later this year.”This full rollout of PIP actually began last month, with the Department for Work and Pensions beginning to invite claimants who currently have a long-term or indefinite award to be reassessed for PIP – including those living in two postcode areas managed by Capita – a process which is expected to last about two years.DNS first began reporting on delays and backlogs in the PIP system in late 2013. In January, one disabled woman described how she had been forced to wait more than 14 months to be assessed.By the end of March 2015, according to figures published in May, nearly 23,000 disabled people had been waiting longer than 20 weeks for their new PIP claims to be decided. Of those 23,000, more than 3,000 had been waiting longer than a year.last_img read more

Damning new evidence suggests that senior figures

first_imgDamning new evidence suggests that senior figures in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) covered up a coroner’s warning about the grave dangers posed by a new disability assessment.Disability News Service (DNS) has seen a series of letters that suggest the department was given all the information it needed to carry out an urgent review of the safety of aspects of the work capability assessment (WCA) in 2010.But that review – ordered by coroner Tom Osborne through a process known as a Rule 43 letter – appears never to have been carried out.Osborne wrote to the department on 30 March 2010 – originally addressing his concerns to Labour work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper – just a few days before the start of the general election campaign.His letter followed an inquest he had carried out into the death of 41-year-old Stephen Carre (pictured), from Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, who had taken his own life in January 2010*.On 4 May, Osborne received an initial response from the DWP’s most senior civil servant, its permanent secretary, Sir Leigh Lewis.When DNS first revealed the existence of the Rule 43 letter last month, DWP claimed in a statement that it had responded to the coroner on 4 May 2010.But DNS has now seen the 4 May letter, and it merely outlines departmental procedures on the WCA, provides brief details from Stephen Carre’s assessment, and asks the coroner for medical information about the case.Sir Leigh promises that this further information will allow him to “complete our investigation and review our existing procedures, as you have asked, to determine the need for any changes to our current medical evidence gathering process”.Three further letters written by the coroner show that he provided the information requested by Sir Leigh, but never received a response from DWP to his Rule 43 report.On 12 May 2010, Osborne advised Sir Leigh that DWP did not need to investigate the circumstances surrounding Stephen Carre’s death, as that had already taken place at the inquest.He said DWP needed instead to look at the “use of medical evidence when determining entitlement of benefit of those patients who are suffering from a psychiatric illness”, but he still offered to send Sir Leigh a transcript of the inquest evidence.On 3 August, Osborne sent him the inquest transcript, apparently in response to a request from the department.Two months later, on 6 October 2010, Osborne wrote to Peter Carre, Stephen’s father, to tell him that he had yet to receive a “substantive response” to his Rule 43 letter, and promising to contact him if he did.Peter Carre did not hear from the coroner again until after he was contacted by DNS last month, more than five years after Osborne’s last letter.Carre told DNS that he believed the lives of other people with mental health conditions like his son could have been saved if DWP had acted on the coroner’s Rule 43 letter in 2010.He said Osborne told him in 2010 that DWP should have replied to the Rule 43 letter, but there was nothing he could do if they failed to do so.Carre said: “It was an opportunity to do something, and it was missed. They should be held accountable for their action, or lack of it.“That would be the one thing I would say: that the people who were there and are still there should still be accountable for their lack of action.”The letters are important because at the time they were being exchanged, the newly-appointed Conservative work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and his employment minister Chris Grayling, were finalising plans to roll out the WCA the following year to hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of incapacity benefit (IB), many of them with mental health conditions.And in the summer of 2010, Grayling appointed Professor Malcolm Harrington to carry out an independent review of the “fairness and effectiveness” of the WCA, and later told him that he wanted to go ahead with plans to roll out the assessment, despite Harrington suggesting that this should be delayed by a year.Harrington has told DNS that he believes he was never shown the coroner’s Rule 43 letter.More than three years later, another coroner wrote an almost identical letter warning of similar concerns about the safety of the WCA, this time after the death of a north London man, Michael O’Sullivan, who also took his own life after being found fit for work after a WCA.Last month, new research concluded that the programme to reassess people claiming IB using the WCA could have caused 590 suicides in just three years.And last week, a former government adviser told DNS how ministers and civil servants were “ruthless” and “reckless” in forcing through their new “fitness for work” test and refusing to abandon it even after they were told of the harm it was causing.Even before the emergence of the latest letters, disabled activists had called for Duncan Smith and Grayling to face a criminal investigation over the alleged cover-up.This week, more than five weeks after the existence of the Rule 43 letter was first brought to DWP’s attention, a spokeswoman for the department said in response to a series of questions from DNS that “because this issue happened more than five years ago we simply don’t have access to the information you’re seeking”.  She added: “Therefore, I think the best route for your line of inquiry is an FOI [request under the Freedom of Information Act]. And we’ll be happy to provide a formal statement once that FOI process is complete.”*Osborne ruled that the trigger for Stephen Carre’s suicide had been DWP’s rejection of his appeal against being found “fit for work”, and he called in his Rule 43 letter for a review of the policy not to seek medical evidence from a GP or psychiatrist if the claimant has a mental health condition. Neither the Atos assessor who assessed Carre, nor the DWP decision-maker who subsequently decided that he was fit for work and therefore ineligible for the new employment and support allowance, had sought information from his GP, his community psychiatric nurse or his psychiatrist.last_img read more

first_imgShareMEDIA NOTE: The subcommittee’s hearing has moved from 10:15 a.m. EDT to 1 p.m. EDT March 15.David Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduRice’s Tour to testify before Congress WednesdayHOUSTON – (March 14, 2017) – James Tour, the T.T. and W.F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University, will testify before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection at the hearing “Disrupter Series: Advanced Materials and Production” at 10:15 a.m. 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, March 15, in Room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.As part of the “Disrupter Series,” the hearing provides the subcommittee’s members an opportunity to learn about emerging technology and their applications in the marketplace. The series continues at the hearing with an examination of materials, compounds and processes that are the building blocks for disruptive applications in the electronics, automotive, airline, energy and health care industries, to name a few. Read more on the series here.Tour will provide remarks and then take questions from the committee.Who:  James Tour, the T.T. and W.F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University.What: Testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.When: 10:15 a.m. 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, March 15.Where: Room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.Joining Tour to testify before the committee will be Keith Murphy, chairman and chief executive officer, Organovo Holdings Inc.; Shane Weyant, chief executive officer and president, Creative Pultrusions Inc.; Hota GangaRao, the Maurice A. and Jo Ann Wadsworth Distinguished Professor, director, Constructed Facilities Center, director, Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure, West Virginia University; and Afsaneh Rabiei, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University.Robert Latta, R-Ohio, chairs the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, and its ranking member is Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill.Tour, a synthetic organic chemist, received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Syracuse University, his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. After spending 11 years on the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, he joined the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice University in 1999 where he is presently the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, professor of computer science and professor of materials science and nanoengineering.For more information or to schedule an interview with Tour, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at 713-348-6327 or david@rice.edu.-30-Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.This news release can be found online at news.rice.eduLocated on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview. AddThislast_img read more

first_img 10 min read This story originally appeared on Business Insider Steve Kovach June 5, 2017 Image credit: Samantha Lee/Business Insider iPad sales have been declining since 2013. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. –shares The iPad Was Supposed to Revolutionize News, Books and Computers. So What Happened? Add to Queue A few months after Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world, a device he called “magical and revolutionary” onstage, there was a team visiting Apple headquarters working to find ways to live up to that description. When the tablet came out in 2010, some people weren’t sure what to use it for. Apple had to demonstrate how you could lean back on a couch and read or watch a show, in a way that didn’t make sense on a laptop or a phone.This team was scrambling to create something brand new for the iPad ahead of a splashy launch in New York. But the team didn’t work for Apple; they worked for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and under the close watch of Jobs and Apple’s iPad team, they were trying to create the first newspaper designed specifically for a tablet.The app would be called The Daily, and it looked like a tabloid come to life, with animated graphics and videos.”There were regular visits to Cupertino where we showed them new prototypes,” Jon Dobrowolski, who worked on The Daily as the head of product, said in an interview with Business Insider. “They would help us work through complex problems. We were doing things that hadn’t pushed the iPad that far.”It was clear Apple wanted The Daily to be a success as much as News Corp did. Jobs provided feedback on early versions of the app. There was a sense within News Corp. that Jobs would’ve been even more involved with the project if his health hadn’t started to seriously decline around the same time The Daily was gearing up to launch, Dobrowolski said.It would’ve been the ultimate proof that the iPad had a purpose, even if that purpose was a bit muddy at launch. As the iPod changed music industry and the iPhone changed telecommunications, the iPad would change news and publishing.In February 2011, a little more than a year after the original iPad launched, Murdoch, gathered a scrum of media and tech reporters at the Guggenheim in New York to unveil what he believed would be a transformative way to get news.Rupert Murdoch introduced The Daily in New York in 2010.Image credit: News Corp.For 99 cents a week or $39.99 a year, subscribers to The Daily would get an interactive reimagining of a daily news publication, full of interactive charts, video and other electronic goodies along with high-quality journalism from a newsroom packed with editors and reporters with impressive résumés.Apple’s iTunes boss at the time, Eddy Cue, was onstage as well, promoting the App Store’s new subscription model and giving his blessing to The Daily. He called the iPad a new category of device and boasted about the growing ecosystem of apps for it.”The iPad demands we rethink our craft,” Murdoch said from the stage.The Daily shut down less than two years later.It was the first sign that the promise of the iPad — that it would upend industries like book publishing, education, the news media and even video entertainment — would not come to pass. iPad sales have been in free fall since 2013. Ebook sales are plummeting by double-digit percentages as print books show a surprising renewed growth. Digital publishers have found more success on Facebook and other digital platforms, not tying their futures to one gadget. And despite a push to reinvent textbook publishing, Apple failed to make a dent in an industry controlled by big publishers.”The role of the iPad was probably vaguer than any product Apple launched,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. “It wasn’t well defined.”And Apple is still trying to figure it out.This week, Apple will host its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), where it shows off new versions of the software that powers its products. There are also rumblings that we might get a look at a new iPad Pro model with a 10.5-inch screen and shrunken-down bezels aimed at transforming the iPad from a media-consumption device to one that could replace your laptop.But even Apple’s biggest fans have had doubts the iPad can be the new kind of computer the company wants it to be, and the onus is on Apple this week to put the tools in place to make it happen or risk failing to deliver on yet another promise.iPad sales have been declining since 2013.Publishing revolution?Even the support from Apple couldn’t save The Daily, and it’s a useful lesson in why some of the early hopes for the iPad never panned out.From the beginning, the app was plagued with bugs and crashes, which Dobrowolski blamed on the fact that the iPad was still essentially running software and chips designed for a phone.The production process wasn’t as easy as News Corp. thought it’d be. When The Daily launched, News Corp. executives claimed they’d save on overhead costs and production time because they didn’t have to print and deliver a physical newspaper. Each issue would magically show up on subscribers’ iPads instead.ScreenshotThe reality: It took a lot more work to produce each edition of The Daily than originally thought.Dobrowolski said the team would often work from 10 a.m. until 4 a.m. the next day, trying to get each issue out on time, wrestling with graphics and layout for both vertical and horizontal positions formats.It turned out that iPad publishing was a tricky process, and, in the end, the subscribers simply weren’t there, forcing The Daily to announce it was shutting down in December 2012, not even two years after its debut.No one tried anything on that scale again. The Daily was the most ambitious, but it wasn’t alone. Condé Nast and other major magazine publishers made efforts to transfer their portfolio of magazines to the iPad. But all those additional videos, graphics and animations could take up to a few gigabytes of memory with each issue, which turned out to be a bad experience since iPads had a measly 16 gigs to start with. Others were just PDF versions of the print magazine. Hardly revolutionary.After The Daily’s failure, Apple tried in 2012 to take on the lucrative textbook industry with another high-profile event in New York, the heart of the publishing industry. The company debuted iBooks 2, a new ebooks app that featured digital, interactive textbooks from a few major publishers. But Apple fell largely silent about its ambitions to “reinvent the textbook” after the event, and there’s scant evidence that publishers have embraced iBooks over print.”Apple hasn’t disrupted the textbook market at all,” Dawson said. “Textbooks are a very high-margin business for publishers, and there’s little incentive for them to sell on the iPad. Without having them on board it’s really hard to disrupt a market like that.”A new kind of computerApple now pitches the iPad as a device that can replace your laptop.Image credit: Tech Insider/Steve KovachBy the following year, the iPad saw its first sales decline, and it hasn’t recovered since. There were many factors to blame. Some said it was because people realized you don’t need to upgrade your iPad every year or two like you do with the iPhone. Others said Apple’s introduction of the big-screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus ate into iPad sales.So now we’re in the middle of another promise: The iPad as a laptop replacement. In 2015, Apple introduced the iPad Pro, adding more power, a larger screen and new capabilities thanks to a snap-on keyboard cover and $99 stylus called the Apple Pencil. CEO Tim Cook claimed in an interview before the Pro’s launch that the iPad Pro could do enough to replace a laptop.It was a remarkable pivot and the first time Apple explicitly claimed it had made a new kind of computer. Jobs and other Apple executives had always talked about the long-term prospects of the iPad as a new kind of PC, but the iPad Pro was the first model in the product’s five years that was being marketed that way.But critics, including some of Apple’s biggest defenders, aren’t totally buying it. Pro-Apple writer John Gruber wrote a long critique about the keyboard cover. “Trying to use the iPad Pro as a laptop with the Smart Keyboard exposes the seams of an OS that was clearly designed for touchscreen use first,” he wrote.Recode’s Walt Mossberg put it more bluntly, saying “because Apple hasn’t made a great keyboard, the iPad Pro isn’t a complete replacement for a great laptop like the MacBook Air.”It’s not just the hardware. While some apps like Microsoft Office have made it to the iPad, it’s still missing other essential productivity apps that could truly make it a laptop replacement. Much of the iPad app ecosystem is still populated with jumbo-sized iPhone apps, not the reimagined apps needed to take advantage of more screen space and extra power. The iPad’s split-screen feature helps a little, but it’s not enough.The benefits would be enormous — a device as powerful and capable as a laptop but packed in an ultrathin, portable package. No one has cracked that yet.”The big challenge is how to evolve iOS on an iPad in a way that feels natural in that setting,” Dawson said. “Apple has a tricky balancing act.”So now the pressure is on Apple to figure out where the iPad fits in. The iPad is far from a flop — any of Apple’s rivals would kill to have a product that sells around 10 million units per quarter — but it still hasn’t found a distinct purpose within Apple’s hardware ecosystem.While the iPad made a great consumption device, it failed to disrupt the media and publishing industries that Apple and its early partners first imagined. And in the nearly two years since the iPad Pro’s debut, it’s unclear how successful Apple can be with its next major promise: turning the iPad into a dream device that replaces your laptop altogether.As WWDC approaches, some are already speculating what Apple could do to take the iPad to the next level. (Scott Stein of CNET has a good piece on that very topic, where he suggests revamping the home screen, improving the Safari browser and more. It’s worth a read.) And if we do see new hardware, it’ll have to address the qualms critics have had with the keyboard.The iPad has proved itself to be magical and successful. The next step is to prove it can be revolutionary. Apple Next Article Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now »last_img read more

first_img Add to Queue Google CEO Sundar Pichai Confirms Censored China Search Engine Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Wired25 via engadget This story originally appeared on Engadget Register Now » Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Google Next Article He said its development is going very well. 2 min read October 16, 2018 When Google’s chief privacy officer admitted to the Senate that the company is working on a secret project called ‘Dragonfly,’ he refused to say what it is. According to previous reports, Dragonfly is the code name for the censored search engine Google has been developing for China since 2017 — a search engine that can automatically identify websites banned by the country’s infamous firewall and can remove them from the results page. Now, Google chief Sundar Pichai has openly confirmed the search engine’s existence at the Wired 25 Summit and even told the audience that its development is going very well.”It turns out we’ll be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries,” he said onstage. The executive defended the project, telling people that Google is “compelled by [its] mission [to] provide information to everyone,” but it also has to follow the laws in every country. China serves as home to 20 percent of the world’s population, after all, and its absence in the nation means it’s missing out on such a huge number of potential users.Pichai said that there are many areas where Google could provide “information better than what’s available” to people in China. The search engine could lead to reliable cancer treatment info, for instance, instead of the fake information they might be getting elsewhere.The Google CEO also said during the event that the company re-evaluated its choice to pull out of China a few years ago, calling the country a wonderful and innovative market. “We wanted to learn what it would look like if we were in China, so that’s what we built internally,” he said. “Given how important the market is and how many users there are, we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view.”Pichai seems to stand by the company’s decision to develop the censored search engine, even though employees are pushing back and demanding more transparency. He didn’t say when the product would launch, but when it was first reported in August, sources said it could be ready within six to nine months. –shares Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Mariella Moonlast_img read more

first_imgNimble Delivers Contact Unification, Automated Data Enrichment for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Partners and Customers PRNewswireMay 8, 2019, 2:08 pmMay 8, 2019 Nimble Delivers Contact Unification, Automated Data Enrichment for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Partners and CustomersNimble — the Simple, Smart CRM for Office 365 — announced two-way contact data synchronization and automated data enrichment for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Office 365, and other business data sources. A fast-growing network of CSPs worldwide are reselling Nimble as both a simple CRM for Business Central and an onramp to more sophisticated systems.Nimble Anncs Team Relationship Management, Contact Unification & Data Enrichment for Office 365 & #Dynamics365 Business Central #MSPartner“It’s hard to truly understand your customers, partners, and suppliers when your CRM is broken, and critical relationship data and conversations are siloed in Business Central, Office 365, and other front- and back-office systems across the organization,” said Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara. “Microsoft users love using Nimble because our automated, instantaneous insights enable workgroups to become smarter about managing relationships across front- and back-end systems wherever they’re working.”Marketing Technology News: Madison Logic Unveils New Data Cloud to Accelerate ABM for B2B Organizations GloballyA company-wide relationship management platform for Business Central customersNimble and PieSync provide a complete view of every business relationship within the company, gathering contact data from Business Central, Office 365, and any number of siloed data sources into a single system. AI and automation build, enrich, update, and sync customer records, freeing users from spending endless amounts of time manually keying in or migrating data. Ease of use and universal accessibility help drive an average 80% Nimble user adoption rate, according to verified user reviews on G2 Crowd.“Nimble powered business data, combined with Dynamics Business Central business management capabilities, is a huge step forward for smart businesses that want to use their data as a competitive advantage,” said Eamon Moore, CEO and co-founder of Hikari Data Solutions.A recent winner of Microsoft’s CSP Partner of the Year Award, Eamon describes three primary use cases for Business Central customers using Nimble and its embedded PieSync integration:Unlocking company and relationship data, as well as standard and custom fields from Business Central, allows sales and business development teams to follow up on key information or potential opportunities uncovered by the finance group and other back-office staff members.Providing in-app access to a unified database of relationship data gathered from multiple systems, including Office 365 and more than 170 SaaS business apps. Access to unified knowledge saves time and eliminates the errors commonly associated with maintaining “multiple versions of the truth.”Enriched, 360-degree views of every Business Central relationship helps team members cultivate strategic, loyal relationships with key stakeholders within their day-to-day workflows.Marketing Technology News: Vodafone Idea and IBM in Five Year, Multi-Million-Dollar Engagement to Advance the Future of Telco with Hybrid Cloud, and AI“This 2-way synchronization not only saves time, but it also enriches the contacts’ profiles with the information both tools gather,” said Mattias Putman, Founder & CTO of PieSync. “We built a solution that enables users to visualize certain financial details of their customers within Nimble. At the same time, the social insights gathered by the CRM are automatically available in Business Central.”Nimble can either serve as a customer’s simple CRM for Office 365, an integrated front/back-office solution, or a company-wide clearinghouse of relationship data across multiple cloud-based applications.“Some of our clients that aren’t ready for Dynamics 365 for Sales use Nimble as a simple-but-powerful contact relationship manager,” said David Gersten, practice manager, Dynamic Consulting, LLC. “Having easy visibility to company and contact information, without having to duplicate entries manually between applications, will improve sales and vendor relationships for SMB customers using both of these offerings.”“While Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales is ideally suited for businesses that want an enterprise-class business management solution, we recommend Nimble for small teams that want an end-to-end solution with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for its back office, said Rosalyn Arntzen, President and CEO of Amaxra. “As customer needs evolve, Nimble integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, enabling employees to access complete records for every contact, within appropriate workflows and everywhere they engage customers online.”Marketing Technology News: itelligence Receives 2019 SAP Pinnacle Award: SAP Global Platinum Reseller of the Year Business CentralcrmJon FerraraMarketing TechnologyMicrosoft Dynamics 365NewsNimble Previous ArticleGartner Says Marketers Must Focus on Helping Customers in Order to Remain Competitive TodayNext ArticleConsumers Report Small Businesses Excel at Customer Experience, New 8×8 Research Findslast_img read more

first_imgEquifax Announces New Chief Communications Officer PRNewswireJune 5, 2019, 10:22 pmJune 5, 2019 Additionally, she helped drive the strategy for a new corporate narrative and created top-tier media opportunities to tell the company’s evolution story. Her global experience includes leading communications in Coca-Cola’s South and East Africa business unit, where she created a stakeholder strategy in a difficult and highly regulated environment.Marketing Technology News: CloudSense and Ad-Juster Work Together to Maximize End-to-End Ad Campaign Efficiency and Profitability“Equifax is in the midst of a game-changing evolution, and how our story is presented internally and externally is paramount to our success with stakeholders,” said Mark W. Begor, CEO, Equifax. “Amanda has the experience and expertise to help Equifax craft and project its narrative in a way that’s accurate and fair, and I’m excited to have her global background on the team.”Marketing Technology News: SDI Marketing Set to Fly High with Launch of New Stand-Alone Loyalty Agency, kitePrior to corporate communications, Rosseter was a journalist at leading media outlets, serving as a news correspondent, anchor and investigative reporter at CNN and at affiliates of NBC and ABC in Boston and Atlanta. As an award-winning journalist, Rosseter has earned Emmy awards, Edward R. Murrow awards and a Columbia University DuPont baton for investigative journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from The University of Georgia.Marketing Technology News: Pernix Launches Attribution Application Solution to Brings Full Transparency to Performance Marketing Programs Rosseter is a communications leader with more than 25 years in external communications and global media engagement. Most recently, she led global external communications and media for The Coca-Cola Company, where she served in a number of roles, including Global Group Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs. Her accomplishments include leading the communications launch of a new business strategy to 17 business units across 200+ countries and territories as well as to media, external stakeholders and analysts. Equifax Inc. has named Amanda Rosseter to its new Chief Communications Officer position, where she will lead corporate, executive and transformation communications, and will serve on the CEO’s extended senior leadership team.center_img Amanda Rosseter to Lead Global Communications Strategy Amanda RosseterCoca ColaEquifaxglobal media engagementMark W. BegorMarketing Technology NewsNews Previous ArticleIndustry-Leading Sales Enablement Platform Scoops $60 Million Series DNext ArticlePicMonkey Launches Real-Time Collaboration Features, Empowers People to Create Togetherlast_img read more

first_imgFive9 to Provide Extraordinary Customer Experiences Using Microsoft Teams Business WireJuly 16, 2019, 3:08 pmJuly 16, 2019 Five9, Inc., a leading provider of the intelligent cloud contact center, announces that Microsoft has selected Five9 as a strategic contact center partner to deeply integrate the Five9 Intelligent Cloud Contact Center platform with Microsoft Teams.@Five9 to Provide Extraordinary Customer Experiences using @Microsoft Teams“We are very pleased to partner closely with Microsoft Teams to deliver a superior end-to-end solution to our customers,” said Dan Burkland, Five9 President. “With the addition of Teams, we can now deliver a fully integrated solution encompassing Teams, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Five9, which enables the digital enterprise to deliver unparalleled customer experience.”The new Five9 and Teams integration improves the customer experience by taking the collaboration capabilities of the Teams platform and integrating it with the Five9 Intelligent Cloud Contact Center solution. This gives contact center agents access to all the resources of their Teams’ community, providing quicker resolutions to issues.Marketing Technology News: Brave Expands Advertising Platform to Mobile Devices and Launches Brave Ads Certified Vendor Program“The seamless integration between Five9 and Microsoft Teams arms the agents with the ability to gain access to experts across the organization to deliver a superior experience,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, Five9 CTO and Head of Artificial Intelligence.Marketing Technology News: M-Commerce Not Living up to Consumer Expectations, New Research FindsThe initial integration between Five9 and Teams will provide agents access to subject matter experts that are using Teams. Through a consolidated directory, Five9 agents can see the presence of Teams users, grouped by expertise, in their Agent Desktop application. The agent then can simply click to call the expert. Agents can conference the expert in with the customer or transfer the customer call completely to the expert. The ability to identify Teams contacts by department or area of expertise makes it easy for agents to consult with the right expert. All calls between Five9 contact center agents and Teams experts are routed over a private SIP Trunk, thus avoiding any toll charges.Marketing Technology News: Accelerators Launched for Rapid Execution and Faster Time to Market Cloud Contact Center platformcustomer experiencesFive9Marketing Technology NewsMicrosoftNews Previous ArticleInte Q Receives a Top Rating for Measuring Emotional Loyalty by Leading Research FirmNext ArticleBaidu and Snap Inc. Renew Sales Partnership to Reach Outbound Chinese Advertiserslast_img read more

first_imgBy Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDNov 21 2018MDMA or ecstasy pills can help individuals trust more and cooperate say a team of researchers who are looking at its properties that could help treat psychological disorders. The study was published this week in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.The team from King’s College London have found that MDMA can help raise the activity of several parts of the brain that are associated with social behaviour and empathy.This can thus help the user understand the intentions and beliefs of others and help them become more trusting and cooperative. At present MDMA is being tried in human volunteers for treatment of Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Researchers add that MDMA could help subjects undergo psychotherapy sessions more successfully when they are more receptive and cooperative.Professor Mitul Mehta from the King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) in a statement said, “Understanding the brain activity underlying social behaviour could help identify what goes wrong in psychiatric conditions. Given the social nature of psychotherapy, understanding how MDMA affects social interaction sheds light on why the drug could become a valuable tool in treating patients.”The team however noted that while MDMA could help the participant become more trusting and cooperative, it did not make them gullible. For example, the 20 participants were given a series of games with trustworthy people and cheaters. Half of them were put on MDMA while the other half was given placebo. They were then given tasks and games.Those on MDMA were more cooperative but did identify people who were cheaters and did not naively trust them said Mehta. The participants also underwent MRI scans so that the researchers could understand the changes made by the drug on the brain.One of the tasks was that a pair of participants was given a situation called the “prisoner’s dilemma”. Here two accomplices are supposedly arrested and are being interviewed separately. They are being persuaded to turn on the other against a chance to be released. If they remain silent both would serve a short sentence and if they both turn on each other they would both serve a long sentence.Related StoriesRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaLight at last: why do more women develop Alzheimer’s disease?Research sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairThe team of researchers found that those on MDMA were less likely to turn on their partners compared to those who were on placebo. However if the MDMA participants knew their partners to be selfish and untrustworthy, they tended to turn on them similar to those on placebo.This meant that MDMA did not make them naive or gullible. However, if the partners proved themselves to be cooperative again, those on MDMA did not rat out on them and re-established their trust quickly.Simultaneously their brain activity showed that MDMA could light up the superior temporal cortex and mid-cingulate cortex regions of their brains. These areas are important to interpret other people’s intentions and beliefs.The main decision making area of the brain was the right anterior insula. This area was stimulated on MDMA so that participants could appraise the risks involved in a better manner.But when faced with untrustworthy partners, this region showed a decreased activity said experts. Dr Anthony Gabay, the first author of the study said, “Using MRI scans, we were also able to see that MDMA had an impact on brain activity when processing the behaviour of others, rather than altering the decision-making process itself.”“This research is important to build our understanding of how drugs might alter social cognition,” said Mehta. He added, “It has applications in testing novel drug therapies for mood and anxiety disorders. It also tells us which parts of the task a drug may alter, so we can target parts of behavior people are having difficulty with.” MDMA is a Schedule I drug which means that it has a high abuse potential and has no acceptable medicinal use.Source: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/early/2018/11/16/JNEUROSCI.1276-18.2018last_img read more

Source:https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2018/december/fitness-instructors-comments-shape-womens-body-satisfaction Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Dec 14 2018Exercise has been called a double-edged sword for women when it comes to body image as some types of exercise seem to improve body esteem, whereas others have the potential to lower it.In other words, from a psychological perspective, not all fitness approaches are created equal.A new Northwestern University study found that while exercise, in this case, a 16-minute conditioning class, generally improved women’s mood and body satisfaction, women felt even better if the instructor made motivational comments that focused on strength and health instead of on losing weight or changing the appearance of one’s body.”Our goal was to determine whether the psychological outcomes of a fitness class might vary based on whether the instructor made motivational comments based on health verses appearance,” said Renee Engeln, lead author of the study and professor of instruction in psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.Related StoriesA short bout of exercise improves brain function, study revealsIt’s never too late to take up exercise, advise researchersLiver fat biomarker levels linked with metabolic health benefits of exercise, study findsAfter taking the class, women reported more positive emotions and felt more satisfied with the shape of their body if the instructor said things like, “This exercise is crucial to developing strength in the legs; these are the muscles that truly help you run, jump, sprint like a super hero!” Those randomly assigned to the class in which the instructor made appearance-focused comments like, “This exercise blasts fat in the legs, no more thunder thighs for us! Get rid of that cellulite!” didn’t show those same improvements.”We also asked the women to list three words that described how they felt at the end of class,” said Engeln, author of “Beauty Sick” (HarperCollins, 2017). “Those who heard appearance-focused comments were much more likely to write things like ‘ashamed’ and ‘disgusted with myself.’ Those in the health-focused classes were more likely to write things like ‘accomplished’ and ‘strong.'”Engeln said the study is one more reminder that words really matter.”The women in this study all did the same exercises, in the same room, with the same music playing,” Engeln added. “Yet just modifying the script the fitness instructor used had a meaningful impact on the way they felt about themselves afterward.”If we want people to stick with exercise, we need to remove shame from the equation. This study points to an easy and cost-free step that fitness instructors can take to make their classrooms healthier, more inclusive and more inspiring.””Tone it Down: How Fitness Instructors’ Motivational Comments Shape Women’s Body Satisfaction” published online and will be in the December print issue of the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. In addition to Engeln, co-authors include Margaret Shavlik of Vanderbilt University and Colleen Daly of Northwestern. read more

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Feb 13 2019Stimulating the brain with implanted electrodes is a successful, but very drastic measure. Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology, Kempenhaeghe, Philips and Gent University will therefore be working on a method to stimulate the brain using electrodes that are placed on the head rather than inside it. Their goal is to customize treatment for patients with severe epilepsy. Incidentally, they will also settle the scientific discussion about the efficacy of non-invasive electrical neurostimulation.Epilepsy affects approximately 120,000 people in the Netherlands, about thirty percent of whom do not respond to medication and remain prone to seizures. For this group, electrical brain stimulation can be a solution. DBS (deep brain stimulation), with electrodes deep in the brain, has already proven to be effective. The electrodes must be positioned accurately so that they stimulate exactly the right brain area. This accuracy issue is still a bottleneck for non-invasive neurostimulation, because it is not yet sufficiently known where exactly the stimulation needs to be targeted and it is even more difficult to reach the right place in the brain from the outside.Related StoriesResearchers report how a popular antidepressant drug could rewire the brainStudy offers clues about how to prevent brain inflammation in Alzheimer’sResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionPersonalizedThe researchers expect a new Philips medical instrument to provide the solution for focal seizures; seizures in a specific part of the brain. This is a system with 256 electrodes that not only measures brain activity (EEG), but can also apply very targeted current. Project leader and technical research leader Rob Mestrom of Eindhoven University of Technology: “This instrument therefore offers us the unique opportunity to see more accurately than before where exactly in the brain an epileptic seizure takes place. We can then stimulate precisely that point and measure the effect directly. This gives a personalized approach, because it is tailored to the readings of the individual patient.”The basic idea of the project, called PerStim, is simple, says Paul Boon, clinical research leader and professor at UGent and TU Eindhoven. “When we have located the source of the seizure, we target an electrical stimulus at that spot that is exactly the opposite of the measured activity. As a result, the seizure should be ‘extinguished’. We will investigate this with both direct and alternating currents.”Clinical testingThe first step in the research project is the development of a personalized calculation model to accurately reconstruct the epileptic focus. The researchers will then determine the stimulation parameters to achieve the desired focus of the stimulation. Then they will look at how they can best measure the effect of stimulation. The results will gradually be applied in clinical trials. Two PhD students and a postdoc will be appointed for the project. The research, with a budget of 1.9 million euros, is part of EindhovenMedTech Innovation Center (e/MTIC), a broad research collaboration between TU/e, Kempenhaeghe and Philips, among others. Source:https://www.tue.nl/en/news/news-overview/11-02-2019-epilepsie-heel-gericht-bestrijden-met-elektrodes-op-het-hoofd/last_img read more

first_img This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 24 2019In the 25 years since she snorted her first line of meth at a club in San Francisco, Kim has redefined “normal” so many times. At first, she said, it seemed like meth brought her back to her true self — the person she was before her parents divorced, and before her stepfather moved in.”I felt normal when I first did it, like, ‘Oh! There I am,'” she said.Kim is 47 now, and she has been chasing normal her entire adult life. That chase has brought her to some dark places, so she asked us not to use her last name. For a long time, meth, also known as speed, was Kim’s drug of choice.Then she added heroin to the mix. She tried it for the first time while she was in treatment for meth.”That put me on a nine-year run of using heroin. And I thought, ‘Oh, heroin’s great. I don’t do speed anymore.’ To me, it saved me from the tweaker-ness,” Kim said, referring to the agitation and paranoia many meth users experience, and how heroin, an opiate, calmed that.Now, Kim has finished treatment for both drugs.Kim was part of the previous meth wave, in the ’90s, and now she’s part of a new meth epidemic that has been sweeping through parts of the United States, especially the West. Deaths involving methamphetamine are up. Hospitalizations are up.Seeking A ‘Synergistic High’Researchers who have tracked drug use for decades believe the new meth crisis got a kick-start from the opioid epidemic.”There is absolutely an association,” said Dr. Phillip Coffin, director of substance use research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.Across the country, more and more opioid users say they now use meth as well, up from 19% in 2011 to 34% in 2017, according to a study published last year in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The greatest increases were in the western United States.That research suggests efforts to get doctors to cut down on writing opioid prescriptions may have driven some users to buy meth on the street instead.”Methamphetamine served as an opioid substitute, provided a synergistic high, and balanced out the effects of opioids so one could function ‘normally,'” the researchers wrote.It’s kind of like having a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up, and a glass of wine in the evening to wind down: meth on Monday to get to work, heroin on Friday to ease into the weekend.Amelia said that’s how her drug use evolved to include meth — she also asked that we use only her first name because she has used illegal substances.At first, drugs were just a fun thing to do on weekends — ecstasy and cocaine with her friends. Then, on Monday, Amelia went about her workweek.”I’m a horse trainer, so I worked really hard, but I also partied really hard,” she said.Then one weekend, when Amelia was feeling kind of hung over from the night before, a friend passed her a pipe. She said it was opium.”I thought it was like smoking weed or hash, you know? I just thought it was like that,” Amelia said.She grew to like the opium stuff. Eventually, Amelia met up with her friend’s dealer.”The woman said, ‘How long have you been doing heroin for?’ and my jaw nearly hit the ground,” Amelia said. “I was just really, honestly shocked. I was like, ‘What? I’ve been doing heroin this whole time?’ I felt really naive, really stupid for not even putting the two together.”Pretty soon, Amelia started feeling sick around the same time every day. It was withdrawal symptoms, a clear sign she was becoming dependent on the drug. Her weekend smoke became her daily morning smoke. Then it was part of her lunch-break routine.”I just kind of surrendered to that and decided, ‘Screw it,'” she said. “‘I’ll just keep doing it. I’m obviously still working; I’m fine.'”Related StoriesCannabidiol reduces cue-induced craving and anxiety in individuals with history of heroin abuseOpioids are major cause of pregnancy-related deaths in UtahFlorida is the latest Republican-led state to adopt clean needle exchangesA heroin habit is expensive. Amelia was working six days a week to pay for it. Any horses that needed to be ridden, any lessons that needed to be taught, she said ‘yes,’ because she wanted the money.But bankrolling her heroin habit was exhausting. One day, one of the women she worked with at the horse barn offered her some meth as a pick-me-up.Meth is comparatively cheap. It became the thing that kept Amelia going so she could earn enough money to buy heroin.”The heroin was the most expensive part,” she said. “That was $200 a day at one point. And the meth was $150 a week.”This pattern lasted for three years, until Amelia discovered she was pregnant. As soon as her daughter was born, she entered a residential treatment program in San Francisco, called the Epiphany Center, that would accept her and her baby.”I was OK with being a drug addict. I was OK with that being my life,” she said. “But I wasn’t OK with having kids and letting that be part of my life.”Rehab Admissions On The Rise For Users Who Mix Meth, HeroinAdmissions to drug rehabilitation for heroin have remained steady in recent years in San Francisco. But the number of heroin addicts reporting methamphetamine as a secondary substance problem has been rising. In 2014, 14% of heroin users said meth was also a problem. Three years later, 22% said so.”That is very high,” said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a physician and professor at the University of California-San Francisco who has been studying heroin for almost 20 years. “That’s alarming and new and intriguing and needs to be explored.”The speedball — heroin and cocaine — is a classic combination, he said.”It’s like peanut butter cups, right? Chocolate and peanut butter together,” he said. “Methamphetamine and heroin are an unusual combination.”The meth-and-heroin combo is referred to as a goofball, Ciccarone added, because it makes the user feel “a little bit silly and a little bit blissful.”For Kim, adding heroin to her methamphetamine habit compounded her use. “I ended up doing both, at the same time, every day, both of them,” she said.It was all about finding the recipe to what felt normal. Start with meth. Add some heroin. Touch up the speed.”You’re like a chemist with your own body,” she said. “You’re balancing, trying to figure out your own prescription to how to make you feel good.”Now Kim is trying to find balance without drugs. She’s been sober for a year. So has Amelia, the horse trainer. Her sobriety anniversary is her daughter’s birthday.This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

Citation: Facebook fined in South Korea for limiting user access (2018, March 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-facebook-fined-south-korea-limiting.html © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. South Korea’s telecoms regulator has fined Facebook for illegally limiting user access to its services from late 2016 to 2017. The Korea Communications Commission said Wednesday that Facebook should pay 396 million won ($369,400) as a penalty for violating a law against hurting the interests of users. The regulator also recommended that the company fix its terms of use stipulating it cannot guarantee the quality of its services.The complaint arose after Facebook rerouted some users’ access to its services to networks in Hong Kong or the United States, instead of using domestic networks, without notifying them, the regulator said. That slowed connections for some local users of Facebook. Some complained they were unable to play videos on Facebook. The KCC said connections were as much as 4.5 times slower than before for some users during evening hours.SK Broadband, a local fixed-line internet provider, received about 10 complaints per day for slow connections while LG UPlus, another internet service provider, received an average of 34 complaints a day.”Facebook did not actively look into the complaints from local telecoms service providers that users are complaining about slower connections and as a result its service quality was not maintained at an appropriate level,” the KCC said in a statement. “When controversies erupted in South Korea about Facebook’s rerouting, the company restored the connections to their original state around October and November of 2017.”The KCC said the U.S. social media giant violated a law against limiting access or subscriptions to its services without convincing reasons.”We are disappointed with the KCC’s decision. We strive to deliver optimal performance for all our users and will continue working with Korean internet service providers toward this goal,” Facebook said in a statement.The probe was launched in May last year after reports it had interfered with some local users’ access to Facebook and Instagram.The KCC probed claims that Facebook intentionally slowed access while it negotiated network usage fees with internet service providers.Facebook has gained traction in South Korea in recent years and politicians and celebrities often use it to interact with fans. More than 12 million users visit Facebook per day in South Korea, according to the KCC.Facebook said it did not violate the law in part because its terms of use say it cannot guarantee its services will operate without delays or interference. KCC officials rejected that argument, saying the terms were unfair. It recommended the company amend its terms of use. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Credit: CC0 Public Domain Facebook beefs up food delivery options from its app read more

first_imgOmer Tanovic, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, joined the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) because he loves studying theory and turning research questions into solvable math problems. But Omer says that his engineering background—before coming to MIT he received undergraduate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina—has taught him never to lose sight of the intended applications of his work, or the practical parameters for implementation. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. The Maximization of Vaccinations “Every cell tower has to have some kind of PAPR reduction algorithm in place in order to operate. But the algorithms they use are developed with little or no guaranties on improving system performance,” Omer says. “A common conception is that optimal algorithms, which would certainly improve system performance, are either too expensive to implement—in terms of power or computational capacity—or cannot be implemented at all.”Omer, who is supervised by LIDS Professor Alexandre Megretski, designed an algorithm that can decrease the PAPR of a modern communication signal, which would allow the power amplifier to operate closer to its maximum efficiency, thus reducing the amount of energy lost in the process. To create this system he first considered it as an optimization problem, the conditions of which meant that any solution would not be implementable, as it would require infinite latency, meaning an infinite delay before transmitting the signal. However, Omer showed that the underlying optimal system, even though of infinite latency, has a desirable fading-memory property, and so he could create an approximation with finite latency—an acceptable lag time. From this, he developed a way to best approximate the optimal system. The approximation, which is implementable, allows tradeoffs between precision and latency, so that real-time realizations of the algorithm can improve power efficiency without adding too much transmission delay or too much distortion to the signal. Omer applied this system using standardized test signals for 4G communication and found that, on average, he could get around 50 percent reduction in the peak-to-average power ratio while satisfying standard measures of quality of digital communication signals.Omer’s algorithm, along with improving power efficiency, is also computationally efficient. “This is important in order to ensure that the algorithm is not just theoretically implementable, but also practically implementable,” Omer says, once again stressing that abstract mathematical solutions are only valuable if they cohere to real-world parameters. Microchip real estate in communications is a limited commodity, so the algorithm cannot take up much space, and its mathematical operations have to be executed quickly, as latency is a critical factor in wireless communications. Omer believes that the algorithm could be adapted to solve other engineering problems with similar frameworks, including envelope tracking and model predictive control.While he has been working on this project, Omer has made a home for himself at MIT. Two of his three sons were born here in Cambridge—in fact, the youngest was born on campus, in the stairwell of Omer and his wife’s graduate housing building. “The neighbors slept right through it,” Omer says with a laugh.Omer quickly became an active member of the LIDS community when he arrived at MIT. Most notably, he was part of the LIDS student conference and student social committees, where, in addition to helping run the annual LIDS Student Conference, a signature lab event now in its 25th year, he also helped to organize monthly lunches, gatherings, and gaming competitions, including a semester-long challenge dubbed the OLIDSpics (an homage to the Olympic Games). He says that being on the committees was a great way to engage with and contribute to the LIDS community, a group for which he is grateful.”At MIT, and especially at LIDS, you can learn something new from everyone you speak to. I’ve been in many places, and this is the only place where I’ve experienced a community like that,” Omer says.As Omer’s time at LIDS draws to an end, he is still debating what to do next. On one hand, his love of solving real-world problems is drawing him toward industry. He spent four summers during his Ph.D. interning at companies including the Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab. He enjoyed the fast pace of industry, being able to see his solutions implemented relatively quickly.On the other hand, Omer is not sure he could ever leave academia for long; he loves research and is also truly passionate about teaching. Omer, who grew up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, began teaching in his first year of high school, at a math camp for younger children. He has been teaching in one form or another ever since.At MIT, Omer has taught both undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, including as an instructor-G, an appointment only given to advanced students who have demonstrated teaching expertise. He has won two teaching awards, the MIT School of Engineering Graduate Student Extraordinary Teaching and Mentoring Award in 2018 and the MIT EECS Carlton E. Tucker Teaching Award in 2017.The magnitude of Omer’s love for teaching is clear when he speaks about working with students: “That moment when you explain something to a student and you see them really understand the concept is priceless. No matter how much energy you have to spend to make that happen, it’s worth it,” Omer says. Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Omer Tanovic says that his engineering background has taught him never to lose sight of the intended applications of his work, or the practical parameters for implementation. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technologycenter_img Explore further This story is republished courtesy of MIT News (web.mit.edu/newsoffice/), a popular site that covers news about MIT research, innovation and teaching. “I love thinking about things on the abstract math level, but it’s also important to me that the work we are doing will help to solve real-world problems,” Omer says. “Instead of building circuits, I am creating algorithms that will help make better circuits.”One real-world problem that captured Omer’s attention during his Ph.D. is power efficiency in wireless operations. The success of wireless communications has led to massive infrastructure expansion in the United States and around the world. This has included many new cell towers and base stations. As these networks and the volume of information they handle grow, they consume an increasingly hefty amount of power, some of which goes to powering the system as it’s supposed to, but much of which is lost as heat due to energy inefficiency. This is a problem both for companies such as mobile network operators, which have to pay large utility bills to cover their operational costs, and for society at large, as the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions rise.These concerns are what motivate Omer in his research. Most of the projects that he has worked on at MIT seek to design signal processing systems, optimized to different measures, that will increase power efficiency while ensuring that the output signal (what you hear when talking to someone on the phone, for instance) is true to the original input (what was said by the person on the other end of the call).His latest project seeks to address the power efficiency problem by decreasing the peak-to-average power ratio (PAPR) of wireless communication signals. In the broadest sense, PAPR is an indirect indicator of how much power is required to send and receive a clear signal across a network. The lower this ratio is, the more energy-efficient the transmission. Namely, much of the power consumed in cellular networks is dedicated to power amplifiers, which collect low-power electronic input and convert it to a higher-power output, such as picking up a weak radio signal generated inside a cell phone and amplifying it so that, when emitted by an antenna it is strong enough to reach a cell tower. This ensures that the signal is robust enough to maintain adequate signal-to-noise ratio over the communication link. Power amplifiers are at their most efficient when operating near their saturation level, at maximum output power. However, because cellular network technology has evolved in a way that accommodates a huge volume and variety of information across the network—resulting in far less uniform signals than in the past—modern communication standards require signals with big peak-to-average power ratios. This means that a radio frequency transmitter must be designed such that the underlying power amplifier can handle peaks much higher than the average power being transmitted, and therefore, most of the time, the power amplifier is working inefficiently—far from its saturation level. Citation: Making wireless communication more energy efficient (2019, July 4) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-wireless-energy-efficient.htmllast_img read more

first_imgFRANKFURT (Reuters) – SAP (SAPG.DE) told investors not to expect a major improvement in margins before next year as the German business software group reported a 21% decline in second-quarter operating profit on Thursday, sending its shares sharply lower. FILE PHOTO: The logo of German software group SAP is pictured at its headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Ralph OrlowskiEurope’s most valuable tech firm reiterated its forward guidance and CEO Bill McDermott expressed his “absolute commitment” to meeting a strategic goal of expanding margins by 5 percentage points through 2023. Shares fell 10% at the open as revenue and operating profit came in below expectations, weighed down by one-off costs and weakness in Asian markets. That hurt broader sentiment after weak results overnight from streaming service Netflix (NFLX.O). Knut Woller at brokerage Baader Helvea said growth momentum had cooled after a strong start to the year. But, in a flash note, he said he still saw SAP on track to meet its yearly targets – as long as economic conditions don’t deteriorate further. Investors, including U.S. activist fund Elliott, had driven SAP’s shares to all-time highs after management launched an efficiency drive in April, and are keen to see evidence that it is starting to pay off. They also anticipate major share buybacks, to be announced at a capital markets day in November, with JPMorgan seeing potential to return between 11 billion and 20 billion euros (10-18 billion pounds) to shareholders over four years. LICENCE REVENUE SLOWS The spring quarter was, however, marked by a 5% decline in licence revenue, the result of trade tensions that took their toll on Asian markets in particular. Until now, software companies have suffered less from the escalating trade dispute between the United States and China than companies in the semiconductor and auto industries that have issued a slew of profit warnings. Software licences and support, SAP’s legacy business, still account for more than half of its revenue and the bulk of its profit. But because most revenue on new deals is recognised up front, it is more volatile than the company’s smaller, but faster-growing cloud business. In the cloud, a 4-point expansion in gross margins and a fourth consecutive quarter of 40% growth, showed that SAP’s operational performance was on track, McDermott said in an interview: “We’re very happy with the direction this is moving.” That trend is being supported by SAP’s growing partnerships with ‘hyperscale’ cloud computing giants Amazon (AMZN.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Google (GOOGL.O). Such remotely hosted services are subscription based, making them easier to forecast than “lumpier” software licences. That, in turn, helped SAP lift its share of predictable revenue by 3 percentage points to 69% in the quarter. It targets a 71% share next year and 75% in 2023, part of a drive to make the business, based in the Rhineland town of Walldorf, a safer long-term bet for investors. McDermott, 57, said he was not unduly concerned by the dip in licence fees. Experience showed that clients in wait-and-see mode often come back with bigger orders later as they reconfigure supply chains in response to changing conditions. “As people see the need to reorient supply chains, or think differently about the regulatory environment, they tend to broaden the spectrum of what they buy from us,” he said, adding that such deals “tend to get bigger”. ONE-OFFS WEIGH Operating profit of 827 million euros(745.05 million pounds) was hit by charges from a restructuring that will see more than 4,000 staff leave SAP, the $8 billion acquisition of customer sentiment tracking firm Qualtrics and cash-settled staff bonuses. Year-on-year comparisons would become more favourable in the second half of the year, CFO Luka Mucic said, adding that he expected a “very meaningful step upwards” in profitability from next year. SAP competes in areas such as finance and logistics, known as Enterprise Resource Management, with Oracle (ORCL.N), which recently reported stronger-than-expected earnings. It competes with Salesforce (CRM.N) in Customer Relationship Management. After adjusting for one-offs, SAP’s operating profit at constant currencies rose 8% in the second quarter – in line with revenue growth but below Eikon Refinitiv estimates. Adjusted operating margins were flat at 27.3 percent. SAP reiterated its guidance for adjusted operating profit to grow by between 9.5% and 12.5% this year. Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Michelle Martin and Jason NeelyOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.last_img read more