Amazon Web Services – Cloud Storage

Amazon Web Services or AWS offers cloud storage for businesses, this can be a cheaper and easier method of storage and managing data for many businesses. I heard about it a while ago but decided to learn more by visiting amazons AWS website. Basically cloud storage means that you can pay a company (such as Amazon) to manage and store your data remotely. This permits you to not have to deal with managing your own data center. This appeals to businesses because it can be very expensive and use a lot of resources like time and people to keep a data center running smoothly and securely. Technology in big data is getting more complex and the physical hardware that you would need to mange your own data base needs to be replaced every few years which gets very expensive and requires work on the business’s end. If you need more storage space, you can get it at anytime. My question though for cloud storage solutions is, how secure is your data if you let a third party such as Amazon manage it for you? According to “logicworks.com” AWS is PCI “level 1” compliant, and level 1 compliant means that AWS is very secure in terms of the payment card industry (highest level of compliance to PCI). What can you find about the security that cloud services provide?

Sources

How Secure is AWS Cloud for Retailers and eCommerce?

https://aws.amazon.com/what-is-cloud-storage/

Robots helping during the COVID-19 outbreak

China has been leading the way for months creating robots to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Their latest invention coming from Hong Kong is a robot that helps disinfect subway cars. This robot works alongside scheduled workers that also regularly disinfect subways. It sprays a hydrogen peroxide solution around the cars and is supposed to be able to reach “hard to get” places that regular workers often miss. In Hong Kong, schools and most businesses have been closed since late January. The successful social distancing combined with the rapid generation of new technology has helped Hong Kong keep their number of cases under 200.

The use of robots in US hospitals is something that is coming very soon, if not here already. Robots in China are being used to free up the time of medical staff and reduce human interaction for simple tasks such as delivering food and taking temperatures. Thermal screening devices allow all patients’ temperatures to be monitored at once in a large database, which has been allowing hospitals to accommodate people more efficiently. I was unable to find any articles about the use of these robots in US hospitals, however I’m sure this will start to surface very soon.

https://qz.com/1816762/coronavirus-hong-kongs-mtr-subway-uses-robot-to-disinfect-trains/

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/23/video-hospital-in-china-where-covid-19-patients-treated-by-robots.html

Amazon’s Problem with Increased Demand

Big Tech plays an enormous role during these times. Now, more than ever, the ability to purchase goods remotely with just one click has become the most used method to stock up on necessities without compromising health. According to CNBC, Amazon hired over 100,000 employees the past couple weeks to keep up with ever-increasing demand.

Amazon is doing a great job maintaining the world’s population stocked up. Nonetheless, with this huge increase in demand, the company is also a big risk of failing to keep up. Price gouging has become one of the main problems in the online market, with Purell bottles being sold at an astounding price of $400 and facemasks listed for $300. According to CNBC’s ‘How Coronavirus Could Slow Down Amazon Deliveries’ video, there are about 600 million products currently sold on Amazon. While the company has banned more than a million accounts for price gouging, there are “thousands” of new listings entered each day, making a difficult job to stop all accounts engaging in price gouging. These ultimately affect sellers on the platform too, with many business owners having to layover employees and even temporarily shutting down all operations.

Another Problem Amazon faces is providing grocery shopping via Prime Now. As you may know, Amazon owns Whole Foods and provides delivery of groceries to homes (much like Instacart). With a heavily increased demand, many orders cannot be fulfilled on time. Many products that would otherwise be always readily available are out of stock. Moreover, with Coronavirus spreading at alarming rates, not enough delivery drivers are available to provide their services.

Amazon is still a key player during this pandemic, letting consumers purchase essential goods without compromising their health by staying at home. It is understandable that during difficult times, logistical issues arise even in the biggest of corporations.

COVID-19, Cybersecurity, and Remote Learning

With the COVID-19 Outbreak, every K-12, university, and schools and general have moved to online/remote learning. The online learning is great for the whole flattening the curve and social distance aspect of the outbreak, but horrible for the cybersecurity aspect. There are several risks remote learning brings in the cybersecurity world, and opens a major door for hackers. For example, my brother who is in third grade has online learning and access to his school’s database. My brother also has more viruses than you can count on the laptop he also does his online learning for. Furthermore, he is a threat in a way to his school as through these viruses on his computer, he could have his school suffer a data breach.

This is just one of the several problems remote learning can bring. Having several people from several different parts of the worlds and networks able to access a school system allows multiple hackers from different parts of the world and networks able to hack into the school system and perform malicious actions. Small universities, large universities, middle schools, elementary schools – no school is safe. It only takes one person, one hacker to compromise a whole system and multiple people. One link you think is safe from your teacher, might really be a hacker.

With a major pandemic as this, people need to not only be aware of the disease spreading virus, but also the viruses that can infect your computer. Several malicious cyberattacks are going on the internet right now, and viruses from remote learning is just one of the many. The only way to say safe is to make sure your security on your computer is extremely secure, only open links that you know are credible, and generally speaking, just check the credibility of everything before you open it. When IT support is low and we are only able to stay inside our houses, the last thing you want to do is compromise your internet and your computer.

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/03/18/coronavirus-compounds-k-12-cybersecurity-problems-5-areas.html

COVID-19 and Online Gaming

Bored at home? Me too. Isn’t everybody bored at home due to being quarantined for protection of COVID-19. I guarantee most people are at home playing online games, whether it is computer games, XBOX, Nintendo Switch, PS4, etc – and gaming companies are highly aware of this. They have capitalized on this quarantine as a way to make money. I have seen several posts when scrolling through social media about different sales for different gaming platforms, gaming consoles, and online memberships. For example, XBOX is offering live and game pass for only a $1, Sims 4 is only $5, and Wizard101 is offering several different membership sales. Personally, I find this to be a very smart move on behalf of the gaming industries. When people are home doing nothing, most likely they’re going to be playing online video games. Although they are lowering their prices, they are also going to be making a longterm profit by increasing their player database and advertising by word of mouth spread. Also with increased online activity, more people will be playing. This is a great time for online gaming systems to capitalize on.

 

https://www.cnet.com/news/coronavirus-lockdowns-have-lots-of-people-playing-video-games/

Older Generations Are Experiencing a Digital Divide During COVID-19

In this time where we have moved most of our lives to digital platforms, older generations are struggling to learn how to adapt to technology. Many people of the generation feel intimidated by the technology we feel so comfortable using such as food delivery apps and group video calls. 

I was reading a New York Times article about this new sort of digital divide and according to the Times a 2017 Pew Research Study found three-quarters of those older than 65 said that they need someone else to set up electronic devices. Also a third of them said they were “only a little or not at all confident” in their ability to use the web and electronics. 

Those who are 65 and older are the most at risk according to the CDC, and therefore find themselves the most excluded from the outside world as they self quarantine. Many nursing homes have restricted visitors or have completely closed off from them. This group of people are seeking human interaction and communication with loved ones during this time through technology to remain positive, but of course this technology is many times new to them and hard to grasp. 

To help bridge this digital gap, families are helping older relatives find easy-to-use apps and devices, companies and community members are helping set up calls, and officials are calling for people to help older neighbors in the community with their technology if they need it. 

One of the companies that helps older people navigate technology is Candoo. The New York company has recently helped their customers navigate platforms like Zoom with downloadable guides, phone calls, or even sometimes by sharing the costumers screen and showing them where to click. 

I think these companies, as well as people just helping those that need it, is crucial. During this time we are counting on the ability to talk to loved ones through technology, and bridging the gap of a digital divide with older populations helps families be able to stay in touch. 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/technology/virus-older-generation-digital-divide.html

Shape-Changing Soft Robot Created

Researchers from Stanford University have developed a shape-changing, free-roaming soft robots that can work side by side with humans. With further research and development of these robots, they will be able to help assist humans with lifting various heavy objects and even carrying humans out of danger. A limitation that the researchers had to overcome was the fact that most soft robots require to be attached to some type of air source, most of the time a air compressor that has to be attached to the wall which therefore prevents the robot from being able to move. However, researchers were able to keep the same amount of air within these soft robots all the time, allowing the robot to change shapes, move, and even roll in controllable directions.

While the field of soft robotics is still very young, the research and development that has gone behind it so far is fascinating. The soft robots are most desirable towards everyday home and workplace usage whereas traditional robots could cause potential harm. The best way that the soft robot has been described is as a mix between BigHero 6 from Big Max and a Transformer. The mixture of softness and flexibility is the key component to what makes these futuristic robots so appealing. The most interesting part of this development of the soft robot in my opinion is the fact that if could be used to explore various planets and space. It could be sent up in a small package and then act untethered once inflated. It could also use its ability to shape-shift as a way to fit in small places if it had to on a foreign planet. I’m looking forward to seeing how scientists and researchers are going to use and further develop this piece of technology and maybe even be able to incorporate it in our everyday lives.

Source:

“Shape-Changing, Free-Roaming Soft Robot Created.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 18 Mar. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143711.htm

 

VR Used To Help With Mental Health

Mental health issues all around the world are growing exponentially from year to year. It is an issue that many people struggle with, especially college students. Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental health issues. Anxiety can come from a multitude of places and stress is one of the largest factors. Also, a lot of people struggle with social anxiety. In class we talked about the uses of VR and many companies have found ways they can use virtual reality to help with mental health related issues. For example, this article writes about scenarios where companies put their clients who are struggling with mental health issues into a virtual reality situation to help simulate certain events that could happen in public. It has been effective at treating people with social anxiety and helps them to feel gradually more comfortable with going out into public.

It is a relatively cheap solution to helping with mental health. If virtual reality could be used with all forms of mental health, lots of people would benefit. It would only require a person to set up the VR and no doctors or nurses would be needed because the treatment is all through the headset. Virtual reality is a very interesting technology to me and I believe that in the future, it is going to have a larger impact in our lives than we think. As technology progresses, businesses are finding more and more ways it can help our society. Right now, it is on the expensive side to have one in all households, but we are not far away. Virtual reality is fairly easy to use and the benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh the costs.

Oxford VR uses virtual reality to treat social anxiety

Corona Virus Apps

With the Corona Virus outbreak, many have had their eyes glued to their phone screens for the past few days eager for updated news on the issue. The internet is flooded with data on what countries shut their borders, where the disease is spreading, and how the virus can be prevented. Information is important and desired, and we must make sure that the public has access to the correct information. Fake news is common and many fail to notice them. It is said to be false information that caused people to stock up of consumables such as water and toilet paper. With this, it is clear how significant an effect that information can have of the action of people. Especially as information technology is very developed nowadays, information of all kinds spreads rapidly. 

 

Because of this, there is a policy that bans any COVID 19 related applications that are not approved by the government. While the App Store and the Playstore work to remove these apps off the market, some apps managed to get hundreds of thousand downloads before it got deleted. Some of the deleted apps were said to have fake news which would add to the already bad enough confusion in the world right now. We can not completely assume that all unapproved applications are bad, though it is safe to do so since we must have people know only the correct information when they need it. Thomas Brewsters writes about these deleted apps on the online magazine Forbes. In the article, he showcases the different apps that were subject to the ban. It is clear that some of these apps were rather popular and showed a live map of where the disease was spreading. Though it is better to stay safe for now than to risk false information spreading. In times like now, I would say that these app stores made the correct choice to ensure that people have access to correct information to prevent confusion. 

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/03/24/google-bans-coronavirus-apps-but-after-400000-downloads/#21cf21c034c0

The game that has taken over the internet: ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ launched last friday, the newest release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing franchise. The game essentially places you on a deserted island where your priorities include building a home, meeting new people, and exploring. 

An article by Business Insider gave readers a closer look into the game and explained how it works and the objectives throughout the game, while also including pictures. They also stated that “it’s the perfect way to escape COVID-19 lockdown life”.

I agree that it seems like a great pastime during this time since the game is one that takes you away from reality and into a different world that is much simpler. Seeing the game all over my Twitter feed has definitely made me consider purchasing a Nintendo Switch to participate.

According to an article posted on The Verge, the popularity of ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ is shown through the 1.88 million physical copies sold in just the first three days, the game on the track to becoming one of the best selling video games in Japan. The release of the game has also boosted sales of the Nintendo Switch itself in Japan, with more than 392,000 consoles sold last week. 

I’m curious to see if any of any of you play ‘Animal Crossing’, and as someone who hasn’t played, do you think the game is worth the hype? 

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/animal-crossing-new-horizons-game-walkthrough-online-review-escape-reality-2020-3

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/26/21195022/animal-crossing-switch-sales-japan-famitsu