Friday, August 19, 2016

Cisco Networking Academy

Cisco Networking Academy, a global education initiative from Cisco Systems, offers networking programs, like the (Cisco Certified Network Associate) CCNA and (Cisco Certified Network Professional) CCNP courses, which prepare students for the certification exams of the same name, and other computer-related courses. Also see History of virtual learning environments for how Cisco Networking Academy has developed since 1997 relative to others within the VLE community.
Courses are available in approximately 9,000 local academies, in over 165 different countries.
As of 2010, there were over 900,000 active students (defined as students currently enrolled, students enrolled in a future course, and students who were enrolled in a course during the last five months).


In 1993, Cisco embarked on an initiative to design practical, cost-effective networks. It quickly became apparent that designing and installing the networks was not enough, schools also needed some way to maintain the networks after they were up and running. Cisco Senior Consulting Engineer George Ward, based in Cisco's Phoenix, Arizona, office, developed training for teachers and staff for maintenance of school networks. The first pilot of the program started with computer science instructors and students at Greenway High School in northwest Phoenix, Arizona. The students in particular were eager to learn and the demand was such that it led to the creation of the Cisco Networking Academy.[1]
Cisco Networking Academy, established in 1997, teaches students networking and other information technology-related skills, preparing them for jobs as well as for higher education in engineering, computer science and related fields. Since its launch, the program has grown to more than 9,000 Academies in 50 U.S. states and more than 165 countries with a curriculum taught in 16 different languages. More than 900,000 students participate in Academies operating in colleges and universities, technical schools, community-based organizations, and other educational programs around the world. Networking Academy blends face-to-face teaching with web-based curriculum, hands-on lab exercises, and Internet-based assessment.

Networking courses

Networking Academy offers a variety of courses in networking, such as CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional), Wireless Networking and Network Security, among others. The CCNA is offered in two models, Discovery provides general networking theory and offers a hands-on career-oriented approach. Exploration is for more advanced learners and covers protocols and theory in depth, each is divided into four courses. Both the Exploration and Discovery tracks lead to industry-recognized CCNA certifications. CCNP courses follow from the CCNA and are offered as three separate certificated courses.
The latest revision of the Networking courses, entitled "Routing and Switching", released in 2013, re-combines the Discovery and Exploration tracks. The first two courses, Network Basics and Routing and Switching Essentials, are designed to map to the CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry-level Network Technician) competencies. There are additional courses in development to map fully to the new CCNA competencies.[2]
The Networking Academy also offers curriculum mapped to the CompTIA A+ competencies. The IT Essentials curriculum was also updated in 2013 and again in 2016 to reflect the updated A+ competencies.[3]

Teaching Tools

With Cisco Networking Academy expanding into many different nations, some without the infrastructure present in western nations, Cisco has worked with a business partner to create a remote access router system (Netlab+)[4] as well as collaborating with over 200 academies worldwide to test and aid the development of the Packet Tracer[5][6] application, which offers students and education centers a free networking education tool.
These are available in addition to the in-class practical labs for the Cisco courses.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Internet Voting Leaves Out a Cornerstone of Democracy: The Secret Ballot

Internet Voting Leaves Out a Cornerstone of Democracy: The Secret Ballot

Maintaining the secrecy of ballots returned via the Internet is “technologically impossible,” according to a new report.

If the risk of hackers meddling with election results is not enough, here’s another reason voting shouldn’t happen on the Internet: the ballots can’t be kept secret.
That’s according to a new report from Verified Voting, a group that advocates for transparency and accuracy in elections.
A cornerstone of democracy, the secret ballot guards against voter coercion. But “because of current technical challenges and the unique challenge of running public elections, it is impossible to maintain the separation of voters’ identities from their votes when Internet voting is used,” concludes the report, which was written in collaboration with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the anticorruption advocacy group Common Cause.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia allow voters to return completed ballots by e-mail, Internet-connected fax machine, or Web portal. In most cases, this option is limited to voters who live overseas or are serving in the military. Utah extends it to voters with disabilities. In Alaska, all voters are free to return their ballots using a Web portal.
When votes are returned via the Internet, it’s technically difficult to separate the voter’s identity from the vote, says Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, since the server has to know that identity in order to authenticate the voter and record the vote. In the systems that states are using now, “the authentication typically happens at the same time as the voting process,” she says. That’s problematic. A previous experiment tested giving voters PIN codes, but hackers working with the researchers were able to find those numbers and associate them with voters, says Smith.
According to the report, issued Thursday, 20 states have laws or regulations requiring that voters who return their ballots via the Internet also waive their right to a secret ballot. In eight states, the secretary of state or election officials require that voters do this even though no laws or regulations require it. Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, and Mississippi don’t warn voters that returning ballots via the Internet also means giving up their secret ballot. Montana requires by law that votes over the Internet be secret, even though that’s not technically feasible.
Smith says the trend toward using the Internet in the voting process could lead to the “erosion” of the secret ballot. “Almost every state has a requirement that there should be secrecy of the ballot,” she says. In order to allow Internet voting, they’ve had to “carve out a special space” that is exempt from that requirement.
Alaska goes so far as to inform voters that if they vote via the Internet, they are not only waiving their right to secrecy but “assuming the risk that a faulty transmission may occur.” Imagine walking into a polling station and seeing a warning like that, says Smith. “How can you field a voting system like that? That’s not right.

New Brain-Mapping Technique Captures Every Connection Between Neurons

New Brain-Mapping Technique Captures Every Connection Between Neurons

A new technique called MAP-seq uses RNA bar codes to quickly and cheaply chart connections between brain cells.
  • by Ryan Cross
  • August 18, 2016                                                     

  • The human brain is among the universe’s greatest remaining uncharted territories. And as with any mysterious land, the secret to understanding it begins with a good map.
    Neuroscientists have now taken a huge step toward the goal of mapping the connections between neurons in the brain using bits of genetic material to bar-code each individual brain cell. The technique, called MAP-seq, could help researchers study disorders like autism and schizophrenia in unprecedented detail.
    “We’ve got the basis for a whole new technology with a gazillion applications,” says Anthony Zador, a neuroscientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory who came up with the technique.
    Current methods for mapping neuronal connections, known as the brain’s connectome, commonly rely on fluorescent proteins and microscopes to visualize cells, but they are laborious and have difficultly following the connections of many neurons at once.
  • MAP-seq works by first creating a library of viruses that contain randomized RNA sequences. This mixture is then injected into the brain, and approximately one virus enters each neuron in the injection area, granting each cell a unique RNA bar code. The brain is then sliced and diced into orderly sections for processing. A DNA sequencer reads the RNA bar codes, and researchers create a connectivity matrix that displays how individual neurons connect to other regions of the brain.
  • The newly published study, which appears Thursday in the journalNeuron, follows the sprawling outbound connections from 1,000 mouse neurons in a brain region called the locus coeruleus to show that the technique works. But Zador says the results actually reconcile previously conflicting findings about how those neurons connect across the brain.
    Justus Kebschull, who worked with Zador in developing MAP-seq, says the technique is getting better. “We’re now mapping out 100,000 cells at a time, in one week, in one experiment,” he says. “That was previously only possible if you put a ton of work in.”
    Both autism and schizophrenia are viewed as disorders that may arise from dysfunctional brain connectivity. There are perhaps hundreds of genetic mutations that may slightly alter the brain’s wiring as it develops. “We are looking at mouse models where something is mucked up. And now that the method is so fast, we can look at many mouse models,” Kebschull says. By comparing  the brain circuitry in mice with different candidate genes for autism, researchers expect, they’ll get new insight into the condition.
    “I think it is a great method that has a lot of room to grow,” says Je Hyuk Lee, a molecular biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who was not part of the MAP-seq study. Although other groups have used similar bar-coding to study individual differences between cells, no one knew if the bar codes would be able to travel along the neuronal connections across the brain. “That had been conjectured but never shown, especially not at this scale,” Lee says.
    Zador says that as of now, his lab is the only one bar-coding the brain, but he hopes others will start using MAP-seq to chart the brain’s circuitry. “Because the cost of sequencing is continuing to plummet, we can envision doing this quickly and cheaply,” he said. It may not be long, then, before a complete map of the brain is ready for its first explorer to use

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Prisma ( Android app )

Prisma is a photo-editing application that utilizes a neural network and artificial intelligence to transform the image into an artistic effect.[3]
The app was created by Alexey Moiseenkov (RussianАлексей Моисеенков), and it was launched in June 2016 as a free mobile app.[4] A week after its launch, the app gained popularity and received over 7.5 million downloads and over 1 million active users as of July 2016.[5][6] It initially debuted first on iOS on Apple App Store during the first week of June and it became the leading app at the App Store in Russia and other neighboring countries.[7] On 19 July 2016, the developer launched a beta version of the app forAndroid and it closed few hours later by developers after receiving feedback from its users.[8][9] It was later released publicly on 24 July 2016 on Google Play.[2]
In July 2016, the developer announced that the video and virtual reality version of the app is currently under development.[10][11]


The app was created by Alexey Moiseenkov who also founded the Prisma labs, based in Moscow.[12] Moiseenkov previously worked at Mail.Ru and later resigned from his job to dedicate his time for the development of the app.[13] He said that the development of the app took only one and a half months and the team did not do anything to promote the app.[14]


Users can upload pictures and select a variety of filters to transform the picture into an artistic effect.[15] At launch, the app offers twenty different filters, while additional filters are added on a daily basis. Moiseenkov stated that the app will offer forty filters by the end of July.[12]
The image rendering takes place in Prisma labs's servers and it uses a neural network and artificial intelligence to add the artistic effect. The result is delivered back to the user's phone.[16] Unlike other photo editing apps, Prisma renders the image by going through different layers and recreating the image rather than inserting a layer over the image.[17]



One week after its initial debut on iOS App Store, the app was downloaded over 7.5 million times and received over 1 million active users.[5] It also became the top listed app inRussia and its neighboring countries.[7] In the end of July 2016, it was installed over 12.5 million devices with over 1.5 million active users worldwide.[18] According to App Annie, it was listed in the top 10 apps on the App Store in 77 different countries.[19]
On the first day of the Android version release, it received over 1.7 million downloads with 50 million pictures processed by the app.[18]

Hoverboards Are For Real

We’ve been waiting our whole lives for a real hoverboard and we were all successfully faked out earlier this year by Funny or Die’s video stunt involving Tony Hawk and Christopher Lloyd and a fake company called HUVr. The whole thing came out as a hoax though shortly after, to the disappoint of people all across the Internet.
Fortunately, we also got an actual working Hoverboard this year: the Hendo Hoverboard. Tony Hawk redeemed himself by being in that video as well, but this time it would be for the real thing. The project was successfully funded for over $500,000 on Kickstarter, so get ready to start seeing these things out in public in the next year or so.

Google’s Contact Lenses Monitors Blood Sugar Levels

Google are taking their wearable technology ambitions even further with a smart contact lens—but it might not be quite what you think. It’s not Google Glass plastered onto your eye. Instead of sending you Google+ notifications, its transmitters are used for an entirely different end goal: monitoring diabetics’ tears for glucose. Google lens are being developed by Google X, the offshoot of the tech giant that handles their most ambitious and risky projects such as Glass and self-driving cars. These lenses see Google moving further into wearable technologies and crossing over into healthcare tech.—Jonathan Keane

Monday, August 15, 2016

Positive link between video games and academic performance, study suggests

Positive link between video games and academic performance, study suggests

Students who played online games scored above average in maths, science and reading tests, although study does not prove games were the cause
 The study looked at the correlation between academic scores and the children’s personal interests and activities outside of school, including internet usage. Photograph: Image Source / Rex Features

Children who play online video games tend to do better in academic science, maths and reading tests, according to an analysis of data from over 12,000 high school students in Australia. 
The study found that students who played online games almost every day scored 15 points above average in maths and reading tests and 17 points above average in science. However, the study’s methodology cannot prove that playing video games were the cause of the improvement.
Alberto Posso, from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, analysed data from high school students across Australia taking the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) - internationally recognised tests that are administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The study looked at the correlation between academic scores and the children’s personal interests and activities outside of school, including internet usage.

Posso, who published the research in the International Journal of Communication, said: “The analysis shows that those students who play online video games obtain higher scores on Pisa tests, all other things being equal.
“When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day.”
The cause of the association between game playing and academic success is not clear from the research. It is possible that children who are gifted at maths, science and reading are more likely to play online games. Alternatively, it could be that more proficient students work more efficiently, and therefore have more free time, making online gaming a marker of possible academic ability rather than something that actively boosts performance.
Posso also looked at the correlation between social media use and Pisa scores. He concluded that users of sites such as Facebook and Twitter were more likely to score 4% lower on average, and the more frequent the social networking usage, the bigger the difference. 78% of the teenagers said they used social networks every day.
Other studies have found a link between heavy users of social networking and a low attention span, which is also linked to poorer academic performance, but the evidence is less than conclusive.
psychology at Bath Spa University, who is not connected with the study, said: “It’s interesting that this study showed a positive correlation between online gaming and academic performance, but we really need better ways of understanding how and why people play video games before we’re able to tease apart what that correlation actually means, if anything.
“A number of researchers have been trying to highlight this issue for a while but we really need more detailed research and nuanced data to answer these sorts of questions more confidently.”
Other studies into the effects of video games on academic performance have shown similar results, either displaying no negative impact or positive effectsassociated with complex tasks, reasoning and dexterity, as well as reinforcing failure as a learning device. A recent study from Columbia University showed that high video game usage by children aged 6 to 11 was associated with a greatly increased chance of high intellectual functioning and overall school competence.