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South Africa opens nanomaterial facility

first_img7 December 2015A state-of-the-art facility to produce nano-structured materials for industrial testing was opened at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria on 3 December.The Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility was opened by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in partnership with the council. The new establishment will benefit the plastics and cosmetics industries, among others, to develop new nanotechnologies and processes. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said it would provide the capabilities for the industrial-scale production of nano-structured materials.“All the facilities supported under the Industry Innovation Programme, including the Nano-materials Industrial Development Facility, have the potential to play a role in the development of high-technology small, medium and micro enterprises,” she said. “This facility could enable such enterprises to take advantage of the rapidly growing international market in nano-structured materials and nano-composites.”Some of the activities of the nanomaterials centre at the @CSIR @dstgovza #ncnsm pic.twitter.com/B9QVWlLKMx— Veronica Mohapeloa (@MaVeroza) December 3, 2015About nanomaterialsNanomaterials are chemical substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a very small scale – they can be scaled down to 10 000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.They are developed to display new characteristics, such as increased strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity, compared to the same material without the nanoscale feature.How the centre will helpThe newly launched centre will assist to increase overall industry competitiveness.The plastics industry is one sector that will reap rewards from the facility. “The addition of nanomaterials in the manufacturing of plastics can significantly enhance the mechanical properties of plastics,” said the CSIR. “Plastics can, for example, be made stronger, lighter and more fire and ultraviolet resistant.”Min Pandor gets an explanation of how this machine works with nanoclays at the Nanomaterial centre @csir @dstgovza pic.twitter.com/UyiuxQM3ZI— Veronica Mohapeloa (@MaVeroza) December 3, 2015“Addressing the technological development of the plastics industry will enable the industry to keep up with international trends, both in the level of advanced materials used, and in the machines and processes used to produce plastic components and systems,” it added./p>The CSIR performed research to stimulate and improve the competitiveness of industry and thereby contribute to the economy of the country, explained the council’s chief executive officer, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi.“We need to think differently,” he said. “We need to explore new ways and mechanisms to enter areas of activities such as the beneficiation of our natural resources to create jobs, manufacture high-end components and export them.”The facility houses infrastructure processing and testing and it will play a crucial role in developing skills and transferring technologies to industry.Rising fieldThe international market in nano-structured materials and nanocomposites was growing rapidly, said the CSIR. Nanoclay composites are expected to increase from a 2011 volume of 24 million to 74 million metric tonnes and a global value of $3-billion by 2016.In South Africa, the total plastic consumption is in the order of 1.3 million metric tonnes or R35-billion a year, and accounts for an estimated 3.2% of the manufacturing sector.Source: CSIRlast_img read more

The Dirty Little Secret About the “Wisdom of the Crowds” – There is No Crowd

first_imgGuide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit sarah perez Recent research by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor Vassilis Kostakos pokes a big hole in the prevailing wisdom that the “wisdom of crowds” is a trustworthy force on today’s web. His research focused on studying the voting patterns across several sites featuring user-generated reviews including Amazon, IMDb, and BookCrossing. The findings showed that a small group of users accounted for a large number of ratings. In other words, as many have already begun to suspect, small but powerful groups can easily distort what the “crowd” really thinks, leading online reviews to often end up appearing extremely positive or extremely negative. Small Groups, Big ImpactTo conduct the research, Kostakos worked with a large sample of online ratings. As MIT’s Technology Review reports, the researcher and his team studied hundreds of thousands of items and millions of votes across all three sites. In each and every case, they discovered that small numbers of users accounted for the largest number of ratings. For example, on Amazon, only 5% of active Amazon users ever cast votes on more than 10 products but a small handful of users voted on hundreds of items. Said Kostakos, “if you have two or three people voting 500 times, the results may not be representative of the community overall.” This is hardly the first time that the so-called “wisdom of the crowds” has been called into question. The term, which implies that a diverse collection of individuals makes more accurate decisions and predications than individuals or even experts, has been used in the past to describe how everything from Wikipedia to user-generated news sites like Digg.com offer better services than anything created by a smaller group could do. Of course, we now know that simply isn’t true. For one thing, Wikipedia isn’t written and edited by the “crowd” at all. In fact, 1% of Wikipedia users are responsible for half of the site’s edits. Even Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, has been quoted as saying that the site is really written by a community, “a dedicated group of a few hundred volunteers.” And as for Digg.com, a site whose algorithm is constantly tweaked in attempts to democratize the votes of its users, it still remains a place where a handful of power users can make or break getting a news item to the site’s front page. Attempts to Address the Issue It’s not surprising then to discover that, when it comes to review sites, it’s again small groups that are in control there too. Some sites, including Amazon, attempt to address this discrepancy by allowing users to vote on the helpfulness of reviews – a much easier process than having to write a review yourself. Also, local business finder and recommendations site Yelp implemented ways for business owners to respond to what they feel are inaccurate reviews by way of an owner comments feature. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, the small groups still remain in control of these so-called “popular opinion” features.According to the article, another professor at CMU, Niki Kittur, suggested that sites create new tools for transparency. For example, there should be an easy way to see a summary of a user’s contributions which would quickly reveal any bias. He also suggested removing overly positive and negative reviews.Earlier this year, we looked at another user-generated review site which attacked this problem from another angle. Lunch.com, a new Yelp competitor, uses something they call their “Similarity Network” which matches you to other site users who share your interests. That way, instead of looking at a list of reviews which could originate from anyone with an agenda or axe to grind, you’re focused on reviews from others like you. Still, there is yet to be a perfect solution to the problem. Perhaps it’s time we give up the idea that the “wisdom of the crowds” was ever a driving force behind any socialized, user-generated anything and realize that, just like in life, there will always be active participants as well as the passive passerbys. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…center_img Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#news#social networks#Social Web#Trends#web last_img read more

Regulators Vs. Uber & Friends: The Final Battle For Taxi Domination?

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#e-commerce#social networks What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … antone gonsalves You know businesses are in trouble when they have to rally customers in a social media campaign to defend themselves against government regulators. While that strategy may generate lots of tweets, three San Francisco livery and ride-sharing businesses are about to find out just how much it will or won’t impress city bureaucrats.Last week, Lyft, SideCar and Uberwere each cited $20,000 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for running unlicensed taxi services. The services have 20 days to pay the fine or appeal.Making matters worse for Uber, two drivers for San Francisco-based Luxor Cab have filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming the high-end livery service is unfairly taking money from the pockets of traditional cabbies by not playing by the same rules. The IssuesThe companies – which all use smartphone apps to let customers arrange rides, argue they are not taxi services and thus don’t have to play by those rules. Uber works with limousine and taxicab drivers, while Lyft and SideCar matches regular motorists with would-be passengers. All three companies take a cut of what people pay drivers.To state regulators, if a business dispatches a motorist to pickup a passenger, then the company is a taxi service that has to be licensed and meet insurance requirements. Drivers need permits requiring clean driving records.“This is a matter of public safety,” Jack Hagan, director of the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division, said in a statement. “If something happens to a passenger while in transport with Lyft, SideCar or Uber, it is the responsibility of the CPUC to have done everything in its power to ensure that the company was operating safely and according to state law.”Faced with fines and an order to stop operations, Lyft and SideCar have sent emails pleading with users to call or email the CPUC and governor’s office to voice support. Lyft is asking fans to sign an online petition in support of “peer-to-peer ridesharing,” while SideCar is asking users to show their support on Facebook and Twitter.“The economic, environmental and community benefits that services like Lyft bring to local communities are worth fighting for – and now more than ever before we need to stand together,” John Zimmer and Logan Green, cofounders of Lyft parent company Zimride, said in the email.True enough, as San Franciscans love to complain about the high prices and poor availability of local cab companies. But the new service’s attempts to skirt the rules are pretty transparent.Lyft and SideCar, for example, claim rider payments are voluntary “donations,” so they’re not technically in the taxi or livery business. But both companies work hard to share “suggested” donation amounts, and with social-rating systems, riders who don’t pay up are unlikely to get rides. Those explanations, nor tweets, emails and phone calls from riders – don’t seem impress the CPUC or the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association that represents taxi drivers in San Francisco. “Why should someone who refuses to play by the rules be able to take business away from someone who does?” asked Alfred LaGasse, chief executive of the TLPA, in a statement in support of the suit against Uber.To taxi drivers trying to make a living, competing against each other was tough enough, but going up against unregulated rivals has made things much worse. “It’s cab anarchy,” a Yellow Cab driver told me.The Rubber Meets The Road In San FranciscoSan Francisco is not the first city to deal with tech-driven disruption in the cab industry. Uber was forced to end a test in New York City after resistance from city regulators. The company is also facing similar problems in Chicago and elsewhere.But San Francisco is ground zero for startups trying to use technology to remake markets that have failed to modernize. Taxicab companies could have built their own smartphone apps. But seeing that they didn’t even install rear-seat credit card readers until it was required by the city this year, they are more likely to whine to regulators about protecting their monopoly until forced to do otherwise.The city has yet to rule on ride-sharing services. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still investigating, and taxicab companies are lobbying hard for the status quo. Problems With Lyft, SideCarNevertheless, the taxi industry’s competitors are far from perfect.Uber is often credited with being reliable and pleasant, but punishingly expensive for regular folks (Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley moguls love it). And by skimming the most profitable customers, the argument goes, Uber makes it harder for regular taxis to make a living.Lyft and SideCar are still immature companies and the experiences can be much more variable. After signing up for Lyft two weeks ago, I’ve yet to be allowed to use the service because of a shortage of drivers. If I agreed to be a driver, apparently, then I could get started immediately.With SideCar, rides are not always easy to come by. The two times I tried to use the service, I actually found it faster to jump on the bus rather than wait for a ride.Safety First?And then there are the safety concerns. Strangers sent by a for-profit company are picking up passengers who trust the service to make sure they’re protected. That means a car that meets minimum standards, a driver with a clean driving record, and adequate insurance coverage.Lyft and SideCar say they have their own car-inspection and driver-screening processes that includes background checks and making sure drivers have valid licenses. Lyft also says its has $1 million per incident in supplemental liability insurance. But mostly the services rely on their ratings systems to weed out bad drivers.But none of that has been approved by a government agency, while taxis have to meet specific requirements and submit to government verification. Inevitably, one of these cars will get involved in a serious accident. What happens then? Who is liable if a rider is killed or maimed? The taxi industry is regulated to address just these sorts of issues.Just because Lyft, SideCar and Uber use smartphone apps to call cars they don’t happen to own does not give them a free pass from ensuring user safety and competing fairly. And no matter how bad traditional taxi service may be, or how many users tweet in support of app-driven alternatives, that should not change.Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.center_img Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Indian men win, women lose tamely

first_imgSomdev Devvarman and Karan Rastogi steered India to a 3-0 whitewash against a lowly Qatar in the Asian Games men’s tennis competition, but got crashed out of the women’s team event after being drubbed 0-3 by Indonesia in the first round, in Guangzhou on today.Rastogi gave India a blistering start with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Al Mutawa Jabor Mohammed in 46 minutes, before Somdev showed equally ruthless approach in brushing aside Zayed Mousa Shanon in 38 minutes in the centre court of the Aoti Tennis centre.Somdev later combined forces with Sanam Singh and outclassed Zayid Mubarak Shannan and Al Haretth Abdulrahman Ali 6-0 6-1 to complete the rout.Rastogi, who served two second-set aces and hit 15 service winners in all, broke his Qatar rival Al Mutawa in the second game of the first set but was broken back immediately.However, he picked up his pace soon after to go 3-1 up with his second service break and then did not drop a single game to win the opening set 6-1 in 22 minutes.The Indian player grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second set before he dropped his serve, but then surged to take the next three games for the set and match.Thereafter, 25-year-old Indian No 1 singles player Somdev, ranked 106 in the world, fired an ace each in the two sets and hit 16 service winners.After clinching the opening set in only 16 minutes, Somdev allowed his rival to hold his serve once before closing out the second in 22 minutes.advertisement”I played very well. It is a good start and it is also a good experience for me. I think I can do a good job in the next matches,” Somdev said after his easy victory.With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

Big Pickup for Salvation Army Thanks to Donation by FortisTCI

first_img FortisTCI reveals Education Week winners Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp TCI Police looking for candy & electricity thieves Rave Reviews for National Science Fair ideas Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (November, 11 2014 / Fortis TCI Press Release) – The Salvation Army recently received a helpful donation in the form of a pickup truck donated to them by FortisTCI. The truck, once a part of the FortisTCI fleet, will aid the Salvation Army in taking care of their day-to-day tasks which typically involves moving large amounts of donated goods.FortisTCI Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Devon Cox and Vice President of Customer & Corporate Services Allan Robinson made the hand-off. Mr. Cox commented on the donation adding, “We enjoy giving back to the community and embrace the work of organizations such as the Salvation Army. We know that they will take this donation and do even more amazing work throughout the islands.”The gold 2009 Ford F-150 was turned over in excellent used condition to Captain Derick Miller. He plans to use the truck for transporting goods, emergency items and food, as well as picking up donations and transporting Salvation Army workers and volunteers to various events. Speaking about the donation, Capt. Miller said, “It’s through donations like these that the Salvation Army can continue to do the work it does in aiding the community. We appreciate the assistance that FortisTCI has given us, and we’re glad to have their partnership in this regard.”As a part of the Company’s mission, FortisTCI believes in being a good corporate citizen. FortisTCI, therefore, looks forward to making meaningful contributions that have a positive impact on the community.-###-Notes to Editors:1) FortisTCI Limited (FTCI) became a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. located inNewfoundland, Canada in August 2006. Turks and Caicos Utility Limited (TCU), which is thesole provider of electricity on the Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay, was acquired by FTCI inAugust 2012. FTCI is the sole provider of electricity in Providenciales, North Caicos, MiddleCaicos, East Caicos and adjacent Cays, and South Caicos. Together the two companies serveapproximately 13,000 electricity customers in the Turks & Caicos Islands. The Utilities have anaggregate diesel-fired generating capacity of approximately 75 megawatts. Additionalinformation on FortisTCI can be accessed at www.fortistci.com.2) Fortis is the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada, with total assetsapproaching $25 billion and fiscal 2013 revenue exceeding $4 billion. Its regulated utilitiesaccount for approximately 93% of total assets and serve more than 3 million customers acrossCanada and in the United States and the Caribbean. Fortis owns non-regulated hydroelectricgeneration assets in Canada, Belize and Upstate New York. The Corporation’s non-utilityinvestment is comprised of hotels and commercial real estate in Canada. For more information,visit www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.CONTACT:Allan RobinsonVP, Customer & Corporate ServicesFortisTCI LtdTel: 649-946-4313Email: arobinson@fortistci.com Related Items:allan robinson, Captain Derick Miller, Devon Cox, donation, fortis tci, salvation armylast_img read more

CNET Book Club Blake Crouch messes with your memories in Recursion

first_img 0 Meet Blake Crouch. Sarah Tew/CNET Blake Crouch likes messing with your mind. Whether in the Wayward Pines trilogy (recently adapted as a TV series), Good Behavior (also a TV series), or the critical gem Dark Matter (in the works as a film), his characters encounter moral dilemmas, often with a sci-fi twist. Recursion, his latest novel, takes things deeper, mixing elements of a police procedural with time travel, alternative universes and just a bit of mad scientist menace. Naturally, it’s already being developed by Shona Rhimes for Netflix.My colleague David Carnoy, author of several mystery novels, joins in for this episode of Book Club, while Scott was out of town. Subscribe: CNET RSS | iTunes | FeedBurner | Google Play | TuneIn | Stitcher  See Recursion at Amazonrecursion Random House About CNET Book ClubThe Book Club is hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman (author of the nonfiction video game history book The Tetris Effect), and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We’ll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott. Previous episodesBorne by Jeff VanderMeerWalkaway by Cory DoctorowArtemis by Andy WeirDown the River Unto the Sea by Walter MosleyTen Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron LanierCNET Book Club: Holiday 2018 gift guide specialTeam Human by Douglas RushkoffJosh Frank on bringing the Marx Brothers and Salvador Dalí togetherTim Maughan asks, what if the internet dies?Subscribe to CNET Book Club: CNET RSS | iTunes | FeedBurner | Google Play | TuneIn | Stitcher Tags Share your voice CNET Book Club Culture Post a commentlast_img read more