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Moon and mars

TL,DR: Mission to Mars; gambling addiction; Slack vs Microsoft; Facebook blows

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What’s happening in the world of engineering and technology?

In the UK

A cause for celebration was yesterday's 'International Women in Engineering Day', an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in the sector.

One of the largest British companies also playing in the sector, GSK, the multinational pharmaceutical company (with a 45 per cent women-on-board share) rendered itself conspicuous and sponsored several articles on the Guardian website. E&T's current issue also features a range of articles on a broken career pipeline for girls and women who want to enter the sector.

No defence against more women in senior government departments

Apropos more women, progress is observed in one of the most male-dominated areas: the UK defence sector. Professor Dame Angela McLean is to become the Ministry of Defence next Chief Scientific Adviser. Whether this can inspire the rest of the defence sector is yet to be seen. In 2018, only 10.4 per cent of UK's regular forces were female.

Smart charge points, 'Now'

The UK government has announced a set of new requirements for electric chargepoints and hereby responds to the mounting pressure for the country's move towards zero carbon.

From 1 July 2019, all government-funded chargepoints must use innovative ‘smart’ technology to keep costs down for consumers, actually acting upon a pledge it made in December 2018

Telecommunications provider enters the game of autonomous cars

O2 will work with ESA, the European Space Agency, to test satellite systems for driverless cars in Oxfordshire.

Gambling addiction among children taken seriously by the NHS

The NHS is to open its first gambling clinic for children. 55,000 children are estimated to be suffering from the addiction. Much of the blame goes to digital gaming sites. E&T reported last year on a published draft of the WHO’s diagnostic manual that included gaming disorder and hazardous gaming among its new diagnoses and pushed health services such as the NHS to integrate additional services.  

Wary British police suspend contact with one of the largest forensic firms

After a ransomware attack hit forensics firm Eurofins - which conducts DNA analysis, toxicology, ballistics and computer forensics work across UK - the UK police terminated all working relationship with the company, a publicly listed international group of laboratories headquartered in Brussels catering for over 50 per cent of the UK market and dealing with over 70,000 criminal cases in the country each year.

Meanwhile, in the US

No Slack for Microsoft employees at 'Work'

Microsoft has named rival app Slack on an internal list of ‘prohibited and discouraged’ software, thus making it inaccessible to Microsoft employees. The list was obtained by a technology outlet that reported the ban on prohibited and discouraged technology, software and online services that employees are not permitted to use as part of their day-to-day jobs. Slack IPOed last week on the NYSE under the legend 'Work'. 

Human sperm bank viable in space

A lack of difference in a range of sperm characteristics observed in frozen sperm samples exposed to microgravity and those maintained in ground conditions was found to open a whole array of new abilities of transfer sperm to space.

It could open whole new possibilities, including creating a human sperm bank outside Earth.

Technology entrepreneur, investor, and engineer, Elon Musk may be particularly happy about the news. He tweeted about his latest Mars mission. He posted an 'Occupy Mars' image - although instead of a picture of Mars, the tweet protrayed the Moon. Fellow Twitter users were quick to call him out on it. As long as he doesn't miss the right planet when he sets out.

Pi to hack Nasa

A hacker accessed NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory network with a Raspberry Pi computer and extracted 500Mb worth of data relating to a ‘major mission systems'. One security gap included the 30-day period between when new equipment is usually received and when line managers assign the new property to system security plans in order to 'implement required security controls'. Perhaps awkward to mention and not entirely coincidental on today of all days, given that E&T reported on the unveiling of the all-new Raspberry Pi 4 and interviewed the founder of the company.

AI to receive a boost under new IBM collaboration

IBM and Cloudera, the company from Palo Alto providing a software platform for data engineering, data warehousing and machine learning, announced a strategic partnership to develop joint go-to-market programmes created to tickle out advanced data and AI products.

Mounting criticism on Facebook: "More secret and more dangerous"

Facebook would put secrecy before accountability, the CEO of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says. Peter Wanless calls for directors of social media companies (including that of Mark Zuckerberg) to be made legally responsible for what happens on their sites so they can be prosecuted for breaches of child safety. "It's really disappointing that reaction to the NSPCC's call for a safer internet is to make it more secret and more dangerous", said Wanless.

In Australasia

Australia fed up with social media giants' murky practices

Australia is due to issue a report that is expected to strike a hard blow against the murky and obfuscated business practices of foreign social media giants. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is anticipated to include proposals for sweeping controls over the way these companies handle personal data and use 'opaque' algorithms to rank ads, research results and content.

Ubuntu running out of Steam, as South Korea throws high costs out of its Windows

Valve, an American video game developer from Washington is dropping official support for Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases for its mega-popular Steam video game distribution platform. Only a few weeks ago, the South Korean government announced it would ditch Microsoft Windows as free support for Windows 7 draws to a close. The case of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety steering away from Windows - mainly to benefit from lower costs - is making it clear that this could have larger implications should a wave of other cases follow. Munich, which switched too, shows this is possible. The switch by the South Korean government comes conspicuously at a time when free support for Windows 7 comes to an end in 2020.

Losses for engineering and tech firms in China

China and Hong Kong stocks remained stable on Monday. Investors hope for improvements in the Sino-US trade negotiations at the G20 summit that takes place later in the week. Notably, losses at the Shanghai index were suffered by technology and engineering companies. Setbacks was reported for Holsin Engineering Consulting Group, which was down 9.97 per cent, followed by Xuancheng Valin Precision Technology Co Ltd, with a decline of 8.01 per cent and Sichuan Furong Technology, shrunk by 7.24 per cent.

New developments

A bot's 'quack, quack' from the fields 

A robotic ‘duck’ designed to roam paddy fields, muddying the water and preventing the weeds from getting enough sunlight to grow, has been floated as a charming solution. 

Out of the wild

The digital sharing economy is not only helpful to sell us more stuff we don't need. A new GPS-powered app helps search-teams to spot missing people and to improve efficiency in covering searched terrain. Search teams would use GPS data of the ground already covered and organisers could put this on a specialised digital map to aid better understanding about where to look next.

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