Will Virtual Shopping Malls Save Retailers?

HolodeckVR Demo at Pioneers Conference ViennaTom Atkinson @R3Digital

The past decades have seen a dramatic decline in traditional retail spaces as more people shift towards online shopping. So much so, that empty shops and malls have become a common sight, especially in smaller cities in the US and UK.

Millennials account for more than $1 trillion in U.S. consumer spending, yet they spend differently than previous generations, valuing experiences over possessions, and meaning over money. This why we’ve seen the shopping malls sector being both literally and figuratively demolished by the Millennial generation. Credit Suisse estimates that by 2022, 1 out of every 4 malls in the US could be out of business. This means an average of 8,600 closures in 2017 alone.

As Harvard Business professor Leonard Schlesinger reminds us, “malls were built for patterns of social interaction that increasingly don’t exist.” They made shopping efficient in a time of suburban sprawl. But then came the Internet, Amazon.com, mobile phones, and apps. One-click shopping with free same day delivery is pretty damned efficient.

Where retail used to be about places, therefore, the emphasis has now shifted towards experiences and non-repeatable moments, hence the enduring popularity of live concerts, sports matches, and luxury shopping.

“Places for bigger groups socializing or engaging with something are dying: bars, night clubs, shopping malls too. Groups of people enjoying social interaction are getting smaller. People are either on their way or at home and lots of social interaction happens online, in smaller groups normally – not at real spaces any more,” says Jonathan Nowak Delgado, cofounder of German-based startup HolodeckVR, which has been developing hybrid sensor technology allowing for up to 100 users to share a stadium-size arena at once. The idea behind it is to have 10 people or more interacting socially in the same physical/virtual space, and this social/spatial context applied to VR is what makes it a particularly compelling proposition.

In a 1998 article, B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore coined the term “Experience Economy”, to
refer to the premise that successful businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that with memory themselves becoming the products.

Immersive technologies have the potential to do just that, by bridging the gap between bricks-and-mortar and online retailing, and bringing together the best of the digital and physical worlds. Location-based VR can present a way to extend and amplify the shopping experience.

That scenario would see derelict or declining retail outlets transformed into attractions in their own right –shopping portals where customers can access products and experiences that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. This could well prove a lifeline for local economies struggling to adapt to the new digital economy.

Human-centered design (HCD) is a methodology
 for creating new services and experiences that
resonate meaningfully with customers, and according to Delgado, this approach is key for creating compelling content for platforms such as HolodeckVR.

When I spoke to Jeff Burton, cofounder of Electronic Arts and advisor to HolodeckVR at the Pioneers conference in Vienna earlier this year, he was enthusiastic about a range of applications for the holodeck, specially around education:

“A Holodeck classroom is the dream of any school kid wanting to fly through the solar system, roam through ancient Pyramids or walk with the dinosaurs. That’s the future of education without any doubt.”

In a commercial retail/entertainment scenario, not only would users in a small-town outlet be able to browse and buy a range of products and services comparable to the Dubai Mall, but access a range of unique and personalized experiences that would be impossible either in a traditional store setting, or on a website.

Considering buying a new set of golf clubs? Take them for a few practice swings in a professional golf course of your choice. Japan, Florida or Scotland, are all only a few clicks away. Shopping for a new kitchen? Stand in the middle of it and change the layout to your heart’s content, until it looks and feels just right. Always dreamed of shopping in Rodeo Drive but afraid of getting the judgmental “Pretty Woman” treatment from snobbish sales assistants? With VR nobody would need Richard Gere to come to the rescue at all, as each experience is tailored for the customer.

“Holodecks can save places and enhance moments,” concludes Delgado. “We offer the most precise economic free-roam XR tracking tech to date. Our holodecks are disrupting how humans are interacting in virtual and real spaces on an unprecedentedly large level.”

Many have been quick to dismiss VR as a solitary medium full of isolating experiences, yet this emphasis on human connection and socialization as a catalyst for economic recovery and growth shows how varied and exciting the untapped potential for immersive technology really is.

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How the Best Managers Respond to Employees Who Ask for a Raise

Review season can be stressful no matter what side of the table you’re sitting on.

If you’re a manager, you’ve got a lot of work to do preparing performance feedback on top of your regular workload. And you probably have to deliver that feedback face-to-face. Sure, it’s not easy hearing constructive criticism, but delivering it isn’t something people look forward to either.

And one of the trickiest situations to navigate is a request for a raise or promotion. Especially if you weren’t expecting it. But take a deep breath and remember that this is an opportunity to either show your employees how much you value them or help them grow into someone who’s deserving of what they want.

Ahead of Time

Quick note: In an ideal world, you’re reading this article several weeks before the formal process begins (and budgets are finalized). But we don’t live in an ideal world and if that’s the case, you can skip down to “in the moment.”

Review Company Policies and Procedures

Before you do anything else, make sure you familiarize yourself with any company policies and procedures around reviews, compensation, and promotion. Knowing the basics will not only ensure you’re giving your employees a productive review, but it’ll also make it easier to handle any requests that do come up. If you’re not sure if this information exists or where it lives, reach out and ask.

Evaluate Your Employees and Team

On the compensation side, take a look at any internal data you have on pay bands and see where your direct reports fall. Are there any outliers? Have any new additions to the team skewed the distribution? All things considered, is this a fair place for this employee to be?

On the promotion side, think about how your employee is doing in every area of responsibility for their own role and whether their performance goes so far beyond that scope that they’d meet the requirements for a more senior role, if there’s one available. Make your initial recommendations based on this analysis.

The hope is that you’ll have already secured raises and promotions for those who are eligible and deserving by the time you walk into the room for your meetings. You can help preempt problems by doing this work thoroughly and thoughtfully ahead of time. But be aware that no matter how well you prepare, it’s impossible to avoid any surprises.

Set Expectations

Is there no budget? Is someone on your team underperforming? Do you know someone’s counting on a raise or promotion that simply isn’t happening. You can avoid a lot of drama and tension by having this hard conversation before the formal review.

I’ll put an emphasis on “hard” because telling someone they’re going to have to wait for what they want will never be fun to discuss.

You can start by saying something along these lines: “I know we’re meeting next Wednesday to discuss your performance over the past year. I also know you might be anticipating a raise. Because I want this to be a productive conversation, I wanted to let you know that you’re not eligible right now because [you’re not hitting your goals/our team is on a tight budget/our research shows you’re being compensating well for your role]. I know this is hard to hear. But I’m on your side and I’m your advocate here, so let’s use our time next week to discuss how we can ensure you are eligible [next year/in X months] and all the other ways you can grow in the meantime.”

Spoiler: The person will not be pleased to hear this. That’s OK. The key right now is to acknowledge that they’re disappointed and wait until your formal conversation to delve into feedback.

In the Moment

Acknowledge the Request

Fact: Asking for a raise or a promotion is stressful and emotional. If you’ve ever done this (and I hope you have!), you know this. So step one is making sure your direct report knows you’ve heard them by acknowledging the request.

  • “Thank you for bringing that to my attention.”
  • “I heard you, and…”

Ask for More Information

“Your job as a manager is not to have an answer right then,” Fitzgerald says. “It’s to listen and gather information,” she adds. It’s “asking why they feel that way and digging in before responding.”

You’ll not only need to understand your employee’s reasoning in order to make an informed decision and perhaps make a case to HR and your higher ups, but you’ll also be able to figure out whether there are other issues you need to address–such as mismatched expectations about the role.

  • “Did you have something in mind?”
  • “Tell me why you feel that way.”
  • “What do you feel is an appropriate range?”

Set a Plan and Realistic Time Frame for a Response

So you’ve made sure your employee feels their request has been heard and collected information about what they want and why they think it’s appropriate.

Now, “a key point is never make a decision at the time a raise request is made,” says Dick Grote, founder and president of Grote Consulting, where he specializes in performance management. Any yes or no answer given within minutes “comes off as flippant,” he adds, and sets a bad precedent. Instead, let your employee know that when they should expect to hear from you about this. And be realistic.

  • “I will think about this and we’ll talk again in [a few days or few weeks].”
  • “Let me look into this and get back to you in [whatever time is possible].”
  • “I wish I could get back to you sooner but it might take three weeks.”

Keep Your Word

“Whatever you tell the employee, you have to keep your word,” Dillon says. It can be tempting to be optimistic here, but consider the steps you’ll need to take and be honest about how long it’ll take before you can follow up. That goes a lot further than false hope.

So, if you tell your direct report you’ll get back to them in two weeks, make sure you do that. Don’t let whatever marker you set go by without discussing it.

And “certainly don’t wait until the person brings it up again,” says Grote.

After the Request

Do Your Homework

Now it’s time to actually dig in. Double check your original evaluation, verify the points your employee brought up, assess any facts or accomplishments they shared that you might not have considered, take another look at their performance with fresh eyes, and think about the consequences of this decision when it comes to the rest of your team.

If you manage several people, you might want to wait until you’ve finished all of your reviews to tackle this. That way, you can evaluate all the requests (if you get more than one), seek guidance from your own boss on all of them at once, come to consistent decisions that make sense in context, and prepare the best strategy to make the case for one or more of your reports.

Make the Case (if It’s Warranted)

If you’ve come to the conclusion that your employee’s right, it’s time to go to bat. Since it’s unlikely you can make the call yourself, you need to figure out who you most need to convince in order to make this happen. And then try to be as persuasive as possible.

“That manager should have really good justification, citing quantifiable results and impact on the organization,” says Regina Moravek, a contributor to The Muse who spent 15 years working in HR. So bring the numbers, but don’t forget the qualitative information too. For example, highlight certain skills that are invaluable or bust out some quotes from customers or clients or whoever’s relevant to demonstrate what this person means to the company.

  • “We’re not sending the message we want to send with x% raise this year.”
  • “I really feel [person] was such a star. We don’t want to risk losing him.”
  • “If [person] leaves, we’re not going to be able to replace them for anywhere near their current salary or skill level.”
  • “[Person] has certain skills, educational level that are important to our business.”
  • “If [person] leaves and the job is vacant, it’ll cost the company this much.”

When You Come Back to the Employee

Deliver Good News

The best outcome, obviously, is getting and having the chance to deliver good news.

Don’t forget that this is “also a really important time to convey to the employee how valued they are,” Moravek says. The meeting is as much about “making the employee feel that they’re an important part of the operation” as it is about the dollar amount or the new title, which she says alone can feel hollow. But if you add “we value you, you’ve had a huge impact on the organization,” she says, the employee is more likely to be “motivated to continue to do great work.”

And if you’re delivering promotion news, “I always like to tell people that now the baseline goes way up,” Dillon says. “You got it and I’m thrilled for you. But now you’re starting at this level. This isn’t a reward to sit back on.”

  • “I’ve got some good news for you. I’ve looked over your request for a raise, given it some thought, done some research, and it seems to me that an increase in salary is appropriate.”
  • “I thought about the request you made to reconsider compensation. After doing my research, I’ve decided that a compensation change is in order.”

Deliver Bad News to a Strong Performer

Sometimes, no matter how well deserved you believe a raise or promotion is, you won’t be able to get it approved.

Remember though that “growth can mean a lot of different things, not just money,” Fitzgerald says. And see what else you can offer. It might be a spot bonus, the lead on a new project, the chance to develop skills or gain experience in an area of interest, extra vacation time, or another creative solution. The best option will be tailored to the individual.

“As a manager it’s important to recognize the arsenal of tools for keeping employees happy. A lot of things are in your control,” she adds, including creating a positive environment and giving people chances to grow. “A raise is one very important symbol,” but it’s also important to tell employees you value them and demonstrate as much in ways that go beyond money and titles.

And make sure it’s clear that just because the answer is no at that moment doesn’t mean it will always be no. You can commit to revisiting the topic again in three or six months.

If you believe in this employee’s potential at the company, share that. “The conditions of the company/industry/competition right now are such that we’re not in a position to do that,” Grote suggests saying. Acknowledge that it’s not what they wanted to hear: “I know you’re certainly disappointed. I would be.” But then add: “But I want to tell you something. I think you have a very bright future here.”

  • “Unfortunately the company isn’t in a position to give increases, but I would love to give you these other opportunities.”
  • “I know you’re interested in doing this kind of work as well, so let’s change your job a bit.”
  • “You and I are going to work together this year to make sure your profile is raised.”
  • “I’m committed to giving you opportunities to shine.”
  • “I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. I’m going to be more aware when promotion opportunities arise that you’re going to be considered as a candidate.”

Deliver Bad News to a Weak Performer

If your direct report “has no idea that they’re not a star employee,” Dillon says, that should be a “clue that you’re not communicating effectively with the person.”

“This is your opportunity to be fair to them,” she adds. More than that, it’s your responsibility as a manager to initiate a conversation to try to close the gap. Share what areas they’re weak in or what you’re disappointed about and tell them what you’d expect and like to see in order to have a different conversation the next time around.

Give concrete examples to ensure the employee understands the issues and has a firm grasp on how to improve. And plan your points in advance, because it isn’t easy to give someone feedback that might be painful to hear, but you won’t be doing them any favors if you waffle and fail to convey how they can fix it.

  • “These are areas you need to work on.”
  • “Here are the goals I want you to work toward in the next six months.”
  • “In your position, I expect…”

As a manager, you may not look forward to review season as the highlight of your year, but remember that it can set your team on the right track. And getting people on the right track means you’re far more likely to hit your goals and succeed in your own role.

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Build Your Branding Empire With These 7 Effective Tips

A successful brand is able to convince people to loyally pay more for something simply because it is from that brand. This is why household names such as Google and Bounty have immense control over their consumers, and why they heavily invest in and prioritize their brand assets. 
 
Ultimately, brand power comes from having a high-quality product and building the brand as an essential part of people’s days. If you spot an opportunity to fit yourself into someone’s life you are then able to constantly interact with them and convert them into a long-term customer. There is a long road from a startup company to a massive brand empire, but these seven tips can guide your journey to building a trendy yet durable brand.

1. Know your audience.

One of the initial first steps for a venture is to pinpoint your exact audience. You should be able to describe their tastes and preferences. What does their average day look like? What’s their favorite clothing store? What kinds of marketing media do they see? 

This can help you gauge what is important to them and how you can appeal to them. It’s crucial that you understand your audience so that you can keep them into consideration every step of the way. For over 20 years Amazon has relentlessly prioritized their audience. Their dedication is, in part, what has kept them at the forefront of the tech and e-commerce industry. 

2. Get it right once.

Lukas Kurzmann, founder of Women’s Best says, “you only have to get it right once.” This means that you need to constantly experiment with new things until it finally works. Like most things in entrepreneurship precision and accuracy comes from the efforts of trial and error. Branding is no different.

As you try to build your brand, focus on approaching it through the lenses of experimentation and innovation. This could include trying new marketing techniques and potentially hiring consultants to offer a new brand perspective. Building a branding empire starts with pivoting until you finally get it right.

3. Build influencer relationships.

You can’t talk about branding without discussing your companies social media strategy. An incredibly effective way to build your brand on social media is by collaborating with influencers. One of the things that have best helped Kurzmann, has been influencer marketing. He spends over 60 percent of his ad budget on influencer and has built a massive number of influencer relationships. The best approach here is to start with a small project and grow the opportunities as the relationship grows.

4. Interact with consumers.

When making decisions that matter to your consumers, you should consult with them for input. Keep them involved as much as possible. A great example of this is the way that Ben & Jerry’s encourages their audience to create and submit flavor names.

Another productive way to do this is to base decisions off of data obtained from your consumers. Use the information you already know about their habits and preferences, in order to maximize impact and return. For example, when choosing an influencer, work with one who your audience already aligns with. Whether you use a survey, social media poll, or a suggestion card included with purchases, you should be interacting with your consumers–and utilizing their feedback. 

5. Continuously develop your story.

Whether you are a company that has just started or one that’s been around for decades you need to continuously develop your brand story. This includes mixing up the type of marketing material you are putting out and introducing new elements to your brand for consumers.

Developing your story cultivates a relationship with your consumers. When you neglect to do that your audience will grow bored with your brand and give their attention to the next best thing. Developing your story is a huge part of staying relevant and building a loyal relationship with your audience. 

6. Optimize your funnels.

Kurzmann states that the most important metric for him is Return on Ad Spend. He works through every marketing campaign to optimize its performance and boost his returns. Additionally, he notes that he is always eager to experiment and find new marketing channels to improve his ROAS.

A great way to optimize your funnels is to ensure you are not only being seen, but you are providing a call to action. If you’re a shoe brand and you are running a summer campaign for sandals be sure you provide verbiage that encourages your audience to buy the newest pair of sandals. 

7. Attend in-person events.

There are a variety of in-person events that offer valuable growth opportunities for your brand. If you have a consumer product, you can attend trade shows and get your brand in front of top buyers. If you have a tech product, you can attend pitch competitions to mingle with venture capitalists. These opportunities will have a slower return, but they will convert higher-impact individuals to your brand.

Building a brand is an incredibly intense process. It requires time, dedication, and innovation. These seven tactics are a great start to building a long-lasting brand for your company. 

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Veon cuts management in return to traditional telecoms model

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Veon, the mobile phone operator formerly known as VimpelCom, said it would cut management jobs and simplify its structure as it goes back to basics with a focus on telecom services in emerging markets.

In recent years, Veon, with stakes in operators in Russia, Pakistan and Algeria, had tried to reinvent itself as a new high-tech player, in hopes of making money from apps and service commissions instead of classic voice and data subscriptions.

The Amsterdam-based company with roots in Russia said country managers in the 11 markets where it operates will now report directly to its corporate headquarters. It will cut regional operating structures in Eastern Europe and Pakistan.

In a statement announcing the moves, Veon, one of the world’s top 10 mobile operators by customers, signaled it aimed to reduce staff and cut costs at its Dutch headquarters.

“The new high-level structure has now been established as Veon continues to create a leaner headquarters with clear accountability,” the statement said. “This work is ongoing as Veon transitions to a more efficient operating model.”

A spokesman declined to comment on whether more jobs could be cut. It has cut its global workforce over the last three years by around one-third to 40,000 employees at the end of 2017.

On Thursday, the company said it had appointed Kjell Morten Johnsen as Group Chief Operating Officer, a role he had held on an interim basis since March, when the company pushed out Chief Executive Jean-Yves Charlier. Veon Chairwoman Ursula Burns, the former head of Xerox, took over as chief executive.

Burns has said Veon’s four immediate priorities are to increase its focus on emerging markets, control costs, improve its balance sheet and supporting its current dividend.

A spokesman denied that this marks a retreat from its digital strategy, adding that the company plans further pilot tests of a new mobile apps marketplace and messaging service across additional markets over the coming year.

Under Charlier, Veon went through a three-year house cleaning of previous management, job cuts and asset sales. The company’s name was changed to Veon from VimpelCom after a bribery scandal in Uzbekistan that was settled with Dutch and American authorities in 2016 for $795 million.

On July 2, Veon said it would sell its stake in Italian mobile network Wind Tre for 2.45 billion euros in an exit from Western Europe to pare debt and to take full ownership of its Pakistan and Bangladesh businesses. (reut.rs/2mqvFwh)

Reporting by Eric Auchard in London; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alexandra Hudson

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TV streaming services overtake pay-TV in Britain: Ofcom

LONDON (Reuters) – The number of Britons subscribing to TV services like Netflix, Amazon and Sky’s NOW TV, has overtaken traditional satellite and cable TV for the first time, media regulator Ofcom said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Netflix logo is pictured on a television in this illustration photograph taken in Encinitas, California, U.S., January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The shift in the way TV content is consumed caused the amount of revenue generated from pay-TV to fall for the first time after years of sustained growth, the research found.

Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV attracted 15.4 million subscribers in the first quarter, ahead of 15.1 million pay-TV contracts, Ofcom said citing BARB Establishment Survey data.

But traditional pay-TV, such as Virgin Media’s cable and Sky’s satellite services, still generated significantly more revenue than video-on-demand subscriptions.

Pay-TV subscription revenue of 6.4 billion pounds in 2017 was down 2.7 percent year-on-year, but still well ahead of the 895 million pounds generated by video streaming services, according to Ofcom’s calculations.

Sky, Britain’s biggest pay-TV company that is at the center of a bidding battle between U.S groups 21st Century Fox and Comcast, launched its NOW TV service in 2012, aimed at customers who did not want to be tied to a traditional contract.

Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White said the rapid change in what we watch and how we watch had profound implications for the UK television industry.

“We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programs by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants,” she said. “These challenges cannot be underestimated.

“But UK broadcasters have a history of adapting to change. By making the best British programs and working together to reach people who are turning away from TV, our broadcasters can compete in the digital age.”

The amount of time spent watching broadcast television on a TV set continued to decline, Ofcom said in its Media Nations: UK report, standing at 3 hours 22 minutes a day, down nine minutes on 2016 and 38 minutes since 2012.

More content is being watched on mobile devices, with 16-34 year olds leading the charge, Ofcom said. Less than half of younger people’s total daily viewing of 4 hours 48 minutes went to broadcast content, while they spent just under an hour a day watching video on YouTube.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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Data protection for containers: Why, and how to do Docker backup

Containers are a great way to run applications, with much less overhead than traditional bare metal or virtualised environments. But what about data protection? Do containers need backup and data protection? The answer is yes – and no. In this article, we will look at the possible ways we can backup containers and their data,…

as well as products available that can help.

Containers have been around for many years, but the use of container technology has been popularised in the last five years by Docker.

The Docker platform provides a framework to create, configure and launch applications in a much simpler way than in the native features of the Linux and Windows operating systems on which they run.

An application is a set of binary files that run on top of an operating system. The application makes calls via the operating system to read and write data to persistent storage or to respond to requests from across the network. Over the past 15 years, the typical method of application deployment has been to run applications within a virtual machine (VM).

VMs take effort to build and manage. They need patching and have to be upgraded. Virtual machines can attract licensing charges, such as operating system licences and application licences per VM, so have to be managed efficiently.

Containers provide a much more lightweight way to run applications. Rather than dedicate an entire VM for each application, containers allow multiple applications to run on the same operating system instance, and these are isolated from each other by segregating the set of processes that make up each application.

Containers were designed to run microservices, be short-lived and not require persistent storage. Data resiliency was meant to be handled by the application, but in practice, this has proved impractical. As a result, containers can now be easily launched with persistent storage volumes or made to work with other forms of shared storage. 

Container data protection

A container is started from a container image that contains the binary files needed to run the application. At launch, time parameters can be passed to the container to configure components such as databases or network ports. This includes attaching persistent data volumes to the container or mapping file shares.

In the world of virtual machines, the VM and the data are backed up. Backup of a virtual machine is for convenience and other potential uses. So, for example, if the VM is corrupted or individual files are deleted they can be recovered.

Alternatively, the whole VM and its data can be brought back quickly. In practice though, with a well configured system, it may be quicker to rebuild the VM from a gold master and configure it using automation or scripts.

With containers, rebuilding the application from code is even quicker, making it unnecessary to backup the container itself. In fact, because of the way containers are started by platforms such as Docker, the effort to recover a container backup would probably be much greater than simply restarting a new container image. The platform simply isn’t designed to recover pre-existing containers.

So, while a running container instance doesn’t need to be backed up, the base image and configuration data does. Without this the application can’t be restarted.

Equally, this applies to implementing a disaster recovery strategy. Restarting an application elsewhere (eg, in the public cloud or another datacentre) also needs access to the container image and runtime configuration. These components need to be highly available and replicated or accessible across locations. 

Application data

Containers provide multiple ways to store application states or data.

At the simplest level – using Docker as an example – data can be written to the root file system (not a good idea) or stored in a Docker volume on the host running the container. It’s possible that this host could also be a virtual machine.

A Docker volume is a directory on the root file system of the host that runs the container. It’s possible to backup and restore this data into a running container, but this isn’t a practical solution or easy to manage when containers can run on many hosts.

It would be very hard to keep track of where a container was running at any one time to know which server to use for recovery. Backup software isn’t aware of the container itself, just a set of directories.

Other alternatives

One is to use another file system on the host that has been structured to match the application. Rather than having directories named using random GUIDs, directory names can match application components.

So, when a container is started a directory is mapped into the container with a name that is consistent across container restarts and can easily be identified in traditional backup software.

This still doesn’t provide full recovery and disaster recovery in the event of a server loss.

In this instance, Docker and Kubernetes provide the capability to connect external storage to a container. The storage is provided by a shared array or software-defined storage solution that exists independently of any single host.

External storage provides two benefits:

  • Data protection can leverage the capabilities of an external array, such as snapshots or remote replication. This pushes persistence down to the storage and allows the container host to be effectively stateless.
  • Data can exist on an external device and be shared with traditional infrastructure like virtual machines. This provides a potential data migration route from VMs to containers for certain parts of an application.

Storage presented from shared storage could be block or file-based. In general, solutions offered by suppliers have favoured connecting block devices to a single container. For shared arrays, the process has been to mount a LUN to the host, format it with a file system and then attach to the container. In Kubernetes, as an example, these volumes can be pre-existing or created on demand.

For software-defined storage solutions, many are natively integrated into the container orchestration platform to offer what look like file systems without the complexity and management configuration of external devices.

Solutions for container data protection

What are suppliers doing in this area? Docker provides a set of best practices for backup of the Docker infrastructure although this doesn’t cover application data. Meanwhile, Kubernetes uses etcd to manage state, so instructions are provided on the Kubernetes website on how to configure backups.

Existing backup suppliers are starting to offer container backup. Asigra was probably first to this in 2015. Commvault offers backup of data on container-based hosts.

Vendors including Pure Storage, HPE Nimble, HPE 3PAR, and NetApp all provide docker plugins to mount traditional LUNs to container infrastructure. This enables the capability to take snapshots at the array level for backup and to replicate the LUNs to other hardware if required.

Portworx, StorageOS, ScaleIO, Ceph and Gluster all offer native volumes for Kubernetes. These platforms also work with Docker and offer high availability from a clustering perspective and the ability to take backups via snapshots and replicas. Kubernetes is moving to support the Container Storage Interface, which should enable additional features like data protection to be added to the specification.

If containers are run within virtual machines then the VM itself could be backed up and individual files restored. However, if the backup solution isn’t container-aware, it may be very difficult to track down individual files unless they’ve been put into the structure already outlined above.

Cloud: A gap in container backup?

This discussion on container backup is focused on the deployment of containers in the datacentre. Public cloud represents a bigger challenge. As yet, solutions like AWS Fargate (container orchestration) don’t offer data persistence and are designed to be stateless.

This represents a potential operational gap when looking to move container workloads into the public cloud. As always, any solution needs to consider all deployment options, which could make the adoption of some public cloud features more difficult and push data management closer towards the developer.

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Here's How That Person With the Perfect Life is Different From the Rest of us

“Biohacking is the use of self-experimentation to upgrade your mind, body, and life. I’m a big believer in biohacking, and self-experiment daily to ensure I have the energy I need to run not only my business but to also have the energy I need to be active with my family every night. I believe in taking care of myself through exercise, nutrition and proper supplements, and biohacking has allowed me to find the right formula for myself and my life.”

–Russell Brunson, cofounder and CEO of ClickFunnels, an online sales and marketing software which in three years has helped over 300 business owners cross over the $1 million mark, with 18 of them continuing to scale to $10 million and beyond

“When running a small business, you must be purposeful. You have to change your mindset and realize that while it’s easier to say yes, it’s not a bad thing to say no. Each time you say yes, you’re also saying no to something else.”

–Will Holsworth, CEO of SAFE + FAIR, an allergy-friendly food company which has quadrupled its website traffic in the four months since launching its new platform

3. Get 30 minutes of quiet every morning.

“I set two alarms every morning. The first one isn’t to create a window of time to snooze, but to allow me 30 minutes of quiet time every morning. It’s the calm before the action. During this time I tackle my confidence level and insecurities. I meditate, pray or give myself a pep talk. I take a moment to be mentally aware of the thoughts in my mind that could potentially hold me back from my accomplishments for the day, and I work on tucking them far away. By the time the next alarm goes off, I usually feel less fragmented and very centered. Thirty minutes later the second alarm goes off, usually playing a song–a positive, upbeat song which signals that it’s go time! Time to conquer the day!”

–Andréa Richardson, leader of multicultural and diversity engagement across Hilton’s portfolio of more than 5,000 properties

4. Work out, then focus on family and work.

“I wake up by 5 a.m. to work out with a trainer before my boys wake up. Working out reduces stress and makes me a better mom and boss. I have breakfast with my kids and drive them to school to start our days together, and nearly every evening I make them a home-cooked dinner. I also find it’s important to make time for a one-hour clarity break during my work day to focus on the business.”

–Shelly Sun, founder and CEO of BrightStar Care, a national private duty home care and medical staffing franchise with more than 300 locations in 38 states 

5. Set goals the night before.

“Every evening, I spend a few minutes planning my goals for the following day. More than just a to-do list, I think about what I accomplished that day and what I need to get accomplished in the next few days. I then write out, by hand, all the people, processes and programs in which I want to invest time improving in the following day. The list doesn’t always get accomplished the next day, as a good leader needs to be flexible, but by committing them to paper, I’m able to prioritize my time and my goals.”

–Paul Koulogeorge, CMO of Goddard Systems, Inc., franchisor of The Goddard School, which is on track to open its 500th school in 2018

6. Unplug and work out first thing.

“I like to start my mornings at the gym. It is helpful for me to get up, be active and disconnect first thing when I wake up. It’s a rare-moment that I am not on my iPhone, checking emails, calling franchise partners, or making notes about new ideas for our guests to play at our parks. I learned early that missing my morning workouts left me with a lack of focus for the day ahead, so I’ve made it a daily practice to start my day off at the gym.”

–Jeff Platt, CEO of Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline and aerial park with over 200 franchises across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

7. Take the time to be personal.

“I start my day early, which means I’ll usually catch one or two employees before the work day technically ever starts. They’ll usually come in my office and we will talk about work, but it quickly turns into conversations about what’s going on in their lives and things much bigger than work. I really enjoy those talks and I think having a pulse on people’s personal lives helps me be a better boss, too. One habit I’ve gotten into and really held myself to is making rounds to say hi to everyone every morning. It’s a small gesture, but I think everyone enjoys the engagement and I want to feel as accessible as possible.

–Bart Silvestro, CEO of Chef’s Cut Real Jerky Co., a jerky brand with profits which rose from more than $460,000 to $47.5 million in four years

8. Determine your workday rhythm.

“I get my best work done in the morning. After my husband Ted takes our boys to school or camp, I sit at my desk with a large mug of coffee and don’t stop working until 1 p.m. I keep meetings, calls, errands for afternoons, when my brain is less focused. And of course, evenings are family time, dinner with friends and oft-needed rest. Determining a workday rhythm that gives energy (vs. depletes energy) is a worthwhile exercise for everyone.”

–Molly Fienning, cofounder of Babiators, maker of sunglasses for babies and kids which has sold more than 2 million pairs worldwide

9. Utilize your calendar as a daily to-do list.

“I prefer to use my calendar as my to-do list. I not only have my conference calls and meetings on my calendar but I also put three to five of my top items on the calendar each day that I want and need to get done. I also schedule some sort of workout or yoga class because it’s a necessity for my mental wellbeing and keeps me performing at the top of my game.  Each evening I look back at my calendar for the day and feel very accomplished. This technique helps me keep moving forward throughout the day otherwise I’d get bogged down with mini fires and items that keep me in the weeds.”

–Danielle Dietz-LiVolsi, founder and CEO of NuttZo, a multi-nut and seed butter brand sold in more than 16 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Costco and Sprouts

10. Build relationships with colleagues.

“One of the best habits I’ve gotten into is making sure that I walk around to connect with each member of our team as often as possible. I try to do it daily, and especially in the morning, because it’s a really nice way to start the day. It’s so important to me because our team is our greatest asset, and the best way I’ve found to show appreciation and gratitude is to take time to build relationships with my colleagues. Even though sometimes it might not feel productive to be talking about things outside of business, I think it’s some of the most valuable time I spend every day because it aligns us as a team and strengthens our culture.”

–Alex Bingham, president and CEO of The Little Gym International, a children’s enrichment and development franchise with 400 locations worldwide

11. Stop overthinking it.

“Once you make a decision, take action that moment. Write the letter, make the call, send the email. Show up in a bigger way than you ever have before, but don’t wait for the planets to align. Take action now and, by next week, your anxiety will start to dissipate because you are going for it. I am always so impressed by persistent people, whether they are getting the results they want or not. No matter what, if they keep pushing forward, the big break they are waiting for is just one step away. Why would you ever want to miss that opportunity?”

–Allison Maslan, serial entrepreneur who built 10 companies to seven-figure success and author of “Blast Off!: The Surefire Success Plan to Launch Your Dreams into Reality” and “Scale or Fail: How to Build Your Dream Team, Explode Your Growth, and Let Your Business Soar”

“It is so easy to immerse yourself in work that you forget to stand, stretch, and reset. Believe it or not this enables you to be more productive. I often get up check in with staff and take a lap around the office or the building if the weather permits. Also, I started wearing wrist and ankle weights. This helps keep me alert and ready for the day-to-day challenges, not to mention the additional calorie burning.”

–Julia Biancella Au, cofounder and CEO of removable wallpaper company Tempaper, which has seen average annual growth of about 34 percent each year since launching in 2008

13. Talk to people and get to know them.

“Unengaged employees are a company’s biggest liability. People will feel more positively about coming to work if they feel they can engage with the business and those around them. Therefore, take time out of your day to physically get up and start conversation with those around you. Each day, engage with employees and coworkers on a personal and professional level. This makes them feel valued, heard and understood, leading to that constructive engagement.”

–Mike Whalen, founder of Heart of American Group which employs more than 3,500 people across more than 40 restaurants, hotels and other retail; and CEO of Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, an expanding restaurant franchise with 15 locations across nine states

14. Look for inspiration.

“I work very hard to do things every day that inspire me. This includes walks in cities, architecture, restaurants, bars, cars, stores, magazines, and mostly just working. I love the process–I am always excited to start new projects and investigate the next idea. People always ask how I come up with so many designs but in fact it is hard for me not to because everything I see and experience excites me. Because I am driven by what’s next, I am very fortunate to be so engaged by the challenge and its process.”

–Robert Sonneman, founder and chief creative officer of award-winning SONNEMAN-A Way of Light, with a product line which includes 1,800 SKUs, with over 100 new introductions annually, and has experienced over 40% revenue growth in 2016, and 20% growth month over month in 2017

15. Mark up your to-do list.

“Every morning I go through my entire to-do list (ranging from 10 to 30 items), and I highlight high versus low priorities so that at the end of the day the mission critical tasks are guaranteed to be completed.”

–Lex Corwin, founder of Stone Road Farms, a premium cannabis company which has done over $100,000 in sales since obtaining its license earlier this year and secured large scale manufacturing and multi-state distribution deals

16. Take time for silence each morning.

“For more than 25 years now I begin my day with an hour-long practice I refer to as the Sphere of Silence (SOS). It is not meditation, and it is not a religious practice of any kind. It’s derived from the art of silence I learnt from my grandfather at a very young age. My grandfather believed that abstaining from speaking brought him inner peace and made him a better listener. I have been practicing the Sphere of Silence for most of my life now and attribute my success to it. I find that practicing the SOS is the ultimate weapon against the assault on our senses and the insanity that prevails around us today. To many, it may seem that no quiet could exist amidst the din and racket of an ever-blaring world. Practice it for 21 days and it becomes a habit. The silence and introspection make you a better you, because it helps you channel your energies to maximum effect. And being a better you, makes you better at everything you do.”

–Vijay Eswaran , one of Forbes’ top 50 wealthiest Malaysians, one of Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy, bestselling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist and founder and executive chairman of the QI Group of Companies, a multi-business conglomerate with headquarters in Hong Kong, offices in more than 25 countries and customers in over 100 countries

17. Write down all the good and bad every day.

“One the easiest ways that has proven to increase my effectiveness is the habit I have created to write in my journal every day. I put pen-to-paper and write down the things which are important to me, the things that were both good and bad during my day and ideas on how I can improve. I write lists, goals, gratitude and sometime write to simply vent my frustrations. Writing requires engagement from both sides of my brain, making the brainstorming or problem-solving process more complete and innovative. Further, writing is crucial when it comes to settling emotional reactivity. It unwinds emotions caused by stress or conflict by providing a much needed disconnect from the daily grind of consistent talking, emailing, taking calls, and other distractions which come alone with electronic devices. I deeply value the process of writing because it puts me in touch with the more existential aspects of life, reminding me of the bigger picture of I am striving for.”

–Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a nationally recognized expert in clinical psychology, speaker, former radio host of the Dr. Sherrie Show for the BBM Global Network and TuneIn Radio, with over two decades of clinical training experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Orange County, California, and author of “Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life”

18. Use flora and fauna for energization.

“I always have fresh flowers and green life in my office and at home, in order to keep
the air in these spaces fresh and have an inspiring atmosphere. On the fauna front, I
bring my three fur-babies–my dogs–to the office every day. I find that the research
stands true–pets in the office reduce stress and increase collaboration!”

–Terry Eaton, founder, president and chief curator of Eaton Fine Art, a firm that last
year marked its 25th anniversary with recent projects including the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and Holston House in Nashville

19. Take care of yourself.

“I recently saw a survey that said 80 percent of Americans have tension headaches or feel overwhelmed or depressed at least one day during the month. Those are sad symptoms of living in our society. At its worst, stress is making us sick, but it’s also sapping our productivity and stealing our success. The irony is that what’s causing our stress–the pace of life and the never-ending demands–are the very things that keep us from doing something about it. We’re busy taking care of business and for many of us, self-care is one of the first things that come off our list. I think that’s a big mistake and comes with a heavy cost, which is why I dedicate time every day, to taking care of myself no matter what’s going on. That might be a massage, but it can also be a run outdoors or a walk in the beach, talking to my kids or just taking a few minutes to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. The point is to make it a daily habit.”

–Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy, a provider of therapeutic massage and skincare services with a franchise system that collectively employs over 35,000 wellness professionals across 1,180 locations nationwide servicing more than 1.65 million members

“[I read] at least 10 pages from each of the books I’m reading (prayer, professional and enjoyment.)  Always have three books open and I personally prefer physical books over e-readers.”

–Ellie Johnson, president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New York Properties which has $375 million in sales inventory and has grown its agent population five-fold since launching in January 2017

“I’m a huge proponent of rest. I take the weekends off and I believe in regular, relaxing vacations. Once a year, I go back home to pick olives with my family. It’s amazing how this time away from the office re-energizes my body and spirit. My downtime is essential.”

–Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm, an online form builder used by more than 3.5 million people

22. Lead a life with grace (in and out of the office).

“When I was younger, my father worked during the day and took classes at night to earn his college degree to make a better life for himself and our family. He taught me from an early age that no matter what life throws your way, it’s important to earn the respect of others by working hard and being honest, fair and trustworthy. I apply this advice to both my career and my personal life. No matter how difficult a situation may be or how frustrated I may be with someone, it is so important that I always keep my composure, lead with grace and give others the respect that they deserve. If you don’t respect others, you cannot expect to earn their respect in return!”

–Lisa A Haude, founder and president of Paradigm Design Group, an award-winning luxury-lifestyle hospitality interior design firm with offices in Houston, San Francisco and Chicago and ranked as one of the top design firms in the United States since 2006

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These Big Thinkers Want You To Know How They Feel About Science

Astronaut Scott Kelly talks about his year in space at 3M’s campus in Minneapolis on April 25, 2018.Alejandro Rojas

In April 2018, the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative and 3M hosted the lecture, Climate Change: Science and Policy with Dr. Mario Molina. Molina won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his scientific discovery of the chemistry of the stratospheric ozone layer and its susceptibility to human-made activities.

He co-authored research in 1974 in Nature magazine on the threat to the ozone layer from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gasses being used in spray cans. Molina has also served on the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 to 2000 and again in 2010-2016.

“Science doesn’t tell you what to do. Science isn’t either good or bad so you can not give Nobel prizes in science to good people, you do that in principle for the science,” said Molina.  “One of the new aspects of science is that we recognize our social responsibility. Many of us do not continue doing the same research we were doing before winning the prize (Nobel). After the prize, many of us do something for society.  I changed a bit as well, to more science and policy issues, and again, the bulk of these changes ended up being for the betterment of society.”

“So if somebody doubts climate change, that’s total misinformation. You can go to the extreme and say that’s really just corruption,” said Molina. “Science is so well established that it’s either you don’t want to understand something or that you have some hidden motives and that’s not science, who [..] would want to say nowadays that molecules don’t exist?” added Molina. 

Molina’s lecture coincided with a State of Science index put out by 3M which looked at a cross-section of views on the public’s perception of science today.

When it comes to kids and parent, 92 percent of parents said they want their kids to know more about science. But on the other hand, data from the report noted that four out of ten people said that if science didn’t exist their everyday lives wouldn’t be that different. Also, 60 percent of the science skeptics in the report believed if science didn’t exist, daily life wouldn’t be much different, and 66 percent of people in the world rarely think of the impact science has on their lives.

Scott Kelly, former NASA astronaut who spent 320 days in space and who spoke at the 3M Campus on April 26, 2018, tweeted the statistic that people believe science has little impact on their lives.

Scott Kelly on Flat Earthers, Climate Change and Mars

Astronaut Scott Kelly at the 3M State of Science event in Minneapolis, April 25, 2018.Alejandro Rojas

This bothers me because those 66 percent of people will go to the polls and vote and elect representatives in the United States or their countries and the people who they elect will make decisions that will affect their lives and their children’s lives. I think we need more members representing us that have science backgrounds and believe in science,” said Kelly.

“I [..] think that in the last 10 years, some people have become skeptics of things that are facts,” said Kelly. “Why that is, I don’t know, but we’ve lost our ability to have a conversation about it. If I am wrong, talk to me about it, try and convince me.”

“Some of that flat-earthers don’t fully believe the earth is flat and they’re doing it as a goof, and that’s fine,” quipped Kelly. “But the problem is that if you can discount that the earth is not a sphere, then you can’t believe in things that are important to us like issues with the environment, healthcare, vaccines, etc. On the one hand, you can laugh and say its funny, but on the other hand, it can have a huge influence on other people.”

“I’m not a climate scientist, but when 97% of the climate scientists say this is fact, I’m going to believe them, so it’s the logical thing to do to believe the experts,” said Kelly. “But when we have people in government who have no science background and say they aren’t going to believe, it confounds me how this is even possible,” said Kelly.

“From my time in space, I’ve noticed there are fewer rainforests and more field clearing in South America. I’ve seen icebergs with my naked eye in the middle of the southern Indian ocean as I am flying over and thought to myself, that’s a pretty big iceberg to be just floating around out there,” said Kelly. “The scary thing to me is how fragile our atmosphere is, when you see it, it’s like a thin film covering the earth, like a contact lens over your eyeball.”

In this July 12, 2015 photo, Astronaut Scott Kelly takes a picture of himself inside the Cupola, a special module of the International Space Station which provides a 360-degree viewing of the Earth and the station. In his new autobiography, the retired astronaut writes about his U.S. record-breaking year in space and the challenging life events that got him there. (Scott Kelly/NASA via AP)

Kelly adds that going to Mars is the next logical step for our species. “We have a lot of the technology to do that mission, over the course of the lifetime of the space station, we’ve learned a lot,” adds Kelly.

“I was in space for space for 320 days, I got back and didn’t feel great, but I was capable,” said Kelly. “But going to Mars will take 200 days, then you are on the surface for a year and operating in a lesser gravitational field, one third that of the earth, the physical effects on the body is going to be greater.”

When it comes to Mars versus the Moon, Kelly said he would prefer a long-term plan and the money to do it. “What we have now is a change in direction from where we are going and no money to do anything. We have a policy change with nothing to back it up. My desire for NASA is that they would be an agency that has the budget over a longer period and not be tied to each administration,” said Kelly.

“There are a lot of great reasons to go to the moon. We have a lot more science today than when we were there before, and there’s still a lot we can learn about the moon and earth and where we came from,” said Kelly. “But if you want to build the perfect place to practice to go to Mars and you wanted to demonstrate your technology, the Moon is the perfect place to do it. It’s expensive, but if you have an unlimited amount of money and if you only can do one thing, my choice is to go to Mars.”

Telling The Story Of Science

In 2017, National Geographic funded more than 600 grants totaling around $16 million for scientists and explorers. The also hired their first Chief Scientist, Jonathan Baillie.

Gary Knell, CEO, National Geographic, said that it’s essential to support scientists and explorers, like Jane Goodall, because their experiences and science becomes fodder for storytelling and shows the contextual connection of why science is important. “We’ve tried to double down over the past several years to make the grantmaking contribute to more practical applications, like the June 2018 plastics issue of National Geographic, which we hope will get people to own the problem,” adds Knell.

“For the past two years there seems to be a war on science,” said Knell. “Politically people seem to be choosing what science they want to believe in that fits their political views – climate change, GMO, etc.,” said Knell. “But science is a methodology and as Neil DeGrasse Tyson has said, ‘science is true whether you believe it or not ‘ so maybe it’s the applications that may or may not be good for mankind.”

The Discovery and Science Channels have also been working on programming that creates context around science in series like Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey To Tomorrow (debuts in October 2018), How the Universe Works and Rancher Farmer Fisherman.

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, (Kazakh time) Whitson, Novitskiy, and Pesquet spent approximately six months on the orbital complex. This image is part of upcoming Discovery and Science Channel programming called Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey To Tomorrow which debuts October 2018. Image courtesy of Discovery.NASA/Bill Ingalls

Nancy Daniels, Chief Brand Officer, Discovery and Factual said that in an era when there is so much uncertainty, and facts aren’t thought to be as concrete as they once were, science-based programming can be reassuring.

“Whether we’re talking about how climate change has had real effects on the crab fishing industry, exploring the far reaches of the universe, or inspiring the next generation to learn more about science, Discovery and Science Channel are at the forefront of this movement in television back to authenticity. At the same time, we can’t be up on an ivory tower,” said Daniels. “We are storytellers, and good storytelling has the power to help synthesize complicated issues.”

Looking Forward

John P. BanovetzSenior Vice President, Research and Development and Chief Technology Officer, 3M said the world is becoming more technologically advanced, and science is driving those technology breakthroughs.

“You see it every day and read about science driving improvements in energy use, cleaner air and water, and transportation.  To continue these advancements in the future, we need to be vigilant about helping people understand all of the incredible innovations around science,” said Banovetz.  “Science is all about collaborating to solve the challenges we will face in the future.”

Jim Jefferies, 2018 IEEE President, and CEO said that much of the improvement in the quality of life over the last few decades is the result of advances in science and technology driven by electrical and electronic engineering and computer science. “These advances in electronics and computer science underpin the advances in healthcare, ubiquitous communications, clean and efficient energy, intelligent transportation, entertainment, education, advanced agriculture, financial technology, security, and space, and touch almost every aspect of life,” adds Jefferies.

“Today, we see an explosion of interest at the frontiers of machine learning and artificial intelligence, in robotics, in new models of computing for a post-Moore’s law world (including applications of quantum science), in intelligent vehicle technology, and in biomedical technology,” adds Jefferies. “We also see a vibrant discussion about ethics and design, driven by an increased focus on risk and responsibility in the development of intelligent systems.”

Molina offers some advice for inspiring scientists. 

“Take ambitious ideas, innovation [..] because it’s extremely rewarding. Persevere in your goals, and live with the fact that we all make mistakes. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and when you realize that, you change, and you learn from your mistakes,” said Molina. “So don’t give up, unless you want to have a very boring life and just function like a bureaucrat which isn’t very encouraging. Keep being ambitious.” 

_____

Correction: This post has been updated since it was originally published to add the link to Nature magazine from 1974 where Molina’s research was published.

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Funimation Picks Up The Classic Anime Series 'Zillion' For Western Release

‘Zillion’ is finally getting a Western release.Credit: Funimation, Tatsunoko Production

</div> </div> <p>A few years back, Japan received an <a href="http://www.vap.co.jp/category/1436262311094/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.vap.co.jp/category/1436262311094/" rel="nofollow">amazingly nice remastered Blu-ray version</a> of this anime and I had hoped that at some point it would come Westward.</p>

<p>After checking in with Funimation, it seems that this Blu-ray release is the one they have picked up and that the Western version will also have English subtitles.</p> <p>What’s more, this&nbsp;release will also include the OVA as well as the whole TV series. The SRP&nbsp;will also be $64.98 for the set.</p> <p>While we don’t have details on when <em>Zillion</em> will be released, the fact this classic anime is finally getting a proper release outside of Japan is great news.</p> <p><em>Follow me on <a href="https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" rel="nofollow">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" rel="nofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" rel="nofollow">YouTube</a>. I also manage <a href="http://www.mechadamashii.com" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.mechadamashii.com" rel="nofollow">Mecha Damashii</a> and do toy reviews over at <a href="http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" rel="nofollow">hobbylink.tv</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Read my Forbes blog <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/" target="_self">here</a>.</em></p>” readability=”42.2632794457″>

One of the most interesting anime series of the late 80s, Red Photon Zillion, has now been picked up for a Western release and its gaming lineage is also pretty interesting.

Zillion is a curious anime on various counts. From it being the start of Production I.G as a spin-off studio from Tatsunoko Production to the amazing mecha design by Ammonite but the really fascinating part about the series is how it tied into the Sega Master System.

Two games were spawned from the anime, Zillion and Zillion II. There was also a laser-tag type toy sold in Japan and Brazil. However, the anime also introduced Opa-Opa from the arcade game Fantasy Zone as a recurring mascot.

Set on Mars, the anime deals with the alien invasion of the Nohzas, that want to wipe out humanity. The name “Zillion” refers to the special gun the main characters carry that is very powerful and almost impossible to mass produce.

‘Zillion’ is finally getting a Western release.Credit: Funimation, Tatsunoko Production

A few years back, Japan received an amazingly nice remastered Blu-ray version of this anime and I had hoped that at some point it would come Westward.

After checking in with Funimation, it seems that this Blu-ray release is the one they have picked up and that the Western version will also have English subtitles.

What’s more, this release will also include the OVA as well as the whole TV series. The SRP will also be $64.98 for the set.

While we don’t have details on when Zillion will be released, the fact this classic anime is finally getting a proper release outside of Japan is great news.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also manage Mecha Damashii and do toy reviews over at hobbylink.tv.

Read my Forbes blog here.

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Facebook Closes Loophole That Revealed Personal Data of People in ‘Closed’ Groups

Facebook has closed a loophole that allowed third parties to view and collect personal information about members of groups set to the “closed” privacy setting. An extension for Google’s Chrome browser called Grouply.io was specifically made to allow third parties to collect names, locations, email addresses, employers, and other personal data from Facebook groups, according to a report from CNBC.

What finally caused Facebook to close the loophole were complaints from a group of women with the BRCA gene, a gene mutation associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer. The BRCA Sisterhood group, which did not want members’ names to be known, ran a “closed” Facebook group. Technically, “secret” is Facebook’s most restrictive setting, but choosing to make a group “secret” hides it from public listings entirely. The BRCA Sisterhood was open to new members and selected the “closed” setting for that reason.

A security researcher who helped the BRCA Sisterhood moderators investigate whether the plugin could harvest their personal information also found that Facebook groups for individuals coping with other sensitive issues, such as addiction recovery and HIV/AIDS, were easily searchable using the Chrome plugin.

This type of personal data can be used in marketing and advertising. But it comes with another more fraught consideration for Facebook: healthcare privacy compliance. While a social media site like Facebook is not required to be compliant under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States, it may catch the attention of European regulators, where Facebook is facing an uphill battle under new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

Facebook issued a cease-and-desist letter to Grouply.io developers, who discontinued the Chrome plugin earlier this year. Facebook has also says it closed the third-party loophole overall.

Despite ongoing privacy concerns and controversies plaguing the social media giant, Facebook stock recently closed at an all-time record high. Mark Zuckerberg also recently became the world’s third richest person, passing Warren Buffet.

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Here's What You May Not Know About The Future Impact Of AI In Your Workplace

CHAIN Cup at the China National Convention Center in Beijing just a few days ago. A computer running artificial intelligence software defeated two teams of human doctors in accurately recognizing maladies in magnetic resonance images on Saturday, in a contest that was billed as the world’s first competition in neuroimaging between AI and human experts. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Good versus evil is a daily battle on a variety of levels but perhaps none more so than that those tracking developments within the realm of Artificial Intelligence. The question on the minds of many business leaders is will the technology create more efficiency within industries or will machines end up usurping their very users.  Many in the workforce simply want to know whether there will be massive impending job loss as a result of AI or whether such tech advancements will help them to be more productive. There are wild myths about this new area of tech and even wilder predictions amidst few, if any, regulations and standards. Given the plethora of various viewpoints on AI, here’s a brief look at the up-to-the-moment trend perspective from a few thought-leaders in the space so that you can better prepare.

So, harmful or helpful? First, the AI-For-Good camp has no shortage of members. This is about blue sky visions and utopian views from which the greater good occurs, all thanks to efficient use of artificial intelligence through businesses. For example, Chief Visionary Nikos Acuña Nikos at Sizmek, a company that helps companies use data to better reach its goals, says in one of his latest vlog posts, “It’s well known that predictive technologies hold the key to customer experience optimization and such optimization can be used for all types of good.”  Nikos believes that technology is going to help us impact the world for the better particularly when it comes to cause marketing.

“Purpose-driven brands want to make a change for the better,” he explains. “And they can inspire people through alignment of data and connect with consumers in more meaningful way to drive messaging. Those who can best use AI to create personalization and brand experiences will be the winners in business and our society because they will be able to link business with better public service via the knowledge that AI provides.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif. Google pledges that it will not use artificial intelligence in applications related to weapons or surveillance, part of a new set of principles designed to govern how it uses AI. Those principles, released by Pichai, commit Google to building AI applications that are “socially beneficial,” that avoid creating or reinforcing bias and that is accountable to people. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

In addition, many see a deeply positive impact of AI within the workplace. A recent report by Village Capital and Autodesk Foundation entitled Automation for Good: Can Automation and Artificial Intelligence Benefit the Workforce? revealed a number of intriguing findings. In essence, the study found that  AI will both destroy replace and create new types of jobs.

By studying 50-plus startups, the study found certain trends. First, that platforms that used big data were able to better move past hiring biases, improve the quality of matches and thus have a greater competitive advantage in the market. The study also cites the fact that when Hilton implemented an AI tool in pre-hire assessments the company was better able to fill call center and customer support positions. In fact, within three years, the company was  able to reduce the length of time between initial interviews and offers from 42 days to five days.

The study concludes that automation and AI will play an increasingly large role in how organizations source, recruit, hire, and onboard employees in the future. In fact, Village Capital’s cross-industry survey last year found that approximately 62 percent of recruiters planned to spend more on AI-based human resource solutions in 2018.  86 percent said they intend to tap into AI software that helps with sourcing.

Gadi Singer, vice president of architecture group at Intel Corp., speaks during the Baidu Inc. Create conference in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. The company’s annual artificial intelligence (AI) developer conference runs through July 5. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

Also noted in the study is the fact that AI-driven training and “upskilling” will be key in various sectors as well. Findings also show that predictive analytics tools that allow workers to focus less on rote tasks and more on the creative “people aspects” of work.

But like most things in life, there a number of additional elements to consider when it comes to the future impact of AI.

David Benigson, CEO Signal Media offers a holistic view. “You see, the breadth of data has never been greater on earth, yet it has never harder to transform data into true insights. This is where AI can become transformative in terms of  applying machine learning to the data to unlock insights.”

However, he feels that in order to get to that level, it’s going to be challenging given the level of fear and misinformation currently surrounding most things AI-related. “We are over-estimating the short-term impact and underestimating the long-term on what AI will do to our society overall, ” Benigson explains. “And that’s an issue.”  He says that the real fact of the matter is that many automated, manual, repetitive and repeatable jobs will, indeed, vanish. “However the ‘safe jobs’ dealing with things like creativity will remain in demand. So jobs in, say, banking will become obsolete. But if you can build something or write or create music or become a valued entrepreneur, that’s where value will always remain and perhaps AI will help even enhance those working in these areas.”

Benigson cautions that further development around ethics, however, is probably the most important focus within the AI narrative if we want to continue to pursue the path of benefit versus detriment. He suggests that an independent ethics board of members that are not solely driven by financial gain is key.  “Currently we are expecting machines to have the same level of ethics that it’s taken humans thousands of years to develop, which is still not perfect,” he adds.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., waits to begin a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Lawmakers will grill Zuckerberg on issues ranging from the troves of data vacuumed up by app developers and political consultant Cambridge Analytica to Russian operatives’ use of the social network to spread misinformation and discord during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“We’ve seen what can happen in the past with companies like Google and Facebook that are fairly autonomous. They run into trouble, and we expect them to respond, but they really don’t on a level that’s appropriate, so they need regulation but regulation can tend to stifle new areas by becoming too stringent so a slow and steady approach will be needed,” he adds.

In addition to parameters around ethics, many like Benigson suggest that the AI industry will simply have to further focus on demonstrating how AI can help with efficiency gains in business and vast gains in society overall in order to quell fears and myths. “The most important element to understand as we discuss AI is that algorithms are shaping our experience of the world so we’ve got to get this right.”

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A Robotic Spacecraft Just Smashed the Record for Fastest Trip to the International Space Station

A Russian robotic spacecraft has smashed the record for the time taken to reach the International Space Station (ISS), managing the feat in a mere three hours and 40 minutes.

The Progress MS-09 or Progress 70 cargo ship—the former name is used by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and the latter by NASA—only did two orbits of Earth before docking with the ISS. The previous record time from takeoff to docking was around six hours, and that involved four orbits.

This was the first Russian cargo mission to demonstrate an “expedited capability” that will likely be used again in future, NASA said in a statement.

According to Space.com, the Russians had tried twice before to achieve this speedy feat, but had been thwarted on both occasions by lift-off delays that meant it was necessary to turn the trips into two-day missions.

The Russian spacecraft was carrying more than two tons of cargo, including fuel, air, maintenance equipment, and care and life support packs for the astronauts on board the ISS. Progress MS-09 will stay docked until late January.

The Russians’ success is a reminder that the ISS is, as its name suggests, an international endeavor. The new NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, is trying to get a consortium of private companies to take over the space station, but it isn’t simply the Americans’ to hand over.

Russia has its own part of the ISS—with which Progress MS-09 docked—and Japan, Europe and Canada share the American section. When Progress MS-09 leaves the ISS, it will take the whole Russian Pirs docking compartment with it—the Russians will replace the compartment with a new “multipurpose laboratory module.”

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German carmakers left reliant on others for battery cells

MUNICH (Reuters) – Plans by a Chinese company to build a battery cell factory in Germany should serve as a wakeup call for the national car industry, whose lack of its own production capacity risks leaving it exposed in a dawning era of electric mobility.

FILE PHOTO: A worker assembles a StreetScooter electric delivery van on the production line during an opening tour in Dueren near Cologne, Germany, May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo –

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is expected to take part in a signing ceremony at a summit in Berlin on Monday for Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) to build the plant in the eastern state of Thuringia.

BMW has awarded a contract worth just over 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) for CATL to make cells for electric cars, while Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) has picked CATL and South Korea’s Samsung and LG Chem to deliver $25 billion worth of batteries.

Tesla founder Elon Musk has also talked about locating a battery ‘Gigafactory’ near the Franco-German border, in the vicinity of its Grohman Engineering division that has built a production line for Tesla’s Nevada plant.

“If we want to have a German battery cell industry, then this is a warning shot,” said auto industry expert Joern Neuhausen of PwC consulting arm Strategy&.

German car makers have championed a switch to greener forms of motoring following the Dieselgate scandal of 2015 that exposed the dark side of their long and lucrative reliance on the internal combustion engine.

Volkswagen called last year for the German and European industry, which employs 12.6 million workers, to team up on battery production. Industry experts expect the mobility revolution to boost Europe’s battery market to 250 billion euros by 2025.

SEMICONDUCTOR PARALLELS

Analysts draw parallels with the semiconductor industry, where European players lost out as memory chips used in computers and mobile phones become a mass-produced commodity and low-cost Asian producers came to dominate the market.

Europe’s chip makers were not wiped out completely, however, maintaining – with the help of state aid – a lead in high-performance chips used in industrial and power-management applications such as electric cars, trains, wind turbines or computer server farms.

“When you talk about silicon chips for cars, it’s not about standard products but specialized applications,” said Elmar Kades of management consultants AlixPartners. “That’s a good business.”

Robert Bosch is building a new plant in ‘Silicon Saxony’ in eastern Germany that will make chips for the car industry and the industrial ‘Internet of Things’.

The privately held company, a leading auto industry supplier, has opted out of making lithium-ion battery cells, saying it would take an investment of 20 billion euros to catch a fifth of the European market by 2030.

The real value, say industry insiders, is in battery packaging – or combining cells so that they operate efficiently – maximizing the distance an electric vehicle can travel and the speed at which its batteries can be recharged.

“There is absolutely no point in chasing after today’s technology,” said Peter Cammerer, a member of the works council at BMW.

Cammerer urged the auto industry to prepare for the “post-Lithium era” by focusing its joint efforts on promising sodium- or magnesium-ion battery technologies. Battery-grade sodium salts are more abundant than lithium, while magnesium has the potential to be used in solid-state batteries — potentially more efficient.

“The right time is now,” said Cammerer.

Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Keith Weir

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Citigroup, with limited options, hopes to lure deposits digitally

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc is facing a unique dilemma among the four largest U.S. banks: it is light on deposits from individuals, an important funding source that costs little and tends to stick around.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Citibank logo displayed outside the Citibank Plaza in Hong Kong July 28, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

While big rivals grew deposits dramatically after the 2007-2009 financial crisis from their broad networks of branches, Citigroup backed out of all but six U.S. cities and closed one-third of its branches. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2MUPAyE tmsnrt.rs/2MUPAyE])

The bank is now trying to up its game with a new app it plans to begin marketing in the third quarter. Executives hope it can lure deposits without opening new branches, acquiring a rival or beating competitors’ rates – three ways to collect deposits with their own costs and risks.

“People are willing to switch to a bank that is able to provide this kind of mobile-first experience,” David Chubak, head of global retail banking and mortgage, said in a statement, citing customer research Citigroup conducted.

The app, which does not have a name, will augment the bank’s push to expand its wealth management business, he said.

Competing for deposits is important as interest rates rise. When banks start reporting second-quarter results on Friday, investors will be closely watching deposit levels and what they cost.

The stakes are high for Citigroup, which is less profitable than rivals and trying to meet elusive financial targets set by Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat.

Citigroup, the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, has 4 percent of U.S. deposits, compared with about 11 percent at JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Wells Fargo & Co, according to S&P Global.

Its deposits also cost more, because a bigger portion comes from institutions and wealthy customers who demand higher rates. Citigroup paid 0.81 percent on U.S. interest-bearing accounts in 2017 compared with less than 0.30 percent at the other three big banks, according to their annual filings.

Citigroup has more than enough to fund its loans, but its earns only one-third as much revenue from U.S. consumer deposits as JPMorgan and Bank of America do, said Peter Nerby, a bank analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.

That gap could widen as other banks carry out plans to expand into new cities by building hundreds of branches to go along with their own apps. Citigroup has 700 branches, compared with Bank of America’s 4,400 branches and JPMorgan’s 5,100.

FILE PHOTO: People walk beneath a Citibank branch logo in the financial district of San Francisco, California July 17, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

“Digital offers can only get you so much,” Dean Athanasia, co-head of Bank of America’s consumer banking division, said in an interview.

Even as customers embrace digital apps, they still want a local branch where they can see someone, he said.

Citigroup may open branches selectively over time in locations where it would help its wealth business, Chuback said.

For now, the bank seems unlikely to build any new brick-and-mortar locations, partly because its budget is tight. Management has vowed to cut $1.5 billion of expenses from its consumer bank by 2020 to reach Corbat’s targets.

“We’re completely focused on the implementation and execution of our national digital banking platform,” Corbat said at a conference in May when asked about rivals’ branch-building plans.

TOUGH COMPETITION

Citigroup is not the first bank to try to grow deposits without branches.

Companies including former General Motors subsidiary Ally Financial Inc, Discover Financial Services American Express Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc have gone after deposits through mailings, call centers and digital tools. Those efforts, some going back decades, have gathered about 5 percent of U.S. deposits, according to consulting firm Novantas.

Lately, some small and regional lenders are also looking to expand their reach digitally at a relatively low cost.

For instance, Citizens Financial Group Inc, a Rhode Island-based regional lender, has said it will target customers outside of its markets with a new app. A bank 1 percent of the size of Citigroup can launch a decent app with software from outside firms for about $1 million a year, said Ryan Caldwell, CEO of MX Technologies.

Citigroup is betting its technology, familiar brand name and outreach to its 120 million U.S. credit card accounts can help it win some people over. It may also offer rewards for new deposit accounts to some card customers.

“Citi has been on a diet for about a decade,” said Moody’s Nerby. “They are playing the hand that they have.”

As of Friday, Citigroup shares had appreciated 83 percent since Corbat was named CEO in October 2012, compared with gains of 197 percent by Bank of America, 146 percent by JPMorgan and 65 percent by Wells Fargo, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Lisa Shumaker

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3 YouTube Daredevils Dead in Waterfall Accident

Three popular YouTubers died on Tues., July 3, after accidentally falling over a waterfall more than 1,000 feet in height. Two of the deceased were founders of the High on Life YouTube channel, which featured exotic travel and dangerous outdoor stunts.

The three victims were reportedly part of a group of seven swimming near Shannon Falls outside Squamish, British Columbia. According to eyewitness reports, Megan Scraper slipped and fell 30 meters into fast-moving water just above the falls. Alexey Lyakh and Ryker Gamble are believed to have jumped into the water to try and save her, but all three were swept over the falls. Their bodies were recovered the next day.

According to the CBC, Gamble and Lyakh started High on Life with two other childhood friends. Previous videos posted by the deceased and the High on Life channel show lots of exotic travel as well as some high-risk outdoor activities, including cliff jumping and crossing decrepit rail bridges. Some of the group’s YouTube videos emphasize the danger of certain activities. One video, featuring Gamble descending a harrowing natural water chute, is accompanied by a disclaimer stating that “Our team has been trained and involved in gymnastics, diving, stunts, and the extreme sports community for over a decade,” and warning others against trying to replicate what they see.

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The accident has nonetheless added new fuel to long-running debates about the potential danger of social media featuring risky activities. That’s in large part because the High on Life group has previously been accused of violating safety and natural preservation rules. In 2016, Gamble and Lyakh posted video showing themselves leaving designated trails in Yellowstone National Park and walking near the Grand Prismatic Spring, an ecologically delicate and potentially dangerous hot spring. They were ultimately sentenced to seven days in jail and apologized for their behavior.

Members of the group, including Gamble and Lyakh, were also accused of violating rules elsewhere. Those incidents included using bicycles in prohibited areas in Death Valley National Park; swinging from the Corona Arch rock formation in Utah; and wakeboarding on the sensitive Bonneville Salt Flats in the same state. At least some of those incidents were filmed, according to citations.

High on Life currently has more than 500,000 subscribers, no doubt partly thanks to such high-risk stunts. Some have argued that the quest for thrilling footage led the team to take more extreme risks, without the safeguards or oversight that might have been imposed by a more conventional media organization. That dynamic mirrors the documented tendency of algorithm-driven media platforms to encourage ideological extremism among users.

In a video message posted after the tragic deaths, other members of the High on Life team praised the trio’s legacy. “They lived every single day to its fullest,” the memorial stated in part. “They stood for positivity, courage, and living the best life that you can, and they shared and taught their values to millions of people worldwide.”

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The Future of Former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt's Anti-Science Legacy

Gone is the boss who loved first-class travel to places like Morocco and Rome, forced his staffers to find him an apartment (and a used Trump hotel mattress), and asked fast-food executives to hire his wife. But EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s many scandals haven’t been the real bugaboo for environmental advocates—rather, it’s been his rollback of environmental regulations on toxic waste, tailpipe emissions, air pollution, and greenhouse gases.

And in fact, Pruitt’s replacement might be more effective at gutting environmental protection than Pruitt himself.

Pruitt left office Thursday after questions of lavish spending, mismanagement, and ethical lapses. He was the target of 13 investigations by the EPA’s own inspector general, according to The New York Times. In June, a federal judge ordered Pruitt to produce documents supporting his statements on CNBC that humans were not a major contributor to climate change.

So when Pruitt’s resignation was tweeted by President Trump on Thursday afternoon, there was relief among many EPA employees, according to Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit legal group that represents civil servants from several federal agencies. “They were overjoyed,” said Ruch, who spoke to several EPA employees after Pruitt left. “It was ‘Ding-dong, the witch is dead.’”

In fact, the scene outside EPA headquarters in Washington got a bit nutty yesterday afternoon, as a man wearing an oversized papier-mâché Pruitt head posed for pictures with happy EPA staffers.

That glee may be fleeting. For now, Pruitt’s replacement is Andrew Wheeler, a coal industry lobbyist who worked briefly at the EPA 25 years ago and will return as the acting administrator. He was approved as deputy administrator by the Senate in April 2018, but Wheeler would face a second Senate vote if Trump nominates him to become the permanent agency head.

From 1995 to 2009, Wheeler was a staff member for James Inhofe, a Republican senator from Oklahoma who is one of Congress’s fiercest climate-deniers. Then, as a lobbyist, Wheeler represented the largest coal-mining operation in the United States, Murray Energy, for more than a decade. In 2017, Murray Energy gave Pruitt an “action plan” to overturn existing EPA rules on mercury pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollution that crosses state lines.

So far, the White House and other federal agencies are on track to pass 16 of the rollbacks. Under Wheeler, “the administration’s agenda won’t change,” says Vicky Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, a non-profit group at the Georgetown Law School that works with state officials on federal environmental regulatory issues. “Because Wheeler has deeper roots in DC, knows his way around these issues, and has built more relationships than Pruitt,” Arroyo says, “he might be more effective at completing [the White House] agenda.”

Just as Pruitt urged Trump to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, Wheeler has attacked mainstream climate science, writing in 2010 that the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change was biased. “The UN IPCC has blurred the lines between science and advocacy to the point where they are unable to separate situational awareness from proposed remedies,” Wheeler wrote in a blog on his law firm’s website. “They have been advocating for specific policy actions and ignoring the original charter of informing the public on the state of science.”

At his Senate confirmation hearing in November 2017, Wheeler was noncommittal when faced with the federal government’s own climate report. “I believe that man has an impact on the climate, but what’s not completely understood is what the impact is,” Wheeler said during the hearing. At least on climate science, Pruitt and Wheeler are speaking from a similar book.

That matters because the Trump administration continues to block the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions from plants that burn fossil fuels. The plan was developed by President Obama, but Trump’s EPA reversed course and is now asking a federal court to oppose it. The Supreme Court blocked the plan from going into effect until a lower court can rule on its merits.

Under Wheeler’s tenure, Arroyo expects that her work will continue, with several states who are suing the EPA to enforce the Clean Power Plan, toxic air pollution rules, and climate protection rules. “It’s not a new day,” she says, “but we all have to be relieved that someone who is so blatantly corrupt is let go.”


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NVIDIAVoice: Creating New Realities for Patient Outcomes: Virtual Reality in Healthcare Part I

When most people think of Virtual Reality (VR), the image that comes to mind is interactive gaming experiences and awe-inspiring, immersive entertainment. And, while the media and entertainment industry is a critical driver of advancing extended reality (xR) technologies (which encompasses virtual, augmented and mixed reality), a deeper examination makes it clear these technologies are poised to have a profound impact across an array of industries.  One such industry is healthcare, where healthcare professionals are finding a growing set of applications where advanced technologies enhance their ability to improve patient outcomes. These xR technologies are finding a home within the healthcare industry particularly because they can be used as a non-invasive, engaging means for patient treatment. Whether used for mental health therapy, for comforting patients, or as a tool for rehabilitation and exercise, VR technologies are providing an effective, elegant solution for a host of individuals needing innovative medical care.

NVIDIA

An exciting area VR is impacting is the field of mental health therapy.  With the continued rise in the number of individuals who will experience mental health disorders over their lifetime, the need for risk-free and scalable treatments as alternatives to traditional remedies and pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly important. In the media, entertainment and gaming industries, VR is used to produce emotional, psychological and physiological responses; exactly the responses needed in using exposure therapy as a treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Commonly used to address phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), exposure therapy is characterized by the controlled introduction of individuals to the experiences that trigger their psychosomatic responses. Appropriately regulated exposure triggers a manageable response without challenging the patient enough to cause adverse effects; the patient can then learn to become more accustomed to the sensations and practice cognitive-behavioral techniques that will help them manage deleterious responses.  VR is especially useful in this situation, as finding the appropriate level of exposure can be challenging in the real world (especially when a patient’s triggers are rare). The use of virtual worlds allows construction of the experiences in a manner similar to levels in a game enabling patients to work through stressful situations comfortably in a controlled environment.

Patient comfort is an increasingly important part of the health care process. There are millions of patients who deal with chronic and acute pain on a daily basis. Pain management is extremely challenging to deal with in both inpatient and outpatient situations. Compounding the challenges of managing pain is the opioid epidemic that is sweeping through the United States. Fortunately, extended reality technologies are being put to the test and showing some promising results in helping patients manage pain.  Burn victims for instance, who need to go through the painful process of regular bandage changings, often report that they are in significantly less pain when they are able to refocus on interactive and engaging virtual worlds. Virtual reality is also effective in treating the particularly interesting phenomenon known as phantom limb pain, where a patient’s brain experiences pain or discomfort in a limb that has been amputated.  Current methods for treating phantom limb pain rely on tricking the brain into imagining that the limb still exists, such as using a mirror box to create the illusion of a symmetrical body. VR is so promising for this complication because interactive virtual experiences that incorporate the latest in haptics technology only help to solidify the illusion and help to reduce patient discomfort.

Additionally, xR technologies are becoming more prevalent as a tool for improving patient comfort by reducing anxiety levels.  For example, the CHARIOT Program at the Lucile Packard Children’s hospital Stanford, part of Stanford’s Children’s Health Network, is finding that VR and AR technologies are an entertaining way to explain procedures. Understanding their upcoming procedures helps children stay calm before their operations and can even serve as a distraction during the procedure.  In another example, Surgical Theater, LLC, builds 3D models based on a patient’s 2D MRI scans. Patients can use these models for extended reality exploration with a full 360 degree experience, enabling them to gain a better understanding of, and comfort with, their specific procedure.

VR is also starting to make a real impact in exercise and rehabilitation. One of the main issues in the fitness industry is that of providing people with fitness programs that they love and that keep them work out at a consistent pace. There are a growing number of companies like VirZoom, Black Box VR and others that believe that immersive VR gaming experiences that are paired with stationary bikes and resistance exercises can provide individuals with the fun they need to build healthy exercise habits that stick. Try pedaling a pegasus for a workout! As important as exercise is, VR is also showing a life-changing impact as an assistive technology for individuals who have physical disabilities; enabling people to learn new skills, such as navigating a wheelchair in a new environment, or modified daily activities to establish more independence. For those patients that have had a traumatic accident or stroke and lose some of their motor function, VR has been effectively used to improve motor skills and muscle recovery. The Walk Again Project, led by researchers at Duke University, has found success in being able to stimulate once dormant nerves by incorporating brain-machine interfacing technology, VR and a robotic exoskeleton. This approach has helped restore some motor control for their once fully paraplegic patients. Take a look at the video to see the amazing story.

These powerful examples of VR bringing real improvements to the people who need it most only scratch the surface of the potential that these technologies bring. In a follow up article I’ll address how healthcare practitioners can use VR for everything from learning about and training for complex medical scenarios, to performing real operations in virtual and augmented reality for robotic surgery.

In the meantime, for more interesting stories and resources check out the following links:

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Samsung Suddenly 'Confirms' Galaxy Note 9 In Europe

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, I write about technology’s biggest companies Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
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Galaxy Note 9 concept proved too ambitious

</div> </div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400"></span><span style="font-weight: 400">Ever the tease, Samsung’s support pages only list the Galaxy Note 9 by its model number (SM-N960F) but that matters little given we already know ever major detail about the phone including its </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/05/31/samsung-galaxy-note-9-size-display-specs-camera-release-date-cost/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">incrementally larger display</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/05/27/samsung-galaxy-note-9-specs-design-storage-price-release-date/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">additional storage and RAM</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and a&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/07/01/samsung-galaxy-note-9-specs-battery-camera-price-release-date-cost/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">massive battery</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">. </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">The bad news is these increases will make the Galaxy Note 9 </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/29/samsung-galaxy-note9-new-galaxy-specs-design-camera-release-date-cost/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">heavier and thicker</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> than the Galaxy Note 8, the in-display fingerprint sensor has been postponed until the </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/24/samsung-galaxy-s10-note-9-upgrade-specs-camera-design-release-date/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">more exciting Galaxy S10</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and the core design has barely changed. The latter is a real disappointment given claims about </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/19/samsung-galaxy-note-9-design-specs-camera-display-release-date/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">the technology Samsung has</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> to do better, but at least there’s no notch.</span></p>

Ice Universe

Galaxy Note 9 – the claimed potential and the reality

</div> </div>

<p><span style="font-weight: 400">Interestingly, for my money, the most exciting thing about the Galaxy Note 9 isn’t the phone itself but the potentially game-changing way its </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/07/03/samsung-galaxy-note-9-specs-camera-price-spen-upgrade-release-cost-price/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">new S Pen will work</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400">. This alone may well be enough for may users to upgrade, especially in combination with a long-overdue big battery upgrade. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">Then again, it’s noticeable Samsung has been far less sloppy about Galaxy </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/05/06/samsung-galaxy-note9-release-date-galaxy-s10-galaxy-x/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">S10 redesign</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> and </span><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/14/samsungs-galaxy-x-note-9-s10-design-specs-price-release-date/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">wallet-busting</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400"> folding Galaxy X. Those devices will do more than enough to sell themselves…</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400">___</span></p> <p><i><span style="font-weight: 400">Follow Gordon on </span></i><a href="https://twitter.com/GordonKelly" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/GordonKelly" rel="nofollow"><i data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/GordonKelly"><span style="font-weight: 400" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/GordonKelly">Twitter</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400">, </span></i><a href="https://www.facebook.com/GordonKelly" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/GordonKelly" rel="nofollow"><i data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/GordonKelly"><span style="font-weight: 400" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/GordonKelly">Facebook</span></i></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400"> and </span></i><a href="https://plus.google.com/+GordonKelly" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://plus.google.com/+GordonKelly" rel="nofollow"><i data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://plus.google.com/+GordonKelly"><span style="font-weight: 400" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://plus.google.com/+GordonKelly">Google+</span></i></a></p> <p><b>More On Forbes</b></p> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/29/samsung-galaxy-note9-new-galaxy-specs-design-camera-release-date-cost/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">Massive Galaxy Note 9 Leak Details All-New Features</span></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/07/03/samsung-galaxy-note-9-specs-camera-price-spen-upgrade-release-cost-price/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">FCC Reveals Galaxy Note 9 Has Exciting New S Pen</span></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/07/01/samsung-galaxy-note-9-specs-battery-camera-price-release-date-cost/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">Galaxy Note 9’s Big Battery Has A Serious Shortcoming</span></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/06/14/samsungs-galaxy-x-note-9-s10-design-specs-price-release-date/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">Samsung’s Radical Galaxy Smartphone Costs $2,000</span></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/05/06/samsung-galaxy-note9-release-date-galaxy-s10-galaxy-x/" target="_self"><span style="font-weight: 400">Samsung’s Galaxy X And Galaxy S10 Plans Revealed</span></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>” readability=”39.7298649325″>

Samsung Electronics is at it again. The company has repeatedly ‘accidentally’ leaked the Galaxy Note 9 via China, Columbia, the FCC (twice) and ‘lost’ a unit which resulted in the first hands-on review. But now Samsung has gone one step further and put the phone on its website… 

Picked up by the eagled-eyed SamMobile, Samsung has listed the Galaxy Note 9 on its support sites in France, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

youtube.com/DBSDESIGNING

Galaxy Note 9 concept proved too ambitious

Ever the tease, Samsung’s support pages only list the Galaxy Note 9 by its model number (SM-N960F) but that matters little given we already know ever major detail about the phone including its incrementally larger display, additional storage and RAM and a massive battery.

The bad news is these increases will make the Galaxy Note 9 heavier and thicker than the Galaxy Note 8, the in-display fingerprint sensor has been postponed until the more exciting Galaxy S10 and the core design has barely changed. The latter is a real disappointment given claims about the technology Samsung has to do better, but at least there’s no notch.

Ice Universe

Galaxy Note 9 – the claimed potential and the reality

Interestingly, for my money, the most exciting thing about the Galaxy Note 9 isn’t the phone itself but the potentially game-changing way its new S Pen will work. This alone may well be enough for may users to upgrade, especially in combination with a long-overdue big battery upgrade.

Then again, it’s noticeable Samsung has been far less sloppy about Galaxy S10 redesign and wallet-busting folding Galaxy X. Those devices will do more than enough to sell themselves…

___

Follow Gordon on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More On Forbes

Massive Galaxy Note 9 Leak Details All-New Features

FCC Reveals Galaxy Note 9 Has Exciting New S Pen

Galaxy Note 9’s Big Battery Has A Serious Shortcoming

Samsung’s Radical Galaxy Smartphone Costs $2,000

Samsung’s Galaxy X And Galaxy S10 Plans Revealed

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Ketogenic Diet Improves Response To Cancer Drug In Mice, But Alone May Accelerate Cancer

Mice on a ketogenic diet have shown remarkable responses to a class of cancer drug, which has previously experienced largely underwhelming results in human clinical trials. The study published today in Nature shows how a combination of a ketogenic diet with a type of cancer drug called a PI3K inhibitor, strongly improves the effect of the drug in mouse models of cancer.

A well-described side-effect of PI3K inhibitors is high blood sugar and increased insulin levels. This side effect normally passes, but can be prolonged in patients with insulin resistance, such as those with diabetes. When this happens, the therapy is discontinued because insulin stimulates PI3K signalling in tumors and can cause cancer growth. This gave the researchers a clue that artificially modifying levels of insulin and glucose could affect the response to the drug.

“We knew from the early 1990s that PI3Ks were mediating insulin responses. The (PI3K inhibitor) drug was taking effect, but just for 30mins then insulin overrides it. When the insulin level is down, it is very effective,” said Lewis Cantley, leader of the research and Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine at Cornell University.

Cantley and his team used mouse models of several different types of cancer to show that glucose and insulin can block the effects of PI3K inhibitors, possibly affecting their efficacy. Giving the mice a ketogenic diet to lower blood glucose, or treating with a drug called a SGLT2 inhibitor, which prevents reabsorption of glucose by the kidneys, made the drug much more effective in slowing cancer growth in the mice.

PI3Ks are a family of enzymes involved in regulating how a cell metabolizes glucose and are vital to control cell function. PI3K mutations affecting this process are found in a variety of cancers and are found in a high proportion of some common cancers, for example up to 40% of breast cancers and 50% of endometrial cancers. Two PI3K inhibitors are currently FDA-approved for use; Zydelig by Gilead Sciences and Bayer’s Aliqopa, both for certain types of blood cancer.

Some PI3K inhibitors have, however, shown largely disappointing and irregular results, such as Roche’s Taselisib, which was mothballed last month after disappointing phase III trial results were presented at ASCO. There are, however, hundreds of ongoing clinical trials featuring multiple PI3K inhibitors for the treatment of a variety of cancers.

A ketogenic diet consists of lots of fats with adequate protein and low amounts of carbohydrates and is regularly a component of popular ‘fad’ diets, including most notably The Atkins Diet. This low consumption of carbohydrates forces the body to get some of its energy from a different source and results in a state known as ketosis.

The diet is not currently recommended for patients by any major cancer organization or medical board, with major cancer centres urging caution. It is also an unfortunate magnet for a lot of pseudoscientific claims, such as some entirely unsubstantiated statements saying the diet will be able to replace chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some healthcare professionals are dismissive of the diet as having any potential role in cancer treatment, but with some cancer patients already adopting the diet, many are curious about the potential benefits, whilst also stressing that the diet is not going to treat cancer alone.

“This is a very interesting preclinical trial which goes further to explain why some metabolic drugs aren’t working as expected at the moment. There’s a lot of growing anecdotal evidence which is increasingly hard to ignore, but most of the research so far has been done on patients with very advanced cancer and aggressive tumors,” said Angela Martens, Registered Dietician and Clinical Lead of Nutrition Services at CancerCare Manitoba.

Despite the lack of formal scientific evidence, a handful of scientific studies and case reports show some benefit in some types of tumors, often in combination with other drugs, such as this small study on patients with glioblastoma when combined with anti-angiogenic drug bevacizumab, but notably showing it had no effect alone.

“There is so much heterogeneity in clinical evidence, it’s hard to make any definitive conclusions. We need to look at it in a more systematic way,” said Martens.

While the new research provides badly needed, robust scientific data showing a ketogenic diet in combination with PI3K inhibitors may be beneficial, it also showed no clear evidence to suggest that a ketogenic diet alone may be useful in treating cancer. In fact, the study showed that a ketogenic diet alone accelerated the progression of mice with acute myeloid leukemia.

“A ketogenic diet may be useful in a majority of cancers, but may also be harmful in some patients. We need to figure out who might potentially benefit and who won’t,” said Martens.

Further tests are required in human clinical trials before distinct conclusions can be made, but the new study is definitely worth thinking about for those who work with cancer patients on nutritional approaches.

“The potential positive influences this diet may have on cancer treatment justify the need for large human trials. As the findings from this article highlight, nutrition should be seen as a metabolic therapy (i.e targeting the metabolism of cancer cell and its treatment) rather than a dietary approach,” said Carla Prado, Registered Dietician and Associate Professor in Nutrition, Food and Health at the University of Alberta, who was not involved in the study.

Cantley and colleagues have designed a clinical trial with Bayer, which is pending ethical approval and which will test the combination of a ketogenic diet and Aliqopa in a small number of patients with lymphoma or endometrial cancer. He hopes to start recruiting patients within the next year.

“While a ketogenic diet is not yet ready for prime time yet, the findings of this article once again support the need for increased attention and investment on its role in cancer,” said Prado.

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Watch Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference Livestream

If you want to keep abreast of the technology industry, Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. is a must-watch event. The three-day invitation-only conference, which kicks off on July 16, is an invaluable window into tech entrepreneurs, investors, and trends.

You can catch a livestream of the event on this page (all times shows are local/Mountain Time).

Many of the tech industry’s biggest leaders attend Brainstorm Tech in search of a competitive edge and to avoid being disrupted into oblivion. At a time when every company is fast becoming a tech company, you won’t want to miss what happens on stage.

You can find an abridged version of the agenda below to guide you during the livestream. You can find the complete agenda, which includes roundtables and other “concurrent” sessions that will not be livestreamed as well as various morning and evening activities for attendees, here.

(all times are local/Mountain)

Monday July 16, 2018

2:00 PM Opening remarks

2:05 PM Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO, Uber

2:30 PM Shiva Rajaraman, chief product officer, WeWork; Julie Rice, chief brand officer, WeWork

2:50 PM Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com

3:20 PM Penny Pritzker, chairman, PSP Partners; former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Bradley Tusk, CEO, Tusk Ventures

3:50 PM Hooi Ling Tan, co-founder, Grab

4:10 PM Ivy Ross, vice president, design for hardware, Google

4:30 PM Pat Gelsinger, CEO, VMWare; Dennis Woodside, COO, Dropbox; Lisa Su, CEO, AMD

4:55 PM Jennifer Fleiss, CEO, Code Eight; Marc Lore, CEO, Walmart eCommerce U.S; CEO, Jet.com

5:15 PM Session to be announced

6:45 PM Jerry Yang, founding partner, AME Cloud Ventures and co-founder, Yahoo

Tuesday July 17, 2018

9:15 AM Toni Reid, vice president, Alexa Experience and Echo Devices, Amazon

9:35 AM Jeffrey Housenbold, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers; Lydia Jett, consumer Internet investor, SoftBank Vision Fund

10:00 AM Asheesh Birla, SVP product, Ripple; Claire Hughes Johnson, COO, Stripe; Bridget van Kralingen, SVP, global industries, platform, and blockchain, IBM

10:55 AM John Zimmer, President, Lyft

11:20 AM Christa Quarles, CEO, OpenTable

11:25 AM Tristan Harris, founder, Center for Humane Technology; Natalie Evans Harris, COO, ecosystem development, BrightHive; Hemant Taneja, managing director, General Catalyst

12:15 PM Robert Smith, CEO, Vista Equity Partners

3:15 PM Mark Mahaney, managing director, Internet, RBC Capital Markets

3:25 PM Robert Bakish, CEO, Viacom; Noah Oppenheim, president, NBC News; Stacey Sher, co-president, Activision Blizzard Studios

3:50 PM Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO, TaskRabbit

4:10 PM Mark Verstegen, president, EXOS

4:20 PM Dr. Mike Capps, CEO, Diveplane

4:45 PM Gillian Tans, CEO, Booking.com

Wednesday July 18, 2018

9:00 AM Alfred Lin, partner, Sequoia Capital; Tony Xu, CEO, DoorDash

9:25 AM Dan Hart, CEO, Virgin Orbit; Howard Lance, CEO, Maxar Technologies

9:50 AM Jen Easterly, managing director; global head, Cybersecurity Fusion Center, Morgan Stanley

10:15 AM Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, Commander, Air Force Materiel Command

10:40 AM Session to be announced

11:10 AM Closing remarks

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Jim Carrey Is In Talks To Play Dr. Robotnik In The New 'Sonic The Hedgehog' Movie

, I cover gaming in Japan as well the pop-culture here. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for AFI

Jim Carrey may play Dr. Robotnik in the upcoming ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie.

</div> </div> <p>It appears that <a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000120/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000120/?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm" rel="nofollow">Jim Carrey</a> is in talks with Paramount to play <a href="http://sonic.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Eggman" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://sonic.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Eggman" rel="nofollow">Dr. Robotnik</a> in the upcoming <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3794354/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3794354/" rel="nofollow">live-action <em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3794354/">Sonic the Hedgehog</em> movie</a>.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://deadline.com/2018/06/jim-carrey-sonic-the-hedgehog-villain-robotnik-1202419887/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://deadline.com/2018/06/jim-carrey-sonic-the-hedgehog-villain-robotnik-1202419887/" rel="nofollow">Deadline</a>, Jim Carrey may end up playing the villain Dr. Robotnik from the classic and much-loved <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_the_Hedgehog" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_the_Hedgehog" rel="nofollow"><em data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_the_Hedgehog">Sonic the Hedgehog</em></a> games in the new live-action film.</p> <p>Following the news that this&nbsp;<em>Sonic the Hedgehog</em>&nbsp;film adaptation will become some kind of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/2018/06/18/the-upcoming-live-action-sonic-the-hedgehog-movie-already-sounds-cringeworthy/" target="_self">cringeworthy buddy cop movie</a>, the addition of Carrey here kind of makes sense.</p> <p> </p> <p>Admittedly, it’s completely wrong as per the villain from the games but I don’t think Hollywood has evolved far enough yet to quite realize that.</p> <p>Dr. Robotnik isn’t really a zany character and unless Carrey is allowed to go full-on creepy, which I doubt will happen as this looks to be a movie probably aimed at kids, then this is yet another thing that the movie will get wrong.</p> <p>To be fair, Dr. Robotnik isn’t that much of a vocal villain in the original games and is more of a presence rather than anything else. However, it’s pretty clear that this movie is already going to deviate quite a lot from what fans will recognize as <em>Sonic the Hedgehog</em>.</p>

<p>I suppose I should give the benefit of the doubt here to Carrey, who is a very capable actor, I just feel that Paramount and the team behind this will let him down and come up with a bizarre interpretation of what Sonic’s nemesis should be like.</p> <p>This live-action <em>Sonic the Hedgehog</em> movie adaptation will be released sometime next year.</p> <p><em>Follow me on <a href="https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://twitter.com/Cacophanus/" rel="nofollow">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.facebook.com/cacophanus" rel="nofollow">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://www.youtube.com/user/Cacophanus" rel="nofollow">YouTube</a>. I also manage <a href="http://www.mechadamashii.com" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.mechadamashii.com" rel="nofollow">Mecha Damashii</a> and do toy reviews over at <a href="http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.hobbylink.tv/members/ollie/" rel="nofollow">hobbylink.tv</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Read my Forbes blog <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/olliebarder/" target="_self">here</a>.</em></p>” readability=”42.5290023202″>

Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for AFI

Jim Carrey may play Dr. Robotnik in the upcoming ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie.

It appears that Jim Carrey is in talks with Paramount to play Dr. Robotnik in the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

According to Deadline, Jim Carrey may end up playing the villain Dr. Robotnik from the classic and much-loved Sonic the Hedgehog games in the new live-action film.

Following the news that this Sonic the Hedgehog film adaptation will become some kind of cringeworthy buddy cop movie, the addition of Carrey here kind of makes sense.

Admittedly, it’s completely wrong as per the villain from the games but I don’t think Hollywood has evolved far enough yet to quite realize that.

Dr. Robotnik isn’t really a zany character and unless Carrey is allowed to go full-on creepy, which I doubt will happen as this looks to be a movie probably aimed at kids, then this is yet another thing that the movie will get wrong.

To be fair, Dr. Robotnik isn’t that much of a vocal villain in the original games and is more of a presence rather than anything else. However, it’s pretty clear that this movie is already going to deviate quite a lot from what fans will recognize as Sonic the Hedgehog.

I suppose I should give the benefit of the doubt here to Carrey, who is a very capable actor, I just feel that Paramount and the team behind this will let him down and come up with a bizarre interpretation of what Sonic’s nemesis should be like.

This live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie adaptation will be released sometime next year.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I also manage Mecha Damashii and do toy reviews over at hobbylink.tv.

Read my Forbes blog here.

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No Industry Immune To Blockchain Technology, Not Even The Electricity World

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The electricity world may soon be altered in unimaginable ways. Change will come in small increments thanks to so-called blockchain technologies — the ability to conduct “peer-to-peer” transactions and to eliminate the middlemen, or the ones who scoop up a notable percentage of the sale.

Clean Energy Blockchain Network and Australia’s Power Ledger are using such software to enable four buildings at Northwestern University to shift their excess solar power between and amongst each other. And in California, the same two are tracking the production and consumption of solar energy in a parking garage that is charging electric vehicles.

Right now, a utility owns the meter and the commodity, and the sale is a proprietary transaction. What the blockchain technology does is to digitize that information and to permit those peer-to-peer sales, allowing the asset to be monitored and traded. A neighbor whose solar panels are producing excess electricity can now sell to a stranger nearby.

Think Uber. Someone needs a ride. Someone else has a car. The technology allows the two parties to connect. The deal goes through and the passenger is charged while the driver is paid. The company itself owns no vehicles.

The applications in the energy field are just as compelling, says Michael Powers, founding partner at SunPower By Stellar Solar in San Diego: “Solar energy can be deployed more extensively and with peer-to-peer sales, solar energy finds its true value in the marketplace.”

As it stands now, if solar customers have excess power, they sell back to the power companies at pre-determined rates — or at a “net metered” rate set by regulators. There is no incentive for a business or homeowner to invest more in solar panels because their extra kilowatt hours are not sold at market value. But if the software exists to allow that solar power to be sold via auction to someone bidding for it on the Internet, then the producer of that electricity will earn market value for it.

Current methods of tracking and billing renewable energy, Powers says, are an administrative burden — even for utilities. Blockchain technology, however, will record, certify and clear the entire transaction: who produced the power, by what method and to whom it was sold, and for how much.

Main Drivers

Energy transactions are fast and easy. There is no central clearinghouse where the information could get stolen. Anyone can participate.

“Right now, solar producers are paid at regulated net metering rates,” Powers told this writer, “which are actually being reduced by regulators and the utility industry and across the U.S. How does that move us towards 100% clean energy? With the free market system, solar producers will find new energy users who are willing to pay more for clean energy if they can’t deploy solar panels themselves. If the energy blockchain makes that possible, why wouldn’t we do it?” 

In current pilot tests, energy blockchains are being used for peer-to-peer sales of electricity itself as well as for “renewable energy credits.” Those credits are tokens that that can be re-sold to companies or cities trying to meet a renewable portfolio quota without producing power themselves.

The larger companies are the main drivers with the likes of General Motors, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Tata Motors and Walmart setting a goal to run their entire operations using green energy — the same demand that will also thrust forward blockchain technologies. In other words, if those business complexes are connected by localized microgrids, their buildings could more easily trade power with each other.

It’s not just energy customers who can benefit. It’s cellular customers as well. Consider PayPal Service has partnered with TransferTo to enable customers to be able to instantly add more airtime to their mobile devices from anywhere in the United States. It’s a move that would then permit people to send or receive money from those prepaid phones to 30 different countries in small increments and to remote locations.

The goal is to reach 4.5 billion prepaid mobile phones worldwide — many of which are used by those who do not have traditional banking services.

“It is infinitely more secure” that what we have today, in which an intermediary takes a cut of the total transaction, says Don Tapscott, a Canadian business executive in a TedTalks presentation. “Peers come together and share wealth. Blockchain handles the payments and contracts … The technology genie has escaped from the bottle.” 

Indeed, notes Powers from SunPower by Stellar Solar, the world largest movie host, NetFlix, owns no cinemas. And one of the largest accommodation providers, Airbnb, owns no real estate. No industry going forward can be “walled off” from such digital disruptions, including electricity and financial transactions. Blockchain puts all the power with individual “prosumers,” he says, which gives newfound leverage to those who want a faster and more empowering way to do business.

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The Wonder Drug That's Free

Medicine is expensive. From family physician visits to consultations with specialists to prescription drugs, long life is a major investment. But what if there was a free wonder drug that warded off everything from dementia and high blood pressure to diabetes and osteoporosis? Well, doctors and scientists say there is. It’s exercise. And they’re finding new prescriptions for it every day.

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“No pill protects us against ill health like exercise does,” writes Andy Coghlan for New Scientist. “A plethora of recent studies shows that exercise protects us from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. It even boosts memory. And it has the potential to prevent more premature deaths than any other single treatment, with none of the side effects of actual medication.”

Coghlan goes on to quote Erik Richter, a diabetes researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who calls exercise a wonder drug. “There’s probably not a single organ in the body that’s unaffected by it,” Richter said.

Deakin University, a public university in Victoria, Australia, reported this week that a new study published in Osteoporosis International has found that ‘explosive power’ such as is used in jumping might actually help post-menopausal women with osteoporosis to keep their balance and help to prevent falls.

In the study, researchers tested 63 women aged 57 to 74 years—who had low bone mass in their hips and spines—on their ability to jump and to stand on one leg as well as their leg-press strength, calf-muscle size and fat content.

They found that the womens’ “neuromuscular power”—or the measure of how quick, fast, hard and intensely a person can move—was more important than muscle strength or size in terms of balance.

Shutterstock

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New Device Could Help Bring Back Lost Brain Function

Scientists at Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California are developing a device that could help bring back lost brain function . The device combines electrical brain stimulation with electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings, which is where electrodes are attached to the scalp and measure electrical activity.

Dawn Harmer/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Scientists at Stanford and SLAC have developed a device that could restore lost brain functions.

Christopher Kenny, a senior scientist at SLAC, says, ‘The device works similar to radar, which sends out electromagnetic waves and passively listens for the weaker reflected waves. Here, we send electrical pulses into the head via the electrodes of an EEG monitoring system, and in the time between those strong pulses we use the same electrodes to pick up the much weaker electrical signals from inside the head.’

Although this sounds relatively simple, it can be quite hard to do since the weaker reflected waves can be a million times weaker than the signals sent into the head, making the weak signals quite difficult to detect. Previously, signals would be sent into the head and then the brain waves and the behavioral response would be tracked in different sessions. But, with this new device, they can be monitored at the same time the stimulus is applied, providing a more accurate link between the behavioral response and the brain wave activity.

Anthony Norcia, a professor of psychology from Stanford initiated the project and strongly believes that this device could open new paths in the treatment of brain disorders and in selectively turning certain brain activities on or off. Norcia and his team developed models relating to cases of visual impairment and how electrical activity from the brain’s visual centers travel to the scalp so that it can be detected by the external electrodes. Norcia says, ‘Our models give us a pretty good idea for how to design an array of electrodes to reach specific volumes inside the head. But we also want to be able to ‘listen’ to the brain’s response at the same time to figure out whether an applied stimulus had the desired effect.’

Norcia teamed up with members of the SLAC laboratory who specialize in detector development in order to develop the device. In particular, Martin Breidenbach from SLAC, says, ‘At SLAC, we’re trying to answer some of the really big questions about our universe, and figuring out how the human mind works seems to be right up there. We certainly have the engineering skills and resources to help with some of the technical issues in neuroscience. With our background in high-energy physics, we’re also used to multidisciplinary collaborations and know how to make them work.’

With the collaboration of physicists at SLAC, the team took a standard EEG monitor and paired it with one that they built which delivers the signals into the head and is generated with a 9-volt battery. They took the hit and tested the prototype on themselves, fortunately, this was successful.

In the future, the team hope to develop the device on the chip. Jeff Olsen, an electrical engineer from SLAC says, ‘In the next generation, we’ll be able to program the device, which will let us choose different types of signal shapes and synchronize electrical signals with other external triggers, such as visual stimulation.’ This is a very exciting device which would help those with brain disorders and return valuable brain functions, which is incredibly valuable. Watch this space.

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Scooter startup Bird raises $300 million in latest funding round

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Scooter company Bird, which has enjoyed a stratospheric rise while also causing mayhem in cities such as San Francisco, said on Thursday it raised $300 million as it looks to dominate a burgeoning transportation sector.

FILE PHOTO: A smart phone app time-of-use electric scooter from Bird Rides Inc. is shown parked next to a sidewalk in San Diego, California, U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The most recent financing values Bird at $2 billion, according to a source close to the matter.

The funding round is Bird’s third this year, after making its debut in Southern California last autumn, and puts its total financing at $418 million, a spokeswoman said, an unusually quick accumulation of cash for an early-stage startup.

Santa Monica, California-based Bird is an electric scooter service, providing dockless scooters that users can locate and unlock through a smartphone app.

It has enjoyed fanfare in several cities, but has also in places raised the ire of regulators and residents because the scooters, which can be left anywhere, have littered sidewalks and parks and blocked driveways and doorways. Scooter riders on crowded sidewalks have also caused problems.

San Francisco city officials issued a ban on scooters this month, requiring the companies first obtain permits and mandating a cap on the number of scooters allowed. Other electric scooter providers include Lime and Ofo. Ride-hailing companies Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] are also getting into the scooter business.

The $300 million round was led by Sequoia Capital, and joined by investors Accel, B Capital, CRV, Sound Ventures, Greycroft and e.ventures, the company said. Sequoia’s investing partner Roelof Botha will join Bird’s board of directors.

The company proposes to be a last-mile transportation solution, offering commuters an alternative to cars for travel between a public transit station and the final destination, for instance.

Bird raised $15 million from investors in February and another $100 million round in March.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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5 Ways to Fight Back Against Cybersecurity Attacks: The Power of Active Defense

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
iStock

Gather threat intelligence

</div> </div> <p><span>As I pointed out in my previous story, &quot;<a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/danwoods/2018/06/22/how-deception-technology-gives-you-the-upper-hand-in-cybersecurity/" target="_self">How Deception Technology Can Give Defense the Upper Hand in Cybersecurity</a>,&quot; deception-based cybersecurity systems allow defenders to play a much more proactive role when an attack is detected.</span></p> <p><span>In this story, I’ll examine how an active defense strategy can be used to slow down, gather intelligence on, and ultimately outmaneuver an attacker. (For an in-depth explanation of deception-based cybersecurity technology, see “</span><a href="https://earlyadopter.com/2018/06/13/active-defense-how-deception-has-changed-cybersecurity/" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:https://earlyadopter.com/2018/06/13/active-defense-how-deception-has-changed-cybersecurity/" rel="nofollow">Active Defense: How Deception Has Changed Cybersecurity</a><span>” on <a href="http://www.earlyadopter.com" target="_blank" data-ga-track="ExternalLink:http://www.earlyadopter.com" rel="nofollow">Early Adopter Research</a>.)</span></p> <p><span>But before we proceed, one key note of caution. Active defense is not about attacking adversaries. It is about detecting and derailing attacks early, gathering the intelligence needed to understand the attack, and stopping and preventing similar occurrences in the future. </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span>Here’s what a company that employs an active defense faces when attacked:</span></p> <ul> <li><span>The&nbsp;company uses a deception-based cybersecurity system to put decoy data and attack points all over its IT landscape.</span></li> <li><span>An attacker gains access inside the perimeter of the network and is lured into accessing one of the decoys or the deception bait.</span></li> <li><span>At this point, an alert is raised and security analysts can make a choice: Shut down the attack or contain the attack within the deception environment and observe what the attacker does next through forensic analysis.</span></li> </ul> <p><span>If the security analyst decides to go down the forensic analysis path, here are five ways to fight back.</span></p>” readability=”29.7153284672″>

iStock

Gather threat intelligence

As I pointed out in my previous story, “How Deception Technology Can Give Defense the Upper Hand in Cybersecurity,” deception-based cybersecurity systems allow defenders to play a much more proactive role when an attack is detected.

In this story, I’ll examine how an active defense strategy can be used to slow down, gather intelligence on, and ultimately outmaneuver an attacker. (For an in-depth explanation of deception-based cybersecurity technology, see “Active Defense: How Deception Has Changed Cybersecurity” on Early Adopter Research.)

But before we proceed, one key note of caution. Active defense is not about attacking adversaries. It is about detecting and derailing attacks early, gathering the intelligence needed to understand the attack, and stopping and preventing similar occurrences in the future.

Here’s what a company that employs an active defense faces when attacked:

  • The company uses a deception-based cybersecurity system to put decoy data and attack points all over its IT landscape.
  • An attacker gains access inside the perimeter of the network and is lured into accessing one of the decoys or the deception bait.
  • At this point, an alert is raised and security analysts can make a choice: Shut down the attack or contain the attack within the deception environment and observe what the attacker does next through forensic analysis.

If the security analyst decides to go down the forensic analysis path, here are five ways to fight back.

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Serverless cloud computing is the next big thing

Serverless computing in the cloud is a good idea—serverless computing is not just for the datacenter. Serverless cloud computing means the ability to get out of the business of provisioning cloud-based servers, such as storage and compute, to support your workloads, and instead use autiation at the cloud provider to allocate and deallocate resources automatically.

Although there are cost advantages of serverless cloud computing, the real advantage is simplicity. Removing developers and application managers from resource provisioning just makes the public cloud easier to use and—most important—easier to change.

The notion of serverless computing goes beyond resource provisioning; it is spreading to other parts of the cloud as well. The most used serverless platform, AWS Lambda, has been augmented with [email protected], for edge computing.

There are also serverless enabled versions of cloud-based databases such as Amazon Aurora. Available in editions that are either MySQL-compatible or PostgreSQL-compatible. Aurora scales to up to 64TB of database storage, using a serverless approach to deal with cloud resources as needed.

We’re witnessing a reengineering of public cloud services to use a serverless approach. First, we’re seeing resource-intensive services such as compute, storage, and databases, but you can count on the higher-end cloud services being added to the list over time, including machine learning and analytics.

What this all means for the enterprise is that less work will be needed to figure out how to size workloads. This serverless trend should also provide better utilization and efficiency, which should lower costs over time. Still, be careful: I’ve seen the use of serverless computing lead to higher costs in some instances. So be sure to monitor closely.

There is clearly a need for serverless cloud computing. In fact, I am surprised that it took so long for the public cloud providers to figure this out. But it’s good that they have.

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The Common Drug That Makes Opioid Overdose Five Times As Likely

(Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

Opioid overdoses continue to increase, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the US, but a high percentage of those overdoses also include other drugs. A new study shows that the combination of opioids with one common class of drugs in particular is especially risky in the first 90 days of concurrent use. Those drugs are benzodiazepines (often called “benzos”), the class that includes alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and clonazepam (Klonopin), meds frequently prescribed to alleviate anxiety.

The study examined data from more than 71,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries to find out how simultaneous use of opioids and benzos influence overdose risk over time. Patients were divided based on whether they had only taken opioids prior to overdose or had a supply of both opioids and a benzo drug. For those in the group with a supply of both, the researchers subdivided by the cumulative number of days they’d taken an opioid with a benzo.

The analysis showed that overdose risk was five times higher for patients taking both drugs during the first 90 days compared to those only taking an opioid. Risk was doubled for those taking both drugs during the next 90 days. After 180 days, risk of overdose was roughly the same as taking only opioids.

“Patients who must be prescribed both an opioid and a benzodiazepine should be closely monitored by health care professionals due to an increased risk for overdose, particularly in the early days of this medication regimen,” said lead study author Inmaculada Hernandez, Pharm.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, in a press statement.

The researchers adjusted the results to account for a range of demographic factors and clinical factors, including the number of clinicians that prescribed the drugs. The adjustment revealed that risk increased with the number of clinicians involved — the more clinicians prescribing drugs to any given patient, the greater the risk of overdose. The researchers think this result points to lack of communication between doctors treating the same patient.

“These findings demonstrate that fragmented care plays a role in the inappropriate use of opioids, and having multiple prescribers who are not in communication increases the risk for overdose,” said senior study author Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

The risk of combining opioids and benzos has been studied extensively, with alarms sounded by multiple public health groups and government agencies, including the US FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The FDA released an emphatic warning earlier this year, citing risk of respiratory depression when taking both drugs because both are potent central nervous system depressants.

Respiratory depression occurs when breathing becomes slow and erratic and the body can’t adequately remove carbon dioxide. In the case of overdose, breathing can completely stop, leading to respiratory arrest and potentially death.

More than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzos, according to the NIH National Institute of Drug Abuse (a third common drug, alcohol, another central nervous system depressant, often also plays a role in overdose deaths involving opioids and benzos).

A 2017 study found that among more than 315,000 privately insured patients, the number that were prescribed both an opioid and a benzo increased 80% from 2001 to 2013. Similar to the latest study, that study also found a significant increase in overdoses among patients taking both drugs.

The latest study was published in JAMA Network Open.

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The Hypertrophy of Gay Pride

Julian Vigo

Tel Aviv Gay Pride, 2002

In Philosophical Culture (1911), Georg Simmel, German sociologist and philosopher, expanded the notion of culture which he viewed as the essential condition for the development of human potential. In this text, Simmel breaks down culture into two aspects: objective and subjective culture. Objective culture is a large component of the metropolis where, the individual is a cog in large social machinery who is given an array of stimulations, interests and ways to fill up one’s days which “carry the person, as if in a stream and one needs hardly to swim for oneself.”  Simmel views “objective culture”  in direct contradistinction to the individual who must fight back against cultural machinery by creating a “subjective culture” where people are capable of producing and controlling certain aspects of their lives. Contending that the rise of modernization has threatened the ability of individual culture to react, shift and push back, Simmel regards objective culture as that which stifles creativity while also encouraging passivity and adaptation within the city. This chipping away at the individual is what Simmel calls the “atrophy of individual culture and the hypertrophy of objective culture,” as the cultural thrust to conform comes to dominate the individual. 

Simmel’s preoccupation with the erasure of individual culture is a concept I frequently contemplate. Every June I realize how much individual culture has been wiped away by objective culture the minute Gay Pride hits most every western metropolitan center, replete with a gazillion gay clichés hitting the streets faster than you can say “jazz hands.”  Anyone who thinks that Christmas and Valentine’s Day are the only commercialized events of the year, think again. I have attended Gay Pride festivities across the globe since reaching adulthood and as counter-cultural their roots might be, these events have been surprisingly mainstream for well over two decades in most urban centers. More astonishing is that these festivities are generically packaged as if a McDonalds had come in and managed each and every Pride event, nothing really special about one Pride over another.  

In New York, since the early 1990s, Gay Pride has been highly commodified with floats for local radio stations, clubs, Broadway shows, the token gay male baton twirler, twinks in boxer briefs and feather boas, bare-chested men in kilts and military boots, rainbow flags emblazoned everywhere, the Dykes of Bikes leading the way and more drag queens than you can shake a stiletto at. Sounds original? It’s not. Just jump across the Atlantic to Brighton’s Pride festivities and you will find the same breakdowns, much of it in the same order.

Gay Pride rose from Christopher Street Liberation Day on 28 June 1970 on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Beginning with an assembly on Christopher Street, the first Pride March left Sheridan Square, head east towards Sixth Avenue and then north to 59th Street, ending with a “Gay-In” in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow. During the birth of the gay liberation movement, Pride was a much needed event serving a cultural need at a moment when gay men and women were simply not free to be out of the closet. But that was then and Pride no longer serves a purpose for the gay community, if we can even use this term any longer. 

Today Pride has turned into a mass marketing spree for everyone to buy into an antiquated idea of what homosexuality “looks like” when it is often the case that there are more straight folks at Pride than gay with many skipping it entirely to avoid the madness back in the city. The objective culture of Pride since 1970 has has created a machinery that feeds the need for the younger generation of gay men and women to find community by paradoxically destroying all that is community-like. These festivities are never uniquely about the people, but rather they function as an abstract concept of celebration while serving to influence marketing perceptions for its participants. Everything about Pride is a publicity stunt from the floats to the music we are told should be our “Pride Anthem” to Google’s rainbow hack especially made for this year’s Pride.

In fact, tech firms have taken a keen interest in the gay community over the years from their involvement in pushing for the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to Apple being one of the first companies to offer equal rights and benefits to its employees’ same-sex partners (ie. health insurance). More recently, tech companies are outdoing themselves for Pride with Apple rolling out its Pride watch band and face, the LGBT Foundation and OST highlighting the new LGBT cryptocurrency and Spotify, Instagram, Twitter and Google are all offering a “gay” color tweak to their apps. Still, none of this has anything to do with the celebration of homosexuality with many in the gay community permanently uninterested in an annual event that they view as exploiting a cultural history while turning it into a marketplace. 

Pride has now become a standard for ritualizing what used to be a private matter, now a performed sexuality for the public sphere in homage to a mythic past. These celebrations are entirely invested in the externalization of the private onto the public sphere with the expectation that everyone conform. While Pride is often a rite of passage for younger gay men and women or those who are newly “out of the closet,” many still be feel obliged to participate since it is a ready-made event. Unlike Christmas which involves a lot f preparation, labour and shopping, Pride merely requires that you roll out of bed. From your doorstep, pretty much everything you might need, you can buy as you walk along the streets. It’s almost too difficult to refuse because as commodity, Pride means that there is no excuse since you are merely filling a role with a ready-made script and rainbow flags on every corner. You need not even think for yourself. But what is being offered other than a flag posited as the metonymy of an actual community?

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Platform Strategies Serve Go-Jek And Line Well In Southeast Asia

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Silicon Dragon

TechSauce panelists

</div> </div> <p>Platformization is a term in technology that I haven’t heard used much, at least not until I came to Bangkok to speak at a TechSauce event focused on the growing opportunity in Southeast Asia.</p> <p>I moderated a panel with a group of platform innovators from the region — Go-Jek and Line — with brands that cross many vertical sectors from gaming and chat to ride-hailing and shopping.</p> <p>These two companies have expanded far beyond their core service. And that makes&nbsp;sense to keep their users coming back for more from their brands no matter the service, said my panelists Ajey Gore, CTO of Go-Jek and Ariya Banomyong.</p> <p>It’s also a defensive move. If they don’t extend to new areas, someone else. That someone else could very well be the Chinese tech giants who see Southeast Asia as the next opportunity. With a market size of 665 million and a culture that is more similar to China than western markets, China’s largest technology companies are entering the region, snapping up shares in the region’s rid-sharing and payment upstarts such as Go-Jek, Grab, Ola and Paytm.</p> <p> </p> <p>So it can amount to a strategy of building a moat around your business to ward off rivals. It’s survival of the fittest, explained Go-Jek exec Gore.</p> <p>This platform is well played by Go-Jek and Line, which can simplify the name of their services with Go and Line, just like Alibaba has done with so many of its offerings such as AliPay, AliCloud, AliHealth and so on.</p> <p>How do startups fare in an environment where so much of the action is centered on these platform players?</p> <p>Grace Xia, a venture investor with Jungle Ventures and former Tencent executive, says that startups aren’t cut out. They can become innovation pipelines to these platform companies. That could even lead to an acquisition by the biggies, which certainly is not unheard of in this fast-emerging tech innovative region.</p>

<p>&nbsp;</p>” readability=”51″>

Silicon Dragon

TechSauce panelists

Platformization is a term in technology that I haven’t heard used much, at least not until I came to Bangkok to speak at a TechSauce event focused on the growing opportunity in Southeast Asia.

I moderated a panel with a group of platform innovators from the region — Go-Jek and Line — with brands that cross many vertical sectors from gaming and chat to ride-hailing and shopping.

These two companies have expanded far beyond their core service. And that makes sense to keep their users coming back for more from their brands no matter the service, said my panelists Ajey Gore, CTO of Go-Jek and Ariya Banomyong.

It’s also a defensive move. If they don’t extend to new areas, someone else. That someone else could very well be the Chinese tech giants who see Southeast Asia as the next opportunity. With a market size of 665 million and a culture that is more similar to China than western markets, China’s largest technology companies are entering the region, snapping up shares in the region’s rid-sharing and payment upstarts such as Go-Jek, Grab, Ola and Paytm.

So it can amount to a strategy of building a moat around your business to ward off rivals. It’s survival of the fittest, explained Go-Jek exec Gore.

This platform is well played by Go-Jek and Line, which can simplify the name of their services with Go and Line, just like Alibaba has done with so many of its offerings such as AliPay, AliCloud, AliHealth and so on.

How do startups fare in an environment where so much of the action is centered on these platform players?

Grace Xia, a venture investor with Jungle Ventures and former Tencent executive, says that startups aren’t cut out. They can become innovation pipelines to these platform companies. That could even lead to an acquisition by the biggies, which certainly is not unheard of in this fast-emerging tech innovative region.

Rebecca A. Fannin is founder/editor of news, events and research group Silicon Dragon. She is an author of three books on innovation and venture trends, and is a public speaker.

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