Posted on 2012-10-12 15:40:49Posted by Sathiya KumarCourtesy

littleBits: Electronics 'Building Blocks' For Learning and Prototyping

Call it a toy, call it a technology, littleBits is exciting stuff for electronics enthusiasts, as these electronics building blocks enable just about everybody to learn, explore and innovate.

Is littleBits a toy, a learning kit, or an innovation tool? Well, it looks like a toy but if it is making it to the 'top' lists of CNN, Popular Science, Forbes and the like, apart from getting Series A investment from top venture capitalists and forging a unique partnership with manufacturing and supply chain management leader PCH to produce littleBits as part of their Accelerator program, then it must be a lot more than a toy!

So, what really is littleBits?

It is an attempt to make electronics easy and fun for everybody to understand and do. Founder Ayah Bdeir was kind of irked by the fact that much of today's electronics is becoming a black box for commoners, it is something they switch on, to handle a function, and switch off once the job is done. What is inside, how does it work? It is not that nobody is interested. It is just that it is too scary for them to comprehend. Although words like circuit, solder and program might seem simple for many of our readers, it is still Greek and Latin to many. How do you make electronics less formidable for these masses? That was what led to the making of littleBits.

Just for the sake of a comparison, we could say littleBits is to electronics what Lego is to mechanics. littleBits consists of tiny modules, each of which can do some simple task like buzz, light up or sense something. The modules include almost all basic electronic components' pulses, motors, thresholds, whatever you can think of. There are over 50 basic modules including input, output and power components. These modules can snap together where you place them using wee little magnets. No need to solder or paste anything. You can reuse, reorganise, recreate and make a lot of things with a single kit.

You can use littleBits to put together various components and understand how different electronics devices work, or for prototyping new ideas--which makes it a veritable innovation tool. Why not use it to add a bit of jazz to model homes and toys as well? At the world-renowned Marker Faire held in San Francisco, in May 2012, the littleBits team demonstrated so many beautiful ideas--toys with lights and buzzers, smart home models, and even an igloo with polar bear sensors.


Innovation, the open source way

If more people understand electronics, more people will have more ideas, and there will be lots more innovation. That happens to be the main motive behind littleBits because the team has consciously made the entire effort open source, including the website that is licensed under Creative Commons. All the modules are open source and the circuit diagrams can be freely downloaded from their website. There is a thriving online community that discusses ideas about what to make with littleBits, as also a community that dreams up new components and kits.

Indeed, you can use littleBits to come up with your own new ideas and prototype them. The team also hopes that it will add more power to electronics design because you have a live, working model as a design tool. You can rip it up, put it together in different ways and visualise your ideas much better.

In short, it is something that is making big labs, media giants and renowned universities pay attention. The huge scope of littleBits makes it more than a toy--many are beholding it as a new technology that will empower the coming generations to innovate with electronics.



Posted on 2012-10-12 15:35:24Posted by Sathiya KumarCourtesy

Department of IT (DIT) Renamed Department of Electronics & IT (DeitY)

200 Elctronic Manufacturing Clusters by 2020, to Employ Around 28 Million People: Sibal

The Minister of Communications & IT Sh Kapil Sibal has said that India’s Electronic Sector aims to achieve a turnover of about USD 400 Billion , involving investment of about USD 100 Billion and employment to around 28 million, by 2020. He said it is proposed to set up over 200 Electronic Manufacturing clusters and significantly upscale high-end human resource creation to 2500 PhDs annually by 2020 in the sector. Sh Sibal was presiding over a function in New Delhi today where the Department of IT (DIT), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, was officially rechristened Dept of Electronics & IT (DeitY).

Dwelling on the name change of the Department, Sh Sibal said the introduction of electronics in the Department’s name is a signal of embarking on the development of electronics in the country, a journey which is essential to undertake if the country has to realize its dual objective of accelerating the growth momentum and enabling inclusive growth and development. The renaming of the Department of Information Technology as Department of Electronics and Information Technology is reflection of the thrust which Government provides to the electronics sector.

Sh Sibal said the new National Policy on Electronics is under finalization, now that the process of widespread consultations is over. Its draft was released last October. He said the policy will provide a clear road map for the development of the electronics sector  in the country for the coming decade.

The Minister said the Ministry has already initiated several initiatives for the development of electronics sector in the country. India has become the hub for semiconductor design, generating nearly USD 2 Billion in revenues. He said the Government has, therefore, decided to set up semiconductor wafer fabrication facility in the country and the Cabinet has constituted an Empowered Committee to recommend technology and investors and incentives required to make the fabrication happen. In response to a global Expression of Interest some of the leading technology providers have shown interest in participating in the fabrication project. The Minister said the Government has also decided to provide preference to domestically manufactured electronic goods in all Government procurement as well as all those electronic goods whose usage has security implications for the country. The policy is expected to strengthen the cyber security ecosystem in the country as well as provide a boost to the domestic manufacturing.

Emphasising on developing human resource, Sh Sibal said the Department is in the process of extending and expanding the Special Manpower Development Programme for VLSI and chip design . The Phase II of the programme which covered 32 institutions and generated 5400 BTech/MTech and PhDs in the high tech segment is ending in March 2013. Phase-III of the programme will encompass chip to system design and will cover approximately 50 institutions and target around 10,000 students including 300 PhDs.

(Release ID :82378)

Posted on 2012-10-12 09:28:41Posted by Vijey RamalingamCourtesy The Times of India

'India’s score alarming on hunger map’

Oct 12, 2012, 01.27AM IST TNN The Times of India

NEW DELHI: India ranks 65th out of 79 countries on the Global Hunger Index, a new report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide has said. The report has sharply criticized India for not moving fast enough to reduce malnourishment, and has said that its nutritional indicators are far worse than its economic indicators merit.

India's ranking has not changed since 2011, when it was 67th of 81 countries.

The GHI is composed using three equally weighted indices: the proportion of people undernourished, child mortality, and the proportion of underweight children. India's GHI score of 22.9 (where anything over 10 is "very serious") is back to its 1996 levels. Of the three components of the index, India performs the worst on children underweight: it is second to last of 129 countries on the proportion of its children who are underweight - 43.5 per cent. Only Timor-Leste is in worse shape.

The authors of the report point out what health and nutrition experts have been saying for the last few years: India's poor monitoring of malnutrition is seriously hampering efforts to understand and tackle the problem. India has not published national data on nutrition since the last National Family Health Survey which came out in 2005-6, while no new data is available for another two years.

"Nonetheless, even bearing in mind that possible recent advances in the fight against child undernutrition are not yet visible in the latest GHI, India's track record is disappointing...[G]iven India's per capita income, it has higher GHI scores than would be expected. Between 1990 and 1996, India's ...GHI score was falling commensurate

with economic growth. After 1996, however, the disparity between economic development and progress in the fight against hunger widened, and India moved further away from the predicted line," the report says. "This stagnation in GHI scores occurred during a period when India's gross national income per capita almost doubled," the authors observe.

Posted on 2012-10-10 09:48:51Posted by Vijey RamalingamCourtesy The Hindu

Youth and beauty - cause for disdain?

Payal Chanania

Workplace female enmity could be insidious. But is the antagonism provoked by specific female traits? Beauty and youth are always at a premium – even in the workplace. Numerous surveys affirm that young, attractive people (both men and women) are paid more and achieve more than their not so good-looking counterparts. A pretty face, becoming smile and attractive looks always attract attention and are perceived positively, more often than not. But do beautiful people always have it easy?

There can be a downside to beauty as well! Yes, women often find themselves condemned for being tall, slim and good-looking or even just possessing a pleasing appearance.

Beautiful women are frequently greeted with stares, glares and whispers from their female colleagues. Everything, from the shade of lipstick to the fit of their clothes, seems to rub the average-looking peers the wrong way. Relational aggression too comes into play with the attractive female colleagues deliberately left out of water cooler chats and group lunches.

Mean insinuations of using good looks and youth to attract attention and climb the ladder of success also do the rounds.

Any achievement is nastily attributed to beauty and not merit. The disdain gets even worse if the other colleagues are older. Alas, it’s never about what these good-looking women employees do but how they look that apparently helps them succeed!

The bewildered victims often have no clue about what they did wrong or why they are being judged for their appearance. The constant ridicule and harsh judgment can make lives of good-looking women quite miserable. The work atmosphere too turns unpleasant and uncomfortable for everyone.

Why beauty is targeted?

Women are conditioned to constantly measure themselves against others of their own gender.

They involuntarily draw their self-identity from comparisons of the way they look more than from their achievements! Jealousy and envy are bound to come into play.

If some women find themselves wanting, they immediately try to make their prettier counterparts feel bad about themselves as well. Older women also harbour fears that they will be overshadowed or even replaced by youthfully attractive colleagues.

Hurtful assaults and accusations screen the fact that they are feeling intimidated by the good looks. These also hint at feelings of inadequacy and low self-image.

Enduring the penalty

While there is an overriding pressure to look good, it can be difficult to come to terms with the fact that you are being penalised for your youth and beauty as well. It is indeed tough to work when your looks draw simmering resentment. The following are some tips for those who find themselves harshly judged for no fault but their appearance:

Look simple: You don’t have to put on weight or don drab clothes; but do try to downplay your stunning looks with conservative dressing. Tone down the makeup and hairstyle as well. Let others shine for a change; sometimes it does pay to blend into the background! Let the inner beauty come out. But remember, you don’t have to get too defensive for your prettiness.

Remain indifferent: Realise where the enmity is coming from and don’t let the perpetrators see that it is affecting you in any way. Ignore the accusing disdain and don’t let petty slander affect your self-esteem. Try to keep your emotions out of the game and remain your sweet, friendly self. Concentrate on shifting the focus to your ability to do the job instead of the way you look.

Talk it out: If the unfair treatment and exclusion gets to you, try to talk it out in a factual manner. Emphasise that you want to be accepted for who you are and not for what you look like! Remember that reporting malicious assaults will only be dismissed as over-sensitivity on your part.

Payal Chanania

Posted on 2012-10-05 14:43:53Posted by Vijey RamalingamCourtesy CNET News

Facebook hits 1 billion active user milestone,

The world's largest social network has finally reached the 1 billion active user mark, eight years after launch.
by Zack Whittaker
October 4, 2012 4:54 AM PDT

Mark Zuckerberg introducing Timeline at last fall's F8.
(Credit: Facebook )

Facebook has reached 1 billion people who are "actively" using the social network every month, the company announced today.

"If you're reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honor of serving you. Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook's online newsroom

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The social network, which started in a dorm room in 2004, reached the historic milestone at 12:45 p.m. PT on September 14. This now puts one in seven people in the world on the social network.

Zuckerberg also announced the milestone on NBC's Today show. The milestone does not include bots or fake users but real people with accounts who log into the site every month, NBC reported.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, behind China with 1.34 billion people and India with 1.2 billion.

According to Facebook, the site has seen:

    1.13 trillion "likes"
    140.3 billion friend connections
    219 billion photos uploaded (265 billion in all if deleted photos are counted)
    17 billion location check-ins
    62.6 million songs played 22 billion times since September 2011

The median age of users is 22 years old, Facebook said. When the social network hit 500 million users in July 2010, the median age was 23. People who joined in July 2010 now have an average of 305 friends.

The company also has more than 600 million mobile users -- up by 48 million from 552 million in June -- a key metric for those in developing nations who may not have stable access to a fixed-line Internet connection.