2016-04-07 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

The news we received earlier this week that the digital communications application WhatsApp has finally received end-to-end encryption of all messages sent is definitely a welcomed one. That way, one can start to use it also in areas where we would not dare using it before. But do not think that now you can relax your own security measures. Reference #1 gives a good explanation about the whole situation now.

WAduo

The co-founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, in the company HQ in Mountain View, CA, USA, in May 2013, the year before they were bought by Facebook for US$ 19 billion. Photo by Peter da Silva / The New York Times

But did you ever wonder how a company can produce an application used by one billion users and suffer from low indices of downtime? Which is the underlying structure, e.g. which programming language was used to permit the creation of a such a largely scalable system and permit it to be used in real time? The answer is that the creators of WhatsApp got inspired by Erlang, a programming language originally created in the 1990’s by the Ericsson engineer Joe Armstrong to be used as a base for the data switching version of their flagship central office AXE system, named AXD 301. In 1998, Erlang was released as an Open Project. Reference #2 below can fill in all the blanks in that story.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: WhatsApp Encryption A Good Start, But Far From a Security Cure-all

2: Inside Erlang, The Rare Programming Language Behind WhatsApp’s Success

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-03 (Torsdag)

Idag lärde jag mig, att:

Svenska företag har inte gett upp hoppet att hänga mig i den globala teknikutvecklingen, tvärtom! Titta bara på den följande europeiska rankingen:

1. Schweiz 873
2. Nederländerna 419
3. Sverige 392
4. Finland 365
5. Danmark 346

Siffrorna avser antalet patentansökningar per capita (miljon invånare). Under 2015 ökade antalet svenska patentansökningar till 1 939, vilket är 13,7 % fler än året innan. Guillaume Minnoye, vicepresident för EPO (Europeiska patentverket), säger att både Nederländerna och Sverige gör ett gott arbete i att stödja produktivitet och effektivitet. För Sveriges del handlar det till stor del om Ericssons framgångar. Ericsson stod ensamt för mer än hälften av de svenska ansökningarna till EPO, men även SKF, Electrolux och Volvo hamnar i toppen. Över hälften av patentansökningarna från Sverige kom också från företag i Stockholmsområdet, medan Västra Götalandsregionen stod för 19 procent.

Susanne Sivborg, generaldirektör för Patent- och registreringsverket, PRV, tillägger att Sverige är ett innovativt och teknikorienterat land. Svenska företag är duktiga på att använda immaterialrätten för att skydda sin verksamhet och stärka konkurrensen. Orsaken till att Schweiz ligger etta beror främst på dess skatte- och företagslagstiftning. Många globala företag har sina huvudkontor i Schweiz som dessutom har en liten befolkning.

Den kompletta artikeln från Dagens Nyheter kan läsas i referens nr 1 nedan.

Jag kan inte glömma bort vad som sades på 1800-talet, när en legend säger att chefen för amerikanska patentverket hotade att avgå då allt som var värt att uppfinna hade redan uppfunnits, och därför kunde patentverket lika gärna läggas ned. Men det är bara en skröna, i verkligheten var det som så att i en rapport till kongressen 1843 skrev Patent Office Commissioner Henry Ellsworth att “The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.” Istället var det som så att han använde sig av retorik för att undertrycka det ökande antalet patent som presenteras i rapporten framöver. Se också referens nr 2 nedan.

Om du vill hjälpa till med dagens teknikutveckling och tjäna en liten peng, ta en titt i dokumentet i referens 3 nedan. Men det gäller att vara snabb i handlingen, senast söndag behöver jag ha ditt test.

Och så slutligen, kommer ni ihåg anekdoten om Oscar II? Aron Jonason var fotograf åt kung Oscar II på kungayachten HMS Drott som låg förtöjd i Marstrand. En kväll då Jonason fotograferat mycket och använt magnesiumblixt utbrister kungen:
– Det var väldigt vad Jonason blixtrar mycket!
– Ja, blixtrar den ene så åskar den andre! replikerade Jonason.

HMSDrott1897

Kungayachten HMS Drott fotograferad 1897

Kommer det någonsin att finnas en anekdot om Oscar III? Framtiden får utvisa det.

… Slut för idag, tack för idag !

Refs.:

1: Rekordmånga svenska patent beviljade

2: Rumor has it…

3: Snabba cash

4: Oscar II

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-27 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

The interest for solving riddles is big among my readers, and the first correct solution to The pill roulette was submitted by Barbara and her colleagues at Torpaskolan in Gothenburg, Sweden. Congratulations to all you clever people! And here comes the …

Solution to The pill roulette, posted on 2016-02-21

  • Divide the eight pills into three different piles, two having three pills each and one with two pills.
  • Place one pile with three pills on the left pan of the balance scale and the other pile of three pills on the right pan.
  • If the weighing results in equality, then we know that all those six pills are also equal and none is poisonous. A second weighing of the remaining two pills indicates which pill is the poisonous one, since it is a little heavier.
  • However, if the first weighing results in that the total mass (“weight”) of one pile with three pills is heavier than the other pile of three, then we know that both the lighter pile of three and the sided two pills are all normal pills without any poision. Thus concentrate on the heaviest pile of three, one of the pills in it is the poisonous one. Take any two of those three pills and place one each on either pan of the balance scale. If this second weighing results in equality, both of the two pills are OK, and the sided third pill is the poisonous one. But if one of the two pills on the scale is heavier than the other one, it is the poisionous one!

A new riddle can be found at the end of today’s blog.

The Internet of Things

Last week was a busy one in Barcelona, Spain, where the Mobile World Congress gathered many people to learn and spread the word about the current state of affairs. Today, I will restrict the field to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), which is the increasing number of appliances, gadgets, vehicles, etc. that connect and interchange information. Radio Sweden’s weekly financial update was entirely dedicated to IoT, giving specialists from Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, and Oracle a chance to share their thoughts. For the complete program, listen to reference # 1 below, but if you do not cope very well with the Swedish language, I will give you some of what was discussed here:

  • IoT has been around for quite a while, although in a unorganized manner, through all the sensors that have reported various parameter values to centralized locations, which evolved to machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and now IoT.
  • Built-in sensors in our homes will warn us when all is not the way it should be, e.g. if there are leaks of water, gas, etc., and instead of us having to call for someone to come and help us during normal business hours, we will receive a message telling us about the current situation and asking us about when that someone would be welcome to come to our home and solve the problem.
  • The self-driving cars will be upon us soon.
  • Provided that we can guarantee that the communications are resistant to hacker attacks, people are willing to share the biomedical data remotely. And the 5G networks that soon will be available are said to offer so much more security than today’s technologies, because already from the start 5G has been created to serve IoT well, and not be just another broadband communication technology.
  • A test with connected garbage cans in Germany, where the garbage only was collected when the cans called and informed that they were full, showed a 50 % reduction in costs in relation to the traditional scheduled garbage collections.
  • If we compare the development of applications for IoT between USA and Western Europe, then there is an interesting remark. Whereas the American development is more concentrated to big corporations, in Western Europe there are many small companies involved and their flexibility and speed can result in launches of new products well ahead of their American competitors. Furthermore, we can already see a trend where small European companies win over their Asian competitors in providing products in smaller volumes tailored to their customers’ needs.
  • I already talked about 5G in my post on 2016-01-24, citing applications that demand the high speed of a 5G network to function adequately. Look at references #2 and #3 below, where it is explicitly shown in text, photos and videos from Barcelona.
  • Our pets will inform us where they are, how they are, if they are hungry, etc.
hidog

Connected dog, sending messages from a display on the collar or via Internet of Things

Riddle # 3 (The fast mover)
What can go from there to here by disappearing and then go from here to there by appearing? A solution to this riddle will be published next Saturday, 2016-03-05. The first person that comes across the correct solution and sends it to medieborgaren@sjson.com will receive an honorary mention.

Slutligen, Ordalaget har gjort det igen! Igår gav de oss ett nyord för en falsk ID-handling, en s.k. legimitation.

Svenskt körkort

Bonusfråga: Även om texten “SPECIMEN” inte funnes, så vore detta ett utmärkt exempel på en legimitation. Kan du lista ut varför? (Svar kommer tillsammans med lösningen på gåta nummer 3 ovan 2016-03-05)

… That’s what I learned in school ! … Slut för idag, tack för idag !

Refs.:

1: Sakernas internet och framtiden

2: 5G was the real star of Mobile World Congress

3: A true 5G demo

4: Legimitation

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-24 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

The largest prime number ever found was announced last Wednesday, January 20, 2016. So, what is a prime number and what is it good for?

A prime number is defined as a natural number (a positive integer) greather than 1, which cannot be evenly divided by any other natural number than 1 and itself. Examples of such numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc. It has been proven that there are an infinite quantity of prime numbers.

Prime numbers have been known for a long time, e.g. Euclid’s Elements (300 years BC) already mentions them, and in the beginning of the 17th century, a French monk named Marin Mersenne devised a formula, of the form 2p – 1, where p=1 is a prime number, to be used to check for unknown prime numbers. In fact, the largest prime number, which is exactly 274.207.281 − 1, consists of more than 22 million digits, and the search for bigger numbers continue. Please see the three references below for more information about prime numbers in general and also about the discovery of the currently biggest prime number, including an interview with Curtis Cooper, the leader of the project that discovered it.

One of the practical usages of prime numbers is in public-key cryptography, where two large prime numbers are multiplied to obtain a product that it is extremely difficult to factorize and thus break the code. But the search for these very big numbers does not seem to have any major practical use today, although they are very well fitted to test the speed performance of computer hardware.

And speaking about cryptography, having means of obtaining secure data streams is of course essential when we want to communicate data from one point to another. The current standard for data communication in the world is based upon what is called fourth-generation (4G) technology, and although it offers very fast rates of data communication, there are applications that demand even faster data transmission speeds. Examples of such applications are some components of the ‘Internet of Things’ (e.g. driver-less cars), and also in remote surgery, when the patient is in a hospital somewhere in the world, and at the same time the head surgeon is in a totally different place, performing the surgery via advanced, fast video and manipulation technologies.

For that and other purposes, last Friday, January 22, 2016, TeliaSonera and Ericsson announced that in 2018, they will start 5G networks in Stockholm and Tallinn. The rest of Sweden should see 5G in use in 2020.

Update on 2016-01-27: Today’s program of ‘Vetenskapens värld’ on Radio Sweden’s domestic channel P1 penetrates into the 5G technology. It will be a standard mostly used for machine to machine communication, and there are good hopes that one standard will be used everywhere on Earth, with speeds 100 times higher than the current 4G standard. See reference 7 below.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_number

2: http://www.mersenne.org/primes/?press=M74207281

3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5ozBnrd5Zc

4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography

5: http://news.err.ee/v/scitech/fd66b9ee-1a44-4d13-aa6c-1f687812b2b8/

6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mobile_phone_generations

7: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/668029?programid=412

+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VucczIg98Gw