E&T news weekly #16 – we choose our favourite engineering and technology news stories from the week

Friday September 5 2014

  James Hayes James Hayes, technology features editor
Parents increasingly keen on digital careers

World economies will need more software-savvy techies to enter the workplace over the next two decades; but the practice of managing and analysing large datasets also should prove to be an important determiner of employment. By the end of 2015, Gartner estimates that 4.4 million IT jobs globally will be created to support Big Data, generating 1.9 million IT jobs in the US alone. Every Big Data-related role in the US will create employment for three people outside of IT, so over the next four years a total of 6 million US jobs in the US will be generated by the information economy, the analyst predicts.

 

  Tereza Pultarova Tereza Pultarova, online news reporter
Apple says system not breached in celebrity photo hack

Is there seriously more fuss about a few dozen of revealing pictures than about all the industrial know how and money stolen around the world by various cyber gangs? It must have been a hard way for the celebs to learn the cyber security basics, such as not putting naked pictures online (seriously? who could ever do that?), or not bothering about their passwords too much.

Gut bacteria turned biofuel producer

Bioengineering is fascinating. A little bit of clever modification and voila – an ordinary gut bacteria starts producing engine ready propane. Now scale it up a bit and who needs fossil fuels anymore?

 

  Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson, online managing editor
Apple leading the way on green gadgets

Two years ago, Greenpeace publicly slammed Apple over its use of “dirty energy” in powering the California computer company’s iCloud data storage centres. Now, the environmental campaign group has singled out Apple as a leading light in the use of renewable energy and also for its commitment to the total removal of hazardous substances in its products. Apple’s data centres scored 100 per cent in Greenpeace’s clean energy index, with none of Apple’s energy coming from coal, nuclear or natural gas sources. The company was awarded “A” ranks in energy transparency, deployment and advocacy and commitment, scoring a “B” rank in its energy efficiency. Microsoft was awarded “C” rankings for all categories, while Amazon scored “D” and “F” – the same ratings Apple got in 2012.

 

  Aasha Bodhani Aasha Bodhani, assistant technology features editor
EU bans power-hungry vacuum cleaners

Starting this month, a new EU legislation means manufactures in Europe will be unable to make or sell vacuum cleaners with the power consumption of more than 1,600 watts. Currently vacuums average around 1,800 watts but this new law aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost research in energy efficient technologies. With the rush to buy existing power-hungry vacuums, retailers, such as Dyson have experienced a surge in profits.

Apple says system not breached in celebrity photo hack

This week, a wave of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton were victims to intimate photos of themselves being exposed on image-sharing site 4Chan, due to a hack in Apple’s iCloud. Cyber-security experts have criticised Apple for not implementing two-factor authentication, especially as the iCloud can hold personal information. With Apple’s latest iPhone 6 set to be released this month, the timing of this hack couldn’t have come at a worse time.

 

  Edd Gent Edd Gent, online news reporter
Futuristic new airport for Mexico City

Norman Foster has been responsible for some pretty fantastic looking buildings, but this would certainly rival them if it comes to fruition. The single terminal design is both attractive and highly practical, doing away with the need for inter-terminal transport and allowing for some clever environmental conditioning technologies to be included.

 

  dominic-lenton Dominic Lenton, managing editor
Dyson’s robot vacuum cleaner packed with patented technology

Robot vacuum cleaners have been around for a while, but until now have been more of a status symbol than something you can rely on to keep your home clean. Much of their attraction is sheer entertainment value – from seeing them demonstrated I’d say that watching one negotiate a typical living room is probably more absorbing than most television. James Dyson reckons his ‘360 Eye’ will change that, branding previous attempts as gimmicks that “don’t see their environment, have little suction, and don’t clean properly”. Probably also avoids the strategy of the teenager coerced into household chores who believes that if they do it badly enough you won’t ask them again.

Hacking behind third of London’s car theft

Proving that the criminal fraternity will take advantage of any technological advance designed to make our lives easier, car thieves are cutting out the onerous business of stealing keys and hacking into remote locking systems. At the moment it’s a problem for owners of high-end vehicles that are attractive to thieves and also more likely to include the latest technology. As keyless access and operation become more mainstream though, it’s another thing for drivers to worry about. Another incentive to avoid driving altogether and get on your bike?

 

  Vitali Vitaliev Vitali Vitaliev, features editor
Barclays to introduce biometric finger vein scanning

This new technology sounds promising. My only concern is that its predecessors – fingerprint readers – often malfunction and are deemed not too reliable by many. I am all too familiar with daily tribulations of my friends at a London organisation where each morning they have queues at reception of visitors and staff banned from entering the offices by their chronically malfunctioning fingerprint scanners. It can be even more frustrating to face similar problems while trying to log into one’s bank account from a PC… So fingers crossed- in more than one sense! – for the new vein readers!

Dyson’s robot vacuum cleaner packed with patented technology

Breaking news: James Dyson has suggested this morning that Britain should leave the EU, over a dispute about vacuum cleaner energy efficiency regulations! I wonder what Brussels’ reaction to his new robotic hoover is going to be like (it is unlikely to fit it with their new restrictions either, or so I reckon). On a lighter note, I personally welcome the new robotic Dyson. In my latest book, a fantasy novel called “Granny Yaga”, both Yadwiga, a benign witch and the main heroine, and her sister Melissa, another white witch, fly Dyson vacuum cleaners, rather than traditional brooms. Their flying Dysons are equipped with photovoltaic panels, GPS devices, Koshchei (the demon) detectors and special “witch on” buttons… What can I say? Reality can often be stranger than fiction…

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