Archive | April 2012

What food should you eat to slow the effects of ageing?

While people generally turn quite anxious about their body’s condition as they age, a US academician has claimed that once individuals reach their 90s their body in fact stops ageing. According to Michael Rose, a professor of evolutionary biology, if you are lucky enough to live that long, you stop ageing, Daily Mail reported. To actually get to that moment, Rose suggests adopting a ‘Stone Age’ diet since the age of around 30. Grains and dairy products should be avoided and seafood, fruits, nuts and vegetables embraced.

Writing in the New Scientist magazine, Rose states that switching to the sort of diet favoured by our hunter-gatherer ancestors could speed up the advent of the healthy part of old age. The University of California professor practices what he preaches, as he says: “I have been following such a diet – avoiding grass-derived foods, such as grains, rice, corn and sugarcane, and anything made from milk – for two years and the results have been good.”

Rose’s advice is based on the observation that, in general, we do not get sicker and sicker as we get older and older. While your health may not be great, it is not getting worse, he maintains. He says that when we are young, our bodies are probably better able to cope with modern diets. But as we age, we would be better suited to a caveman diet. ”The discovery that ageing stops suggests that the age-old desire to radically extend the human life span is a real possibility.”



47% of all deaths due to measles in India

As per a recent WHO study, the death rates from measles went down by 74 percent between 2000 and 2010, below the targeted 90%, due to deaths in India and Africa where the virus kills thousands a year. Regular measles outbreaks in Africa and very slow implementation of disease control in India were responsible for missing the target. If the world is to succeed in wiping out the highly contagious disease, vaccination needs to cover the key regions, the researchers said. “Intensified control measures and renewed political and financial commitment are needed to … lay the foundation for future global eradication of measles,” the researchers wrote in the study in The Lancet medical journal.

Measles is a viral disease and transmitted when an infected person breaths, coughs or sneezes. There is no specific treatment for it and a person’s natural immunity allows them to recover in 2-3 weeks. It can lead to severe complications in particulary indigent demographics like malnourished children and people with weak immunity and can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infections and pneumonia. The disease can be prevented by immunisation and experts say increasing vaccination rates to above 95 percent worldwide and keeping them up is the only way to eradicate measles.

The WHO study said the even with 74 percent drop meant measles killed an estimated 139,200 people across the world in 2010, down from just over 535,000 in 2000.

India’s poor vaccine coverage

The researchers, led by WHO immunisation expert Peter Strebel, suggested India’s relatively low measles vaccine coverage – 74 percent – is the reason why the disease is still a major cause of death there. It lags behind Africa on 76 percent. The study found that India accounted for 47 percent of measles deaths in 2010, while Africa had 36 percent. The Americas and Europe accounted for less than 1 percent each, but fears about a measles comeback have been growing in these regions too.


How Google GDrive Will Impact Cloud Storage Market

It only took Google six or so years to get its long-anticipated GDrive cloud storage service out the door and into general circulation, but it finally did happen on April 24.

What a relief. Now we can stop talking about the “planned” cloud service and just call it “Goog’s cloud storage service.” To its credit, the company has a good sense of humor about this incredibly protracted project, publishing a blog post entitled “Introducing Google Drive… yes, really” to break the news earlier today.

Thumbing through the eWEEK archives, the earliest story we found was one published on March 6, 2006 by staff writer Ben Charny entitled “Google Continues Drive for Unlimited Storage,” which talks about the mysterious project that had been up and running internally for a while. That was so long ago the term “cloud computing” wasn’t even in common use way back then.

eWEEK has published dozens of stories by several writers touching on the promised Google cloud storage, but now we can discuss an actual, usable service.

What ever took such a fast-moving company so long? We’re guessing that Google simply wanted to get it right.

What GDrive Offers

For the record, a GDrive subscription offers the first 5GB of storage for free, which is not a heck of a lot these days. Users can upgrade whenever they want to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When users upgrade to a paid account, their Gmail account storage also will expand to 25GB.

GDrive contains file-sharing and work collaboration tools, among many other features. Naturally, it is designed to work alongside a user’s overall Google+ account. For example, a user can attach photos from GDrive to posts in Google+; in the near future, the company said, they will be able to attach files from Drive directly to emails in Gmail.

GDrive is an open platform, meaning that it uses open standards for application development. Google says it’s in the process of working with third-party developers so users can soon have other functionality, such as sending faxes, editing videos and creating Website mockups directly from the storage service. To install these apps, users need to visit the Chrome Web Store.

Google has entered more than a few IT markets as a big-name latecomer — search, smartphone operating systems (Android) and social networking (Buzz network, G+) being but three of the most well-known. Its success record, nonetheless, has been very good.

Many Competitors Have a Big Head Start

There are already dozens — make that hundreds — of cloud-storage providers available to handle your files in a safe place. Here is a handy listing of cloud storage services to peruse.

The arrival of GDrive, despite its tardiness, caused quite a stir in the storage industry. Here are some industry leaders and their takes on how they see GDrive’s impact on the fast-growing online storage market. Naturally, business biases play a part in these comments, but take them for what they’re worth, please.


Adobe Creative Suite to support 10 Indian languages

Creative Suite 6 to come in four iterations and is aimed at the country’s vibrant media market targeted at graphic design, video editing and web development professionals.

Technology giant Adobe on Tuesday launched the latest version of its Creative Suite of products with enhanced functionalities and support for 10 Indian languages in its InDesign software in the country.

Creative Suite is a collection of graphic design, video editing, and web development applications like Photoshop, Acrobat, InDesign and Illustrator.

Aimed specially at the professionals in designing, media and entertainment industries, the new software ‘Creative Suite 6’ (CS6) would be available in four suites — Master Collection (Rs 1.56 lakh), Design and Web Premium, and Production Premium (Rs 1.14 lakh) each and Design Standard (Rs 78,288).

“This release is particularly significant for the large Indian creative community, which is riding a wave of digital printing, media and connectivity proliferation in the country,” Adobe Systems Managing Director South Asia Umang Bedi told reporters in New Delhi.

India’s media and entertainment industry is expected to register a CAGR of 15 per cent to reach Rs 1,457 billion by 2016, according to a recent FICCI-KPMG report and that is the market we are looking at, he added.

Bedi is confident that the new products will help the company strengthen its presence in the Indian market.

“India is a very strong market for us and that is evident from the fact that about 33 per cent of our workforce is here…For a long time, we felt that our products should have support for Indian languages and in the new InDesign software, there is support for 10 Indian languages,” he said.

The company does not disclose country-specific revenue details.

Adobe has also extended its online store to help consumers pay for the software in Indian rupees.

Globally, Adobe Systems has unveiled its Adobe Creative Suite 6 product line along with its ‘Adobe Creative Cloud’, a cloud-based subscription service for creative professionals.

However, the cloud service, under which professionals have the option to use the software by paying a monthly subscription, is not available in India currently.


Facebook clarifies changes to its terms of use

Facebook unveiled changes to its terms-of-use document on Friday, tweaking earlier drafts in an apparent effort to ease users’ concerns about privacy and how their information is used.

The proposed changes to the networking giant’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities come after the plan was opened up for user comments last month, and just weeks before Facebook is expected to go public in a stock offering some expect could value the company at $100 billion.

Front and center in the announcement was an effort to explain that the way Facebook collects and shares data is not being changed.

“Some of our users and a number of journalists mistook the proposed update to our SRR for changes to the way we collect or use data,” Facebook said in a post on the site. “Our Data Use Policy (which used to be called our privacy policy) governs how we collect and use data. We are not proposing any updates to that document at this time.”

Little has slowed Facebook’s ascent to the top of the social-media world. What began as a dorm-room project for Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard classmates grew into a phenomenon that has amassed more than 800 million active users.

But if Facebook has had an Achilles heel, it’s been concerns about how user data is used.

Because it’s a free service, Facebook depends on targeted advertising and a cut of the micro-payments users make in games and other apps running on the site. Users’ activity on the site is used to paint a picture of them, and shared by Facebook to help those advertisers pick their targets.

Web privacy advocates, including some government officials in the United States and elsewhere, have repeatedly expressed unease with the sheer amount of data Facebook possesses about its users and how that data may be used.

It’s obvious that the company wants to tamp down user concerns about that in advance of its arrival on Wall Street. In its filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the word “privacy” was used 35 times.

That document, which is required for companies filing to go public, was obviously largely positive about Facebook’s upside. But when required to acknowledge potential downsides, Facebook wrote that if users ever widely became concerned about their privacy and use of their data, they could lose some of them.

Facebook writes that it must avoid adopting “policies or procedures related to areas such as sharing or user data that are perceived negatively by our users or the general public.”

CNNMoney: Facebook strips ‘privacy’ from new ‘data use’ policy explainer

In a set of bulleted posts Friday, Facebook outlined the tweaks it has made in response to user feedback and explained items it says raised concerns.

— In a change first noted last month, the document now uses the term “Data Use Policy” instead of “Privacy Policy.” Facebook says this reflects a change that was made last year because they “believe the name is more descriptive of the information the document provides.”

— Language that said “you or other that can see your content and information” was removed for a different definition of how and when apps can access data about your friends. It adds links to more information and how users can control that.

— Facebook also clarified language saying that people should not “tag users if you know they do not wish to be tagged” in photos. That passage doesn’t change how tagging works, but is merely meant to be a guideline, the company said.

— The changes remove a line saying that Facebook reserves the right to deny or limit access to users outside the United States. The site says that line was unclear and meant to reflect places where services are legally unavailable, or places where Facebook is banned.

The document also included a not-so-subtle swipe at one of Facebook’s chief competitors.

“Unlike other Internet companies, we propose updates to our SRR and give our users an opportunity to comment before they go into effect,” Friday’s announcement said.” Your insights and perspectives are really valuable to us, enabling us to respond to your questions and make substantive changes to address your concerns before changes are implemented.”

Earlier this year, Google (which has launched social platform Google+ as a Facebook rival) rolled out significant changes to its privacy policy. While Google went out of its way to publicize the changes to users, feedback was not as aggressively sought and did not appear, at least publicly, to lead to any major changes.

Facebook users can comment on the latest round of proposed changes until April 27, the post said.


Facebook tops 900 million users

Facebook surpassed 900 million active users last month, according to a regulatory filing, helping the social network post more than $1 billion in sales in the first quarter.

But the company’s growth rate, though still staggering, continues to slow. Facebook’s monthly active user count — the number of users that engage with the site at least once a month — grew by 33% in the first quarter over the first quarter of 2011. A year ago, the network was growing at a 58% annual clip, and in the first quarter of 2010, that number was more than doubling.

Facebook also noted last month that it believes approximately 5% of those users are fake.

Still, for a company approaching 1 billion active users, a 33% growth rate is nothing short of impressive and is likely to fuel more interest in the company. Facebook’s eagerly awaited initial public stock offering is scheduled for May.

Facebook said that it earned $205 million in the first quarter on $1.1 billion in sales. Both revenue and profit fell from the fourth quarter of 2011, which Facebook chalked up to typical advertising sales slowness in the first quarter compared to the fourth.

“We believe that this seasonality in advertising spending affects our quarterly results,” the company said in the filing.

Though sales grew by 45% over the first quarter of 2011, net income was also down 12% from the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the company’s closely-watched cash hoard remained virtually unchanged in the first three months of the year from the $3.9 billion it registered in the prior quarter. That’s despite adding 339 employees last quarter, growing its headcount by 11% — growth that it said it anticipates sustaining “for the foreseeable future.”

The company said it forecasts capital expenditures of up to $1.8 billion in 2012.

Facebook went on a spending spree in April. Earlier Monday, Facebook announced it had purchased a portion of a large patent portfolio for $550 million that Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) had previously bought from AOL (AOL) .

It is also forking over $300 million in cash as well as $700 million more in stock to purchase mobile photo sharing startup Instagram. The 23 million shares it plans to give to Instagram appears to value the company at about $75 billion.

Facebook’s stock is expected to begin trading sometime in mid-May. By then, most analysts estimate Facebook’s valuation will fall somewhere between $85 billion to $100 billion.


Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids

Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the business of sending millionaire tourists to space. Now they want to mine asteroids for what they say will be tens of billions of dollars worth of resources annually for use on Earth and beyond.

Seattle-area’s Planetary Resources, backed by big-money investors including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, said Tuesday it plans to develop and launch a series of robotic systems and unmanned spacecraft, starting with its Arkyd-100 Earth-orbiting space telescopes that it hopes to launch by the end of 2013 to identify candidate near-Earth asteroids.

The company hopes to dispatch swarms of Arkyd-300 prospecting spacecraft, which would orbit candidate asteroids and finish the process of determining what they hold, within 10 years.

The Bellevue, Washington, company would then unveil a new system of spacecraft for the payoff — mining precious metal, such as platinum, for use on be used for fuel and life-support systems in space.

In short, Planetary Resources hopes it will be in a very crucial and lucrative position of not only boosting terrestrial industry, but also setting up a network of fuel depots that humanity will need to better explore the solar system and beyond.

“The Earth is feeling a resource pinch, and ultimately we will have the ability to turn that which is scarce into abundant,” Diamandis, who co-founded Planetary Resources with Anderson in 2009 but generally kept mum about the project until this month, said at a press event in Seattle on Tuesday.

“It can be done, and yes, it’s very difficult … but the returns economically and the benefit to humanity are extraordinary,” added Diamandis, who also is chairman of the X Prize Foundation.

Company representatives said having platinum and other metals in more abundance would ensure humanity’s continued ability to develop important electronics, and perhaps make them cheaper.

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid would have the equivalent of all the platinum-group metals ever mined on Earth, the company said. And the right 80-meter asteroid would have more than $100 billion worth of materials, Anderson said.

“We can use these asteroids to grow our prosperity for the future,” said Anderson, who in the 1990s founded Space Adventures with Diamandis The company brokered millionaires’ rides to the international space station on Soyuz spacecraft.

Planetary Resources adviser and former NASA astronaut Tom Jones said commercial enterprises like this one can do things that governments can’t: build multiple, simple spacecraft at relatively low cost, while accepting the risk of losing some vessels, and produce at a higher pace.

He highlighted the potential usefulness of water extraction. The cost of bringing water to the international space station is $20,000 per liter, he said.

“I believe that, beyond the international space station, we won’t have a permanent presence in space unless we can reduce the cost of life-support systems,” Jones said. “These materials can not only spur less-costly life support, but also generate wealth, which can provide support for more exploration throughout the solar system.”

Anderson said the investors realize the company could fail.

“But (the investors) believe that attempting this and moving the needle for space is worth it,” he said.

The Arkyd-100 space telescopes will benefit more than just Planetary Resources, said Chris Lewicki, the company’s chief engineer and a former NASA Mars mission manager. Schools eventually will be able to access them, making “a once-rare tool available to an entirely new audience.”

The company plans to be relatively small. It has about 24 engineers now, and though it is looking to hire, it doesn’t anticipate hiring hundreds, Anderson said. And when mining starts, the company hopes to do it all robotically, because humans in space would increase the cost.

“There may be mining expeditions that require humans, but we would really try not to if we can, because it’s better business,” Anderson said. The company said it doesn’t currently intend to launch its own vehicles, saying it is looking for “ride share” opportunities with other space entities that it didn’t name.

While Planetary Resources focuses on asteroids, another company said it’s the moon we should be mining.

Moon Express of Mountain View, California, announced Tuesday it had recruited five top lunar scientists to join its advisory board as it makes plans to extract precious metals from the moon.

The company said asteroids have been hitting the moon for ages, depositing the precious metals they carry on the lunar surface.

“There is clear evidence of significant platinum group metals on the moon from Apollo samples and lunar meteorites, and we’ve discovered evidence for localized hot spots that will help us choose landing sites to practice mining techniques,” Alan Stern, the chief scientist at Moon Express, said in a press release.

“I believe that the presence of water and ease of mining platinum group elements on the Moon’s surface far, far trumps arguments that NEO’s (asteroids) are energetically easier to get samples from than the moon,” Stern said in the release.

Moon Express plans to send robots to explore mining sites on the moon, the company said.