My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Jamaica's Open Data Portal Training should also focus on Cybersecurity as GOVNet Looms

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy has decided that access to Government Data is a must.

For this reason, they launched the Open Data Portal, making Jamaica the first Caribbean country to do so as reported in the article “Gov’t launches Open Data Portal”, published Friday, June 24, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

Overall, the Government of Jamaica is developing an Open Data Policy as it relates to Government data, which I suspect may also include research to help investors as pointed out in “Open Data Portal to Improve Transparency – Dr. Wheatley”, published June 23, 2016 By Tomeica Gunn, The Jamaica Information Service.

In a sense it's an extension of the Access to Information Act, only in a more convenient search engine form:

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy has plans to train their government officials to manage the Open Portal, mainly via building Budget Data Visualizations of dataset for the following areas:

1.      Agriculture
2.      Economy
3.      Education
4.      Environment
5.      Finance
6.      Health
7.      Infrastructure
8.      Society
9.      Technology
10.  Transport

One wonders if the GOJ should have spent more time just promoting the Jamaica Information Service Website and associated YouTube channel via an App or Google Chrome Extension like they’ve done their Stay Alert App as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Ministry of National Security's Stay Alert App is Prankster's Summer Toy of 2016”!!

Also, they should train them as it relates their Government Websites and associated data more secure by improving how the treat emails, based on the Cyber Incident Response Report 2016 as explained in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaican Government Websites still hackable in 2016 despite Cyber Incident Response Report”.

Open Data Policy is a Good Move – GOVnet still needed to bring GOJ into 21st Century

The Open Data Policy is really lipstick on a pig, as the GOJ is yet to upgrade their Intranet to the proposed GOVnet concept as envisioned by former Minister of Technology Phillip Paulwell as explained in my blog article entitled “How US Gov US$400,000 Body Cameras, HD CCTV Camera Network, NWA PEN, GOVnet are connected”.  

Barbados has already built their WAN (Wide area Network) to interconnect all Government Ministries and agencies as explained in my blog article entitled “Digicel to build Barbados Government Wide Area Network while rolling out Digicel Play”. The GOJ needs to focus on building out GOVnet while securing their online presence!

Still, this is what the UK’s Department for International Development in collaboration with the World Bank paid Jamaica to implement. How they remember cybersecurity is as strong as their weakest link: Government employees!

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science and How Blue LED Affecting Food Freshness

Looks like those new Refrigerators with LED Lights in Hi-Lo may be turning off customer from buying milk and cereal.

This as a study by Cornell University’s Department of Food Science reveals that milk goes sour in the presence of LED Light as noted in the article “LED Lights Are Bad For Milk”, published by June 24, 2016 By Lulu Chang, Digitaltrends.

The researchers, Cornell’s Milk Quality Improvement Program laboratory supervisor and lead author Dr. Nicole Martin, discovered that milk exposed to LED lights longer than four (4) hours diminished the taste of the milk more than the  presence of bacteria in the milk.

In fact, their research points to the blue wavelength in LED light as being the causative agent, damaging the nutrients in the milk and thus the perceived quality of the milk.

Put simply, refridgerated milk that was not exposed to LED light over a two (2) week period tasting better than milk exposed to LED light during that time, to quote co-author Dr. Martin Wiedmann: “We found that without LED exposure, most pasteurized milk remains at high quality for 14 days; importantly this study now provides new information that can be used to further improve the quality of milk, for example through light shielding packaging”.

This find is made even more amazing when you consider that LED lights affects milk even when packaged in cardboard carton boxes. One would think that the milk has to be in transparent plastic bottled to be affected by the light from LED's.

So how did the researchers from Cornell University’s Department of Food Science make this discovery?

Cornell University’s Department of Food Science Milk Research – LED Light bad for Milk

The researchers from Cornell University’s Department of Food Science conducted their experiment by doing a survey of milk drinkers perception of taste of two (2) types of milk:

1.      Skim Milk
2.      2% Milk

Each type of milk had been exposed to different amount of LED Light. for each type of milk, scientists exposed on batch to real-world LED lights in showcases in supermarkets for 4 hours (experiment) while another batch was kept in the refridgerator away from LED Light from 4 hours up to 14 days, unexposed to LED Light (Control).

Then using a double blind test, consumers were then asked to rate the taste of the milk that were given as samples to drink. To their surprise, the consumer preferred the milk unexposed to LED light, even when it was near code/near expiration date, meaning it was going sour.

Apparently, even the sour taste from bacteria had less of an effect on the taste of milk than LED Lighting!

Blue Light and Riboflavin – How Milk is getting the Blues from too much Blue light

LED lighting wavelength differs from fluorescent bulbs used in some supermarkets. LEDs emit in the blue spectrum, around 460 nanometers with a broader emissions peak than fluorescents.

That Blue light peak is close to the narrow band where riboflavin absorbs light as argued in the article “Blue Wavelengths of LED Light Negatively Affect Milk Quality”, published June 09, 2016, LED Professional.

For this reason, the researchers at Cornell University’s Department of Food Science have concluded that riboflavin, which would resonate at the frequency of the blue light emitted by the LED light, could be chemically altered by the vibrational energy of intense blue light found in most refrigerator displays.

This suggests that exposure to LED Lights, not bacteria, as a more significant effect on perceived freshness and taste of milk to quote lead author Nicole Martin, quote: “Milk drinkers want the freshest, highest quality milk they can get. For most consumers the idea of freshness is in inverse relationship to the expiration date on the package. This study shows that light exposure is a much greater factor explaining deteriorating milk quality than even age.”

Supermarkets and Blue Light – Affecting Riboflavin and Freshness of Supermarket food

The discovery of Blue LED Lights has changed out world, even winning the Japanese co-inventors the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics as noted in my blog article entitled “2014 Nobel Prize for Physics Blue LED's are excellent Flourescent and Incandescent Replacements”.

However, the blue LED light which is used in electronics with Red and Yellow to create the different shades of colour and white light, seems to be responsible for everything from humans not getting enough sleep to light pollution as noted in the article “Doctors issue warning about LED streetlights”, published June 21, 2016 by Richard G. "Bugs" Stevens, CNN Edition. 

So this latest discovery does not surprise me.

Hopefully this means that Supermarkets will start packaging milk in light shielded packaging to quote co-author Martin Wiedmann: “We found that without LED exposure, most pasteurized milk remains at high quality for 14 days; importantly this study now provides new information that can be used to further improve the quality of milk, for example through light shielding packaging”.

But what does this mean for supermarkets like Hi-Lo in Jamaica?

Supermarkets and LED Lights – Less LED’s carton boxes coated with beeswax

Supermarkets will also have to make considerations for the use of fluorescent lighting in general and its effect on food freshness and their business.

It appears that the real culprit is not LED but the blue wavelength in the light that's destroying riboflavin and other nutrients in the food packaged in transparent packaging and causing it to have a bad taste.

This research has implications not only for the taste of milk but for any product containing milk or riboflavin in transparent packaging in supermarkets such as Hi-Lo Supermarket in Jamaica such as:

1.      Biscuits
2.      Bread
3.      Bun
4.      Fish
5.      Meat

The solution? 

Recyclable cardboard carton boxes coated with beeswax as described in my blog article entitled  “Why Wisynco making coloured Biodegradable Styrofoam heralds Beeswax Cardboard Packaging” will keep the air out, block Blue LED light and thus make milk and other product with milk in it last longer.

Hopefully, this will lead to a revolution in the use of more recyclable packaging options that will also serve the dual purpose of making food taste fresher and last longer.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to change your Facebook Password to keep your ex-girlfriend out

So …… want to change your Facebook Password because your evil ex-girlfriend has been up to no good?

Clearly you may not have taken my advice on deleting browser history as I'd suggested in my blog article entitled “How to save your relationship by Deleting Browser History for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari”.

She may have access now that Facebook is basically Free on Digicel as I'd explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “Free Digicel Facebook Flex and Free Basic is unlimited Data for Smartphone users”.

Then you've come to the right place as today, I'll show you how to change you Facebook Password to keep your up-to-no-good ex-girlfriend out of your beeswax, cool-aid or whatever other mix-up is happening on and your Facebook Page.

How to change you Facebook Password - More complicated than it needs to be

First you go to the upside down triangle and from that drop-down menu select Settings.

Then select Password by clicking Edit.

Facebook will then prompt you to enter your current Password and to repeat entering the New Password. Hint: write the new password in a Notepad document temporarily to ensure that you don’t get it mixed up during this verification step. Make sure it’s mixture of letters and numbers with some of them in Caps.

Facebook will then prompt you to log out of other devices you're logged into or stay logged in an update the password.

Personally, I think it's a good idea to just log out, as your evil ex-girlfriend at those locations can gain access to your FB.

Facebook thinks Robots are cute. Enough to do security checks on your Facebook account as noted in my blog article entitled “How Facebook AI Engineers use AutoML to teach FLOW to make Asimo”.

Just press the Get Started Button and move things along.

First, Facebook's gonna secure your account. This'll take a while so watch the bar move across by checking your personal info.

When FB's done doing its thing, you'll come to a Continue button.

Facebook may detect some stuff that is also a security risk to the Facebook Community.

So Facebook will ask you to delete that stuff, albeit most of it is pretty tame. Still a good idea to check and delete.

At the end, the friendly Facebook Robot will take you back to Settings.

Then again, you’re ex-girlfriend actually doesn’t need that access; she can still download your pictures using a Chrome Store app as explained in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How to download complete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest Albums”.

Oh well, at least you changed your password. Remember sharing is caring so share this with your friends in need.

Friday, July 22, 2016

How Saudi Arabian Solar Desalination and Solar Distillation can compete with Traditional Water

Solar Power may be the answer to our Energy Problems in the Distant future. But can it also be a potential solution to our Water Crisis, a problem faced both locally as well as Worldwide?

According to a Report from the International Food Policy Research Institute 50% of the world population will experience water shortages by 2015, based on increasing water usage due to population increases as pointed out in my blog article entitled “United Nations Population Division says 11.2 billion people by 2100 - Why Africa and India Population exploding as Insect Meat is coming”.
From July 3, 2016
Jamaica, albeit blessed with Wood and Water, gets most of its potable water from Catchment areas near to Rivers. There is currently legislation on the books to introduce Rainwater Harvesting Act as a long-term solution to our ongoing Water Crisis as explained in my blog article entitled “How NWC’s Water Conservation in Drought 2016 means Rainwater Harvesting with Digital Meters”.

Such water would be metered using Digital Water Meters, similar to the Digital Smartmeters being proposed by the JPS Co as noted in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co App for Digital smartmeter means paying Electricity Bill via Mobile Money”.

All of this means that the Water Sector in Jamaica may soon open up to Rainwater Harvesting Contractors and Entrepreneurs and moisture Harvesting from moisture farms in the future as predicted in my blog article entitled “How Rainwater Harvesting Bill means Rainwater Net Billing to end NWC's Water monopoly”.

But what about desalination? Is it possible to use solar power to desalinate Water cheaply enough to be competitive with the NWC?

Solar Desalination - Increasing Efficiencies can make it competitive with Traditional Water Supply

Currently a giant Solar park, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, is under construction near the city of Dubai in Saudi Arabia as described in the article “To make Fresh Water without warming the planet, countries Eye Solar Power”, published May 12 2016 by Richard Martin, Technology Review.
From July 3, 2016
This plan will produce a paltry 13,200 gallons of drinking water a day for the workers at the Solar Park. But would a larger Solar Desalination plant make water cheap enough to compete with surface and groundwater?

The Government of Saudi Arabia seems to think so as they have plans for a lager Solar desalination plant located at Al Khafji city in 2017. This plant will produce some 16b million gallons of water, enough to supply the local population.

It's being built jointly by Spanish Solar Company Abengoa and State-owned Saudi company Advanced Water Technology and when completed, may actually be the world’s first large scale solar Desalination plant.

According to a World Bank report, solar-powered desalination is expensive, costing as much as three (3) times water produced by water treatment plants that use Utility power. This may be due in part to the size of the solar array needed to generate the electricity needed to power a traditional reverse-osmosis plant to desalinate water.

However, increasing efficiencies in solar panels and the reduction of prices overall means that the US$50 cost to make 1000 gallons of water may fall to half that level by 2050. The plant expects to benefit initially form subsidies to keep the price down, but that may not be necessary.

Solar Desalination vs Solar Distillation - Concentrated Heat can desalinate Water more efficiently

When one thinks of solar desalination, one thinks of a solar power plant used to power a solar desalinator that use reverse osmosis to extract water from salt water as described in my blog article entitled “How JPS Co uses Aqua Blue-C100 freshwater generator to Desalinate Water for Rockfort Power Station”.

But it does have to be done that way. Instead of solar panels, they can use large solar concentrators to heat the water and flash it to steam then condense the steam to water, without the need for osmosis as described in my blog article entitled “BrightSource Energy Plant Concentrated Solar Rays Killing Birds - Pheromone Traps for Insects a Desert Feast to Keep the Birds Safe”.

This is effectively a large scale Solar Desalinator as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator”.

Any volatile chemicals that survive the flashing process can be removed by the addition of chemicals in settling tanks, the use of cyclones to separate them via centrifugation as well as Activated Charcoal Filters and even ozone to purify the water further.

Then the byproducts, mostly magnesium, manganese and calcium salts dissolved in the seawater left over from the solar desalination can be sold as VAP (Value Added Products) making the entire process not only Carbon Neutral but also sustainable.

Solar Desalination is economically feasable. But instead of using Solar Panels to power traditional Reverse Osmosis Equiptment, research should be done in making large scale Solar Distillation Plants that heat water to steam and create pure drinkable water.

This may be the route that Entrepreneurs take in Jamaica to produce Potable Water from Seawater to compete in a deregulated Water Sector!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How DroneSeed Forest Planting Drones can replace Honeybees as Fruit Tree Pollenators

“There is so much parallel with what happened to precision agriculture and what is happening with us in the forestry industry with drones. We see drones as forestry’s tractor.”

DroneSeed’s CEO Grant Canary speaking to Marketwatch on the use of Drones to replant forests

Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or Drones, have a myriad of applications, most of which benefit mankind. The flying robots in the sky can accomplish a lot give their unique vantage point, making them great for surveillance related jobs.

But add a tool to the drone, and it takes on a whole new level of weirdness.

Oregon start-up DroneSeed achieves this lofty status with their Drone system that uses an airgun to plant trees as explained in the article “Seed­Shooting Drone Could Change How We Manage Forests”, published June 29, 2016 By Kelly Hodgkins, DigitalTrends.

The idea is replace the large teams of people usually involved in replanting a forest in the Pacific Northwest with a fleet of these specialized drones. Started in 2015 by founders Grant Canary and Ryan Mykita, DroneSeed takes the hassle out of tree replanting, as the drones are designed to:

1.      Identify potential planting sites
2.      Drop seed on these planting sites

This is really an example of Robotics being applied to farming similar to Australia as noted in my blog article entitled “How Australia's University of Sydney Livestock Farmbot heralds Efficient Agricultural Towers”.

The similarities are more striking when one considers how hard it is for logging companies to retain workers given the dangers they face and the cost for compensating these workers for these dangers.

It’s also another great example of Robotic Automation.

Drones, which are flying robots, will potentially replace humans in tasks that is repetitive, labour intensive and involves tracking large amounts of information accurately as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Fast Food Robot taking over by 2017 - How Drones like Amazon and PrimeAir and not Humanoid Robots will be the first Robots by 2015”.

The advantages of DroneSeed are clearly obvious:

1.      Drones are more effective and efficient
2.      Drones are cheaper than human labour
3.      Drones prevent humans from being placed in harm’s way

So how does DroneSeed Drones plant trees more efficiently than humans work?

How DroneSeed Drones Work – Drones with Air guns shooting Tree Seeds

Basically, the drones developed by DroneSeed are fitted with a special mini-air gun. However, this is nothing like the traditional air guns used in paintball, as they are lightweight and can shoot the seeds at a speed of 350 feet per second, pushing them deep into the ground.

The drones are also fitted with LIDAR and sonar for 3D Mapping capabilities, making it possible for the drones to spot were the soil is softest and thus ensuring that every seed is planted deep into the soft fertile soil.

But it's their planting prowess that may have not only forestry replanting people impressed but also farmers:

1.      The DroneSeed drone can plant up to 800 seeds in an hour
2.      1.5 hours to replant 1 acre of forest

This is way faster than teams of humans can replant trees, which is typically 800 seeds a day! The founders of drones seed claim that this can potentially reduce the cost of replanting by a factor of 10, as their drones can also provide other services, such as fertilization as well as the application of pesticides for the foresters in the Pacific Northwest. 

They could also be potentially be used by the Forestry Department here in Jamaica to replant trees cut down via illegal logging as reported in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaica Forestry Department's Forest Act needs updating with bigger fines and Drones”.

Drones used for surveillance could be retrofitted with DroneSeed's tech, with minor adjustments to the motors, making it possible to replant and maintain the missing 60% of forests in Jamaica that may be contributing to our declining air quality as argued in my blog article entitled “Jamaican Drought, Trees and Air Quality - Why Jamaican Apartment dwellers are developing Respiratory Ailments”.

But something tells me that DroneSeed isn’t making their tech pure for tree-huggers in Congress to replant trees; they may have loftier goals in mind.

DroneSeed as pollinators - How Drones can be modified to replace bees

I suspect the real application of these drones may potentially be to replace bees and insects for pollination.

Currently bees in the US of A are dying dues to a mysterious disease that causes CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) as first alluded to in my blog article entitled “Bees Colony Collapse Disorder and the Jamaican opportunity”.

This may be cause by various pathogens and the pathogens behind the AFB (American Foulbrood Disease) may be mites living on bees and their product, prompting Jamaica to ban the importation of bee products from the US of A as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaican Honeybees and American FoulBrood Disease - How the Ministry of Agriculture ban on Imported Honey protects local Agriculture Industry”.

The drones developed by DroneSeed can be made much smaller have a special robotic arm designed for pollinating flowers. So instead of shooting seeds, it can instead flit around like a bee and pollinate flower for fruit plants in a manner similar to a bee.

The advantages are the same as with replanting trees, as these drones can even be made to be solar powered, use Hydrogen fuel cells or even powered by mini rotary engines as described in my blog article entitled “How LiquidPiston's X Mini Wankel Engine means Rotary Engines for Drones, Range Extender and Hydrogen Vehicles”, keeping them aloft for hours at a time.

This would make them more effect at not only planting plants but also pollinating flowers than bees. DroneSeed’s Tech could be a potential long-term solution to fruit production in the US of A, as bees are needed to pollinate fruit trees.

Combined with Agricultural Towers as described in my blog article entitled “How IGES Canada Ltd Vertical Hydroponic Aquaponic Towers make low cost Organic foods”, DroneSeed’s technology can potentially be used to grow fruit trees inside of vertical Greenhouses as high as skyscrapers.

Thus the drones developed by DroneSeed are not just a solution to de-forestation. They may be a solution to the coming Global Food Crisis as they can replace the Earth's oldest pollinators: bees. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to recover Digicel and FLOW Jamaica Credit on faded Thermal Receipts

I’m sure many Jamaicans have had this problem with purchasing voucher credit from Digicel or FLOW; reading their paper based voucher credit.

This as the paper voucher credit is printed using a thermal printer. Thermal paper is just regular paper made with some chemicals that reacts with heat, turning black to form words and images on the paper.

This is an advantage to companies that print receipts, as they will fade with time, going back to the white color of the paper.  However, this isn’t exactly true! You can actual restore the images and word via various techniques that do the following:

1.      Restore the images and words back to their original black colour
2.      Reduce or increase the whiteness of the paper

Thus, using these techniques, any information written on a Thermal paper can be revealed. So how do we do this?

Restore the images and words - Heat treatments methods that restore Thermal Paper

You can reveal the images and words on a thermal paper by the re-application of heat via various methods.

One method involves the use of a laminator or document scanner. These devices use high intensity light to scan documents and the heat of the light will increase the visibility of the images and words. Additionally the scan generated will expose what was written on the printed thermal paper receipt.

Equally, if you have a high intensity UV Lamp, similar to those used in sauna rooms, you can lay the paper under a flat sheet of transparent glass sheet for about 15 minutes to achieve the same results. In this case, you're also heating the paper with high intensity UV Radiation, making the images and words visible again.

Even better, if you do not have a UV lamp, you can use a very clean dry electric iron or a hairdryer. Lay the Thermal paper with the writing side facing down and run the iron quickly over the thermal paper. The chemicals will react with the direct conducted heat from the clean dry electric iron, making the image or words visible once more.

Reduce or increase the whiteness of the paper - Digital Software and Photocopier to restore Receipts

If you have a desktop scanner handy, you can scan the thermal printed receipts that are faded.

Then using software such as Photoshop, which is also great for removing background in images used in making e-book covers a described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How to remove Image Backgrounds to make an e-book cover”, you can use the Effect editor to work out the resolution of the colour and enhance it in order to make the images and words visible again.

Another technique that a little quicker is to simply use a black and white photocopier! Set it to the blackest possible level the contrast as sharp as possible and then photocopy the thermal receipt.

The process will copy the receipt and produce a high resolution image that increases the printed images and letters on the receipt, making them visible again.

Thermal paper Glows in the Dark - Photographer's technique to read Receipts

This next method is often use by the Jamaican Police to reveal information written on thermally printed receipts or anything written in indelible ink e.g. lime juice, urine or blood; exposure to UV (Ultravoilet) radiation.

This is the same light that reveals blood, duster fingerprints and glow-in-the-dark Jamaican Toto as described in my blog article entitled “How to make Glow-in-the-Dark Jamaica Cassava Toto”.  

Most of these substances actually glow under UV, so the technique involves exposing the receipt to UV rays in a dark room. When you turn on the UV lamp and then turn it off after about 1 minute, you'll notice that the images and words on the thermally printed receipt glow in the dark. Use a non flash High resolution Digital camera to take a picture of the receipt while in the Dark room.

In so doing, you would have exposed, pun intended, the information on the Digicel or FLOW Jamaica voucher receipt and reclaim your Credit which was lost!