Category Archives: Technology

Art Museum in Italy Records How People Look at Paintings



The art museums and galleries are opening up again in Italy. That’s great for the museums and galleries, who may have lost revenue during the pandemic. However, as CityLab reported, at least one Italian art museum has installed technology that will gather data from the people who come in to view the art. It bothers me when the physical world wants to mimic Instagram.

A device called ShareArt was developed by a research team at Italy’s new-technologies agency ENEA. The team developed a system based on devices that can calculate how long and how closely museum and gallery visitors observe a particular work of art.

“Thanks to simple data elaboration, an observer’s gaze can be translated into a graphic,” ENEA researcher Stefano Ferriani said in an interview. “We can detect where most of the people’s attention is concentrated.”

According to CityLab, there are fourteen ShareArt devices being used in a joint project with the Instiuzione Bologna Musei. The devices, which look like a small black box with a camera in it, includes a tag that presumably explains what it does.

Using cameras that are located near the artwork, the ShareArt system soaks up data on the number of observers and their behavior as they look at a painting, sculpture or artifact, including time elapsed and distance of observation. It troubles me that the President of Bologna Musei appears to be excited to see what data the devices obtain after the mask mandate drops and people’s facial expressions can be recorded.

The purpose of the ShareArt devices is to help the museum define “attraction value” for specific works of art. The results could influence the museum to make changes in the layout and exhibit scheduling. It may also reveal situations where the museum could make some artworks more accessible than they currently are.

Personally, I don’t like the ShareArt devices. They are only being used in one museum in Italy. But, that could change. The value of art in a museum should not be defined by the number and length of views it receives as though it were an Instagram post.


U.S. Senate Confirms Lina Khan as FTC Commissioner



The U.S. Senate has confirmed Lina Khan as the commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. The Verge reported that the vote was 69-28. This gives Democrats a majority on the FTC. Lina Khan has filled a vacancy left by Republican appointee Joseph Simons who resigned in January.

The Verge pointed out that Lina Khan’s confirmation comes while Congress is “preparing to take drastic action to curb the power big tech companies have on digital markets.” Those efforts include five bipartisan bills that are intended to chip away at the power of big tech companies.

The New York Times reported that Lina Khan is “a prominent critic of the nation’s largest tech companies”. According to The New York Times, Lina Khan’s confirmation gives her a central position at the agency that investigates antitrust violations, deceptive trade practices and data privacy lapses in Silicon Valley.

Ms. Khan will help regulate the kind of behavior highlighted for years by critics of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple. She told a Senate committee in April that she was worried about the way tech companies could use their powers to dominate new markets.

Lina Khan tweeted: “I’m so grateful to the Senate for my confirmation. Congress created the FTC to safeguard fair competition and protect consumers, workers, and honest businesses from unfair & deceptive practices. I look forward to upholding this mission with vigor and serving the American public.”

Politico reported that the outcome of the vote to confirm Lina Khan gives Democrats the majority at the FTC for the first time under President Joe Biden. The other two Democrats on the FTC are acting Chair Kelly Slaughter and Commissioner Rohit Chopra.

According to Politico, NetChoice, a tech lobbying group, said it was “disheartened” by Lina Khan’s confirmation to the FTC. Google and Facebook are reportedly members of NetChoice.

Overall, I think that it is a good sign when tech lobbying group is unhappy with the confirmation of a new person on the FTC. It means that NetChoice understands that it will have a very difficult time getting its way with three Democrats on the FTC. I believe that upcoming decisions made by the FTC will likely result in good things for consumers.


NYSE will Not Delist Three Chinese Telecoms After All



Recently, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced that it would comply with Executive Order 13959 and delist China Mobile Communications, China Telecommunications Corp, and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited. Since then, NYSE has decided not to delist them.

On January 4, 2021, NYSE posted news titled: “NYSE Updates Guidance on Delisting Determination for Security of Three Issuers in Relation to Executive Order 13959”. From the news:

In light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities in connection with Office of Foreign Assets Control FAQ 857, available here, the New York Stock Exchange LLC (“NYSE”) announced today that NYSE Regulation no longer intends to move forward with the delisting action in relation to three issuers enumerated below (the “Issuers”) which was announced on December 31, 2020.

At this time, the Issuers will continue to be listed and traded on NYSE. NYSE Regulation will continue to evaluate the applicability of Executive Order 13959 to these Issuers and their continued listing status.

The three issuers are: China Telecom Corporation Limited, China Mobile Ltd., and China Unicorn (Hong Kong) Limited. To me, it sounds like these stocks can still be bought and sold on the New York Stock Exchange. What changed?

Reuters reported that China will take “necessary measures” to safeguard the interest of its companies after NYSE began delisting three Chinese telecom firms. It also called on the United States to meet China half-way and put bilateral trade relations back on track. To me, it appears that China is hoping that president-elect Biden will have a different relationship with China than President Trump did.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on January 3, 2021, that the executive order was for political purposes and “entirely ignored the actual situations of relevant companies and the legitimate rights of the global investors, and severely damaged market rule and order.”


NYSE to Delist China’s Major Telecom Operators



The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stated that it would comply with Executive Order 13959 and delist the following securities: China Mobile Comunications (CHL), China Telecommunications Corp (CHA) and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (CHU).

Executive Order 13959 was signed by President Trump on November 12, 2020. According to The Wall Street Journal, the executive order will block Americans from investing in a list of companies the U.S. government says supply and support China’s military, intelligence and security services. The ban starts on January 11, and investors have until November to divest themselves of their holdings.

There are 35 companies on the list – including China’s largest chip maker – as well as surveillance, aerospace, shipbuilding, construction and technology companies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Guardian reported that China Mobile Communications, China Telecommunications Corp, and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited have the right to request a review of the NYSE’s decision. The Guardian also pointed out: All three firms are listed in the US and Hong Kong, and mostly earn their revenue by providing voice and data services in China. They all have little presence in the U.S.

The delisting of these companies by The New York Stock Exchange is a small part of a series restrictions that appear to be designed to stifle China’s ability to make money from U.S. technology. The various orders either cut off the access of of U.S. technology to several Chinese companies, or by requiring U.S. companies to obtain a license before selling technology to Huawei.

My understanding of this is that the delisting of certain Chinese companies from NYSE might cause them to lose some money. But, if The Guardian is right, the companies don’t make as much money in the United States as they make in China. I’m not entirely certain that the delisting will have much of an impact on those companies ability to thrive outside of the United States.


Huawei is Running Out of Smartphone Chips



Huawei Technologies Inc. is running out of smartphone chips. This was announced by the company at the 2020 Summit of the China Information Technology Association during a speech by Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business.

Engadget reported that after September 15, 2020, Huawei won’t have access to the manufacturing it needs to continue making the Mate 40’s Kirin 9000 processor. According to Engadget’s summary of Richard Yu’s speech, Chinese chip manufacturers such as SMIC do not currently have the capabilities to make up for the shortfall. As a result, supplies of the Mate 40 would be limited.

In May of 2020, The U.S. Department of Commerce unveiled a rule that expanded U.S. authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei Technologies of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology. This new rule enabled the United States to expand its ability to halt exports to Huawei Technologies.

At the time, Reuters reported that the rule also affected Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd., which supplied Huawei with chips. According to Engadget, SMIC is two chip generations behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd., and just started producing a 14nm Kirin chip for Huawei.

The Associated Press reported that Richard Yu said that production of Kirin chips designed by Huawei’s own engineers will stop on September 15, 2020, because the chips are made by contractors that need U.S. manufacturing technology. Huawei lacks the ability to make its own chips.

The date September 15 keeps coming up. It is the same date that the executive order President Trump signed that would ban U.S. transactions with TikTok and WeChat. It is also five days before the endpoint of Microsoft’s discussions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, about Microsoft potentially acquiring TikTok. All of these things happening on the same date cannot possibly be a coincidence.


Raspberry Pi 4 Now on Sale From $35



Eben Upton, Chief Executive Raspberry Pi Trading, posted on the official Raspberry Pi website that Raspberry Pi 4 is now on sale starting at $35. You can get yours from their approved resellers, or from the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge.

To support Raspberry Pi 4, we are shipping a radically overhauled operating system, based on the forthcoming Debian 10 Buster release. This brings numerous behind-the-scenes technical improvements, along with an extensively modernized user interface, and updated applications including the Chromium 74 web browser.

Highlights of Raspberry Pi 4 Model B include:

  • A 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A72 CPU (~3x performance)
  • 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports
  • Dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K
  • VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x
  • 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video
  • Complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products

This is the first time they’ve offered a choice of memory capacities. 1GB is $35, 2GB is $45, and 3GB is $55. The price does not include sales tax, import duty (where appropriate) or shipping. They made more of the 2GB variant than the others, and intend to adjust the mix when they discover which one is most popular.

There are some new Raspberry Pi 4 accessories. One is an all-new two-part case (priced at $5). Those who would prefer to re-use an existing case can cut away the plastic fins on the right hand side and omit one of the side panels. There is also a new power supply, micro HDMI cable, a Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop kit, and an updated Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide.


App Camp for Girls 3.0 is on Indiegogo



App Camp for Girls logoApp Camp for Girls seeks to address the gender imbalance in technology professions by inspiring girls who are middle-school age with a broad introduction to the process of app development, from brainstorming to pitching their apps. You can support them by contributing to their Indiegogo campaign.

App Camp for girls is a one week, full time day camp program for middle school girls. Campers get the full experience of being an app developer, from brainstorming and designing coding and marketing. They use Xcode and MacBook Pros, the same tools that professional app developers use.

In 2013, App Camp for Girls launched their first camp in Portland, Oregon. In 2014, they were able to establish a second camp in Seattle, Washington. In 2015, they will launch the first Canadian camp in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The App Camp for Girls 3.0 indiegogo campaign is being done for the purpose of making it possible for them to expand throughout the United States. They have selected four new locations for 2016. Their equipment is shared between locations, so they will need two more sets of MacBook Pros and iPod touches to meet the needs of the additional locations. They also need to recruit and train organizers and volunteers, rend a location, order supplies, food, and other necessities.

At the time I am writing this blog, the App Camp for Girls 3.0 indiegogo campaign has 16 days left. It has obtained 41% of the funding it needs. They are a non-profit organization that can help girls to get involved in technology.