Junub Games Reaches for Peace as South Sudan Wages War

Posted May 19th, 2017 at 11:30 am (UTC-4)
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A screenshot from the mobile game 'Salaam' or 'Peace.' The game encourages players to be peacemakers as they destroy the implements of war. (Lual Mayen)

A screenshot from the mobile game ‘Salaam’. The game encourages players to be peacemakers as they destroy the implements of war. (Lual Mayen)

Political feuds and ethnic violence in South Sudan have displaced more than 1.5 million people. Among them is a software engineer determined to push past hate to promote peace through games.

“Hate is one of the things that is inciting violence in South Sudan right now,” Lual Mayen, a game developer from Juba, South Sudan, told Techtonics.

Living in a refugee camp in Uganda, Mayen saw first-hand the consequences of hate-mongering and ethnic conflict, undeterred by numerous cease-fires and peace talks. All efforts to reconcile the Dinka and Nuer tribes, at odds since former Dinka Vice President Salva Kiir was dismissed in 2013, had failed. Change was necessary. As a game developer, Mayen was determined to help educate the country’s youth.

Two thirds of South Sudan’s population is under the age of 30. “They are not educated,” he lamented, “and their [lack of knowledge] is killing the country.”

So he founded Junub Games, a nonprofit organization that turns out video and board games with a singular focus on peace building. Within months, he released ‘Salaam,’ a mobile game whose name means ‘peace.’

A child play's 'Salaam,' or 'peace', a game intended to encourage children to fight hate. (Lual Mayen)

A child plays ‘Salaam,’ a game intended to encourage children to fight hate. (Lual Mayen)

The game lets users play as one of South Sudan’s warring parties. But it also gives them the opportunity to push for peace – and rewards them for it.

“It’s a game that made the player to become a peacemaker,” he said. “So I designed it in a way that it is a war game. And the wars will come – they can destroy the buildings and also destroy the people. But as a player … you have to stop all the war tools for world peace.”

Players earn points for destroying all the tools of war. If you win, “the game congratulates you as a peacemaker and also congratulates you with different types of peace messages,” he said.

A screenshot from Junub Games' the mobile Game 'Hate Cop.' (Lual Mayen)

A screenshot from Junub Games’ mobile app, ‘Hate Cop.’ The game is still being developed. (Lual Mayen)

Mayen’s latest crowdfunded mobile game, ‘Hate Cop,’ teaches young people about the dangers of hate speech. Players can take on the roles of opposing tribes or play as members of the same tribe. They rack up points when they get peace words and lose points for every hate word they draw.

The words were compiled from a lexicon on hate speech with help from PeaceTech Lab, a nonprofit that works to inspire “a new industry of peacetech entrepreneurs,” much like Mayen.

When he was in Uganda, one of Mayen’s friends told him about a partnership between PeaceTech Lab, C5 Accelerate, and Amazon Web Services called PeaceTech Accelerator, an international, eight-week mentoring program dedicated to scaling startups around the world.

Startups are selected based on their ability to produce innovative technologies that manage, mitigate, predict, or prevent conflict and promote sustainable peace.

Mayen applied and was recently in Washington D.C. to learn from TechAccelerator’s mentors about managing and expanding his business, and publishing games to the cloud.

During his stay, he had access to “potential investors, free office space, and entry into the Accelerator’s alumni network,” said Nancy Payne, PeaceTech Lab’s Vice President, in an email.

Mayen hopes this puts Junub Games on a path to change the “hearts and minds” of people and teach them to forgo hate and violence, not just in South Sudan, but eventually in other regions as well.

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

The Cost of Sharing WhatsApp’s Data; APT3 Hackers Linked to Beijing

Posted May 18th, 2017 at 1:02 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

This combination of file pictures created on Dec. 20, 2016 shows the logos of WhatsApp (top) and Facebook. (AFP)

FILE – This combination of file pictures shows the logos of WhatsApp (top) and Facebook. (AFP)

Facebook Fined $122M in Europe for Misleading WhatsApp Filing

European Commission antitrust regulators slapped Facebook Thursday with $122 million in fines for providing “inaccurate or misleading” information for the vetting of its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. The Commission said Facebook claimed it could not automatically match WhatsApp user accounts on its platform, but then turned around and said it would do just that. It then introduced controversial changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy that allowed it to harvest user data. The fine, however, does not reverse the Commission’s decision to clear the WhatsApp purchase.

Study: Virtual Digital Assistants Will Overtake World Population by 2021

Virtual, AI-driven digital assistants are the next frontier in tech rivalry and are projected to see significant growth in coming years. Market research and consulting firm Ovum claims more than 7.5 billion active devices will have digital assistants installed by 2021. Asia and Oceania are projected to have 47.6 percent of voice AI-capable devices in use by that time. China’s virtual assistants were already installed on around 43 million devices in 2016 and more are coming.

Report Links APT3 Hackers to Chinese Government

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future say members of the APT3 criminal hacking group, who previously exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in Windows operating systems, are on the payroll of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. The allegation is based on the discovery of two names – Wu Yingzhuo and Dong Hao – who had registered domain names used by hackers. The two individuals are allegedly linked to the Chinese Ministry of State Security.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Apple Starts Production in India; WannaCry Infects Medical Devices

Posted May 17th, 2017 at 11:12 am (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - Men on motorbikes ride by an Apple iPhone SE advertisement billboard in Mumbai, India, April 26, 2016. (Reuters)

FILE – Men on motorbikes ride by an Apple iPhone SE advertisement billboard in Mumbai, India. (Reuters)

Apple Starts Assembling iPhones in India

Apple has confirmed it is beginning initial production of its iPhone SE models in Bengaluru, India. The first batch will start shipping to local customers this month. Apple has been courting India, the world’s second-largest smartphone market, for some time in an effort to retake a portion of that business from China. The local production could help mitigate the cost of the iPhone SE, but at $220, it will still cost more than the average handset.

WannaCry Ransomware Infected Medical Devices in American Hospitals

Little talked about in the midst of the massive WannaCry ransomware attack that hit more than 150 countries this past week is its effect on medical devices attached to Windows computers that got locked down for ransom. In the 48 U.K. hospitals and an unknown number of U.S. medical facilities that were infected, radiology equipment and devices that monitor imaging scans were also hacked. According to writer Thomas Fox-Brewster, this is the first incident of ransomware directly affecting the operation of a medical device.

WHO Report: Rise in Screen Time Risks UK Children’s Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) is sounding the alarm over increased use of digital devices, particularly among children. In a new study in England, Wales and Scotland, WHO said the data show more than three-quarters of children between the ages of 11 and 15 are using digital devices for more than two or more hours during weekdays. The lead author of the study, Dr. Jo Inchley, said some of the risks of increased screen time and social media use include sleep deprivation and cyberbullying. Inactivity adds the risk for long-term cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

WannaCry Blame Game Points to North Korea

Posted May 16th, 2017 at 1:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, China, May 13, 2017. (AP)

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, Beijing, China, May 13, 2017. (AP)

The finger-pointing is underway in the massive WannaCry or WannaCrypt ransomware attack that affected nearly 150 countries, with security researchers suggesting North Korean hackers might be behind it and Microsoft blaming the U.S. government.

The hackers allegedly used tools leaked by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system and lock down affected PCs until $300 in bitcoin ransom is paid. And while Microsoft has chided the NSA for stockpiling cybersecurity vulnerabilities, some security experts say the tech giant’s criticism is unreasonable.

There are now indications that some North Korean hackers might be behind the attack. Google security researcher Neel Meht says WannaCry appears to have code similar to work done by Lazarus Group hackers, linked to North Korea. The same group was blamed for the 2016 hack of a Bangladeshi bank and the 2014 Sony hack.

But researchers still haven’t puzzled out all the characteristics of WannaCry. So far, most experts have attributed the malware to phishing emails containing malicious links or attachments. But IBM Security’s Caleb Barlow told Reuters his team’s search through a database of more than 1 billion e-mails dating back to March found nothing relating to the attack, which is statistically unusual.

Other experts also agree that there is nothing to indicate how the first WannaCry infection took place.

In another development, the group suspected of leaking a spy toolkit used by the NSA – including some that were used in the WannaCry ransomware attack, has threatened to deploy yet another batch of spy tools.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

‘Smart Cities’ Are Not Just About Technology

Posted May 12th, 2017 at 11:30 am (UTC-4)
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FILE - he Yokohama Smart City Project uses Smart Grid technology and solar panels to help cut energy consumption in homes and businesses to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, Dec. 2, 2016. (AP)

FILE – The Yokohama Smart City Project uses Smart Grid technology and solar panels to help cut energy consumption in homes and businesses to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050, Dec. 2, 2016. (AP)

‘Smart cities’ or high-tech communities are popping up in parts of the developing world to connect citizens, spur economic development, and provide better services. But some experts caution that these smart hubs are more about sustainability and quality of life than the technology that supports them.

‘Smart cities’ is hardly a term everyone agrees on and does not necessarily refer only to urban centers. For Cisco’s Anil Menon, Global President of Smart+ Connected Communities, smart cities are just that – Smart+ Communities in both urban and rural areas.

And for Carlo Ratti, Director of the SENSEable City Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they are SENSEable Cities. “I like to imagine that our cities are becoming ‘SENSEable’ with its double meaning, both ‘able to sense’ and ‘sensible,’ he said in an email.

So what is a smart or SENSEable city? According to Ratti, it is “simply the manifestation of a broad technological trend.”

That means the internet “is entering the environment we live in and is becoming Internet of Things, allowing us to interact with the space around us in new ways,” he added. “Applications are manifold: from energy to waste management, from mobility to water distribution, from city planning to citizen engagement.”

For the moment, Europe is leading experiments with smart cities concepts to maintain and enhance the quality of life for its citizens. But developing countries like India, South Africa, Indonesia and others are not far behind.

“Five years ago, we had to explain to get people to be interested in smart cities,” Menon told Techtonics. “In India, for example, or even Indonesia, you don’t have to talk about smart cities, everybody’s asking ‘where do we get started?'”

But he cautioned that smart cities should not be synonymous with digitization and technology, particularly in developing countries that need to focus on creating a standard of living, promoting the middle class, and providing jobs. “That is the worst way to look at smart cities. Smart cities is not about technologies.”

Ratti agreed. While technology provides the backbone for smart or SENSEable city planning, he said it should not be an end in itself. “It must remain a means” to facilitate new applications to improve the quality of life.

FILE - A man brushes his teeth outside a shanty in Dharavi, one of the world's largest slums, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 27, 2016. (Reuters)

FILE – A man brushes his teeth outside a shanty in Dharavi, one of the world’s largest slums, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 27, 2016. (Reuters)

Take for instance Dharavi in India, one of the world’s biggest slums. Dharavi, as Menon noted, is blanketed by smartphones feeding a $9 billion economy, but residents have no clean water or health care.

“Can we use a digital technology and leverage capacities in cities to deliver urban services into rural areas so you don’t disrupt families and you don’t disrupt the rural communities, especially in emerging markets?” he asked. “In other words, can we redefine the whole proposition that you need to move into cities in order to create economic development?

A transformation is already taking place. In South Africa, for example, the Stellenbosch Innovation District on the outskirts of Cape Town, has been testing initiatives like electronic hubs where residents can download educational content, and “smart shacks” – easy to assemble, fire-proof homes that generate solar energy.

And in the Indian city of Bangalore, a health startup has been working with Cisco to set up long-distance radiology services so that even patients outside the country can have remote access to pediatric radiology consultation and information, using immersive technologies and video.

“Those are the kinds of things that you’ll see in emerging markets … creative ways that people are figuring out how to deliver services remotely,” said Menon, potentially disrupting urbanization trends and creating “satellite cities” – small towns and mid-sized cities where residents could have “all have the services that you could not otherwise have gotten.”

(Cisco)

In Jaipur, the government has been working with Cisco to digitize parts of the ancient city, a major tourist attraction and religious destination.

Cisco chose Jaipur as a “lighthouse” city to deploy cameras, traffic management systems, and apps that tourists can download for information to travel safely. Police, traffic control, and other entities monitor the connected neighborhood on video cameras for parking and security. Collected analytics data help the government identify needs for new services and solicit feedback from citizens.

But in some developing regions, infrastructure, or lack of, can be a challenge. The Indian city of Hyderabad, for example, has created a public-private partnership to deploy some of the needed technologies. But archaic regulations and concerns of corruption in the procurement process “have created the environment where true public-private partnership is extraordinarily difficult.”

“Most emerging markets have regulations designed not even for the electrical world, it’s for the mechanical world,” he said. “They haven’t updated their regulations in the last 100 years. … You need new standards, new regulations, new public-private partnerships, and most importantly, a focus on security. … The thing is to be proactive in creating these conditions.”

As more ‘smart’ hubs crop up, they will be large and small, urban and rural. Some will have higher population densities, while others will be sparsely populated. “What will change dramatically,” said Ratti, “will be our way to experience the city, at the convergence of the digital and physical world – and this is going to be exciting!”

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Keylogger Found on HP Laptops; Is Facebook Out of Touch?

Posted May 11th, 2017 at 12:43 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE – The Hewlett-Packard (HP) logo is seen as part of a display at the Microsoft Ignite technology conference in Chicago, Illinois. (Reuters)

‘Keylogger’ Found on Several HP Laptops

A security researcher at Swiss firm Modzero has uncovered an audio driver on HP laptops with a keylogger feature that records every keystroke. Anyone with local access to the affected computer could comprise passwords and other data. The logging activity was discovered in the Conexant HD audio driver package on HP business and enterprise models. Those include HP Elitebook, ProBook, ZBook, and the Folio G1 laptop.

Microsoft Build 2017 Day 2

The Microsoft Build 2017 developer conference entered its second day Thursday, with a focus on the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10, new cloud-based features, mixed reality systems, and universal apps. In Wednesday’s session, Microsoft focused on its Azure cloud platform, artificial intelligence, and cross-device integration.

Facebook’s Mobile App Has Gotten Too Complicated for Old People Like Me

Writer Chris O’Brian argues Facebook has lost sight of simplicity with the latest version of its mobile app, making even the act of taking a photo much more complicated than it needs to be. The app used to be “relatively simple and elegant,” says O’Brian, but now it is a “hyperactive Snapchat clone” for people who don’t use Snapchat. Writer Jack Morse goes further by suggesting that users should delete their Facebook app. In his view, Facebook has become “shockingly out of touch with what it means to be human.”

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Microsoft Conference Digs Deep Into AI; Malawi First to Use OpenTrial

Posted May 10th, 2017 at 12:30 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - A Microsoft logo is seen next to a cloud in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters)

FILE – A Microsoft logo is seen next to a cloud in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters)

Microsoft Fully Dives Into Artificial Intelligence

CEO Satya Nadela kicked off Microsoft’s Build 2017 developer conference in Seattle, Washington,  Wednesday, with a call for technological empowerment. The Azure cloud platform and artificial intelligence are part of the company’s push to create smarter interactions between technology and users across multiple devices. The three-day conference will feature presentations about Windows 10 S operating system, bots, object recognition, and virtual and mixed reality, among other things.

Malawi to Use OpenTrial App for Citizens to Access Justice System

Malawi is about to become the first country to use a smartphone and tablet app to give citizens access to their justice system. The app, OpenTrial, informs users of their basic rights, lets them find out if someone they know is being detained and report incidents they witness. The NGO OpenTrial, which launched the app, hopes it will help keep the legal system open and subject to public scrutiny.

Nvidia CEO: ‘AI Is Going to Infuse All of Software’

The CEO of Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang, said artificial intelligence (AI) will infuse all software as it drives automation, with huge implications. The U.S. company, which manufactures graphics processors, has already announced it plans to train 100,000 developers this year on deep learning technology to prepare them for work in an AI-driven firm.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Android’s App Permissions Flaw; Assistive Tech Gets Smarter

Posted May 9th, 2017 at 12:30 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

A Google carpet is seen at the entrance of the new headquarters of Google France before its official inauguration in Paris, France. (Reuters)

Serious App Permissions Flaw Will Not be Fixed Until Android O

Google’s Android operating system might get a lot of unwanted attention from hackers because of its popularity, but research from Check Point security firm points to deeper problems. Google Play’s app permission model grants apps downloaded from the store extensive access, putting users at risk of malware, ransomware and other threats. Google does not intend to address the issue until it releases its new Android O operating system.

Ransomware Remains Profitable as Victims Fall Prey to Attacks

New research from Barracuda networks found that 47 percent out of more than 1,000 respondents have been victimized by ransomware attacks. Among those attacked, 59 percent could not identify the source of the ransomware and 75 percent of those who found the source said it came via email.

Assistive Tech Gets Smart

Smart assistive technologies increasingly are coming to the aid of people with disabilities, from AI-enabled eyesight services to smart hearing aids and other connected devices. Writer Michelle Donahue looks at some of the new technologies that are opening a world of accessibility to the disabled.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

Immersive Education Has Promise, but a Long Way to Go

Posted May 5th, 2017 at 11:30 am (UTC-4)
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USA Department of the Interior (DOI) National Park Service (NPS) rangers work together with Immersive Education Club college students and high school students to recreate historic Bent's Old Fort in Virtual Reality (VR) for American culture and history. (IED)

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) National Park Service (NPS) rangers work together with Immersive Education Club college students and high school students to recreate historic Bent’s Old Fort in Virtual Reality. (IED)

Virtual reality (VR) technologies are slowly, albeit selectively, showing up in U.S. schools as educational tools. And there are efforts to bring them to schools in developing countries as well. But given the challenges, some experts say it is too early to even consider their impact on education.

Spearheading the effort to bring virtual reality technologies to classrooms around the world is VR First, a global program that aims to provide VR labs and related headgear and hardware to interested educators and developers.

The initiative marks “a new era of immersive technologies,” said co-founder Ferhan Ozkan, similar in its adoption and transition periods to “technology waves like computer[s], internet and mobile.” But the biggest challenge, he added in an email, is creating awareness and educating developers about these technologies.

That will take time. Eventually, though, he believes “immersive technologies will be embraced worldwide,” including in developing countries.

Michael Trucano, the World Bank’s Senior Education and Technology Policy Specialist, sees potential promise in immersive technologies for education in developing regions, particularly augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). But for now, they are surrounded by “undeniable hype.”

Adoption has been slow, even in the U.S. Some schools, in partnership with nonprofits and government agencies, are just beginning to use virtual reality to recreate historical sites like Colorado’s Bent’s Old Fort, or overlay the real world with a virtual layer to teach anatomy or a foreign language.

Students at Otero Junior College in Colorado scan 3-D humans & objects for the the Virtual Reality recreation of Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. (IED)

Students at Otero Junior College in Colorado scan 3-D humans and objects for the Virtual Reality recreation of Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. (IED)

Part of the reason is that standards and basic design principles for educational applications still have to be figured out. One group working to define standards and best practices is the Immersive Education Initiative (IED), a nonprofit international collaboration of educators, researchers, and various public and private groups.

Any successful educational applications will have to “take advantage of and fit nicely into existing infrastructures and teaching and learning practices,” said Trucano. So far, the applications he has seen are “poor fits.”

It seems like I am pitched an idea about ‘using VR to transform learning in developing countries every other week. None has seemed to me to be particularly compelling or practical — yet – Michael Trucano

“Are there compelling VR software applications today that would enable teachers and learners in developing countries to do things that couldn’t already be done well enough using other means and at much lower price points?” he asked. “Not that I have seen. But it’s still very early.”

The interest is there, IED director Aaron Walsh told Techtonics, noting that a number of educators and organizations from India have expressed interest in learning how to use VR technologies for immersive education in their classrooms.

Bringing these technologies into the classroom can be done quickly and easily, he said, provided the infrastructure and applications already exist, which isn’t always the case in developing countries. Virtual reality experiences require high-speed networks, access to computing systems and affordable devices, all of which remain prohibitively expensive for use on a massive scale.

Prices would have to “fall precipitously” for VR applications to become “anything more than a novelty ‘extra’ for small numbers of schools in developing countries,” said Trucano.

Training will also be necessary to get the most value out of the VR experience, said Walsh. “The teacher has to be trained on how to use these technologies. And the problem a lot of teachers face is … they don’t have enough experience to realize some of the things they’re doing are ineffective and sometimes counterproductive.”

And traditional approaches and behavior also need to change – a much more difficult task than resolving software and hardware issues.

“These are all very real challenges – especially if we are talking about using VR ‘at scale’ in an education system,” added Trucano. “It is always possible to have small ‘hothouse flower’ projects, where you can ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, and can devote resources to related teacher training and support. But to do something in a sustained way, over time, in lots of places, in a way that has a real impact — that is a much taller order.”

Given software and hardware challenges, both Walsh and Trucano believe mobile phones, increasingly in use among students in developing countries, should be the power that drives VR, AR, and MR in the long-term, provided all the other requirements are met.

“What will be really exciting,” he said, is when we can “do things with VR that weren’t possible or perhaps even conceivable using ‘old’ technologies. We’re not there yet.”

Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

May 4 Is World Password Day; Malware Is Coming to a Mac Near You

Posted May 4th, 2017 at 12:35 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - The word 'password' on a computer screen is magnified with a magnifying glass in this picture illustration taken in Berlin, Germany. (Reuters)

FILE – The word ‘password’ on a computer screen is magnified with a magnifying glass in this picture illustration taken in Berlin, Germany. (Reuters)

On World Password Day, Here Are 4 Tips to Secure Online Accounts

In case you didn’t now, May 4 is World Password Day. And if you’ve been recycling the same tired password for numerous accounts, stop. To mark the occasion, writer Conner Forrest has a few tips to help you secure your online accounts, starting with strong passwords.

Google: Fake Google Doc Worm Affected Fewer than 0.1% of Gmail Users

A nasty spam worm making email rounds Wednesday with a fake Google Doc link went viral when unsuspecting users clicked the phishing link, thinking it was shared by one of their contacts. Once the link was clicked, the bug emailed itself to all of the user’s contacts. Google said the worm affected a small number of Gmail accounts and has been disabled. The company also introduced additional security measures to protect users.

Mac Malware: Coming Soon to a Computer Near You

If you thought you were safe from viruses and vicious hackers just because you have a Mac, think again. Malware targeting Macs jumped 744 percent in 2016, according to a recent report form McAfee Labs. The security firm identified nearly 460,000 malware instances for the Mac in 2016, most of them propelled by adware bundled with software that came with their computers.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.