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Google ‘cut Android malware half’

Posted by pakin On April - 7 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON – Google said Thursday that malware infections on Android devices have been cut in half in the past year following security upgrades for the mobile platform.

In a security review for 2014, Google said it made significant strides for the platform long seen as weak on security.

Android security engineer Adrian Ludwig said in a blog post that the overall worldwide rate of potentially harmful applications installed dropped by nearly 50 percent between the first quarter and the fourth quarter of the year.

Ludwig noted over one billion Android devices in use worldwide have security through Google Play “which conducts 200 million security scans of devices per day” and that fewer than one percent of the devices had potentially harmful apps installed in 2014.

For those devices which only use Google Play apps, the rate of potentially malicious apps was less than 0.15 percent, Google said.

The report noted that Android got several security upgrades in 2014, including improved encryption and better detection tools for malware.

Android has long been seen as vulnerable to malware because it is an open platform and many devices run older versions of the mobile operating system

But Google’s report said its review “does not show any evidence of widespread exploitation of Android devices.”

“We want to ensure that Android is a safe place, and this report has helped us take a look at how we did in the past year, and what we can still improve on,” Ludwig said.

“In 2015, we have already announced that we are are being even more proactive in reviewing applications for all types of policy violations within Google Play. Outside of Google Play, we have also increased our efforts to enhance protections for specific higher-risk devices and regions.”

Android is used on around 80 percent of the smartphones globally, but its popularity has also made it a magnet for malware.

Microsoft kicks off #WeSpeakCode campaign

Posted by pakin On March - 11 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Microsoft (Thailand) in collaboration with the National Council for Child and Youth Development (NCYD) and Change Fusion launched on Wednesday the latest initiatives in the YouthSpark #WeSpeakCode campaign in a region-wide effort to make code a second language in Thailand and Asia Pacific.

By the end of 2015, the campaign aims to inspire 20,000 Thai youngsters to try coding and realise their potential in today’s digital world of today.

The #WeSpeakCode campaign is part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, a global initiative to empower young people to do more and achieve more in their lives by providing them with access to technology skills and a better education as well as helping them find jobs or to start their own businesses.

Last year thousands of enthusiastic young people across the region, Thailand included, had their first taste of learning basic coding skills, while many others took up more advanced challenges through hackathons and coding for social good.

This year, the campaign encompasses a series of coding activities including the #WeSpeakCode ThunderClap initiative, Social Media Contest and a major coding event scheduled for March 21.

Fixing up poorly IT

Posted by pakin On January - 22 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Staff at Songklanagarind Hospital claimtheir new electronic system has improved patient experience

At Songklanagarind Hospital, always packed with patients, there is now no need for the sick to spend a lot of time in an overcrowded lounge waiting for a doctor. Thanks to an in-house database and processing system, Hospital Information Systems (HIS), a trip to the healthcare provider is less time-consuming for patients and more efficient for healthcare professionals.

Founded in 1982, Songklanagarind Hospital is part of Prince of Songkla University. It is one of the major hospitals providing healthcare services to patients in the southern part of the country. As a medical centre and medical school, it also serves as a research and development educational hub for the health science community. The hospital has 853 beds, is staffed by 700 full-time physicians and can serve up to 3,500 patients every day.

The hospital’s programme is an example of a concerted IT effort to improve quality and services based on local need.

Assoc Prof Theerasan Kiriratnikorm, deputy dean for medical informatics, Songklanagarind Hospital, explained that the strength of the new system, HIS, is that it was developed in-house, meaning every application is strictly based on users’ requirements, and any adjustment can be easily made.

“At the outpatients department, patients just inform the nurse about their visits, then they are immediately registered onto the programme,” he said. “In the treatment room, the doctor works on two computer displays: one is the HIS programme used for viewing patient medical records, and the other is for viewing medical files, such as MRI or X-ray.”

The doctor logs into the HIS programme, diagnoses, treats and prescribes — all of which is digitally recorded. If the patients are allergic to any medicine, the programme will promptly notify the doctor. Information regarding the patient, such as if they are a civil servant, have health insurance or social security, will also be displayed.

Once the doctor summarises the required medical treatment, he or she can electronically make the next appointment. The system also enables the patients to acknowledge its expense.

Other programmes developed in-house include an online medicine management system which facilitates direct prescription by the doctor, automatic medicine label printing, and a link-up to medicine stock management.

IT utilisation shortens the chain of service stations. Patients will receive medicine within 15 minutes of seeing the doctor. Importantly, prescription mistakes are reduced since staff refer to computer monitors, not the doctor’s handwriting, as is the practice in many hospitals in the province. Songklanagarind Hospital embraced the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) concept — all members in the team of medical staff are equipped with mobile devices, and the hospital makes sure that they are connected to the HIS portal.

“It is important we deploy an information technology solution that enables us to give consultations and treatments from anywhere at any time,” said Assoc Prof Theerasan.

Now, Songklanagarind Hospital is 99% paperless, with the exception of getting a patient’s signature.

At present, approximately 200 physicians access HIS from their devices at any time, from anywhere. As proof of the system’s resiliency, the HIS portal is performing seamlessly, even when traffic hits a peak of 120 concurrent users. The IT department’s service level agreement (SLA) is that users should be able to access data on-premise in under five seconds.

HIS was developed in 1995 and is based on an open source platform and Microsoft XP. With Microsoft ending support for Windows XP, the team decided not to upgrade the existing Windows software, but instead looked for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that would work with HIS. The hospital had already implemented VMware Virtualisation and was in need of a VMware-compatible solution that would enhance the hospital’s VDI vision and mission.

“The solution had to be simple, fast to implement, and easy to use because our users are not tech-savvy,” Assoc Prof Theerasan said. “They are physicians by practice. Their goal is simple: to be able to access patient data from their own devices from anywhere and at any time, and in a simple and easy way. They need to be able to access medical records from a remote site.” The hospital then found the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform that enables virtualisation running on Windows XP-based HIS.

Komane Ruangrit, computer specialist at Songklanagarind, said that the hospital decided to develop its own software, to invest in server hardware and to lease other endpoint hardware, including desktop PCs, notebooks, peripherals and maintenance.

Its annual IT budget is not big, with 50% allocated to staff costs, the rest being the cost of leasing desktops and equipment.

The performance of the VDI server running on Nutanix has been even greater than expected. The hospital has on-premise Wi-Fi, which can now accommodate up to 500 concurrent users. As a medical centre and school, the physicians are also involved in R&D.

They are now able to complete their research tasks and reports from home, adding to the overall positive user experience and increasing their productivity.

The hospital now plans to expand the number of VDI users to cover all business functions. Without having to buy any additional appliances, the goal is to serve up to 1,500 users through its zero-client project. The approach is to let computers work remotely by using the resources on VDI, while all the functions run on the server. This will enable the computer system to run faster as the processing has been done on the server, not on the client.

The zero-client solution will also enable the hospital to achieve significant energy consumption savings because it only requires eight watts per machine, while the desktop PCs used 30-40 watts per machine.

“Green hospitals with superior services are our ultimate goal” noted Ruangrit.

New year, new predictions

Posted by pakin On January - 12 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Apple vs Samsung, iStudio training and radar tracking of aircraft on the iPhone

It is another new year and I expect there will be many new Mac and iPad and iPhone owners. It is also prediction time again. I do not join this game, nor the one in which Apple is told what it must do. Note that after insisting on a larger iPhone (there are two now of course) some say that Cupertino must produce a smaller one, with a 4-inch screen.

Some commentators admit that the broken record of Apple dying and Samsung making great strides may be wrong. To paraphrase Steve Jobs on Microsoft — the idea that for one to win, the other must lose, is false. However, it is reported that for Xmas 2014, 51% of new activations worldwide were by Apple devices.

Sales of 60 million iPhones for the first financial quarter of 2015 are being reported, with some sites suggesting iPhone sales of 70 to 75 million “before inventory build”. Either the fanboys are breeding or others are becoming infected.

In a short while — probably around Jan 20 — Apple will announce its quarterly figures. Just before, Wall Street will make wild guesses about sales, growth and income, then will send the share prices down if Apple fails to reach their predictions. Even if Apple is in line with its own guidance: between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion revenue. Apple does not work on market share or share price. Focus is on profit and product. That is how to measure success.

As part of the evolution and a move to a consolidated approach using iCloud for photographs on the Mac and iOS devices, it is reported that the beta version of the Photos web app is in a transition stage. Some are unable to use it, while others are finding access to be slow. Photos for the Mac is expected to be something like the iOS version. It should be released early this year.

As there will likely be several new users of Apple products, those owning their first Apple devices may need some help and local iStudio outlets are doing their part.

Although there are several sites dedicated to offering advice, it is sometimes the first steps when things go wrong for those new to the different approach that (certainly) OS X may need, but also iOS for those unfamiliar with these systems.

This weekend I saw that both the iStudio in Pinklao, a store run by Com7, and the iStudio in Siam Discovery Center (Copperwired), are offering free training sessions every day for iOS 8 and OS X.

The times are from 6pm Monday to Wednesday, from 3pm on Thursday and Friday, and from 1pm on Saturday and Sunday. Boards outside both stores show the times, with the Pinklao store also displaying some images of earlier demo sessions.

While sessions are being taught in Thai at the Siam Discovery store (and elsewhere), I am told that the personnel involved are able to communicate in English.

In the last few weeks, as well as the tragic loss of the AirAsia flight in Indonesia, a number of planes experienced problems and turned back, including a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 with landing wheel problems and a THAI Airbus A340-600 with a hydraulic problem.

In each case, information on Twitter linked to radar displays of flight paths allowed those interested to examine the last position or the flight path of the planes. Each time I tried to access these on the iPhone, however, I was offered a link to the Flightradar 24 app before the screen loaded. In the end, I weakened and bought the $3.99 app, allowing me to access live tracking of planes worldwide.

There are several ways I can use this. First there is a live map display. When this first opens, it centres on the user’s location. In my case this is Bangkok and I can see aircraft arriving and departing both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. It is easy to expand the map, to display a larger area or to switch to another world location. Tapping on any plane gives the user a small display of the plane, along with its flight number, departure airport and destination, and the flight progress. The path is shown on the map.

A search feature allows the user to find information by Text, Airline, Airport or nearby Flights. Of these the Airport search needed an in-app purchase. Airline and Nearby Flights showed a list of planes. Tapping any one of these showed it on the map.

An interesting feature, accessed using a binocular icon, allowed me to point the iPhone I was using towards the horizon. Basic details of any planes in the direction I was facing were shown on the screen. This did not appear to link to the map directly. Entering details in the search feature would allow the plane to be seen on the map.

Graham K. Rogers of Mahidol University’s Engineering Faculty, has OS X-flavoured web pages at www.extensions.in.th/index4.html

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