Women in Tech: The Top Influencers You Need to Know About

Women are under represented in the tech industry. A survey carried out in 2018 found that women make up only around 25% of the tech workforce and in most cases earn far less than their male colleagues. However although this makes for depressing reading, many women are smashing through the gender wall and helping to shape a more equal future.

There are thousands of influential women around the world working and influencing the tech industry. Let’s take a look at just a few of the top influencers you need to know about.

Susan Wojcicki – CEO of YouTube

Susan Wojcicki was Google’s first marketing manager and was only the 16th employee of the internet giant, back then an internet minnow! She suggested the acquisition of YouTube back in 2014 after her experience in the development of Google Images and Adsense.

Today Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube so is massively influential across the tech industry. “Tech is an incredible force that will change our world in ways we can’t anticipate. If that force is only 20 to 30% women, that is a problem,” she has said. She is very vocal in the movement to include more women in tech and has written of her experiences in articles including “How to Break up the Silicon Valley Boys’ Club.”

Kate Crawford, co founder of the AI Now Institute

Kate Crawford is an Australian author and influencer in the tech industry. She used to work as a senior researcher at Microsoft but today is the major voice against the use of facial recognition software which could transform society and not in a good way. She is the co founder of the AI Now Institute and highlights why using facial recognition could be so dangerous for all of us.

Kate Moussouris, founder and CEO of Luta Security

Kate Moussouris developed an interest in hacking when she was a girl, teaching herself to programme a Commodore 64 when she was in third grade.  This early interest led to a career in internet security , working for the US Dept of Defense as well as Microsoft. Her aim is to make the internet safer for everyone via her company Luta Security.

Ellen K Pao, CEO of Project Include

Ellen K Pao was the CEO of Reddit before founding Project Include a non profit organisation set up to improve diversity in the Tech Industry. She has led the battle against sexism in Silicon Valley.

We have only had time to include a few of these notable women here but it is inspiring to learn that so many women are involved in the tech industry at a high level. There is still much to do to improve diversity and gender equality in the tech industry but at least we do have some pioneers that show it is possible.

To keep up with the latest advances in technology and science, check out the Big Think website.

Why you’ll Love the Futuristic Elon Musk Cyber truck

Elon Musk seems to live on a different planet to the rest of us but there is no underestimating his role as one of the world’s original thinkers and designers. Now Elon Musk has come up with a new product for the Tesla range: the cybertruck. This is not yet in production but the company is already taking orders with a launch date predicted for sometime in the future!

So what is so special about the Elon Musk Cybertruck?

The Cybertruck is an all electric battery powered truck with a massive range of 500 miles before it needs recharging.  And according to the advertising the Cybertruck offers better utility than a truck and more performance than a sports car. It does 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds and has a massive towing capacity and storage capacity.

The cybertruck  comes with autopilot as standard.  The “exoskeleton” of the car is made from stainless steel so it does look extremely hardwearing and rugged for all environments.

We love that the cybertruck has been designed with environmental concerns in mind. Similar non electric sized trucks are gas guzzling beasts but despite the meaty appearance of this truck, it utiilises alternative energy including solar panels so how cool is that!

Of course the most revolutionary aspect of the Cybertruck is the appearance. It looks like a cross between a futuristic space vehicle combined with a computer animation and teenage boy’s drawing. In truth it is an odd looking truck with straight edges and boxy design but it is certainly eye catching and wouldn’t look out of place in a movie about a dystopian future. We will all probably come to love it if it ever goes into production.

If you want to buy the Elon Musk cybertruck yourself you could be in for a wait. Production has not started yet but you can reserve your model with just $100 which is fully refundable should you change your mind.

According to the website once production starts you can finalise your specifications as there are differences between models. The Elon Musk Cyber truck so far exists only as a computer animation. Whether or not the truck will ever become standard is anyone‘s guess but it is impressive in the way that it has revolutionised auto design.

There are a few models available and you can customise your design. The most inexpensive model the single motor RWD costs $39,000, rising to $69,000 for tri motor AWD. You can opt for fully self driving model for an added $10,000

To find out more about the Elon Musk Cybertruck check out the Teslar website.  The prices are not beyond what you could expect to pay for an “ordinary “truck yet you do get far more for your money with this one.

After all what other truck in the world offers such rugged utility combined with sports car performance? We can’t wait to see the Elon Musk Cybertruck once it rolls off the production line.

Big Tech Companies Face Legal Scrutiny

There have long been concerns about the role of social media platforms and the manipulation of election results as well as disinformation and fake news. Now Big Tech companies are facing legal scrutiny from conservative sources following Trump’s expulsion from Twitter.

The Florida Senate has started a campaign to punish the Social Media companies who the Senate accuses of discrimination against conservative thought. This of course originated with President Donald Trump.

If you remember, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter after the storming of the Capitol. His tweets were seen as inciting people to violence and law breaking and although Trump denied this, the evidence to outsiders suggested otherwise. The protestors were filmed quoting Trump’s tweets and his Twitter message and the talk of storming the capital plus talk of a stolen election result did inflame the crowd. There was zero evidence of any election wrong doing leading his tweets to be restricted. Finally the calls to violence led to Trump being banned permanently in an independent move by social media platforms.

However Trump’s supporters unsurprisingly have not agreed with the Social Media companies view of Trump’s Twitter ban. And now republican governor of Florida, Ron De Santis is recommending that social media companies should face hefty penalties for censoring conservative ideology. According to some Republicans, Trump was not guilty of inciting violence and civil disturbance even though it is hard to follow this reasoning.

Instead of preventing potential violence, according to the republican hard right, the social media companies were guilty of trying to censor free speech and prevent conservative views from being aired.

Worryingly the bill has won approval in the House of Representatives. De Santis has recommended that the Social Media platforms should be fined $250,000 a day for censoring conservative ideology.

As ever, the First Amendment was bought into the argument, “If you vote against this bill, you’re voting against freedom of speech, you’re voting against equal protection, you’re voting for censorship,” Rep. Thad Altman said in support of the measure. “We have evil people trying to silence our voice.”

Opponents of the bill say that the Social Media Companies which are private entities have the right to control the information which is broadcast on their platforms. However the bill may have wider reaching implications for all of us.

There are concerns about the data stored by Social Media companies such as how our information is harvested and what it is used for. So the package of bills passed by the Florida Senate that looks at personal privacy may help regulate how the Big Tech companies interact with people’s daily lives regardless of their political persuasions.

Solid State Drive vs. Hard Drive

When it comes to buying a new laptop, you will need to make the choice between Solid State Drive vs. Hard Drive. Both methods of storage and functionality have their advantages so let’s take a look and find out more.

What is the difference between Solid state Drive and hard Drive?

Both SSD and HDD do the same job. They boot your system and store applications and your personal files.

The Hard Drive is the traditional method of computer storage and although the size of these have reduced and the storage space they can provide has increased, the principle has remained the same since the early days of computing. The hard drive is a physical spinning metal plate in your computer. It stores all your information onto this plate so this is held on your computer whether it is on or it is off.

Solid state drive is a far more recent development, first being seen in the rise of netbooks in the early 2000s. This type of storage does not have any moving parts and instead information is stored on a series of interconnected flash memory chips.  Because some SSDs have a very limited memory capacity, users can exceed storage space very quickly so the idea is that you store your information on the cloud.

SSD Speed vs. HDD speed.

SSD is undeniably faster than HDD. It boots faster, launches apps and programs faster and has a faster operating speed. HDD by comparison can get filled up very fast if your data exceeds your storage space. When this happens the drive can suffer from fragmentation where the data has to be stored in the available space on the drive which is not necessarily in the same block of data. The drive then will be slower because the computer has to access all these pieces of data and put them all together.

HDD is better if you need to store a lot of data.

If you need to store a lot of data such as films or your complete music collection HDD may be better because you have all this information in place on your own computer rather than stored in the cloud.

HDD is cheaper too and you do get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to storage space.

SDD by contrast is rarely available at over 2TB and these larger memory capabilities are very expensive when compared with HDD.

In conclusion

SDD is the way of the future. It is fast working and with fewer moving parts in your computer, performance is generally faster and better. In addition if you carry your laptop around and are generally not very careful, it is less likely to go wrong than HDD with its spinning plate storage.

However if you are working to a budget and need storage without necessarily subscribing to cloud storage, HDD is still a good option for many.

What is the Dark Web (and is it real?)

The Dark Web is one of those things that everyone has heard of and although it does exist, only a small percentage of internet users actually use it. According to statistics, the Dark Web accounts for around 5% of all web space.

There is a lot of misinformation about the Dark Web. One reputable news organisation claimed that the Dark Web took up over 90% of all web space. However this is not strictly true. This confusion has been caused by a misunderstanding of the term Deep Web. This refers to online content which is hidden to online searches but includes mundane functions such as your email messages, medical records, bank statements and web forums where registration is required. Deep Web is not the same as the Dark web but does often get confused because of the name similarity.

So what is the Dark Web and what is it for?

The Dark Web is a collection of websites that use anonymity tools, usually Tor and 12P to hide their IP addresses. Sites on the Dark Web often deal with dark illegal matters such as child pornography, selling illegal drugs, weapons and anything else that is outside the law. One famous dark web site was Silk Road which has now been taken down by the FBI. This site provided a platform for selling and for buying drugs online and the founder Ross Ulbricht has since become the subject of a movie. Silk Road was described as the Amazon store of drug sites.

So how do you access the Dark Web?

To access the Dark Web you need to download the Tor Browser which enables anonymous browsing. This is free but is extremely clunky to use because each search will go through a series of proxy servers across the world in order to make your IP address untraceable. According to users it is maddeningly slow.

Dark web sites look the same as any other website (apart from the content which can often be questionable). The main difference is that whereas most websites end in .com or .co, dark web sites end in .onion. The names of the site are also encrypted too and may just be a series of numbers and letters. However if a site ends in .onion, it is operating on the dark web.

So is the Dark Web used only for illegal purposes?

The Dark Web is mainly used for illegal purposes so a browse through this world throws up plenty of opportunities for criminal activity such as buying credit cards, guns, drugs and more. Often sites will disappear overnight so if you do buy something from a dodgy site you can’t always rely that you will actually receive your items and not lose your money.

But there is more to the Dark Web than crime alone.

The Dark Web provides a platform where you can communicate without being tracked so has been used by whistle blowers who would be rightly worried about attracting surveillance.  And with the vast amount of information held by Google and companies like Facebook on all of us, we can see the attraction of using the Dark Web which does at least assure anonymity for all its users.

How Does Royalty-Free Music Licensing Work?

Using music on your video clubs, film projects or website can be complicated. If you use a popular song from a well-known performer, you are likely to have your video or site taken down for an infringement of copyright.  And even if you just want to use a song without permission just as background music for your home videos, it will be removed very quickly if it comes to the attention of the platform. 

Music licensing is a complicated subject and one that preoccupies the music industry and their teams of lawyers.  So for many website owners, film makers and youtubers, the big question is just how do you find the right music for your video or website without contravening any licensing laws? The answer is to use royalty free music licensing. 

What is Royalty Free Music Licensing?

A Royalty free license enables you to use a piece of music time and again without paying royalties to the artist for each play. It is important to point out here that Royalty Free does not mean that the music is necessarily free to use (although some is). 

It means that the music is free from royalty payments to the artist for each individual play and instead you pay an upfront fee for the music. The great thing about a royalty free license is that you are covered by this regardless of how many times the music is played. 

If you were to use a piece of music that was not royalty free , such as for a TV ad that used a popular song for example , the artist would receive a royalty payment for each time the advertisement aired. 

By contrast, a royalty free license enables you to play the same music thousands of times over years without paying any more than your initial one off fee. 

You can find royalty free music on line. Artlist Music Licensing For Video often abbreviated to Artlist, is a company that provides royalty free music and SFX to anyone who needs to make videos and movies.  

Checking out the Artlist site is easy and fun. You can refine your searches by mood: uplifting, fun, epic, powerful etc. You can also search via theme, instrument and genre. 

Once you have decided upon your music (or SFX) you sign up for the license. Artlist provides everything you need to broadcast and play music legally, and as the website says “all the music is yours to use forever”. 

With an Artlist subscription you can download and use an unlimited amount of music and the license covers everything. There are three pricing options available:

  • Music and SFX costs $25 per month
  • Music costs $16.60 per month
  • SFX costs $12.41 per month

What about free royalty free music? 

If you don’t want to pay for royalty free music licensing, there are sites out there which offer to provide free royalty free music in return for a credit (a link back to the website).  

However in most cases these come with strings attached over usage restrictions and you will have to pay for a pro license if your video becomes popular or is used on the national media. 

Museum Alive App Brings Extinct Creatures into Your Home

The Museum Alive App is a fascinating phone app that brings the prehistoric world and many of its extinct creatures, into your home quite literally. 

The Museum Alive app comes from the Natural History Museum in London and is an extension of their 3 D CGI movie. This 90 minute movie experience brings the exhibits to life in the museum and is collaboration between experts and curators of the museum with some stunningly advanced CGI techniques. 

As an extension, the Museum Alive app is even more impressive. It uses Augmented Reality (AR technology) so instead of viewing the exhibits on a screen, they are bought to life in 3 D glory on any surface in your home such as the floor or a table. 

To use the app, you find a flat surface and then pinch and zoom the image to the right size. Then the habitat comes to life on your table or any other flat surface, bringing these animals right into your home. Viewing extinct animals moving around in your home, rather than on a screen is a weird experience. 

And the fact that the 3 d animation is accompanied by the unmistakeable voice of Sir David Attenborough adds even more reality. Because he is so closely associated with high quality nature documentaries, it is hard to believe that these extinct creatures are actually an animation rather than created via real live filming.

You can use the app to drive the animation. If you move your phone you will see a new viewpoint of the animal and can move it around for 360 degrees detail. Exciting encounters are bought to life such as a sabre tooth Smiledon hunting its unsuspecting prey. The fact that this action takes place on your table makes it even more compelling and remarkable. 

The Museum Alive app is a great experience but so far is fairly limited. At the time of writing there are only three AR exhibits although more are promised later, including the Dodo. 

The Museum Alive app costs just $2.99. It is totally worth the low cost even if just for the novelty of seeing 3 D in your home. That said, the app is extremely interesting and recreates the prehistoric habitat as well as the animals and is something that is certainly going to delight everyone who sees it. 

Healthy Ways to Boost Brain Health in a Tech-Savvy World

The brain controls everything that we do and think, yet is often ignored when it comes to thinking about fitness. Yet you can exercise and strengthen your mental performance and sharpness in much the same way as working out in the gym will strengthen your muscles.

Let’s take a look at some healthy ways to boost brain health in a tech savvy world.

Exercise:  If exercise was a pill, doctors would prescribe it to everyone! According to research, getting more active increases the number of tiny blood vessels that brings oxygen to the brain, increases the development of new nerve cells and maintains connections between brain cells (synapses). If you spend most of your time behind a screen, switching off and getting physical will improve brain health.

Get more sleep:  Sleep is very important for brain health. Some theories suggest that sleep helps clear abnormal proteins from your brain and consolidates memories further boosting brain health. Ideally you should aim at 7 – 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Mental exercises: Your brain is very similar to a muscle so if you do not use it, you will lose it. How you work your brain is up to you but activities such as crossword puzzles, quizzes , computer games or learning new skills such as a language or musical instrument will keep it in tip top condition. 

Brain training computer games: There are some great brain training computer games out there which are designed to improve your memory and stimulate your brain. Luminosity is a free game app that is very popular with users. And with over 60 million users worldwide already, this brain training game can help boost mental agility if you use it on a regular basis.

Diet is important for brain health: Your brain needs good nutrition in order to function properly. So ensuring that your food contains plenty of nutrients will feed your brain as well as your body. Omega 3 fatty acids ( present in oily fish), green leafy veg, berries, seeds and nuts all have brain boosting vitamins and minerals so including more of these in your daily diet will help brain functioning as well.

Take more magnesium: Many of the so called brain boosting foods, such as nuts and seeds are high in magnesium and it is this mineral which is so important for brain health.

Magnesium is crucial for healthy nerve cells and helps brain development and learning, yet 68% of Americans do not obtain enough of this vital nutrient. Taking a magnesium supplement can help boost magnesium levels. Natural Stacks is a US supplements company that specialises in good quality safe health supplements including a range of magnesium health drinks.

Alternatively why not try Kal Energy Magnesium Keep-Going Drink ? This natural energy drink is a fantastic alternative to sodas and other energy drinks as it contains high levels of Magnesium Malate that will help you power through your day and keep your brain sharp and focused. 

Google Has to Start Paying Publishers for News

Google has always occupied a unique position when it comes to publishing the news. The company has never paid for anything it could obtain for free so have simply ripped off and recycled new stories with impunity, without paying a dime, cent or penny to the original publisher.

After all, the purpose of Google is not to actually provide any real information to anyone. Instead any news stories they publish are solely as a way to generate advertising content. 

And although the links to the original publisher are usually present, because you can get the gist of the story via Google rewriting, the result is that most browsers stay on the page and use Google’s version of the news as their main resource for news.

Recently Google has tried to clean up their act and gain more credibility in the publishing world. They launched a new initiative in 2020 with the Google News Showcase, paying $1 billion to publishers in the US for licensed content. 

The scheme was first rolled out in the US but has spread to other countries across the world, including the UK, Germany, France and Australia. 

In the UK, The Google Showcase was launched in February 2021 meaning that for the first time the tech giant will have to pay for their news sources. Participating publishing companies include international news agency Reuters and the Financial Times. Other companies in other countries have followed suit. 

For consumers, this means that when you click on a news story, you will be taken to the publisher’s site in order to read the news article in its entirety and in its original format.

 Google has negotiated with publishers who use a firewall to protect their content, making more available to users who will no longer have to go through the rigmarole of signing up for a free trial or paying for content. 

Worldwide, Google has convinced 450 news publications to produce content for Google News Showcase. 

This comes at the end of a long running battle between Google and some of the participating countries. Only three years ago Australia insisted that Google should pay publishers for news content and were warned by the tech giant that if they proceeded, Google would be made unavailable to Australian users. 

The move towards Google paying for news content has long been overdue. So this news that the Google Showcase will finally credit the work of the various publishing houses is certainly welcome. 

What Happened During the GameStop Hearing?

The Game stop hearing has certainly raised a lot of questions surrounding investment and the way that ordinary people can change the economic climate. The wide ranging hearing lasted over 5 hours and saw investment platforms criticised for their role in the GameStop rush on stock which took place in January 2021.

The GameStop rush inflated the price of stock for a few days and almost crashed the stock market. Today GameStop stock has plummeted by 80% so anyone who felt they could get rich by playing the markets, without understanding any of it, have certainly lost the bulk of their investment.

Robinhood the trading app at the heart of the trading frenzy was singled out for special criticism. 

Company CEO Vlad Tenev had to apologise for Robinhood’s performance during the crisis, including the policy to restrict trading in stock of GameStop and other largely overlooked companies which were targeted by amateur traders organizing on social media. 

The decision, and similar ones by other online brokers, interfered with the integrity of the trading process. It caught the wannabee investors off guard, and drew a rash of lawsuits, provoking outrage from lawmakers in both parties.

The Game Stop hearing featured testimonies from all the major players. Keith Gill the trader known as roaring kitty on YouTube who started the whole frenzy, Reddit co-founder Steve Hoffman and the CEOs of major investment companies including Citadel and Mervin Capital all faced criticism and are likely to face further investigation by the law makers. 

However it was Robinhood and Vlad Tenet who were singled out for most of the blame. According to the Court, Robinhood has been the company to profit most from the Game Stop mania because the app makes it money from transaction fees. These are hidden from the customer, creating the illusion that Robinhood enables trading for free. 

Republican senator Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) was among those who called the arrangement a conflict of interest that disadvantages the users Robinhood says it exists to empower, Saying to Tenev that” the app’s users “aren’t your customers, they’re your product,”

Tenev acknowledged that Robinhood generates the majority of its revenue from the deals but disputed Axne’s characterization, arguing its business model “has become the industry standard for a reason. It’s because it’s good for customers,” and allows them to trade for free. “

This fact was disputed in the court for a long time getting nowhere as Tenev defended the Robinhood business model and the senators insisting that it was misleading to customers.

A more sombre note entered the courtroom when Tenev was asked about the tragic death of a 20 year old customer last year. Alex Kearns died by suicide last year after being hassled by Robinhood for having a negative balance of $703,000 and being faced with a bill of $178,000. It turned out that this was an accounting error but despite Kearns trying to contact Robinhood he was unable to reach out and eventually took his own life.