Digital mapping Digital mapping (also called digital cartography) is the process by which a collection of data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image. The primary function of this technology is to produce maps that give accurate representations of a particular area, detailing major road arteries and other points of interest. The technology also allows the calculation of distances from one place to another. Though digital mapping can be found in a variety of computer applications, such as Google 50 Earth, the main use of these maps is with the Global Positioning System, or GPS satellite network, used in standard automotive navigation systems.
History. The roots of digital mapping lie within traditional paper maps. Paper maps provide basic landscapes similar to digitized road maps, yet are often cumbersome, cover only a designated area, and lack many specific details such as road blocks. In addition, there is no way to “update” a paper map except to obtain a new version. On the other hand, digital maps, in many cases, can be updated through synchronization with updates from company servers. Early digital maps had the same basic functionality as paper maps – that is, they provided a “virtual view” of roads generally outlined by the terrain encompassing the surrounding area. However, as digital maps have grown with the expansion of GPS technology in the past decade, live traffic updates, points of interest and service locations have been added to enhance digital maps to be more “user conscious”. Traditional “virtual views” are now only part of digital mapping. In many cases, users can choose between virtual maps, satellite (aerial views), and hybrid (a combination of virtual map and aerial views) views. With the ability to update and expand digital mapping devices, newly constructed roads and places can be added to appear on maps.
Data Collection. Digital maps heavily rely upon a vast amount of data collected over time. Most of the information that comprise digital maps is the culmination of satellite imagery1 as well as street level information. Maps must be updated frequently to provide users with the most accurate reflection of a location. While there is a wide spectrum on companies that specialize in digital mapping, the basic premise is that digital maps will accurately portray roads as they actually appear to give "life-like experiences2 ".
Functionality and Use. Computer programs and applications such as Google Earth and Google Maps provide map views from space and street level of much of the world. Used primarily for recreational use, Google Earth provides digital mapping in personal applications, such as tracking distances or finding locations. The development of mobile computing (tablet PCs3 , laptops, etc.) has recently (since about 2000) spurred the use of digital mapping in the sciences and applied sciences. As of 2009, science fields that use digital mapping technology include geology, engineering, architecture, land surveying, mining, forestry, environment, and archaeology. The principal use by which digital mapping has grown in the past decade has been its connection to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. GPS is the foundation behind digital mapping navigation systems. The coordinates and position as well as atomic time obtained by a terrestrial GPS receiver from GPS satellites orbiting the Earth interact together to provide the digital mapping programming with points of origin in addition to the destination points needed to calculate distance. This information is then analyzed and compiled to create a map that provides the easiest and most efficient way to reach a destination. More technically speaking, the device operates in the following manner: GPS receivers collect data from "at least twenty-four GPS satellites" orbiting the Earth, calculating position in three dimensions.
1. The GPS receiver then utilizes position to provide GPS coordinates, or exact points of latitudinal and longitudinal direction from GPS satellites.
2. The points, or coordinates, output an accurate range between approximately "10-20 meters" of the actual location.
3. The beginning point, entered via GPS coordinates, and the ending point, (address or coordinates) input by the user, are then entered into the digital map.
4. The map outputs a real-time visual representation of the route. The map then moves along the path of the driver.
5. If the driver drifts from the designated route, the navigation system will use the current coordinates to recalculate a route to the destination location.
Computers Generally, any device that can perform numerical calculations, even an adding machine, may be called a computer but nowadays this term is used especially for digital computers. Computers that once weighed 30 tons now may weigh as little as 1.8 kilograms. Microchips and microprocessors have considerably reduced the cost of the electronic components required in a computer. Computers come in many sizes and shapes such as special-purpose, laptop, desktop, minicomputers, supercomputers.
Special-purpose computers can perform specific tasks and their operations are limited to the programmes built into their microchips. There computers are the basis for electronic calculators and can be found in thousands of electronic products, including digital watches and automobiles. Basically, these computers do the ordinary arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
General-purpose computers are much more powerful because they can accept new sets of instructions. The smallest fully functional computers are called laptop computers. Most of the general-purpose computers known as personal or desktop computers can perform almost 5 million operations per second.
Today's personal computers are known to be used for different purposes: for testing new theories or models that cannot be examined with experiments, as valuable educational tools due to various encyclopedias, dictionaries, educational programmes, in book-keeping, accounting and management. Proper application of computing equipment in different industries is likely to result in proper management, effective distribution of materials and resources, more efficient production and trade.
Minicomputers are high-speed computers that have greater data manipulating capabilities than personal computers do and that can be used simultaneously by many users. These machines are primarily used by larger businesses or by large research and university centers. The speed and power of supercomputers, the highest class of computers, are almost beyond comprehension, and their capabilities are continually being improved. The most complex of these machines can perform nearly 32 billion calculations per second and store 1 billion characters in memory at one time, and can do in one hour what a desktop computer would take 40 years to do. They are used commonly by government agencies and large research centers. Linking together networks of several small computer centers and programming them to use a common language has enabled engineers to create the supercomputer. The aim of this technology is to elaborate a machine that could perform a trillion calculations per second.
There are two fundamentally different types of computers: analog and digital. The former type solver problems by using continuously changing data such as voltage. In current usage, the term "computer" usually refers to high-speed digital computers. These computers are playing an increasing role in all branches of the economy.
Digital computers based on manipulating discrete binary digits (1s and 0s). They are generally more effective than analog computers for four principal reasons: they are faster; they are not so susceptible to signal interference; they can transfer huge data bases more accurately; and their coded binary data are easier to store and retrieve than the analog signals.
For all their apparent complexity, digital computers are considered to be simple machines. Digital computers are able to recognize only two states in each of its millions of switches, "on" or "off", or high voltage or low voltage. By assigning binary numbers to there states, 1 for "on" and 0 for "off", and linking many switches together, a computer can represent any type of data from numbers to letters and musical notes. It is this process of recognizing signals that is known as digitization. The real power of a computer depends on the speed with which it checks switches per second. The more switches a computer checks in each cycle, the more data it can recognize at one time and the faster it can operate, each switch being called a binary digit or bit.
A digital computer is a complex system of four functionally different elements: 1) the central processing unit (CPU), 2) input devices, 3) memory-storage devices called disk drives, 4) output devices. These physical parts and all their physical components are called hardware.
The power of computers greatly on the characteristics of memory-storage devices. Most digital computers store data both internally, in what is called main memory, and externally, on auxiliary storage units. As a computer processes data and instructions, it temporarily stores information internally on special memory microchips. Auxiliary storage units supplement the main memory when programmes are too large and they also offer a more reliable method for storing data. There exist different kinds of auxiliary storage devices, removable magnetic disks being the most widely used. They can store up to 100 megabytes of data on one disk, a byte being known as the basic unit of data storage.
Output devices let the user see the results of the computer's data processing. Being the most commonly used output device, the monitor accepts video signals from a computer and shows different kinds of information such as text, formulas and graphics on its screen. With the help of various printers information stored in one of the computer's memory systems can be easily printed on paper in a desired number of copies.
Programmes, also called software, are detailed sequences of instructions that direct the computer hardware to perform useful operations. Due to a computer's operating system hardware and software systems can work simultaneously. An operating system consists of a number of programmes coordinating operations, translating the data from different input and output devices, regulating data storage in memory, transferring tasks to different processors, and providing functions that help programmers to write software. In large corporations software is often written by groups of experienced programmers, each person focusing on a specific aspect of the total project. For this reason, scientific and industrial software sometimes costs much more than do the computers on which the programmes run.
The first hackers (1) The first "hackers" were students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who belonged to the TMRC (Tech Model Railroad Club). Some of the members really built model trains. But many were more interested in the wires and circuits underneath the track platform. Spending hours at TMRC creating better circuitry was called "a mere hack." Those members who were interested in creating innovative, stylistic, and technically clever circuits called themselves (with pride) hackers.
(2) During the spring of 1959, a new course was offered at MIT, a freshman programming class. Soon the hackers of the railroad club were spending days, hours, and nights hacking away at their computer, an IBM 704. Instead of creating a better circuit, their hack became creating faster, more efficient program - with the least
number of lines of code. Eventually they formed a group and created the first set of hacker's rules, called the Hacker's Ethic.
(3) Steven Levy, in his book Hackers, presented the rules:
Rule 1: Access to computers - and anything, which might teach you, something about the way the world works - should be unlimited and total.
Rule 4: Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, race, or position.
Rule 5: You can create art and beauty on a computer.
Rule 6: Computers can change your life for the better.
(4) These rules made programming at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory a challenging, all encompassing endeavor. Just for the exhilaration of programming, students in the Al Lab would write a new program to perform even the smallest tasks. The program would be made available to others who would try to perform the same task with fewer instructions. The act of making the computer work more elegantly was, to a bonafide hacker, awe-inspiring.
(5) Hackers were given free reign on the computer by two AI Lab professors, "Uncle" John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, who realized that hacking created new insights. Over the years, the AI Lab created many innovations: LIFE, a game about survival; LISP, a new kind of programming language; the first computer chess game; The CAVE, the first computer adventure; and SPACEWAR, the first video game.
Computer crimes More and more, the operations of our businesses, governments, and financial institutions are controlled by information that exists only inside computer memories. Anyone clever enough to modify this information for his own purposes can reap substantial re wards. Even worse, a number of people who have done this and been caught at it have managed to get away without punishment.
These facts have not been lost on criminals or would-be criminals. A recent Stanford Research Institute study of computer abuse was based on 160 case histories, which probably are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. After all, we only know about the unsuccessful crimes. How many successful ones have gone undetected is anybody's guess.
Here are a few areas in which computer criminals have found the pickings all too easy.
Banking. All but the smallest banks now keep their accounts on computer files. Someone who knows how to change the numbers in the files can transfer funds at will. For instance, one programmer was caught having the computer transfer funds from other people's accounts to his wife's checking account. Often, tradition ally trained auditors don't know enough about the workings of computers to catch what is taking place right under their noses.
Business. A company that uses computers extensively offers many opportunities to both dishonest employees and clever outsiders. For instance, a thief can have the computer ship the company's products to addresses of his own choosing. Or he can have it issue checks to him or his confederates for imaginary supplies or ser vices. People have been caught doing both.
Credit Cards. There is a trend toward using cards similar to credit cards to gain access to funds through cash-dispensing terminals. Yet, in the past, organized crime has used stolen or counterfeit credit cards to finance its operations. Banks that offer after-hours or remote banking through cash-dispensing terminals may find themselves unwillingly subsidizing organized crime.
Theft of Information. Much personal information about individuals is now stored in computer files. An unauthorized person with access to this information could use it for blackmail. Also, confidential information about a company's products or operations can be stolen and sold to unscrupulous competitors. (One attempt at the latter came to light when the competitor turned out to be scrupulous and turned in the people who were trying to sell him stolen information.)
Software Theft. The software for a computer system is often more expensive than the hardware. Yet this expensive software is all too easy to copy. Crooked computer experts have devised a variety of tricks for getting these expensive programs printed out, punched on cards, recorded on tape, or otherwise delivered into their hands. This crime has even been perpetrated from remote terminals that access the computer over the telephone.
Theft of Time-Sharing Services. When the public is given access to a system, some members of the public often discover how to use the system in unauthorized ways. For example, there are the "phone freakers" who avoid long distance telephone charges by sending over their phones control signals that are identical to those used by the telephone company.
Since time-sharing systems often are accessible to anyone who dials the right telephone number, they are subject to the same kinds of manipulation.
Of course, most systems use account numbers and passwords to restrict access to authorized users. But unauthorized persons have proved to be adept at obtaining this information and using it for their own benefit. For instance, when a police computer system was demonstrated to a school class, a precocious student noted the access codes being used; later, all the student's teachers turned up on a list of wanted criminals.
Perfect Crimes. It's easy for computer crimes to go undetected if no one checks up on what the computer is doing. But even if the crime is detected, the criminal may walk away not only unpunished but with a glowing recommendation from his former employers.
Of course, we have no statistics on crimes that go undetected. But it's unsettling to note how many of the crimes we do know about were detected by accident, not by systematic audits or other security procedures. The computer criminals who have been caught may have been the victims of uncommonly bad luck.
For example, a certain keypunch operator complained of having to stay overtime to punch extra cards. Investigation revealed that the extra cards she was being asked to punch were for fraudulent transactions. In another case, disgruntled employees of the thief tipped off the company that was being robbed. An undercover narcotics agent stumbled on still another case. An employee was selling the company's merchandise on the side and using the computer to get it shipped to the buyers. While negotiating for LSD, the narcotics agent was offered a good deal on a stereo!
Unlike other embezzlers, who must leave the country, commit suicide, or go to jail, computer criminals sometimes brazen it out, demanding not only that they not be prosecuted but also that they be given good recommendations and perhaps other benefits, such as severance pay. All too often, their demands have been met.
Why? Because company executives are afraid of the bad publicity that would result if the public found out that their computer had been misused. They cringe at the thought of a criminal boasting in open court of how he juggled the most confidential records right under the noses of the company's executives, accountants, and security staff. And so another computer criminal departs with just the recommendations he needs to continue his exploits elsewhere.
Biologically Inspired Damaging even a single binary digit is enough to shut your computer down. According to computer scientist Peter Bentley, if your car was as brittle as the conventional computer, then every chipped windscreen or wheel scrape would take your car off the road. He is part of a group developing biologically inspired technologies at UCL. They have developed a self-repairing computer, which can instantly recover from crashes by fixing corrupted data.
Bentley started from scratch. He says, ‘if we want a computer to behave like a natural organism, then what would the architecture of that computer look like? I spent several years trying to make the concept as simple as possible.’ He designed a simulation with its own calculus, graph notation, programming language and compiler. His PhD students worked on improvements and developed software and biological models that show it really can survive damage. He continues, ‘we can corrupt up to a third of a program and the computer can regenerate its code, repairing itself and making itself work again.’
Systemic Architecture A centralized architecture will fail as soon as one component fails. Our brains lose neurons every day but we're fine because the brain can reconfigure itself to make use of what is left. The systemic computer does the same thing. The systemic computer uses a pool of systems where its equivalent of instructions may be duplicated several times.
With the traditional computer if you wanted to add numbers together it would have a program with a single add instruction. In a systemic computer it might have several ‘adds’ floating about, any of which might be used to perform that calculation. It's the combination of multiple copies of instructions and data and decentralization, plus randomness that enables the systemic computer to be robust against damage and repair its own code.
New Programming Concept Bentley’s team is working to improve the programming language further, and to create software that will allow the computer to learn and adapt to new data. He says they are constantly looking for better hardware on which to implement the computer and would love to collaborate with industry and develop a version of this new kind of computer for everyone.
Algorithm - how do I feel? Matt Dobson
As we increasingly depend on digital technology for every aspect of our lives, a new smartphones app offers a window on our moods and emotions
Spike Jonze’s much-discussed movie ‘Her’, explores our emotional relationship with our virtual helpers in the future, our interfaces with the many different online activities we will depend on. In the future perhaps these new interfaces may also help us understand ourselves a little better, like the forthcoming app from the Cambridge-based ei Technologies – ei stands for ‘emotionally intelligent’.
The company is developing an app that will be able to identify peoples’ moods from smartphone conversations, via the acoustics rather than the content of a conversation. Such a technology has obvious commercial usages in a world where we interact with computer voices for services such as banking. ‘In call centres,’ says CEO Matt Dobson, ‘it’s about understanding how satisfied my customers are. As a consumer you have a perception and that is driven by a modulation and tone in their voice.’
Engineer’s natural curiosity
Dobson’s background in healthcare, working for Glaxo Smith Klein and Phillips Electronics, developed an interest in mental health where this technology offers significant possibilities. ‘I really wanted to do something in the area of emotion recognition and mental health,’ says Dobson. Then a friend of his in Cambridge showed him an article, they looked at some technical papers and thought they could build something. ‘If you look at the mental health market it is one of the biggest needs, bigger than cancer and heart disease, yet has about a tenth of the funding.’ Dobson cites examples such as media coverage of cricketer Jonathan Trott coming home from the Ashes tour and the CEO of Lloyds taking time off due to stress, as examples of greater public awareness of psychological issues.
Before Dobson did an MBA at Cambridge, his primary degree was in Mechanical Engineering at Bath – this grounding in science gave him a subtle head start. ‘Engineering is all about natural curiosity, not being afraid to tinker and play with stuff,’ says Dobson, ‘I am not an expert in this area but I know enough to ask the right, smart questions and can review a research paper and get a good idea what the limits of the possible are.’
Starting up the venture, they needed expertise in the area of speech and language, and machine learning. So they called on Stephen Cox, a specialist in speech recognition and Professor of Computing Science at the University of East Anglia, who is now an adviser.
The ‘empathetic algorithm’ is based around the idea that we can differentiate between emotions, without necessarily knowing what words mean – think of watching TV or Films in a different language. ‘It’s about understanding what parts of the voice communicate emotions, acoustically what features betray emotion – we use probably 200 to 300 features in each section of speech we analyse.’ They gathered data to train the system, which then uses statistics to pick out the most probable emotion being expressed amongst all the other background and mechanical noise on the phone.
Soon, says Dobson, they will have a free app where the conversation we have just had can be emotionally analysed and the users can tweet to a Twitter page. ‘It will say “Matt had this conversation”, I can include your twitter handle in there and it creates the dialogue between us and say “I had a happy conversation with John from Cubed”.’
But the next step, involving a kind of emotional life-tracking is more complicated. ‘That is quite a sophisticated piece of software,’ says Dobson. The idea being that we will be able to cross-reference our emotional states with other bits of our data from other parts of our day. ‘How we can use this data to basically monitor and understand human behaviour?’ says Dobson. In monitoring, ‘people’s mental health if they are depressed, can we understand when and why they are depressed?’
The Art of Sitting: How to sit in your ergonomic chair correctly
Correct sitting is not all about sitting up straight
Correct working posture
Always sit back and move your chair close to the desk to maintain contact between your back and the seat back to help support and maintain the inward curve of the lumbar spine.
This can easily be achieved by choosing a seat which has a forward tilt of 5°-15° thereby ensuring your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
Poor working posture
Do not perch on the front of your seat. Do not place your keyboard too far away. Instead move it closer to the front of the desk
Avoid incorrect slouching where the angle of the pelvis rotates backwards. This results in the loss of the inward curve in the lumbar spine, causing excessive strain on the lumbar discs.
You can slouch if you need to in an ergonomic chair
Balanced rocking pelvic tilt and adjustable floating chairs allow the user to release the whole seat and back into free float thereby allowing the user to lean back and 'slouch correctly' whilst the chair supports the user.
You must ensure that you remain in the correct position with bottom back and the chair back following the lumbar spine.
Do not be tempted to slide forwards as this will stop the natural inward curve of the lumbar spine.
Take care with synchro mechanisms whereby the "freefloat" feature allows the chair back to go past 90° resulting in the pelvis rotating backwards to reduce the curve of the lumbar spine.
Physical ergonomics: the science of designing user interaction with equipment and workplaces to fit the user.
Physical ergonomics is concerned with human anatomy, and some of the anthropometric, physiological and bio mechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity. Physical ergonomic principles have been widely used in the design of both consumer and industrial products. Physical ergonomics is important in the medical field, particularly to those diagnosed with physiological ailments or disorders such as arthritis (both chronic and temporary) or carpal tunnel syndrome. Pressure that is insignificant or imperceptible to those unaffected by these disorders may be very painful, or render a device unusable, for those who are. Many ergonomically designed products are also used or recommended to treat or prevent such disorders, and to treat pressure-related chronic pain.
One of the most prevalent types of work-related injuries is musculoskeletal disorder. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) result in persistent pain, loss of functional capacity and work disability, but their initial diagnosis is difficult because they are mainly based on complaints of pain and other symptoms. Every year, 1.8 million U.S. workers experience WRMDs and nearly 600,000 of the injuries are serious enough to cause workers to miss work. Certain jobs or work conditions cause a higher rate of worker complaints of undue strain, localized fatigue, discomfort, or pain that does not go away after overnight rest. These types of jobs are often those involving activities such as repetitive and forceful exertions; frequent, heavy, or overhead lifts; awkward work positions; or use of vibrating equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found substantial evidence that ergonomics programs can cut workers' compensation costs, increase productivity and decrease employee turnover. Therefore, it is important to gather data to identify jobs or work conditions that are most problematic, using sources such as injury and illness logs, medical records, and job analyses.