Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

IBM Completes Successful Blockchain Trial for Bank Guarantees

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ANZ and Westpac have teamed with IBM and shopping center operator Scentre Group and have now successfully digitized the bank guarantee process used for commercial property leasing.

The trial used Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to eliminate the need for current paper-based bank guarantee documents, resulting in a single source of information with reduced potential for fraud and increased efficiency.

DLT powered by Hyperledger Fabric V1.0 is a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation. DLT is part of what underpins a blockchain.

In addition to eliminating the need for physical document management, the trial also addressed other inefficiencies in the current bank guarantee process, including the challenges in tracking and reporting of a guarantee’s status through multiple changes.

This forms part of a broader plan to build a shared solution with the rest of the industry, and to invite other organizations to participate in a larger pilot.

Commenting on the successful trial, Mark Bloom, Chief Financial Officer at Scentre Group, said: “An update of the decades-old process for issuing, tracking and claiming on guarantees is long overdue. 

“With approximately 11,500 retailers across Australia and New Zealand, who use guarantees to support rental obligations, manual tracking of guarantees has been an extremely cumbersome and labour intensive process.”

The companies involved in the trial have released a whitepaper detailing how the solution worked and how it could be used in other situations that rely on bank guarantees. You can download it here.

Written by turbotodd

July 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Posted in 2017, banking, blockchain

Pets at Home Builds In-Store Digital Experience with iPad App Using IBM MobileFirst Capabilities

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Pets at Home, the UK’s leading pet specialist retailer and IBM today announced the launch of Sales Assist, an IBM MobileFirst for iOS app for iPad which will be used across 440 stores nationwide to make it easier and simpler for customers to purchase the products they need.

Pets at Home offers a unique omni-channel experience for pet owners, including a large network of stores, brand websites, innovative and exclusive products, and pet services through vet practices and grooming salons.

With the Pets at Home website capturing some of the highest levels of web traffic in the pet care retail market, IBM is working with the brand to further evolve the digital experience and bring it to life in stores across the country.

Previously, customers who were unable to secure the right products and services for their pets had to either go online or visit another store. However, the introduction of Sales Assist into Pets at Home stores means that store colleagues now have a fast way to access a wider range of insights and products to be able to convert these enquiries into sales on the spot.

“At Pets at Home, we’re investing in innovative new technology to reinvent the retail experience for our customers. We want our consumers to be able to learn about and order the right products across every channel, and mobility is at the forefront of this transformation, “said Chris Holyland, Ecommerce Director at Pets at Home. “By customizing Sales Assist, in collaboration with IBM and Apple, we are providing our consumers with access to an even bigger range of goods regardless of location. The unique tool allows our colleagues to confidently show product information, ratings and reviews from the shop floor, opening up opportunities to foster higher brand engagement and ultimately provide our consumers with the experience they expect.”

Sales Assist is one of over 100 apps in the IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio that are changing the nature of work for retailers and global companies across industries by putting real-time data in the hands of employees.

Using iPad, more than 3,000 Pets at Home store colleagues will have quick access to the retailer’s product databases while assisting customers to provide a more compelling in-store experience.

You can learn more about IBM MobileFirst technology here.

Written by turbotodd

July 11, 2017 at 9:14 am

IBM and Citizen-Scientists to Contribute to Climate & Environmental Research

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As climate change accelerates, IBM is galvanizing the global science community with a massive infusion of computing resources, weather data, and cloud services to help researchers examine the effects of climate change, and explore strategies to mitigate its effects. IBM pledges to help direct the equivalent of up to $200 million for up to five climate-related projects judged to offer the greatest potential impact, and will then broadly share the experiments’ results.

IBM is inviting members of the global science community to propose research projects that could benefit from World Community Grid, an IBM Citizenship initiative that provides researchers with enormous amounts of free computing power to conduct large-scale environmental and health-related investigations.

This resource is powered by the millions of devices of more than 730,000 worldwide volunteers who sign up to support scientific research. World Community Grid volunteers download an app to their computers and Android devices, and, whenever they are otherwise not in full use, the computers automatically perform virtual experiments, with the aim of dramatically accelerating foundational scientific research.

Scientists who submit proposals for climate-related experiments may also apply to receive free IBM cloud storage resources, so that they can work with their experiment data in a secure, responsive, and convenient manner. They may also apply to receive free access to data about historical, current, and forecasted meteorological conditions around the globe from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

IBM will select up to five projects to receive support. Proposals will be evaluated for scientific merit, potential to contribute to the global community’s understanding of specific climate and environmental challenges or development of effective strategies to mitigate them, and the capacity of the research team to manage a sustained research project. Resources provided are valued at up to $40 million per project, for a total of approximately USD $200 million.

IBM will accept applications here on a rolling basis, with a first-round deadline of September 15, 2017. Scientists from around the world are encouraged to apply. Up to five winning research teams will be announced beginning in Fall 2017.  

To learn more about World Community Grid and volunteer to contribute your unused computing power, please visit https://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ 

 

Written by turbotodd

July 10, 2017 at 9:12 am

iPhone Shmyphone

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Apparently I missed the whole iPhone 10-year anniversary celebration thing yesterday.

Judging from my RSS feeds, though, there was a lot of fond remembrances of how much the iPhone changed the world, even if the original 2G phone connections were lethally slow.
In 2007, I was still a diehard BlackBerry user — my Bold took me around the world and back again, and it did email really, really well (and worked in just about every country I flew to).

But eventually I pried my cold, live hands from the BlackBerry keyboard and migrated to the iPhone. I’d already been a Mac user since…well, I won’t say when…and it only seemed logical.

I’m not one of those who holds the iPhone up on the altar of technology worship. Nor do I denigrate the iPhone because it’s presence has led to no end of human folly and absurdities due to its use or misuse. And don’t ask me to name any of them, because I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

No, for me, the iPhone is a tool, plain and simple. A wonderous one, one that allows me to stay in touch with people all over the globe at the touch of a button.

One that allows me to watch human calamity in real-time from afar.

One that allows me, for good and bad, to respond to work email from anywhere I have a data connection (which is almost everywhere, but not completely).

One that allows me to learn new things, entertain myself, buy stuff, take pictures and videos….we all know what it does for us, personally.

What it does for culture and society and the broader world? Well, I can make a strong argument that it brings us all closer together, but others would argue it does just the opposite, that it takes us further apart.

As with anything, and as with any technology, it’s really all relative and depends on your point of view.

As I look back on the first ten years of the iPhone, I force myself to remember that these devices are called “smartphones.”

Whether or not the iPhone (and subsequent smartphones) have made us any smarter is probably still up for debate.

Whether or not I would pretty much be lost without my own is not.

Are you paying attention to me? Are you still reading this?!

Look at me and stop looking at that damned phone!

: )

Written by turbotodd

June 30, 2017 at 9:06 am

The Petya Attack

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Another big ransomware attack is coming…has already arrived??

From The Verge: A major ransomware attack has brought businesses to a close throughout Europe, in an infection reminiscent of last month’s WannaCry attack. The most severe damage is being reported by Ukrainian businesses, with systems compromised at Ukraine’s central bank, state telecom, municipal metro, and Kiev’s Boryspil Airport. Systems were also compromised at Ukraine’s Ukrenego electricity supplier, although a spokesperson said the power supply was unaffected by the attack.

From Krebs on Security: A new strain of ransomware dubbed “Petya” is worming its way around the world with alarming speed. The malware is spreading using a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that the software giant patched in March 2017 — the same bug that was exploited by the recent and prolific WannaCry ransomware strain….Security firm Symantec confirmed that Petya uses the “Eternal Blue” exploit, a digital weapon that was believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency and in April 2017 leaked online by a hacker group calling itself the Shadow Brokers….Organizations and individuals who have not yet applied the Windows update for the Eternal Blue exploit should patch now. However, there are indications that Petya may have other tricks up its sleeve to spread inside of large networks.

The Guardian is reporting that “Victims of a major ransomware cyberattack that has spread through the US and Europe can no longer unlock their computers even if they pay the ransom.”

The New York Times on what we know and what we don’t.

And from IBM’s X-Force Exchange: Petya Ransomware Campaign.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm

American Airlines Migrates Key Workloads to IBM Cloud

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IBM announced that American Airlines will use IBM Cloud as the foundation for a massive cloud transformation designed to make internal processes more efficient, faster, and adaptable to better handle site traffic during high volume periods.

Building on the strategic cloud partnership signed with IBM in 2016, American Airlines will migrate to the IBM Cloud a portion of its critical applications, including aa.com, its customer-facing mobile app and its global network of check-in kiosks. In addition, other workloads and tools, such as the company’s Cargo customer website, will also be moved to the IBM Cloud.

“In selecting the right cloud partner for American, we wanted to ensure the provider would be a champion of Cloud Foundry and open-source technologies so we don’t get locked down by proprietary solutions” said Daniel Henry, American’s Vice President Customer Technology and Enterprise Architecture. “We also wanted a partner that would offer us the agility to innovate at the organizational and process levels and have deep industry expertise with security at its core. We feel confident that IBM is the right long-term partner to not only provide the public cloud platform, but also enable our delivery transformation.”
– via www-03.ibm.com

As part of the solution, American and IBM will work together to move critical applications to the IBM Cloud. In parallel, the two companies have teamed to rewrite these applications to the IBM Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), and establish a cloud-native architecture. As part of this process, American will work with IBM Global Services to leverage IBM’s Garage Methodology of creating innovative applications quickly through a micro-services architecture, design thinking, agile methodology, DevOps, and lean development.

IBM Cloud will help enable developers to quickly build and change application functionalities for the airline’s customers. These customer-facing systems will be on the IBM Public Cloud, while American maintains backend connectivity to other on-premise legacy and third-party systems, for true Hybrid Cloud functionality.

You can more about IBM Cloud solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2017 at 9:58 am

Google To Scrub Out Private Medical Records

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Happy Friday.

Bloomberg is reporting that Google has “quietly decided to scrub an entire category of online content — personal medical records — from its search results.

On Thursday, the company added the line: “confidential, personal medical records of private people” to its policy page.

As Bloomberg observes, prior to that Google had only removed webpages with identifying financial information (credit card numbers) and content that violated copyright laws. Revenge porn was later added in 2015.

What led to the change?

According to Engadget, last December an Indian pathology lab mistakenly uploaded 43,000 patients’ blood tests, including their names and corresponding HIV test results.

Google indexed them all because, well, that’s what Google’s algorithm does.

Written by turbotodd

June 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

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