Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Innovation is Creativity x Risk Taking

Innovation is impossible to achieve without taking a necessary amount of risk. In a world where the success rate of new product entries in the grocery business is 1 in 100, it is inevitable that every success sees failures along the way.

An effective innovation leader should encourage creativity and risk taking, while also practicing a tolerance for failure.

To foster initiative and innovation, ask yourself these questions.
  • Do you allow free research and development (R&D) time?
  • Do you invest in innovation: money, people, resources?
  • Do you celebrate failure and risk taking?
In a tough economy the willingness to take risks can wither, so it’s critical to let team members know that failure will not result in punitive measures.

A strong leader practices failure management by setting and agreeing on the risk taking bandwidth or budget. It is ok to fail but that failure should be seen and recognized as a learning experience.

Fear of failure is an innovation killer, so here are some simple steps to develop a failure management plan that will lead to a culture of sustainable innovation.
  1. Clearly communicate the risk profile you are asking your people to adopt and state why it is important to the organization’s success. This limits your potential loss, while opening up the floor for creativity and risk taking.
  2. Never allow an unsuccessful risk to hamper a team member’s opportunities and advancement. A culture of innovation depends on trust.
  3. Create and communicate the results of an award program created with a high intraorganizational profile. It should, ideally, reward risks that pay off and “gee, nice try’s” that don’t.
  4. Establish a formalized, non-accusatory process for harvesting key learnings from unsuccessful risks. Distribute these lessons learned. The key here is that all risks, whether successful or not, contribute towards the end goal.
  5. Give your people the situational risk assessment tools they need to help them improve their risk-taking decisions. This can include risk scoring systems to identify different levels of risk, and ways to deal with adverse situations as part of a preventive strategy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inspire or Die Trying

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Plug-In Hybrid Retrofit Kit designed for mileage savings - YouTube

Powered by at least nine MTSU students' work since 2008, Dr. Charles Perry continues driving toward success in the development of the plug-in hybrid retrofit kit for any car.

Perry, who holds the Russell Chair of Manufacturing Excellence, and a five-member team saw gas mileage increase anywhere from 50 to 100 percent on a 1994 Honda station wagon retrofitted with laboratory prototype plug-in hybrid capability.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FinSpy Spyware Appears in 10 Countries

It is one of the more elusive commercial cyber-espionage tools available.

It is marketed as a way for governments to spy on criminals and for over a year, virus hunters unsuccessfully tried to track it down.

Now it is popping up across the globe, from Qatar to an Amazon server in the United States.

FinFisher is a spyware product manufactured by the Gamma Group, a British company that sells surveillance technology. It says its spyware offers “world-class offensive techniques for information gathering.”

According to FinFisher’s promotional materials, the spyware can be “used to access target systems, giving full access to stored information with the ability to take control of the target system’s functions to the point of capturing encrypted data and communications.”

Security researchers who studied the spyware last month said it can grab images of users’ computer screens, record their Skype chats, remotely turn on cameras and microphones, and log keystrokes.

The Gamma Group markets FinFisher as a way for government law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep track of criminals, but the researchers’ findings suggested that it was being used more broadly.

The spyware first attracted attention in March 2011 after protesters in Egypt raided the country’s state security headquarters and found an offer to buy FinFisher for 287,000 euros, or $353,000.

Then in May of this year, pro-democracy Bahraini activists, one in London, another in Washington and one in the Bahraini capital, Manama, started receiving suspicious e-mails, which they passed to a Bloomberg reporter.

Read the full article here: Elusive FinSpy Spyware Pops Up in 10 Countries - NYTimes.com

Monday, August 13, 2012

Swine Flu Cases Rising With New H3N2 Strain Transmissible Human To Human

Swine flu is making a comeback as a new strain of the virus has begun spreading, with more than 100 U.S. cases reported this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The surprising culprit? State and county fairs and doctors warn it has become much easier to transmit among humans.

So far, 145 cases of the influenza A variety of the virus have been found in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Hawaii. None of the cases were deadly, but two led to hospitalization. The agency expects the number to increase.

The majority of cases occurred in children and young adults, according to Dr. Joseph Bresee of the CDC's Influenza Division. Most of the cases have been associated with close or indirect exposure to pigs. The wave noticeably coincides with state and county fair season.

"This time of the year is the time when you have fairs around the country ... thousands of them," Bresee told reporters. "That accounts for the increased transmission more than anything else."

Indiana's number of cases has risen by seven to 120 since the CDC released its figures.

"Surprisingly, the greatest, overwhelming percentage (of cases) is in people 16 years and younger," Dr. Gregory Larkin, Indiana state health commissioner, reported.

"As our investigation continues, we're seeing transmission from ill or infected swine, or hogs, to their handlers, which in most of these cases are kids."

Doctors recommend that anyone who comes in close contact with swine wash their hands, avoid
consuming fluids or food around pigs and avoid direct contact with the animals.

The new strain of the virus, H3N2, picked up a gene from the H1N1 virus that caused a pandemic three years ago. The mutation makes it more easily transmissible among humans, with sneeze or coughs spreading the virus among mammals.

Bresee said a vaccine for the H3N2 strain is in the early stages of development.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

GAUSS: Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload

The Gauss payload appears to be highly targeted against machines that have a specific configuration i.e. a configuration used to generate a key that unlocks the encryption.

So far the researchers have been unable to determine what configuration generates the key. They’re asking for assistance from any cryptographers who might be able to help crack the code.

“We do believe that it’s crackable; it will just take us some time,” says Schouwenberg. He notes that using a strong encryption key tied to the configuration illustrates great efforts by the attackers to control their code and prevent others from getting a hold of it to create copycat versions of it, something they may have learned from mistakes made with Stuxnet.

According to Kaspersky, Gauss appears to have been created sometime in mid-2011 and was first deployed in September or October of last year, around the same time that DuQu was uncovered by researchers in Hungary.

DuQu was an espionage tool discovered on machines in Iran, Sudan, and other countries around August 2011 and was designed to steal documents and other data from machines.

Stuxnet and DuQu appeared to have been built on the same framework, using identical parts and using similar techniques.

Flame and Stuxnet also shared a component, and now Flame and Gauss have been found to be using similar code as well.

Kaspersky discovered Gauss only this last June, while looking for variants of Flame.

Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload | Threat Level | Wired.com

Words: The Importance of

Words, a fantastic new episode of WNYC’s always-excellent Radiolab, examines the importance of words by imagining a world without them.

From a look at Shakespeare’s linguistic chemistry to a first-hand account of what it’s like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke (yep, we’re talking about Jill Bolte Taylor of blockbuster TED Talk fame) to a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life and revealed the worldview-changing insight that everything has a name, the hour-long program offers a profound perspective shift in this currency of our day-to-day that we take for granted.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Richard Dawkins - Your 185 Millionth Great Grandfather Was A Fish - YouTube Video

Richard Dawkins : The Magic Of Reality

Your 185 Millionth Great Grandfather Was A Fish

Thursday, August 2, 2012

NASA ESA Research Backlog on ISS

With major construction complete on the International Space Station, member states have been touting the benefits to be gleaned from the experiments aboard the fully operational orbiting laboratory.

However, there have been recent hints that expectations may be just too high – and experiments are piling up.

The major issue with conducting research on ISS is the limited availability of crew to execute and monitor experiments.

Although ISS is officially in operation mode, there are still many maintenance activities that take up crew time.

“Currently crewmembers are working 13 or 14 hours a day, and out of that we can get about 6.5 hours of mission programmatic work done,” returned ISS astronaut Don Pettit told the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on July 25.

“That’s because we’re in a harsh frontier, and we spend 13 or 14 hours a day just to keep the machinery going and keep it possible for human beings to be there. You’ll find this is commensurate with other frontiers that are harsh on the surface of Earth.”

With the extended work days on top of dealing with the physiological and psychological strain of being in space and the extra effort needed just to peform daily tasks such as hygiene, exercise, and food preparation, there are signs that the pressure is taking its toll.

For instance, a recent mishap resulted in a set of student experiments being returned to Earth unactivated. An astronaut was supposed to flex the MixStix vials to mix their contents while they were aboard.

Although Nanoracks has taken responsibility for the mistake, citing inadequate training of the astronauts, clearly the crew have mastered much more complex technologies.

With space agencies, particularly NASA, pushing to justify increased – or at least not reduced – domestic space program spending, there is increasing pressure to produce results from ISS research.

NASA is currently pursuing two avenues to increase experiment capacity on the station. For the near term, the agency is in talks with Russia to borrow cosmonauts’ time to help out with research on the US side of the station and is working to use robotics such as Dextre to replace crew activities whenever possible.

More long term, NASA hopes to increase the station’s crew complement from six to seven. Although there is plenty of space aboard ISS to house another person, the Soyuz capsule is only able to carry three crew members at a time – and at this time is the only transportation option for getting crew to and from ISS.

Exceeding six crew members could impede the ability to evacuate in event of emergency. However, the development of commercial crew capabilities may alleviate this constraint, with capsules being designed to hold four or more crew.

The question, of course, is when such capability will be ready and available for use. In the meantime, the six ISS crew members must do the best they can.

David Erdal in Director: Humanity Working

Here's a thought: your company is the most productive in its industry. The people in the business care deeply about it; they understand how it works; they contribute energetically and are constantly coming up with ideas to transform it.

They have the lowest rates of absence and turnover in the sector, and they share a desire to keep the company independent. As for customers, this is a business not just appreciated but loved by them.

Just a pipe dream? Not at all – this description is true of many companies owned by all their employees. There is one proviso: employee-owners must be treated not as mere employees, but as partners.

They must share comprehensively in the rights that ownership confers: information, influence and the wealth created.

In any business, employees are partners. They are not under anyone's control, like robots or hire cars. Employees are people: they choose to co-operate – or not, as the case may be.

When they own the company, the stage is set to arouse the instincts for committed effort and innovation. When people own a business, it follows that they work harder, think actively about the organisation and stick with it through thick and thin. It's common sense. Ownership as the driver of performance? That's capitalism.

Read the full Article in Director Magazine: David Erdal