3 Online Learning Trends In 2017

In 2016, online education continued to become increasingly popular. More trainees are now enrolled in online courses than ever. World class universities have even begun trialling virtual and augmented reality as a learning tool. Digital companies released nano-degrees; while employers including Google and Goldman Sachs, started exploring and adopting online digital credentials. On the other hand, enrolment for on-campus degrees was reduced for the majority of United States company schools

As the calendar rolls over to 2017, here’s our list of the top 3 educational technology innovations to keep an eye out for this coming year:

Artificial  Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for online education despite it being one of the most overrated innovations of 2016. By utilising computer systems processing power and combining it with the cognitive abilities of the human brain, AI is already used heavily in customer tech markets. While specifically used to power applications like Siri for the Apple products and Alexa for Amazon products; Jozef Misik, handling directorof Knowble, a language tech start-up whose products are built on AI predicts this technology will extend beyond personal assistants into the broader education industry in the near future. The increased improvements in user accessibility of AI programs combined with the falling cost of the technology will result in more educators integrating these applications into their courses
The benefit for instructors will be devices capable of carrying out standard training jobs. Algorithms can aid instructors to assess learning effectiveness as well as support delivery of content. Deep learning systems can read, compose and mimic the behaviour of people. Current examples include the “intelligent tutoring” system pioneered by Colorado State University to improve marking reliability of assessments, to the virtual education aid, ‘Jill Watson’ utilized by Georgia Tech in 2015, or the average
physics tutor.

There will be opposition to AI, such as when Moocs was introduced. Certain professors will undoubtedly be against learning to integrate the advancement of applications and the design of algorithms to successfully manage these new platforms. Concerns that staff will be displaced are already an issue raised. And as other eagerly integrated innovations have revealed, students will not always adopt new technology unless there is a real benefit

“AI in education is not inevitable — but it’s necessary,” says Satya Nitta, director of education and cognitive sciences at IBM.


Need for a conventional university degree has reduced, meaning there is currently a real focus on alternative “micro” credentials. These courses are not part of degrees and instead deliver specific knowledge and skills in fields like information science where there is a scarcity of skill. The cost is significantly lower than that of an MBA and by taking multiple courses a personalised academic experience can be created.

With more companies recognising online education credentials, and professionals switching across employers and careers more regularly combined with the higher participation of startup events, anticipate the trend to grow rapidly. People will have to continuously re-skill, claims Anant Agarwal, CEO edX, an online educational platform. “This is the age of continuous learning,” he says. “Even when you own a master’s degree, education does not stop there.”

Combined Learning

In 2012, when Moocs initially expanded, they were considered a threat to on-campus learning. However, in recent years universities have started mixing ‘bricks and clicks’. Many prestigious schools of business now operate well regarded “combined” versions of their MBA degrees that integrate both remote online lessons and in person evaluations. Approaching things this way has allowed educational institutions to maintain intimate environments where students can network with a chemistry tutor for example, while still offering flexibility.

In fact, the majority of universities are integrating tech into actual classrooms to improve educational outcomes. Technology will repeatedly alter how educators communicate with students and deliver knowledge. Course instructors are pushing for students to be familiar with content before lessons so that they are instead places for debate about key ideas and conflicting theories.

Precast building changed by ‘Smart Crane’

Using video cameras, GPS and microchips, NTU system tested effectively at Yishun website.
Through the aid of microchips, cams and satellite tracking, enormous tower cranes may someday be controlled from another location. By using both digital software that works out the best lifting course and modern cameras, a crane operator can now complete any task that would normally done from the crane cabin remotely. With Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking they can also evaluate how effectively they have followed the path calculated by the digital software

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) created the “smart crane system” that was trialled recently at the Yishun executive condominium site by Kimly Building and construction site. One of the core features noticed during the trialling was the enabled by microchip precast part tracking.

Precast building is a method used toCrane boost productivity, but is often still labour-intensive. This is due to workers having to enter every concrete part that arrives on site into a database. NTU’s system differs as Radio Frequency Identification tags are used instead. This allows for each slab to be scanned, which allows the information to be automatically entered into the database. The result is that real-time project models are created meaning the Building Information Modelling (BIM) system is updated automatically as individual slabs are moved into place.

“From the beginning, it’s electronic information that can be passed from one process to another,” described NTU research study fellow Meghdad Attarzadeh. Gains in performance have already be seen with an increase in efficiency of 10%-20% for site logistics and 30% reductions in time costs for checking of inventory
The BIM system is also utilized to compute the most effective and least dangerous lifting path of every single item. A GPS sensing unit attached to the hook of the crane monitors how closely the operator is matching the best course.
Often tower crane operator’s vision is obstructed, meaning they typically depend on signalmen to guide them from below. The new crane hook cameras now allow the crane operator to see exactly where they are positioned relative to the cranes surroundings.
“For the very first few aspects, it was a challenge (for the crane operators),” said Mr Choo director of Kimly Construction. “But by the last few, when they had built up the confidence, the speed really picked up”.
NTU Associate Professor Robert Tiong, leader of the research group, stated: “The dream is for a game-changing ‘smart crane’ system.” The system might permit cranes and drake low loaders to be run remotely in the future he also noted.
The partnership started in December in 2015, with NTU team investing months establishing and evaluating the system. For more than six weeks across October and November, the new system was implemented to build floors 10 and 11 on two blocks of the project. The trial was solely funded by Building and Construction Authority’s Productivity Innovation Project Scheme.
Researchers at NTU are looking to further develop the system by partnering with organisations like the JTC Corporation; a nationwide industrial developer. Kimly Construction is also hoping to use the system for future projects that are suitable. As Mr Choo States, “It helps the (precast) process become a more systematic method of construction,”

Mobile App Testing: A Brave New World

Is mobile application testing any variant than typical software screening? While software application testers’ lives might be simpler if the answer to that question were “no,” that is not the case, obviously. Mobile screening is different in all sorts of ways. You have to test for various things, and there is usually a larger variety of devices to support when it pertains to a mobile software testing course

But perhaps the biggest distinction is that one of the most popular screening tools for mobile apps is Appium, whereas Selenium is more typical for non-mobile testing. These tools work in various ways, with important ramifications for the level of automation you can present to your tests. Below, I compare Appium to Selenium, and discuss how you can maximize whichever tool you choose to utilize.


Selenium, the popular web internet browser automation suite of tools, is a vital ingredient for screening due to the fact that it automates web browser screening. This implies Selenium is not just useful for automating tests for web applications – it likewise can automate online tasks. DevOps Engineers get two for the price of one by using Selenium.  You must comprehend, nevertheless, that Selenium is not simply a single tool. It’s a suite of various tools, with 2 main functional parts: Selenium WebDriver and Selenium IDE.

Selenium is supported by the biggest variety of web browser suppliers, and version 3.0 has simply been released. When you use Selenium WebDriver, you need to write your test scripts. You can compose them in a WebDriver-compatible language such as Java and Objective-C, but you can likewise use JavaScript, Python, C# and many more.


The huge drawback of Selenium, especially in today’s mobile-centric world, is that Selenium itself was not developed for automating tests for mobile apps. But fret not. This is where Appium is available in. Alongside Selendroid, Appium is a framework based on Selenium that was specifically developed for mobile automated screening.

Appium Architecture: Appium is an HTTP webserver, written in Node.js using a REST API. Recompiling apps is not required, because Appium uses vender-provided automation frameworks like Apple’s UIAutomation or Google’s UiAutomator. This way, the app you test is the app that is delivered.  Language- or framework-locking is excluded because the vendor-provided automation frameworks are wrapped in the WebDriver API. This API specifies a client-server procedure (JSON wire procedure). Using this, a client written in any language can be used to send out the suitable HTTP demands to the server.  Simply a couple of tweaks are needed to let it deal with mobile. Lastly, Appium is open source. Complete information on the Appium architecture is easily offered on GitHub.

Appium Sessions: A session is, in fact, the automation of your specific mobile internet browser test in Appium. Every customer sends out an HTTP POST-request to the server with a “preferred abilities” item (a JSON object). Now, the server will launch the session and respond with a session ID which will be utilized even more in the session. Preferred abilities are a set of keys and worths sent to the Appium server to tell the server what sort of automation session we’re interested in starting up. There are also numerous capabilities which can modify the habits of the server throughout automation. (See this abilities document for the complete list of capabilities.). As you can see, Appium is a terrific method to automate your mobile web application screening.


Mobile application testing is extremely various from typical web application testing due to the varied software tester and different gadgets and versions of running systems. However internet browser automation tools like Selenium can be utilized for mobile test automation by customizing the structure, similar to Appium. Of course, whether you have to use Selenium or Appium, you can quickly utilize both tools through Sauce Labs’ cloud-based testing platform.

Automated Patching Innovation: What Business Should Consider

At the 2016 DEF CON 24 program, the DARPA Cyber Grand Obstacle saw 7 automated security systems groups contending for the $2 million grand benefit in a capture the flag-type problem. The goal was to establish systems that can discover vulnerabilities, spot themselves and ward off invasions in a self-governing fashion. This is interesting development that, used the intricacies related to today’s network environments, might improve service security in many approaches.

Nevertheless is it going to deserve it? Precisely what are the unintentional negative impacts and dangers connected with automated patching? While this innovation does not yet exist on a prevalent level, this is something that enterprises need to be considering as their information security programs and associated innovations advance.

In my work performing independent security assessments, I have really seen lots of business that might utilize some type of automated patching innovation The software flaws would be acknowledged, the patches would be launched and the systems would stay resistant to future attacks– all with very little human effort. This sounds excellent on paper and would definitely please many auditors and executives. The concern is, the system patching procedure is not that cut and dried. It’s in truth a fairly complicated procedure that includes numerous systems, individuals and processes working in efficiency to make sure that updates are properly released, security is enhanced and the environment remains stable.

The latter product– stability– is no doubt the most crucial element to most of the security experts included. As we have in fact all discovered and experienced, one bad patch is all it requires to get rid of an otherwise stable system. This strategy winds up producing a situation that many would argue is even worse for business than any security powerlessness that the spot was attempting to repair. Improvements in the software application quality of contemporary os and applications through a software tester suggests that spots can be launched in a semiautomated style– a minimum of at the workstation level. After all, that’s where much of the focus needs to be, particularly with third-party software application from vendors such as Java and Adobe.

Nevertheless precisely what about the servers, applications and databases and network facilities systems that can stay vulnerable to attack? How are software application and firmware updates applied to these systems? Is the rate of an automated patching system worth it? Possibly the advantages of automated patching do surpass the drawbacks. It is necessary to note that the DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge used a specialized testbed of computer systems with customized software application that had never ever been evaluated in the past.

Getting involved groups in the DARPA problem, which was the very first automatic patching competition of its kind, took nearly 10 hours to hunt for and area vulnerabilities that may have generally taken weeks or perhaps longer. However it doubts how these automated patching systems will deal with organisation software and complicated legacy applications. Every situation is different. The reality is that, provided the minimal resources of business IT security group and the danger of human mistake, security needs to be automated where it can. Now is the time to start thinking about how the patching procedure might or have to be automated in the future. If you can automate this info security function, you might likely correspond a great deal of those treatments and lessons into other locations which could be incredibly beneficial for future security efforts.

3 Things To Consider When Purchasing New Computers

working-in-the-computer-1243509-1279x850When people ask us which laptop computer will suit their needs, the first thing we tell them is that there is no clear winner. There are a lot of various types of laptops, and various price categories to consider. However, we do offer individuals a list that they must consider before spending lavishly on a brand-new computer with all of the extras like an IT help desk.

1. CPU:

It’s hard to pass by any of Intel’s Core-based CPUs when purchasing a new laptop computer. Think Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7. These CPUs offer the very best performance when it comes to multitasking and multimedia tasks. Core i3-based notebooks are normally discovered in entry-level markets, while Core i5 makes up the majority of mainstream computer systems.

Core i7-based systems are for those of you who like the best efficiency and performance from your laptop computer. Nevertheless, note that with a Core i7-based system, heat coming through the base of the laptop computer can be cause for concern, especially if you prepare to really use the laptop on your lap a lot of the time.

2. RAM:

You need 4GB of RAM or more to get the best out of your system. More RAM means more applications are able to be run at the same time, and for more data to be easily accessible by the system at any time, which is available and helpful for jobs such as editing images.

3. Wireless networking and Bluetooth:

This is something that can be typically neglected when purchasing a laptop, but thinking about that, a lot of laptop computers rely on an Internet connection for the majority of their tasks, it’s a very crucial function. At the very least, you need a laptop that has a dual-band Wi-Fi adapter. This will enable you to use the laptop with a dual-band router’s 5GHz network, allowing it to work quicker and possibly segregating it from other gadgets on your network that utilize the 2.4 GHz network.

Look out for Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth isn’t just handy for connecting to wireless mice and keyboards, it’s outstanding for connecting to a Hi-Fi system wirelessly, and for work purposes like cloud backup services We use Bluetooth all the time to play music through a stereo system from our laptop computer. This is music that’s either kept locally or streamed from Google Play Music or online radio stations while we work.

A Review of Acer Predator AG3-605-UR1

Most people think of home computers as ready-to-use desktops that are good for homework and surfing the web, but they can do so much more. You can stream media, download HD movies and shows, edit video and audio, and even play video games. Unfortunately, many of these computers offer limited functionality with these tasks. That’s what makes the Acer Predator such an impressive desktop PC.

The Predator offers better performance than any other computer on our lineup, which can easily handle the rigors of an it consulting company for example. This affordable gaming computer has a top-end processor and a dedicated graphics card. It has fewer USB ports than some computers, and Acer does not have as many support options as other computers, but this computer comes with excellent components and impressive speed. Based on all of this, the Acer Predator earns our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.


The base model Predator is still a better gaming computer than any of the other computers on our lineup. It uses a top-tier Intel i5-4590 processor, ranked one of the best CPUs by Tom’s Hardware. This processor also earns good scores from Passmark’s benchmarking tests. On its own, the CPU is strong enough to run any task that you throw at it, but the Predator also gives you a strong mid-grade graphics card to help with the graphical processing. This means you can play video games on high settings and run other graphics-intensive programs without putting strain on the CPU.

Like most of the computers we reviewed, the Predator is also ready for upgrades. If you start to notice significant slowing or your computer can’t handle video games the way you want, it’s easy to open the casing and install new parts on your own. Even if you pay a professional to install new components, you’re still saving money over buying a new desktop.

Memory & Storage

At this point, the standard setup for a computer is a SATA hard drive and 8GB of RAM. The Acer Predator does not stray from this formula with its high-speed 1TB hard drive. You can install a secondary SATA or SSD in one of the available storage bays. In addition to the installed 8GB of RAM, you can install up to 32GB in the four memory slots. The added memory is great if you’re processing or compressing media, but typically you don’t need more than 8GB to run a 64-bit operating system. Lastly, the computer comes with a DVD writer.


The Acer Predator has an interesting aesthetic – it’s mostly black with orange highlights around the edges. On top of its attractive design, it is very easy to open and customize. There are plenty of bays available for new hard drives, RAM and hardware cards. It comes with an SD card slot, an HDMI port, a VGA monitor port and only five USB ports: three USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. This is disappointing for a gaming PC, since so many peripherals require USB ports.

Help & Support

Acer offers a one-year warranty with all new desktop PCs, and if you want a longer support period, you can buy a two-year warranty. This is not as long as many other companies offer for their extended warranties, though. There are several customer support options available to customers including cloud computing services. Telephone support lasts as long as you have your warranty. You can also contact support representatives by live chat. We could not find an email address for support questions. Acer’s support pages also offer user forums and driver downloads.


The Acer Predator is a top home computer with far more emphasis on performance than any other computer on our lineup. With its great components, you can use it for gaming and other resource-intensive tasks. It only has five USB ports, so you may run out of ports when plugging in your peripherals. Still, the Predator is among the best home PCs we reviewed.


This NAS Box Can sStream 4K UHD Movies-Synology DiskStation DS216


At a Glance

NAS boxes are nigh on perfect devices for storing and streaming your multimedia collections—music, video, and photogoraph—throughout your home. Traditionally, however, that streaming hasn’t included UHD/4K/2160p video, which requires a fair bit of CPU power. Enter Synology’s DS216+ (the box Synology sent us for testing) and it’s new DSM 6.0 operating system.

Before you get too stoked. Synology’s NAS boxes can only transcode 2160p to 1080p (or a lower resolution, depending on the device receiving the stream). The same goes for Synology’s chief rival QNAP. That means you can stream UHD/4K, but not at its true resolution. Note that I’m talking about using Synology’s integrated Video Station player or its DLNA server. You can open any file directly and play it at full resolution if your TV or device supports network browsing and has the computational horsepower.

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Tears of Steel playing inside Synology’s browser-based Video Station. Videos up to 1080p play quite well in the app, though this 4K rendering was very jerky.


The $300 (drives not included) DS216+ is one of Synology’s faster consumer NAS boxes—the reason the company sent it to us to test the transcoding. It’s outfitted with an Intel Celeron N3050, 1GB of memory, and with two drive bays, so you can add up to 16TB of storage. In our copy tests, writes and reads of a single 20GB file proceeded at about 109MBps, and with a more strenuous 20GB mix of smaller files and folders, at about 63MBps. That’s fast for consumer-grade NAS, and it makes the DS216+ a very good repository for backups—more on that subject later.

The inclusion of an eSATA port on the DS216+ is a bit old-school for a modern SOHO NAS box.

The DS216+ has two USB 2.0 ports on the back, and a single USB 3.0 port on the front for copying files to the box. There’s a dedicated copy button on the front panel: Pressing it will transfer all the files from a USB drive to the box. There’s also a single gigabit ethernet port, and somewhat oddly for a small office/home box of recent vintage—an eSATA port. A full-on USB 3.x (5Mbps/10Mbps) port would be a better fit for the intended market.

To test transcoding and streaming I loaded the DS216+ with numerous test files, including about a dozen 2160p (UHD 3840×2160 and 4K 4096×2160) videos. I played files using Synology’s in-browser Video Station player; streamed them to Windows Media Player augmented with the LAV DirectShow filters; and as a control test, played them back directly using Media Player Classic Home Cinema. which was also set to use the latest version of the LAV filters.

Everything up to and including 1080p played or streamed fine. 2160p videos (AVC and HEVC) played well also, at least those limited to about 30 frames per second and around 6 megabits per second (HEVC) or 20Mbps (AVC). AVC is a lot easier to process than the more heavily compressed HEVC. Beyond that, both audio and video stutter began to creep in; 60fps files weren’t recognized. My only other complaint is that the downscaling in Video Station could have used more anti-aliasing in areas with lots of fine detail.

As I mentioned up front, you can bypass the streaming and transcoding to play files directly if your device supports playing files from network locations. Doing that with MPC-HC, everything played just fine, including 20Mbps/60fps 2160p.

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A 2160p video played directly, and quite smoothly, from the DS216+ using MPC-HC on a Windows PC. (Captured on a 1920×1200 display)

Synology’s audio support is nothing short of fantastic. The list of supported types includes FLAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, Ogg, Ape, both Apple and Windows lossless, as well as all wave files from 44.1kHz/16-bit to 96kHz/32-bit—including 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround types. That’s everything I have in my collection of test files outside of Opus and an ancient VQF file that’s long outdated. You can play any of the supported types using the included Audio Station app or streamed via DLNA.

Supported image formats include JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, and TIFF.

DSM 6.0

DSM or DiskStation Manager is the operating system for Synology’s NAS boxes. As with rival QNAP’s QOS, it’s a full windowing system that works within your browser. Words can’t do it justice, so look at the picture below. It works just like Windows, Linux (which it actually is), or OS X with clicking, dragging, lasso-ing, etc.

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No, that’s not Linux, it’s the DiskStation Manager operating system that works inside of your browser. Opera in this case.

Version 6.x brings the operating system into the 64-bit world, which is of marginal value to most home users, but will allow more onboard memory in the Synology’s high-end boxes. DSM 6.0 also supports Btrfs (B-tree file system) with its copy-on-write (COW) technology that allows for easy cross-device storage pools and data snapshots.

Beyond streaming multimedia, just some of the other things you can do with a Synology NAS box are record and browse the output of at least one Webcam, create your own email server, and—its newest feature—collaborate with other users on spreadsheets. No doubt word processing and presentations will eventually be added to the mix. Then there’s the ability to watch and record TV (with a USB tuner attached), Wi-Fi connectivity (with a 802.11x dongle attached), and more.

There’s also a new MailPlus app and server that supports up to five users for free. It’s quite a bit slicker than the normal MailServer application and has dedicated apps for Android and iOS devices. Speaking of which, Synology provides mobile apps for viewing images, videos, etc. stored on the box. There’s a lot more, but I’ll have you visit Synology’s website for further details.

Save your stuff

Though this article is focused on multimedia serving, the DS216+ and DSM 6.0 also provide excellent backup services. In addition to Time Machine support for Macs, this Synology offers its own Cloud Station with clients for Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS. Yes, you can keep all your PCs and mobile devices backed up to the Synology box. My only issue with this was that during a rather large 400GB initial backup, the client used too much bandwidth. There’s no throttle setting, so I had to pause the sync process when I needed to use another network application.

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Synology’s backup options are numerous and impressively capable.

New to the mix are an improved version of the Backup & Restore app called Hyper Backup Vault, and Snapshot Replication, which leverages the new Btrfs file system’s snapshot capabilities.You can also sync multiple NAS boxes (even other vendor’s, if they support RSync) anywhere in the world. There are also apps that back up and/or sync to S3, Glacier, DropBox and other online services.


The Synology DS216+ is a great little box, and streams multimedia as well as any NAS box in its class. If you’re looking for a central repository for your songs, photos, and movies that any device in your house can acces, you could do far worse.

But if you’re not dead set on the 2160p transcoding, you can get away far cheaper with other NAS boxes—including Synology’s less-expensive models, of which there are many. When simply opening and playing files from a network drive, I’m able to play 4K/UHD files just fine from a far older Synology DS411 Slim.

DSM 6.0 brings Synology’s boxes up to snuff in terms of backup, replication, snapshots, and spreading storage across multiple devices. Those are features more of interest to business users than multimedia mavens, but they’re welcome nonetheless.

One caveat on the whole NAS for multimedia deal: Streaming and accessing files on a NAS box is simple enough for anyone, but setup requires a fair amount of tech savvy.