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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The Road Paved with iPhones

Monday, September 10th, 2012

I wish I could say that I am perplexed by what happened at a wedding hall in Jerusalem last week. Because that would be the normal response by someone who had heard that a Rosh Yeshiva disqualified an individual designated as a witness to sign a Kesuva (the Halachic marriage contract).

It would be shocking to most people that a witness was disqualified because he owned an iPhone But the way things are going now, I am not shocked or even perplexed by it at all. From YWN:

As the kesuva was being written, Rabbi Yosef Ze’ev Feinstein, Rosh Yeshivas ‘עמלהשל תורה’, the mesader kedushin, asked to meet the Eidim (witnesses). He asked them to see their cell phones. One pulled out a kosher phone. The second an iPhone. The latter was disqualified as a witness.

There are many Halachic reasons to disqualify a witness. But owning an iPhone is not one of them. And yet this Rosh Yeshiva decided that owning an iPhone is so bad that it is enough to… not only disqualify someone from being a witness, but enough to embarrass him in doing so in front of those who designated him as such and those who watched this happen.

This is the state of the extremism that runs rampant in certain Charedi circles in Israel I guess. While I don’t think anyone has yet been disqualified as a witness in America for owning an iPhone, it can’t be that far off. In the never ending chase to be seen as the frummest (more observant), what happens in Israel… doesn’t stay in Israel.

There is always someone here who will take up the cause and be the first to be the “Frummest”! It happened with the devaluing of Limudei Chol (secular education) and it will easily happen to iPhone owners.

I know all their arguments. The internet is pure evil – worse than anyone can imagine! If you have any device that can access it… YOU are evil! Especially if it is a hand held device where one can hide access and pretend to be “holy”.

And now, post Internet Asifa, one is in direct violation of the edict against the internet imposed by someone who many consider the Posek HaDor. An edict about which a key speaker said that violating a public Psak by such a Posek causes one to lose their place in Olam Haba. This was not contradicted by any of the many rabbinic leaders who attended that Asifa.

So this poor ex-witness who very likely does not use his iPhone for illicit purposes has not only lost his status as a Kosher witness, he may very well have lost his portion in the world to come too. Nebech!

But… perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva was doing us all a favor. This witness will now realize the evil of his ways; throw away his iPhone; and do Teshuva. And the rest of us will now take heed of how terrible owning an iPhone is.

I’m sure glad to know that the worst thing anyone can do is own any device that can access the internet. (I will now forever spit every time I say the word “internet”.)

I hope Rabbi Nechmya Weberman is paying attention. He can rest easy now knowing that compared to owning an iPhone, sexually molesting numerous young women – teens and pre-teens – who came to him for guidance and “therapy” wasn’t so bad. At least not compared to owning an iPhone.

I’m sure if he were one of the witnesses at that wedding he would have passed with flying colors. I hope the judge in his case takes note of the fact that Rabbi Weberman does not own an I phone. And never would! Chas V’Shalom! If not I hope his character witness point that out. I can almost guarantee there will be numerous character witnesses at his trial testifying to what a Tzadik he is.

Good to know where the Torah world’s priorities are heading.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

Israeli Medical Smartphone Spreading Freedom, Happiness, Around the World

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Israeli scientific breakthroughs are restoring freedom and ease to the lives of millions of patients throughout the world.

A breakthrough medical smartphone devised by an Israeli company will not only enable patients to consolidate ongoing medical tests and diagnostics in one handy place, but will also provide them the freedom of travel and ease of use lost with conventional medical monitoring.

LifeWatch Technologies , based in Rehovot, has introduced the new LifeWatch V Android-based phone, the first of its kind smartphone device to measure blood glucose levels, oxygen saturation, blood glucose levels, stress levels, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as chart diet, provide reminders to take medications, and even measure daily activity through embedded sensors.  Data and results are provided to the user and to third parties such as healthcare providers or caretakers, via email or text message.  The device wirelessly interacts with a remote cloud-based environment, enabling users to take advantage of related complementary medical and wellness-related services.  And it makes and receives regular phone calls. Medical information will also be sent to one of LifeWatch’s US emergency call centers – one for each time zone – with a center currently in development in Israel.

CEO Dr. Yacov Geva told Israeli science and technology website Israel21c that the device is particularly useful in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, and said he thinks it is particularly appropriate for children, because it will not only enable parents to monitor health data while permitting children to conduct normal lives at school and elsewhere away from home, but will allow parents to keep an eye on the regularity of testing so they can provide reminders if they see a test is being missed during the day.

The stainless steel-framed phones will be manufactured by TechFaith Wireless Communication Technoogy of China according to Israeli specs and industrial design, and will provide interface options in Hebrew, English, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.  The device will cost between $500 and $700 a unit, and will likely be on the market next year, pending approval in the EU and the US.

New technology may be developed to assist the speech of those unable to communicate due to paralysis or disability, thanks to a joint study between scientists at Haifa’s Technion and UCLA who have uncovered how brain cells encode the pronunciation of vowels in speech.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study showed that different parts of the brain are engaged in the pronunciation of different vowel sounds.

The study was conducted by Professor Shy Shoham and Dr. Ariel Tankus of the biomedical engineering faculty at Haifa’s Technion and Professor Itzhak Fried of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, in partnership with the neurosurgery department at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study was based on knowledge about the brain’s predictable responses to bodily movements, and followed 11 American epileptics whose conditions could not be controlled with medication.

Data was gathered when the patients, who suffered from damaged portions of the brain, had electrodes implanted in their brains to measure neuron activity as they spoke.

The team studied how and where the neurons encoded vowel articulation, and learned that the two parts of the brain associated with the saying of vowels respond in different ways and to different vowels.

The scientists lauded the discovery as a potential starting point for developing neuro-prosthetic devices or brain-machine interfaces to decode the brain’s firing pattern for speech.

Providing freedom from severe clinical depression which has not responded to medication or therapy, the doctors at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem are performing a radical experimental procedure involving a “brain pacemaker”, which will provide Deep Brain Stimulation via electrodes implanted in the patients’ brains.  Four Israeli patients are taking part in the trial, and another six are being recruited.

The treatment  is covered in Israel by medical insurance, with patients being eligible only after failing at least three different drug treatments and electro-convulsive therapy.

The new device will deliver electric currents to areas of cranial overactivity to help regulate the mood.

So far, the treatment has achieved a 70 percent success rate.

Jerusalem, a City of the Future

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Kevin Bermeister, a technology innovator and one of the founders of Skype.  Together, they talk about the urban design of Jerusalem and how city planners have had to find a balance between the ancient and modern cities, including how Bermeister’s organization, Jerusalem 5800, has created the first consolidated master plan for the city.  Specifics including how members of the project, including those that represent government and non-government entities, envision Jerusalem in the future are discussed.  The segment ends with how rapidly technology is changing and how this will affect the world in the future.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Samsung to Pay Apple More Than $1 Billion Dollars

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

A US Jury found Samsung guilty of patent infringement of key features of Apple’s iOS, iPhone and iPad. The jury awarded Apple over $1 Billion dollars for damages ($1,049,393,540 to be exact). While in the issue of Samsung’s claims against Apple, Samsung was awarded nothing.

The Jury deliberated for less than three days on and decided that Samsung infringed on six out Apple’s seven patent claims, while Apple had infinged on none of Samsung’s five patent claims.

Apple is now seeking an injunction against Samung, while Samsung will be appealing the ruling.

Apple and Samsung both released statements in response to the court’s decision:

Apple:

We are grateful to the jury for their service and for investing the time to listen to our story and we were thrilled to be able to finally tell it. The mountain of evidence presented during the trail showed that Samsung’s copying went far deeper than even we knew. The lawsuits between Apple and Samsung were about much more than patents or money. They were about values. At Apple, we value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on earth. We make these products to delight our customers, not for our competitors to flagrantly copy. We applaud the court for finding Samsung’s behavior willful and for sending a loud and clear message that stealing isn’t right.

Samsung:

Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.

Israeli Innovation Could Make Water Drinkable in Africa

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In a world where freshwater resources are becoming increasingly scarce, Israel–a country that is two-thirds arid–has become a leader in developing the necessary technology for making salt water potable.

The Israeli desalination company, IDE Technologies, which has been in operation for more than 40 years, has made many advances in desalination technology, installing over 400 desalination plants in 40 countries including the Caribbean Islands and United States. IDE Technologies has also won major contracts with Cyprus, India and Australia, and last year with China.

Since 2011, the Israeli-built desalination plant in Tianjin is China’s largest and most environmentally friendly desalination plant to date, running on some of the waste heat produced by a nearby power plant, producing fresh water and salt.

However, desalination plants for the most part are extremely costly for less-developed nations, as they use enormous amounts of electricity and are location-sensitive. But thanks to a recent Israeli discovery, the desalination system may become much more affordable in areas like Africa and the Middle East.

Researchers from the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and central Arava R&D, have found a way to utilize solar energy at a fraction of the cost which can be custom-engineered for the desalination process, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The new innovation uses solar energy panels to power the pumps of a desalination unit that generates clean water for crops. More importantly, the technology utilizes unique nanofiltration membranes that enable farmers to decide which minerals should be retained from the water to feed various types of crops, a method which requires much less energy. The new system is currently being tested in the Arava Valley of Israel, south of the Dead Sea, where the basin is very dry. The results thus far show that farmers can use up to 25 percent less water and fertilizer than what has usually been needed in that area.

According to Andrea Ghermandi of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University and one of the system’s creators, the current environment is forcing agricultural systems to become more economical. Ghermandi told the MFA that “the growing global demand for food and competition for resources among economic sectors compel future agricultural systems to be more efficient in the use of natural resources such as land and water.”

Another important researcher in the discovery, Ben Gurion University’s Rami Messalem explained that the” breakthrough here was to make the system more economical and we’ve done this using nanofiltration cleverly. Our system is compatible with electricity but is based on the premise that it can be used in poor countries, in places where you don’t have an electricity source—as a standalone system.”

The MFA website indicated that the new desalination system was made possible thanks to funding from Swiss philanthropist Samuel Josefowitz.

O’ Jerusalem

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

From my 6th row aisle seat, I observed the motley assemblage ascending the Egged bus I was riding in Jerusalem. Nearly all shared one common characteristic; they were tuned in and tuned out – tuned into themselves and tuned out to their fellow passengers. Some qualified for chiropractic “before” pictures with necks inelegantly cocked supporting cell phones, while others visually displayed virtual euphoria plugged into MP3s. What a pity. Victims of technology, they will never taste the adventure and reality of the Jerusalem that greeted me some 30 years before.

The primary mode of transportation for the majority of Jerusalemites for decades has been an Egged bus. Call it mazal, call it destiny; Jerusalem is a city that always gives more than you bargain for, even regarding something as mundane as a bus ride. Depending on your mazal, you might have been happened upon by an elderly Sepharadi, shuffling down the aisle schlepping his bags and squishing himself into you as if you were part family, part favorite recliner. No sooner had he landed in his seat, when he turned to you and asked how many children you had; “How many?” not “If?” Escorted by the aroma of Machaneh Yehuda wafting from the bags he piled half in the aisle, half in his lap and somehow, half on you, he volunteered stories of his native Baghdad, oblivious to the fact that you never requested. Offense to your American etiquette aside, no sooner had he launched into his verbal missive than he captivated your imagination with a first-hand account of a life more charming than Lawrence of Arabia; a life so distant, so different from your own, so fascinating.

At times, “mazal” might place you next to an elderly payos-framed chassid attired in typical chassidic garb, who reminisced about the long destroyed European chassidic court he visited in his youth – having deemed destiny wanted you to know while anointing him as narrator. Graphically breathing life into vague memories, he artistically resuscitated history into current events; unearthing the life buried in those all too familiar photos of destruction every Jew knows only too well. Swept up in a surreal reality, you traveled with him, at one moment swaying next to him at the Rebbe’s tisch and moments later, hovering over him like an accompanying angel as he fled the destruction of his town and the tragic end of his family. Were you listening for yourself or for him? You never really knew.

Mazal might find you seatmates with an old Jerusalemite offering a personal account of stories you read decades before in Yerushalayim Shel Maala. Stories you hitherto suspected might be liberally sprinkled with poetic license swiftly became vividly real and authentic. The cobblestone streets of Me’ah She’arim visited umpteen times as archaic tourist sites morphed into someone’s home; the place where Jews lived great in spirit in spite of hardships unfathomable to you, the American.

And, as each passing traveler trudged off into his or her own world, never did they leave without gruffly blessing you with nachas from your children and that they be healthy and good Jews…

How many exotic journeys did I take, how much of the world did I witness in just a few stops on a bus? One of the things I loved most about exploring Jerusalem was never knowing in advance what awaited me. In Jerusalem, even a “mundane” bus ride boasts magical and majestic.

How much did I appreciate entering and experiencing the lives of Jews from throughout the world just because my ears were open and strangers – if they could be called that – filled them with their stories.

Today, the ears are closed. Nobody listens. Nobody communicates with live people. Nobody acknowledges the person next to him or her. People have become islands; traveling in public yet condemning themselves to solitary confinement. The Jerusalem that welcomed me was a city that understood the technology of people. Sadly, today I find people of technology. I lament the lost joy and intrigue – the journey into the unknown – that I experienced as a Wandering Jew, who, throughout all his wanderings, became enriched by the flavor of ethnic “baggage” each Jew brought here and unselfishly dropped in my lap. What an unimaginable wealth of gems are to be found upon the streets of Jerusalem, thanks to the people who love this Holy City, hold Jerusalem dear, share their stories and welcome strangers into their lives…

Presbyterian Committee Approves Israel Divestment

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The country’s largest Presbyterian church has agreed to vote by week’s end on divesting its portfolio from three companies that it says have resisted the request to stop providing services that aid Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly’s Middle East Committee voted 36 to 11 with one abstention in favor of divesting its portfolio from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The Committee said these companies helped “Israel’s use of their products in violations of Palestinian human rights.”

The group recommended the church put those funds instead into companies “engaging in peaceful pursuits in Israel and Palestine.”

The Church’s full convention, being held in Pittsburgh, is expected to vote on Thursday or Friday on the proposal.

Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, is at the convention and is reportedly speaking with Church leaders about toning down the resolution, according to a JCPA spokesman.

A 2011 church report found that Caterpillar supplied bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes, Motorola provided cell phone technology to Jewish settlements and Hewlett-Packard managed information technology for the Israeli Navy.

Judea and Samaria do not share a coastline.

Stealth: Not-So-Secret Secrets

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

We are now seeing Russian and Chinese “stealth” aircraft appear, at least in prototype form. The Chinese have prototypes of the J-20 large fighter bomber, which looks as if it may enter service with the Chinese Air Force in 2018. In a recently published report on Chinese military power, the US Department of Defense wrote that the J-20 shows “China’s ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics and supercruise capable engines.” Supercruise in this context means that the aircraft can fly at supersonic speeds for sustained periods of time. This has only been achieved by the now grounded US SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance jet and the F-22.

Americans should get used to the idea that today’s military technological breakthrough will be commonplace on tomorrow’s battlefield. It costs a lot to develop and build the best military in the world.

If the pundits are right, and if major international war really is obsolete, it is largely due to America’s overwhelming military superiority: it makes adversaries reluctant to take us on. Maintaining this U.S. superiority is what keeps the world more or less at peace.

Russia, meanwhile, is working on the Sukhoi T-80, also known as the PAK-FA — a supposedly stealthy version of the SU-27 family of fighter bombers. The Russians have negotiated a co-development deal for this aircraft with India, which plans to buy around 200 of the stealth aircrafts.

Sukhoi has three T-80 test aircraft in operation, and hopes to have 11 more test aircraft flying before the first production model is delivered in 2013. The Russian air force is planning to have the T-80 in service sometime in 2015 or 2016, but its arrival in the Russian Air Force will probably be delayed. How effective the T-80 will be is open to question. Russia has developed some excellent combat airplanes over the years, but it has also built large numbers of fighters that have proven to be less than reliable, such as the 1970s’ MiG 23.

Meanwhile, the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which originated in 1993, grinds ahead. It has already cost US taxpayers more than $400 billion. By the time the last F-35 leaves the production line sometime in the 2030s, the whole program will have cost more than one-and-a-half trillion dollars.

The F-35 was supposed to be the final manned fighter airplane built by the US; after that, all combat flying would be done by drones — but things may not turn out that way. The US Navy has started preliminary work on a new manned fighter attack aircraft called the FA-XX.

The F-35 was also supposed to be a fine example of multinational cooperation. Certainly the US’s European partners, including the British, the Dutch, the Norwegians, the Italians and the Danes, all had memories of successful collaboration with the US Defense Department on projects in the past. America’s foreign partners are already suffering from “sticker shock,” but as they have already invested considerable sums in the program, probably few of these partners will choose to walk away.

Any real stealth secrets inherent in the F-35 will almost certainly leak out through these foreign partners. They may have already leaked. However since the classified technology dates from the mid-1990s, it can hardly be considered truly “cutting edge.”

Many Americans believe that Stealth technology is still an exclusive US military advantage and that the “Secrets of Stealth” must be preserved at all costs. Stealth, or as it is sometimes called, Low Observable Technology, has acquired an almost mythical significance. This myth tends to blind both political leaders in Washington and many media commentators to the true value of what is misleadingly referred to as invisibility. During the 1980 Presidential campaign, the Carter administration announced that it was working on an invisible bomber, which turned out to be the very expensive B-2 bomber, of which the US Air Force managed to buy a grand total of 21.

In the late 1970s, the US Air Force was working on a smaller Stealth aircraft, the F-117 Nighthawk, which secretly entered into service in 1982. Publicly unveiled in 1989, the US Air Force hailed it as a giant breakthrough in its military technology. That was nearly quarter of a century ago, it is hard to see why anyone expects that the secrets of stealth are still secret.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/stealth-not-so-secret-secrets/2012/07/02/

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