Student interns set to refresh 68,000 computers for Duval school district

(Courtesy of Jacksonville.com)

Menus opened and closed so quickly on the computer screen it seemed impossible Chris Nelson knew exactly what buttons he was hitting. But, he scrolled through the options without hesitation as he worked to wipe and then re-install software on about 15 computers for the Duval County School District.“It’s all memory now,” said Derek Ro, who worked beside Nelson on an additional 15 units.

He was referring not to computer data, but instead to the fact the two students no longer needed each step explained. They didn’t need guidance on basic troubleshooting tasks. Instead, the two 19-year-old college freshmen worked efficiently with shortcuts they discovered on the job.

Both Ro and Nelson are participating in an inaugural summer internship opportunity through the Duval County School District and Emtec, an information technology consulting company.

The business, which has offices in Jacksonville, hired contractors to assist the school district for the last three summers and supplemented those workers with a handful of local students. As it became more obvious to Emtec and the district how much work students could handle, they became more integral to the company’s summer workforce. This year, a group of 110 interns from throughout area high schools were selected to receive training and hands-on experience in the IT industry.

It is the first time Emtec has taken over the hiring process — and been able to employ nearly an all-student staff to complete necessary technology-related tasks for the district over the summer. Never before, says district staff, have students been used on such a large scale.“This program is amazing,” said Jim Culbert, executive director of the district’s IT Department. “By the end of the summer, the students will have cleaned, re-imaged and tested about 68,000 computers, which is all the student laptops in the district. The advantage of that for the teachers is that when we come back, everything has been refreshed.”

Through the partnership with Emtec, the district can employ a larger number of students but also include those currently enrolled in local high schools. Before, when the school district hired internally, fewer than 50 students could be brought on to assist and they all had to be over 18 years old. Now, Emtec allows students who are at least 16 to participate. For approximately 32 hours a week, students earn $10 an hour to learn a skill in a burgeoning industry.

According to Culbert, it is more than that.

 

comp refresh

A Student at the Univeristy of North Georgia, re-images laptops in the media center at Mandarian Oaks Elementary. (Photo Credit: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union)

The students get experience writing a resume, applying for a job and interviewing for the position. Emtec then treats each individual as a full-time worker. The supervisors are mostly Duval County School District teachers and support staff.

By August, the students will have helped Emtec to clean and sanitize computers, check for cracked screens and broken keys, and assure district asset tags are still attached. They will remove old computer operating systems from the Lenovo Yogas and then intall new Windows 10 systems — a process with more than 25 steps.

“I’ve been doing IT for over 30 years, and you have to find the time where you find the interest, where you feel like you could see it being your career,” said Mike Marino, an employee with Emtec. “So, having a job where the students are working during the summer — even though it’s eight weeks — they are engaging every single day in technology.”

They also get the opportunity to interact with experts in the field. If a complicated problem arises with one of the computers, a student can call one of the district’s staff members in its IT department. That interaction, Culbert said, benefits the district employees as well.

Many of the students who have participated in the program’s previous models continued their studies in the information technology field. Several returned to work in the Duval County School District IT department.

Andrea Celis, a senior at Sandalwood High School, says she took several technology classes at her high school before this summer. On Friday, as her fellow interns worked around her, Celis focused on erasing software from a cart of about 30 computers at Mandarin Oaks Elementary. The school had roughly 720 computers the group had to erase and then restore . It would take them a couple more days.

“I was nervous because it sounded so legit,” Celis said about the program. “It wasn’t just a job. It wasn’t just getting paid. It benefits my future. Also, I’m working with an actual company, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.”

She usually dedicates 30 minutes to each cart — just to get the process going. Then, it takes two hours for each computer to run through the necessary deleting and downloading to prepare it for next year’s students. Celis said that day they’d struggled with some of the clips to keep the computers connected to the network.

Even though Celis sees a future in communications or marketing, she didn’t think the information she gleaned from this summer internship would be useless.

She said, “In some aspect, this will benefit me.”

The three B’s of cybersecurity for small businesses

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Large-scale cyberattacks with eye-watering statistics, like the breach of a billion Yahoo accounts in 2016, grab most of the headlines. But what often gets lost in the noise is how often small and medium-sized organizations find themselves under attack.

In the last year, half of American small businesses have been breached by hackers. That includes Meridian Health in Muncie, Indiana, where 1,200 workers’ W-2 forms were stolen when an employee was duped by an email purporting to come from a top company executive. Many small companies are just one fraudulent wire transfer away from going out of business.

There’s lots of advice available about how to fight cybercrime, but it’s hard to tell what’s best. I am a scholar of how businesses can more effectively mitigate cyber risk, and my advice is to know the three “B’s” of cybersecurity: Be aware, be organized and be proactive.

Here’s how more companies can boost their cybersecurity preparedness without breaking the bank.

Be aware

The best defenses against these types of attacks involve skepticism and vigilance. Attackers can be very clever and persistent: If just one person has one weak moment and clicks on one malicious link, an entire network can be compromised.

Most companies go to great lengths to protect their physical assets and personnel. But many do not take similar precautions with their digital information. A key computer may be kept disconnected from the internet, but if it accepts flash drives or rewriteable CDs, or if its password is easy to guess, the information is just as vulnerable.

Small business owners need to prioritize cybersecurity. Without proper preparation, even large companies can find themselves unprepared for cyberattacks. When Sony was hacked in 2011, it did not have an executive focused solely on information security. But hiring someone did not prevent another hack in 2014.

Be proactive

Planning ahead is vital, instead of just being reactive. The National Institute for Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework lists five main functions of cybersecurity efforts: Identify vulnerabilities, protect against attacks, detect anyone who gets through, respond to the attack quickly and recover after the attack has been stopped.

Some companies are already receiving advice that following the NIST guidelines can reduce legal liability if cybersecurity problems arise or are discovered. Companies can also work with colleges and universities to create cybersecurity clinics, or even consider buying cyber risk insurance.

There’s no way to avoid being the target of a cyberattack, but that doesn’t mean becoming a victim. Simple steps can have huge results: The Australian government reported resisting 85 percent of cyberattacks by taking three basic steps: restricting which programs can run on government computers, keeping software updated regularly and minimizing the number of people who have administrative control over networks and key machines.

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be rocket science; it’s just computer science.

Eight Industries That AI Will Change Forever

(courtesy of Forbes)

Companies handle a great deal of information every day, which can make it difficult to tease out trends or watch for sales opportunities. Artificial intelligence (AI) improvements are reducing that strain by automating data analysis, which can reduce costs as well as the time required to make decisions.

Recent AI technology developments mean that firms now have a chance to take advantage of stronger analysis automation in fields like shipping, travel, health care and even transportation. Below, executives from Forbes Technology Council highlight eight industries that will benefit most from artificial intelligence.

it web

  1. Internet Of Things

Consumer behavior can be studied and learned by artificial intelligence, thereby improving upon the production of consumer products for the internet of things industry. When deployed in homes and cars, this intelligence can learn more about humans and how they think and act, thereby helping the IoT devices’ response. – Chalmers Brown, Due

  1. Sales Automation Services

Rarely a day goes by where I don’t get an offer for lead-generation services. Sales automation companies like InsideSales.com are red hot now, and for good reason. There is definitely a need to improve the sales process, and if artificial intelligence can examine online behavior or profiles accurately to identify potential opportunities, then companies like mine would sign up for such services immediately. – Tim Maliyil, AlertBoot

  1. Virtual Assistants Artificial intelligence isn’t yet ready to replace the human element, which powers virtual assistant apps. However, AIs process mounds of data in seconds, helping to expedite and personalize the decisions that assistants make on behalf of their clients. The resulting efficiency and cost reduction would help such apps break out of the Silicon Valley bubble and enter the mainstream of average users. – Gurpreet Singh, TalkLocal
  2. SMB Tools

Firms with fewer than 500 employees make up 99.7% of all businesses in the U.S. When I look at the SMB landscape across all industries, I see a lot of opportunities for tech companies to put the very best tools in the hands of small-business owners. Artificial intelligence is no exception. Small-business owners don’t care how their software works, just that it works. – Timothy Chaves, ZipBooks

  1. Autonomous Transportation

The National Safety Council estimates 38,300 people were killed and 4.4 million injured on U.S. roads in 2015, which saw the largest one-year percentage increase in 50 years. With car accidents and car-related deaths on the rise in the U.S., the single most promising application of artificial intelligence is autonomous transportation. Computer-engineered driving will decrease accidents and deaths. – Scott Stiner, UM Technologies, LLC

  1. Shipping And Logistics

Aside from the obvious current conversation around artificial intelligence enabling self-driving cars, I would expect to see similar technologies employed to help solve challenges in shipping and logistics, such as space allocation in trucks/shipping containers, and the dynamic management of route systems to improve delivery times on the fly. – Robert Calise, CommunityCo

  1. Security Analysts While companies are leveraging AI for everything from fraud detection to self-driving cars, the security industry is especially primed for an AI-driven paradigm shift. In security, we need deep visibility into what is happening in the enterprise. This creates a vast amount of data – too much to be readable by humans in finite time. AI can help security analysts make better decisions faster. – Jamie Butler, Endgame
  2. Health Care

Health care will be the primary beneficiary of artificial intelligence. Good health is in everyone’s interests and, however they are funded, health-care costs are significant and unavoidable. The efficacy and efficiency that AI will bring to health care will enable us to trim costs, as well as improve outcomes, with all of us gaining better understanding and management of our personal health. – Matthew Russell, Digital Reasoning

Work Wanted: Cybersecurity jobs a priority for government

cyber-security

(Courtesy of The Florida Times Union)

On July 12, the federal government issued a four-part workforce strategy that would allow cybersecurity professionals to perform a “tour of duty” in the public sector as part of their career plan.

The White House plans to streamline guidelines that would allow it to hire private sector security experts more quickly. It will also create a “cybersecurity cadre” within the Presidential Management Fellows program, a leadership development program for advanced degree candidates.

The Office of Personnel Management will also build cybersecurity career paths for current information security professionals working in government, including credentialing programs, rotational assignments, and efforts to make them subject matter experts in their field.

The federal government plans to hire 3,500 more IT security professionals before the year ends, in addition to the 3,000 hired in the first half of the current fiscal year. The strategy sets aside $62 million in the 2017 budget to expand cybersecurity education across the country in agencies like the IRS, which requested funding for 400 new IT professionals last year. That money would fund competitive scholarships or grants to hire or retain professors, adopt a cybersecurity core curriculum and strengthen existing education programs.

The National Science Foundation funds the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service, a program designed to grow and strengthen the cadre of federal information professionals that protect the government’s information infrastructure. According to the program’s website, it provides scholarships for full-time students while attending a participating institution, including tuition and fees.

To be eligible for scholarships, applicants must be a full-time student pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a formal program focused on cyber security at an approved institution, or be a research-based doctoral student. (Florida State is the only approved university in our state.) Applicants must also be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

In return for the scholarship, students must work in cybersecurity for a local, state or federal government office for a period equal to your scholarship grant. One academic year or less would require one calendar year of employment, for example. Many of the jobs would be in Washington, D.C., but participants must be willing to relocate. If you leave your job before the end of your term of service, you’d be required to pay back some of the grant funding.

Salaries will vary according to participant qualifications, but in general, new graduates would be appointed at the GS-7 level. Master’s degree recipients may be appointed at the GS-9 level, and those with doctorate degrees may be appointed at the GS-11 level.

Information security is one of the most critical needs of any government, so if you’ve considered the idea in the past, this may be the time to investigate a government career. You can find more about the program at sfs.opm.gov.

Candace Moody is vice president of communications for CareerSource Northeast Florida. Her column appears every Wednesday in the Times-Union, and she can be reached at cmoody@careersourcenefl.com.

Job Opportunity: IT Support Specialist

RS&H, Inc.

An Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or protected veteran status and will not be discriminated against on the basis of disability.

Please view Equal Employment Opportunity Posters provided by OFCCP here. (http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/posters/ofccpost.htm )

The Company:

RS&H provides fully integrated architecture, engineering, and consulting services to help clients realize their most complex facility and infrastructure projects for land, air, and space. We are committed to bringing extraordinary solutions to our clients through the promise of imagination, ingenuity, and innovation. With a tradition of excellence that began in 1941, we are consistently ranked among the nation’s top 100 design firms. We attribute our success to an unwavering commitment to our core values of: integrity, quality service, business success and valuing associates.

The Team:
RS&H is currently seeking an IT Support Specialist.

The Opportunity:
We are expanding the role of our Service Desk and are looking for a talented IT Support Specialist with a focus on providing first call resolution while meeting customer satisfaction and continuous service delivery demands. The ideal candidate is interested in an opportunity to expand their skillset, learn new technologies, and to work as part of a dynamic team supporting end-user Information Technology needs. This role will collaboratively work with the business and other IT associates to provide day-to-day support for a wide range of applications and hardware across the enterprise.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Monitors helpdesk email, phone and ticketing system for incoming requests for assistance from associates and works with associates to identify relevant problem details.
  • Resolves incidents and service requests, including logging tickets in the tracking system to document incidents and manage the helpdesk ticket queue.
  • Troubleshoot, research, diagnose, document, and resolve technical issues surrounding Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, MS Office applications, email, and other special applications.
  • Escalates problems to senior level staff when necessary.
  • Takes ownership of user problems and communicates progress in a timely manner.
  • Create new user accounts in various applications.
  • Provide Tier 1 support to Production applications (AutoCad, Revit, Microstation, etc.)
  • Performs configuration changes, updates and upgrades to systems and applications as directed.
  • Deploy and setup desktops, laptops, phones, and voicemail to new employees.
  • Other duties and projects as assigned by management.

Qualifications:

  • High School Diploma or equivalent required; Associate’s Degree preferred.
  • Preferred candidate will have relevant technical certifications such as A+, Network+, and/or MCSA.
  • 5+ years of experience working in Help Desk/support role.
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience supporting desktops, laptops, and mobile devices in a Microsoft Windows environment.
  • Strong working knowledge of Microsoft Windows with the ability to solve complex workstation issues.
  • Experience deploying software via Microsoft deployment tools
  • The ability to communicate effectively with employees throughout the firm.

Core Competencies :

In addition to the position’s skills, education and experience requirements, the following RS&H competencies are considered foundational to understanding performance, now and in the future.

• Teamwork

• Leadership

• Change Orientation

• Communication

• Ingenuity

• Client Focus

If this sounds like the role for you and you’re ready to join an amazing team, please apply.

Apply Here: http://www.Click2apply.net/3b25c2qst6

7 Technology Trends That Will Dominate 2017

Personally, I’m amazed at the technology we have available to us. It’s astounding to have the power to retrieve almost any information and communicate in a thousand different ways using a device that fits in your pocket.

There’s always something new on the horizon, and we can’t help but wait and wonder what technological marvels are coming next.

The way I see it, there are seven major tech trends we’re in store for in 2017. If you’re eyeing a sector in which to start a business, any of these is a pretty good bet. If you’re already an entrepreneur, think about how you can leverage these technologies to reach your target audience in new ways.

1. IoT and Smart Home Tech.

We’ve been hearing about the forthcoming revolution of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and resulting interconnectedness of smart home technology for years. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we all living in smart, connected homes by now? Part of the problem is too much competition, with not enough collaboration—there are tons of individual appliances and apps on the market, but few solutions to tie everything together into a single, seamless user experience. Now that bigger companies already well-versed in uniform user experiences (like Google, Amazon, and Apple) are getting involved, I expect we’ll see some major advancements on this front in the coming year.

2. AR and VR.

We’ve already seen some major steps forward for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology in 2016. Oculus Rift was released, to positive reception, and thousands of VR apps and games followed. We also saw Pokémon Go, an AR game, explode with over 100 million downloads. The market is ready for AR and VR, and we’ve already got some early-stage devices and tech for these applications, but it’s going to be next year before we see things really take off. Once they do, you’ll need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.

3. Machine Learning.

Machine learning has taken some massive strides forward in the past few years, even emerging to assist and enhance Google’s core search engine algorithm. But again, we’ve only seen it in a limited range of applications. Throughout 2017, I expect to see machine learning updates emerge across the board, entering almost any type of consumer application you can think of, from offering better recommended products based on prior purchase history to gradually improving the user experience of an analytics app. It won’t be long before machine learning becomes a kind of “new normal,” with people expecting this type of artificial intelligence as a component of every form of technology.

4. Automation.

Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks. We’ve had robotic journalists in circulation for a couple of years now, and I expect it won’t be long before they make another leap into more practical types of articles. It’s likely that we’ll start seeing productivity skyrocket in a number of white-collar type jobs—and we’ll start seeing some jobs disappear altogether. When automation is combined with machine learning, everything can improve even faster, so 2017 has the potential to be a truly landmark year.

5. Humanized Big Data. (visual, empathetic, qualitative)

Big data has been a big topic for the past five years or so, when it started making headlines as a buzzword. The idea is that mass quantities of gathered data—which we now have access to—can help us in everything from planning better medical treatments to executing better marketing campaigns. But big data’s greatest strength—its quantitative, numerical foundation—is also a weakness. In 2017, I expect we’ll see advancements to humanize big data, seeking more empathetic and qualitative bits of data and projecting it in a more visualized, accessible way.

6. Physical-Digital Integrations.

Mobile devices have been slowly adding technology into our daily lives. It’s rare to see anyone without a smartphone at any given time, giving us access to practically infinite information in the real-world. We already have things like site-to-store purchasing, enabling online customers to buy and pick up products in a physical retail location, but the next level will be even further integrations between physical and digital realities. Online brands like Amazon will start having more physical products, like Dash Buttons, and physical brands like Walmart will start having more digital features, like store maps and product trials.

7. Everything On-Demand.

Thanks to brands like Uber (and the resulting madness of startups built on the premise of being the “Uber of ____”), people are getting used to having everything on demand via phone apps. In 2017, I expect this to see this develop even further. We have thousands of apps available to us to get rides, food deliveries, and even a place to stay for the night, but soon we’ll see this evolve into even stranger territory.

Anyone in the tech industry knows that making predictions about the course of technology’s future, even a year out, is an exercise in futility. Surprises can come from a number of different directions, and announced developments rarely release as they’re intended.

Still, it pays to forecast what’s coming next so you can prepare your marketing strategies (or your budget) accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it’s still fun to think about everything that’s coming next.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/11/16/7-technology-trends-that-will-dominate-2017/#984b93d1b2aa

3 reasons to get a Microsoft certification

October 25, 2016

The world of IT is a constantly shifting landscape. Technologies and the companies that provide them come and go, but there are few powerhouses quite like Microsoft. This organization has survived crashes and tech bubbles for one main reason: They make quality products.

Businesses know this, and it’s why Microsoft’s wide variety of products and services are used by these institutions on a regular basis. What’s more, many organizations will often associate this reputation for reliability and effectiveness with a person who has obtained a Microsoft certification.

On that note, let’s take a look at some of the work Microsoft has done, and what that means for someone willing to put in the work toward receiving a certification.

1. Microsoft is at the forefront of innovation

“Microsoft’s success stems from its ability to stay current.”

Microsoft’s success stems from its ability to stay current with what consumers and entire enterprises need out of their technology. At the moment, this translates to a more efficient use of the Azure cloud platform. While this service has been gaining a lot of ground on Amazon Web Services, a recent development may help increase the service’s market size even more.

GeekWire’s Dan Richman reported that the Microsoft Azure cloud will be previewing what the company is calling Analysis Services. Basically, this new feature allows companies to take information gathered from multiple sources – including Microsoft, Oracle and Teradata – and extrapolate conclusions from it. Unlike other analytical tools, this enables businesses to access information from all kinds of sources, which allows for a lot of data diversity.

2. Office 365 is a success

The Microsoft Office line of products has always been a major part of conducting business. However, with a switch to a subscription model with a cloud-based platform, the company is seeing a massive uptick in Office 365 purchases.

To begin with, average consumers have really begun to sink their teeth into this technology. A chart posted on The Motley Fool showed that Q1 2016 Office 365 subscriptions are nearly three times higher than they were at the same time in 2015.

At the same time, Microsoft has begun to make Office 365 more appealing for enterprise clients. The company has already started making smarter features for the product.

3. The company is poised for continued greatness

What’s more, it looks like Microsoft’s success is going to keep on rolling. The company opened stock trading at more than $60 per share on Oct. 21, 2016, according to CNN. This is a record high for the company, which hasn’t happened since 1999. Clearly, Microsoft’s past work has started to catch up with it, and there’s been no better time than now to ride this wave of success.

Regardless of if you go with Microsoft technical certifications such as in the Azure cloud or a more generalized Microsoft Office certification, you’ll know that you have working knowledge pertaining to one of the best technology companies out there right now. New Horizons Computer Learning Centers can help get you the training and skills you need to have a successful career.

Source: http://www.newhorizons.com/resources/article/articleid/40143235/title/3-reasons-to-get-a-microsoft-certification

New Horizons Named One of the Top 20 IT Training Companies

November 2, 2016

Conshohocken, PA — November 3, 2016 New Horizons Computer Learning Centers today announced that it is named as one of the top 20 IT training companies on TrainingIndustry.com’s annual Top 20 IT Training Companies List. We’ve been honored with this designation for the past seven years in a row.

This year, the Top 20 IT Training Companies List was based on the following criteria:

  • Leadership and innovation in IT training
  • Breadth of IT training and delivery methods offered
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Quality and number of clients/users
  • Geographic reach
  • Awards, recognition and competitive differentiation

“The 2016 Top IT Training Companies List recognizes the most prominent names in IT training,” said Ken Taylor, President, Training Industry, Inc. “We found that these companies provide some of the highest quality corporate training available, often adapting their offerings to meet the specific training needs of their customers.”

“We are proud to receive the recognition as a Top IT Training Company by TrainingIndustry.com again. New Horizons strives to deliver the highest quality of training and comprehensive capabilities to our millions of clients around the world and we are proud to see that our efforts are being recognized,” said Shelley Morris, EVP and chief strategy officer of New Horizons.

About Training Industry, Inc.
Training Industry spotlights the latest news, articles, case studies and best practices within the training industry. The company publishes the annual Training Industry Top 20 and Training Industry Watch List reports covering many sectors of interest to the corporate training function. Our focus is on helping dedicated businesses and training professionals get the information, insight and tools needed to more effectively manage the business of learning.

About New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
New Horizons helps businesses advance by upgrading people. New Horizons IT and Business Training solutions have kept businesses—from startups to global enterprises—ahead of the technology curve for over 30 years. With 300 learning centers in 70 countries around the world, New Horizons provides measurable return on any company’s training investment while our learning methods meet the styles, demands and schedules of management and employees. New Horizons combines the resources of the world’s largest IT training company with the responsiveness of a local partner. New Horizons is certified as a Microsoft Partner with a Gold Learning competency, Cisco Partner for Learning Solutions, CompTIA Authorized Partner, IBM Authorized Training Provider and VMware Authorized Training Center. For more information, visit our global website at www.newhorizons.com.

###Media Contact:
Mark Tucker
Vice President, Marketing
New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
(714) 940-8000
mark.tucker@newhorizons.com

 

Source: http://www.newhorizons.com/resources/article/articleid/16/title/new-horizons-named-one-of-the-top-20-it-training-companies

Google Fiber Project Delayed Indefinitely

(courtesy of the Florida Times-Union)

Plans to bring Google Fiber to Jacksonville are on hold, opening a window for their competitors such as Comcast and AT&T to get even more aggressive on expanding their high-speed internet service on the First Coast.

Google’s parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks.

The company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious — and expensive — Google Fiber program, is stepping down as CEO of Access, the division of Google corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., that operates the 5-year-old program.

In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it’s already operating, including Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Charlotte, N.C.

The company will put further plans on hold in at least eight more metropolitan areas where it’s been in exploratory talks with local officials. Those include Jacksonville; Dallas; Tampa; Los Angeles; Oklahoma City; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; and San Jose, Calif.

Jill Szuchmacher, who was director of expansion of Google Fiber, said last year the company would not seek incentives, subsidies or tax breaks from Jacksonville if the city agreed to allow the installation of the fiber-optic network. The company saw Jacksonville as a valuable market that has fostered a “growing tech-hub” and is developing an entrepreneurial business community.

Susie Wiles is the Jacksonville liaison for Google as the company is a client of her government affairs firm Ballard Partners. She introduced Google Fiber’s concept to many Jacksonville government, business and civic leaders.

Wiles said she was told by Google Fiber that they’d pause the proposed Jacksonville project before the company announced it publicly. She said she’s confident the company will return to finish the Jacksonville network.

“I take it completely at face value that it is a pause,” Wiles said. “It’s my belief that if there is new and better technology coming down the pike… it makes perfect sense to me why they would hit that ‘pause’ button.”

Wiles acknowledged Google Fiber officials were impressed by the welcome presented by Jacksonville leaders a year ago who essentially cheered the proposed fiber optic network and unveiled the plans at a City Hall news conference anchored by Mayor Lenny Curry.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic that they’ll be cheering it on again soon,” Wiles said. “The very nature of the technology industry is that it’s dynamic. I think this is just reflective of that.”

Requests for reaction from the mayor’s office went unanswered Wednesday.

Angela Mattia an associate professor and chairwoman of the information management department at Jacksonville University, said she’s not so sure Google Fiber can halt plans on a major proposal and return to it later.

“I think it’s in serious doubt. You don’t see Google do that very often. Once they change direction, they’re off into a new thing,” Mattia said.

Google announced plans for the fiber optic infrastructure for Jacksonville a year ago as a flurry of other companies announced similar plans.

Comcast and AT&T already had started similar projects because much of their networks were already in place.

Mindy Kramer, a Comcast spokeswoman, said the company declined comment on the Google move. Her company is moving ahead with plans for internet improvements in Jacksonville.

“We have an extensive fiber network already in place as part of our network infrastructure in Jacksonville,” Kramer said in an email Wednesday. “It’s what has enabled us to offer multi-gig speeds to residential customers via our Gigabit Pro product that was announced this past April.”

Gigabit Pro is a 2 Gigabit-per-second service delivered by fiber optics to homes, she said. That service is already available in Florida cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.

AT&T officials also declined to comment on theGoogle Fiber delay.

But AT&T spokeswoman Rosie Montalvo also said that company is well into high speed broadband expansion in dozens of cities and Jacksonville’s service is already in place.

“We’re focused on our plan,” she said, adding 75,000 customers already are using the highest speeds of AT&T 1 Gigabit service in the Jacksonville area. “We’re certainly positioned in Jacksonville as a gigabit provider.

“We plan to deliver this internet service to more locations in Jacksonville. We’ve already launched in 40 metropolitan areas and we plan on doing 67 and Jacksonville is part of that,” Montalvo said.

Google Fiber announced last October it was beginning to negotiate with Jacksonville to establish the cable infrastructure system to provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. That’s about 1,000 megabits per second and is much faster than average broadband services that provide about 12 megabits per second.

For an internet user, that means they could download about 25 music song files in one second with the Google Fiber speeds.

With Google Fiber now out of the way — even if it’s a temporary delay — Mattia said it appears the company’s faltering is unique to Google and AT&T and Comcast will only grow bolder.

“AT&T and Comcast have been into the whole telecommunications end of it and Google hasn’t,” Mattia said. “They [Google] also are very quick to change direction when they need to.”

Related: Google Fiber begins negotiations to lay super-fast Internet network in Jacksonville

A recent report by tech news site The Information said the business was under pressure by Alphabet CEO Larry Page to cut costs after failing to meet financial goals, including a target of signing up 5 million subscribers.

Mattia was quick to point out she believes the Google Fiber delay is unique to Google and the disruption of the plan is not representative of the industry. It also does not reflect negatively on Jacksonville which was selected by Google for its growing technology industry.

“I think it’s irrelevant to Jacksonville’s profile. If we were the only city that didn’t move forward, I would say then we should think about it,” Mattia said. “What we’re seeing is that they [Google] just stopped in their tracks moving forward.’

This new imaging system can read closed books

Using algorithms and terahertz radiation, it correctly identifies the letters on the top nine pages

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but a new imaging system from MIT can see right through the cover and read the book while it’s still closed.

That’s thanks primarily to terahertz radiation, the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, and the tiny gaps of air between the pages of any closed book.

Terahertz radiation can distinguish between ink and blank paper in a way that X-rays can’t, and it also offers much better depth resolution than ultrasound does. The prototype new system developed by researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech uses a standard terahertz camera to emit ultrashort bursts of radiation and then measure how long it takes for that radiation to be reflected back. An algorithm then gauges the distance to each of the book’s individual pages.

Equipped with that data, the system uses two different measures of the reflections’ energy to extract information about the chemical properties of the reflecting surfaces, all the while doing its best to filter out the irrelevant “noise” produced along the way. In that way, it distinguishes paper with ink from blank paper, using a separate algorithm to interpret the often distorted or incomplete images as individual letters.

The researchers tested their prototype on a stack of papers, each with one letter printed on it, and found that it could correctly identify the letters on the top nine sheets.

The Metropolitan Museum in New York has expressed interest in the system as a way to examine antique books without touching them, said Barmak Heshmat, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. The technology could be used to analyze any materials organized in thin layers, he added, such as coatings on machine parts or pharmaceuticals.

A paper describing the work was published Friday in Nature Communications.

Source:http://www.itnews.com/article/3118558/this-new-imaging-system-can-read-closed-books.html