1. Microsoft’s White-Fi technology
  2. Digital Locker
  3. Antikythera Mechanism
  4. Regin, or Backdoor.Regin
  5. Detekt Anti-surveillance tool
  6. Nanodots for fast charging phones
  7. Nanotech for Flash memory
  8. Ezhil programming language
  9. Logbar Ring
  10. Merxius software.
  11. Mock Questions

Selected IT-Electronics topics from November-December 2014.

Microsoft’s White-Fi technology

White-fi internet Microsoft

  • At present, unused spectrum is allotted to television broadcasters. This unused gap is called “White space” Microsoft wants to use it, to beam wifi on a bigger scale of 10 kms radius, with 15 mbps speed at a cost of Rs.10 lakh per router.
  • This can provide internet connectivity to villages and tribal areas. But government must give the unused spectrum to tech companies first. Microsoft got trial-permission for Bangalore.
  • Telangana Government also interested in this technology for Hyderabad.
  • CEO Satya Nadella met Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for all-India application.
  • Recall that other tech-giants too want to increase internet penetration. Example Facebook’s solar-drones (Internet.org) and Google’s helium balloons (Project Loon). Some other companies want to give free internet to non-smart phones using USSD code service.
  • Because if more people have internet, then tech giants can make more money through advertisements and e-commerce.

Digital Locker

Maha Digital Locker

  • In Dropbox, Google drive, Mediafire – you can store your personal files on cloudnetwork.
  • Digital Locker aims to store certificates in government’s cloud (online hard disk).
  • For example, you store your birth certificate online and provide only the link when you apply for passport.
  • Maharashtra government already launched “Maha Digital Locker” where you can login with your Aadhar id. This website can directly upload your certificates to third party website- during job application, passport registration etc.
  • Microsoft CEO Nadella wants to help implement this technology at all India level.
  • Pro: Paperless operations, no need for photocopies and attestation by gazetted officer.
  • Anti: Concerns about online privacy and security.

Antikythera Mechanism

Antikythera Mechanism

  • An astronomical calculator a.k.a. world’s oldest computer.
Where? It was found in a shipwerck near a Greek island called Antikythera, hence the name.
Who? This bronze instrument was built by Greeks >2000 years ago.
  • Complex clock like mechanism with ~30 gears and dials. Being called a computer doesn’t mean it had electronic chips!
  • Antikythera could predict astronomical phenomena like eclipse, position of sun, moon, planets.
  • Experts are still divided over who invented this computer and what was its main purpose?

Regin, or Backdoor.Regin

  • Regin is a Malware to spy on government, infrastructure, private companies, individuals.
  • Difficult to detect because of its advance stealth features, and even after detection it is hard to find out how exactly Regin is damaging the system or whom is it sending the database?
  • It uses “Modular approach” similar to Stuxnet, Flamer, Duqu etc. blockbuster malwares.
  • Given its complex mechanism, Symantec experts believe it was created by a government
  • Most of the targets were non-Western nations (Russia, Saudi, Iran, India, Pak) – so perhaps a Western country could have designed it. Although American agencies believe this is handiwork of Russian or Chinese hackers!
When? Regin malware has been circulating since 2008, but American anti-virus companies detected it in late 2014.


Examples of Malware Malicious+Software
Virus a program which copies itself and multiplies
Worms copies and disitributes itself through networks
Trojan seems like performing some function, but breaches security
Spyware covertly tracks your activities
Spam useless messages spreading through internet/emails
Phishing inducing you to reveal your passwords/bank details. E.g. those messages which claim that you have won a lottery.

Detekt Anti-surveillance tool

  • A Germany tech company created “finspy” software to help government in criminal investigation.
  • But same software also detected in human right activists and NGOs from third world countries.
  • Meaning, authoritarian regimes are misusing technology for mass-surveillance.
  • A German NGO built this free anti-surveillance software for Windows-OS, called “Detekt”.
  • Detekt software helps people find whether their system is infected or not?
  • Although Indian NGOs need not worry much because our intel-agencies can’t even maintain a proper facebook page, let alone running mass-surveillance programs

Nanodots for fast charging phones

Who? Israeli firm StoreDot.
What? Designed new technology to charge mobile phones in just 30 seconds, and electric cars/ hybrid cars in a few minutes.
  • They created bio-organic molecules called “Nanodots”.
  • Nanodots behave as semi-conductors and acilitate the battery to absorbe and retain electricity efficiently.
  • Although technology is not yet ready for commercial production. These Nanodot-enabled batteries are too bulky and expensive.

Nanotech for Flash memory

  • Data stored in flash memory is permanent even when electricity is off. For example USB Pen drives, Digital Cameras etc.
  • At present flash drives are made from metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) devices.
  • But, If we use nanotechnology, we can further increase the storage capacity of these flash drives.
  • Because Nano Technology deals with molecules at the scale of 10 rest to -9 meter. At this scale, materials show unique physical, chemical and biological properties.
  • For example, at Nano-scale, the Selenium oxides can be used for storing data.
  • Scotland researchers working on this technology.

Ezhil programming language

Who? Muthiah Annamalai- software engineer from Chennai, living in USA
  • Developed a Python based programming language in Tamil.
  • Ezhil is not mere translation of codes from C++/Java etc but it accepts logical sequences similar to spoken Tamil.
Why? To help Tamil school-children cultivate interest in Computer programming.

Logbar Ring

Logbar Ring

Who? A Japanese company has deleveoped an electronic Ring with bluetooth.
  • To control IT-gadges with finger gestures- using bluetooth network.
  • E.g. open SMS, type messages and send emails without touching your phone or tablet.

Merxius software

Who? Hasan Ali Khan and Vaishali Neotia from Hyderabad.
  • They designed a software “Merxius”, for Augmented Reality (AR) with help of google glass.
  • For example, while wearing google glass, if you look at a machine or gadget, it’ll automatically fillup the screen with instruction on how to operate or repair that gadget.
Why in new? They won Aegis Graham Bell award for this software.

Mock Questions

Q1. Find correct statements

  1. Flash memory is volatile memory.
  2. RAM is an example of non-volatile memory.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q2. What is white-fi technology?

  1. Beaming internet over an area using helium balloon
  2. Beaming internet over an area using solar drones
  3. Beaming internet over an area using underground cable network running along with water and gas connections.
  4. Beaming internet over an area using unused television spectrum.

Q3. Who among the following will benefit from a “Digital locker”?

  1. Person wanting to hide his IP address while downloading torrents.
  2. Person wanting to store his pirated movies, softwares and games.
  3. Person wanting to run applications made by strangers, without exposing his system to malware.
  4. Person wanting to store government certificates on a cloud.

Q4. Recently, archeologist discovered an “Antikythera device”. Find correct statements about it

  1. This device was found from shipwreck at Antikythera islands in Caribbean archipelago.
  2. Leonardo Da Vinci had designed this instrument for calculating solar eclipses.
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q5. Which of the following are malware or security threats?

  1. Regin
  2. Heartbleed
  3. Shellshock
  4. Detekt

Answer choices

  1. Only 2 and 3
  2. Only 2, 3 and 4
  3. Only 1, 2 and 3
  4. All of them

Q6. Correct Pair

  1. Finspy: Surveillance tool
  2. Detekt: Anti-Surveillance tool
  3. Both A and B
  4. Neither A nor B

Q7. What’s the use of Logbar ring?

  1. It is a medical device with embedded GPS chip to trace persons suffering from Alzheimer or Dementia
  2. It is a special plutonium ring meant to control the chain-reaction in nuclear reactors.
  3. It is a newly discovered belt of asteroids by ISRO’s Mars Mission.
  4. None of above.

Q8. Ezhil Programming language is written in ____.

  1. Telugu
  2. Tamil
  3. Kannada
  4. Oriya

Mains: General Studies Paper-3

  1. Explain the mechanism of White-fi technology and its significance in removing digital divide in India.  150 words.
  2. List the applications for nanotechnology in electronics and IT sector. 150 words.
  3. What is Digital locker? What are its application for E-governance? 100 words.