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Oracle Academy backs Bloodhound educational drive

The Bloodhound Project has received a boost for its educational programme, geared to interest school children in science and maths.

The Bloodhound Project, which will see an attempt made on the world landspeed record at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape, has received a major boost for its educational programme, geared to interest school children in science and maths. The aim of the programme, to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, has resonated strongly with software giant Oracle, which is already the digital partner to the project.

At the Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco this week, Oracle president of product development Thomas Kurian announced that the Oracle Academy will join forces with Bloodhound SSC Education, a non-profit organisation established by the Bloodhound Project. The collaboration connects Oracle Academy’s computer science curriculum with the technology behind the Bloodhound supersonic car project, which aims to smash the 1,000 mph world land speed record.

Earlier this year, Oracle announced that the Bloodhound Project had selected Oracle Cloud to collect, analyze, and broadcast data from more than 500 real-time sensors installed on the Bloodhound Supersonic Car to classrooms around the world. This information gives students a detailed look at how technology is rocketing the world’s fastest land vehicle towards 1,000 mph, as well as providing Bloodhound engineers with valuable data to continually optimize the supersonic car’s performance.

At Oracle Open World, Richard Noble, director of the the Bloodhound Project, told the audience during a keynote session on Tuesday morning that the educational project had been partly motivated by the success of the Apollo manned space program in the USA in inspiring a generation of scientists.

Oracle Academy and the Bloodhound Education Programme will team up to make available two projects designed to help students build engineering knowledge, data analysis, and Java programming skills. The projects will leverage Oracle Academy’s Alice and Greenfoot workshops, introducing new content and data from the Bloodhound Project.

The Alice-based project challenges students to create an animated virtual version of the Bloodhound team’s desert camp. In the Greenfoot-based project, students learn how to adjust engineering variables of the car design and test their impact on speed. The Bloodhound-themed Oracle Academy projects will be available to classrooms and computing clubs in120 countries.

“Students still need a strong base in maths and physics, but this is a digital world and it’s equally important that they develop a taste for computer skills if they are to thrive in the modern workforce,” said Chris Fairhead, Chairman of the Bloodhound Education Programme. “Through our alliance with Oracle Academy, we have added this crucial piece of the puzzle to our education programme and are already seeing a great deal of interest from the teachers and schools we work with.”

Over the next three years, Oracle Academy will train 150 of Bloodhound’s volunteer teachers on Alice and Greenfoot, enabling them to effectively integrate these learning tools into STEM curricula and help students build coding skills. These resources and trainings will also be freely available to teachers worldwide, as part of Oracle Academy’s mission is to advance computer science education globally.

“At Oracle Academy, we are thrilled to team with the Bloodhound Education Programme and bring the excitement of the Bloodhound supersonic car to the 3.5 million students we reach yearly,” said Alison Derbenwick Miller, Oracle Academy Vice President. “We look forward to furthering our collaboration with the Bloodhound Education Programme, and advancing our commitment to prepare students for college and career-readiness in the 21st century.”

Project Bloodhound

The Bloodhound Project is an international education initiative focussed around a 1,000mph (1,609kmh) World Land Speed Record. The primary aim is to inspire the next generation of scientist and engineers by showcasing STEM subjects (science, technology engineering and mathematics) in the most exciting way possible.

At full speed, Bloodhound SSC will cover a mile (1.6km) in 3.6 seconds – that’s 4.5 football pitches laid end to end per second or 300m in the blink of an eye.

The world land speed record of 763mph (1228km/h) is held by Thrust SSC, a UK team led by Bloodhound’s Project Director Richard Noble and driven by Andy Green.

65% of students engaged by the Bloodhound Education Programme would now consider engineering or science as a vocation (sample size: 1,804).

Bloodhound’s education team have created over 1,000 pieces of free curriculum ready teaching resource.

The Model Rocket Car Challenge, supported by Guinness World Records, has seen students build model cars capable initially of speeds of 88mph, which then rose to 210mph and now 553mph (889km/h), a record held by Joseph Whitaker Young Engineers Club.

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Time is running out for Microsoft SQL Server 2008

Companies are urged to update from the dated database management software as it reaches the end of its support, writes BRYAN TURNER.

The 11-year-old Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database management software is reaching the end of its support on 9 July. The applications that use databases running on this software will be at risk of security and stability issues.

On self-managed databases, upgrading to the latest database version comes with a lot of risks. Many IT departments within companies go by the motto: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

Microsoft made it very clear that it would not be updating SQL Server 2005 after its extended support date and even left it vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown by not releasing patches for the dated version.

Updating SQL Server versions may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes for a migration. In the last major version update, SQL Server 2016 introduced simpler backup functionality, database stretching, and always-encrypted communications with the database, to name just three features.

While backing up the database may be the last thing on the typical database administrator’s mind, it’s become increasingly important to do so. In SQL Server 2008, it’s clunky and causes headaches for many admins. However, in SQL Server 2016, one can easily set up an automated backup to Azure storage and let it run on smart backup intervals. Backing up offsite also reduces the need for disaster recovery for onsite damage.

Database stretching allows admins to push less frequently accessed data to an Azure database, automatically decided by SQL Server 2016. This reduces the admin of manually looking through what must be kept and what must be shipped off or deleted. It also reduces the size of the database, which also increases the performance of the applications that access it. The best part of this functionality is it automatically retrieves the less accessed records from Azure when users request it, without the need for manual intervention.

Always-encrypted communications are becoming more and more relevant to many companies, especially those operating in European regions after the introduction of GDPR. Encryption keys were previously managed by the admin, but now encryption is always handled by the client. Furthermore, the keys to encrypt and decrypt data are stored outside of SQL Server altogether. This means data stored in the database is always encrypted, and no longer for the eyes of a curious database manager. 

The built-in reporting tools have also vastly improved with the addition of new reporting metrics and a modern look. It includes support for Excel reports for keeping documentation and Power BI for automated, drag-and-drop personalised reporting. Best of all, it removes the dreaded Active X controls, which made the reporting in a webpage feel very clumsy and bloated in previous versions.

A lot has changed in the past ten years in the world of SQL Server database management, and it’s not worth running into problems before Microsoft ends support for SQL Server 2005.

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Local apps to feature in Huawei’s App Gallery

Huawei’s mobile app store, the HUAWEI AppGallery, will soon feature a multitude of apps and designs by local developers. The company says this is part of its drive to promote South African digital talent and include more useful apps for Huawei smartphone users. HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes are pre-installed on all the latest Huawei and Honor devices.

“South African consumers are increasingly wanting more apps that are relevant to their unique circumstances, addressing issues they experience regularly – such as load shedding or safety concerns – but also apps that celebrate South Africa’s multitude of cultures and this vibrant country,” says Lu Geng, director of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Region.

Akhram Mohamed, chief technology officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa, says: “Huawei is committed to catering to the needs of South African consumers, but we also know that we do not have all the answers. For this reason, we aim to work closely with South African developers so that we can give our users everything that they need and want from their devices. At the same time, we also hope to create an open ecosystem for local developers by offering a simple and secure environment for them to upload content.”

Huawei Mobile Services was launched in South Africa in June last year. Since then, both the HUAWEI AppGallery and HUAWEI Themes – which features tens of thousands of themes, fonts and wallpapers that personalise user’s handset – have become increasingly popular with the local market. Even though it is a relatively new division of Huawei, there has been a great increase in growth; at the end of 2018 Huawei Mobile Services had 500 million users globally, representing a 117% increase on the previous year.

Explaining what differentiates the HUAWEI AppGallery from other app stores, Mosa Matshediso Hlobelo, business developer for Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa says: “We use the name ‘HUAWEI AppGallery’ because we have a dedicated team that curates all the apps in terms of relevance and ease of use and to ensure that there are no technical issues. Importantly, all apps are also security-checked for malware and privacy leaks before being uploaded on to the HUAWEI AppGallery.”

Huawei recently held a Developers’ Day where Huawei executives met with South African developers to discuss Huawei’s offering. 48 developers registered their apps on the day, and Huawei is currently in discussions with them with the eventual aim of featuring the best apps and designs on HUAWEI AppGallery or HUAWEI Themes. The Consumer Cloud Service Southern Africa Team at Huawei plans on making Developers’ Day a quarterly event and establishing a local providers’ hub, where developers can regularly meet with Huawei for training on updates to programmes and offerings.

“We have a very hands-on approach with our developers, and hope to expand that community so we can become an additional distribution channel for more developers and expose them to both a local and a global audience,” says Geng. “For example, we regularly feature apps and designs from local developers on our Huawei social media pages, and do competitions and promotions. We want to do everything we can to make our Huawei users aware of these local apps and upload them. This will encourage the growth of the developer community in South Africa by giving developers more opportunities to generate revenue from in-app purchases.”

* Developers who would like their apps featured on the HUAWEI App Gallery, or designs featured on HUAWEI Themes, should visit https://developer.huawei.com or email Huawei Mobile Services on sacloud@huawei.com.

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