Bitcoin not a Currency says Japan Government

Bitcoin not a Currency says Japan Government
Japan’s government said Bitcoin is not a currency but that some transactions using the virtual unit should be taxed. “If there are transactions and subsequent gains, it is natural…for the finance ministry to consider how it can impose taxes,” said chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Japan also said banks cannot provide bitcoin as a product to customers. The government is trying to determine the total volume and value of bitcoins in circulation around the world.

Some estimates put the global market for Bitcoins, a virtual currency created, or ‘mined’ through complicated computer algorithms, at about $7bn (£4.2bn).

Countries and their tax authorities have been grappling with how to regulate it, with some seeing it as a route for tax evasion or money laundering.

Russia has declared transactions illegal, China has banned its banks from handling Bitcoin trades, and there have been calls for the US to do the same.

Singapore has imposed a tax on Bitcoin trading and using it to pay for services, after classifying it as goods, rather than a currency.

Last month leading Bitcoin exchange, Tokyo-based MtGox, filed for bankruptcy after losing an estimated 750,000 of its customers’ Bitcoins.

What is sound and what is being measured?

What is sound and what is being measured?
Various sound sources, such as a large heat pump, located in a room emits sound power, which is expressed in Watts. The sound power emitted radiates away from the source, causing fluctuations in the air pressure similar to ripples across water in a pond.

Using a sound level meter the pressure fluctuations can be measured. As the sound pressure levels will vary around the room – due to the specific acoustic characteristics of the room, such as size and shape. The sound pressure level measured at different positions will differ, even if the sound power level emitted by the noise source remains fairly constant.

Sound pressure levels v sound power levels
Through the dB Scale the sound pressure level of 0 dB is the threshold of human hearing and sound pressure level of 120 dB is the threshold of pain. The human ear is frequency dependent, i.e. it’s more sensitive at certain frequencies, so a weighting system is used where the A-weighted sound pressure level is an approximation as to how the human ear perceives sound, expressed in dB(A).

Noise Impact Assessments

Planning noise assessment surveys has become an important part of the planning process on many new developments. Air Pressure Testing can undertake noise surveys for the following:

  • PPG 24 Noise Survey – Excess noise can affect noise sensitive developments near to existing sources of noise, mainly relating to traffic sources under PPG24. Where the noise levels are shown as NEC category B and above, APT Acoustics will look for noise reduction measures to be put in place that will achieve the “good” internal noise level criteria in bedrooms and living rooms set out in BS8233:1999.
  • BS4142 Noise Surveys Industrial noise that may affect existing residential property under BS4142:1997. Where possible the noise from the industrial source should not exceed the existing background level of noise. Where this is not possible, the Environmental Protection Team may accept that it could exceed above the background level of noise of 3 dB(A), although full justification will be needed of why the lower noise level cannot be achieved. Noise sources that have a tonal or low frequency element should be assessed carefully to ensure they are not prominent above the existing background level of noise.

Noise Exposure Categories
For clarification the noise exposure categories, which the local planning authority would determine are:

  • NEC A. Noise need not be considered as a determining factor in granting planning. The noise level at the high end of the category should not be regarded as a desirable level.
  • NEC B. Noise should be taken into account when determining planning applications and, where appropriate, conditions imposed to ensure an adequate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC C. Planning permission should not normally be granted. Where it is considered that permission should be given, for example because there are no alternative quieter sites available, conditions should be imposed to ensure a commensurate level of protection against noise.
  • NEC D. Planning permission should normally be refused.

WE Can Provide Simple Design measures to control Noise Disturbance.
The layout, orientation and screening of building design should be considered before sound insulation design. Some simple measures that can be adopted are:

  • Position and orientate the development to minimise noise disturbance, i.e. minimise windows on the elevation facing traffic.
  • Where possible avoid placing bedrooms next to kitchens, living rooms or bathrooms in adjacent properties.

Where possible avoid placing bedrooms next to stairwells, entrance halls or lift shafts

  • Ideally no windows should face a busy road, railway or commercial activity. If this is not possible, only windows of non-habitable rooms such as kitchens and bathrooms should face a noise source.

We hope this information has helped you to better understand the acoustic requirements your development. If you would like more advice on your noise assessment, please contact us now at:

Business:             Air Pressure Testing


What is Ultrasonic Testing?

What is Ultrasonic Testing?
Many electrical and mechanical problems produce sound and vibration at ultrasonic frequencies (greater than 20kHz). Unfortunately, these sounds are not audible by the human ear. These sounds can be detected by ultrasonic listening instruments. As a result these versatile instruments have been integrated into our Predictive Testing Service.

Ultrasonic testing is used in two ways in our Predictive Testing Service. First, it permits us to identify faults that cannot be detected by either infrared or vibration tests. Second, it permits an independent verification of problems that can be detected by the infrared or vibration tests.

What problems may be identified by ultrasonic testing?

Most mechanical faults will generate ultrasound. Such faults include bearing and gear defects as well as mechanical looseness. Ultrasonic testing generally provides earlier warning of these types of faults than vibration or infrared thermal tests.

Other mechanical faults that are found by ultrasonic testing include:

  • Ultrasonic survey of high voltage power lines – due to the larger distances involved ultrasonic surveys on high power voltage lines the sensitivity of the instrument is enhanced by using a parabolic signal concentrator ultrasonic testing is extremely valuable for inspections of high voltage electrical systems (above 2,000V). it is essential that these systems have properly functioning insulation systems. Failure of these systems can result in catastrophic faults. Deterioration of high voltage insulation produces an electrical leakage known as corona or partial discharge. This condition causes ionization of the surrounding air. The ionization process produces ultrasound which is easily picked up by our ultrasonic equipment.
  • Ultrasonic survey for Electrical Inspections – One of the main uses for ultrasonic testing is on electrical switchgear, transformers; buss bars circuit breakers, relays, junction boxes, insulators, and other electrical gear. Arcing & corona discharge produce ultrasound at the site of emission. These electrical discharges can be located quickly by scanning an area with our Ultrasound equipment. The signal is heard as a buzzing sound in the headset. As with pressure or vacuum leak detection, the closer the instrument is to the discharge, the more intense the signal.
  • Ultrasonic survey of Valves – mechanical valve activity such as blockage or leakage can be accurately checked while the valve is on line. Properly seated valves are relatively quiet while leaking valves produce a turbulent flow as the fluid moves from the high pressure side through the leak to the low pressure side. Due to a wide sensitivity and ultrasonic frequency selection range, all types of valves even in noisy environments can be accurately tested for leaks.
  • Ultrasonic survey of Valve Stems – Valve stems may be quickly tested for leaks to atmosphere even in noisy environments.
  • Ultrasonic survey of Pressure/Vacuum Leaks – As gas such as air, oxygen, nitrogen passes through a leak or crack it generates a turbulent flow with detectable high frequency components. A leak can be heard through the headset as a rushing sound or noted on the display/meter. The closer the instrument is to the leak, the louder the rushing sound and the higher the reading.
  • Ultrasonic survey of – Steam Trap Inspection – Major steam trap manufacturers have recommended ultra sound inspection of steam traps as one of the most reliable methods available. By converting the ultrasonic elements of a working steam trap into the audible range, ultrasound allows users to hear through headphones and see on a display/ meter the exact condition of a steam trap while it is on line. Blow-by, machine gunning, oversized traps or line blockages are all easily detected. Frequency tuning enhances the ability to discriminate between condensate and steam.
  • Ultrasonic survey of Reciprocating Compressor Valve – Analysis has become so successful with ultrasonic testing that many engine analyser companies now offer instruments with an ultrasonic input port.
  • Ultrasonic survey of Bearing Inspection/Monitoring – Bearing Inspection & Monitoring detects the earliest stage of bearing failure. Research has demonstrated that ultrasound bearing monitoring will locate potential bearing failure long before it is detected by traditional heat and vibration methods. Using ultrasound testing the user hears the sound quality of a bearing as well as monitor amplitude changes on the display/ meter. This provides the ability to trend, trouble shoot and confirm potential bearing problems. We can undertake this on wind turbines etc.
  • Ultrasonic survey to Prevent over-lubrication – Over lubrication is one of the most common causes of bearing failure, by simply lubricating only until the meter reaches a specified level this lowers the chance of over lubrication.
  • Ultrasonic survey of General Mechanical Inspections – of pumps, motors, compressors, gears & gear boxes: All types of operating equipment may be inspected with an works in a high frequency, short wave environment, problems such as cavitation in pumps, compressor valve leakage or missing gear teeth may be heard and isolated allowing for quick and accurate diagnosis.
  • Ultrasonic survey to Heat Exchangers, Boilers & Condensers – In-leakage or pressure leakage can be readily located using ultrasound. Fittings, valves, flanges are all easily scanned for leakage. The high frequency, short wave nature of ultrasound allows operators to pinpoint the location of a leak in high noise environments. Condenser tubes and heat exchanger tubes may be tested for leakage through three methods: vacuum, pressure & ultratone.
  • Ultrasonic survey for Heat Exchangers – a powerful high frequency transmitter floods the shell side of the heat exchanger with ultrasound. The generated sound will follow the leak path through the tube. A scan of the tube sheet will indicate the leaking tube.

Apple Loses US Trade Panel Ruling in Samsung Dispute

Apple Loses US Trade Panel Ruling in Samsung Dispute
Apple has lost a ruling by a US trade panel in a patent dispute with its rival Samsung. The International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Apple infringed a Samsung patent, which could mean some older models of the iPad and iPhone are banned from sale in the US. The patent relates to 3G wireless technology and the ability to transmit multiple services correctly and at the same time.

Apple said it plans to appeal.

The ruling could also be reversed by a US presidential order within 60 days. The ruling overturned an earlier decision by ITC Judge James Gildea, who said in September that Apple did not violate the patents at issue in the case, which was filed nearly three years ago. “We believe the ITC’s final determination has confirmed Apple’s history of free-riding on Samsung’s technological innovations,” a Samsung statement said.

The ITC ordered a halt on all imports and sales on AT&T-sold models of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS as well as the iPad 3G and iPad 2 3G. Some of those devices are no longer on sale in the US.

Import-ban orders from the ITC are subject to review by US President Barack Obama. Mr Obama could overturn it, thought it is rare for that to happen.

Apple is free to continue selling the models involved during the 60-day review period. “Today’s decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement.

The case is the latest amid a flurry of litigation between the two electronics giants, who are locked in legal battles in no less than 10 countries. Analysts say Apple is seeking to limit the growth of Google’s Android system. As a result, smartphone makers that use the Android system, like Samsung and HTC, have been embroiled in various legal battles.

In a separate patent fight in US federal court last year, Samsung was ordered to pay more than $1bn for patent infringement, an award that was later slashed to $598.9m.

Samsung is the world’s largest maker of smartphones. Analysts estimate it outsold Apple by nearly two to one in the first three months of the year. However, Apple’s smartphone business is more profitable.

Apple E-Book Deal ‘Cost Hundreds of Millions’

Apple E-Book Deal ‘Cost Hundreds of Millions’
A deal between Apple and publishers to set the price of e-books cost customers “hundreds of millions of dollars”, a government lawyer has claimed. Lawrence Buterman made the claim while speaking at the opening of a trial into price-fixing allegations against the iPad and iPhone maker. He said a rise in e-book prices after the launch of the iPad in 2010 was the result of a deliberate scheme.

However, Apple’s lawyer described the prosecution’s case as “bizarre”. Defence lawyer Orin Snyder said the government had “reverse engineered a conspiracy” by linking price rises to Apple’s deals with the publishers. The technology giant has claimed that it acted in its own business interests when it made deals with publishers to supply e-books it sold through its iBooks platform.

Apple encouraged publishers to set the price of their e-books, rather than allowing retailers to decide the price.

Prosecutors say this was aimed at Amazon – a rival e-book retailer that charged lower prices than Apple was able to offer. They say that, as a result, Amazon’s typical price of $9.99 for a best-seller rose to $12.99 or $14.99 after the launch of the iPad.

But Mr Snyder disputed this, and argued that Apple could not be held responsible for the business decisions of others.

The trial, which started in New York on Monday, is expected to last several weeks.

Five publishers have already reached settlements over the case.

Apple 1 from 1976 signed by Wozniak sells for $650,000

Apple 1 from 1976 signed by Wozniak sells for $650,000
An original Apple 1 computer from 1976 – one of only six still in working order – has sold at auction in Germany for more than 500,000 euros ($650,000).

The Apple 1 was one of the first 50 built by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Jobs’ parents’ garage. The computer – consisting only of a motherboard, signed by Mr Wozniak – went to an anonymous buyer from Asia.

Last year, an Apple 1 sold for 490,000 euros (£418,000; $633,000).

Only about 200 Apple 1s were ever made. About 46 remain in existence, but only six of those are still in working order.  Bob Luther, author of The First Apple, called the Apple 1 the “holy grail of collectable technology”.

The one sold at auction in the German city of Cologne on Saturday was purchased together with an original monitor, tape-player, keyboard. The documentation was signed by Steve Jobs.

Yahoo to Buy Tumblr for $1.1bn

Yahoo to Buy Tumblr for $1.1bn
Yahoo’s board has approved a deal to buy New York-based blogging service Tumblr for $1.1bn (£725m), US media reports say. The acquisition is expected to be announced as early as today.

The BBC website are reporting that the deal was a “foregone conclusion” and was unanimously voted for by the board, tech blog AllThingsD reported, citing sources close to the matter.

If confirmed, it will be CEO Marissa Mayer’s largest deal since taking the helm of Yahoo in July 2012.

Neither Yahoo nor Tumblr responded immediately to requests for comment.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Tumblr would continue to operate as an independent business, the Wall Street Journal said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation. The company is currently run by David Karp, a 26-year-old New Yorker who founded Tumblr in 2007, and he is expected to remain in his role.

Analysts say that by acquiring Tumblr, Yahoo will gain a larger social media presence and enhance its ability to attract younger audiences in its battle with internet rivals Google and Facebook.  Ms Mayer, a former Google executive, has already made a number of small acquisitions since taking over at Yahoo, but the Tumblr deal is expected to be the biggest.

A $1.1bn price tag would represent a significant premium on Tumblr’s $800m valuation when it last raised money from private investors.

Tumblr combines elements of blogging with social networking, and its simple design has attracted millions of users since its launch.  According to its homepage, it now hosts 108 million blogs, with a total of 50.7 billion posts. It also has a significant presence on mobile devices.

But despite its fast-growing user base it has struggled to make money, and has traditionally resisted advertising. It announced that limited use of adverts would be rolled out in April last year, but made just $13m in revenues for 2012, according to a report by Forbes magazine. It is unclear whether a deal with Yahoo would result in more adverts on Tumblr.

Yahoo remains a giant in the internet world, with around 700 million visitors to its website every month. The majority of its revenues come from advertising. But it has limited mobile reach and lags behind Google in the search engine rankings. It also shed more than 1,000 jobs during 2012 and has long been divided over whether it should focus on media content or on tools and technologies.

Germany tells Google to Tidy Up Auto Complete

Germany tells Google to Tidy Up Auto Complete
A German federal court has told Google to clean up the auto-complete results its search engine suggests. The court said Google must ensure terms generated by auto-complete are not offensive or defamatory.

The court case was started by an unnamed German businessman who found that linked him with “scientology” and “fraud”.

Google must now remove defamatory word combinations when told about them, said the court.

A person’s privacy would be violated if the associations conjured up by auto-complete were untrue, the federal court said in a statement about the ruling. However, it added, this did not mean that Google had to sanitise its entire index. “The operator is, as a basic principle, only responsible when it gets notice of the unlawful violation of personal rights,” it said.

The ruling on auto-complete overturns two earlier decisions by lower German courts.

In the past, Google has defended itself by arguing that it has no control over the combinations of words that auto-complete suggests. Instead, it said, these were automatically generated by the frequency with which other people were looking for such keywords.

A Google spokesman said he was “disappointed and surprised” by the court’s decision, in an interview with Bloomberg. He said it was “incomprehensible” that Google was going to be held liable for the searches carried out by users.

The ruling could also have a bearing on another case involving auto-complete. Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services. Mrs Wulff denies ever working as a prostitute and has fought several legal cases over the accusation. The case against Google is due to be heard soon in a Hamburg court.

UK Businesses View Brighter Economic Prospects

UK Businesses View Brighter Economic Prospects
Confidence is improving across most UK businesses, according to the latest business surveys, although manufacturers are less optimistic. Business lobby group the CBI said the economy was moving from “flat to growth”, although it kept its forecast for growth this year at 1%.

Meanwhile, accountancy firm BDO said business confidence improved in April, particularly in the services sector. However, BDO said the outlook for manufacturing “remains bleak”.  And the CBI said “clear challenges” remained both at home and abroad, with uncertainty in the eurozone and what it called a muted international outlook holding back investment.

It said that at home, inflation presented a problem for consumers who were finding it eroding their living standards. It expects inflation to peak at 3.1% during this quarter. The CBI’s director-general, John Cridland, said: “Amongst CBI companies, there’s a general sense that the forward mood has brightened a little.” He said the government’s Funding for Lending Scheme was beginning to have an impact: “When I talk to small businesses, they are already seeing the benefit on cost [of credit], and lower cost leads to more availability.”

The BDO survey gauges optimism in business performance and the economy over the next six months. Although its Optimism Index hit 93.0, it is still below the score of 95 needed to indicate growth. However, the index did move up 0.8 points from March, and is at its highest point since October 2012.

Peter Hemington, a partner at BDO, said confidence seemed to be returning slowly to UK businesses, and that there was a continuing revival in the services sector. “However, as in previous months, our indices reveal a mixed picture,” he added. “The manufacturing sector is a particular concern. If it is serious about its plan to rebalance the UK economy, we continue to believe that the government could do more to help UK manufacturing, particularly by encouraging both lending and investment in the sector. “We also still think there is an excellent opportunity for the government to expedite the UK’s economic recovery by increasing public investment.”

The BDO report said the divergence between the expected fortunes of the services and manufacturing sectors could be partly explained by the impact of increasing inflationary pressures on UK businesses. Manufacturing, it said, had been hit harder by the rising prices of energy and commodities.

Google Play App Store ‘Outgrowing Apple’

Google Play App Store ‘Outgrowing Apple’
The growth in Android phones and an appetite for game downloads means Google’s Play store is booming, say technology analysts.

Google’s app store revenues grew more than three times faster than Apple’s in the first quarter of 2013, research suggests. Google Play’s income was up roughly 90% on the last quarter of 2012, while Apple’s App Store saw a rise of around a quarter.

However, Apple still enjoys the highest total revenue, with Google making just 38.5% of its competitor’s total.That is a big jump from a year ago, however, when that figure was just a tenth. Research firm App Annie says game-hungry smartphone fans in Japan and South Korea are behind the boost in Play Store’s fortunes.

The rapid growth of devices using Google’s Android means the operating system now accounts for around 70% of the global smartphone market.

However, Apple’s “simpler” payment system may be helping it keep ahead in the financial stakes. “In terms of downloads (paid for and free), Google Play has caught up to 90% of Apple’s, and will close the gap soon, but this hasn’t translated to revenues,” said Oliver Lo, Vice-President at App Annie. Lo said a higher percentage of iPad and iPhone users had registered a credit card with their Apple account, making it easier for them to buy apps.

The Google store has a more varied system, including credit cards, mobile network billing and Google Wallet.

Game downloads are still the biggest money-spinners for both stores, say researchers. Some 80% of Google Play revenues come from downloads of popular titles such as Minecraft and Temple Run. For the App Store the figure is 70%.

The overall app market is estimated to have raked in more than $2bn (£1.3bn) in the first three months of this year. Developers typically get 70% of the cost of an app, with the rest going to Apple or Google.