2020 Research news

We all know terrorism when we see it or so we would hope, although it take many disparate forms. One aspect of the response is the media coverage of such happenings. Writing in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, a team from Indonesia discusses the urgency of media coverage of terrorism.

Wenly Lolong and Adensi Timomor of the Department of Law at the Universitas Negeri Manado, suggest that the very nature of terrorism feeds on media coverage. However, while people have a right to be informed of what is happening locally and on a global scale, the team suggests that in Indonesia there is a need for regulation to avoid promoting the terrorist cause through discussion in the media.

The researchers suggest that media coverage perpetuates terrorism by providing a platform for the perpetrators to share their tragic world view through violence. The greater the media coverage, the more likely a new recruit to the cause might be found whether they act as a so-called "lone wolf" or become part of a large terrorist "organization". Either way, new criminality is generated by the activity of the mass media, the team suggests.

In their research, they explore the reasons that the media covers terrorist activity in the first place and how this coverage might be regulated without impeding the public's guarantee of the right to information and press freedom.

"The right of information must not be above the right to live safely and peacefully in the country," the team concludes.

Lolong, W.R.J. and Timomor, A. (2020) 'The urgency of media coverage arrangements regarding terrorism', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.138–148.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2020.108013

The term "blockchain" is familiar to anyone who has delved into so-called cryptocurrency. It represents an incorruptible digital ledger of transactions associated with a given digital coin in this technology. However, the notion of such a ledger might be useful in a whole range of human affairs, such as electoral and other voting systems. Work published in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, suggests that a blockchain might be viable in the US voting system.

Khaled Zayed and Rebekah Placide of the International School of Management in Paris, France, explain that blockchain technology could be used to build "a secure, efficient, and smart voting system". Used in conjunction with biometric technology, such a system would be far less open to abuse or electoral fraud of any kind. The US has four voting methods commonly used at the moment: optical scan paper ballot systems, direct recording electronic systems, ballot marking systems, and punch-card ballot. Each of those voting methods has its own pros and cons and is open to significant abuse as has been seen in at least one recent election. In essence, the team writes, "The current US voting system is antiquated and in desperate need of a technological and legal overhaul."

In addition, the current voting machines are in a state of crisis. "They run the risk of malfunctioning, lost votes, shutdowns, and incorrect tallies," the team adds. "The inability to maintain and purchase parts for these aging machines is of an even greater burden for election administrators in many jurisdictions."

The team further explains how blockchain technology could fix the voting system in a single step, eradicating many of the problems associated with archaic systems and bringing to bear the benefits of the digital realm on an ancient system.

"Blockchain technology was developed to create security, trust, transparency, and efficiency in communications and business transactions," the team says. "Blockchain allows a recording and transfer of data that can be audited and transmitted safely and more importantly it is resistant to outages. A list of records called blocks linked together using cryptography for secure communication. With blockchain technology, digital information can be distributed but not copied over."

Such positive characteristics, when applied to a voting system, could be used for voter registration, identity verification, and electronic vote counting. This would ensure that only legitimate votes are counted and the creation of such a ledger of public votes would represent a step towards a fairer, entirely transparent, and fundamentally more democratic election system.

Zayed, K. and Placide, R. (2020) 'Advocating for a blockchain voting system in the USA', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.306–315.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2020.107985

Phytochemicals from the plant Ipomea sepiaria may be useful in the fight against cancer according to a pharmacoinformatics study published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design. The research undertook "in silico", computer-based, studies of the various chemicals found in this species against a range of enzymes known as metallopeptidases. Inhibiting the activity of these enzymes found in cancer cells could impede the replication of those cancer cells and potentially halt tumour growth in its tracks.

Thousands of plants contain natural products, chemicals that have physiological activity. Indeed, around 40 percent of modern pharmaceuticals had their roots in botanical natural products. The convolvulus plant species, I. sepiaria, is well known as a component of Ayurvedic medicine in the form of Lakshmana used as a laxative. It is purported to act as an antidote to arsenic poisoning and also be an aphrodisiac, although solid randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials are not yet forthcoming for many of the claims around this plant's medicinal properties.

S.S. Ariya and Baby Joseph of the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, in Chennai, India, and Jemmy Christy of the Sathyabama Institute of Technology and Science, also in Chennai, point out that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. As such, the development of anticancer and antineoplastic drugs is high on the pharmaceutical industry's agenda. The team has now screened 247 phytochemicals identified in I. sepiaria against their enzyme computer model.

The screen showed that eight chemicals, tetradecanoic acid, nerolidol, ipomeanine, dibutyl phthalate, cis-caffeic acid, caffeic acid, moupinamide, and N-cis-feruloyltyramine were active against the target enzymes and so might be further explored as potential anticancer drugs. Moreover, these compounds performed better in the tests than four different drugs currently available in the cancer therapy arsenal. Of course, the next step is to take the "in silico" results to the laboratory testing, in vitro, stage and then to animal testing and finally human trials. The compounds are promising, but as ever with drug development, the path from discovery to market is long and tortuous.

It should be noted that while there may be physiological activity in the folklore remedy of Lakshmana, its use is no substitute for a medical consultation with an oncologist when cancer arises and the adherence to proven therapies for the best prognosis for the patient.

Ariya, S.S., Joseph, B. and Christy, J. (2020) 'Exploring the antineoplastic effect of phytochemicals from Ipomea sepiaria against matrix metallopeptidases: a pharmacoinformatics approach', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.255–271.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.107889

A computer program, an optimisation algorithm, that mimics in software the social interactions of the humpback whale has been used by researchers in Egypt to build a system for the identification of Arabian horses.

Identification of Arabian racehorses is critical to owner provenance, vaccination handling, disease control, animal traceability, food management, and animal safety. Traditionally, the horses are hot or freeze branded. Today, the branding might be by electronic tag or implant, or even biometric. Classical approaches are invasive and vulnerable to fraud.

Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, Ayat Taha and Ahmed ElKholy of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and colleagues Ashraf Darwish of Helwan University, and Aboul Ella Hassanien Cairo University, explain how the whale optimization algorithm helps avoid fraud. The WOA is inspired by the hunting behaviour of humpback whales. These marine mammals use a special strategy for hunting fish called bubble-net hunting. The whales produce bubbles in a spiral or a ring around a target school of fish and then swim to shrink this ephemeral boundary, pushing the fish into a smaller volume of water. They then pinpoint fish to capture within this boundary, which not only confuses the fish and confines them but gives the whales an almost fixed area to focus on. The WOA mathematically models this in two phases: creating a bubble boundary and then allowing "prey" features to be identified.

The team has now built their algorithm on an optimised Multi-Class Support Vector Machine. The system analyses muzzle imprints from the horses, it having been trained on known horses. It is possible to identify a horse quickly using this system to an accuracy of more than 97%, which surpasses previous machine learning systems that do not rely on biomimetic models such as the whale optimization algorithm.

Taha, A., Darwish, A., Hassanien, A.E. and ElKholy, A. (2020) 'Arabian horse identification based on whale optimised multi-class support vector machine', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 63, Nos. 1/2, pp.83–92.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2020.107910

Lubricating oils deteriorate and oxidize with use as well as accumulating particles from the engines and other machinery in which they are used. Ultimately, their effectiveness worsens and they begin to damage the components they were designed to protect they have to be replaced. Disposing of waste engine oil thus becomes a significant environmental concern. Waste lubricant cannot be simply disposed of as it is highly toxic to ecosystems and harmful to the environment and human health.

Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, a team from China has turned to a nineteenth century discovery – supercritical fluids – to help them clean up waste oil and remove contaminants efficiently and effectively.

Supercritical fluids are essentially substances held at a temperature above their boiling point but under sufficiently high pressure that they do not enter the gas phase. Under these conditions water, carbon dioxide, and other substances are in a hybrid state between liquid and gas and have many properties that are very different from the substance in its commonly observed state at ambient temperature and pressure.

For instance, supercritical fluids (SCFs) can dissolve many diverse substances that are not normally considered soluble in the "normal" gas or liquid. They also have the advantage of very rapidly reverting to their normal state once the pressure and temperature are reduced. This phenomenon allows a substance such as supercritical carbon dioxide to be used to dissolve a range of compounds so that a dissolved compound might then be separated from a complex mixture. Once the pressure is released the carbon dioxide boils off leaving behind the separated substance.

Xin Yang, Shuo Xiang, Peng Su, Yan He, and Ping Liu of the Department of Oil, at the Army Logistics University of PLA and Ligong Chen of the Engineering Research Centre for Waste Oil Recovery Technology and Equipment, at Chongqing Technology and Business University, both in Chongqing, China, have now modeled the behaviour of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide. This compound is one of the major components of lubricating oils. It is soluble in supercritical carbon dioxide at a specific temperature and pressure.

The team found the optimal temperature and pressure to be 313.2 Kelvin and 14.68 Megapascals, respectively. None of the contaminants of degraded components have as high a solubility under these conditions and so the technology might then be used to separate the dodecylcyclohexane from the waste materials, the team suggests.

Yang, X., Xiang, S., Su, P., He, Y., Liu, P. and Chen, L. (2020) 'Measurement and modelling of the solubility of dodecylcyclohexane in supercritical carbon dioxide', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp.35–49.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2020.107866

Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Yu-Chi Chen of the Department Computer Science and Engineering, at Yuan Ze University, in Tauyuan, Taiwan , has revisited the concept of plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation that could be utilized in the context of security and privacy in the realm of big data and cloud computing.

Achieving a specific computing over ciphertext, plaintext checkable encryption (PCE) is a relatively new concept explains Chen. It supports the specific functionality between ciphertext and plaintext. "Given a target plaintext, a ciphertext and a public key, anyone can perform a check algorithm (called Check) to test whether the ciphertext encrypts the target plaintext with the public key," he explains.

It allows the user to send search instructions to a database, for instance, that are encrypted so that a third party, such as the service provider themselves, cannot see the search terms, but the server has to know that the search is encrypted in a valid way so that it can send back encrypted results; this is where the check function plays its role.

The new work builds on these concepts and offers a new way to approach them with secure public keys and generic constructions.

Chen, Y-C. (2020) 'Plaintext checkable encryption with check delegation revisited', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.102–110.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.107822

Writing in the International Journal of Services, Economics and Management, a team from Malaysia provides details of the main factors affecting mobile shopping there. The researchers, Chi-Yang Hng and Pik-Yin Foo of Jalan Universiti in Perak, and Ai-Fen Lim and Radha Krishnan Nair of the UCSI University Kuala Lumpur Campus, Malaysia, analysed 300 questionnaires offered to people in shopping malls in the city of Ipoh. Fundamentally, ease of use and mobile-friendliness, rather than "playfulness" of the mobile shopping experience are what might drive shoppers to use these services.

Around the world, the advent of the internet, the emergence of the world wide web, and the opening up of the digital realm to commercial applications operators continues to see more and more people spend more and more of their time online. The shopping experience, regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic in which we are in the midst at the time of writing of this Inderscience Research Pick, has increasingly moved from commerce to e-commerce. Indeed, smartphones are an essential item for those in the developed and developing world today rather than a luxury. Mobile shopping has become reliable and secure.

The team concedes that this preliminary research has limitations in that those surveyed were generally in the younger age group, adults under 30, and mostly Chinese. Nevertheless, if the results might apply to other demographic groups, which may well be demonstrated in follow-up work, it is likely the most mobile shoppers would prefer uncomplicated applications through which to do their online browsing and shopping. There is also a need to ensure that users are kept informed of transactions and account updates and such like.

Hng, C-Y., Foo, P-Y., Lim, A-F. and Nair, R.K. (2020) 'The forefront of mobile shopping: an emerging economy's perspective', Int. J. Services, Economics and Management, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.21–47.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSEM.2020.107793

We think of Vincent van Gogh as an artist, famed for his starry nights, his floral tributes, and his raffia-work seating. But, he was also an innovator and an entrepreneur, suggests a paper published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business and modern business people might learn a thing or two from his style.

Jos Pieterse of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and colleagues have analysed letters from the 19th century and expert observations of Van Gogh's activities and work experts as well as guides to the Vincentre Van Gogh museum. They also asked 25 students specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship to give their opinions of Van Gogh's entrepreneurial skills.

We know that Van Gogh was a hard worker based on his prodigious artistic output. The new findings show the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of Van Gogh to reflect his imagination, creativity, and analytical skills. However, based on his apparent lack of financial acumen we can say only with hindsight that he was artistically far ahead but not recognized by his audience.

"The whole field of artistic innovation and entrepreneurship deserves to be better researched for a mutual learning effect for organisational science to learn from this field and vice versa," the team writes. "The work of Vincent van Gogh both in his drawings, paintings and letters are just one [tragic] example."

Ulijn, J., Veldhoen, A., Bekkers-Vermeulen, J., Hendrikse, S., Pieterse, J. and Saych, N. (2020) 'Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), innovator and entrepreneur: an experiential report of Van Gogh guides in Nuenen', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp.337–372.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2020.107802

A porous polymeric scaffold might be the answer to a sight problem that afflicts millions of older people every year, age-related macular degeneration. Researchers writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, discuss in detail their modelling and simulation analysis of these materials, which might be used as a prosthetic for the eye's Bruch's membrane.

Age-related macular degeneration is a medical condition that occurs when the macula of the retina is damaged through oxidative processes usually associated with age but also in tobacco smokers. The macula is an oval-shaped, pigmented area at the centre of the retina so deterioration of this region leads to blurred or no vision in the centre of the visual field. Initially, there are no symptoms but vision in the afflicted person will suffer and loss of central vision occurs making it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life. At present, there is no treatment for macular degeneration and while not smoking is a good preventative measure, avoidance of the other main risk factors – ageing and genetics – cannot be avoided.

Bruch's membrane is the innermost layer of the choroid, the layer between the retina and the outer layer of the eye, the sclera. It is sometimes referred to as the vitreous lamina because it is a glass-like layer, some two to four micrometres thick. Changes in this membrane are often the underlying cause of the blindness seen in AMD as errant blood vessel growth occurs in this membrane in the condition. More specifically, AMD is characterized by extracellular deposits that accumulate between the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the inner collagenous layer of Bruch's membrane, causing the death of RPE cells and subsequent loss of photoreceptor cells.

As such, materials to engineer the structure of the membrane and preclude abnormal blood vessel growth might offer a way to slow or even halt progression of the disease once diagnosed.

Susan Immanuel, Aswin Bob Ignatius, and Alagappan Muthuppalaniappan of the PSG College of Technology, in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, have designed a prosthetic Bruch's membrane, which is based on porous polycaprolactone (PCL). The artificial membrane was designed using the COMSOL Multiphysics tool. Its properties, including structural integrity and fluid flow, were analysed using Brinkman's equation.

"The results show that the scaffold with higher porosity has a lower pressure gradient which is necessary for retinal pigment epithelial adherence and is mechanically stable," the team writes. "This proves that a PCL scaffold with higher porosity is a potential replacement for Bruch's membrane."

Immanuel, S., Ignatius, A.B. and Muthuppalaniappan, A. (2020) 'Modelling and simulation analysis of porous polymeric scaffold for the replacement of Bruch's membrane as a therapy for age-related macular degeneration', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp.290–304.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBET.2020.107762

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic caused by the recently emerged virus SARS-CoV-2 is affecting everyone's lives in many significant and disparate ways. New research published in the International Journal of Integrated Supply Management has looked at how companies are attempting to sustain their supply chains in the face of this disease.

Dmitry Ivanov of the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany and Ajay Das of CUNY-Baruch, New York, USA, point out how the impact of the pandemic is unlike any prior natural disaster. They explain that low-frequency-high-impact events can pose a considerable risk to supply chains and the normal functioning of society. The effects of such events ripple through economies and society. The team has now modelled this ripple effect on global supply chains in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fundamentally, epidemics and pandemics are a special instance of low-frequency-high-impact events, the team suggests. After all, they add, in contrast to geographically centred, singular occurrence – such as a natural or industrial disaster – a pandemic is not limited to a particular region nor confined to a particular time period.

In their analysis, they consider the velocity with which the pandemic propagated, the duration of production, distribution, and market disruption, and the decline in consumer demand. They have also analysed how risk to supply chains might be mitigated in the face of this pandemic and have mapped out potential recovery paths. The creation of flexible and dynamic virtual local supply and demand structures are perhaps key to resilience. However, the team also points out that they believe this is not the end of global supply chains.

"Every crisis ends, and once the situation normalises, global supply chains would continue to offer a degree of efficiency and effectiveness that cannot be matched by domestic or regionally limited supply chains," they write.

Ivanov, D. and Das, A. (2020) 'Coronavirus (COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2) and supply chain resilience: a research note', Int. J. Integrated Supply Management, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.90-102.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISM.2020.107780

A new paradigm in business and entrepreneurial activity is emerging according to a new study. The new paradigm within cultural entrepreneurship differs considerably from the accepted model showing that there is an increased appreciation of "the arts" in business and commerce. The emergence of the so-called "artpreneur" could provide conventional business ventures with new insights.

Marilena Vecco of the Department of Accounting, Finance and Law in the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France, provides details of the work in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Vecco hopes to answer the question as to whether we can talk about cross-fertilisation between art and entrepreneurship.

Historically, one might say that the business world has perceived artists as merely "dreamers", only "useful" and "productive" when generating profitable artistic and aesthetic output. However, the work of painters, musicians, and many others, indeed all artists, has much greater currency in the business world and business education, especially given the advent of the digital era. There is also an increasing recognition among the educated that to recognise one's own artistic and creative spirit as well as those characteristics in others is increasingly important in terms of a rounded, well-balanced, and diverse approach to business, society, culture, and life in general.

The current paper identifies several lessons focusing on the process, skills and behaviour of artpreneurs that might be adopted by traditional entrepreneurs with a particular emphasis on sustainability. It is obvious from this work that the aesthetic dimension represents a competitive advantage for the artpreneur over the conventional business-trained entrepreneur.

Vecco, M. (2020) 'Artpreneurs' lessons to traditional business', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp.154-170.
DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2020.107754

The ability of some molecules, such as fatty or oily molecules, to repel water is known as hydrophobicity. The opposite, water attracting, is hydrophilicity. The hydrophobic force that keeps water molecules at bay is one of the most fundamental of chemical interactions, but it is not only about why oil and water do not mix, it lies at the heart of how the proteins, the molecular machinery of our cells fold into their active form and indeed how they work to keep us and every other living thing alive.

Research published in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design, has investigated the properties of two types of hydrophobic groups in six specific kinds of proteins, the biological catalysts known as enzymes. Anindita Roy Chowdhury (Chakravarty) of the GD Goenka University, in Haryana and her colleagues H.G. Nagendra of the Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, in Bengaluru, and Alpana Seal of the University of Kalyani, in West Bengal, India, explain how the hydrophobic properties of aliphatic and aromatic groups on the amino acids that build up a protein chain then allow the chain to twist and turn and fold in on itself to form its active structure. Aliphatic groups, or residues, are essentially chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms while aromatic groups are commonly rings of carbon and hydrogen atoms joined to the amino acid structure.

The researchers had previously identified those aromatic and aliphatic residues that contribute the most and the least to hydrophobic character in six enzyme classes. In the current work, they have examined the relative contributions towards hydrophobicity of the different hydrophobic amino acids in both aromatic and aliphatic categories.

They have found that there is an inverse relationship between residues of similar hydrophobic strength both in aromatic and aliphatic categories. So, for instance, the presence of an amino acid such as tryptophan which contains an aromatic group has the inverse effect to one like phenylalanine . A similar relationship is found in pairs of amino acids with aliphatic side chains, such as isoleucine and leucine. Leucine, isoleucine, and phenylalanine are essential for creating a hydrophobic, non-polar, environment at the core of an enzyme that has to bind non-polar molecules.

"This analysis is likely to provide insight for finer analysis of the enzyme molecule," the team writes.

Roy Chowdhury, A., Nagendra, H.G. and Seal, A. (2020) 'Correlation among hydrophobic aromatic and aliphatic residues in the six enzyme classes', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.209–223.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.107318

For many companies, their long-term success depends on research and development (R&D) as it plays a crucial role in contributing to a firm's ability to innovate and fight obsolescence. Moreover, companies in emerging countries are investing heavily in R&D in the hope that their investment will help them reach the level of their competitors in the "West". A 2016 report from a major accountancy firm revealed that Chinese firms had the most significant R&D expenditure, with some 130 Chinese companies listed in the report having invested a total of $48.6 billion in 2016.

Now, research published in the International Journal of Technology Management looks at the push and pull of investment in R&D to see which predominates. Xin Pan of the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, in Chengdu working with Xuanjin Chen and Xibao Li of Tsinghua University, in Beijing, China, suggests that there are factors that pull on R&D reducing investment and factors that push, increase costs. They conclude that push effect causes almost 9 out of every ten companies in China to overinvest in R&D and leads to an average overinvestment of 41.33% above the optimal level.

"This R&D investment inefficiency is heterogeneous in terms of state ownership structures," the team reports. "A higher percentage of state-owned firms suffer from severe overinvestment," they add. The team offers managers and corporate policymakers advice and guidance on how they might ultimately reduce R&D investment inefficiency.

Pan, X., Chen, X. and Li, X. (2020) 'The two faces of R&D investments: push and pull factors', Int. J. Technology Management, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp.26–46.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2020.107408

Internet advertising is big business. Indeed, there are several world-famous brands that have billions of users that have a simple function, such as web search or social networking on which multi-billion dollar advertising revenues hinge. Now, there are legitimate and worthy products that some people might consider "offensive" or to perhaps be more precise associated with a sensitive or taboo subject in some way, such as personal hygiene and health products. So, how do corporate marketing departments advertise such products without upsetting the wider community?

Writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, a team from Thailand and the USA has considered this issue. Pakakorn Rakrachakarn and Thittapong Daengrasmisopon of the Stamford International University, Bangkok, and George Moschis of Georgia State University and Mahidol University, Bangkok, discuss the level of negative response to advertising of such products.

The team has tested a standard, 4 × 4 factorial design online advertisement to see how internet users respond. The advertisements came in two forms – ones that used a conventional photographic form and the other that used a drawing, cartoon, instead.

"The findings indicate that for the main effects of online banner advertising designs, cartoon advertisements (drawings) have a less favourable effect on attitude toward the brand when it is non-cartoon (photographs), regardless of product type (offensive or non-offensive)," the team reports. They add that there is no interaction effect between advertisement design and product types on consumer response, even though cartoon advertisements used in sensitive product advertising gave a less favourable attitude toward the product than non-cartoon advertisements.

The main conclusion seems to be that these kinds of products can generate negative responses when compared with more everyday products, that much is perhaps obvious. However, the use of cartoons instead of photographs in advertising controversial and sensitive products has an even more detrimental effect on perception. Marketing executives should, the team suggests, take their findings into account in designing future campaigns for putatively taboo products.

Rakrachakarn, P., Moschis, G.P. and Daengrasmisopon, T. (2020) 'Internet advertising of offensive products: the effects of cartoons on adult consumer attitudes', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.152–167.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2020.107659

Information and telecommunications technology (ICT) has an important role to play in sustaining the quality of life of an aging population. A study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning has investigated the impact of ICT, from both the software and hardware perspective, on older people in the Czech Republic. The findings suggest that older men and women use the internet equally and that gender is not a determining factor in whether they do or not.

Ivana Simonova of the University of Jan Evangelista Purkyne in Usti nad Labem and colleagues Petra Poulova, Pavel Prazak, and Blanka Klimova of the University of Hradec Kralove found that older generally use the tools available to them for socialising (communication and sharing images), gaining information (web search and news) and electronic services (banking and shopping). This perhaps reflects the fact that older people are generally no different from younger people who use ICT for the same reasons, perhaps with the addition of employment applications.

The team also found that some older people lack the requisite ICT skills for achieving their goals efficiently. There is also an issue of confidence and training would help them overcome any social or psychological barriers that may well exist. There is also a need to teach older users how to protect themselves from criminals and other online fraudsters, phishers, and scammers. As such, there is a need for training in the use of ICT for older people as well as in teaching them what personal or private information might be collected "legitimately" by the applications and devices they use or harvested illicitly by criminals.

The team concludes that understanding older ICT user behaviour and developing appropriate training should look at seniors as a group but divide them their special and health needs, cognitive function, and previous experience.

Simonova, I., Poulova, P., Prazak, P. and Klimova, B. (2020) 'Older adults as the internet users: age and gender approach', Int. J. Innovation and Learning, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp.467–482.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2020.107610

One's signature, or autograph if one is famous, is a unique identifier for many people. It is used to sign documents from business contracts, cheques, a marriage license and everything in between. However, for those whose native "pen", as opposed to tongue, is not based in an alphabet that can be written cursively, wherein letters are joined or ligatured in freehand, a signature is often off the cards for them.

Autographic for the people

Researchers from Korea and Japan have now developed a computer application that can generate a unique cursive signature for users whose written words is not based on an alphabet and who may not know how best to utilise such alphabets in the written word. Writing in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology, Jungpil Shin, Md Abdur Rahim, and Md Rashedul Islam of the The University of Aizu, in Fukushima, Japan, and Keun Soo Yun of Ulsan College, in South Korea, have used a cubic Bezier curve for the cursive connections between letters, the ligatures, and an affine transformation to modify the input characters to make them appear as if they have been written by a native-writer of the English alphabet. The system allows for modifications in the slant, scale, space between the characters, and line emphasis, so that a unique signature might be generated.

Automatic for the pencil

Once the synthetic signature has been generated, the software generates an animated tutorial video to show the putative user of that signature how to create it with pen on paper so that they might use it in the real-world to sign documents.

Of course, the generation of a unique signature using this technology might have wider application online for any user regardless of their written language. The security associated with the parameters used to generate each signature would need to be guaranteed so that it could not be reproduced by a third party but hashing the data string to encrypt it and preclude its duplication without the legitimate user's password would be possible. It might even be that digital signatures of this sort might exploit the blockchain technology usually associated with digital currencies.

Shin, J., Rahim, M.A., Islam, M.R. and Yun, K.S. (2020) 'A novel approach of cursive signature generation for personal identity', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 62, No. 4, pp.384–394.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCAT.2020.107423

Research published in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security details a way to encode an image using a chaotic cryptosystem that makes it harder for someone to illicitly break the encryption by boosting the size of the key space to 180 bits. The system, its authors write, is both robust and highly efficient based on their key space, statistical, and sensitivity analyses.

Assia Merzoug of the Laboratory of Coding and Security of Information at the University Batna and Adda Ali-Pacha and Naima Hadj-Said of the Laboratory of Coding and Security of Information at the University of Oran of Sciences and Technology in Algeria, explain how information security is primarily based on calculation algorithms. The level of security depends on the number of binary digits, bits, used by the system to define the cryptographic key that is employed by legitimate users to unlock the encryption. Too few bits in the key make it easier for a third party to crack the code. Conversely, if the key is too complex, i.e. a very high number of bits then it will require a lot of computer power from legitimate users on both sides to encrypt and decrypt the information.

One way around this need for inordinate computer resources for simple encryption might involve exploiting chaos theory, so that a complex key coding the information with an adequate number of bits might be generated that is difficult to crack. The team has brought together the Hénon attractor and a logistics map from chaos theory to construction their cryptosystem.

The chaotic data can be spliced into a normal image file to produce an encrypted image that will be very difficult to crack. Indeed, the test image once encrypted looks like simple noise to the casual observed with a flat histogram of pixel values. The whole process uses a very low level of computing resources but nevertheless produces an encrypted image this is very difficult to crack with a bruteforce attack.

Merzoug, A., Ali-Pacha, A. and Hadj-Said, N. (2020) 'New chaotic cryptosystem for the image encryption', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.450–463.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2020.107452

A team leader's emotional intelligence can make all the difference when it comes to conflict resolution. Writing in the International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management, a team from China and Pakistan discuss case studies of five conflict-handling styles in handling interpersonal conflicts. They undertook a statistical analysis of 213 questionnaires completed by 213 of 300 team leaders surveyed. The focus of the work being in what the researchers refer to as a non-western context adds useful insight to the literature in this area.

Many organisations operate on a global scale and within those organisations, employees are considered an asset with team players especially valued. Of course, with team players, one usually needs team leaders to allow working groups to function most effectively, although there are example of non-heirarchical working groups. One of the benefits of team working is that each player brings different working styles and skills to the team and offers alternative perspectives to those that might arise from a top-down approach to working.

Unfortunately, that also brings with it an increased opportunity for interpersonal conflict where one team member's creative perspective does not coincide with the approach of another player in terms of their own attitudes and methods. This can be a positive characteristic of the team, allowing debate to flourish and the optimal solution to a problem to perhaps emerge in the end. However, unchecked conflict might escalate naturally and lead to complex problems that might never be resolved without leadership intervention.

The team's findings can help guide managers and team leaders in handling interpersonal conflict and particularly conflicts that arise as team members from across the globe are relocated to centres, often in different countries where the organisation is based.

Tanveer, Y., Tariq, A., Akram, U. and Bilal, M. (2019) 'Tactics of handling interpersonal conflict through emotional intelligence', Int. J. Information Systems and Change Management, Vol. 11, Nos. 3/4, pp.211–227.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISCM.2019.107514

When devices communicate they are usually configured to save power by first choosing an appropriate channel, connecting to each other, and then carrying out power control according to the quality of service (QoS) requirements of each device. However, after they have connected the power requirements of each device have usually dropped or at the very least change and so they are essentially not optimised for efficiency. Research published in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing shows how channel and power reallocations can be performed over several iterations until transmission power drops below a threshold to reduce overall power consumption.

Chih-Shun Hsu of the Department of Information Management at Shih Hsin University, in Taipei, Taiwan, discusses the trade-off among transmission power, throughput, and computation costs based on extensive simulations. He suggests that his simulation results justify the energy efficiency of the proposed refining schemes. The scheme may well allow 5G systems to run more effectively as part of the infrastructure of the 5G network will be to utilise unlicensed bandwidth between devices rather than carrying all packets of information as would be normal across the licensed cellular network.

Three power refining protocols are proposed in the paper: refining scheme with power control (RPC), the refining scheme with channel reallocation (RCR), and the refining scheme hybrid channel reallocation and power control (RCRPC). "All the three refining schemes can greatly reduce the total transmission power and enhance the transmission power efficiency of the scheme with no refining phase," Hsu explains. He adds that of the three refining schemes, the RPC scheme can achieve the highest total throughput with the lowest computation time, the RCR scheme can achieve the lowest total transmission power with the highest computation time, and the RCRPC scheme can achieve a balanced result such that the total throughput of the RCRPC scheme is slightly lower than that of the RPC scheme and the total transmission power is slightly higher than that of the RCR scheme."

Hsu, C-S. (2020) 'Refining channel and power allocation for green device-to-device communications', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp.11–24.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.107502

Humanity is creating huge amounts of data every day, billions of emails and social media updates, new websites, documents, images, and scientific and commercial big data amounting to petabytes of storage needs and beyond. It is well recognised that nucleic acids, the RNA and DNA that encode the proteins needed to build living things are seemingly quite efficient in storing information and so taking inspiration from this realm, a team from India writes in the International Journal of Nano and Biomaterials how extended nucleic acid memory (NAM) might be the future of data storage technology.

By comparison, a computer hard disk has an information storage capacity of 10 to the 13 bits of data per cubic centimetre, that's about 1.25 terabytes. NAM has the potential to store a million times that amount in the same volume, 1,250,000 terabytes, or 1250 petabytes, 1.25 exabytes. If we consider the information contained in the "big four" of the internet – Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook – that is the sum of all the data they have storable in a single cubic centimetre of NAM.

Saptarshi Biswas of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at the Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology, in Kolkata, India, and colleagues Subhrapratim Nath, Jamuna Kanta Sing, and Subir Kumar Sarkar of Jadavpur University have now developed a new encoding approach allowing them to talk of extended NAM. Their method efficiently maps binary data on to a hybrid system of standard as well as using non-standard genetic nucleotides (in addition to the familiar G, A, T, and C (guanosine, adenosine, thymine, and cytosine, of DNA) to achieve a higher data capacity. The natural pairing up of the GATC bases in DNA is what gives us the double-helix and allows information to be encoded for the production of proteins whether in a fungus, a bacterium, a rose, or a human being.

The team has added two new non-standard nucleotides, to give them additional pairings Ds-Px (thienylimidazopyridine and a nitropropynylpyrrole) and Im-Na (an imidazopyrimidine and a naphthyridine). These are very stable units to complement the pairings of A-T and C-G in a natural nucleic acid. They are also highly selective in such a molecule, specifically DNA. This could potentially take the hypothetical storage capacity of that single cubic centimetre of NAM to several times the 1.25 exabyte value mentioned above. Indeed, the team writes that extended RAM would have a capacity of more than 630 exabytes per gram of DNA, which assuming DNA has a density of 1.7 grams per cubic centimetre is more more than 370 exabytes per cubic centimetre of extended NAM. that's almost 300 times the total information held by the big four of the internet today.

Biswas, S., Nath, S., Sing, J.K. and Sarkar, S.K. (2020) 'Extended nucleic acid memory as the future of data storage technology', Int. J. Nano and Biomaterials, Vol. 9, Nos. 1/2, pp.2–17.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNBM.2020.107412

An analysis of case studies of research and development intensive companies published in the International Journal of Technology Management reveals that companies do not necessarily perceive R&D as a cost, per se. The international team reports and assesses the different strategies companies can employ to respond to growing research costs. Because on the bottom line, R&D is a cost.

Their work shows that companies do see the expense of R&D as a secondary factor. "The main drivers of research investments are based on the expected value of innovations, risk and strategic competence development, and anticipating uncertainty concerning the kind of research that might be needed in the future," the team writes.

Karl-Heinz Leitner of the Center for Innovation Systems and Policy, at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, in Vienna and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Applied Business Studies at the University of Graz, also in Austria, and colleagues in Italy, The Netherlands, and the USA, emphasise that while there is a large body of research literature on studying the different strategies that might be used to exploit R&D investments, researchers actually know little about the relative importance of controlling costs. Their analysis of case studies of European and US firms that are R&D intensive reveals much about how R&D costs are perceived.

They found that "value creation" is the predominant emphasis of R&D managers and cost does not appear to be a key factor in directing and managing R&D nor in their response to growing R&D costs. However, there is no binary decision to be made between cost control and value creation. They conclude that it is important for R&D managers to develop dynamic capabilities and business models that can adjust the company's R&D agenda to the changing technological, market and regulatory environment.

Leitner, K-H., Poti, B.M., Wintjes, R.J.M. and Youtie, J. (2020) 'How companies respond to growing research costs: cost control or value creation?', Int. J. Technology Management, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp.1–25.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2020.107407

Facial biometrics for security applications is an important modern technology. Unfortunately, there is the possibility of "spoofing" a person's face to the sensor or detection system through the use of a photograph or even video presented to the security system. A team from China has now developed a counter-measure that could preclude face spoofing and make such biometric security systems far less prone to abuse. The team reports details in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering.

Fei Gu, Zhihua Xia, Jianwei Fei, Chengsheng Yuan, and Qiang Zhang of Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, explain how anti-spoofing technology usually looks to illumination differences, colour differences, or textures differences to spot issues with the presented face to determine whether or not the face is a photo or video rather than a live human in front of the security camera. However, even these approaches are vulnerable.

In order to make a stronger anti-spoofing system, the team has proposed a method based on various feature maps and convolution neural networks for photo and video replay attacks. They explain that facial contour and specularly reflected features are taken into account when verifying a face so that depth and width can be determined, aspects of a living face that are not present in a photograph. Their proof of principle shows remarkable performance against multiple datasets and shows that the method can defend not only photo attack, but also video replay attack with a very low error rate.

Gu, F., Xia, Z., Fei, J., Yuan, C. and Zhang, Q. (2020) 'Face spoof detection using feature map superposition and CNN', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 22, Nos. 2/3, pp.355–363.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.107356

The rules surrounding information have changed with the ongoing development of the digital world. Information has become accessible to almost everyone around the world, any time of the day or night, at the touch of a mobile phone screen or the click of a mouse.

Writing in the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence, a team from Italy, reiterates this point and points out that at this stage in the evolution of those rules there are now a handful of central hubs providing almost all of the information that the vast majority of the population accesses: the major search engines, such as Google and Baidu, the big social media networks, Facebook and Twitters, and a few other repositories, such as Wikipedia and their more local equivalents in Russia, China, and other parts of the world that have certain barriers to globalization.

Massimo Marchior and Enrico Bonetti Vieno of the University of Padua, explain how a system like Wikipedia has many pros but also various cons. It has been enormously successful as a dynamic, online alternative to conventional encyclopedia. However, the distributed nature of its content, sources, and editors, also gives rise to some problems. Fundamentally, the team writes "everybody can contribute and so also manipulate information in a way that is practically invisible to the general public."

They describe the "Negapedia" system, which is an online public service that offers a more complete picture of the underlying layers of Wikipedia. It involves big data analysis and the need to overcome information overload, but it also offers novel insights into the important issue of Wikipedia categorisation, analysing the problem of presenting general users with easy and meaningful category information. Negapedia can, the team reports, reveal the social turbulence that underlies much of the content and the editorial battles that take place, particularly surrounding controversial subjects, such as politics, religion, conspiracy theories, and activism and advocacy.

An additional point of interest that emerges from this study is the connection between controversial information and the level of interest in that subject matter. "We found out that there is in fact correlation between topics of high interest to users and conflict, thus showing that controversy seems to be tightly linked with popularity." They add that perhaps one aspects drives the other. "To some extent, controversy (negativity) can be seen as a natural phenomenon arising from people interest," they add.

Marchiori, M. and Vieno, E.B. (2020) 'To beat or not to beat: uncovering the world social battles with Wikipedia', Int. J. Big Data Intelligence, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp.110–125.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBDI.2020.107377

The calcium mineral from which many shellfish, such as cockles, make their shells can be used to form nanoparticles. These nanoparticles can then be "loaded" with small drug molecules, such as anticancer drugs.

Writing in the International Journal of Nanotechnology a team from Malaysia and Nigeria explains how nanoparticles made from the cockleshell material calcium carbonate aragonite can be used to carry the anticancer drug doxorubicin. These drug-loaded nanoparticles have been used to successfully treat dogs with solid tumours.

Treating solid tumours is problematic in cancer therapy because the malignant mass is often inaccessible to conventional anticancer drugs. High doses are needed to attack the tumour, but this comes at a price in terms of side-effects, such as damage to the heart with doxorubicin, for instance. Finding ways to target the tumour with the drug more directly would mean a lower dose could be used and still have the same effect but without the cardiotoxicity.

Cockle shell-derived calcium carbonate has been shown to have potential as a drug-delivery agent by using it to fabricate nanoparticles to carry the drug. The present team has now carried out a prospective single centre, non-blind open clinical trial of repeated doses of the nanocomposite on dogs with solid tumours in their bones over the course of fifteen weeks.

The team reports no major adverse effects and success was seen in treating bone cancer in the dogs with great improvement in the quality of life of the animals.

Danmaigoro, A., Selvarajah, G.T., Mohd Noor, M.H., Mahmud, R., Ahmed, H., Abubakar, M.Z. (2019) 'Targeted delivery of doxorubicin-loaded cockle shell-derived CaCO3 aragonite nanoparticles on dogs with solid tumours', Int.J.Nanotechnol., Vol 16, Nos. 11/12, pp. 730-749.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2019.107365

Can direct advertising work for leading brands in an emerging market such as India. The question is answered with respect to the marketing of honey in the International Journal of Comparative Management.

R.K. Srivastava of the University of Mumbai and his team have measured the impact of direct comparative advertisements in eastern culture for honey, a low-involvement product (compared to something like a readymeal). The study used the Elaboration Likelihood Model to explain why Patanjali brand honey has been so much more successful than others and how religious belief and gender affect buying behaviour.

The paper explains that when a product or a brand is contrasted with another brand in an advertisement to show the other brand to be inferior, this is commonly referred to as comparative advertising. Of course, the advertisers tread a thin line between promoting their product as superior and defaming the rival manufacturers. Nevertheless, comparative advertising in the US has been shown to be more effective than standard advertisements in generating attention, message processing, brand awareness, favourable sponsor brand attitudes, and purchase intentions.

Of course, it is important for companies to know whether that relative success might apply in other markets, where gender, religion, class, and other factors may still play a potent role in nudging consumers to a particular brand and not another. Fundamentally, if comparative advertising is shown to be effective, then it might open market inroads for challenger brands in a marketplace essentially monopolised by the bigger players.

Having demonstrated that gender and religion can affect perception of honey brands, the team hopes to now extend their study to other demographic factors such as income, ethnicity, education, occupation, body weight, health condition, and habits and to other commodities.

Srivastava, R.K. (2020) 'Will direct comparative advertising works for a leading brand? A study of the honey market', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2, pp.125–141.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2020.107338

Christina Öberg of the School of Business at Örebro University in Sweden has investigated the "shape" of female representation in the corporate boardroom. Her findings suggest that representation may not be the issue per se when it comes to gender equality at the highest level in management but rather how well "nested" female board members are and the perception of their roles and rank on the board and the effect of being on more than one board and how those connections are interlocked.

Writing in the International Journal of Comparative Management, Öberg has found that the power of women on boards varies with various different factors. Among those are the existence of few or many interlocks on the board, the number of representations held by the female board member, the fragmented or large network that the female board member is part of, and whether the network consists of direct or indirect links.

Öberg points out that the gender diversity debate has led to a new focus on the question of female board representation. In some countries, this focus has led to welcome legislation. The important point is that for too long representation on corporate boards has not reflected society's gender composition nor looked to equality. This new work contributes to research on gender diversity by introducing relative power as an important concept related to interlocks on the board and to the shape of interlock networks. There are implications for ensuring that boards represent gender diversity and have equality and also for how directors might benefit from this and be guided by such research in the appointment of board members.

Öberg, C. (2020) 'The shape of female board representation', Int. J. Comparative Management, Vol. 3, Nos. 1/2, pp.53–72.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCM.2020.107337

New research suggests that a different approach to modelling the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, could be beneficial for developing new strategies for coping with the ongoing global pandemic. Details are reported in the International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling.

Shan Bai of the Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (KIT) in Germany has evaluated how well two approaches to epidemiological modelling – a system of first-order ordinary differential equations (ODEs) and spatial agent-based model (ABM) – work in the face of different interventions. She explains that specific intervention strategies are introduced and the effectiveness of the strategies can be assessed by comparing the results of the models with or without these strategies.

It is now relatively well-known that a proportion of people carrying the virus might have mild symptoms or be apparently asymptomatic but nevertheless shed viral particles in their bodily fluids, specifically saliva and mucus from the respiratory tract. These particles may enter the respiratory tract of other people through various physical mechanisms, such as exposure to a sneeze or cough from the infected party, simply being in close proximity and breathing the same air or touching surfaces that on which infectious droplets have landed followed by transfer from hand to face and thus the eyes, nose or mouth.

The joint mantras of stay socially distanced from other people, do not touch your face, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently remain good advice in the face of this health crisis. Moreover, given the nature of Bai's analysis of the situation, she says that "It is thus very important to assess the potential for sustained transmission, taking such infected people into account, in order to thoroughly understand the transmission dynamics of the infection and evaluate the effectiveness of control measures." This is where solid epidemiological modelling comes into play especially as new knowledge about this emergent virus and the complex disease it causes is obtained.

The spatial ABM integrates several new features to the epidemic models compared to the ODEs-based model, Bai adds. "The implementation of spatial ABM brings novel features to the epidemics modelling: new states being easily incorporated; the parameter illustrating the moving willingness of people; and sub-models for hospital beds to reflect demands of medical resources," Bai adds. The results suggest that the flexible nature of ABM make it a useful addition to the toolset of epidemic simulation models.

Bai, S. (2020) 'Simulations of COVID-19 spread by spatial agent-based model and ordinary differential equations', Int. J. Simulation and Process Modelling, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.268–277.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSPM.2020.107334

Research published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, investigates how optimal routes might be calculated for emergency vehicles responding to a shout.

Jiao Yao, Yaxuan Dai,and Yiling Ni of the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Jin Wang Changsha University of Science and Technology, both in China, and Jing Zhao of Delft University of Technology, in The Netherlands, look at this issue of queing traffic and how it impedes the movement of emergency vehicles.

The team lists the various types of vehicle they are considering: ambulances, natural disaster rescue vehicles, fire trucks, police vehicles, engineering rescue vehicles, municipal repair vehicles, traffic accident vehicle rescue equipment, evacuation vehicles, and emergency rescue vehicles. They point out that drivers of these vehicles cannot judge the optimal route in real-time as a situation develops and normal and additional traffic moves around the road systems they are attempting to circumnavigate.

The team has simulated three major situations that might unfold in an emergency situation and used a computer to devise a way to work out the more optimal routes that would allow the emergency vehicles to reach the scene quicker. In one situation, their approach gives a time saving of 22.2% but in another they can actually half the time in transit. They ultimately come to the conclusion the traffic lights used only in emergencies are essential to allow vehicles to breach the queues safely and reach the emergency in a timely manner.

Yao, J., Dai, Y., Ni, Y., Wang, J. and Zhao, J. (2020) 'Deep characteristics analysis on travel time of emergency traffic', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp.162–169.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.107271

Graphene is a form of the chemical element carbon. Well-known forms of carbon include the world's hardest material, diamond, and the soft black material known as the "lead" in a pencil, which is graphite. Graphite can be visualized as layers of carbon atoms stacked together in sheets with each sheet resembling a hexagonally woven chicken wire fence or a very thin honeycomb. Graphene is to all intents and purposes a single sheet from one of those stacks. It is thus one of the thinnest materials known, an atomic monolayer of carbon atoms.

It has become the focus of much research in recent years with its potential to weave the fabric of a future of molecular electronics devices because of its unique chemical, optical, and electronic properties.

Now, writing in the International Journal of Biomedical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, a team from Malaysia reports on advances in how graphene sheets might be modified for different applications by attaching different chemical groups to the sheets. Geoffrey Ijeomah and Fahmi Samsuri of the Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Felix Obite of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, and Mohamad Adzhar Md Zawawi of the Universiti Sains Malaysia, discuss the chemical functionalization of graphene with a view to its development as sensor materials for environmental monitoring, biomedical research, and medical diagnostics as well as in other areas.

An important conclusion from their review is that among the fundamental synthetic methods for the fabrication of graphene, such as chemical vapour deposition, mechanical exfoliation, reduction of graphite oxide, thermal deposition, and unzipping carbon nanotubes are sensitive to the exact conditions used and that affects the reproducibility when functional, chemical groups, are attached to the graphene layers.

"An improved understanding of the workings of graphene at the molecular level will ultimately advance graphene surface engineering and its applications in sensor development and technology," the team concludes.

Ijeomah, G., Samsuri, F., Obite, F. and Zawawi, M.A.M. (2020) 'Recent advances in chemical functionalisation of graphene and sensing applications', Int. J. Biomedical Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2, pp.1–48.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBNN.2020.107177

People can usually make a good guess at a person's age by looking at their face and assessing the smoothness or otherwise of their skin, the general condition of the skin, jowls, and other features. Face recognition software, on the other hand, can recognise a face with varying degrees of success based on the training data used by estimating age has not yet become a trivial computational matter. Part of the problem is that faces change from moment to moment as we show our emotions through laughter, frowns, sadness, disgust, and other facial expressions.

Now, a team from India, writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, describes a new approach to age estimation that fuses local and global features in an image of a person's face to look through the facial expression to estimate a person's age.

Subhash Chand Agrawal, Anand Singh Jalal, and Rajesh Kumar Tripathi of the GLA University, Mathura, explain how they use the Viola-Jones algorithm to pick out a face from any given photograph. It then partitions the face into 16 by 16 non-overlapping blocks and applies a grey-level co-occurrence matrix to these blocks. This then allows the system to calculate four facial parts – eyes, forehead, left and right cheek – from the facial image. The algorithm then examines the detail in these blocks according to region examined and compares it with similar blocks from a training set of faces where the age of the person in the photograph was already known.

"Our experimental results show that fusion of local and global features performs better than existing approaches," the team writes. Their tests were able to estimate a person's age in a photo to within a mean absolute error of 6.31 years for a neutral expression and at similar values for angry. For happy, sad, disgusted, and surprised the errors were slightly higher although generally better than the state-of-the-art algorithms against which they tested their approach.

Aside from refining the system, they will also next attempt to apply it to photographs with complicated backgrounds and to faces of different ethnicities.

Agrawal, S.C., Jalal, A.S. and Tripathi, R.K. (2020) 'Local and global features fusion to estimate expression invariant human age', Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.155–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISTA.2020.107224

Researchers in India describe the potential of the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer to be used as a control system for home automation using the so-called Internet of Things. They outline details in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms.

Vikash Yadav of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the ABES Engineering College, in Ghaziabad, Deepak Kumar Mishra, Prathmesh Singh, and Priytosh Kumar Tripathi of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at the GL Bajaj Institute of Technology and Management, in Greater Noida, demonstrate specifically how a Raspberry Pi Zero W can be used to connect net-enabled domestic appliances and other smart electronic devices in the home or even the workplace so that they can be monitored and controlled from a location anywhere in the world with internet access.

Home automation systems seek to improve our quality of life and remove the need for human intervention in many menial everyday tasks. Sensors, actuators, controllers, and devices exist that one might refer to as "smart" or "internet-enabled", these are commonly referred to as the Internet of Things, the IoT, and an inexpensive and versatile computer also connected to the internet can be used to monitor and control them all, acting as a connection point within the home for the user to access from outside. The team's approach, they report, offers a reliable, scalable and highly cost-efficient way to enable home automation. Moreover, the same approach might be used to automate equipment, heating, lighting and other systems in the home and in the workplace.

Yadav, V., Mishra, D.K., Singh, P. and Tripathi, P.K. (2020) 'Home automation system using Raspberry Pi Zero W', Int. J. Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.216–226.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAIP.2020.107023

An international team from Bahrain, Estonia, Germany, and Hungary has looked at the notion of unlearning in the face of new paradigms, understanding and knowledge.

Information and communication technology (ICT) has changed the way we work and in the current crises of climate change, pollution, and emergent disease is more important than ever. Workers, students, and the populus in general must learn new skills and develop new capacity to utilise the ICT of the day as it evolves rapidly. Critically, this is where forgetting the old ways, or unlearning redundant and obsolete knowledge and skills becomes important so that the culture of old technology is not conflated and confused with the new.

Susanne Durst of the Department of Business Administration in the School of Business and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology, in Estonia, Ilka of the Heinze School of Management and Organizational Science at Kaposvár University, in Hungary, Thomas Henschel of the Business School at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Germany, and Nishad Nawaz of the College of Business Administration at Kingdom University in Bahrain discuss the concepts and provide a literature review of unlearning in the International Journal of Business and Globalisation.

"Unlearning of old knowledge, practices, and routines may be key to success. It is argued that an unwillingness or inability to unlearn old knowledge can hamper creativity and innovation in organisations when employees are unwilling to view new knowledge that they do not possess or control as useful or applicable," the team writes.

Their review reveals gaps in the business knowledge of unlearning. When looking both at the individual as well as organisational levels, there is a clear call for the application of more sophisticated research methods to allow for triangulation, they report. The research findings are practical for entrepreneurs and managers but also highlight where more research might be done to create a more coherent literature in this area and provide guidance for those entrepeneurs and managers, as well as others.

Durst, S., Heinze, I., Henschel, T. and Nawaz, N. (2020) 'Unlearning: a systematic literature review', Int. J. Business and Globalisation, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp.472–495.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBG.2020.106959

Low wetlands known as fens, store huge amounts of organic matter, usually in the form of peat, which is old, decomposed vegetable matter. Drained, agricultural fenland is thus of great importance in terms of growing crops and also fens in general from the perspective of the organic carbon biogeochemical cycle. Work published in the International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology has looked at the chemical characterization of the vast range of humic acids present in fenland peat.

Janis Krumins, Maris Klavins, and Raimonds Krukovskis of the Department of the Environmental Science in the Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Latvia, in Riga, Latvia, explain how humic acids form the major part of fen peat organic matter. "They are also the most refractory and recalcitrant natural substances to degradation," the team writes, "and thus they contain essential information regarding mire and peat development over large periods of time as well as the organic carbon biogeochemical cycle."

The team has compared the properties of humic acids isolated from different fen peats of varied botanical compositions and origins. They hope to understand better the humification process that leads to the formation of peat. "The formation of humic acids of varied origins shows similarities; however, at the same time, differences can be found in the further development of humic acids, depending on the environment in which they are present," the team reports.

At a time, when the importance of fenland and peat conservation are high on the environmental agenda, the work could guide the use of this invaluable resource in a less potentially malignant way. "Fen peat is a potential source for humic acid extraction on an industrial scale; however, geological settings and peat botanical composition of a potential excavation site must be evaluated in high detail in future studies," the team writes. The better a picture we have of the chemical composition of peat, the easier it will be to utilize this limited resource more wisely.

Krumins, J., Klavins, M. and Krukovskis, R. (2020) 'Characterisation of humic acids in fen peat', Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.74-89.
DOI: 10.1504/IJARGE.2020.107066

Social networking applications have taken their place in almost all parts of our lives. Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, researchers reveal how immigrant children, adolescents, and young adults are using these apps, which include WhatsApp and Facebook, to maintain contact with the family and friends they have left behind in relocating to a new country.

Gila Cohen Zilka of Bar-Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel, has looked specifically at how youngsters are using these apps to help them acclimatize in Israel as their new home. The research surveyed 551 participants of whom 110 were also interviewed directly. Interviewees shared both positive and negative feelings and experiences.

Fundamentally, writes Cohen Zilka, "participants feel that communication alleviates the sense of longing, enables intimate discourse, sentiment sharing, release of anger, and relief of frustration." She points out that the use of web applications encourages significant interaction with those who remained in the country of origin, but conversely, to a certain extent, causes social isolation in the new country.

The study found that many young immigrants to Israel did not feel as if they had been uprooted from one country and placed rootless in a new land, but rather that they still had roots in the country of origin and were already putting down new roots in their new home. "The use of internet applications for communication made them happy and gave them a sense of relief in the process of acclimatisation in the new country," the team reports.

Zilka, G.C. (2020) 'Use of social networking applications by immigrant children, adolescents, and young adults to maintain contact with those who remained in the country of origin: usage characteristics and habits', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp.257–272.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2020.107099

Keeping children safe online should be a major priority of internet providers, content creators, and the authorities. Writing in the International Journal of Web Based Communities, a team from India has surveyed international efforts.

To overcome online risks, we need to understand the characteristics of the online ecosystem and to learn how to cope once risks are faced. The online ecosystem involves different stakeholders such as service providers, the physical network, online users being connected, social media sites and tools and technology, the team reports. "Elimination of online risks is difficult," they have found, "but the intensity of risks can be reduced."

Dittin Andrews of the Center for Development of Advanced Computing, in Electronics City, Bangalore, worked with Sreejith Alathur and Naganna Chetty of the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, in Surathkal, Mangalore, on the survey.

With an increase in the availability of rich content over the internet, information and communication technology (ICT) has brought many benefits to users of all ages around the world," the team writes. ICT is transforming societies and economies. It has also attracted children to its benefits, with many regularly accessing social networking sites, playing video games, and sharing videos, for instance. With any positive benefit, there is always a negative, however, and access to the boundless resources of the online world brings with it risks to vulnerable young people. This might be through exposure to inappropriate materials, exploitation through malware or social engineering, cyber-bullying, and even the risk of physical and mental harm when the online world spills into their offline lives.

"International bodies are providing assistance to children online with different tools, technologies, regulations, legal protections, safety resources, education, training, guidance, safety measures, crime reporting system, and child-friendly search engines," the team writes. However, much remains to be done to address the countless risks to which children are exposed online.

Andrews, D., Alathur, S. and Chetty, N. (2020) 'International efforts for children online safety: a survey', Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.123–133.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWBC.2020.107146

A paper published in the International Journal of Behavioural and Healthcare Research looks at the link between parental alcohol consumption and the mental wellbeing of children in the household. Nazli Ezgi Sidal and Tekin Kose of the Department of Economics, at TED University, in Ankara, Turkey, have taken their home country as a case study on this issue. They use data from the Turkey Health Survey of 2016, which is conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute.

In their analysis, the team looked for correlations between mental deficiency, learning disability, attention deficit, late talking, and behavioural issues in children within a household where the parents consume alcohol. They found that there is a negative association with the children's mental wellbeing status and alcohol consumption. Additionally, the self-assessed health status of mothers was positively correlated with children's mental health. The greater the alcohol use in mothers, the more likely were offspring to have problems.

It is well-known that parental behaviour can have a significant impact on children's life outcomes such as health status and educational performance. That said, many other factors are involved. Smoking and alcohol use, for example, can have an impact on the parents' health as well as direct and indirect effects on offspring.

"Policymakers should consider giving priorities in enhancing life and health conditions of parents in Turkey to improve life outcomes of children," the team suggests. They add that "Improvements in health literacy of parents and specifically health statuses of mothers may significantly contribute children's life outcomes."

Sidal, N.E. and Kose, T. (2019) 'Parental alcohol use and children's mental health: the case of Turkey', Int. J. Behavioural and Healthcare Research, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.65–76.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBHR.2019.106992

Quality of life is an ancient concept dating back to at least Aristotle, although the philosopher equated a good life or doing tasks well with happiness, rather than what we refer to today as quality of life. There is much talk of mental health and wellbeing today and the purported problems of neuroticism and addictive behaviour. Nowhere does this seem to be more sharply in relief than when we talk of internet addiction and how this might be modulated by the neurotic type personality and be detrimental to quality of life.

Writing in the International Journal of Behavioural and Healthcare Research, a team from Iran discusses exactly how so-called internet addiction can have an effect on people of a neurotic disposition and their quality of life. Fundamentally, their study shows that neuroticism as a personality trait can lead to avoidance of everyday life as a coping mechanism and this is commonly manifest in dependency and addiction to the internet and perhaps more obviously online social media.

"Our results indicate that those [students] who score high in neuroticism are more prone to move towards addictive behaviour such as internet addiction," the team writes. This corroborates earlier independent work and also resinforces the idea that neuroticism is usually accompanied by an avoidance of face to face communication with other people. The internet and online social media lend themselves heavily to this behaviour. The team adds that overuse of the technology required to engage with the internet – computers and mobile phones, for instance – often do not lend themselves to appropriate posture nor physical activity and in many cases lead to avoidable repetitive strain injury, all of which can have a negative impact on quality of life.

Khayyer, Z., Najinia, M.A. and Harandi, R.J. (2019) 'Neuroticism and quality of life: the mediating role of internet addiction', Int. J. Behavioural and Healthcare Research, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.37–48.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBHR.2019.106989

Researchers from Brazil and France have undertaken a review of the value curves and motivations implicit in the choice between autonomous and traditional vehicles. Their findings suggest that self-driving cars will eventually become more and more widespread and as they do the concepts of affective attributes and symbolism associated with conventional driving will be usurped by instrumental attributes. Fabio Antonialli of the Universidade Federal de Lavras, in Lavras, Brazil, and colleagues provide details of their work in the World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research.

Although in some sense, autonomous vehicles remain something of a futuristic option, many vehicles already have cruise control, steering correction, emergency braking systems, and self-parking features. Autonomous vehicles, which are essentially robot vehicles are used in logistics and agriculture in many parts of the world. It is perhaps only a matter of time before a much greater proportion of road users are no longer drivers, but simply passengers in their vehicles. Autonomous vehicles will hopefully provide accessibility to transport for people in need, boost efficiency, reduce costs and time, improve comfort, and reduce road traffic accidents caused by errant driving.

The transition will occur when the attributes of traditional vehicles are no longer seen as essential and the functionality and features of autonomous vehicles displace those not only in the vehicles themselves but in the popular perception of driving and cars. It is likely that autonomous taxis are likely to represent the biggest wave of uptake and will represent a vast investment opportunity, the team suggests. There is "a massive growth opportunity for technology players or automakers that are able to piece together a successful autonomous strategy," the team writes.

Antonialli, F., Cavazza, B.H., Gandia, R.M., Nicolaï, I., de Miranda Neto, A., Sugano, J.Y. and Zambalde, A.L. (2020) 'Human or machine driving? Comparing autonomous with traditional vehicles value curves and motives to use a car', World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp.137–156.
DOI: 10.1504/WRITR.2020.106918

When natural or other disaster strikes there is usually an enormous increase in demand for donated blood and blood products for those who have suffered serious injury. Writing in the International Journal of Modelling in Operations Management, a team from Iran has taken a fault-tree analysis approach to understanding risks to the chain of blood supply.

The study involves the design of a process map that shows the workflow of the blood supply chain visually from donation to distribution. This, then allows the team to look at the risks associated with each step and activity from donor to hospital. The researchers can then pluck out each significant risk and work out a probability of supply chain failure and so identify the most vulnerable parts of the process.

The blood supply chain has four main processes: blood collection, product processing, laboratory testing, and storage and distribution of blood products.

The team's work could help eliminate certain serious risks while other risks might be mitigated rather than precluded and the process still function. "Proper planning and accurate prediction of the amount of required equipment at the time of disaster would decrease this risk and can control its impact on the blood supply chain," the team adds. Ultimately, the risk will depend on the exact nature of the disaster in hand. But, anything that can be done to reduce the overall impact on human lives is welcome.

Abtahi, A-R., Zenouz, R.Y., Ghaderian, M-R. and Aghaie, A. (2019) 'Blood supply chain risks in disasters – a fault tree analysis approach', Int. J. Modelling in Operations Management, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp.269-283.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMOM.2019.106877

Humanity bounces from one crisis to another as history shows us. Food waste and climate change are perhaps part of the same crisis. Now, research published in the International Journal of Global Warming suggests that finding secondary uses for food waste might reduce the overall impact of this problem.

Mustafa özilgen and colleagues at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how the issue is a self-perpetuating problem: "Global warming increases the food waste; in return, the food waste causes further increase in global warming," they say. Remedies that have been suggested at least for kitchen waste suggest that burning such waste instead of fossil fuels might help. The team has now used thermodynamic calculations to show that food waste from a fast food outlet after compression and drying to produce one tonne of waste could be used to generate 3.5 gigawatts.

They have estimated that all the fruit and vegetable waste in Turkey, including agricultural waste, could produce 7.2 gigajoules of energy each year. Of course, part of the problem of food waste is the plastic and paper packaging and some of this will be a component of the overall dried and compressed material from the food outlets.

"Our analysis indicates that trying to find a secondary use for food waste is not a feasible process, when compared with electric power production via combustion in a Rankine cycle with regeneration," the team reports. There may well be niche secondary uses for normally inedible fruit peel, vegetable stems, and other unusable plant materials that do not simply involve burning them for energy, but thermodynamically we would benefit more from burning such food waste instead of fossil fuels.

Gökbulak, S.K., Nazir, S., Tunçel, S. and Özilgen, M. (2020) 'How to benefit from the food waste in the era of global warming?', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp.216–236.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2020.106595

It is possible to integrate conventional wireless internet, Wi-Fi with the fifth generation of cellular mobile phone networks, so-called 5G. Writing in the International Journal of Wireless and Mobile Computing, a team from the USA discusses how Wi-Fi traffic can move flexibly between 5G cells and Wi-Fi cells. It does this through overflow, vertical handoff, horizontal handoff, and take-back operations, the team explains.

Shensheng Tang of St Cloud State University, in Minnesota, John O'Rourke of Altec Industries in Joseph, Missouri, and Grace Tang of Central High School, also in St. Joseph have proposed a traffic modelling method that allows for generally distributed user-dwell times.

"We consider an integrated wireless network using 5G cellular architecture as mobility support for Wi-Fi traffic and perform traffic modelling of the integrated architecture with generally distributed user-dwell times. In the integrated architecture, the Wi-Fi traffic takes on complete user mobility," the team explains.

The researchers add that the same approach to quality assurance might also be extended to 5G integrated with other types of system, such as sensor networks, intelligent vehicle networks, and Internet of Things applications.

Tang, S., O'Rourke, J. and Tang, G. (2020) 'Traffic modelling of an integrated 5G/Wi-Fi network with generally distributed user-dwell times', Int. J. Wireless and Mobile Computing, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp.242–254.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWMC.2020.106772

A natural biopolymer, bacterial cellulose, is synthesised by the microbe Gluconacetobacter hansenii. Researchers are intrigued by its properties but one that it lacks in the native state is antibacterial activity and that is something could be useful for a wide range of healthcare and other applications, if only it could be engineered into this natural material.

Now, a team from Russia, has created a composite of bacterial cellulose with silver nanoparticles, which endows the biopolymer with the requisite antibacterial activity. The team describes details in the International Journal of Nanotechnology where they report on antimicrobial activity and cytotoxicity. Tatiana Gromovykh of the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University is the corresponding and first-named author on the paper.

Metal-vapour synthesis was used to embedded nanoparticles of silver metal with diameters of between in 8 and 12 nanometres in the biopolymer. Biological testing showed the composite to be active against three important types of potentially pathogenic bacteria, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and acid resistant Bacillus coagulans. It had no fungicidal effect against Aspergillus niger nor Candida albicans, however. The findings hint at applications as an antibacterial, but not antifungal, coating for medical devices.

However, additional tests in a different sphere showed that the same composite material had activity in reducing the viability of human melanoma cells and mesenchymal stem cells in laboratory cultures pointing to potential in a novel approach to treating tumours arising from skin cancer. The team suggests that a scaffold with an antitumour effect might one day be fabricated from their composite with this aim.

Gromovykh, T.I., Vasil'kov, A.Yu., Sadykova, V.S., Feldman, N.B., Demchenko, A.G., Lyundup, A.V., Butenko, I.E. and Lutsenko, S.V. (2019) 'Creation of composites of bacterial cellulose and silver nanoparticles: evaluation of antimicrobial activity and cytotoxicity', Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 16, Nos. 6/7/8/9/10, pp.408–420.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2019.106615

Writing in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, a team from India suggests that existing security algorithms cannot meet the needs of cloud computing. The team of Deepak Garg and Shalli Rani of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Chitkara University, and Jagpreet Sidhu of Jaypee University of Information Technology in Solan, India, provide an analytical approach to the problem that might help lead the way to a solution.

Cloud computing has been the "new" paradigm for many years now in delocalised, distributed, and shared services. It allows organisations and individuals to offload storage and computer processing requirements on to a third party, usually for a fee. There are many benefits, distributed servers, greater processing capacity, and more. The USA's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as follows: "It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction."

The downside to cloud computing is that the user is ultimately dependent on a third party for the privacy and protection of any data they upload to the "cloud". Unfortunately, there are so many disparate implementations in use that the research literature into cloud computing security is not a cohesive nor even coherent body of work that security specialists might turn to with a view to revealing the state-of-the-art exploring and filling loopholes in security.

The team's analytical approach to the literature offers a way forward to clarifying the nature of cloud computing's insecurities. It might, the team suggests, assist in finding a better understanding, of the patterns and trends, and other factors important to users, providers, and the information security community.

Garg, D., Sidhu, J. and Rani, S. (2020) 'A note on cloud computing security', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp.133–154.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.106644

A blended mobile learning environment could be useful in helping teach students how to employ their scientific inquiry skills in a science museum, according to research published in the International Journal of Smart Technology and Learning.

Hua Du and Xiaoqing Gu of the Department of Educational Information Technology at East China Normal University, in Shanghai, explain how science museums are ripe for development as teaching environments for developing scientific skills. In the age of the always-connected mobile device, phones and tablets can be pulled into this scenario to develop the concept still further. Blending the online environment with the offline, physical world of a museum has great potential, the work suggests.

The team has explored how well such a blended mobile environment might function in education and tested the approach with two groups of students and activities designed for particular capabilities and educational maturity. The bottom line, reports the team is that "a well-designed blended mobile learning environment in science museums is effective in developing students' scientific inquiry skills." Critically, however, the best results were seen with those students for whom specific scientific tasks had been appropriately tailored.

"The findings strengthen our view that learner-centeredness is an important perspective in mobile device-based science museum experiences," the team concludes.

Du, H. and Gu, X. (2019) 'Exploring a blended mobile learning environment to develop students' scientific inquiry skills in science museums', Int. J. Smart Technology and Learning, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.310–322.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSMARTTL.2019.106517

A theoretical model of the spread of viral transmission is reported in the International Journal of Mathematical Modelling and Numerical Optimisation. The paper discusses Zika virus transmission but could have implications for understanding the spread of other viruses, with particular pertinence to the development of a pandemic disease.

Maghnia Hamou Maamar, Leila Bouzid, and Omar Belhamiti of the University of Mostaganem, in Algeria, and Fethi Bin Muhammad Belgacem of the Department of Mathematics, in the Faculty of Basic Education, at PAAET, in Al-Ardhiya, Kuwait, have created a compartmental model for human and mosquito transmission of Zika virus. They have also investigated how a non-human primate, a monkey, may have acted as a disease reservoir. Such reservoirs can act as routes from the native host in which a disease may be endemic or asymptomatic into a human or other population where it becomes a serious health problem.

The mathematical model looks at incidence, spread, and transmission and shows how different parameters will lead to the development of the disease to the endemic situation. The implications are there for how a pandemic disease might arise, particularly when a non-human vector amplifies the spread of the pathogen.

Maamar, M.H., Bouzid, L., Belhamiti, O. and Belgacem, F.B.M. (2020) 'Stability and numerical study of theoretical model of Zika virus transmission', Int. J. Mathematical Modelling and Numerical Optimisation, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.141–166
DOI: 10.1504/IJMMNO.2020.106528

What does the Internet look like and how can data be navigated it around it most efficiently and effectively? That is the question that a paper detailing a multilayer graph model of the internet topology could answer. Details are reported in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations.

Georg Tilch and Benjamin Fabian of the Humboldt University of Berlin, and Tatiana Ermakova of the Central Research Institute of Ambulatory Health Care, in Germany discuss how internet maps can be used to develop effective routing algorithms. The same maps can also be used to improve security mechanisms and resilience management at the internet service provider and commercial user level through detailed structural decomposition.

The team has studied so-called traceroute datasets from various large-scale measurement campaigns such as iPlane, CAIDA, Carna, DIMES, RIPE Atlas and RIPE IPv6L. Traceroute is a internet command that, as the name would suggest, traces the route taken by packets of data as they travel from user A to user Z via various servers and nodes on the internet. They have integreated this traceroute data into internet graphs to give them a view with an unprecedented level of detail and a solid scale.

"By employing a broad diversity of graph measures, this study creates an exhaustive snapshot of the global internet topology," the team writes. "This work creates a baseline for future internet research." They additionally suggest that repeated measurements and automated data integration could enable a better understanding of internet dynamics.

Tilch, G., Ermakova, T. and Fabian, B. (2020) 'A multilayer graph model of the internet topology', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp.219–245.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2020.106488

Efforts known as 'spicy measures', which included a series of stamp duties and charges on non-local and local home buyers, were put in place in an attempt to slow the escalation of house prices in Hong Kong. They ultimately failed. New research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Real Estate and Construction Economics, discusses the measures and the implications.

Jing Li of the Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong worked with Wui Wing Cheng and Kam Hung Chui Department of Economics and Finance, The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. They have attempted to unravel this puzzle in terms of overflow of liquidity and low interest rate environment.

The team found, through their carrying out of a Granger causality test, that the impact of artificially low interest rates lasts only in the short-term. By contrast, the impact of excess monetary supply has a much longer-lasting impact. "The findings challenge the prevalent view that Hong Kong government has little to do with housing market exuberance, as spicy measures increased the transaction costs of home buyers according to the Coase theorem," the team explains. They add that the major policy implication is that charging tax may be ineffective in cooling house prices in the face of a strong market. "The paper sheds light on understanding the housing price dynamics with varying market demand over time, an academic void not adequately filled in so far," the team says.

There is huge economic inequality in Hong Kong the team suggests. Others have asserted that housing ownership stands out as a pivotal tool for personal wealth deposit and accumulation. The team adds that despite various interventions, to increase housing supply by the government, Hong Kong remains the world's least affordable city in which to live. The decades come and go and nothing much changes, the team points out.

Li, J., Cheng, W.W. and Chui, K.H. (2019) 'Why 'spicy measures' fail to cool down Hong Kong's housing market?', Int. J. Sustainable Real Estate and Construction Economics, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.298–313.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSRECE.2019.106510

Throughout history, foreign expansion has been seen by leaders as a way of increasing and acquiring resources, crafts, knowledge, and markets. Often that expansion has involved invasions and wars. Today, the globalisation of society has driven us to the point where the battles are mostly fought in the board rooms of multinational companies rather than in the green fields of distant lands.

Research published in the Journal of International Business and Entrepreneurship Development looks at the theory underlying foreign market attractiveness and takes it as a reference for multinational entrepreneurial expansion and the prospects of related foreign ventures.

Maher Al Sayah, Charbel Salloum, and Hajer Jarrar of the USEK Business School, in Jounieh, Lebanon, Jacques Digout of the Toulouse Business School, in Paris, and Catherine Mercier-Suissa of the IAE Lyon School of Management, in Lyon, France, have tested the validity of the theory's constraints in terms of social ties and relations. In so doing, they analyse how entrepreneurs weigh information regarding a foreign market opportunities brought to them through socially tied sources.

The team found that the trust factor between the entrepreneur and their socially tied sources of information negatively influences foreign market entry attractiveness theory. In other words, an entrepeneur might give less weight to economic indicators and political security factors when offered perhaps contrary information from a trusted source and so foreign markets that might be seen as wholly unattractive to another entrepeneur lacking that information.

Al Sayah, M., Salloum, C., Digout, J., Mercier-Suissa, C. and Jarrar, H. (2020) 'Social ties, foreign market attractiveness and trust', J. International Business and Entrepreneurship Development, Vol. 12, Nos. 2/3, pp.83–108.
DOI: 10.1504/JIBED.2020.106171

Life is about thermodynamic extremes. When scientists first began formulating the Laws of Thermodynamics and talking about disorder and entropy, it seemed that somehow living things were in breach of the laws. How could they be such self-contained ordered, non-chaotic entities? But, of course, the answer lies in the fact that they are not self-contained, they do not represent a closed system.

There is, of course, no decrease in entropy when we look at the complete system. Living creatures draw their energy from the sun and as the sun pours out its heart, it is the entropy of that body that increases. Life on Earth is essentially paying for its perceived order through the increased entropy of the solar system and the space that surrounds it.

Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, a team from Turkey discusses how organisms live far-from thermodynamic equilibrium with their surroundings. They import exergy, export entropy and maintain constancy of their vital internal physiological constituents via homeostasis. Exergy is a measure of energy with the capacity to do what is referred to technically as work in the thermodynamic sense.

Cennet Yildiz, Volkan Adem Bilgin, Bayram Yilmaz, and Mustafa Özilgen of Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, have used data from the scientific literature to calculate how homeostasis helps organisms to save exergy when carrying out their life processes. Maintaining body temperature, by contrast, they show, costs exergy.

Intriguingly, the team has found that there are big differences between mammals and reptiles in terms of their exergy requirements. The daily exergy expenditure rate of an animal depends on metabolic rate, body mass, and nutritional exergy uptake, the team explains. Their calculations show that endothermic (homeothermic) mammal that spends about one-third of its time in active metabolic mode and the rest of the day at rest needs a mere 6 grams of meat per kilogram of body mass each day to satisfy its exergy requirements. In contrast, an ectothermic reptile with the same level of activity needs 500 grams of meat per kilogram of body mass.

Yildiz, C., Bilgin, V.A., Yılmaz, B. and Özilgen, M. (2020) 'Organisms live at far-from-equilibrium with their surroundings while maintaining homeostasis, importing exergy and exporting entropy', Int. J. Exergy, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp.287–301.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEX.2020.106457

How might cloud-based inbound logistics work in the coffee industry? That's the question that research published in the International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management looks to answer.

Anderson Nascimento, Eduardo Tavares, Gabriel Alves, Erica Sousa, and Bruno Nogueira of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), in Recife, Brazil, explain how the adoption of cloud computing across supply chains the world over has been growing and bringing with it many benefits in terms of on-demand resource provisioning and cost reduction. They point out that in the context of inbound logistics, there are also mechanisms by which cloud computing can facilitate information sharing for better decision making in terms of transport options for specific goods and suppliers.

Cloud computing has been around for many years but is yet to be as widely adopted in some industries as it might. The team's work points to an analysis of its utility as well as its pros and cons that might help those in coffee industry understand how it might best be used for enhancing performance and efficiency in transportation. In their analysis they demonstrate how managers now have a useful decision-making tool to hand for their inbound logistics that could lead to considerable improvements in delivery throughput.

Nascimento, A., Tavares, E., Alves Jr., G., Sousa, E. and Nogueira, B. (2020) 'Performability evaluation of transport modes for cloud-based inbound logistics: a study based on coffee industry', Int. J. Manufacturing Technology and Management, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp.126-147.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMTM.2020.106209

A study from Pakistan alludes to a lack of engagement in science subjects from young students. Biology, chemistry, and physics are demanding subjects, essential to so many areas of modern life. However, it might be said that traditional teaching methods are no longer grabbing student attention. The team, writing in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, suggests that multimedia audio-visual aids could be used a lot more in schools to captivate and engage science students.

Zeeshan Iqbal of the Department of Commerce at Bahauddin Zakariya University, in Multan, Pakistan and Aisha Sami of the Department of Psychology there have surveyed 240 secondary school students and analysed their responses statistically. Their findings showed that using multimedia audio-visual aids in the classroom is an effective strategy that increases students activity, maintains a high level of interest in lessons, and encourages students to participate more.

"The present study enriches the existing knowledge on use of advances technologies in various sectors including education sector. The researchers focus on the use of multimedia audio-visual aids in the science classrooms. They conclude that the utilisation of audio-visual aids play a very important role in effective learning of science subjects. This study provides significant insights in terms of taking reviews from teachers and students," the researchers explain.

Ultimately, the team will extend their approach to bigger sample groups and other cities with the aim of gleaning more general conclusions.

Iqbal, Z. and Sami, A. (2020) 'Role of technology in science classrooms: an exploratory study of Pakistan', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.115–126.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2020.106281

The advent of the Internet of Thing, essentially smart devices with connectivity to the internet has wrought many benefits, but with it comes the problem of how to cope with third party users with malicious or criminal intent.

Ivan Letteri, Giuseppe Della Penna, and Giovanni De Gasperis of the Department of Information Engineering at the University of L'Aquila, Italy, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking have looked at an aspect of IoT insecurity, attacks on smart devices by so-called botnets. A botnet is a network of computers or other devices that have been repurposed by a third party, often surreptitiously and almost always with improper use the ultimate aim. The improper use might be for personal gain, financial or otherwise, sabotage or other destructive or disruptive purposes.

Botnets are propagated through malware and might be operated by malicious individuals, hacker groups, corporate entities, criminal gangs, organized crime cartels, or indeed rogue states. One particularly insidious purpose to which they are put is to apply a directed attack on a target's computers so that they are overwhelmed. Such a distributed denial of service attack, leads, as the name would suggest to disruption of the normal computing activities of the target. This might be simply for the purposes of sabotage, perhaps to interfere with the day to day operations of an individual, company or even a government. But, often the dDOS is carried out so that while the system is overwhelmed, its security might be breached at another exposed entry point.

With IoT and other networked smart devices being recruited by botnet operators for nefarious purposed, the team has focused on how such dDOS attacks might be detected and halted by the system using deep learning techniques. Obviously, it is difficult to distinguish between normal activity and activity from distributed sources that are designed to overwhelm a system. To the system, it simply sees lots of requests and knowing which are from genuine users and which malicious cannot easily be discerned. The team points out that with the rise of software-defined networking (SDN), which is increasingly replacing conventional networking in IoT, the problem is becoming more acute.

The team's deep learning approach has been tested on two state-of-the-art frameworks, i.e., Keras and TensorFlow, and found to have 97 percent accuracy in detecting botnet attacks on the systems.

Letteri, I., Della Penna, G. and De Gasperis, G. (2019) 'Security in the internet of things: botnet detection in software-defined networks by deep learning techniques', Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 15, Nos. 3/4, pp.170-182.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHPCN.2019.106095

For many years, researchers have turned to the public logs of search engine terms to help them track the spread of disease. They can analyse the keywords and phrases that people use and when they become interested in a disease or have symptoms. Much value has been recognised in this kind of disease tracking and it has been used to research influenza outbreaks, the spread of MERS and the Zika virus, and other health problems. At the time of writing, it is approximately three months since we first recognised the emergence of a new coronavirus in China that would ultimately become known as the pathogen to cause the novel pandemic disease, Covid-19.

Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, in rather prescient work undertaken long before the disease name Covid-19 had been coined, a team from Gachon University in Korea, was asking whether social media content might be harvested to allow researchers to spot the emergence of new diseases and to track them once they appear.

SoYeop Yoo, DaeHo Kim, SungMin Yang, and OkRan Jeong of the Department of Software at Gachon University, explain how social media has become as a sensor for a wide range of topics in almost every area of human endeavour. Mining the vast daily output of this realm is a daunting task, but it can be done and many trends in politics, finance, science, health, medicine, entertainment, celebrity, and beyond can be tracked.

The team has now built a workflow that allows them to carry out real-time processing of social media data and to develop a model that manages the data and can detect the emergence of disease accurately. "If we can detect information about an infectious disease in real time, we can cope with it more quickly," the team suggests. Moreover, "We can obtain information about the symptoms of specific diseases and hospital information by analysing various opinions and information on the disease."

Yoo, S., Kim, D., Yang, S. and Jeong, O. (2020) 'Real-time disease detection and analysis system using social media contents', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.22-38.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2020.106103

The "blockchain" concept on which cryptocurrencies work might be extrapolated to many other areas of life, such as voting systems, where it's incontrovertible chain of decisions and evidence could ensure validity in a political or other election.

Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, a team from Lodz University of Technology, in Lódz, Poland, explain how it was the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, introduced by an individual (or a group) under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, that revealed the blockchain concept. The blockchain concept was invented to be used to give value to a cryptocurrency but its description shows that it might be used in other areas equally as well:

A blockchain is essentially an open and distributed ledger, a growing list of records (blocks) that are linked sequentially and encrypted. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a mathematical Merkle tree). The nature of a blockchain means that previous entries cannot be modified without all users seeing the modification, which makes it tamperproof.

Aneta Poniszewska-Maranda, Michal Pawlak, and Jakub Guziur of the Institute of Information Technology at LUT, explain that current electronic voting systems have their pros and cons. However, a common problem with all of the approaches used so far is that they suffer from inadequate transparency and auditability. There are four main approaches to electronic voting – dedicated voting machines, voting with optical scanning voting machines, voting with electronic ballot printers, and voting through the internet. Each has benefits, each has drawbacks. Moreover, the field is very fragmented by diverse technology and solutions to each of those main four methods.

This, the team suggests, is where blockchain would come into its own. Blockchain could underpin an existing approach to electronic voting but add the requisite ability to supervise the process and make it auditable to preclude fraud. Not only might the blockchain approach be used to prevent fraud it opens up the voting system to independent inspection beyond those holding the ballot, whether government, company board or other organization. It opens it up to being audited and inspected without compromising voter anonymity or the integrity of the result.

In theory.

The team concedes that there are limitations to even the blockchain approach at the moment in that voter anonymity might be compromised to a limited degree by the proximity of given blocks in the system. However, they suggest this will be surmountable with additional research.

Poniszewska-Maranda, A., Pawlak, M. and Guziur, J. (2020) 'Auditable blockchain voting system – the blockchain technology toward the electronic voting process', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.1–21.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2020.106102

Heed the words of their profits – In uncertain times, uncertain things can happen. Writing in the International Journal of Business Performance Management, a team in the United Arab Emirates asks whether cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is perhaps the most infamous, might ultimately overtake conventional currencies, the fiat money.

Avaneesh Jumde and Boo Yun Cho of the Higher Colleges of Technology on Dubai Women's Campus, Al Nahda, Dubai, point out how Bitcoin made the terms "cryptocurrency" and "blockchain" familiar to financiers and investors the world over. The technological roots of these terms quickly attracting those who live by the words of their profits. At first, there was a cryptocurrency bubble, which has waxed and waned, but always in the background and barely acknowledged by the bankers and financial regulators is the idea that such forms of money might somehow usurp hard cash.

The team has now used statistical analysis to hedge their bets as to which of the cryptocurrencies might eventually predominate following the proliferation of such forms of money and whether there might be a displacement of fiat money. There is, of course, the possibility that cryptocurrencies would exist in parallel with the fiat in a similar way to gold bullion existing alongside folding paper money, for instance. They have looked at the likes of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and Ripple and compared and contrasted their characteristics against the fiat money of different countries.

At the moment, fiat money remains the main contender in the battle for dominance in terms of accessibility, utility, the ability to convert to the currency of other nations, liquidity, volatility, and even financial speculation. Fiat money is more amenable to these requirements and remains preferable for the vast majority of people. However, major uncertainty about human behaviour driven by disease, climate change, and other uncontrollable factors, could lead to gradual or sudden change in our perception of money, its worth, and its utility.

Jumde, A. and Cho, B.Y. (2020) 'Can cryptocurrencies overtake the fiat money?', Int. J. Business Performance Management, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2, pp.6–20.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBPM.2020.106107

A survey of secure deletion of data held "in the cloud" has been undertaken by Minyao Hua, Yinyuan Zhao, and Tao Jiang of the School of Cyber Engineering at Xidian University in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. The team reports details in the International Journal of Embedded Systems.

Cloud computing utilizing third-party computer systems, servers, processors, data storage equipment to allow uses to offload the resources they would otherwise require on their premises on to remote systems. There are many different levels of cloud service, some are free or freemium or paid and aimed at individual consumers all the way up to the demands of the corporate and enterprise level. Security and privacy of the data any user stores in the cloud is critical to their ongoing success and sustainability. Breaches occur.

There is a secondary, but just as important issue in that when a user deletes the data they have stored in the cloud, they need to be assured that the data is securely deleted and can no longer be retrieved either by the cloud service provider or malicious parties that might illicitly access those services. The team's survey compares private and public cloud services and reports on the deletion security of the various services available.

In conclusion, the team recognises that there are problems facing users and have recognized two obvious, fundamental deletion methods that are used to purportedly ensure deletion security for users. The first is the extreme, physical destruction of storage media. The second usually involves software deletion that encrypts the data irretrievably if the key is discarded or lost. There is inevitably a trade-off between efficiency and security. The next challenge will be to ensure deleted data cannot be recovered by future quantum computing technology.

Hua, M., Zhao, Y. and Jiang, T. (2020) 'Secure data deletion in cloud storage: a survey', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.253–265.
DOI: 10.1504/IJES.2020.105939

Researchers in Nigeria are investigating how organic composting of cow rumen and vegetable waste affects macro-invertebrate populations at a market composting site. Composting is an important way to deal with such waste and the changes in populations of flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), and mites and ticks (Acarina), can act as a useful proxy for how well the process is working. The shifting populations coupled with physical and chemical examination can then be used to fine-tune the composting process for best end results.

Oluwatobi Oni of the University of Ibadan and his colleagues point out that it is critical that waste generated by people is managed properly whether it is of animal or other origin. The team points out that improper management can lead to the formation of breeding sites for pathogen-carrying invertebrates, such as malaria-bearing mosquitoes. The presence of waste in a market might also lead to food poisoning and diarrhoea, surface and groundwater contamination, the emergence of diseases such as cholera, poor indoor and outdoor air quality, and even increase the risk of flooding. As such, better methods of waste management are high on the agenda in the developing world, for instance.

"It is certain that composting remains important in the management of organic waste, especially in this part of the world and extensive study is proposed as regards species biodiversity associated with the different composting stages and their impact on compost quality," the team concludes.

Oni, O.D., Oloruntoba, E.O., Sridhar, M.K.C., Hammed, T.B., Ibrahim, K.T. and Popoola, K.O.K. (2020) 'Macro-invertebrate population changes during composting of organic waste at Alesinloye Market, Ibadan', Int. J. Agriculture Innovation, Technology and Globalisation, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp.266–284.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAITG.2020.106010

New research published in the International Journal of Learning and Change discusses the psychological needs and educational support of children with special physical needs.

Sofia Usmanova and Regina Gazizova of the Bashkir State University in Sterlitamak, Russia, discuss the promotion of what they refer to as a "harmonised personality" in learners with physical disabilities and how the necessary support can ensure that these young people have the tools to grow to be important and valued members of society.

There is an increasing number of children with special educational needs that require complex support in their educational activities, socialisation, upbringing, and development. We need to accumulate all available experience and attract various specialists to increase the level of development and adaptation in children with special needs, the team writes. An important part of that, the researchers suggest is providing diagnostics of a child's development based on several criteria, including verbal and non-verbal communication, motor skills, adaptation within the group, development of attention and concentration. Ultimately, training of educators based on improved knowledge is key.

Usmanova, S.G. and Gazizova, R.R. (2020) 'Characteristics of psychological and pedagogical support of children with special needs', Int. J. Learning and Change, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.55–75.
DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2020.105958

A computer algorithm based on how bats fly at night tracking flying insect prey with their bio-sonar could help meteorologists predict wind patterns more reliably, according to new research published in the International Journal of Embedded Systems. The work could have implications for the optimal running wind turbines for sustainable power generation.

Dingcheng Wang, Yiyi Lu, Beijing Chen, and Youzhi Zhao of the School of Computer and Software at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, in Nanjing, China, explain how wind power has come to the fore as one of the most important alternatives to electricity generation without the need to burn fossil fuels. However, it depends on steady winds. The stability of wind turbines is also susceptible to gusting and winds that are too fast-moving.

The team has now tested a bat algorithm model of wind direction and speed that in simulations shows that a multi-output least-squares support vector machine prediction is the most effective approach to prediction. Such predictions would not only help operators ensure the safety of the wind turbines by shutting them down at appropriate times but allow them to manage the output in the context of other power supplies feeding into the local or national electricity grids.

Wang, D., Lu, Y., Chen, B. and Zhao, Y. (2020) 'Wind weather prediction based on multi-output least squares support vector regression optimised by bat algorithm', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.137–145.
DOI: 10.1504/IJES.2020.105936

How can we keep electronic healthcare information secure in the world of the Internet of Things where diagnostic, devices, monitors, and other equipment are all connected? A team from India, writing in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering offers one possible solution.

Aakanksha Tewari and B.B. Gupta of the National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra, explain how they have developed a secure and low-cost environment for the IoT devices in healthcare. Their aim is to make the lives of patients easier and more comfortable by providing them with more effective treatments but at the same time not compromise their privacy.

They describe their solution as utilizing a very simple mutual authentication protocol. This, they say provides strong location privacy by using one way hashing, pseudo-random number generators, and bitwise operations. They add that strong location privacy is critical to ensuring healthcare security and they can enforce this property by ensuring that tags in the network are indistinguishable and the connection protocols ensure forward secrecy. The team has now verified through a formal proof model just how secure is their approach to location privacy. The team adds that the system is suitable for any kind of IoT healthcare device however large or small. Moreover, the protocol is suitable for both passive and active tags.

Tewari, A. and Gupta, B.B. (2020) 'An internet-of-things-based security scheme for healthcare environment for robust location privacy', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.298–303.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.105742

At the time of writing, museums the world over are being forced to close their doors to the public because of Covid-19. They will hopefully re-open at some point. In the meantime, a study published in the International Journal of Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism discusses the nature of so-called stakeholder engagement on Facebook among the world's most popular museums. This may well have implications during the current crisis as museums seek support through the closure period.

Vincenzo Scafarto of the Department of Human, Social and Health Sciences at the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, in Cassino, Federica Ricci and Gaetano della Corte of the Department of Law and Economics of Productive Activities, University of Rome 'Sapienza', and Carla Morrone of the Department of Business and Economics at the University of Naples 'Parthenope', Italy provide the details. They point out that social media and social networking have become one of the more immediate ways in which organizations can connect with their stakeholders. There are many advantages in terms of marketing new exhibits when it comes to running a museum as well as gleaning feedback from visitors in a way that was never possible with the conventional "suggestions box" at the exit approach of yesteryear.

However, the team has found that some museums have struggled to embrace the new technology and its opportunities for any number of reasons. They have now looked at the most well-attended museums and their Facebook activity to see whether insights can be garnered as to whether that particular realm of social media is engaging potential and past visitors in a positive manner. They found that on the whole, museums were simply using social media as a one-way promotional tool and not recognizing the importance of the true dialogue that the new tools offer the provider and the customer.

They suggest the museum stakeholders must use more finely grained metrics to investigate their own activity and the visitor response on social media. During the current "lockdown" of so many such attractions the world over, the time may well be ripe for museums to fully engage with their putative and past visitors before they re-open their doors once the crisis is history, as it were.

Scafarto, V., Ricci, F., della Corte, G. and Morrone, C. (2020) 'Stakeholder engagement via Facebook: an analysis of world's most popular museums', Int. J. Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.6–21.
DOI: 10.1504/IJDCET.2020.105887

Researchers in China have recognised that optical character recognition (OCR) has matured and can identify and extract information from documents that use standard writing styles. However, the world over people have very different ways of writing that might remain obscure to OCR. Moreover, people scrawl and gesture on tablets and phones and other devices in ways that are not even close to their normal handwriting and so are likely to be illegible to a computer.

The team has now developed an algorithm that can, with fine granularity, extract information from what might be loosely terms graffiti, convoluted handwriting that might even be indecipherable to some extent to a human reader, let alone a computer.

Jiashuang Xu and Zhangjie Fu of the Computer and Software College at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, and Xingyue Du of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Xi'an Polytechnic University in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, China, provide details of their approach in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering.

So far the team has trained their system to recognise 26 letters of the Latin (English) alphabet with almost 86 percent accuracy and are now working on extending and improving the technology. An additional, point is that the system utilizes a motion-detection approach rather than requiring touch input and so could be adapted for non-screen input devices such as wearables, where one might gesture to a device embedded in clothing, for instance.

Xu, J., Fu, Z. and Du, X. (2020) 'Graffiti-writing recognition with fine-grained information', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp.163–172.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2020.105721

A complementary structural equation modelling (SEM) and artificial intelligence (AI) approach could be used to determine what drives learners, students, to share information about themselves, so-called self-disclosure, online. Fundamentally, it seems that privacy has no direct effect, according to research published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, although the indirect effect of privacy concerns on trust does have an effect.

Ibrahim Arpaci of the Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology at Tokat Gaziosmanpasa University, in Turkey, explains that his model has focused on the role of security, privacy, and trust perceptions in predicting the attitudes towards the posting of "selfies", photographic self-portraits on social networking sites. His survey and analysis of the behaviour of some 300 undergraduate students provide important clues surrounding this concept.

It has been shown previously using "privacy calculus theory" that there is an inevitable trade-off between the need for personal privacy and the perceived benefits of self-disclosure in various settings and not least in the online world. It can explain the privacy paradox, for instance, where see people not wishing to have their data and personal information such as photos exposed and the urgency with which many people share that information willingly with other members of the public and perhaps unwittingly with third parties associated with the online tools and apps they use.

It is important from the sociological perspective to get a clear view of how online behaviour is driven, how paradoxes are sidestepped, and how the online world might evolve as social media and social networking mature.

Arpaci, I. (2020) 'What drives students' online self-disclosure behaviour on social media? A hybrid SEM and artificial intelligence approach', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.229–241.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2020.105847

Documents that express an opinion abound, especially in the so-called web 2.0 era of social media and social networking. Jae-Young Chang of the Department of Computer Engineering at Hansung University, in Seoul, South Korea, suggests that there is a need to find ways to summarise their contents for a wide range of applications.

Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, he points out that conventional text summarization methods do not work well with multiple documents authored by different writers. He has now proposed an algorithm that can identify and extract the representative documents from a large number of documents. Applying the process might be the first step towards a new approach to "opinion mining", which could be useful in politics, marketing, education, and many other areas of human endeavour.

The approach involves detecting the sentiment of the most important – judging – document in a corpus and then ranking the relevance of others from this central point to allow a summary of the opinions expressed to be constructed. A successful proof of principle was carried out on movie reviews. The same approach should work well with product reviews and other kinds of opinion.

Chang, J-Y. (2020) 'Multi-document summarisation using feature distribution analysis', Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.111–121.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCVR.2020.105681

Falls account for a lot of morbidity and mortality among older people. According to the World Health Organisation, almost 40 million falls are recorded each year with around 650000 of those ultimately leading to the person's death.

Writing in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, a team from the Amrita School of Engineering, in Coimbatore, India, provides details of what they refer to as a "frugal and affordable system" that can monitor a person's movements. The system uses motion sensors and data analytics to determine whether a particular motion of an old person is indicative of a fall.

The system can then alert a carer, friend, or relative to come and assist. One of the biggest problems in a fall is sustaining a hip fracture and it is often the hospitalisation and ensuing complications that lead to a fatality. Attending quickly to the person who has fallen is often critical in reducing morbidity and the ongoing risk of mortality.

The team explains that 20 to 30 percent of older people who have a fall, suffer moderate to severe physical injuries such as broken bones, cuts, and bruises. There are often ongoing mental health issues caused by the embarrassment and loss of self-esteem associated with a fall as well as the mobility problems that arise and decreased physical activity.

The team's system utilises various sensors, an accelerometer, piezo sensor, infrared sensor, and a gyroscopic motion sensor. The output from these is fed to a microcontroller and a wireless transmission module (Bluetooth in the prototype, but Wi-Fi would be plausible) to transmit the output to a receiver, which quickly ports the data to a server and the data analytics to generate an answer regarding whether or not the user has fallen. The server-side system can then trigger an alert if they have. The team suggests that the same device might also incorporate a heart-rate monitor to add an extra layer of useful data for carers and emergency healthcare. The team has demonstrated efficacy with the prototype and describes it as "foolproof".

Kowshik, G., Anudeep, J., Krishna, P.V., Vasudevan, S.K. and Shah, I. (2020) 'An inventive and innovative system to detect fall of old aged persons - a novel attempt with IoT, sensors and data analytics to prevent the post fall effects', Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.1–18.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMEI.2020.105654

Plain text documents and databases are vulnerable to intrusion by malicious third parties in a way that encrypted, password-protected materials are not. However, there are computer overheads and costs to adding encryption and so documents are often held on servers in plaintext nevertheless. Writing in the International Journal of Information and Communication Technology, a team from China is developing an intrusion detection system that is not resource hungry but can protect plaintext materials.

The team points out that with so-called "big data" the resource costs of encryption can make such protection a non-negligible task. Processing big data files can become unfeasibly slow with the constant need to decrypt and re-encrypt materials as they are retrieved, edited, curated, and otherwise processed and saved. However, the storage of information in plain text is prone to information leaks.

The team has suggested that pattern recognition and information filtering methods could be used to recognise intrusion and allow plaintext attacks to be quickly blocked before significant amounts of data are leaked but without those massive encryption-decryption overheads. An additional benefit is that the information can be shared between legitimate users without the need for cumbersome password protocols and systems being in place.

The reports that their system has a "relatively high probability of intrusion detection and low false alarm probability at low signal-to-noise ratio, which improves the intrusion detection and interception capability."

Ma, Z., Ma, Y., Huang, X., Zhang, M., Su, B. and Zhao, L. (2020) 'User information intrusion prediction method based on empirical mode decomposition and spectrum feature detection', Int. J. Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.99–111.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICT.2020.105602

Almost everywhere you look where two or more people are gathered together, someone is staring at the screen of a mobile phone or other device, swiping left, swiping right, tapping icons, scrolling...

...some research would suggest that the world is addicted to its smartphones and tablets. Another, more positive, interpretation would be that as a social animal we are simply better connected across our societies and globally than any earlier generation could ever have dreamed of. There are pros and cons to our so-called 24/7 connectivity. We are by turns better informed in a more timely manner about local happenings and global events. We have access to almost any piece of information we might need almost instantaneously. We can "speak" to almost anyone we might ever need to, from friends and family, work colleagues, celebrities, politicians, and business leaders.

Conversely, there are times when email, social media, news notifications, trending updates, and viral memes might become overwhelming and people talk of taking a digital detox. They disconnect, albeit temporarily, they go, to a limited extent, off-grid. We talk of finding me time, being mindful, mental wellbeing, and simply avoiding the endless stream of cat/dog videos that seem to pervade even the most stringently business-like timelines on our devices.

Work published in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, has investigated the notion of technology-induced job anxiety and how it arises during what we used to think of as non-work time, the out of hours period at the end of each day, the weekends, days off, vacations etc.

Jinnan Wu, Nannan Wang, Wenjuan Mei, and Lin Liu of Anhui University of Technology in Ma'anshan, China, suggest that the way in which work-related technology invades our purportedly personal time needs detailed investigation. In their paper, they were keen to look at how this invasion affects job anxiety itself.

Fundamentally, the study shows that "techno-invasion positively predicts job anxiety. However, employees have better organisational support and demonstrate computer self-efficacy (personal control over their digital domain in other words) show less job anxiety. Moreover, when an employee has good computer self-efficacy but perceives organisational support as being low, they can still avoid much of the anxiety felt by those who have less control of their digital realm even if they are well supported by their organisation.

In other words, employees learning to have more self-control outside of work time and not succumbing to the pressures of job-related technological notifications will inevitably reduce anxiety relative to those employees who do not feel in control.

Wu, J., Wang, N., Mei, W. and Liu, L. (2020) 'Technology-induced job anxiety during non-work time: examining conditional effect of techno-invasion on job anxiety', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.162–182.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2020.105520

Peer-to-peer, P2P, computer systems became infamous as the architecture that allowed users all over the world to share digital content, music, videos, software, much of which was "pirated" or distributed in breach of copyright laws. However, as with most inventions, there are always illicit and legitimate applications.

As the concept spread, so it became obvious that the benefits of a network where each node is a peer on a distributed unfixed network infrastructure could be used to reduce the burden on centralized servers in terms of computing power needed by applications, communications protocols, and storage. Indeed, many cloud-based applications utilize P2P frameworks to share the processing and storage loads so that increasingly powerful servers and bigger data storage facilities are no longer necessary for a wide range of applications.

Of course, P2P is not perfect. Typical systems can suffer from unreliable network transfers and unstable availability of data files. A new approach to circumvent these problems is outlined in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations.

Hong He of the School of Computer and Communication at the Hunan Institute of Engineering in Xiangtan City, Hunan Province, China, has proposed a new type of P2P-based storage framework that has a set of "virtual" peers. This improves the reliability of networking transfers and storage by exploiting network coding technology. His study of the new system reveals it to be capable of achieving better tradeoffs between reliability and efficiency. Indeed, the system "outperforms the existing solutions in terms of many performance metrics, including data availability, resource utilisation, and communication cost," He says.

He, H. (2020) 'A reliable peer-to-peer storage framework based on virtual peers model', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.129–146.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2020.105513

Predictions about how much wind power will be in place by the year 2040 have been too conservative according to research published in the International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy.

Yu Sang Chang, Hann Earl Kim, and Seongmin Jeon of Gachon University, South Korea and Yoo-Taek Lee of Boston University, in Massachusetts, USA, have looked at the forecasts for electricity generation using wind turbines for the dates 2020, 2030, and 2040 for Canada, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the USA from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). They have compared those figures with their own alternative projections and those of other organisations and suggest that, with the exception of Japan, more electricity will be generated using this sustainable power source than had been thought.

The researchers point out that in 2015 there were well over 300,000 wind turbines around the world generating, nominally at least, well over 400 gigawatts of power. Capacity quadrupled between 2007 and 2015 and has continued to grow. There are around 85 countries using windpower on the commercial scale. China has one of the biggest on-shore installations with several thousand turbines having a combined power output of 6 gigawatts in the Gansu Wind Farm. One of the largest off-shore facilities is the London Array in the UK with a capacity of 630 MW and there are plans for one of double that capacity to be sited at Dogger Bank in the North Sea off the Yorkshire coast of England. This facility is expected to power 4.5 million homes.

These kinds of details can feed predictive models but the team suggests that earlier efforts have been hampered in their forecasts by data inconsistencies. They hope that their new approach provides a better perspective. Fundamentally, their analysis coincides with predictions for Canada, India, and Japan, but they have more optimistic outcomes for China, South Korea, and the USA. In sum, global capacity, they suggest will be much greater by 2040. They believe that technological breakthroughs in turbine design and power transmission have been ignored in conservative estimates of future output and it is these that give them hope for a more sustainable and wind-powered future.

Chang, Y.S., Kim, H.E., Jeon, S. and Lee, Y-T. (2020) 'How much wind-powered electricity may be generated in 2040 by China, USA and four other countries?', Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.196–212.
DOI: 10.1504/IJETP.2020.105509

It is a common foible of many of us. Putting off until tomorrow what we might do today. We commonly refer to it as procrastination. Research published in the International Journal of Business Environment suggests that time management, perfectionism, and fear of failure often trigger task avoidance. The researchers add that the organisational result is commonly greater stress in our work and lower job satisfaction.

Elif Bilginoglu and Murat Yalçintas of Istanbul Ticaret Üniversitesi, in Turkey, suggest that the common perception is that procrastination is a negative personality trait, a destructive habit, it causes trouble in education, career, and personal life. It interfere with outcomes and success and can be a significant problem in many areas. It's usually perceived as being born of laziness and is an irrational approach to one's tasks. The team suggests, however, that a certain amount of procrastination is perhaps normal and necessary. Everyone needs to take a little timeout here and there during the working day.

There have been numerous studies of procrastination in education, specifically among students. The team has now focused on the work environment. Their specific focus is on Turkey where they suggest that many people are chronic procrastinators. With the details of this new research in hands, managers might be guided to help address the problem of procrastination and to plan to overcome its worst effects. Time efficiency habits can be encouraged as well as positive feedback where merited to reduce the fear of failure. Not only will reducing the amount of procrastination that is done by employees help the employer it could benefit the employees through reduced stress and greater job satisfaction.

Bilginoglu, E. and Yalçintas, M. (2020) 'Procrastination, its antecedents and its organisational outcomes among employees in the public sector in Istanbul', Int. J. Business Environment, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.47–68.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2020.105472

In light of the recent incidence of natural disasters, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and the spread of a potentially lethal disease, COVID-19, it is timely to consider how we might develop community resilience to reduce the loss of life, disruption, and other problems in the wake of such events.

Writing in the International Journal of Critical Infrastructures, a research team from Australia and Vietnam, has taken three past events as case studies. They have looked at the research literature surrounding those events and the secondary work and have combined information to help them build a conceptual model of disaster. Their work offers new concepts that might improve community resilience capabilities but also identifies effective ways to improve still further. The same work expands on the potential of social media for preparedness strategies and discusses community empowerment, and the shared responsibilities of all those affected and involved, particularly the response and regulatory agencies.

The team also reveals the gaps in the literature in this area and attempts to fill them. Their focus was on the floods in Queensland, Australia, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Japanese earthquake. The team suggests that their findings demonstrate that "in order to sustain effective and efficient strategies and practices, supportive policies, legislations, and resource allocation must be established."

Whittaker, S., Khalfan, M.M.A. and ulHaq, I. (2020) 'Developing community disaster resilience through preparedness', Int. J. Critical Infrastructures, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp.53-76.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCIS.2020.105411

It's perhaps the news lazy phone users have been dreaming of. Researchers have demonstrated that lying on your side and holding your phone is the best posture to avoid pain and problems in the upper back, arms and wrists.

Writing in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, a team from South Korea investigated whether phone use while sitting, lying on one's back or lying on one's side was more or less likely to lead to problems in the upper extremities of the musculoskeletal system. The team recruited thirty healthy young adults and instructed them to type on a smartphone for five minutes at a time and to have a five-minute rest. They used electromyography to measure muscle response in different postures and measured wrist and elbow joint angles during use.

Different muscles were more active in different positions but were highest in the sitting position and the joint angles were suggestive of greater strain in this posture. Using the phone while lying on one's side demonstrated a neutral wrist angle, so better alignment, in contrast, and the least muscular activity. As such, the team recommends phone users will be more comfortable and suffer less from problems of the upper musculoskeletal system if they lie on their sides while using their phones. Of course, the demands of the workplace, public transport, and other circumstances may preclude this more relaxing posture.

The next step, of course, will be to persuade phone users to not use the phones while walking to prevent pedestrian collisions and the development of a stoop.

Yun, H-Y. and Yoon, T-L. (2019) 'Exploratory study on adequacy of upper extremity position during smartphone usage', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.390-402.
DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2019.105362

Nature has provided a great deal of inspiration for computer scientists developing search algorithms and ways to solve complicated problems with as little computing power as possible. Ant colonies, beehives, bat hunting, and now slime mould foraging can be used as models on which an algorithm can be constructed.

Writing in the International Journal of Innovative Computing and Applications, Anthony Brabazon and Sean McGarraghy of the University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, explain how 99.5% of the living things on earth lack neurones and yet are proven success stories despite what we, as neuronal creatures, might whimsically perceive as a deficiency. One group of organisms that have been rather successful for millions of years are the so-called slime moulds. The term is an informal name for several different groups of organisms that are actually unrelated. They are not moulds, rather they are organisms that can live freely as single cells, but under certain conditions will form communicating aggregates that work in concert as if they are a multicellular reproductive structure.

The team explains that the plasmodial slime mould Physarum polycephalum, which forms from aggregates of individual amoebae, encases itself in a thin membrane and can act as a single organism. The researchers explain how "Inspiration has been drawn from some of its foraging behaviour to develop algorithms for graph optimisation." They report examples of the algorithms that can be developed and make suggestions as to how future research might proceed to utilise the benefits and minimise any limitations.

Of course, the slime mould itself is, despites its lack of neurons, carrying out computations all the while, chemical computations, you might say. So, in a sense modelling its behaviour in an algorithm is an excellent foundation.

"Of course," the team concedes, "it is also important to note that the developed algorithms are very simplified representations of (the imperfectly understood) real-world foraging behaviours of P. polycephalum and other slime moulds and doubtless future biological research concerning these organisms will open up new avenues of investigation."

Brabazon, A. and McGarraghy, S. (2020) 'Slime mould foraging: an inspiration for algorithmic design', Int. J. Innovative Computing and Applications, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.30–45.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICA.2020.105316

Social media and online social networking are almost ubiquitous billions of people use the big four" services: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp; the latter three now all owned by Facebook. Many of these platforms have large financial turnover and employ thousands of staff. It's big business. But, asks a new paper in the International Journal of Procurement Management is advertising on social media effective?

Mohammed Nuseir of the Department of Business Administration at Al Ain University of Science and Technology Abu Dhabi Campus, in the United Arab Emirates, points out how social media has over more than a decade created a new space in which business can sell their goods and services like never before. The big four applications link individuals through various formats – textual updates, graphics, and videos, for instance.

Nuseir has found that there is indeed a reciprocal relationship between users/consumers and the companies that are marketing to them via social media. This is underpinned by the nature of social media where users feel that they have more agency than they ever had with conventional media such as newspapers and magazines, radio, television, and even the internet before web 2.0. Users perceive themselves as having their own personal space within the realm of social media and that they have control of what they share and what passes before them on the various apps that give them access to these sites.

"This ownership and personalisation speak to the degree to which relationships are formed between corporate entities and individuals in contemporary society," explains Nuseir. As such, marketers must recognise the personalisation of the advertisements they present to potential clients and they need to understand and build on the very reasons why people use social media in the first place. This is the route to successful marketing in the age of "social".

Nuseir, M.T. (2020) 'Is advertising on social media effective? An empirical study on the growth of advertisements on the Big Four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp)', Int. J. Procurement Management, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.134–142
DOI: 10.1504/IJPM.2020.105191

A new study from the USA published in the International Journal of Business and Emerging Markets, suggests that when people interact with non-domestic, i.e. foreign, e-commerce websites they prefer to use online "live chat" channels rather than the telephone.

Daniel Brannon and Muhanad Manshad Monfort of the College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado, have looked at the benefits of computer-mediated environments and how they function in the context of cross-cultural services. The team points out that growth among e-commerce sites outside the USA and the English-speaking world, particularly in emerging markets is seeing enormous growth. "Several of the world's fastest-growing e-commerce retailers are located in emerging economies," they point out. "For instance, Chinese retailers JD dot com and Alibaba."

Despite this growth, the team reports that several non-domestic e-commerce sites have struggled to gain a foothold in the US markets. There may well be a perception that these companies are somehow culturally distant and many US consumers are therefore reluctant to encounter or deal with "foreign" customer service personnel. Of course, many non-domestic companies invest heavily in so-called cultural intelligence so that they can engage more authentically with non-native customers. This is thought to make any interaction between a US consumer and a foreign service agent smoother and more positive.

However, there is evidence that the inverse of that effort might work better in many instances. De-personalising the transactions by switching to computer-mediated live chat instead of communication via a telephone call, can have many advantages. The business can control more easily the characteristics of the interaction, especially where automated responses are utilized. When an operative is required to interject, there will be scripted responses and their training will be useful in ensuring communication smooth and polite communication with a lower risk of miscommunication through spoken-word language barriers.

"Given the recent global expansion of online retail, managers should be aware of how foreign (vs. domestic) consumers using their websites prefer to communicate and interact with them," the team explains. As training of service staff in matters of non-native cultural etiquette as well as language skills is inevitably costly. Live chat can preclude ambiguity in communication to some degree as well as circumventing the need for the comprehensive training that a telephone operative would need.

Brannon, D.C. and Manshad, M. (2019) 'Bridging the divide with a chat window: why consumers prefer using live chat support on foreign e-commerce sites', Int. J. Business and Emerging Markets, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.335-347.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBEM.2019.105229

Computational methods have been used to design a new drug that might be used to target the defective protein present in familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (fCJD). The de novo pharmacophore-based drug design and virtual molecular docking work is described in detail in the International Journal of Computational Biology and Drug Design.

To create their designer drug, the team starts with a data file that describes the complete structure of the target protein obtained from the Protein Data Bank (RCSB PDB). They use a computational model, the Yasara energy minimisation webserver to drill down on this structure to obtain its likely shape and form in the body. This minimized structure is then validated using the RAMPAGE webserver.

The next step is to use yet more computational tools to home in on hollows or "pockets" in the protein structure into which putative small molecule drugs might fit, or dock. With those pockets in hand, they then use another tool to generate likely chemical structures that might fit, this ultimately gives them an optimal "pharmacophore", a plausible drug structure, which can be used as a template to search the PubChem database of known chemicals that have a very similar size and shape. The team then uses a docking program to see which of those chemicals in the database are most likely to fit the pockets in the target protein in this disease.

They identified five small molecules that might be active in this context. Analysis of these chemicals' ADMET (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity) properties show that any of the five might ultimately be proven to be candidates for further investigation in the laboratory and ultimately in the clinic as drug development leads.

The team says that their approach could be helpful in the design and development of many more potential anti-prion drugs. Optimising the method to incorporate more sophisticated modeling techniques could improve the drug leads obtained.

Alam, R., Rahman, G.M.S., Hasan, N. and Chowdhury, A.S. (2020) 'A De-Novo drug design and ADMET study to design small molecule stabilisers targeting mutant (V210I) human prion protein against familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (fCJD)', Int. J. Computational Biology and Drug Design, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.21–35.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCBDD.2020.105103

How do call centre managers most effectively decide on staffing levels. New research published in the European Journal of Industrial Engineering offers a new approach.

Rodrigo Barbosa-Correa, Alcides Santander-Mercado, and María Jubiz-Dia of the Universidad del Norte, in Colombia, and colleague Ricardo Rodríguez-Ramos of Bienestar IPS also in Colombia, explain that optimizing staffing levels in a telecommunications company call centre generally needs to be done at the same time as keeping costs down. They carried out an analysis of daily tasks to work out hourly workloads. They then applied an aggregate planning model to get an initial solution for requisite staffing levels based on workforce costs, service level, personnel hiring and migration, and work supplements.

The output from that analysis was then fed into a discrete-event simulation model. This allowed the team to assess the system performance based on queuing characteristics, demand variability, and resources utilization. They could then look at different schedules and capacity levels to see which would perform best and match the demands of a call centre.

The team suggests that their approach gave better results with lower waiting times and more balanced resource utilization than other analytical techniques previously used. "The approach is useful for planning capacity levels in projects and locating new centres," the team writes.

Barbosa-Correa, R., Santander-Mercado, A., Jubiz-Diaz, M. and Rodríguez-Ramos, R. (2020) 'Establishing call-centre staffing levels using aggregate planning and simulation approach', European J. Industrial Engineering, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.1–33.
DOI: 10.1504/EJIE.2020.105083

How can we detect fake profiles to preclude their disruptive and deleterious effects on social media and social networks? Writing in the International Journal of Information and Computer Security, Somya Ranjan Sahoo and B.B. Gupta of the National Institute of Technology at Kurukshetra in Haryana, India, discuss the issues and possible solutions.

Recent research in fake profile detection, they explain has focused on machine learning in order to reveal the kind of suspicious account activity that might betray a fake account. The team is now taking machine learning to big data to find a better way to distinguish the fakers from the movers and shakers, on the well-known social networking system, Facebook.

Facebook is an important part of life for many people, for organizations and other entities. There are some 2.5 billion monthly active users and approximately 1.7 billion people use a Facebook account every day. It is not known how many fake accounts lurk within those statistics. It is known that many malicious third parties hoping to gain access to personal, private, and other data with malicious intent will exploit loopholes in the Facebook system. That combined with social engineering confidence tricks and other exploits can provide them with sufficient data to access other people's accounts and from there to steal personal information and then even break into other systems such as email and banking systems.

There have been many security exploits used to gain malicious access to information but the use of fake accounts can be the most successful especially when the person being attacked assumes the legitimacy or honesty of the fake account, accepts a friendship request or clicks on a malware phishing link, for instance.

The team's tailored extension for the popular Google Chrome browser allows them to successfully spot fake accounts. This might be used by security experts as a third-party reporting tool to help Facebook cleanup its systems or ultimately perhaps by the company or users. The team is also now extending the approach to other popular networking sites such as Twitter and Google+.

Sahoo, S.R. and Gupta, B.B. (2020) 'Fake profile detection in multimedia big data on online social networks', Int. J. Information and Computer Security, Vol. 12, Nos. 2/3, pp.303-331.
DOI: 10.1504/IJICS.2020.105181

Extracts from the leaves of the African tree, the velvet bushwillow, Combretum molle, can be used as a bio template for the environmentally friendly synthesis of silver nanoparticles with antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant activity. Chemists Z. Nate, M.J. Moloto, P.K. Mubiayi, and F.M. Mtunzi of Vaal University of Technology, and N.P. Sibiya of the University of Kwazulu-Natal, and South Africa, explain details of their novel process this week in the International Journal of Nano and Biomaterials.

Plant extracts have been used successfully in the synthesis of metal nanoparticles. Indeed, aqueous extracts of Combretum molle have been used previously. The presence of tannins, proteins, flavonoids, and phenols allows the extracts to reduce metal salts in solution to insoluble metal particles while the same biomolecules can also act as capping agents that control the growth of those very nanoparticles and act to "cap" the surfaces.

In the present work, the team has successfully generated silver nanoparticles in a narrow range of sizes from 1 to 30 nanometres. They found that silver nanoparticles made in this way were more effective against a range of microbes than nanoparticles made using a standard non-biological procedure. Activity was demonstrated against important pathogenic species: Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

"These results indicated that the synthesised silver nanoparticles can be used as growth inhibitors against the studied bacteria and fungi species as they showed better inhibition than the already available antibacterial and antifungal agents," the team writes. They add that the capped silver nanoparticles have antioxidant activity but it is not as great as the activity of the aqueous extract from the plant itself.

Nate, Z., Moloto, M.J., Sibiya, N.P., Mubiayi, P.K. and Mtunzi, F.M. (2019) 'Green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using aqueous extract of Combretum molle leaves, their antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activity', Int. J. Nano and Biomaterials, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp.189–203.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNBM.2019.104931

On St Valentine's Day, 14th February, some people may have been lucky enough to receive fresh-cut roses. A new study published International Journal Postharvest Technology and Innovation has advice on how to make the blooms, if not the love, last.

Esmaeil Chamani of the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, in Ardabil, Iran and Carol Wagstaff of the School of Food Biosciences at the University of Reading, Reading, UK, have evaluated the effect of different levels of relative humidity (60%, 75%, and 90%) and re-cutting of the stems at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 centimetres re-cutting at the end of the stem on "vase life". The team carried out two parallel experiments using either a bucket or a vase. Conditions were randomised and eight replications in the bucket experiment and five replications in the vase experiment were carried out.

The basic result was that re-cutting stems had little effect on how long the blooms retained their floral prowess. Increasing humidity from 60 to 90 percent was the optimal alteration for prolonging the display. The findings corroborate how shortened longevity of cut roses is primarily related to water loss from their large leaf area and the essentially unfavourable growth conditions for a cut flower. That said, the team also found that higher humidity would increase bacterial growth. This could be counteracted by cutting 5 centimetres from the end of the cut stem.

The blooming bottom line for Valentine's lovers – trim your rose stems and make sure things are kept quite steamy around the vase.

Chamani, E. and Wagstaff, C. (2019) 'Effects of postharvest relative humidity and various re-cutting on vase life of cut rose flowers', Int. J. Postharvest Technology and Innovation, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.70–82.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPTI.2019.104207

Research published in the International Journal of Technology Policy and Law sets out to answer the question: Can artificial intelligence (AI) replace whistle-blowers in the business sector?

Kafteranis Dimitrios in the Faculty of Law at the University of Luxembourg, suggests that major technological developments in recent years have changed significantly the way we business and at the same time they have created new ways for insiders to expose unethical behaviour in those businesses. Evidence of wrongdoing can be accrued digitally very quickly and modern communication tools allow for the almost instantaneous dissemination of such information to regulatory authorities, the media, and the public.

The emergence of so-called artificial intelligence and machine learning also now means that the extraction of evidence of wrongdoing might be automated. This could remove the human whistleblower from the equation allowing problems to be flagged far more effectively and efficiently without making any one individual a target for remonstrations from those involved in the wrongdoing. This could apply equally to exposure to management within a company or beyond the company when it is the management or the company itself that is involved in the wrongdoing.

The research as it stands suggests that artificial whistleblowing is not credible but could be used to assist a human whistleblower in reporting misdemeanours at various levels to the appropriate authority.

Dimitrios, K. (2019) 'Can artificial intelligence replace whistle-blowers in the business sector?', Int. J. Technology Policy and Law, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.160–171.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTPL.2019.104948

Easier access to information and better communication tools has empowered consumers and allows them to make informed and perhaps more socially responsible purchasing decisions. At the same time, corporate responsibility and sustainability are gaining momentum. One might imagine that such positive moves in the world of commerce are universal. However, the diamond industry remains opaque.

Writing in the International Journal of Sustainable Society, Meike Schulte and Cody Morris Paris of Middlesex University Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, suggest that the Kimberley Process was set up to allow the rough diamond trade to monitored and to impede the flow of conflict, or blood, diamonds. Such products hewn from areas of conflict and where human rights abuses, child labour, and slavery, are manifest should not be on the market in a socially responsible world.

The team reports that one in five diamonds in terms of volume and one in ten diamonds in terms of value may have been produced under conditions that cannot be regarded as sustainable or ethical. Human rights abuses in the industry are thus incredibly common across several African nations where diamonds are mined with Angola having the worst record for conflict diamonds where the ethics of human rights are taken into account.

The team suggests that human rights violations are systematic and systemic in the rough diamond industry. Global rough diamond production amounts to around 150 million carats each year with a market value of around 16 billion US dollars. It is time, some of these vast revenues were turned to improving the lives of those working in the mines and to extracting child slaves from the often-horrendous working conditions they face. The team adds that related industries – gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum – have similar ethical problems that must also be addressed.

Schulte, M. and Paris, C.M. (2020) 'Blood diamonds: an analysis of the state of affairs and the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process', Int. J. Sustainable Society, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.51–75.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2020.105017

The notion of "recency bias" is related to hubris. It is the perception that the events and happenings of recent history will persist into the future. It suggests that the status quo will generally be maintained. Unfortunately, it does not take into account the random effects of human behaviour, environmental response, and many other factors that can upset a recent balance. Of course, hubris usually implies that complacency and recency bias will have a negative outcome as the future unfolds, but occasionally good things do happen.

A team writing in the International Journal of Trade and Global Markets, considers the effects of emotions on recency bias in the context of managerial decision making. Felizia Arni Rudiawarni, Made Narsa, and Bambang Tjahjadi of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the Universitas Airlangga in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, have carried out an experimental study to investigate the emotional baggage associated with recency bias in international financial markets with a specific focus on emerging markets rather than the established markets of the developed world.

Previous studies have demonstrated the existence of recency bias where people give more weight to the latest information they receive rather than considering all previous information too in their decision making and judgement. The present study looks at how elements of emotion affect recency bias. The team has found that recency bias is so strong and ingrained in our behaviour that emotions do not seem to affect our decisions. However, there is an impact on judgement of the order in which positive and negative information is received and perceived. Fundamentally, people don't like to hear bad news.

As such, the team has some advice for strategists in the corporate communications department: When a company has mixed information to disseminate, it is essential to disclose the bad news first and then quickly follow up with positive information to avoid the severely punishing effects of recency bias on the company's share price, for instance.

Rudiawarni, F.A., Made Narsa, I. and Tjahjadi, B. (2020) 'Are emotions exacerbating the recency bias?: An experimental study', Int. J. Trade and Global Markets, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.61-70.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTGM.2020.104913

How do "Youtubers" make money? This is an important question for the modern aged posed in the latest issue of the International Journal Business Information Systems. Bo Han of the College of Business at Texas A&M University-Commerce, in Commerce, Texas, USA, offers an answer.

There might be several ways for someone who uploads video content to the site Youtube. Advertising revenue and the marketing of products, services, and digital resources are a couple. However, under the company's current guidelines only Youtubers with more than a threshold number of subscribers will earn advertising revenues from advertisements displayed alongside or within their content and channel.

"YouTube has been a critical social media site for users to share their self-made videos such as 'vlogs', amateur performances, parodies, and funny 'fail' videos with the public," Han explains; there are more than one billion active users and some 400 hours worth of content is uploaded every minute generating billions of video views every day.

Han's analysis of the most popular Youtubers suggests that annual revenues are in line with the number of views received on a given channel, the after-view comment rate, and the attitude of viewers. Revenues tend to slide for older Youtubers, suggesting it is very much a youth phenomenon.

Han has some advice for those hoping to earn a living as a Youtuber:

"We expect our findings can inform entrepreneurial YouTubers that their monetisation model is strongly dependent on both their impact breadth and how well they utilise the acquired resources," he says. "The traditional marketing strategy is critical (e.g., more views leading to more revenues), but it is also important for YouTubers to utilise the social media features offered by YouTube to deepen their impacts on the audience, in order to achieve the expected monetisation success."

Han, B. (2020) 'How do YouTubers make money? A lesson learned from the most subscribed YouTuber channels', Int. J. Business Information Systems, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.132-143.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIS.2020.104807

The World-wide Web, WWW, or the web, has grown immensely since its academic and research inception in 1991 and its subsequent expansion into the public and commercial domains. Initially, it was a network of hyperlinked pages and other digital resources. Very early on, it became obvious that some resources were so vast that it would make more sense to generate the materials required by individual users dynamically rather than storing every single digital entity as a unique item.

Today, countless websites are dynamic, every unique visit draws information and data dynamically from a back-end database and presents it to the user on-demand. Whereas static pages can easily be spidered by search engines, database content that drives dynamic websites is inaccessible. Even as long ago as 2001 when there were already several terabytes of public, static web data, it was estimated that the "invisible web", or "hidden web", not to be confused with the "dark web", was some 550 times bigger than the visible resources.

Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, a team from India describes how they have developed a genetic algorithm-based intelligent multiagent architecture that can extract information from the invisible web. The tools could allow even materials that are purportedly off-limits to conventional search engines to be spidered, scraped, and catalogued for a wide range of applications.

D. Weslin of Bharathiar University and Joshva Devadas of Vellore Institute of Technology describe the details and benefits of their approach in the latest issue of the journal. "The experimental results show that the proposed architecture provides better precision and recall than the existing web crawlers," the team writes.

Weslin, D. and Devadas, T.J. (2020) 'Genetic algorithm-based intelligent multiagent architecture for extracting information from hidden web databases', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.204–213.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIDM.2020.104740

With an aging population, there is an increasing need for a smart home to be able to monitor health and behaviour with a view to allowing people to continue to live in their homes independently. Research published in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing shows how motion sensors, actuators, and surveillance systems can be used in different rooms in a home to monitor people are they carry out household chores, such as cooking and cleaning, and other activities, such as using the bathroom, watching television, partaking of hobbies, and sleeping.

Yo-Ping Huang of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the National Taipei University of Technology, in Taiwan, and colleagues suggest that the outputs from sensors and monitors can be fed to an algorithm trained to recognise normal behaviour and to flag issues when a person is unexpectedly immobilized or carrying out an unusual activity in a part of their home where such activities are not commonly undertaken. The system can then alert healthcare workers or family members that there may be a crisis underway and the elderly person can be contacted or emerging services sent to assist.

The team has simulated behaviour and tested the system and its results show that the proposed system outperforms support vector machines in terms of score and accuracy in identifying daily activities.

The researchers add that they will next integrate the system with voice recognition to allow the remote control of appliances used in daily life as well as making wireless and mobile devices connectable so that carers can be availed of potentially hazardous or life-threatening situations as they arise in the person's home without the carer needing to be in the home continuously to look after the person.

Huang, Y-P., Basanta, H., Kuo, H-C. and Chiao, H-T. (2020) 'Sensor-based detection of abnormal events for elderly people using deep belief networks', Int. J. Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp.36–47.
DOI: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2020.104714

Yiu-Kai Ng of the Computer Science Department at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, USA, suggests that promoting good reading habits in children is critical to their learning and development as mature members of a thriving society. Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, he also suggests that we need novel ways to recommend reading matter to children that is not based simply on popularity.

Given the prevalence of the internet and mobile phone apps, there is surely a way to extract reading habits and create a so-called recommendation engine based on wider data points than simple popularity. The development of such a tool would allow customisation and personalisation to come to the fore and at the same time avoid what one might perceive as a reading "echo chamber" based on a few popular authors. This is especially important in a multicultural world where exposure to diversity is increasingly important to help us combat bigotry and prejudice and to create a more accepting world as our children grow.

Ng and colleagues have now developed "CBRec". This is a book recommendation system for children that uses matrix factorisation and content-based filtering approaches to offer suggestions of what the child should read next with greater potential for their enjoying and learning from those books. The new system avoids the need for any kind of social "tags" that might be gleaned from adult users of online social networking sites but at the same time also considers age and reading level.

Given that there are tens of thousands of books for children published every year, this tool could become a significant part of engaging young readers with a wider authorship than the bestsellers lists might otherwise offer them.

Ng, Y-K. (2020) 'CBRec: a book recommendation system for children using the matrix factorisation and content-based filtering approaches', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.129-149.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBIDM.2020.104738

It is relatively easy to clone parts of an image with photo editing software to remove objects and backgrounds or even to duplicate objects. A skilful digital artist will be able to do this almost seamlessly. Such artists with malicious intent can use cloning tools and to fake and forge images and detecting such distortions of the originals can be difficult even to those trained in the art themselves.

Now, work published in the International Journal of Forensic Software Engineering shows how two distinct analytical techniques – ad hoc method and principal component analysis (PCA) based scale-invariant feature transform (SIFT) method – can work together in a hybrid system to analyse an image and reveal where such cloning techniques have been used for illicit purposes. Ashish Kumar Chakraverti of IKG-Punjab Technical University, in Jalandhar, and Vijay Dhir of the M.K. Group of Institutes, in Amritsar, Punjab, India, provide details in the latest issue of the journal.

The approach involves a pre-processing step in which the image of interest is adjusted in terms of contrast and colour and other factors to create a version of the image that can be analysed more readily. The hybrid analytical technique then works its way through the image to reveal errant regions of the image. The team has tested its hybrid approach successfully on the CoMoFoD image database. They had fewer false positives and negatives than state-of-art detection programs, which bodes well for its application in defeating criminality involving such image manipulation.

Chakraverti, A.K. and Dhir, V. (2019) 'A hybrid approach to find cloned objects in copy move forged images', Int. J. Forensic Software Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp.3–20.
DOI: 10.1504/IJFSE.2019.104705

The oxygen in the air that we breathe is O2. Two oxygen atoms joined together to form a diatomic molecule. It is essential to life. However, there is another form of oxygen where three oxygen atoms join together to make an O3 molecule. We call this triatomic oxygen, ozone. Ozone is present in the upper atmosphere and protects the planet to some extent from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. However, combustion and other processes at ground level generate ozone as a noxious and toxic pollutant that can cause smog and is deleterious to air quality and so human and environmental health.

Writing in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution, an international team has developed an advanced algorithm that can be used to investigate the impact of climate change on ozone levels. Zahari Zlatev of the Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University in Roskilde, Denmark, Ivan Dimov and Krassimir Georgiev of the Institute of Information and Communication Technologies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Bulgaria, and István Faragó and Ágnes Havasi of the MTA-ELTE Numerical Analysis and Large Networks Research Group in Budapest, Hungary, discuss details in the paper. Their model is built on a system of non-linear partial differential equations. They use it to analyse a sixteen-year timeframe across the whole of Europe and environs.

The team has to some extent overcome the complexities of the data and its uncertainties, but their conclusion is that climate change will ultimately lead to higher levels of an atmospheric pollutant like ozone.

Zlatev, Z., Dimov, I., Faragó, I., Georgiev, K. and Havasi, Á. (2019) 'Advanced algorithms for studying the impact of climate changes on ozone levels in the atmosphere', Int. J. Environment and Pollution, Vol. 66, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.212-238.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2019.104522

Lean principles and lean management are business principles that aim to make manufacturing and other processes more efficient by only have the absolute requisite resources to hand at the right time in any given stage of the process. Thus, excess starting materials, equipment, and essentially redundant staff do not increase the burden on storage, systems, waste disposal, and other factors any one of which might reduce efficiency and so profits.

Now, writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Enterprise, a team from India, discusses the implications of running a lean operation on employee job satisfaction. A. Varadaraj and S. Ananth of the Alliance School of Business, at Alliance University, in Bangalore, suggest that "Lean has shown visible effects in enhancing productivity, reducing wastage of time and materials while still maintaining customer satisfaction as well as employee satisfaction." Part of the overall lean philosophy is about people understanding their motives and aspirations and lean relies on always focusing on employee motivation and work performance.

The team has carried out a detailed survey of employees working in a lean environment and used various statistical tools to analyse the results. They found that employees with a positive attitude coupled with good leadership style both play a vital role in the continuous improvement of lean implementation and have a big influence on job satisfaction. That said, they also found that "A dedicated employee can help the organisation to achieve its goals and benefits only when the leadership appreciates their contribution in the workplace."

In order to be most effective, there has to be good awareness among employees of how lean can benefit them and the company they work for in different ways, training and management must also be positively linked to the whole ethos and what is commonly referred to as work-life balance must be maintained at an optimal level for the sake of employee job satisfaction and to the benefit of the organisation.

Varadaraj, A. and Ananth, S. (2020) 'The effect of lean on job satisfaction', Int. J. Intelligent Enterprise, Vol. 7, Nos. 1/2/3, pp.137–154.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIE.2020.104651

Marriage and motherhood are almost universal in India, writes a team from Amity University. They then ask in the International Journal of Gender Studies in Developing Societies, whether women have a choice in this matter or whether society so effectively defines their roles almost from birth that the majority do not recognise that there is a choice at all.

Priya Gupta of the Amity School of Fine Arts and Mili Sharma Amity School of Communication additionally ask whether those women who are in fact career-oriented can enjoy motherhood without marriage. They have studied the issues via focus group discussions, spread across four strata in the hope of answering some of the questions that face women in Indian society as it develops. They introduce the concept of "single mothers by choice" or what one might more colloquially call "choice moms" in a pseudo-American vernacular. Moreover, they argue the case of a choice for career women in India to use surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation for their aspirations of motherhood outside of marriage.

Those involved in the study were well aware that many women sacrifice their burgeoning careers to marry and have children. But, they were also aware of celebrity women who had taken unconventional routes to motherhood. Various advantages were perceived by the women in the study of unconventional approaches.

Most respondents believed that their feminine identity can remain intact, and they can retain their independence by side-stepping marriage in their lives, which challenges the patriarchy. However, many were torn on the idea of motherhood without marriage, or even a male partner, given society's entrenched views on such matters. Indian society is changing, but there remain obstacles in the path of women hoping to have a career, avoid marriage, but still take the option of becoming a mother.

Gupta, P. and Sharma, M. (2020) 'Role of media in motivating career-oriented females in challenging the norms of patriarchy', Int. J. Gender Studies in Developing Societies, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp.243–255.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGSDS.2020.104605

Virtual reality could be used as a powerful marketing tool for urban tourism. Natasha Moorhouse of the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom discusses the details in the International Journal of Technology Marketing.

"In an increasingly complex and global marketplace, it is vital that urban tourism destinations develop novel marketing strategies to differentiate, remain competitive, and ultimately attract and retain visitors to facilitate long-term tourism growth," she writes. Virtual reality has been long anticipated in tourism marketing, offering those selling destination experiences the opportunity to share the wonders of different places from the comfort of the travel agent office or even the holidaymaker's home. But, adoption has been slow despite the potential. Marketers need to understand better the possibilities of these tools as well as their limitations in order to give consumers the best opportunities.

Moorhouse's work contributes exploratory work that could offer valuable insights into the various factors associated with virtual reality tools in this context. She puts particular emphasis on the marketing of urban destinations. Virtual reality will remain a challenge for many tour operators and the public perception of such systems may well slow the uptake. However, there is also the potential for embedding virtual reality into the detailed planning of a trip allowing the traveler to investigate places in detail before they map out their itinerary.

Of course, it might be in the age of lowering our collective carbon footprint, that virtual reality tourism could be a less costly alternative to travel, both financially and environmentally.

Moorhouse, N. (2019) 'Virtual reality as an urban tourism destination marketing tool', Int. J. Technology Marketing, Vol. 13, Nos. 3/4, pp.285–306.
DOI: 10.1504/IJTMKT.2019.104599

Data mining and extraction of knowledge from disparate sources is big data, big business. But, how does the search software cope with entities that are mentioned where only part of their name is used or a name is hyphenated when it normally isn't? Research published in the International Journal of Intelligent Information and Database Systems reveals details of a new approach to improving named entity recognition and disambiguation in news headlines.

Jayendra Barua and Rajdeep Niyogi of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at the Indian Institute of Technology, in Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India, explain that their approach to such an analysis of current news headlines builds on a trained algorithm that has been taught to remove the hyphens and complete incomplete names to remove ambiguity.

The team's evaluation of their novel approach shows that it works with approximately 10 percent greater accuracy than conventional systems and so could improve the automated retrieval of news associated with particular companies, organizations, events, public figures, and other entities of interest to those data mining the news. The system works well with newsfeeds, such as the RSS type of newsfeed generated by regularly updated websites. Headlines from such sources might commonly be longer than conventional newspaper headlines but are nevertheless succinct, commonly being ten or fewer words long. Each word might then be important in a data mining context and so disambiguation is critical.

Barua, J. and Niyogi, R. (2019) 'Improving named entity recognition and disambiguation in news headlines', Int. J. Intelligent Information and Database Systems, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.279–303.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIIDS.2019.104530

A new study by researchers in the USA suggests that the use of social media can sometimes have a negative impact on a work project and sometimes correlate positively with success. Writing in the International Journal of Information Technology and Management, the team suggests that using one of the most well-known social media systems, Facebook can have a negative effect on project success whereas LinkedIn has a positive effect.

Joseph Vithayathil of the School of Business at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Majid Dadgar of the School of Management at the University of San Francisco, and Kalu Osiri of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, based their conclusions on an empirical study that analysed the relationship between the use of social media at work and project success at work.

It is well known to employers and employees that workers somehow find time during working hours to use Facebook, LinkedIn, personal Google Mail, Youtube, and many other apps and services unrelated to their work. There are numerous examples of employees being fired for using online services during the working day for personal reasons, such as online shopping, sharing photos and updates, and simply chatting to friends. The rationale is that the use of such services will inevitably have a detrimental effect on work and project success, individual implications for morale aside. Social media use continues unabated regardless of employer perception.

However, the US team has shown that for educated employees their use of LinkedIn, which is often considered a more business and work-related social media platform, correlates positively with project success at work. It may well be that this particular social media service is considered less flippant than others and is used for creating and building contacts at the professional level as well as gaining information pertinent to one's employment.

Vithayathil, J., Dadgar, M. and Osiri, J.K. (2020) 'Does social media use at work lower productivity?', Int. J. Information Technology and Management, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp.47–67.
DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2020.104504

Millions living on the Indian sub-continent aspire to ownership of the technological breakthroughs, smartphones, tablet computers, etc that are now almost ubiquitous in other countries. The question of sustainability arises as does the notion of a so-called "green" economics when considering the huge numbers involved.

A new report in the International Journal of Green Economics, discusses one aspect of technology that might allow such issues to be addressed to some extent. Namely, the idea that a large proportion of the population with disposable income is keen to own and use such technology but also quite well aware of the consequences in terms of material resources, waste and pollution, and climate change. Might those born in the two to three decades from the mid-1960s onwards, the so-called "Generation X" and their successors the "Millennials" perhaps be more inclined to take a refurbished mobile phone rather than a brand-new gadget in the name of "saving the planet".

Prathamesh Mhatre formerly of Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences in Bangalore and Hosur Srinivasan Srivatsa of the M.S. Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, in Karnataka, India, point out that in the face of consumer pressure born of environmental concern, many companies have been forced to implement refurbishment, recycling, and reuse strategies. This not only gives them a new market but will hopefully have the benefits that consumers are hoping to see in terms of an improved environment.

The team surveyed people born after the so-called "Baby boom" of 1946 to 1964, thus during the approximate periods 1964 to 1980 and then onwards to about 1997, representing "Generation X" and the "Millennial" generation. They looked at purchase intention of people in those two groups living in metropolitan cities of India and analysed their data using Structural Equation Modelling.

"Attitude towards refurbishment, perceived risk and perceived benefit have a significant impact on the purchase intention of Generation X consumers," the team found. Gen X consumers seek direct benefits from purchasing refurbished phones, in other words. "By contrast, the results for Millennials show that product knowledge, perceived risk, attitude towards refurbishment and subjective norm significantly impact their purchase intention, the team reports. The results contradict earlier studies that suggested that behavioural control does not affect purchase intention and suggests that theoretical models do not always assess different demographics correctly.

Mhatre, P. and Srivatsa, H.S. (2019) 'Modelling the purchase intention of millennial and Generation X consumers, towards refurbished mobile phones in India', Int. J. Green Economics, Vol. 13, Nos. 3/4, pp.257–275.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGE.2019.104512

A new approach to encryption could improve user perception of cloud computing services where the users are concerned about private or personal data being exposed to third parties. Writing in the International Journal of Cloud Computing, the team outlines a proposed homomorphic encryption system.

Homomorphic encryption was developed more than a decade ago and represented something of a significant breakthrough in security. By definition, it allows computations to be carried out on a ciphertext (the user's data in the cloud service, for instance), generating an result that is still encrypted but when decrypted by the user matches exactly the result that would be obtained if the same computational operations had been carried out on the user's plain-text as opposed to the uploaded ciphertext. It is thus very useful for ensuring the privacy of data uploaded to cloud and other outsourced computer services.

Despite all the benefits of cloud computing, the very nature of the services wherein a user by necessity must share data with a third party, the cloud service provider, means that there are endless issues of trust. Indeed, many users have not adopted cloud services because they recognise that those services being in a different domain to their own personal or private system offers malicious third parties an opportunity to access their data in a way that would not be possible if that data were held only on the user's domain. The use of sophisticated tools such as homomorphic encryption adds a layer or reassurance that should open up cloud services to all but the most neurotic of user at least within limits.

Swathi, V. and Vani, M.P. (2019) 'Secure cloud computing using homomorphic construction', Int. J. Cloud Computing, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.354-370.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCC.2019.104498

Scientists working in medical research, biology, cellular studies, and in understanding bacteria and other pathogens often need to know about temperature rises and falls in the systems on which they focus. Many processes involve heat production and tracking those changes can get to the core of understanding a process, diagnosing a disease or perhaps investigating whether a pharmaceutical, such as an antibiotic, will work.

Now, Joohyun Lee and Il Doh of the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, in Daejeon, South Korea, have developed a tiny device that measures otherwise undetectable heat changes. They describe their "chip calorimeter" in the International Journal of Nanotechnology. The devices is based on a thermopile made from bismuth and aluminium and can detect sub-microwatt changes in the energy levels, and thus the heat generated by very small scale systems such as cell samples or bacterial cultures.

The chip calorimeter measures 8 by 10 millimetres and comprises four identical measurement units. A platinum electrode to generate heats in the centre and two thermopiles on both sides of the heater and maintains the device at a known temperature within a range of 20 millikelvin, this is technically the furnace and acts as a baseline for the system so that any heat increase from a sample can be detected. The whole device is supported on a membrane of silicon nitride just 1 micrometre thick. "Any heat generation by sample or heater in the area of the inner thermopile connection induces temperature difference between the outer and the inner connections so that it produces voltage signal measurable with a nanovoltmeter," the team explains.

The chip calorimeter could ultimately be employed in measuring metabolic heat of cells for antibiotic research, changes in environmental samples, and temperature changes associated with disease for diagnosis, the team writes.

Lee, J. and Doh, I. (2019) 'Development of chip calorimeter based on Bi/Al thermopile for biological sample measurement', Int. J. Nanotechnol., Vol. 16, Nos. 4/5, pp.281–288.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNT.2019.104473

Predicting the damage caused by a hurricane might be possible thanks to an analysis of semantic web resources, according to work published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering.

Quang-Khai Tran and Sa-kwang Song of the Department of Big Data Science at the University of Science and Technology in South Korea, explain that they have created an algorithm trained with reported damage from 48 sites in the USA hit by five different hurricanes. The algorithm can then show the damage that would be seen six hours after landfall of other hurricanes based on the statistics. It works well even with sparse and incomplete data sets, the team reports, which could be important in the face of climate change and very variable weather reporting.

"[The system] was able to estimate the damage levels in several scenarios even if two-thirds of the relevant weather information was unavailable," the team writes. Of course, additional information and training can only improve the system.

In the current version of the algorithm, the team explains that their statistical components should ultimately be able to cope with real-time streaming data with some additional development of a kind outlined in the paper. The system might then be able to predict damage should we once more see hurricanes of the scale and devastation of Katrina in the USA in 2005, cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, and super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.

Tran, Q-K. and Song, S-k. (2019) 'Learning pattern of hurricane damage levels using semantic web resources', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp.492–500.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2019.104435

Researchers in China have investigated what we mean by "information overload" in the context of a social media application, WeChat. Their findings have implications for those who use and run such services as well as other researchers in the field and psychosocial practitioners.

Writing in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, the team reports how the amount of information received and the length of content correlates with user perceptions of information overload as one might expect. However, the number of subscriptions within the service that a user has was not a significant factor in this perception. However, the perception of information overload was associated with negative emotions and an increased (but ongoing) intention to discontinue usage. Negative emotions and this urge to disconnect from the service was higher with a higher level of experience.

Information overload has been defined as the point at which users of any given service receive so much information in a short space of time that they no longer have the capacity to process all of that information satisfactorily and this leads to stress or anxiety and diminished decision-making ability for those people.

"Living in a [so-called] digital society, we are bombarded with information whether or not we actively seek it," the team writes. "We are all affected by the increasing number of sources from which information emanates." They add that "Recognising the antecedents and consequences of information overload can help us to prevent it or at least deal with it."

Zhang, X., Ma, L., Zhang, G. and Wang, G-S. (2020) 'An integrated model of the antecedents and consequences of perceived information overload using WeChat as an example', Int. J. Mobile Communications, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp.19–40.
DOI: 10.1504/IJMC.2020.104419

From a philosophical point of view, we cannot reconcile a world in which so many people are suffering from malnutrition and starving for want a few grains and yet others are killing themselves through obesity.

Now, L. Manning of the Food Policy and Management Food Science and Agri-Food Supply Chain Management at Harper Adams University, in Newport, Shropshire, and J. Kelly of the Aston Business School at Aston University, in Birmingham, UK, discuss how we might locate the social responsibility for obesity in the context of evolving norms. Writing in the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, the team suggests that most countries have experienced a significant increase in the incidence of obesity in their general population over the last two decades. "Indeed, the condition is now so common, commentators conclude that obesity has become normalised and no longer attracts social opprobrium," the team writes.

Obesity comes with many morbidities and an increased risk of premature death due to a greater incidence of many serious health conditions. Governments and regulators have looked at how individuals should become responsible for their own health but have also applied pressure to food and drink manufacturers to take some of the responsibility for providing citizens with healthier choices. But, are individual and social responsibility the appropriate response to what is a growing crisis, especially as being overweight or obese is increasingly seen as normal despite the health effects.

The notions of gluttony and sloth are often raised in discussions of obesity, but these are at odds with a more enlightened view of the problem that looks at vulnerability that arises through a range of social and economic factors influence an individual's ability to make an informed choice about what they eat and drink, exercise, and their tendency to gaining weight to a problematic degree.

Manning, L. and Kelly, J. (2020) 'Obesity: locating social responsibility in the context of evolving norms', Int. J. Innovation and Sustainable Development, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.8-29.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISD.2020.104241

Indonesian patchouli oil represents a significant share of the world market, supplying some 90 percent to the perfume industry as a common fixative agent for scents. Some 1400 tonnes are produced annually. New markets for this product may open up in medicine, given the efficacy of this substance in certain contexts for cancer chemotherapy. As such, there is an increasing need to look at its distillation from aqueous mixtures to make improved products.

Chemical engineers Chandrawati Cahyani and Wa Ode Cakra Nirwana of Brawijaya University, East Java, Indonesia have investigated how well turbidity might be used as an indicator of how far the distillation process has gone. This approach could offer a less technically onerous and so less costly test than standard gas chromatographic techniques. The team has now demonstrated that there is a linear relationship between turbidity and oil content in the aqueous emulsions of patchouli oil during distillation.

The study also demonstrated that a distillation temperature of 60 degrees Celsius is optimal and minimises the additional cost due to the need for cooling the distillate with chilled water. The process was also shown to work better at pH 4 and with the addition of a 0.2 percent concentration of sodium chloride (common salt).

"Turbidity data proved to be an excellent indicator of separation efficiency, meaning that for field operation in a rural area it will be a beneficial tool," the team reports in the International Journal of Postharvest Technology and Innovation.

Cahyani, C. and Nirwana, W.O.C. (2019) 'The use of turbidity as a separation indicator of patchouli oil from its aqueous mixture in community distillation practices', Int. J. Postharvest Technology and Innovation, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.1–10.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPTI.2019.104174

An aqueous extract from the root of Catharanthus roseus, a plant commonly known as bright eyes, can be used as both a reducing agent as well as a capping agent for the synthesis of bactericidal silver nanoparticles, according to research published in the International Journal of Nanoparticles. Researchers from India and The Netherlands reveal details in the latest issue of the journal.

C. roseus goes by several names, the quite whimsical "bright eyes" and the more floral Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, and others. It is a member of the dogbane family, or Apocynaceae. The plants in this family can be poisonous to dogs, hence the common name.

A root extract of C. roseus specifically contains a range of bitter, nitrogen-containing alkaloids, flavonoids, carbohydrates, amino acids, and various phenolic compounds. V. Subha of the National Center for Nano Science and Nano Technology at the University of Madras, in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India, and colleagues have exploited this rich chemistry to carry out a biotransformation of silver nitrate solution to generate silver nanoparticles.

The team used UV-visible spectroscopy to investigate the products and found that surface plasmon resonance of the nanoparticles reveals a shallow peak at 490 nanometres, consistent with chemical consistency. X-ray diffraction analysis showed their crystalline nature while transmission electron microscopy showed them to be mono-disperse with a size of about 100 nanometres.

Such biotransformations to generate nanoparticles precludes the need for sophisticated technological solutions and separation techniques. It is not only more cost-efficient but avoids many of the hazardous steps in the synthesis involving toxic solvents and other reagents. Critically, the team's tests of efficacy of these biotransformed silver nanoparticles showed them to be more potent against the likes of Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Bacillus subtilis than silver nanoparticles made by more conventional means.

The team suggests that silver nanoparticles manufactured in this way might have utility in human healthcare against bacterial pathogens. Conversely, they might also be used in some form as alternatives to bactericidal sprays for food crops and other financially important plants.

Subha, V., Ravindran, E., Kumar, A.B.H. and Renganathan, S. (2019) 'Bactericidal effect of silver nanoparticles from aqueous root extracts of Catharanthus roseus', Int. J. Nanoparticles, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.294–304.
DOI: 10.1504/IJNP.2019.104260

Cultural heritage can be destroyed. It can decay. Once it is gone, it is gone forever, sadly. Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming, Portuguese researchers discuss the potential impact of climate change on cultural heritage and how we might lose artifacts as extreme weather has a worsening impact on our world.

Guilherme Coelho, Hugo Entradas Silva, and Fernando Henriques of the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa explain that museum pieces are subject to deterioration depending on the conditions in which they are stored, whether or not they are being exhibited or archived. The indoor climate is obviously more controllable than the outdoor, but nevertheless the increasing cost of air-conditioning, (de)humidification, and temperature control, are all likely to affect in a detrimental way how conservators look after their charges. In addition, sometimes the building themselves are the cultural heritage.

The team has now modeled various climate change scenarios to see how weather conditions might affect a building such as Lisbon's historic church of Saint Christopher. They modeled conditions in Lisbon, but also applied likely conditions associated with Seville (Mediterranean climate), Prague and Oslo (Continental climate), as well as London (Oceanic climate). They not only consider the integrity of artifacts within but also visitor comfort. After all, what is the purpose of conserving cultural heritage without allowing people to appreciate it? Ultimately, climate change is unlikely to be of benefit to house artifacts in buildings that are themselves cultural artifacts.

Coelho, G.B.A., Silva, H.E. and Henriques, F.M.A. (2019) 'Impact of climate change on cultural heritage: a simulation study to assess the risks for conservation and thermal comfort', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.382-406.
DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2019.104268

A collaboration between scientists in India, Portugal, and the UK, has used social network analysis to solve the problem of industrial plant layout design. The approach allows the optimization of location and connectivity of personnel, jobs, and resources to make the plant as efficient as possible. The team uses maximum completion time of a job (makespan), resource utilisation, and throughput time to evaluate system performance in this context. Overall the approach offers a new way to move forward with plant design in the context of "industry 4.0".

Industry 4.0 is a phrase used to refer to the subset of the fourth industrial revolution and encompasses areas that are not normally classified as an industry, such as smart cities but more commonly is used to discuss industrial plant or factories that use machines and robots connected wirelessly to controllers and sensors and ultimately networked to allow the personnel hierarchy to view processes and production at different levels and to make decisions based on their purview.

M.L.R. Varela of the University of Minho, in Guimarães, Portugal, Vijay Kumar Manupati of NIT Warangal, in Telangana, Suraj Panigrahi of VIT University, in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India, and Eric Costa Research of the Solent University in Southampton, UK (also at INESC Technology and Science, in Porto, Portugal) discuss details in the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

"The experimental results revealed that the proposed SNA approach supports to find the key machines of the systems that ultimately lead to the effective performance of the whole system," the team writes.

Varela, M.L.R., Manupati, V.K., Panigrahi, S., Costa, E. and Putnik, G.D. (2020) 'Using social network analysis for industrial plant layout analysis in the context of industry 4.0', Int. J. Industrial and Systems Engineering, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp.1-19.
DOI: 10.1504/IJISE.2020.104313