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I’m kind of a car guy. To give you an idea, when we last changed houses, I got my priorities straight and went from a 4,000-square foot house with a three-car garage where there was tons of traffic to a 2,700-square foot house with a six-car garage where traffic only occurs if the rare stoplight turns red.

I enjoy cars, but current generation cars have become a mess of conflicting technologies, multiple incompatible networks and layers of software that would give the typical IT manager a heart attack. Credit to the massive testing the car companies do, otherwise we’d likely be rebooting our cars daily in incredibly inconvenient areas.

As we move to connected — and particularly autonomous — cars, we are going to increase this complexity massively at the same time we are starting to let the cars drive for us. That would typically not end well but Cisco, along with BlackBerry, NVIDIA and Qualcomm, is working to make sure that what otherwise would be a catastrophic result will instead be rather pleasant.

Let’s focus on Cisco, but I don’t want to lose track of the other technology companies who are also playing a huge role in this effort.

Current generation cars have multiple networks surrounding engine management, the audio-video system and the increasing number of sensors. In some cases, the lack of interoperability among these networks has been a good thing because the security around them was so poor that making them work together would have only resulted in a far less safe car as Chrysler so expensively discovered.

The current car is much like the early days of computing. Then — as now — the standards, when they existed, were all over the map. Every supplier had its own proprietary and isolated way of doing things. As a result, back then, we were more secure because the typewriters, calculators and early computers didn’t talk to each other than we would have been if they did.

But believing you are secure just because the car’s networks don’t talk to each other won’t work in the near-term future because systems in a connected and, particularly, an autonomous car must talk to each other. In this connected class of car, the vehicle must get software updates. It must get streamed programming. And it must be alerted of approaching danger, so it can best react to it. It must know if you are driving or if the car is expected to drive for you and transfer between modes. It must be always aware of what is around the car, both seen and unseen.

In short, the cars will have a far more common network, but that network will need to be far more capable and secure than the ones currently in vehicles.

I’ve mentioned security, but we’ll also need a massive increase in data throughput as multiple video sensors will stream feeds into the autonomous brain of the car fast enough that the computer can both formulate a response and execute. You sure don’t want an autonomous car suddenly saying, “Oh no!” right before it hits something immovable.

Cisco’s connected vehicle solution is to use standards-driven high-speed networking inside the car and then support vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication and the modified vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) solutions now being contemplated.

On this last, it is interesting to note that the car industry has moved away from true V2V due to incompatibilities and fear of spreading malware and hacks between cars. Now, if the vehicles talk to each other, it will more likely be routed through infrastructure so these problems and threats can more easily be addressed.

  AWS Compute

From Cisco’s perspective, this means industry-standard copper- and increasingly fiber optics-based networking technology in the car, utilizing standards-based interfaces and some of the security solutions that have matured in business. The result should be in-car networks that are better, faster and cheaper than what we have today — plus a huge jump in car control and in car entertainment.

But Cisco isn’t doing this alone. It is working with partners that include NVIDIA for the brains, Qualcomm for the 5G connection and BlackBerry for security. (BlackBerry just announced its impressive Jarvis security solution).

So Cisco is using as its approach to the connected autonomous car a well-tested approach of industry standards, foundational approach to security and solid partnerships. This should help the auto industry meet its goal of eliminating more than 80 percent of the accidents and fatalities in cars.

Of course, I’m excited about this trend because I can finally write about cars on a regular basis. But my jubilation aside, Cisco’s move to apply IT technology to cars is a good thing. It should result in the cars of the future not only being far more connected an automated, but cheaper, safer, and more secure than current cars as well (largely due to massive reductions on insurance and repair costs).

There was an old joke, that many of us thought was a real fact, about Bill Gates getting into it with the auto industry. Bill supposedly said (but didn’t) something like if the car industry was like the technology industry, cars would be flying and have low gas mileage by now. The auto industry supposedly (but didn’t) reply with “But who would want to have to reboot them twice a day?”

It is interesting to note that now that the two industries are getting together, we are getting amazing cars that run on electricity and fly. And folks like those at Cisco are making sure we won’t have to reboot them twice a day.

This is one of those rare times when real facts are more interesting than fake news. Go figure.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Future Of The Car: The Electric

In the past three years, the thought of companies like Chevrolet and Nissan selling lithium-ion-powered cars has gone from laughable to old news. Late this year, the plug-in Chevy Volt and pure-electric Nissan Leaf arrive. Carmakers from Ford to Toyota will follow in 2011 and 2012 with new electrified models of their own. In the beginning, the electric-car revolution probably won’t seem so revolutionary: a few thousand cars here and there. As long as automakers and battery companies keep pushing technology forward, however—by scaling up production and developing more-powerful ways to store electricity and power a car with it—the future for cars that plug into the wall will continue to brighten. Here’s where this emerging industry stands today.

How Electric Car Batteries are Built

Based on the process used by the American lithium-ion company EnerDel

How Electric-Car Batteries Are Built

Lithium-ion batteries—the dominant technology in forthcoming electric cars—begin when active battery ingredients are combined to form an electrode slurry. A liquid solvent, electrode powder (for the negative electrode, a form of carbon; for the positive, a form of lithium-containing metal oxide or phosphate) and a chemical binder are blended into a paste in what look like industrial pizza-dough mixers.

The coater, a machine reminiscent of a printing press, paints the electrode slurry onto long sheets of metal foil (copper for the negative, aluminum for the positive).

The freshly coated sheets pass through an oven for curing at 200ºF. The oven can be a bottleneck; its size and speed determine the rate of production.

To make rectangular, “prismatic” batteries, machines chop the long reels of electrode material into paperback-size pieces, which are then compressed, brushed, and vacuumed.

With a piece of porous separator material (it looks like white trash-bag plastic) between them, the positive and negative electrodes are sandwiched together into stacks. The separator prevents short-circuiting while still allowing the electrodes to exchange ions. The stacks go into plastic pouches that are then filled with liquid electrolyte and vacuum-sealed shut. The result is a cell, the building block of a battery.

After pre-charging (just enough juice to start the chemical reaction), the cell is opened, vented, and resealed. Next the cells are charged to 60 percent, then aged for 14 days.

Cells are bundled together (along with cooling and heating mechanisms, the voltage-monitoring circuitry, and other control systems) to form modules. Modules are then bundled together in a case and wired with additional monitoring circuitry to form the final battery pack, the box that powers a car.

How Electric Car Batteries are Built Continued

The Rust-Belt Battery Boom The Department of Energy spent $2.4 billion last year to launch an American EV-battery industry. These are the biggest winners

Through its partnership with the French battery company Saft, Johnson Controls builds lithium-ion batteries for Mercedes, BMW, Ford and others. A $299.2-million DOE grant goes toward a new factory in Holland, Michigan.

A $249.1-million grant will help the Boston-area company build a cell factory near Detroit, from which it hopes to supply GM, Chrysler and others.

The Dow Chemical joint venture banked $161 million for a new Michigan lithium-ion factory.

A $151.4-million grant will help build a Michigan factory to supply batteries for the Chevy Volt.

EnerDel, a supplier for Volvo and Think, is using its $118.5-million share to build a third EV-battery factory in Indianapolis.

Asia’s Advantage: Battery-Building Dominance

Emerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The East

The Chinese government has a goal: rule the global electric-car market by mid-decade. Of China’s 47 car companies, the Shenzhen-based BYD, which says it will begin selling its e6 EV in the U.S. this year, gets the most buzz. Fresh off a $230-million investment by Warren Buffett, BYD wants to surpass Toyota as the world’s largest car company by 2025, and it has an army of 30,000 workers living in high-rise dorms on its four-square-mile campus to make it happen.

Japanese companies have dominated lithium-ion manufacturing since Sony first commercialized the technology in 1991. Those companies have joined Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota in the scramble for a place in the new electric-car industry.

An American arm of the Korean company LG Chem will build batteries for the Chevy Volt.

America’s Advantage: New Ideas, Big Gamblers

Emerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The U.S.

An intellectual hub for the American electric-car movement, the Bay Area is home to Tesla Motors and various electric-car infrastructure companies. San Francisco is already installing charging stations for the early-adopter market. Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory help supply the EV scene with brainiacs, while the Bay Area’s venture capitalists keep the funding flowing.

Luxury plug-in-hybrid start-up Fisker Automotive is here, along with Coda, an American company scheduled to bring Chinese-built electric cars to the States later this year.

The Big Three automakers are still standing, and at least the two biggest among them, GM and Ford, are betting on electrification. In addition to the Chevy Volt, GM’s Cadillac has designed a plug-in concept that may become reality. Ford’s all-electric Focus and upcoming plug-in hybrid are due out in the next two years. At least four battery companies are building automotive-grade lithium-ion cell factories in Michigan, and GM’s new battery-pack assembly plant began producing Volt batteries in January.

The CEO of the Indianapolis-based lithium-ion company EnerDel calls greater Indy the “Silicon Valley of the auto industry.” EnerDel, which makes EV batteries for Volvo, Think and others, is building a third factory here, and electric-drive-component suppliers such as Delphi, Allison Transmission and Remy are also in the area.

Nissan will build up to 150,000 Leaf electric cars per year at its plant in Smyrna by 2012. It will make the batteries for those cars in a Tennessee factory it’s building with a $1.4-billion loan from the DOE.

Chevrolet Volt

DUE OUT: November

Nissan Leaf

DUE OUT: December


DUE OUT: Late this year

Coda Sedan

DUE OUT: Late this year

Ford Focus BEV

DUE OUT: Next year

Prius Phev

DUE OUT: 150 cars in the u.s. this year

Tesla Model S

DUE OUT: Officially next year, although 2012 seems more likely

The Unexpected Rebirth Of The Flying Car

“This new millennium sucks! It’s exactly the same as the old millennium! You know why? No flying cars!” – Lewis Black

Of all the far-out visions for the future provided us by popular culture (indeed, by this very magazine above almost all else), perhaps none is so conspicuously absent today as the flying car. Other sci-fi fantasies – the invisibility cloak, laser weapons, universal translators, 3-D printers – exist to some degree, if only on a lab bench somewhere. But the flying car, once considered the next logical step in personal transit, simply never took flight.

But now, for the first time since the age of Henry Ford, the flying car has a serious patron. And it’s not some eccentric millionaire or overzealous garage inventor. It’s the United States Department of Defense.

Back in April, DARPA put out a call for proposals seeking a vehicle with some thought-provoking features; a capacity of one to four passengers, enough sturdiness to go off-road, and – most intriguingly – full flight capabilities with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL). Called Transformer, the program sought “terrain-independent mobility,” not just so soldiers could get around physical obstructions, but also to help them avoid ambushes and that most pervasive threat in America’s current military engagements: IEDs.

In essence, DARPA has asked for a flying Humvee, and they want it by 2023.

For a look back, see our gallery of flying cars throughout history from the pages of PopSci here

Some DARPA initiatives die quiet deaths. Others become NASA or the internet. Transformer lay quiet for a few months, but then the proposals started coming in, complete with futuristic but feasible-looking concept drawings: Humvees fitted with collapsible helicopter rotors or huge ducted fans or folding wings (or a combination of the above) sweeping over rugged terrain or sloping third-world cities, gunners hanging out the side door. You could almost hear Ride of the Valkyries playing over some unseen loudspeaker.

But these designs were different from the fanciful schematics that spring up in garages and on Web sites from time to time. Not in spirit or mechanics necessarily, but in the fact that they sought a concrete prize beyond the satisfaction of flight itself: millions of potential defense dollars to develop the prototypes, and perhaps many millions more in contracts should they succeed.

Lockheed Martin’s Ducted Fan Powered Transformer Concept

But it wasn’t to be. By the time WWII ended, the endless optimism of the 1920s had been thoroughly blunted, first by the Great Depression then by the geopolitical struggles of the 1940s. Upon the post-war return to normality, a different kind of optimism reigned, tempered by rising Cold War anxieties. A military-industrial complex hungry for the best aeronautical engineers also fostered a new view of the sky not as a place to be cruised by the common man, but as an important strategic territory to be dominated by fearsome long-range bombers and rockets destined for space.

Besides, fuel was cheap, asphalt was abundant, and with a massive new interstate highway system connecting all the places people wanted to go, the automobile became king. A series of hybrid car-plane designs – most of them were really just planes with detachable wings – popped up during the ’40s and ’50s, but without a clearly defined need for personal flying vehicles the concept was relegated to the purview of science fiction writers and dreamers. By mid-century, personal flying machines went from feasible to fantastical.

But the idea, though pushed to the fringes of invention, never died. Fictional futurism ranging from Judge Dredd to the Jetsons has relied on flying cars to set the scene. The opening sequence to Futurama takes viewers on a first-person drive through the congested “skyways” of a crowded 31st-century metropolis.

Even Back to the Future Part II, the pop culture authority on future predictions, teased us with flying car technology – as well as hoverboards, self-lacing sneakers, and several other predictive technologies that have since come to exist in some form – and that was set in the year 2023. There’s even a Facebook group titled “So it’s 2010, where is my flying car bitch!”

The allure of personal flight isn’t completely lost on regulatory agencies and aviation visionaries either. The FAA’s relatively new Light Sport Aircraft designation allows pilots with relatively few flight training hours to pilot small aircraft under favorable conditions. The LSA designation – intentionally or not – creates a legal space for pilots with minimal training to operate light, non-complex aircraft at low altitudes, as well as a commercial niche for aircraft like the Terrafugia Transition, a four-wheeled folding-wing aircraft that is also drivable on city streets and fits neatly in a home garage.

But the Transition is a “roadable aircraft,” not a flying car. DARPA wants a dual-mode vehicle that requires no runway or special infrastructure considerations. Though not stipulated specifically, ideally the Transformer would automate takeoff and landing so the operating soldier doesn’t also need to be a pilot. Transformer must be efficient, achieving a range of 250 nautical miles on a single tank of fuel. And Transformer has a primary objective: to save soldiers’ lives. That’s not just a noble goal; it creates a high standard for safety as well.

DARPA is willing to open its purse for such a vehicle – up to $54 million over the life of the program – and that’s what makes this attempt at the flying car so exciting. The Transformer Program removes three of the biggest obstacles that have plagued the flying car from its very conception, providing an immediate financial incentive to innovate, clearly defining a need, and seeking technologies that are within reach.

Overcoming the first two obstacles is easy enough for DARPA: the Pentagon provides the funding, and the need to protect troops from IEDs is lost on no one who follows the news out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But technology will be the real differentiator between Ford’s Flying Flivver – which never saw production after a fatal crash during test flights – and the flying cars of the future.

In the crowded skyways of the future, safety would clearly be the paramount concern – no one would want the same number of cars on the road today zooming haphazardly through the skies above metropolitan areas. But automated on-board systems can simplify takeoff and landing for operators, and larger networked air traffic control systems could conceivably automate flight itself, moving vehicles around crowded urban skies while keeping them on safe trajectories. We’re already hard at work on cars that safely navigate themselves – DARPA is a pioneer in this field, and Google recently revealed it has a fleet of self-driving cars – so it’s not a huge leap to networked vehicles that navigate the skies in similar fashion. And should the weather turn bad, cities could ground traffic – we are talking about flying cars here after all.

The progress of the Transformer program points optimistically toward an increasingly aerial future for the common driver, as defense technology tends to roll downhill. If DARPA succeeds in providing the military with a flight-capable automobile, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where that technology isn’t commercialized at some point. It certainly won’t happen overnight (or in the next decade for that matter), but with the technology sitting right in front of us we would be foolish to keep our rubber restricted to the road.

Besides, we called it back in 1926: “How soon we shall fly our own machines depends, experts agree, on how quickly foolproof machines can capture public confidence. Once that confidence has been gained and public demand created, quantity production and lower prices will be possible. The wonderful history of the automobile will be repeated in the air.”

Eddie Rickenbacker’s Flying Autos: July 1924

Curtiss Autoplane: July 1927

Renowned aviator Glenn Curtiss, rival of the Wright Brothers and a founder of the U.S. aircraft industry, could also be called the father of flying cars. In 1917, he unveiled the Curtiss Autoplane, which is widely considered the first of its kind. The aluminum autoplane had a Model T Ford-like body, four wheels, a 40-feet wingspan, and a giant 4-blade propeller mounted in the back. Although the autoplane only managed a few hops, people lauded Curtiss’ “aerial limousine” as the forerunner for personal vehicles to come. Read the full story in “Glenn Curtiss Sees a Vision of Aviation’s Future”

Flying Tanks: July 1932

Waterman Arrowplane: May 1937

Based on the picture and description, we’ve concluded that this unnamed vehicle is Waldo Waterman’s Arrowplane, a three-wheeled roadable monoplane inspired by Glenn Curtiss’ autoplane. The Arrowplane, also known as the Arrowbile, had an engine and propeller in the back. Two decades later, Waterman unveiled the Aerobile as an upgrade to the Arrowplane. Five Aerobiles were built, and two flights from Santa Monica to Ohio completed, but nobody bought them. Eventually, one of the Aerobiles ended up on display at the Smithsonian, and today, the vehicle is known as one of Time Magazine’s 50 Worst Cars of All Time. Read the full story in “Plane Sheds Wings to Run on Ground”

Windmill Autoplane: June 1935

While there isn’t much written about this machine, its autogyro-like design helps it stand out from its competitors. In flight, the machine would function like any other autogyro. Upon landing, however, its blades would fold downward, allowing the machine to drive along the highway. Read the full story in “New Craft Combines Auto and Plane”

Aerobile: December 1940

This torpedo-shaped vehicle, called the “Aerobile,” was manufactured by an unnamed inventor from Dayton, Ohio. In theory, a pusher propeller would drive the plane during flight, and we say “in theory” because no one actually attempted to fly this thing. At best, the Aerobile was one of the more aesthetically pleasing prototypes released during the mid-20th century. Read the full story in “Detachable Wings Turn Three-Wheeled Car into a Plane”

Post-War Family Car: November 1942

The Plane You’ll Fly After the War: March 1945

In the fall of 1944, we ran a contest asking readers to submit designs for their ideal postwar private planes. Much to our surprise, analysis of the 3,345 entries revealed that only 10 percent of people surveyed wanted roadable aircraft. The vast majority of people preferred low-wing monoplanes or planes with pusher props, the reason being that they favored safety over novelty. The tailless design pictured left was submitted by Ray Ring, of Framingham, Mass. Only about 14 percent of the people who designed flying cars preferred foldable wings over detachable ones. Read the full story in “These are the Planes You’ll Fly After the War”

ConvAirCar: April 1946

After the War, Convair commissioned a flying car suitable for everyday use. With Tommy Thompson’s help, Ted Hall developed the three-wheel Convair Model 116, a two-seater with detachable monoplane wings, tail, booms and propeller. Just three months after we published this article, Model 116 made its first flight and completed 66 others. Hall subsequently tweaked the Model 116 to give it a more powerful engine and refined body, thus producing the Model 118, or the infamous ConVairCar. Although Convair planned to produce 160,000 Model 118’s, the project was shut down after a failed one-hour demonstration flight ruined the prototype and injured its pilot. Read the full story in “Drive Right Up”

The Airphibian: April 1946

While developing his Airphibian, famed American inventor Robert E. Fulton took a different route than most: instead of altering an automobile for the air, he adapted an airplane for the road. Fulton’s idea for a flying car came from his frustration at having to find ground transportation after landing at an airport. Like us, he figured it would be much more convenient to land wherever you wanted to. The end product could fly 12,000 feet at 110 mph and drive 56 mph on ground. He boasted that the machine’s detachable wings could be disassembled in five minutes by just one man. Although the Airphibian was the first flying car to receive certification from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (predecessor of the FAA), financial difficulties forced Fulton to cancel the project before the Airphibians could go into mass production. Read the full story in “What It’s Like to Fly a Car”

Flying Jeep: May 1958

Although the Flying Jeep, or Piasecki Airgeep, isn’t what you’d typically imagine upon hearing the words “flying car,” this VTOL could both hover close to the ground and fly several thousand feet above it. Unlike the other machines we’ve covered so already, the Airgeep’s lack of wings allowed it to fly between buildings, trees, and other tight spaces. The Airgeep II, completed in 1962, was fitted with an ejection seat for pilots, two Artouste engines, and a tricycle undercarriage for improved travel on land. Despite its versatility, the Airgeep failed to make a lasting impression and was thus eclipsed by research into more conventional aircraft. Read the full story in “Army Jeep Turns to Skyriding”

What Is The Full Form Of Car


The Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) assesses a bank’s capital position in relation to the risks it assumes. The greater the CAR, the more probable a bank is to be able to absorb losses without becoming bankrupt. Regulators often require the CAR to ensure that banks have sufficient capital to handle unforeseen losses and maintain financial stability.

The CAR is expressed as a percentage, and regulators have established a minimum value. CAR is calculated using two different types of capital: Tier 1 capital, which consists of stock and other loss-absorbing instruments, and Tier 2 capital, which consists of other loss-absorbing forms of debt.

Calculation of CAR

A bank’s capital is divided by its risk-weighted assets to determine its capital adequacy ratio (CAR). The CAR is calculated using the following formula −

$$mathrm{CAR = (Tier: 1 :Capital :+ :Tier :2 :Capital) / Risk-weighted :Assets }$$

where −

Tier 1 Capital − The bank’s core capital, which consists of equity and stated reserves.

Tier 2 Capital − supplemental capital in the form of subordinated debt and other hybrid instruments.

The value of each asset is multiplied by a risk weight factor that regulators have allocated to it in order to arrive at the risk-weighted assets. Depending on the type of asset and its credit risk, different risk weighting factors apply.

Depending on the jurisdiction, regulators often set a minimum CAR standard for banks that takes into account the size and complexity of the bank, the risks it confronts, and the general state of the economy. Banks that don’t comply with the minimum CAR standard risk being fined or having their operations restricted.

Importance of CAR

For banks, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders, the capital adequacy ratio (CAR) is crucial for a number of reasons −

A bank’s stability and ability to bear unforeseen losses are measured by the CAR. A high CAR shows that the bank has sufficient capital to withstand financial shocks like economic downturns or borrower defaults.

The level of risk in a bank’s assets is the foundation for the CAR calculation. This encourages banks to maintain a diversified asset portfolio and better manage their risks.

Banks must meet minimum CAR standards imposed by regulators in order for them to have sufficient capital to absorb losses. If banks don’t follow these guidelines, they risk fines or having their operations restricted.

Investor trust in a bank’s performance and financial stability might rise when the CAR is high. As a result, the bank can experience a reduction in its cost of capital and more investment in its stock or debt instruments.

Regulatory Requirements for CAR

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, which establishes international standards, or national regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Reserve in the United States, the European Banking Authority in Europe, or the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, vary by country in terms of the regulatory requirements for the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR).

CAR is determined using Basel III, a framework developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Banks must maintain a minimum CAR of 8% and a minimum of 4.5% in Tier 1 capital in accordance with Basel III. The overall minimum CAR is increased to 10.5% by the requirement that banks maintain a 2.5% “capital conservation buffer.” Banks that don’t meet the minimal CAR criteria can have their activities restricted or need to acquire more capital.

Some types of banks, such as those considered to be systemically important or those with large exposures to high-risk assets, may be subject to stricter CAR rules in some jurisdictions. In reaction to alterations in the state of the economy or other elements that impact banks’ risk profiles, regulators may also modify the CAR standards.


The ratio of a bank’s capital to its risk-weighted assets, or capital adequacy ratio, is a measurement of a bank’s financial strength and resilience. As it supports risk management, regulatory compliance, investor confidence, and financial stability, it is a crucial statistic for banks, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders. Regulators work to lower the risk of bank failures and safeguard depositors and other stakeholders by establishing minimum standards and ensuring compliance. A bank with a higher CAR is typically more stable and financially healthy, whereas one with a lower CAR may be more risky.


Q1. What happens if a bank’s CAR is below the required minimum?

Ans. Banks that don’t meet the minimum CAR standard may be liable for fines or have their operations restricted. The bank can be required by regulators to raise more capital or take other actions to strengthen its financial situation.

Q2. When are CAR reports made?

Ans. Banks normally report CAR to regulators on a quarterly basis, and their financial statements make this information available to the public.

Q3. Are there any restrictions on the use of CAR as a gauge of a bank’s financial stability?

Ans. The use of CAR as a gauge of a bank’s financial health has limitations, yes. It does not consider all risks, such as operational risk, reputational risk, or liquidity risk, that a bank may face. Also, different banks could employ various accounting techniques, which can make it challenging to evaluate CAR between other organizations.

How To Keep Your Pc Connected On The Road

Weird cranberry sauce recipes, rambling stories from drunken uncles, and crowded freeways aren’t the only perils of traveling away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Finding a working Wi-Fi connection can be a pain even in these widely web-enabled times, and that holds true even if you’re walking around a major metropolitan area.

Indeed, you can’t even be sure your relatives will have a wireless router.

So what’s a poor, laptop-lugging traveler to do? Fear not: You don’t have to wander the streets searching for a signal like a nomad seeking the next oasis in a desert. In this story, we’ll cover everything you need to know about jumping online while traveling, whether that means paying a cellular provider for a Wi-Fi connection in your pocket, or searching for that next Wi-Fi hotspot on the road.

Tethering your smartphone

iPhone tethering options.

For most travelers, simply tethering your PC to your smartphone is the most economical and straightforward option for staying connected on the road. “Tethering” means broadcasting your phone’s cellular data signal (3G, 4G, whatever) as a Wi-Fi signal, letting other electronics (like your laptop or tablet) siphon off your data connection. If your phone supports tethering, you basically have a Wi-Fi router in your pocket.

Many cellular providers charge extra for tethering, but if you’re a Verizon Wireless customer, you’re in luck. Thanks to a recent FTC ruling, Verizon Wireless can’t charge extra for third-party tethering app usage anymore, though the company still charges $20 per month to use your phone’s native tethering capabilities. Other providers charge similar $20 to $30 premiums for this feature, or bundle it with more expensive plans. The shared data plans offered by AT&T and Verizon, for example, include hotspot functionality for phones.

Third-party tethering options require downloading a separate app. FoxFi and PdaNet are two popular Android tethering programs. Third-party tethering apps are available for the iPhone, but they will require a jailbroken phone.

Once you’re up and broadcasting, tethering your PC or tablet to your phone is usually as simple as looking for the new Wi-Fi signal. Our iPhone and Android tethering guides cover connecting to your smartphone in much greater detail.

Connecting to a mobile hotspot or USB modem

Image: AT&TThe MiFi Liberate 4G

Mobile hotspots or “MiFi” devices work the same as a tethered phone, tapping into a nationwide 3G/4G network to create a workable Wi-Fi signal for auxiliary devices like PCs and tablets. Pricing usually starts at $50 a month for data service, though you can find discounts if you sign up for a subsidized data plan when you buy your hotspot. (You’ll obviously need a carrier data plan—either subsidized or prepaid—to use a mobile hotspot.)

A dedicated mobile hotspot is a solid option if your smartphone doesn’t allow tethering or burns through battery charges. Mobile hotspots also work well if you want to connect to a different cellular network on the road—for example, grandma’s house may be a dead zone for your particular smartphone—or you simply need more robust signal-sharing options. Most mobile hotspots offer the ability to configure secure networks and allow you to connect multiple devices so that you can hop online with several laptops, tablets, and smartphones at once. The best can handle 10 simultaneous connections and last hours and hours on a charge.

A USB modem, meanwhile, plugs into a USB drive on your computer and provides a cellular data connection for just the single PC to which it’s connected. A USB modem is a good option if you only need to provide data to a single laptop, and don’t want to burn through your phone’s battery by tethering to it. They start around $100.

Tethering considerations

Because tethering devices tap into a cellular data connection, they’re generally subject to data caps and overage fees, just as a normal smartphone would be. Consider this carefully: All the data used by your tethered devices will count toward your monthly cellular data total.

Providers generally sell mobile data by the gigabyte, and mobile data costs a lot more than its landline counterparts. Even if you can find “unlimited data,” you’ll often find that your provider will throttle your connection speed after a few gigabytes.

Image: Verizon WirelessTony Bradley, a PCWorld columnist, found that Verizon’s coverage map hides unseen gaps.

If you think you’re going to use more data as a result of your wanderings, call your carrier and see if you can pay for additional data for a brief duration. For example, Verizon lets its “Share Everything” subscribers add an additional 2GB of data to their plans for $10 per month—but only if they log into the Verizon Wireless website and pony up before hitting their cap. Otherwise, data overage fees for the plan cost $15 per 1GB.

If you’re traveling outside the country, bear in mind that you’ll probably pay roaming fees, which can be exorbitantly expensive if you’re not prepared. In the past, people have been shocked to return from a foreign country to find a bill for roaming fees costing tens of thousands of dollars. Many major carriers offer international data plans, so check with yours ahead of time about possible fees and roaming plans for your destination.

You likely won’t be using a cellular tethering option to stream high-definition videos on Netflix or download large files, but it’s a great way to have access to your email and important websites anywhere you have cellular reception. Speaking of cellular reception, note that while it’s widespread, it isn’t universal, and speeds can vary greatly—especially in foreign countries and rural areas.

Our own Tony Bradley recently took a road trip and found that you can’t rely completely on mobile broadband options. Fortunately, booming Wi-Fi availability means you might not need to lean on cellular tethering at all.

Finding free, public Wi-Fi

Image: Ian PaulStarbucks offers free Wi-Fi for weary travelers (and hipsters).

If you’re looking for free Wi-Fi, your best bet is to find a coffee shop. Starbucks locations commonly offer free Wi-Fi, and you may not even have to buy a product to use it. (Of course, if you’re camping out in a coffee shop to use their Wi-Fi for a while, it’s only polite to actually buy something.) In some cases you may have to buy something first and request the password to the shop’s Wi-Fi network. Businesses offering Wi-Fi often have a Wi-Fi sign on their window or door.

Luckily for us, free Wi-Fi is spreading to other types of businesses. For example, you’ll find free Wi-Fi in McDonalds, Starbucks, Panera Bread, some grocery stores, many bookstores, and even some car dealerships and gas stations. Of course, if you’re planning on pulling out your laptop and staying a while, you’ll probably be better off finding a cafe or restaurant rather than sitting in a grocery store’s parking lot.

You may also find free Wi-Fi in public spaces. Free Wi-Fi is spreading to public parks in various major cities, and public libraries also often offer free Wi-Fi. This will vary by location.Indeed, while you can find free Wi-Fi in public parks in New York City and Paris, you probably won’t find wireless Internet access in small-town parks.

Buying Wi-Fi Access

Boingo maintains thousands of global Wi-Fi hotspots.

If you’re staying in a hotel, be sure to check if it offers Wi-Fi ahead of time. Believe it or not, some hotels still do not offer Wi-Fi! Many only offer a wired Ethernet connection, while others offer no Internet access at all. If you’re in a cable-only destination, the free version of Connectify can turn your Windows PC into a Wi-Fi hotspot for your phones, tablets, and other devices. (The premium offering unlocks other helpful tools.)

Some hotels offer Wi-Fi for free to all their guests, while some charge extra for the privilege—usually about $10 to $15 a day. You can often pay for Wi-Fi access while booking your room. If you don’t buy Wi-Fi access ahead of time, you can generally contact the front desk when you’re there and purchase Wi-Fi access, assuming the hotel actually offers it, of course.

Airports often offer Wi-Fi, too. Some airports offer free Wi-Fi. Others offer time-limited Wi-Fi and charge you for additional time. And still others charge for all Wi-Fi access entirely. You can check an airport’s website for information before you go if you’re curious. Any time spent off the cellular networks saves you data and, by extension, money.

Many airports and other locations that offer paid Wi-Fi access use Boingo. While you can buy hourly or pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi access at these locations, you can also easily connect to paid Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots and get unlimited usage if you’re paying for a Boingo subscription. The cost varies by location, with unlimited access to Boingo hotspots costing $10 a month in North America, $35 a month in Europe, and $59 a month globally for two devices. If you’ll be travelling near a lot of Boingo hotspots—you can view Boingo hotspots by location on Boingo’s website, and download their location for offline use—this may be a good deal, particularly in North America.

Alternatively, you could always go the tried and true “Internet cafe” route, though they may be difficult to find away from larger cities.

Wi-Fi On Your Journey

Many Amtrack trips and stations offer free Wi-Fi for customers.

You can also go online while travelling. If you’re flying within the US, you’ll be happy to know that in-flight Wi-Fi has become fairly common, although it’s not free and not available for all routes. A Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi pass for a single day will cost you $14 if you buy before you fly. If you’re a frequent traveller, you can pay $40 for a monthly pass. These prices go up if you wait until you’re on the plane to pay. However, in-flight Wi-Fi is still fairly rare in other parts of the world, so don’t count on having it if you’re flying out of the US.

Wi-Fi is also becoming more common on trains, such as Amtrak in the United States, where Wi-Fi is included free of charge. As with airlines, Wi-Fi is not available on all routes. Look ahead of time to see if you’ll have Wi-Fi on your train journey.

Free Wi-Fi has even spread to some bus lines, such as the BoltBus that travels between major destinations in the northeast and Pacific northwest.

Bear in mind that Wi-Fi on planes, trains, and busses is in its infancy and may not work perfectly. You may experience slowness or connection drops during some parts of your journey, so don’t plan on nailing that crucial frag in a championship gaming round while you’re in transit.

Data Harmony: How We Can Turn Piles Of Raw Data Into Usable Knowledge

Winter FINCH II cruise aboard the R/V Oceanus, January 15 – February 4, 2005. Chief Scientist: Glen Gawarkiewicz. Science crew: Will Ostrom, Craig Marquette, Frank Bahr, Chris Linder, and Brian Kidd (U. Delaware). The primary objectives of the cruise were to set and retrieve short-term moorings and complete a hydrographic survey using both the University of Delaware Scanfish and the shipboard CTD.

Scientists from every discipline have more data than ever, but it’s only as useful as the meaning behind it. Every bit of information is only explained by the context in which it was gathered, and often in the context in which it is used. “There is no such thing as raw data,” says Bill Anderson of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin and associate editor of the CODATA Data Science Journal.

Take the number 37, Anderson says. Other than stating a numerical order, it means little on its own. But with some more information — 37 degrees Celsius, for instance — it can take on more meaning. Now give it some context: 37 degrees C is normal body temperature. Now 37 represents something useful, something a doctor or researcher could use, and it becomes a piece of knowledge that could comfort a patient or answer a question.

A scientist may think he’s gathering data for one experiment, but increasingly, the records will be used by many more people than just his research team — it will be parsed and re-parsed, dumped into databases and models, and scrutinized by several different teams in different disciplines. Without proper context and record-keeping, it can be difficult for others to use data in new ways, but better data husbandry can help. That way, scientists can be assured their data is congruent and they’re comparing apples to apples, or normal body temperature to high temperature, as it were.

Same Mouse or Different Mice?

Mouse One does not look like Mouse Two, and they have different names, but the gene map says they’re identical, or at least almost identical. How do you square this problem? It can even have policy implications — it’s important to determine whether one distinct-looking species is in fact genetically different than its cousins, because this can affect whether it is listed as threatened or endangered. Take this little guy, for example: The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse. Found in riverside habitats in eastern Wyoming and the Front Range of Colorado, the tiny rodent has been a flashpoint for almost 13 years, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated it as threatened throughout its entire range. Ranchers, farmers and developers were not pleased, because maintaining its habitat is expensive and disruptive. Things came to a boil after several critics said the Preble’s mouse (named for the man who discovered it in 1899, Edward Preble) is not actually a distinct subspecies, but is genetically the same as other jumping mice found on the high plains. The FWS, however, maintains that is different enough to warrant protection. Its hind feet are specially adapted for jumping, and a long bi-colored tail. It has been listed and de-listed a few times under the Endangered Species Act, at one point inducing a multi-state dispute when it was considered threatened in Colorado but not in Wyoming. Just this August, the FWS reinstated protection requirements for both states. “The best commercial and scientific information available demonstrates that the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is a valid subspecies and should not be removed from the list of threatened and endangered species based on taxonomic revision,” the FWS said. Who’s the final arbiter? This is still an ongoing debate, and it’s not limited to the Preble’s mouse. Birds, crocodiles and plants are among several subjects constantly subjected to revision and argument. To improve matters for plants, at least, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the UK compiled the Plant List, a collection of every species and all the ways they can be categorized. “Without accurate names, understanding and communication about global plant life would descend into inefficient chaos, costing vast sums of money and threatening lives in the case of plants used for food or medicine,” the project says. The first version was done in December 2010.

A Sea of Oceanography Data

Oceanography is by definition cross-disciplinary — researchers who study whales and dolphins also must understand their habitat, for example — so oceanographers are generally awash in data. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is trying to make it easier to get that data from ship to shore and make it shareable and usable. WHOI and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Tetherless World Constellation project are developing an Ocean Informatics strategy, which includes building new ways to document and store data. A small working group has been interviewing scientists about what they need, with the goal of building a new data storage infrastructure, as well as determining how data collection can become better streamlined. “Individual scientists benefit from large-scale science collaborations in ways that were not originally envisioned,” as the working group puts it. The group is tasked with determining how to increase ” the ability for a single data set to be used by multiple researchers in different disciplines and sub-disciplines.” A full report is anticipated by the end of the year.

Crime Data From All Over

Accurate criminal justice records are crucial for many reasons — they prevent criminals from buying firearms and working with children or the disabled, they help public officials make policy decisions, and they help employers conduct background checks, among other uses. To make sure databases are accurate and therefore useful, the federal government helps states keep better records. The Criminal Justice Data Improvement Program, through the Bureau of Justice Statistics, tries to help states and local governments improve their record stewardship. It has three sub-programs focusing on criminal history records, state justice statistics and the national instant criminal background check system. “Complete records require that data from all components of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, prosecutors, courts, and corrections be integrated and linked,” the BJS explains. Crime stats are another area requiring careful use of context. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports organize crime data culled from each state, but each of them has different record-keeping methods and distinct laws, so the numbers can vary. And the reporting is voluntary (although most law enforcement agencies use it), so it paints an incomplete picture. For the UCR numbers, the FBI cautions that simple glances at the data can lead to simplistic or incomplete analysis.

A World of Climate Change Data

The IPCC Climate Change Data Distribution Centre maintains climate records for worldwide use, including data sets from varying research groups and climate change prediction models. Analysts collect data from these disparate models and convert it into compatible formats. This way, scientists in China and scientists at Berkeley can use the same data set without having to make any alterations or conversions, which will ensure their results are based on the same numbers. Climate modelers can use whatever data sets they want, but the IPCC hopes the availability of its data will encourage analysts to use it. The DDC maintains four types of data — actual climate observations, global climate models, socio-economic data and data for other environmental changes, other than warming records. The climate observations include monthly ground monitoring station data from 1961 to 1990, as well as temperature anomalies throughout the 20th century. This data set has come under fire in the past because some monitoring stations were considered ill-equipped or inaccurate; a recent study by a self-described climate skeptic used those stations, and tons of others, and found the data holds up and that the globe is warming. The DDC’s climate model data comes from climate modeling centers, which use several data points to predict how the climate will change over time. The socio-economic data is used to study emissions scenarios and resource use, which also drive the models. Finally, the “other environmental changes” section includes data on things like CO2 concentration, particles in the atmosphere, and sea-level rise.

Even Political Data

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