Top Twelve Disruptive Tech Trends?

It turns out that the future is known and available for all. At least, according to a new book from McKinsey (No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends).

What can you expect in the coming couple of decades?

1) Cheaper energy storage (batteries) which will transform transportation and energy systems.

2) Genomic analysis tools will lead to dramatic health improvements and life extension by 2025.

3) Advanced materials as engineers learn to manipulate things on a molecular level.

4) Autonomous vehicles. Why drive when you can play Go Fish?

5) Renewable energy. The sun will account for more than all other forms of electric power generation combined by 2050.

6) Robots. Well, duh!

7) 3-D printing. Why buy shoes when you can print them?

8) Mobile Internet. Are you reading this on a PC? What’s a PC?

9) Automation of knowledge work. By 2025, computers could do the work of 140 million knowledge workers.

10) Internet of things. Today, 99% of physical objects are not connected to the Internet. Soon, almost everything will be.

11) Cloud. Soon, every new startup will have the same IT backbone and scalability and reach as the largest corporations.

12) Advanced oil and gas recovery. The world carbon market will transform as fracking releases gas from rocks.

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July 20 Critical Windows Security Flaw Announced

Microsoft announced that a previously unknown security flaw involving fonts (of all things) could let a hacker take over your computer. This issue affects virtually ALL versions of Windows.

If your Windows computer updates automatically, you probably do not need to take action, as an update will be uploaded to your computer (hopefully before a hacker exploits the flaw!).

More information from Microsoft is available here: https://technet.microsoft.com/library/security/MS15-078

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Flash! Secret Security Hole Revealed by Source Code Theft

IMPORTANT NOTE: Penad software does not use Adobe Flash Player and is not susceptible to the security problem described below. However, if your computer uses Flash, it IS susceptible. In such a case, a hacker can take control of your computer. If Penad software is running on that computer, then the hacker may be able to access Penad software and data. Because Adobe has NOT yet (as of this article) released a security patch for this newly discovered problem, we recommend that you disable Adobe Flash Player to ensure you are not vulnerable to attack.

News Flash: Adobe Flash Player is NOT SAFE FOR WORK!

A few days ago, a hacker broke into the files of an Italian computer “security firm” and released their internal company emails and the company source code onto the Internet. The targeted company, Hacking Team, has made a business of finding security holes in computing operating systems and exploiting them on behalf of their clients.

Their value proposition is that they will help clients break into and take control of the computers of their targets. Hacking Team clients include the governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Sudan, Egypt, and the USA.

An analysis of Hacking Team’s source code and email communications has revealed that Hacking Team had identified a previously unknown security hole in Adobe Flash Player. This security hole HAS NOT BEEN FIXED BY ADOBE AS OF THIS WRITING.

Using this security hole, a hacker is able to take control of a target computer running Adobe Flash Player. Hacking Team described this security hole as “the most beautiful Flash bug for the last four years”. Computers running Windows, OS X and Linux are all vulnerable.

Now that Hacking Team’s approach has been released to the Internet, EVERY HACKER ON EARTH is now able to exploit this security hole. Because Adobe has not yet released a fix, your computer is vulnerable if it is running Adobe Flash Player. We therefore recommend that you disable Flash immediately.

Adobe has issued the following statement:
A critical vulnerability (CVE-2015-5119) has been identified in Adobe Flash Player 18.0.0.194 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Successful exploitation could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. Adobe is aware of reports that an exploit targeting this vulnerability has been published publicly. Adobe expects to make updates available on July 8.

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Are You Ready for Windows 10?

Here are some interesting facts about Windows.

— Windows is currently the OS on 1.5 billion PCs.

— 77% of businesses with Windows still run Windows 7 on some or all of their PCs, because Windows 8 and 8.1 were/are so reviled.

— Only 18% of companies deployed Windows 8 or 8.1 on their computers.

— Because of the failure of Windows 8 and 8.1, there is a huge pent-up demand for an upgrade path.

— Windows 10 will be launched on July 29, 2015, and it will be free for people running Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.

— 60% of IT departments have already tested Windows 10, and 73% plan to adopt Windows 10 by 2017.

— Windows 10 will actually have a Start button, just like in Windows 7. Amazing, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

 

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Are You Aware of the 2015 Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Benefit Rates?

For those already receiving CPP benefits, their rate will increase by 1.8%. The maximum CPP benefit for new recipients age 65 is now $1,065 per month. The amount you receive is based on your average yearly maximum pensionable earnings for the five years prior to retirement, plus whether or not you took early benefits. Speak with your financial planner to calculate your possible benefit and best retirement age.

The OAS rate for the first quarter of 2015 (January to March) is $563.74 per month.

NOTE: The Old Age Security (OAS) benefit is paid to qualified Canadian citizens regardless of income during their working years. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP, or the Quebec Pension Plan in Quebec) is based on contributions and income during your working years and also offers disability, death, survivor and children’s benefits.

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Acadia University Ditches Stand-Alone Pension Plan

In the end, it was just too much of a struggle for Acadia University to resist the lure of joining the much larger public service pension plan of the province of Nova Scotia.

Plan members voted in late February on the proposed transfer and 88% of the 400 members were in favour. The vote was made possible because of the province’s decision to open the public service pension plan to non-civil service members.

The $140 million Acadia plan was facing difficulties including a 25% funding shortfall and high administration costs. By joining the $5 billion public service plan and changing the benefit structure, Acadia will eliminate the funding shortfall.

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Are You Aware of the 2015 Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Benefit Rates?

For those already receiving CPP benefits, their rate will increase by 1.8%. The maximum CPP benefit for new recipients age 65 is now $1,065 per month. The amount you receive is based on your average yearly maximum pensionable earnings for the five years prior to retirement, plus whether or not you took early benefits. Speak with your financial planner to calculate your possible benefit and best retirement age.

The OAS rate for the first quarter of 2015 (January to March) is $563.74 per month.

NOTE: The Old Age Security (OAS) benefit is paid to qualified Canadian citizens regardless of income during their working years. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP, or the Quebec Pension Plan in Quebec) is based on contributions and income during your working years and also offers disability, death, survivor and children’s benefits.

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Disclosure, Not Prescription: ESG is Coming to Ontario DB Plans

As of January 1, 2016, all occupational defined benefit pension plans in Ontario will be required to disclose any environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors that are incorporated in the pension fund’s investment policies and procedures.

This requirement is a first for Canada and was approved by the Ontario legislature in late 2014, after first being proposed in 2011. The UK, Germany, Sweden, France and Belgium also have similar regulations.

The amendment to the Ontario Pension & Benefits Act is supported by Ontario’s largest pension funds including the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan and OMERS, both of which have actively disclosed ESG since the 2000’s.

This new regulation is not prescriptive and does not require pension plans to adopt or promote any special ESG policies, but we expect that pension trustees will consider ESG investments more closely as a result of this requirement, as has happened in other jurisdictions. Several other provinces in Canada including BC, Alberta and Nova Scotia are considering following suit.

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Withdrawals from Pension Plans Due to Financial Hardship or Medical Disability Costs

In Canada, did you know that you (or members of your pension plan – if registered under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985) may be able to make one or more withdrawals from your pension plan for financial hardship or disability?

For financial hardship, the amount that can be unlocked depends on your expected income. If your income is projected to be zero, you can make a withdrawal up to 50% of the YMPE (Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings). In 2015, the YMPE is $53,600.

Note that you can make more than one withdrawal for financial hardship in a calendar year, but you only have 30 days after the first withdrawal to make another withdrawal.

If your projected income is 75% of the YMPE, you are not eligible to unlock or withdraw for financial hardship.

You can also unlock for medical or disability costs, if those costs are expected to be 20% or greater of your expected income in the calendar year. If they are, you can withdraw an amount up to the full medical disability cost, to a maximum of 50% of the YMPE. The YMPE for 2015 is $53,600, so you can withdraw a maximum of $26,800.

There are a number of forms to fill out to make a withdrawal for financial hardship or medical costs. Please contact your Penad administrator for more information.

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Solvency Information Return

Has your pension plan submitted its Solvency Information Return to OSFI in Canada? This is required for all defined benefit or combination-type pension plans in Canada registered under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

This filing provides OSFI with information on contribution holidays and annual rates of return and is used by OSFI to calculate the Estimated Solvency Ratio and to monitor contribution holidays.

The filing, OSFI 575, is due on the later of 45 days after the plan year-end or on February 15.

Please contact a Penad pension administrator if you have any questions about this filing.

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