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With Custom Skills, Alexa Inches Closer to Being One of the Family
Amazon has introduced Alexa Skill Blueprints, adding personalization capabilities to its smart speaker devices. The new tool provides pre-crafted templates for users to create customized experiences, such as skills for particular users. With Alexa Skill Blueprints, users can build into their devices experiences that are personalized for themselves, their friends and their families.
Facebook Rolls Out European-Style Privacy Protections
Facebook has unveiled a comprehensive series of privacy enhancements designed to extend protections required by the European Union's GDPR to all of the social media company's users around the world. The updates, which include major changes to the company's terms and data policies, fulfill promises CEO Mark Zuckerberg made to House and Senate members in Washington D.C., Facebook officials said.
Nix This Innovative OS for Its Uninviting Complexity
NixOS is a modern and flexible GNU/Linux-based distribution that is both archaic to install and maddening to set up. That combination makes NixOS a reach too far for new users. That result may be an unintended consequence for a Linux operating system that is built around a very novel design approach. It is far more complex than other innovating options.
The Electronics Industry: A Pawn in the US vs. China Chess Game
Rising tensions between China and the United States have led to growing concerns that a tariff war will have a negative impact on the electronics industry. Amazingly, the industry has been spared thus far, and with good reason. However, even if tariffs aren't imposed, there is a silent battle between the two countries that already has impacted the global electronics ecosystem.
Microsoft, Facebook, Oracle Among 34 Firms to Join Cybersecurity Tech Accord
Microsoft, Oracle and Facebook, along with 31 other companies, have signed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, an agreement aimed at defending against cyberattacks, whether coming from rogue hackers or nation-states. The 34 tech firms committed to stronger defenses, no offensive attacks, capacity building and collective action. Security remains a major issue in the tech world.
Vulnerabilities Abound in Popular Android Apps: Report
About 20 percent of the most popular Android Apps available through the Google Play Store contain open source components with known security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers, according to a report Insignary will release next week. The findings are the result of the company's recent comprehensive binary code scan of the 700 most popular Android Apps on the Google Play Store.
Swedish Sounds, Cool Phones, and Smart Switches
Not quite content with furnishing every other aspect of our homes, IKEA has continued its push into smart home territory with its first Bluetooth speaker. The Eneby comes in two sizes: 8 x 8 and 12 x 12 inches. You can use it as a portable speaker with up to 10 hours of battery life with the optional $20 battery, and there's a handle for added portability.
Facebook and Google Could Be Nationalized in 5-10 Years
After I considered Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony before Senate and House committee hearings last week, it became very clear to me -- and I expect many in Congress -- that social media companies need to be regulated. However, I think this is only a step in the path that governments -- and I do mean more than the U.S. -- will take to ensure their effectiveness and protect their people.
Disney Debuts ESPN+ Streaming Sports Service
Disney has introduced EPSN+, an all-in-one, direct-to-consumer premium streaming service that offers thousands of live sporting events as well as original series and films. ESPN+ is the first such premium service from The Walt Disney Company's Direct-To-Consumer and International Group through a partnership with ESPN. The release of ESPN+ coincides with the release of the free ESPN App.
What Should We Expect From AI?
Fear mongering about killer robots and the recent deaths connected with Uber and Tesla autonomous vehicles have rekindled concerns about AI in the machines around us. We are well beyond answering Alan Turing's question, "can machines think?" There is now good reason to ask how we should think of AI, and what we should expect from it. There have been phenomenal advances in just the past few years.
New RHEL Locks In Hybrid Cloud Growth
Red Hat has announced the general availability of RHEL 7.5, which targets the needs of both Linux server and cloud deployment users. With the goal of providing a consistent foundation for hybrid cloud environments, RHEL 7.5 includes enhanced security and compliance controls, tools to reduce storage costs, and improved usability, as well as deeper integration with Microsoft Windows infrastructure.
Standards Milestone Could Mark Beginning of End for Passwords
A Web standards milestone could point to the end of the road for pesky passwords. The new standard, WebAuthn, has won near-final approval from the World Wide Web Consortium. WebAuthn defines a standard API that can be incorporated into browsers and Web infrastructure. It opens the door for new ways for users to authenticate themselves on the Internet that are more secure and convenient than passwords.
Palo Alto Networks Sales VP Amy Slater: Be Human
"People have a fear that if they show any type of vulnerability, that's a bad thing," said Palo Alto Networks Sales VP Amy Slater. "But I've learned over time that people want to work with and learn from humans. I've modified the way that I was leading, and in doing so I've become more approachable. Instead of being stiff and by-the-book, I started to create my own brand of being human."
Researchers to Put Facebook's Role in Elections Under Magnifying Glass
A group of nonprofits have agreed to fund an initiative to study Facebook's role in elections and democracy. The organizations will pay the expenses of researchers, and Facebook will give the scholars access to proprietary data that has met the company's new standards for heightened user privacy protection. "This is a critical first step," said Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation.
Open-Sourced Windows File Manager Gets New Life on Windows 10
Microsoft has rummaged deep into its archive for its latest contribution to the open source community: Windows File Manager. Originally bundled with Windows in 1990, File Manager was a replacement for the command-line interface in MS-DOS. The program was used to search, open, copy and delete files until it was replaced by Windows Explorer, which followed the introduction of Windows 95.
Turning Social Media From a Problem Into a Solution
The shooting incident that took place last week at YouTube had less to do with guns than with the failure of the police to act on information in a timely way and the inability of social media to be anything but part of the problem. Google has been giving this issue little more than lip service, but I expect it has become motivated to do more, given that YouTube was the latest target.
Facebook Comes Up With a New Data Access Plan
Facebook has announced an update to its policies for restricting data access on its platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also discussed some of Facebook's new efforts to shore up user privacy protections in a 45-minute long Q&A with members of the media on Wednesday. Facebook will implement nine changes, which will allow users to set privacy levels and limit automatic data sharing.
Curves, Gestures May Be in iPhone's Future
Gesture control and a curved body may be in the iPhone's future. Apple has been experimenting with those features for the iPhone, and they could be ready for prime time in two to three years. Gesture control would allow a user to execute tasks without touching the screen. The technology could be used for more than just answering phone calls and opening apps, noted Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen.
Bluestar Gives Arch Linux a Celestial Glow
Using most any Arch Linux distro usually involves balancing the desire for hands-on control of the OS against the attraction of convenient installation and maintenance processes. Bluestar Linux is one of the few Arch distros that gets the balancing act right. Bluestar Linux is a GNU/Linux distribution that features up-to-date packages, an impressive range of software, and a live desktop DVD.
Intel Hits the Gas Pedal With 8th Gen Core Processors
Intel has unveiled its latest family of 8th generation Core processors. "As with previous new-gen Core launches, these initial solutions are aimed at customers who value high-end performance and dynamic market segments," said Pund-IT's Charles King. The 8th Gen processors incorporate Intel Octane memory, a smart and adaptable system accelerator for desktop and mobile platforms.
3 Injured in YouTube HQ Shooting, Female Suspect Dead
A female suspect is dead and at least three people were wounded in a mass shooting incident Tuesday at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California. Hundreds of company employees fled the chaotic scene. San Bruno police swarmed the YouTube offices at about 12:48 p.m. local time after receiving numerous emergency calls two minutes earlier reporting shots fired.
Mozilla Trumpets Altered Reality Browser
The Mozilla Foundation has unveiled its plans for Firefox Reality, a browser designed specifically for mixed reality headsets. The browser combines the beneftis of Mozilla's existing Firefox browser with its experimental Web engine. Using Servo, Mozilla plans to experiment with entirely new designs and technologies for seeing and interacting with the immersive Web.
TelaDietitian CEO Jackie Elnahar: Remember Your Mission
Starting a new online service "was a great business opportunity to combine nutrition with technology," said Jackie Elnahar, CEO of TelaDIetitian. "I'm also very passionate about making nutrition information mainstream. I don't think seeing a registered dietitian should be a luxury. Anyone who needs to see a dietitian should see one, and it should be easy to."
The Power of Social Media and the Coming Repeal of the 2nd Amendment
One of the most powerful political organizations in the U.S. is the National Rifle Association. The president of the United States recently claimed he wasn't afraid of the NRA, only to have an NRA spokesperson -- not the president himself -- later announce that the president had changed his mind. It was painful to watch the most powerful man in the free world be treated like a small child.
Microsoft Offers New Tool to Grow Linux in Windows
Microsoft has released an open source tool that makes it easier for programmers and developers to run Linux on Windows 10. The new tool also helps Linux distribution maintainers bring their distros to the Windows Store to run on Windows 10's WSL. Microsoft developed the project for distribution maintainers and for developers who want to create custom Linux distributions to run on WSL.
Snapchat May Risk Connecting Apps, Despite Facebook Uproar
Snapchat soon may have a Connected Apps feature that is similar to the functionality at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica brouhaha, which has sparked congressional scrutiny and consumer backlash. The latest beta features a new tab within the setting page. The page displays the following text: "These apps are connected to your Snapchat account. Choose an app to control what it has access to."