Google’s intelligent cloud developer tools added new features with the launch of a new Cloud Natural Language API. The service is aimed at helping developers create applications that understand human language.
It’s an important move for Google, as public cloud providers race to host new applications built with intelligent capabilities. Natural language processing allows developers to build apps that can tackle the challenging task of understanding how humans communicate. It is also key for building intelligent assistants and chat bots.
This API can provide information about a block of text back to an application, including the overall sentiment of a passage and an analysis of the structure of a sentence. The system can also identify entities mentioned, including people, organizations, locations, events and products.
The API is based on the same research that Google used to create Parsey McParseface, an open source parser for English text that the company released earlier this year.
The natural language API entered public beta alongside Google’s already announced Speech API, which lets applications take in recorded voice clips and get text back. By connecting the two APIs, it’s possible for developers to build an app that can listen to a user’s voice and then understand what that person is saying.
By launching these two services in beta, Google continues its competition against Microsoft, Amazon and IBM, which are also launching intelligent capabilities in their public cloud platforms.
Dish said it lost 281,000 net pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30, missing the average analyst estimate of a loss of 91,000 subscribers, according to market research firm FactSet StreetEstimate.
However, average revenue per user rose to $89.98 from $87.91, helped by price increases for its video service.
Dish raised its 2016 video service rates in January.
To offset losses in its core pay-TV business, the company last year launched a cheaper $20-per-month Sling TV online streaming service that offers a slim bundle of channels, including live programming from networks such as ESPN.
Net income attributable to Dish rose to $410 million, or 88 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, from $324 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.
Net revenue rose to $3.84 billion from $3.83 billion.
As we reported earlier today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed the virtues of its cloud computing platform.
But he didn’t say very much about Windows at all.
And, according to Seeking Alpha financial analyst Mark Hibben in a note to his clients, it’s almost as if Nadella has given up the ghost on the now long in the tooth operating system.
He didn’t say much about smartphones either but admitted that Windows 10 won’t hit the one billion user mark.
But there are another billion and a bit people out there who are using previous versions of Windows and Hibben thinks that that’s Microsoft should really take advantage of that opportunity.
Hibben thinks that while Nadella is practically creaming himself about the cloud the same sort of urges don’t seem to apply to Windows.
Windows phone revenues have fallen 71 percent compared to the same period last year and Microsoft seems to lack a strategy for smartphones in the future.
So has Microsoft given up on Windows? That, surely, can’t be the case.
Google reports on the government requests every six months. In the second half of 2015, it said it received more than 40,000 requests for data related to more than 81,000 user accounts; That compares to the first half of the year when Google received about 35,000 requests related to about 69,000 accounts.
In the second half of 2014, Google received 31,140 requests from U.S. entities for user information related to more than 50,000 accounts.
“Usage of our services [has] increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers,” Google said.
By far, the U.S. leads the world in government requests for data: it submitted 27,157 requests related to 12,523 user accounts in the second half of last year. The next highest country was Ireland with 12,114 requests, followed by Germany with 11,562 reqeusts.
Google agreed to hand over “some” user data for 64% of the requests worldwide, but it handed over data for U.S. government requests 79% of the time.
Several search engines and social media sites voluntarily offer annual or semi-annual transparency reports related to state and federal law enforcement information requests about user data.
Google has been publishing its semi-annual Transparency Report since 2011; the latest statistics show that requests for user data is at an all-time high.
In 2014, Apple, Microsoft, and Google were among 10 top tech companies that signed a letter backing passage of the USA Freedom Act, which would curtail bulk collection of Internet metadata by government agencies.
Passed in June 2015, the USA Freedom Act now requires transparency when the government demands user information from technology companies. Nevertheless, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said there still needs to be more transparency when it comes to government-mandated back doors, as well as what deleted data is kept around in case government agents seek it in the future.
General Electric Co announced that it would partner with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to develop smart machines designed to boost productivity, part of a drive to promote its “industrial internet” business in China.
The U.S. industrial giant announced the partnership as it launched an $11 million digital space in Shanghai, where it plans to incubate start-ups and have developers work on new software applications to make machines more intelligent.
The move is part of GE’s ambitious plans to lead a productivity revolution in global industry by combining machinery with analytics, after selling off its financial assets and embarking on a major restructuring.
Chief Digital Officer Bill Ruh said the world’s biggest maker of jet engines and diesel locomotives had already made $500 million in productivity savings for itself this year by using smarter machines, and he expected this to grow to $1 billion in total by 2020.
“Once we got it right for ourselves we take it to our customers … We’re bringing this to China, we’re open for business in China today to be able to do this,” he said at a company event in Shanghai.
GE is investing $500 million annually in software as part of the digital drive, and Ruh said the company expected the products to bring in about $6 billion in revenue this year.
Microsoft last week stepped up its campaign to stop software pirates when it filed the fifth lawsuit in as many months accusing unidentified individuals with illegally activating more than 1,000 copies of Windows, including the newest Windows 10, and Office.
The suit was filed in a Seattle court last Thursday. It was almost identical to others submitted since February, when Microsoft started a string of cases targeting numerous “John Does.”
“Microsoft’s cyberforensics have identified over one thousand activations of Microsoft software originating from IP address 126.96.36.199 (‘the IP Address’), which is presently assigned to Cable One, Inc.,” Microsoft’s complaint read.
Microsoft did not identify the culprits, but tagged them as “John Doe” 1 through 10.
“Defendants have activated and attempted to active [sic] copies of Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008,” Microsoft charged.
As with the previous four John Doe cases of 2016, Microsoft asserted that it tracked the allegedly illegal activations to the IP address, and that the number and pattern of those activations “make it more likely than not” that they were using stolen product keys or abusing legitimate keys.
Microsoft has been given permission in two of the 2016 cases — both filed in early June — to serve subpoenas to internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast and EarthLink. Those subpoenas have demanded that the ISPs identify the alleged software pirates who have been assigned the IP addresses Microsoft had fingered.
That is enough to store most readers porn collections in just a couple of feet of data rather than the rooms it takes up now. Apparently you can stuff the entire contents of the US Library of Congress in a 0.1-mm wide cube — we guess that does not include the toilets and the cafe..
The atomic hard drive was developed by Delft University’s Sander Otte and his chums. It features a storage density that’s 500 times larger than state-of-the-art hard disk drives.
According to the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology, which we get for the impossible spot the proton competition, the technology is not exactly commercial yet.
Otte and the team placed chlorine atoms on a copper surface, resulting in a perfect square grid. A hole appears on this grid whenever an atom is missing. Using a sharp needle of a scanning tunneling microscope, the researchers were able to probe the atoms one by one, and even drag individual atoms towards a hole.
When a chlorine atom is in the top position, and there’s a hole beneath it, it’s a 1. Reversed, the bit is a 0. and it becomes a hard drive.
Each chlorine atom is surrounded by other chlorine atoms, which helps keep them in place, except near the holes. This method makes it much more stable than methods that use loose atoms. Using this technique, the researchers were able to perform write, read-out, and re-write operations in a one-kilobyte device comprising 8,000 atomic bits. It is by far the largest atomic structure ever constructed by humans.
During the experiment, the researchers preserved the positions of more than 8,000 chlorine “vacancies,” or missing atoms, for more than 40 hours at 77 kelvin. After developing a binary alphabet based on the positions of the holes, the researchers stored various texts, including physicist Richard Feynman’s seminal lecture, There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, and Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This data was stored atom by atom, bit by bit, on the surface of the copper sheet. The ensuing write/re-write speed was relatively slow—on the scale of minutes—but the demonstration showed that it’s possible to reliably write, store, and read data at the atomic scale.
The system cannot function in an everyday environment. In its current form, the atomic hard drive can only operate in clean vacuum conditions and at liquid nitrogen temperatures, which is -346°F (-321°C). Most readers porn collections are far too hot for it to handle.
Ransomware threat CRYPTXXX is now airborne, according to researchers at security firm Proofpoint, and is being sent out via a spam campaign to some effect.
Proofpoint explained in a blog post that CryptXXX is usually included alongside malware packages such as the Neutrino and Angler exploit kits.
“CryptXXX has rapidly grown into one of the most prevalent ransomware variants in the wild with widespread distribution via exploit kits such as Neutrino and Angler. As exploit kit traffic has declined (a 96 per cent decrease between April and June), though, particularly in the wake of Angler’s disappearance, threat actors normally reliant on exploit kits are diversifying and looking to other vectors like email,” said the firm.
“For the first time, Proofpoint researchers have observed CryptXXX ransomware being distributed via malicious document attachments in email campaigns. On July 14, Proofpoint researchers detected an email campaign with document attachments containing malicious macros. If opened, these attachments download and install CryptXXX ransomware.”
The security firm has provided an example of the type of email. It purports to be from a bank and includes an attached document that the recipient is urged to read. The attachment opens a document that claims to need more macros to display properly. Go for that, and the trouble starts.
“CryptXXX ransomware has propagated rapidly since appearing earlier this year. The ransomware was initially linked to groups associated with Angler and was distributed almost exclusively via Angler,” added the firm.
“As Angler activity dried up over this quarter, many actors turned to instances of the Neutrino exploit kit for distribution. Not surprisingly, with the disruption in the exploit kit market, it appears that CryptXXX actors are turning to email as well. We will continue to monitor this trend and see if malicious document-based distribution of CryptXXX expands in the coming months.”
There is perhaps some good news to report about ransomware, although it does rather fly in the face of advice suggesting that people should not pay ransom demands.
A study by Finnish security company F-Secure looked at five separate ransomware gangs and found that they were friendly, amicable to deal with and amenable on terms and payments.
“Crypto-ransomware criminals’ business model is, of course, encrypting your files and making you pay to have them decrypted so you can access them again. To help victims understand what has happened, and then navigate the unfamiliar process of paying in bitcoin, some [gangs] offer a ‘customer journey’ that could rival that of a legitimate small business,” F-Secure said.
“Websites that support several languages. Helpful FAQs. Convenient customer support forms so the victim can ask questions. And responsive customer service agents that quickly get back with replies.
“We think this is a pretty interesting paradox. Criminal nastiness, but on the other hand willingness to help ‘for your convenience’, as one [gang] put it.”
Ultimately, F-Secure urged people to prevent this happening to them and put in protective and preventive measures that can eliminate the threat. We think that there might be some software firms that can help consumers and businesses with this. F-Secure may be one of them.
Musk’s tweet said that ‘significant’ upgrades might be possible for Autopilot, but did not specify what those might be. The improvements will eventually be added to vehicles with Autopilot capability via an over-the-air upgrade, Musk said.
Tesla is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and possibly the Securities and Exchange Commission, over several accidents that may have involved its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).
The fatal accident, which took place on May 7 in Williston, Fla., resulted in the death of Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, when a tractor-trailer crossed both lanes of a divided highway in front of his Tesla sedan.
Two other, non-fatal accidents connected to Autopilot are also under investigation. On Friday, a U.S. Senate Committee asked Tesla to brief it on the circumstances leading to the fatal accident involving Brown. Tesla has conceded that Autopilot was on at the time of the collision.
For his part, Musk also thanked MobilEye for its help in “making Autopilot better.” Netherlands-based MobilEye makes computer chips with image processing algorithms responsible for collision warning and prevention in ADAS, such as Tesla’s Autopilot.
While Tesla has remained fuzzy about how much of a role MobilEye plays in its in-house Autopilot ADAS technology, after the first Model S fatal crash in May, both Tesla and Mobileye stock went down.
Shares in Japan’s Softbank have fallen 10 per cent after it agreed a controversial $30 billion deal to buy UK chip designer ARM.
Part of the reason that shareholders greeted the idea with horror was that it would dump a pile of debt on the company, but the other reason was the value of the company was expected to plummet after Brexit causes the UK economy to collapse.
It was for this reason that the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond welcomed the deal saying that despite the vote to leave the EU, Britain “has lost none of its allure to international investors”. Of course sending profits overseas is just the sort of thing that is good for the British economy under Hammond’s new glorious economic plan.
Common sense, as expressed by ARM co-founder Hermann Hauser, said it represented a “sad day” for the UK’s technology sector. ARM was a golden child which emerged from the days when the UK used to actually make computers.
Analysts had been hoping that Softbank, which has raised nearly 19 billion in cash through sales of some of its assets, was going to use some of that cash to reduce its debt or reward shareholders.
Instead it has secured a $10 billion bridge loan to finance part of its ARM purchase.
SoftBank has pledged to preserve ARM’s existing management team, maintain its headquarters in Cambridge, at least double the number of employees in the UK over the next five years and increase its overseas workforce.
The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that Google has abandoned its VR projects and is secretly working on a an augmented reality-style headset.
Engadget reported that the Californian technology giant is building the head-mounted computer that will work independently of smartphones and desktop PCs.
It claims that this secret project, which is quietly in development, is a replacement for an Oculus Rift style project that has been axed.
Actually the project sounds more like a hybrid VR-AR setup: “While it does have a screen, it will offer features more in line with augmented reality systems than existing VR headsets.”
Google is not saying anything and it does have a habit of working on things and then giving up on them. But the rumours are indicative of just how important AR and VR is becoming for the industry’s major players:
It is widely viewed as the next major platform, with similar possibilities to the early days of mobile. Facebook has the Oculus Rift, Microsoft has its AR Hololens headset, and there are rumours about Apple’s intentions to get into virtual reality after everyone else has done the legwork and then it will arrive and claim it has invented it.
Google was into mobile-powered VR game early with its DIY Cardboard headset, and earlier this year it announced Daydream — a virtual reality platform that, like Cardboard (but much more sophisticated), uses a smartphone as its hardware base.
Engadget claims that employees working on the secretive alternative headset have been told that Daydream is “not the company’s long-term plan for virtual and augmented reality.”
Canonical announced the security breach on Friday after being notified that someone claimed to have a copy of the UbuntuForums.org database. An investigation revealed that an attacker did get access to the website’s user records through a vulnerability.
The exploited SQL injection flaw was located in the Forum Runner add-on for vBulletin, commercial web forum software that powers over 100,000 community websites on the Internet and is especially popular with companies. The vulnerability was known, but the Canonical IT team had failed to apply the patch for it in a timely manner.
“The attacker had the ability to inject certain formatted SQL to the Forums database on the Forums database servers,” the team said in a blog post. “This gave them the ability to read from any table but we believe they only ever read from the ‘user’ table.”
The user table contained usernames, email addresses and Internet Protocol addresses for 2 million users. It did not contain valid user passwords, but hashed strings that were used for the Ubuntu Single Sign On service. These cannot be used as-is to access user accounts.
As a precautionary measure to ensure that no attacker code was left behind, Canonical temporarily took the website down, rebuilt its hosting servers from scratch, installed the most up-to-date version of vBulletin and reset all system and database passwords.
The company is certain that the attacker was not able to access any code repositories or update mechanisms, did not get write permissions to the Ubuntu Forums database, didn’t obtain shell access to any of the servers and was not able to mess around with any other Canonical or Ubuntu services.
SoftBank is paying £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash for the chip company that licenses its designs to a large number of chip suppliers to smartphone makers and to the emerging IoT market.
The Japanese company will retain ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and plans to double the number of employees in the U.K. over the next five years, when it will also increase the company’s headcount outside the U.K.
ARM, with 4,064 employees, will be an independent business within SoftBank, which will pay for the acquisition from existing cash resources and a loan. SoftBank said it intends to retain the current ARM organization including the existing senior management team, brand, and partnership-based business model and culture.
SoftBank has invested in a number of media and technology companies, including Internet retailer Snapdeal in India and ride-hailing app company Didi Chuxing in China. It also acquired Sprint Nextel in 2013.
The acquisition of ARM would place the company in a market where it would be an upstream supplier to some of the biggest names in the tech industry as licensees of ARM’s designs like Qualcomm gear up to supply chips to the connected devices market.
“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,’” said SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a statement Monday.
The emails to OneDrive account holders were the first step in a process that Microsoft announced last year as part of a broader reduction in cloud-based storage allowances. The free amount was to be lowered from 15GB to 5GB, and another 15GB that many had — the photograph-specific “Camera Roll” bonus that had been given to any who asked — was to be erased.
In April 2016, Microsoft warned OneDrive users that the automatic reductions and access restrictions would begin in July, when accounts with more than 5GB of content would be marked read-only. Users would be able to view and download files stored in such accounts, but they would not be able to add new documents, photographs or other files.
Microsoft has pledged that customers whose accounts exceeded 5GB will be able to access their files for nine months, or until around the end of April 2017.
Some OneDrive customers have received emails telling them that as of yesterday, July 13, their accounts were set as read-only. Others have gotten similar messages, but with a July 27 deadline, making the emails a 14-day warning and giving users two weeks to remove enough files to drop the total under the 5GB limit.
Additional restrictions are to be placed on OneDrive accounts next year. In April 2017, Microsoft will lock accounts in excess of 5GB, blocking users from accessing all files. Three months after that, Microsoft has said it may start deleting files in overstocked accounts.
OneDrive users with a free account subject to the 5GB limit have several options. They can reduce the quantity stored online, purchase additional storage, or request a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, a subscription service that comes with 1TB of OneDrive space.
More information about the OneDrive changes and their timing can be found in a FAQ on Microsoft’s website.
Microsoft launched an alpha version of a new client for Linux on Wednesday, in a push to get users of the open-source operating system to make video calls and send messages with Skype.
There was a Linux client available for the service previously, but this launch is a move by the company to get users of the operating system on the latest version of Skype. Users will get a new interface, emoticons and a file-sharing interface.
Chrome users will be able to use web.skype.com to make calls from Google’s web browser and desktop operating system starting Wednesday, too. Like the Linux client, the new Chrome client is still in alpha, so there are likely to be bugs, along with missing features.
These launches are important as Skype faces increased competition in the messaging and digital calling space. Apps like Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts have all either built or are building voice and video calling functionality into their services.
The new Linux app allows users to connect with other people using the latest versions of Skype across many other platforms. But it’s based on new calling architecture that makes it incompatible with the previous version of Skype for Linux and some older versions of Skype on other platforms.