All posts on August, 2017


Tech Buzz

While You Wait: 4 Potentially Higher-Status Alternatives to the iPhone 8

At a rumored $1,400 sale price the coming iPhone 8 likely will test just how much people are willing to pay for a new phone — particularly, how much parents are willing to fork over for their kids. While iPhones once conveyed status and sense of luxury, similar to a brand like Cadillac, pretty much everyone and their brother has iPhones today. The first few customers who get their hands on the latest model will be envied for about a week.

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Cybercrime

WannaCry Hero Arrested on Kronos Malware Charges

In a stunning twist, U.S. authorities have arrested a British cyber-researcher credited with stopping the spread of the WannaCry ransomware virus on charges he helped develop and deploy the Kronos banking trojan that attacked financial institutions around the world in 2014. A federal grand jury in Wisconsin last month handed down a six-count indictment against Marcus Hutchins, a citizen of the UK.

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Customer Service

Excellent Customer Service Requires Emotional Intelligence

Staff engagement is a key component in a telco’s ability to positively impact customers, according to InMoment. The company recently conducted a survey of 11,000 North American customers of Internet, mobile and TV services and found that telecommunications companies’ customers just plain hate them. Telcos should emphasize emotional IQ, or EQ, in hiring and training personnel, the study recommends.

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JetBrains ships alternative to Microsoft’s Visual Studio

JetBrains’s Rider, a cross-platform IDE that could serve as a rival to Microsoft’s own well-established Visual Studio IDE, is now generally available.

The commercially licensed Rider can be used on Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems, letting developers build applications based on ASP.Net, .Net Core, .Net Framework, Xamarin, or Unity. Rider puts JetBrains’ ReSharper .Net support in the shell of the company’s IntelliJ Idea IDE and adds the WebStorm JavaScript IDE and DataGrip database management tool. ReSharper previously was packaged as a Visual Studio extension for code analysis and instant fixes.

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Social Networking

Facebook Takes Another Stab at Neutralizing Fake News

Stung by charges that it allowed fake news stories to proliferate during the 2016 election cycle, Facebook on Thursday began rolling out broadly a feature meant to regain the trust of its members. The tool effectively will surround questionable stories with related news stories offering different perspectives — a strategy intended to help readers discern where the truth lies.

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Software

Automotive Grade Linux Reaches Key Car Platform Milestones

Automotive Grade Linux has released version 4.0 of the AGL infotainment platform and announced new projects to support telematics, instrument cluster, heads-up-display and a virtualization component. The group also announced that seven new companies have joined AGL and The Linux Foundation. The breadth of the seven new companies indicates the range of open source involvement in the auto industry.

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Java and C hit all-time lows in Tiobe language popularity index

Java and C continue to lead the Tiobe index of programming language popularity, but both dropped to all-time lows in the just-published August release of the index.

The longtime leaders have had to share the programming landscape with a growing number of language options attracting developers, which has caused their slippage in the index. Java’s rating this month was 12.961 percent, a drop of more than six percentage points since August 2016, while C’s rating was 6.477 percent, a year-over-year drop of nearly five points. Java’s rating last month was 13.774 percent while C was rated at 7.321 percent.

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Online Advertising

Businesses Leverage Instagram Stories to New Heights

Instagram’s Stories feature, which launched one year ago, has achieved widespread engagement among businesses that want to raise their brand awareness and expand their e-commerce penetration, the company said. The tool, launched in August 2016, allows users to create digital slide shows out of photos and videos in order to convey a story. More than 250 million daily active users are on Stories.

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Service Providers

Comcast, Google Can Publish Users’ Email Contents

Comcast’s Terms of Service for its Xfinity Internet service gives it, its agents, suppliers and affiliates the right to “reproduce, publish, distribute and display” the content worldwide. It also lets third parties copy, republish or distribute material posted or transmitted using Xfinity Internet. This would include confidential information sent by a company employee or an independent contractor.

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Enterprise Apps

Spanning Front and Back Offices

CPQ — that is, configure, price, quote — is one of the most transitional apps, because it spans front and back offices, and because its very existence has changed these functions. Another app in this category is sales compensation management. Both of their stories are about front-office processes needing back-office data. Once the data is made available, the process evolves to be far more useful.

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Sales

New Service Promises Help Winning Government Contracts

Onvia on Tuesday launched a new service for companies selling to the public sector. The service provides access to detailed materials associated with a given solicitation, including all submitted proposals, the awarded bid, the final contract, and the agency’s scoring criteria. Onvia “helps clients succeed in pursuing government contracts,” said Ben Vaught, director of Onvia for Government.

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React ‘Fiber’ core rewrite progresses to beta

React 16, an upgrade to Facebook’s popular JavaScript UI library that features a rewritten core to improve animation, layout, and gesture support, has just moved to a beta release stage.

Published as an NPM module, this initial beta release is focused mainly on compatibility with existing apps, and does not yet include asynchronous rendering capabilities. Facebook has pledged to offer native-like performance with version 16 of the open source library. Previously codenamed “Fiber,” the rewritten core is intended to offer a multitude of capabilities including:

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New Node.js API will shield modules from JavaScript engine changes

Help is on the way for developers building native modules for Node.js, as well for those who want to swap out the underlying JavaScript engine powering the platform.

Currently, modules must be recompiled to work with new versions of Node.js and the JavaScript engine, which traditionally has been Google’s V8 engine. But N-API is about to make things easier by providing an API for linking in native add-ons. Independent of the underlying JavaScript runtime, N-API will be stable for the application binary interface (ABI) across Node versions, to insulate add-ons from changes in the underlying JavaScript engine. Modules compiled for one version of Node.js would then run on later versions with no need to recompile.

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Tech Buzz

HomePod Devs Stumble Upon Next iPhone Design Clues

Developers combing through the code for the Apple HomePod have found clues to what appear to be features in the next generation of iPhones, and they tweeted their discoveries on Sunday. The firmware for HomePod, Apple’s $349 smart speaker expected in December, apparently contains much of the codebase for future iPhones. One of the goodies in the HomePod’s code is a new biometric method for unlocking an iPhone.

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