SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 02:53:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cyberwar: Obama calls out Sony as FBI confirms North Korea was behind hack Sat, 20 Dec 2014 02:53:31 +0000 Continue reading ]]> north koreaPresident Obama has called out Sony for craven censorship on a day the Federal Bureau of Investigation formally announced that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony Corp.

In a statement the FBI said that it has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.

The bureau said that its investigation revealed links to other malware that it knows North Korean actors have used previously developed; that there was an observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the government has previously linked directly to North Korea, and that the tools used in the Sony attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

“We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there” the FBI said in a statement. “Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior. The FBI takes seriously any attempt—whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise—to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.”

At a press conference at the White House, President Obama didn’t mince his words when it came to Sony’s decision to pull the movie from cinemas, a move he called a mistake.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” the Commander in Chief said, while noting he was sympathetic on the circumstances Sony is facing.

“Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

He added that the Government was considering a proportional response.

Sony responded to the Presidents remarks stating that he was mistaken in blaming the company, and instead pointed the finger at movie chains.

“The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time… and announced that they would not carry the movie,”Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment said. “At that point in time, we had not alternative to proceed with the theatrical release.

“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have not backed down,” he said.

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Exact Labs lands $13 million to bring voice recognition to the enterprise Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:49:16 +0000 Continue reading ]]> hal-157883_1280Between Siri on iOS and Google’s rivaling artificial intelligence for Android, voice recognition software has become practically ubiquitous in the consumer world. But corporate applications beyond the call center are still rare.

A new startup called Expect Labs Inc. just closed a $13 million funding round for its quest to change that. Its funding comes from an impressive roster of backers including Intel’s investment arm, IDG Ventures, Telefonica Digital, Liberty Global Ventures, Fenox Ventures, Westcott LLC, and Quest Venture Partners. Expect Labs will use the infusion to add more capabilities to its managed development platform, which allows organizations to create the same kind of custom voice interfaces for their mobile applications that consumers have come to expect from their phones and tablets.

MindMeld, as the service is called, combines advanced machine learning and speech recognition algorithms into an integrated whole that the startup says can not only understand what a user is asking but piece together an appropriate answer based on a variety of information sources. To that end, it taps into into metrics such as profile details and activity history from the app developer as well as contextual details stored locally on the employee’s phone or tablet. The technology is particularly useful in applications in which the users hands are occupies or typing is a chore.

The startup has gained more than 100 corporate customers since launching MindMeld earlier this year. Some clients are leveraging the platform to help consumers discover video content based on specific tidbits such as the name of the leading actor and their role, while others are using it for in-store product purchases. The usefulness of the platform is only set to increase as a result of the new funding, which brings Expect Lab’s total capital raised to $15.5 million.

Photo via Pixabay
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GitHub urges developers to patch critical Git client bug Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:50:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]> GitHub BugGitHub has revealed the existence of a flaw in its client software, and is recommending users upgrade to a new version as soon as possible.

The vulnerability first announced at GMANE, and it was later confirmed by GitHub itself, which simultaneously issued a patch. It’s recommending “all users of GitHub and GitHub Enterprise update their Git clients as soon as possible.”

The critical flaw is said to affect all Windows and Mac-based versions of the official Git client, as well as related software that interacts with Git repositories, said GitHub in an advisory published on Thursday. Attackers can exploit the bug to remotely execute malicious code when the client software accesses compromised Git repositories.

“An attacker can craft a malicious Git tree that will cause Git to overwrite its own .git/config file when cloning or checking out a repository, leading to arbitrary command execution in the client machine,” warned GitHub. “Git clients running on OS X (HFS+) or any version of Microsoft Windows (NTFS, FAT) are exploitable through this vulnerability. Linux clients are not affected if they run in a case-sensitive filesystem.”

Technically speaking, the vulnerability should only be of concern to developers who pull resources from repositories they don’t trust. Nevertheless, every user is being urged to implement the new update as soon as possible, and to be careful when attempting to access or clone Git repositories on unsafe or untrusted hosts.

GitHub says there’s no indication that the bug is being exploited in the wild, but now it’s become public knowledge it’s a sure bet that someone will try. One good piece of news is that repositories located on itself aren’t affected by the bug, because the site uses a verification process to scan for malicious content. However, there are many other sites hosting repositories that don’t implement this security measure.

In other words, all Git users should update now just to be on the safe side. The newly patched GitHub for Windows can be found here, while GitHub for Mac can be downloaded here.

photo credit: JeremyHall via photopin cc

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The physical web gains support with IoT grants, new SDKs Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:29:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> robots internet of things m2m connected devicesThis week’s Smart DevOps roundup features new grants to promote the development of  the Internet of Things (IoT), an initiative to interact with the Physical Web, and Near Field Communications for IoT.

Google’s Open Web of Things


Search giant Google is setting up an Internet of Things research and open innovation expedition to spur the development of IoT products and solutions. The Open Web of Things is being led by Vint Cerf, Google’s VP of Research and lead for System/Protocol.

The main goal is to find innovations that offer new experiences to users that were not previously possible with existing technology. The disciplines that developers will need to focus on, but are not limited to, include human-computer interaction, privacy and security, and systems & protocols.

There are two types of one-year seed research proposals that developers and researchers can choose from: the Expedition Lead Grant is intended for program management as well as funding mostly graduate-level research offering grants from $500,000 to $800,000, while the Individual Project Grant offers $50,000 to $150,000 to innovations that particularly pay attention to innovative solutions that support user-centric work practices around IoT.

The deadline for submissions of proposals is on January 21, 2015.

Building the Physical Web


Connecting things to the Internet is now made easier with Blesh opening up its PW Beacons and Blesh PW App to developers. Developers can also participate in a public project called “The Physical Web” where people can interact with physical objects on demand.

“We encourage developers to let their imaginations run wild,” said Devrim Sonmez, CEO of Blesh. “We see even non-smart phone devices such as wearables communicating with Blesh PW beacons making possible an ecosystem that blurs the edge between physical items and the web.”

The Physical Web beacons, which are tiny low-cost Physical Web stick-on devices, give everyday objects intelligence and allow them to deliver more than just advertisements, but can also broadcast a URL that is recognized by a person’s mobile device and work together with mobile search without the need to launch any custom apps.

Broadcom adds NFC for IoT


Semiconductor solutions provider Broadcom Corp. recently announced the integration Near Field Communication to its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) software development kit (SDK) that would allow the company to support the need for NFC in a wider array of products and expand to IoT devices.

The integration of NFC to WICED simplifies the setup process between mobile and smart devices. The tap-to capabilities of NFC allows users to touch their smartphone to a smart device to activate a feature or control and interact with other connected devices. Developers can integrate NFC to create more complex products with a wider variety of use cases.

photo credit: fragmented via photopin cc
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How to create your own Google Cardboard Fri, 19 Dec 2014 16:51:17 +0000 Continue reading ]]> google cardboard user heads up display virtual reality augmentedVirtual reality may be the next frontier in technology as more organizations show interest and find applicable use cases. For instance, travel promotions company Destination BC is utilizing Oculus Rift, the fancy heads-up display unit acquired by Facebook Inc. earlier this year, to spur tourism through digital experiences.

Google is also toying with practical applications for virtual reality, announcing that its Google Maps client now has a virtual reality support through its virtual reality app and DIY gadget, Google Cardboard. You can explore Maps using Street View to feel like you’re actually walking down that street, and who knows what hidden Easter eggs you might find in Maps while exploring using this cheap virtual reality heads-up display unit.

If you want to try an immersive Google Maps experience, the Cardboard app can be downloaded for free.  There are other available apps that support Google Cardboard, some providing ‘live’ performances from Paul McCartney, or an exploration of the Shire with The Hobbit VR Experience.

For the Google Cardboard device itself, you can purchase VR cases that are pretty easy to assemble as all the parts that you need comes with the kit.  Dodocase offers a VR toolkit starting at $21.95, I am Cardboard kits start at $19.99, KnoxLabs cardboard kits start at $15, and Unofficial Cardboard kits start at $14.95. Some of them will ship immediately, while others won’t ship out until January of next year.

You can also try building your own Cardboard VR goggles. Here’s how:




DIY Google Cardboard



Corrugated cardboard

Lenses that have a 45mm focal distance might work, but biconvex lenses work best because they prevent distortion around the edges

One neodymium ring magnet and one ceramic disk magnet with an approximate size of 0.75in (19mm) diameter and 0.12in (3mm) thickness

Two strips of regular strength adhesive-backed velcro with an approximate size of 0.75in (20mm) by 1.25in (30mm)

One rubber band, to prevent the phone from sliding out with a minimum length of 3.2in (8cm).

One sticker NFC tag which you need to program with the URL cardboard://v1.0.0


Scissors or box cutter

The printable version of the Cardboard kit is available here for free download. The printout comes with simple instructions that starts with glueing the pattern on the corrugated cardboard and cutting out the needed parts and glueing some of the parts.

Manufacturers can also get in on the fun as a Manufacturer Kit is also available for free download.

More VR kits for DIYers


Creating your own VR kit is nothing new, as U.K. tech journalist Andy Lim created his own VR glasses five years ago. For Lim’s version, all you need are: cardboard, safety goggles, tape, pen or marker, ruler, craft knife or box cutter. First create a box that fits perfectly around the safety goggles, then create another piece that will hold your phone, and tape all the parts together to ensure a immersive experience.

Watch the full tutorial here:

Another way for you to create your own Google Cardboard is by utilizing a View-Master, the toy that lets you see film strips  of places, cartoon characters and other things. If you have one lying around and you’re no longer using it, you can take it apart to use the lenses, and place it on your phone’s screen to create that VR experience.

feature image by szczym via photopin cc
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Winning the West: LINE buys Microsoft’s MixRadio, competes with WhatsApp Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:30:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]> lineJapan’s super-cute and massively popular messaging service LINE recently announced the acquisition of Microsoft’s MixRadio for an undisclosed price. This move comes just a week after Line Corp. entered into a deal with Sony Music Entertainment Inc., and Japanese record label Avex Digital Inc, to start streaming music.

LINE took messaging into a different direction when it was launched in 2011 by fusing Japan’s widely exported cute phenomenon with sending short missives to people. Creating its own cartoon/sticker love story that features an emotionally unpredictable pairing of a bear and rabbit as a marketing tool, the app quickly became the chatter’s choice in many Asian countries reaching 200 million users in its first two years. The service presently reaches 560 million users, with 170 million of those with active user accounts…The stickers have become such a hit they’ve even become the focus of a theme park in Taiwan.

Yesterday Microsoft wrote about its deal with LINE stating, “We wanted MixRadio to continue to operate with a commitment to constant innovation and aspiration to deliver the best possible mobile-first experience to listeners. LINE share this vision and our passion for simple, personal and fun user experiences in every way.”

LINE’s multi-platform vision so far has proved to be one of perspicacity. The company not only made good use of marketing ‘cute’, but offered tons of likeable serious and silly features. There is a list of games you can play on LINE, lots of media sharing features, voice and video calls, self-destructing messages, a timeline, and you can also use the service to follow celebs and various brands. Japanese users may be able to book taxis and have food delivered if LINE’s plans come together. The service is still quite a way off beating What’sApp and WeChat in terms of active users, but this new move will likely help even out the spread, and should also be a signal that Asia tech firms mean business on western soil. While ‘cute’ may arguably not impress western users as much as it does those in Asia, LINE has reported that it’s attracted a growing number of fans in Latin America, Mexico and Spain. The odds are that if LINE keeps coming up with more treats for its users it has a good chance of scoring out the competition in the not too distant future.

Photo credit:  賀 禎禎 via photopin cc

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TripGo offers smart calendar-integrated, multi-modal trip planning Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:00:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> tripgo1TripGo from SkedGo Pty. Ltd. is a smart calendar-integrated, multi-modal transport trip planning app that’s starting to see some impressive user numbers.

The app helps you plan how to get from point A to point B, providing all your door-to-door options for easy comparison. Users indicate their transport preferences, schedule, vehicles and frequent locations, and it provides them with a door- to-door trip planner customized for their lifestyle.

One way to think of it is to take Google’s Transit feature in Google Maps, then supercharge it by about 10 levels. As well as plotting buses, trains, trams, ferry and car routes and times, it can also suggest shuttle services, timing for bicycle and motorbike trips, and naturally walking. Add to that, where available it offers timetables and real-time public transport information, not just suggested travel times, but actually where the bus, train, tram or ferry is.

tripgo2If you’re either price conscious or concerned about the environment, the app provides door-to-door options for easy comparison on price, time and environmental impact across all forms of transport, even down to the ability to provide a price for the cost of bike shares.

Although it can’t yet tell you if a car parking lot is full, the app provides data on where car lots are located and how much they cost.

Other features include the ability to automatically plan trips to, from and between events in your calendar, intelligently proposing the best connections; reminders for coming planned trips so you don’t run late, personalized recommendations based on transport preferences, and considering the cost of running your own vehicle versus other transport options.

The app provides support for over 50 locations globally including North America, Europe, South America and Australasia.

If you travel regularly for work or pleasure, the app has a lot going for it and could easily become a favorite. The company reports it has already had an impressive 500,000+ downloads, and the reviews online seem to be mostly glowing.

Tripgo is free and available for both Android and iOS devices.

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Aerospike beefs up NoSQL database with enterprise- and Hadoop-friendly features Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:30:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Aerospike logoAerospike, Inc. unleashed a broad set of new features for its flagship in-memory database that provides developers with more flexibility in how they build their applications and addresses several key enterprise requirements. The launch marks the biggest update for the platform since the company released the underlying code to the open-source community in June.

It’s now possible to deploy Aerospike using the Vagrant virtualization wrapper and Docker container, freedom that can potentially make it easier for users to scale their implementations from pilot to production. The addition of support for the container engine is especially significant since it makes the database more appealing for powering next-generation services implemented as multiple discrete instances.

To that end, Aerospike is also rolling out clients for several additional web development languages, including Python, PHP, Ruby and the buzzed-about Go from Google. That enables more kinds of applications to run against the platform, which the company is encouraging with new features specifically geared towards accommodating a greater variety of workloads.

One of these is the ability to optimize the management of data operations on an individual basis, functionality that avoids the trade-off between reliability and speed in services that handle different types of requests. For example, a developer can now have Aerospike verify that an online purchase is properly logged before issuing receipts while allowing less critical but time-sensitive actions such as personal messages to propagate through the system faster.

The new version also enables IT practitioners to make distinctions among workloads, with a new role-based authentication and authorization feature that make it possible to determine who can access what information. That degree of control is crucial in enterprise deployments.

Aerospike has also removed the need to adapt data when shuffling workloads back and forth between its platform and Hadoop. It also implements the company’s patented Indexed MapReduce capability to expose only the specific subsets of data in an Aerospike deployment needed for a particular Hadoop operating instead of scanning through the entire system. Moving information the other way has been sped up as well.

Rounding out the upgrade is a set of improvements under the hood that Aerospike said make the database more efficient. Aerospike can now read recently input information directly from memory, which the company says helped one customer to achieve a 40 percent reduction in flash storage requirements. Overall, the platform can now handle 2.5 million transactions per second on a single bare-metal server and using up six times fewer resources than the competing Apache Cassandra when running in the public cloud.

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Should social media ban offensive comments? Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:15:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Shouting angryBritish MP Luciana Berger is calling for Twitter Inc. to block anti-Semitic language from the site after she received thousands of hateful messages.

Berger, the shadow Minister for Public Health, has been the target of online abuse for several months after Garron Helm, a 21-year-old internet troll, was jailed for sending her anti-Semitic messages.

Helm tweeted at Berger with messages like “Hitler was right” and called her a “Communist Jewess.”

“At the height of the abuse, the police said I was the subject of 2,500 hate messages in the space of three days using the hashtag ‘filthyjewbitch’,” Berger told The Telegraph. “Online hate needs to be taken as seriously as offline hate – but it isn’t.”

Twitter has recently improved its anti-harrassment tools to allow users to more easily report abuse, and the company promised to provide faster response times in taking action against caustic individuals.

But Berger is unsatisfied with the micro-blog’s solutions, saying that the site took over a week to remove some of the hateful comments. Berger said that even when messages were removed, Twitter’s approach was “sporadic and very haphazard.”

“Twitter’s response isn’t good enough,” Berger said “It has a responsibility to do more to protect its users. The site is letting me and many others down who have been the subject of lots of hate… It could start by proactively banning racist words which aren’t allowed to [be] printed in newspapers or broadcast on TV that could never be used in a positive way – such as kike – a derogative and anti-Semitic term for describing a Jew.”


Illegal abuse or protected free speech?


The United Kingdom has stricter laws regarding online harassment than most U.S. states, with the possibility of jail time for particularly abusive individuals. Several states in the U.S. have made similar efforts to curtail online abuse, especially in regard to cyber bullying against minors, but such laws frequently spur free speech debates.

A recent case heard by the Supreme Court involves a man who was jailed for threatening to harm his wife and others in Facebook posts styled as rap lyrics.

The case has gained widespread attention for calling into question what role the government should play in policing messages sent via social media.


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Google opens cloud-based Hadoop alternative to developers with free SDK Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:08:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> blue sky and clouds as worlwide mapGoogle on Thursday released a software development kit (SDK) for its cloud-based data crunching engine in an effort to the development of analytic applications against the service. The launch comes seven months after the search giant first unveiled its ambitious plans to steal Hadoop’s thunder.

Currently available in limited access, Cloud Dataflow is an evolution of existing analytic technologies in the open-source ecosystem that aims to eliminate most of the hassle required to process large quantities of unstructured information coming from multiple sources. The platform accomplishes that with a unified programming interface that makes it possible to handle static batches of historical data and real-time streams under the same coding layer.

Cloud Dataflow abstracts the nuances of different information types into consistent “PCollections” that can pull updates from a specified source or perform any number of other tasks. Developers can manipulate these adaptive datasets using a built-in library of operations covering many of the functions available for Hadoop and then some.

That syntax is executed in a way that makes it possible to efficiently reuse code for multiple workloads, which saves time and effort while enabling the underlying runtime to collapse repeating actions for faster execution. Cloud Dataflow also incorporates performance analysis metrics, system monitoring functionality and other operational capabilities of Google’s infrastructure-as-a-service to automate many of the management details.

The search giant’s vision for the platform contrasts sharply with Hadoop, which is a collection of independently-maintained and often overlapping open-source projects. Deploying Hadoop has become more feasible in recent years thanks to the emergence of on-demand hosting options, but processing real-time and historical data on the same cluster can still require stringing together multiple tools, each with its own architecture and syntax. As a result, many IT organizations have struggled to fulfill the full potential of Hadoop.

Cloud Dataflow aims to make that functionality available for everyday developers with a simple interface and a utility pricing scheme. The new SDK, which is available under an open-source license, makes it possible to harness the service for next-generation analytic applications and import data from existing Hadoop environments.

The platform only works with Java for now, but Google plans to add support for Python and other programming languages. The search giant also allows developers to extend the native syntax of Cloud Dataflow themselves with custom operators for automating complex transformations.

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