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Are We Moving Towards a Contactless World?

There will be costs involved in making this transition. How many will actually make the jump?

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World's Fastest 5G Mobile Internet: Nokia Claims Record with 4.7Gbps Speed

Image for Representation
(News18)

Image for Representation
(News18)

Nokia’s achievement of 4.7Gbps internet speed over its own 5G hardware and software is being touted as the fastest OTA internet speed in the world.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 12:22 PM IST

Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia on Tuesday announced it has achieved the world’s fastest 5G speeds in its Over-the-Air (OTA) network in Dallas, Texas. Nokia said the 5G speeds in tests conducted with the use of the company’s commercial 5G software and hardware reached 4.7 Gbps. The company utilised 800 MHz of commercial millimeter wave 5G spectrum and Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) functionality for the tests.

EN-DC allows devices to connect simultaneously to 5G and LTE networks, transmitting and receiving data across both air-interface technologies. This means devices can achieve a higher throughput than when connecting to 5G or LTE alone. The speeds were achieved on both 5G cloud-based (vRAN) and classic baseband configurations. The tests were performed on base station equipment being deployed in major U.S. carriers’ commercial networks.

“This is an important and significant milestone in the development of 5G services in the US, particularly at a time when connectivity and capacity is so crucial,” Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said in a statement. “It demonstrates the confidence operators have in our global end-to-end portfolio and the progress we have made to deliver the best possible 5G experiences to customers,” Uitto said.

This solution will not only provide subscribers with unrivalled mobile broadband speeds, but also enable carriers to sell various latency-sensitive enterprise services, such as network slicing for mission-critical applications, Nokia said.




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Microsoft, OpenAI's Azure Supercomputer is Among the Five Most Powerful in the World

Microsoft, OpenAI's Azure Supercomputer is Among the Five Most Powerful in the World

With a $1 billion investment from Microsoft, the supercomputer is built to exhaustively train OpenAI advanced algorithms.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 20, 2020, 11:59 AM IST

Microsoft has built a new powerful supercomputer in collaboration with Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup OpenAI, making new infrastructure available in Azure to train extremely large AI models, the company is announcing at its Build developers conference. Microsoft announced a multi-year supercomputer partnership with OpenAI in 2019, including a $1 billion investment by the tech giant. The supercomputer developed for OpenAI is a single system with more than 285,000 CPU cores, 10,000 GPUs and 400 gigabits per second of network connectivity for each GPU server.

Compared with other machines listed on the TOP500 supercomputers in the world, it ranks in the top five, said Microsoft. “Built in collaboration with and exclusively for OpenAI, the supercomputer hosted in Azure was designed specifically to train that company’s AI models,” the company announced at its virtual ‘Build 2020′ conference on Tuesday. Hosted in Azure, the supercomputer also benefits from all the capabilities of a robust modern cloud infrastructure, including rapid deployment, sustainable datacenters and access to Azure services.

“This is about being able to do a hundred exciting things in natural language processing at once and a hundred exciting things in computer vision, and when you start to see combinations of these perceptual domains, you’re going to have new applications that are hard to even imagine right now,” explained Microsoft Chief Technical Officer Kevin Scott. As part of its ‘AI at Scale’ initiative, Microsoft has developed its own family of large AI models, the Microsoft Turing models, which it has used to improve many different language understanding tasks across Bing, Office, Dynamics and other productivity products.

Earlier this year, it also released to researchers the largest publicly available AI language model in the world, the Microsoft Turing model for natural language generation. The goal, Microsoft said, is to make its large AI models, training optimization tools and supercomputing resources available through Azure AI services and GitHub so developers, data scientists and business customers can easily leverage the power of AI at Scale. “As we’ve learned more and more about what we need and the different limits of all the components that make up a supercomputer, we were really able to say, ‘If we could design our dream system, what would it look like?'” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

And then Microsoft was able to build it. “We are seeing that larger-scale systems are an important component in training more powerful models,” Altman added. Microsoft has also unveiled a new version of DeepSpeed, an open source deep learning library for PyTorch that reduces the amount of computing power needed for large distributed model training. The update is significantly more efficient than the version released just three months ago and now allows people to train models more than 15 times larger and 10 times faster than they could without DeepSpeed on the same infrastructure.




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Money Remains Motivating Factor for Hackers Around the World: Verizon

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that confirmed data breaches doubled from the prior year.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 12:35 PM IST

Money trumped spying as the top motivator for data breaches last year, according to Verizon’s annual report on cybercrimes published on Tuesday. About nine out of 10 breaches were financially motivated, based on an examination of more than 32,000 incidents and nearly 4,000 confirmed break-ins in 81 countries, the report said.

Verizon Business 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report found that confirmed data breaches doubled from the prior year. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced people indoors, cyber attacks on businesses are expected to climb. The report found that 86% of breaches were for money, not for purposes of spying. Credential theft, phishing and compromising business emails caused 67% of the cyber attacks.

As more businesses moved to web-based solutions, so did hackers. According to the report, breaches on web and cloud applications rose to 43%, double the previous year. Companies like Facebook Inc and Salesforce have extended working remotely to at least the rest of the year, with more businesses expected to follow suit. Verizon Business Group CEO Tami Erwin said the “digital transformation” to the work-from-home model during the coronavirus pandemic has presented a number of security red flags.

“A lot of people ended up sending workers to work from home without really thinking through what were some of the security elements in the future,” Erwin told Reuters. “I think employees working from home are probably more vulnerable to attacks,” Erwin said businesses can protect themselves from cyber attacks by keeping employees educated on phishing and other fraudulent tactics to access sensitive information.




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What is WhatsApp Aiming For? Rule The Video Meetings Space? Be a Super App? World Domination?

WhatsApp and mind-boggling numbers go hand in hand. As of February, WhatsApp had crossed 2 billion users worldwide. It is by far the most popular instant messaging app in the world, followed by its own sibling, Facebook Messenger. Chances are everyone you know is using WhatsApp. It is to instant messaging what Xerox is to photocopying. That being said, Facebook isn’t about to let a low hanging fruit get away. WhatsApp could very well be in the prime position to become the default name for the video calling, group calling and video meeting requirements for millions around the world. While the competition remains busy trying to compete with each other.

Look at the traction that the Coronavirus pandemic has translated into. Zoom clarified and said they clocked 300 million users in April. Houseparty, an app owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games, clocked more than two million downloads in early March, as the first stages of the lockdown around the world kicked in. Facebook says video-calling on Messenger had straight doubled since last year. Microsoft has said that there are more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day in April, and there were more than 4.1 billion meeting minutes generated. Teams now has more than 75 million daily active users, confirmed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

WhatsApp builds from a foundation of strength. It has a massive user base, like no other.

Messenger Rooms is one part of the plan

It was just last month that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said how as many as 700 million users around the world are using Messenger and WhatsApp for calls. That’s voice calls and video calls to colleagues, friends and family. It is not surprising then that Facebook wants to do everything to not only keep this user base engaged, but also away from rivals such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype and others. That would be true for the business use case and for personal users as well. What arrived on the scene was Messenger Rooms. It allows a maximum of 50 participants in a group video call. That’s the same limit as Skype’s Skype Now. Even though Zoom offers the ability to get 100 people to join as part of the free subscription tier, WhatsApp has the added advantage of familiarity, almost everyone has it and well, Zoom has been haunted by privacy issues for a while now.

The fact is that Messenger Rooms is so versatile, you can start or join a Rooms chat from Messenger, Facebook, Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, or even the Portal smart display. That is the power and extent of Facebook’s ecosystem of apps truly making their presence felt.

The thing is, when we talk of video calling apps and video conferencing solutions, we immediately visualize a meeting that has 100+ people, all trying to get their message across as part of a corporate jamboree. That is not always the case. More often than not, it is smaller teams that need to connect, for a quick brainstorming session, for a status update, quick guidance or simply to drop in and say hello. For that to work, it is just clunky and ostentatious to have to set up a meeting, share a meeting link and a password and download a separate app on your phone or PC.

Simplicity is what really is WhatsApp’s strongest point here. It is as simple as picking up your phone or opening WhatsApp web, ticking off the list of contacts you want in the meeting and making a call. You spend lesser time on the riffraff. Be it for the Messenger Rooms or for the now more-powerful Group calling.

Simplicity is WhatsApp’s strongest point. It just works.

Group Video Calls are equally brilliant for work and fun

A few days ago, a new update for WhatsApp for Android phones and the Apple iPhones landed with the more powerful group calling feature. Instead of 4, you can now get 8 people on a group voice or video call. “Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic, WhatsApp had said at the time. More friends can be part of the social distancing catch-up. More colleagues can join in and share brilliant ideas on how to go about things. This will work even on Android phones or iPhones that are old and not as powerful anymore—it is priceless for those who may still be rocking older smartphones. The same flexibility cannot exactly be vouched for, for the other video meeting apps. Except perhaps FaceTime, which works brilliantly on all iPhones, no matter how old.

All that being said, it is still lesser than 32 participants that Apple FaceTime allows, the 12-person limit that Google Duo now has and Skype which supports 50 participants. If that really a limitation? Perhaps not.

End to End Encryption remains its strongest suite

If you don’t really want a scenario where the privacy of your calls is not exactly a certainty and the promises sound a bit dodge, chances are you’ll stay away from Zoom. In that regard, WhatsApp has pushed the end-to-end encryption capabilities extensively over time. “And just like written messages, all those calls are protected with end-to-end encryption,” they did the same with the new group calling too.

In fact, Messenger Rooms will also have end-to-end encryption enabled for all calls. Simply put, it makes it extremely unlikely that anyone will able to eavesdrop on your conversation as it traverses the depths of the world wide web, without your knowledge.

With Rooms and Group Calling, Facebook’s idea is simple. It is not to try and be the platform that tries to appeal to casual users, small groups, smaller teams, medium sized meetings and large enterprises—basically redevelop the app to a one-size fits all. It is to be versatile enough for different use cases, and that is where the volumes could very well be.

Facebook’s idea for WhatsApp is not to be a one-size fits all. It is to be versatile enough for different use cases

WhatsApp builds from a foundation of strength. It has a massive user base, like no other. It has usage statistics and insights that tell exactly how people use video calling and group calling features. It has something for pretty much everyone now.

Ads in WhatsApp are coming, no two ways about it

While WhatsApp is like no other instant messaging app in the world, it does have one glaring shortcoming. From the business side of things. It doesn’t make money for Facebook. It has to be monetized at some stage. That is how a business makes financial sense. There has been talk for a while now that ads would eventually make their way into the WhatsApp app. It hasn’t happened so far, but don’t bet on the status quo for too long. Ads in WhatsApp Status could be the start. How Facebook manages opening doors to its platform for advertisers and yet be able to secure user data privacy is a matter for another debate.

That is where Facebook’s plan to unify WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook with one encryption platform could help.

WhatsApp Pay could provide the big boost

Last but not least is the final piece of the jigsaw for WhatsApp. Digital payments. This will be particularly good in developing economies such as India, where mobile based payments are a big deal. The much-awaited UPI mobile payments service got the approvals from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in February, for what will be a phased roll-out. The first phase will mean 10 million users. This will also fit in perfectly with the Government of India’s push for digital payments, as part of the Digital India mission.

Facebook surely has Paytm, the incredibly popular mobile payments and shopping platform, in its sights. As of August, Paytm had planned an injection of Rs 750 crore to clock 250 million monthly users by the end of the financial year. That is the user demographic that Facebook will be looking at. It won’t be a challenge to find these users though, because chances are high that almost every single one of these 250 million Paytm users will also have WhatsApp installed on their phones.

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Contactless Dining in The New World Order

Will restaurants adopt contactless dining as and when we are allowed to go out for a nice meal?

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World Book Day: Best Free eBook Libraries to Help You Beat Covid-19 Lockdown Blues

Representative image of an e-book reader.

Representative image of an e-book reader.

Books are a ubiquitous lifeline, and if you run out of your collection during the Covid-19 lockdown, these libraries have you covered.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: April 23, 2020, 1:47 PM IST

Books, as many a wise man has said, is irreplaceable in a person’s life. Almost all of us, at some point in time, have fallen back upon our favourite authors to pull us through, and teach us a wide range of aspects about life. This World Book Day, bookworms across the world will not be able to celebrate by ordering their usual bunch of new books, or hit a public library for an elusive copy of John Purkis preface, which most likely went out of reprint decades ago. To make up for this, these five, free and public e-book libraries can offer you resplendent collections of e-books and audio books, which you can explore to satiate the craving of reading a new book today.

PS: Most of the following collections are not for profit ventures, as a result of which they do not earn by providing you with the collection of free, rare books. If you enjoy their service, do consider making donations in their favour, to keep the lights on for a fellow bookworm to discover in desperate times.

Project Gutenberg

This is possibly one of the best known volunteer driven digital book library around the world, and the certified oldest library of its kind. Most of the works that have been saved and documented by Project Gutenberg pre-date the year 1924, and hence makes for a fantastic reservoir of pre- and post-World War I literature, the likes of which you will not find anywhere else across the internet. Project Gutenberg is also special for the way it has maintained itself – having started back in 1971 by American author Michael Hart, the library still maintains its volunteer driven, free for all approach.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is a one-stop non-profit shop for all things uncommon on the internet – be it an elusive novel, a rare music album or movies that faded into oblivion. Archive’s collection of e-books include long-forgotten journals and memoirs, as well as digital drafts of manuscripts dating back by decades. In essence, what you get here is a collector’s heaven that can not just help you kill time, but build collection and knowledge par excellence.

Open Library

The Open Library, on the other hand, has a terrific collection ranging from Stephen King and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to J.K Rowling Agatha Christie. While Project Gutenberg’s appeal may primarily lie with academicians, Open Library offers something for everyone to read. The library is supported by voluntary donations, which is then invested in sponsoring e-books for interested readers. You may face some waiting time to be able to borrow the book of your choice, but be rest assured, the wait is worth it.

PDF Books World

As the name suggests, this is one of the widest collections of PDF books across the internet. The best part about PDF Books World is its seemingly massive collection of authors across the ages, and its impeccable indexing of the excellent collection. From sorting through genres, sub-genres and authors, PDF Books World will give you a large enough e-book library to not just see you through the lockdown period, but actually keep you hooked for far, far longer.

ManyBooks

The one super appealing factor behind ManyBooks is how it features an entire section for science fiction. It is also most likely one of the most intuitively designed and graphically appealing free e-book libraries on the internet, and its collection also features a whole variety of lesser known novels from across numerous genres, which you certainly wouldn’t be finishing in a hurry.

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Comet 2I/Borisov, Our Second Visitor from Outer Space, Brings Traces of an Alien World

The interstellar comet 2I/Borisov travels through our solar system in an artist's impression obtained by Reuters April 20, 2020. NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello/Handout via REUTERS.

The interstellar comet 2I/Borisov travels through our solar system in an artist’s impression obtained by Reuters April 20, 2020. NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello/Handout via REUTERS.

Scientists initially concluded last year that 2I/Borisov was similar to comets from our solar system, but data from the Hubble Space Telescope revealed its differences.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: April 21, 2020, 3:15 PM IST

Scientists have discovered that a comet called 2I/Borisov – only the second interstellar object ever detected passing through the solar system – is surprisingly different in its composition from comets hailing from our celestial neighborhood. Gas coming off 2I/Borisov contained high amounts of carbon monoxide – far more than comets formed in our solar system – indicating the object had large concentrations of carbon monoxide ice, researchers said on Monday.

Carbon monoxide, poisonous to humans, is common as a gas in space and forms as ice only in the most frigid locations. The presence of so much carbon monoxide, the researchers said, suggests 2I/Borisov formed in a different manner than comets in our solar system – in a very cold outer region of its home star system or around a star cooler than the sun. Comets essentially are dirty snowballs composed of frozen gases, rock and dust that orbit stars.

“We like to refer to 2I/Borisov as a snowman from a dark and cold place,” said planetary scientist Dennis Bodewits of Auburn University in Alabama, lead author of one of two 2I/Borisov studies published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“Comets are left-over building blocks from the time of planet formation. For the first time, we have been able to measure the chemical composition of such a building block from another planetary system while it flew through our own solar system,” Bodewits added. The comet, detected in August 2019 by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov and estimated to be about six-tenths of a mile (1-km) wide, has zoomed through interstellar space after being ejected from its original star system. It was born long ago in a rotating disc of gas and dust surrounding a newly formed star in a place that must have been rich in carbon monoxide, Bodewits said. That star may have been what is called an M-dwarf, far smaller and cooler than the sun and the smallest type of star that is known, Bodewits said.

Scientists initially concluded last year that 2I/Borisov was similar to comets from our solar system, but data from the Hubble Space Telescope and an observatory in Chile revealed its differences. The researchers also found an abundance of hydrogen cyanide at levels similar to comets from our solar system. “This shows that 2I/Borisov is not a completely alien object, and confirms some similarity with our ‘normal’ comets, so the processes that shaped it are comparable to the way our own comets formed,” said Martin Cordiner, an astrobiologist working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and lead author of the other study. The only other interstellar visitor discovered in our solar system was a cigar-shaped rocky object called ‘Oumuamua spotted in 2017.

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David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Other Iconic DJs Being Used to Spread Malware

File photo of David Guetta, one of the most iconic DJs in the world. (Image: Reuters)

File photo of David Guetta, one of the most iconic DJs in the world. (Image: Reuters)

A report by Kaspersky suggests that attackers are now moving on to target artists’ names, as more users look to stay entertained through the global lockdown.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: April 21, 2020, 1:15 PM IST

What do David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix and Alan Walker have in common? While they indeed are four of the world’s most celebrated and prolific DJs, with legions of fans all over the world, it so happens that their names are also being increasingly impersonated on the internet by cyber attackers to spread malware. This is being done to target users who are looking to download music libraries of these DJs, which in turn is exposing them to a wide range of malware that is also getting downloaded with music tracks. The threat, as described by Kaspersky, is so unassuming that it is hardly detectable by a common user, unless keen-eyed observants comb through all hidden files and folders that may have gotten downloaded along with an album.

According to Kaspersky, there are five primary trojans, malware and adware that have been spotted as getting downloaded along with these offline music tracks, and these files can be detected as containing the entirety of part of the following file names:

  • HEUR:Trojan.Script.Generic
  • UDS:DangerousObject.Multi.Generic
  • Trojan.Win32.Agentb.bqyr
  • not-a-virus:HEUR:AdWare.AndroidOS.Agent.f
  • HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic

The intention behind these attacks seem more disruptive rather than target driven, and the identified malware can be used by attackers to deliberately corrupt drives and destroy data, or modify registry values to take down entire systems. As Anton Ivanov, security analyst at Kaspersky, said on the matter, “People have started to spend more time at home, and therefore consume more content. While listening to streaming or online services does not harm electronic music fans, they should be cautious if they want to download their favorite songs to their devices.”

With heavy bandwidth strain occurring due to live meetings via video conferencing and other work-related collaboration, many individuals are resorting to downloading offline tracks of their favourite artists in a bid to ease the internet bandwidth load, and attackers are seemingly cashing in on this trend.

To stay safe from such attacks, it is important that a user verifies the file source properly before proceeding to download the music files. Users should also examine track names carefully, and also check for any hidden files and folders, before using them on their devices. The issue likely affects those who still download music files from unofficial, ‘free’ sources, and as an overall good practice, it is recommendable that users access music through verified services such as Apple Music and Spotify, as far as possible.

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Chinese Factories Running Round The Clock Making Ventilators For the World

For representation: A child being treated for coronavirus in China. (Reuters)

For representation: A child being treated for coronavirus in China. (Reuters)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last week that the state had about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators but it might need 30,000 of them.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: March 24, 2020, 1:44 PM IST

Chinese company Beijing Aeonmed has reportedly been working 24/7 since January 20 to make ventilators in a bid to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While it managed to meet the country’s needs two weeks ago, the factory continues to work non-stop on various orders from overseas. The company has employed three shifts with research and development staff also put on the production line.

As the death toll rises, one of the biggest requirements of doctors from Milan to New York is ventilators. A ventilator can help a Covid-19 patient breathe and determine if he lives or dies. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had said last week that the state had about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators but it might need 30,000 of them.

Business is at an all-time high as orders are rolling-in from dozens of countries, some of which are chartering planes or using military aircraft to pick up the machines. “There’s literally no country in the world that doesn’t want to buy a ventilator from China right now. We have tens of thousands of orders waiting. The issue is how fast we can make them,” said Li Kai, director of Beijing Aeonmed.

Aeonmed isn’t the only Chinese company pushing the boundaries to build ventilators. “All the ventilator factories in China have reached their maximum capacity, occupied fully by foreign demand,” said Wu Chuanpu, director of supply chain at Vedeng.com. Vedeng is one of the main platforms in China connecting medical equipment suppliers and buyers. Factories have orders to keep them at full capacity until May, adds Wu. Vedeng is getting over 60 to 70 new orders every day, each asking for hundreds or thousands of ventilators.