This look at recent tech highlights includes the Pokémon Go CIA and porn connections, motorists that are not ready for assisted driving software and Microsoft giving us all an education.
This blog features a round-up of the latest software-related news, announcements, opinions and insights. We take a close look at software development, self-service business intelligence and the tools used to implement them.
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Porn, Not the CIA, Should Worry Pokémon Go Enthusiasts
Is Pokémon Go a tool for the CIA? That conspiracy theory gains a little steam once you learn that its developer, Niantic
, was founded by a man who previously got funding from the CIA's venture capital firm to develop what became Google Earth.
While you are taking footage of your home, work and city, are you also gathering data that spy satellites can't reach? There's no proof of that, but let's hope it doesn't become like the show Big Brother. (If you weren't aware of it, the origin of Big Brother comes from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty Four, in which all citizens are under surveillance by the government, not the “reality” TV show.)
It's no surprise that something as popular as this augmented reality game became a target for hackers
. A team called OurMine and another named Poodle Corp claimed to attack Pokémon Go with distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) over the weekend. That frustrated players who were unable to log in. Niantic wouldn't confirm or deny those claims, though it did inform trainers that its servers were experiencing issues and a fix was in the works.
If hackers weren't bad enough, unsuspecting gamers might have downloaded a fake Pokémon Go game that runs secretly in the background to click on porn ads
. Don't download Pokémon Go Ultimate if you find it. Before security firm ESET discovered the malicious app you could download it from Google Play, though it appears to have been removed now. If you did download it, your phone would have frozen after running the app. After a restart it would be running in the background, clicking on porn ads. While paranoia over CIA involvement might be a bit much, you can't be too paranoid over these malicious apps.
Today's Vehicles Still Need Human Drivers
No production car on the road today can drive itself, no matter what you might think. Whether it's Tesla's Autopilot or Nissan's new ProPilot, a human driver still needs to keep hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.
A driver in Florida in a Tesla Model S was said to have been watching a DVD when the car's sensors failed to take note of a tractor trailer in bright sunlight and crashed into it. The truck driver whose vehicle collided with the Tesla
said the movie was still playing after the crash.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk
said significant improvements to Autopilot can be sent via over-the-air software updates.
With a push of a button Nissan's ProPilot
keeps the vehicle a fixed distance from the car in front without requiring the driver to steer, accelerate or brake. But you must keep your hands on the wheel.
Microsoft Creates Its Own Degree Program
Microsoft plans to bestow a “Microsoft Professional Degree” on graduates of its data science curriculum. The program is aiming for an employer-endorses, university-caliber curriculum. While it will use Microsoft's Excel and Power BI, students also will use R or Python to explore and transform data, building machine learning models and develop other translatable skills. The nine courses range from four to eight hours per course, including a final project that takes between six to ten hours to complete. The program will be hosted on edX.og, the Harvard- and MIT-founded nonprofit learning site. You'll be able to take the courses for free, but getting certified for each course will cost from $25 to $99. That will be necessary to earn the MPD.
Chinese Fail to Take Over Opera
A Chinese consortium of internet firms failed in its $1.24 billion bid to take over the Norwegian browser and ad company Opera Software as it failed to win regulatory approval. Instead, the group will spend $600 million to take over parts of Opera's consumer business that include the browser business, performance and privacy apps. This won't include Opera's advertising and marketing business, its TV operations nor game-related apps.
Tech Budgets Strain IT Departments
Spiceworks' 2016 State of IT report revealed that more than 60 percent of companies surveyed still use “dead” software such as Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Most of the respondents were from companies with fewer than 250 employees. Planned spending on IT hardware, software and services at North American companies is an average of $327,798, which is up slightly from 2015. Only 38 percent of IT departments expect spending to rise, and just 32 percent expect their IT staff to increase this year - with 62 percent expecting a decrease in staff.
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