Category Archives: Technology

The best marketing automation software

Business process management can provide flexibility under the conditions of everchanging business environment with the help of modern solutions.

We present the list of the best marketing automation software, that can help to automate business processes, change them and put them into operation due to integration of the environments of process designing, implementation and monitoring.

1. bpm’online: CRM+BPM system for working on customers and business process management

It is a CRM system, which has a BPM technology for building and managing business processes. In addition to capability of integrating all processes of marketing, sales and costumer service, one of the advantages of this software is that it uses a popular world standard BPMN 2.0. It allows operating this system without IT-specialist’s support. This one of the best marketing automation software automates both business processes and processes of personnel’s work.

  • Through this software, users can operate pre-configured processes based on the best business experiences. These processes can be customized for best suiting the conditions of user’s own business.
  • Bpm’online uses DCM (dynamic case management) Technology for designing and managing adaptive business processes.
  • Remote control through mobile devices.

2. Medicine for automating processes in health facilities

The application is used for automating all kinds of processes in a clinic.

  • The system automatically informs patient about date of visit and notifies clinic’s personnel if patient gives no response.
  • Forms schedules for patients and doctors.
  • Keeps records of clinic’s service and materials.
  • Implements billing for service.

3. PT SMS Sender for mass mailing, triggered and service SMS

The service is used for automation of mass and triggered mailing through SMS. Allows adding segmented audiences, using templates of mailing and macroses, delaying mailing start and maintaining statistics of message delivery.

4. Arvider – automatic identification and counting of visitors

It is a service for shopping centers, exhibition halls and major events. This smart system recognizes faces, sex, age and emotions of visitors and uses this data as a basis for analysis of consumers’ behavior. The service also maintains statistics of visits.

5. PT Docs: workflow automation, task completion control and joint working on content

It is a solution for accounting, registration and harmonizing incoming and outgoing documents. The system allows managing workflow due to maintaining directories and using reference processes. There is the Lazy Approval function for mobile devices, which allows implementing harmonization through corporate email.

6. Storekeeper for storing process automation

Another one of the best marketing automation software is Storekeeper, which provides online managing storages. The system automates inventory accounting and allows keeping records of leads, costumers, applications and shipments.

  • Management of products database, prices, balance and movement of goods.
  • Fixation of arrival and expenditure of goods, shipment and movement between storages.
  • Selection of products by multiple parameters at one time.
  • Built-in tool of barcoding.
  • Categorization of goods.

7. PT Task Control for business time management

This solution structures tasks and provides transparent completion of assignments. The system allows managing tasks, receiving analyst of operational discipline, forming group tasks, configuring a hierarchical structure of activities and keeping records of task completion delays.

Welcome Devs With Open Arms

Two leaders in the field of artificial intelligence have announced that they’re open-sourcing their AI platforms.

After investing in building rich simulated environments to serve as laboratories for AI research, Google’s DeepMind Lab on Saturday said it would open the platform for the broader research community’s use.

DeepMind has been using its AI lab for some time, and it has “only barely scratched the surface of what is possible” in it, noted team members Charlie Beattie, Joel Leibo, Stig Petersen and Shane Legg in an online post.

By open-sourcing the platform, DeepMind Lab hopes to open new opportunities for developers to make significant contributions to AI.

Meanwhile, OpenAI, which is cochaired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on Monday invited developers to try on its Universe platform for size.

It’s hoping an influx of development talent will help it achieve its overarching mission: to create a single AI agent that can be flexible in applying its past experience within Universe to quickly master unfamiliar, difficult environments.

Now that it’s open source, the platform is available on GitHib, a home for many developers on the Web.

Developers will be able to add custom levels to its platform via GitHub, the DeepMind team explained. In addition, all DeepMind assets will be hosted on GitHub. along with code, maps and level scripts.

DeepMind hopes the GitHub community will help it shape and develop the platform going forward, said Beattie, Leibo, Petersen and Legg.

OpenAI is designed to allow an AI agent to use a computer as a human does.

OpenAI wants to train AI systems on a full range of tasks to solve, it noted in an online post.

Universe enables the training of a single agent to perform any task a human can complete with a computer, according to OpenAI.


Sign of Frustration?

Computer scientists for some time have been trying to make algorithms learn from patterns, but progress has been slow.

“There’s a little bit of frustration that we’re not making as much progress as we wanted to,” maintained Sorin Adam Matei, an associate professor atPurdue University.

“This attempt to get more people involved, to excite people, to get another angle to the problem is a sign of frustration,” he told LinuxInsider.

Nevertheless, opening the AI platforms to the at-large development community could be beneficial.

“If a lot of people are attracted to these tools, we’ll see new creative interesting services,” Matei pointed out. “There could be a very healthy lateral development.”

What’s more, that development may come faster and cheaper than if DeepMind and OpenAI continued to go it alone.

“Certainly, part of the motivation [to go open source] is rooted in a desire to innovate quickly and cost-effectively,” said Austin Ogilvie, CEO of Yhat.

Mysteries of the Mind Facebook

Facebook last week released six videos to educate people about artificial intelligence.

AI will bring major changes to society, and will be the backbone of many of the most innovative apps and services of the future, but it remains mysterious, noted Yann LeCun, Facebook’s director of AI research, and Joaquin Candela, the company’s director of applied machine learning in an online post.

The videos are “simple and short introductions” that will “help everyone understand how this complex field of computer science works,” they said.

The announcement immediately sparked speculation that Facebook would use its AI technology to tackle the fake news items posted on its pages.

However, tackling fake news is more a question of ethics than technology, LeCun told reporters, with questions coming into play about the trade-off between filtering and censorship versus free expression and democracy.


Mysteries of the Mind

Understanding the videos, which LeCun created, does require a certain amount of grounding in science.

Still, they “set a baseline — help explain what an AI can do in the near term,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Watching the videos “likely makes the topic less frightening,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Facebook “is trying to reset the perception of AI,” and from that standpoint, they’re dead-on, observed Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“This is what the market needs,” he told TechNewsWorld, to counter “unrealistic Hollywood scenarios and sensationalism in the general press.”

Facebook’s long-term goal is to understand intelligence and build intelligent machines, according to LeCun and Candela.

Trying to understand intelligence and how to reproduce it in machines will “help us not just build intelligent machines,” they suggested, “but develop keener insight into how the mysterious human mind and brain work.”


Corralling Fake News

AI might help clamp down on the proliferation of fake news stories, which circulated in unprecedented numbers during the recent presidential election, and may have influenced voters.

One motive for the creation of fake news stories is money, according to one fake-news writer who told The Washington Post that he believed his made-up stories helped President-Elect Donald Trump win votes.

In separate investigations, both BuzzFeed and The Guardian earlier this year found upwards of 100 pro-Trump sites in Macedonia — many apparently run by teenagers looking to make a quick buck.

Fake news also comes from partisan news sites slanted strongly toward one candidate.

Lets Talking About Foreign Election Control

A few years back, when it was one company, HP made a huge mistake that cost a number of people their jobs and forced the replacement of many of its board members. The company suffered through some nasty litigation and several top executives almost landed in jail.

The mistake was tied back to something the board authorized, which at the time was called “pretexting.” It also went by the more common term “identity theft.” It is my belief that the board wouldn’t have authorized the effort if it had been told that what the teams planned to do was steal the identities of reporters.

Given how risk-averse boards were, and still are, HP’s directors simply would not have been willing to take the risk, in my view, and much of HP’s pain in the last decade could have been avoided.

Given that Russia is the source for much of it, I now wonder if our use of the term “fake news” as a label — as opposed to the older and more relevant term — isn’t doing us a disservice, by not highlighting the inherently evil nature of the practice.

Fake News is intentionally designed to mislead, and it should be treated like propaganda. Blocking propaganda as a matter of law would be far easier to accomplish than blocking “fake news,” because “fake news” seems more benign than “propaganda” — even though, like “pretexting” and “identity theft,” they are the same thing.

I’ll share my thoughts on that and close with my product of the week: a new Magellan Dash camera that might make a decent gift for those needing to document some of the insane drivers on the road, or catch someone messing with their car.


There Is a Lot of ‘Fake News’

Now much of the fake news I currently get on Facebook is simply to get me to click a link, often as part of a process to install some form of malware. Often, these stories have been about the death of a celebrity who hasn’t died, but during the election, much of the fake news surrounded things that weren’t true about Hillary Clinton but that clearly were intended to change my vote. They were attempts to change how I viewed a candidate, in order to elicit a reaction.

Given the nature of the false stories and the fact that polls showed Clinton would win anyway, my belief is that the effort was to impede her ability to govern after she won, and the anticipated disclosure of the effort was designed to do the same thing to Trump.

The sure thing for Russia wasn’t to elect Trump or Clinton, but to ensure that whoever won would have such a cloud hanging overhead that neither could really execute. In other words, Russia wasn’t going after a candidate — it was going after the country.

Beyond the idea that another country could have a material impact either on the election or on the effectiveness of the elected candidate is the frightening fact that it happened in a country that has the tools to formulate a proper response but chose not to use them.

As initial attempts go, this was a powerful one. Given the propagation of ever more intelligent tools to create increasingly more targeted messages, it means a foreign power with adequate funds — like Russia or China — could gain near-absolute control over who gets elected in the U.S. That’s troubling — particularly given that the U.S. developed the tools both to carry out and to defend against such a strategy.


Defending Against Foreign Election Control

Clearly, there are free speech and censorship issues with regard to the identification and elimination of fake news, but with analytics, we can identify both trends and the organized manipulation of facts that go viral.

That is why switching from the name “fake news” to the name “propaganda” when a foreign, criminal or terrorist organization is generating this “news” could go a long way toward reducing its impact.

Once it’s identified, there are tools that can explain to people that the news they are seeing isn’t fact-based, and/or source the information so people understand there may be inherent bias.

Facebook is setting up to do this, and I expect it will turn into something of an arms race, with artificial intelligence agents on both sides trying to outsmart each other. Still, if the country with Silicon Valley can not win this fight against the countries without it, we likely should just take our toys and go home.

Halts Malware Avalanche on Multinational Effort

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday released new details about the multinational takedown of Avalanche, a multimillion-dollar malware and money-laundering network, following a four-year probe led by German police and prosecutors. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song and Assistant Director Scott S. Smith of the FBI’s Cyber Division made the announcement in Pittsburgh.

Prosecutors and investigators in 40 countries were involved in the probe, led by the Public Prosecutor’s office in Verden, Germany, and police in Luneberg. They received assistance from the DoJ, Eurojust and Europol.

The investigation uncovered a multinational malware campaign that started in 2009, sending out more than a million infected emails with damaging links and attachments.

The cyberthieves managed to use the information to transfer funds from the accounts of unsuspecting victims after stealing their bank and email passwords. The stolen funds, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros, then were redirected to other criminals through a double fast flux infrastructure.

More than 20 families of malware were used, including goznym, marcher, matsnu, urizone, xswkit and pandabaker. Highly organized networks of “mules” bought goods with stolen funds, enabling the cyberthieves to launder money they obtained through the scheme.


Arrests, Seizures

The takedown operation marks the largest ever use of sinkholing to combat botnet infrastructures, and is unprecedented in scale, involving more than 800,000 domains seized, sinkholed or blocked.

Five suspects were arrested, 37 premises were searched, and 39 servers were seized, officials said last week. Victims were found in 180 different countries, and 221 servers were kicked offline through abuse notifications sent to hosting providers.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab late last month granted federal prosecutors a temporary restraining order allowing them to block and reroute data from the infected computers used in the Avalanche malware scheme to prevent further malicious activity, according to Margaret Philbin, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.

The order essentially allows the illegal data to be trapped and traced over to government controlled systems that can track the illegal activity and protect victims of the scheme.

“People across the globe, including residents and companies here in western Pennsylvania, have been victimized by Avalanche and the malware distributed using its intricate infrastructure,” said Robert Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI in Pittsburgh.

At least three companies or government entities in Pennsylvania were impacted by the attacks, based on court filings.

From Feb. to April of this year, a New Castle-based firm was targeted with seven unauthorized wire transfers that totaled more than US$243,000, based on an attack using GozNym malware. The wire transfers were stopped before any money was lost.

In January 2015, a government entity in Allegheny County was victim to a Nymaim malware attack and had to pay 6 bitcoins, or about $1,400, to get a decryption tool to rescue its files.

In April of this year a Carnegie business was victim of an ATO fraud using GozNym malware attack that resulted in $387,500 being fraudulently transferred from a Pittsburgh-based financial institution to an account in Bulgaria.

“This investigation highlights once again that through the international cooperation of law enforcement and private industry, we can be as effective investigating criminals in cyberspace as we are on the streets of our communities here at home,” Johnson pointed out.

Galaxy Note7 to Adequate Testing

Samsung’s desire to match the iPhone 7 Plus led it to implement an aggressive design and manufacturing approach that led to problems with its Galaxy Note7 — including some instances of the smartphones bursting into flames — and eventually its global recall, Instrumental reported last week.

Instrumental engineers tore down a Galaxy Note7, and found “evidence in the design of an intellectual tension between safety and pushing the boundaries,” CEO Anna Shedletsky revealed.

Samsung engineers “designed out all of the margin in the thickness of the battery,” she noted.

It “sits within a CNC-machined pocket — a costly choice likely made to protect it from being poked by other internal components,” Shedletsky speculated.

“For something that is innovative and new, you design the best tests that you can think of, and validate that the design is OK through that testing,” she said.

However, battery testing “takes a notoriously long time, and thousands of batteries need to be tested to get significant results,” Shedletsky pointed out. “It’s possible that Samsung’s innovative battery manufacturing process was changing throughout development, and that the newest versions of the batteries weren’t tested with he same rigor as the first samples.”

If the Note7 had not been recalled, “a few years down the road these phones would be slowly pushed apart by mechanical battery swell,” she added.

A rule of thumb is to leave 10 percent of the depth of the battery pocket as a ceiling above the battery to allow for that expansion, but “our two-month-old unit had no ceiling,” said Shedletsky, and “since it breaks such a basic rule, it must have been intentional.”


The Long Road to Adequate Testing

It’s “impossible to test for everything,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“You have to consider not only testing the battery but also testing applications and the phone,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Considering how many versions of the Galaxy smartphone Samsung has released and the number of units produced, “this is like comparing the Galaxy Note7 problem to air travel,” McGregor remarked. “While crashes make the headlines, air travel is still one of the safest forms of transportation.”


Considering the Bigger Picture

Limitations in battery technology and increasing demands for new displays, wireless interconnects, sensors and processors in ever-shrinking sizes, the industry is “pushing these technologies to the breaking point,” McGregor said.

That will be a problem for all handsets and for wearables in the future, he predicted.

The IEEE has “known for some time that there were several fundamental limiting factors to personal electronics,” observed Michael Jude, a program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

They include “power dissipation, power consumption, and power density — how much juice you can store in a small package,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Battery technology is tricky, Jude said. “A battery is really a controlled chemical explosion. You can have a little power over a long period of time or a lot all at once. Smartphone designers walk a fine line between power consumption and battery storage density.”


Competition Can Kill

A smaller battery using standard manufacturing parameters would have solved the swelling and explosion issues, but that “would have reduced the system’s battery life below the level of … the iPhone 7 Plus,” Shedletsky noted. “Either way, it’s now clear to us that there was no competitive salvageable design.”

Various iPhone models had battery problems, but they were “all fixed with a replacement battery,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10

Microsoft on Wednesday announced the compatibility of Windows 10 and native Windows apps with ARM-based processors, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, which currently powers a large percentage of Android devices.

One of the highlights at this year’s Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event in Shenzhen, China, the new partnership will make it possible for Windows applications, peripherals and enterprise solutions to run on new mobile, power efficient and always-connected cellular PCs.

Through the collaboration, the companies aim to encourage hardware partners to develop Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Window 10 devices that run x86 Win32 and universal Windows apps. In addition to Microsoft’s own productivity applications, such as Microsoft Office, they could include third-party programs such as Adobe Photoshop, as well as Windows games, which are developed by numerous companies.

The applications would be the same as those meant to run on a desktop or laptop, but they would be fully compatible with cellular PCs — meaning that mobile users no longer would have to sacrifice functionality or features.

Microsoft largely was unsuccessful in its efforts to break into the smartphone space with its Windows Phone devices. Instead, it has pivoted toward cellular PCs, which will be built around the x86 code of Windows 10, utilizing the ARM architecture.

The process may not be as simple as actually running the apps directly on the small screen however.

“This continuum would allow you to plug a Windows 10 cellular PC into a dock, where it connects to a PC monitor, keyboard and mouse,” said Ian Fogg, senior director for mobile and telecoms at IHS Markit.

“To date, that experience has been hampered by the fact that x86 apps have had to run on a desktop processor,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This is suited so that the apps can run on a smartphone.”

That is not to say the user experience will be exactly the same as what one might find when using an actual desktop PC, however.

“The question is how quickly the applications run, and how much additional power they will use,” noted Fogg.


Types of Applications

Office, Photoshop and Windows 10 games all will be compatible.

“Microsoft called out those three because they are widely used — and in the case of Photoshop it is known to benefit from a lot of computing power,” noted Fogg.

“This could be an indicator of how the processor can handle these applications,” he suggested. “However, the question remains how well it will run. Running something like Photoshop or games at minimum level doesn’t offer the same experience as one might hope to have.”


Game On

Gaming does tend to require serious process power, often even more than Photoshop, but that is just one consideration that will need to be addressed. What hasn’t been explained is how the cellular PC platform will support video or sound.

“Initially, the impact on gaming will be minimal,” said Joost van Dreunen, principal analyst at SuperData Research.

“Qualcomm does not have a strong presence in the gaming market, but the emphasis in the period to come is clearly on improved visuals across the industry,” he told TechNewsWorld. “This year we already saw a big jump in visual processing power for PC gamers, for instance, and a substantial reduction in device power consumption.”

In the longer term, “porting Win10 to ARM would open the way for a bunch of gaming applications to come across more easily,” noted Roger L. Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

“Typically, ARM would be lower power than x86, which bodes well for mobile battery life,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Fighters Get New Free Tool

Ransomware has become a gold mine for digital criminals. In the first three months of this year, electronic extortionists squeezed US$209 million from victims desperate to recover their data after it was scrambled by the malicious software, based on FBI estimates. At that rate, ransomware could funnel as much as $1 billion into criminal coffers this year.

Ransomware typically will encrypt most of the files on a computer, but some pernicious programs are selective about what they encrypt on a machine. One such form of ransomware attacks the boot sequence of a computer.

Petya ransomware overwrites the contents of a system’s Master Boot Record, forces a system reboot, and encrypts the operating system’s Master File Table.

With ransomware that’s limited to encrypting data, it’s still possible to use an infected machine. That only makes sense, since an extortionist expects the victim to use the computer to pay the ransom and receive the key unscrambling the data on the afflicted machine.

With an attack on the MBR, however, the extortionist “bricks” the system and makes it unusable until the ransom is paid.


Risky Ransomware

Bricking a computer that you’re holding for ransom is a risky way to do business.

“With ransomware that encrypts the Master Boot Record, you have effectively lost the ability to use the computer,” explained Craig Williams, security outreach manager at Cisco Systems.

“That’s a little bit more risky for the attacker, because it relies on you having another way to get online and pay them,” he told TechNewsWorld, “but because the computer is unusable, you’re more likely to pay them.”

Despite the risks, there are some advantages to MBR ransomware, suggested Edmund Brumaghin, a threat researcher at Cisco and a colleague of Williams.

“One potential benefit to focusing on the MBR versus in-place encryption of files is that it can be completed quickly, regardless of the amount of user data that is stored on the system,” Brumaghin told TechNewsWorld.

“It may also be more difficult for decryptors to be made available if the boot process of the system has been manipulated or disrupted,” he continued. “Recovery may also be more difficult, as it may require a complete reinstallation of the system’s operating system, rather than just recovery of the user’s files.”


MBRFilter to the Rescue

To counter ransomware attacks on the Master Boot Record, Cisco Talos, the company’s threat intelligence organization, released a free program called “MBRFilter.” The program allows a user to enable the read-only default for the MBR. That prevents any program from altering the MBR.

Enabling that default can create problems from time to time, Williams acknowledged.

“Occasionally you have updates to operating systems or changes to the Linux kernel where you do need to poke at the Master Book Record and update it,” he said, “but for the vast majority of the operation of a computer, you don’t need to update it.”

Malicious software that scrambles data on systems is by far a more popular form of ransomware than programs that attack the MBR, but when you protect the MBR, you’re protecting yourself from more than just ransomware.

“The MBR is often targeted by other types of malware, such as rootkits and bootkits,” Brumaghin explained.

Social Media Minefield

Mainly because of the amount of money they bring in, many people expect celebrities and other prominent figures to have thicker skins than the average Jane or Joe. However — as evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who’ve forsaken social media, or who have handed the keys to their accounts to their PR teams — fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out assault by faceless trolls.

Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones temporarily unplugged her Twitter account after being bombarded by racist and sexist attacks. Girls star Lena Dunham quit Twitter after being body shamed and verbally abused. Filmmaker Joss Whedon fled Twitter last year, after being targeted with verbal abuse for his portrayal of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Count the likes of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence among the celebs who simply don’t care to join social network, as least not using their given names. And Sia doesn’t even want the public to get a good look at her face.

Some of the prominent celebs to speak about social media’s potential for inflicting harm include Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Keira Knight, who has said that sharing with the public opens you up to “a lot of criticism and a lot of people telling you they hate you.”


No One Is Safe

While attacks on private individuals can be more personal and more targeted, they’re typically much less numerous. Anyone who is visible to large numbers of people — from business owners to YouTube stars — is vulnerable to a massive onslaught due to the sheer volume of people who flock to their accounts.

Cary Peterson, an American federal lobbyist and UN delegate, has experienced decades of online abuse. Bullying, slander and defamation have cost him job promotions, business deals, friendships, millions of dollars in legal fees, and a marriage, he said.

“These online mobs are real, and the general public needs to be aware of it, and how serious it is,” Peterson told TechNewsWorld.

Almost daily, Peterson finds himself battling faceless accounts, and when people start to believe the allegations posted from such accounts, that’s when things can spiral out of control.

“I’ve been rather fortunate in these instances to still be alive and well, but I’ve seen many people and businesses over my past 20 years doing business online, wiped out and terminated,” he said. “Nonetheless, it’s quite fascinating what can be done from a laptop and Internet connection these days — and cost little to nothing to execute.”


Nowhere Is Safe

Despite all the good they do in keeping family and friends connected, social media sites have a dark side. They quickly can become breeding grounds for harassment, noted Scott A Spackey, a career coach and family counselor.

“Social media has become a forum for intimidation, abuse and shaming because of its lack of accountability,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Virtual reality is remote and has the illusion of being impersonal, which encourages people to behave in ways they would NEVER do in person or public.”

Massive Twitter campaigns can be sparked by people using fake names and profiles, noted Wendy Lewis, president of Wendy Lewis & Co. Recently, much of it stemmed from divisive politics, fueled by the unrestrained comments of certain politicians.

“If it’s OK for a presidential candidate to practice name calling — like ‘the devil’ — or making comments about his dissenters’ physique …, then it may seem more acceptable to others who are so inclined,” she told TechNewsWorld.

Business and public figures have a bit more recourse at Facebook, compared to Twitter. The page owner can remove posts, report harassment, and possibly prompt the banning of the user, Lewis noted.

“If they are aggressive, you may see that they attempt the same posts under a different fake profile name, and keep going by commenting on every post on the page,” Lewis said. “As a last resort, you can reset your Facebook page privacy settings, and even set your page up to have all comments approved before they go live.”

Regardless of the forum or format, it doesn’t take much searching to find an online thread littered with the type of language rarely used in public places offline.

While the reporting and banning tools help, it’s up to humanity to try harder to be more human online, suggested parent advocate Sue Scheff, author of the upcoming book Shame Nation.

“It’s time for all of us to start being an upstander, reaching out to those that are struggling,” she told TechNewsWorld.

Project Evo Ups the PC Game

Microsoft and Intel on Wednesday announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in artificial intelligence, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming,

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo’s ambitious plans at the Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) event in Shenzhen, China.

Through the collaboration, the companies will push the boundaries of a personal computer’s capabilities in the near future, he said. Technologies under development include far-field speech and wake-on-voice enabled through Cortana, biometrics and voice authentication in Windows Hello, spacial audio, and HDR support for gaming.

Project Evo — particularly its expanded use of Cortana — invites comparisons to the digital assistant tools found in Amazon Echo and Google Home, standalone speakers that use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant respectively. Though their capabilities differ, each uses voice communications to interact with the automated home.

However, Project Evo seems geared toward making the personal computer into a much more sophisticated device — one that can be accessed and operated in ways never before seen.


Home Hub Connection?

Essentially, users will be able to wake up a PC, whether it’s open or shut, simply by saying “Hello Cortana.” Through voice commands, users will be able to access the information they need either directly from their personal computing device or from the cloud.

“This is going to make the PC way more intuitive than it is today,” Intel SVP Navin Shenoy, general manager of the Client Computing Group, told WinHEC attendees. “You no longer need to be directly in front of your PC to activate Cortana.”

“There are certainly aspects of Project Evo that are likely to compete directly with Amazon Alexa and Google Home,” noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

However, it’s likely that “Intel and Microsoft are after a fundamentally bigger game,” he told TechNewsWorld.

In the case of Project Evo, the companies are working with much more powerful computing capabilities than Amazon and Google are using with their home hubs.

“Microsoft has the technology in the cloud, not the home,” noted Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“The problem is that the PC is not the center of the home or the consumer experience,” he told TechNewsWorld.

While there is room for improving the PC experience, this project is not going to push Microsoft into a direct competition with Amazon, McGregor said.