Microsoft’s new language learning app uses your phone’s camera and computer vision to teach vocabulary

Source: Microsoft more

Eight Microsoft interns have developed a new language learning tool that uses the smartphone camera to help adults improve their English literacy by learning the words for the things around them. The app, Read My World, lets you take a picture with your phone to learn from a library of over 1,500 words. The photo can be of a real-world object or text found in a document, Microsoft says.

The app is meant to either supplement formal classroom training or offer a way to learn some words for those who didn’t have the time or funds to participate in a language learning class.

Instead of lessons, users are encouraged to snap photos of the things they encounter in their everyday lives.

“Originally, we were planning more of a lesson plan style approach, but through our research and discovery, we realized a Swiss army knife might be more useful,” said Nicole Joyal, a software developer intern who worked on the project. “We wound up building a tool that can help you throughout your day-to-day rather than something that teaches,” she said.

Read My World uses a combination of Microsoft Cognitive Services and Computer Vision APIs to identify the objects in photos. It will then show the word’s spelling and speak the phonetic pronunciation of the identified vocabulary words. The photos corresponding to the identified words can also be saved to a personal dictionary in the app for later reference.

Finally, the app encourages users to practice their newly discovered words by way of three built-in vocabulary games.

The’s 1,500-word vocabulary may seem small, but it’s actually close to the number of words foreign language learners are able to pick up through traditional study. According to a report from the BBC, for instance, many language learners struggle to learn more than 2,000 to 3,000 words even after years of study. In fact, one study in Taiwan found that after 9 years of learning a foreign language, students failed to learn the most frequently-used 1,000 words.

The report also stressed that it was most important to pick up the words used day-to-day.

Because the app focuses on things you see, it’s limited in terms of replacing formal instruction. After gathering feedback from teachers and students who tested an early version, the team rolled out a feature to detect words in documents too. It’s not a Google Lens-like experience, where written words are translated into your own language — rather, select words it can identify are highlighted so you can hear how they sound, and see a picture so you know what it is.

For example, the app pointed at a student’s school supply list may pick out words like pencils, notebooks, scissors, and binders.

The app, a project from Microsoft’s in-house incubator Microsoft Garage, will initially be made available for testing and feedback for select organizations. Those who work with low literacy communities at an NGO or nonprofit, can request an invitation to join the experiment by filling out a form.

 


Microsoft’s new language learning app uses your phone’s camera and computer vision to teach vocabulary

Takeaways from KubeCon; the latest on Kubernetes and cloud native development

Source: Tech News – Enterprise

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois and Ron Miller discuss major announcements that came out of the Linux Foundation’s European KubeCon/CloudNativeCon conference and discuss the future of Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies.

Nearly doubling in size year-over-year, this year’s KubeCon conference brought big news and big players, with major announcements coming from some of the world’s largest software vendors including Google, AWS, Microsoft, Red Hat, and more. Frederic and Ron discuss how the Kubernetes project grew to such significant scale and which new initiatives in cloud-native development show the most promise from both a developer and enterprise perspective.

“This ecosystem starts sprawling, and we’ve got everything from security companies to service mesh companies to storage companies. Everybody is here. The whole hall is full of them. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between them because there are so many competing start-ups at this point.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a consolidation in the next six months or so where some of the bigger players, maybe Oracle, maybe VMware, will start buying some of these smaller companies. And I’m sure the show floor will look quite different about a year from now. All the big guys are here because they’re all trying to figure out what’s next.”

Frederic and Ron also dive deeper into the startup ecosystem rapidly developing around Kubernetes and other cloud-native technologies and offer their take on what areas of opportunity may prove to be most promising for new startups and founders down the road.

For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Andreessen pours $22M into PlanetScale’s database-as-a-service

Source: Tech News – Enterprise

PlanetScale’s founders invented the technology called Vitess that scaled YouTube and Dropbox. Now they’re selling it to any enterprise that wants their data both secure and consistently accessible. And thanks to its ability to re-shard databases while they’re operating, it can solve businesses’ troubles with GDPR, which demands they store some data in the same locality as the user it belongs to.

The potential to be a computing backbone that both competes with and complements Amazon’s AWS has now attracted a mammoth $22 million Series A for PlanetScale. Led by Andreessen Horowitz and joined by the firm’s Cultural Leadership Fund, head of the US Digital Service Matt Cutts plus existing investor SignalFire, the round is a tall step up from the startup’s $3 million seed it raised a year ago.

“What we’re discovering is that people we thought were at one point competitors, like AWS and hosted relational databases — we’re discovering they may be our partners instead since we’re seeing a reasonable demand for our services in front of AWS’ hosted databases” says CEO Jitendra Vaidya.

PlanetScale co-founders (from left): Jiten Vaidya and Sugu Sougoumarane

Vitess, a predescessor to Kubernetes, is a horizontal scaling sharding middleware built for MySQL. It lets businesses segment their database to boost memory efficiency without sacrificing reliable access speeds. PlanetScale sells Vitess in four ways: hosting on its database-as-a-service, licensing of the tech that can be run on-premises for clients or through another cloud provider, professional training for using Vitess, and on-demand support for users of the open-source version of Vitess.

“We don’t have any concerns about the engineering side of things, but we need to figure out a go-to-market strategy for enterprises” Vaidya explains. “As we’re both technical co-founders, about half of our funding is going towards hiring those functions [outside of engineering], and making that part of our organization work well and get results.”


Andreessen pours M into PlanetScale’s database-as-a-service

eFounders backs Yousign to build a European eSignature company

Source: Tech News – Enterprise

French startup Yousign is partnering with startup studio eFounders. While eFounders usually builds software-as-a-service startups from scratch, the company is trying something new with this partnership.

eFounders wants to create all the tools you need to make your work more efficient. The startup studio is behind many respectable SaaS successes, such as Front, Aircall or Spendesk. And electronic signatures are a must if you want to speed up your workflow.

Sure, there are a ton of well-established players in the space — DocuSign, SignNow, Adobe Sign, HelloSign, etc. But nobody has really cracked the European market in a similar way.

Yousign has been around for a while in France. When it comes to features, it has everything you’d expect. You can upload a document and set up automated emails and notifications so that everybody signs the document.

Signatures are legally binding and Yousign archive your documents. You can also create document templates and send contract proposals using an API.

The main challenge for Yousign is that Europe is still quite fragmented. The company will need to convince users in different countries that they need to switch to an eSignature solution. Starting today, Yousign is now available in France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain.

Yousign had only raised some money. eFounders is cleaning the cap table by buying out existing investors and replacing them.

“We can’t really communicate on the details of the investment, but what I can tell you is that we bought out existing funds for several millions of euros in order to replace them — founders still have the majority of shares,” eFounders co-founder and CEO Thibaud Elzière told me.

In a blog post, Elzière writes that eFounders has acquired around 50 percent of the company through a SPV (Single Purpose Vehicle) that it controls. The startup studio holds 25 percent directly, and investors in the eFounders eClub hold 25 percent.

Yousign now looks pretty much like any other eFounders company when they start. Of course, founders and eFounders might get diluted further down the road if Yousign ends up raising more money.


eFounders backs Yousign to build a European eSignature company

Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work better together

Source: Tech News – Enterprise

Cloud native models using containerized software in a continuous delivery approach could benefit from serverless computing where the cloud vendor generates the exact amount of resources required to run a workload on the fly. While the major cloud vendors have recognized this and are already creating products to abstract away the infrastructure, it may not work for every situation in spite of the benefits.

Cloud native put simply involves using containerized applications and Kubernetes to deliver software in small packages called microservices. This enables developers to build and deliver software faster and more efficiently in a continuous delivery model. In the cloud native world, you should be able to develop code once and run it anywhere, on prem or any public cloud, or at least that is the ideal.

Serverless is actually a bit of a misnomer. There are servers underlying the model, but instead of dedicated virtual machines, the cloud vendor delivers exactly the right number of resources to run a particular workload for the right amount of time and no more.

Nothing is perfect

Such an arrangement would seem to be perfectly suited to a continuous delivery model, and while vendors have recognized the beauty of such an approach, as one engineer pointed out, there is never a free lunch in processes that are this complex, and it won’t be a perfect solution for every situation.

Arpana Sinha, director of product management at Google says the Kubernetes community has really embraced the serveless idea, but she says that it is limited in its current implementation, delivered in the form of functions with products like AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions and Azure Functions.

“Actually, I think the functions concept is a limited concept. It is unfortunate that that is the only thing that people associate with serverless,” she said.

She says that Google has tried to be more expansive in its definition “It’s basically a concept for developers where you are able to seamlessly go from writing code to deployment and the infrastructure takes care of all of the rest, making sure your code is deployed in the appropriate way across the appropriate, most resilient parts of the infrastructure, scaling it as your app needs additional resources, scaling it down as your traffic goes down, and charging you only for what you’re consuming,” she explained

But Matt Whittington, senior engineer on the Kubernetes Team at Atlassian says, while it sounds good in theory, in practice fully automated infrastructure could be unrealistic in some instances. “Serverless could be promising for certain workloads because it really allows developers to focus on the code, but it’s not a perfect solution. There is still some underlying tuning.”

He says you may not be able to leave it completely up to the vendor unless there is a way to specify the requirements for each container such as instructing them you need a minimum container load time, a certain container kill time or perhaps you need to deliver it a specific location. He says in reality it won’t be fully automated, at least while developers fiddle with the settings to make sure they are getting the resources they need without over-provisioning and paying for more than they need.

Vendors bringing solutions

The vendors are putting in their two cents trying to create tools that bring this ideal together. For instance, Google announced a service called Google Cloud Run at Google Cloud Next last month. It’s based on the open source Knative project, and in essence combines the goodness of serverless for developers running containers. Other similar services include AWS Fargate and Azure Container Instances, both of which are attempting to bring together these two technologies in a similar package.

In fact, Gabe Monroy, partner program manager at Microsoft, says Azure Container Instances is designed to solve this problem without being dependent on a functions-driven programming approach. “What Azure Container Instances does is it allows you to run containers directly on the Azure compute fabric, no virtual machines, hypervisor isolated, pay-per-second billing. We call it serverless containers,” he said.

While serverless and containers might seem like a good fit, as Monroy points there isn’t a one size fits all approach to cloud native technologies, whatever the approach may be. Some people will continue to use a function-driven serverless approach like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions and others will shift to containers and look for other ways to bring these technologies together. Whatever happens, as developer needs change, it is clear the open source community and vendors will respond with tools to help them. Bringing serverless and containers is together is just one example of that.


Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work better together

Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work better together

Source: Microsoft more

Cloud native models using containerized software in a continuous delivery approach could benefit from serverless computing where the cloud vendor generates the exact amount of resources required to run a workload on the fly. While the major cloud vendors have recognized this and are already creating products to abstract away the infrastructure, it may not work for every situation in spite of the benefits.

Cloud native put simply involves using containerized applications and Kubernetes to deliver software in small packages called microservices. This enables developers to build and deliver software faster and more efficiently in a continuous delivery model. In the cloud native world, you should be able to develop code once and run it anywhere, on prem or any public cloud, or at least that is the ideal.

Serverless is actually a bit of a misnomer. There are servers underlying the model, but instead of dedicated virtual machines, the cloud vendor delivers exactly the right number of resources to run a particular workload for the right amount of time and no more.

Nothing is perfect

Such an arrangement would seem to be perfectly suited to a continuous delivery model, and while vendors have recognized the beauty of such an approach, as one engineer pointed out, there is never a free lunch in processes that are this complex, and it won’t be a perfect solution for every situation.

Arpana Sinha, director of product management at Google says the Kubernetes community has really embraced the serveless idea, but she says that it is limited in its current implementation, delivered in the form of functions with products like AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions and Azure Functions.

“Actually, I think the functions concept is a limited concept. It is unfortunate that that is the only thing that people associate with serverless,” she said.

She says that Google has tried to be more expansive in its definition “It’s basically a concept for developers where you are able to seamlessly go from writing code to deployment and the infrastructure takes care of all of the rest, making sure your code is deployed in the appropriate way across the appropriate, most resilient parts of the infrastructure, scaling it as your app needs additional resources, scaling it down as your traffic goes down, and charging you only for what you’re consuming,” she explained

But Matt Whittington, senior engineer on the Kubernetes Team at Atlassian says, while it sounds good in theory, in practice fully automated infrastructure could be unrealistic in some instances. “Serverless could be promising for certain workloads because it really allows developers to focus on the code, but it’s not a perfect solution. There is still some underlying tuning.”

He says you may not be able to leave it completely up to the vendor unless there is a way to specify the requirements for each container such as instructing them you need a minimum container load time, a certain container kill time or perhaps you need to deliver it a specific location. He says in reality it won’t be fully automated, at least while developers fiddle with the settings to make sure they are getting the resources they need without over-provisioning and paying for more than they need.

Vendors bringing solutions

The vendors are putting in their two cents trying to create tools that bring this ideal together. For instance, Google announced a service called Google Cloud Run at Google Cloud Next last month. It’s based on the open source Knative project, and in essence combines the goodness of serverless for developers running containers. Other similar services include AWS Fargate and Azure Container Instances, both of which are attempting to bring together these two technologies in a similar package.

In fact, Gabe Monroy, partner program manager at Microsoft, says Azure Container Instances is designed to solve this problem without being dependent on a functions-driven programming approach. “What Azure Container Instances does is it allows you to run containers directly on the Azure compute fabric, no virtual machines, hypervisor isolated, pay-per-second billing. We call it serverless containers,” he said.

While serverless and containers might seem like a good fit, as Monroy points there isn’t a one size fits all approach to cloud native technologies, whatever the approach may be. Some people will continue to use a function-driven serverless approach like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions and others will shift to containers and look for other ways to bring these technologies together. Whatever happens, as developer needs change, it is clear the open source community and vendors will respond with tools to help them. Bringing serverless and containers is together is just one example of that.


Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work better together

VeeamON 2019 Day 2 Recap: Strong content, strong close

Source: Veeam

As we wrap up VeeamON 2019, the event has brought so many great experiences to many people. Customers and partners from all over the world have joined us and are ready to tackle their biggest Availability challenges.

Some highlights from Wednesday at VeeamON 2019 include a strong lineup of breakout content, the Veeam Innovation Awards and the closing party. Here are a few statistics for VeeamON 2019:

  • Over 2,050 attendees
  • Over 60 breakouts
  • Three general sessions
  • Eight live demos in the technology general session
  • Over 45 sponsors

As I did yesterday, I’ve highlighted two breakouts that have some really powerful tips that I’ll share here:

“Top 7 Worst Practices When Using Veeam Backup & Replication”

This session was presented by Edwin Weijdema, a solutions architect based in the Northern EMEA region (Edwin also contributes to the VMGuru blog and is on Twitter at: Viperian). Here is one slide where Edwin outlines his fifth tip that security is inconvenient:

This is an important topic as Veeam Backup & Replication has many roles and many well-defined requirements for those roles. In fact, the required permissions and system requirements part of Veeam Help Center make this very easy to navigate and set up.

Ransomware Resiliency Tips from Veeam and the Veeam Vanguards”

This session was presented by me, but also sourced from different perspectives from the Veeam Vanguards. The one slide I will share here actually comes from Veeam Support:

 

Veeam Technical Support deals with ransomware every day. Meaning, customers have ransomware in their data centers and Veeam helps our customers restore and be resilient.

Tim’s advice matches that from our Veeam Vanguards: Education is a critical step and one of the most effective prevention techniques. Prevention is a very strong safeguard, but if ransomware becomes introduced the *only* option is to restore data — and that is where Veeam can help. The session carried on with critical perspectives from Vanguards on their best practices to be resilient against ransomware.

The VeeamON 2019 Party

It goes without saying that Veeam knows how to host a party, and the VeeamON party is the best one to attend. This year, we had a beach party featuring Flo Rida. This party was amazing and a great way to close the event.

That’s all for VeeamON 2019. Join us in Las Vegas for VeeamON 2020. The VeeamON website will soon be updated to reflect next year’s event, but we are already planning to make it bigger and better than ever! Join us!

The post VeeamON 2019 Day 2 Recap: Strong content, strong close appeared first on Veeam Software Official Blog.


VeeamON 2019 Day 2 Recap: Strong content, strong close

GitHub launches Sponsors, lets you pay your favorite open source contributors

Source: Microsoft more

GitHub today launched Sponsors, a new tool that lets you give financial support to open source developers. Developers will be able to opt into having a “Sponsor me” button on their GitHub repositories and open source projects will also be able to highlight their funding models, no matter whether that’s individual contributions to developers or using Patreon, Tidelift, Ko-fi or Open Collective.

The mission here, GitHub says, is to “expand the opportunities to participate in and build on open source.”

That’s likely to be a bit controversial among some open source developers who don’t want financial interests to influence what people will work on. And there may be some truth to that as this may drive open source developers to focus on projects that are more likely to attract financial contributions over more esoteric projects that are interesting and challenging but aren’t likely to find financial backers on GitHub. We asked GitHub for a comment about this but did not receive a response by the time this article went live.

The program is only open to open source developers. During the first year of a developer’s participation, GitHub (and by extension, it’s corporate overlords at Microsoft) will also match up to $5,000 in contributions. For the next twelve months, GitHub won’t charge any payment processing fees either (though it will do so after this time is over).

Payouts will be available in every country where GitHub itself does business. “Expanding opportunities to participate on that team is at the core of our mission, so we’re proud to make this new tool available to developers worldwide,” the company says.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t just about code and developers, but all open source contributors, including those who write documentation, provide leadership or mentor new developers, for example. As long as they have a GitHub profile, they’ll be eligible to receive support, too.

To make this work, GitHub is also launching a ‘Community Contributors’ hovercard to highlight the people who built the code your applications depend on, for example.

It will definitely be interesting to see how the community will react to Sponsors. The idea isn’t completely novel, of course, and there are projects like Beerpay that already integrate with GitHub. Still, the traditional route to get paid for open source is to find a job at a company that will let you contribute to projects, either as a full-time or part-time job.

In addition to Sponsors, GitHub is also launching a number of new security features. The company today announced that it has acquired Dependabot, for example, a tool that ensures that projects use the most up-to-date libraries. GitHub Enterprise is getting improved audit features, which are now generally available, and maintainers will now get beta access to a private space in GitHub to discuss potential security issues so that their public chats don’t tip off potential hackers. GitHub is also taking token scanning into general availability, which is meant to prevent developers from accidentally leaking their credentials from services like Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Mailgun, Slack, Stripe and Twilio.

GitHub’s enterprise edition is also getting a few updates, including more fine-grained permissions, which are now generally available. Also generally available are Enterprise accounts, while new features like internal repos and organizational insights are now in beta.


GitHub launches Sponsors, lets you pay your favorite open source contributors

Cisco “Connected Course” to debut at Pebble Beach Golf Links for 2019 U.S. Open

Source: Cisco

If you’re a fan of golf like me, it doesn’t get any better than this!

The last time Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, he tied or set nine different records. When he won the Masters at Augusta just a month ago, people around the world were talking about how he was back as a force in golf. What happens in Pebble Beach this June will have the world’s attention, and we couldn’t be more excited.

As the Official Technology Partner of the United States Golf Association (USGA), Cisco will debut the first-ever “Connected Course” at next month’s U.S. Open, hosted at the iconic and scenic Pebble Beach Golf Links. For the first time ever, the Championship will deploy a robust, course-wide Wi-Fi network to create a blanket of connectivity and enhance the experience for people watching, attending, covering and working the event. Cisco’s on-site technology presence will allow the USGA to distribute content, engage fans and more effectively run its marquee championship.

In addition, Cisco will conduct the first-ever test of Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation wireless standard, at a major sporting event, with a dedicated portion of the Pebble Beach course using Cisco Meraki access points. Wi-Fi 6 has significant implications for the sports industry because the network will deliver faster speeds for immersive-experience applications, more device and IoT capacity for high-density environments, more bandwidth (400 percent greater capacity), higher reliability, and reduced latency, all while being less taxing on a device’s battery (four times more power efficient).

The 2019 U.S. Open will be the first showcase opportunity for Cisco to collaborate with the USGA on one of the largest stages in golf, giving the USGA the speed and confidence to dynamically deliver content and new experiences to fans, including:

  • A newly-launched OTT app, available for Apple TV and Roku, will give consumers the ability to watch free, live-streaming coverage of the U.S. Open and other USGA Championships.
  • Powering the U.S. Open App, will feature engaging content, ranging from 360-degree virtual reality?, to a virtual photo booth that utilizes 3D modelling technology, to wayfinding to easily navigate around the course, and advanced data and analytics.
  • Cisco Vision dynamic signage will be utilized at strategic locations throughout the venue, such as the Media Center, Fan Central, and throughout the course. Cisco Vision will also be prominently featured at the practice range to display TopTracer technology, which is powered by Cisco and allows fans to visualize player shot data on the range.
  • Cisco Webex collaboration technology will allow journalists from around the world to connect to press conferences and interact with players, broadening the reach of the global event.

This is only the beginning of what becomes possible through Cisco technology. As we re-focus the network infrastructure of the USGA today, we are also planning for a future that is even more connected and secure, driving invaluable opportunities in the sports and entertainment marketplace. It starts with connectivity, but the future is about using technology to create inspiration, drive participation, and ultimately facilitate business and industry transformation for the great game of golf.

The post Cisco “Connected Course” to debut at Pebble Beach Golf Links for 2019 U.S. Open appeared first on Cisco Blog.


Cisco “Connected Course” to debut at Pebble Beach Golf Links for 2019 U.S. Open