Verizon Closed the Yahoo Acquisition, Meyer Ousted

News about Verizon acquiring Yahoo, a popular search engine, news, and email hosting site, have populated headlines in recent months. Today, Verizon closed out its acquisition of Yahoo. The popular does-it-all Internet site sold for $4.48 billion, with the deal closing right on schedule.


Acquisitions and mergers are often associated with closings of departments, divisions, and firing of employees. Now-former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was paid a $23 million severance package — now that’s a great way to get fired!


Verizon plans to bring together Yahoo with AOL, another one of its many subsidiaries, and form Oath. Tim Armstrong is slated to head Oath, which includes more than 50 other media brands, such as Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Verizon Digital Media Services. Armstrong was most recently the CEO of AOL before Verizon acquired it, as well.


Yahoo used to be the number-one search engine until now-giant Google came into play. Yahoo has had its fair share of struggles, dealing with a large-scale security crisis earlier this year. Two breaches of personal, private email accounts Yahoo hosted occurred, affecting approximately 1.5 billion — with a B, not an M — accounts.


The upcoming merger of Yahoo and AOL will keep approximately 85% of current employees, cutting roughly 2,100 positions. Retaining 85% of employees is considered good for a large-scale merger such as the upcoming Oath conglomerate.


Yahoo is slated to transform into an investment firm with a new name of Altaba Inc., although the new company is not fully formed yet. This new company will hold a 15% stake in Asia-based Internet giant Alibaba, along with a 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan.


Verizon negotiated a $550 million chunk from its $4.48 billion sale price earlier this year because of its two massive data security failures.


Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Tested by Uber ATC Director Raffi Krikoviana

Uber ATC Director, Raffi Kirkoviana tested Uber’s self-driving cars on September 13th, 2016 to collect data involving its advanced technologies and riding experience. It took the Robotic Center at Carneige Mellon University 18 months to research and develop Uber’s latest autonomous technology. A small group of spectators were invited to observe the test drive of 14 Ford Fusions cars stimulated by cameras and radar equipment. The test started at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Campus near Downtown Pittsburgh and extended throughout the city and the Strip District. Kirkoviana shared his experience as a passenger and driver to TechCrunch.



The demostration began by an employee giving Kirkoviana a phone to use to request a ride on the Uber app. When Kirkoviana was positioned in the back seat of the Ford Fusion, he was instructed to select the ready-to-go button on a tablet that displayed a live view surrounding the automobile. He road with an engineer driver and front engineer passenger through Lawrence neighborhood, downtown, Strip District, and over 9th Street Bridge. The drive had good responses and encountered a few struggles when other automobiles were backing up or parked in a lane. The self-driving Ford Fusion also experienced a struggle while positioning on the bridge and approaching a truck.



The engineer driver had to change lanes manually when a big truck was parked in the same lane of the self-driving car and a city worker unexpectedly darted from in front of the truck. The self-driving cars received positive reviews involving its surroundings of stopped transportation, traffic lights and traffic laws. If there was a bus turning or picking up passengers, the Ford Fusion would automatically stop. The Uber’s advanced technology and intelligent software reads the red, blue and yellow traffic lights.



Kirkorian shared his experience driving autonomously back to the Uber Advanced Technologies Campus. He pressed a silver button on the console when a blue light turned-on on the dashboard. The front seat driver is able to return the self-driving back to the control of the driver by pressing a red button, the brake pedal, or accelerator pedal. He had to use the function to avoid a stopped van parked on a lane. After the test drive was over, Kirkorian described the ride as gentle with occasional stops.





Robot’s Arms Learn to Grip Like A Human

While robots are excellent at doing things they have been programmed for, they are horrible at improvising a solution to an unfamiliar issue. DexNet is a special AI system that has been designed to augment a robotic arm’s capacity to handle objects without prior training. It is the hope of DexNet’s programmers that their system will allow robots to solve a physics-oriented problem with full competence, without a trace of hesitation and faster, if not as fast, than a human could ever hope to achieve.


The underlying framework of DexNet’s artificial intelligence, referred to as “deep learning,” is that it learns to grip objects in the same manner that humans learn to do so; we notice an item, get an understanding of its particular shape, compare and contrast that object to objects we remember from past life experience and then combine those details in order to hypothesize the best approach to manipulating the item. Unlike humans, who have the benefit of vision and memory, DexNet’s creators have uploaded over six million computer simulated objects into their system, complete with the best ways that those objects can best be manipulated. The execution of this system results in the robot analyzing an object, comparing it to the database of objects in DexNet’s system and then proceeding with the most recommended approach.


In their test work, the researchers, a group of roboticists at Berkeley University, presented the robotic arm with a variety of objects it had never encountered before, such as rubber ducks, spray bottles and shoes. Despite being presented with a wide array of materials, the DexNet-connected arm only failed to correctly grip a single object. This rate of failure would seem to indicate that the system is quite robust for one built on synthetic data. Additionally, the arm was able to decide on a proper grip in less than a second, an average speed nearly three times as fast as the initial version of DexNet.


DexNet’s research team is set to present their latest iteration of the system, DexNet 2.0, at a July conference. They also have plans to publicize their collection of object data and point clouds. Their intended application for this pursuit is in the field of industry, particularly within supply chains and manufacturing.


Incorporating Artificial Intelligence in for E-Learning

The dynamism in technology has seen the development and transfer of technology to different aspects of life. Today, emerging technologies have led to better treatment methods and thus enhancing the quality of life. Technology has been used to monitor traffic, built self-driven cars that continue to make our roads safer. As a matter of fact, advancement in technology has led to improved living standards, better health care, faster production of foods and market goods among others.


Today, an artificial intelligence system is set to get launched in a French school. The system will get used in the monitoring of the concentration levels in students. The system that goes by the name Nestor employs the use of facial expression to detect the degree of focus. Therefore, the system detects if a student is paying attention to an ongoing lecture. The system launch expects to improve the performance of online students and lecturers. Through the student’s webcams, the system analyzes the eye movements and facial expressions to determine the time the student concentrates on the video lecture.


The artificial intelligence software is set to improve the credibility of e-learning. A classroom system is yet to get developed, but according to Saucet, the progress in its development is on-going. The UN’s World Council of Peoples described its launch as the first AI led class. However, the system is incapable of teaching a course. The lecturer is still supposed to lecture in front of cameras that’s get streamed to students. The system employs the emotion recognition system to determine the levels of concentration.


People advocating for such systems say that the technology may find use when it comes to individual student needs. The system can adapt to specific needs and foster effective studying habits. As it is evident in a recent article about artificial intelligence, researchers envision the system becoming a lifelong companion for learners. However, AI’s rely on loads of personal data. It is therefore paramount to ensure that the students’ data is kept confidential and protected from hackers. The truth is, a system like this stands to improve the quality of education given to online learners.What’s more, this is just the beginning and a lot is expected in the coming years in the field of artificial intelligence.


A Legal Battle between Apple and Nokia Finally Settled

The relationship between Nokia Inc. and Apple Inc. has taken a new turn after the two technology giants agreed to settle a seven-year-old dispute and corporate in the foreseeable future. This agreement comes after Apple Inc. was sued by Nokia 7 months ago for breaching approximately 32 patents that belonged to Nokia. Some of the patents that Apple had been accused of interfering with include video encoding patents, user interfaces patents as well as display patents. The new deal between these two companies gives Apple the right to use these technologies. However, they will have to pay Nokia a certain amount of cash that must be paid up-front. In part of the agreement, Apple agreed to sell some health products from Nokia in its retail stores.


However, as expected, these giants did not reveal the financial details of the agreement. However, experts specializing in patent disputes between technology companies have revealed that this deal between Nokia and Apple could be worth millions of dollars. With the deal expected to last several years, Nokia will receive huge sums of money on a yearly basis. For this reason, the deal could have cost or will have cost Apple over hundreds of millions. Furthermore, the deal is suspected to be expensive considering that Nokia was the pioneer when it comes to cellular standards and for this reason, they own many patents. In the year 2016 alone, apple is said to have made over $140 billion from the sale of iPhones. The significance of this figure is to show what Nokia is in for. If they were given a 1 percent of the sales royalty, they could end up with hundreds of millions of dollars.


Representatives of these companies said that they were looking forward to working together. As for Nokia, their representative said that they looked forward to supporting Apple while an Apple representative by the name Jeff Williams said that the company had been relieved that the dispute had finally been settled. The two companies have been in and out of courts contesting a breach of patents since the year 2009. The major complainant in these battles has been Apple. Despite the battles and competition from other manufacturers, Nokia remains the leading manufacturer of phones around the world.



Technology Leaders Speak Up About NSA Mass Surveilance

Top executives from leading Silicon Valley companies are taking a proactive stance of displeasure at the National Security Agency conducts mass surveillance and espionage operations over the internet.


Amazon, Google, Microsoft and 29 other companies signed a letter urging the United States Congress to do something about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; specifically, tech leaders want to see reforms made to Section 702 of the FISA law, which essentially allows the NSA to carry out total digital snooping on U.S. citizens.


Section 702 was part of the NSA secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, the former contractor whose revelations about the U.S. espionage apparatus prompted him to seek asylum in Russia. The section is up for renewal at the end of this year; tech leaders are at odds with the government with regard to mass online surveillance, which takes advantage of the digital infrastructure they have built over many decades.


What Silicon Valley executives would like to see is an overhaul of intelligence collection operations so that they extend privacy safeguards that do not run afoul of the Constitution and personal liberties that Americans are supposed to enjoy. Legal analysts believe that tech giants would be prepared to play hardball with the NSA in the sense that they would take their cases to high courts if Section 702 is not suspended or amended considerably.


According to a report by cNet, Apple was not among the companies whose executives signed the letter addressed to Bob Goodlatte, a Republican Member of Congress who currently leads the House Judiciary Committee. Apple has endured its share of conflict with the government over digital privacy issues; this was made clear by the San Bernardino terrorist attack and the company’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used during the deadly incident. Nowadays, Apple receives thousands of national security orders to turn over iPhone data each year.


The Trump administration has had an uneasy relationship with the intelligence community, and thus it is difficult to forecast scenarios as to the kind of action the White House will take in relation to FISA and other matters related to mass surveillance. On one hand, President Trump has shown sharp disdain over leaks; on the other hand, he has criticized the work of intelligence agencies that may have investigated his electoral campaign.



Where Software Is in Education and Acquisitions


The marriage of companies fusing with software companies to help them perform better in mobile apps and on web pages is increasing rapidly in current years. Just two weeks ago did Airbnb acquire Deco Software to help develop apps for Airbnb to make traveling easier and more fun.


Deco Software is also great at designing, an aspect of business that few software development teams take advantage of. Airbnb has acquired several other technology companies such as Tilt, along with twelve — yes, 12! — more acquisitions in its short life span.


A startup named Smartsheet recently attempted to secure rounds of investing and brought home $52 million to reinvest back in the company. Smartsheet is great for collaboration within companies that need to be able to share customer profiles within seconds of looking up. Smartsheet makes it free for people to save most things on its cloud software, but most pay for extended coverage, ranging between $15 to $25, a sum so high there is no wonder why it has excelled so far.


Snapchat has upgraded even further their on demand geofilters. The app recently tacked on five new fun filters to share pictures with friends online. Snapchat, just like how Airbnb did so, has acquired a lot of companies to make them the giant they are today. Acquisitions in technology is usually required for success, scaling, or both.


Apple has started to teach people how to develop apps for free, which is called “App Development with Swift.” The program will be tried out in a few high schools before its nationwide launch takes place. It is able to be downloaded for any person not in high school to try, found on Apple’s app store. Later this year, at least six community colleges will bring this curriculum to the classroom and make it easier to teach students to develop mobile apps from code, a skill that is valuable because so few people know how to.


Swift is one of the most popular programming languages for computers today. Apple has chosen to use Swift because it is easy to pick up, widely used by people of different languages, and effective in carrying out coding procedures.


Smart Device For Car Tracking

With more citizens investing in cars on the road, car tracking has become a fundamental need in most households. In the current generation, a car is almost like a basic need. With the society full of different characters including burglars, it is vital to be on the look by providing maximum security for the car. Car tracking devices offer security by giving the right details of the whereabouts of an individual’s car in case it is missing. Additionally, just like conventional GPS, car tracking devices have the ability to calculate the quickest routes to final destinations. Some high-tech car tracking software is too advanced to the point of updating an individual on the amount of fuel required for a particular mileage. Those are the features of TrackR.






Derived from its name, TrackR is a device used to locate lost items. This is one of the easiest ways for finding misplaced or stolen cars. For most individuals who have lost cars in the parking lot, the series of events that follow the loss include roaming about in panic. This is usually a tense moment for an individual especially in scenarios where the car belongs to a company. From clicking on the panic button for the car keys to calling security personnel, losing a car is a devastating occurrence. In such cases, there is no need for investing in expensive GPS systems for vehicle tracking. The costs of subscribing to the monthly packages of GPS are exorbitant. A company in California manufactured TrackR. It is a state of the art monitoring device that takes the shape as well as the dimension of a quarter.






Here is how TrackR works. Install the application on the smartphone device. This is followed by connecting the application to the cell phone. Operating a TrackR device is that simple. It is as simple as attaching the device to all items that might be misplaced. It takes less than five minutes to install this TrackR. The device is easy to install as well as operate. Through TrackR, an individual can trace all lost items. At the affordable price of $ 29, an individual’s items can be wholly secure.




1-Page Was Not The One For Shareholders

It is a familiar story, a Silicon Valley startup went bust, however, 1-Page was the first to go public on the Australian Stock Exchange. After the share price rose 2,700 percent in the first year, co-founder Joanna Riley was flying high. Unfortunately, 1-Page didn’t have the revenue, paying customers or any other matrix to justify its rapid rise. A $726.2 million valuation seemed high as well, however, by May 2017, shareholders turned on Riley, voting to remove her from the board. According to the Australian Financial Review, even Riley’s own father, who co-founded the 1-Page with his daughter, sold 75 percent of his stake in 1-Page and he isn’t publicly supporting his daughter.


When Riley originally pitched her recruiting software, she excelled at generating buzz, but, unfortunately, she and her sales team were not as good at generating a paying clientele. Using artificial intelligence, 1-Page claimed that they could transform the recruiting process for companies. While 1-Page’s website claims that Fortune 100 clients such as Under Armour are clients of the company’s Talent On-Demand solution, when Forbes interviewed ten former 1-Page staff members, they claimed that this was not true. Under Armour and other prominent clients were given a free trial. Once the free trial was over, most users did not turn into paying clients.


Corporate raider Andrew Chapman bought eight percent of 1-Page and was put on the board at the same time as Riley’s abrupt removal, Now, Chapman wants to close down 1-Page as there is little hope for the company to recover. The company’s product was unworkable, with one former staffer calling the product “vaporware.” The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the board voted to cease operations at 1-Page, nevertheless, 1-Page’s website is up and running, urging businesses to claim an early access invitation to several different products more than one week later. Riley may have had a great idea, but things did not go as planned. Even an overhaul of the business, a new client focus and significantly lowered operating expenses were not enough to convince the shareholders that 1-Page was worth saving.



Amazon Alexa Talks More Like Human With Pauses, Whispers, And Emotion

The digital assistant system of Amazon, Alexa is going to sound more like human with emotions, whispers, and pauses. Per the announcement from Amazon, the new skills will be added soon to enhance the total experience of the digital assistant from the online retailer. The new skills come in the form of Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) and would even “bleep” out words.



The skills are handed over to the Alexa app developers, and it would help them to offer customized voice experience through their apps with better control on volume, emotion, and intonation. While Amazon allows considerable changes in modulation of the voice, there are limitations set by the firm to control the extremeness including high pitch. There are five speech standards, or SSML have been added to the system, and that includes whispers, emphasis, substitutions, expletive beeps, and prosody.



Interestingly, the U.K. and German developers got “speechcons” introduced in their market. It would help the developers to add country specific phrases into the Alexa. Earlier this year, the online retailer launched the feature for the first time in U.S. with some limited words. Now, people in U.K. may experience “Bada-bing” or “Boom” in Alexa like how U.S. customers experience “gotcha,” “ahem,” and more. Experts suggest that the new advancement in the personal assistant system can add more fun similar to how Apple transformed Siri to a more engaging platform.



It was in November 2014, Amazon unveiled the digital assistance system through its smart speaker called Amazon Echo. The retailer behemoth focused on expanding the platform and created an option for app developers to add new skills. From the primitive stage in the initial days, Alexa grew as a highly useful digital assistance system with the addition of more than 12,000 skills until the date. Apart from voice interaction and providing various updates, the platform is also beneficial to control the smart devices. Most of the electronics and home appliances manufacturers are now supporting the Alexa platform.



The big four companies in tech are in a real fight to capture the digital assistant market which is reported to touch $15.8 billion by 2021. Apple Siri can’t integrate with Android devices; Microsoft Cortana is mostly trapped into the limited Windows platform; Google Assistant is struggling with its still-primitive smart speaker system called Google Home. This gives a greater opportunity for Alexa to capture the market by adding more skills and enhancing the experience.