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


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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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

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Let Windows 10 Figure Out When to Automatically Update Your PC


This post is by David Murphy from Lifehacker


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There are a lot of new features—some big, some small, some minuscule—in Microsoft’s big May 2019 update for Windows 10. I already covered a few of my favorites (the “coolest ones,” as I put it), but I’ll be going through the rest of the update and highlighting other interesting tweaks that Lifehacker’s mighty readers…

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Serverless and containers: Two great technologies that work great together


This post is by Ron Miller from TechCrunch


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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

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


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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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

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What’s Wrong Apple & Microsoft


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om


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I am primarily a Mac household — I use my iMac Pro as a digital darkroom. I am not likely to give up my desktop (iMac Pro) anytime soon, and the reason is Photoshop. While I use Lightroom CC as my cloud library/repository — editing starts and ends with Photoshop. I have a streamlined, six step-process to edit my photos and I like the granularity of layers. I also love the flexibility of working with a cloud-library.

The iMac Pro is perfect for editing — it is fast and can handle six to eight layers I usually create for editing a photo. What does suck about the iMac is the mouse — and that is why I almost always default to Microsoft’s mice. In my opinion, Microsoft makes the best PC peripherals in business. They are so beautiful, ergonomic and just delightful to use. Their mice are well made and

RE2l5Q4

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Bringing tech efficiencies to the agribusiness market, Silo harvests $3 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Roughly $165 billion worth of wholesale produce is bought and sold every year in the U.S. And while that number is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2025, the business of agribusiness remains unaffected by technology advancements that have reshaped almost every other industry. ‘

Now Silo, a company which has recently raised $3 million from investors led by Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital and including Semil Shah from Haystack Ventures; angel investors Kevin Mahaffey and Matt Brezina; and The Penny Newman Grain Company, an international grain and feed marketplace, is looking to change that. 

Silo’s chief executive, Ashton Braun, spent years working in commodities marketplaces as a coffee trader in Singapore and moved to California after business school. As part of the founding team at Kite with Adam Smith, Braun worked on getting Kite’s software to automate computer programming off

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Microsoft makes a push for service mesh interoperability


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Services meshes. They are the hot new thing in the cloud native computing world. At Kubecon, the bi-annual festival of all things cloud native, Microsoft today announced that it is teaming up with a number of companies in this space to create a generic service mesh interface. This will make it easier for developers to adopt the concept without locking them into a specific technology.

In a world where the number of network endpoints continues to increase as developers launch new micro-services, containers and other systems at a rapid clip, they are making the network smarter again by handling encryption, traffic management and other functions so that the actual applications don’t have to worry about that. With a number of competing service mesh technologies, though, including the likes of Istio and Linkerd, developers currently have to chose which one of these to support.

“I’m really thrilled to see that

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Microsoft aims to train and certify 15,000 workers on A.I. skills by 2022


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Microsoft is investing in certification and training for a range of A.I.-related skills in partnership with education provider General Assembly, the companies announced this morning. The goal is to train some 15,000 people by 2022 in order to increase the pool of A.I. talent around the world. The training will focus on A.I., machine learning, data science, cloud and data engineering and more.

In the new program’s first year, Microsoft will focus on training 2,000 workers to transition to a A.I. and machine learning role. And over the full three years, it will train an additional 13,000 workers with A.I.-related skills.

As part of this effort, Microsoft is joining General Assembly’s new A.I. Standards Board along with other companies. Over the next six months, the Board will help to define A.I. skills standards, develop assessments, design a career framework, and

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Minecraft Earth makes the whole real world your very own blocky realm


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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When your game tops a hundred million players, your thoughts naturally turn to doubling that number. That’s the case with the creators, or rather stewards, of Minecraft at Microsoft, where the game has become a product category unto itself. And now it is making its biggest leap yet — to a real-world augmented reality game in the vein of Pokemon GO, called Minecraft Earth.

Announced today but not playable until summer (on iOS and Android) or later, MCE (as I’ll call it) is full-on Minecraft, reimagined to be mobile and AR-first. So what is it? As executive producer Jesse Merriam put it succinctly: “Everywhere you go, you see Minecraft. And everywhere you go, you can play Minecraft.”

Yes, yes — but what is it? Less succinctly put, MCE is like other real-world based AR games in that it lets you travel around a virtual version of your area, collecting

A pig from Minecraft showing in the real world via augmented reality.

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Rivals in gaming, Microsoft and Sony team up on cloud services


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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For the last two decades, Sony and Microsoft’s gaming divisions have been locked in all-out war against one another: on price, on hardware, on franchises, on exclusives… you name it. But it seems they’ve set their enmity aside temporarily that they might better prevent that filthy casual, Google, from joining the fray.

The official team-up, documented in a memorandum of understanding, was announced today, though details are few. But this is clear enough:

The two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services.

Of course there is no doubt that Sony could have gone with a number of other cloud services for its gaming on demand services. It already runs one, Playstation Now, but the market

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7 accessibility-focused startups snag grants from Microsoft


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Microsoft has selected seven lucky startups to receive grants from its AI for Accessibility program. The growing companies aim to empower people with disabilities to take part in tech and the internet economy, from improving job searches to predicting seizures.

Each of the seven companies receives professional-level Azure AI resources and support, cash to cover the cost of data collection and handling, and access to Microsoft’s experts in AI, project management, and accessibility.

Companies apply online and a team of accessibility and market experts at Microsoft evaluate them on their potential impact, data policies, feasibility, and so on. The five-year, $25 million program started in 2018, and evaluation is a rolling process with grants coming out multiple times per year. This one happens to be on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. So be aware!

Among this round’s grantees is Our Ability, a company started by John Robinson, who was born

CEO of Our Ability John Robinson sitting, smiling and in front of his laptop

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Oh no, there’s A.I. whiskey now


This post is by Sarah Perez from TechCrunch


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Forget all those whiskey brands from musicians and celebs — there’s A.I. whiskey now. Microsoft this week announced it has teamed up with Finnish tech company Fourkind and Sweden-based distillery Mackmyra Whisky to create the “world’s first whisky developed with artificial intelligence.”

Oh no!

Here’s how it will work.

As part of the distillation process, whiskey first spends time — typically years — sitting in charred wooden casks. This turns the clear liquor a darker color, and gives it a unique flavor. How long it stays in the casks, and what the casks held before — like bourbon, wine, sherry, etc. — helps create a specific recipe. Master distillers tweak all these variables along with the different ingredients used to create the whiskey in the first place to come up with a variety of blends.

Until now, this entire process is done by humans with a specialized set

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Microsoft open-sources a crucial algorithm behind its Bing Search services


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Microsoft today announced that it has open-sourced a key piece of what makes its Bing search services able to quickly return search results to its users. By making this technology open, the company hopes that developers will be able to build similar experiences for their users in other domains where users search through vast data troves, including in retail, though in this age of abundant data, chances are developers will find plenty of other enterprise and consumer use cases, too.

The piece of software the company open-sourced today is a library Microsoft developed to make better use of all the data it collected and AI models it built for Bing .

“Only a few years ago, web search was simple. Users typed a few words and waded through pages of results,” the company notes in today’s announcement. “Today, those same users may instead snap a picture on a phone and drop

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Madrona Venture Labs raises $11M to build companies from the ground up


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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In regions where would-be entrepreneurs need a little more support and encouragement before they’ll quit their day job, the startup studio model is taking off.

In Seattle, one of its oldest and most-celebrated venture capital firms, Madrona Venture Group, has raised $11.3 million for its studio, Madrona Venture Labs (MVL). The investment brings the studio’s total funding to $20 million.

Traditional venture capital funds invite founders to pitch their business idea to a line-up of partners. Sometimes that’s a founder with an idea looking for seed capital, other times it’s a more mature company looking to scale. When it comes to startup studios, the partners themselves craft startup ideas internally, recruiting entrepreneurs to lead the projects, then building them from the ground up within their own safe, protective walls. After a project passes the studio’s litmus test, i.e. shows proof of traction, product-market fit and more, it’s

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Bookmark This Site to Try Microsoft’s New Windows PowerToys This Summer


This post is by David Murphy from Lifehacker


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Remember PowerToys? They were those Windows 95- and Windows XP-era utilities that granted you features beyond what “regular” Windows users could do within their operating systems, like: opening a command prompt directly to a folder (instead of having to “CD” your way on over), changing your screen’s resolution via a…

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Huawei launches AI-backed database to target enterprise customers


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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China’s Huawei is making a serious foray into the enterprise business market after it unveiled a new database management product on Wednesday, putting it in direct competition with entrenched vendors like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.

The Shenzhen-based company, best known for making smartphones and telecom equipment, claims its newly minted database uses artificial intelligence capabilities to improve tuning performance, a process that traditionally involves human administrators, by over 60 percent.

Called the GaussDB, the database works both locally as well as on public and private clouds. When running on Huawei’s own cloud, GaussDB provides data warehouse services for customers across the board, from the financial, logistics, education to automotive industries.

The database launch was first reported by The Information on Tuesday citing sources saying it is designed by the company’s secretive database research group called Gauss and will initially focus on the Chinese market.

The announcement comes at a time

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Stocks gain back some ground as investors assess the trade war’s impact


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Stocks had their best trading day in a while on Tuesday as investors took a break from selling to assess the actual effects of the trade war with China.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 gained back some of their losses with the DJIA climbing 207.06 points to close at 25,532.05 and the S&P hitting 2,834.41, up 0.8%. The Nasdaq Composite Index wrapped its trading day at 7,734.49.

Tech stocks like Cisco Systems and Microsoft both rose to lead the way for a sector that could be hit hard by any prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China. Even Apple was up 1.6% on the day after taking a bit of a pummeling as both the U.S. and China announced new rounds of tariffs and import duties.

While some investors are calling the rally more of a

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Apple, Google and Microsoft release patches for ZombieLoad chip flaws


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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Big tech is stepping in to patch newly disclosed security flaws affecting almost every Intel chip since 2011.

Researchers on Tuesday released details of the vulnerability, known as ZombieLoad — or microarchitectural data sampling as its technical name — which can leaked sensitive data stored in the processor, such as passwords, secret keys and account tokens and private messages.

You can read our coverage here. In short, don’t panic — but you should patch your systems. Here’s how.

Apple released macOS fixes

Apple has fixes out for every Mac and MacBook released during and after 2011.

The tech giant said in an advisory that any system running macOS Mojave 10.14.5, released Monday, is patched. This will prevent an attack from being run through Safari and other apps, but warned that some Macs could face up to a 40 percent reduction in performance given the changes needed to fix

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New secret-spilling flaw affects almost every Intel chip since 2011


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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Security researchers have found a new class of vulnerabilities in Intel chips which, if exploited, can be used to steal sensitive information directly from the processor.,

The bugs are reminiscent of Meltdown and Spectre, which exploited a weakness in speculative execution, an important part of how modern processors work. Speculative execution helps processors predict to a certain degree what an application or operating system might need next and in the near-future, making the app run faster and more efficient. The processor will execute its predictions if they’re needed, or discard them if they’re not.

Both Meltdown and Spectre leaked sensitive data stored briefly in the processor, including secrets — such as passwords, secret keys and account tokens, and private messages.

Now some of the same researchers are back with an entirely new round of data-leaking bugs.

“ZombieLoad,” as it’s called, is a side-channel attack targeting Intel chips,

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Announcing TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise this September in San Francisco


This post is by Alexandra Ames from TechCrunch


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Of the many categories in the tech world, none is more ferociously competitive than enterprise. For decades, SAP, Oracle, Adobe, Microsoft, IBM and Salesforce, to name a few of the giants, have battled to deliver the tools businesses want to become more productive and competitive. That market is closing in on $500 billion in sales per year, which explains why hundreds of new enterprise startups launch every year and dozens are acquired by the big incumbents trying to maintain their edge.

Last year alone, the top ten enterprise acquisitions alone were worth $87 billion and included IBM’s acquiring Red Hat for $34 billion, SAP paying $8 billion for Qualtrics, Microsoft landing GitHub for $7.5 billion, Salesforce acquiring MuleSoft for $6.5 billion Adobe grabbing Marketo for $4.75 billion. No startup category has made more VC and founders wildly wealthy, and none has seen more mighty companies rise faster

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