UK Laptop Ban on Flights to Be Implemented by Saturday

Airlines impacted by Britain’s cabin ban on electronic devices on flights from some Middle East and North Africa countries have until Saturday to implement the measure, officials said Wednesday.

But passengers “should go to the airport with the expectation that the measures are already in effect”, a transport ministry spokeswoman said.

UK Laptop Ban on Flights to Be Implemented by Saturday

On Tuesday, Britain said it would tighten airline security on direct flights originating from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey by banning laptops, tablets, some e-readers and large mobile phones from hand luggage.

The move came hours after the US government warned that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and issued a ban passengers carrying such items onto flights from 10 airports in eight countries.

While the US announced that they had given airlines 96 hours to inform travellers before the ban came into force at 3:00am (12:30am IST) on Tuesday, there was some confusion over when the British ban would kick in.

“It will have to be done by Saturday” at 0001 GMT at the latest, another government spokesman told AFP, explaining that some airlines may need longer than others to implement the new measure.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs that while the government hopes the measure is temporary, it will “keep it in place for as long as necessary”.

EasyJet announced that it is implementing the measure from Wednesday, advising customers to arrive early as they may face extra security checks at the airport.

“EasyJet can confirm that, in line with new UK government requirements, it will be introducing new security measures on its flights from Turkey and Egypt to the UK from today,” the company said in an statement.

British Airways informed customers on its website that it is complying with the new security requirement.

It adds that customers who are part-way through their journey or about to start and feel “unable to immediately comply” with the measure can rebook their flight at a later date.

Stocks in British airlines, like their American and European counterparts, have suffered because of the ban and were on Wednesday among the worst performers on the London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index.

IAG, British Airways’ parent company, was down 1.96 percent to 549,50 pence at 1330 GMT, while Easyjet had shed 2.43 percent to 984,50 pence.

Google Play Store Safer Than Ever but About Half of Android Devices Didn’t Receive an Update in 2016

The Android security team has released its annual security report, which looks at data on Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) across Android devices, and explains how the mobiles operating system checks apps for unsafe behaviour, as well as provide statistics on the state of software updates for Android devices.

Google Play Store Safer Than Ever but About Half of Android Devices Didn't Receive an Update in 2016

The report says that more than 735 million devices from 200+ manufacturers received a platform security update in 2016 as Google “released monthly Android security updates throughout the year for devices running Android 4.4.4 and up”. However , about half of devices in use at the end of 2016 had not received a platform security update in the previous year. To deal with this, the Android security team said it is working to streamline the update program and make it easier for manufacturers to deploy security patches.

Keeping your Android devices safe

The team revealed that Android’s ‘Verify Apps’ feature conducted 750 million daily checks in 2016, up from 450 million the previous year, enabling it to reduce the PHA installation rate in the top 50 countries for Android usage.

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The report also talks about the improvements to security in Nougat, but there’s a note of warning in there as well – for devices overall, particularly those that install apps from multiple sources. The percentage of devices with PHAs actually went up in 2016, though the overall number is still very low. According to the team, only 0.71 percent of all Android devices had PHAs installed at the end of 2016, but that number was 0.5 percent in the beginning of 2015.

Although that is a very low percentage, it’s worth pointing out that according to the report, there are 1.4 billion Android users so 0.71 percent works out to nearly 10 million devices with potentially harmful applications installed.

What’s clear from the report is that it is a really good idea to stick to only installing applications from Google Play. According to the report, the number of PHAs on devices using exclusively Google Play has dropped by a huge percentage from 2015. The number is only 0.05 percent, down from 0.15 percent in 2015, compared to 0.71 percent on devices that go beyond just Google Play. Installs of PHAs from Google Play decreased in nearly every category: trojans are now 0.016 percent of installs, while hostile downloaders, and backdoors each account for just 0.003 percent of installs, and phishing apps are a mere 0.0018 percent, according to the Android security team.

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Android Nougat’s security features

The Android security team added that it thinks it can reduce the number of devices affected by PHAs, no matter where people get their apps. To that end, the team highlighted new security protections in Android Nougat.

“In Nougat, we introduced file-based encryption which enables each user profile on a single device to be encrypted with a unique key. If you have personal and work accounts on the same device, for example, the key from one account can’t unlock data from the other,” the report said. Encryption has been enabled on over 80 percent of Android Nougat devices.

There are also new audio and video protections, so even if one media component is compromised, it doesn’t have permissions to other components, which helps contain issues. And there are further measures for enterprise users, such as an always-on VPN, among other measures.

Wie gates! Disrupt! TechCrunch takes its biggest European event back to Berlin

Guten Tag, European startup fans! TechCrunch is thrilled to announce that we are headed back to the Arena Berlin in the heart of Berlin, Germany for Disrupt Berlin 2017.

Although Disrupt is returning to Berlin after a three-year stint in London, this is not to be thought of as a purely “Berlin” event. This is our European event, which happens to be in Berlin. So we want startups and investors from all over the European ecosystem to come.

That said, not only are we happy to be headed back to Berlin, we’re excited to be back at the historic and beautiful Arena Berlin. The Arena Berlin is just on the Spree across from the East Side Gallery in the former Soviet Sector, and the Berlin Wall literally ran right past the place.

The 6,500 square meter Arena was built in 1927 as an omnibus depot, and at the time was the largest freestanding hall in Europe. The Arena was used as a weapons storage for the Third Reich during World War II and was converted to a refugee camp after the war was over.

The Arena was extensively renovated in 2000 into an impressive venue for events for up to 9,000 people. The combination of 1920s architecture, historical significance and modern amenities make the Arena Berlin one of the most popular event spaces in the city, and we think you’re really going to enjoy it.

The last time we were at the Arena Berlin was in 2013 for the first Disrupt in Europe, and safe to say we all had a blast. For this year’s show, we’re going to take it to a whole new level. You’re going to want to be there.

 We’re not ready to reveal too many details for the show just yet, but you can check out a list of past speakers and learn more about the various components of the show on the Disrupt Berlin page to get a sense of what we have in store for you.

Burda brings its global investment fund to Southeast Asia

German media giant Hubert Burda is diving into Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem after its investment arm opened an office in Singapore.

Burda, founded in 1898, is anchored in print media. Despite publishing more than 250 titles across the world, it has forayed into digital with some success through acquisitions and new business units. Unlike other print giants, its digital businesses account for more than half of its revenue while it has pursued an investment thesis worldwide, which included equity in Etsy.

Now it is expanding its presence in Southeast Asia, where it had initially dipped its toes via a series of deals. Burda is an LP in VC funds Golden Gate Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Kejora Ventures, while it has made direct investments in Medical Departures, Thailand-based price comparison site Priza and Vietnamese search service Coc Coc.

Burda Principal Investments‘ presence in Asia will be led by Albert Shyy, who has joined the firm from GREE, where he led the Japanese gaming company’s investment arm in Southeast Asia and India. In total, the firm has an initial staff of three based in Singapore.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Shyy explained that he is looking to do three to five deals per year, principally around the Series B stage with a minimum check size of around $5 million. The money itself comes from Burda’s global fund, which is not like most others. For a start, Burda is the sole LP while it is “evergreen” — meaning that the company tops it up annually — although its actual size is not disclosed.

That investment focus means Burda will complement the VC funds it invested in, and provide much needed financial firepower for Series B deals in Southeast Asia. Aside from B Capital, started by Singapore-based former Facebook co-founder Eduard Saverin, sources for late stage capital after Series A are harder to find.

 Burda has made its name in media, but Shyy said its investment thesis goes beyond that.

“Media is one focus for us, but because we can be strategy or financial investors there’s more scope,” he explained. “We’re definitely looking at consumer-facing companies — that’s been the preferred space for Burda — we’ve done deals with marketplaces and e-commerce, in particular in Europe, so that’s a model.”

“We would want to target market leaders or those who can show market leadership in their country,” he added, explaining that capital could be used to invest into new verticals or geographies.

Singapore is Burda Principal Investments’ second office worldwide, and its first outside of Germany. Asia isn’t the only expansion on its radar, however. The firm is in the process of opening an office in London over the next few months, while a New York base is in its plans, too.

Build A Better Bottom Line With These Business Techniques

Business leaders who want their organizations to thrive typically spend a great deal of time thinking about how they can improve their bottom line. If this is the case for you, now is the time to think about which business techniques you can implement to generate exceptional conversion rates. Below you’ll find just three of many strategies you can implement to build a better bottom line:

Image result for Build A Better Bottom Line With These Business Techniques

  1. Utilize Sales Services.

One great business technique you can use to obtain better conversion rates is the use of sales services. These services ensure that you have a team of professionals carefully analyzing your sales ideology and praxis to ensure that you can connect and convert as many members of the target market as possible. Companies like Saleslink are pleased to offer clients an outsourced sales team that can offer a variety of conversion-boosting products and services. Before you agree to do business with any sales company, make sure that you do background research to determine what their qualifications are and how long they’ve been successfully operating.

  1. Optimize Your Advertising Plan.

In addition to utilizing sales services, make sure that you optimize your advertising plan. This approach is important because it ensures that more and more members of your target audience are constantly being exposed to your brand. There are a variety of strategies you can implement to optimize your marketing process. One is by hiring a team of digital advertising specialists. These individuals can implement diverse marketing techniques to assist you. Some of them might include:

-responsive web design

-search engine optimization

-online reputation management

-content marketing

-social media optimization

-web design and development

When you start your search for the ideal digital advertising company, try to locate a firm whose professionals can also offer dynamic public relations services. These services will help ensure that you maintain the type of innovative, identity-building public image that makes your brand appealing to your target market. The optimized visibility and brand recognition will translate into increased sales!

  1. Focus On Staff Development.

Staff development is a must if you’re serious about optimizing your bottom line. When your staff members are knowledgeable, skilled, and confident, they’re much more effective in selling products to prospects and retaining the business of your existing clientele. Luckily, there are hundreds of simple and complex strategies you can deploy to optimize the employee development process. One is hiring a team of business consultants to develop employee surveys and questionnaires that enable you to identify each staff member’s strengths and weaknesses.

Start Optimizing Your Bottom Line Immediately!

If you want to optimize your company’s bottom line, there are at least three strategies you can implement to make it happen. They include utilizing sales services, optimizing your advertising plan, and focusing on staff development. Start using these techniques now so that you can expedite the conversion optimization process!

Ozlo releases a suite of APIs to power your next conversational AI

Building on its promise to give the entrenched a run for their money, conversational AI startup Ozlo is making its meticulously crafted knowledge layer available for purchase today. Ozlo’s new suite of APIs that includes tools for both expressing knowledge and understanding language will help to democratize the creation of conversational AI assistants.

In the spirit of the expert systems of the 1980’s, knowledge graphs are about leveraging massive fact databases to build intelligent AI tools. The problem is that intelligence isn’t just a matter of knowing facts. Though no truly intelligent AI has emerged from well organized information, Google, Microsoft and others have made use of the knowledge graph to reduce the barriers to getting desired information — think of the search widgets that tell you Barack Obama’s age so you don’t have to click on Wikipedia.

But while the knowledge graph has been usurped by natural language understanding as the most prominent part of the typical conversational AI tech stack, it remains a critical layer. Part of the reason for this is that it has become difficult to compete on knowledge because there aren’t many  tools available and developers who choose to start from scratch waste precious time reinventing the wheel.

Ozlo’s probabilistic approach to the knowledge graph simultaneously attempts to make measured technological gains and push the market for knowledge closer to democratization. The tools being released today for developers power Ozlo’s own bot. Ozlo knows over two billion facts, but it can also handle queries for opinionated information — like whether a given restaurant is good for oysters, à la the image below.

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 With greater clarity than ever, Charles Jolley, Ozlo’s CEO, is pushing the company to provide the enabling infrastructure for conversational AI. Ozlo launched its own consumer assistant back in October, but it doesn’t seem like it will be a major part of the company’s growth strategy. Instead, Jolley hopes that Ozlo can monetize its APIs to open up the playing field for companies to build better experiences for their users.

“The important question is how you tie together the data set with machine intelligence to just create a good user experience,” explained John Lilly, partner at Greylock and investor in Ozlo.

The knowledge graph or Data API is being priced by volume. But additionally, Ozlo is making an Intent API available to help developers identify user intent from queries. A third, Converse API, works to preemptively offer responses that mesh with where a conversation is likely headed.

NASA released a ton of software for free and here’s some you should try

NASA has just published its 2017-2018 software catalog, which lists the many apps, code libraries and tools that pretty much anyone can download and use. Of course, most of it is pretty closely tied to… you know, launching spacecraft and stuff, which most people don’t do. But here are a few items that might prove useful to tinkers and curious lay people alike.

If you’re interested in a piece of software, head to the link provided; it should provide the release or license type (some things are limited to the U.S., for instance), a contact you can hit up for more info and sometimes a dedicated site for the app or service.

 

Flying around looking at things, NASA style

Say you’re building a drone or satellite from scratch. I mean, why not? You may want to start with the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems File Delivery Protocol, a standard tool for getting large files to and from spacecraft. File integrity is sexy.

Once you’ve got the imagery on the ground, you might want to put it through PixelLearn, which lets you set rules about certain pixels and patterns, letting the program automatically find and categorize things like craters, buildings and so on. If it’s fancy multi-spectral imagery, consider snatching the self-explanatory Lossless Hyper-/Multi-Spectral Data Compression Software, as well, and you may also want JPL’s Stereo Vision Software Suite to help set up stereoscopic cameras. Use Video Image Stabilization and Registration to keep things steady under turbulence.

Of course, you’ll have prepared for that turbulence with Cart3D, also known as Automated Triangle Geometry Processing for Surface Modeling and Cartesian Grid Generation. It helps visualize fluid dynamics problems.

When it’s time for the bird to come back to the Earth, the Autonomous Precision Landing Navigation System might come in handy. It combines camera images with elevation maps using methods “employed by cruise missiles for decades,” although you don’t hear a lot about safe landings by cruise missiles.

If you’re putting together a flock of drones or a constellation of satellites, there’s the Formation Flying System for UAVs and Satellites; it’s a mesh communication architecture that lets multiple vehicles (of multiple types) operate in tandem and maintain a formation.

Exploring the planets, NASA style

But perhaps your inclinations lean more toward simulating and exploring the planet and solar system. No worries, NASA has you there, too.

earth-gram

There are Global Reference Atmospheric Models for Earth, Mars, Venus and Neptune. And Titan, for some reason. These models are not toys, but they might help if you’re planning an off-planet excursion and need to know exact pressures and temperatures somewhere. Venus probably hasn’t changed much in the last decade or two but the Earth one has been updated to 2016, the hottest year on record.

For something a little more practical, you might try the NASA Forecast Model Web, which does a bit more of the work for you, or the Worldview Satellite Imagery Browsing and Downloading Tool, which is a way to navigate the tons of Earth imagery coming from NASA satellites. You’ll get the latest shots as early as 4 hours after they’re taken, which is pretty amazing.

sc1024x768HazPop is a full-on iOS app that lets you browse through a constantly updated worldwide database of natural hazards like fires, storms and earthquakes, and combine that with data on populations to determine the number affected, range of people who could come to aid and so on.

If you’re a conspiracy theorist who thinks they can prove the existence of Planet X, Nemesis, the Black Knight or any other crypto-object in the solar system, make it so with SNAP, “an N-body high-fidelity propagation program that can model the trajectories of the planets, the Sun, and virtually any natural satellite in the solar system.” Probably not super easy to learn, though.

Hiring and evaluation, NASA style

Tell HR they’re about to blast off with aerospace-grade hiring practices. First there’s the Integrated Cognitive Assessment Tool: Combining Person, System, and Mission, which tells you whether someone is capable of performing a certain job in space — or in sales.

Then, in order to be sure you’re not hiring a klutz, submit them to the Fine Motor Skills iPad test. It’ll prove they can operate a touchscreen interface without bringing the company down. (In fact, this might be useful for testing prosthetic hands and robotics.)

Never read a cover letter again. Just unleash the Semantic Text Mining and Annotation for Information Extraction and Trend Analysis Tool on the pile of resumes you’ve got waiting for your attention and have it flag any with certain combinations of “social media” and “guru” it might find.

Just kidding, but here are some anyone can actually use

There’s a neat Unity-based Spacewalk game in which you or students can simulate various EVAs conducted by ISS astronauts. You can play it online, on Mac or on PC.

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NASA has a large collection of 3D models, images and textures that you could use for education or personal purposes. All free of charge, naturally.

Glenn Research Center: The Early Years is an iPad app that takes you on a tour of this amazing R&D facility in a bunch of interactive media from between 1941 and 1979.

You can check up on the latest coronal mass ejections and magnetosphere changes with the Space Weather app for Android.

Lastly there’s “Knife, Version 1.0,” which “calculates the boolean subtraction of arbitrary watertight triangular polyhedral in order to make near-field sonic boom predictions.” Admit that you need this in your life.