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Google and Coursera launch a new machine learning specialization

Over the last few years, Google and Coursera have regularly teamed up to launch a number of online courses for developers and IT pros. Among those was the Machine Learning Crash course, which provides developers with an introduction to machine learning. Now, building on that, the two companies are launching a machine learning specialization on Coursera . This new specialization, which consists of five courses, has an even more practical focus. The new specialization, called  “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform,” has students build real-world machine learning models. It takes them from setting up their environment to learning how to create and sanitize datasets to writing distributed models in TensorFlow, improving the accuracy of those models and tuning them to find the right parameters. As Google’s Big Data and Machine Learning Tech Lead Lak Lakshmanan told me, his team heard that students and companies really liked the original machine learning course but wanted an option to dig deeper into the material. Students wanted to know not just how to build a basic model but also how to then use it in production in the cloud, for example, or how to build the data pipeline for it and figure out how to tune the parameters to get better results. Leah Belsky, Coursera’s VP of enterprise development, echoed this and noted that this kind of specialization with a focus on practical models will make the credential more meaningful for employers. The target audience for the specialization is somebody who wants to build new skills — and that’s pretty much every developers, especially now that machine learning is making inroads in virtually every area of tech. And since it’s almost impossible to hire machine learning experts, this course will surely be attractive to many employers who want their existing workforce to gain these skills. As Lakshmanan noted, there are plenty of use cases for leading-edge kind of machine learning models, but what these courses focus on are more of the “day-to-day models” that can bring additional value to many existing products

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Okta introduces ‘Sign in with Okta’ service

Consider that there are millions of Okta users out there using the service to sign into their company applications with a single set of credentials. Yet getting customers to work together using Okta authentication was an enormous task for developers. Okta wanted to simplify it, so they created a service they are calling it ‘Sign in with Okta.’ The new API allows developers to add a few lines code and give Okta customers the ability to sign into one another’s websites in a similar way that OAuth allows you to use your Google or Facebook credentials to sign onto consumer sites. Frederic Kerrest, COO and co-founder at Okta, says the ‘Sign in with Okta’ uses an extension of OAuth called OpenID Connect , which his company has been supporting since 2016. He says the new service gives customers the ability to expand the use of their Okta credentials beyond their own set of internal applications to sign into customer and partner sites. This extends the Okta functionality and brand and helps to make it a kind of standard way of logging in (or that’s the hope). When developers add this functionality, the user sees a “Sign in with Okta” button on the website or service they are accessing. They can then use their Okta login to get into these sites under whatever rules the site owner has defined. Site with ‘Sign in with Okta’ button. Photo: Okta While Okta has provided APIs for developers prior to today, they didn’t provide a package like this that simplifies the process. This forced developers to use the SAML standard to make it work. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it can be time-consuming and put a lot of burden on developers to write software and connectors, while updating and maintaining them, Kerrest explained. This removes all of that complexity from the process

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Nissan Launches A Solar Energy Package Of Its Own – Ubergizmo

Ubergizmo Nissan Launches A Solar Energy Package Of Its Own Ubergizmo Nissan has been a player in the electric car market for a long time and now after launching its revamped Leaf electric car, the company has decided to offer an all-in-one solar energy storage solution much like the one Tesla offers in the United States. and more »

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Favstar says it will shut down June 19 as a result of Twitter’s API changes for data streams

As Twitter develops an ever-closer hold on how it manages services around its real-time news and social networking service, a pioneer in Twitter analytics is calling it quits. Favstar , an early leader in developing a way to track and review how your and other people’s Tweets were getting liked and retweeted by others on the network, has announced that it will be shutting down on June 19 — a direct result, its creator Tim Haines notes, of changes that Twitter will be making to its own APIs, specifically around its Account Activity API, which is coming online at the same time that another API, User Streams, is being depreciated. Favstar and others rely on User Streams to power its services. “Twitter… has not been forthcoming with the details or pricing,” Favstar’s creator Tim Haines said of the newer API. “Favstar can’t continue to operate in this environment of uncertainty.” Favstar’s announcement was made over the weekend, but the issue for it and other developers has actually been brewing for a year. Twitter announced back in December  that, as part of the launch of the  Account Activity API  (originally announced April 2017 ), it would be shutting down User Streams on June 19. User Streams are what Favstar, and a number of other apps such as  Talon ,  Tweetbot ,  Tweetings , and  Twitterrific  (as pointed out in this  blog post signed by all four on “Apps of a Feather” ), are built on. Introduced as the Twitter Streaming API  for developers, the aim was to provide a way for developers to get continuous updates from a number of Twitter accounts — needed for services that either provided alternative Twitter interfaces or a way of parsing the many Tweets on the platform — in a way that did not slow the whole service down. The newer Account Activity API provides a number of features to developers to help facilitate tracking Twitter and using services like direct messaging for business purposes: As you can see, some of the features that the newer API covers are directly linked to functionality you get via Favstar. The crux of the problem, writes Haines, is that Twitter hadn’t given Favstar and other developers that had been working with User Streams (and other depreciating functionality) answers about pricing and other details so that they could see if a retooling of their services would be possible. (Twitter has provided a guide , it seems, but it doesn’t appear to address these points.) The post on Apps of a Feather further spells out the technical issues: “The new Account Activity API is currently in beta testing, but third-party developers have not been given access and time is running out,” the developers write. “With access we might be able to implement some push notifications, but they would be limited at the standard level to 35 Twitter accounts – our products must deliver notifications to hundreds of thousands of customers. No pricing has been given for Enterprise level service with unlimited accounts – we have no idea if this will be an affordable option for us and our users.” One of the consequences is that “automatic refresh of your timeline just won’t work,” they continue

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Sources: Apple plans to let users buy subscriptions to some third-party video services in its TV app, rather than individual apps, starting next year…

Bloomberg : Sources: Apple plans to let users buy subscriptions to some third-party video services in its TV app, rather than individual apps, starting next year   —  - Strategy in development looks a lot like rival Amazon.com's  —  Apple Inc.'s plan to reinvent cable TV is starting to look a lot like the strategy of its rival Amazon.com Inc.

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Windows 10 test build shows a new File Explorer dark mode and cloud clipboard for multi-device copying and pasting, coming to the public later this…

Tom Warren / The Verge : Windows 10 test build shows a new File Explorer dark mode and cloud clipboard for multi-device copying and pasting, coming to the public later this year   —  Insiders get to test the new changes today  —  Microsoft is testing a new build of Windows 10 today (17666) that includes some new features …

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Google makes its Material Design system easier to customize

Since 2014, Material Design has been Google’s design language for its apps. Now, the company is greatly expanding its services around its design system by offering a set of new tools around theming and working on design iterations, as well as new open-source components that developers can implement into their own apps. In addition to these, Google is making Material Gallery , the same tool it uses to help its designers to collaborate on designs, available to everybody. All of these new features are now available at the redesigned Material.io  site. Google isn’t making any major changes to the overall design language, but it is making it easier for developers to adapt Material Design to their own projects, and two of today’s launches focus solely on this. The first is Material Theming , that is, the ability to make a small change to say the color or typography and have that applied across the theme. “Theming lets anyone consistently and systematically express their unique style across a product,” the team explains. “When you make just a few decisions about color and typography, for example, it’s simple to apply the direction throughout the environment.” Google itself is already using this system and notes that any company can now easily tweak the system to its own brand guidelines. Tweaking these designs still takes a good bit of work, so the second new feature — the Material Theme Editor — now makes it far easier to try out new designs. It gives developers a control panel that makes it easy to apply global style changes to color, typography and shape. One nifty feature here is that the Editor will allow you to export your own Material theme based on your designs. While the tweaks that you can apply are still a bit limited, Google says that it’ll add more customization options over time. Right now, the Editor only works with the popular Sketch  design app and you can start using it by downloading the Material plugin for Sketch. In addition to the work on theming components, Google also launched new Icon sets for Material Design today. These new icon themes can be customized, as well, and are available in baseline, round, two-tone, sharp and outlined variations

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Green Power Exchange enables peer-to-peer energy sharing

True friends share everything, from purses to lawnmowers to the limitless energy they pull from the sun, wind, and deep underground. Green Power Exchange aims to make one of those sharing scenarios a bit simpler. Green Power Exchange or GPX is running an ICO to create a coin that lets you trade energy. While there are a number of efforts on this front, GPX is fairly far along and already has 62 solar sites signed up to try the tech when it launches. Founder Christian Wentzel sees the project as a solution to the energy monopolies. “The utility and power company either is a direct or quasi-monopoly, leaving no customer choice,” he said. “We want to change that and save consumers a ton of money while improving the environment.” “Solar and wind power is cheap, so we want people to use more of it.” The system essentially greases the wheels of energy trading. Whole current solutions require complex transactions and contracts, this solution lets energy generators sell their excess energy to other people with a minimum of fuss. The team plans to launch in 2019. The have created two coins, the GPX and the GET. The GPX is a liquid coin that can be used to buy and sell power while the GET is tied to the actual generation of energy. You would buy and sell GPX, for example, and manage your energy purchases using the GET token. GPX’s goals are noble and these sorts of markets are definitely headed toward the blockchain. ” One of the largest barriers to renewable power development in these markets is the complexity of PPA negotiations and the rigidity of the agreements,” said Wentzel

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Oculus hopes Boggle will help VR users get social in updated Rooms app

Among all of the other announcements that surfaced today during the F8 keynote, only one of the announcements involved Boggle. Oculus announced a bug update to its social platform, Oculus Rooms, which brings a redesigned space with cool new features designed to keep people coming back to the app. This is a big update to Rooms, which takes a lot of the cool features from other social VR apps (including Facebook Spaces) and brings them all together. What’s most impressive is how much they are able to accomplish inside a space you can only control with a simple controller. You can bring friends into the environment and navigate through your giant video screen, on which you can watch videos, full-length movies and more. What’s actually quite fun is that Oculus has partnered with Hasbro to start bringing board games into its VR social space so that users can play games while they chat or watch videos in VR. Rooms will be starting with the game Boggle, and will soon be adding Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit experiences to the app. This comes in addition to non-branded games like chess and checkers, which are also available. The updated app is available now.

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Razer doubles down on Southeast Asia and payments with announcement of deal to acquire MOL Global for $61M, after investing $20M in the company last…

Jon Russell / TechCrunch : Razer doubles down on Southeast Asia and payments with announcement of deal to acquire MOL Global for $61M, after investing $20M in the company last year   —  Gaming hardware maker Razer, which went public in a big IPO in Hong Kong last year, is doubling down on payments after it announced …

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Middle Eastern ride-hailing app Careem says 14M users’ names, email addresses, phone numbers, and trip data was stolen in cyberattack; it became aware…

Nour Al Ali / Bloomberg : Middle Eastern ride-hailing app Careem says 14M users' names, email addresses, phone numbers, and trip data was stolen in cyberattack; it became aware on Jan 14   —  Customers' names, email, phone number and trip data stolen  —  The platform has over 20 million users, according to website

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