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Tag Archives: office

Trump eliminates national cyber-coordinator job, gives Bolton keys to the cybers

Enlarge / Would you trust this man to direct cybersecurity for the entire government? (credit: Getty Images) Last month, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce announced that he would be leaving his position, a role within the White House's National Security Council responsible for synchronizing the information security efforts of all federal agencies. The job also entailed setting policy for defensive and offensive network operations by the US military, Department of Homeland Security, and intelligence community. It's a big job, and it's one that Joyce had unique credentials for—he used to direct the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the National Security Agency's main network intrusion and hacking unit. Joyce's departure would leave some big shoes to fill. But President Donald Trump has apparently decided that those shoes can easily be filled by NSC Director John Bolton all by himself. In an executive order yesterday, Trump eliminated the national cybersecurity coordinator position in a reorganization of the NSC, placing authority of all things cyber on Bolton and his NSC staffers. That move has prompted concern from members of Congress, and from Democrats in particular, who have called for Trump to reverse the move. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Dashdash, a platform to create web apps using only spreadsheet skills, nabs $8M led by Accel

Sometimes I think of spreadsheets as the dirty secret of the IT world today. We’ve seen a huge explosion in the number of productivity tools on the market tailored to help workers with different aspects of doing their job and organising their information, in part to keep them from simply dumping lots of information into Excel or whatever program they happen to use. And yet, spreadsheets are still one of the very, very most common pieces of software in use today: Excel alone now has around 1 billion users, and for those who are devotees, spreadsheets are not going to go away soon. So it’s interesting that there are now startups — and larger companies like Microsoft — emerging that are tapping into that, creating new services that still appear like spreadsheets in the front end, while doing something completely in the back. One of the latest is a startup called dashdash, a startup out of Berlin and Porto that is building a platform for people, who might to be programmers but know their way around a spreadsheet, to use those skills to build, modify and update web apps. The dashdash platform looks and acts like a spreadsheet up front, but in the back, each ‘macro’ links to a web app computing feature, or a design element, to build something that ultimately will look nothing like a spreadsheet, bypassing all the lines of code that traditionally go into building web apps. The startup is still in stealth mode, with plans to launch formally later this year. Today, it’s announcing that it has received $8 million in Series A funding to get there, with the round being led by Accel, with participation from Cherry Ventures, Atlantic Labs, and angel investors including Felix Jahn, founder of Home24. (It’s raised $9 million to date including a $1 seed.) Co-founded by serial entrepreneurs Humberto Ayres Pereira and Torben Schulz — who had also been co-founders of food delivery startup EatFirst — Ayres Pereira said that the idea came out of their own observations in work life and the bottleneck of getting things fixed or modified in a company’s apps (both internal and customer-facing). “People have a lot of frustration with the IT department, and their generally access to it,” he said in an interview. “If you are part of an internet business, it’s very hard to get features prioritised in an app, no matter how small they are. Tech is like a big train on iron tracks, and it can be hard to steer it in a different direction.” On the other hand, even among the less technical staff, there will be proficiency with certain software, including spreadsheets

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Microsoft wants developers to embrace Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Graph

The Microsoft Graph is an interesting but also somewhat amorphous idea. It’s core to the company’s strategy, but I’m not sure most developers understand its potential just yet. Maybe it’s no surprise that Microsoft is putting quite a bit of emphasis on the Graph during its Build developer conference this week. Unless developers make use of the Graph, which is the API that provides the connectivity between everything from Windows 10 to Office 365, it won’t reach its potential, after all. Microsoft describes the Graph as “the API for Microsoft 365.” And indeed, Microsoft 365 is the second topic the company is really hammering home during its event. It’s a combined subscription service for Office 365, Windows 10 and the company’s enterprise mobility services. “Microsoft 365 is where the world gets its best work done,” said Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore. “With 135 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and nearly 700 million Windows 10 connected devices, Microsoft 365 helps developers reach people how and where they work.” Leaving the standard keynote hyperbole aside, that is indeed how Microsoft sees this service — and the connective tissue here is the Microsoft Graph. The Graph is what powers features like the Windows 10 Timeline, which desperately needs buy-in from developers to succeed, but it also allows developers to send notifications when a file is added to a OneDrive folder or to kick off an onboarding workflow when a new person is added to a team in Azure Active Directory. At Build, Microsoft is talking about the Graph quite a bit and Microsoft’s Director for Office 365 Ecosystem Marketing Rob Howard told me that the company now believes that all the engagement surfaces to highlight Graph data are in place. “Developers now have a reason to put their data into the graph,” he said. Specifically, he expects developers to make use of the Windows 10 Timeline feature, which has now rolled out with the latest Windows 10 release. He also expects that the deep integration into the Office 365 apps will provide a bit of inspiration to third-party developers. As for Microsoft 365, the company is emphasizing the developer opportunity here

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You can now give Amazon the keys to your car

Last week, I was sitting in the office, waiting for an Amazon package to be delivered to my house. Typically, the driver would just leave the package at the door, where anybody could steal it. But this time around, the process was a bit different because the driver arrived, used his phone to unlock the car in my driveway, put the package into the trunk and then locked the car again. That’s thanks to the latest feature of Amazon Key — free in-car delivery for Prime members — which is launching today. In-car delivery is an extension of the existing Amazon Key service , which allows you to give the delivery drivers access to your house with the help of a compatible keypad on your door and a smart security camera. It’s worth pointing out from the outset that Amazon’s delivery drivers won’t track you down wherever you are and deliver to your car. This is about delivering to your stationary car in your driveway or an office parking lot. Indeed, the concept behind in-car delivery is very much the same as for the regular Amazon Key service. Just like you can give Amazon access to your house with the Key app, quite a few cars now allow you to open their doors with the help of an app, too. Because of this, support for in-car delivery is a bit limited right now. It’s currently only available for GM cars (2015 or newer Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs) with an active OnStar subscription and Volvos (also 2015 or newer) with an active Volvo On Call account. Amazon has worked with these partners to enable its drivers to unlock their cars — assuming, of course, that you allow them to do that. As Amazon stresses throughout the process, you remain in full control. If you want to block access to your car at any time, you can do so through the app — and you can do so for a whole day, until a specific time or forever. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable letting a driver into my house

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US spy lab hopes to geotag every outdoor photo on social media

Enlarge / Take a selfie in front of your new hideout? IARPA's Finder program aims to turn that photo into a kaboom. (credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jacob Krone) Imagine if someone could scan every image on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, then instantly determine where each was taken. The ability to combine this location data with information about who appears in those photos—and any social media contacts tied to them—would make it possible for government agencies to quickly track terrorist groups posting propaganda photos. (And, really, just about anyone else.) That's precisely the goal of Finder, a research program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency  (IARPA), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's dedicated research organization. For many photos taken with smartphones  (and with some consumer cameras), geolocation information is saved with the image by default. The location is stored in the  Exif (Exchangable Image File Format) data of the photo itself unless geolocation services are turned off. If you have used Apple's iCloud photo store or Google Photos, you've probably created a rich map of your pattern of life through geotagged metadata. However, this location data is pruned off for privacy reasons when images are uploaded to some social media services, and privacy-conscious photographers (particularly those concerned about potential drone strikes) will purposely disable geotagging on their devices and social media accounts. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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