Technology

Analysis: For Tech CEOs, Not Attending White House Summit Is Greater Risk

Technology executives at odds with the Trump administration see a bigger problem than attending a White House brainstorming session Monday—not attending. Silicon Valley has been among the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump over his positions on issues such as climate change and immigration. Still, representatives from Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. MSFT 0.14% and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, companies that have opposed his policies, are expected to make the cross-country trip to ensure their voices are heard. Also expected to attend are Intel Corp. Chief Executive Brian Krzanich, Oracle Corp. co-CEO Safra Katz, a member of Mr. Trump’s transition team, and Cisco Systems Corp. CSCO 0.16% Chief Executive Chuck Robbins. “If you don’t show up, I think that’s the worst scenario,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in early May, when asked about the company’s relationship to the White House during an interview with CNBC. “Because then you’re quiet and this doesn’t do your cause any good, or your point of view any good.” Communication between the White House and Silicon Valley, already strained by the president’s proposed ban on travel to the U.S. by people from six Muslim-majority countries, was shaken after the White House pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Elon Musk, CEO of both Tesla Inc. TSLA -1.05% and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., announced after the move he was quitting his role on councils that advise the president. He had been among the most vocal and visible Silicon Valley contacts for the White House. A Tesla spokesman declined to comment. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who tweeted his disappointment after the Paris decision, isn’t attending the Monday session because of a scheduling conflict that arose after the summit was rescheduled, a person familiar with the matter said. Others plan to attend despite the tensions. “You have to take a look at the landscape and see where you can find some common ground,” said Linda Moore, chief executive of Technet, a Washington-based lobbying group comprising U.S. technology companies and executives. Those areas include tax reform and workforce development, she said. Aaron Levie, CEO of the digital-storage company Box Inc., said in an interview last month the risk of the administration making decisions without hearing directly from the tech industry is too great. “It’s not a given that the policy decisions are going to be aligned with the long-term trends that I think at least the tech industry is witnessing on the front lines,” he said. Mr. Levie, along with Cisco chairman John Chambers and venture capitalist John Doerr, met in April with White House officials and members of Congress to discuss tech issues including education and privacy. “Everyone’s kind of got their own comfort level and their own desire of how much they want to engage,” said Ms. Moore. Mr. Cook, for example, spoke to the White House following both its immigration order and its exit from the Paris accord. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment. In March, Mr. Benioff attended a White House roundtable on workforce development with Mr. Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other CEOs, during which he suggested the aspirational goal of creating five million apprenticeships by 2020. Earlier this week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order to reduce barriers to apprenticeships.

…which was awesome, and huge news!!  And yet, the dominantly liberal mainstream media swept it under the carpet almost immediately…..and instead continues their pathological obsession with liberal agenda-driven fake news nonsense like Comey testimonies, (already dispelled) so-called “collusion” by the Trump Campaign (and now Administration) with Russia…and on and on..  While the liberal media (i.e. NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR/PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, and of course the absolute worst..MSNBC..among others) focuses on bs like that which has NO bearing or impacts the lives of ordinary Americans, the President and a handful of his allies are actually getting work done they promised the voters they would.  It’s good to see these tech giants leading by example and putting their political differences aside and sitting down with our new administration to work on tech issues that affect all of us, and the tech industry.  The liberal media, Dems in Congress, and spineless establishment GOP House and Senate members could learn a thing or two from these corporate tech leaders.  Excellent!!    🙂

Apple HomePod sets sights on Amazon Echo, Google Home

Look out Alexa and Echo, here comes the HomePod. Apple is stuffing its beloved Siri into an Internet-connected speaker in what is the digital giant’s first new product in more than two years. The HomePod speaker was unveiled at a conference for software programmers on Monday, and will go head-to-head-to-head with Amazon and Google’s popular digital home assistants. But of course Apple says its siri-based system tops them all because it’s giving more emphasis to sound quality, not just smarts. Not surprisingly, there’s integration with the Apple Music online subscription. Besides playing music, HomePod will help people to manage their lives and homes. Siri will be the voice assistant responding to requests for information and other help around the house. It’s Apple’s first new device since the company released the Apple Watch in April 2015. But it all comes for a fairly hefty price. The speaker will sell for about $350 in December in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Amazon sells the main version of the Echo for $180 and Google sells its Home speaker for $130. So that speaker better sound pretty nice. The Echo, released in 2015, and Google Home, released last year, have helped plant the seeds for a promising market. The research firm eMarketer says than 35 million people in the U.S. are expected to use a voice-activated speaker at least once a month this year, more than doubling from last year.

SpaceX launches 1st recycled supply ship

SpaceX launched its first recycled cargo ship to the International Space Station on Saturday, yet another milestone in its bid to drive down flight costs. After a two-day delay caused by thunderstorms, the unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off carrying a Dragon capsule that made a station delivery nearly three years ago. When this refurbished Dragon reaches the orbiting lab on Monday, it will be the first returning craft since NASA’s now-retired shuttles. The first-stage booster flown Saturday afternoon was brand new, and as is now the custom, returned to Cape Canaveral following liftoff for a successful vertical touchdown. “The Falcon has landed,” SpaceX Mission Control declared from company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and a cheer went up. The plan is to launch the booster again, instead of junking it in the ocean as so many other rocket makers do. Just two months ago, SpaceX launched its first recycled booster on a satellite mission. Another flight featuring a reused booster is coming up later this month. This Dragon capsule, meanwhile, came back for take two following a few modifications and much testing. Shortly before liftoff, a SpaceX vice president, Hans Koenigsmann, called the Dragon reflight “a pretty big deal.” It’s all part of the company’s quest, he said, to lower the cost of access to space through reusability. “Overall a great day,” Koenigsmann later told reporters. “Another wonderful launch,” added NASA’s Ven Feng, a station manager. SpaceX chief Elon Musk tweeted early Sunday morning: “It’s starting to feel kinda normal to reuse rockets. Good. That’s how it is for cars & airplanes and how it should be for rockets.” The Dragon soaring Saturday has the same hull and most of the same parts from its 2014 flight. SpaceX installed a new heat shield and parachutes, among a few other things, for the trip back to Earth at flight’s end. The Dragon is the only supply ship capable of surviving re-entry; all the others burn up in the atmosphere. NASA’s other supplier, Orbital ATK, will see its cargo carrier depart the 250-mile-high complex on Sunday, six weeks after arriving. Besides the usual supplies, SpaceX’s latest 6,000-pound shipment includes mice and flies for research, a new kind of roll-up solar panel and a neutron star detector. For now, SpaceX said savings are minimal because of all the inspections and tests performed on the already flown parts. NASA’s space station program manager, Kirk Shireman, told reporters earlier in the week that SpaceX did a thorough job recertifying the Dragon and that the risk is not substantially more than if this were a capsule straight off the factory floor. He said the entire industry is interested in “this whole notion of reuse,” first realized with the space shuttles. It was the 100th launch from NASA’s hallowed Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, the departure point for the Apollo moon shots as well as dozens of shuttle missions, including the last one in 2011. SpaceX now leases the pad from NASA; the company’s first launch from there was in February. SpaceX has been hauling station supplies for NASA for five years, both up and down. This is the company’s 11th mission under a NASA contract. The company’s next step is to deliver astronauts using modified Dragons. That could occur as early as next year. Until SpaceX and Boeing start transporting crews, astronauts will continue to ride Russian rockets. On Friday, a Russian and Frenchman returned from the space station in their Soyuz capsule, leaving two Americans and a Russian behind. The station was zooming over Oman in the Persian Gulf when the Falcon took flight.

Congrats SpaceX!!     🙂

Boeing is building DARPA’s new hypersonic space plane

A few years ago, DARPA started work on a new experimental aircraft project called the XS-1, a vehicle designed to make launching satellites a faster, less expensive endeavor. Today, that project just took a huge leap forward: DARPA has announced that it’s partnering with Boeing to build its next generation hypersonic space plane. Specifically, the aircraft manufacturer has been tapped to complete advanced design work on the XS-1 project, following up on the concept Boeing pitched to the agency during the project’s early stages — which it will now help build and test over the next several years. In practice, this means Boeing is now building a unmanned, reusable hypersonic jet with the goal of running ten test flights over ten consecutive days by the year 2020 — a program that’s designed to prove that the XS-1 will be able to launch satellites into low-earth orbit on short notice. “The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two,” DARPA’s Jess Sponable explained in a press release. “With the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand.” The XS-1 will manage this feat by flying to suborbital heights without boosters before deploying a disposable, secondary rocket to push its payload into orbit. Better still, the spaceplane be able to take a second satellite up within hours of delivering the first. Well, that’s the plan anyway — the project is still years away from being finished, and the earliest on-ground engine tests won’t start until 2019 at the earliest. Until then, we’ll have to settle for DARPA’s concept video, which admittedly, is still pretty cool. To see it, click here.

Very cool!!   🙂

U.S. FCC Votes 2-1 to Advance Repeal of Obama-era Internet Rules

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday to advance a Republican plan to reverse the Obama administration’s 2015 “net neutrality” order. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has proposed the commission repeal the rules that reclassified internet service providers as if they were utilities. He thinks the open internet rules by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, were unnecessary and harm jobs and investment. “We propose to repeal utility-style regulation,” Pai said Thursday. “The evidence so far strongly suggests that this is the right way to go.” The public will have until mid-August to offer comments before the FCC votes on a final plan. Pai wants public input on whether the FCC has the authority or should keep its “bright line” rules barring internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving “fast lanes” to some websites. He has not committed to retaining any rules, but said he favors an “open internet.” Pai said he would make a final proposal public before a final vote and said the FCC will conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who voted against the plan, said the end game appears to be an internet without FCC regulatory oversight. She said the proposal “jeopardizes the ability of the open internet to function tomorrow, as it does today.” The FCC, which has already received more than 1 million comments, is also seeking comment on whether U.S. states should be able to set their own broadband privacy or other regulations. Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and others back net neutrality rules, saying they guarantee equal access to the internet. Broadband providers AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp oppose the 2015 order, saying it would discourage investment and innovation. Internet providers insist they will not engage in blocking or throttling even in the absence of rules, but critics are skeptical. Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, said “it will take millions of people standing up, just like they did before, to say that the internet needs to stay free and open. That’s what it will take to win.” Comcast, Charter Communications Inc and Altice NV’s U.S. unit signed an advertisement Wednesday saying they are “committed to an open internet that gives you the freedom to be in charge of your online experience…. We do not block, throttle or otherwise impair your online activity.” USTelecom, an industry trade group, said the FCC “is moving the conversation beyond the merits of net neutrality to how best to safeguard this universally embraced value with a modern, constructive policy framework.”

Report: Only 36 Percent of Indian Software Engineers Can Write Useful Code

A new report states that only 36 percent of Indian software engineers can write working, compilable code based on a test used to automatically grade programming skills. The report was published by Aspiring Minds, an Indian skills assessment company, which based their report on a sample of 36,800 people from more than 500 colleges across India. The company used an automated tool called Automata to perform the study. Automata is a 60-minute test that is taken in a compiler integrated environment that rates candidates on a number of levels including programming ability, programming practices, run-time complexity, and test case coverage. Candidates in the test were made up of 61.1 percent male candidates and 38.9 percent female candidates, coming from cities such as Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, and Hyderabad. Automata utilizes advanced artificial intelligence technology to automatically analyze and grade a candidates coding abilities. The study states, “We find that out of the two problems given per candidate, only 14 percent of engineers were able to write compilable codes for both and only 22 percent were able to write compilable code for exactly one problem.” The test also found that of all the subjects tested, only 14.67 percent would be employable by a modern IT firm. When testing for candidates that could write fully functional code using the best practices and methods, only 2.21 percent passed the test. “Functionally correct code is the basic requisite of a good programmer. However, to enhance the quality of the code, a few more important indicators have emerged — efficiency, time complexity and space complexity,” the study said, “Nothing is more time-consuming than dealing with badly written code which leads to enormous bugs and exceptions. The analysis unveils that only 2.21 percent of engineers possess the skillset to write logically correct code with best efficiency and least time-space complexity.”

Very interesting..  Definitely something that U.S. employers looking to hire overseas software engineers should keep in mind.  To read the report in question from Aspiring Minds, click on the text above.

British military interested in ‘Iron Man’ flying suit

Flying soldiers have been historically confined to science fiction or comic books, but a British inventor may be about to change the course of warfare. Richard Browning, who has been dubbed the ‘Iron Man’ of Wiltshire, has constructed a personal flight suit and amazed delegates at this year’s TED Conference when he lifted off from the short of Vancouver Harbour. Mr Browning, a Royal marine reserve, said a member the British military had already displayed interest in the suit, and had told him that the Ministry of Defense had given up on the idea of flying soldiers until they saw his design. Although the MoD told the Telegraph they were unaware of the conversation, they said they are currently looking for ‘innovative military solutions’..

Indeed..  Actually, the Brits aren’t the only ones developing “Iron Man” type suits.  The U.S. military has something up their sleeve as well..  Anyway, to see some photo’s of Mr. Browning’s suit, and read the rest of this article, click on the text above.