BetaNews Staff

A pioneer's guide to Alexa

echo amazon

Have you seen Star Trek? If you haven’t, you should. One of the pieces of future tech that is quietly on display throughout the show is the ability to talk to the computer. Whether it’s asking the computer where someone is or ordering a cup of earl grey tea, the computer has no problem understanding the questions it is asked, and who’s asking them.

Amazon’s Alexa products claim that they are this shining vision of the future! Not only that, you can write your own apps for the platform. Amazing! Right? Well, we’re not quite there yet. So, what are the challenges and limitations? Is there anything we can do to hack our way through the tough parts? Can we achieve our dreams even if we emerge a bit bloody and beaten? Let's find out.

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Machine learning pays well in the UK


If you are a developer looking to earn some serious cash, you might want to consider becoming a machine learning specialist. According to a new report by Stack Overflow, entitled "Developer Hiring Landscape Report," machine learning specialists earn 24 percent more than what’s the average among developers on the British Isles.

That's £56,851 a year.

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How to create your first Alexa skill


For the last couple of weeks, Graham, Marcel, Sinem and I, from Red Badger, have been experimenting with Amazon’s Alexa Echo Dot. An Electric Hockey Puck that uses voice recognition powered by Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

In this post, I’d like to explain how one goes about creating their first Alexa skill.

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Why ethical hacking is the top job of 2017

White hat hacking

61 percent of UK businesses believe they will suffer from cyber crime in 2017, according to new research from Mimecast. These anxieties are justified: two thirds of large UK businesses were targeted by cyber criminals last year.

As the threat posed by cyber crime increases, businesses now invest more than ever in training, technology and skills -- global cyber spending is predicted to reach $1 trillion by 2021.

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What challenges do Industrie 4.0 projects face?

smart factory robot

Algorithms are at the heartbeat of Industrie 4.0 projects, according to Gartner, and that’s going to result in 30 percent of Industrie 4.0 projects sourcing algorithms from leading algorithm marketplaces by 2020.

That means a jump of less than five per cent, compared to what we currently have in the market.

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The role of IT decision makers in purchasing new technology

decision decide IT flowchart

IT decision makers (ITDM) in the EMEA region serve as their company's "gatekeepers" and primary influencers, when it comes to choosing new technology purchases for the company. This is according to a new report by Spiceworks, which digs deeper into the roles of ITDMs and business decision makers (BDMs) when it comes to purchasing new technologies.

The study, "ITDM vs. BDM: Tech Purchase Superheroes," says BDM’s role is to "give final approval for technology funds and purchases."

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Privacy under the Trump administration: What you need to know


Donald Trump became president on January 20, and already his administration is embroiled in so much controversy that the last two months feel more like two years. Through a steady stream of executive orders, the president has run roughshod over former the Obama era.

For example, Trump imposed a travel ban primarily affecting Muslims, curbed the Affordable Care Act, and pushed out other campaign pledges as fast as he could. It has been painful to watch this new leader of the free world flail about like an unruly toddler as he struggles to annul the Obama legacy.

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5 things to keep in mind when building an Alexa skill


A team of us at Red Badger, which consisted of myself, Marcel, Graham and Roman, had two weeks to play around with Amazon’s Alexa and build a sommelier skill to recommend wine pairings to your food. We’re writing a four-part series to take you through what we learned from our varied perspectives.

There’s been so many blog posts written about the rise of chatbots and Voice User Interface (VUI), some even marking 2017 to be the year of the bots.

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User-Agent based attacks are a low-key risk that shouldn't be overlooked

security eye

Old, unpatched vulnerabilities allow hackers to take over systems using the User-Agent string -- an elementary part of virtually every HTTP request.

It is a known fact that while the majority of vulnerabilities discovered or reported are fixed by the vendor and a patch is issued, many systems end up not being patched in a timely manner or even at all, for that matter. There are many possible reasons for that, the most common being:

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Three penetration testing tips to out-hack hackers

Hacker silhouette

It should come as no surprise that hackers have been busy lately. According to my go-to resource on hacking stats, the Identify Theft Resource Center, breaches jumped from 780 in 2015 to 1,093 in 2016. Is there a way to take a proactive approach to data security that doesn’t involved investing in more firewalls or virus protection software and ultimately get to the real-source of vulnerabilities?

Yes and yes. The answer is penetration testing, or pen testing for short. It’s a white-hat approach that challenges organizations to expose the vulnerabilities inside their own systems by understanding how a cybercriminal could exploit their internal information.

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Three UK suffers new data breach


A couple of bizarre incidents happened to Three users in the UK recently, and the media are suspecting the company might be facing a new data breach.

According to a report by The Guardian, some customers, logging into their accounts, were "presented with the names, addresses, phone numbers and call histories of strangers."

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Businesses make automated security a part of DevOps

Security Lock

Mature development organizations make sure automated security is built into their DevOps practice early, everywhere and at scale, according to a new report by Sonatype.

The report, entitled 2017 DevSecOps Community Survey, is based on a poll of 2,292 IT professionals, and also says IT organisations continue to struggle with data breaches.

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IBM announces price-competitive cold storage solutions


IBM is jumping on the cold storage bandwagon, offering a service and trying to take Amazon, Microsoft, and Google a piece of their pie. The company recently announced the launch of IBM Cloud Object Storage Cold Vault, which basically stores data that only needs to be accessed every once in a while.

There will also be a cold storage service with "pay as you use" model, called IBM Cloud Object Storage Flex, coming later this year.

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ARM introduces new architecture for artificial intelligence and machine learning


ARM, the Cambridge-based microprocessor company has just announced a new processor architecture that it promises will give a significant boost to artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.

The new technology, announced this Tuesday, is called DynamIQ and ARM describes it as "probably the biggest micro-architectural shift since ARM announced 64-bit ARMv8-A in 2011." This "monumental shift in multicore microarchitecture" is not the processor itself -- new Cortex-A processors will be built by ARM’s partners, both of which will be announced later this year.

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Analytics alone aren't enough to guide your business

sales business analytics

Everywhere you look, businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking to transform themselves into digital businesses. This digital transformation tidal wave is often predicated on building a more robust, data-driven organization.

Executives want to make more informed, more strategic decisions, and see analytics technologies, from big data to predictive analytics to good old fashioned business intelligence, as the silver bullet to do so. It’s no secret that businesses are buying in big. Worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics are expected to grow 50 percent, up from $122 billion in 2015 to $187 billion in 2019, according to research from IDC.

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