Facebook Messenger rolls out mention alerts and message Reaction emoji

Group chat will get a bit less chaotic with the global rollout of two Facebook Messenger features it was previously testing in Vietnam.

Users can now @mention friends in a group chat to send them a special notification to reply to your message so they don’t miss it in a noisy thread. You just type @, then the person’s name or in-thread nickname, and the name will be highlighted and that person will get an alert.

Meanwhile, Facebook is bringing its News Feed Reactions to Messenger so you can reply by attaching a love, smile, wow, sad, angry, thumbs-up or thumbs-down emoji to a specific message. This way you’ll be able to simply express agreement, disagreement or an emotion about a particular message, even if a bunch of other messages have come in since.

Tap and hold on a message to pull up the Reactions menu and select one. Everyone will see a counter of different reactions on the message, and you can tap that counter to see exactly who reacted how. Reactions work in one-on-one chats, too.

 The “Thumbs-down” Reaction could be interpreted as Facebook’s first real “Dislike button.” However, Facebook calls it a “No” Reaction and told me that since people often use Messenger for coordinating logistics, it wanted to add easy ways to vote for or against a proposed plan.

TechCrunch first spotted and reported on a test of Messenger Reactions early this month, and also saw that users in Vietnam were trying out mentions. Reactions works very similar to iOS 10’s iMessage’s Tapback reactions launched in September, and Slack’s more expansive and long-standing emoji reaction selector.

Messenger Reactions work the same as iMessage’s Tapback reactions that launched last year

Doubling down on group chat is smart for Messenger at a time when it’s been criticized for injecting social media content broadcasting into the communication app via Snapchat Stories clone Messenger Day. Messenger actually started as a group chat app called Beluga before Facebook acquired it. With mentions and Reactions, Facebook could use its better group chat experience than SMS to win users from the status quo.

Google adds add-on support to Gmail

Here’s some welcome news for Gmail users: Google is adding support for third-party add-ons that can integrate directly into the service. There are plenty of services that add functionality to Gmail already, of course, but they typically do that through a browser extension.

With this new capability, which Google announced at its Cloud Next conference in San Francisco today, users will be able to install these add-ons from the G Suite Marketplace. That’s the same marketplace that already hosts add-ons for Google’s other productivity tools like Docs and Sheets. It’ll take a bit before this goes live, though. Google says this new feature is coming “later this year.”

Users who install one of these new add-ons will be able to use them on the web and in Google’s mobile Gmail apps (though there’s no mention of Inbox, Google’s next-gen email client).

Developers who want to write these add-ons can write them once and they’ll run on all of these platforms. The company worked with Intuit, Salesforce and ProsperWorks on trialing this feature, but developers who want to give it a try can sign up for a Developer Preview here.

 While the company is currently aiming add-ons at its business users, consumers without a paid G Suite subscription will be able to install them, too, though developers will be able to choose if they want to make their extensions available to consumers or only paying G Suite customers.

Google’s Jamboard will cost $5,000, plus an annual management fee

Google’s delivering on its promise of keeping its interactive whiteboard under $6,000. Priced at $4,999, the Jamboard is just a hair more expensive than the 55-inch version of Cisco’s Sparkboard and considerably less so than the $8,999 Surface Hub, which was both the first of the trio to be announced and first to market when it started shipping last March.

Google’s 55-inch offering is set to arrive May. That price includes two styli and one eraser. What it doesn’t factor in, however, is upkeep. The management and support fee is going to cost your IT department an additional $600 a year – though that price will be halved if they manage to get in before the end of September. And hey, the company will throw in a free wall mount too, for good measure.

The Jamboard was a bit of a surprise announcement when the company unveiled it back in October, serving as a brand new take on enterprise hardware for Google. The play here is pretty clear, however, serving as a continued push to bring the company’s cloud-based collaboration tools into the enterprise in a big way.

 

The $5,000 device sports a 4K touch display with some some pretty sophisticated handwriting recognition for note taking. It is, naturally, built around the company’s suite of office apps and uses Google Cast for collaborations with mobile devices and remote users who don’t happen to have their own 55-inch interactive whiteboard (which, I assume is most people in the world). The 2K telepresence camera helps with that as well.

Google’s certainly brought some design chops to the table. The Jamboard is the nicest looking product of the trio. It’s relatively portable, thanks to a set of wheels and seems pretty user-friendly, which has always been a major sticking point for teleconferencing equipment. In early tests, it also seems to operate pretty smoothly, though it would be nice to take the thing for a spin in a less controlled environment.

Aside from cost, however, what the decision will likely come down to for most offices is which set of software they’re the already invested in. Microsoft has long had that market cornered, though Google does seem to have made some genuine progress on that front in recent years.

Early Uber Investors Call on Company to Change ‘Destructive Culture’

Early investors in Uber Technologies Inc wrote to the ride-hailing company on Thursday to criticise it for failing to end a toxic culture of harassment.

Early Uber Investors Call on Company to Change 'Destructive Culture'

Mitch and Freada Kapor publicly rebuked the company after former Uber employee Susan Fowler described in a blog how she was sexually harassed by a manager and that human resources and upper management refused to punish the offender and even threatened her with a bad performance review.

“Uber’s outsize success in terms of growth of market share, revenues and valuation are impressive, but can never excuse a culture plagued by disrespect, exclusionary cliques, lack of diversity, and tolerance for bullying and harassment of every form,” the Kapors wrote in an online letter.

The Kapors are the only investors to have publicly commented on the recent allegations against Uber. The couple runs the Oakland-based Kapor Center, which works to promote diversity and inclusion in technology.

“Uber has had countless opportunities to do the right thing,” they wrote. “We feel we have hit a dead end.”

Several other Uber investors and board members did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Menlo Ventures, which led Uber’s Series B financing in 2011, declined to comment.

Uber did not directly address the Kapors’ letter but repeated its commitment to investigate Fowler’s claims. Uber has hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the investigation alongside attorney Tammy Albarran.

“We will be thorough, impartial and objective, and we are conducting this review with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism,” Holder and Albarran said in a statement on Thursday in response to the Kapors’ letter.

The Kapors, though, called out conflicts of interest that may hinder the investigation. Holder has been working for Uber since June to dissuade lawmakers from requiring fingerprint background checks for drivers. He will be joined by Uber board member Arianna Huffington and the company’s HR chief.

“We are disappointed to see that Uber has selected a team of insiders to investigate its destructive culture and make recommendations for change,” they wrote.

The Kapors’ letter raised eyebrows in Silicon Valley where investors usually defend their startups.

“I applaud the honesty of the Kapors for commenting on these highly sensitive issues and highlighting the importance of culture in the workplace,” said Susan Lucas-Conwell, former CEO of Great Place to Work and adviser to technology companies on diversity and inclusion. “I can’t think of when I’ve see such a statement from an investor of a company such as Uber.”

You might apply for your next job on Facebook

Facebook is moving forcefully into the personal space of LinkedIn today with the announcement that it’s rolling out new features that will enable job posting and application directly on the site.

In a blog post , Facebook stated that starting today businesses in the US and Canada would be able to post job openings which future employees would be able to easily find either on that business’ page or in the new jobs bookmark.

According to Facebook, the entire process will be simple for businesses as page admins will be able to set up job listings, track applications and directly communicate with applicants all on the Facebook site.

Job feed

Things should be simpler for applicants too. Rather than trawling through several job sites, the idea is that you could come across your dream position simply doing your habitual News Feed scroll.

Though you’ll also be able to do a more targeted search and find postings in the jobs bookmark and on specific pages.

To apply for a job you simply click the Apply Now button and a form that’s been pre-filled with all the information you’ve already supplied to Facebook via your profile will appear for quick and easy submission. To add more convenience it can all be done on your mobile too.

This isn’t the first step Facebook has taken into our working lives. Late last year the social media giant launched Workplace , a kind of cross between Facebook and Slack that allowed people to stay connected and communicate in their workplace without using their everyday Facebook account.

That said, this particular feature does use your personal Facebook profile so if yours doesn’t quite paint you as a professional paragon, we’d advise you to fix it up before you start applying for anything.

At the moment the feature is only available to users in the US and Canada with no indication as to when or if it’ll be available in other regions.

Facebook’s Lumos AI Tool Lets Users Search for Images by Their Content

Last year Facebook introduced a feature to its mobile app that made use of artificial intelligence to help visually challenged people identify the contents of an image. Now the social media networking giant has figured out that this technology can have more utility, as it now allows the use of AI to help users search for images based on their content.

Facebook's Lumos AI Tool Lets Users Search for Images by Their Content

Facebook is not the first company to provide this sort of search functionality through its app, Google Photos has done it for years, but this can be seen as a valuable feature addition from the company. With the help of Facebook’s Lumos AI technology, users will be able to search through images by their content instead of the usual text-based process that requires the images to be sufficiently tagged or captioned in first place.

“We’ve pushed computer vision to the next stage with the goal of understanding images at the pixel level. This helps our systems do things like recognise what’s in an image, what type of scene it is, if it’s a well-known landmark, and so on. This, in turn, helps us better describe photos for the visually impaired and provide better search results for posts with images and videos,” Facebook’s Director of Applied Machine Learning Joaquin Quinonero Candela said in a blog post on Thursday.

facebook ai search story 2 Facebook AI search Story 2In order to make sure that the engineers building machine learning pipelines didn’t have to worry about provisioning machines or deal with scaling their service for real-time traffic, Facebook designed a system called FBLearner Flow. Candala says that the company is now conducting 1.2 million AI experiments on this particular system now.

“As this platform has become more widely used, we’ve continued to build on top of it. From tools to automate the process of machine learning to dedicated content understanding engines, we’ve built an active ecosystem that allows engineers to write training pipelines that parallelise over many machines so it can be reused by any engineer at the company,” he added.

facebook ai search story3 Facebook AI search Story 3Lumos, which was built on top of FBLearner Flow, was developed for image and video understanding. “The Lumos platform keeps improving all the time, both through all the newly labeled data we feed it, and through the annotated data from the applications our teams build” he said. Candala even says that the company is looking into what AI can do with video format as well.

The image recognition should be available to users in US but there has been no word for other regions as of now, The Next Web points out in its report. It will be interesting to see how much the machine learning improves going ahead and whether Facebook is able to find more ways of implementing its machine learning tools to make its application more user-friendly.

Google Photos 2.8 for Android Revamps Albums Tab, Device Folders, and More

Apart from tweaking its Search engine to offer advanced recipes, Google has also made a some minor changes to its Photos app for Android to give it a cleaner look. The update – which brings the app to v2.8 – adds more visual appeal by going for a uniform grid look, especially in the Albums tab. The iOS update will likely follow soon.

Google Photos 2.8 for Android Revamps Albums Tab, Device Folders, and More

Those using the older version of the update will notice that the album cards in the section are rectangular in shape with a full cover image. With Google Photos v2.8 for Android, the app now shows smaller album tiles with cover images in square. This lets two albums sit side by side rather than having to scroll through one album at a time. The title and date of an album are placed below the cover image rather than inside.

The change to Google Photos may bring up mixed reactions from users who have grown accustomed to the wide rectangular albums. While the smaller squared tiles will likely help save time when scrolling for a particular album, it also shows off a lot of whitespace than before.

The Albums tab also gets a new ‘Photos on device’ (previously called Device folders) which clubs photos under a specific location in your device’s storage such as ‘Camera’ or ‘Screenshots’. The sections can be scrolled through the carousel from the Albums tab. Previously, the photos were accessed through the navigation drawer. The new section follows the same two column layout as the redesigned Albums tab.

Apart from these, there are hints at which features Google may bring in future versions, as per the APK teardown performed by Android Police. A new auto-stories feature might show up in an upcoming update that will let you initiate the story-style albums that Google frequently tends to create on its own. The auto-stories will likely create a story on command and may require you to choose some photos to help it begin.

Additionally, the Nearby feature that Google introduced last year in June may get incorporated into Google Photos as well as a way to share photos with other although it’s not clear how that would work.

Cisco India Unveils 3 Cyber-Security Initiatives

At a time when cyber security has become paramount for digital enterprises, Cisco India on Thursday announced three new initiatives to help the country build a transparent and secure digital infrastructure environment.

Cisco India Unveils 3 Cyber-Security InitiativesCisco will open a new Security Operations Centre (SOC) in Pune which will provide services ranging from monitoring and management to comprehensive threat solutions and hosted security that can be customised.

The $49.24 billion company also launched a Cisco Cyber Range Lab at its Gurugram facility which will provide specialised technical training workshops to help security staff build the skills and experience necessary to combat new-age cyber threats.

Recognising that cyber-security is critical to India’s drive to digitise its economy, Cisco’s global Security & Trust Organization (S&TO) and Cisco India announced the formation of Cisco S&TO-India that will help the government shape the national cyber-security strategy and initiatives.

To achieve this, Cisco and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“In light of rapidly evolving cyber tactics and shared risks in cyberspace, the need to work side-by-side with industry partners on pressing cyber-challenges becomes increasingly important. We are happy to have Cisco collaborate with us to enhance the security of India’s digital infrastructure,” Prasad noted.

Under the MoU, Cisco and CERT-In will establish a threat intelligence sharing programme wherein personnel from Cisco and CERT-In will work together to address digital threats and learn new approaches to enhance cyber-security.

Cisco’s “Active Threat Analytics” provides round-the-clock monitoring and advanced-analytics capabilities combined with industry-leading threat intelligence and expert investigators to rapidly detect advanced threats.

Cisco has three Security Operations Centres worldwide – Poland, the US and Japan. With India as the fourth location, this structure will allow Cisco to provide 24-hour service for customers regardless of time zone.

“As India digitises, security will become fundamental to seizing the unprecedented opportunities for businesses, cities and citizens. Cisco is committed to enable a digital-ready infrastructure and security everywhere. Today’s cyber-security announcements reaffirm Cisco’s long-term commitment to India,” added Dinesh Malkani, President, Cisco India and SAARC.

“By 2020, the Indian digital payments industry will grow 10 times and mobile transactions will grow 90 per cent per year by 2020. As of 2016, three new Indians join internet every second and by 2030, one billion Indians will be online so digital security is paramount,” Malkani told reporters here.

In India, Cisco Network Academy programme has trained 122,000 students and is committed to train an additional 250,000 students by 2020.

As per a Cisco report, there are more than one million unfulfilled security jobs worldwide currently. To help increase the pool of talent with critical cyber-security proficiency, the company announced a $10 million Global Cyber-Security Scholarship globally in June.

Demonetisation: Prasad, Goyal Discuss Strategy to Boost Cashless Transactions

Demonetisation: Prasad, Goyal Discuss Strategy to Boost Cashless TransactionsTop ministers on Monday held deliberations to firm up a strategy to fast-track adoption of cashless transactions in the wake of the government withdrawing the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes.

According to official sources, IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday met to discuss a strategy to accelerate adoption of cashless transactions in the system to tide over the current crisis.

Others present at the meeting included IT secretary, CEO of Common Services Centre and DG NIC, and officials from Aadhaar.

In the days that followed the announcement of scrapping of the high-value notes, there have been serpentine queues at ATMs and banks as people scrambled to exchange and withdraw cash, especially Rs. 100 notes.

“While the queue in urban India is reducing, there are concerns over measures that need to be taken to address the situation in rural India, especially in the wake of the sowing season… In this context, it was felt that CSCs can play a major role to address the needs in rural India. As many as 30,000 CSCs with banking correspondents status have expressed willingness to take on this responsibility,” they said.

Mobile wallet companies like Paytm and MobiKwik have seen manifold growth in transactions and even new users are coming on board to tide over the cash crunch.

The government has been pushing for adoption of digital payment in the country where there is low penetration of plastic money.

According to an Assocham-RNCOS joint study, the mobile payment transaction volume is now likely to register a compounded growth rate of over 90 percent to reach 153 billion by 2021-22. This is against a meagre 3 billion transactions in 2015-16.

With over one billion mobile subscribers, India has a promising potential for Internet on mobile and the same is expected for payments and business transactions on mobile.

How to Recover From an Enterprise Server Hack

With enterprise hacks on the rise, organizations must be vigilant in recovering their assets. Failure to do so will inevitably result in financial losses, tarnished reputations, and official penalties.

A PwC report revealed that there was an 81% increase in enterprise security hacks. It further informed that adversaries targeted servers in all business places, small and large, and that no one is safe from malware infiltrations.

Enterprise organizations in particular deal with structural challenges that SMBs may not have to encounter, such as multiple solutions offered in different countries, diverse customer base, secret internal units and, most important of all, ever-increasing business data. Therefore, they risk greater losses when a server breach goes by undetected.

And while enterprise IT stakeholders acknowledge there isn’t a foolproof measure to safeguarding enterprise data, most of them agree that organizations should know how to recover from a server hack so that they can take adequate measures as soon as a breach occurs. On that account, here are some solutions that will aid the recovery efforts of an enterprise.

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  1. Learn About Reliable Recovery Vendors

It’s a smart move to know about superior resources for RAID repair, hard drive recovery, data tape recovery and various server recovery solutions in advance. Server data recovery by Secure Data Recovery and other reliable vendors offer convenient access to robust technology. Organizations can leverage such resources immediately if they know who to call in various server data loss scenarios. Their goal is to minimize stress while recovering as much data as possible. Once called, experts will conduct several tests to locate potential data loss resources and then issue an evaluation report with a quote.

  1. Analyze Your Logs & Backups

It’s likely that your IT department created some backups for the main servers to assure a quick recovery, in case the server was infiltrated by a malware or an intelligent hack with the aim to render the system useless or damage the entire network, as is the case in most instances. Logs will aid not only in recovery but allow the IT department to detect and compare system and network processes before and after the attack. Logs can reveal valuable information about DNS (domain name system), firewall, web servers and other things related to security, which may help figure out the gaps that lead to the breach. As a result, IT departments can close loopholes to prevent repetition.

  1. Do a Server Hack Postmortem with a Third-Party

A server hack postmortem might show additional ways to use information technology in a better way. Antimalware tools, anti-phishing polices and other processes can work together to protect your business. Data handling and backup procedures can also be revisited during the postmortem to execute recovery efforts and improve upon the existing recovery processes. You can even bring in a third-party IT professional who specializes in gap analysis to conduct a post-breach audit of the company’s data handling procedures. The breach happened on your IT department’s watch, so they may have a vested interest in being with your company, and may not reveal all details as a result. A third-party specialist will help you discover what was compromised and how was it compromised, identify vulnerabilities, suggest recovery measures, and advice on how to prevent such incidents in the future.

With these tips, you can recover from server hacks and reduce your financial losses.