Daily Tech Digest - December 26, 2019

Decade in review: Reflections on the last 10 years in the tech industry

2020 past circle #3
Technology has irreversibly gone from the sole province of the back office to a key element of most organizations' products and services, and oftentimes a strategic and competitive differentiator. This transition is furthering a trend from earlier in the decade, whereby technology in some organizations was splitting between core "keep the lights on" services in the back office, and technologies that powered products and transformational initiatives. In extreme cases, the CIO has become a utility player while other functions like marketing or product development get the preponderance of a company's technology spend. On the other extreme are CIOs who have become brokers of technology services that power marketing, product development, and digital transformation while pushing management of back-office systems to staff or an external vendor. As back-office systems increasingly become commodities that can be purchased from a cloud vendor, it appears that the operationally oriented CIO will become increasingly less important and disappear from the executive ranks at many companies.

Corporate IT training gets high profile in 2020

Multiple training methods may prove necessary, but Becirovic advised establishing a common platform for delivery -- instead of creating a series of one-off training vehicles. The company's Accenture Future Talent Platform plays that unified-platform role. "It's difficult to create a one-size-fits-all model for upskilling talent," Becirovic said of platform-building. "But the most effective approaches focus on 'learning anytime, anywhere' through digital technologies. Mobile- and tablet-based learning are gaining traction -- mobile learners study on average 40 extra minutes per week." Becirovic also cited the power of social media and collaboration. "Engaging learners through social collaboration enhances learning," he said, noting employees have been found to spend three times more time on social-enabled tools.

AI makes inroads in life sciences in small but significant ways: Lantern Pharma’s quest

Lantern is working on three different therapies that had been left aside after showing some progress in clinical trials but not winning approval. They address a variety of cancers, including prostate, ovarian, and non-small-cell lung cancer. Lantern is a tiny company with just nine full-time employees and three contractors. They are not going to run massive, multimillion-dollar drug trials on their own. But what they can do is test drugs in simulation before a trial happens and then partner with larger firms. The company's software platform is called "RADR," which stands for "Response Algorithm for Drug Positioning and Rescue." Not all of this is artificial intelligence. The process starts with choosing which of thousands of genes are likely responsive based on historical statistics about those genes, what is known as "feature selection." That process leads to a shortlist of tens of genes that may be responsive. Lantern takes tissue samples from prospective patients and tests the individuals' unique genetic profiles, looking for the combination of genes that represents a "signature" that may be predictive of drug response.

A Transformation Journey for a Distributed Development Organization

This vision dictates an Agile organization and setup. We’re aware there is no end to bringing better and faster customer value. This is an ongoing journey, where we strive for perfection, sometimes taking major steps, but mostly changing minor things.Those minor things add up and create a difference. One of the biggest challenges in our Agile organization is reusing some of the existing skill sets in teams, while hiring new teams in different locations for the new domains. This approach allows us to use the strengths of the company, but brings a challenge of creating one big team with a single goal. This also makes our experience stronger and more educational for other setups inside and outside the company. Basically, we reuse our existing multi-functional printer (MFP) related technical skills, as well as sales and support skills, and add newly hired teams for new functionalities that do not have any counterpart in the enterprise.

Running Android on PC: A Developer’s Overview

There are a number of different ways to do this, but keep in mind that you can’t run virtual machines on Windows Home; you need the Pro, Enterprise or Education editions. Memu Play is an application that runs an Android emulator; it’s targeted at games. It runs on your Windows PC and integrates mice and keyboard. It’s free but shows adverts. Despite uninstalling Hyper-V from my Windows 10 and enabling VT-x in the BIOS (and rebooting way too many times), I was unable to make Memu Play work (or play, if we want to be punny) because it claimed I was still running Hyper-V. On my wife’s laptop, it ran fine and was very slick. The website has links to many popular Android games that you can download and run. Like Memu Play, Bluestacks is another emulator focused on Android games; moreover, it claims a speed advantage over Android smartphones. It uses Android N (7.1.2). This potentially isn’t a problem, as my experience with Android compared to iOS is there’s longer support for games on older OS versions. GenyMotion takes a different approach, with two offerings targeted at developers: desktop or cloud-based.

The Bug That Got Away

There are countless systems, big and small, that are just riddled with the things. As an engineer I know this very well, as I've contributed to my fair share of them. I've been a software engineer over ten years or so and I've always considered myself to be thorough, especially when it comes to tracking down a bug: the research, the deep diving, and finally: the fix. As with any bug - one of the first steps to fix it, is being able to reproduce it. I spoke with our QA team and they weren't immediately able to reproduce it, but mentioned they would look into it further. Hours pass and I receive another message something to the effect of: QA Person: Rion, I just spun up a fresh new environment and I can reproduce the issue! At this point, I'm excited. I had been fighting with this for over a day and I'm about to dive down the bug fixing rabbit hole on the way to take care of this guy. I log into the new environment, and sure enough, QA was right! I can reproduce it! I should have this thing knocked out in a matter of minutes and my day is saved!

What is WireGuard? Secure, simple VPN still in development

secured vpn tunnel
For one, the WireGuard protocol does away with cryptographic agility -- the concept of offering choices among different encryption, key exchange and hashing algorithms -- as this has resulted in insecure deployments with other technologies. Instead the protocol uses a selection of modern, thoroughly tested and peer-reviewed cryptographic primitives that result in strong default cryptographic choices that users cannot change or misconfigure. If any serious vulnerability is ever discovered in the used crypto primitives, a new version of the protocol is released and there’s a mechanism of negotiating protocol version between peers. WireGuard uses ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption with Poly1305 for message authentication, a combination that’s more performant than AES on embedded CPU architectures that don’t have cryptographic hardware acceleration; Curve25519 for elliptic-curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key agreement; BLAKE2s for hashing, which is faster than SHA-3; and a 1.5 Round Trip Time (1.5-RTT) handshake that’s based on the Noise framework and provides forward secrecy.

How Amazon customer experience became e-commerce standard

Technology can partially bridge the divide and make it more of a fair fight, say analysts, e-commerce cloud vendors and retailers. Different parts of the Amazon customer experience can be replicated in order to meet consumer -- and, increasingly, business -- buying expectations for which Amazon has set the standard. Cloud e-commerce vendors such as BigCommerce, Shopify, Adobe Magento, Salesforce and Oracle must provide customers with payment processing, a shipping network and SEO to infuse their shopping sites with as many elements like the Amazon customer experience as they can. On top of all that, they also must enable the ability to sell on or off Amazon's marketplace. "Amazon set the bar for a lot of the Western world for integrated, end-to-end customer experience," said Des Cahill, Oracle head CX evangelist. "It's come into B2B as well; it's not just a B2C phenomenon. We build into our platform technologies and services that will enable our customers to deliver that same Amazon-like consistency and personalized experiences."

SaaSOps: The next step in Software as a Service evolution

Businessman using mobile smartphone and connecting cloud computing service with icon customer network connection. Cloud device online storage. Cloud technology internet networking concept.
SaaSOps is a result of the explosion of SaaS in the enterprise. The term is new, but the concept has been gaining momentum for quite some time. You may have heard it being referred to as everything from digital workplace ops, to IT operations, to SaaS administration, to cloud office management and end-user computing, just to name a few. But, ultimately, the gist is the same. SaaSOps is a set of disciplines—all the new responsibilities, processes, technologies, and people you need to successfully enable your organization through SaaS. .... SaaSOps ultimately unlocks the potential SaaS can have on any given organization: increased productivity, better collaboration, and a happier workforce. In a world where SaaSOps is widely adopted—which I predict will be in the next 3 to 5 years—users can achieve optimum levels of productivity through SaaS, and IT can effectively manage the proliferation of these best-in-breed applications. When companies first start their SaaS journey, adoption is low.

IT: Managing Choice, Change, Careers in 2020

Speaking of strategic value, if IT can’t deliver that, their role risks being diminished or outsourced altogether. This is why managing both choice and change are so important. Having a world-class understanding of cloud technology alone isn’t enough for success career-wise when these other elements are having such a strong impact on the business. Deep technology knowledge may have been sufficient with the PBX since it didn’t have much impact on the business beyond providing dial tone. There was nothing transformational about the PBX, so IT didn’t really need to be concerned beyond providing reliable telephony service. The landscape has shifted dramatically with the cloud, and that shift is key to how IT’s role is changing. To make that point, I’ll return once more to Krapf’s talk, where he shared some findings from Enterprise Connect’s 2018 Salary & Career Survey. Below is a comparison of the skillsets IT believes will be important for career success going forward, along with where their current skills are strongest.

Quote for the day:

"A healthy attitude is contagious but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier." -- Tom Stoppard

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