Daily Tech Digest - March 28, 2020

Coronavirus transforms peak internet usage into the new normal

"We've been watching the network very closely," said Joel Shadle, a spokesman for Comcast. "We're seeing a shift in peak usage. Instead of everyone coming home and getting online, we're seeing sustained usage and peaks during the day." AT&T reported Monday that on Friday and again on Sunday it hit record highs of data traffic between its network and its peers, driven by heavy video streaming. The company also said it saw all-time highs in data traffic from Netflix on Friday and Saturday with a slight dip on Sunday. And the company reported that its voice calling traffic has been way up, too. Wireless voice calls were up 44% compared to a normal Sunday; Wi-Fi calling was up 88% and landline home phone calls were up 74%, the company said in its press release Monday.  AT&T also said it has deployed FirstNet portable cell sites to boost coverage for first responders in parts of Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and New York. Cloudflare, which provides cloud-based networking and cybersecurity services and which has been tracking worldwide data usage, noted in a blog post last week that it had seen network usage increase as much as 40% in Seattle, where the coronavirus first broke out in the US.

The Ecommerce Surge: Guarding Against Fraud

As more consumers shift to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers must ramp up their efforts to guard against ecommerce payment fraud, says Toby McFarlane, a cybersecurity expert at CMSPI, a payments consultancy. "Retailers should have in place already tools to monitor fraud and approval rates" so they can be benchmarked, McFarlane says in an interview with Information Security Media Group. "If you see a spike in fraud, for example, you want to know if that's a general industry trend or if that is something specific to your business." The shift toward ecommerce in recent weeks presents opportunities to gain a competitive advantage, McFarlane says. "We've seen average transaction values are increasing online, so if merchants can ensure their online infrastructure and experience is set up to handle that, then we could see certain merchants taking market share from non-optimized merchants," he says.

How to refactor the God object antipattern

It's not good enough to simply write code that works. That code must be easily maintained, enhanced and debugged when problems happen. One of the reasons why object-oriented programming is so popular is because it delivers on these requirements. But antipatterns often appear when developers take shortcuts or focus more on the need to get things done instead of done right. One of those common antipatterns is the God object. One of the main concepts in object-oriented programming is that every component has a single purpose, and that component is only responsible for the properties and fields that allow it to perform its pertinent functions. ... Good object-oriented design sometimes takes a back seat to a need to get things done, and the single responsibility model gets thrown out the window. Then, out of nothingness, the God object emerges. In simple terms, the God object is a single Java file that violates the single-responsibility design pattern because it: performs multiple tasks; declares many unrelated properties; and maintains a collection of methods that have no logical relationship to one another, other than performing operations pivotal to the application function.

What’s Next in DevOps?

What’s Next in DevOps?
DevOps is aimed at "actualizing agile" by ensuring that teams have the technical capabilities to be truly agile, beyond just shortening their planning and work cadence. Importantly, DevOps also has Lean as part of its pedigree. This means that there is a focus on end-to-end lifecycle, flow optimisation, and thinking of improvement in terms of removing waste as opposed to just adding capacity. There are a huge number of organisations and teams that are still just taking their first steps in this process. For them, although the terminology and concepts may seem overwhelming at first, they benefit from a wide range of well-developed options to suit their development lifecycle needs. I anticipate that many software tools will be optimizing for ease-of-use, and continuing to compete on usability and the appearance of the UI. Whereas most early DevOps initiatives were strictly script and configuration file based, more recent offerings help to visualise processes and dependencies in a way that is easily digested by a broader segment of the organization.

Tips for cleaning data-center gear in response to coronavirus

server room / data center
Dell has come up with some guidance for cleaning its data center products. It's well timed, as data-center operators are tasked with implementing access and cleaning procedures in response to COVID-19. It's a real issue. The two biggest data center and colocation providers, Equinix and Digital Reality Trust, are restricting visitors to their facilities for the time being. Since the hardware in colocation data center is owned by the clients, they have every right to visit the facility to perform maintenance or upgrades – but not for now. Meanwhile, data-center staff have been declared essential and are exempt from California's "stay at home" order, so like grocery store and banking staff, data center workers can go to work. Right off the bat, Dell acknowledges that its data center products "are not high touch products," and that data centers should have a clean room policy where people are required to sanitize their hands before they enter. If your gear does need sterilization, Dell recommends engaging a professional cleaning company that specializes in sterilizing data center equipment. If that's not possible, then you can do it yourself as a last resort.

States of shock: Recovering our tech economy after COVID-19

Segal says the effects of the current economic downturn may be compounded by crises of confidence throughout the world, and reactions to the uncertain nature of the virus' transmissivity path — particularly in those countries where uncertainty preceded action. But that uncertainty, being a psychological factor, could be remedied in short order, giving her optimism that the global economy, including technology, could resume its previous course by the end of 2020. "We've certainly had at least a pause," remarked ZDNet contributor Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research. He noted Apple's warning of supply chain disruptions for components for iPhone and other devices. As a supplier itself, it first closed its retail outlets inside China, and later as infection cases within China subsided, reopened those stores at roughly the same time it closed its retail outlets outside China. "The reports that we're getting back now is that the factories are starting to gear up again," Rubin continued. For example, Apple has announced product refreshes for iPad, still on schedule for May. "There seems to be some confidence there that, while those products do not ship in anywhere near the same volumes as iPhones — particularly the iPad Pro, which is a more premium product — they are introducing new, cellular-enabled products."

Aisera: The Next Generation For RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

Torso Of IT Manager Activating RPA Application
A good way to look at this is as a simple equation: AI + RPA = Conversational RPA. When you converge AI and RPA, you get Conversational RPA. AI provides a human-like dialogue interface for users providing similar consumer-like application experiences, like those of Alexa, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Snapchat. This simple natural human-like interface interacts and performs the duties, tasks, IT workflows, and business workflows. RPA is used to automate simple and complex workflows that are highly repetitive that are typical of back-office functions. Most of these should not require humans to manage, monitor or execute them. Conversational RPA’s self-learning ability reduces the barrier for user adoption and lends itself to expediting complex challenges like cloud and application integrations, compliance, audit trail creation, and user experience analysis that require complex workflows. Conversational RPA supports new workflows, existing workflows and provides a way to customize workflows to meet business needs.

Automate security testing and scans for DevSecOps success

Automated security testing analyzes environments to make sure they meet expectations. Organizations mandate particular environment configurations to meet security and performance goals, but you don't know that the configuration is as expected without testing. Processes like white box and black box testing can help QA engineers pinpoint potential vulnerabilities before it's too late. If configuration is out of specification, the software team can halt the release and remediate the security deficiencies themselves, or alert the security team. Remediation on the fly might be the better option if automation is in place, such as declarative configuration management, to handle configuration drift. If you have both red teams -- aggressive fake attackers -- and blue teams -- their counterparts enacting defenses -- in security, this is also the phase in which you should launch real attacks against your code. If the app can't handle it, it's time to go back to the drawing board with the developers to make the product more resilient. If the app passes, push to production with peace of mind.

Quantum entanglement breakthrough could boost encryption, secure communications

Generating photons at two micrometres had never been demonstrated before. A major challenge for the researchers was to get their hands on the appropriate technology to conduct their experiment. "You need detectors that are able to see single photons at two micrometres, and we had to develop the right technology for these measurements," says Clerici. "And on the other side, you also need a specific piece of technology to generate the photons." In partnership with technology manufacturer Covesion, Clerici and his team engineered a nonlinear crystal that was suitable for operating at two micrometers. Photons are generated when short pulses of light from a laser source pass through the crystal. In theory, the entangled photons generated at the new wavelength should be able to travel as far as the photons generated through existing methods, and used for satellite communication. But the new experiment is still in its early stages, and Clerici said that the team hasn't yet identified how much information the new technology can communicate, or how quickly.

Google's MediaPipe Machine Learning Framework Web-Enabled with WebAssembly

The browser-enabled version of MediaPipe graphs is implemented by compiling the C++ source code to WebAssembly using Emscripten, and creating an API for all necessary communications back and forth between JavaScript and C++. Required demo assets (ML models and auxiliary text/data files) are packaged as individual binary data packages, to be loaded at runtime. To optimize for performance, MediaPipe’s browser version leverages the GPU for image operations whenever possible, and resort to the lightest (yet accurate) available ML models. The XNNPack ML Inference Library is additionally used in connection with the TensorflowLite inference calculator (TfLiteInferenceCalculator), resulting in an estimated 2-3x speed gain in most of applications. Google plans to improve MediaPipe’s browser version and give developers more control over template graphs and assets used in the MediaPipe model files. Developers are invited to follow the Google Developer twitter account.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness, and he who is a leader must always act alone. And acting alone, accept everything alone." -- Ferdinand Marcos

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