Daily Tech Digest - February 23, 2022

The Metaverse Is Coming; We May Already Be in It

The metaverse has moved beyond science fiction to become a “technosocial imaginary,” a collective vision of the future held by those with the power to turn that vision into reality. Facebook recently changed its name to Meta and committed $10 billion to build out metaverse-related technology. Microsoft just announced that it was spending a record-breaking $69 billion to buy Activision Blizzard, the makers of some of the most popular massively multiplayer online games in the world, including World of Warcraft. This current vision of the metaverse goes well beyond the simple VR of my ping-pong game to eventually include augmented reality (or AR, where smart glasses project objects onto the physical world), portable digital goods and currency in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrency, realistic AI characters that can pass the Turing test, and brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. BCIs will eventually allow us to not only control our avatars via brain waves, but eventually, to beam signals from the metaverse directly into our brains, further muddying the waters of what is real and what is virtual.

Using Machine Learning for Fast Test Feedback to Developers and Test Suite Optimization

The necessary step of integrating source control and test result data opens up an “incidental” use case concerning the correct routing of defects in multi-team environments. Sometimes there are defects/bugs where it is not clear which team they should be assigned to. Typically, if you have more than two teams it can be cumbersome to find the correct team to take care of a fix. This can lead to a kind of defect ping-pong between the teams because no one feels responsible until the defect is finally assigned to the correct team. Since the Healthineers data also contains change management logs, there is information about defects and their fixes, e.g. which team performed a fix or which files were changed. In many cases, there are test cases connected to a defect - either existing ones when a problem is found in a test run before release or new tests added because a test gap was identified. This allows tackling the problem of this “defect hot potato”. Defects can be related to test cases in several ways, for example if a test case is mentioned in the defect’s description or if the defect management system allows explicit links between defects and test cases. 

Curious about quantum computing

As technologists, it’s our responsibility to also keep an eye on these advancements—to learn where they’re headed, to steer our business partners toward the right use cases for them, and even to help shape what they become. Quantum computing is one such technology. I find the very idea of quantum computing fascinating. It takes computer science—the hardware and software that we created in the computer industry—and blends in the fundamentals of nature, physics, and other observed sciences. I believe quantum computing is an area that will fundamentally change the world around us… eventually. But I also find that there’s a lot of hype and misinformation around quantum computing, with only a handful of experts truly in a position to discuss its current state (did you catch what I did there?). I wanted to cut through the hype and go straight to one of these experts myself to get a better understanding of where quantum computing is today and where it’s headed in the future. Introducing, Dr. John Preskill. Dr. John Preskill is a pioneer in the field of quantum computing. He is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he is also the Director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter.

Is Serverless Just a Stopover for Event-Driven Architecture?

Serverless does illustrate many desirable traits. It is easy to scale up and scale down. It’s triggered by events that are pushed rather than via a polling mechanism. Functions only consume resources based on that job’s needs, then exits and frees up resources for other workloads. Developers benefit from the abstraction of infrastructure and could deploy code easily via their CI/CD pipelines without concern as to how to provision resources. However, the point that Aniszczyk alludes to is that serverless isn’t designed for many situations including long-running applications. They can actually be more expensive to the end user than running a dedicated application in containers, a VM or on bare metal. As an opinionated solution, it forces developers into the model facilitated by the vendor. In addition, serverless doesn’t have an easy way to handle state. Finally, though serverless deployments are largely deployed in the cloud, they aren’t easily deployed across cloud providers. The tooling and mechanisms for managing serverless are very much specific to the cloud, though perhaps with the donation of Knative to the CNCF, there could be a serverless platform that could be developed and deployed with the support of the industry, much like Kubernetes has.

Why Big Tech is losing talent to crypto, web3 projects

Another example of a high-profile person leaving big tech for crypto is John deVadoss, former Managing Director (MD) at Microsoft, where he spent about 16 years of his career in a variety of roles, for example General Manager (GM) overseeing the developer platform Microsoft.NET, and most recently building Microsoft Digital from zero to half a billion dollars of business worldwide. “I built and led Architecture strategy for .NET at Microsoft; I built the first enterprise frameworks and tools for Visual Studio .Net; I lead Microsoft’s first application platform product line and strategy, and I also worked on the Azure developer experience, long before it was called Microsoft Azure,” says deVadoss in an interview with CryptoSlate. After all these years at Microsoft, deVadoss went for Neo – the “Chinese Ethereum” blockchain with high ambitions indeed. ... “I have worked on developer platforms and tools for over 25 years, and it was a natural move to build the blockchain industry’s best developer tools and experience for Neo N3, the first polyglot blockchain platform in the industry and the most developer-friendly,” deVadoss says.

Blockchain: The game-changing technology that’s about to disrupt almost every industry

Blockchain technology can offer effective solutions to banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) to improve their payment clearing and credit information systems. It can also enhance the security of online banking transactions. With blockchain, banks could combine their payment protocols with smart contracts, and this would allow them to establish multiple data points on each transaction. These data points would further enable banks to monitor their loans, track transactions, and easily manage their invoicing and financing-related activities. In a blockchain-based banking system, each user can be provided with a private key for every transaction on the ledger; this key works like a unique digital signature. So at any point, if a banking record is altered, the digital signature is rendered invalid, and the whole banking network is notified of the anomaly. ... Cryptocurrencies provide an alternative to traditional banking for people who remain unbanked, for various reasons. There use has also been suggested as a way to decouple currencies from the traditional monetary systems. For example, the hyperinflation that began in Venezuela in 2016 resulted in a steep devolution of the nation’s currency.

Behind the stalkerware network spilling the private phone data of hundreds of thousands

TechCrunch first discovered the vulnerability as part of a wider exploration of consumer-grade spyware. The vulnerability is simple, which is what makes it so damaging, allowing near-unfettered remote access to a device’s data. But efforts to privately disclose the security flaw to prevent it from being misused by nefarious actors has been met with silence both from those behind the operation and from Codero, the web company that hosts the spyware operation’s back-end server infrastructure. The nature of spyware means those targeted likely have no idea that their phone is compromised. With no expectation that the vulnerability will be fixed any time soon, TechCrunch is now revealing more about the spyware apps and the operation so that owners of compromised devices can uninstall the spyware themselves, if it’s safe to do so. Given the complexities in notifying victims, CERT/CC, the vulnerability disclosure center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, has also published a note about the spyware.

Matter, explained: What is the next-gen smart home standard?

Matter uses a wireless technology based on Internet Protocol (IP), which Wi-Fi routers use to assign an address to your connected devices. There are no awkward handoffs or other wireless technologies to deal with by natively integrating an IP-based protocol for smart home devices. It paves the way forward to a future where all Matter certified devices will work alongside each other in synchronous harmony. As you can see, bringing our smart home devices together like this not only makes setup a breeze, but it's absolutely essential when designing a single universal smart home environment that just works. The ultimate goal here is to create a "set it and forget it" situation where these devices essentially fade into the background rather than sit in the foreground. Thankfully, Matter sounds like the thing we need to finally bridge that gap and fix the smart home situation once and for all. We have some of the biggest tech giants working together to make Matter a unified protocol in our smart homes of the future.

Mitigating Risks in Cloud Native Applications

As the shift to the work-from-anywhere model becomes mainstream and cloud applications continue to surge, it is redefining new developments like “security and observability is converging,” said Tipirneni. While DevOps and IT security have traditionally been treated as separate disciplines, their roles and responsibilities are increasingly moving toward the DevSecOps trend. “Solving the security problem and observability problem is your ability to instrument everything that is happening in the system at a very fine-grained level — from gathering the data and really making sense of the data,” said Tipirneni. “Developers try to work around security controls that are complex but bringing those two together puts the power in the developers’ hands” he added. Information security and development teams have traditionally managed Tigera’s solutions like Calico and Envoy, but for cloud-first companies who do not have legacy applications “DevOps, Cloud Ops engineers are pretty much responsible end to end,” said Tipirneni. From deploying applications to troubleshooting and managing compliance and security, “the challenge they have is that there’s just way too much on their plate to do,” Tipirneni added.

NFT use cases for businesses

NFTs have also shown capability of showing organisations the interests of their customers, without marketing teams needing to scour Internet usage data. In time, NFTs could be utilised to learn more about what customers need, before a product is purchased. Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs, said: “I believe the true inflection point of adoption will be when the majority of smartphone users hold them. Whilst the technology is there to do this currently, only a minority of people keep NFTs on them. This will be key for true mass adoption. “An NFT can represent any real-world or virtual good, as it stands the greatest value outside of financial for them is the communities that are forming around holders of them. This is a marketeer’s dream, as prior to NFTs it wasn’t easy to learn a person was interested in a product or brand unless they purchased it or engaged with it by signing up for email updates, liking Twitter posts, etc. “The NFTs a person holds in a wallet can be viewed as an expression of their interests, and the fact that this is public information is a powerful tool for targeting individuals and communities.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is familiar, but not well understood." -- Gerald Weinberg

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