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Dear Bixby, and other virtual assistant love stories

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With his personal assistant on leave, LUCKY RADEBE, pens an open letter to Bixby, Samsung’s virtual personal assistant which learns your preferences and speaking habits over time, making it smarter each time it used.

Dear Bixby,

With my organised Personal Assistant (PA) on leave and my partner on a well-deserved holiday, the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note8 couldn’t have come at a better time, as I try to balance work and home life without my trusted support system. Not only does my new phablet enable me to speak, ask questions and make requests from you, Bixby, but as your deep learning technology continues to improve over time and you recognise my preferences and manner of speaking, so does my appreciation for your genius.

Take this morning for instance. My alarm went off at 5am and I was tempted to press the snooze button but you reminded me that today I had to get the children ready for school and that we needed to leave 45 minutes earlier to get them there on time. This helped me avoid running late and possibly receiving a scornful letter from the headmaster. By simply asking you what the weather was like today before leaving the house, we were prepared and dressed for the day’s weather.

While stepping out of the house, my teenagers told me that they hadn’t prepared lunches for themselves, but with a simple ‘Hi Bixby, find me the shortest route to school with a convenience shop en route to grab lunch’, a catastrophe was averted.

Having taken the least congested back routes and having dropped the children at school, it was you, Bixby that reminded me of my 9am meeting with the Managing Director and Vice President of my company. In preparation, I said ‘Bixby, open my emails, go to the last email sent by my PA with background information for the meeting’. I then asked you to read the documents back to me while I was driving. After gathering my thoughts, I dictated my response to you to type in Samsung Notes for me to reference as speaking points during my meeting. This was all in good time to receive an international call from my partner, who was pleased to find out that all was well and subtly made mention that the children had ballet and gymnastic classes at 3pm. After asking you, Bixby, to check my schedule for the day and realising I had an overlap of commitments, I asked you to help me pre-order an Uber for my daughters. You texted them the details, which allowed me enough time to dash off to my meeting.

For the next few hours, I had back-to-back meetings with clients and suppliers and enjoyed my perfectly productive mobile office. I conducted my business and even managed to reschedule my daughter’s tennis training for tomorrow and reserved time in my calendar so no one at work could schedule a meeting, preventing me from going with her. Amazingly, without the normal distractions of the office, I was more productive with both my work and dad tasks.

The day was shaping up well, but there was still one last hurdle to cross, dinner! But even that was no challenge for you. While I was chopping and mixing, making reference to the beef lasagne recipe which you pulled for me off the internet, I simply said, ‘Hey Bixby, set a timer for 20 minutes’ before I put the dish into the oven. 20 minutes later, you alerted me that the lasagne was ready – and for a change, nothing was burnt.

My partner, my PA and now you, Bixby, make a great team, empowering me to better manage my work and personal life. I’ll soon discover how new innovations from Samsung will further empower me and help me manage this blended life, but I can tell you, Bixby, you did an excellent job!

Sincerely,

Lucky Radebe

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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