Category Archives: Cloud Computing

We asked cryptocurrency experts to respond to Jamie Dimon's bitcoin bashings — here's what they said

Jamie Dimon

  • Jamie Dimon has been a vocal critic of bitcoin since its earliest days, but his most recent comments have ignited a conversation about digital currencies on Wall Street.
  • Two of the bankers’ main arguments against the cryptocurrency are that it is in a bubble, and it will ultimately be “crushed” by governments. 
  • We spoke with experts in the cryptocurrency space to examine those two critiques.
  • They said bitcoin’s underpinning blockchain technology can’t be easily jeopardized by governments and future use-cases justify its current value.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sparked a conversation about bitcoin among top Wall Streeters. 

Since he called the digital currency “a fraud” in September, a slew of top Wall Streeters from BlackRock’s Larry Fink to Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman, have weighed in on bitcoin, which is up more than 400% year-to-date.

Dimon said during JPMorgan’s earnings call Thursday he would stop talking about bitcoin. His vow of silence, however, ended prematurely. The very next day Dimon bashed bitcoin at a conference in Washington, D.C. He concluded his remarks by saying he was done talking about bitcoin.

Whether Dimon can keep his word remains to be seen, but what is certain is that his critiques of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will continue to drive conversation in both crypto- and Wall Street-circles.

‘Worse than tulip bulbs’

BubbleWall Street is full of folks who think the over $160 billion cryptocurrency market is in a bubble. Dimon said it is “worse than the tulip bulbs,” alluding to the speculative bubble of newly arrived tulips in 17th century Europe.

In fact, the notion that some folks are just betting on the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not even contested among bitcoin’s most fundamental followers.

Crypto-evangelists, however, would argue that such investors are in the minority, whereas the majority of cryptocurrency investors are betting on the underpinning technology of their coins and tokens, rather than just looking for a quick profit. 

“There is certainly some speculation,” Ryan Taylor, a former McKinsey analyst and CEO of Dash, a top cryptocurrency. “But it’s being driven by the belief that future use-cases will come to fruition.”

Crypto-skeptics often rebuke the argument for future use-cases, which range from toll systems to peer-to-peer energy exchange networks, by saying they are too far off to warrant current valuations.

“The real world benefits are said to take years to materialize, even among evangelists,” wrote UBS, the Switzerland-based bank in a recent note. The bank says at the end of the day people are just looking to sell at a higher price. 

Bitcoin enthusiasts respond by pointing to the utility of cryptocurrency’s network, which sees more than 200,000 transactions per day, as evidence of its inherent value. Here’s Stan Miroshnik, CEO and managing director, Element Group:

“The bitcoin economy is supported by all the goods and services you can buy with bitcoin, as well as the infrastructure investments made by thousands of people to support the distributed bitcoin network. All of this has fundamental value. I can pay in bitcoin faster, cheaper and more secure than with PayPal, this is a fundamental value.” 

PayPal did not respond for comment at the time of publication.

According to PayPal’s website, a bank transfer made through their platform takes approximately one business day. A bitcoin transaction typically takes under 30 minutes, although that number frequently fluctuates. 

‘Governments are going to crush it one day’

Dimon doubled down on his position that governments would be a main impediment to the future growth of bitcoin and the overall cryptocurrency market on Friday, saying sovereigns will ultimately crush it once it becomes too big of a threat to their authority. Here’s Dimon (emphasis added):

The other thing I’ve always [said] about bitcoin, governments — and this is not a technological statement — governments are going to crush it one day. Governments like to know where the money is, who has it and what you’re doing with it, in case you haven’t noticed. Right?

China’s recent interventions into both currency- and crypto-markets best illustrates Dimon’s point. The country’s regulators in September deemed initial coin offerings, a red-hot cryptocurrency-based fundraising method, illegal. And currently there is a wide-spread crackdown on bitcoin trading underway in the country. China notably has also implemented restrictions on cross-border payments between its yuan and foreign currencies to keep renminbi from exiting the country.


China is an extreme case, but numerous countries, from the US to South Korea, have ramped up efforts to impose restrictions on the wild west of cryptocurrencies. This isn’t worrying most cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

Capture.PNGSamson Mow, the CSO of Blockstream, a bitcoin software company based in San Francisco, told Business Insider that governments may dislike crypto, but the degree to which they can impact the digital currency is limited. 

“Cryptocurrencies by design cannot be “closed down” because first, they are decentralized, and second, they’re just information,” Mow said. “To even try to close them down, you’d have to shut down the internet, and even then it would only be a minor hindrance.”

The bitcoin markets seem to agree with Mow. Since China banned ICOs, for instance, bitcoin has rallied more than $1,000.

Josh Olszwicz, a bitcoin trader, told Business Insider the markets have ignored the news out of China because it is not something that impacts its underlying blockchain technology

“If it doesn’t affect the protocol, then it’s not a real problem,” he told Business Insider.”The bitcoin cash shakeup was much more worrisome from my perspective, but even then the core bitcoin protocol remained unaffected.”

If a country were to completely ban bitcoin, the network would still be there for people to use. And it wouldn’t be too difficult for people to get away with using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, because the network is anonymous and transactions and trades are hard to trace.  

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NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

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A New York 'self help' club for women allegedly requires naked photos for admission, brands members with a hot iron, and urges them to follow a near-starvation diet

Sarah Edmondson

  • A bombshell report from the New York Times accuses Albany, New York-based group NXIVM of manipulative and abusive tactics.
  • According to The Times, it practices cult-like behavior including branding some of its members and a hierarchical structure of “masters,” “slaves,” and “Vanguard.”
  • Motivational “self-improvement” programs and products are a $9.9 billion market, and self-help has a history of veering into the cult realm.

The self-help industry is booming.

Motivational “self-improvement” programs and products including books, speeches and seminars, and self-help organizations are a $9.9 billion market, according to the newest report from independent research firm Marketdata Enterprises.

One “self-help” organization, NXIVM, illustrates the slippery slope that comes with placing your hopes for success and fulfillment into the hands of a charismatic leader.

Keith Raniere, who the New York Times describes as “a New Age teacher with long hair and a guru-like manner of speaking,” founded NXIVM in 1998. The “self-help” group, based in Albany, New York, with chapters across the country, Canada and Mexico, offers “programs that provide the philosophical and practical foundation necessary to acquire and build the skills for success,” according to NXIVM’s website.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the organization practices cult-like behavior including branding some of its members and a hierarchical structure of “masters,” “slaves,” and “Vanguard.”

Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson told the New York Times that she and other female members in their 30s and 40s were recruited by “rock star” member Lauren Salzman to join a “secret sisterhood” within the organization “created to empower women.”

Here are eight of the wildest details about the secret society from the New York Times report:

  • “The sisterhood would comprise circles, each led by a ‘master’ who would recruit six ‘slaves,’ according to two women. In time, they would recruit slaves of their own.”
  • “In the spring, the sorority grew as women joined different circles. Slaves added compromising collateral every month to Dropbox accounts, and a Google Document was used to list a timetable for recruiting new slaves, several women said.”
  • “To gain admission, they were required to give their recruiter — or ‘master,’ as she was called — naked photographs or other compromising material and were warned that such ‘collateral’ might be publicly released if the group’s existence were disclosed.”
  • “Their ‘master,’ a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: ‘Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.’

    “A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch-square symbol below each woman’s hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes. For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.”

  • “A copy of a text message Raniere sent to a female follower indicates that he knew women were being branded and that the symbol’s design incorporated his initials.

    “‘Not initially intended as my initials but they rearranged it slightly for tribute,’ Raniere wrote, (‘if it were abraham lincolns or bill gates initials no one would care.)'”

  • “Former members have depicted [Raniere] as a man who manipulated his adherents, had sex with them, and urged women to follow near-starvation diets to achieve the type of physique he found appealing.”
  • “Edmondson and others said that during training, the women were required to send their master texts that read ‘Morning M’ and ‘Night M.’ During drills, a master texted her slaves ‘?’ and they had 60 seconds to reply ‘Ready M.’

    “Trainees who failed had to pay penalties, including fasting, or could face physical punishments, two women said.”

  • “[Nxivm-affiliated physician] Dr. [Brandon] Porter, as part of an ‘experiment,’ showed women graphically violent film clips while a brain-wave machine and video camera recorded their reactions, according to two women who took part.

    “The women said they were not warned that some of the clips were violent, including footage of four women being murdered and dismembered.”

The accounts undoubtedly tick many of those boxes used to determine if an organization is a cult.

Former Harvard Medical School professor and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton outlined in his paper “Cult Formation” three primary characteristics most commonly shared by destructive cults:

  1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.
  2. A process of coercive persuasion or thought reform — otherwise known as brainwashing.
  3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Self-help has a history of veering into the cult realm.

In 2009, self-help speaker James Arthur Ray, who charged his followers $10,000 to attend a meditation retreat in the desert, asked attendees to shave their heads and huddle within his “sweat lodge” for 36 hours without food or water. Three people died of heatstroke, while 18 others were hospitalized.

Edmondson and other members eventually left the group, despite fears their “collateral” would be used against them. “There is no playbook for leaving a cult,” Edmondson told the New York Times.

Read the full New York Times report »

SEE ALSO: Gretchen Carlson says the way we handle sexual harassment ‘gags’ the women who confront it

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A happiness expert explains why having work friends is vital to your success

Microsoft Office 2010
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What's new in Microsoft .Net Framework 4.7.1

With Microsoft’s release of .Net Framework 4.7.1 this week, the development platform gains critical improvements to garbage collection, security, and application configuration. 

To boost memory allocation performance, particularly for large object heap allocations, an architectural change to the garbage collector splits the heap allocation into small and large object heaps. Applications making a lot of large object heap allocations should experience a reduction in allocation lock contention and better performance.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

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Visual Studio 2017 Update 4 makes it easy to modernize your desktop application and make it store ready

Last year with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, we introduced the Desktop Bridge to provide desktop applications a path to modernize with the Universal Windows Platform, and to distribute via the Windows Store and the Microsoft Store for Business to all Windows 10 PCs, including devices that are running the Windows 10 S configuration.

The primary developer tool at the time was the Desktop App Converter, a tool that converts your current app installer into a Windows app package (.appx file), which can be submitted to the Windows Store or deployed via your distribution mechanism of choice. With Update 4 for Visual Studio 2017 we now have great support directly in Visual Studio for your Windows desktop application projects (WPF, Winforms, Win32, etc.). With the new tools you can now as you develop them in VS by simply hitting F5!

Let me walk you through an example, step-by-step. I am starting out with this Winforms app that showcases various chart controls. It’s been created several years ago in an older version of VS against .NET 4. Now my goal is to release it in the Windows Store and incrementally modernize it. Here is how easy it is now with Update 4 for Visual Studio 2017.

Step 1 – Add Windows App Packaging project to the solution

Before we start we need to make sure our desktop application project is loaded in Visual Studio 2017 and builds without error. Then in the next step we want to package our application as a Windows App Package (.appx file) so our Winforms app can take advantage of all the same Windows 10 app deployment features that are available to UWP apps: clean install & uninstall, seamless updates, Store distribution and many more. To do this, we will take advantage of the new tooling features introduced in Update 4 for Visual Studio 2017. We are adding a new project of type “Windows Application Packaging Project” to our solution:

Now we need to specify our min/target versions…

…and let the packaging  project know which project output to include in the package. To do so we right-click on the “Applications” node and set a reference to our Winforms project – done!

Important! Select the “DistributionPackage” project as your startup project. Now hit F5 and watch how your app gets packaged, deployed and launched as a Desktop Bridge app. You can start testing and debugging in this new execution context. If you set the Winforms project as startup project and hit F5, you can still test and debug the unpackaged version of your application

Step 2 – Configure app for Windows Store release

Our app is already running as a Desktop Bridge app now and we have successfully tested and debugged it in this configuration. Next we just need to put some finishing touches on the package so it integrates nicely with the Windows 10 Shell (tiles, badges, etc.) and to make sure it conforms to the Store submission requirements. First thing, we need to replace the default visual assets that come with the project template with our real, application-specific assets. This is very easy now in Visual Studio 2017 with the Visual Assets Manager in the package manifest editor:

To prepare for our Store submission we need to create the application in the Windows Dev Center and reserve our application name, provide screenshots for the store front, set the price, age ratings, etc. If you are not planning to distribute via the Windows Store, you can skip this step.

Last thing we need to do before we can release our app to the public is create a package bundle that is ready to deploy and Store-compliant. This bundle can contain binaries for different architectures, resources for different locales as well as the symbols for our binaries so we can later make sense of any crash reports in the Dev Center or Mobile Center. This can be done for Desktop Bridge apps directly from Visual Studio now, just like you would do for any UWP app:

As part of creating the packages we also run the certification tests and then submit the package to the Dev Center for certification and publishing. You can try the result of my submission out now and install the sample app on your machine from the Store by clicking on the badge below – source code for the app is available for your reference here.

What else does this enable for developers?

Aside from distributing and monetizing via Windows Store, your app now enjoys the modern deployment capabilities built into Windows 10. You don’t need to build an installer anymore, updates are automatic and differential. Uninstalls are guaranteed to be clean. Moreover, since your app is now in the Windows 10 App Model, you have access to UWP APIs and features, such as live tiles, Cortana integration, background tasks etc. Another important benefit specifically for Windows Forms apps is the new high DPI support in .NET 4.7, which is included in the Windows Creators Update (1703). Our sample app here is taking advantage of this new support, by following the steps outlined in this article.

And there is more

Talking about installers, did you know that your app package is also your installer on Windows 10? Users can just click to install it, as long as it’s signed with a certificate that is trusted on the target device. This enables you to distribute your modernized desktop application in the way that’s right for your scenario, without having to go through the Store – e.g. for LOB applications in an enterprise. Learn more about it here.

Conclusion

Getting your desktop application development project ready for Windows Store submission is easy now with Visual Studio 2017 Update 4. Once converted to a Windows App Package your app can take advantage of all the Windows 10 platform capabilities and start using new APIs and features on Windows 10. Here are some resources for more details:

Are you ready to submit your desktop application to the Windows Store? Let us know about it here, and we will help you through the process!

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Adobe XD CC: A New High-Performance UWP App for UI/UX Design

It’s a big day today – after a year of public preview, Adobe released Adobe XD 1.0 on Windows 10 and Mac: a new tool for user experience creators to design, prototype and share interactive designs for apps and websites.

When it comes to designing anything, it’s important to have design tools that support a fast and fluid process – one where you can iterate rapidly through a design, test, and build process: designing at the speed of thought. For interaction design, creative professionals have often used tools that excel at creating images of screens, but these tools that created static images have always missed something: transitions and interactions that demonstrate the experience. Putting an interactive prototype in front of stakeholders that they can try out is now a crucial part of the process, and being able to iterate on design rapidly based on the feedback from the prototype is essential. Being able to create a prototype without any coding is mandatory for this process. Almost a year ago, I wrote about a new app that fits these requirements, when Adobe released a public preview of Adobe Experience Design CC (XD) on Windows and Mac. Since then, Adobe was able to iterate quickly, releasing monthly updates of Adobe XD, responding to early customer feedback and an ambitious list of features that interaction designers wanted. We’re excited to share that today, Adobe XD as part of the Creative Cloud, is available today on Windows and Mac. Here are a few other reasons that that this is such an important release.

XD is a Universal Windows Platform App

Available through Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription, XD takes advantage of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to deliver a modern, high performance, professional design tool. Whether you’re working with one artboard or a hundred, XD gives you the same fast performance. The rendering surface is accelerated by DirectX and the UI is implemented in XAML, C++ and JavaScript.  Using this architecture, Adobe was able to have maximum code reuse between their Mac and Windows versions yet take advantage of the most advanced, platform specific UI layout technology. During XD’s preview period, Adobe was able to iterate quickly, leveraging a proprietary automated testing framework for much of their code built on the Windows Application Driver. The end result is a high-performance, stable, professional tool.

Design, Prototype and Share in One Tool

In creating Adobe XD, the team thought of the whole Design/Test/Build workflow that interactive designers go through, and made an easy-to-use tool for designing experiences, creating rapid prototypes and sharing them with others to get their feedback. With Adobe XD, you can rapidly create screens with standard tools as well as utilizing tools that have been specially designed for UX designers. Repeat Grid, for instance, allows users to quickly create content grids based on a single element – helping designers to simulate the type of content they often have to create. The Assets Panel helps users reuse important design elements such as colors, character styles and symbols – so that making changes across an entire document is fast and easy. At 1.0 XD is also connected to Creative Cloud Libraries, allowing users to leverage content across documents and teams. You can also add artboards for common screen sizes ranging from Android Wear to Surface Pro.

Switching from design to prototype mode is a single click, and you can quickly connect artboards to communicate the flow and paths of multiscreen apps.

Once your prototype is ready for feedback, you can generate shareable web link of the prototype or embed it onto webpage or supported application. Since my team uses Microsoft Teams to collaborate, I can create a tab page in Teams using that link to share the design with my colleagues – they can interact with the prototype in Teams and we can chat about it there.



Designer and Developer Resources

In addition to the tools available, Adobe XD has a number of UI resources available for designers to use while creating, including Apple iOS, Google Material Design, Microsoft Windows, and Microsoft Office UI Fabric. Our Office and Windows teams worked closely with the Adobe XD team to deliver a great set of UI components that designers and developers can use to craft their user experiences. We will continue to work closely in the future as we help developers and designers take advantage of the Fluent Design System.

This Is Just the Beginning

Having worked closely with the Adobe XD team for the past two years, this is a very exciting day. The designers, engineers, testers and product managers that I have met on the Adobe XD team are passionate about their product and are eager to hear your feedback as you try it out, use it and craft the next generation of user experiences. While today marks the 1.0 release of Adobe XD, the team has big plans ahead, including improvements for the way designers and developers work together. Read more about where they’re headed here.

You can download XD as a free trial or as part of Creative Cloud today. Adobe will also be hosting a live stream on UX design from Oct. 24-26. Watch and interact with Daniel Alegria, a Microsoft UX designer in action using XD on Windows. See the schedule and more content here.

Adobe has delivered a new, high-performance, UWP app that is useful to designers, and you should try it out today.

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Gmail launches its first public iOS beta to test support for third-party accounts

 Google wants to make Gmail the place where you check all your email accounts, not just your Google accounts. The company announced this week it’s testing a new version of the Gmail app on iOS that will allow users to add their non-Google accounts, including those from Outlook (including Hotmail or Live), Yahoo, and elsewhere. The announcement, which was sent out via a tweet from the… Read More

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The Moto Z gets its very own Alexa smart speaker

 It was just a matter of time, really. Motorola’s been teasing Alexa integration since Mobile World Congress in February. Back then, the company previewed a sort of “experimental” Mod for the Moto Z sporting Amazon’s insanely popular smart assistant. The add-on is finally really real and set to start shipping next month.
The AI has already slowly made its way onto a… Read More

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Wattpad’s storytelling app, now with 60M monthly users, adds a subscription service

 Wattpad, the company behind a suite of apps for reading and sharing stories – including a fairly popular “chat fiction” app Tap, a rival to Hooked – is today adding its first ever subscription plan for its flagship application. The option, called Wattpad Premium, will remove the ads from Wattpad’s otherwise free app – a feature users have been requesting… Read More

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14 brutal, beautiful images from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

44 1280px Tony Wu  Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The winning photo from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is dark and bloody: A black rhino lies dead on the ground in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, its horn brutally sawed off.

Other winning photos showcase the beauty of nature — sharks circle in a column of water, a bear cub wrestles with its mother, and a a congregation of sperm whales gather to socialize.

The winners of the annual contest, which is produced by the Natural History Museum in London, were announced late Tuesday night. They were chosen from more than 50,000 entries submitted from 92 countries around the world. A selection of preview images from the contest were released in September

You can see the full gallery of winners and finalists on the museum’s website, but we’ve published a selection of some winners and finalists below.

SEE ALSO: More from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest

This red fox took a dive into a snowdrift in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, while trying to capture a vole — unsuccessfully.

This male orangutan swung down to the ground for a snack in Gunung Palung National Park of Borneo.

A nesting leatherback turtle journeys back to the ocean in Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Apple has new self-driving car hardware covered with iPod-style white plastic (AAPL)

  • An updated version of Apple’s self-driving car was spotted in Silicon Valley.
  • It’s sporting a new set of white plastic-covered sensors on top of the car’s roof rack.
  • Apple’s self-driving cars will reportedly be used for an internal company shuttle to bring employees from one building to another.

Tim Cook

Apple’s self-driving cars have a new array of sensors, according to video tweeted by Voyage cofounder MacCallister Higgins on Tuesday. 

According to the video, Apple has a new array of sensors with which it’s equipping its fleet of self-driving cars. 

The rack spotted in Higgins’ video is covered in Apple-style white plastic, and sports a lot of different sensors, including six Lidar sensors, according to his tweets. 

Check it out: 

Here’s what previous versions of the sensor array looked like:

According to documents filed with the California DMV earlier this year, Apple is currently operating a fleet of three Lexus SUVs to test its self-driving car software. Apple also plans to operate a self-driving shuttle using the technology, according to The New York Times. 

In 2016, Apple reportedly drastically scaled back its car ambitions, codenamed “Project Titan,” from building a complete vehicle to focusing on the self-driving component.

See any interesting sensors on Apple’s car? Email the author at kleswing@businessinsider.com 

SEE ALSO: Google put a custom, self-designed chip inside its latest flagship smartphone

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NOW WATCH: Samsung released the widest computer monitor you can buy — here’s what it’s like

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