Apis for speech recognition and text analytics: news from the azure ai world

Microsoft has revealed several new features for Azure Cognitive Services. Behind the name are cognitive APIs that can be used to develop intelligent apps. The interfaces enable machines to see and hear, i.e. to cognitively grasp their environment. So far, more than 30 services cover decision-making, speech recognition and input, image analysis, and web search.

Text Analytics for Health is aimed at healthcare and allows medical professionals to use unstructured medical data to gain informed insights. In light of the Corona crisis, Microsoft and the Allen Institute of AI have released a free collection of more than 47.000 scientific documents compiled, the COVID-19 open research dataset. In addition, a newly developed COVID-19 search engine will be used for the cognitive search to gain new insights from researching and combating the corona virus.

What mood resonates between the lines

Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) enable Microsoft to provide a new opinion mining capability for text analysis. The developers claim that it recognizes moods in texts and thus allows, for example, more precise analyses of customer opinions in social media.

Report: discord rejects microsoft's takeover offer

Discord has ended takeover talks with Microsoft and rejected the offer, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Messenger service wants to go public instead. The conversations had been recorded about a month ago. Microsoft reportedly offered more than $10 billion for Discord.

Microsoft was not the only interested party. According to the Wall Street Journal, at least three other companies were interested in talks to take over Discord. Previously, Discord had made a bid for the company, according to Bloomberg’s Discord had also been in talks with Amazon and Epic Games. Although talks with Microsoft over the 10 billion offer have ended for now, a return to the negotiating table is not ruled out.

Discord has grown significantly recently

Discord doubled its monthly user numbers to around 140 million last year, especially as life increasingly moves online in pandemic times. In 2020, Discord generated $130 million in revenue, nearly three times as much as in 2019. However, the messenger service still does not operate profitably.

Focus on business customers: netgate announces firewall distribution pfsense plus

In future, Netgate will market the commercial version of the pfSense firewall distribution under the name pfSense Plus. In addition to the rebranding of pfSense Factory Edition to pfSense Plus, the company is shifting its development priorities more in the direction of business customer offerings. Netgate plans the first release of pfSense Plus with version number 21.02 in February 2021. pfSense Plus will initially be available only on Netgate devices or virtualized via cloud providers AWS and Azure. Support for third-party devices and selected virtual machines will be added in June 2021 at the latest.

The first release will be similar to the pfSense Community Edition, in the future the closed pfSense Plus will deviate from the open code base. Netgate declares that it will continue to sponsor the community project and provide resources. A free pfSense Plus option for home users is also promised.

Exclusive features for pfSense Plus customers

The planned pfSense Plus 21.02 is based on pfSense Community Edition 2.5, but has exclusive features like hardware accelerated IPsec via Intel QuickAssist (QAT) or EIP-97. In a FAQ, Netgate gives an overview of planned features, including a new dashboard, support for 802.11ac.

Pwn2own 2021: second digital edition of the hacking contest in full swing

Until 2019, the Pwn2Own hacking contest was held at the CanSecWest conference in Vancouver each spring, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it moved to the World Wide Web last year. Pwn2Own 2021, which is currently being held online once again, brings with it another thoroughly enjoyable first: "If you’ve ever wanted to watch Pwn2Own but couldn’t get to Vancouver, you’re in luck!", writes Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) in a blog entry – referring to the possibility of watching the event conveniently via livestream.

The contest, which started yesterday (Tuesday), will run until tomorrow and will be streamed on the Pwn2Own website, YouTube and Twitch from Austin, Texas. The complete "program", including the estimated time of the 23 hacking attempts, can be found in the ZDI blog entry for the Pwn2Own contest 2021. Attention: The times are given in UTC-4, so you have to add six hours to each time. Today, Wednesday, the event has started at 3 pm in our time zone.

Pwn2Own 21: Via YouTube you can watch hacking for three days.

Pylance is the new standard language server in python extension for vs code

Microsoft has released a new version of its Python extension for Visual Studio Code. With the May update Pylance advances to the new standard language server. As an optional extension, Pylance is now an integral part of the core bundle of the Python Extension for Visual Studio Code. Developers can also look forward to new features in the debugger and faster startup times for the extensions.

Free choice of the Language Server remains

The language server Pylance, which provides in interaction with IntelliSense in the editor among other things extensive type information including potentially available declarations, had integrated Microsoft only last year into the Python extension. Pylance also has the static type checker Pyright, which is aimed primarily at coarse Python code bases. Improvements in the communication between the Language Server and the Python Extension (via Language Server Protocol) should contribute to more performance – but also further optimize the work with open source alternatives like the Jedi Language Server and others. Because even though Pylance is now officially the default language server, developers retain the freedom to select other language servers and use them in settings.json or explicitly via the Settings UI.

The debugger in the Python Extension for Visual Studio now allows to load new modified code even during an already running investigation. This auto-load feature has been available with Django and Flask for about a year, but now it can be used for Python scripts as well. The debugger checks the freshly imported code without a restart. However, to avoid duplicate checks, only imports, constants and definitions should be used in the module if possible, and all the code in functions or "if __name__ == "__main__"-checks, like the following "Hogwarts"-example shows: