Despite reservations about NSA’s Ghidra, experts see value

The National Security Agency has a history of releasing its tools to open source and the latest in that lineup, a powerful reverse-engineering tool called Ghidra, has been embraced by infosec professionals after some initial hesitation. 

Ghidra, the 35th piece of open source software made public by the NSA, is a modular, cross-platform, Java-based tool that can reverse-engineer software for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android. The capabilities of Ghidra can be extended with custom plugins and this modular architecture can also help the NSA hold back more proprietary functionality.

Rob Joyce, senior advisor for the NSA, announced the release of the Ghidra tool — although the source code has not yet been posted to GitHub at this time — at the RSA Conference in San Francisco last week and he took on the concerns of the infosec community right away.

“There is no backdoor in Ghidra,” he told the RSAC crowd. “This is the last community you want to release something out to with a backdoor installed, to people who hunt for this stuff to tear apart.”

Despite Joyce’s attempt to calm fears, some experts like Amit Serper, head of security research for the Nocturnus group at Cybereason, still had reservations.

“I haven’t installed Ghidra yet. I am going to wait until all of the source code is pushed to GitHub. I’m not keen on the idea of running JARs by the NSA on my machine without being able to check the code out and run it from the source,” Serper said. “With that being said, personally, I think that having something like Ghidra out is very beneficial for everyone, especially with how expensive IDA Pro is.”

Jake Williams, founder and CEO of Rendition Infosec in Augusta, Ga., noted that although something being open source doesn’t mean it can’t have a backdoor, he thinks the NSA implanting a backdoor in Ghidra “just isn’t a credible threat”.

“It’s written in Java, so it’s trivial to get the source code back out. People are already decompiling the Java and patching it,” Williams said via Twitter direct message. “Backdoors are hard to hide in non-obfuscated Java code (which is what Ghidra is built on). I’ll bet good money that someone will try to backdoor it and distribute a copy just to create some media buzz.”

Matt Suiche, founder of threat detection vendor Comae Technologies, said a possible backdoor isn’t what should worry users.

“I understand the paranoia; we have seen security products with security bugs many times,” Suiche said. “Whatever is software will have security bugs, that’s the AppSec Murphy’s Law. So backdoor or not, I’m sure we will see presentations where people find security bugs.”

Matthew Hickey, co-founder and director of cybersecurity services company Hacker House, made good on that prediction the same day the NSA released Ghidra.

The value of Ghidra

Despite any concerns, the NSA described the tool as being very powerful, featuring capabilities including “disassembly, assembly, decompilation, graphing and scripting, and hundreds of other features.” Experts have been impressed with the functionality, especially since competing software — IDA Pro or Binary Ninja — could cost thousands of dollars, while Ghidra is free.

Williams said there were pros and cons in choosing between IDA Pro and Ghidra, but the biggest benefit is that Ghidra is free.

“IDA has a debugger, while Ghidra does not. On the other hand, Ghidra has a built-in decompiler but IDA charges separately for its decompiler. The workflow between the two tools (and even some of the hotkeys) is very similar. If you need an integrated debugger, you should consider IDA instead,” Williams said. “Another drawback [of Ghidra] is that it’s written in Java, which tends to be a memory hog. This won’t usually matter, but may on very large files.”

Suiche said it is difficult to compare Ghidra to IDA because “IDA has been very instrumental in creating an entire market and enabling security researchers for 15 years.”

Experts see Ghidra as an interesting free alternative for reverse-engineering
The National Security Agency released Ghidra, a Java-based tool that can reverse-engineer software for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS or Andriod.

“It is great to see that NSA is now contributing to the security community; Rob Joyce handled the released really well,” Suiche said. “I am slightly disappointed it didn’t happen 10 years earlier though, but I understand that the NSA is a big ship and it must have taken a lot of efforts and convincing internally just to get this release.”

Marcus Hutchins, aka MalwareTech, an independent security researcher, said Ghidra should be seen as “an investment in the future generation.”

“By providing the tools and knowledge required to further people’s interest, you improve overall talent,” Hutchins wrote on his blog. “More talent will lead to higher quality job applicants, potentially reducing the NSA’s skill shortage down the line; GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters, a British intelligence agency] has been using similar techniques for a while now.”

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Announcing Windows Server vNext Insider Preview Build 18356.1 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders!
Today we are pleased to release a new Insider build of the Windows Server VNext Semi-Annual Channel release.

Windows Server vNext Semi-Annual Preview

The Server Core Edition is available in the 18 supported Server languages in ISO format and in English only in VHDX format.

Windows Server Core App Compatibility FoD Preview
Windows Server Language Packs
Windows Admin Center 1902

Activation for preview keys has been disabled effective with this build. You may still install and this preview build for development and testing purposes without activating.
Symbols are available on the public symbol server – see Update on Microsoft’s Symbol Server blog post and Using the Microsoft Symbol Server. Matching Windows Server container images will be available via Docker Hub. For more information about Windows Server containers and Insider builds, click here.

Registered Insiders may navigate directly to the Windows Server Insider Preview download page.  If you have not yet registered as an Insider, see GETTING STARTED WITH SERVER on the Windows Insiders for Business portal.

The most important part of a frequent release cycle is to hear what’s working and what needs to be improved, so your feedback is extremely valued. For Windows Admin Center, Send us feedback via UserVoice. We also encourage you to visit the Windows Admin Center space on the Microsoft Tech Communities forum to collaborate, share and learn from experts.
For Windows Server, use your registered Windows 10 Insider device and use the Feedback Hub application. In the app, choose the Windows Server category and then the appropriate subcategory for your feedback. In the title of the Feedback, please indicate the build number you are providing feedback on in this format:
[Server #####] Title of my feedback
We also encourage you to visit the Windows Server Insiders space on the Microsoft Tech Communities forum to collaborate, share and learn from experts.

Error after remoting to machine with RDP post FOD installation.  The error message indicates immediately that the remote session has ended with potential reasons, followed by a black RDP screen. This only impacts remoting to a physical machine with Server Core + FOD.
Applies to App Compat FOD MMC.exe only: Multiple Active Directory Users and Computers snap-ins added to the same MMC.exe instance could show inconsistent or no data on part of the snap-ins after adding extra columns to the UI view.  Wokaround: for UI user management, use a separate MMC for each ADUC (DSA.MSC) snap-in.
A local user’s last logon time output from “net user username” may not be recorded even when the user has accessed the server’s network share.
Scheduled startup tasks may fail to run. An event is logged, ID 101 with the error code ERROR_LOGON_FAILURE when the failure occurs.
A virtual machine may not report all virtual fibre channel (vfc) LUNs after powering on if there are 2000+ vfc LUNs. WMI queries from the host show the LUNS available.  Restarting the VMMs may show the LUNS again as available.
DCPromo fails if the interface metric of the physical NIC is larger than Loopback InterfaceThird-party password filter dlls may not be notified when the local Administrator account’s password was changed.
Attempting system image recovery from an image located on a network share may result in error “A specified logon session does not exist. It may already have been terminated”.
Server FODs are not retained after in-place (or B2B) upgrade.
Domain Controller rename updates incorrect attributes in AD leaving orphaned data behind (ValidateSPNsAndDNSHostNameActual).  This can be reproduced by adding a new FQDN, setting it as primary, restarting the domain controller, then removing the current FQDN.  Checking the msDS-AdditionalDnsHostName, msDS-AdditionalSamAccountName and servicePrincipalName attributes will incorrect values.
Invalid file may be created in %Systemroot%System32LogFilesSum by User Access Logging
Self-service users cannot install Feature on Demand (FOD) packages and Language Packs for Windows Server
Update Service (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Autopilot scenarios.
A container host may become unresponsive due to a deadlock when attempting to mount a volume. On an affected system, Docker hangs on all commands.
When a Windows Defender Application Guard container crashes, the resulting type of dump may be unexpected.

This is pre-release software – it is provided for use “as-is” and is not supported in production environments. Users are responsible for installing any updates made available from Windows Update.   All pre-release software made available to you via the Windows Server Insider program are governed by the Insider Terms of Use.
No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18361 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18361 (19H1) to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.
If you are looking for a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring – head on over to Flight Hub. You can also check out the rest of our documentation here including a complete list of new features and updates that have gone out as part of Insider flights for the current development cycle (which currently is 19H1).

We fixed an issue preventing certain VMs from being able to install or update Windows Insider Preview builds – the VM would hang on the black screen with the Windows logo.
We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders experiencing unexpected BitLocker prompts to encrypt certain drives, and then subsequently failing to encrypt.

Microsoft Store app updates do not automatically install on 18356+. As a workaround, you can manually check for, and install updates via the Microsoft Store app. Open Select “…” > “Downloads and updates” > “Get updates”.
Launching games that use anti-cheat software may trigger a bugcheck (GSOD).
Creative X-Fi sound cards are not functioning properly. We are partnering with Creative to resolve this issue.
Some Realtek SD card readers are not functioning properly. We are investigating the issue.

If you install any of the recent builds from the Fast ring and switch to the Slow ring, optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

We have locked down the inbox apps in 19H1. These simplified versions of some of the inbox apps are what will ship with 19H1 when it is released. As a result, Insiders may have noticed that some features have disappeared from these apps. This was probably most noticeable with the Photos app. Insiders can get these features back by going into the settings of an inbox app like Photos and clicking the “Join preview” button.

Now that Selection Sunday has passed, it’s time to get your brackets ready for March Madness! From First Four to Final Four, Bing has you covered with current brackets, game schedules, rankings, and more.
If you want to be among the first to learn about these Bing features, join our Bing Insider Program.
No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

For Sale – PC i5-6600/16GB Ram/RX580 QuickSale Needed!

For sale my gaming PC, was built only 2 weeks ago but circumstances have changed so I have to sell it.

CPU: i5 6600

Mobo: MSI H110M-PRO VD

RAM: 16GB DDR4

GPU: Sapphire 8GB RX580(handles any game in full HD at max settings)

PSU: MS Tech 600W

Storage: 240GB SSD

Case: DeppCool

Fans: 3 Blue LED Fans

Case: deepcool steam castle

Wifi: AC1200 PCI E x1

CPU cooler is not stock so gives better cooling.

Any question please ask. Willing to post first to members with high feedback.

Thank you

Price and currency: 500
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Paypal/Bank Transfer
Location: London
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

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Congratulations Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final Champions: Team Finderr from the United Kingdom!

The Imagine Cup 2019 competition is well underway with our second Regional Final wrapping up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands this week. Team Finderr from the United Kingdom took home the first-place title and a spot in the World Championship for their app solution to find lost objects with a smartphone. Congratulations!

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup aims to empower student developers around the globe to develop the next great technology solutions. “We understand that today’s students are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. They will also become technology decision makes. Whatever we can do to help make them better for tomorrow, we want to invest in that,” shares Jennifer Ritzinger, our Senior Director of Academic Ecosystems.

Students are given the opportunity to travel, receive one on one mentorship, develop business and technology skills, and network with like-minded peers to bring their ideas to life. Out of hundreds of EMEA submissions, 12 finalists from 10 countries were selected to travel to Amsterdam and compete at the Regional Final, hosted at Microsoft Ignite | The Tour. The first-place prize  up for grabs? USD15,000 and a trip to the 2019 World Championship. Challenged with creating an original technology solution, finalist projects ranged from tackling issues in healthcare, agriculture, accessibility and education, among others, and utilized a variety of Microsoft technologies including Azure Virtual Machines, Mixed Reality, and AI. “Imagine Cup is amazing, we feel empowered to do more,” said Ian Kamau from team iCropal of his competition experience. “For us, this is not only a competition, but also a way to exchange opinions with colleagues in order to develop ourselves and our product,” elaborated team AirCloud on their decision to enter.

Over three days of competition, teams had the opportunity participate in an Entrepreneur Day and Ignite | The Tour activities to learn how to perfect their pitches and integrate the latest and greatest technologies into their solutions. The Regional Final culminated with each team giving a live demo of their projects to a panel of judges, and the top three were chosen.

The competition doesn’t end here! On April 1 we will announce the Americas Regional finalists competing for the final spot in the World Championship. Team Finderr and our Asia Regional Final winners, Team Caeli from India, will travel to Seattle this May for the chance at the 2019 trophy. Who will go home with USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella? Follow the action on Twitter and Instagram to find out.

Meet the top 3 EMEA Teams

1st place – Finderr, United Kingdom

The team created an app solution which uses Cognitive Services and Virtual Machines to help make finding lost objects accessible to everyone through their phones, including visually impaired individuals.

Prize: USD15,000 and a spot in the 2019 World Championship

 

2nd place – Athena-IO, Tunisia

The team created a cross-platform solution enabling content creation and visualization on Mixed Reality devices to help corporations train their workforce and make technology more accessible to everyone. 

Prize: USD5,000

 

3rd place – π-project, Russia

The team developed a low-cost and non-invasive solution for everyday health monitoring using Artificial Intelligence to analyze the urine transmission spectra.

Prize: USD1,000

 

Congratulations to all our EMEA Regional Finalists for their incredible projects and hard work. The competition doesn’t end here! Sign up for updates to follow this year’s competition and see who’ll take home the 2019 Imagine Cup trophy.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Congratulations Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Final Champions: Team Finderr from the United Kingdom!

The Imagine Cup 2019 competition is well underway with our second Regional Final wrapping up in Amsterdam, the Netherlands this week. Team Finderr from the United Kingdom took home the first-place title and a spot in the World Championship for their app solution to find lost objects with a smartphone. Congratulations!

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup aims to empower student developers around the globe to develop the next great technology solutions. “We understand that today’s students are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. They will also become technology decision makes. Whatever we can do to help make them better for tomorrow, we want to invest in that,” shares Jennifer Ritzinger, our Senior Director of Academic Ecosystems.

Students are given the opportunity to travel, receive one on one mentorship, develop business and technology skills, and network with like-minded peers to bring their ideas to life. Out of hundreds of EMEA submissions, 12 finalists from 10 countries were selected to travel to Amsterdam and compete at the Regional Final, hosted at Microsoft Ignite | The Tour. The first-place prize  up for grabs? USD15,000 and a trip to the 2019 World Championship. Challenged with creating an original technology solution, finalist projects ranged from tackling issues in healthcare, agriculture, accessibility and education, among others, and utilized a variety of Microsoft technologies including Azure Virtual Machines, Mixed Reality, and AI. “Imagine Cup is amazing, we feel empowered to do more,” said Ian Kamau from team iCropal of his competition experience. “For us, this is not only a competition, but also a way to exchange opinions with colleagues in order to develop ourselves and our product,” elaborated team AirCloud on their decision to enter.

Over three days of competition, teams had the opportunity participate in an Entrepreneur Day and Ignite | The Tour activities to learn how to perfect their pitches and integrate the latest and greatest technologies into their solutions. The Regional Final culminated with each team giving a live demo of their projects to a panel of judges, and the top three were chosen.

The competition doesn’t end here! On April 1 we will announce the Americas Regional finalists competing for the final spot in the World Championship. Team Finderr and our Asia Regional Final winners, Team Caeli from India, will travel to Seattle this May for the chance at the 2019 trophy. Who will go home with USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella? Follow the action on Twitter and Instagram to find out.

Meet the top 3 EMEA Teams

1st place – Finderr, United Kingdom

Prize: USD15,000 and a spot in the 2019 World Championship

The team created an app solution which uses Cognitive Services and Virtual Machines to help make finding lost objects accessible to everyone through their phones, including visually impaired individuals.

 

2nd place – Athena-IO, Tunisia

The team created a cross-platform solution enabling content creation and visualization on Mixed Reality devices to help corporations train their workforce and make technology more accessible to everyone. 

Prize: USD5,000

 

3rd place – π-project, Russia

The team developed a low-cost and non-invasive solution for everyday health monitoring using Artificial Intelligence to analyze the urine transmission spectra.

Prize: USD1,000

 

Congratulations to all our EMEA Regional Finalists for their incredible projects and hard work. The competition doesn’t end here! Sign up for updates to follow this year’s competition and see who’ll take home the 2019 Imagine Cup trophy.

Go to Original Article
Author: Steve Clarke

Unveiled at HP Reinvent: Latest innovations in PC experiences for work and life | Windows Experience Blog

At HP Reinvent, the company’s largest global partner event, HP unveiled a variety of new offerings designed to transform experiences across work and life – including a ground-breaking security service, a cutting-edge commercial virtual reality (VR) headset, as well as new consumer and commercial PCs.
As the security landscape continues to evolve, HP aims to address endpoint challenges through a new security-focused managed service designed to enforce policies, actively monitor, proactively respond and defend against the threat of undetected attacks.
HP DaaS Proactive Security Service is designed to go beyond anti-virus solutions and provide a critical extra layer of defense. As the world’s most advanced isolation security service for files and browsing on Windows 10 PCs [1], this service extends protection and security intelligence to transform endpoints from biggest risk to best defense. It provides real-time malware protection for computing endpoints and threat analytics through HP TechPulse. The service also includes a security self-assessment tool and score; and cyber security solutions including assessment, incident response and cyber insurance services from Aon, a leading global professional services firm.
It will be available in more than 50 countries worldwide in April. The DaaS Proactive Security Service with Aon offerings will be available in the U.S. in April, with additional geographies to be added later this year*.

HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset

Also at HP Reinvent, the company revealed the HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset – Professional Edition. It’s ultra-light at 1.1 pounds and ultra-immersive with redesigned optics to increase the visual “sweet spot.”
It joins HP’s comprehensive VR portfolio with panels measuring 2160 x 2160 per eye, with double the resolution [2] and a 114-degree field of view.
It has integrated Bluetooth with pre-paired motion controllers right out of the box and support for Windows Mixed Reality and Steam VR. With Windows Mixed Reality’s inside-out tracking, setup is easy – just plug in the VR headset and start the experience.
“With more than 2,500 VR experiences available and counting, Windows Mixed Reality continues to serve as the home for cutting-edge innovations that are fundamentally changing the way we work and play,” says Alex Kipman, a technical fellow with Microsoft. “The HP Reverb headset is an amazing example of the type of innovation we are seeing take place as we push forward and bring the next era of computing – the era of mixed reality – to the masses.”
HP worked closely with customers and found out that VR-based training has a 75 percent retention rate compared to lectures at 10 percent and reading at 5 percent [3].
HP Reverb also features integrated headphones with spatial audio and smart assistant-compatible dual microphones for a greater immersive experience and collaboration in multi-user VR environments.
The HP Reverb Professional and Consumer Editions are expected to be available in late April for $649 and $599*, respectively.
HP has also expanded its AMD commercial portfolio, designed for modern small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

HP ProBook 445R G6

Powered by 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen mobile processors, the HP ProBook 445R G6 and HP ProBook 455R G6 help professionals stay productive in the office and on the go. The new notebooks adopt the elegant design concept found across the HP EliteBook portfolio, featuring an ultra-slim aluminum chassis with crisp lines and clean edges. The 180-degree hinge allows users to lay the devices flat, making it easier to share content and collaborate, while HP Noise Cancellation reduces background noise by up to 20dB [4], providing a robust audio and video conferencing experience. They’re expected to be available in June*.
The HP ProDesk 405 G4 Desktop Mini delivers the performance, expandability and security that SMBs need in a compact and stylish design. The PC is the company’s first 400-series desktop mini; it features a 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen PRO processor with built-in Radeon Vega graphics and can support up to three displays [5], serving a new market of customers who need a powerful system to create content coupled with the advanced security and manageability capabilities of the AMD processor.
It is expected to be available in April for a starting price of $499*.
With 84 percent of Gen Z workers preferring in-person communication and virtual tools like Skype as a way to meet face-to-face with colleagues [6], HP’s Zoom Room solutions make it easier for IT decision makers to choose a conferencing and collaboration solution that best meets the needs of their organization. These solutions provide easy, customizable and flexible meeting room options that are secure and manageable for small, medium and large organizations. They’re expected to be available starting in July*.
HP also announced HP Premier Care Solutions to enhance its premium commercial notebooks, including HP EliteBooks and HP ZBooks.
The new line-up of HP ENVY laptops and x360s features HP Command Center for powerful performance, sophisticated design with a geometric pattern for audio and thermal venting, and robust security – including a biometric fingerprint reader, a privacy camera kill switch and an optional HP Sure View privacy screen [7] to ensure screen content isn’t exposed.

HP ENVY 13 Laptop

Built with mobility in mind, the HP ENVY 13 Laptop features the latest Intel processors to power up to 19 hours of battery life [8] – nearly a 41 percent improvement versus the previous generation. It is expected to be available in April through HP.com for a starting price of $899.99. The new HP ENVY x360 13 features a powerful 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen processor and up to 14.5 hours of battery life [8] in a convertible form factor. It is expected to be available in April for a starting price of $699.99*.

HP ENVY x360 13

HP ENVY x360 15 offers versatility with either an AMD or the latest 8th Generation Intel Core processor [9], with up to 13 hours of battery life [8], a 28 percent top-bezel reduction versus the previous generation and an optional AMOLED display for stunning colors and brightness for browsing or streaming video. Versions with both Intel and AMD processors are expected to be available in April via HP.com and also available through Best Buy beginning in May. The Intel version has a starting price of $869.99, while the AMD version starts at $799.99*.

HP ENVY 17 Laptop

The HP ENVY 17 Laptop is built for performance with an 8th Generation Intel Core processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics for productivity, creativity and entertainment. The 17-inch device offers a better screen-to-body ratio for a more immersive viewing experience, thanks to its 45 percent top bezel reduction versus the previous generation. It is expected to be available in April via HP.com for a starting price of $899.99, and also available through Best Buy beginning in May*.
[1] Based on HP’s internal analysis of isolation security services that offer SaaS and managed services that include on-board and configure, compliance enforcement and malware threat analytics. Most advanced based on hardware VM isolation-enforced protection with individual browser tabs and apps in isolation as of March 2019.
[2] HP Reverb at 2160 x 2160 per eye with 9.3M Pixel doubles the resolution of similar price point. 
[3] According to a MASiE 2017 Report (January 2017, by Bobby Carlton) in a study carried out by the National Training Laboratory.
[4] The test setup and results are based on Delta SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) from 3QUEST(3-fold Quality Evaluation of Speech in Telecommunications) test as defined in ETSI TS 103 106 specification with testing performed in a train station background noise. Results will vary based on type and surroundings
[5] Displays sold separately. Support for up to three video outputs via two standard video connectors and an optional third video port connector, which provides the following choices: DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0, VGA or USB Type-C with DisplayPort Output.
[6] Stillman, David, and Jonah Stillman. “Gen [email protected]: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace.” Harper Business, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017.
[7] HP Sure View integrated privacy screen functions in landscape orientation. Optional available on select FHD Sure View panels.
[8] Windows 10/MM14 battery life will vary depending on various factors including product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, use, wireless functionality and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will naturally decrease with time and usage. See www.bapco.com for additional details.
[9] Multi-core is designed to improve performance of certain software products. Not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of this technology. Performance and clock frequency will vary depending on application workload and your hardware and software configurations. Intel’s numbering, branding and/or naming is not a measurement of higher performance.
*PRICING and AVAILABILITY: Not available in all countries, pricing from HP.com, subject to change without notice. See Best Buy for pricing details.

How is the Microsoft SDDC concept becoming a reality?

A software-defined data center consists of a series of virtualized layers to supply services to an organization. Microsoft upped the ante in its latest Windows Server release to make its SDDC vision more real for the enterprise.

At a minimum, an SDDC environment demands a hypervisor to virtualize compute resources, software-defined storage and software-defined networking (SDN) resources, all overseen by management software.

The latest Microsoft SDDC iteration arrives with Windows Server 2019, utilizing Hyper-V as the hypervisor, Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) for the storage component and SDN. Windows Admin Center provides the management interface. The Microsoft SDDC runs atop a foundation of Windows Server Software-Defined validated hardware.

A sampling of new and expanded virtualization features

Windows Server supplies the virtualization layers and a wide range of capabilities required to pool resources and remove the manual effort that was once required to configure and manage the assortment of data center hardware.

Windows Server 2019 builds on previous server OS versions to provide the enhanced functionality necessary to deliver a range of services for the enterprise. Enhancements to S2D expand storage pools up to 4 petabytes and 64 TB per volume. Microsoft said some systems can save up to 80% on storage space by using data deduplication on a Resilient File System disk. Clustering enhancements improve workload resiliency, and kernel soft reboot restarts validated hardware faster.

The latest Microsoft SDDC iteration arrives with Windows Server 2019, utilizing Hyper-V as the hypervisor, S2D for the storage component and SDN.

Networking improvements include virtual network peering for high-speed traffic between virtual networks; storage and workload traffic can now flow on the same network interface card team. Low Extra Delay Background Transport technology smooths out network congestion for reduced latency. The SDN enhancements give administrators more flexibility with centralized management for both physical and virtual network devices.

One tool to control the virtualization framework

Microsoft touts Windows Admin Center as the primary tool to manage and monitor hyper-converged infrastructure environments in Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019.

Windows Admin Center gathers a number of tools in a single interface to offer a unified management platform for all compute, storage, and SDN resources and instances running on later Windows Server systems. In addition to its streamlined approach, Microsoft tailored Windows Admin Center to simplify the provisioning of virtualized resources to remove administrative roadblocks to an SDDC deployment and its consequent management. Windows Admin Center can also tap into PowerShell functionality for its automation capabilities to lift some management tasks from the IT staff.

Due to the integral nature of Windows Admin Center, particularly with Windows Server 2019, administrators will find it difficult to perform some SDDC tasks with other tools. Windows Admin Center combines the management capabilities of several traditional tools, including Microsoft Management Console, Server Manager, PowerShell console, Hyper-V VM and vSwitch management, task scheduling and Windows Update.

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‘Power of Zero’ campaign launches, promoting digital civility and positive online behaviors – Microsoft on the Issues

Earlier this week, Power of Zero, a new global campaign calling for zero violence, zero hate and zero bullying from age zero launched in New York City. Microsoft was on hand to support the lead organization NoBully and to promote civility and positive online behaviors among children, young people and all digital citizens.

The launch, held at UNICEF headquarters, follows nearly two years of research and planning in conjunction with technology companies, nongovernmental organizations and other groups focused on creating a global movement to combat online bullying and harassment. Collaborative efforts began at a global strategy session in London in April 2017.

“There is growing recognition that we have to invest in our youngest children and give them the foundation they need to thrive in this interconnected world,” says Nicholas Carlisle, founder of NoBully and campaign president for Power of Zero. “Power of Zero is about making digital civility – a concept pioneered by Microsoft – global. In this launch phase, we will be able to bring ‘The 12 Powers’ to young children across North America and then extend the campaign with the help of our partners into Southeast Asia, India, Latin America and beyond.”

In partnership with Scholastic, Power of Zero is providing early childhood educators and families with learning resources to help them leverage their “powers for good.” Critical thinking, inclusivity, respect and resilience are four of the 12 powers the program recommends to help children thrive in a digital world.

As part of the launch event, Power of Zero held a panel discussion with representatives of the technology industry, as well as UNICEF. I participated on behalf of Microsoft, along with representatives from AT&T, Facebook and Hasbro, all of which are also members of Power of Zero’s steering committee. The panel was moderated by Dr. Lewis Bernstein, a longtime research and education executive from Sesame Workshop.

We discussed the risks and opportunities that children and young people face online daily, as well as the need to instill values in young people at the earliest of ages. Some key themes that emerged included the need for parents and trusted adults to be involved, early and often, in children’s online activities; that children and teens needed to be equipped – skills-wise and attitudinally – to deal with online issues like fake news, misinformation, bullying and fraud, and the belief that a true, multistakeholder effort like Power of Zero has a strong chance of breaking through and inspiring adults to invest and assist children with their online growth and development.

Microsoft’s latest research, released Feb. 5, shows that now more than ever, teens are turning to parents and other adults, including teachers, coaches and counselors for help with online issues. This finding needs to stand as a testament that kids need help navigating the online world. What a better way to help arm them than with resources like those developed by Power of Zero.

Digital civility underpins Power of Zero

Microsoft was eager to join the Power of Zero collaboration and to support the campaign for two primary reasons. First, it fills a gap by targeting as its peak demographic children who are basically online as soon as they’re able to hold a cellphone. The debate is wide open as to whether such early online activity is advisable, but there can be no debate that it is, in fact, happening. Second, Power of Zero closely aligns to our own global campaign now entering its fourth year. At Microsoft, we seek to create a “human platform” to foster digital civility, online interactions among all people that are rooted in respect, inclusivity and kindness.

Along with other campaigns and online safety activities, our digital civility work builds on some of our earlier efforts to prevent and fight back against online bullying and harassment. We’ve been committed to combatting cyberbullying for more than a dozen years, conducting research in 25 countries, creating tools and resources to help parents and others identify and address online bullying incidents, and we’ve participated in international conferences and events designed to raise awareness and share best practices among key stakeholders.

Learn more

When faced with online bullying, we encourage young people to talk to adults, and we call on adults to listen, suspend judgment and plan any response or action plan together. We also ask adults to remember to model civil and respectful behaviors both in person and online.

To learn more, visit the Power of Zero and NoBully websites, and consult these Microsoft resources: fact sheet, second fact sheet, presentation deck, research paper. For more on online safety generally, visit our website and resources page. And, for regular news and information, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author: Steve Clarke

Alluxio adds support for more than 1 billion files

Startup Alluxio is previewing version 2.0 of its open source storage software that it claims can support access to more than 1 billion files across private and public clouds.

The Alluxio software layer sits between the application servers and the back-end file and object storage systems. The distributed file system facilitates access to stored data through a global namespace. Alluxio caches hot data in memory, within close proximity of the applications, to accelerate access.

Alluxio software was jointly developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and MIT. The company was known as Tachyon until 2015.

Alluxio claimed early versions of its software supported access to 200 million or 300 million files. The new 2.0 version adds the option to tier file metadata management to both memory and disk and enables Alluxio to manage more than 1 billion files without hitting memory limits, said Dipti Borkar, the startup’s vice president of product and marketing.

Scalability is critical for Alluxio’s customer base, which includes top telecom, retail and internet companies, such as Alibaba, China Unicom, JD.com and Tencent. Baidu uses Alluxio to speed interactive data queries across a 200-plus node deployment to gain insight into its products and business. Another Chinese customer, online travel information provider Qunar, uses real-time machine learning to deliver web ads, according to Alluxio.

Machine learning, analytics are top use cases

Alluxio CEO Haoyuan Li said most customers use the company’s software for machine learning, and about 25% support analytics workloads. Typical applications on the front end include Apache Spark, Presto and TensorFlow. Common storage back ends under Alluxio include the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), NetApp NAS and object storage such as Amazon Simple Storage Service, Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage, Hitachi Content Platform and IBM Cloud Object Storage.

Customer deployments generally range from 10 to 1,500 nodes, with tens of petabytes of data in the back-end file or object storage, Li said. Alluxio ultimately aims to enable customers to scale to more than 5,000 or 10,000 nodes, he said.

The Alluxio software supports server-side API translation to enable the applications to access data from any file or object storage. With the 2.0 release, Alluxio’s Filesystem in Userspace, or FUSE, feature supports a POSIX-compatible API. That enables machine learning and deep learning frameworks, such as TensorFlow, Caffe and other Python-based models, to directly access data from any storage system.

Alluxio 2.0 supports unified access to different versions of HDFS to assist enterprises that run multiple Hadoop clusters. The new version also integrates with HDFS inotify to enable the Alluxio software to proactively update the metadata and data it manages whenever there are changes to the persistent storage system.

New features for hyperscale workloads

For hyperscale workloads, Alluxio 2.0 adds a fault tolerance and high availability mode for file and object metadata, and adaptive replication enables users to make priority data more readily accessible across the compute cluster. Customers can configure how many data copies they want Alluxio to manage automatically.

China-based online retailer Vipshop has used Alluxio software since 2016 to speed access to its HDFS-based data. Engineers allocate a portion of the memory in each of its 27 Apache Spark servers for Alluxio to manage and cache the data for faster access.

Wanchun Wang, the chief architect based in San Jose, Calif., who manages Vipshop’s big data team, said Vipshop has lots of old servers, and it was far easier for Alluxio to tap their internal memory than it would have been to set up a cluster of machines with faster SSDs. He estimated a 100% performance improvement using Alluxio on the disk-based servers.

“But the main benefit is the access to the remote data,” Wang said. “The data lake is a huge jungle. So many things can impact the response time. The inconsistency hurt the most. With Alluxio as the cache, the response is consistent.”

Li said he expects the Alluxio 2.0 release to become generally available in the second or third quarter. Alluxio offers a free Alluxio Community Edition of the open source software and the Alluxio Enterprise Edition that adds cloud features, such as enterprise security and data compression. The Alluxio Open Source Project has more than 1,000 contributors, Li said.

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