Big Tech &
Google launches CallJoy, a virtual customer service phone agent for small businesses (4 minute read)
Google has combined several technologies including virtual phone numbers, virtual assistants, automated audio transcriptions, and reporting and analytics to create CallJoy, a virtual customer service agent for small businesses. CallJoy is able to receive calls from customers, provide basic information, and redirect customers to complete their requests, for example, sending the customer an SMS with the link for bookings. At $39 a month, CallJoy is also able to record phone calls and help filter out spam callers. The reporting provided by CallJoy can indicate peak call times and common requests by customers. CallJoy is currently operating on an invite-only basis, and will eventually be open to all.
Facebook’s dating app will let you list your secret crushes (4 minute read)
Facebook’s new dating app, which is currently only in a testing phase in a few select countries, has a new feature which will let users list up to nine ‘secret crushes’ from their friends list. If one of their friends also lists them as a secret crush, Facebook will send a notification to both users and match them. Facebook Dating usually avoids listing friends as potential matches. While there seems to be no method of monetization during its testing phase, there is big money in the dating app marketplace. Analysts predict that the dating app industry could be worth $12 billion by 2020. The Match Group, who owns Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com, and many other dating sites, brought in $1.7 billion last year from memberships, advertising, and premium features.
McDonald’s deploys 700 AI-powered menu boards (5 minute read)
McDonald’s posted better-than-expected Q2 results in the US, partly due to sales of bacon and Donut Sticks. They also used competitions between employees and other promotions to increase efficiency within the company and attract more customers. Going forward, McDonald’s will be deploying AI-powered menu boards at 700 restaurants. The menu boards will use AI to suggest and upsell products based on trending items, the time of day, and the weather. These menus will eventually be added to apps and kiosks. There is pressure from customers and advocacy groups for McDonald’s to introduce a plant-based meat option, similar to Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper, which will be available country-wide by the end of 2019.
NYPD using VR to train for active shootings and real-life scenarios (YouTube)
In this five minute video, New York City policemen are seen using VR to train in different scenarios. Police officers are equipped with special sensors and weapons that provide recoil so that the scenarios are as close to reality as possible. They can be monitored from various angles and all movement can be assessed for training. Officers can be trained in different scenarios quickly and effectively. The software used can generate new scenarios easily, so the training can be flexible and evolve as required.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Remote Code Execution on most Dell computers (10 minute read)
When purchasing computers, many people do not consider what software may come prepackaged, or what vulnerabilities the computer may have. Dell laptops come with a software called Dell SupportAssist, and a Remote Code Execution vulnerability was discovered in the software. The details of how the vulnerability was discovered and then exploited are available in the article. Dell was contacted about the issue and are still investigating for a fix.
Microsoft Build Accelerator (GitHub Repo)
BuildXL is a build engine that runs over 30,000 builds per day internally at Microsoft. Thousands of developers use BuildXL on their desktops for fast builds with mega-sized codebases. BuildXL runs its builds over thousands of datacenter machines. There are no plans to integrate it into Visual Studio. The technology may be useful if developers run into issues with scaling development.
A Conspiracy To Kill IE6 (10 minute read)
A bug in Internet Explorer 6 made it try to run code that it couldn’t run, causing the browser to either get stuck in a recursion loop or make it crash into the blue screen of death. This only happened in IE6 and it caused many problems for web developers as they had to make their sites compatible with the browser. A team of developers at YouTube decided that the best way to fix the issue was to threaten to drop support for the browser so that more users would upgrade, eventually making support for the browser unnecessary. Using special privileges, without YouTube’s official permission, they inserted a banner available only for IE6 users that stated that YouTube was going to stop supporting development for the browser and that users should upgrade. The tactic was successful, and eventually, upper management made the deprecation of the browser into real policy.