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Protecting political campaigns from hacking |Microsoft on the Issues

Protecting political campaigns from hacking |Microsoft on the Issues

This is very much a step in the right direction. A challenge to open-source advocates to do something similar (LibreOffice are you listening!)

Today, at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced a new service from our Defending Democracy Program called Microsoft 365 for Campaigns, which brings the high-end security capabilities of our Microsoft 365 Business offering to political parties and campaigns.

 

The majority of security breaches faced by political campaigns originate from malicious phishing attacks and target email and filesharing systems. But many campaigns are ill-equipped to deal with these threats from nation-states and criminal scammers. We talked with campaign staffers and leaders in campaign technology and heard repeatedly that security solutions for email often were too hard to configure and too expensive. M365 for Campaigns addresses both issues by making it easy to deploy advanced security features at a much lower price.

 

Starting today, campaigns can sign up to be notified when the service becomes available in June by visiting https://m365forcampaigns.microsoft.com.

 

M365 for Campaigns will be available in June to all federal election campaigns, federal candidate committees, and national party committees in the United States, and we are exploring ways to bring the service to other countries in the future.

 

As we said when we announced the Defending Democracy Program, threats to our democratic processes from cyber-enabled interference have become a critical concern. We must all partner and do more to protect free and fair elections, and securing campaigns is an important part of this work.

 

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PyDev of the Week: Joel Grus

PyDev of the Week: Joel Grus

This week we welcome Joel Grus (@joelgrus) as our PyDev of the Week! Joel is the author of Data Science From Scratch: First Principles with Python from O’Reilly. You can catch up with Joel on his website or on Github. Let’s take some time to get to know Joel better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

 

In school I studied math and economics. I started my career doing quantitative finance (options pricing, financial risk, and stuff like that). I got very, very good at Excel, and I learned a tiny amount of SQL. But I kind of hated working in finance (and also I got laid off), so I joined an online travel startup as a “data analyst” doing BI stuff (lots of spreadsheets, lots of SQL, some very light scripting). That startup got acquired by Microsoft, who at the time had basically no idea what to do with my more-than-a-financial-analyst-less-than-a-software-engineer skillset. (Nor did I, really.)

 

Then in 2011 I saw that the winds were blowing toward “data science”, so I sort of BS-ed my way into a data scientist job at a tiny startup. I took a bunch of Coursera courses to fill in gaps in my knowledge, and then I learned to write (ugly) production code and discovered I really enjoyed building software. Through doing well in coding competitions I had the opportunity to interview for a software engineer job at Google, so I spent 6 really hectic weeks cramming computer science and then somehow passed the interview. I spent a couple of years at Google, and then I found I missed doing data and ML stuff, and so now I’m at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, where I build deep learning tools for NLP researchers. My current job is right at the intersection of deep learning and Python library design, which is a pretty great match for my interests.

 

I don’t really have time for hobbies 😢. I have an 8-year-old daughter, and I spend a lot of my free time with her, and then I keep agreeing and/or volunteering to write things and give talks and make livecoding videos, which takes up most of the rest. And then I have a podcast and a Twitter to stay on top of. I have long-term hobby goals of (1) learning jazz piano and (2) writing a novel, but I’m not really making much progress on either.

 

Why did you start using Python?

 

A long, long time ago I was taking a “Probability Modeling” class that was taught using Matlab. The site license for Matlab was only valid on-campus, which meant I couldn’t work on the assignments at my apartment, which was where I preferred to work. I discovered that there was a Python library called Numeric (the predecessor of NumPy) that would allow me to do the numerical-simulation things I needed to do, so I learned just enough Python to be able to do my assignments. Several years after that I had a job, and I inherited a bunch of Perl scripts, and I really didn’t want to maintain Perl code, so I started migrating them to Python, and the rest is history.

 

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

 

About 10-15% of my job involves writing JavaScript / React, which I actually really enjoy. (I might enjoy it less if it were 100% of my job.) The first year I was at AI2 I worked mostly in Scala, and after that I briefly worked on a project that was in Go. At Google I wrote primarily C++. The startup I was at before that used F#. For fun I used to write Haskell and PureScript. Part of me still dreams of having a Haskell / PureScript job, but at this point I’m so comfortable working in Python (and Python has so deeply entrenched itself as the language for doing machine learning) that it seems unlikely I’ll ever make the switch.

 

Thanks for doing the interview!

from The Mouse Vs. The Python http://bit.ly/2LlQmZn

Microsoft works with VA to provide Xbox Adaptive Controllers for veterans’ rehabilitation facilities

Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with Veterans Affairs to provide its Xbox Adaptive Controller to 22 initial VA rehab centers in the U.S. For those unfamiliar, the Adaptive Controller …

Source: Microsoft works with VA to provide Xbox Adaptive Controllers for veterans’ rehabilitation facilities

New white paper highlights how Microsoft Teams helps healthcare providers with HIPAA compliance

New white paper highlights how Microsoft Teams helps healthcare providers with HIPAA compliance

A new white paper commissioned by Microsoft from HIPAA One assesses how current Microsoft security controls can help Microsoft Teams customers with HIPAA compliance.

Source: New white paper highlights how Microsoft Teams helps healthcare providers with HIPAA compliance

Microsoft Teams, like the rest of Office 365 is HIPAA compliant by default. The service that is targeted by Microsoft’s version, Slack,  is not in its default configuration. This is not to put down Slack’s effectiveness in the marketplace, but the healthcare industry is a major user of the Microsoft system of business software and integration. This choice is not an option with collaboration and communications in the Personal Health Information space.

Yet another disgrace for Alabama.

Not trying to single out my home state, because if you look hard enough, and drive less than an hour from here, this is a problem that exists as well. Need to do something about this and fast 💯.

Increasing transparency and customer control over data | Microsoft on the Issues

Increasing transparency and customer control over data | Microsoft on the Issues
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Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft can afford to do this as a large tech company because their business model is not mostly dependent on the collection of data, unlike some other firms that happen to be based in Silicon Valley. I applaud them for this initiative.

 

Today we are announcing new steps to give customers increased transparency and control over their data that is used by Microsoft’s major products.

 

Privacy is one of the defining issues of our time. As technology becomes more engrained in our lives and our work, people want to understand how and why their data is collected and used, and they want to be able to make appropriate choices. We have longstanding commitments to privacy and have regularly taken steps to give customers more information and more choice, including, for example, being the first large company to voluntarily extend strong privacy protections to customers around the world. Our Trusted Cloud is built on our commitments to privacy, security, transparency and compliance, and our Trust Center provides access to validated audit reports, data management capabilities and information about the number of legal demands we received for customer data from law enforcement.

 

Categorizing the data we collect as ‘required’ or ‘optional’

 

First, for all our major products, we’ll categorize the data we collect from devices as either required or optional.

 

Data in the required category will consist of data that is necessary to making our products and services work as expected by the customer, or to help ensure their security. Required data includes things like the terms of a search query so we can return relevant search results, the IP address, type and version of your device so that we can provide connectivity to our cloud services and security patches that keep your experience safe and secure, and diagnostic data so that we can detect significant feature failures.

 

Increasing transparency about the data we collect from devices

 

Second, we will increase transparency about the data we collect by improving product documentation.  Specifically, we’ll ensure that documentation for our major products and services describes the data we collect in each of these categories.

 

New biannual report describing changes to our data collection

 

Third, we’re introducing a new report that will be published twice a year at privacy.microsoft.com. This report will highlight any new required data collection we believe is fundamental to provide, secure, update or maintain the performance of our products. We will also note instances when we stop collecting certain types of data from devices (because product or service changes mean the data is no longer required). Last, we will explain when we make changes to our data collection in response to new privacy laws, industry standards and regulations.

 

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