Hyperledger’s blockchain framework Sawtooth reaches 1.0

The open source collaborative blockchain effort Hyperledger has announced the release of Sawtooth 1.0. This marks the organization’s second blockchain framework that has reached production ready status. The first was Hyperledger Fabric, a project designed to enable plug-and-play components.

Sawtooth is a modular platform designed for building, deploying and running distributed ledgers. Sawtooth started out inside Intel Labs as Sawtooth Lake. There, it was focused on exploring the security and scalability of bitcoin and blockchain technology. “By 2016 research had produced Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), to provide a green and performant alternative consensus to Proof of Work, and Transaction Families, an approach to building safe smart contracts. In the same year, Hyperledger was getting underway and Intel contributed Sawtooth Lake to Hyperledger as an incubated project,” Dan Middleton, Sawtooth project maintainer, wrote in a post.

More recently, the project was named one of Black Duck’s 2016 open source rookies of the year. “Throughout this time, we’ve maintained our focus on making smart contracts safe and bringing blockchain to the enterprise without cutting the benefits of blockchain that inspired interest to begin with. While maintaining that focus, we’ve not rested on PoET and Transaction Families,” wrote.

Sawtooth 1.0 now features an on-chain governance, an advanced transaction execution engine for processing transactions, support for Etherum and dynamic consensus for upgrading or swapping the blockchain consensus protocol.

Going forward, the team plans to focus on performance and privacy. “We’d like to add another consensus option for those planning to run small networks. Within the core, we are looking at replacing targeted python modules with optimized components in languages like Rust. On the privacy front, we have contributors investigating both trusted execution and zero-knowledge cryptographic approaches. We look forward to our enterprise users contributing back pilot implementations in these spaces as well,” Middleton wrote.

Google now offers a wall mount for its smallest smart speaker

The Google Home Mini admittedly doesn’t have much of a footprint, but what if you want to separate the smart speaker from the clutter on your desktop or kitchen counter and give it its own place … like on the wall.

Thanks to Google’s launch this week of a wall mount, now you can.

Costing a reasonable $15, the Mountain View company has produced the Home Mini mount in partnership with tech accessories outfit Incipio. Available now via the Google Store, the white-colored mount fits snugly around your Google smart speaker and comes with screws and drywall anchors for easy fitting. In the box you’ll also find a roll of 3M tape if you’d prefer not to drill holes in your wall.

Google describes the lightweight accessory as a “sleek, durable wall mount [that] makes it easy to put Google Home Mini right where you want it — plus, free up precious counter and tabletop surfaces.”

Securing the Mini in a permanent spot on the wall will also help to keep it out of the way of curious littl’uns who might want to use it for a game of living-room hockey or some other leisurely pursuit, though the mount is designed in a way that lets you easily flip the speaker out if necessary.

The only point to consider when it comes to fitting the mount is the location of your power outlets, as the speaker has no integrated battery.

Voice-activated smart speakers were reportedly a big hit over the holiday season. Google, with the Home, Home Mini and Home Max speakers, and Amazon, with its growing range of Alexa-powered Echo devices, are leading the pack, though companies are entering the market all the time with their own take on the product.

Apple, too, is gearing up to take them all on with the HomePod. Unveiled last year, the Cupertino-based company had been hoping to have it ready for the holiday season but design issues caused them to push the launch date to 2018.

The Google Home Mini is the smallest of Google’s three smart speakers, and retails for $50. Like any smart speaker worth its salt, it lets you perform an array of functions such as playing tracks from your music library, answering queries, making calls, offering traffic and weather reports, and controlling a growing range of smart-home devices.

It can also scare the bejeezus out of unsuspecting grannies.

EdgeX Foundry launches first major code release

Linux Foundation open source project EdgeX Foundry has launched the first major code release of their common open framework for IoT edge computing, Barcelona, originally announced in April. The release features key API stabilization, better code quality, reference Device Services supporting BACNet, Modbus, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), MQTT, SNMP, and Fischertechnik, and double the test coverage across EdgeX microservices.

Barcelona is the result of collaboration between over 50 member organizations and aims to provide an ecosystem for Industrial IoT solutions. These members provide products that support analytics, visualization, security, and more. Over 150 across the globe have met to establish project goals, working groups, and project maintainers and committers.

EdgeX says that the complexity of the IoT landscape has caused issues among businesses looking to deploy their own IoT solutions. EdgeX Foundry hopes to solve these issues by building this open source framework. The framework will be built on plug-and-play components designed to accelerate the deployment of IoT solutions.

“Barcelona is a significant milestone that showcases the commercial viability of EdgeX and the impact that it will have on the global Industrial IoT Landscape,” said Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at The Linux Foundation.

EdgeX has established a bi-annual release roadmap and their next major release, “California,” is planned for next Spring. California will continue to expand the framework to support requirements for deployment in business-critical Industrial IoT applications. According to the company, “In addition to general improvements, planned features for the California release include baseline APIs and reference implementations for security and manageability value-add.”

Live demonstrations of this platform will be taking place at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona, Spain this week.

SanDisk unveils high-speed SD cards that can survive extreme temperatures

SanDisk has released a series of high-speed SD cards that work in extreme climates, as first spotted by AnandTech. The cards, known as the Industrial line, work from below sub-zero temperatures through to *way* beyond Australian-summer searing hot (-40°C to 85°C / -40°F to 180°F).

The Industrial cards come in SD (8GB to 64GB) and microSD formats (8GB to 128GB). They’re designed to be used in industrial scenarios like in surveillance cameras, drones, factory automation, and network equipment. They also feature fast read and write times (50/80 MB/s), meaning they’re capable of high bit-rate video streaming for applications like surveillance. The Industrial card also has an automatic read refresh feature that protects files on the flash storage from becoming corrupt.

The specs are really impressive, especially the card’s endurance through temperatures I feel anxious just thinking about, but it invites the question of do you really need that sort of performance in a memory card? No, but I guess you do want it.

How to run VirtualBox virtual machines from the command line

VirtualBox virtual machines can be run without working with the GUI. See how to take advantage of the VBoxManage command to start, pause, and power down your VMs.

 

If you’re using VirtualBox as a virtual machine (VM) server in your data center, chances are you’re going to want to know how to run those VMs without having to rely on the VirtualBox GUI. This makes it much easier to run your VMs without having to be at the host machine (you can ssh into the host and then manage the VMs) or without having a number of GUI windows open to clutter your server desktops (or be readily available for prying eyes).

To make this happen, you’ll use a very powerful command that comes with VirtualBox called VBoxManage; it allows you to manage a number of aspects of your VMs. I’ll show how to use VBoxManage to start, stop, and pause your VMs. I assume you have VirtualBox installed, and your VMs are ready to run on the host machine.

Before you set-up a VM

If you go directly to the VBoxManage command and fire up a VM, you’ll probably find that VM isn’t reachable via network—this renders the VM worthless, especially if it is a server.

In order to get the networking of your headless VM up and running, you have to install the VirtualBox extension pack. Here’s how.

  1. Download the extension pack that matches your VirtualBox release.
  2. Open the VirtualBox GUI.
  3. Click File | Preferences.
  4. Go to the Extensions section.
  5. Click the downward-pointing arrow (Figure A).
  6. Navigate to where you saved the Extension Pack and select the .vbox-extpack file.
  7. Click Open.
  8. When prompted, type your admin password for the host machine.
  9. Click OK.

Figure A

Figure A

Installing the VirtualBox Extension Pack

You’re ready to run your VMs, which will include the ability to reach them via network.

Starting/stopping/pausing a VM

Now the fun begins. First, you must know the name of the VM you want to run. To find a list of the VMs, issue the command VBoxManage list vms. This command will display all the VMs, as well as their unique IDs, in a form that you can use (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

All of my available VMs

Say we want to run the “Ubuntu Server” VM as a headless instance. To do this, you would issue the command:

VBoxManage startvm "Ubuntu Server" --type headless

The VM will start up and hand you back your bash prompt. Your virtual server (if that’s how you’re using the VM) is now available to you.

If you need to pause that VM, issue the command:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu Server" pause --type headless

To restart that paused VM, issue the command:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu Server" resume --type headless

To shut down the VM, issue the command:

VBoxManage controlvm "Ubuntu Server" poweroff --type headless

You have the capability to start, stop, and pause your VMs…all from the command line.

A very handy feature

The ability to run VMs from the command line is incredibly handy. When you have a host running numerous guests, and you don’t want every guest visible on the host platform, or you want to be able to manage the VMs remotely, you’ll be glad to have the VBoxManage command at the ready.

Sony’s updated PlayStation VR won’t block HDR

It’s been almost a year since Sony formally entered the virtual reality arena with the launch of the PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset. In that time, the unit has remained unchanged, but its pricing has slipped slightly, allowing gamers to enjoy popular titles like Superhot VR, Robinson: The Journey and Farpoint. Seemingly out of nowhere, Sony announced today that it’s working on an updated version of the headset and that it will come with integrated headphones and HDR passthrough support.

If you own or have worn a PSVR headset, you’ll know that the headphones need to be connected via the 3.5mm port on the side of the inline “remote.” It’s not particularly taxing, but it does mean there’s another cable loosely dangling around as you’re moving about a room. To improve this, Sony has updated the design of the headset to integrate the stereo headphones at the back of the unit, while simultaneously making the connection cable slimmer to reduce its overall profile.

In order to enable HDR passthrough, Sony’s new headset will ship with an updated PSVR Processor Unit. This will allow headset owners to enjoy HDR-compatible content on their TV without having to unplug the unit first. The PlayStation 4 got an HDR update last year, but it required manual disconnection to enable it.

Sony doesn’t say when we can expect the new headset to launch, but it did note that pricing would stay the same. The company has also warned existing owners that they will not be able to hotswap the Processor Unit in order to enjoy HDR content as the cabling is different. However, all PSVR games will operate as normal, so if you do upgrade from the CUH-ZVR1 to the CUH-ZVR2 model, nothing will change on that front.

Here’s a bolt out of the blue: Uber is partnering with Yandex, the Google of Russia, to launch a new standalone company that merges their respective ridesharing services to target Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia.

The new company, tentatively titled “NewCo,” will be 59.3 percent owned by Yandex, 36.6 percent owned by Uber, and 4.1 percent owned by employees. Additionally, Uber will roll its UberEats food delivery service into the new venture.

Though Yandex is perhaps better known for its online technologies across Russia and nearby regions, it has actually operated an Uber-style taxi-hailing app for a number of years already, and it recently announced it was slashing its prices to stay ahead of the local competition, which includes Uber and Gett. Uber, for its part, has faced stiff regulatory hurdles in Russia, and was given the green light to continue operating in Moscow last year, but only using licensed taxi drivers.

As a result of this deal, Uber is investing $225 million into NewCo, with Yandex only stumping up $100 million, with the post-money valuation pegged at $3.725 billion.

That Uber is putting more cash into the new company, yet is only gaining a little more than one-third of the ownership, indicates that Yandex holds a much larger share of the local market, and Uber has effectively failed to overturn the incumbents. Indeed, according to a set of slides issued by Yandex, it is currently on track to do 285 million rides in 2017 across the various regions, while Uber is on for more than half of that, at around 134 million.

Above: Uber vs. Yandex

The announcement also echoes a similar move Uber made in China last year, when it decided to be swallowed by local etaxi giant Didi Chuxing in a $35 billion deal, rather than continuing to haemorrhage cash trying to infiltrate the market. The more modest nature of this latest tie-up with Yandex reflects the smaller market, but it also goes some way toward improving Uber’s balance sheet.

“Combining our business with Yandex will give us a very significant stake in a new company which will initially serve more than 35 million trips each month and operate in an incredible 127 cities in six countries across the region,” explainedPierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head honcho for EMEA, in an email sent to employees. “Uber will also have three of the seven seats on the new company’s board and — together with the $225 million cash investment we are making in the new company — our 36.6 percent ownership stake will be worth almost $1.4 billion.”

The new company — which will be headed up by Tigran Khudaverdyan, who currently serves as the CEO of Yandex.Taxi — will also tap Yandex’s existing technologies including maps and navigation.

Once the transaction is complete, which is expected to happen in Q4, riders will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps, but the driver apps will be integrated, “leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilization rates, and higher service reliability,” according to a separate Yandex statement.

It’s also worth noting here that Uber an Yandex’s boards of directors have already approved this deal (as you’d expect) and shareholder approval isn’t required — the only potential sticking point would be regulatory approval.

 

Sourced: Paul Sawers

All right. Well, take care yourself. I guess that’s what you’re best, presence old master? A tremor in the Force. The last time felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Leave that to me. Send a distress signal, and inform the Senate that all on board were killed. Red Five standing by.

I find your lack of faith disturbing. A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. Red Five standing by. Red Five standing by. Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing. The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Oh God, my uncle. How am I ever gonna explain this? As you wish. Escape is not his plan. I must face him, alone. You mean it controls your actions?

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

5_newsmag_l_fwoman-smartphone-girl-technology

A morning without coffee is like sleep.
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. In my experience, there is no such thing as luck. Red Five standing by.

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Red Five standing by. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

All right. Well, take care yourself. I guess that’s what you’re best, presence old master? A tremor in the Force. The last time felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Leave that to me. Send a distress signal, and inform the Senate that all on board were killed. Red Five standing by.

I find your lack of faith disturbing. A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. Red Five standing by. Red Five standing by. Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing. The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Oh God, my uncle. How am I ever gonna explain this? As you wish. Escape is not his plan. I must face him, alone. You mean it controls your actions?

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

5_newsmag_l_fwoman-smartphone-girl-technology

A morning without coffee is like sleep.
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. In my experience, there is no such thing as luck. Red Five standing by.

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Red Five standing by. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

All right. Well, take care yourself. I guess that’s what you’re best, presence old master? A tremor in the Force. The last time felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Leave that to me. Send a distress signal, and inform the Senate that all on board were killed. Red Five standing by.

I find your lack of faith disturbing. A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. Red Five standing by. Red Five standing by. Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing. The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Oh God, my uncle. How am I ever gonna explain this? As you wish. Escape is not his plan. I must face him, alone. You mean it controls your actions?

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

5_newsmag_l_fwoman-smartphone-girl-technology

A morning without coffee is like sleep.
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. As you wish.

Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Ye-ha! The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. In my experience, there is no such thing as luck. Red Five standing by.

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. Red Five standing by. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands.