14 Dec 2019

TechBits, Dec 14, 2019

1. Linux Foundation pitches DENT to simplify enterprise edge networks

  • The Linux Foundation today announced a new open-source project aimed at simplifying enterprise networking software at the edge.
  • The DENT initiative‘s goal is to create a network operating system for disaggregated network switches used in remote enterprise locations such as retail stores. The project is being backed by a number of companies, including Amazon.com Inc., Cumulus Networks Inc., Delta Electronics Inc., Marvell Technology Group, Mellanox Technologies Ltd. and Wistron NeWeb Corp.
  • DENT’s founders say they’re trying to facilitate “open networking” at the network edge based on the idea of “disaggregation.” That refers to the evolution of switching and routing appliances from proprietary, closed hardware and software sourced from a single provider toward totally decoupled, open components combined to form a complete switching and routing device.

2. Red Hat customers say hybrid is their top cloud strategy

  • Customers of Red Hat Inc. are increasingly opting for a hybrid approach as their preferred cloud strategy, but doing so isn’t always easy: A large number of them admit to struggling to attract staff with the right skills to make it happen.
  • That’s one of the main takeaways from Red Hat’s 2020 Global Customer Tech Outlook, a survey of 876 of its biggest customers released today.
  • Red Hat reports that 31% of them say the term “hybrid” best describes their cloud strategy, with 21% more leaning toward a private cloud approach. Perhaps surprisingly, just 4% say public cloud is their first choice, with 6% opting for “multicloud,” based on two or more public cloud platforms. Most worrisome, some 12% appear to have no cloud strategy at all, saying simply they have “no plans to focus on cloud.”

3. IBM deploys its newest supercomputer AiMOS to build advanced AI systems

  • The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York is home to IBM Corp.’s latest new supercomputer.
  • The research university said today that it plans to use the supercomputer to accelerate its research and development of new artificial intelligence computing systems.
  • IBM’s latest eight-petaflop supercomputer is called AiMOS, which stands for Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System. It can run up to 8 quadrillion calculations per second. That makes AiMOS the most powerful supercomputer ever installed in a private university.
  • It also ranks 24th in the world in the Top 500 twice-yearly list of the world’s most powerful nondistributed computer systems. Interestingly, though, it runs exactly the same Power Systems architecture as the world’s current two most powerful supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, which are operated by the U.S. Department of Energy.

4. Twitter plans to fund ‘Bluesky,’ an open, decentralized social network standard

  • Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said today that the company will fund the development of an open-source and decentralized social network standard in an attempt to address the shortcomings of current platforms.
  • Dorsey, in a series of tweets, detailed that the project will be run by a small independent team operating under the name Bluesky. The group is set to launch with up to five members. They will include open-source software architects, engineers and designers whose work will “be done transparently in the open, not owned by any single private corporation,” Dorsey wrote.
  • Bluesky is launching with an ambitious mission statement. Twitter will entrust the group with developing a decentralized protocol for social media platforms based either on an existing technology or, if nothing fits the bill, build the components from scratch.

5. Bank of Lithuania plans to release blockchain-based collectible coins


  • The Bank of Lithuania today announced its intent to release blockchain-based collectors coins.
  • The virtual coins will be dedicated to the Feb. 16, 1918 Act of Independence of Lithuania and its 20 signatories and the coins will be issued next spring.
  • As the country’s central bank, the Bank of Lithuania is tasked with issuing the currency of Lithuania and formulating and implementing monetary policy. This means that the bank itself has the authority to mint and produce currency, which gives it the extraordinary power to produce state-regulated digital and collectible coins and tie that to blockchain technology.

6. Google’s ambient computing vision gets closer with Flutter 1.12 release

  • Google LLC today announced a major update to its open-source Flutter framework that’s used to build applications that can run on multiple computing platforms.
  • Flutter is a framework that’s used by developers to write “native” apps on operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows and MacOS. The idea is that they can write their apps just once using Google’s Dart programming language and have them run perfectly across all of those platforms, without needing to tinker the code for each version.
  • Google’s goal with Flutter is to enable what it calls “ambient computing.” The idea, which stretches back decades to Xerox Corp.’s famed Palo Alto Research Center, is that people can access apps and services from any location, be it at home or work, on any kind of device, using a consistent set of methods and commands.

7. PSA: RCS, the successor to SMS, is now live for all US Android users

  • In November, Google said that it was starting to roll out RCS Chat, the successor to SMS, as Android’s primary texting platform, and as of Monday, if you are an Android user on any carrier in the US, you should now be able to use it — though you may need to update your Messages app and carrier settings (via Android Central).
  • In theory, RCS messaging should be an improvement over regular SMS, as it supports read receipts, typing indicators, and is better for group chats. Unlike Apple’s iMessage, though, RCS doesn’t support end-to-end encryption, so you’ll need to use a third-party app like Signal if you want to send encrypted messages.
  • Google first said RCS would become Android’s primary texting platform more than a year and a half ago, so this has been a long time coming. But even though RCS has taken a while to arrive, it could have taken even longer. Google originally relied on the carriers to roll out RCS, but they dragged their feet so much that Google decided to do the rollout itself.

8. Bluespace.ai, a startup focused on AV technology for mass transit, gets $3.5 million in seed funding

  • Bluespace.ai, a new autonomous driving startup focused on mass transit, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Fusion Fund.
  • Other investors include YouTube co-founder Steve Chen; UMC, the Taiwanese semiconductor foundry; Kakao Ventures; GDP Ventures; Atinum; Wasabi Ventures; Blue Ivy Ventures; Plug n Play; and SLV Capital.
  • The startup develops software systems for autonomous mass transit fleets and is currently in meetings with cities and transit providers. Its founding team includes CEO Joel Pazhayampallil, previously co-founder of Drive.ai, which was acquired by Apple earlier this year, and president and COO Christine Moon, whose experience includes serving as head of partnerships for Google’s Nexus program.

9. Xbox Series X is Microsoft’s next-gen console, arriving late-2020


  • If you didn’t watch last night’s Game Awards, you may have missed it. But Xbox Series X is the company’s next-generation console, and will be arriving in late 2020. Thankfully, Microsoft has kindly cataloged all of the images, media and even a little information online. Oh, and we’ll almost certainly be hearing a LOT more about the Xbox Series X before it arrives for the holidays in 2020.
  • Xbox head Phil Spencer has a pretty long breakdown over on the the official blog. But let’s start with the obvious here. The Series X looks…different. Surely the meme makers are already working overtime on this one, but to my mind, it looks like a more traditional PC or maybe even a router.
  • It’s tall (around three times as tall as its predecessor), it’s rectangular, it’s black. It’s fairly minimalist. A lot of people seem to be comparing it to a refrigerator, which is fine. Honestly, I think it’s got that working for it. Surely plenty of people are looking for something that more seamlessly blends in with its surroundings.

10. Porsche and Lucasfilm co-designed a new starfighter for the Star Wars universe

  • Porsche typically concerns itself with terrestrial vehicle designs, but for a new project it worked with Lucasfilm designers in collaboration on a new starfighter for the Star Wars universe.
  • The starfigher, called the Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus, obviously doesn’t exist in full-scale flyable form, but it is being built out as a five-foot-long highly-detailed sub-scale model, which will be unveiled at the “Rise of Skywalker” premiere in LA this month.
  • Note that the S-91x won’t actually be in the movie — it’s more of a design exercise and promotional thing than something that is actually intended to feature in narrative Star Wars universe content. But the collaboration is interesting because it combines Porsche sensibilities and direct design inspiration from that company’s 911 and Taycan real-world vehicles, with authentic Lucasfilm touches like an astromech slot behind the cockpit and the somewhat “lived-in” detailed industrial look of Star Wars universe technology.
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