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The cloud networking market is broken – Netmaker is trying to fix it

Techradar - 13 hours 23 min ago

From businesses to individual users, everybody seems to be using the cloud. And, with organizations migrating more and more towards a remote or hybrid work model, cloud computing is simply going to get bigger and bigger. 

The market's overall value exceeded $368 billion in 2021, and this is expected to grow at a staggering annual rate of 15.7% between now and 2030.  

This fast expansion together with a considerable rise in demand is bringing quite a few challenges as the sector struggles to keep up with new trends, tools and cyber threats.   

This was exactly the scenario that ex-IBM cloud engineer Alex Feiszli and former colleague, now business partner, Dillon Carns encountered about a year ago when they decided to set up their own cloud network system. 

The limits of today's cloud networking systems

"The newest trends [in cloud computing] are about building more distributed applications. There's things like IoT, edge computing, multi hybrid cloud. All of these new patterns involve running applications in differently networked environments. But there's not really a solution, or a good solution, for controlling the networking across these different infrastructures," Feiszli told TechRadar.

"That's the gap we're aiming to solve: automating and integrating the networking between these different distributed environments."

Cloud computing, or networking, refers to the infrastructure delivering on-demand computing services over the internet. Starting off with the cloud as a secure storage space, its more recent use is a way to process and link different accounts and applications over a remote virtual network. 

Digital clouds against a blue background.

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Blackboard)

"I think there's a bit of a skill gap in the industry where there's just not enough developers focused on networking. I don't think we see nearly as much innovation in the networking space as we do in other spaces, but it's really needed," said Feiszli. 

A lack of expertise able to keep up with new trends in cloud computing is one of the main issues affecting organizations, according to a recent survey conducted by US computer software company Flexera.  

Other limitations dragging down new developments in cloud networking are: 

  • Limited control over the cloud infrastructure hindering the correct management and implementation of procedures in line with organizations' goals; 
  • Difficulty in promoting security practices able to protect organizations from a diverse range of cyber threats;
  • Compliance with several local data regulations and laws;
  • Cost and issues of managing multiple clouds.  
Netmaker: the virtual networking platform of the future?

These were some of the issues that CEO and co-founder of Netmaker Alex Feiszli and partner Dillon Carns encountered a year ago, before deciding to create their own mesh network able to overcome such limitations.

"We originally had a much bigger idea: to have a cloud provider that doesn't own any infrastructure and it's provided by users. But to make it work, we needed a really performant mesh VPN," he said.

For those not familiar with the concept of mesh VPN, such a software differs from traditional VPN services as it uses peer-to-peer technology to directly connect every node (or device) within the network without needing to pass via a central gateway or server. 

What Feiszli and Carns were after, though, was a very fast, secure and dynamic mesh VPN. "Unfortunately, when we looked at what was currently out there, nothing really accomplished what we needed," said Feiszli. "So, we built Netmaker to solve our problem."

Netmaker differs from its competitors as it's powered by the secure and ultra-fast WireGuard protocol. Its flexibility and great performance which can match an unencrypted network make it especially suited for running infrastructure, Feiszli explained to us. 

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Existing mesh networks generally use different protocols delivering slower performances. And also when WireGuard is employed, like in the case of Tailscale and NordVPN's Meshnet, such tools aim for a simple end user experience powerful enough to carry on everyday activities.

On the contrary, Netmaker is looking to improve the experience for IT departments and IT businesses rather than individual users. 

An open-source networking platform available on GitHub for everyone to review, it aims to link hybrid/multi-cloud, edge, IoT, and Kubernetes environments without sacrificing strong performance, security and flexibility. 

"In practice, it allows people to define the connections between any machines that they own inside the network - as long as those machines have an Internet connection - securely and automatically," said Feiszli.

People can choose between its community and professional plan, both free of charge. The latter gives users some additional features like metrics details, user access control and a so-called failover routing option to automatically relay the network via a third machine in case a peer-to-peer connection cannot be established. 

It is worth noting that bigger organizations need to upgrade their pro plan into a paid subscription as the free tier only allows for one user and 50 machines as network limit. 

What's more, it's very easy for users to secure their anonymity as, despite the paid version, it doesn't even require an email address to get started. 

Cloud network graphic

(Image credit: Netmaker)
What's next?

Launched in March 2021, the Netmaker's community is quickly growing. It now counts over 1400 active platforms with roughly 10,000 machines running across these networks.   

However, as Feiszli admitted, "it turns out building a VPN is a very challenging thing." 

Netmaker's goal is certainly quite ambitious and it needs resources to keep developing at the same pace the cloud networking sector does. 

That's why they launched a funding campaign to secure the necessary resources to be able to stay on top of the cloud's game and its challenges. After graduating from Y Combinator, the startup managed to raise $2.3 million last October to enlarge their team and keep doing what they love: writing more and better codes. 

"We would love to go in some more directions with this over time as we see some great opportunities for integrations," said Feiszli. "But networking is a huge problem to solve and something that needs a lot of work. So, Netmaker is going to keep us plenty busy for the foreseeable future."  

Elon’s Two-Day War with Apple + How to Beat an A.I. Censor + S.B.F.’s ‘Bad Month’

NYT Technology - 18 hours 52 min ago
Musk takes on tech’s fight against the Apple “tax.”

Kanye West’s Deal to Buy Parler Unravels

NYT Technology - 22 hours 25 min ago
The parent company of Parler, a social media service popular with right-wing audiences, said it had “mutually agreed with Ye” to end the deal.

The Crypto Crowd Holds a Glittery Awards Night, Despite Fiascoes

NYT Technology - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 21:34
The Crypties was intended as a gala evening in Miami to celebrate the currencies of the future. It turned out to be more of a roast.

Facebook Failed to Stop Ads Threatening Election Workers

NYT Technology - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 14:09
The ads, submitted by researchers, were rejected by YouTube and TikTok.

Watch out - these are officially the most dangerous creative software to search for

Techradar - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 11:30

Content creators are putting themselves at risk when searching and downloading creative software, new research has found. 

A report from Surfshark in partnership with the University of Maryland, studied Google search results to identify which software is - in its words - “the most dangerous to search for online.”

According to the report, Avid’s audio editor tools were found to be the most dangerous - 64.4% of search engine results contained potentially harmful malware. This was followed by Adobe Substance 3D Painter, UI design tool Sketch, and Substance 3D Stager.  

The most dangerous game 

In order to identify the riskiest creative software users can download, the VPN provider Googled the most-reviewed tools, adding “download” and “torrent” as qualifiers to generate the list. 

The firm then ran all URLs from the first five pages through a malware detector. The percentages reflect any web address marked as a medium risk or higher.  

Of the top ten creative software packages flagged as “most dangerous”, the Adobe suite dominates - perhaps unsurprising given that the business has become the go-to for content creators with its range of video editing software, graphic design tools, DTP software, and photo editors.

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Alongside Adobe products, popular digital art tool CorelDRAW and Maxon Cinema 4D also make an appearance on the list. 

Surfshark also ran the search across other categories, including small business software, social media marketing tools, crypto wallets, and browsers

“Expensive software and user licenses have created a large demand for torrented software, making it the perfect opportunity for hackers to strike and insert malware into seemingly normal links. On average, roughly 1 in 3 search results for software contain potential malware,” the company said. 

But how can users stay protected? The answer is simple: by downloading and paying for them, via the official site. 

The list in full: Software% of URLs flagged with potential malwareAvid software 64.04Substance 3D Painter 57.32Sketch software 56.38Substance 3D Stager 56.25Maxon Cinema 4D 55.10V-Ray 53.76InDesign49.49CorelDRAW 49.47Express software 49.44XD software 49.44

Elon Musk Hopes to Test a Brain Implant in Humans Next Year

NYT Technology - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 10:35
The tech multibillionaire said his company, Neuralink, was seeking government approval to test his device in people, and predicted it could happen in six months. Others have been conducting similar tests for years, but no device has been marketed commercially.

Video calls are finally getting better for virtual machine users

Techradar - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 10:00

The video calling experience for some virtual machine (VM) users is about to get a whole lot better thanks to a new Google Meet upgrade.

In a post on the Google Workspace blog, the company noted, “If you use a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) such as Citrix or VMWare to join Google Meet calls, you’ll notice an increase in video and audio quality.”

Going forward, the platform will detect whether a user is joining from a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) like Citrix or VMWare, and then automatically adjust for better performance. 

Google Meet on VMs

It’s not just video and audio quality that are getting a handy boost, but the stress placed on your VM should also notably drop.

“This optimization will also help cut down on the demand put on your VDIs, such as CPU, GPU, and memory usage, helping improve meeting quality and overall performance," Google added.

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To benefit from the new optimization, admins will need to complete some setup steps, including enabling the Enterprise Hardware Platform API policy in Chrome, which will allow Meet to detect that it’s running inside a VM. Once set up, end users won’t need to do anything extra.

The rollout has already begun, but will be a gradual process that means some users may need to wait up to 15 days to get access. 

Virtually all enterprise users with a VM will be able to notice a difference, because every Google Workspace customer (including legacy G Suite accounts) are included in this update.

This is just one update that joins a number of improvements to the Meet video conferencing platform aimed at improving the experience for business users. The company recently announced a cooperation with Zoom that would see Meet users able to join Zoom calls from within the Meet interface, and vice versa.

Sam Bankman-Fried Blames ‘Huge Management Failures’ for FTX Collapse

NYT Technology - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 08:50
Mr. Bankman-Fried spoke at The New York Times’s DealBook conference, in his first public appearance since his crypto exchange imploded.

Windows 11 making you wait ages for files to copy? There’s a fix for that

Techradar - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 04:41

Windows 11 users who have run into a problem whereby they’re finding that large files are copying really slowly will be pleased to hear that Microsoft has now fixed the issue.

This issue affects Windows 11 22H2, and note that the fix is in place in the freshly released preview build 25252. So in other words, those testing the OS now have access to the fix, to run it through its paces and ensure all is working correctly.

Naturally, it will come through to the release version of Windows 11 eventually. As Bleeping Computer reports, Ned Pyle, who is Microsoft’s principal program manager in the Windows Server engineering group, informed us: “The final fix for Windows 11 22H2 production computer will come in a normal monthly Cumulative Update through Windows Update once validated in Insider builds.”

Performance being considerably reduced when copying larger files – which simply means they’ll take a lot longer to copy over than they should, and going by some reports, they might take twice as long in fact – kicks in “when copying larger files from a remote computer down to a Windows 11 computer or when copying files on a local drive,” Pyle explained.

Pyle added that PCs on home networks or small offices were less likely to encounter this bug, but it’s still possible, clarifying that: “You are more likely to experience this issue copying files to Windows 11, version 22H2 from a network share via Server Message Block (SMB) but local file copy might also be affected.”

Analysis: Not long now for the full release of the fix, we’d hope

Obviously, this resolution will be more than welcome, as copying big files can be a painful enough time-sink, without having to tap your fingers on the desk for up to twice the length of time as normal.

That said, it’s still in testing right now, so that’s not going to help those running the release version of Windows 11. When will the fix actually arrive on PCs in the real world? That’s a tricky one, as it depends on how testing goes, naturally.

However, what we do know is that this won’t be here this month, as the cumulative update for December has already been pushed out (in preview), and so is too close on the horizon (it’ll be released in under two weeks now). What we can hope for is a smooth path with testing means we’ll see this cure bundled with the Windows 11 update for January, which will be unleashed on January 10 – which still isn’t too far away.

We could still be waiting longer if testers uncover any wonkiness with the fix, of course, or indeed other unforeseen problems introduced elsewhere (it wouldn’t be the first time a patch for one issue caused another flaw to pop up, as we’ve all seen in the past when Microsoft plays bug whack-a-mole).

Microsoft has been busy fixing a whole bunch of frustrating issues which have affected some parts of the Windows 11 user base in recent times. That includes a nasty bug that caused stuttering while playing games and a seriously thorny gremlin that half-broke some printers, not to mention a glitch that slowed down the CPU.

Windows 11 is slowly but surely becoming a smoother experience in that respect, though in an ideal world we wouldn’t see so many major bugs coming through in the first place.

How the Collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire Has Disrupted A.I.

NYT Technology - Thu, 12/01/2022 - 04:00
Mr. Bankman-Fried and his colleagues spent more than $530 million to battle what they saw as the dangers of artificial intelligence. Now those efforts are reeling.

Elon Musk Averts Feud With Apple by Meeting Tim Cook

NYT Technology - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 19:03
Mr. Musk, who had said the company was trying to sabotage Twitter, met with Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, on Wednesday.

FedEx Dataworks partners with Austin-based Cart.com to address e-commerce challenges

Memphis Business Journal - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 14:34
FedEx has partnered with Cart.com, the Austin-based provider of e-commerce solutions that raised $240 million in debt and equity fundraising early in 2022.

San Francisco Considers Allowing Use of Deadly Robots by Police

NYT Technology - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 13:48
The Police Department said robots would use deadly force only “in extreme circumstances.” Opponents said the policy could lead to more police violence.

Windows 11 gets a much-awaited fix for gaming bug

Techradar - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 10:33

Windows 11 has been plagued by a bug in its 22H2 update that affects some users, causing stuttering in games, and leading Microsoft to block the upgrade for those people – but the good news is that a fix has now been implemented by the software giant.

The solution to this annoying glitch is contained within the code of patch KB5020044, a recently deployed cumulative update – but note that this is still a preview update. In other words, the patch is still in testing, but you can grab it the normal way, by checking under Windows Update.

You may recall that Microsoft took action against this bug recently, when the software giant pinned down the games and apps which were problematic and suffered from stuttering, and therefore lifted the block on the 22H2 update for many folks, leaving only those who run an affected game (or games) unable to upgrade.

With this full fix, once it’s applied, anyone can upgrade regardless of what games they have installed on their Windows 11 PC. (Incidentally, Microsoft didn’t share the details of which PC games or applications were provoking the slowdown issue, which was related to GPU debugging features being switched on by mistake, with that debugging work eating resources).

Analysis: Grab it now – or maybe wait just a bit longer?

It’s good to see a solution to this bug come through relatively quickly, as naturally it was frustrating for those who were blocked from upgrading to 22H2 due to the flaw.

That said, remember that as KB5020044 is a preview update, installing it could have unforeseen consequences with it still being in the testing phase. But that said, if you’re keen to finally upgrade to 22H2 after being blocked by a safeguard hold for some time, odds are you might want to give it a whirl.

More cautious types, though, should wait for the full release of this update. The finished version of this patch will be out mid-December, only a couple of weeks away now, and if there are imperfections in the preview update, any wrinkles should be ironed out by that time. (Or we certainly hope so, though from previous experience, we can’t take anything for granted when it comes to Windows patching).

So, the choice is yours, but even if you don’t fancy chancing the fix right now, you can simply bide your time for a little longer in the knowledge that the full release version of the cure is literally just around the corner.

This cumulative update is actually a pretty hefty one, coming with some other major bug fixes besides the resolution of these gaming problems. That includes several important fixes for issues with File Explorer – the beating heart of the Windows interface, which lets you browse through folders and the files therein – including a glitch which caused File Explorer to completely crash and burn (a pretty disastrous situation, ushering in a full reboot).

If you’re in need of help troubleshooting any issue, by the way, check out our full guide to solving common problems with Windows 11.

Via PC Gamer

Physicists Create ‘the Smallest, Crummiest Wormhole You Can Imagine’

NYT Technology - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 10:08
Scientists used a quantum computer to explore the ultimate escape route from a black hole.

Your Google Pixel 7 just got a major security upgrade that includes a free VPN

Techradar - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 06:16

Google is finally rolling out its biggest Google Pixel update yet, which gives all owners of its Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones free access to the VPN from its Google One service.

That's right – Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro users can now access a service that usually costs at least $9.99 / £7.99 / AU$12.49 per month for nothing. However, they won’t get access to the other Google One benefits that paying subscribers enjoy, like the ability to store up to 2TB of data in Google’s Cloud, and 10% back on Google Store purchases.

To get started using the free VPN you’ll need to open up the Google One app (or install it from the Play Store if you haven’t already). After doing so you may see a pop-up alerting you that your phone now comes with VPN by Google One, and there should be a new option in the app’s Benefits section that tells you about the VPN. Tap the 'View details' button on this option and you'll be taken to a 'Use VPN' toggle that you can switch on, giving you access to the Google One VPN in your phone’s Quick Settings.

You’ll also be able to activate and deactivate your VPN connection by going into your Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro’s Network and Internet Settings, and heading to the VPN section. The Pixel 7’s free VPN will be available in most countries where the smartphone is sold, with the exception of Singapore and India.

If you’re not in one of those countries and the service isn’t live for you yet, you may have to be a little patient; the update is currently rolling out, so it may not have been pushed to your Google Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 pro quite yet. Double-check your Pixel 7 and Google One app for updates, and check back every so often to see if the free VPN has gone live for you yet.

Google One VPN Logo is a lock on a shield

The Googler One VPN is now available on Google Pixel 7 phones for free (Image credit: Google)

It’s worth noting, though, that while the Google One VPN isn’t one you should immediately dismiss, it won’t be quite as useful as some of the alternatives out there.

Analysis: you get what you (don't) pay for

The Google One VPN is a lot like the services provided by the likes of ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Like its rivals, you can use Google’s VPN to keep your online activity private and secure; while using the VPN you can more safely browse data while using a public Wi-Fi connection, and no matter your connection the data can’t be tied to your identity.

What’s more, Google has promised that, like many of the best VPN services, it won’t use data transmitted over its VPN to “track, log or sell your browsing activity” beyond some minimum logging to ensure the quality of its service (though Google says it doesn’t associate your IP address or traffic with this collected data).

There is one major letdown though: you can’t use Google’s VPN to change your IP location. This means you won’t be able to use the service to view content that's otherwise not available in your region (a major draw for services like ExpressVPN).

The inability to change your location is certainly a disappointment, but considering that this service is free for Pixel 7 and 7 Pro users, a few downgrades compared to what’s offered by paid rivals isn't the end of the world. That said, if you're considering paying for Google One to get access to Google’s VPN on non-Pixel 7 hardware (like the Google Pixel 6, a Samsung Galaxy S22, or the iPhone 14) this is something to be aware of.

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Amazon’s Halo Rise Wants to Review Your Sleep. (No, Thanks.)

NYT Technology - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 04:00
The new Halo Rise studies your body and breathing and rates your restfulness, from “Poor” to “Great.” Who needs this?

Is Spreading Medical Misinformation a Doctor’s Free Speech Right?

NYT Technology - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 04:00
Two lawsuits in California have pre-emptively challenged a new law that would punish doctors for misleading patients about Covid-19.

Sony is ready to motion-capture its way into the metaverse, but only in Japan

Techradar - Tue, 11/29/2022 - 14:08

Sony is trying its hand at the metaverse with new  motion capture devices collectively known as Mocopi.

Comprised of six color-coded sensors, the Mocopi system goes at key parts of a person's body (your head, hip, wrists, and ankles) using velcro straps or a clip in order to capture movement via a dedicated smartphone app. With this tech, users can control an anime style avatar in real time to either create videos or hang out with people in compatible metaverse services like VRChat. It’s similar to a big Hollywood-style motion capture system but without the dedicated equipment or operators. Sony hopes Mocopi will help content creators “involved in movie and animation production” and facilitate development in key areas like fitness platforms, according to the announcement.

If the preview video is to be believed, Mocopi is actually pretty accurate. The avatar closely follows a person's motions from running, dancing, and even lip syncing. Once done, users can view the video of the avatar in motion on the mobile app. 

Features

The sensors themselves measure 32mm (a little over an inch) in diameter and weigh 8 grams (0.28 ounces). They’re battery-powered and come with a charging case, so users don’t have to worry about getting tangled in cords. According to the Mocopi product page, each sensor has a battery life of up to 10 hours depending on how often you would use them. They even have a protection rating of IP65 meaning they’re completely protected against dust and can survive splashes of water.

The setup seems pretty straightforward too. Each puck connects to smartphones via Bluetooth LE, but must stay stationary during the pairing process so they can connect properly. Afterward, you calibrate the sensors so the avatar is properly synced.

Video recordings will be saved as an MP4 file with a 1080p (1920x1080) resolution and a frame rate of 30fps. The motion data itself is recorded separately, which can be uploaded to a PC for further animation. If you don’t like the avatar’s anime style, you can upload your own. 

Sony will provide a Mocopi software development kit (SDK) on December 15, allowing creative users to create custom assets. Motion data can also be edited on select 3D development software like the Unity game engine and MotionBuilder. The full list of supported software is still unknown, but that info will be released on December 15 alongside the SDK.

Mocopi will be exclusive to Japan as it launches in late January 2023 for 49,500 yen (around $356 USD) alongside the official app. Pre-orders start mid-December.  It’s unknown whether or not Mocopi will see an international release, but considering the app is entirely in English, it’s definitely possible. Besides, Sony is no stranger to exporting its tech to willing buyers overseas. 

Future of VR

Admittedly, Mocopi is pretty cool, but it’s way too early to tell whether or not it can convince people to join the metaverse. Part of the hesitancy is the high barrier to entry whether it's expensive headsets, the lack of a killer app, or in Sony’s case, limited smartphone support. According to the Mocopi product page, Android users must own one of six Sony Xperia models like the 5 IV to use the app. The selection for iOS devices is much bigger, however, ranging from the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Still, putting virtual reality tech into the hands of users may be the push the metaverse needs to break into the mainstream. 

If you’re interested in diving into virtual reality, be sure to check out TechRadar’s recently updated best VR headsets list

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