Readdle Documents 6.3: better PDF reader, new cloud file management & smart MP3 search

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Ukrainian developer Readdle today pushed an amazing new update to Documents, a Finder-like app you’ve always wanted that lets you read, listen, view, annotate and organize almost anything you want on your iPad and iPhone…. Read the rest of this post here

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How a New Provider Is Democratizing the Cloud

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The history of cloud computing is unfolding before our eyes. Advances in cloud computing have already changed the way we live, work, and play, and the global cloud computing market is growing at a rapid pace. Experts estimate that in 2018, more than half of all global enterprises will have adopted cloud services, unlocking even more possibilities for consumers.

People across the world have widely benefited from advances in cloud computing. New and efficient ways of sharing, collaborating, and storing data has made it easy for people to get their job done no matter where they are—whether it’s editing a document from an airplane or making notes on a spreadsheet from the kitchen. They are no longer tethered to their desk on a 9-to-5 schedule. Instead, innovative ideas can easily come in from around the globe, around the clock. We’re turning to our devices to do things we never thought possible even a decade ago: Logging on to social networks, grocery shopping, watching movies, managing bills, getting prescriptions.

Big Companies, Big Limitations

Nearly all of that cloud computing power is thanks to three companies: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. As the possibilities of the cloud grew, only these powerhouses had the capital and prowess to scale up their businesses and build the massive data centers that we rely on for computing power today.
However, those giant centralized data centers don’t come without downsides. Since it’s nearly impossible to compete with the size and scope of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, those companies effectively control the prices charged for cloud infrastructure.

Furthermore, the big three companies have scaled their business up, not out. Amazon Web Services, for instance, separates its entire global infrastructure into just 18 geographic regions. When data has to travel so far to be processed, inefficiencies and latency are inevitable. Also, they form massive single points of failure. A power outage in Virginia could prevent users in Chicago from accessing their banking apps for hours.

The One Cloud to Rule Them All

It’s clear that it’s time for a new model. Luckily, one exists. Overclock Labs, a San Francisco-based startup, has sprung onto the scene with its Akash Network. The innovative new network gives companies across the globe a more affordable, accessible, and efficient way to use the power of the cloud.

Overclock isn’t interested in building a massive data farm to compete with the likes of Google or Microsoft. The company is interested in spreading the computing power that already exists to a wider audience for a more affordable price. The Akash Network combines underutilized servers in global companies’ on-prem and collocated data centers into one virtual cloud. In addition to eliminating waste, this approach is also vastly more affordable, making the network far more accessible than its oligarchic competitors.

Rather than having to rely on a massive server farm, Akash’s Network is decentralized—spread across thousands of data centers. With less distance to cover, network latency is much lower. Plus, when natural failures such as power outages do occur, the network works to correct the problem by redeploying workloads to unaffected providers within seconds. A doctor miles away from an outage won’t have to worry about not being able to access the cloud data storage system for critical patient records. Instead, workloads can be immediately redistributed to other nearby servers.

The Akash Network will also lead to far greater cloud convenience. This is especially useful in areas like machine learning, which is becoming a key tenet of our online lives. Companies like Yelp want to give users recommendations based on what they’ve eaten and enjoyed before, and banking apps want to track customer spending patterns to prevent fraud. To gather this type of information, a company must process a large information dump through the cloud. They must then analyze that data and come up with algorithms to best serve their customers. The cloud is a significant part of that process, but a brief one, so businesses often simply rent out space through a cloud provider to run these occasional data sets. The big providers charge an arm and a leg for this type of rental, though. Based on testing with early customers, Overclock estimates they could slash machine learning processing costs by about two-thirds.

Another exciting prospect of the Akash Network is in the application development field. Performance tests are a critical part of any app launch, but incredible amounts of money are wasted when developers have to rent out server space from the giants for those tests. By deploying to the Akash Network instead, developers could save two-thirds of that rent money and put more of their funding towards enhancing their product.

Those savings can also lead to greater convenience. Costs are a huge barrier to entry for people who have innovative ideas about certain data sets or app development but lack access to the funds needed to launch a new product. With the Akash Network, innovative ideas can come from anywhere. And for a fraction of the previous costs, those ideas can actually come to life.

The Cloud of Tomorrow

Amazon, Google, and Microsoft did what they had to do in order to bring the world the cloud computing power that we know today. However, it is new approaches like the Akash Network that will lead us into the cloud computing potential of tomorrow.

Overclock’s approach of scaling across data centers, as opposed to scaling up the size of data centers, is especially important as the cloud becomes too invaluable for one or two monopolistic companies to control. Sharing collective knowledge and fostering an integrated system is crucial as cloud innovation continues. Only on the Akash Network’s democratized, distributed, and affordable platform can technology trailblazers house all the possibilities that the cloud has to offer. It’s cloud history in action.


The preceding communication has been paid for by Overclock Labs. This communication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell shares or securities in Overclock Labs or any related or associated company. None of the information presented herein is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended. This communication does not constitute investment advice or solicitation for investment. Futurism expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from: (i) reliance on any information contained herein, (ii) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (iii) any action resulting from such information.

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Tablo launches more affordable over-the-air DVR with cloud storage

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Nuvvyo's over-the-air Tablo DVRs are potentially big bargains if you want the convenience of recording shows without a pricey cable package, but the up front cost (dictated in part by the built-in storage) can make them daunting. The company has a si…
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Apple’s Schoolwork App & ClassKit API let teachers deliver assignments via the Cloud; Classroom coming to Mac

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Apple’s continued push to make Mac and iPad central to education has been detailed at its ‘Field Trip’ event, with the Classroom app making the jump from iOS to Mac later this year, as well as a cloud-based Schoolwork app for teachers to provide assignments and handouts to students.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Everything You Need to Know About the CLOUD Act

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While you were reeling from the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, the U.S. government quietly passed a piece of legislation that has far bigger implications for your data.

The law is called the Clarifying Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act. It’s basically an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a series of laws that regulate how U.S. law enforcement officials can access data stored overseas. Congress passed those laws in 1986, and both the U.S. government and major tech companies believe they are ill-equipped to handle today’s electronic communications.

Up until last week, the U.S. could only access data stored overseas through mutual legal-assistance treaties (MLATs). With a MLAT, two or more nations put in writing exactly how they are willing to help each other with legal investigations. The Senate votes on each MLAT, and it must receive a two-thirds approval to pass.

The CLOUD Act gives the U.S. an alternative to MLATs.

Through the CLOUD Act, U.S. law enforcement officials at any level, from local police to federal agents, can force tech companies to turn over user data regardless of where the company stores the data.

The CLOUD Act also gives the executive branch the ability to enter into “executive agreements” with foreign nations, which could allow each nation to get its hands on user data stored in the other country, no matter the hosting nation’s privacy laws. These agreements don’t require congressional approval.

Politicians introduced the CLOUD Act to the Senate and House of Representatives on February 6. Instead of voting on it as its own legislation, however, they folded it into a $ 1.3 trillion catch-all bill necessary to keep the government open. Because the larger bill passed, so too do all the measures within it.

In short, this should matter to you because the executive branch now has a lot more control over who can access your data.

Let’s say law enforcement officials in Canada want to get at your data. The Canadians can enter into an agreement with the U.S. President, the State Department, or the Attorney General granting Canada permission to directly contact Google, Facebook, or any other tech company to request access to data stored in the U.S. By skipping the step in which Canada sends every request through the U.S. government, both governments would the save time and money it would need to respond to MLAT requests.

The CLOUD Act could also keep American citizens safer. According to a 2013 report by the President’s Review Group, MLAT requests take an average of 10 months to fill, and by then, the data they are requesting could prove obsolete. Through the CLOUD Act, law enforcement officials can now gain far quicker access to data stored overseas. That could help them prosecute criminals or even prevent crimes before they happen.

Of course, though, there’s a trade off: your digital privacy protections. For now at least, legislators have determined that citizens’ safety is more important than claims to digital privacy.

Then again, we’ve seen what can happen when security supplants privacy. And it doesn’t ultimately leave citizens feeling safer.

The post Everything You Need to Know About the CLOUD Act appeared first on Futurism.


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Apple-supported CLOUD Act passes Congress, will change how governments share data

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The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act, a piece of legislation that would change international rules about sharing of data among governments, passed Congress Thursday, as part of the omnibus spending bill, and the president signed it into law.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Google Will Soon Bring a Blockchain-Like System to the Cloud

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Google, the hipster of the tech world, was into blockchain before it was cool.

Between 2012 and 2017, when some people were only just learning about the blockchain and what they could do with it, Google was acquiring blockchain startups and pumping millions of dollars into others. Only one other company invested more money into blockchain in that timeframe. In 2016, Google opened its cloud server to blockchain developers.

Now, Google may be close to reaping the benefits of those years of research and funding. Industry insiders have told Bloomberg that Google plans to embrace a blockchain-like ledger system to support its cloud business.

Using the cloud is like renting a storage unit. You pay a certain amount of money in exchange for a certain amount of space, only the space is on a company’s servers and not in some shady gated facility. Instead of unused furniture, you store data, and instead of a padlock, you use a password to protect your valuables.

However, a determined thief could crack the padlock on the storage unit, so too could a savvy hacker break into your cloud storage company’s servers to access your data.

Blockchain would make that kind of break-in impossible. Companies have taken a number of different approached to blockchain-based cloud storage, but the idea is that your data is “decentralized.” Instead of stashing your rock collection in your one storage space, you could store each rock in a different locker. You could even duplicate the rocks just to be safe, and then store those in different lockers.

In a blockchain-supported cloud system, your files are the rock collection. The data gets broken into bits, stored on a bunch of servers, and you’re the only person with the key needed to put the pieces back together.

With the damage caused by major data hacks still fresh in the public consciousness (looking at you, Equifax), Google could use the promise of blockchain’s near-impenetrable security to draw customers away from companies offering less secure, traditional cloud storage.

And Google has even figured out a way to make money off other would-be competitors. An anonymous insider told Bloomberg Google also plans to release a white-label version of its system. That means third parties could offer customers the same system Google provides, but on their own servers and with their own branding, and would have to pay Google to do it. After all, why develop your own blockchain-based cloud storage system when you can just buy Google’s?

Of course, Google isn’t the only company exploring blockchain for cloud storage. The company hasn’t shared a release date for their system, so a competitor — another major company, even a startup — could bring their product to market first. But it’s hard to imagine that Google wouldn’t immediately become the dominant player in this field when its service does launch. After all, the company has done its blockchain homework.

The post Google Will Soon Bring a Blockchain-Like System to the Cloud appeared first on Futurism.


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FogHorn Systems and Google Cloud team up to offer IIoT solution

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FogHorn Systems and Google Cloud have come together to expand business impact of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications by combining the capabilities of Cloud IoT Core and FogHorn’s Lightning edge intelligence and ML platform.

This integration leads to the creation of a model foundation for optimising distributed assets and processes in several industries including manufacturing, O&G, mining, connected cars, smart building and smart cities. The partnership also aims to ease the deployment of IIoT applications.

The combined solution will be available at Google Cloud Next, from July 24 to 27, in San Francisco.

Antony Passemard, head of IoT product management at Google Cloud, said: “Cloud IoT Core simply and securely brings the power of Google Cloud’s world-class data infrastructure capabilities to the IIoT market. By combining industry-leading edge intelligence from FogHorn, we’ve created a fully-integrated edge and cloud solution that maximizes the insights gained from every IoT device. We think it’s a very powerful combination at exactly the right time.”

The FogHorn Lightning platform is a compact, advanced and feature-rich edge intelligence solution that can deliver low latency for onsite data processing, real-time analytics, ML and AI capabilities.

David King, CEO at FogHorn, said: “Our integration with Google Cloud harmonises the workload and creates new efficiencies from the edge to the cloud across a range of dimensions. This approach simplifies the rollout of innovative, outcome-based IIoT initiatives to improve organizations’ competitive edge globally, and we are thrilled to bring this collaboration to market with Google Cloud.” Latest from the homepage

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CLOUD Act and Apple: What you need to know

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What is CLOUD Act, what does it mean for Apple and Apple’s customers, and how does it affect your data and your right to privacy both in the U.S. and around the world?

The CLOUD Act — Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data — is a set of regulations currently in the process of being passed by the U.S. government and signed into law as part of the Omnibus Spending Bill release on March 21, 2018.

It’s raised concerns from numerous civil rights organizations, including the ACLU:

The CLOUD Act represents a major change in the law — and a major threat to our freedoms. Congress should not try to sneak it by the American people by hiding it inside of a giant spending bill.  There has not been even one minute devoted to considering amendments to this proposal. Congress should robustly debate this bill and take steps to fix its many flaws, instead of trying to pull a fast one on the American people.

Specific objections have been enumerated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

  • Includes a weak standard for review that does not rise to the protections of the warrant requirement under the 4th Amendment.
  • Fails to require foreign law enforcement to seek individualized and prior judicial review.
  • Grants real-time access and interception to foreign law enforcement without requiring the heightened warrant standards that U.S. police have to adhere to under the Wiretap Act.
  • Fails to place adequate limits on the category and severity of crimes for this type of agreement.
  • Fails to require notice on any level – to the person targeted, to the country where the person resides, and to the country where the data is stored. (Under a separate provision regarding U.S. law enforcement extraterritorial orders, the bill allows companies to give notice to the foreign countries where data is stored, but there is no parallel provision for company-to-country notice when foreign police seek data stored in the United States.)
  • The CLOUD Act also creates an unfair two-tier system. Foreign nations operating under executive agreements are subject to minimization and sharing rules when handling data belonging to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and corporations. But these privacy rules do not extend to someone born in another country and living in the United States on a temporary visa or without documentation.

I’m by no means an expert in this area. I’m also not an American. I, like many others around the world, have lived the vast majority of my life with most of our data stored by U.S. companies, on U.S.-based servers, subject to U.S. law enforcement uses and abuses, and under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

But I’ve spent a better part of the day looking into the CLOUD Act and what it may mean for Apple and Apple customers. And, perhaps my perspective from outside looking in, will be of interest.

Why is Apple, which has called privacy a human right, supporting the CLOUD Act?

Apple hasn’t issued any public statements explaining its stance on CLOUD Act. Of the many major technology companies that seem to support it, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft, only Microsoft‘s has spoken out publicly:

The proposed CLOUD Act creates a modern legal framework for how law enforcement agencies can access data across borders. It’s a strong statute and a good compromise that reflects recent bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, as well as support from the Department of Justice, the White House, the National Association of Attorneys General and a broad cross section of technology companies. It also responds directly to the needs of foreign governments frustrated about their inability to investigate crimes in their own countries. The CLOUD Act addresses all of this, while ensuring appropriate protections for privacy and human rights. And it gives tech companies like Microsoft the ability to stand up for the privacy rights of our customers around the world. The bill also includes a strong statement about the importance of preventing governments from using the new law to require that U.S. companies create backdoors around encryption, an important additional privacy safeguard.

It must be noted that Microsoft and the U.S. Government are currently arguing the issues covered by CLOUD Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

If I had to guess about Apple and the other tech companies, my guess would be that they see some even more disturbing writing on the wall:

  1. Other countries, outside the U.S. are growing increasingly frustrated over how long it takes to get data on their citizens from U.S. tech companies under existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs).
  2. China has already passed laws forcing companies like Apple to relocate the data of their citizens to data centers located and owned and operated by companies on their soil.
  3. There is increased pressure from some nations, including the U.S. and those in the E.U. to restrict the use of encryption or create backdoors to make data more accessible to law enforcement and government agencies.

There are legitimate concerns about CLOUD Act but having to respond to each and every countries laws and demands, when those laws could require the repatriation of data, or the exiting of markets in the face of mandated insecurity, could well be seen as much, much worse by the major tech companies.

How will CLOUD Act affect the data transited or stored by Apple? Will Apple be required to keep more personal data for longer? To unencrypted currently encrypted services?

Far as I can tell, there is nothing in CLOUD Act that changes anything about what personal data Apple has and how its transited or stored.

Your iCloud messages that were encrypted pre-CLOUD Act will still be encrypted post-CLOUD Act. And no data will be stored after CLOUD Act that wasn’t stored before CLOUD Act.

Will CLOUD Act result in lowest-common-denominator privacy protection, where the laws of the least respectful nation will win out?

The version of the CLOUD Act currently being voted on requires the Secretary of State and the Attorney General of the United States to certify that any country entering into the CLOUD ACT “affords robust substantive and procedural protections for privacy and civil liberties.”

That includes: . – Protection from arbitrary and unlawful interference with privacy – Fair trial rights. – Freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. – Prohibitions on arbitrary arrest and detention. – Prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

CLOUD Act also prohibits countries from using surveillance orders to chill freedom of speech, and — likely very important to Apple given the San Bernardino case — language that discourages governments from using this process to mandate U.S. companies create backdoors to compromise the security of their operating systems and devices.

Doesn’t CLOUD Act take oversight away from the legislative branch and hand even more power to the executive branch?

It certainly seems to, especially in earlier versions. The version of CLOUD Act being voted on now includes new provisions for Congress to:

  • Review new bilateral agreements for up to 180 days.
  • Review changes to existing agreements for up to 90 days.
  • Require written certification and explanation for how countries pass certification.
  • Fast-track disapproval of bilateral agreements.

What about judicial oversight? Isn’t CLOUD Act just a way to get around the courts?

Yes and no. I sincerely think Americans have gotten used to being the center of the technology world and don’t really think about how things work beyond their borders.

For years, those of us outside the U.S. have had our data be subject to U.S. laws and courts. While some inside the U.S. might think that’s great, in the post-Snowden, post-San Bernadino era it’s simply not anything any fair-minded person can consider ideal.
 CLOUD Act mandates that any surveillance order issued by any country part of the agreement must be both individualized and “subject to review or oversight by a court, judge, magistrate, or other independent authority,” and that this review must be “prior to, or in proceedings regarding, enforcement of the order.”

It’s totally understandable that some in the U.S. may consider privacy laws outside the U.S. to be problematic. Just understand that those of us outside the U.S. may consider U.S. privacy laws to be just as problematic.

But CLOUD Act just makes it easier for governments to access U.S.-based data?

I think that’s part of the point. Again, other countries have grown increasingly frustrated with how long it takes to get data on their citizens from U.S. based companies.

Now, they’re considering laws to try and force U.S. companies to hand over data without any regard to privacy, or to repatriate data so they can access it directly.

CLOUD tries to avoid that by establishing a reasonable, agreeable process in a way that’s certainly not ideal but may just be workable.

That includes the certification process, the requirement for independent oversight and individualized orders, reasonable justification, and in response to “serious” crimes.

Doesn’t CLOUD Act allow non-U.S. countries to wiretap inside the U.S. in a way even U.S.-based law enforcement can’t?

Potentially, yes. Here are the restrictions under the CLOUD Act:

  • Other governments are explicitly forbidden from surveilling a U.S. person directly or indirectly.
  • Surveillance orders have to of fixed and of limited duration.
  • Surveillance can only occur when it’s reasonably necessary and the information being sought can’t be reasonably obtained using less intrusive methods.

That’s a lot of “reasonably” wiggle room but my understanding — as not a lawyer or legal scholar! — is that the CLOUD Act parallels the Wiretap Act, swapping the limitation to a list of predicate offenses for a restriction to serious crimes.

What that means in practice we’ll likely only find out when it’s implemented and challenged.

But won’t U.S. data be collected alongside non-U.S. data? Isn’t that unavoidable?

It certainly sounds like it. But CLOUD Act has several provisions to protect against that:

  • Prohibits directly targeting of U.S. persons’ data by non-U.S. governments.
  • Prohibits asking a CLOUD Act certified country to target a U.S. persons’ data.
  • Prohibits targeting a non-U.S. persons’ data for the purpose of collecting a U.S. persons’ data (for example, their shared communications).
  • Prohibits the dissemination of a U.S. persons’ data except where there is evidence of a serious crime.

It’s the nebulous nature, and potential for abuse of that last one, that’s probably the greatest concern, because…

There’s nothing to ensure other countries — or any country! — really follow those rules, though, is there?

There’s the U.S. government. But, real talk time: There’s nothing to ensure any country really follows any rule, as we’ve seen all too terrifyingly over the last decade.

But that doesn’t mean you stop having laws and agreements. It means we all have to do a better job holding all governments accountable.

So why is everyone from the ACLU to the EFF so against CLOUD Act?

Because that’s literally their job. Those organizations exist only and completely to protect the civil rights, including the privacy rights, of Americans and people around the world.

That stand in stark and necessary opposition to those in government and law enforcement who believe that the fewer rights we have, the better they can protect the state — and maybe us.

And we need the ACLU, EFF, and others to do this. Desperately.

So, CLOUD Act?

In an ideal world, countries would be racing to have the best and most complete privacy laws possible and it would be law enforcement that was continually complaining about how much work it had to do and hoops it had to jump through to access anything and everything even remotely personal.

But, I fear we’re increasingly looking at a scared world. At a withdrawn world. At a world that’s nationalistic and intrusive. And that was ill-prepared for the realities of the internet and pocket-sized, perpetually connected devices.

So, CLOUD Act.

I have grave concerns about it. I’m guessing Apple does as well. But I have grave concerns about how things have been handled up until this point, and even graver concerns about how things may be handled in the future, given data repatriation, the assault on encryption, and the continued cries for backdoors.

Whether CLOUD Act really is the pragmatic compromise tech companies hope it will be, we’ll have to wait and see.

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