Exclusive: Microsoft Spins Off ‘Sassy’ Chinese Chatbot With Harry Shum at Helm

(Caixin) Microsoft Corp. will spin off its anthropomorphic teenage chatbot Xiaoice into a standalone Chinese company headed by former executive Harry Shum, slashing staff by two thirds, Caixin has learned.

The U.S. software and hardware giant will take a small share of the new company, which will hold all of Xiaoice’s brands, products and existing contracts, as part of a move that it hopes will draw in external investors.

It’s a rare move by Microsoft, which said it was trying to grow a local commercial ecosystem for the chatbot and its supporting technology. Analysts said it could give the new company more freedom to evolve special traits and qualities for the China market where it is based.

Chinese computer scientist Harry Shum, who departed Microsoft as head of artificial intelligence research six months ago, will take the helm of the new company as chairman. Current Xiaoice head Li Di will handle day-to-day operations.

Microsoft raised eyebrows when it launched the chatbot, modeled on what it describes as a “sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy and always streetwise … virtual teenager,” in China in 2014. The bot also appears to have raised the ire of Chinese authorities for sailing close to the wind on topics they deem controversial — sometimes when baited by users to do so.

In a fawning PR profile of the chatbot and its underlying software architecture, Li Di described Xiaoice as an “empathic computing framework.”

“She doesn’t try to answer every question posed by a user. And, she’s loath to follow their commands,” the profile reads. “Instead, her conversations with her often adoring users are peppered with wry remarks, jokes, empathic advice on life and love, and a few simple words of encouragement.”

Why a virtual teenager should be giving adult users romantic advice was never explained, but the strategy behind the bot was. Every interaction, every love letter, gift and confession made to the chatbot was fuel for its deep learning algorithm. “She is using her interactions with humans to acquire human social skills, behavior, and knowhow… The more data a machine has, the more it learns and the more it can do.”

But the fact that the chatbot is uniquely designed for conversation, rather than to answer simple questions or obey commands like most bots, could be a blessing or a curse as the company seeks out new ground.

Lu Yanxia, a big data and artificial intelligence researcher at market researcher IDC’s China arm, said it was still unclear why Microsoft had chosen to jettison Xiaoice, how it would operate or what plans it had in the pipeline.

“After the spin-off, Xiaoice will benefit from building an ecosystem in the Chinese market by strengthening its Chinese language and regional dialect capabilities and acquiring more local traditional industry customers,” Lu told Caixin.

The spin-off is unlikely to make waves in the short term, as there are already plenty of smart assistant firms with stable customer relationships. But given Microsoft’s brand recognition and influence, Xiaoice’s potential to become a powerful player in the future should not be overlooked, Lu said.

One current investor in Xiaoice told Caixin the new company would be valued at around $700 million, but that they were still considering whether to buy into the new firm due to concerns about its business model. Caixin granted the investor anonymity so they could speak candidly.

Rumors that Xiaoice would be spun off have persisted for years before reemerging last month. Rocky Sino-U.S. relations and concerns about a technological cold war are thought to have accelerated the move.

Xiaoice has R&D teams in Beijing, Suzhou and Tokyo. It claims some 660 million online users and 450 million third-party smart devices, as well as business customers in the finance, retail, automotive, real estate and textile sectors.

Around 130 to 140 full time staff are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the move, with the new company retaining 50 to 60 staff in China and 10 in Japan.

Source: Caixin By Ye Zhanqi and Flynn Murphy

Looking for a budget smartphone? Chinese handset maker Realme launches C11 at Rs 7,499

For those looking for a Budget phone, Chinese smartphone maker Realme has launched C11 which comes loaded with features at an attractive price point.

The smartphone boasts of 5000mAh battery and MediaTek Helio G35 processor and costs Rs 7,499 in India.

The phone will be available for purchase from July 22 on, Flipkart and select partner stores.

The phone has a 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage and runs on Realme UI based on Android 10. The smartphone hosts a 6.5-inch HD+ mini-drop fullscreen display and offers a 20:9 screen aspect ratio.

“We currently have 13 million realme C series smartphone users globally and are confident that the Realme C11 will help us further reach new heights,” said Madhav Sheth, Vice President, Realme and CEO, Realme India.

Zostel unveils new staycation and workcation packages

NEW DELHI: Budget hospitality brand Zostel said it is offering ‘value-driven’ holiday packages spanning over 15, 21 and 30 days at its various operational properties. The enlisted properties will cover holiday destinations such as Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

The chain said its #movein with Zostel initiative seeks to extend invitations to people who wish to work from an offbeat location and unwind after being confined indoors over a span of three months.

The chain’s 15-day dormitory package starts at Rs 4000, the 30-day dorm package starts at Rs 7000 and the 15-day private room package starts at Rs 10,000. The 30-day private package is starting from Rs 18,000.

The company said it has ensured all its hospitality sites offering packages strictly comply with the mandatory health and safety precautions as instructed by the health fraternity. This includes the compulsory wearing of masks for all staff and guests, constant sanitization of human touchpoints, and practicing physical and social distancing.

Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, co-founder and CEO, Zostel, said it has been a challenging financial year for the entire hospitality sector due to the detrimental impact of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.

“But now as things return to normalcy, we, at Zostel, are pleased to launch an exciting spree of budget-friendly stay packages for those who are embracing this new trend of domestic traveling after a terribly long time stuck indoors and seek to reunite with mother nature.”

A Closer Look at The 2020 Yamaha MT-03

2020 Yamaha MT-03

Aptly nicknamed the Hyper Naked Machine, the Yamaha MT 03 is built for fun and carefree driving. You can drive this motorcycle just about anywhere. You will love how easy the clutch shifts you from gear to gear. The design features will leave you impressed as well. This is a vehicle that is really built with the modern bike rider in mind. You can feel comfortable driving this through the neighborhood, and you will enjoy it off the road as well. With the enhancements that have been made with the 2020 version, you will wonder why you have waited so long to get one. Here are ten things that you did not know about the 2020 Yamaha MT-03.

1. Showa suspension is built into its design

In the past, many scooters have gained a bad reputation because of their suspension system. Hit even the smallest of bumps and your body may feeling it for hours. That is not going to be the case with the 2020 Yamaha MT-03 thanks to the Showa suspension that is now built into its design.

2. It has a 149cc single-cylinder engine

2020 Yamaha MT-03 1

While the 2020 Yamaha MT-03 is not going to have you winning any races against a Harley, you will find that its 149cc single-cylinder engine is surprisingly powerful. You can easily get up to speed with traffic in a respectable manner.

3. There is an LED display system

The new 2020 Yamaha MT-03 makes it easy for you to see all of the important data that you need to know while you are driving. The miles per hour are displayed in big numerals that you cannot miss. You will also be able to see how much fuel you have remaining, along with other critical information that can really come in handy as your driving. This is a weatherproof LED display that looks great during the day and at night.

4. There is a 12V USB Outlet

2020 Yamaha MT-03 2

Here is something you did not know about the 2020 Yamaha MT-03 that you will be glad you do now. There is a 12V USB outlet on the left storage compartment that provides more than enough power to charge your phone. This is a great feature to have, especially when you are out for a long ride. You will no longer have to worry about running out of battery power when you need your mobile devices the most.

5. The front brake has ABS

Brakes are always important when it comes to bikes. Yamas has really integrated a nice system into this one. You are going to get a 240mm single disc brake in the front. This one is equipped with an ABS system that is enough to get you stopped quickly and safely when needed. The rear brake is 130mm drum style and does not have ABS.

6. The price is already set

2020 Yamaha MT-03 3

The price has been set for the 2020 Yamaha MT-03, but that does not mean that you know what it is. You will find that Yamaha retail outlets should be featuring this scooter very soon for an impressive $4,290. That brings great value to this class of bike, so you should be able to easily fit it into your budget.

7. It has a smart-key system

Everyone knows that bikes, by their very nature, are targets for theft. While nobody can prevent someone from picking up your bike and throwing it in a truck, that thankfully does not happen very often. With the smart-key system on the 2020 Yamaha MT-03, you will also benefit from anti-theft technology. These keys are almost impossible to replicate and the electronic system makes it difficult to start the bike with it. This is a win-win situation for bike owners.

8. There is ample storage under the seat and it locks as well

2020 Yamaha MT-03 4

Many scooters lack much storage, but this is one bike that has it integrated into its design. You will find that there is plenty of storage under the seat. You will easily be able to put your helmet under there, along with a few other personal belongings. This will also keep it out of the direct sunlight and any possible adverse weather that you might face along the way. Perhaps the best part of this is that the storage compartment is locked. So you will not run the risk of someone snatching and grabbing things out of there when you are not looking.

9. The windscreen is adjustable

When you get up to high speeds, you will appreciate having a windscreen that adapts to your particular size. That is exactly what you will get with the new 2020 Yamaha MT-03. The adjustable windscreen is a useful feature that many other scooters in this class do not have. You will find that it moves with you and can help block out the wind during those long drives.

10. It has an automatic transmission

2020 Yamaha MT-03 5

When you are just cruising around the valley, you do not always want to have about shifting gears. With the 2020 Yamaha MT-03 there will be no such concern. You will love the automatic transmission and how it handles. You pull the throttle back and go. With the fuel-injected engine that has been liquid-cooled behind you, it will be difficult to not appreciate the difference that this new scooter brings to the world of motorbikes

Now that you know these ten things about the Yamaha MT-03, you should really go to your nearest dealer and take a look for yourself. Once you take it for a test drive, you will probably be hooked. The price is great and the entertainment factor alone makes this really worth considering. When you bring one home, you will almost definitely be the envy of all your neighbors. Enjoy.

Seattle-tested coronavirus vaccine shows promising progress; Fauci calls it ‘good news’

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Massachusetts-based Moderna is ready for more tests after showing a promising immune system response in early-stage trials.

The National Institute of Health said that the vaccine “was generally well tolerated and prompted neutralizing antibody activity in healthy adults.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Associated Press that “this is good news.”

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial got its start at Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute.

The three farthest-along COVID-19 vaccines are being tested by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and a team including AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. Other prospects are moving ahead as well.

TikTok’s India rival booms with 500,000 users added every hour

By Saritha Rai

In late June, when India banned 59 Chinese apps, including global sensation TikTok, the short-video platform stopped working for its 200 million local users. Within hours, an avalanche of new sign-ups pushed the servers of one of its Bangalore-based rivals, Roposo, to breaking point.

Two weeks on, Roposo, which also offers short videos, says it’s peaking at 500,000 new users an hour and expects to have 100 million by month’s end. That’s almost double the 55 million it had before the ban, and puts Roposo among a profusion of Indian startups to benefit from TikTok’s troubles in the country.

The ban from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government covered other big Chinese names such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UC Web mobile browser and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat messaging app, and came amid a brutal border face-off between India and China that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

While India cited privacy and security concerns, the restrictions are poised to dramatically alter the competitive landscape in the nation’s digital economy. They give local firms a fighting chance at winning a larger chunk of the country’s more than half-a-billion internet denizens. And they could pave the way for some Indian firms to compete more aggressively with global giants such as Inc. and Facebook Inc., who are also seeking to profit from one of the world’s largest digital booms.

“It was a rocket ship instant for the country’s app startups,” said Naveen Tewari, founder of the startup that owns Roposo, munching nuts against the backdrop of the red-brick-walled study in his Bangalore home on a recent Zoom call. “We have a viable chance to become the world’s fourth technology hub after the U.S., China and Russia.”

His decade-old digital advertising startup InMobi, Roposo’s parent, has in earlier years drawn investments from global names such as SoftBank Group. Last year, PayPal co-founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel backed its unit, Glance, which acquired Roposo in November.

Roposo features videos showcasing moves set to Bollywood music, humor minus the ribaldry, pranks, fashion and even jokes about the coronavirus pandemic. Roposo, as Tewari put it, is the app you won’t be embarrassed to show your mom.

TikTok has faced censure from courts, women’s groups, users and governments for content seen as sexually explicit or for the depiction of events like acid attacks on women. Roposo and other Indian TikTok imitators, on the other hand, market their content as fun that’s more in line with India’s relatively conservative culture.

TikTok didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. In a June 30 statement, it said it was invited to meet government stakeholders to provide clarifications, and has and will continue to comply with security and data privacy requirements under Indian law. The Chinese app has in the past emphasized its efforts to moderate content and said its policies don’t permit videos that risk people’s safety, promote physical harm or glorify violence against women. Earlier this year, it suspended the account of a prominent content creator for posting a mock acid attack video.

Many Indian apps have a late start, and most lack the sophistication and user-friendly interfaces of TikTok. Nor do they have the investment appetite and the deep pockets of the likes of TikTok parent Bytedance Ltd., which is the world’s most valuable startup and was valued at more than $100 billion in May.

Still, the Indian government’s ban throws open multiple, billion user business models, said Manjunath Bhat, a senior director analyst at Gartner Inc. “India’s entrepreneurs didn’t lack talent, they were just short on ambition,” Bhat said. “The combined effect of the coronavirus lockdown and the app ban presents a never-before, never-again opportunity.”

With Indian names like Chingari (Hindi for spark), Mitron (meaning friends) and Bolo Indya (Tell me, India), a string of small Indian TikTok challengers, have been notching up titanic user numbers since the ban on the Chinese apps. Some like the Moj app are barely weeks old.

Battlers in other categories have also received a windfall as other Chinese names like highly-downloaded image scanner CamScanner were also blocked. The new contenders from a variety of categories have three themes in common. Their apps are made in India. Their data is stored in India. Their content, mainly in regional languages, is attuned to local sensibilities.


The followers of an Indian spiritual guru, Sri Sri Ravishankar, created Elyments, an all-in-one rival for WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram. Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, of the Reliance conglomerate, launched JioMeet, a video conferencing rival to the popular San Jose-based Zoom.

Sumit Ghosh, cofounder of Chingari, says many of the China short video apps have adult content designed to grab attention and ensure they go viral. “In contrast, our algorithms are built to ensure trash will never trend on Chingari,” said Ghosh. Its videos are slow-dripped to users to check for offensive content. If multiple users complain, videos are pulled off.

Ghosh and his cofounder began building the app just over a year ago when data consumption started exploding. It catered to Indians in smaller towns who hungered for relatable, Indian language content. In the months that followed, the founders closely matched TikTok, feature for feature, adding everything from livestreams to AR filters, the computer-generated special effects that users can layer over real-life video and images.

Bangalore-based Chingari, which had 3.5 million users on the day of the ban, says it has crossed 17.5 million. Its overwhelmed founders are now creating a company, Chingari Media Pvt. They are drawing up a corporate and equity structure, testing revenue strategies and growing their eight-engineer team. TikTok influencers – stars with huge following who market products and services – are popping up by the thousands on Ghosh’s Twitter asking to be on Chingari as verified users. He says his startup is in “late funding talks”.

In New Delhi, Trisha Girdhar’s influencer management agency could portend the future. Until last month, TikTok accounted for the bulk of her earnings. Now, the 22-year-old is now straining to shift her star clients – influencers from far-flung towns like Akola, Nabha, Katni and Birati – to Roposo and other platforms. “Brands are looking seriously at our influencers,” said Girdhar who herself specializes in belly dancing videos and has a fan following on Roposo.

Roposo itself is getting a deluge of influencer marketing agencies and celebrities wanting to come aboard. It’s discussing contracts with celebrity users and content creators. It’s investing in camera filters and Indian themes. “This isn’t an opportunity just for entrepreneurs,” said Tewari. “Investors ought to be rushing over.”

John Browne steps down as Huawei UK chairman ahead of government ban

(Reuters) Former BP chief John Browne is stepping down as chairman of Huawei’s UK operation ahead of the British government banning the Chinese company from the country’s 5G networks later on Tuesday.

“When Lord Browne became chairman of Huawei UK’s board of directors in 2015, he brought with him a wealth of experience which has proved vital in ensuring Huawei’s commitment to corporate governance in the UK,” a Huawei spokesperson said. 

“He has been central to our commitment here dating back 20 years, and we thank him for his valuable contribution.”

Sky News, which first reported the news, said Browne had given notice in the last few days that he would step down from the board of Huawei UK in September, six months earlier than his tenure was due to end.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Andy Bruce 

MSMEs may get up to Rs 1 lakh crore salary support

NEW DELHI: The government is discussing ways to boost consumer demand in the economy, with one option being the possibility of providing salary support of up to Rs 1 lakh crore over the next three years to MSMEs which employ a certain minimum number of employees, as a way to boost demand in the economy.

“This is one way to boost the demand in the economy which has been suffering,” a senior government official told ET. At present there are close to 6 crore MSME’s in the country and they form the backbone of the economy, the official said.

The official added that a minimum number of employees hired by the unit could serve as selection criteria and the support could be extended for up-to three years.

MSME’s have been at the core of financial package of the Modi government, which in May announced a Rs 3 lakh crore emergency credit line guarantee scheme (ECLGS) under which 100% guarantee coverage will be provided by the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company for additional funding of up to Rs 3 lakh crore to eligible MSMEs and interested Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) borrowers in the form of a guaranteed emergency credit line (GECL) facility.

Last week, the finance ministry said banks had sanctioned loans of about Rs 1.2 lakh crore under ECLGS. However, disbursements against this stood at a little over 61,000 crore till then.

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Made-in-China malware eyes Indian healthcare services, educational institutions

Most of the hackings are through phishing emails, malicious advertisements on websites, and third-party apps and programs, experts said.

SynopsisHealthcare services and educational institutions have been the targets, said Sanjay Bahl, Director-General of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), India’s nodal cyber security agency.

MUMBAI | DELHI: India has faced increased cyber-attacks from China and Pakistan since the nationwide lockdown was imposed end-March and the country continues to encounter threats from malware that

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How To Signup and Use JioMeet?

How to create an account on JioMeet?

A JioMeet account can be built via the mobile or desktop app. Follow the steps below.

  • If you already have the app downloaded, go ahead and activate the app.

  • Tap Sign Up > on the home screen, type your name and email / mobile number > agree to the terms and conditions of the business and tap Done.

  • You will be asked to enter an OTP on the next screen if you register with your mobile number, or if you want to register by email, you will have to check your email account by visiting your mailbox.

  • You can also sign up for JioMeet via the web, too. Just visit the website, / Google Chrome or Firefox at home.

  • Click Sign Up once the site has been configured, and repeat the earlier steps.

How to host or join a meeting?

Follow these steps to host a new meeting through your smartphone on JioMeet.

  • Tap New Meeting and open the device > log in.

  • Choose whether you want to keep your video on or off on the next screen. Below that, you will see a toggle that says, Use Personal Meeting ID. Turn it on to create the ID and password for your personal meeting.

  • Tap Start Meeting until completed. To invite participants, tap Participants > tap Invite > either you can copy and share the connection manually, or simply tap the supported app and then pick a user to share the connection with.

To start a new meeting on a computer, follow these steps.

JioMeet Is Jio’s Video Conference App for Zooming, Google Meeting

  • To get going, open the app > log in > click the down arrow next to New Meeting and check all options > click New Meeting.

  • To invite participants, select Participants > Invite > select on the email services listed above to go ahead or you can copy the URL or invitation and send it to others via other services available such as WhatsApp Web or Facebook Messenger.

You may also host a meeting via these measures via the website of JioMeet.

  • Visit the web site > log in > click Host a Meeting.

  • Repeat the steps suggested for JioMeet desktop app to invite participants.

Similarly, joining a meeting on JioMeet — follow these measures if you are using the service on a smartphone.

  • Open the app > tap Enter a Session. You don’t have to get logged in to attend a JioMeet meeting.

  • Now go ahead and enter the Meeting ID > enter your name > check your options for joining > tap Join Meeting > enter the password for the meeting and you’re good to go.

  • Repeat the same steps on your machine to enter a meeting at JioMeet app.

Besides this, check out these steps if you want to enter a meeting through the site.

These zoom tips will make you a Video Caller Pro instantly

  • Visit on Google Chrome or Firefox > click Start a Meeting > enter the Conference ID and click Log in.

  • Right the Right here button on the next page. Now press your browser Start. Now, enter your name and reach password and press Join.

How to share screen on JioMeet?

During a meeting, JioMeet helps you to share your screen when using the software on your phone, device, or web. Follow the steps below.

Follow these measures to share your screen when using JioMeet on iOS.

  • Tap Share from the conference screen > tap Start Screen > tap Start Broadcast.

  • Tap Stop Sharing > tap Sharing Stop Screen > tap Stop Broadcast to stop.

Follow these measures to share your screen when using JioMeet on Android.

Here is How to Compress Unlimited PDF Files?

  • Tap Share from the appearing pop-up meeting screen >, tap Start Now to get started.

  • Tap Stop Share > Stop Share to interrupt the screen sharing.

In addition, you can also share Screen from the home screen of the app. Follow these steps to do so.

  • Open the app > log in > tap Sharing Screen > enter the password and the Meeting ID.

  • You will now join the meeting and if you want to start sharing your phone, go ahead and tap Start Broadcast or Start Share, you will also get a pop-up that asks.

  • Tap Stop Share > Stop Share to interrupt the screen sharing.

Follow these measures to share your screen when using JioMeet on a computer.

  • Tap Share screen from screen of meeting.

  • You can either select Mobile on the next screen to display something on your computer screen, or choose from the individual apps / screens specified. Tap Share Screen to continue, once you have made your choice.

  • Tap the red Stop sharing button located at the top of the meeting window to stop screen sharing.

The screen sharing feature unfortunately doesn’t work on JioMeet’s web version.

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How To Delete Reddit Account Via Browser & Smartphone? partners with upGrad to enter edutech segment

NEW DELHI: Online travel company on Tuesday said it has entered into a partnership with upGrad Enterprise, the business-to-business arm of online higher education firm upGrad, to make its foray into the educational technology (edutech) segment.

As the company aims to diversify its portfolio beyond travel, this partnership shall enable its corporate clients to deliver advance learning and skill development for their employees, said in a statement., however, did not disclose any financial details of the partnership.

“In a tough economic climate, it is important to develop and re-skill the workforce to overcome the challenges being presented. We are excited to join forces with upGrad to provide a platform to our clients who are looking to develop employees’ potential specific to their business or sector,” co-founder and CEO Dhruv Shringi said.

This partnership further paves way for to become an end-to-end business solution provider to its clients, he added.

On the development, upGrad co-founder and Managing Director Mayank Kumar said, “The unprecedented rate of technology advancement is disrupting companies and jobs everywhere. Across verticals, enterprises face barriers to this adoption due to skill-gap in their talent pool. Such barriers can be crippling, hampering business growth”.

The company’s partnership with Yatra will be focused towards bridging this workforce skill-gap, he added.

The alliance will empower Yatra’s corporates and SME clientele with learning expertise combined with cutting-edge curriculum, collaboration with leading global faculty and industry experts, and an immersive online platform, thereby making them future-ready, the statement said.

China's state chip fund to cut stakes in two more tech companies

(Reuters) China’s largest state-backed semiconductor fund plans to reduce its holdings in two listed technology companies, a decision that comes following a torrid bull run in China’s stock market. 

The bull run, encouraged by state media, has been fueled by signs of an early economic recovery for China from the coronavirus, capital market reforms and accelerating inflows of foreign funds.

Sanan Optoelectronics Co Ltd said in a filing on Tuesday that China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, also known as the ‘Big Fund’, reduced its ownership in the company by one percentage point to 9.29%, selling 44.793 million shares between July 8 and July 10.

The stake reduction is part of a previously announced plan to cut holdings by 2% by Jan. 4, 2021, according to the statement.

NAURA Technology Group Co Ltd also said in a filing that the ‘Big Fund’ will reduce 2% in the company over the next six months. The fund currently holds 49,31,000 million shares in the company and is its third-largest shareholder.   

The share sales follow similar ones on Friday, when Shenzhen Goodix Technology Co, Wuxi Taiji Industry Co and Beijing BDStar Navigation Co said the ‘Big Fund’ would reduce its stake in the companies. 

Tech stocks have been surging in China for the past year on the back of state support, driven by tensions between Washington and Beijing over Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Samuel Shen and Josh Horwitz, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips   

A Closer Look at The Jordan React Elevation

Nike has been on a roll with a plethora of new sneaker releases. At a time when the country is going through crises on multiple fronts, they gently remind us that the colors red, white, and blue unite us all regardless of our differences that we are a part of a great nation that is based upon freedom and equality. As we painfully strive to achieve a united front and to close the gap on the sentiments that would tear us apart, the symbolism of our national flag reminds us that we are a country of brothers and sisters from all walks of life. The Jordan React Elevation Basketball shoe bears a patriotic colorway and here are 10 things about the highly anticipated sneaker that you didn’t know.

1. The Jordan React Elevation is inspired by teamwork

This sneaker is a basketball shoe that is designed to give the individual player firm foot control to take on the opposition and play at peak performance as a member of the team. It’s constructed with arch, heel, and ankle support that fits snugly to the foot without feeling restrictive for more natural movement on the court.

2. Premium materials are durable

Nike chose a combination of both real leather and synthetic textile materials for the construction of the upper. The rationale for this choice was to create a sneaker that is both lightweight and durable. Leather is durable but a sneaker that is made entirely of this material is heavier and less breathable. The brand blended the perfect ratio of different yet strong materials to achieve a perfect balance of strength and comfort.

3. The Jordan React Elevation is highly responsive

When you’re playing a high stakes game on the court, you need to know where your feet are and where they will go. The React Elevation is properly named because it allows players to react with a responsive shoe that is made with a layer of foam under the heel that delivers on smooth and responsive cushioning. It puts a spring in your step. Nike calls it Zoom Air cushioning and it is specially designed to fit under the ball of the foot to return energy to the feet.

4. It’s lightweight

The use of both leather and synthetic materials has helped to keep the weight of the Jordan React Elevation as light as possible. This combined with the other light materials gives you the feeling of walking on air. The midsole of this sneaker is cut into two pieces to help keep the weight down. It is securely stitched to the upper so you can depend on it to hold up under intense play on the court.

5. The traction is outstanding

The outer part of the sole of the Jordan React Elevation is made of strong and durable materials. The bottom features a herringbone design for the tread. This makes the sneaker extra-grippy whether you’re walking on the sidewalk or hard at play for some court action. The traction of this sneaker improves the amount of control that you have when you’re making slides, pivots, and cuts.

6. It’s ideal for rotational motion

While traction in a basketball shoe can be overdone and interfere with precision moves, that’s not the case with the Jordan React Elevation. The design of the sole features a pivot circle that is placed at the front of the bottom sole. This allows you to make smooth rotational moves without interference.

7. The Jordan React Elevation is out in a triple black colorway

We’ve just learned that the React Elevation is going to be offered in a Triple Black colorway. It’s the same shoe as the red white and blue version, just in a more sophisticated scheme. It’s tastefully contrasted in white stitching with suede supports at the side profiles with branding on the heel. This gives a neutral color scheme with outstanding tooling with Zoom and React with a touch of light blue at the heels. The grey strip rolling down the middle of the shoe is where the Jumpman insignia to add versatility.

8. The fabric is breathable

Jordan React Elevation sneakers are designed for the ultimate in comfort with excellent ventilation. This helps to prevent your feet from overheating or perspiring, even when you’re active in playing a game. The total base of the sneaker is made with mesh fabric that allows air inside of the shoe to circulate around the feet. The sheer size of the panels is enough to tell that the shoes are very well ventilated at a glance. The use of suede and textile materials are elements that help to create a more breathable sneaker.

9. The React Elevation is loaded with cool features

This sneaker is likely to become one of the more popular releases of the season in all available colorways. Some of the unique features that we love about this shoe include the translucent rubber that is used for the outer sole. Zoom Air cushioning is placed at the heel and at the forefoot for outstanding comfort and an energetic spring to each step. To ensure support Nike placed a torsion bar at the midfoot. The React Elevation appears to have everything you could possibly want in a sneaker.

10. The new Jordan React Elevation sneakers are reasonably priced

When compared with many of the new releases, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the manufacturer’s suggested retail selling price is just $120 per pair. With many of the hot new releases going for $190, this is a real bargain when you consider the quality of the materials and the design. If you want to get into a pair of new Jordan React Elevation sneakers for the suggested retail price we recommend getting yours soon. As supplies begin to dwindle, it’s likely that any available reserves will be sold at auction for much higher prices.

Washington state extends re-opening pause amid rising coronavirus cases

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at a 2019 event in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday that his pause on re-opening the state will be extended through July 28 due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Counties throughout Washington state will not be allowed to move into the next phase of re-opening until July 28 at the earliest, under the extension. Daily coronavirus case counts have been rising steadily since the state began its tiered re-opening program.

Inslee announced a pause on his four-part re-opening plan two weeks ago. King County is in the second phase, which allows for some in-person dining at restaurants and other businesses to operate.

More than 41,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington and 1,399 have died from complications associated with the virus, according to the state Department of Health.

“The situation we are in is unsustainable,” Inslee said during the announcement Tuesday. “We will have to reduce the rise that is occurring now in case counts, in the positivity rate, in hospitalizations. We have to find a way to somehow break that chain of disaster … there is a possibility, that is not insignificant, that we will have to take further actions.”

Huawei Sales Up 13.1% In H1 2020

Chinese telecom company Huawei recently announced its operating performance for the first half of 2020, stating that its sales increased by 13.1% during the reporting period.

From January to June 2020, Huawei realized sales of CNY454 billion, a year-on-year increase of 13.1%; and its net profit rate was 9.2%.

According to the report, Huawei’s carrier business revenue was CNY159.6 billion, its enterprise business revenue was CNY36.3 billion, and its consumer business revenue was CNY255.8 billion.

Huawei said that the world is currently fighting the pandemic and ICT technology not only can play an important role in fighting the virus, but also can drive economic recovery. Huawei is willing to work with carriers and partners in various industries to ensure stable network operation, accelerate digital transformation, help fight COVID-19 and restore economy.

Huawei said facing the complicated external environment, it is even more important for the global industrial chain to achieve open cooperation and mutual trust. Huawei will strive to fulfill its obligations with customers and suppliers no matter what kind of difficulties they encounter. The company will continue to work hard to survive and move forward and contribute to the global digital economy and technology development.

Omega Healthcare appoints new chief financial officer

BENGALURU: Omega Healthcare Management Services, an offshore provider of tech-enabled services and solutions in the global healthcare services sector, has announced the appointment of Kannan Sugantharaman as its chief financial officer (CFO), said a statement issued today.

Sugantharaman will be spearheading the finance functions at Omega across India, Philippines and the US. He has over 21 years of experience in finance operations with leading companies in the industry, where he has held leadership positions. He has previously worked with Cognizant, KPMG, and Sutherland Global Services.

“Kannan complements our strong performance-oriented culture. We believe his impressive reputation for execution and achieving results makes him the right choice to lead our finance function. He will play a critical role in shaping the next phase of Omega Healthcare as we embark on several new strategic initiatives that ultimately drive superior business outcomes to our clients,” said Gopi Natarajan, co-founder and CEO, Omega Healthcare.

“I am truly impressed with the strong capabilities built by the organisation and look forward to driving consistent growth and remaining a leader in the sector. I look forward to the immense prospects that lie ahead as Omega transforms into a technology and analytics-led organisation with continued focus on making our clients successful,” said Sugantharaman.


17-Year-Old Critical 'Wormable' RCE Vulnerability Impacts Windows DNS Servers

hacking windows dns server

Cybersecurity researchers today disclosed a new highly critical “wormable” vulnerability—carrying a severity score of 10 out of 10 on the CVSS scale—affecting Windows Server versions 2003 to 2019.

The 17-year-old remote code execution flaw (CVE-2020-1350), dubbed ‘SigRed‘ by Check Point, could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to gain domain administrator privileges over targeted servers and seize complete control of an organization’s IT infrastructure.

A threat actor can exploit SigRed vulnerability by sending crafted malicious DNS queries to a Windows DNS server and achieve arbitrary code execution, enabling the hacker to intercept and manipulate users’ emails and network traffic, make services unavailable, harvest users’ credentials and much more.

In a detailed report shared with The Hacker News, the Check Point researcher Sagi Tzadik confirmed that the flaw is wormable in nature, allowing attackers to launch an attack that can spread from one vulnerable computer to another without any human interaction.

“A single exploit can start a chain reaction that allows attacks to spread from vulnerable machine to vulnerable machine without requiring any human interaction,” the researcher said.

“This means that a single compromised machine could be a ‘super spreader,’ enabling the attack to spread throughout an organization’s network within minutes of the first exploit.”

After the cybersecurity firm responsibly disclosed its findings to Microsoft, the Windows maker prepared a patch for the vulnerability and rolling it out starting today as part of its July Patch Tuesday, which also includes security updates for 122 other vulnerabilities, with a total 18 flaws listed as critical, and 105 as important in severity.

Microsoft said it found no evidence to show that the bug has been actively exploited by attackers, and advised users to install patches immediately.

“Windows DNS Server is a core networking component. While this vulnerability is not currently known to be used in active attacks, it is essential that customers apply Windows updates to address this vulnerability as soon as possible,” Microsoft said.

Crafting Malicious DNS Responses

Stating that the objective was to identify a vulnerability that would let an unauthenticated attacker compromise a Windows Domain environment, Check Point researchers said they focused on Windows DNS, specifically taking a closer look at how a DNS server parses an incoming query or a response for a forwarded query.

A forwarded query happens when a DNS server cannot resolve the IP address for a given domain name (e.g.,, resulting in the query being forwarded to an authoritative DNS name server (NS).

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To exploit this architecture, SigRed involves configuring a domain’s (“”) NS resource records to point to a malicious name server (“”), and querying the target DNS server for the domain in order to have the latter parse responses from the name server for all subsequent queries related to the domain or its subdomains.

With this setup in place, an attacker can trigger an integer overflow flaw in the function that parses incoming responses for forwarded queries (“dns.exe!SigWireRead”) to send a DNS response that contains a SIG resource record larger than 64KB and induce a “controlled heap-based buffer overflow of roughly 64KB over a small allocated buffer.”

Put differently; the flaw targets the function responsible for allocating memory for the resource record (“RR_AllocateEx”) to generate a result bigger than 65,535 bytes to cause an integer overflow that leads to a much smaller allocation than expected.

But with a single DNS message limited to 512 bytes in UDP (or 4,096 bytes if the server supports extension mechanisms) and 65,535 bytes in TCP, the researchers found that a SIG response with a lengthy signature alone wasn’t enough to trigger the vulnerability.

To achieve this, the attack cleverly takes advantage of DNS name compression in DNS responses to create a buffer overflow using the aforementioned technique to increase the allocation’s size by a significant amount.

Remote Exploitation of the Flaw

That’s not all. SigRed can be triggered remotely via a browser in limited scenarios (e.g., Internet Explorer and non-Chromium based Microsoft Edge browsers), allowing an attacker to abuse Windows DNS servers’ support for connection reuse and query pipelining features to “smuggle” a DNS query inside an HTTP request payload to a target DNS server upon visiting a website under their control.

What’s more, the bug can be further exploited to leak memory addresses by corrupting the metadata of a DNS resource record and even achieve write-what-where capabilities, allowing an adversary to hijack the execution flow and cause it to execute unintended instructions.

Surprisingly, DNS clients (“dnsapi.dll”) are not susceptible to the same bug, leading the researchers to suspect that “Microsoft manages two completely different code bases for the DNS server and the DNS client, and does not synchronize bug patches between them.”

Given the severity of the vulnerability and the high chances of active exploitation, it’s recommended that users patch their affected Windows DNS Servers to mitigate the risk.

As a temporary workaround, the maximum length of a DNS message (over TCP) can be set to “0xFF00” to eliminate the chances of a buffer overflow:

reg add “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\DNS\Parameters” /v “TcpReceivePacketSize” /t REG_DWORD /d 0xFF00 /f

net stop DNS && net start DNS

“A DNS server breach is a very serious thing. Most of the time, it puts the attacker just one inch away from breaching the entire organization. There are only a handful of these vulnerability types ever released,” Check Point’s Omri Herscovici told The Hacker News.

“Every organization, big or small using Microsoft infrastructure is at major security risk, if left unpatched. The risk would be a complete breach of the entire corporate network.”

Thailand's AIS says Huawei among five companies tendering to build 5G core networks

(Reuters) Thailand’s Advanced Info Service Pcl said on Tuesday Huawei Technologies is among five companies tendering to build its 5G core networks.

AIS’ disclosure came as the UK government ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from the country’s 5G network by 2027 amid U.S. calls on its allies to exclude the Chinese company from their networks on security grounds.

Thailand, the United States’ oldest ally in Asia, has said it would not exclude Chinese vendors from building its 5G infrastructure but would stay mindful of any security issues.

AIS, Thailand’s largest mobile operator, is near the final stage of selecting vendors, which now include the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE and Samsung, said the company’s president Hui Weng Cheong.

“We are in the process of selecting vendors for the proper 5G core networks, both the Chinese and the Europeans,” said Hui, naming the five companies in a briefing.

“When we do anything, we send our request for proposals to all five, because we don’t want to pre-select,” he said.

Hui’s comment came after AIS announced last week a partnership with Huawei to sell 5G smartphones by the Chinese company.

Huawei has repeatedly denied U.S.-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

Hui said AIS, which won 23 5G spectrum licenses in February auctions, is aware of the U.S. allegations around the Chinese company but it will protect itself.

“Those claims are not proven … but when we use the Chinese vendors, we’ll also have very important clauses specifying what they shouldn’t do, to protect ourselves,” he said.

Last year, Huawei set up a 5G testbed in Thailand, its first in Southeast Asia.

Last month, Singapore’s biggest telecoms operators said they had selected Nokia and Ericsson over Huawei to build the 5G core networks. 

Singapore Telecommunications, which has stakes in AIS, said it had selected Ericsson to negotiate the provision of core and other networks.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat, editing by Louise Heavens and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Govt extends FY20 GST return filing date for composition dealers till Aug 31

NEW DELHI: The government has extended the due date for filing annual return by composition dealers for 2019-20 till August 31.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) issued a notification, extending the deadline for filing GSTR-4 annual returns for 2019-20 by composition dealers from July 15 to August 31.

GST composition scheme can be opted by any taxpayer whose turnover is less than Rs 1.5 crore. Under the scheme, manufacturers and traders are required to pay GST at 1 per cent, while it is 5 per cent for restaurants (which do not serve alcohol).

Amazon plans 20 healthcare clinics across U.S. for warehouse employees and their families

Amazon is establishing health clinics for warehouse employees around the country. (Amazon Photo)

Amazon plans to establish healthcare facilities for its warehouse workers and their families across the country. The company unveiled the plan Tuesday, starting with a clinic in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Amazon expects to build 20 health centers across five cities in the U.S. as part of a pilot program. In addition to Dallas, the initial cities are Phoenix, Ariz., Louisville, Ky., Detroit, Mich., and San Bernardino, Calif. Amazon will expand the program to additional cities if the pilot is successful.

Amazon is partnering with the medical group Crossover Health, which works with self-insured employers across the country. Crossover Health will operate and staff the facilities, according to Amazon.

The first Neighborhood Health Center will be established in Las Colinas, Texas, near an Amazon fulfillment center. Medical services will be available exclusively to Amazon employees and their families.

The clinics will offer primary and preventative care, physical therapy, behavioral health services, vaccinations, and prescriptions.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched a program that offers employees a blend of virtual medicine and in-house/office visits. Amazon Care is one of several projects by the company aimed at transforming the healthcare system. The two most prominent plans are Pillpack, the drug-delivery startup that Amazon reportedly paid $1 billion for last year and Haven, the tech giant’s joint healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway that aims to improve healthcare for employees.

But duplication with Amazon’s own internal healthcare initiatives has emerged as one of multiple stumbling blocks for Haven. A report by health industry publication STAT in May describes “a frustrating two years” for the Boston-based joint venture that led Dr. Atul Gawande, a respected surgeon and health policy leader, to step down as Haven CEO while staying on as chairman.

Amazon is establishing the clinics at a time when its warehouse workforce is grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks across the country. Amazon does not disclose the number of workers who have contracted the virus but a count crowdsourced by employees puts the number at more than 1,600.

In addition to providing medical resources at this critical time, Amazon hopes the new program will help employees access preventative care.

“Across the U.S., an increasing number of patients do not have easy access to a primary care physician and instead utilize emergency or urgent care options, which is not only more expensive for patients, but also overlooks important preventative care opportunities,” said Amazon human resources VP Darcie Henry in a statement. “We want to solve that for our employees, and the launch of these new Neighborhood Health Centers will provide a range of quality primary care services for employees across the country – further strengthening Amazon’s industry-leading benefits program, which provides comprehensive healthcare for employees starting on day one of employment.”

Microsoft To Separate Xiaoice Into Independent Company

Microsoft announced to separate its artificial intelligence Xiaoice business into an independent company with Shen Xiangyang as chairman, Li Di as CEO, and Chen Zhan as general manager of Japan branch.

All related work will be done over the next few months.

It is said that Microsoft will maintain its investments rights in the new company and it will authorize the new company to use and continue to develop Xiaoice technologies. With this move, Microsoft aims to accelerate the local innovation of Xiaoice product line and promote the completion of Xiaoice business ecological environment.

On the completion of the separation, the new company will continue to use the brands Xiaoice in China and Rinna in Japan. Meanwhile, it will seek continuous innovation in technology products and commercialization.

Xiaoice is one of the most creative AI technologies in the world developed by Microsoft’s Beijing, Suzhou, and Tokyo R&D teams. Since its launch five years ago, Xiaoice has been leading the technology innovation in the AI sector. It achieved outstanding performance in various sectors, including content generation, intelligent retail, AI hosting, and intelligent assistant, making it one of the largest cross-domain AI systems in the world.

So far, Xiaoice has implemented cooperation with many partners, providing complete AI technologies and solutions to customers in Greater China, Japan, and Indonesia. Xiaoice brand has covered 660 million online users, 450 million third-party smart devices, and 900 million content viewers around the world.

Walmart to infuse $1.2 billion in Flipkart Group; pegs latter's valuation at $24.9 billion

US-based retail giant Walmart has infused $1.2 billion in Flipkart‘s commerce business valuing it at $24.9 billion, as the Indian online retail battle gets redrawn with Reliance Jio‘s plans to leverage its telecom reach to propel online commerce.

The capital from Walmart, which already owns around 80% in the Bengaluru-based online retailer, will take its shareholding up a percentage or so, said people in the know.

This is the largest such fund raise for Flipkart since it was acquired two years ago for $16 billion, valuing the etailer at $21 billion.

In a prepared statement, Flipkart said, “The investment is led by Walmart, Flipkart Group’s majority owner, along with a group of existing shareholders and values the company at $24.9 billion post-money. It will be funded in two tranches over the remainder of the fiscal year.”

The backing of Walmart comes at a time when Mukesh Ambani-led Jio Platforms has amassed $15 billion from myriad investors including Facebook and private equity biggies like Silver Lake and KKR. Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Google was in talks to plough around $4 billion into Jio Platforms.

A Closer Look at the 2020 Starcraft SVX 231 OB

2020 Starcraft SVX 231 OB

When it comes to family fun on the water, there’s nothing like having a deck boat to take out for the day. Now more than ever, people are looking for better ways to spend more quality time outdoors, and there’s really not much to compare with boating—and doing it with a combination of style and value. Boat manufacturer Starcraft Marine has been desigining and producing some of the industry’s best, and the 2020 Starcraft SVX 231 OB is easily one of our favorites this year. If you’ve never had a chance to see what this deck boat is all about, here are 10 things you should definitely know.

1. It has an open floor plan

Most deck boats offer more space than other types of boats, but this particular OB floor plan just happens to give more than the average. According to Starcraft’s specifications, you’ll get ample seating and floor room for the perfect get together on the water. With the package length at over 22 feet, you’ll get a deck boat that’s roomy enough without being too bulky and cumbersome.

2. You can have a party of 14

It may not sound like much, but 14 people on a boat is a decent party. The SVX 231 OB offers enough room for comfortable seating all around the edges of the boat, and there’s plenty of space for standing and walking around as well. This particular boat is designed for that max capacity of adults, so it’s also perfect for families of all sizes. It’s also a great boat to take out for some peace and quiet out on the lake—especially if a big crowd in a smaller space isn’t what you have in mind.

3. It’s got a solid hp

This particular Starcraft is designed with a number of activities in mind. Unlike other deck boats on Starcraft’s fleet, the SVX 231 OB boasts a max horsepower of 300 hp—an impressive number for a vehicle that size. This means that you can really push the power on this boat if you’re looking to go faster.

4. It’s made for a good time

Speaking of going faster, we have to admit that we love this deck boat particularly because of its capability for watersports. Given that the SVX 231 OB’s power is high enough for high-energy water activities, its value becomes even greater when compared to its cost. Of course, you can simply cruise on this boat if preferred or even just hang out your favorite spot on the lake. Whatever activity you have in mind, the SVX 231 OB can surely accommodate.

5. It has a decent fuel capacity

When it comes to fuel, everyone knows that boats guzzle like crazy. It also should be noted that not all boat fuel tanks are made the same. The average deck boat fuel capacity is more or less 30 gallons, but Starcraft sought to push this envelope quite a bit with this particular vehicle. The SVX 231 OB has a fuel capacity of 60 gallons. What this means for you is simply more time to enjoy on the water without having to worry about running out of fuel. If you’re like us and like to be prepared, we’ll pack on an extra 60 gallons just to double up the fun.

6. You can tack on a fishing package

Boating and fishing often go hand in hand, and Starcraft has definitely thought of how to incorporate the sport into their deck boat. As an optional feature, you can choose the fishing package for your SVX 231 OB. This particular package includes 2 fishing seats and a livewell. It’s some of the best convenience an angler could only ask for. With comfortable fishing seats, you can spend an entire day just casting and catching.

7. The upgrades are incredible

The SVX 231 OB offers additional and optional features that can’t be ignored. These miscellaneous features may be the little things, but you never realize how much you need these on your boat until you actually get on the water and go. Some of this deck boat’s optional features include a pressurized water system, an anchor kit, docking lights, a table, and even an extended swim platform. This platform will come in handy on days when the lake is calling you to jump into it to cool down.

8. The standard features are just as good

The baseline for the SVX 231 OB is one of the best in the market. The standard OB comes with a Bimini top, Bay Star hydraulic steering, tilt steering, and EvA soft touch traction mats. Of course per Starcraft Marine’s style, you can also customize your own SVX deck boat if that’s what you’d rather do. Most experienced boaters know exactly what they want on their vehicle, but newer boaters will have plenty enough to handle with a standard SVX 231 OB.

9. It has an impressive view

We talked about the boat having a nice open floor plan, but we need to mention that the SVX 231 OB also offers a nice view. Given the layout and arrangement of the Bimini, you’ll get a wide and unobstructed view of your guests and surroundings when compared to other models. There’s nothing like the nuisance of a poorly placed canopy, and that’s something you won’t have to worry about with this OB model.

10. It’s got the Starcraft warranty

One of the marks of a truly exceptional manufacturer is the warranty it offers. Starcraft Marine is ready to back their products up—every single one—with a Lifetime Hull Warranty and a 6-Year Blister Warranty. This includes the SVX 231 OB of course. It’s a true testament to the quality of Starcraft’s deck boats and the quality of this one in particular. Warranties like this come in handy when you least expect them to.

UK to exclude Huawei from role in high-speed phone network

(AP) Britain’s government on Tuesday backtracked on plans to give Chinese telecommunications company Huawei a limited role in the U.K.’s new high-speed mobile phone network in a decision with broad implications for relations between London and Beijing.

Britain said it imposed the ban after U.S. sanctions made it impossible to ensure the security of Huawei equipment, forcing it to start turning to other suppliers for components. The U.S. threatened to sever an intelligence-sharing arrangement with the UK because of concerns Huawei equipment could allow the Chinese government to infiltrate U.K. networks.

U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the decision would delay the 5G rollout, and cost millions of pounds, but that it had to be done.

“This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one,″ he said.

The decision gives British telecoms operators until 2027 to remove Huawei equipment already in Britain’s 5G network. The operators must stop buying 5G equipment from Huawei by the end of the year.

Critically for telecoms operators, the government opted not to order firms to rip out legacy equipment manufactured by Huawei in earlier systems, like 4G. Such a decision might have caused havoc in U.K. telecoms systems.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was under pressure from rebels in his own Conservative Party who criticized China’s new Hong Kong security law and its treatment of ethnic Uighurs, as well as Huawei’s links to the Chinese government. Ten Conservative lawmakers sent a letter to Johnson demanding that he remove Huawei from “the U.K.’s critical national infrastructure.”

Johnson in January sought to balance economic and security pressures by agreeing to give Huawei a limited role in Britain’s so-called 5G network, excluding the company from core components of the system and restricting its involvement to 35% of the overall project.

But the move set up a diplomatic clash with the Americans, who threatened to cut off security cooperation unless Britain dumped Huawei. Amid continued pressure to remove Huawei from communication networks entirely, the U.S. in May imposed new sanctions that will bar companies around the world from using American-made machinery or software to produce chips for the Chinese company.

The Labour Party’s spokeswoman on communications issues, Chi Omwurah, decried the government’s flip-flop approach and said it would have a dire impact on the future.

“This is a car crash for our digital economy, but one that could have been visible from space,” she said.

Huawei expressed disappointment, and said that the decision threatens to move “Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.″

“Regrettably our future in the U.K. has become politicized, this is about U.S. trade policy and not security,″ said Ed Brewster, a spokesman for Huawei UK. “Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better connected U.K. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done.″

The back and forth has put Huawei at the vortex of tensions between China and Britain.

Last fall, the U.K. called on China to give the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights free access to the Xinjiang region, where most of the country’s Uighur people live.

More recently, Johnson’s government has criticized China’s decision to impose a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong. Britain accused the Beijing government of a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration under which the U.K. returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and announced it would open a special route to citizenship for up to 3 million eligible residents of the city.

China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, last week decried what he described as “gross interference” in Chinese affairs.

“Britain can only be great,” he said, when it has an independent foreign policy, adding that it sets a bad precedent to “make your policy in the morning and change it in evening.”

“It also sends out a very bad message to the China business community,” Liu said, suggesting Chinese companies might think twice about investing in Britain. “They are all watching how you handle Huawei.”

Rana Mitter, an Oxford University history professor specializing in China, said that the security law — combined with broader resentment about the way China handled information about the coronavirus — created increased wariness among Britain’s politicians and the public.

But for China, it’s the way Britain has handled the Huawei issue that is the major problem. Even if Britain decides that buying Huawei isn’t a good idea, this could have been done more discreetly, Mitter said.

“There is a sense, I suspect, in Beijing that the Huawei row has made China lose face,” he said. “And this is one of the things that clearly does not go down well with China, which is, of course, a proud country, the world’s second biggest economy with the capacity to use that economic power when it wants to, and also a country which in general feels on the back foot at the moment because of the COVID pandemic and the world’s reaction to that.”

Before the decision, Huawei announced that its U.K. chairman would step down early. John Browne’s term was due to end in March, but ex-boss of energy company BP is now expected to depart in September.

Source: Associated Press by Danica Kirka