Intelligence Everywhere

AI-driven gadgets and apps, security 101, and results from a massive developer survey

By Leslie Steere

January/February 2019



Using an alarm clock that adjusts your wake-up time to weather and traffic conditions, turns up the thermostat, and flicks on the lights—that’s a truly intelligent way to start your day. Tell your AI-driven voice-activated Bonjour smart alarm clock to remind you what’s first on your agenda for the day, ask it how long it will take you to commute to work, remind it to let you sleep in if it’s raining, order it to play relaxing music and dim the lights at bedtime, and more. US$249. holi

Netatmo Smart Indoor Camera

Place this sleek Netatmo security camera indoors, point it at your door, use its (free) app to teach it to recognize loved ones’ faces, and voilà: The next time a stranger enters your house, you get an immediate alert along with video footage. The camera’s AI machine learning capabilities help it recognize faces from any angle or direction—and prevent false positives when a welcome relative or pet wanders in. The Netatmo also alerts you when it hears smoke, CO, or other alarms in your home. US$199. Netatmo

Top Database for Java Developers?

Java Magazine and security startup Snyk recently announced the results of the largest survey of Java developers ever conducted. On the question of which database developers use in production, almost 3 in 10 of the more than 10,500 respondents named Oracle Database, with the open source MySQL coming in a close second, at 21%. For a full analysis of the survey—which includes information about JDKs, tools, JVM languages, testing technologies, and more—see “The Largest Survey Ever of Java Developers,” in the November/December issue of Java Magazine.


Source: Java Magazine November/December 2018

Do you speak tech? Quiz yourself!

  1. A piece of code intentionally inserted into a software program to set off a malicious function when certain conditions are met is called
    1. A logic bomb
    2. Slag code
    3. A trapdoor
    4. All of the above
  2. A maintenance hook is a security risk because
    1. It’s a gateway security vulnerability—so easy to exploit that it “hooks” technologists to a life of cybercrime
    2. It allows entry into software code without the usual security checks
    3. It prevents DBAs from maintaining a software program, because it “hooks” their identity and proceeds to track their digital activity for 30 days
  3. In the context of security, a COOP is
    1. A continuity of operations plan
    2. The room in which DBAs are sequestered when a security breach is detected
    3. A compromised overflow operation patch

Answers: 1. D, 2. B, 3. A

It’s Real: Artificial Intelligence for the Masses

Three (very) smart apps for your mobile device

ELSA Speak


If for some reason you have to speak like an American, meet ELSA — an English language speech assistant and coach that fits in the palm of your hand. Powered by state-of-the-art voice recognition technology, ELSA boasts an AI-driven pronunciation coach that recognizes your voice and gives you instant feedback on pronunciation—not just via conversational exercises but also for common American expressions, idioms, and any word you select from the app’s free online dictionary. Free (iOS, Android)



What better use for AI than for doing homework? The Socratic app uses AI and data from millions of student questions to interpret your homework challenges. With jargon-free, bite-size answers gathered from a huge community of teachers, students, and other experts, the app gives students a 24/7 digital tutor for a variety of academic subjects such as math, science, English, history, and economics. Just snap a photo of the homework problem, and Socratic uses its AI capabilities to predict and present the concepts needed to solve it. Free (Android, iOS)



Billed as the first predictive AI-powered mobile browser, Ulli removes the pain of typing and navigating the web with your big fingers on your little iPhone buttons: Tap on Ulli’s Magic Button while viewing a web page, and the app’s natural language processing capabilities bring up the most-relevant actions you might want to take—watch a movie trailer, say, or purchase a ticket, find a restaurant, or view a map. “Siri: Open my Ulli app and then say, ‘Goodbye’?” Free (iOS only)

Photographs courtesy of holi and Netatmo