Coffee Briefing, Oct. 26, 2021 – All the recent tech news; a podcast roundup; and more

Coffee Briefings are timely deliveries of the latest ITWC headlines, interviews, and podcasts. Today’s Coffee Briefing is delivered by IT World Canada reporter Pragya Sehgal, with files from the rest of the editorial team!

Missed last week’s Coffee Briefing? We’ve got you covered.

What’s new this week

Cisco WebEx users to get new capabilities for live engagement during meetings

Source: Poll Everywhere

Cisco today announced the integration of Poll Everywhere, real-time audience response technology accessible on any device, with the WebEx platform to give users new capabilities for live engagement through live online polling, surveys, Q&As, quizzes, word clouds, and more during meetings, as organizations continue to shift their standards for flexible work. 

The Poll Everywhere embedded app within WebEx gives users the ability to integrate engagement and feedback activities into their existing content and workflows. These activities, once integrated, are fully functional and can be reused, modified, and analyzed in depth when presenters log in to their accounts, Cisco explains. 

The embedded app will become available on the WebEx platform as of today, Oct. 26, and it may take 3 to 4 weeks to fully roll out to all WebEx users, a spokesperson for WebEx told IT World Canada.

UP Express to now offer contactless payment option to customers

Source: Interac

Interac last week announced that Interac Debit is now being accepted as a contactless payment option for the PRESTO fare payment system on UP Express, through a pilot led by Metrolinx. The pilot will allow UP Express riders to purchase their transit fare by tapping their physical Interac debit card or a card added to a mobile wallet directly on a fare machine.

This announcement marks the first time a transit agency in Canada is offering Interac Debit as a contactless payment option, giving transit riders convenient access without needing to purchase separate tickets or passes. Interac says this pilot is expected to be followed by the expansion of Interac Debit contactless payments to additional transit agencies on the PRESTO network. 

IBM’s new tech platform to help Canadian NGO evacuate Afghan refugees to Canada

wildpixel | Getty Images

Canadian non-government organization (NGO) Aman Lara last week announced its partnership with IBM Canada to build a technology platform that aims to help NGOs in evacuating Afghans from Afghanistan. Aman Lara is working with Afghans who assisted Canadian Forces, families of Afghan-Canadian interpreters and other populations facing persecution under Taliban rule. Already almost 12,000 individuals have been entered into the platform to begin their journey to Canada, according to the two organizations. 

Available in English, Pashto (the official language of Afghanistan), and Dari (the form of Persian spoken in Afghanistan), the platform is built on IBM Cloud and offers a safe and secure portal for vulnerable Afghans seeking assistance to leave the country. It allows Aman Lara to track applicants and their travel documents in real-time so the organization can advocate on their behalf and enable their evacuation.

Pinterest launches new tools for its users

The new Pinterest Takes feature
Source: Takes

Pinterest introduced a range of new Creator and Pinner tools and experiences at its second annual Pinterest Creators Festival last week. Here is a list of a few of them:

  • An all-new Watch Experience – Pinterest is redesigning its home feed to give Pinners the option to “Browse” or “Watch” when looking for inspiration. This new “Watch” tab is a full-screen feed of Idea Pins for users to scroll through and engage with.
  • Introducing “Takes” –  For the first time, Pinners can engage with Creators by responding to their Idea Pins with their own video Idea Pin response (i.e. “take”). Responses will be linked back to the original Idea Pins. The feature will be rolling out between October 2021 and March 2022 in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany and France, the company noted.
  • Idea Pin Creator for Pinners – As part of the Takes rollout, Pinners will also be able to create Idea Pins with a range of new publishing tools to make their Idea Pins more actionable, including: seasonal and interactive stickers, music tracks with new editing capabilities, new video editing and recording capabilities, and a preview mode which helps creators see the final output before publishing. 
  • Comment Code for Pinners – Additionally, Pinners who engage with creator content will see a comment code that reinforces positive interactions with creators. This new comment code builds on the recent launch of the Creator Code, Pinterest’s content policy designed to keep the platform a positive and inspiring place.
  • Creator Hub – The Creator Hub gives Creators a one-stop-shop for the tools, tips, and insights that are relevant to them. This new experience brings together everything a creator need to monetize, plan their content, and understand trends all in one place.

Four Canadian artists join the #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022

Source: YouTube

YouTube recently announced the artists, songwriters, and producers joining the #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022.  This is the second year of the global program, which is part of the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund that expanded to Canada this year. A multi-year global initiative, the fund is dedicated to amplifying the stories and experiences of Black creators and artists on YouTube. The #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022 now includes 54 artists, songwriters, and producers from around the world, including one producer and three artists from Canada. They are:

  • WondaGurl, a popular hip-hop producer from Toronto. WondaGurl is already credited for producing hits with artists including Jay-Z, Drake, and Rihanna. 
  • NorthSideBenji, a rapper from Brampton, whose music videos have already garnered more than 19M combined views on YouTube. 
  • Savannah Ré, an R&B singer and songwriters from Toronto, focused on telling authentic stories through her music. 
  • Liza, an Ethiopian-Canadian R&B singer from Toronto, who draws influence from her culture, as well as R&B and neo-soul music.    

YouTube says it will work closely with the cohort to provide dedicated partner support, seed funding to help develop their channels, training, workshops and networking programs, to help them succeed on the platform. They’ll also hear from legendary rapper,  producer and program mentor Slick Rick, who will share his wisdom and experience with fellow grant recipients within educational and networking programs for the class.  

More to explore

Latest Nobelium campaign targets victims via cloud providers and resellers: Microsoft

Infosec leaders should watch for possible network compromises after Microsoft warned that at least 14 cloud service providers and resellers of technology products have been compromised since May by the Nobelium threat group, which, according to U.S. intelligence, is part of Russia’s foreign intelligence service.

Mississauga competing to be named world’s #1 Intelligent Community of the Year

The City of Mississauga is competing for the top spot –  Intelligent Community of the Year – in a competition organized by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a global network of cities and regions which aims to help communities in the digital age find a new path to economic development and community growth.

Most organizations still lack the basics to fight ransomware: Vendor

Chief information security officers’ failure to implement basic controls over privileged access accounts is one of the key reasons why ransomware attacks succeed, says a vendor report.

Mercedes-Benz adopts Microsoft Hololens 2 to fix cars faster

As cars become more intricate, so does their repair process. With so many instruments and components to deal with, dealerships sometimes aren’t equipped to repair advanced issues. To cut down on the turnaround time for customers, Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Microsoft to integrate Hololens 2 augmented-reality (AR) headsets into their repair process.

Encouraging a culture of speed in your organization

Culture is the number one barrier to organizational transformation and success. If you want to get leaner and more agile, definitely assess and streamline your technology. But what about your company’s culture?

Zero Trust = Assume a Breach

As the cyber advisory and solutions leader, Optiv is pioneering the way in Zero Trust (ZT) adoption. Let’s take a look at what Zero Trust (ZT) is, how it can protect your business and where to begin your journey.

Channel Bytes October 22, 2021 – new solution for MSPs; worldwide IT spending forecast; we’re number two; and more

Staying informed is a constant challenge. There’s so much to do, and so little time. But we have you covered. Grab a coffee and take five while you nibble on these tidbits.

Digital payments increasing globally: report

The use of digital payment methods is on the rise as consumers look for easier and more convenient ways to spend money.

Lighthouse Labs to offer free JavaScript training to Canadians

Canadian tech education company Lighthouse Labs is back with its free 21-Day Coding Challenge, which will this year give prospective coders an opportunity to learn JavaScript through 15-30 minute daily challenges. 

SMBs say access to technology will simplify payment collection

Small business owners in Canada say better access to technology would make it easier to collect payments.

ITWC Podcasts

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Trending

Australia releases a draft of its Online Privacy Bill that seeks to protect kids from social media, Tesla pulls its latest FSD software due to false collision warnings, and a British-built robot has been released by Egyptian authorities.

Listen to the latest episode of Cyber Security Today

This podcast reports on a problem with an NPM JavaScript library, rants from ransomware groups and an SQL vulnerability exploited in a billing suite


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Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Her characters are bold and smart, but in real life, Pragya is afraid of going upstairs when it is dark behind her. Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the Yamuna River on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing professional who also prepares beautiful, healthy and delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not.

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