Recipe for selling software in a pandemic: Be essential, add some machine learning, and focus, focus, focus

Sales of software programs are already being affected by the pandemic, as seen this week in the disappointing results of Slack Technologies, makers of the popular program for team collaboration. 

It turns out, when companies are cutting staff, they have less need for such programs. 

But it turns out there is a way for a nimble software maker to thrive in the current era, namely, by bringing valuable tools to very specific parts of the market. 

Such is the case for thirty-year-old software vendor Prophix, based just outside of Toronto, Ontario, in Mississauga. The company sells software for the finance department of mid-sized companies for evaluating financial data and performing forecasting. 

Prophix’s tools are designed to be much more accessible than general ledger programs from giant vendors such as Workday and Oracle, for the finance department that doesn’t have access to teams of analysts. Most of Prophix’s clients are

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Researcher kept a major Bitcoin bug secret for two years to prevent attacks

In 2018, a security researcher discovered a major vulnerability in Bitcoin Core, the software that powers the Bitcoin blockchain, but after reporting the issue and having it patched, the researcher opted to keep details private in order to avoid hackers exploiting the issue.

Technical details were published earlier this week after the same vulnerability was independently discovered in another cryptocurrency, based on an older version of the Bitcoin code that hadn’t received the patch.

Bitcoin Inventory Out-of-Memory Denial-of-Service Attack

Called INVDoS, the vulnerability is a classic denial-of-service (DoS) attack. While in many cases, DoS attacks are harmless, they are not for internet-reachable systems, which need to have stable uptime in order to process transactions.

INVDoS was discovered in 2018 by Braydon Fuller, a Bitcoin protocol engineer. Fuller found that an attacker could create malformed Bitcoin transactions that, when processed by Bitcoin blockchain nodes, would lead to uncontrolled consumption

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NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app to launch in England and Wales on 24 September

After missing its first scheduled launch in mid-May, followed by further delays due to a number of technology issues as other countries forged ahead, the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app is now set to launch across England and Wales on Thursday 24 September.

Ongoing trials in Newham, on the Isle of Wight and with NHS volunteer responders are said to have shown that the app, when used alongside traditional contact-tracing methods, is highly effective in identifying contact with people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Following its launch, customers and visitors to businesses in England will be able to use the Covid-19 app to check in on entry with their phone instead of filling out a visitor book or tool specific to a business. This will allow NHS Test and Trace to contact customers and provide public health advice should there be a Covid-19 outbreak associated with a venue they have

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Goodreads has held on to its dominant spot online despite being nearly unusable, but its reign is now being challenged by competitors, including The StoryGraph (Sarah Manavis/New Statesman)

Sarah Manavis / New Statesman:

Goodreads has held on to its dominant spot online despite being nearly unusable, but its reign is now being challenged by competitors, including The StoryGraph  —  On a typical day, a long-time user of Goodreads, the world’s largest community for reviewing and recommending books, will feel like they’re losing their mind.… Read More