Trending December 2023 # Microsoft Contractors Are Able To Listen To Some Skype Calls # Suggested January 2024 # Top 18 Popular

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A new report reveals that Microsoft won’t be left out of the mix when it comes to big tech companies having humans listen in on customers.

Motherboard has the report this week, detailing with screenshots, audio recording, and documents that contractors working with Microsoft have the ability to listen in on some Skype calls. The report reveals that while the customer use the app’s built-in translation feature, the contractors are able to listen to the conversations.

Contractors working for Microsoft are listening to personal conversations of Skype users conducted through the app’s translation service, according to a cache of internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings obtained by Motherboard. Although Skype’s website says that the company may analyze audio of phone calls that a user wants to translate in order to improve the chat platform’s services, it does not say some of this analysis will be done by humans.

It is worth noting, again, that this issue, where humans are able to “analyze” conversations from users, is only taking place when the translation feature is activated. Otherwise, it looks like humans are not able to listen in on any other standard voice or video calls.

However, this is an issue no matter what, as the report reveals that the contractors are able to listen in on intimate conversations between users. What’s more, while Microsoft does say that analysis of Skype calls is possible, it does not specifically state that humans will be handling that task.

The fact that I can even share some of this with you shows how lax things are in terms of protecting user data,” a Microsoft contractor who provided the cache of files to Motherboard said. Motherboard granted the source anonymity to speak more candidly about internal Microsoft practices, and because the person is under a non-disclosure agreement with the company.

Some of the audio recordings gained by Motherboard include intimate conversations between loved ones, another customer’s issue with weight loss, and more.

The contractors primarily work from home, and are sent the Skype audio conversations by Microsoft directly. That package includes an approximate translation of the conversation that’s put together by Microsoft’s own AI program for Skype. Once the contractor receives the conversation, it is up to them to choose the most accurate translation or do it themselves. The contractor then sends that conversation back to Microsoft.

As mentioned above, Microsoft does say in its documentation, including FAQs, that it does analyze Skype conversations, when the translation tool is used, in an effort to better improve the service. However, this is not an opt-in or opt-out situation, and, again, Microsoft does not say humans are the ones analyzing the conversations of customers.

Microsoft did provide a statement to Motherboard, though, in light of the report:

A Microsoft spokesperson told Motherboard in an emailed statement, “Microsoft collects voice data to provide and improve voice-enabled services like search, voice commands, dictation or translation services. We strive to be transparent about our collection and use of voice data to ensure customers can make informed choices about when and how their voice data is used. Microsoft gets customers’ permission before collecting and using their voice data.”

“We also put in place several procedures designed to prioritize users’ privacy before sharing this data with our vendors, including de-identifying data, requiring non-disclosure agreements with vendors and their employees, and requiring that vendors meet the high privacy standards set out in European law. We continue to review the way we handle voice data to ensure we make options as clear as possible to customers and provide strong privacy protections,” the statement added.

For its part, Microsoft says the translated conversations that are sent to contractors are missing any identifying information, including device identification numbers, so there’s that.

This is just one more story cropping up like this. It started with Amazon, where it was revealed that thousands of employees were listening in on conversations recorded by the Echo smart speaker. Soon after that, Google was thrown in front of the bus as it was revealed that employees could listen in on private conversations recorded by Google Assistant.

Even Apple wasn’t left out of the mix.

However, Apple was quick to stop the Siri “grading program” across the globe, and will ultimately let customers opt-in or opt-out of the program altogether later this year. Sure enough, both Amazon and Google followed suit in this regard as well. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles this.

What do you think of what’s happening here? It makes sense that companies would want to improve their technologies and features and hardware, but should it always be an opt-in or opt-out situation? Ors should consumers just expect this to be happening?

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Microsoft Shows Some Ankle With Visual Studio

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has adopted a change in strategy with developer tools announcements. Now, it’s providing details in a slow, steady fashion rather than the “fire hose” method of providing a lot of information at once, as with prior launches.

The change has to do with the latest Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010, code-named “Rosario.” Over the coming weeks and months, Microsoft will release more info on Visual Studio itself, VSTS and the .NET Framework 4.0. For now, the company wants to focus on improvements in Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).

“For our enterprise customers, ALM has become the buzzword du jour,” said Dave Mendlen, director of developer tools marketing at Microsoft. “A few years back, Solo was what they were focused on. Today, ALM and the ability to focus as a team is what people are focused on.”

Microsoft has already discussed the Visual Studio tool, but this effort is to expand beyond just the compiler and discuss the team development system.

Overall, Microsoft plans to focus on five areas: riding the next-generation platform wave, inspiring developer delight, powering breakthrough departmental applications, enabling emerging trends such as cloud computing, and the aforementioned ALM.

Mendlen said the other areas will be covered in the coming weeks and months, but would not say exactly when. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) changed strategy at customer request.

“Customers said they felt like we were always making announcements, and when we did, it came out all at once, making it hard to take in and internalize everything,” Mendlen told chúng tôi “So we’re trying to be a little more thoughtful about how we release information.”

ALM has become a more prominent issue with the rise of distributed development teams. Gone are the days where the whole developer crew is in one building. “Even our product itself is built across multiple time zones,” said Mendlen. “We have a team in North Carolina that does parts, we have a team in Hawaii, we have one in India, and of course one in Redmond. So we are one of our best customers because we have these massive engineering teams that we have to coordinates.”

VSTS 10 will focus on “democratizing ALM” that help the different teams work together and not be so separate from each other. For example, Visual Studio 2008 had a feature called continuous builds, which checked code for errors when it was checked in by a programmer, rather than checking it at compiler time. If it broke the application, the programmer was alerted to fix the code at that point, rather than during the build cycle later.

VSTS 10 expands on that by adding architecture checking. The project leader will design the application to behave in a certain way, and it a programmer starts to construct an app in a way contrary to the specified design, the continuous build function would stop him when the code is checked in.

That way, the architect of the application can enforce their design rules throughout the entire development cycle, and developers don’t stray from the original design plans of the application during the coding cycle, Mendlen noted.

Another way VSTS will cross-pollinate is through the addition of testing tools for developers. Testers complain apps aren’t tested properly before they get it because developers don’t really know how to properly test an application, said Mendlen. A new tool in VSTS will let developers check code so they understand the full impact of their code changes before handing it off to testers.

What Are Some Python Game Engines?

In this article, we will learn some Python game engines

Python game engines are known as an affliction for a variety of 2D and 3D games that may be used to help those who want to make their own video games. Python, a feature-rich programming language, has been utilized in a wide range of popular video games.

Python has proven to be one of the most popular programming languages still in use in the gaming business. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty about how to meet the ultimate needs of the firm.

Why Game Engines?

You’ll see the benefits of having all the basics, such as classes, and functions, available once you start creating your game. You may get going and focus on the details of your project in this fashion. You might be asking what makes a framework different from a game engine. The game engine, which often deals with visuals, manages all of the rapid processes at a high level. The logic and components you choose to include in your game—the plot, if you will—is implemented by the framework.

The following are some of the best python game engines −







PyGame is a collection of Python Modules. This set of modules is designed small in order to assist in getting started.

The developers have also opted to build a large number of small components for the library. Because of this design, you can swap out parts of the library as your needs change.

For example, the mixer is a separate piece of software; you can switch to another piece of software as you progress in your programming.

The graphics rendering machine is also distinct(separate), and so on. In fact, you could use PyGame to prototype a game and then transfer one element at a time to more advanced software. Having said that, PyGame already has a huge number of games under its name.

Starting with PyGame is simple, but you can make it even simpler. The pgzero package is designed for instructors to demonstrate programming. The package allows you to easily write numerous aspects of your game without using boilerplate code.


The Ren’Py Visual Novel Engine, which is free to use, provides immersive storytelling/narrative. This is why it is a popular choice among video game developers. It’s designed for video game developers who wish to create life-simulation and interactive games with the ability to mix sound, words, and visuals in new and interesting ways.

The framework is intended for individuals who are prepared to fight with visual novels, and it helps with play transcription. Its fundamental functions are simple to grasp, allowing users to generate fantastic outcomes.

The elements of the game are ideal for video gamers that believe in learning from graphic novels without making any modifications.


This well-known framework is used for quick application development. Kivy features a distinct user experience, including multi-touch apps, and it is compatible with Windows, Android, Linux, OS X, and other platforms. Its most appealing aspect is its wireless capability. It is completely customizable due to the availability of 20 plugins.

Kivy can also be installed as Python modules. This is the most effective technique to use Python with any framework. Kivy is more powerful than PyGame and produces more elegant output. Kivy features excellent tutorials directly on their webpage to help you get started. One of Kyvi’s strengths is their Kv Design language. This design language simplifies the creation of menus, game plans, and graphics. This approach eliminates the need to create images for even the most basic graphics.


The Panda3D engine’s framework is unique in that it holds all of the Python bindings collectively. In the C++ programming language, it is referred to as a 3D engine (all written). As a result, it has become one of the engine’s standard methods of operation, and it is still up-to-date and complete, with everything from template assistance to silkscreen and precise duplication. The engine excels at encouraging rapid learning, rapid development, and maintaining stability.

This is not a package for learning to program or quickly creating a game. This package includes a professional tool for designing animations and games. To ensure performance, Panda3D is written in C++. The majority of the documentation, however, is aimed at Python users. While the concept behind Panda3D is for game creators to utilise Python to create their games, you can also use C++.

Panda3d is a powerful system that has its own SDK. If you are prepared to put in the time and are already familiar with Python programming, this system is significantly superior to anything you could develop. After all, Disney uses it for commercial purposes.


Pyglet is a framework with a user interface, soothing music and sounds, and the ability to load photos and pictures. This framework is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

It’s a straightforward framework that greatly simplifies the delivery method, works with the game’s specifications and makes installation easier. Furthermore, the ability to use many windows at the same time with full-screen games and deployment is the best feature.

Pyglet appears tiny and constrained at first glance, but there is complexity hidden beneath the simplicity. This software supports OpenGL and has no dependencies; however, you can increase media capabilities by calling ffmpeg. Pyglet also supports dual-monitor configurations. Third-party libraries are available to extend the system. You should be aware of these libraries because of the functionality they provide. You could also wish to utilize glooey to create a consistent user interface for your application. Use PyShaders for rendering and Ratcave for 3D scene handling. If you start with pyglet3d, you should know that cocos2d also uses pyglet. This tool creates a comprehensive framework for game apps and other graphical user interface-based applications.


In this article, we learned some of the most well-known Python game engines and why they are useful for game development.

Pianobar: Listen To Pandora From The Linux Command

If you are one of those command line geeks who like listening to music while doing work, you’ll be thrilled to know that Pandora, the popular Internet radio service, can be accessed through command line as well. There exists an open source command line Pandora client by the name of Pianobar, which makes it possible.

The command line application provides the following features:

Play and manage (create, add more music, delete, rename, …) stations

Rate songs and explain why they have been selected

Upcoming songs/song history

Customize keybindings and text output

Remote control and eventcmd interface (send tracks to chúng tôi for example)

Proxy support for listeners outside the USA

In this article, we will discuss how to install, configure, and use the command line application on Linux.


If you’re running Debian, or a Debian-based system (like Ubuntu, Mint, and more), you can easily install Pianobar by running the following command:


apt-get install


But if you’re using some other distribution, or the application is not available in your distribution’s repositories, you can download its source code and build it from scratch. The source code is available on GitHub.


Once Pianobar is successfully downloaded and installed, the next step is to configure it. Although you can run the app right away by running the pianobar command, you’ll probably get frustrated as you’ll have to enter the login credentials every time the command is run.

To configure the application, first create the “config” directory using the following command:






Then navigate to the new directory and create a configuration file called “config”









Open the newly created “config” file, and enter the following information:

user =




password =




audio_quality = high

Replace the square brackets and the text within them with your Pandora username and password. As for “audio_quality”, other available values are “medium” and “low.”

Another point worth mentioning is that you cannot access Pandora outside of the US. So, if you are trying to access Pandora from a location other than the US, add the following line to your config file as well:

This is the most basic configuration. For more configuration options, refer to Pianobar’s man page.

Using Pianobar

Once you’ve configured the application, it’s very easy to use; just run the following command:


The application will login into Pandora service, fetch the stations and ask you to select one. Once done, it will fetch the corresponding play list and start playing the songs.

The application also provides various commands through which you can do stuff like create a new station, delete a station, and more. Here is the complete list of commands (which you can get on console by pressing ?):

+ – love song

– – ban song

a – add music to station

c – create new station

d – delete station

e – explain why this song is played

g – add genre station

h – song history

i – print information about song/station

j – add shared station

n – next song

p – pause/resume playback

q – quit

r – rename station

s – change station

t – tired (ban song for 1 month)

u – upcoming songs

x – select quickmix stations

( – decrease volume

) – increase volume

= – delete seeds/feedback

v – create new station from song or artist

P – resume playback

S – pause playback

^ – reset volume


Himanshu Arora

Himanshu Arora is a freelance technical writer by profession but a software programmer and Linux researcher at heart. He covers software tutorials, reviews, tips/tricks, and more. Some of his articles have been featured on IBM developerworks, ComputerWorld, and in Linux Journal.

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How To Block Calls On Android

Sooner or later, you’ll come across someone who doesn’t know the meaning of personal space. When that happens, they keep calling so much that you feel you don’t have much choice but to block them. There are different ways you can block them. You can try using your integrated Android options, or you can use ESET Mobile Security. It has an option where you can filter your calls and block a private number of specific numbers. There is also an option to block the calls from a specific time frame.

How to Block Calls on Android Using Settings

If you don’t feel like using a third-party app or don’t use ESET, your Android phone has an integrated option for you to block unknown numbers and any number you add to the blocked list. To start, open the phone app and tap on the dots at the top. Go to Settings and tap on the Blocked Numbers option.

At the top, you’ll see the option to toggle on the option that will block any unknown numbers. But if you also want to block a known number, you can do that by tapping on the Add a number option. Add the number and tap on the Block option to save your changes. This option works great if you can remember the number, but if you can’t, there is not much you can do.

You’ll need to go to the Recent calls list if that’s your case. Look through the list of calls, and when you see the call you want to block, tap on it, and you should see the Block option. You’ll see a confirmation message that’ll ask you if you’re sure that you want to block the number. If you change your mind and want to unlock the person instantly, tap on the Unblock button, it’ll be where the block button used to be.

Blocking Someone Using the Messages App

If the number you want to block recently sent you a message and didn’t call, you can use the messages app to block them. Once you’ve located the message in the app, long-press on it so it’s marked with a checkmark. Tap on the dots at the top right and choose the Block option. If you open the message and tap on the dots at the top right, you won’t see the block option.

How to Unblock Someone on Android

Maybe you didn’t decide to unblock them instantly, but the next day. To take a number off the block list. You’ll need to open the phone app, tap on the dots at the top right and go to Settings. Tap on Blocked Numbers; below, you’ll see the list of the numbers you blocked. You’ll also see an X. Tap on the X, and you’ll see a confirmation message. Once you confirm, the number will be taken off the list.

How to Block Calls on Android Using ESET Mobile Security

Once you have the app open, swipe down to the Call Filter option. Tap on the plus button in the Rules section. Once you’re in New Rule, you’ll need to make a few choices. For example, you’ll need to tell the app what to do with the What dropdown menu. Make sure to choose the Block option. Under the Who option, you’ll see various options of who you can block. Choose who you want to block if it’s a group, but if it’s a specific number, there’s a particular field below.

If you have more than one number to block, tap on the plus sign to add more number fields or the trash icon to erase any. The last option you’ll need to adjust is the When option. You can choose from Always and Custom. In the Custom option, you can select a specific day and time. Don’t forget to save your options when you’re done. Let’s say you decided to block all unknown numbers. You can return at any time and erase a specific number by following the same steps.

You can see how well the app is blocking your calls by looking at the call log at the bottom of the Call Filter option.


Some Mac Studio Owners Are Not Happy With A High

Earlier this year, Apple introduced a powerful new desktop computer called the Mac Studio. As you can imagine, it’s not a cheap product thanks to the specifications packed inside the relatively small case. But it looks like some owners of the high-end device are not too happy about a particular sound emanating from the box.

It’s also worth noting, as is typical for these types of hardware-specific issues, it’s not every single Mac Studio unit out there. Some owners have said they aren’t experiencing any unusual noises coming from their desktop unit at all. So while the number of impacted owners seems a bit high, it does not appear to be widespread. Then again, the number of owners of the Mac Studio equipped with either the M1 Max or M1 Ultra isn’t going to be as big as, say, the iPhone 13.

From the original report, here’s how forum poster “sunsetblvd” described the issue:

Hi, I’ve been following this thread and wanted to share my experience with the Mac Studio. I ordered the M1 Max version with 32 Core GPU and 64 GB Ram. After a week or two I started noticing a high pitched whining sound. The ordinary fan noise was audible but not disturbingly so. The high pitched sound was sth I couldn’t ignore. I have a relatively quite working space and the sound kept being distractive. I decided to take my studio to the apple store after contacting apple support and trying a bunch of software fixes like reinstalling the os. After a day of inspection the tech guy at the apple store claimed it was just normal fan noise within the expected range of noises and said they couldn’t do anything about it. Disappointed I called apple support again and they agreed to send me a replacement, which I am currently waiting for.

And here’s forums user “h43m“:

Just unboxed my Mac Studio with M1max (64GB RAM, 32 Cores GPU, 1TB SSD). There is definitely an annoying noise at exactly 2120hz (I compared it using a sinus wave generator). I am pretty sure this comes from the fan and is not a coil whine, since the frequency changes when the fan speed changes. Definitely not acceptable for a product with this price tag…

As pointed out by forum user “h43m”, the fact that this is such an expensive piece of equipment means that any defects are certainly going to stand out even more than they might on other less expensive options. Though, a high-pitched sound emanating from the fan at random times doesn’t sound all that great, and would probably be remarkably annoying no matter how expensive the product is.

The Mac Studio offers up two different heatsink designs depending on which processor option a potential customer goes with. So it’s certainly possible that the very design of these desktop units could stop the same sound from resonating out of the unit with the M1 Ultra. As it stands right now, Apple hasn’t responded about the complaints from Mac Studio owners experiencing the issue. And with other Mac Studio owners out there not running into the issue, it sounds like a fix might be possible if Apple wants to get around to offering that.

But only time will tell on that matter.

If you bought a Mac Studio with an M1 Max processor, are you running into any issues with a high-pitched sound coming from the fan?

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