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Microsoft is Building a Programming Language for Quantum Computers

At the Ignite Conference, Microsoft announced that later this year it will release a new quantum computing programming language that is very tightly integrated with Visual Studio. The language is designed to work on both a quantum simulator and a quantum computer.

Microsoft has been working on quantum computers for decades. The company hired Michael Freedman some 20 years ago to continue his work on topology. Microsoft's quantum computing work is based on the work Freedman has done over years. Eventually Microsoft has started to see some results of the work it has been doing for ages.

Krysta Svore, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, said that a programming language that can run in a simulated environment will help people understand how to harness quantum power for different types of problems.

One big difference between the work Microsoft is doing on quantum computing and the rest of the industry is that the company doesn't want to build a quantum computer for display in labs. Microsoft wants to deliver a full-fledged topological quantum computing system.

According to Allison Linn, senior writer, editor, and multimedia storyteller at Microsoft, it's a system that includes everything from hardware capable of consistently running calculations that require tens of thousands of logical qubits to a complete software stack that can program and control the quantum computer.

FDA Recalls Nearly Half a Million Pacemakers Over Security Concerns

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning calling for a voluntary recall of more than 465,000 pacemakers implanted in patients.

In a review, the FDA found potential vulnerabilities in Abbott's (formerly St. Jude Medical's) RF-enabled implantable cardiac pacemakers. Affected devices include Accent, Anthem, Accent MRI, Accent ST, Assurity, and Allure.

If the vulnerabilities were exploited, an attacker could gain access to a patient's device and then hurt the patient by either depleting the battery or triggering fatal pacing.

What's the fix? A firmware update patches these vulnerabilities; however, considering the nature of the device, you can't update it at home. The FDA said that the update requires an in-person patient visit with a health care provider.

The good news is that they don't have to operate on the patient to take out the device. The patch will take place wirelessly in about three minutes.

"During this time, the device will operate in backup mode (pacing at 67 beats per minute), and essential, life-sustaining features will remain available. At the completion of the update, the device will return to its pre-update settings," the FDA said in its advisory.

The firmware update was made available on August 29, 2017. All Pacemakers manufactured after this date will have the patch preloaded in the device and will not need the update.

If you, your friends, or family members have a pacemaker implant, please check the advisory to stay safe.

Microsoft Brings Azure App Service to Linux

Microsoft has announced the general availability of Azure App Service on Linux and Web App for Containers. The service allows developers to build, deploy, and scale applications without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. Azure Web Apps were initially announced in 2015, without support for Linux.

"With this, we now offer built-in image support for ASP.NET Core, Node.js, PHP, and Ruby on Linux, as well as provide developers an option to bring their own Docker formatted container images supporting Java, Python, Go, and more," said Nir Mashkowski, partner director of Program Management, Azure App Service.

All developers need to do is select the stack that apps need and the application environment will be set up automatically. Microsoft will handle the maintenance for you, including Linux OS patching and load balancing.

The service comes with built-in continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) capabilities and scalability. Developers can easily integrate with GitHub, Docker Hub, or Azure Container Registry and then achieve continuous deployment with Jenkins, VSTS, or Maven.

Deployment slots enable developers to deploy to targeted environments and easily move from staging to production. You can easily schedule tests and, if something doesn't work as expected, roll back to previous working versions with zero downtime. Developers can easily scale their applications, either on demand or automatically.

If developers want more control over the application, they can SSH into the application and get complete remote access.

In addition to Web Apps for Linux, developers can use the service to deploy containerized applications to production very quickly.

"Simply push your container image to Docker Hub, Azure Container Registry, or your private registry, and Web App for Containers will deploy your containerized application and provision required infrastructure," said Mashkowski.

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