Skype Lite Gets Brings Kannada Language Support, Skype for Linux Moves to Beta


Microsoft launched its Skype Lite app for low-end Android smartphones last month and with its latest update, the Redmond-based company has now added the support for Kannada language to the video-chatting application as well. Separately, the Linux version of the app has also moved from alpha to beta and has received some new features and bug fixes.

Talking first about the Lite version of the app, as it was developed in Hyderabad and was launched exclusively for India, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the company has decided to add support for a popular regional language – Kannada to the app. The latest update can be downloaded from Google Play.Skype Lite Gets Brings Kannada Language Support, Skype for Linux Moves to Beta
Moving to the Linux version of the app, which has now moved into beta phase with release of version 5.0, Microsoft has added several new features to Skype for Linux. With version 5.0, the company has added the ability to place calls to mobiles and landlines with Skype credit. “One-to-one video calls can be made from Linux to Skype users on the latest versions of Skype for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac,” the company said in its blog post.

Skype for Linux will now be able to view shared screens from other Skype desktop clients (Windows 7.33 and above, Mac 7.46 and above), the company said. With the update, the Unity launcher now displays the number of unread conversations, and online contacts in contact list will now include Away and Do Not Disturb statuses, Microsoft added. You can download the Skype for Linux beta version 5.0 from company’s website.


Mustard set to be India’s 1st GM food, gets regulator nod

India is one step away from commercial production of its first GM food crop with the central biotech regulator on Thursday granting clearance for the commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard that will now be considered for final approval by the Centre.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended that the environment ministry approve GM mustard. The decision on commercial cultivation of this transgenic variety of oil seed is now on environment minister Anil Dave’s table who can accept the recommendation or could await a Supreme Court ruling in a case challenging cultivation of GM mustard and open field trials of any transgenic crop.

Indications are that the minister could await the apex court’s order before taking his call, with the ministry ha ving informed the SC that the government will go ahead on GM mustard only after getting its nod. But the GEAC decision is significant as GM mustard has passed scientific evaluation and a recent Niti Aayog paper also batted for it despite reservations of saffron groups like Swadeshi Jagran Manch.Mustard set to be India's 1st GM food, gets regulator nod

In fact, even on Tuesday , the SJM issued a statement saying it is against commercial use of any genetically modified crops, including GM mustard, and will request the government not to allow commercial cultivation.The SJM has joined forces with activists and organisations opposed to GM crops. Activist Aruna Rodrigues had last year filed a pet ition in the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on commercial release of GM mustard crop. She urged the court to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of herbicide tolerant (HT) crops, including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent lines variants as recommended by the technical expert committee (TEC) report of the apex court.

The GM mustard, developed by a Delhi University institution, is only the second food crop cleared by the central regulator. The GEAC had earlier in 2010 cleared Bt brinjal but the decision was not accepted by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Currently, only Bt cotton is commercially cultivated in the country

Skype Gets a Facelift! How Will the Big Redesign Change Your Business?


Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has launched a new and revamped Skype featuring a host of new features that are obviously inspired by messaging rivals such as Snapchat and Messenger. That basically means that the Microsoft application now features a redesign that puts the camera only a swipe away as well as a Stories-like feature dubbed “Highlights.”

The ‘Next Generation of Skype’

Highlights allows you to record your day using video clips and photos. And you can then select if you want them seen by a select few or by all your connections. This feature most obviously gives business owners and marketers alike the option to feature and advertise their products to their Skype connections.

The new Skype also dresses up conversations with emojis, stickers, GIFs, along with @mentions, giving marketers a chance to showcase their personalities and even have some fun when promoting their products.

Skype is also leveraging the Bing search engine, Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant and third-party chat bots and add-ins from the likes of Upworthy, YouTube, Giphy and BigOven.How Will the 'Next Generation of Skype' Change Your Business?

Also described by the Skype Team as “the next generation of Skype,” the new design noticeably focuses on messaging. The messaging interface now includes chat, find and capture. Chat basically features the conversation view with options for picture additions and emoji. The Find section allows you to search through a conversation, find restaurants, images and even add-ins like Giphy. Capture allows you to capture pictures or videos with an option to add stickers and text, just as you would on Snapchat.

Skype isn’t losing its heart, though, as it still allows for video connectivity between contacts. That’s still there.

The rollout for the new Skype will be gradual as it will first hit Android devices and iOS devices will follow. Windows and Mac versions will be released over the next few months. The Skype Team didn’t say anything about potential changes to Skype for Business.


Illinois’ new education accountability plan gets a mixed grade in independent review


Of the states that turned in their homework early to the U.S. Department of Education for how they’ll roll out a major overhaul in education policy, Illinois’ adaptation got a mixed grade in an independent review.

Bellwether Education, a research and policy think tank, read through 17 state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act submitted in April and scored them in a report published this week. It found Illinois’ plan has certain aspects to be commended, but is also light on specifics in several other parts.

To be fair to Illinois, several states’ plans were criticized for being vague.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, is the first major federal education policy overhaul since the early 2000s and returns large amounts of school accountability authority back to states. Thus, state plans vary widely, with some being more creative than others.

Illinois’ plan gives more weight to academic growth, which means schools will get more credit for helping students improve year-over-year rather than point-in-time scores on exams. Focusing more on growth is good, according Chad Alderman, who oversaw the review, but in moderation.

“That could be fine, except that Illinois didn’t give much detail around the growth model it’ll be using. The specific calculation was sort of vague and undefined,” he said.

Bellwether commended the Illinois State Board of Education for putting emphasis on making sure high school graduates are college ready. ISBE wants 90 percent of students to be college or career ready by 2032.Schoolbus

No Child Left Behind was often dinged by opponents for having unrealistic goals, namely that 100 percent of students meet proficiency on standardized tests. Illinois’ ESSA plan only lowers that goal to 90 percent for several testing markers, such as fifth grade math scores, but stretches out the timeline for meeting that mark to 2032.

“I think it’s better to air on the side of more ambitious than less so,” said Dale Chu, who helped write Illinois’ review. He’s vice president for policy at America Succeeds, a nonprofit that advocates for career training in schools.

One other area of concern the review points out is that state education leaders spent a lot of time discussing a plan to turn around struggling or failing schools, but don’t offer many details on just what it will do to turn them around.

“If a school that’s low-performing doesn’t really change much, it’s not going to change its outcomes very much either,” Alderman said.

“Illinois’ ESSA State Plan is an evolving document,” department spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said in a statement. “ISBE will continue to update the plan as we work with schools and districts to implement a more equitable accountability system.”

Illinois was given positive marks for expanding beyond just reading and math as indicators of knowledge. It’s adding science and arts, as well.

Missouri is among the majority of states that are waiting until September to send their proposals to Washington. It released a draft of its plan June 13 that is currently open for public comment.

Missouri education officials decided to take a more minimalist approach to ESSA. Its plan meets the bare requirements to still receive federal funds that are tied to the law. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is instead putting its focus into revising its own academic performance rating system, called the Missouri School Improvement Plan.