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April 2018

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Audio and video calls can be recorded on Skype through a third-party app, Pamela

Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Skype comes equipped with several handy features, but it does lack a few important ones. Even though Skype has been available for quite some time, it lacks a video and call recording feature. Fortunately, there is a way to record audio and video calls, and here’s how you can make it possible.

Download the latest version of Skype. Download Pamela for Skype and install it. Once Pamela is installed, access Skype. Skype will detect Pamela and will provide instructions on how third-party applications work. Whenever an audio or video call is made or received, Pamela will give you the option to record.

Pamela comes with several options like pause, start and end recordings. Additionally, it comes with several handy tools and features like emoticons but in the form of audio messages. Users can also record their own voice, and can do so through the ‘Custom Recording’ icon that is available on Pamela’s menu bar.

Now that you have added a useful third party app to Skype, you can enhance your experience even more. Skype already has an impressive set of tools, but Pamela can make meetings, video conferences and conversations with friends a lot more interesting and fun than they could have been before. Moreover, there are several other third-party apps out there that can enhance Skype’s existing capabilities and introduce new features as well, such as SkyHistory, Clownfish and On Air.

Google’s AI software has created a 90-second piano melody on its own.

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) artificial intelligence software ‘Magenta’ has created and released a 90-second piano melody on its own through a trained neural network. This answers the question positively that neural networks can independently compose. The company is on the journey to perfect robotic assistance for users and plans to implement its artificial intelligence software to independently carry out functions.

Google initiated Project Magenta to figure out a way for artificial intelligence to be creative itself without human input. In recent years, many companies have attempted to create independent artificial intelligence systems but rarely succeeded. Magenta imports musical data from its users MIDI files onto its TensorFLow, which learns from the data and creates new and independent ‘musical chills.’ Music is the first stage of Project Magenta; later there are plans in place for the company to test its AI software in the fields of image and video creation.

Google’s Project Magenta has two clear goals in place. Primarily, Project Magenta was designed to research and develop ways to progress the state of art and creativity in artificial intelligence, enabling it to generate art and music on its own. It evolves and develops algorithms in order to learn independently and develop artistic and musical content along the process. The second goal of the project is to help develop a society of like-minded people, who can further strengthen the community through sharing their knowledge of machine learning models. Over time, the company anticipates that its AI program will further evolve and assist musical composers to generate musical content.

The AI program is still learning to walk before it can run, so the musical content created by the system is not great, but it is a start. In the near future, actual musical composers and songwriters will keep a dominant position in the musical industry, as artificial intelligence software is not yet ready to take over their mantle. Google has the vision and system in place but Project Magenta is just the first piece of a very complicated and large jigsaw puzzle that will paint a clearer picture to whether artificial intelligence can actually replicate human creativity or even better it.

Morgan Stanley has an Overweight rating and $865 price target on Alphabet’s stock

Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) stock jumped by more than 1% in the market today after getting crushed alongside other US equities in the past two trading sessions; this was amid the Sterling slump, resulting from the Brexit scenario. The stock has started to show signs of recovery, and it appears that the bullish sentiment may be carried forward following positive comments made by investment firm Morgan Stanley in an updated research note sent out to clients and investors.

Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak considers the recent sell-off of Alphabet’s stock the result of overreaction on the part of investors. The analyst added that Google’s advertising products at present generate significantly higher return on investment compared to the rest of the industry. He is of the opinion that Google’s strength in advertisiement would continue to see great improvement, as the company advances in innovation and leverage on its advertising offerings including customer match, expanded text ads and maps to name a few.

The analyst slightly slashed his Alphabet website revenue estimate for the current year by 1%. The analyst also made the revision in view of a Merkle-RKG conference, according to which paid search spend would witness deceleration.

However, that being said, the analyst’s estimates still surpass average street predictions by over 3% for the second quarter earnings. The analyst is also seeing 20% growth in Google’s ad business. Morgan Stanley currently has an overweight rating and $865 price target on Alphabet stock.

Additionally, investment firm Height Securities also weighed in positively over Alphabet a few days ago. The firm believes that with the Brexit, in place the relevance of the EU’s ongoing probe against Google, would go down significantly.

Gmail is not the only email service currently under attack by the phishing technique

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Gmail is under attack by another phishing attack that compromises the user’s account by means of an email attachment in a message. According to the CEO of WordPress security plugin WordFence, Mark Maunder, users could receive an email from a known contact containing the affected attachment.

As the email is received from a trusted contact, users are tricked not only into opening the email, but also into clicking the affected attachment. Once the user clicks on the attachment, another window is opened that displays a Gmail login page. The user is required to re-enter his Gmail account credentials, and that information is then tapped and stolen by the phishing attack.

The new pop-up window asking for credentials is not in fact an original webpage, but a cleverly-thought duplicate page designed to steal your email account credentials. If you sign into the fake service login page, the phishing attempt is successful and the attacker would have complete access to your email account, including all your sent and received emails, as well as any Gchat interactions or contacts.

Thankfully, there is a simply way to spot such a phishing attempt webpage that looks like a Gmail login page: the user just has to look at the end of the web URL and find if a large chunk of text appears at the end.

If you spot this, don’t click on the attachments, and even if you do by mistake, then don’t sign into the new webpage that pops up asking for the credentials to an account you’ve already logged into. As an extra measure of security, we advise that users sign-up for two-factor authentication on Gmail, and practice changing the passwords on email accounts every few months.

The biotech has to look for options in order to maintain its position in the pharmaceutical industry

Hepatitis C Virus franchise, which is the pillar of Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) is now showing decline in its revenue generation, which is affecting the overall growth of the company, but the HIV segment of the company is making its way towards success slowly and steadily and will patch up the revenue gap in the near future. According to RBC Capital, the biotech has to split the HCV and HIV segments in order to give full emphasis on the segments individually, which may result in the spiking of the shares up to 40%. The boost is the utmost requirement of the company at the moment because it has lost 22% till date. 

By virtue of the split, the management will have the opportunity to emphasize separately on HCV and HIV segments and they will not be affected by revenue generation of each other. So far it is the best option for the company in order to be in the main arena of the biotech industry and to concentrate on growth related drugs.

The HCV franchise includes Sovaldi and Harvoni, both of which are indicated for the management and treatment of hepatitis C. Both the drugs had clinched $19.1 billion in financial year 2015 (FY15) contributing maximum revenue of the company. 

The segment has suffered setback due to its high price as Sovaldi’s cost for 12-weeks is $84,000 and Harvoni costs $94,500. Due to the severe criticism from the insurers, the company has to give huge discounts to the pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) in order to make the drug affordable for majority of the patients. The rebates resulted in the revenue decline and shrinkage of patient pool also played a vital role in the revenue slump. The revenue is expected to decline even further due to competitors. 

Leerink, in latest research report, narrated: “In the second quarter total HCV DAA revenues were $4.8bn, showing a 20% decline YoY and a 7% drop QoQ. This is the second quarter in a row where total market sales have declined; in Q1 2016, total market revenues of $5.9bn were down sequentially 12%. In the second quarter, revenues fell significantly in geographies outside the US, declining 16% in comparison to relatively flat US sales.”

On the other hand, the HIV portfolio is moving in the right direction and meeting the expected targets with the increase in the number of prescriptions. The company’s new launches Genvoya, Odefsey, and Descovy are covering up the old HIV drugs belonging to tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) category. 

The new portfolio HIV drugs such as Genvoya hit $302 million in 2QFY16 showing 91% growth spike compared to the same time period, whereas Descovy and Odefsey clinched $119 million in the same time frame.

Global pharmaceutical business largely remains out of threat as the most selling Namenda version is expected to remain branded for a long time

Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE:AGN) recently released statement regarding its ongoing patent litigation related to Namenda XR, also known as memantine hydrochloride. The issue was especially focused on the FDA final ANDA approval received by Lupin Limited for making extended release capsules as the generic version. In its statement, the drug maker stated that it has reached a settlement agreement with the licensors whereby licensed entry date for the generic version is supposed to be in FY20 given as January 31 and nothing earlier to this. Following the announcement, it has also settled with all the defendants, including Mumbai-based business.

Moreover, it stated that one of the licensed patent families covering the drug was held invalid by Delaware court. Thus, the decision is still under plea largely to the US Court of Appeals. The business is said to believe that its arguments are quite praiseworthy and substantial; therefore, it might defend the validity of its patents. Parsippany-Troy Hills-based organization stated, “If the district court ruling on these patents is upheld, there is a possibility that generic entry for Namenda XR could occur following an adverse Court of Appeals decision.”

Evercore ISI observed that the investors were quite confused regarding the last bit, whereby it stated that there was possibility of Namenda XR generic entry resulting in unfavorable decision by the Court of Appeals. However, the firm and its analyst Umer Raffat stated that this was not a big deal. He backed this by stating that the decision of the court would be focused on patent family relating to FY26. Thus, it would not impact the $94.15 billion enterprise much as the ruling of the FY29 patent went in its favor.

Mr. Raffat further explained that the FY29 patents revolved around high dosage of Namenda XR specifically pertaining to 28mg, which represents about 70% of the total volume of the drug in the market. Thus, even if FF26 ruling is not in its favor, the firm only sees generics for 7, 14, and 21mg versions, whereas 28mg version is largely expected to remain branded. On the other hand, consensus holds that the patent would erode before that and the company might be under threat of losing Namenda branding by FY20. Despite this, its investors remain bullish on the explanation given by Evercore ISI. Thus, analysts at FactSet Fundamentals have given Allergan 17 Buy, two Overweight, and three Hold rankings. It has an average target price of $303.61. This PT shows high upside potential of up to 31.55% over the last closing price.

Tesla takes delivery of large quantities of 18650 battery cells from Samsung SDI to diversify its battery sourcing

While Panasonic Corporation remains Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) long-term battery partner, the electric vehicle (EV) maker has been looking for other battery suppliers to diversify risk and ensure it is not solely dependent on a single supplier.

Last year, Tesla revealed it used LG Chem battery cells fpr Roadster 3.0 update. Now it has started taking shipment of large quantities of cells from another South Korean batterymaker, Samsung SDI, according to Electrek.

A bill of landing between the two companies at the Port of Oakland reveals that Tesla took shipment of more than 120 tons of 18650 battery cells from Samsung SDI, the same cells it takes from Panasonic. The shipment reached the port on April 19. The company could use the cells to power Tesla Energy products – Powerwall and Powerpack.

The partnership between Tesla and Samsung SDI was initially speculated last year, when the automaker confirmed that it has uses the Roadster’s battery pack update is power with LG Chem’s cells.

Interestingly, Tesla had been in talks with SK Innovation, Samsung SDI, and LG Chem to diversify its “battery-sourcing channels,” according to South Korean publications. In Its SEC filings, the company has been citing since last year that it is using battery cells various suppliers:

“We believe our ability to change battery cell chemistries and vendors while retaining our existing investments in software, electronics, manufacturing equipment, testing and vehicle packaging, will enable us to quickly deploy various battery cells into our products and leverage the latest advancements in battery cell technology.”

During Tesla’s 2016 Annual Meeting, CEO Elon Musk said that the company could triple Gigafactory’s production capacity to 150 GWh of battery packs and 105 GWh of cells. This is more than three times the existing total lithium-ion battery production in the world.

The different in cells, between 15 GWh and 45GWh depending on output, would be brought in from other sources; either Panasonic’s other battery plants or other suppliers. Mr. Musk also revealed during the conference that Tesla is considering building bigger cells (20700 format instead 18650) at the $5 billion battery plant.

The more expensive sibling of the iPad Air has an unpardonable problem due to which Apple is not able to sustain its share in the tablet market

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has a problem when it comes to its highest-end tablet, the iPad Pro, which is shared by both the iPad Pro 12.9 inch as well as 9.7 inch variants equally. The $526 billion company has not been able to sell these to consumers simply because it does not see an actual need for the product even though longer product life cycles are kicking in for tablets. There is a reason after all that the UK has more-readily adapted to Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Pro 4: the iPad offers far too little for its price.

One could argue frankly that the iPad provides one of the best user experiences to date and I would concur. It is another story, however, as to whether or not the iPad Pro is actually suitable to carry the latter half of its moniker. Even though the iPad Pro comfortably touts the power of its A9X Processor, the potential it has with its Apple Pencil, and its high-end iOS platform, it primarily fails to provide the consumer – casual or business – an actual reason to purchase the device.

The iPad Pro isn’t marketed as a complete desktop replacement for obvious reasons, as the iOS, for all its innovations, is an extremely restricted ecosystem. The iPad Pro is also restricted as previous iterations clearly showcase that. The iPad Pro has no selling points for power users and while it might be amazing for enthusiasts and casual users, the latter are already well-covered with the current-gen iPad Air and iPad Mini.

The Apple iPad Pro does appeal to certain niches of course. It does allow budding artists a way out. It does offer an alternative for consumers who want entertainment on the go, and it certainly does pack in powerful hardware to run everything on the iOS smoothly. But it doesn’t appeal to the masses, just like the Apple Watch fails to sell itself for one very simple reason: Apple doesn’t bring anything to the table that the competition cannot match. More importantly, it does an incredibly poor job of convincing buyers that this is a must-have gadget in 2016, when most smartphones resemble small tablets at the very least. The Apple Watch also suffers the same problem: it has not defined tangible use for its prospective buyers.

In a market teaming with alternatives, and having an arguably better business solution for consumers in such as the Surface Pro 4 as well as like-minded alternatives from other manufacturers, the iPad Pro’s price isn’t the problem for consumers. The Surface Pro 4 costs far more, starting from the base model, but tends to deliver better value to the end user.

The problem for the iPad Pro is that there is nothing that it offers that its competition does not already have. There are relatively no killer apps, hardware features, or even significantly superior hardware compared to various android-based tablets in the market. The Apple iPad Pro is designed for a limited market and cannot hope to sell the same amount of units its predecessors did simply because while Apple has been innovating at the same pace, the competition has finally caught up.

The weekend remains crucial as the commodities’ future outlook is dependent on it

While a lot of emphasize is being done on the upcoming developments related to oil, there is a very thin chance that we may get to see something favorable ahead. The recent supply cut pact by OPEC members brought a ray of hope for oil investors, while The Country Caller remained cautious about its future. Our doubts are now justified as the recent developments suggest that Russia and Oman are the only two non OPEC countries that will agree to the supply cut recommended by the organization.

While that may seem to pull back the prices of the commodity in near term, the impacts are visible currently as oil trades below $51 as on 4:33 AM EDT. This will raise red flags for major oil producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp (NYSE:CHK) and Freeport Mc-MoRan (NYSE:FCX) in the future. However, Oman may prove to be helpful to the organizations objectives, as it is the biggest non OPEC oil producer in the Middle East, while it is the 21st biggest oil producer in the world.

That being said, TCC looks at the importance of oil exports for the middle east country. Oil and Natural gas account for 51% of the country’s GDP while its oil exports witnessed a downtrend in the first half of this year. However, a production cut may not be feasible in economic terms as the GDP may suffer as a result. Other oil based economies such as Nigeria have already stepped back from the supply-cut suggestions recently.

Moreover, an increasing rig count in the US is another hazard for the commodity’s future, as US is currently the third largest oil producer in the world. Whatever the case may be, the outlook of the commodity does not look bright in the coming times as supply side will remain strong until 2018. The weekend remains crucial as the commodities future outlook is dependent on it.

Twitter is said to finalize the acquisition by the end of this month, Alphabet and Apple are considered as major players

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) shares closed around 6% higher yesterday at $24.87, as compared to the previous day’s close. Today, the stock has headed south, down about 16% at $20.98 during the pre-market trading hours.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this week reported that the struggling social media company will start fielding the bids during this week. As per the report, Salesfore.com, Inc. (CRM), the parent company of Google, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), California’s tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the media titan Walt Disney Co (DIS) could submit the offers.

Investment firm Susquehanna’s research analyst Shyam Patil on Tuesday released a note which weighed-in several takeover offers for Twitter and also evaluated what the social media giant is worth now. The analyst calculated a takeout price between the range of $17 to $26, and $24.87 is the price at which the stock closed yesterday. This indicates that Mr. Patel’s takeout price is a price without any premium attached, over and above the market price. Moreover, the analyst is of the opinion that most of the upside potential has most possibly been captured.

Susquehanna’s analyst believes that the company should put itself on sale and weigh-in most suitable bids, because if it consumes more time, it could result in share losses to Snapchat. He said: “Twitter’s fundamentals have deteriorated significantly since going public, as user growth (or lack thereof), engagement, and monetization have all been challenged.”

On the other hand, analyst Bob Peck at SunTrust also released a research note yesterday, reiterating his Neutral rating on Twitter stock. Mr. Peck further explained that the acquisition premium remains in the stock. Additionally, in the report published in The Wall Street Journal, it points towards Marc Benioff’s comments on Twitter as being “an unpolished jewel” and that “Data is the currency in software’s new world order.”

According to the sources who are close to the situation, Google currently does not look much interested in buying out Twitterr. Similarly, the sources Recode has spoken to also stated that Tim Cook’s company is not yet interested and should have “low expectations” of getting an offer from Apple.