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API

Google and Apple release contact tracing app API

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Google and Apple delivered their contact tracing app API to public health agencies across the globe. The apps would allow Bluetooth pings between smartphones within six and a half feet of each other. And in theory, these apps would notify you if you had been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. In practice, public health authorities will have to encourage around 60% people in a given state or country to download the app in order to meaningfully conduct contact tracing/exposure notification. Computerworld executive editor Ken Mingis and PCWorld/Macworld’s Michael Simon join Juliet to discuss Apple and Google’s unprecedented collaboration, privacy concerns and how state and federal governments will utilize the API. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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The tech IT professionals love: 5G, cloud management, Graph API

Looking at the enterprise technology landscape, three areas have industry experts and watchers excited: 5G, cloud management and Graph API.

Much of this technology is just getting started. But participants in a recent IDG TECH(Talk) Twitter chat said they love what they’ve seen of it so far – and look forward to how this trio can improve the enterprise.

5G networks

Promising, interesting, game-changing – that’s how IT experts describe 5G. Despite wireless providers’ claims, 5G is not ubiquitous, and it won’t be anytime soon. It’s going to take time to get the infrastructure in place and have devices that can take advantage of it. And some, including Wayne Anderson, security and compliance architect at Microsoft, say the high speed and reliability advantages are still to be proven.

Still, the tests and use cases have IT professionals excited. The biggest appeal?  Increased speed. 5G networks have potential download speeds of 20Gbps, which is not only faster than 4G but faster than cable internet connections, according to Josh Fruhlinger in What is 5G? How is it better than 4G? Plus, 5G significantly reduces network latency, which is critical for Internet of Things uses such as telemedicine and autonomous vehicles that require fast transmissions.

“5G is looking extremely promising: better coverage, less energy consumption, low latency, high data rates. This is a game-changer that will take us to new levels,” said Scott Schober, CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems, during the Twitter chat. “We are working with a lot of the carriers and teams actively testing, and they are making some great progress. There is enough money and marketing behind this, so they have to make it happen sooner than later.”

5G installations are starting to appear, such as Whirlpool’s private 5G network, provided by AT&T for its fleet of driverless vehicles. The company is in the process of rolling out the 5G network across the plant, and hopes to make 80% of its 100 vehicles driverless. Other opportunities for the company include applications for the shop floor and emergency management.

Cloud management

As enterprises become more and more “cloudy,” through public, private and multi-cloud computing, cloud management tools are rising to the occasion, helping organizations manage and integrate their various implementations.

“I’m really excited by what I’m seeing from cloud management platform (CMP) market. The toolsets and UX [user experience] are continuously improving – especially the integration options,” said technology writer Will Kelly during the Twitter chat.

Anderson agreed, saying, that those improvements are particularly important because “most companies are not only multi-cloud but HIGHLY multi-cloud with tens of ‘approved’ vendors and often hundreds of ‘actually accessed’ cloud endpoints.”

Indeed, as enterprises add more and more cloud activities onto their cloud platforms, managing them all can be overwhelming, because each cloud provider has its own toolset, rules and user requirements, wrote John Edwards in How to get a handle on multicloud management.

More than a dozen vendors have “multicloud management tools designed to bring order, control and insight to data centers juggling multiple cloud services,” including IBM, BMC Software, Cisco, Dell Technologies Cloud, DXC Technology, VMware, HyperGrid, and Divvycloud, Edwards noted.

Finding the right tool can be challenging, so organizations must look for one that delivers universal monitoring and controls across all clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Alibaba Cloud.

“A tool should also be capable of using automation to remediate cloud and container misconfigurations and policy violations, allowing enterprises to achieve continuous security and compliance and realize the benefits of cloud and containers,” Steve MacIntyre, vice president and shared security services lead at Fidelity Investments, told Edwards.

An interesting development in this field is how vendors who provide cloud services are starting to support each other. For example, Google is partnering with IBM to offer “Power Systems as a service” on GCP.

“It’s also interesting to see the CSPs [cloud service providers] starting to recognize the value in the space and begin extending to each other,” Anderson said during the Twitter chat. “AWS is doing some policy management and object instantiation in Azure and vice versa.”

Organizations must also keep cloud security in mind, which is where cloud access security brokers (CASB) come in. “Cloud access security brokers are great for cloud computing, quite helpful,” said Ben Rothke, an information security specialist at Tapad, during the Twitter chat.

CASBs help organizations manage authentication and encryption across cloud and on-premise systems. They “help give organizations much deeper visibility into cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) usage — down to individual file names and data elements, wrote David Strom in What is a CASB? What you need to know before you buy.

Graph API and machine learning

Among software engineers and security professionals, Graph API and graph theory combined with machine learning has them most excited. A Zapier article defines Graph API as:

A simplistic definition of a Graph API is an API that models the data in terms of nodes and edges (objects and relationships) and allows the client to interact with multiple nodes in a single request. …

In a graph API, the client formulates the call so data from all three resources is pulled in at once. The client is also able to specify the fields it cares about, giving more control over the response schema.

Graph APIs available include Facebook Graph API and Microsoft Graph API. The specification powering them is GraphQL. The technology is being applied to security (identity and access), web applications, reservation systems, and team management.

Some examples: Artsy uses GraphQL to improve its web page load speeds by reducing payload sizes and the number of requests. Major League Soccer uses GraphQL and Koa to make web pages that require lots of diverse data sources more efficient. Skyhigh for Office 365 uses Microsoft Graph to help customers such as Aetna enforce security, compliance, and governance policies in Office 365 deployments.

“I work for Microsoft, but that being said, GraphAPI tied to ML and massive data sets are amazing,” Anderson said. “Even knowing the ‘magic’ in the industry and being deep in this space, it’s moving so fast some days I still feel it’s like alchemy.”

———–

Tech we love — Live broadcast Feb. 13, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. ET

In time for Valentine’s Day, we’re talking about technology we love. AI, 5G, edge computing, collaboration tools – all have people’s hearts racing. Join us for this LinkedIn Live event when Michael Simon, writer for Macworld and PCWorld, and IDG TECH(Talk) hosts Ken Mingis and Juliet Beauchamp discuss the technology they love most these days.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Take Off With aviationstack’s Real-Time Flight API

In our increasingly global world, people travel by airplane…a lot. With rapid turnaround times, unpredictable weather, and unexpected delays, airlines both domestic and international frequently adjust their flight schedules to keep us moving.

If you’re building a website, a progressive web app, or even a native app that involves any kind of travel, the last thing you want to do is give users out-of-date information, and when it comes to air travel, information is out of date almost as soon as its published. Turbulence en route to Bangkok, can have a devastating impact on queues in Denver. A reliable flight tracker should be one of the first must-haves on your feature list.

aviationstack is an incredibly powerful API that delivers comprehensive data about flights worldwide

Of course, any flight tracker is only as useful as the data that powers it. The minimum standard is access to a dataset that covers the information you need, reports data accurately, and boasts a solid uptime.

For those reasons, if you’re looking to introduce flight data to your site, then one of the best ways to go about it, is integrating with aviationstack.

aviationstack is an incredibly powerful API that delivers comprehensive data about flights worldwide, in a simple-to-use format.

 

Why Track Flights

Let’s say you’re building a ride-booking app, you absolutely want to be able to track flights in order to minimise disruption, coordinate with drivers right across the fleet, and maximise your profits. Or imagine you’re building a website for a train operator, wouldn’t it be nice to let passengers know whether they’re going to make their connecting flight. And of course, if you’re operating an airline it’s common sense that your users will benefit from this kind of rich data.

But companies that service airline customers aren’t the only ones that benefit from tracking airplanes. If you’re running any kind of business that people may travel to, whether that’s a hotel in Madrid, or a tech conference in Las Vegas, showing people their flight options is one way to remove friction when potential attendees are deciding whether to purchase a ticket.

Sometimes, people need to travel at a moment’s notice, and on unfamiliar routes. It may be that there are unexpectedly great waves off the coast of Big Sur; it might be that a bird, previously thought extinct has been spotted in Iceland; it might be that you’ve accidentally left your son Kevin at home in Chicago while you flew to Paris for the holidays. Whatever niche-interest your site or app caters to, if travel’s involved, then a flight tracker is essential.

 

Why Use aviationstack

If you’re comparing flight data APIs, then here are a few of the reasons we think aviationstack deserves to be at the top of your shortlist:

more than 13,000 airlines are represented across over 10,000 airports

Firstly, aviationstack’s data is amongst the most extensive available, because it’s drawn from high-quality sources. Using aviationstack you can easily look up flights across airports, cities, and countries; you can check historical flight data; you can even check live flights in real-time. The API covers over 9,000 cities in more than 250 countries; over 19,000 airplanes are divided into more than 300 different types; more than 13,000 airlines are represented across over 10,000 airports. For comprehensive data, aviationstack is hard to beat.

Secondly, aviationstack’s data is accurate to the minute. Many of us get a little anxious when we travel, not least when we’re rushing to catch a connecting flight. When your app or site is providing advice and information to potentially fraught customers, accurate information is invaluable, and can often transform a stressful situation into an exceptional user experience that wins you a loyal customer for life.

Thirdly, aviationstack is built on an incredibly reliable infrastructure. It’s owned and operated by apilayer, one of the best-known names in APIs, which means you can be confident that the API won’t buckle under the pressure. The API is incredibly simple to access, with code examples provided in PHP, Python, Go, Ruby, Nodejs, and even jQuery. It’s so simple that even novice front-end coders will get it up and running quickly, without any difficulty.

Last, and by no means least, aviationstack offers an entirely free plan that grants you 500 requests to the API per month, with full aviation, and real-time flight data. Which means you can try it out with zero risk. Once you’re happy, subscriptions start from just $39.99 (billed annually) and you can cancel at any time.

Head over to aviationstack.com today to see the API in action, and claim your free API key.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behald of aviationstack –]



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Draw Useful Data From Search Results With the Serpstack API

When most people think about searching the web, they focus on themselves. We know what we’re looking for and, generally, we know how to find it. Figuring out how other people search the web is much more difficult, especially since websites focus so much on search engine rankings these days.

Fortunately, figuring out what people see when they search the web is much easier than asking hundreds of people if they remember what they clicked on. Thanks to serpstack, you can efficiently find out how search results work across various search engines with just a little code.

What Serpstack Does

Before we get into how serpstack works, let’s take a look at what the name means. SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page. This means what you see when you search for a given term via a search engine like Google.

What serpstack does, in a nutshell, is search for a query, then scrape the results page. Using the serpstack API, you can then use that data in any number of ways. This could mean simply displaying the results, or parsing them and using other APIs or libraries to visualize them, for example.

The company behind serpstack has plenty of experience providing easy-to-use APIs for businesses and developers. We’ve previously looked at weatherstack, an API from the same company that lets you easily add weather data to your website.

Why You Might Need a SERP API

The serpstack main page

Though it varies based on which search engine you use, search is often highly personalized these days. Google, for example, alters its listings based on parameters including what you’ve looked up before. This can make it difficult to infer what other people see for a given search query.

This is exactly where a SERP API can come in handy. You can search for a term across multiple search engines, making it appear as if the request comes from different devices or even countries. SERP APIs like serpstack are also handy because a site’s ranking on a results page is anything but static. These can and do change often.

One way you could use this is to monitor your own websites. Other tools will show your ranking, but serpstack can also show you exactly what is above or below your site. After measuring the results for a period of time, you can see how your competition is trending—either above or below your site.

This type of API is also incredibly useful if you’re working on a marketing campaign. Seeing how sites rank based on given terms is something you can track with other tools, but serpstack can also let you see what these sites are showing to draw potential visitors in.

Pricing for Serpstack

Getting started with serpstack is free, but has some limitations. You’re limited to 100 requests per month, which are rate limited. You also don’t get HTTPS support. Basically, this means that the free version is meant for experimenting with the API so you can get used to how it works.

Upgrading to the Basic tier removes the rate limits, adds HTTPS encryption, and enables results in CSV format in addition to the JSON you get on the free tier. Instead of 100 searches per month, you get a much larger 5,000 searches per month. This costs $29.99 per month, or $23.99 per month if you pay yearly.

Pricing for serpstack

If you’re using serpstack for a larger business, you’ll likely want to opt for the Business or Business Pro pricing plans. These offer the same features as the Basic plan, but allow for more searches per month.

The Business plan gets you 20,000 searches and costs $99.99 per month, or $79.99 per month if you pay yearly. Meanwhile, the Business Pro plan costs either $199.99 monthly or $159.99 per month if paid annually, and gets you 50,000 searches per month.

Getting Started With the API

Getting up and running with the serpstack API is a simple process. Starting requires an API key. To get this, head to the serpstack website and sign up for the plan you prefer.

Once you’ve completed the signup process, you’ll get your API key. From here, you can check the quick start guide or the documentation.

The serpstack dashboard

You only need two pieces of information to start putting the serpstack API to use. The first is your API key, which you just retrieved. The second is the term you want to search for. You simply add these to the API endpoint, which is https://api.serpstack.com/search.

It’s possible to do this all in your web browser, if you want. Simply construct a URL like the following and enter it in the address bar:

https://api.serpstack.com/search?access_key=YOUR_API_KEY&query=searchterm

The results will be hard to read, as they show up in the JSON format, which isn’t easy on the eyes. To make this a little easier, you can use a browser extension like JSON Viewer for Chrome or JSONView for Firefox.

Of course, to actually use this data, you’ll probably want to integrate the API into your code. The serpstack documentation has examples for a wide variety of languages including Python, JavaScript, Ruby, and server-side JavaScript using Node.js.

Accessing the serpstack API with python

Diving Deeper Into the Data

By default, serpstack uses Google for its results, but you’re not limited to that one search engine. To change the search engine serpstack uses, simply attach the engine parameter to the URL, followed by the engine you want to use.

The serpstack API lets you change where the search engine thinks you are, as well as what device is performing the search. Various parameters allow you to change the country you appear in, your language, and whether you’re browsing from a computer or mobile device.

Various serpstack parameters

You can even change the type of search the serpstack API performs. Other parameters allow you to search Google News or just Google Images, for example. The serpstack documentation has a full list of the various parameters you can use to narrow down your results.

Try Serpstack for Free

As mentioned earlier, the initial tier of serpstack is entirely free. While you don’t get every feature, it includes more than enough to help introduce you to the API. This lets you see not just how the API works, but whether it integrates well with other tools or APIs you use.

While serpstack covers everything you need to know about search engine results pages, it won’t scrape other sites. If you need this functionality, the team behind serpstack have another tool, aptly named scrapestack. We’ve taken a look at what you can do with scrapestack


The Scrapestack API Makes It Easy to Scrape Websites for Data




The Scrapestack API Makes It Easy to Scrape Websites for Data

Looking for a powerful and affordable web scraper? The scrapestack API is free to start and offers many handy tools.
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if you’re interested.



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The Scrapestack API Makes It Easy to Scrape Websites for Data

Finding it time-consuming to visit all your favorite websites and read everything that matters? One solution is a web scraper, a software tool that gathers information you need from other sites.

We’re going to look at the scrapestack API, a web scraping service that you can subscribe to. Once set up, you can use scrapestack to grab whatever data you want from other sites.

Why You Need a Scraper API

Finding information online can be difficult, even with the power of Google. Specific types of information, published around the world, can differ slightly. This is often data that you find valuable.

There are several web scraping services available, but what if you wanted to manage your own? The solution is scrapestack, an API service available with tiered pricing and functionality to circumvent CAPTCHAs, geo-blocking, and other restrictions.

All it needs is the target website URL, and an API (available for free, with limitations). With the power of the scrapestack server, you’re able to scrape all the data you’re looking for.

What Does Scrapestack Do?

Using predetermined parameters, a scraper will visit a specified URL and take a copy of a certain type of data. This could be news on a very specific topic, such as a subset of current affairs or politics, or entertainment news from the NYCC. However, it doesn’t need to be news: it could be weather data, sports results, stocks and share prices, or currency values.

Various software tools exist for scraping that you can run locally from a PC, or wholly on a server. You might even employ a free website to scrape content. But with scrapestack, you have the power of a state-of-the-art server behind you.

The API provides security and reliability, while the scalable approach to the development/testing/release process means that developers can take as long as they need to perfect their scraping process.

Scrapestack: Affordable Packages for All Project Types

Scrapestack API Pricing

While the initial scrapestack signup is free, several packages are available from this scalable service. The Free package provides 10,000 monthly API requests, but support is limited. Standard proxies are in use with this option.

With Basic, you pay $19.99 a month and get 250,000 requests. By paying you get unlimited support, HTTPS encryption, concurrent requests (enabling multiple API use), JavaScript rendering support, and 100+ geolocations. Standard proxies are also available with this plan.

Scrapestack’s best value option is Professional. For $79.99 a month you get 1,000,000 requests, all the same features as Basic, plus Premium Proxies.

The Business package is $149.99, which includes 3,000,000 requests, premium support, and everything Professional has. Finally, there’s an Enterprise option for business-scale projects. Custom solutions, dedicated support, and high-volume API requests are available within.

To get started, of course, you’ll need the Free package. Simply sign up with your email address, grab the API, and begin testing the power of scrapestack.

Get Started With Scrapestack API

Want an idea of what’s behind scrapestack? The server manages over 1 billion monthly API calls, with 99.9 percent uptime. It boasts over 100 global server locations, capable of scraping more than 35 million IP addresses.

In addition, scrapestack claims “2000+ happy customers” and reckons you can get started in under five minutes. But how accurate is this?

Well, signup is quick and easy, with access given almost straightaway. In the account dashboard, you’ll find your API key, which you need to use the API. To protect your account, it’s vital that you don’t share the API key, so keep it safe.

All you need after this is a target URL to scrape data from. For example, you might like to grab data from a popular website such as MakeUseOf. To do that, use a basic URL string like the one below:

http://api.scrapestack.com/scrape?access_key=YOUR_ACCESS_KEY&url=https://apple.com

This will commence the scraping process. In your browser window, you’ll something like this returned:

Apple.com scraped with Scrapestack API

This is basically the page’s contents without JavaScript and CSS styling. Of course, you probably wouldn’t use the API with your browser. Instead, when used as part of a web application or script run from a live system, you can collect the results as plain text and analyze them later.

Use Optional API Parameters for Enhanced Scraping

There’s more to scrapestack API than the basic request, however. You can utilize several optional parameters, including:

  • render_js: Use 1 to enable rendering of JavaScript on the target web page (default is 0, off).
  • keep_headers: Use 1 to enable; it sends active HTTP headers to be returned in the API response.
  • proxy_location: Specify a two-letter country code (such as US) to use as a proxy for the API request.
  • premium_proxy: Use 1 to enable premium proxies; note one proxy API request counts as 25.

Usage of these parameters is simple: add an ampersand (&) at the end of to the basic URL, such as &render_js=1.

On top of all this, the API features some useful, plain English error codes. These include “103 invalid_api_function”, which means the API function does not exist. This commonly occurs following a typo in one of the above parameters. Similarly, “105 function_access_restricted” indicates use of a function that isn’t supported by your subscription.

If a code is not clear, you can check the scrapestack documentation page.

Use the Scrapestack API With Your Favorite Coding Language

The scripts above are available in several different programming languages. The scrapestack API features support for PHP, Python, NodeJS, JQuery, Go, and Ruby. These are arguably the most popular web and app development languages around.

While the basics of using the scrapestack API remain the same, there will of course be differences between languages. For example, here’s a code sample in PHP:

Use PHP to access the Scrapestack API

This Python script, meanwhile, holds the same purpose:

Accessing the Scrapestack API with Python

Obviously, you’ll want use the best code for the project. Suffice it to say that scrapestack API is up to the task, whatever the coding platform.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Scrape Websites With Scrapestack

Information that you need to collect quickly is easier to scrape with scrapestack. Its flexible API gives you the options you need for scraping and output. The error codes are descriptive, too, helping you to overcome issues easily.

With a range of packages and an initial free signup to get you started with development, scrapestack API could prove itself as the most powerful scraper you use. The API is compatible with PHP, Python, NodeJS, JQuery, Go, and Ruby, so it’s ideal for use across a range of development platforms.

Looking for other APIs? The powerful weatherstack weather data API


Integrate Weather Data on Your Homepage With Weatherstack API




Integrate Weather Data on Your Homepage With Weatherstack API

The weatherstack API provides an easy way to add weather data to your website or app, and it’s free to start.
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can help you build your own weather apps or include weather data on your website.



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