The first spacecraft dedicated to exploring Mars’ upper atmosphere, scientists hope Maven (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) will give them clues as to why Mars didn’t hold onto its water and become a lush planet like Earth.
If all goes as planned, Maven won’t be the only spacecraft to enter into Mars’ orbit this week.
Another orbiter, this one launched by the Indian Space Research Organization, is expected to reach Mars and enter its orbit on Wednesday.
As engineers and scientists at NASA’s mission control center waited anxiously for news to come back from its newest Mars-bound spacecraft, Maven took itself out of its traveling trajectory and began a planned burn that lasted a little more than 30 minutes to insert itself into orbit around Mars. It officially entered the Mars orbit at 10:24 p.m. ET on Sunday.
“Here’s a spacecraft hurtling toward Mars and we had no control over it,” said John Grunsfeld, an astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It’s amazing we have the opportunity to build a spacecraft like Maven to learn about Mars. And it worked like clockwork.”
Grunsfeld took questions about the Maven mission in an interview on NASA TV just minutes after it was announced that the spacecraft had successfully entered the Martian orbit.
A NASA spokeswoman, giving commentary during the orbit integration, said the spacecraft, which launched on Nov. 18, 2013, had worked well throughout its long journey.
“Everything looks fantastic,” she said. “Maven has functioned perfectly since launch and we expect her to continue doing so today.”
Moments later, engineers received data from the spacecraft, confirming that it had entered orbit around Mars and had turned off its engines. Cheers and applause erupted in mission control.
IEEE P2413, which the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers officially started work on in July, would form a framework for interoperability among connected devices and related applications in home automation, industrial systems, telematics and all other sectors that are expected to use IoT in the coming years. While leaving room for differences across those industries, the standard would allow for sharing of data across IoT systems, according to Oleg Logvinov, chair of the IEEE P2413 Working Group.
“The activities in the Internet of Things today are disjointed,” Logvinov said Thursday at the IEEE Standards Association IoT Workshop in Mountain View, California.
IDC analyst Michael Palma, who also spoke at the workshop, counted seven industry groups plus the IEEE that are working in this area. They include enterprise-level bodies such as the Industrial Internet Consortium and more consumer-focused efforts such as AllJoyn.
“What they need is the Rosetta Stone to make everything talk and work together,” Palma said.
IEEE is a powerful international body that’s set the standards for, among other things, Ethernet and wireless LANs. But the P2413 Working Group, which first met in July, doesn’t want to replace existing IoT groups. Rather it aims to create a standard architecture so IoT systems for all industries can work together.
“They need a place where they can come together and move forward as a scalable, unified platform,” Logvinov said. “That type of unification can be enabled only by a global, international standard.”
Google had been mulling HTC as a potential Nexus tablet partner since last year and HTC engineers have been flying to the Googleplex in Mountain View in recent months to work on the project, the report said.
Google’s decision to pick HTC reflects its long-term strategy of building a broad base of partners from device to device to prevent any one manufacturer from gaining a monopoly, the report said.
That may also be one of the reasons why Google chose HTC over bigger rivals Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, maker of the Nexus 10 tablet.
Google and HTC declined to comment on the report.
The change comes courtesy of an update to Facebook’s news feed algorithm announced Thursday, focused on giving users “more timely stories.” It affects posts both from users’ friends and from pages to which they’re connected.
Facebook wants more of its users to engage on the site when they might be watching the same sports game or TV show — something that already happens on Twitter — and then brush their posts under the carpet when the event is over or the topic fizzles out.
Facebook routinely tweaks its news feed algorithm, but this update has the potential to advance the company’s efforts in the area of news delivery. It’s a departure from the site’s roots as a means for solely keeping in touch with family and friends.
The update is built around two changes. First, posts that are related to trending topics will appear higher and faster in the feed, Facebook said. When a friend or a Page to which you’re connected posts about something that’s currently a hot topic of conversation on the site, the post is more likely to appear higher in the feed.
Facebook users can already get a sense of what’s popular on the site by looking at the “trending” topics section in the right-hand column, which Facebook rolled out earlier this year. On Thursday, some of the topics listed included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, pop singer Gwen Stefani and the video game Final Fantasy XV.
Posts that aren’t as relevant to what’s hot, in other words, will get less priority.
Secondly, Facebook said it would be considering not just the number of likes that posts receive in determining their placement, but when people choose to like, comment and share. If a lot of people are interacting with a post right after it was posted, but the activity drops off a few hours later, “this suggests the post was most interesting at the time it was posted,” Facebook said. As a result, that post would get promoted higher early on and less later.
The glasses can connect to Android smartphones via Bluetooth and project green monochrome text or basic graphics across a field within the lenses.
Sony said it will begin sales of the eyewear to developers by March 31, the end of its fiscal year. They will be sold in Japan, the U.S. and some European countries.
The Developer Preview SDK includes an emulator, tutorials, sample code and design guidelines to make the most of the device’s hardware and sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and brightness sensor.
The glasses, which weigh 77 grams, are more than 85 percent transparent and include a camera that can shoot 3-megapixel images and VGA video.
Sony has emphasized that the glasses project images to a user’s natural line of sight, which differs from the Google Glass display set in a corner.
“Sony’s competitive edge lies in our achievement of a thin lens with high transparency thanks to our unique holographic light guide plate technology, which enables us to provide a bright field of vision,” a Sony spokeswoman wrote in an email.
“Furthermore, the screen size is large, and images and text are displayed from the front for both eyes (not only one eye) to facilitate easier viewing and prevent eye fatigue.”
The price for the glasses as well as availability of a consumer version are still to be decided, she added.
Bulky prototype versions of the glasses were shown at the IFA and CES electronics shows earlier this year.
Potential applications include displaying cooking instructions for chefs, running time for joggers and messages from friends.
Augmented reality-style functions are also possible, such as displaying information when a user looks at a certain bottle of wine, facial recognition or navigation information in an unfamiliar city.
French budget-conscious telecom operator Iliad has set a mid-October deadline to decide whether to improve its bid for T-Mobile US or walk away as it faces resistance from seller Deutsche Telekom, several people familiar with the situation said.
Deutsche Telekom, which owns 66 percent of the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, has doubts that Iliad will be able to improve the U.S. business since the French startup has no track record in the country, a source close to the German company’s management said.
Under the deal structure proposed by Iliad, Deutsche Telekom would have to keep a stake in the combined company.
Iliad is currently in talks with several U.S. banks to help it finance a possible improved bid for T-Mobile US alongside existing lenders HSBC and BNP Paribas, the people familiar with the situation said, after a $33 per share offer for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US was rejected by Deutsche Telekom.
Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud said Iliad’s key leverage ratio would not surpass 4.5 times net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). He also said that Iliad would limit any capital increase to fund the T-Mobile bid to 2 billion euros ($2.57 billion).
Iliad is also seeking to team up with private equity funds including KKR to raise about $5-6.5 billion, the sources, who could not be named because the talks are private, said.
T-Mobile US, Iliad and KKR declined to comment. Deutsche Telekom could not be reached immediately for comment.
Iliad’s management team has now finished road shows to meet U.S. investors and is waiting to hear back from potential investors, the sources said.
Depending on how positive the feedback is from private equity investors, the French firm could be able to table an improved bid in the second week of October, two of the sources said.
Iliad could offer between $35 and $40 per share for a stake in T-Mobile of between 60 percent and 90 percent, depending on the appetite of private equity funds and lenders for the deal, two other sources said.
The FTC had earlier on Tuesday lodged a complaint against the service that connects people with local businesses, stating that it had violated a number of rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Before 2009, users could only register through the website, where Yelp had a screening mechanism to prohibit users under the age of 13 from registering. However, in 2009, Yelp introduced a registration feature in its app, allowing users to register for new accounts through the application but failed to implement a working age-screen mechanism in the feature, according to the FTC complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
As a result, both the iOS and Android versions of the app accepted registrations and collected information from users who entered dates of birth indicating that they were underaged, the complaint added. This went on until April 2013.
Yelp said in a blog post earlier this week that it had reached a settlement with the FTC regarding the bug in the mobile registration process that failed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13. Birth dates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one, it noted.
The FTC charged Yelp with violating the COPPA Rule by failing to provide notice to parents of its information practices, and to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children.
Under the proposed settlement, Yelp has to destroy the personal information of children under 13 who registered with the service within 30 days of the entry of the order, in most cases.
Yelp said that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed the registration process during the time period provided an underage birth date, “and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”
The company had an average of about 138 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of this year.
The No. 1 U.S. online retailer also revamped its basic Kindle e-reader to include a touch screen. It will cost $79, about 15 percent more than the current basic model.
Other new devices unveiled on Wednesday are a $99 Kindle Fire HD tablet, which includes a smaller, six-inch screen as well as a tablet designed for kids that starts at $149. Amazon also upgraded its 7-inch and 8.9 inch Fire tablets.
All the upgraded and new devices start shipping in October.
The expanding Kindle lineup underscores Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ commitment to developing devices as a way to retain users and bolster its core business of retail and shopping.
This year alone, Amazon has launched a set-top box, a grocery ordering wand and a Fire smart phone, which debuted in July to lackluster reviews.
Amazon, which entered the hardware sector with the 2007 launch of the Kindle, has adopted a strategy of selling the devices at cost, and it profits when users buy content or goods.
It has been investing heavily in content, inking a deal this year to stream some HBO shows including “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” to members of its Prime subscription program.
“The vast majority of people are still using the tablets,” David Limp, vice president of devices for Amazon, said during a briefing with reporters in New York.
Executives touted the Kindle Voyage as the thinnest device Amazon has ever made. The company hopes heavy readers might adopt the device, which more closely mimic a paper book.
The decision comes amid falling prices of modems, rising demands on research and development and a shrinking market as more smartphone makers buy modems and processors, which Ericsson does not make, together.
The Swedish company had said it would evaluate the future of the business within 18 to 24 months of taking it on in 2013 when joint venture partner STMicroelectronics pulled out.
Ericsson’s chief executive said on Thursday the rapidly changing market meant the company had concluded it would be too expensive for the business to succeed.
“In addition, we believe we can use this money in a better way,” Hans Vestberg told Reuters.
The Swedish company said the decision to end the development of modems would mean it could shift resources to developing radio networks.
Ericsson had targeted a top three market position for its modems business, which employs around 1,600 people, alongside U.S. firms Qualcomm and Intel.
The move to stop developing new modems would mean around 1,000 staff leaving Ericsson, Vestberg said.
Some of the other employees would find work at a new research and development unit within Ericsson’s core radio networks business that will be set up in Sweden’s Lund and employ 500 in total.
Some would also continue working with the M7450 modem which was launched in August, Vestberg said, although it was hard to say for how long Ericsson would go on making it as that would depend on the success of the smartphones in which it sits.
In total, Ericsson employed slightly more than 115,000 at the end of the second quarter.
Ericsson said it expected the move to lead to significant cost savings, without specifying. In the three quarters since the modems business was integrated in Ericsson, it had racked up 1.7 billion Swedish crowns (238 million) in operating losses.
IBM has launched a beta of Watson Analytics, an interactive Q&A service designed to answer questions and highlight trends within sets of enterprise data.
The service “is about putting powerful analytics in the hands of every business user,” said Eric Sall, IBM vice president of marketing for business analytics.
Traditional business intelligence tools remain too difficult to use for business managers, Sall said. “It is hard to get the data. It is hard to analyze the data if you’re not a specialist, and it is hard to use the tools,” he said. Watson Analytics attempts to streamline the process.
Natural language systems are becoming increasingly prevalent as a form of human-computer interface. Apple’s Siri, Google’s GoogleNow and Microsoft’s Cortana all act as virtualized personal assistants, able to answer a range of simple questions on behalf of their users.
Watson Analytics operates in a similar manner, in that it can offer responses to questions posed by the user in their chosen language, rather than forcing the user to develop a SQL query, master a complex statistical package or write data-parsing code to better understand some large set of data.
The effort is the latest move in IBM’s $1 billion initiative to commercialize Watson technologies.
IBM Research developed Watson to compete with human contestants on the “Jeopardy” game show in 2011, using natural language processing and analytics, as well as many sources of structured and unstructured data, to formulate responses to the show’s questions.
In the years since, the company has been working to commercialize the Watson technology by identifying industries that could benefit from this form of cognitive computing, such as health care, law enforcement and finance.
Earlier this year, IBM launched the Watson Discovery Advisor, which is customized for scientific researchers who need to deeply probe one specific body of scientific knowledge, such as chemistry or cellular biology.
Another service, the company’s Watson Engagement Advisor, uses the artificial intelligence technology to aid in customer support.
NASA will join forces with Boeing and SpaceX to build commercially owned and operated “space taxis” to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, ending U.S. dependence on Russia for rides.
The U.S. space agency also considered a bid by privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp, but opted to award long-time aerospace contractor Boeing and California’s SpaceX with contracts valued at a combined $6.8 billion to develop, certify and fly their seven-person capsules.
Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion to SpaceX’s $2.6 billion. SpaceX is run by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, also the chief executive officer of electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors.
“SpaceX is deeply honored by the trust NASA has placed in us,” said Musk, a South Africa-born, Canadian American billionaire. “It is a vital step in a journey that will ultimately take us to the stars and make humanity a multi-planet species.”
The awards position Boeing and SpaceX to be ready for commercial flight services in 2017, said Kathy Leuders, manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew program. She said both contracts have the same requirements.
“The companies proposed the value within which they were able to do the work and the government accepted that,” Leuders told reporters in a conference call.
The contract has taken on new urgency given rising tensions between the United States and Russia over its annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Boeing’s CST-100 spaceship would launch aboard Atlas 5 rockets, built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing. SpaceX, which already has a $1.3 billion NASA contract to fly cargo to the space station, intends to upgrade its Dragon freighter to carry astronauts.
NASA has said that in addition to test flights, the awards would include options for between two and six operational missions.
By flying astronauts commercially from the United States, NASA could end Russia’s monopoly on space station crew transport. The agency pays $70 million per person for rides on Russian Soyuz capsules, the only flights available for astronauts since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.
China, the only other country to fly people in orbit besides the United States and Russia, is not a member of the 15-nation space station partnership.
According to an IBM internal memo dated Sept 12th. The memo sent to affected employees begins by telling the worker that an assessment has revealed “that some managers and employees have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”
It then tells the recipient that “you have been identified as one of these employees,” and says that from mid-October through the end of March, “you will dedicate up to one day per week,” or up to 23 working days total, “to focus on learning and development.”
But IBM is coupling this training with a six month salary reduction. The key statement in the memo is this: “While you spend part of your workweek on learning and development activities, you will receive 90% of your current base salary.”
Salary will be restored to the full rate effective April 1, 2015.
Asked about program, IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino said the firm “is implementing a skills development program for a small number of U.S. strategic outsourcing employees. Under this program, these employees will spend one day a week developing skills in key growth areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile and social.”
There was negative reaction from some IBM employees.
One IBM IT professional, who asked not to be identified, said he was “shocked” to be added to the list, particularly since his work has been consistently praised by managers.
By reducing pay “by a significant amount,” IBM is acting “in the hopes that the employees won’t be able to sustain that pay and decide to quit, exempting IBM from letting them go and have to pay severance,” the employee said.
One source familiar with the program said the percentage of employees impacted is small, in the single digits.
While employees may see the pay cut as unfair, the salary reduction is viewed by management as a form of employee “co-investment” in training, and as a better alternative to laying off and hiring employees with the latest skills. It’s not that these employees lack skills, but they don’t necessarily have the ones that are needed today, the source said.
The company has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use two blocks of frequencies for the tests, which are scheduled to last about six months and begin in October. They will be conducted above an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers in the center of New Mexico to the east of Albuquerque.
“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google said in its application. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”
Google said its application for temporary permission to make the transmissions was needed “for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”
The FCC allows companies to redact certain portions of their applications when they might provide too much information to competitors.
In the application, Google said it wants to use two blocks of frequencies, one between 910MHz and 927MHz and one between 2.4GHz and 2.414GHz. Both are so-called “industrial, scientific and medical” (ISM) bands typically used for unlicensed operations.
The application has not yet been approved.
It’s the latest in a series of moves by the company to trial Internet delivery from the skies.
The company unveiled its ambitious Project Loon last year, which uses a series of high-altitude balloons that float in winds at about 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth. The first experiments with Loon involved using a transmission system based on WiFi, but earlier this year the company began experimenting with LTE cellular transmissions in a test site in Nevada.
Google acquired Titan Aerospace in April this year for an undisclosed price.
The company said demand had outstripped supply of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which feature larger screens and longer battery life. Deliveries of pre-orders will begin on Friday and will continue through October.
Bumper first-day pre-orders point to first-weekend sales of up to 10 million units, analysts estimated.
“Assuming preorders are similar to the 40 percent of first weekend sales for the iPhone 5, this would imply iPhone 6/6Plus first weekend sales could be around 10 million,” Wells Fargo Securities analysts wrote in a note.
About 2 million pre-orders were received for the iPhone 5 in the first 24 hours after it went on sale in September 2012. Apple sold 5 million of these phones in the first weekend.
Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5Ss and 5Cs, which were launched last year, in the first three days in stores. The company did not reveal pre-order numbers for these phones.
Raymond James analysts said they expect sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to top 9 million in the first weekend.
“Apple will be selling every iPhone it can make, at least through October. Because of this, the first weekend sales are typically more indicative of supply than demand,” they said.
The company routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design.
Apple’s website showed last week that the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models displayed a wait time of up to a month. The 4.7-inch version was available for delivery on Sept. 19.
Janney Capital Markets analysts said the large number of pre-orders was due to “pent-up demand” for bigger iPhone screens.
The brokerage raised its sales estimate for the latest iPhones to 37.4 million units for the current quarter and 60 million for the quarter ended December.
A Stanford engineering team has built a radio, equipped with sensors, computational units and antennas one-tenth the size of Wi-Fi antennas, that is able to gain all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. No batteries are required.
These radios, which are designed to compute, execute and relay commands, could be the key to linking gadgets together in the increasingly popular idea of the Internet of Things.
Today’s radios generally are the size of a quarter, according to Amin Arbabian, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Stanford and a researcher on the radio project. These new radios are much smaller. They’re 3.7 x 1.2 millimeters.
Radios that small could be added to everything from $100 bills to medical gauze, Band-Aids and home appliances. At just pennies per radio, that means a myriad of products could easily and cheaply become part of a linked network.
“This could be very important,” Arbabian told Computerworld. “When you think about the Internet of Things, you’re talking about needing a thousand radios per person. That counts all the radios and devices you’d need around you in your home and office environments. With 300 million people in the U.S., we’d have 300 billion radios.”
A Bluetooth-type radio works fine for smartphones but is too big and expensive to connect most of the objects in users’ lives.
“We needed the cost and size to go down, and you need scale,” said Arbabian, who began working on the project in 2011. “Do you want to put something the size of a Bluetooth radio on a Band-Aid? It’s too big. It costs a lot. The technology we have today for radios doesn’t meet any of these requirements.”
He explained that a tiny radio with a temperature sensor could be put on a bandage or piece of adhesive that’s applied to every patient that enters a hospital. The radio and its sensor would enable the medical staff to continuously track every patient’s temperature, a key health indicator, effortlessly and cheaply.
Sensors also could be used to measure air quality, to track medications from the manufacturer to the end user and to even keep track of tools and supplies in an operating room. For instance, Arbabian noted that a radio, encased in bio-safe material, could be attached to gauze or medical tools. With them, everything in an operating room could be tracked to ensure that nothing is left inside the patient at the end of surgery.
The radios also could be attached to every day products inside the home, including appliances, doors and windows.