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Mozilla Brings New Ad-blocking Feature To Firefox

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

firefox-logo-150x150Mozilla has unveiled three new test features for Firefox, including one that separates YouTube videos from the browser and another that may signal towards a more aggressive ad-blocking strategy by the open-source developer.

“We’re excited to announce the release of three new Test Pilot experiments,” said Nick Nguyen, the vice president of Firefox, in a post to a company blog. “These features will help you share and manage screenshots; keep streaming video front and center; and protect your online privacy.”

Test Pilot was re-introduced in May when Mozilla resurrected a 2009 moniker and used it on a 2015 project that had fallen into disuse. Test Pilot was designed to collect feedback on proposed new features for Firefox before they were added to the browser.

The three features that debuted today were a screenshot taker, called “Page Shot,” that also includes a search mechanism for finding what has been snapped; “Min Vid,” which plays YouTube and Vimeo videos in a Lilliputian window atop Firefox; and “Tracking Protection,” a tool brought over from Firefox’s already-extant Private Browsing.

The last of the trio — Tracking Protection — had the most significant implications for the browser.

As part of Private Browsing — Firefox’s incognito mode — Tracking Protection has blocked web ads, page analytics measuring tools and the sharing buttons, such as those for Facebook and Twitter, that may record users’ site-to-site travels. Mozilla added Tracking Protection to Private Browsing in November 2015.

“This experiment will help us understand where Tracking Protection breaks the web so that we can improve it for all Firefox users,” Nguyen wrote today.

By testing Tracking Protection, Mozilla signaled that it’s thinking of adding the feature to Firefox, where it would be used — whether by default or as an option — by all users, not just those calling up Private Browsing.

 

Is The Firefox OS History?

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Big Cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have announced that they are killing off the Firefox OS.

For those who came in late, the OS was supposed to be part of a cunning plan to provide a new sort of operating system for mobiles as an alternative to Android. However, it was greeted by a loud sounding yawn by customers and manufacturers alike.

Now Mozilla has said that it will stop its efforts to build and ship smartphones through carrier partners. Apparently it had a cunning plan to re-position the OS for the internet of things.

“We had ideas for other opportunities for Firefox OS, perhaps as a platform for explorations in the world of connected devices, and perhaps for continued evolution of Firefox OS TV. To allow for those possibilities, and to provide a stable release for commercial TV partners, development would continue on a Firefox OS 2.6 release,” Mozilla said.

The spokesperson said the Firefox OS TV was a project to be run by its commercial partner and not a project to be led by Mozilla. Further, Firefox OS was determined to not be sufficiently useful for ongoing Connected Devices work to justify the effort to maintain it.

This meant that development of the Firefox OS stack was no longer a part of Connected Devices, or Mozilla at all. Firefox OS 2.6 would be the last release from Mozilla.

“Work at Mozilla on Firefox OS has ceased, we very much need to continue to evolve the underlying code that comprises Gecko, our web platform engine, as part of the ongoing development of Firefox,” the statement said.

Courtesy-Fud

MasterCard Launches Developer’s Platform For App Creation

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mastercard-logo-150x150Mastercard has unveiled an ambitious open Mastercard Developers platform to help third-party developers easily create commerce-related apps and services.

Developers will be able to use six different coding languages to work with 25 different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in payment, data, security and experimental areas. The experimental category includes APIs for bot commerce such as chatbots and virtual reality and augmented reality devices.

In one example of how a bot commerce API could be rolled out in an actual setting, Mastercard and Pizza Hut Asia are piloting a commerce application with Pepper the humanoid robot, who acts as a restaurant waiter capable of taking orders, serving food and collecting payment at the table.

Pepper is a humanoid robot developed by a subsidiary of Softbank Group of Japan.

Mastercard’s role in the Pepper pilot is the commerce element through MasterPass, a service that allows secure payments across various devices. Restaurants could soon deploy the waiter robots in Japan because of a serious labor shortage in restaurants there, said Oran Cummins, senior vice president for APIs at MasterCard.

MasterCard is also experimenting with blockchain, a distributed database first implemented in 2009 as the underpinning of bitcoin. Blockchain can be used as a public ledger to automatically maintain a continuously-growing list of records.

“It’s very much exploratory,” Cummins said in an interview. “We’ve done a lot of work in blockchain and we’ve been experimenting with a number of things in exposing APIs and blockchain functionality.”

It isn’t clear when blockchain will be part of the Mastercard Developers platform, however.

The platform is made up of Software Developer Kits (SDKs), developer tools and sample code for each of the 25 APIs. The code provided is in Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Python and Node.js.

Mastercard first started offering third-party developer APIs six years ago, and has seen a 400% increase in API usage in 2016. With the growing interest from tens of thousands of individual developers and those inside large companies globally, Mastercard decided to expand the program to provide open APIs for all of its products.

 

Sears Teams Up With Uber To Enhance Rewards Program

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

sears-auto-center-150x150Sears Holdings Corp is joining forces with ride-services company Uber Technologies Inc as the struggling retailer tries to make its rewards program more attractive to shoppers.

Sears is betting on its Shop Your Way loyalty plan, which offers points and tailored deals to members, as the company looks to revive sales. The program accounted for 75 percent of the company’s sales through the first half of 2016.

Riders who link their Uber account to Sears’ loyalty plan will receive up to $2 in loyalty points for every trip. The program, Rider Rewards, is currently available in Chicago and New York City, and will be rolled out nationally soon, the companies said.

While new drivers who sign up to drive with Uber through Shop Your Way will get up to $1,000 in points, existing Uber drivers in some cities including Chicago, New York City and San Francisco can also earn points by enrolling in the program.

Sears, which has not reported a profit in five years, has made the Shop Your Way program the focus of its revival strategy, even as it shrinks its store base to reduce costs.

“We are looking at more and more ways where we can reach out to top-tier brands and find more opportunities where our members can earn points,” Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail at Sears, told Reuters.

The company declined to disclose Shop Your Way’s membership count, but said it is in “tens of millions”.

Other Shop Your Way partners include Starbucks Corp, daily deals website Groupon Inc, florist 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc and identity theft protection services provider LifeLock Inc.

Sears’ 638 Auto Centers will also serve as one of Uber’s preferred maintenance providers, offering exclusive discounts and points to Uber drivers, the companies said.

Samsung Says Over 60% Of Defective Samsung Note 7 Phones Have Been Recovered

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co announced it has received back more than 60 percent of recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in South Korea and the United States, suggesting it is making progress in its attempts to recover from the crisis.

In a statement, Samsung said it was focused on replacing all affected devices “as quickly and efficiently” as possible and reiterated its request that customers affected by the current recall should power off their device and turn them in.

The world’s top smartphone maker announced on Sept. 2 a global recall of at least 2.5 million Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets due to faulty batteries causing some phones to catch fire. The company says replacement devices it began issuing in mid-September use safe batteries.

Samsung hopes to take the faulty products off the market as soon as possible in order to limit further damage to its reputation and resume sales of the flagship device ahead of the key holiday shopping season in major markets such as the United States.

But the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm. Reports of Note 7 fires and damages have continued after the recall announcement, while aviation authorities around the world issued warnings or outright bans on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft.

Samsung was also forced to push back the start of Note 7 sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1 due to relatively slow progress in the recall in its home market.

Some analysts say the cost of the recall and lost sales could wipe off nearly $5 billion in revenues for Samsung this year. Samsung said around 90 percent of customers who turned in their device through the exchange program have opted for a replacement Note 7, but it remains unclear how strong demand from new customers would be when sales resume.

Samsung Delays Re-start Of Galaxy Note 7 Sales

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that it will be delaying the start of new Galaxy Note 7 smartphone sales in South Korea by three days to Oct. 1, a move it says is needed for speedy completion of the ongoing recall in the country.

Samsung announced on Sept. 2 a recall of at least 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets, including South Korea, due to a faulty battery causing the phones to catch fire, offering refunds or replacement devices using safe batteries.

The firm hopes to complete the recall quickly and restart sales in the fourth quarter to salvage earnings, but the latest hitch in South Korea underscore continuing challenges in those efforts.

Though product exchanges in South Korea began on Monday, only about 200,000 affected customers have turned in their devices – which Samsung says represents half of affected customers and a recall pace that is much slower than other markets such as Singapore and the United States.

“The recall rate will likely fall sharply should new sales have resumed on Sept. 28,” the company said. Affected customers would no longer be able to exchange their devices through domestic carriers starting on Oct. 1, making the process more difficult.

Samsung hopes to restart new sales in affected markets once it makes enough progress with the recalls, having announced plans to restart sales in Australia and Singapore in October, but the nearly month-long recall process has provided additional stumbles and embarrassment for the firm.

Continued reports of Note 7 fires and damages after the recall announcement, along with warnings or outright bans from aviation authorities on the use or charging of the Note 7 on aircraft, forced Samsung to ask affected customers to immediately turn off their phones to prevent further damage.

Samsung issued an apology for the confusion caused by the delay and said it would do its best to resolve the current Note 7 situation quickly.

Digital Map Company HERE Partners With Automakers To Share Traffic Data

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

here-maps-150x150German digital map maker HERE plans to roll out a new set of traffic services this week that allows drivers to see for themselves what live road conditions are like miles ahead using data from competing automakers, an industry first.

The Berlin-based company, owned by Germany’s three premium automakers, will provide four services in which drivers share detailed video views of traffic jams or accidents, potential road hazards like fog or slippery streets, traffic signs including temporary speed limits and on-street parking.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen will all contribute data to the service, making their first big collaboration since they bought HERE for 2.8 billion euros ($3.1 billion) late last year from mobile equipment maker Nokia of Finland.

Other automakers are expected to join the project later and contribute data from their vehicles, HERE said.

The new live traffic services are set to hit the road in the first half of 2017, HERE said on Monday before the opening of this week’s Paris Motor Show.

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles from the three German automakers are set to begin feeding visual data into the HERE system supplying these services, with millions of vehicles expected to contribute live traffic feeds by the end of 2018, HERE said.

“You have competing brands which are putting their data together to create very unique services which were not possible before,” Bruno Bourguet, HERE’s global head of sales, said in an interview.

Data collected from vehicles participating in the network, drawn from brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, location systems, cameras and other sensors, are translated into alerts on driver dashboards using the HERE services.

Collecting sophisticated data from millions of cars on the road promises to give HERE a substantial lead over technology rivals such as Google , Apple, Tesla and TomTom , which have access to data from far fewer vehicles to collect so-called crowd-sourced data, analysts say.

“Crowd-sourced data is crucial for live traffic/maps and the size of the user base will be key to differentiation,” UBS said in a recent report.

As other automakers contribute data for these services, an increasingly comprehensive view of road conditions around the world will be built to aid human drivers and, eventually, computer systems for autonomous cars, for which real-time road data is a pre-condition for replacing human drivers.

Yahoo Hacking Takes Top Spot As Biggest Breach

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

yahoo-hacking-150x150When Yahoo confirmed that data from at least 500 million user accounts had been hacked, it wasn’t just admitting to a huge failing in data security — it was admitting to the biggest hack the world has ever seen.

Until  last Thursday, the previous largest known hack was the 2008 breach that hit almost 360 million MySpace accounts, according to a ranking by the “Have I been pwned” website. Like the Yahoo breach, the hack was only publicly disclosed this year after data was offered on a hacker forum.

And only three breaches had ranked above the 100 million level:

LinkedIn reported a loss of 167 million email addresses and passwords. They were originally stolen in 2012 but not publicly disclosed until 2016, again after the data was offered on an underground “dark market” site.

A 2013 hack of Adobe saw 153 million account details lost. They included user names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords, but the encryption was poorly implemented and reversed on some accounts.

And there’s been a reported but unverified hack of dating website Badoo. Data including email addresses, names, and passwords for about 112 million members was found online.

The LinkedIn and MySpace data sets, along with 200 million Yahoo records, were put up for sale by the same hacker, peace_of_mind.

Major hacks can turn out to be a headache for users, even if the data is old and the account in question is no longer used. That’s because many people use the same password or a similar password across services, so a successful hack of Yahoo could expose an email address and password that would work on other sites.

Is Twitter About To Go On The Auction Block?

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-buy-button-150x150Twitter Inc has initiated discussions with several technology companies to explore putting itself up for sale, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday, signaling the start of what is likely to be a slow-rolling auction of the high-profile but profit-challenged social media company.

A sale of Twitter has been the subject of on-again, off-again rumors for many months as the company grapples with stagnant user growth, soft advertising sales and losses running at hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The company’s business struggles have come even as the 10-year-old service has evolved into a potent global source of news, entertainment and social commentary.

CNBC, citing anonymous sources, reported on Friday that Twitter is in talks with companies including Google and may receive a formal bid soon. A source told Reuters that Salesforce.com is also in pursuit.

Twitter and Alphabet Inc, Google’s parent company did not respond to a request for comment. Salesforce declined to comment.

Verizon, another company mentioned in media reports on Friday as a possible suitor, said it did not comment on M&A rumors but that it had not submitted a bid for the company.

Twitter shares jumped more than 19 percent to $22.22 per share on Friday, marking the largest one-day rise since their first day of trading in 2013. The company now has a market value of around $16 billion.

Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said Alphabet would be the best acquirer for Twitter since it has not yet been able to crack social media on its own despite several efforts.

“From a strategic standpoint, we think it would be more beneficial for Alphabet as opposed to Salesforce,” Mogharabi said. Former Google executive Omid Kordestani is executive chairman of Twitter.

Morningstar estimates Twitter could be bought for $22 per share. Twitter is working with investment banks Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co in considering possible transactions, sources familiar with the situation said.

Notebook Sells Spike In August

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Figures just in for August show that there has been a spike in the sales of notebooks.

Beancounters at Digitimes research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that the top-5 notebook vendors and top-3 notebook ODMs saw their shipments rise 27 percent  and 31 percent a month in August.

While it could mean that the notebook recession is over, the beancounters think that the spike is due to inventory preparation for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, Windows 10’s annual upgrade, and mass shipments of Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

The winner on the notebook front is HP which released some new products in August that successfully widened the vendor’s shipment gap by nearly 700,000 units. The number two was Lenovo. HP stayed firmly as the largest notebook vendor in the month. Dell turned its focus to the consumer sector in August, but its shipments only grew a single-digit percentage on month.

Digitimes Research said that Asustek Computer and Acer both saw boosts of 10 percent  on-month growths in August.

With HP’s significant shipment growth in August, the top three ODMs, which are all suppliers of HP, together achieved higher on-month growth than the top five vendors combined, while ODM’s combined on-year shipment growth turned positive for the first time in the past 16 months.

Quanta benefited from HP’s orders the most in the month, growing nearly 40 per cent from July.

Courtesy-Fud

Many Cisco Devices Remain Vulnerable To NSA Exploits

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cisco-systems-150x150More than 840,000 Cisco networking devices globally are exposed to a vulnerability that’s similar to one exploited by a hacking group believed to be linked to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The vulnerability was announced by Cisco last week and it affects the IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR software that powers many of its networking devices. The flaw allows hackers to remotely extract the contents of a device’s memory, which can lead to the exposure of sensitive information.

The vulnerability stems from how the OS processes IKEv1 (Internet Key Exchange version 1) requests. This key exchange protocol is used for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and other features that are popular in enterprise environments.

Cisco discovered the vulnerability internally after analyzing an exploit for Cisco PIX firewalls that was leaked last month by a hacking outfit called Shadow Brokers. The exploit was part of a larger set of attack tools that Shadow Brokers claimed are being used by a cyberespionage group known in the security industry as the Equation, believed to be linked to the NSA.

Because other hackers could find the same flaw by analyzing the exploit leaked by Shadow Brokers, Cisco decided to inform its customers about it through a security advisory, even though the company is still working on developing and releasing patches.

Many of the affected IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR releases don’t yet have fixed versions, but Cisco released detection signatures for intrusion prevention systems that could be used to protect networks from potential attacks.

The Shadowserver Foundation, an organization that tracks cybercrime and assists with botnet takedowns, has started an internet-wide scan to find Cisco devices affected by this vulnerability — with the goal of reporting them to their owners.

Its latest scan identified devices with 840,681 distinct IP addresses that responded as vulnerable to the probe.

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

Apple Appears To Be Going With Polaris

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple is going to be putting AMD’s Polaris under the bonnet of its much needed iMac refresh.

According to Headlines & Global News in October the fruity tax-dodger is going to announce that its iMac is going to be refreshed after four years and will be finally dragged kicking and screaming into 2016.

AMD will be supplying the Radeon 400 Series Polaris graphics processing units which apparently will be in a powerful enough flavour to run Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology.

LG will supply 5K resolution monitors. Thus, this information further hinted that iMac 2016 will most likely be suited for gaming, if they can find anyone who writes for the comedy iOS software.

There is still an unknown as to what the CPU would be. All the original rumors had suggested that Apple had signed up for Kaby Lake. This made sense when Intel was likely to beat AMD Zen to market.

Since then, Intel has had a few delays on Kaby Lake and if Apple is going to use it, the iMac will have to be delayed until next year. This time table does not sit well with an October announcement. AMD is not likely to have Zen ready for it either, so this means that if Apple wants to launch in October then it will have to use the far more pedestrian and less interesting Intel Skylake.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Announces Low-cost, High-speed Wireless Internet Service AirGig

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

att-logo-5-150x150AT&T unveiled a low-cost, high-speed wireless internet technology that relies on plastic antennas stationed along medium-voltage power lines.

The signals will not travel through the conductive materials inside the power lines, as with more expensive technologies that were tried and mostly failed a decade ago, AT&T executives said on a conference call.

Instead, the plastic antennas will be attached to the power lines and serve as a mesh network to distribute signals to homes and businesses. To test the technology, AT&T is looking for a location somewhere in the next year with a favorable regulatory environment, since the carrier would need to partner with an existing electric utility.

The project, called AirGig, relies on more than 100 patents, according to an AT&T statement. There is no direct electrical connection to the power lines, although network components could receive their needed power through inductive physical principals just by their proximity to the lines, AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch explained.

AT&T said the testing will decide what frequency AirGig will use for commercial deployment, which could occur sometime around 2020, after the carrier rolls out 5G wireless. The frequency AT&T uses will affect the range of the signal and the speed, as well as whether it is over a licensed or unlicensed band.

By using power lines, AirGig avoids the expense of digging trenches to lay fiber optic cable. A utility company would be able to use the technology to help spot problems on its power lines from something like a downed tree.

“It’s a transformative technology that delivers low-cost and multigigabit speeds using power lines,” said John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T. “There’s no need for enhancements for new towers, and it’s over existing infrastructure.”

Aside from saying it is low-cost, AT&T didn’t offer details. A location for the field testing will be offered soon, officials said.

AirGig has already been tested in outdoor locations on campus settings. “We’ve had it up and running 4k video and cameras on campuses for quite some time,” Donovan said.

He said the trial could be in an area where existing broadband is expensive, even in the U.S.

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