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Microsoft Announces Office 365 Video, Streaming Service For The Enterprise

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft unveiled Office 365 Video, a YouTube-like streaming service where enterprises and large organizations can post in-house video content for communication and training.

“Office 365 Video provides organizations with a secure, company-wide destination for posting, sharing and discovering video content,” said Mark Kashman, a senior product manager with the Office 365 team, in a blog posting.

Kashman touted Video as a tool for internal communications, citing the examples of new-employee orientation, management messaging and worker training. Employees will also be able to contribute to a “Community” section, though most companies will probably frown on cat antic clips.

The service rolls out over the next few days to companies that have registered for Office 365′s First Release early distribution program, then through early 2015 to others.

Video will be available only to subscribers of Office 365′s plans for enterprises — E1 through E4 — and universities (A2 through A4). It will not be offered to consumer subscribers or firms with small business-oriented plans like Business Essentials, Business and Business Premium.

Kashman also said Office 365 plans for government agencies will get Video at some point, but he did not proffer a timeline.

The other requirement is SharePoint Online, an off-premises component of the enterprise and academic plans, but missing from the increasingly popular Office 365 ProPlus, the rent-not-buy plan used by organizations that have decided to retain their back-end services, like SharePoint and Exchange, on premises.

Although Office 365 Video has elements of consumer streaming services like Google’s YouTube, it’s strictly an in-house affair: It will be available only to employees, and then only those whom IT administrators have assigned access rights.

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Nokia Launches N1 Tablet

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia unveiled a new brand-licensed tablet computer which is designed to rival Apple’s iPad Mini, just six months after the company sold its underperforming phones and devices business to Microsoft for over $7 billion.

Nokia, a name which was once synonymous with mobile phones until first Apple and then Samsung Electronics eclipsed the Finnish company with the advent of smart phones, said the manufacturing, distribution and sales of the new N1 tablet, will be handled under license by Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The aluminum-cased N1, which runs on Google’s Android Lollipop operating software but features Nokia’s new Z Launcher intelligent home screen interface, is due to be in stores in China in the first quarter of next year for an estimated price of $249 before taxes, with sales to other markets to follow.

Sebastian Nystrom, the head of products at Nokia’s Technologies unit, said the company was looking to follow up with more devices and will also look into eventually returning to the smartphones business by brand-licensing.

“With the agreement with Microsoft, as is customary, we have this transition and we can’t do smartphones … We have a time limit. In 2016 we can again enter that business,” Nystrom told Reuters.

“It would be crazy not to look at that opportunity. Of course we will look at it.”

Microsoft last week dropped the Nokia name on its latest Lumia 535 smartphone, which runs on its Windows Phone 8 operating system, but still uses the brand for more basic phones.

After the Microsoft sale Nokia was left with its core network equipment and services business plus its smaller HERE mapping and navigation unit and Nokia Technologies, which manages the licensing of its portfolio of patents and develops new products such as the N1 and the Z Launcher.

 

 

WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Stepping up efforts to keep its users messages safe from prying eyes, WhatsApp announced that it now supports end-to-end encryption for messages sent between users.

The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.

The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.

End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.

Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.

Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.

But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.

WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.

 

 

Snapchat To Offer Mobile Payments Service

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile messaging company Snapchat is rolling out a new service that wil allow users to send money to each other, in a partnership with online payments company Square.

The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.

The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.

The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.

 

 

Should Encryption Be The Norm?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Encryption should be a matter of priority and used by default. That’s the message from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the worldwide body in charge of the internet’s technology infrastructure.

The IAB warned in a statement that “the capabilities and activities of attackers are greater and more pervasive than previously known”.

It goes on to say: “The IAB urges protocol designers to design for confidential operation by default. We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default.

“We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic.”

The purpose, the IAB claims, is to instill public trust in the internet after the myriad high-profile cases in which computer traffic has been intercepted, ranging from bank details to email addresses and all points in between.

The news will be unwelcome to the security services, which have repeatedly objected to initiatives such as the default encryption in iOS8 and Android L, claiming that it is in the interest of the population to retain the right to intercept data for the prevention of terrorism.

However, leaked information, mostly from files appropriated by rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, suggests that the right of information interception is abused by security services including the UK’s GCHQ.

These allegations include the collection of irrelevant data, the investigation of cold cases not in the public interest, and the passing of pictures of nude ladies to colleagues.

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Said To Be Launching Social Network For Professionals

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc’s professional version of its social network geared towards businesses will launch in the next few months, a person familiar with the matter revealed to Reuters.

The world’s No.1 Internet social network with 1.35 billion monthly users has been quietly testing a version of its website aimed at workplace collaboration. The service, dubbed Facebook at Work, allows users to exchange messages and share documents using Facebook’s scrolling news feed and other familiar features from the consumer version of Facebook.

The professional version of Facebook, which could compete with services such as LinkedIn Corp, as well as Salesforce.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, would allow users to maintain special profiles that are distinct from their existing Facebook profiles, the person said. Work activities would not be shared on a user’s personal profile, and the baby photos, videos and general banter popular in the consumer version of Facebook would not encroach into the professional version.

A Facebook team in London is leading the effort and a small number of companies are currently running a pilot version of the service, the person said.

It is still unclear how Facebook plans to make money from the professional service. Facebook is not currently charging a subscription fee for the version being tested, according to a report in the Financial Times, which first reported news of the service. Facebook currently generates the bulk of its revenue from ads that appear on its existing service.

 

 

Intel Goes Upscale With New MICA Bracelets

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Soon to be released bracelets with technology from Intel Corp and design cues from fashion brand Opening Ceremony will connect the wearer with Facebook, Google and Yelp via an AT&Tdata plan,no smartphone necessary.

Called My Intelligent Communication Accessory, or MICA, the snakeskin bracelets are aimed at fashion-conscious women and are an attempt by the two companies to stand out in a growing field of often-clunky smartwatches and fitness brands that have yet to catch on widely with consumers.

“We really approached this first and foremost about why would a woman want to wear this everyday, and how can it be incorporated into her wardrobe,” Humberto Leon, creative director at Opening Ceremony, said in a phone interview last week.

As well as lapis stones, obsidian and an 18k gold coating, the devices include a sapphire curved screen on the inside of the wrist that displays text messages, calendar items and events from Google and Facebook, and recommendations of nearby restaurants and stores from Yelp.

After Intel was late to smartphones and tablets in recent years, Chief Executive Brian Krzanich has been determined to make sure the top chipmaker is at the forefront of future trends in mobile computing.

Krzanich gave the green light for the chipmaker to develop the bracelet with Opening Ceremony after his wife wore a prototype for several days and liked it, he recently said.

Incoming alerts discreetly vibrate the bracelet instead of making a noise. Its $495 price tag includes a two-year data plan with AT&T, which means it does not rely on a smartphone for connectivity, as do most smartwatches, the companies said in a press release.

As well as working with Opening Ceremony, Intel in March bought fitness bracelet maker Basis Science and it has teamed up with watch retailer Fossil Group to develop other wearable computing devices.

 

Facebook Launches Privacy Basic, Put Users In Control

November 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook wants its users to manage their own privacy.

The social network has launched Privacy Basics, a page set up to offer users advice and how-to tips to make sure they have the level of privacy they want for their Facebook profiles.

Facebook also is giving users an early look at changes the company plans on making to its terms of service, data policy and cookies policy. Users have a week to make comments or suggestions about what’s coming.

“Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information,” wrote Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer. “Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe today’s announcement is an important step.”

Facebook has had its share of privacy controversies. It has repeatedly been criticized for its privacy policies and even for the difficulty in using privacy controls.

“This may showcase that Facebook is finally beginning to understand perceptions are important,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “This really isn’t a change in policy but a change in how they communicate what they are doing. This kind of thing can improve trust and, if they keep it up, it should improve customer retention and satisfaction.”

Facebook, he added, may be losing some of the “arrogance” it had previously shown users.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Facebook’s move could encourage a lot of users to increase the privacy around their posts and photos.

“Many people just don’t understand the privacy policy, partially because it’s painfully boring to read,” he said. “By putting it in human speak, users can easily understand what data Facebook collects and what certain settings mean. Anyone who still doesn’t understand it, is just too lazy to go read it or doesn’t care.”

The new Privacy Basics page offers interactive guides to what Facebook says are the most commonly asked questions about how users can control their information.

 

 

 

Has Google Glass Reached The End Of The Line?

November 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After two years of showing up at high-profile events wearing Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin arrived recently to a Silicon Valley event noticeably bare-faced. He’d left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter. The Googler, who heads up the top-secret lab which developed Glass, has hardly given up on the product — he recently wore his pair to the beach.

But Brin’s timing is not propitious, coming as many developers and early Glass users are losing interest in the much-hyped, $1,500 test version of the product: a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames. Google Inc itself has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market.

While Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.

Plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although one major player recently defected: Twitter.

“If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point,” said Tom Frencel, the Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.

Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations.

 

 

 

Researchers Develop Self-healing Software To Fight Malware

November 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Researchers at the University of Utah have developed self-healing software that detects, expunges and protects against malware in virtual machines.

Called Advanced Adaptive Applications (A3), the software suite was created in collaboration with US defence contractor Raytheon BBN over a period of four years.

It was funded by DARPA through its Clean-Slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts programme, and was completed in September, Science Daily reported on Thursday.

A3 features “stackable debuggers”, a number of debugging applications that cooperate to monitor virtual machines for indications of unusual behaviour.

Instead of checking computer object code against a catalogue of known viruses and other malware, the A3 software suite can detect the operation of malicious code heuristically, based on the types of function it attempts.

Once the A3 software detects malicious code, it can apparently suspend the offending process or thread – stopping it in its tracks – repair the damage and remove it from the virtual machine environment, and learn to recognise that piece of malware to prevent it entering the system again.

The self-healing software was developed for military applications to support cyber security for mission-critical systems, but it could also be useful in commercial web hosting and cloud computing operations.

If malware gets into such systems, A3 software could detect and repair the attack within minutes.

The university and Raytheon demonstrated the A3 software suite to DARPA in September by testing it against the notorious Shellshock exploit known as the Bash Bug.

A3 detected and repaired the Shellshock attack on a web server within four minutes. The project team also tested A3 successfully on another six examples of malware.

Eric Eide, the research associate professor of computer science who led the A3 project team along with computer science associate professor John Regehr, said: “It’s pretty cool when you can pick the Bug of the Week and it works.”

The A3 self-healing software suite is open source, so it’s free for anyone to use, and the university researchers would like to extend its applicability to cloud computing environments and, perhaps eventually, end-user computing.

Professor Eide said: “A3 technologies could find their way into consumer products someday, which would help consumer devices protect themselves against fast-spreading malware or internal corruption of software components. But we haven’t tried those experiments yet.”

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Rocket Internet Intends To Launch At Least 10 New Start-ups In 2015

November 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Rocket Internet the global e-commerce investor, plans to launch at least another 10 start-ups in 2015 and said it would work more closely with Facebook on advertising.

Rocket Internet, whose shares have had a bumpy ride since listing last month, said its 12 most successful companies saw average growth in gross merchandise volume — a measure of sales made through online marketplaces — of 104 percent in the six months to June 30.

It also announced a global agreement with Facebook, which will involve the U.S. company helping Rocket with advertising strategy and automation of ads and giving it access to tests of new advertising features.

Rocket Internet shares, which have rebounded to above the offer price of 42.50 euros after positive broker notes in recent days.

Investors who bought shares in Europe’s largest tech listing since 2000 were hoping to ride a wave of euphoria which culminated in Alibaba’s  bumper New York flotation. However, the shares came under pressure over concerns about how long it might take the Rocket start-ups to turn a profit.

Among Rocket’s top performers were Russian fashion site Lamoda and Indian online store Jabong, which saw first-half revenue grow 112 percent and 187 percent respectively.

Founded in 2007 by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer, Rocket has set up dozens of e-commerce and online marketplaces for everything from taxis to meal deliveries, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in new markets like Africa, Latin America and Russia.

 

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype For Web

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it is launching a beta of Skype for the Web, allowing browser-based video chats that don’t require a separate app.

“We’ve made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles,” wrote Jonathan Watson, Skype product marketing manager for Microsoft, in a blog post. “Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that’s over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls…. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser.”

Skype for Web, which is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, will be available via Internet Explorer, Chrome on Windows, Firefox or Safari.

“If you already use Skype, go to Skype.com and sign in to see all your contacts and latest conversation history,” wrote Watson. “We’re making Skype for Web available to small number of existing and new users to begin with, and gradually rolling out worldwide in the coming months — look out for an invite when you sign in to your Skype account on Skype.com.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Microsoft because it opens Skype up to more users in more places.

“The requirement to have a client means one might not always be able to use Skype,” he said. “For example, if I’m on a shared computer, say in an airport, I can’t use Skype…. Maybe I can’t get on the airport Wi-Fi, but there’s a public Internet terminal or I might want to use a friend’s computer. But with Skype Web, now I can. So now Skype can be pervasive across all devices, not just ones that I happen to own.”

 

 

 

Better 911 Call Location Finding Coming To Mobile Phones

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Emergency responders will be able to better locate callers who dial 911 on their cellphones from indoors as the U.S. wireless industry improves caller-location for the majority of such calls in the next few years.

Historically, satellite and other technologies have helped emergency responders find people who called from outdoors, while landlines commonly automatically provided dispatchers with an address. Cellphone calls from indoors, however, have been tougher to locate because walls weaken signals.

Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US have reached a deal with public-safety groups to get specific location data to 911 dispatchers for 40 percent of wireless 911 calls within two years and 80 percent within six years.

The wireless association CTIA announced the agreement with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and the National Emergency Number Association on Friday.

The deal marks a milestone in the long-running effort to help first-responders get to emergencies quickly as people increasingly rely on cellphones for 911 calls and to improve their ability to locate emergencies in places such as schools, shopping malls and hotels.

The Federal Communications Commission has long required data from wireless 911 calls to include location information based on outdoor technologies. But technology has been insufficient to direct responders to specific floors, rooms or particular areas of a building.

The FCC earlier this year challenged the wireless industry to help responders locate emergencies indoors, within 50 meters horizontally and 3 meters vertically, estimating it could save more than 10,000 lives every year.

The “heightened location accuracy,” available to supporting networks and handsets, will find callers through nearby devices connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that will be logged with a specific location in a special emergency-services database.

Over time, the wireless carriers plan to ensure each handset can turn on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity in emergency-call instances, if it is disabled.

The FCC had proposed the rollout timeframe of two years for 67 percent of cellphone calls and five years for 80 percent, though the companies and public safety groups reached a slightly different consensus.

 

 

 

 

 

Oracle And SAP Settle Piracy Dispute

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has won a limited victory in its long-running lawsuit with rival SAP.

The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.

German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.

In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.

Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.

SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.

“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.

“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”

SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.

Courtesy-TheInq