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MasterCard Testing A New Card With Fingerprint Reader

October 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

MasterCard is trying out a contactless payment card with a built-in fingerprint reader that can authorize high-value payments without requiring the user to enter a PIN.

The credit-card company showed a prototype of the card in London on Friday along with Zwipe, the Norwegian company that developed the fingerprint recognition technology.

The contactless payment card has an integrated fingerprint sensor and a secure data store for the cardholder’s biometric data, which is held only on the card and not in an external database, the companies said.

The card also has an EMV chip, used in European payment cards instead of a magnetic stripe to increase payment security, and a MasterCard application to allow contactless payments.

The prototype shown Friday is thicker than regular payment cards to accommodate a battery. Zwipe said it plans to eliminate the battery by harvesting energy from contactless payment terminals and is working on a new model for release in 2015 that will be as thin as standard cards.

Thanks to its fingerprint authentication, the Zwipe card has no limit on contactless payments, said a company spokesman. Other contactless cards can only be used for payments of around €20 or €25, and some must be placed in a reader and a PIN entered once the transaction reaches a certain threshold.

Norwegian bank Sparebanken DIN has already tested the Zwipe card, and plans to offer biometric authentication and contactless communication for all its cards, the bank has said.

MasterCard wants cardholders to be able to identify themselves without having to use passwords or PINs. Biometric authentication can help with that, but achieving simplicity of use in a secure way is a challenge, it said.

 

Openstack Releases Juno

October 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Openstack has reached another major milestone today with the release of Juno, its newest version.

The latest version of the cloud computing stack contains 342 new features, 3,219 bug fixes, almost 500,000 lines of modified documentation and a new Architecture Design Guide.

1,419 unique contributors including representatives from 133 companies made it all happen over six months.

Last month it was revealed that HP had overtaken Red Hat in terms of overall contributions to Juno, and is closing in on Red Hat’s overall lead.

However, Red Hat has shifted focus more towards the cloud market in recent strategy announcements, so that lead could widen again.

The new version adds storage policies, data processing provisioning for Hadoop and Spark and takes the initial steps towards being a platform for Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) in a future release, meaning that it would be capable of managing a number of functions currently fulfilled by expensive software.

Other new features include Nova Compute, a rescue mode improvement with the option to boot from alternative images via locally attached disks, update scheduling and internationalisation updates.

For networking, the Neutron module includes IPv6 and third-party driver testing, plug-ins, and migration support from Nova to Neutron.

The Keystone identity service allows users to share credentials for private and public OpenStack clouds.

The Heat engine, which manages orchestration, includes advanced rollback options in the event of failed deployment and the option for administrators to delegate creation of resources to non-admins.

The Horizon Dashboard now offers Hadoop deployment in a few clicks, enabling rapidly scalable data processing with custom parameters.

Finally, the Trove database allows users to manage relational database servcies in the OpenStack environment.

Of course, OpenStack waits for no-one. With this release safely out, work now begins on the next version, codenamed Kilo, which is due in April 2015.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

FCC To Explore Next-Generation Wireless Networks

October 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, on Friday, stated that U.S. regulators will look “to infinity and beyond” to harness new technology that can help build a new generation of mobile wireless connections.

The FCC on Friday voted unanimously to open a so-called “notice of inquiry” into what it and the industry can do to turn a new swath of very high-frequency airwaves, previously deemed unusable for mobile networks, into mobile-friendly frequencies.

The FCC’s examination would serve as a regulatory backdrop for research into the next generation of wireless technology, sometimes referred to as 5G and which may allow wireless connections to carry a thousand times more traffic.

“Today we’re stepping in front of the power curve,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on Friday at the meeting.

In question are frequencies above 24 gigahertz (GHz), sometimes called millimeter waves, that have previously been deemed technically unweildy for mobile connections, though have the potential to carry large amounts of data and give the promise of lightning-fast speeds.

Millimeter waves work best over short distances and have required a direct line-of-sight connection to a receiver. They are now largely used for point-to-point microwave connections.

The FCC said it will study what technologies could help get around the technological and practical obstacles and what kind of regulatory regime could help a variety of technologies to flourish on those airwaves, including the potential for services other than mobile.

The U.S. wireless industry continues to work on deploying the 4G connections, though some equipment manufacturers, such as Samsung are already testing data transmission on the higher frequencies.

 

 

Tablet Sales Growth Dropped Drastically

October 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The news about tablet sales isn’t good.

Gartner and IDC both recently dramatically lowered their tablet shipment and sales estimates for 2014 and coming years, citing primarily the longer-than-expected time customers keep their existing tablets. (That phenomenon is called the “refresh rate.”)

Gartner said it had originally expected 13% tablet sales growth for the year globally; it has now lowered that growth rate to 11%. IDC’s forecast change was even more dire: In June, it predicted shipment growth this year would be 12.1%, but in September it cut that number to 6.5%.

In the U.S., things are worse, because more than half of households have a tablet and may hold onto it for more than three years, well beyond analysts’ earlier expectations.

IDC said in its latest update that tablet growth in the U.S. this year will be just 1.5%, and will slow to 0.4% in 2015. After that, it expects negative growth through 2018. Adding in 2-in-1 devices, such as a Surface Pro with a keyboard, the situation in the U.S. improves, although overall growth for both tablets and 2-in-1′s will still only reach 3.8% in 2014, and just 0.4% by 2018, IDC said.

“Tablet penetration is high in the U.S. — over half of all households have at least one — which leads to slow growth…,” Mikako Kitagawa, an analyst at Gartner, said in an interview. “A smartphone is a must-have item, but a tablet is not. You can do the same things on a laptop as you do with a tablet, and these are all inter-related.”

Tablets are a “nice-to-have and not a must-have, because phones and PCs are enough to get by,” added Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel.

In a recent Kantar survey of 20,000 potential tablet buyers, only 13% said they definitely or probably would buy a tablet in the next year, while 54% said they would not, Milanesi said. Of those planning not to buy a tablet, 72% said they were happy with their current PC.

At IDC, analyst Tom Mainelli reported that the first half of 2014 saw tablet growth slow to 5.8% (from a growth rate of 88% in the first half of 2013). Mainelli said the meteoric pace of past years has slowed dramatically due to long device refresh cycles and pressure from sales of large phones, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. That phone has a 5.5-in. display, which is close to some smaller tablets with 7-in. displays.

 

 

 

Facebook Doubling Reward For It’s Ad Based Bugs

October 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is doubling the bounty it will pay for security vulnerabilities related to code that runs its advertising system, the company announced.

A comprehensive security audit of its ads code was recently completed, but Facebook “would like to encourage additional scrutiny from whitehats to see what we may have missed,” wrote Collin Greene, a security engineer, in a blog post. “Whitehats” refers to ethical security researchers, as opposed to “blackhats” who take advantage of vulnerabilities.

According to bug bounty program guidelines, Facebook pays a minimum of $500 for a valid bug report. Until the end of the year, that has been increased to $1,000.

Greene wrote that the majority of reports it receives concern more common parts of Facebook’s code, but the company would like to encourage interest in ads “to better protect businesses.”

Facebook’s ad tools include the Ads Manager, the ads API (application programming interface) and Analytics, which is also called Insights, Greene wrote. The company also wants close scrutiny of its back-end billing code.

“There is a lot of backend code to correctly target, deliver, bill and measure ads,” Greene wrote. “This code isn’t directly reachable via the website, but of the small number of issues that have been found in these areas, they are relatively high impact.”

Greene wrote that Facebook typically sees bugs such as incorrect permission checks, insufficient rate-limiting, edge-case CSRF (cross-site request forgery) issues and problems with Flash in its ads code.

 

Will Smartwatches Hit The 100 Million Sales Mark By 2019?

October 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

With so much hype surrounding smartwatches and wearables in general, one could hardly be blamed for thinking the industry is about tap a new goldmine, but the numbers are not encouraging.

Juniper Research now estimates smartwatch shipments will hit 100 million by 2019. The firm expects several high-profile products to launch over the next year or so, helping boost mainstream awareness.

However, the figures are anything but encouraging.

The report, titled ‘Smart Watches: Market Dynamics, Vendor Strategies & Scenario Forecasts 2014-2019′, expects growth will decelerate from 2016 onwards. The first batch will ride the hype, but moving forward it won’t do much for mainstream adoption.

However, the forecast also examines the possibility of sustaining 2014-2015 growth in the long term.

If consumers discover a ‘key use case’ or cases for smartwatches, backed by more product releases on the back of higher demand, higher growth could be sustained. In plain English, if people actually find a use for smartwatches, they will see more growth.

Unfortunately the case is hard to make at this point. Smartwatches face a number of hardware limitations and software support is still limited, which means they are not very useful at the moment. Juniper expects more vendors to integrate GPS, NFC and other technologies, but the downside is that smartwatches are not expected to become very cheap. The firm estimates premium branding and high functionality to keep prices at $200+ until the end of the decade.

Europeans not too keen

One possible application that could generate more demand comes in the form of mobile payments. Apple Pay is coming to the Apple Watch, but the service will be limited to the US for quite a while and Apple won’t have an easy time launching it in other markets, where it enjoys a much lower market share.

The problem with mobile digital wallets is that they have not taken off yet. What’s more, new research indicates that Europeans are not sold on the idea of smartwatch wallets.

The survey, carried out by German market research firm GfK, found that just 20 percent of Germans and 27 percent of Britons are interested in contactless payments built into a watch. However, Chinese and American consumers are more open to the idea, with 40 and 54 percent saying they are interested.

Most consumers said they are interested in health applications and many said they would store identification data on their smartwatches.

Courtesy-Fud

Oracle Changes Position On Permanent DBA Certifications

October 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Oracle is requiring database administrators to obtain new certifications if the ones they hold are for older versions of its platform.

“Earning an Oracle certification is a well-respected achievement,” the company said on its website. “However, as products age and are removed from Oracle standard support maintenance, the technology becomes less relevant, devaluing the associated credential(s).”

While that may seem like a reasonable enough conclusion, one question in a FAQ page on the site notes that “Oracle has stated that certification is permanent” and the policy change “seems to go against that.”

The change “helps maintain the integrity of our certification program and the value of your certification,” the site states.

The policy reflects certifications for Oracle database versions ranging from 7.3, which dates to the mid-1990s, up to 10g, which was released in 2003.

DBAs certified on those versions must recertify on a newer version of the database by either November 2015 or March 2016 if they want to keep their credentials in an “active” status. Oracle recommends that DBAs upgrade their certification to version 11g or later, the site states.

Oracle stands to benefit financially from the recertifications, given the fees charged to take the tests.

Still, one longtime Oracle DBA, who asked to remain anonymous, praised Oracle’s decision.

“It was never a good idea that certifications were permanent,” the DBA said via email. “Changes in features and architecture, for example 12c multi-tenant, should render previous certifications null and void. Will it ruffle some feathers? Yeah probably. Should it? No. In my opinion certifications should apply to a single release and nothing more.”

There could be more news on this front yet to come. A decision on whether to require all product certifications to be recertified is “currently under discussion,” according to the Oracle FAQ.

 

 

 

Google Adds More Cities To Shopping Delivery Service

October 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google Inc announed that it would be expanding its same-day shopping delivery service to three additional U.S. cities and start charging customers for the service, which competes with Amazon.com Inc.

The Google Express service, which was earlier only available in certain parts of California and New York City, will be expanded to Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C., Google said in a blog.

Membership for the service, which was earlier called Google Shopping Express, will cost $95 a year, or $10 a month.

Online retailer Amazon’s same-day delivery service, called Prime, charges customers $99 per year, after a free one-year trial.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, at a public speech made in Berlin on Monday, called Amazon its “biggest search competitor”, the Financial Times and other media reported.

“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon,” the FT quoted Schmidt as saying.

Schmidt said internet users are likely to go directly to the retailer if they are shopping.

 

 

HP, EMC Call Off Merger Talks

October 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hewlett-Packard Co has ended all merger discussions with EMC Corp, deciding to walk away from the deal after months of fruitless negotiations, people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The official cessation of discussions to merge two of the tech industry’s largest enterprise-oriented firms may come as a disappointment to activist investors Elliott Management, which has pushed hard for storage products maker EMC to pursue merger or spinoff opportunities.

Pressure is building on EMC as rival technology companies, such as eBay Inc and Symantec, begin spinning off operations in an attempt to unlock shareholder value, become more agile, and capitalize on faster-growing businesses.

It is unclear when talks ended following months-long discussions, the people said on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

Executives from the two companies were still trying to hammer out a deal as recently as last week, but talks bogged down on price and are now dead, the people said.

HP has temporarily suspended its stock buyback program ahead of its Nov. 25 earnings because the company said it is in possession of material non-public information. When pressed by stock analysts, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak noted on a conference call that the non-public information pertains to a possible acquisition.

HP and EMC declined to comment on Tuesday.

It is also unclear what specifically was discussed. A straight-up merger of the two companies would have created one of the industry’s largest providers of data storage, and created a computing giant with deep penetration in the business of providing computing hardware and services to corporations.

 

 

Cisco Warns Users To Lock Down Webex To Prevent Snooping

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Cisco has warned users to lock down WebEx after a security researcher and journalist discovered many big-name companies left some online meetings open for anyone to join.

Brian Krebs wrote on his blog that he found companies and organizations that failed to password protect WebEx meetings, which allowed “anyone to join daily meetings about apparently internal discussions and planning sessions.”

Meeting schedules for organizations were available through WebEx’s “Event Center,” he wrote.

Cisco has a variety of options for WebEx that are intended to accommodate sensitive meetings and ones intended for the public.

For example, Cisco requires a password to be set by default for a meeting, but that option can be turned off, wrote Aaron Lewis, who works in global social media marketing, on a company blog.

“The most secure meetings will always be protected by a complex password,” Lewis wrote.

Companies may publicly list a meeting for webinars that anyone can join, but “if your WebEx site administrator or IT department allows listed meetings, then we recommend listing your meeting only if there is a true business reason,” Lewis wrote.

Another tip is to disable the option “join before host,” which will then give the host visibility on who has joined. Also, setting the “host as presenter” prevents someone else form joining the meeting and sharing content, Lewis wrote.

Krebs wrote he found meetings not protected by a password from a host of companies and organizations, including Charles Schwab, CSC, CBS, CVS, The U.S. Department of Energy, Fannie Mae, Jones Day, Orbitz, Paychex Services and Union Pacific.

 

Google Launches Telemedicine Beta Feature

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is offering a temporary trial of a new feature that allows people seeking medical advice to also connect with a physician for an online consult.

The feature, part of the Google+ Helpouts online collaboration video service that launched a year ago, allows healthcare workers to share expertise through live video and provide real-time advice from their computers or mobile devices.

“When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people,” a Google spokesperson said in an email response to Computerworld.

The new Helpouts feature offers a link to a video service that a physician or other healthcare worker has established for advising patients who’ve used a particular search query, such as “congestive heart failure” or “shoulder injury.”

Video chat services and other forms of remote communications with healthcare workers have increased 400% from 2012 levels.

This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million out of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.

With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth improved a hundredfold from a decade ago, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office.

 

 

 

Alleged Dropbox User Names And Passwords Posted On Pastebin

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Several hundred of alleged usernames and passwords for online document-sharing site Dropbox were published on Monday on Pastebin, an anonymous information-sharing website.

The anonymous user, who claims to have hacked close to 7 million accounts, is calling for Bitcoin donations to fund the operation.

“We will keep releasing more to the public as donations come in, show your support,” the anonymous Pastebin user said on the site.

Dropbox, however, said it has not been hacked.

“These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts. We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well,” a Dropbox spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Dropbox is a Silicon Valley startup that has proved a hit with consumers and boasts more than 200 million users six years after it was started. It has undergone tremendous growth amid the meteoric rise of cloud, which is expected to continue booming alongside mobile computing.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last week advised those concerned about their privacy to “get rid of Dropbox” and cease using Facebook and Google.

 

Verizon To Offer Sony’s Xperia Z3V Smartphone

October 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sony and Verizon Wireless have designed a new smartphone, the Xperia Z3V, which will go on sale in the U.S. starting later this month.

The smartphone is a variant of the Xperia Z3, which was announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin last month. The smartphone will be sold for US$199 through Verizon with a two-year mobile contract, the companies said.

The Z3V smartphone has a 5.2-inch screen and looks and feels just like the Z3, but there are subtle differences. The Z3V has wireless charging and offers a longer battery life of two hours. The Z3 has one-and-a-half hours of battery life.

The Z3V also lets users play PlayStation 4 games remotely on their phones with the Remote Play feature.

The Z3V has the same 20.7-megapixel rear camera as the Z3, but advanced software to shoot and edit pictures.

Other features include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution screen and a 2.2-megapixel front camera. It runs on the Android 4.4 OS, code-named KitKat. The smartphone is also waterproof.

The Xperia Z3V is the effective successor to the Z2, which shipped just six months ago, and has received good reviews. But PC Advisor says that the hardware in the Z3 is similar to that of its predecessor, so there’s no major reason to upgrade.

Sony’s U.S. mobile business has struggled. But the company is committed to that market, said Kunimasa Suzuki, president and CEO of Sony Mobile Communications, at the event. The Z3V is central to the company’s plans for the market, which also include bringing all of gaming, movie, music and device assets together.

The Z3V was one of many product availability announcements made at the press conference. Verizon will sell Sony’s Smartwatch 3 starting later this month, though no price was announced.

The Smartwatch 3 was also announced at IFA. It will run on Google’s Android Wear OS and offer two days of battery life, said Jeff Dietel, vice president of marketing at Verizon Wireless.

 

 

 

Twitter To Allow Money Transfer Via Tweets

October 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

One of France’s largest banks is partnering with social network Twitter Inc. to allow its customers to transfer money via tweets.

The move by Groupe BPCE, France’s second largest bank by customers, coincides with Twitter’s own foray into the world of online payments as the social network seeks new sources of revenue beyond advertising.

Twitter is racing other tech giants Apple  and Facebook to get a foothold in new payment services for mobile phones or apps. They are collaborating and, in some cases, competing with banks and credit card issuers that have run the business for decades.

The bank said last month it was prepared to offer simple person-to-person money transfers via Twitter to French consumers, regardless of what bank they use, and without requiring the sender know the recipient’s banking details.

“(S-Money) offers Twitter users in France a new way to send each other money, irrespective of their bank and without having to enter the beneficiary’s bank details, with a simple tweet,” Nicolas Chatillon, chief executive of S-Money,  BPCE’s mobile payments unit, said in the statement.

Payment by tweets will be managed via the bank’s S-Money service, which allows money transfers via text message and relies on the credit-card industry’s data security standards.

BPCE and Twitter declined to provide further details ahead of a news conference in Paris later today to unveil the service.

Last month, Twitter started trials of its own new service, dubbed “Twitter Buy”,  to allow consumers to find and buy products on its social network.

The service embeds a “Twitter Buy” button inside tweets posted by more than two dozen stores, music artists and non-profits. Burberry, Home Depot, and musicians such as Pharrell and Megadeth are among the early vendors.

Twitter’s role to date has been to connect customers rather than processing payments or checking their identities.

 

 

Amazon Mulling Retail Store In New York

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com, the largest online retailer in the world, is exploring the possibility of opening its first brick-and-mortar store — in New York City — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company, which is reportedly opening the store on Manhattan’s busy 34th Street, is looking to experiment with a retail store that would focus on same-day delivery in the city, as well as give customers a place for product returns, exchanges and even online order pickups, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) .

The store also would give shoppers a place to check out – and hold in their hands — Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Fire smartphone.

Kelly Cheeseman, a spokeswoman for Amazon, told Computerworld, “We have made no announcements about a location in Manhattan.”

“This is kind of interesting because it’s so counter-intuitive,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “People buy in different ways and often, with holiday buying, folks shift sharply to stores as their procrastination catches up with them at the end of the season. Amazon loses business when this happens and by setting up stores in very high-traffic areas, they can go after at least some of this business.”

The brick-and-mortar store also will be an in-your-face reminder for people to think about shopping at Amazon as they move through Manhattan. They might not be able to stop in the store but it might nudge them to look online – especially at Amazon.com — for that sweater, book or stand mixer they want to buy.

“I think it’s more about bringing publicity to Amazon during the holiday season rather than a new move to bricks and mortar,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “First, it’s in New York City — in the heart of midtown Manhattan — and it will be open during the Christmas shopping season. I would also imagine that this will garner Amazon a lot of attention during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events.”