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Essential Phone Preorders Finally Get A Shipping Date

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

That new Essential Phone that consumers have been anxiously awaiting? Essential has promised preorders will start shipping within a week.

The announcement, sent via email to customers who’ve pre-ordered the device, promises the device will ship within seven days after payment is received.

It’s been a rocky road for the Essential PH-1, as it’s officially known, with the company missing its original shipping target. Essential announced on May 30 it would ship within 30 days, but by July, there was still no phone in sight. The company updated customers in late July promising it would arrive “in a few weeks.”

But while it’s a crowded market for phones, this isn’t just any old Android device. The Essential PH-1 is the brainchild of Andy Rubin, former Google executive and father of the Android software that now runs on 2 billion active devices around the world.

 The phone certainly has high-end looks to match its Android cred — thin bezels wrapping around a 5.7-inch display as well as magnetic modules, like a 360-degree camera, that snap on to the device.

At $700 (which translates to £550 or AU$940, though Essential is currently only shipping to addresses in the United States), the Essential PH-1 has a price tag to match its high-end looks, setting you back roughly the same amount as the iPhone 7 or the Samsung Galaxy S8.

And now, with a release just around the corner, we’ll be able to see how it stacks up against its heavyweight rivals.

Amazon Extends Brick-and-Mortar Push With ‘Instant Pickup’

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc is introducing U.S. pickup points where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them, shortening delivery times from hours to minutes in its latest move into brick-and-mortar retail.

The world’s largest online retailer has launched ‘Instant Pickup’ points around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, it said on Tuesday. Amazon has plans to add the program to more sites by the end of the year.

Shoppers on Amazon’s mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each location, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Amazon employees in a back room then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them.

The e-commerce company, which said in June it would buy Whole Foods Market Inc for $13.7 billion, has come to realize that certain transactions like buying fresh produce are hard to shift online. It’s Instant Pickup program targets another laggard: impulse buys.

“I want to buy a can of coke because I’m thirsty,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. “There’s no chance I’m going to order that on Amazon.com and wait however long it’s going to take for that to ship to me.”

“I can provide that kind of service here,” he said of the new program.

Amazon’s ability to shorten delivery times has been a sore point for brick-and-mortar retailers, who have struggled to grow sales as customers have turned to convenient online options. Until Instant Pickup, Amazon shoppers could expect their orders within an hour at best via the company’s Prime Now program, or within 15 minutes for grocery orders via AmazonFresh Pickup.

BMW Intel Self-driving Car Alliance Adds Fiat Chrysler

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Fiat Chrysler plans on joining an alliance spearheaded by BMW to develop self-driving cars, intensifying a race by carmakers and technology companies to develop “robotaxis” which can be called up via smartphone and paid for by the minute.

The market for such self-driving cabs could be worth $2 trillion by 2030, according to consultants McKinsey, as younger customers abandon car ownership in favor of a pay-per-use mobility service.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) said it plans to put autonomous car technology into production by 2021, matching a time frame shared by rival companies who are also developing self-driving cars.

BMW and its partners Intel and Mobileye said FCA would bring engineering and other expertise to the deal, paving the way to creating an industry-wide autonomous car platform which other carmakers could adopt.

Automakers are seeking alliances to share the high costs of developing autonomous cars, which according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan will make up about 10 to 15 percent of vehicles in Europe by 2030.

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne cited the “synergies and economies of scale” possible in joining the alliance.

Marchionne has long argued that automakers must merge in order to survive the prohibitively high costs of making more technologically advanced vehicles.

In April, he said FCA was looking for new partners in self-driving development because “banking all of our solutions on one possible outcome is going to be disastrous”.

FCA is also part of a separate alliance with Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo to develop self-driving cars based on Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans.

Autonomous cars will allow carmakers to disrupt the taxi market which is run by fleet operators and ride-hailing firms. Without having to pay drivers, ride-hailing could become more cost effective and compete against other forms of transport including buses.

Auto suppliers Delphi Automotive and Continental have also joined the BMW-Intel alliance. The consortium said it was on track to put 40 self-driving test vehicles on the road by the end of 2017, and would learn from the 100 test vehicles to be deployed by Mobileye in the United States later this year.

LinkedIn Loses Battle To Block Access To User’s Profile Data

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Microsoft Corp’s LinkedIn unit will not be allowed to prevent a startup from accessing public profile data, in a test of how much control a social media site can wield over information its users have deemed to be public.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction request brought by hiQ Labs, and ordered LinkedIn to remove within 24 hours any technology preventing hiQ from accessing public profiles.

The case is considered to have implications beyond LinkedIn and hiQ Labs and could dictate just how much control companies have over publicly available data that is hosted on their services.

“To the extent LinkedIn has already put in place technology to prevent hiQ from accessing these public profiles, it is ordered to remove any such barriers,” Chen’s order reads.

HiQ Labs uses the LinkedIn data to build algorithms capable of predicting employee behaviors, such as when they might quit.

LinkedIn plans to challenge the decision, company spokeswoman Nicole Leverich said.

“We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling,” Leverich said. “This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn.”

HiQ Labs called the decision an important victory for companies that rely on publicly available data for their businesses.

“HiQ believes that public data must remain public, and innovation on the internet should not be stifled by legal bullying or the anti-competitive hoarding of public data by a small group of powerful companies,” the company said in a statement Monday evening.

That sentiment was echoed by Falon Fatemi, chief executive of Node, a San Francisco startup that uses publicly available data and artificial intelligence to help companies identify potential customers.

The dispute between the two tech companies has been going on since May when LinkedIn issued a letter to hiQ Labs instructing the startup to stop scraping data from its service.

HiQ Labs responded by filing a lawsuit against LinkedIn in June, alleging that the Microsoft-owned social network was in violation of antitrust laws.

Angry Bird’s Rovio Returns To Profit, Possible IPO

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment Ltd announced that its sales in the first half of the year nearly doubled following the success of “The Angry Birds Movie.”

First-half revenue rose to 152.6 million euros ($179.7 million) from 78.5 million a year earlier, while adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased to 41.8 million euros from 11.0 million a year ago.

Following years of falling earnings, job cuts and restructuring, Rovio returned to profit in 2016 as the 3D Hollywood movie release revived the Angry Birds brand and gave a boost to game sales.

First-half revenue from games increased by 76 percent to 117.9 million euros. Rovio’s main titles include “Angry Birds 2,” “Angry Birds Friends” and the new multiplayer game “Battle Bay.”

This year’s growth is also due to movie revenues that had not shown in Rovio’s numbers previously.

The company is now planning a sequel to the Angry Birds movie with Columbia Pictures, scheduled for release in 2019.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Rovio was planning a possible initial public offering.

Rovio, which had earlier said a listing could be possible in the future, declined to comment.

Verizon, Others Push For Greater Cell Phone Records Privacy

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

More than a dozen high technology giants and the biggest wireless carrier in the United States, Verizon Communications Inc, have called on the U.S. Supreme Court to make it harder for government officials to access individuals’ sensitive cell phone data.

The companies filed a 44-page brief with the court on Monday night in a high-profile dispute over whether police should have to get a warrant before obtaining data that could reveal a cell phone user’s whereabouts.

Signed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, including Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Snap and Alphabet’s Google, the brief said that as individuals’ data is increasingly collected through digital devices, greater privacy protections are needed under the law.

“That users rely on technology companies to process their data for limited purposes does not mean that they expect their intimate data to be monitored by the government without a warrant,” the brief said.

The justices agreed last June to hear the appeal by Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted in 2013 in a series of armed robberies of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Ohio and Michigan.

Federal prosecutors helped place him near several of the robberies using “cell site location information” obtained from his wireless carrier.

Carpenter claims that without a warrant from a court, such data amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. But last year a federal appeals court upheld his convictions, finding that no warrant was required.

Carpenter’s case will be argued before the court some time after its new term begins in October.

The case comes amid growing scrutiny of the surveillance practices of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies and concern among lawmakers across the political spectrum about civil liberties and police evading warrant requirements.

Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing Carpenter, said the companies’ brief represented a “robust defense of their customers’ privacy rights in the digital age.”

The companies said in their brief the Supreme Court should clarify that when it comes to digital data that can reveal personal information, people should not lose protections against government intrusion “simply by choosing to use those technologies.”

Researchers Create Battery-Free Mobile Phone

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have emerged from their smoke-filled labs with a prototype of a battery-free mobile phone.

The phone is the work of a group of researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and works by harvesting tiny amounts of power from radio signals, known as radio frequency or ‘RF’ waves.

Team member Vamsi Talla told Reuters that ambient RF waves are all around us so, as an example, your FM station broadcasts radio waves,TV stations, mobile phone towers. They all are transmitting RF waves.

The phone is a first prototype and its operation is basic – at first glance it looks little more than a circuit board with a few parts attached and the caller must wear headphones and press a button to switch between talking and listening.

But the boffins say there are plans to develop further prototypes, featuring a low-power screen for texting and even a basic camera. They also plan a version of the battery-free phone that uses a tiny solar cell to provide power.

The researchers plan to release a product in eight to nine months’ time, thought they would not give further details. One team member however, was prepared to give a glimpse of how their work will impact the future of cellphone technology.

“In the future every smartphone will come with a battery-free mode where you can at least make a voice call when your battery’s dead.”

Meanwhile Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Surrey in Britain, are developing supercapacitors, which they believe will eventually allow devices to charge in a period of a few minutes.

Courtesy-Fud

Bitcoin Keeps Soaring, Surpasses $4000 Threshold

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin has passed another major milestone, easily reaching beyond the $4,000 threshold on Sunday. The cryptocurrency, which has only been in existence for seven years, reached a high of $4,224 (equivalent to £3,244 or AU$5,343) shortly after 9 a.m. UTC on Sunday.

It’s been a swift rise for bitcoin, which only passed the $3,000 marker for the first time at the start of the month. The rise also comes fresh off the heels of the so-called “hard fork” in bitcoin which saw a new virtual currency called Bitcoin Cash split off from bitcoin proper on August 1.

The split was designed to deal with the growing popularity of bitcoin, which was struggling to support an increasing number of transactions using existing blockchain technology, though the move left many wondering whether market values would fall.

But bitcoin seems to have defied expectations, pushing through the $4,000 barrier with ease, though there’s no certainty on where values are headed — particularly as we push closer toward the day when every bitcoin is mined.

Still, this is for sure: Purchasing 1 bitcoin for 8 cents back in 2010 would have netted you a 52,800-fold return today.

Amazon Issues Recall For Solar Eclipse Glasses

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon has issued a recall to consumers who purchased eclipse glasses that may not have come from a recommended manufacturer.

The internet retailer began notifying buyers of the unverified glasses on Saturday, warning them not to use the product for viewing the much-anticipated total solar eclipse later this month. Customers who didn’t receive a recall email are safe to use the ones they purchased.

“We recommend that you DO NOT use this product to view the sun or the eclipse,” the email said.

Sales of eclipse glasses have been hot ahead of the Aug. 21 event, when the moon will pass in front of the sun, completely blotting it out for those along a 70-mile-wide corridor stretching across the contiguous United States.

Amazon said it issued the recall over concerns with the quality of the glasses.

“Safety is among our highest priorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards,” Amazon said in a statement. ” We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard.”

The American Astronomical Society has information on how to make sure you are purchasing effective glasses for viewing the solar eclipse.

More Unaired HBO Shows Released By Hacker

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hackers have loaded onto the internet more unaired episodes of popular HBO shows but the latest leak did not include anything on the hit series “Game of Thrones,” the Associated Press reported.

The hackers, who broke into HBO’s computer network and have released stolen information for several weeks, provided more unaired episodes, including the popular show “Curb Your Enthusiasm, ” which returns in October.

They also leaked episodes of “Insecure,” “Ballers” and “The Deuce,” according to the Associated Press.

Time Warner Inc’s HBO said Sunday in an emailed statement that it was “not in communication with the hacker, and we’re not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released.”

“It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO,” it said. “The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention. That’s a game we’re not going to participate in.”

HBO acknowledged the hack earlier this summer. It said the thieves had been leaking stolen materials and asking for a multi-million-dollar ransom.

The hack came at a sensitive time for HBO parent Time Warner as it awaits regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T Inc in a $85.4 billion deal announced in October.

IBM Improves Deep Learning

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Big Blue Boffins claim to have developed technology that dramatically cuts the time it takes to crunch massive amounts of data and then come up with useful insights.

If it is all true then it could mean that deep learning, the technique used by IBM, is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that mimics how the human brain works could be set to take off.

IBM wanted to reduce the time it takes for deep learning systems to digest data from days to hours.

The improvements could help radiologists get faster, more accurate reads of anomalies and masses on medical images,.

Hillery Hunter, an IBM Fellow and director of systems acceleration and memory at IBM Research, said that, until now, deep learning has largely run on single server because of the complexity of moving huge amounts of data between different computers.

The problem is in keeping data synchronized between lots of different servers and processors

In its announcement IBM says it has come up with software that can divide those tasks among 64 servers running up to 256 processors total, and still reap huge benefits in speed. The company is making that technology available to customers using IBM Power System servers and to other techies who want to test it.

IBM used 64 of its own Power 8 servers—each of which links IBM Power microprocessors with Nvidia graphical processors with a fast NVLink interconnection to facilitate fast data flow between the two types of chips..

It developed clustering technology that manages the multiple processors in a given server as well as to the processors in the other 63 servers. If that traffic management is done incorrectly, some processors sit idle, waiting for something to do.

Each processor has its own data set that it knows, also needs data from the other processors to get the bigger picture. If the processors get out of sync they can’t learn anything, explained Hunter.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The U.S. ITC Really Investigate Apple

August 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Trade Commission has announced that it will launch an investigation into Apple following allegations from Qualcomm that its devices violate six of its patents.

The move, arguably procedural, means that the ITC will formally investigate Qualcomm’s complaint, rather than dismiss it outright.

“The US International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation of certain mobile electronic devices and radio frequency and processing components thereof,” the ITC said.

“The products at issue in the investigation are mobile electronic devices – such as the iPhone 7, and specific components for such

Qualcomm’s complaint alleges that iPhones, which are made in China, should not be allowed to be brought into the United States if they infringe on its patents, and if the chipmaker has its way, the ITC would ban imports and sales of Apple’s handsets.

At the heart of the matter is Apple’s use of cellular baseband processors made by Intel, with Qualcomm arguing that iPhones Intel’s 4G wireless chips are effectively using six Qualcomm patents “unfairly” and “unlawfully”.

Unsurprisingly, Qualcomm said it is “pleased” with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple.

“Qualcomm is pleased with the ITC’s decision to investigate Apple’s unfair trade practices and the unauthorized importation of products using Qualcomm’s patents,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm.

“We look forward to the ITC’s expeditious investigation of Apple’s ongoing infringement of our intellectual property and the accelerated relief that the Commission can provide.'”

Apple, when asked for comment, pointed to this prior statement from June: “Qualcomm’s illegal business practices are harming Apple and the entire industry.

“They supply us with a single connectivity component, but for years have been demanding a percentage of the total cost of our products – effectively taxing Apple’s innovation.”

Last month, Intel filed its own statement with the ITC, claiming that Qualcomm’s request for the regulatory agency to intervene was “a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm’s only remaining rival.”

Courtesy-TheInq

SoundCloud Receives Funding, Lives To See Another Day

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

SoundCloud, the world’s most popular streaming music app, but one that has been plagued by money-losing strategies, said it received new funding on Friday, insulating it from potentially running out of cash this year.

The company, which laid off 40 percent of its staff in July, said in a blog post that the financing was raised from media-focused investment bank Raine Group of New York and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek.

It did not disclose the amount or its terms. Raine and Temasek were not immediately available for comment.

One source familiar with the investment said it amounted to around $170 million (144 million euros), as reported on Thursday by online news site Axios, which had obtained the deal’s term sheet.

The company said that as part of the new investment, digital media veterans Kerry Trainor and Michael Weissman, respectively the former chief executive and chief operating officer of online video service Vimeo, would take the same roles at SoundCloud.

The arrival of the former leaders of Vimeo – one of the biggest online video rivals to Google’s YouTube and Facebook- raises the prospect SoundCloud may evolve beyond audio streaming in a more music video-oriented direction.

SoundCloud founder and former CEO Alexander Ljung has agreed to step aside to become chairman of the board, it said. Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Wahlross will remain at the company as chief product officer.

In July, SoundCloud fired 173 employees and closed its London and San Francisco offices to focus on Berlin and New York. A spokeswoman for SoundCloud said last month it remained fully funded into the fourth quarter while declining to comment on what lay beyond.

“The investment will ensure a strong, independent future for SoundCloud, funding deeper development and marketing of its core tools used by millions of audio creators – musicians, DJs, producers, labels, managers and podcasters,” SoundCloud said.

Slack Enables Enteprise Mobility Management, Strengthens Security Features

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Slack has enabled integration with the most prevalent enterprise mobility management (EMM) platforms in order to offer security and policy management features to its four-year old, cloud-based messaging application.

The messaging platform provider worked with AppConfig, an open standards group, which allowed Slack to integrate through a set of APIs with 21 EMM vendors.

Slack said it also worked more closely with three EMM providers – VMware Airwatch, MobileIron, and Blackberry Good – “to ensure a smooth experience for our joint customers.

“EMM is a critical addition to Slack’s enterprise-grade security feature set, which also includes data encryption in transit and at rest,” Slack said.

Prior to the announcement, Slack already came with its own encryption capability. It can now offer the same crypto security based on the EMM providers’ technology.

EMM is a comprehensive, hardware-agnostic method of remotely managing mobile devices, including their configuration and the enterprise content generated on them, through mobile device management and mobile application management. EMM is all-encompassing; it can control access to corporate apps, internal websites and even the data silos associated with them.

EMM integration affords Slack SCIM provisioning (an open API for managing user identities), SAML-based single sign-on capabilities, two-factor authentication and remote device wiping capabilities.

A new feature, “Profiles in Slack,” enables admins to put faces to names and provide background information about the people on each corporate team using the messaging platform.

The feature allows first and last names, as well as where an employee is located, their job description and their business group.

If a company already uses an identity provider or internal directory, it can now sync that information with Profiles in Slack using the SCIM API, which helps admins consolidate identity management while building out a directory that’s easily accessible by a business team in Slack.

Slack claims to have 6.8 million weekly active users, and more than 1.5 million paid users.

Tesla Developing Self-driving Electric Truck

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Inc is working on a long-haul, electric semi-truck that can drive itself and move in “platoons” that automatically follow a lead vehicle, and is getting closer to testing a prototype, according to an email discussion of potential road tests between the car company and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), seen by Reuters.

Meanwhile, California officials are meeting with Tesla on Wednesday “to talk about Tesla’s efforts with autonomous trucks,” state DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Reuters.

The correspondence and meeting show that Tesla is putting self-driving technology into the electric truck it has said it plans to unveil in September, and is advancing toward real-life tests, potentially moving it forward in a highly competitive area of commercial transport also being pursued by Uber Technologies Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo.

After announcing intentions a year ago to produce a heavy-duty electric truck, Musk tweeted in April that the semi-truck would be revealed in September, and repeated that commitment at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in June, but he has never mentioned any autonomous-driving capabilities.

Tesla has been a leader in developing self-driving technology for its luxury cars, including the lower-priced Model 3, which it is beginning to manufacture.

Several Silicon Valley companies developing autonomous driving technology are working on long-haul trucks. They see the industry as a prime early market for the technology, citing the relatively consistent speeds and little cross-traffic trucks face on interstate highways and the benefits of allowing drivers to rest while trucks travel.

Some companies also are working on technology for “platooning”, a driving formation where trucks follow one another closely. If trucks at the back of the formation were able to automatically follow a lead vehicle, that could cut the need for drivers.

Silicon Valley startup Peloton Technology, for example, is working with several truck makers including Volvo on its platooning system, which it sees as a precursor to autonomy.

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