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FAA Grants CNN Rights To Fly Drones Over Crowds

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

News giant CNN has been granted a waiver to make routine drone flights above crowds, a milestone for the drone industry, which is expected to experience dramatic growth in the next few years.

The Part 107 waiver represents the first time the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded a waiver for unlimited flights of unmanned aerial vehicles over people, the news network said in a statement.  FAA rules prohibit drone flights over people, but waivers are available when applicants can demonstrate no risk of injury.

“This waiver signifies a critical step forward not only for CNN’s UAS operations, but also the commercial UAS industry at large,” David Vigilante, senior vice president of legal for CNN, said in a statement.

New FAA regulations for commercial use of drones went into effect in August 2016, making it easier for pilots to use drones for everything from structural or crop inspection to search-and-rescue operations to film production.

CNN will be allowed to fly a Vantage Robotics Snap drone weighing 1.37 pounds and featuring four enclosed rotors to reduce the chance of injury. The device is designed to break apart and be snapped back together if it crashes.

The move comes as the drone industry experiences meteoric growth. The FAA expects the number of commercial drones to grow from 42,000 at the end of 2016 to about 442,000 aircraft by 2021.

Samsung Bixby Arrives On Refrigerators

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Get ready for smarter appliances.

Samsung has announced the second generation of its Bixby digital assistant will be coming to its various non-mobile devices including its smart TVs in the US and Korea in 2018, as well as its Family Hub refrigerator. The company also announced a new SDK for developers to make apps that work with Bixby.

Bixby 2.0, Samsung’s answer to the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, is smarter than its first version, with deep-linking capabilities and improved natural language capabilities. It can better recognize individual users and better predict peoples’ needs. The update integrates predictive technology from Viv, which Samsung has said would help the software work with third-party apps.

At the Samsung Developer Conference on Wednesday, Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, laid out the company’s vision for the future beyond the smartphone: everything connected.

“At Samsung we see a new era of seamless experiences that break the barrier of a single device,” Koh said.

Samsung made the announcements at its fourth annual developers conference, taking place this week in San Francisco. The event, which started off small at a San Francisco hotel, last year expanded to Moscone Center West, where Apple previously held its developer conference. This year, 5,000 people are attending SDC, Koh said. Last year, about 4,000 developers attended.

Samsung has had difficulty generating enthusiasm for many of its software products. The company leans on Google’s Android software to run the vast majority of its smartphones and tablets, while its own Tizen operating system has struggled to gain a foothold. Meanwhile, Samsung has scrapped many of the services it’s created, like the Samsung Media Hub and Milk Video.

But it keeps trying. Samsung introduced Bixby on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus earlier this year and has been pushing SmartThings. It’s also partnered with Facebook’s Oculus on virtual reality for mobile devices. For Samsung, getting developers to create unique apps for its broad range of products — from its televisions to its smartwatches — is key.

Dropbox Debuts ‘Showcase’ New Product Aimed At Freelancers

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Dropbox has rolled out a new portfolio feature, Showcase, designed to help independent workers and small teams of professionals display and share documents more easily.

The idea is that freelance workers such as architects and designers can store content in Showcase before sharing information with clients. Documents are arranged in a branded portfolio in a “secure and polished way,” with customizable layouts, said Dropbox director of product, Vishal Kapoor. It is also possible to add text captions to files to introduce content topics to help create a narrative around what’s being shared.

Dropbox, which recently rebranded to appeal to “creatives,” has identified a large target audience: it is estimated that 35% of the U.S. workforce is now freelance, a group that as of 2016 totaled to 55 million people.

“Dropbox has quite a following in creative and media companies,” said ESG senior analyst Terri McClure. “Showcase complements that really well – it’s really nice for when a story needs to accompany files or other collateral. In the creative space, it is really important to control the narrative and set the stage for discussions.”

Showcase is aimed at overcoming some of the problems users face when sharing documents. For example, a marketing consultant might want to know if their client has actually opened more than just the first of a batch of five files. With Showcase they can track who has viewed, downloaded or commented on documents within the portfolio.

Files stored in Showcase are synced with Dropbox, meaning that any changes are instantly updated.

While Showcase is targeted at independent workers, it is just as suited to small teams of people within large companies, said Kapoor.

“Say a large enterprise has sales and marketing that are collaborating with each other. When the work is done they share it internally within the organization or externally outside of the organization,” he said. “We think that Showcase is not just limited to independent workers, but scales very well.”

Showcase is launching as part of a new pricing tier: Dropbox Professional. This also includes Dropbox Smart Sync, unveiled earlier this year, which lets users view all of their Dropbox documents from a single device, whether they are stored locally on a hard drive or in the cloud.

“There are millions of freelancers and self-employed small business users that need many of the features previously available only in the business plans,” said ESG’s McClure. “This fixes that.”

The Professional tier is available for $199 a year and includes 1TB of storage. It offers data protection and security features such as two-step authentication and remote-wipe, as well as priority chat support.

Will PC Sales Ever Make A Comeback

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters at Gartner have been adding up some numbers and reached the conclusion that sales of traditional PCs are still falling.

Things might pick up next year, but PC sales have continued to fall and analyst always say “things will get better next year.”

Gartner said that PC shipments will drop by nearly eight percent this year, and another 4.4 percent in 2018. By 2019, 16 million fewer traditional PCs and notebooks will be sold than were shipped this year.

However, much of this will be offset by the rise in spending on high-end notebooks so that the overall PC market will by 2019 be at pretty much the same level it was last year.

Tablets — defined by Gartner as basic and utility ultramobile devices — will also decline over the period to 2019.

But despite the declines in traditional PC sales, Gartner said it was a misconception that everyone has gone mobile, noting that its own research found that users depend just as much on PCs or tablets as they do on smartphones. One big difference between smartphones and PCs is that people are replacing their handsets much more regularly.

Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner Atwal said: “Users holding onto their PCs for longer remains a major issue for the PC market. In contrast, users continue to replace their smartphone quite frequently.”

Business PC shipments could return to growth by the end of this year, driven by faster Windows 10 replacement in many regions — especially in Western Europe.

“Despite the fact that prices have been rising due to higher component costs, Windows 10 replacements have kept the PC market relatively stable through 2017,” said Atwal. “We estimate that the PC market (desk-based, notebook and ultramobiles) is set to return to 0.8 percent growth in 2018,” he continued. According to Gartner, this trend would be driven by growth in Russia and China.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel and Samsung Pursuing HiSilicon

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

HiSilicon Technologies wants another supplier for the fabrication of its 7nm chips and apparently Samsung, Globalfoundries and Intel are trying to get the Chinese fabless firm’s attention.

TSMC has been HiSilicon’s sole foundry partner for its 16nm and 10nm solution and will remain so, but  HiSilicon wants to get a back up for 7nm chips to ensure sufficient production capacity.

TSMC has regained chip orders from Qualcomm, which used to be the foundry’s largest client, the sources noted. TSMC is believed to have snapped up Qualcomm’s next-generation processor orders with its 7nm FinFET process.

According to Digitimes Samsung intends to attract 7nm chip orders from HiSilicon by bundling its foundry services with resources of components such as OLED panels, DRAM and NAND flash chips, the sources indicated. This could all go tits up as Samsung is HiSilcon’s rival in the smartphone SoC market.

Globalfoundries has a better chance if the foundry can stake a claim in the 7nm segment with technology enabled by some IP patents from IBM, which HiSilicon used to place its chip orders.

Intel with its 10nm process technology is vying aggressively for chip orders from HiSilicon. Intel has claimed its 10nm technology offers a density of about 100 million transistors per square millimeter, which industry sources believe is equivalent to TSMC’s and Samsung’s 7nm process nodes.

Courtesy-Fud

Did The Hyatt Hotel Chain Suffer Another Data Breach

October 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Hyatt hotel chain is warning customers that it has been breached for the second time and that they should probably do something about it.

Krebs on Security, or Brian to his friends, is the first with the bad news, and reports on the letter that Hyatt is sending out to potential towel and dressing gown thieves. Hyatt is reporting that its internal people clocked onto some card payment shenanigans between 18 March and 2 July 2017.

The problem started at the front desk, reportedly, so is likely to be a point of sale problem.

“Upon discovery, we launched a comprehensive investigation to understand what happened and how this occurred, which included engaging leading third-party experts, payment card networks and authorities,” says the firm on its FAQ page.

“The incident affected payment card information – cardholder name, card number, expiration date and internal verification code – from cards manually entered or swiped at the front desk of certain Hyatt-managed locations. There is no indication that any other information was involved.”

That is enough though, yeah? Hyatt says that only a small proportion of punters are affected, but that they are still important regardless.

“While this incident affects a small percentage of guests, it’s important to Hyatt that we notify guests and provide helpful information about steps they can take. We have directly contacted all guests for whom we have appropriate and reliable contact information that used payment cards at affected hotels during the at-risk dates. We do not have appropriate contact information for all guests, so we have also posted this notice with a list of affected hotels and respective at-risk dates,” it explained.

The firm has recommended that people check their transaction history on their bank statements to see if they are in trouble. It added that it has cleared things up at its end if anyone wants to book another stay.

Courtesy-TheInq

Venmo Payments Comes To Retailers This Week

October 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

PayPal Holdings Inc announced that more than two million U.S. retailers will be able to accept payments through its mobile app Venmo starting this week, seeking to broaden its reach with a brand that has been a hit with young people.

Venmo, which has been part of PayPal since 2013, is one of the most popular mobile applications to make person-to-person payments in the United States. It processed $8 billion (£6 billion) in payments in the second quarter of this year.

Venmo users will be able to use their app balance or linked cards and bank account to shop on the mobile sites of almost all merchants that accept payments with PayPal, including retailers such as Foot Locker, Lululemon Athletica Inc and Forever 21.

Paypal started slowly introducing the ability to pay select businesses with Venmo early last year.

“At Venmo from the very early days our vision was to always let you use it for whatever you want to buy,” Ben Mills, head of product, at Venmo, said in an interview.

The company will be charging merchants fees for processing Venmo payments, Mills said, adding that the service’s ease of use could help increase their sales, he added.

Over the coming months Venmo users will also be able to transfer money instantly from Venmo to their bank accounts for a $0.25 fee per transfer.

At the moment Venmo immediately alerts users that a money transfer is in progress, but takes time to shift funds between bank accounts.

San Jose, California-based PayPal has been expanding its services to gain advantage over rivals in the digital payments market, particularly in P2P payments, where competition has intensified.

This year a consortium of some of the largest banks in the United States launched Zelle, a network that allows their customers to send money to each other instantly on their smartphones.

PayPal also said that retail purchases using Venmo will be covered by its purchase protection scheme, where customers may get refunds if they do not receive a product or it is different than described.

Google Rolls Out Advanced Protection Program For Gmail

October 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet’s Google Inc confirmed that it would introduce an advanced protection program in order to provide stronger security for some users such as government officials and journalists who are at a higher risk of being targeted by hackers.

The internet giant said that users of the program would have their account security continuously updated to deal with emerging threats.

The company said it would initially provide three defenses against security threats, which include blocking fraudulent account access and protection against phishing.

The program would include additional reviews and requests in the account recovery process to prevent fraudulent access by hackers who try to gain access by pretending they have been locked out.

The rollout of a suite of new email security services by Google follows a U.S. presidential election last year that was shaped in part by the disclosure of emails by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks belonging to associates of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton that were obtained through phishing schemes.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that those hacks, which included a breach of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s personal Gmail account, were carried out by Russia as part of a broader cyber campaign to help President Donald Trump, a Republican, win the White House.

“If John Podesta had Advanced Protection last year, the world might be a very different place,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, who was briefed on the new features by Google.

Hall said the new features would grow the amount of high-risk consumers with strong protections against phishing campaigns, but that they would potentially create compatibility issues among some who already integrate custom security tools with their Gmail account.

Drone Strikes Commercial Airplane In Canada

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It was, says the Canadian Minister of Transport, the first time in Canada’s history.

In a statement, Marc Garneau revealed last Thursday, a Skyjet flight was struck by a drone as it approached Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City.

“I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely,” said Garneau.

The Ministry of Transport told me that the aircraft was a Beech 100 King Air. The drone has not been identified.

Garneau told CBC that “it could have been much more serious” had the drone struck an engine or the cockpit.

He said the drone had been flying 3 miles from the airport at 450 meters (around 1,500 feet). This is 150 meters above the legal limit. There were eight passengers on the plane.

Since drones became commonplace, there have been increasing reports of the unmanned aerial vehicle endangering aircraft.

Some have been reported as near-misses. Some pilots have been convinced that a drone has struck their plane, although the actual presence of a drone was never confirmed.

Indeed, earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration declared that it had seen no verifiable evidence that a drone had ever struck a plane.

“Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft,” it said.

In September, however, two army helicopters were struck by a drone over Staten Island.

Twitter To Get ‘More Aggressive’ Policing Tweets

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

In response to a high-profile protest against Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey said the social network will do better when it comes to monitoring content and policing hateful and harassing tweets.

Dorsey took to Twitter to post a string of tweets about “critical” policy decisions he said the company had made earlier Friday.

Twitter will take a “more aggressive stance” regarding its rules involving “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups and tweets that glorify violence,” Dorsey tweeted. He said the changes would start going into effect in the next few weeks and that the company would provide more details next week.

Dorsey’s tweets came the same day as the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest. The event urged people to forgo tweeting for a day to pressure Twitter into improving how it vets content.

The boycott was also designed to show solidarity with Rose McGowan, one of several people who’ve called out film producer Harvey Weinstein for alleged sexual harassment and assaults against women. Twitter temporarily froze McGowan’s account Thursday after she’d posted tweets about Weinstein. The company later said one of the tweets contained a personal phone number, violating Twitter’s terms of service, and that it hadn’t meant to censor McGowan.

“Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power,” the company said in a tweet after it had restored McGowan’s account. “We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”

In his string of tweets Friday night, Dorsey continued that theme.

“We see voices being silenced on Twitter every day. We’ve been working to counteract this for the past two years,” Dorsey tweeted. “Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re *still* not doing enough.”

Bullying behavior has been a blight on the social network for years. Some particularly ugly episodes occurred last year, including a hate mob attacking Leslie Jones, a star of last summer’s “Ghostbusters” movie.

Robin Williams’ death in 2015 led some Twitter users to send vicious messages to his daughter, prompting her to delete the app from her phone. That same month, Anita Sarkeesian, an academic highlighting how women are portrayed in video games, was so disturbed by the tweets she received that she fled her home, fearing for her safety.

Twitter had no additional comment Saturday on Dorsey’s string of tweets.

Will RISC-V Finally Hit Linux Next Year

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Linux fanboys tend to announce a lot of “year of” events. There is the year of the desktop which appears to be every year and still never happens and now there is the year of RISC V Linux processor.

SiFive has declared that 2018 will be the year of RISC V Linux processor, so mark your penguin diaries accordingly.  In the UK there will be all sorts of events planned, including guess the weight of Linus Torvalds competitions, there will be penguin tossing at Slough, The over 80s Linux nudist club will be holding a bring and buy sale and there will be the open sauce bob sleigh event down the escalators of Covent Garden tube station.

SiFive released its first open-source system on a chip, the Freeform Everywhere 310, last year. At the time it said it was aiming to push the RISC-V architecture to transform the hardware industry in the way that Linux transformed the software industry.

This year it released its U54-MC Coreplex, the first RISC-V-based chip that supports Linux, Unix, and FreeBSD. This latest opens up a whole new world of use cases for the architecture and paves the way for RISC-V processors to compete with ARM cores and similar offerings in the enterprise and consumer space.

The outfit claims that next year companies looking to build SoC’s around RISC-V will throng to the new developments.

Andrew Waterman co-founder and chief engineer at SiFive said the forthcoming silicon is going to enable much better software development for RISC-V.

Waterman said that, while SiFive had developed low-level software such as compilers for RISC-V the company really hopes that the open-source community will be taking a much broader role going forward and really pushing the technology forward.

“No matter how big of a role we would want to have we can’t make a dent. But what we can do is make sure the army of engineers out there are empowered.”

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Targets Teen Shoppers With New Program

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The world’s largest online store announced it has created a new feature for families, allowing moms and dads to give their teens more autonomy to purchase goods on Amazon while still under parental supervision.

With the new US-only feature, which is targeted for kids ages 13 to 17, a parent can add up to four teens to their Amazon Household account for free and set a payment method that a teen can’t see, as well as shipping addresses.

Teens can then shop on the Amazon mobile app on their own. Parents will get an email or text for purchases their teens make, and can approve or decline each order. When making purchases, teens can even add a note to their parents, such as “I need this book for school.”

“With this program, teenagers will have that independence and parents will have the control that they need,” Michael Carr, Amazon’s vice president of Amazon Households, said in an interview.

Giving these extra benefits to teenagers should help Amazon hook its next generation of customers to its e-commerce site and other services. As part of this effort, the company in August introduced cheaper student pricing for its Prime Music Unlimited service and has been building out college pickup locations across the country.

The new service should also make life a little easier for parents — a key demographic for Amazon — allowing them to create separate Amazon log-ins for their kids that they can monitor.

While Amazon’s conditions of use already let children under 18 to use its services while under parental supervision, the company didn’t make doing so all that convenient. Parents previously might have had to share their log-in credentials, along with their credit card numbers, with their teen, or set up separate accounts for their children that they’d likely have to check regularly.

The new teen program is available under Amazon Household, a service that lets families share their Prime membership benefits and manage parental controls for their kids’ Amazon devices. Amazon won’t require age verifications to sign up for the new program and the company didn’t create a limited set of items specifically for teens, other than legal restrictions on certain products, such as beer.

Parents can choose not to approve each item their teens buy and instead set spending limits per order. Amazon, though, didn’t yet create spending limits on a per week or monthly basis.

Any Amazon customers, including non-Prime shoppers, can use the new program. For now, parents with Prime membership can share Prime two-day shipping, Prime Video and Twitch Prime with their teens’ accounts. Other services, such as Prime Now and AmazonFresh, aren’t yet available through the new teens program.

DirecTV Now Streaming Service Showing Signs Of Live

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T’s entrance into the online streaming video business is finally gaining ground.

The Dallas telecommunications giant disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had added a net 300,000 customers to its DirecTV Nowstreaming service in the third quarter. That’s compared to the 491,000 customers it added in the first half of the year.

Overall, the company warned that it had lost 90,000 US video subscribers, blaming a combination of the impact from several hurricanes, higher credit standards and competition from both traditional pay TV players and online alternatives.

AT&T is in the midst of transforming itself beyond providing you with basic phone, internet and wireless service. It also wants to be an entertainment powerhouse, as evidenced by its acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV and its pending deal to buy Time Warner, the home of “Superman” and “Game of Thrones.” The results were likely helped by a promotion that offered DirecTV Now at a discount when budgeted with its wireless plans.

AT&T warned that it had 900,000 fewer handset equipment upgrades than a year ago, although it said the decline didn’t affect its customer growth and that turnover levels were still low.

The company blamed the hurricanes and an earthquake in Mexico, where it owns several wireless assets, on revenue falling $90 million and its pre-tax earnings to decline by $210 million. It expects further reductions in the fourth quarter.

The company, however, also maintained its 2017 forecast of mid-single digit adjusted earnings growth.

BlackBerry Settles Patent Dispute With BLU Products

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it inked a new license agreement with BLU Products Inc, a Florida-based maker of low-end Android phones, that would end patent disputes between the two companies.

Canada’s BlackBerry filed lawsuits against BLU in 2016, as part of the handset-maker-turned-software-company’s move to make cash off a bunch of technology patents it had collected in its heyday.

Thursday’s agreement will include on-going payments from BLU to BlackBerry, the companies said, but did not give further details.

The settlement will allow Blackberry “to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market,” said Jerald Gnuschke, senior director of Intellectual Property Licensing at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry, which holds about 40,000 worldwide patents and applications, has been long been focusing on software sales and licensing after its once-popular phones lost out to Apple and others in the smartphone industry.

Ikea To Sell Products Through Third-Parties Online

October 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ikea will soon offer its products through third-party online retailers in an attempt to reach more customers.

A pilot program is scheduled to start sometime next year, the Swedish furniture retailer said. The company is “curious” about what will happen as it plans to gather new insights from the pilot, Ikea spokesperson Josefin Thorell said in an email.

“[However], there are no decisions regarding what marketplaces we want to partner with yet, and also no decision regarding what markets,” Thorell added.

The news of Ikea possibly using the likes of Amazon and other third-party sites to sell its furniture and smart home products comes nearly four months after Ikea knocked down reports that it had reached a deal to work directly with the e-commerce giant.

Ikea said at the time that any products currently sold on Amazon or other sites are being done by private resellers. More than 2.1 billion people visited Ikea’s websites globally in 2016.

 

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