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Will Nokia Succeed With Android Smartphones?

July 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is reportedly getting ready to make a smartphone comeback with two high-end Android 7.0 Nougat devices.

We already know that Nokia is plotting a return to the mobile market. The company revealed in May that it has signed an exclusive agreement with HMD Global, a new company also based in Finland, to create Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets for the next 10 years.

Nokia’s comeback might happen in just a few months’ time, as NokiaPowerUser has heard that the firm is plotting the launch of two high-end Android 7.0 smartphones at the end of this year, or Q1 2017 if things don’t go exactly to plan.

The website’s “trusted sources” explained that the two unnamed devices will have premium metal designs complete with IP68 certification, which means they’ll be as water resistant as the Galaxy S7.

The report also claimed that the devices will offer “the famous Nokia feel”, which we guess points to brightly coloured options.

Expect 5.2in and 5.5in QHD screens, according to the anonymous sources, along with fingerprint scanners and “innovations” in the camera department.

“We hear that sensors on these two smartphones may be the most sensitive ever and will be based on Nokia’s extensive research on wonder material graphene,” the report said.

The two smartphones also look set to run Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat software, providing features such as split-screen mode, enhanced notifications and improved gaming thanks to support for the Vulkan API.

Nougat will reportedly come topped with Nokia’s Z-Launcher software, as seen on the Nokia N1 tablet. Improvements to the skin could bring “elements of touch and hover interaction”, hinting that the devices could offer 3D Touch-like technology.

We don’t know much else yet, but Gizmodo China reported that the smartphones will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 chip.

There’s no word on prices yet, but Gizmodo’s report claimed that the bigger, and presumably more expensive, model will cost around $500 SIM-free.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Online Video Streaming Biting Into Dish Network Customer Base

July 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp reported an unexpected loss in pay-TV subscribers as more consumers increasingly opt for online video-streaming services.

Dish said it lost 281,000 net pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30, missing the average analyst estimate of a loss of 91,000 subscribers, according to market research firm FactSet StreetEstimate.

However, average revenue per user rose to $89.98 from $87.91, helped by price increases for its video service.

Dish raised its 2016 video service rates in January.

To offset losses in its core pay-TV business, the company last year launched a cheaper $20-per-month Sling TV online streaming service that offers a slim bundle of channels, including live programming from networks such as ESPN.

Net income attributable to Dish rose to $410 million, or 88 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, from $324 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose to $3.84 billion from $3.83 billion.

 

Intel’s NUC Gets Uncovered

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s NUC consumer roadmap has leaked online showing that Intel is seriously holding a torch for tiny PCs.

Fan-less Tech found some slides which shows Intel has some exciting new hardware planned for release over the next couple of years.

The roadmap shows that Intel will make its new Celeron processor available in the fourth quarter of 2016 with its Arches Canyon model. Its 7th-gen Core chip looks like it will be available at the beginning of 2017 within the Baby Canyon i7 model. Intel will continue to offer the recently launched Skull Canyon through 2017.

Based on the leaked information, Intel has plans to continue its NUC line at least through 2018, offering progressively faster hardware with more options to meet custom applications of the device.

Intel’s NUCs are doing rather well and have been getting good reviews. They are getting increasingly tied to Intel’s chip upgrades so they are remaining fairly cutting edge.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Was The Rise Of The Machines A.I. Contest A Success?

July 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Winograd Schema Challenge is a competition intended to reward technologists who can build a system that understands the kind of ambiguous sentences humans come out with all the time, but which are simple for other humans, even stupid ones, to understand.

Get it right 90 per cent of the time and $25,000 is up for grabs. And with things like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant, the Winograd Schema Challenge must surely be as good as obsolete by now.

Right? Wrong.

The best two entrants at the event this week achieved correct scores only 48 per cent of the time, little better than randomly guessing the meaning of the sentences they were supposed to crack.

This is despite a decade of advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which has barely shifted since the late 1950s, according to some.

The Challenge posed a series of ambiguously worded sentences to the entrants such as:

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big (small). What was too big (small)?

The town councillors refused to give the demonstrators a permit because they feared (advocated) violence. Who feared (advocated) violence?

There is an ambiguity in the above examples, read literally, about what is too big (or small) and exactly who is fearing violence, although a semi-intelligent human should be able to work it out with ease.

The problem, according to Gary Marcus, a research psychologist at New York University, who acted as an advisor for the Challenge, is that computers lack common sense, and programming it into them is incredibly difficult.

Indeed, the MIT Technology Review said that most of the entrants in the Challenge used a combination of hand-coded grammatical understanding and a ‘knowledge base’ of facts. It still didn’t help much, though.

However, one of the two best-placed systems, led by Quan Liu, a researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China, together with researchers from York University in Montreal and the National Research Council of Canada, used neural network-based machine learning in a bid to train their computer to recognise the many different contexts in which words can be used.

Liu claimed that after fixing a problem in the AI, he was able to achieve a success rate closer to 60 per cent, which is still a long way from being able to go home with a cheque for $25,000.

The Challenge is deliberately designed to be different from the Turing Test, which tests only whether a human can be fooled into thinking that an AI program is human.

The trouble with this is that there are more than enough idiots who could be fooled into helping an AI system to pass that test. The language test, in contrast, provides a more objective test of genuine AI, argued Marcus.

The failure of the AI programs in the Challenge highlights how far chatbots and other supposedly revolutionary AI-based machines still have to go before humans can clock-off for the last time and leave running the planet to computers.

Some experts have claimed that its development will spark the next industrial revolution, while others, such as Apple co-founder and pontificator Steve Wozniak, suggest that we’ll be adopted as pets by robots.

Google, Microsoft and Facebook didn’t bother entering, perhaps because they feared outright humiliation.  Maybe next year.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Reduces OneDrive Storage Allotment

July 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Users of Microsoft’s OneDrive have begun receiving notifications that their storage allotments have already, or will soon be, reduced to 5GB.

The emails to OneDrive account holders were the first step in a process that Microsoft announced last year as part of a broader reduction in cloud-based storage allowances. The free amount was to be lowered from 15GB to 5GB, and another 15GB that many had — the photograph-specific “Camera Roll” bonus that had been given to any who asked — was to be erased.

In April 2016, Microsoft warned OneDrive users that the automatic reductions and access restrictions would begin in July, when accounts with more than 5GB of content would be marked read-only. Users would be able to view and download files stored in such accounts, but they would not be able to add new documents, photographs or other files.

Microsoft has pledged that customers whose accounts exceeded 5GB will be able to access their files for nine months, or until around the end of April 2017.

Some OneDrive customers have received emails telling them that as of yesterday, July 13, their accounts were set as read-only. Others have gotten similar messages, but with a July 27 deadline, making the emails a 14-day warning and giving users two weeks to remove enough files to drop the total under the 5GB limit.

Additional restrictions are to be placed on OneDrive accounts next year. In April 2017, Microsoft will lock accounts in excess of 5GB, blocking users from accessing all files. Three months after that, Microsoft has said it may start deleting files in overstocked accounts.

OneDrive users with a free account subject to the 5GB limit have several options. They can reduce the quantity stored online, purchase additional storage, or request a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, a subscription service that comes with 1TB of OneDrive space.

More information about the OneDrive changes and their timing can be found in a FAQ on Microsoft’s website.

 

 

 

AT&T Using Drones For Cell Tower Inspections

July 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T is now deploying drones to inspect its cellular towers and foresees them as a way to complement its wireless LTE network.

Down the road, the carrier said it might use a drone as a Flying Cell on Wings (COW) to enhance LTE coverage at a large concert or sporting event where thousands of fans can clog the network. Or a drone could be used in rapid disaster response, offering wireless coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to an area hit by a storm or other catastrophe.

Some of those ideas were laid out in a blog this week by John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T.

The blog includes a video showing how drones are already being deployed to inspect tall cell towers. The inspection drones use live video fed wirelessly to an engineer in an office who can do up-close inspections of cables and components high above the ground. The process is quicker and safer than using humans and allows access to parts of a tower that a person could not access.

Drones can also be connected to an LTE network in a specific area to capture data for analysis through remote AT&T servers to allow for networking changes and fixes in real time if problems occur.

Art Pregler, drone program director for AT&T, said the drone inspection information tends to be more accurate than what’s been available in the past. “This is exciting,” he said. “We’re in the infancy of drone use in the commercial sector. The sky’s the limit.”

As drones continue to evolve, so do robots and artificial intelligence, he noted. “We can see all of this coming together in a very interesting man-machine relationship,” Pregler said.

 

 

 

Skype Launches New Chromebook And Linux Versions

July 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Linux and Chromebook owners now can now install new versions of Skype.

Microsoft launched an alpha version of a new client for Linux on Wednesday, in a push to get users of the open-source operating system to make video calls and send messages with Skype.

There was a Linux client available for the service previously, but this launch is a move by the company to get users of the operating system on the latest version of Skype. Users will get a new interface, emoticons and a file-sharing interface.

Chrome users will be able to use web.skype.com to make calls from Google’s web browser and desktop operating system starting Wednesday, too. Like the Linux client, the new Chrome client is still in alpha, so there are likely to be bugs, along with missing features.

These launches are important as Skype faces increased competition in the messaging and digital calling space. Apps like Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts have all either built or are building voice and video calling functionality into their services.

The new Linux app allows users to connect with other people using the latest versions of Skype across many other platforms. But it’s based on new calling architecture that makes it incompatible with the previous version of Skype for Linux and some older versions of Skype on other platforms.

 

Amazon Announces Prime Day Sale Was Best Ever

July 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon reported that it’s Prime Day was the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant.

The company’s second annual sales event, which was held Tuesday, saw customer orders surpass Prime Day 2015 by more than 60% worldwide and more than 50% in the U.S., the company reported.

“It was a huge success,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst with Forrester Research. “It was a big day, by all accounts, with enormous growth. It reinforces that e-commerce continues to grow and that Amazon is a significant part of that growth.”

Amazon’s Prime Day is a one-day sales event for members of Prime, the company’s membership program. Products in nearly all of Amazon’s copious shopping categories were put on sale.

Despite some reports of customers’ having problems checking out after making their purchases, more than 90,000 TVs were sold, along with more than 2 million toys, 1 million pairs of shoes and hundreds of thousands of Kindle e-readers.

Amazon also received twice as many orders via its mobile app than it did during Prime Day last year. More than 1 million customers used the Amazon app for the first time during the sale, the company said.

For U.S. sales alone, Amazon reported that device sales were three times higher compared to Prime Day 2015. It was also the biggest sales day for Amazon’s Echo personal assistant and the company’s e-readers.

When it came to techie purchases, Amazon sold U.S. members more than 14,000 Lenovo laptops and more than 23,000 iRobot Roomba 614 Vacuum cleaning robots.

While it was a big day for the online retailer, one day does not outshine the rest of the year, especially with back-to-school sales, and then holiday sales, coming up.

“No single day is going to change the fortunes of any retailer,” said Mulpuru-Kodali. “It’s one day of 365 or 366 days in any given year.

 

 

Is Intel Losing Interest In Android?

July 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s mobexit is gathering traction with Inteldeciding to slash its Android development.

While the outfit is still claiming that it is chums with Google, it is now saying that its Android development for tablets is the latest thing it is not interested in.

Intel has been cutting back on its Android upgrades for tablet hardware which suggests it is not interested. Instead it is working on 2-in-1s, which run mostly on Windows.

Intel’s x86 version of Android was mainly for devices with Atom processors, which the chip maker is phasing out. The replacement is Apollo Lake which will run Windows, but it is unclear if it will ever support Android.

The last Android which worked on Intel gear was Android 5.1.1, Lollipop, Intel-based mobile devices mostly run Android 5.0 or older versions.

What might keep Intel in Android might not be its own commitment to Android, but the fact that Google is keen to make its OS work with x86 chips. Google has said that Android 7.0 Nougat, will be compatible with x86 machines which will keep Intel in the game – if it wants to be.

PC World has suggested that Intel could offload development to the independent Android-x86 Project last month delivered the Android-x86 6.0 Release Candidate 1.

Intel is still a lead partner in Google’s Brillo. This is an embedded IoT OS with the dash of Android under the bonnet. Brillo works on Intel’s Edison development board, which can be used to make wearables, robots, smart home devices and other IoT gadgets.

But it is pretty clear that Intel is not interested in some of Google’s VR projects like DayDream which are based on Android.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Scoops Up Video Software Company Anvato

July 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has purchased Anvato, the developer of a video software platform, to beef up its cloud offering in the area of video delivery.

Anvato’s Media Content Platform, used by many large media and entertainment companies including NBCUniversal, Univision and Fox Sports, will complement the efforts of Google Cloud Platform to offer scalable media processing and workflows in the cloud, Belwadi Srikanth, senior product manager for Google Cloud Platform, wrote in a blog post.

The Mountain View, California, company offers software that automates the encoding, editing, publishing and secure distribution of video content across a variety of platforms.

The Google Cloud Platform and Anvato teams will work together to deliver cloud technologies that help “businesses in the media and entertainment industry scale their video infrastructure efforts and deliver high-quality, live video and on-demand content to consumers on any device — be it their smartphone, tablet or connected television,” Srikanth wrote.

Anvato said it will deliver on the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure the video processing software technology it already offers pay TV operators, programmers, broadcasters and live event producers.

Google’s cloud rivals, including Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, have also made investments in the area of providing services to companies offering video delivery.

AWS acquired Elemental Technologies, a Portland, Oregon-based provider of technologies for video delivery over the internet. Elemental software helps media and entertainment companies take live and on-demand video, designed for traditional networks like cable, and reformat it for distribution to PCs, phones and other devices.

 

 

Verizon Hikes Plan Rates, Boost Data Limits

July 8, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc, the No. 1 U.S. wireless provider, announced that it would increase plan rates but will also boost data buckets by 30 percent for its customers, who increasingly stream content through mobile devices.

As of July 7, the company rolled out a revamped version of its My Verizon mobile app to let customers control data overages and billing, as well as manage plans, it said. Moreover, emulating moves by some of its rivals such as AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc, it will let customers carry unused data over to the next month and begin offering users on certain plans unlimited text and calling to and from Mexico and Canada.

The redesigned plans and app come as the company, known for its high-quality network, is locked in a battle for subscribers with competitors in the saturated U.S. wireless market.

Smaller rival Sprint Corp has been offering half-off discounts, and T-Mobile has launched free music, video-streaming plans and other customer-friendly offers and free gifts to attract customers away from competitors to their networks.

The new rate plans are meant to help customers tackle data overage costs and “reflect the significant growth in individual data use,” Rob Miller, vice president of consumer pricing at Verizon said in a webcast on Wednesday.

Verizon is hiking rates and increasing data across all its plans. For instance, the basic “S” plan will cost $35, a $5 rise, and offer double the data at 2 gigabytes and the high-end “XXL” plan will cost $10 more at $110 and offer 24 gigabytes as opposed to the previous 16 gigabyte limit.

The company also said it will introduce a “safety mode” that protects customers from data overages by slowing down their speeds. The feature is free for those on the “XL” and “XXL” plans and costs $5 for those on the “S”, “M”, “L” plans, it said.

 

Microsoft Launches Skype Meetings For Businesses

July 7, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is offering small businesses a new way to conduct meetings online with the launch of Skype Meetings product that’s aimed at providing professional communication tools for free.

Skype Meetings is free and users can launch meetings for up to 10 people during their first 60 days of using it. After that, they’re limited to only hosting meetings for three or fewer people. Those meetings can take advantage of several features, including the option to bring in participants using a hyperlink and present a PowerPoint slide deck live.

The new service is something of a lure to try and get people hooked on Skype for Business. That’s why Microsoft imposed its user limit restrictions: small businesses can use Skype Meetings without paying, and growing companies are encouraged to buy an Office 365 subscription to hold big meetings.

Microsoft is facing tight competition in that arena, with Google pushing its Hangouts chat and calling software, while Slack is developing calling capabilities for its popular chat app.

Skype Meetings will give users a professional space to coordinate their work with one another and present to people outside their business without having to pay for Office 365. The ability to upload a PowerPoint presentation to a meeting and do things like wave over it with a virtual laser pointer and draw on it with digital ink ought to be of particular interest for people who do a lot of online presentations.

Microsoft says that users can join a meeting from any device that has a microphone, camera, speaker and web browser. It’s not clear if this product is only browser-based, or if it will also work with client applications like Skype or Skype for Business on smartphones and tablets.

 

LG Electronics, VW To Develop Connected Car Platform

July 7, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc made the announcement that it will join forces with German carmaker Volkswagen AG to develop a connected car platform to enable vehicles to communicate with external devices.

LG, in a statement, said it and Volkswagen will work to jointly develop over “the next few years” technologies allowing drivers to control and monitor devices in their homes such as lights and security systems, as well as in-vehicle entertainment technologies and an alerting system for drivers providing “recommendations” based on real-time situations.

Automakers and technology companies have been forming partnerships in recent years, as the race to develop self-driving cars has created need for more sophisticated components and software that will allow vehicles to seamlessly communicate with various external devices and servers via the internet.

LG Electronics, along with affiliates LG Display Co Ltd and LG Innotek Co Ltd, has identified the auto industry as a new growth driver and has been pushing to grow new businesses amid continued struggles for its mobile phones division.

LG and its sister companies last year clinched a deal to supply key components ranging from the battery cells and the electric motor for General Motors Co’s 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car, burnishing their credentials. LG companies also supply products such as car audio systems and batteries to Volkswagen.

In the statement on Wednesday, Thomas Form, Volkswagen’s head of electronics and vehicle research, called LG a strong partner and said the pair will work to integrate smart home solutions into Volkswagen vehicles.

 

Is Intel’s Kaby Lake Going Overclocking

July 7, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Kaby Lake will be a better overclocker. At least this is what Intel is telling its partners right now. The successor to Skylake architecture will have two overclocking enhancements the BCLK aware V/F curve and AVX negative ratio offset.

The BCLK aware V/F curve is an adaptive voltage mode that works with BCLK and its main goal is to achieve higher clock stability.

The AVX negative ratio offset allows excellent control over Intel Turbo Boost Technology while overclocking with increased stability.

Kaby Lake processors will be able to achieve higher frequencies at the same thermal envelope. For example, a 95W TDP Kaby Lake processor will be able to achieve a higher clock than the 95W Skylake. We expect that the successor to Intel Core i7-6700K will get to clock more than 4GHz, but not that much higher. The Turbo clock will be higher.

We expect a slight increase in the core clock as Intel had more than a year to tweak and optimize the 14nm Skylake core. Kaby Lake is a new CPU but with minor improvements and isn’t a huge leap forward.

 

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Nintendo Delaying Its Virtual Reality Plans?

July 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo is keeping fairly quiet about its VR plans, although a system is clearly on the drawing board.
The rumor mill suggests that the former playing card maker is determined to fix a problem which has dogged other VR machines on the market. Basically after you have worn a headset for half-an-hour you get tired and a bit sick.

Nintendo’s acting representative director Shigeru Miyamoto told shareholders that the company was “researching VR” – but didn’t want to show off the NX at E3 as they wanted to “avoid imitators.”

The research appears to be focused on coming up with a way that the headsets can be deeply immersive without turning the player into Linda Blair from the Exorcist. But it is clear that Nintendo does want to incorporate VR into its hardware once more.

It must think that it is likely to do better now than when it tried to in 1995 to run the Virtual Boy.

Apparently it will have a machine ready to show off in March next year. If it manages to avoid the VR fatigue then it might be onto a winner.

Courtesy-Fud