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Dubai Police Department Debuts Robocop

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Known for glitz and cutting edge technology, Dubai has deployed a first-of-it’s kind robotic cop. The Robocop has started its duties as part of a new police program.

The Robocop is a customized service robot from Pal Robotics that will be posted in malls and tourist attractions, and people can use the touchscreen embedded in its chest to report crime, pay fines and get information.

“Now most people visit police stations or customer service, but with this tool we can reach the public 24/7 and it won’t ask for any sick leave or maternity leave,” Brig Khalid Al Razooqi, Dubai Police director general of smart services, said in a statement.

The robot has built-in cameras that will stream video back to the police command center. The next batch will be used to tackle crimes, and the police force has plans for a 3-meter tall robot piloted by a police officer from the inside for travel up to 80 kilometers per hour and carrying heavy equipment.

Brig Al Razooqi said the Dubai police plan to add robots until they reach around 25 percent of the force by 2030, allowing the human members of the police to focus their attention on other areas.

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

EU Court Tackles ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Again

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The “right to be forgotten” – or prohibiting certain web search results from appearing under searches for people’s names – will be debated at the European Union’s top court after Alphabet Inc’s Google refused requests from four individuals.

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people’s names – dubbed the “right to be forgotten”.

Google has since received over 720,000 removal requests and accepted about 43 percent of them, according to its transparency report.

Four individuals who had asked Google to remove links to webpages about them appealed to the French data protection authority after the search engine company refused their request.

The French privacy regulator, the CNIL, agreed with Google’s decision, prompting the individuals to take their case to the French Conseil d’Etat, France’s supreme administrative court, which referred it to the Luxembourg-based ECJ.

The ECJ “now has to decide whether ‘sensitive personal data’ — such as the political allegiance of an individual, or a past criminal conviction reported in the press — should always outweigh the public interest”, Google’s senior privacy counsel Peter Fleischer wrote in a blogpost.

“Requiring automatic delisting from search engines, without any public interest balancing test, risks creating a dangerous loophole. Such a loophole would enable anyone to demand removal of links that should remain up in the public interest, simply by claiming they contain some element of sensitive personal data.”

A Conseil de’Etat statement said the requests from the individuals concerned a video that “explicitly revealed the nature of the relationship that an applicant was deemed to have entertained with a person holding a public office”; a press article on the suicide of a member of the Church of Scientology mentioning that one of the applicants was the public relations manager of that church; several articles related to criminal proceedings of an applicant; and articles about the conviction of another applicant for having sexually abused minors.

The French court said a number of “serious issues” had arisen with regard to the interpretation of European law in the case before it.

“Such issues are in relation with the obligations applying to the operator of a search engine with regard to web pages that contain sensitive data, when collecting and processing such information is illegal or very narrowly framed by legislation, on the grounds of its content relating to sexual orientations, political, religious or philosophical opinions, criminal offences, convictions or safety measures,” the court said.

The CNIl declined comment at this point of the court procedure.

The case number is C-136/17. A date for the hearing has not been set.

“We will be advocating strongly for the public interest balancing test to apply to all types of delisting requests—including those containing sensitive personal data,” Fleischer said.

Is Netflix On The Verge Of Another Price Hike?

May 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Would you be willing to shell out more money to get your Netflix fix?

A price hike could may well be coming as the streaming giant quietly testing out changes to the cost of plans in Australia.

The Australian reports that Netflix has tested upping Australian prices by as much as AU$3 over weekends, increasing its Basic plan from AU$8.99 to AU$9.99 a month, its Standard plan from AU$11.99 to AU$13.99 a month, and its Premium plan from AU$14.99 to AU$17.99 a month.

Netflix confirmed that it has tested price changes, but was quick to emphasise that it has not made any announcement to change prices, either locally or globally.

“We continuously test new things at Netflix and these tests typically vary in length of time,” the company said in a statement. “In this case, we are testing slightly different price points to better understand how consumers value Netflix. Not everyone will see this test and we may not ever offer it generally.”

Regardless of the tests, Australians could well be up for a Netflix price increase within a matter of weeks.

The federal government is set to extend Australia’s 10 percent goods and services tax to “intangible supplies” (such as digital content, games and software), effecting online streaming companies such as Netflix.

The change — which has been widely dubbed the “Netflix Tax,” including by the Australian government itself — comes into force on July 1. Netflix has not commented on whether it plans to pass the 10 percent tax onto customers.

“We collect and remit tax wherever we are legally obligated to do so,” the company said.

Will Facebook’s TV Venture Succeed

May 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The world’s largest social networking company is set to unveil its own catalog of original TV shows and short films for debut in mid-June, according to a report from Business Insider.

Mark Zuckerberg’s 13-year old social networking startup – turned highly-profitable corporation – plans to premiere a slate of 24 originals in the middle of next month, with several more approved for production later this year. According to people familiar with the discussions, Facebook has been looking to separate the shows into two separate tiers – a “marquee tier” for longer, big-budget shows that would be suitable for TV viewing, and a “lower tier” for short, cheaper shows, averaging five to 10 minutes in length that will refresh every 24 hours.

A mix of low-tier and high-tier shows

In other words, the high-tier content will let Facebook compete with media streaming giants Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube, all of which produce their own highly popular original shows. In December, the company hired Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of College Humor, to build its experience in “kickstarting an ecosystem of partner content” purposefully built for the site’s new “Video” tab. This feature began cropping up at the bottom menu within Facebook’s mobile app in April 2016, allowing people to view popular live videos from around the globe and view content from their own friends.

The social network expects high-quality, scripted video to become an important feature in retaining users that have increasingly flocked to rival services including Snapchat and Twitter. More importantly, the ability to control and broadcast its own original content will allow it to maintain some content parity with shows from Netflix, YouTube’s growing list of originals, and Hulu’s recent originals.

Monetization will happen through “mid-roll” ads

The profit strategy for Facebook’s approach appears similar to YouTube’s hated method of throwing ads into the middle of its original shows, also known as “mid-roll ads”. Sources close to Facebook hint that it has been testing these ads for months in live and recorded videos, giving video publishers the chance to insert ads into clips after they have been watched for more than 20 seconds. The social network plans to sell the ads and share 55 percent of sales with publishers, or the same revenue split currently offered by YouTube. In addition, Zuckerberg has personally spoken against the use of “pre-roll” ads, which play before a clip starts. This will be another key differentiator between Facebook and most other providers in the ad business.

More info may arrive at Cannes Lions festival in June

According to one source, the social network may use the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June to officially introduce its video initiative. However, somebody else said this date could be pushed back later in the summer. There is not much information on what genres Facebook originally intends to release, though one of them is said to come from Conde Nast Entertainment involving people going on first dates in VR before meeting in person.  Here at Fudzilla, we fear the worst, confidently.

Courtesy-Fud

Western Digital Files Legal Challenge To Block Sale of Toshiba’s Chip Unit

May 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Western Digital Corp has sought international arbitration to halt its partner Toshiba Corp from selling its chips division without its consent, potentially derailing a much-needed capital injection for the Japanese conglomerate.

The two companies jointly operate Toshiba’s main semiconductor plant but Western Digital is not a favored bidder for the world’s second biggest NAND chip producer, having put in a much lower offer than other suitors, a source with knowledge of the matter has said.

A legal battle could delay or put an end to an auction that could fetch some $18 billion and has attracted suitors such as private equity firm KKR & Co LP, Taiwan’s Foxconn and U.S. chipmaker Broadcom.

Toshiba is depending on the sale to cover billions in dollars in cost overruns at its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse. The Japanese firm logged a 950 billion yen ($8.4 billion) annual net loss and had negative shareholder equity of 540 billion yen, it said in an unaudited earnings release on Monday.

After months of souring relations, Western Digital has begun arbitration procedures with the International Chamber of Commerce, demanding Toshiba reverse a move to put their joint venture assets into a newly formed unit – Toshiba Memory – and stop any sale without Western Digital’ s consent.

Western Digital’s “efforts to achieve a resolution to date have been unsuccessful, and so we believe legal action is now a necessary next step,” CEO Steve Milligan said in a statement.

Toshiba CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa told a news conference the complaint was groundless and that Toshiba would push on with the sale, sticking to its plan to complete the second round of bidding on Friday.

“We will make efforts to convince bidders of the legitimacy of the chip-unit sale and wipe away their concerns,” he said.

Toshiba argues neither party can block a change of control by the other partner. It says Western Digital itself acquired the joint venture interest when it bought current unit SanDisk, and never sought or received Toshiba’s approval.

But Western Digital counters that the contract only allows Toshiba not to seek approval if the Japanese company is acquired by a third party.

Does The Intel Core-i7-7700KHave A Heat Issue

May 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s Core i7-7700K has been plagued by some big temperature spikes issue, pushing the CPU dangerously close to 100°C (212°F) mark but Intel says it is a normal behavior of the chip, leaving users furious.

The issue thread on Intel forum, originally reported by The Register, has been opened for some time and after three months since some users reported temperature spikes of up to 90°C (194°F) on their Core i7-7700K, Chipzilla and its rep shrugged off the issue saying it is a normal behavior for the chip while completing a task (like opening a browser or an application or a program). Intel went on saying that in their own internal investigation, the company did not observe temperature variation outside of the expected behavior and recommended specifications.

To be fair, the user that originally reported the issue has de-lidded its own chip and hook it up to a liquid cooling loop but that still does not explain the same temperature issue that some other users have on a stock and untampered chip.

While this issue does not hurt the chip, it forces the fans to spin up and down continuously, which is very annoying and Intel suggests that users set the fan speed control differently.

It sounds like this is “it is a feature and not a bug” explanation from Intel, and hopefully, we will hear a better one soon as this is probably the best selling CPU from Intel so any issues put the company in a bad situation.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Acquires Virtual Game Studio Owlchemy Labs

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Google has purchased Owlchemy Labs, the VR game studio that behind such game titles as Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.

The Austin, Texas-based game studio revealed the acquisition in a blog post Wednesday, saying it will continue to build content for the HTC Vive, Oculus Touch, and PlayStation VR after joining Google.

“We are continuing to do all of this with even more support and focus on building awesome stuff,” Owlechemy wrote. “It’s incredibly exciting that Google and Owlchemy are so well aligned on our goals and vision for the future of VR.”

Google confirmed the acquisition in a blog post that praised the company for producing “really thoughtful interactive experiences that are responsive, intuitive, and feel natural.”

The acquisition underscores the tech community’s commitment to virtual reality, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to a computer-generated 3D environment. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is said to be investing big money on content for the platform, much of it going toward development of video games and apps, licensing sports leagues and shooting 360-degree videos.

Google’s latest entry in the market is Daydream, a hardware and software platform unveiled late last year that runs off Google’s Android mobile operating system and helps any Android phone manufacturer create a VR headset themselves.

Terms of the acquisition of Owlchemy Labs weren’t revealed.

Snapchat Reports Slowing User Growth

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Snap Inc shares took a deep dive after the owner of Snapchat reported slowing user growth and revenue in its first earnings report as a public company, missing some Wall Street estimates as it competes with copycat messaging apps.

Shares tumbled 23 percent in after-hours trading to wipe some $6 billion from Snap’s market value, a reversal for the company after a red-hot March initial public offering that was the biggest for a U.S. tech company since Facebook Inc’s 2012 debut.

The stock fell to $17.66, just above its IPO price of $17.

Some investors were hoping Snap would surprise them with big numbers in its first quarterly report, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said.

“The fact that they failed to live up to expectations, let alone exceed them, disappointed people,” he said.

The performance echoed slides in Facebook and Twitter after they posted debut scorecards following their IPOs. Twitter shares cratered 24 percent the next day, while Facebook’s tumbled 11 percent, still the biggest-ever one-day losses for both.

Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel sought to reassure investors during an earnings call, fielding a dozen questions that ranged from strategy to how it would deal with competitors.

He also did not shy away from one query that allowed him to take a feisty jab at Facebook.

“If you want to be a creative company, you’ve got to get comfortable with and enjoy the fact that people are going to copy your product if you make great stuff,” he said.

Making a comparison to the search industry, Spiegel added: “Just because Yahoo has a search box doesn’t mean they’re Google.”

Snap said its daily active users (DAUs) rose 36.1 percent to 166 million in the first quarter from a year earlier, marking a slowdown from the 47.7 percent rise for the fourth quarter and 62.8 percent jump for the third quarter that the company reported in its IPO filing.

The slowing rate of growth was in line with an estimate from JPMorgan, which accurately expected 166 million DAUs for the first quarter. Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co Inc had pegged them even higher at 173 million.

Snap’s March IPO priced above the company’s target range as investors put aside concerns about a lack of profits and voting rights to get a piece of the action. The IPO raised $3.4 billion and gave the company a market valuation of roughly $24 billion, and shares surged 44 percent in their first day of trading.

Verizon Wireless Tops AT&T Bid To Acquire Straight Path Communications

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier, will acquire wireless spectrum holder Straight Path Communications Inc for an enterprise value of about $3.1 billion, ending a bidding war with rival AT&T.

The $184 per share all-stock offer represents a discount of 17.8 percent to Straight Path’s close on Wednesday and has an equity value of $2.3 billion.

The stock surged nearly five-fold since April 7, a day before the company first received a $95.63 per share takeover bid from AT&T Inc.

Straight Path’s shares, which had jumped 39 percent since Verizon made its final bid on Monday, plunged 20 percent to $178 on Thursday, indicating some investors were disappointed with the deal.

Straight Path, which holds a large trove of 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum used in mobile communications, will give Verizon an advantage in fifth-generation (5G) network development.

5G networks are expected to offer faster downloads and boost internet-reliant products such as self-driving cars.

Straight Path had said on Monday an unnamed telecommunications company had raised its offer to buy the company. Reuters reported, citing sources, that the unnamed bidder was Verizon.

Verizon’s bid tops AT&T’s offer of $95.63 per share, or $1.25 billion, which was announced last month.

Straight Path, which earlier agreed to be bought by AT&T, said it would terminate the previously announced deal.

Verizon will pay, on behalf of Straight Path, a termination fee of $38 million to AT&T.

Evercore was financial adviser to Straight Path and Weil, Gotshal & Manges served as company counsel on the deal.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP served as counsel to Verizon.

Are New Intel Xeon Processors On The Horizon

May 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel unveiled information regarding a new Xeon processor family, some of which use the Skylake-SP architecture.

Intel will have four levels of Xeon processors that scale with respect to feature support and core counts.

Intel is calling it the Xeon Scalable Family with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum processors. This might be a little confusing because, if you know the code, Xeon model names follow a easy-to-understand format.

For example in the Xeon E5-4640 v4 the “E5” means that it is in the middle of Intel’s current stack in terms of features and capabilities and the “4” signifies use in a 4-socket system. The “v4” represents the architecture. Intel’s name changes mean that the Xeon E5-4640 v4 will be the Xeon Gold 4640.

The new chips support AVX-512 instructions, QuickAssist and Volume Management Device (VMD) technologies that will take advantage of NVMe solid-state drives.

The platform will also support complementary processing engines and IO technologies like Intel FPGAs, Xeon Phi accelerators and Silicon Photonics connectivity.

Intel said the processors will be arriving to market this summer and there isn’t a price list yet.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Unveils Echo Show, To Go On Sale In June

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc has unveiled Echo Show, a touchscreen device that will allow users to make video calls and watch clips from CNN, the latest in the company’s series of popular Echo voice-controlled speakers.

The device, which will go on sale in June for about $230, will feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, that can be used to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

Echo Show will allow video conferencing between users having an Echo device or the Alexa app. It is the first to support the feature, which is absent in similar devices offered by rivals such as Alphabet Inc’s unit Google.

“Putting a semi-permanent ambient device in the home that can make and receive video calls is an interesting evolution which should prove compelling,” said Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson.

The launch of the Echo Show is Amazon’s latest effort to make Alexa a key part of its customers’ lives and dominate the nascent voice-powered computing market.

“What we’re seeing is Amazon using its smart original foray into and early dominance of this space as a beachhead to spread into lots of other areas,” Dawson said.

A study by research firm eMarketer showed that Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6 percent share of the U.S. market this year, well ahead of Google Home’s 23.8 percent share.

Amazon unveiled a voice-controlled camera, the Echo Look, last month alongside an app that recommends outfits for users.

The launch comes a day after Microsoft Corp said it was developing a voice-activated speaker in collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s unit Harman Kardon.

Will Samsung Overtake Intel This Year

May 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The age where Intel is considered the world’s largest chipmaker might be ending.

According to US semiconductor market research firm IC Insights, Samsung is likely to overtake Intel as the world’s largest chip maker later this year.

Bill McClean, president of IC Insights said that “If money market prices continue to hold or increase through the second quarter and the balance of this year, Samsung could charge into the top spot and displace Intel”.

Intel became the world’s largest chipmaker back in 1993 and has held the title ever since. But it dropped the ball when the mobile market exploded in its face.

Intel still dominates the PC market, but Samsung is on hand to provide the DRAM and NAND chips the mobile market wants. What is scary for Intel is that mobile chips are starting to elbow their way into servers, data centres and to a lesser extent the PC.

Courtesy-Fud

Does Facebook Having A Coding Bias?

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to The Wall Street Journal, female engineers who work at Facebook may face gender bias that prevents their code from being accepted at the same rate as male counterparts.

Code written by women was less likely to make it through Facebook’s internal peer review system. It is unlikely that women write shittier code than blokes, so it means that the peer review is being harder on women than men.

It means that Facebook’s efforts at diversity efforts are just rubbish. The company’s workforce is just 33 percent female, with women holding just 17 percent of technical roles and 27 percent of leadership positions. So if those women have to work harder than men because their work is going to be more heavily scrutinised it is rather unfair.

To be fair, Facebook was alarmed by this data and commissioned a second study by Jay Parikh, its head of infrastructure, to investigate any potential issues.

Parikh’s findings suggested that the code rejections were due to engineering rank, not gender. So the issue is that because women do not rise to the top as fast as men statistically they are more likely to be stuck in a grade where there are picked on.

Either possibility could result in the 35 percent higher code rejection rate for female engineers.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon’s Alexa Dominates Voice-controlled Speaker Market

May 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is dominating the niche market for voice-controlled speakers, according to data from research firm eMarketer.

The e-commerce giant’s Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices will claim a 70.6 percent share of the U.S. market this year, the study found. The speakers feature Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled aide, which users can tell to play music, order an Uber or turn on the house lights.

That puts it far ahead of Alphabet Inc’s Google Home, a similar gadget that has a 23.8 percent share, and less successful offerings from other tech companies.

The number of active U.S. users will more than double for the devices this year, to 35.6 million, eMarketer said.

The report underscores Amazon’s progress in making Alexa and its speech-recognition technology an integral part of customers’ lives. More users means more data that can improve Alexa’s understanding and could make it a top platform for voice, like Windows is for desktop.

Amazon does not disclose Echo sales figures but has said it had trouble keeping the product in stock. Device sales and extra revenue from shoppers placing orders via Alexa could generate $10 billion for Amazon by 2020, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney said in a recent note. And that does not include potential revenue from others using Alexa as a platform.

Google’s share is expected to grow, though. Tests by analysts have shown the technology underpinning the Google Home to match or be superior to competitors. A survey by Mahaney found the device’s brand awareness in the United States already equaled 80 percent of Alexa’s, despite being on the market for fewer months.

The statistics from eMarketer focused on speakers and left out other virtual assistants: notably, Apple Inc’s Siri and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana. More than 60 million in the United States will use virtual assistants at least once monthly in 2017, the report said. That’s over a quarter of U.S. smartphone users.

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