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LinkedIn Rolls Out Revamped Messaging Service

September 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

LinkedIn Corp has unveiled a revamped messaging service along the lines of modern chat apps, departing from its unpopular design that resembled email.

The new service will include features such as GIFs and stickers to add a “little extra personality” to user’s chats, the company said in a blog post.

The messaging service now has improved push and email notifications and messages are organized in a chat-style format with conversation threads akin to most messaging apps today such as Facebook Inc’s Messenger and WhatsApp.

LinkedIn, which operates the biggest social networking site for professionals, has started to roll out the new messaging service to English-language users accessing its platform via a desktop or through an app.

Users can also attach photos and documents to messages.

The company also said it was looking at offering voice and video calling with the messaging platform in the future.

LinkedIn plans to make the revamped messaging feature available in other languages in the coming weeks.

 

Xiaomi Develops Their Own SoC

September 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Xiaomi is the latest big phone manufacturer trying to make its own SoCs to differentiate itself from the fearsome competition.

China’s biggest smartphone manufacturer is working on its own SoC that is scheduled to appear in 2016. Details are thin on the ground but it would appear that the company is working on its own ARM based chip. This will help company to compete with Apple, Samsung and Huawei. These three already have an inhouse SoC.

Apple started making its own SoC a while ago with the original iPhone and Samsung has joined in a few years later. This is going to become more common in the phone industry.

Samsung caught everyone by surprise when it announced that its flagship Galaxy S6  and the latest Galaxy 6 Note and edge ended up with a 14nm based 7240 . Before this, they used Qualcomm chips for their high end devices.

HTC ended up using Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 while LG G4 flagship phone chose the Snapdragon 808 which was a slightly slower version of the chip.

Huawei has acquired HiSIlicon SoC manufacturer a few years ago and the company makes its own SoC branded Kirin. The company is doing a decent job with its latest Kirin 930. This “four plus four” A53 chip with one cluster with 2.0 GHz and another with 1.5Ghz seems like a decent chip. It even has Cat 6 modem to compete better.

The future Kirin 950 will have A72 cores and even Cat 10 modems but this is something we will see in course of 2016.

If Xiaomi becomes successful in its SoC plans, it will put Qualcomm and MediaTek in a tough position. The company is using Snapdragon 810 in its MI Note Pro, and Snapdragon 615 in Mi 4i phone.

Redmi Note 2 is using the quite popular MediaTek SoC Helio X10 SoC that ended up in quite a few phones coming from the Far East.

Xiaomi has already developed LC1860 processor for its low end Redmi 2A, which was a sub $100 phone. This was developed by the Xiaomi-owned Pine Cone Electronics working with Chinese chip maker Leadcore Technology. The LC 1860 was significantly less expensive that similar spec Qualcomm chip.

LG has been working on its own SoC codenamed Odin and we still haven’t seen a single device with it. Making SoC chips with an integrated LTE is hard and it costs Qualcomm and MediaTek billions of dollars to refresh the latest offering at least once a year. This was why Nvidia and Texas Instruments have dropped out of this game as it was too hard to compete.

Courtesy-Fud

Will GPU Open Sourcing Work

September 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An open saucy general-purpose graphics processor (GPGPU) has been unveiled at the Hot Chips event.

The GPGPU is relatively crude and is part of another piece of an emerging open-source hardware platform called MIAOW.

Karu Sankaralingam, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that an open source hardware platform is emerging that has inherent value

He said that big companies will someday be built using open source hardware, just as multi-billion-dollar Web giants owe their existence to open source software.

He said more people needed to contribute to open source hardware to improve the platform layer so there’s enough for entrepreneurs to build from it.

A 12-person team developed the MIAOW core in 36 months. Their goal was simply to create a functional GPGPU without setting any specific area, frequency, power or performance goals.

The resulting GPGPU uses just 95 instructions and 32 compute units in its current design. It only supports single-precision operations. Students are now adding a graphics pipeline to the design, a job expected to take about six months.

MIAOW compares favourably on several benchmarks to AMD’s latest high-end chip, Tahiti. However, it also falls far short on other benchmarks. Apparently AMD had a quick look at it and said that the designers were not doing anything “too crazy”.

However quite how MIAOW will navigate through the shark infested patent sea is anyone’s guess.

Courtesy-Fud

 

IBM Integrates Blue Box Into SoftLayer

September 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has declared the integration of Blue Box Cloud into its OpenStack private cloud options, where it will sit in a perfect marriage with subsidiary SoftLayer.

Angel Diaz, Big Blue’s vice president of cloud infrastructure and technology, who explained that it really was the best of both worlds, and felt the best analogy was about British dessert foods. Go on Angel, we’re listening.

“No application is an island. What this announcement does is allow customers the best of both worlds [cloud and on-premise],” he said.

Here it comes. “If I’m in England, I love a sticky toffee pudding, right? But I wouldn’t want sticky toffee pudding without ice cream … or custard … and that’s what we’ve done here. We’ve taken Blue Box and, within 90 days, allowed clients to deploy their private cloud in over 40 data centers across the world – a private cloud-as-a-service.”

IBM Blue Box uses dedicated hardware on and off premises and is available as a managed or unmanaged private cloud base.

The system can offer a single management tool for all OpenStack private clouds, no matter their location. It also offers speedy delivery of applications and data through simplified and consistent access to public, private and even hybrid cloud models.

Diaz enthuses: “They still get all the goodness they would expect from a private cloud, but you also get the goodness of a managed environment, with all the elasticity and data sovereignty. That for me is the ‘Aha’ of this particular offering and what we’re trying to do with this particular product.”

Big Blue purchased Blue Box less than three months ago, and the firm has joined the ranks of IBM’s private cloud-as-a-service offerings, and is now officially available in an IBM Cloud layer data centre running SoftLayer infrastructure.

Data can be isolated in SoftLayer’s global data centres, driving down latency and improving application performance for end users, even when connecting to clouds scattered across the world. An open source infrastructure offers greater choice, flexibility and a quick path to innovation, the firm said.

“SoftLayer bare metal servers are perfectly suited for Blue Box Cloud architecture,” said Marc Jones, CTO of SoftLayer.

“Our global cloud footprint means that customers around the world can find a location near them where they can consume OpenStack-powered private cloud-as-a-service without having to worry about the operational headache of that cloud.

“We’re looking forward to the IBM and Blue Box engineering teams scaling this technical success into greater market awareness and adoption of private cloud-as-a-service.”

The announcement was made at the OpenStack Silicon Valley event, and is expected to be one of many big stories from the OpenStack ecosystem in the coming days.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

PayPal Rival, Klarna Launches In USA

September 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Payments firm Klarna debuted its U.S business on Tuesday and announced that Overstock.com, one of the biggest U.S. online retailers, would be its first major retail partner.

The company, which has grown throughoutn Europe and gained a 10 percent share of the Northern European e-commerce market, said it had partnered with around 10 U.S. merchants so far.

Sweden-based Klarna, founded in 2005 and backed by investors such as Sequoia Capital and Atomico, is now planning for rapid expansion in the United States, where it will take on rivals such as PayPal and Stripe.

“I would be disappointed if we didn’t have hundreds of merchants on the platform doing millions of transactions as early as in 2016,” Klarna North America CEO Brian Billingsley, told Reuters.

Klarna’s services allow online consumers to buy goods by entering easy-to-remember details such as an e-mail address and zip code. It also lets consumers pay after delivery with Klarna assuming the risk in the interim and paying the retailer immediately.

Klarna, which had net sales of $319 million last year, said it was currently seeing “significant growth” in its core markets in the Nordics and Germany.

Asked how much the group could grow in 2016, Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said it was to early to tell as the U.S business was still in its infancy.

“There is definitely a potential to quickly reach half a billion dollars in revenue in a very short period of time,” he said.

Klarna said the company would double in size if it was to capture half a percentage of the U.S market.

“And while of course our ambitions are much higher than half a percentage, it is definitely an interesting reflection of how extremely big the market is,” Siemiatkowski said.

 

 

T-Mobile Threatens ‘Data Thieves’

September 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile USA is on a mission to stop data thieves, which it says are taking advantage of the company’s unlimited high-speed data plan through excessive tethering — the use of smartphone data service on other devices.

The carrier offers unlimited 4G LTE on smartphones, but limits data usage through tethering to 7GB a month under a Smartphone Mobile HotSpot feature, which reduces speed beyond that limit. If a customer needs more LTE tethering, he or she can add on more.

But CEO John Legere has accused some users of “hacking” the system to swipe high-speed tethered data, by strategies like downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones or writing code to mask their activity.

“It’s a small group — 1/100 of a percent of our 59 million customers — but some of them are using as much as 2 terabytes (2,000GB!) of data in a month,” Legere wrote.

“I’m not sure what they are doing with it — stealing wireless access for their entire business, powering a small cloud service, providing broadband to a small city, mining for bitcoin — but I really don’t care!,” he added.

Legere said the company was going first after the 3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing, as they can compromise the network experience for other T-Mobile customers. The company claims to have developed technology that can detect the people who choose to break its terms and conditions.

Erring customers will be warned, and then lose access to the company’s unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan, and be moved to an entry-level limited 4G LTE data plan, according to a support page.

 

 

Boeing Developing Drone Destroying Laser System

September 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Boeing’s portable drone-destroying laser system is one step closer to reality after a recent test.

Earlier this month in California, Boeing’s second-generation, compact-laser weapons system disabled a moving, untethered drone. That’s important because enemies can easily acquire commercially available drones — also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — and use them to deliver explosives or perform reconnaissance.

Using a laser of up to two kilowatts, the weapons system can focus on a target located at a tactical distance up to “many hundreds of meters” away, according to a Boeing video of the technology.

It took only a few seconds for the drone to ignite and crash. The laser is typically aimed at the tail of the drone because, once that section of the drone is disabled, it becomes impossible to control the drone, according to Dave DeYoung, director of laser and electro-optical systems at Boeing.

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fire a missile, which may range in cost from $30,000 to $3 million, at a drone that may cost a few thousand dollars, he said in an interview.

It costs “a couple of dollars” for each firing of the new laser weapons system, he said.

“It’s not an either-or situation,” he said. “There will be instances when missiles make sense.”

One of the drawbacks of using lasers, DeYoung said, is that light, unlike a missile, keeps going. The Boeing weapon uses a safeguard to make sure there is a clear line of sight both to and beyond the target.

Boeing is developing the laser system for the U.S. military and wouldn’t reveal certain details like its effective range or cost. DeYoung did say that the laser is a commercial, off-the-shelf product and that Boeing developed the control and target acquisition system.

DeYoung said that Boeing is collecting feedback from the U.S. Department of Defense and incorporating it into further iterations of the prototype, but wouldn’t reveal the commercialization timeline.

 

 

Facebook Deploying New Technology To Catch Pirated Videos

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is enhancing its technology to better identify videos uploaded to its site without the proper permission of copyright holders.

The move comes amid an explosion in the amount of video viewed on Facebook, posted by regular users, publishers and advertisers alike.

Alongside the uptick in video content, copyright holders have complained about videos posted without their permission. A recent report by video marketing and social media consulting companies Tubular and Social@Ogilvy estimated that a majority of the most popular videos on Facebook were pirated.

On Thursday, Facebook said it would be deploying new video matching technology that will be available to a small group of partners. The tool, Facebook said, will let select media companies, multichannel networks and individual video creators identify matches of their videos posted across Pages, profiles, groups and geographies on the site.

The tool will evaluate millions of video uploads quickly. When matches surface, publishers will be able to report them to Facebook for removal, the company said in a blog post.

Facebook has already been using a system called Audible Magic that uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify and prevent unauthorized videos from making their way to the site.

But the video matching tool, currently in beta, is a new step in Facebook’s broader efforts to establish a content ID system akin to what YouTube uses to quickly identify copyright violations.

On YouTube, copyright owners have the option of running ads against videos that the video sharing site has identified as matches.

 

 

 

Pentagon Partners With Apple And Boeing On Wearable Technology

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter granted $75 million to assist a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.

Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.

“This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,” Carter said.

He was speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group’s total five-year funding level to $171 million.

Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.

The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base.

 

 

The EU To Launch Review Of Uber

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to resolve legal disputes that have pitted the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.

Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.

The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.

Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.

The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.

“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year. In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France,Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favors regular taxis at its expense.

The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy - where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.

 

 

Acer Warms To Takeover Possibility

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Acer Inc founder Stan Shih said he would welcome a takeover of the struggling Taiwanese computer manufacturer after a drastic decline in its stock price, while warning any potential buyer would have to pay a heavy amount.

“Welcome,” Shih told reporters in response to a question about whether Acer would be open to a takeover. He added however that any buyer would get an “empty shell” and would pay dearly.

“U.S. and European management teams usually are concerned about money, their CEOs only work for money. But Taiwanese are more concerned about a sense of mission and emotional factors,” he said.

His remarks were first reported by Taiwanese media on Thursday and were confirmed by a company spokesman.

Acer has reported steep on-year sales falls in recent months, including a 33 percent drop in July.

It suffered a T$2.89 billion ($90 million) loss in the first six months of 2015, versus a slight profit in the same period last year. It booked losses for all of 2011, 2012 and 2013 amid cratering PC sales.

Its stock price has fallen by nearly half since early April.

 

 

Report Reveals Hi-tech Vehicle Systems Are Rarely Used By Owners

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Although car makers are spending billions of dollars to install cutting-edge technologies in vehicles, a new report shows many owners don’t use them.

According to J.D. Power’s 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features.

The 2015 DrIVE Report measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership.

The five features owners most commonly report that they “never use” are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don’t even  want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don’t want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface (HMI) research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”

About the technology now offered in new cars, vehicle owners said they simply “did not find it useful,” adding that it “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”

Vehicle owners who said their dealer did not explain a tech feature also had a higher likelihood of never using it, the survey found.

J.D. Power built its report on responses from more than 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership. The report was conducted between April and June 2015.

 

 

 

IBM Thinks Businesses Should Block TOR

August 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM security research has found that people are using the so-called dark net to launch cyber attacks, force ransomware demands on punters and make distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

The dark net, accessed via Tor, is often tagged as a threat. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly 3Q 2015 report identifies a spike in bad traffic and leads with a warning.

The report introduces Tor as the network that takes people to the dark net. We might start calling it the ferryman and the passage across the river Styx, but things are complicated enough.

IBM said that Tor is used by “non-malicious government officials, journalists, law enforcement officials” and bad people alike. It is the latter that should concern us.

“This latest report reveals that more than 150,000 malicious events have originated from Tor in the US alone thus far in 2015,” the report said.

“Tor has also played a role in the growing ransomware attack trend. Attackers have evolved the use of encryption to hold data hostage and demand payment/ransom for the decryption code.”

We have been here before, and ransomware has been a feature of many a security alert this year already. We heard, courtesy of Bitdefender, that ransomware charges start at £320, and are a real pain to deal with. We also heard that it is Android mobile users in the UK who get the worst of the hackers’ grabbing-for-money treatment.

Back at the IBM report, and we find IBM X-Force on the issue. X-Force, which is nothing like X-Men, said that hackers push internet users who are easily fooled by flashy online advertisements into installing the new cyber nightmare. Ransomware, it warns, will separate you from your cash.

“A surprising number of users are fooled by fake/rogue antivirus [AV] messages that are nothing more than animated web ads that look like actual products. The fake AV scam tricks users into installing or updating an AV product they may never have had,” it explains, adding that in some cases people pay the money without thinking.

“Afterward, the fake AV keeps popping up fake malware detection notices until the user pays some amount of money, typically something in the range of what an AV product would cost.”

This establishes the subject as a mark, and the hackers will exploit the opportunity. “Do not assume that if you are infected with encryption-based ransomware you can simply pay the ransom and reliably get your data back,” said IBM.

“The best way to avoid loss is to back up your data. Regardless of whether your backup is local or cloud-based, you must ensure that you have at least one copy that is not directly mapped visibly as a drive on your computer.”

Tor nodes in the US spewed out the most bad traffic in the first half of this year, according to the report, adding up to about 180,000 attacks. The Netherlands is second with around 150,000, and Romania is third with about 80,000.

The bulk of this negative attention lands at technology and communications companies. You might have assumed the financial markets, but you were wrong. IBM said that ICT gets over 300,000 Tor thwacks every six months, manufacturing gets about 245,000, and finance gets about 170,000.

IBM said that the old enemy, SQL injection attacks, is the most common Tor-led threat to come at its customers. Vulnerability scanning attacks are also a problem, and IBM said that the use of the network as a means for distributed DoS attacks should “Come as no surprise”. It doesn’t.

“These attacks combine Tor-commanded botnets with a sheaf of Tor exit nodes. In particular, some of the US-based exit nodes provide huge bandwidth,” explained the report.

“Employing a handful of the exit nodes in a distributed DoS orchestrated by the botnet controller and originating at dozens or hundreds of bot hosts can impose a large burden on the targeted system with a small outlay of attacker resources, and generally effective anonymity.”

There is a lot more. The bottom line is that bad things happen on the dark net and that they come to people and businesses through Tor. IBM said that concerned outfits should just block it and move on, which is along the lines of something that Akamai said recently.

“Corporate networks really have little choice but to block communications to these stealthy networks. The networks contain significant amounts of illegal and malicious activity,” said Akamai.

“Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions.”

That sounds fine to us, but won’t someone give a thought to those non-malicious government officials out there?

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Testing ‘M’, Personal Digital Assistant

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is testing a personal digital assistant called “M” within its Messenger service that is capable of answering questions with live human help and performing tasks such as buying gifts online and making restaurant reservations.

M is “powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people,” David Marcus, vice president of Messaging products, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Rival services like Apple Inc’s Siri, Google Inc’s Google Now and Microsoft Corp’s Cortana rely entirely on technology to answer questions.

M is a hybrid backed by a team of Facebook employees with customer service backgrounds, called M trainers, who can also make travel arrangements and appointments, Marcus wrote.

Facebook has introduced several functions inside Messenger, which boasts more than 700 million users, to transform it into a standalone platform. Earlier this year, it rolled out games exclusively on Messenger and launched products for businesses to directly connect with consumers.

 

 

Gogo To Boost In-flight Broadband Speeds With New Technology

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

In-flight broadband provider Gogo’s 2Ku technology has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, paving the way for data speeds up to 70Mbps. The company plans to launch commercial services this year.

Clearing this regulatory hurdle was an important step for Gogo. The company has received the final so-called Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA, which it required in order to launch the next-generation technology.

Seven commercial airlines have signed up for either a trial or fleet deployment of 2Ku, covering more than 500 commercial aircraft, Gogo said without giving names. The aircraft will be upgraded next year.

The 70Mbps that 2Ku can deliver is a big improvement over the 3.1Mbps Gogo was able to offer when it got started about five years ago.

The higher speeds are achieved through the use of two antennas: one for the link to the aircraft and the other for the return link to the ground, according to Gogo. The new system is cheaper to install and run, said GoGo, meaning airlines could afford to put it on more planes.

Capacity is shared between all users on the same aircraft, so the actual data speeds users experience will depend on what other passengers are streaming or downloading.

Today GoGo offers connectivity on Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United and Virgin America flights. Data plans include a 24-hour pass at $16 and an unlimited monthly pass at $59.95.