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Lenovo Unveils New Budget-friendly Laptop

May 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo is introducing three budget-conscious laptops to market in June, including one that can be equipped with Intel’s RealSense 3D camera.

The Lenovo Z51 is a 15-inch Windows 8.1 notebook that’s meant to be both a workstation and a home entertainment center, the company said Wednesday. The PC also has room to fit an optional RealSense camera, which can offer gesture controls like ones found in Microsoft’s Kinect gaming device.

The Z51 has a 1080p display, and can be configured to have up to a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD or SSHD (solid-state and hard drive combination) memory. It weighs 2.3 kilograms (approximately 5 pounds) and offers 4 hours of battery life. It can be upgraded to include an AMD R9-M375 graphics card.

The Z51 has a smaller sibling called the Z41 that has a 14-inch screen, but no support for Intel’s RealSense camera. Both products will have a starting price at $499.

But the Z51, when configured with the RealSense Camera, and equipped with a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, will start at $599.

Consumers wanting an even cheaper alternative can look at Lenovo’s ideapad 100, which the PC maker also introduced on Wednesday.

The ideapad 100, comes in both 14 and 15-inch display versions, and will start at $249. The affordable laptop runs an Intel BayTrail-M N3540 processor, which has four cores. It can have up to 128GB of SSD (solid-state drive) memory, runs Windows 8.1 and has a 1366 by 768 screen.

It has a battery life of 4 hours, and the 15-inch version weighs 2.3 kg, while the 14-inch version comes at 1.9 kg (approximately 4.2 pounds). The SSD memory can also be swapped for 500GB of HDD memory.

 

 

Are Wooden Semiconductors On The Horizon?

May 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

U.S. and Chinese researchers have come up with wooden semiconductor chips which have the advantage of being biodegradable and a lot cheaper than conventional semiconductors.

According to the group of 17 researchers, mostly from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with others from the U.S. Department of Agriculture the team used a cellulose material for the substrate of the chip, which is the part that supports the active semiconductor layer.

For those who don’t know these things cellulose, a naturally abundant substance used to make paper and is flexible, transparent and sturdy material with suitable electrical properties.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications the team says that this makes CNF better than alternative chip designs using natural materials such as paper and silk.

The researchers coated the CNF with epoxy to make its surface smooth and to prevent it from expanding as it heated. They also developed methods to fabricate gallium arsenide-based microwave devices, which are widely used in mobile devices such as phones and tablets, on the CNF substrate.

The CNF chip features “high-performance electronics that are comparable to existing state-of-the-art electronics,” they wrote.

The team said that commercializing the wooden chips reduced the use of semiconductor material by 99.9 percent.”

Courtesy-Fud

Red Hat’s Fedora 22 Leaves Beta

May 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat’s community arm, has announced the arrival of Fedora 22, the latest version of its open source Linux OS.

Coming in three editions, Fedora Cloud, Fedora Server and Fedora Workstation, the release, which first appeared in beta a month ago, marks the first biannual release since the major upgrade work that proceeded Fedora 21.

As well as the cross-edition basics of the kernel, RPM, systems and Anaconda, there is an updated package manager, with speedier results for DNF and continued command line compatibility with Yum.

The Cloud edition adds Atomic Command, a centralized hub for containers and hosts, with rp-ostree, Cockpit, Docker and Kubernetes all getting the upgrade treatment.

There are also Vagrant boxes for the Cloud edition and Atomic host, making it easier to spin up Fedora Vagrant boxes for development and testing.

The server edition, with its Rolekit Linux daemon, adds support for Database Server Role based on PostgreSQL. The system now defaults to the more efficient XFS file system which means fewer crashes and better recovery without downtime.

The Workstation version has an enhanced UI, with better bug notification, and desktop theming for Gnome. There’s an improved software finder, and enhancements to the remote machine and visualization apps. Plus there’s Vagrant compatibility with no extra runtimes of software needed.

Matthew Miller, Fedora Project leader, commented: “Fedora 22 continues the great groundwork laid by Fedora 21 and the Fedora.next initiative, delivering three unique editions of Fedora 22 while retaining the commitment to open source innovation for which Fedora is known.

“From the usability and developer enhancements in Fedora 22 Workstation to the expansion of Linux container and Docker support within Fedora 22 Cloud, Fedora remains a leader within the Linux vanguard, answering user needs above and beyond the desktop.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Android Looking To Push Deeper Into The Home

May 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Android, already the most widely used operating system in smartphones, may find its way into refrigerators, door locks and all manner of other “smart” appliances around the home.

The OS will be in the spotlight at Google’s massive I/O conference in San Francisco later this week. As well as pushing into home appliances, it could also be extended to play a deeper role in virtual reality, allowing Android developers to build apps for smartphones or VR headsets.

Google hasn’t confirmed any of those plans yet, but as usual, the rumor mill has been in motion. Extending Android to even more devices could help Google draw more people to its online services, and by putting the software in home appliances, Google could gather further valuable insights into people’s behavior.

Google already has its Works with Nest program, which lets appliances talk to its thermostat and smoke alarm for certain energy-related tasks. But according to a report last week in The Information, Google is developing new technology called Brillo that will run on low-powered devices independent of Nest with as little as 64MB or 32MB of memory.

That means just about any appliance around the home — the lights, the air conditioner, a Crock-Pot — could be running Brillo and hooked up to the Web, so you could control them remotely from a smartphone or a PC. It’s a well-worn path that Microsoft and many other vendors also are treading, as they try to provide software and connectivity for tomorrow’s Internet of Things.

At I/O, Google may also push Android deeper into virtual reality. In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was developing a VR version of Android.

There will likely  be  a version of Android that runs virtual reality applications. Such a system could make it easier for developers to use the sensors and other capabilities in smartphones to create VR apps, or else support multiple displays for an immersive experience. The Google I/O schedule lists some sessions focused on designing and developing VR apps.

 

 

 

Is Chrome A Resource Hog?

May 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

For years people have been moaning that Firefox keeps taking their RAM and refusing to give it back, well now it appears that Chrome suffers from a similar problem.

Chrome creates a new process for each tab and instance of the browser opened. This can make the browser sluggish on some machines and a battery life nightmare for mobile users.

However Google is aware of the problem and is coming up with a fix, Speaking during a Reddit AMA session a Chrome for Android engineer said: “We are actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background.”

“Since its inception Chrome has been focusing on security and performance of the web across all supported platforms. Performance sometimes has come at the cost of resource usage, but given the importance of the mobile platform this is one of the top things we are looking into.”

On the desktop side, Google is currently trying to fight memory leaks: “We are profiling Chrome to improve our start-up speed and proactively fighting memory bloat and memory leaks. For example, this year the first gesture latency and mean input latency has decreased steadily.”

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is The Mobile Space Drying Up?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

According to Digitimes, heading into the second quarter of 2015, Taiwan touch panel makers have sudden got conservative outlooks and some are even predicting that their revenues will drop another 15-20 per cent.

he reason is that consumers don’t want game changing tablets and despite the claim that they are moving over to phablets instead the smartphone market is still pretty pants.

While Taiwan’s overall shipments are expected to grow in the second quarter, with makers expected to ship 41.579 million smartphone-use touch panels, increasing 23.5 per cent on quarter but decreasing 22.3 per cent on year. The 8.941 million tablet-use units, are up 7.2 per cent on quarter but down 15 per cent on year.

Tablet makers are hurting the most. Those who focus on the application such as TPK are expected to see a 15-20 per cent decline in revenues during the second quarter before rebounding in the second half of the year when product mixes are adjusted and new orders from customers arrive.

Young Fast Optoelectronics company chairman Pai Chih-chiang said that they were also having to face price competition and this will get worse.

Young Fast aims to reduce spending and cut costs in order to react to this trend, which arose largely due to competition from China. The company will also focus on developing larger-size products in addition to wearable solutions while increasing utilization rates, said Pai, adding it will lower its emphasis on consumer-based products.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Intel Launch A New Version Of Thunderbolt?

May 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is just about to release a new version of Thunderbolt, just as its most major customer – Apple, has dropped the technology from its 12-inch MacBook.

Intel has hinted that it will reveal the “next generation of Thunderbolt” at a press event to be held next month at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

The latest version of Thunderbolt, version 2.0, can transfer data at speeds up to 20Mbps (bits per second), which is twice as fast as the latest USB 3.1.

Chipzilla has been working on a new chipset with more integrated components and we are expecting to see some new toys that will plug into it at the June 1 event.

Intel has been trying to speed up Thunderbolt data transfers, and has said data transfers could reach up to 50Gbps with the help of its emerging silicon photonics technology.

The driving force for a faster Thunderbolt connector could emerge with 8K video. This will appear in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10 OS. Consumer electronics makers are backing the development of a new connector technology called SuperMHL, which will run through USB cables and could kill off any chance that Thunderbolt has.

Thunderbolt peripherals cost a bomb, and many PC makers have passed on the technology particularly for Windows PCs where people tend to be a little more practical. It seems that even the Apple market, where you can charge $1000 for a turd with an Apple logo on it is also shying away from Thunderbolt.

Computex will also have Intel showing off its USB Type-C 3.1, which is considered primary competition to Thunderbolt. The technology is more versatility than Thunderbolt as it can recharge laptops and be a connector for a wide variety of peripherals. The Type-C cables also look the same on both ends, so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.

Courtesy-Fud

Tech Companies Push Senate To Pass NSA Reform Bill

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Reform Government Surveillance, an organization that represents technology giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft, is pushing the U.S. Senate not to delay reform of National Security Agency surveillance by extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act.

The House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week to approve the USA Freedom Act that would, among other things, stop the controversial bulk collection of phone records of Americans by the NSA, including by placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.

The bill has run into opposition in the Senate from some Republican members who are backing renewal of the current Section 215 of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the phone data collection.

The urgency for Congress to pass legislation comes from the upcoming expiration on June 1 of certain parts of the Patriot Act, including Section 215. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provisions will lapse unless reauthorized in the same or modified form by legislation.

A bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020. To apparently buy time as pressure builds for reform, another bill has been placed on the Senate calendar to extend Section 215 and other expiring provisions in the current form up to July 31.

The technology companies said that the USA Freedom Act prevents the bulk collection of Internet metadata under various authorities, and provides for transparency about government demands for user information from technology companies, besides assuring that the appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms are in place.

 

 

Dropbox Releases ‘Universal App’ For Windows Phones, Tablets

May 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Dropbox previously released its cloud storage service on Windows phones and tablets, and on Tuesday the company followed up with a universal app that expands the feature sets for both types of devices.

The update automatically adapts to the user’s screen size and delivers a number of new features, including the ability for Windows Phone users to upload videos directly from their devices.

In the interests of multitasking, Windows Phone users can also now upload multiple files at once. And they can download files straight to their device or SD card, making the information available for offline access; there’s a way to mark files as favorites for offline use as well.

The new update also brings the ability to save and open files to and from Dropbox while working within other apps.

On Windows tablets, Dropbox users can now invite new members to a shared folder from their contacts list and manage folder settings from their device. New keyboard shortcuts for selecting and searching enable a faster workflow.

Now available free for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.0 or 8.1, the software promises better performance as well, according to Dropbox.

Separately Tuesday, Dropbox rolled out new features for its main service that target designers and others who work frequently with images. Specifically, it debuted a new image viewer for better online previews as well as better support for Photoshop, Illustrator and scalable vector graphic files. Users can now also preview PostScript images in their browser rather than having to download them first.

 

 

Scammers Using Malware To Go After Oil Companies

May 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Scammers are running wild through British oil company networks without needing to use malware, according to Panda Security.

Hacking is not new, stealing information and data from firms is not new, but doing so without using malware is unusual.

Panda has dubbed the scam Operation Oil Tanker (PDF), which it said has made its way into systems through a socially engineered email and a lone staffer. The security firm said that antivirus systems failed to stop the attacks, but that its own demo software did.

Panda explained that a worker called Susan at a company called Black Gold Ltd was presented with an email on a Monday morning.

The email contained a 4MB attachment apparently related to the oil market which the employee clicked on and opened. While this could have been big trouble, it was not. Why? Because of Panda.

“Neither the mail server antivirus nor the antivirus on her workstation had
found anything anomalous in it. Susan double-clicked the attachment. A blank PDF opened,” the firm explained.

“1,700km away from Susan’s computer, an alarm was triggered. An unknown threat had just been detected and blocked when it tried to steal credentials from Susan’s computer and send them out.”

Panda, which was the blocker, said that there are some 250,000 malware threats a day, but that this one was special.

“There was something really unique about this threat: it didn’t use any kind of malware. That’s why we decided to call it the ‘Phantom Menace’,” it added.

Panda studied the incident, picking apart the email and its PDF and finding that it included an executable. That executable showed no suspicious behaviour, so was not picked up in regular scans. However, it ran a file called dcp.exe, which allows for file encryption.

Files are picked up at the target and sent to a remote location. Panda found files dating back to 2013, and reported that it had gone undetected for some six months. The scammer was able to use the information to fraudulently broker oil sales.

“In short, the scam works like this: the scammer contacts a broker/middleman and offers them a large amount of BLCO [Bonny Light Crude Oil], one to two million barrels, at a very competitive price,” said Panda.

“To close the deal, the buyer must pay a significant amount of money – from $50,000 to $100,000 – in advance. However, once they pay the money they
are met with the nasty surprise that there is no oil.”

Panda has contacted the Spanish National Guard with its evidence and discoveries.

The security firm said that the force has a good history in dealing with cybercrime, and has worked with Panda before. However, it added that no victims are prepared to come forward. Which does not help anyone.

Courtesy-TheInq

Asus To Offer The Zenfone 2 For $199

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Asus isn’t exactly known for smartphones in the U.S., but the company is trying to make a strong statement with the Zenfone 2, which packs more storage than similarly priced competitors.

The Zenfone 2, which has a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, starts at $199. It will began shipping on Tuesday with Google’s Android 5.0 mobile operating system.

A model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage goes for $299, while the $199 model has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The smartphone is shipping as an unlocked device, meaning it will work with multiple carriers.

It has an Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor code-named Moorefield and a PowerVR G6430 graphics processor, which is capable of handling 1080p video rendering.

The Zenfone 2 has a 5-megapixel front camera and a 13-megapixel rear camera, as well as two SIM slots.

Asus wants to make a mark in the U.S, and with this smartphone it hopes to find an audience, said Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus, during a press event in New York.

The ZenFone 2 is already shipping in 15 countries worldwide. For the U.S. market, Asus has tweaked the smartphone with some new features including a better LTE modem.

Other features include 802.11ac wireless and LTE-Advanced capabilities. The device supports carrier aggregation, and LTE data transfers can touch up to 250M bps (bits per second).

This is also a big product release for Intel. The Zenfone is the second smartphone in the U.S. that uses one of its chips. It’s also Intel’s first smartphone in the U.S. with the XMM 7260 LTE modem. An Intel chip is already being used on Asus’s Padfone X Mini, which is primarily a 4.5-inch smartphone that turns into a 7-inch tablet with an accessory.

 

 

 

Apple Bolsters Mapping Technology With Coherent Acquisition

May 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple, which has been focusing efforts on beefing up its mapping technology since ditching Google Maps in 2012, has acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup offering a high-accuracy GPS navigation service.

Coherent’s navigation system is used in the Iridium satellite network, according to the LinkedIn profile of Paul Lego, who was CEO of the company before going to work for Apple. Coherent, which was founded in 2008 and is based in the San Francisco area, counts the U.S. government as a customer and had been aiming its technology at the mining, construction, energy and agriculture industries. Coherent had fewer than 10 employees, according to its LinkedIn page, which states that the company “has ceased operations.”

Coherent joins a string of businesses Apple has purchased in recent years to beef up its mapping service. Until 2012, Apple’s mapping technology was based on Google Maps. Other mapping and location companies Apple has acquired include PlaceBase, Locationary and BroadMap.

In a statement released to the media, Apple said it occasionally purchases small companies and doesn’t discuss its acquisition plans. The timing, price and terms of the deal, which was first reportedby MacRumors, weren’t disclosed.

However, several former Coherent executives became Apple employees in recent months. Coherent CEO Paul Lego began working at Apple in January while co-founders William Bencze and Brent Ledvina joined the company in April, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Lego is on the Maps Team and Bencze and Ledvina work on location technologies.

 

 

Will Tablets Stage A Comeback?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Analyst at IDC have consulted their tarot cards and are predicting that tablets will survive in the business area.

The overall tablet market in Western Europe remained challenged in the first quarter of 2015, declining 10.5 percent on year with shipments totaling 8.5 million units. The contraction, was the result of consumers realising that tablets were a fad and had no actually use at all.

But IDC sees a feature for the technology in the commercial space with volumes increasing 51.3per cent  from the same period in 2014. This is particularly in the area of 2-in-1s which are essentially a re-incarnation of netbooks with a touch screen.

In terms of product category, the share of 2-in-1s, albeit growing, remains in single-digit territory at 5.9 per cent. Nevertheless, the popularity of these devices continued to increase among consumers as well as enterprises, driving shipments up 44.4 per cent.

Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing said that the fact there were no major product launches, the beginning of 2015 failed to stimulate stronger consumer demand.

“Growth opportunity, however, clearly continues to come from enterprises and professional segments. Vendors have significantly expanded their product portfolio with devices optimized for business usage. Demand for 2-in-1 devices is gathering momentum driven by improved hardware offers as well as adjusted price points that are attracting private users as well as professionals,” she said,

Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing claimed that tablet usage for professional purposes was a reality.
“Deployment is no longer limited to a few early adopting countries or businesses. Adoption is far from being mainstream but we now see companies of all sizes choosing tablets and 2-in-1s to support their normal business activities.

The UK, France, Germany, and Northern Europe countries remain at the forefront of this trend as tablet adoption has become part of mobility and digital strategies in the private as much as public sector.

Windows 10 is likely to resolve most of the infrastructure legacy and integration problems that have so far hindered tablet and 2-in-1 adoption in some existing enterprises. The growth of the commercial segment is therefore expected to continue in the coming quarters, supporting overall market volumes in 2015 and beyond.”

Android devices account for the majority of the market thanks to the large number of vendors offering tablets running on this OS. The largest vendor, Samsung, under-performed the market in the consumer segment in the first quarter of 2015, but showed strong commercial results.

The rest of the market is represented by Windows devices, which posted strong double-digit growth for the third quarter in a row.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Apple Being Dumped?

May 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The dumping of Apple shares by top hedge funds is continuing to gather speed and now even the Tame Apple Press  is noticing.

Reuters took time out from its busy schedule of promoting Apple producst to report the surprise news that Top US hedge fund management firms, including Leon Cooperman’s Omega Advisors and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management, continued to reduce or slash stakes altogether in Apple during the first quarter.

We say surprise news, but we had noticed it when it actually happened.

Coatue cut its holding of Apple by selling 1.2 million shares during the first three months of this year, but it remains the fund’s single biggest U.S. stock investment, with 7.7 million shares. Omega Advisors sold all of its 383,790 shares in Apple during the first quarter, while Rothschild Asset Management cut its stake by 107,953 to 938,693 shares, filings showed on Friday.

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital also cut its exposure in Apple during the first quarter, slashing its stake by 1.2 million shares to 7.4 million shares.

Reuters cannot understand why the hedge funds are dumping their shares. Apple shares rose 12.7 percent in the first quarter and have continued to increase, it moaned.

But the reality is that if hedge funds listened to what fanboys wanted they would not be making the huge amounts of dosh they do. Objectively Apple’s markets have peaked, sales of Tablets have slumped, its iPhone market is stable but has no real momentum and above all it has yet to come up with a new idea.

Courtesy-Fud

Bing Follows Google In Favoring Mobile-Friendly Sites

May 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is changing how it ranks Bing search results for mobile users, prioritizing sites that display better on smaller screens to accommodate the increased use of mobile search.

The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.

In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.

The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.

It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.

Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.

The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.