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Microsoft Appears To Be Beefing Up Azure

February 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft beefed up its Azure Stack cloud platform, just a week after releasing the first Technical Preview of the hybrid cloud enabler.

Microsoft’s Azure Stack offers the same capabilities as the firm’s Azure public cloud but delivered from a customer’s own infrastructure. The thinking behind this is that greater consistency between the private and public cloud platforms will make it easier for enterprises to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy.

Microsoft has now made extra capabilities available that organizations can download and deploy onto the Azure Stack Technical Preview, including an updated Azure SDK, a Web Apps capability in the Azure App Service, SQL and MySQL database resource providers and Visual Studio support.

Microsoft said that this update represents just the first installment of a continuous innovation process planned for Azure Stack, which will eventually lead to enterprise customers being able to fully deliver Azure services from their own data centers.

However, Microsoft said that the three PaaS resource providers it has now delivered, for Web Apps SQL and MySQL, are still only at the early preview stage.

“We’re making them available early to solicit community and early adopter feedback to help simplify the installation and configuration experience. We will then incorporate the feedback and release another public preview for these services before we release the next Technical Preview of Azure Stack,” the firm said in a posting on the Azure blog.

Meanwhile, adding Azure Stack support into the Visual Studio suite will help organizations move towards a DevOps strategy, enabling them to build and deploy cloud-like services from their own data center.

“Enterprises today must manage hyper-scale web applications and complex requirements such as ensuring regulatory compliance and data sovereignty,” said Microsoft’s senior program manager for Azure Tools, Jason Shaver.

“To meet these needs, Microsoft lets enterprises approach the cloud as a model rather than a place: Azure and Azure Stack share a standardised architecture, portal and application model, allowing developers to write once and deploy to public, private or hosted cloud environments without code changes.”

The INQUIRER’s sister site Computing is hosting a DevOps Summit event in London on 5 July 2016. Follow the link for more details.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

AlienSpy RAT Capturing Many Victims

February 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Kaspersky Lab has warned of a new remote access trojan (RAT) malware-as-a-service problem called AlienSpy, or Adwind.

The warning was issued at a security show in Tenerife, so we are blaming the name on sangria and sun. There are some other names that it goes by, including Frutas, Unrecom, Sockrat, JSocket and jRat, so take your pick.

We are not currently in Tenerife, but we have access to the report. Kaspersky said that the attack has bagged over 400,000 victims, and in a very bad way indeed. This suggests that it is easy to use, and Kaspersky reckons that it has some 1,800 users.

“The Adwind platform in its current state lowers significantly the minimum amount of professional knowledge required by a potential criminal looking to enter the area of cyber crime,” said Aleksandr Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky.

“What we can say based on our investigation of the attack against a Singaporean bank is that the criminal behind it was far from being a professional hacker, and we think that most of the Adwind platform’s ‘clients’ have that level of computer education. That is a worrisome trend.”

There is a real RAT problem at the moment, and we imagine that companies are panic buying cats or hiring pied pipers. But there must be other solutions.

Vitaly Kamluk, director of Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team reckons that just about any kind of industry is a potential victim, including finance, engineering, retail, shipping, telecoms, software, education, food production, government, healthcare, and (nay, say it ain’t so) the media! He added that law enforcement needs to get involved.

“Despite multiple reports about different generations of this tool, published by security vendors in recent years, the platform is still active and inhabited with criminals of all kinds,” he said.

“We’ve conducted this research in order to attract the attention of the security community and law enforcement agencies and to make the necessary steps in order to disrupt it completely.”

RAT malware was at the center of a recent argument between McAfee and Kaspersky, and lately we have seen it used as spyware and as an avenue for data theft.

You know there are security companies that provide services that will protect you from this kind of threat. We imagine that you would find one in Tenerife right now, but there are plenty of others out there.

We will take a belt and braces approach to the problem and will attempt to teach a large, tough cat how to pipe.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

LG’s New G5 Smartphone To Debut ‘Always On’ Display

February 12, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LG’s next flagship Android smartphone, the G5, will come with an “always on” screen, according to a teaser posted  the LG Facebook page.

The full reveal of the G5 is expected on Feb. 21, just prior to the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

LG hasn’t given many other hints about the G5, although it tagged an animation on the Facebook page with the line, “Never go asleep while others do.”

The G5 is also rumored to have a removable battery that is pulled out from the bottom of the phone. LG’s invitation to its Feb. 21 event includes the words “play begins” and a picture of a jack-in-the-box toy, leading some analysts to conjecture that the G5 will focus heavily on gaming uses.

How LG markets and advertises the G5 could be a sign of growing recognition by vendors that smartphone growth is slowing. As a result, vendors will attempt to draw attention to new features that are relatively minor compared to past years. Many smartphone users need a bigger incentive to upgrade than an always-on display, one analyst said.

“Android unit shipments and revenue growth are slowing year-to-year, and with news like [an always on display], it’s clear [LG] is getting a little antsy about what 2016 has in store,” said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at TBR.

He said that an always-on display isn’t much different from LG’s previous Glance View or even the Motorola Moto X with its gesture-based features.

“From the user’s perspective, always-on is a quirky feature that will have a niche audience, at best,” he said. “Is it really that much of a distraction or effort or waste of time to press a button the side, top or bottom of your phone to see what you’ve missed?”

LG also hasn’t indicated what always-on will mean for sapping battery power, a concern that buyers will surely have, analysts said.

 

Yahoo Announces First Round Of Layoffs

February 12, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc  announced Wednesday it will terminate 107 employees in the first of what is expected to be more than 1,500 job eliminations.

The layoffs take effect April 11 and affected employees received 60-day advance notice of the move, Yahoo said in a notice filed with the California Employment Development Department. The layoffs were spread across a range of departments and job titles.

Yahoo shares closed up 1 percent at $27.10 on Wednesday and are down about 18.5 percent so far this year.

Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call this month it will cut roughly 15 percent of its workforce as part of a strategy to revamp its core Internet business.

Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014, total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed-term contractors.

 

ARM Profits Not Impacted By iPhone Slump

February 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Chip-designer ARM appears to have shrugged off a slump in smartphone sales that damaged everyone, even Apple and is reporting profits up 17 per cent on last year.

The UK outfit said net profit for the three months to December 31 rose to $132.7 million. Pretax profit adjusted for exceptional items rose 17 per cent year-on-year to $201.16 million, slightly higher than what analysts predicted.

Revenue, also adjusted, in dollar terms rose 14 per cent to $407.9 million, higher than a forecast of $402.5 million.

Chief Executive Simon Segars said that:

“2015 was a strong year for the shipment of chips containing advanced ARM technology, and momentum continued through the fourth quarter.”

For 2016, it expects dollar revenue to be broadly in line with market expectations. The company designs chip technology found in more than 95% of all smartphones, including Apple. It earns licensing fees from chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Nvidia and royalties on every chip shipped.

Courtesy-Fud

 

IRS Says Hackers Tax Filers E-Filing PIN Numbers In Latest Attack

February 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The Internal Revenue Service was the target of an illegal network intrusion that used stolen Social Security numbers and other taxpayer data to obtain PINs that can be used to file tax returns electronically.

The attack occurred in January and targeted an IRS Web application that taxpayers use to obtain their so-called Electronic Filing (E-file) PINs. The app requires taxpayer information such as name, Social Security number, date of birth and full address.

Attackers attempted to obtain E-file PINs corresponding to 464,000 unique SSNs using an automated bot, and did so successfully for 101,000 SSNs before the IRS blocked it.

The personal taxpayer data used during the attack was not obtained from the IRS, but was stolen elsewhere, the agency said in a statement. The IRS is notifying affected taxpayers via mail and will monitor their accounts to protect them from tax-related identity theft.

While the IRS said that externally acquired taxpayer data was used, the agency did suffer a security breach last year that allowed attackers to gain information such as Social Security information, date of birth and street address for over 300,000 taxpayers.

That attack involved the IRS’ “Get Transcript” application and in that case, too, the agency said that attackers were able to pass the app’s verification steps using information acquired from an external source.

Given the sheer amount of personal data that’s now in the hands of cybercriminals, it’s likely that some of them will try to monetize it and one possible method is by filing fraudulent tax returns.

 

 

Are 3D TVs Dead Again?

February 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

It is looking like 3D technology is dead in the water with both Samsung and LG phasing it out in new TVs.

This confirms what we noticed at CES where there were few people even showing 3D as a feature and one of them was LG.

Speaking to ET News in Korea, an LG representative stated that only its premium sets this year will be 3D capable, slashing the number of supporting TVs by half.

“Although 40 per cent of all TVs last year had 3D functions, only 20 per cent this year will. There are still consumers who enjoy 3D movies and others, so we are going to apply it mainly on premium products.”

Apparently Samsung is going the same way according to a supplier of 3D glasses who was told not to bother making compatible specs this year.

3D in the home has been in decline for the last two to three years, with first the BBC stopping producing its 3D material and Sky started killing off its dedicated channels last June. Sky still offers some 3D movies and content on demand.

It does not mean that 3D video is a dead format. It is still going strong in cinemas and we will probably see films made in that format for years.  It is just that it never really worked in the home.  Some of that might have been due to content, other reasons is that it tended to be erratic technology whcih was a little too much like hard work to set up.  Quality also suffered in comparison some of the HD and UH pictures which were suddenly more realistic.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Oracle Issues An Emergency Patch For Java

February 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has bestowed the gift of an out-of-band security patch on its customers following problems with Java and Windows.

You should manage the passage of Security Alert CVE-2016-0603 with some urgency. Oracle gave this to you over the weekend, but the weekend is the weekend and no-one expects out-of-band patches anyway.

An Oracler called Eric Maurice is the giver of the bad news, depending on how you approach security updates, saying that application of the patch will prevent vulnerabilities with Java 6, 7 and 8 on the Windows platform.

The flaw has received a CVSS Base Score of 7.6, which translates as High. You might call it ‘urgent’. To be honest, Oracle has already given out enough tasks for security staffers with its January patch rain-making.

Maurice reckons that victims would not merely walk into exploitation in this instance but could be tricked into it by hackers and miscreants.

“To be successfully exploited, this vulnerability requires that an unsuspecting user be tricked into visiting a malicious website and download files to the user’s system before installing Java 6, 7 or 8. Though considered relatively complex to exploit, this vulnerability may result, if successfully exploited, in a complete compromise of the unsuspecting user’s system,” he said.

“Customers need not upgrade existing Java installations to address the vulnerability because the exposure exists only during the installation process. As a reminder, Oracle recommends that Java home users visit Java.com to ensure that they are running the most recent version of Java SE and that all older versions have been completely removed.”

While you’re at it, Maurice warned that you should only ever download Java from Java.com. This is good advice.

Also available for advice is Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek who swung by to tell us that the best kind of Java is the most recent.

“As Oracle points out, existing installations are not at risk. New installations should use the latest fixed packages published by Oracle. This would address the situation where an end-user might have visited a malicious site which could have prepared the machine for an attack by downloading altered versions of one of the DLLs involved,” he said.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Kingston Announces Acquisition Of USB Technology Maker IronKey

February 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Kingston Technology has announced that it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation Corp.

Imation, which purchased the then privately-held IronKey in 2011, did not disclose the financial details of the sale to Kingston.

IronKey is perhaps best known for its highly secure USB flash drives, which use 256-bit AES encryption algorithm to secure data and a stainless steel case with no seams so it cannot be pried open.

The secure storage devices are validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to meet the stringent Level 3 criteria of FIPS 140-2. Combined with the cloud-based IronKey Enterprise Management Service, data security can be managed and audited from anywhere in the world.

IronKey’s thumb drives carry with them a hefty price as well. For example, a 32GB thumb drive can retail for as much as $599. However, you can also find them on online sites for around $280.

Kingston, which has had an encrypted portable drive line since it launched its DataTraveler product more than 10 years ago, said IronKey is one of the “leading alternative brands in encrypted USB flash” drives.

“The acquisition provides customers with a more comprehensive portfolio of products and services, and demonstrates Kingston’s commitment as the global leader in trusted encrypted solutions for mobile data,” Kingston said in a statement.

Kingston envisions no immediate changes that would affect the channel partners now  supporting IronKey products.

“IronKey customers with any questions or concerns are asked to contact their current distribution or reseller partners, or email ironkey@kingston.com,” the company said.

 

 

 

Will Nintendo Get Into Virtual Reality Gaming?

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s earnings report and briefing earlier this week were a bit of a damp squib for anyone hoping for more information on the company’s future plans; on NX and on smartphone games alike, the company remained utterly silent. We found out that you’ll be able to pre-register for the Miitomo smartphone app on the 17th of February, with the app itself to launch in March, but you’d have to be a truly ardent follower of Nintendo’s fortunes for that to create more than the slightest flicker of interest. What we actually knew by the end of the earnings report was this – Splatoon is really popular, people are buying an extraordinary number of amiibos, and there’s a special Pokemon-themed edition of the 3DS coming later this month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, which is important news because it means it’s 20 years since Pokemon launched and we’re all really, really old.

The frisson of excitement that spread around the media at the comment that the publisher is “looking into” virtual reality, then, is understandable – for journalists and fans looking for something interesting in the otherwise barren briefing, this was a sip of ice water in hell. Nintendo and VR! VR and Nintendo! An opportunity not only to speculate wildly about NX, but to dust off some hoary old jokes about the Virtual Boy; who could pass up on such a thing?

The thing is, “we’re looking into VR” is perhaps the most lukewarm statement Nintendo or any other company could make about VR. On the blandness scale, it ranks alongside “we know it exists” and “we’ve looked it up and figured out what the letters stand for”. To say any less would have required an active dismissal of VR; simply saying that the company knows VR is happening, and is keeping an eye on developments, is the bare minimum that you’d expect from any company in the industry. “Nintendo aware that VR exists” isn’t much of a headline, I’ll grant you, but it’s pretty close to what was actually announced by the company.

Of course, Nintendo isn’t going to dismiss VR out of hand; the company knows, perhaps better than most, that technological disruption can come from the most unexpected directions and upset market segments in unforeseen ways. The 3DS will never match sales of the DS, not because it’s got a weak software line-up – the software line-up is downright remarkable – but because Apple, a company that spent decades making expensive computers for artists and designers and never had the slightest truck with the videogame market, invented a tiny computer with a touch-screen and sold about, oh, a billion of them, to people who promptly decided that they didn’t need another tiny computer just to play videogames on the train. Is VR going to do something similar to other market segments? Sure, maybe (I’d argue that VR’s potential to disrupt areas of “serious” computing is perhaps greater than its potential to significantly change the videogame market); either way, Nintendo is absolutely going to be watching it closely and making sure it’s not left looking stupid if things take off in an unexpected direction.

For now, though, watching carefully is all anyone should expect of Nintendo and VR. The reality is that, the company’s ill-fated experiments with early iterations of the technology notwithstanding, VR doesn’t fit with Nintendo’s philosophy as a company. Although the multiplayer and social networking aspects of VR are yet to be explored (remember that Facebook is, at great cost, a big player in this field), one thing is absolutely certain about VR interaction – it’s remarkably anti-social in a “people in the same room as you” sense. The whole point of putting on a VR headset is to immerse yourself in a different world; of necessity, this involves cutting yourself off from the world, and the people, around you. That’s not a bad thing, per se; if immersion is what you want, it’s actually a selling point. It’s also sharply contrary to the most basic nature of Nintendo’s design philosophy.

Nintendo is about social gaming; if there’s one core concept that sums up the brand and the appeal of Nintendo over the past couple of decades, it’s that one. Playing with other people, ideally in a physical, real-world context, is at the heart of the design philosophy that underlies both Nintendo’s hardware and its software. The company’s home consoles are designed to support multiple controllers easily (the sadly under-utilised core concept of the Wii U was to create asymmetric gameplay opportunities using the GamePad and a clutch of Wiimote controllers, for instance), while its handheld consoles are designed with communication features that enable online play, sure, but are most effectively deployed in enabling communication with nearby players. In software terms, of course, it’s not that Nintendo lacks games designed for one player – there’s not much social gaming mileage in Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda or Xenoblade – but many of the core titles that support the company’s systems are deeply focused on social play. Mario Kart is perhaps the most obvious of these, but local multiplayer in racing games is nothing new; to see how deeply ingrained in Nintendo’s DNA social play really is, think of how the company reworked the role-playing game to encourage local multiplayer match-ups with Pokemon, its expansion of the beat ‘em up from a head-to-head experience to a four-player rumble with Super Smash Bros. or even, all the way back then, the reimagining of online FPS gameplay, still in its infancy, into the four-player split-screen of Rare’s Goldeneye.

If you’ve owned Nintendo consoles recently, as most of you probably have, think about what you’ve owned for them. In my own living room, there’s no question which console gets the most usage – in spite of our love for Splatoon, it’s the PS4 that’s used most, followed by the PS3 – but we own one PS4 control pad, and while there’s a second PS3 pad somewhere I don’t think it’s been plugged in since we moved house over a year ago. For the Wii U, meanwhile, we own a GamePad, two classic controllers and three Wiimotes – and the Wii U is always, always the console that gets turned on when friends come over for drinks. It occupies a very different position in terms of usage and context to the PlayStation consoles, and that is very much by design on Nintendo’s part, not by accident. Television advertising for Nintendo games, in Japan at least, strongly emphasises this social aspect; almost every ad features multiple people sitting on a sofa enjoying a game together (boyband members racing each other in Mario Kart, kids putting their heads together to design a fiendish Mario Maker stage that dad won’t be able to beat, etc.). The social nature of Nintendo games is front and centre, and strongly contrasts with ads for PlayStation games, which rarely feature any imagery of the (solo) player at all.

How would VR fit with that? It’s not a question of whether Nintendo’s hardware would be capable of it (we still don’t know what NX will be capable of at all) or whether the company would be able to make good VR games (the firm’s track record surely proves that it’s perfectly capable of making good games on just about anything). It’s a question of how the entire brand Nintendo has cultivated, the perceptions it has built and the philosophy it espouses, would fit with the image of someone not only playing a game entirely solo (which is just fine), but actively donning a headset to block out the world around them while they engage with that world. In Nintendo’s conception of fun, the entertainment value of a game extends beyond the screen to the physical world and the people around you with whom you’re competing, cooperating and sharing the experience. VR flies in the face of that, and undermines the nature of the games which Nintendo has been most successful with over the years.

This isn’t to say that some aspects of VR technology won’t be of interest to Nintendo. Augmented Reality, the technology underlying Microsoft’s Hololens, is a much more natural fit for Nintendo; the company has actually messed with AR technology on the 3DS, although it didn’t use it for anything markedly exciting, and it’s entirely probable that the NX will build on that to some degree (although I don’t anticipate anything even remotely like the Hololens headset). Virtual reality headsets, though, are not going to carry a Nintendo logo any time soon – and unless they become a truly disruptive force in gaming, they probably never will. The company has wide-ranging interests, but a clear vision of what it means for something to be a “Nintendo product” – and that’s a vision that simply doesn’t include VR.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Another Security Flaw Discovered In iPhones and iPads

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Researchers have found an authentication bypass-sized hole in iPhones and iPads running iOS 8 and iOS 9.

This threat is real people, there is a video of it and documentation available online. It’s all pretty technical but the upshot is the vulnerability lets an attacker bypass the lockscreen on handsets running iOS 8 and iOS 9.

“An application update loop that results in a pass code bypass vulnerability has been discovered in the official Apple iOS (iPhone5&6 / iPad2) v8.x, v9.0, v9.1 & v9.2. The security vulnerability allows local attackers to bypass pass code lock protection of the Apple iPhone via an application update loop issue,” says the official technical description.

In rather loose language it continues: “Local attacker can trick the iOS device into a mode were a runtime issue with unlimited loop occurs. This finally results in a temporarily deactivate of the pass code lock screen. By loading the loop with remote app interaction we were able to stable bypass the auth of an iPhone after the reactivation via shutdown button. The settings of the device was permanently requesting the pass code lock on interaction.

“Normally the pass code lock is being activated during the shutdown button interaction. In case of the loop the request shuts the display down but does not activate the pass code lock.”

David Bisson, a regulator commentator on security, puts it more succinctly on the Graham Cluley blog, and throws in a couple of warnings about how and where you download your software. “This condition can be exploited by shutting down (or powering off) the device, at which point in time the passcode authentication feature is not activated as designed,” he said.

“Upon reboot (or re-activation), that protective feature remains disabled, allowing an attacker to access the device without a passcode… iOS users should therefore be careful when leaving their devices unattended around people they might not know.”

We have asked Apple to comment on the vulnerability and are awaiting a response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is Mozilla Dropping Smartphones For IoT?

February 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The Mozilla Foundation has confirmed details of its shift in strategy for Firefox OS which will see it abandon future phone development in favour of using the software as (yet another) IoT platform.

In an announcement to the developer community by John Bernard, director of collaboration for Connected Devices at Mozilla, and George Roter, head of core contributors, it was confirmed that Firefox OS for smartphones will be canned at version 2.6.

“The circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones,” they said in a statement.

Meh. Could have told you that one two years ago.

In addition, the Firefox OS Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, desktop and tablet apps. Apps for Firefox OS itself will remain accepted until sometime in 2017.

At the moment, the new emphasis on connected devices is in the internal testing phase with three products ‘past the first gate’ and more in the pipeline. It is expected that this process will be opened to outsiders before the end of the second quarter.

The foxfooding (think dogfooding, or insider programme) will continue, turning its focus to connected products, and by the end of March, Mozilla intends to identify how the existing Sony Z3 Compact devices used for testing so far will figure going forwards.

The statement continued “Obviously, these decisions are substantial. The main reason they are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the web to IoT. And let’s remember why we’re doing this: we’re entering this exciting, fragmented space to ensure users have choice through interoperable, open solutions, and for us to act as their advocates for data privacy and security.”

This seems to suggest that Mozilla wants to help the fragmentation issue by fragmenting it further. This is the ongoing problem with connected devices – everyone wants to be the one to end the fragmentation with their solution.

One of the solutions through the internal tests early doors is the Firefox Smart TV platform, an already fragmented market that should still be licking its wounds from the Matchstick debacle.

Roter adds, “Our push into the Connected Devices space will absolutely necessitate strong community support for our initiatives to be successful – and that means hacking on and testing new product innovations coming through the pipeline.”

 

Courtesy-TheInq

Edge Continues To Weaken Microsoft’s Browser Standing

February 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

The inability of Microsoft’s Edge to gain new users from the Windows 10 operating system has contributed to the company’s overall decline in browser share, analysis of recently-published data shows.

According to several metrics sources, Edge’s share of the global Windows 10user base was significantly lower in January than was Internet Explorer’s (IE) share of all Windows users, signaling that Microsoft has not been able to maintain the historical — or even current — percentages of Windows customers on its newest browser.

Last month, Edge’s share of all Windows 10 users was 26% in U.S.-based analytics firm Net Applications’ estimate. That was a decrease of two percentage points from December, and 10 points lower than in September.

In comparison, Net Applications’ IE-only share of all Windows users was a much more substantial 48%, or nearly double that of Edge on Windows 10. In other words, almost half of all Windows users ran a version of IE last month, while just over one-fourth of Windows 10 users ran Edge.

Because Edge works only on Windows 10, and IE only on Windows, it’s relatively easy to calculate the percentages. That’s not the case with other browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, which run on multiple editions of Windows and on rival operating systems, such as Apple’s OS X.

Other measurement sources portrayed the same situation: Edge has not held up its side of the bargain for Microsoft.

Irish vendor StatCounter, for example, pegged January’s Edge global share of Windows 10 at 13%, while IE’s share of all Windows was a more substantial 19%.

A third source, the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), tagged Edge’s share of Windows 10 for January at 24%, up one point from December. According to DAP, the IE-only share of all Windows traffic was 40%.

 

 

 

Will Intel Start Tunneling Transistors?

February 9, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is looking at tunneling transistors and spintronics and slowly rejecting the need for speed.

According to the Intel’s William Holt, who leads the company’s technology and manufacturing group, Intel will soon have to start using fundamentally new technologies.

He named tunnelling transistors and spintronics as good candidates, but both would require changes in how chips are designed and manufactured, and would likely be used alongside silicon transistors.

Holt said that the technology will not offer speed benefits over silicon transistors and chips may stop getting faster. Instead the tech would improve the energy efficiency of chips, something important for many leading uses of computing today, such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and robotics.

Speaking at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco said: “We’re going to see major transitions… The new technology will be fundamentally different.”

Holt said that the status quo can only continue for two more generations, just four or five years, by which time silicon transistors will be only seven nanometres in size.

Tunnelling transistors are far from commercialization. They take advantage of quantum mechanical properties of electrons that harm the performance of conventional transistors and that have become more problematic as transistors have got smaller.

Spintronic devices could hit the market next year. They represent digital bits by switching between two different states encoded into a quantum mechanical property of particles such as electrons known as spin.

Spintronics will appear in some low-power memory chips in the next year or so, perhaps in high-powered graphics cards.

“Particularly as we look at the Internet of things, the focus will move from speed improvements to dramatic reductions in power. Power is a problem across the computing spectrum. The carbon footprint of data centres operated by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies is growing at an alarming rate. And the chips needed to connect many more household, commercial, and industrial objects from toasters to cars to the Internet will need to draw as little power as possible to be viable,” Holt said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

BlackBerry Eliminates 200 Jobs, Trims Costs

February 9, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

BlackBerry Ltd  plans to cut 200 jobs at its hometown headquarters in Ontario and in Florida in order to trim costs, as the smartphone maker moves to turn around its fortunes and put more emphasis on its enterprise software business.

“As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The company declined to comment on what percentage of its workforce is affected by the cuts. According to a filing, the company had 6,225 employees as of Feb. 28, 2015.

The layoffs will affect 75 manufacturing jobs in Sunrise, Florida, a state government website showed.

The company also confirmed that Gary Klassen is one of the people who has departed in the latest round of cuts. Klassen was one of its longest-tenured employees and the inventor of its BBM messaging service.

One source familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said many of the Canadian cuts were people working on its BB10 handset software at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters.

A spokeswoman for BlackBerry declined to comment on which divisions will be affected by the cuts, but said the company stood by its commitment to release further updates on its BB10 software.

Last September, the company laid off roughly 200 staff, who had worked on the hardware and design of the BB10 devices. The company began releasing the BB10-based devices in January 2013, but despite positive reviews the smartphones failed to win back market share from Apple Inc’s iPhone, and the slew of Android-based devices that dominate the global market.

In a final attempt to revive its handset business BlackBerry released its first Android-based device in November. It has stated it plans to release at least one more Android-based phone this year.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has said he will make a decision on whether the company’s handset business is viable in the financial year beginning in late February.