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Mozilla Complains Publicly About Windows 10 Default Browser Setting

August 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Mozilla has gone public with its complaint about Windows 10 resetting the default browser, calling it “disturbing” and demanding that it “undo its aggressive move to override user choice.”

Microsoft defended the practice of making its Edge browser the default in Windows 10, but left open the possibility of a future change. “As with all aspects of the product, we have designed Windows 10 as a service; if we learn from user experience that there are ways to make improvements, we will do so,” a company spokeswoman said in an email reply to a request for comment.

In a letter from Mozilla CEO Chris Beard to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Beard slammed the way Windows 10 setup changed the default browser on a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC upgraded to Windows 10.

“I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10,” Beard said in the letter, which Mozilla posted publicly. “Specifically, that the update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.”

Beard was referring to the Windows 10 upgrade setup process, which in “Express Settings” assigns the new Microsoft browser, Edge, as the default, even if users had previously specified a rival like Mozilla’s Firefox or Google’s Chrome. Most users will simply click “Next” in the Express Setup without diving into the details.

Users who accept that setting for Edge must later — the first time they click on a link — confirm Edge as the default.

Windows 10 users can later re-assign Firefox or another browser as the default, but doing so requires work on the part of the user, many of whom will be unlikely to bother.

In a blog post, Beard elaborated on Mozilla’s displeasure with Windows 10′s upgrade behavior, and resurrected antitrust actions Microsoft’s faced, perhaps hinting at new complaints to regulators, if not in the U.S., then in the European Union (EU). “It is bewildering to see, after almost 15 years of progress bolstered by significant government intervention, that with Windows 10 user choice has now been all but removed,” Beard alleged.

 

 

 

ARM Buys Sansa Security

August 4, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has acquired Sansa Security to bolster protection against cyber threats in its Internet of Things (IoT) offerings.

Sansa is an Israel-based company that provides hardware security intellectual property (IP) and software for system-on-chip components that end up in around 150 million devices every year.

The technology makes it easier for manufacturers to build secure products by offering a complete hardware subsystem that adds additional isolation of security operations from the main application processor.

ARM’s decision to snap up the firm will deliver the technology across the ARM security portfolio, including TrustZone and SecurCore processor IP.

ARM said that the acquisition, the terms of which have not yet been disclosed, creates “extra protection against malware and malicious software”.

“It is a system-wide approach that underpins security-related chipset and trusted software needs. This enables the protection of any connected device and management of sensitive data and content,” said the firm.

ARM CTO Mike Muller added: “Any connected device could be a target for a malicious attack so we must embed security at every potential attack point.

“Protection against hackers works best when it is multi-layered, so we are extending our security technology capability into hardware subsystems and trusted software. This means our partners will be able to license a comprehensive security suite from a single source.”

ARM is definitely taking this IoT thing seriously. In April, the firm announced another acquisition in a bid to expand its presence in the IoT arena, creating a new portfolio dubbed ARM Cordio in the process.

The UK semiconductor designer picked up Wicentric, a Bluetooth smart stack and profile provider, and Sunrise Micro Devices, a provider of sub-one volt Bluetooth radio IP.

It could be said that the firm is pushing its stance in the IoT market in a bid to capitalise on what is essentially the next big thing in tech before it becomes ubiquitous.

For instance, ARM joined forces with IBM in February to launch its mbed Device Platform as a starter kit with cloud support, offering developer tools with cloud-based analytics.

The mbed tool was announced last year and is primarily an operating system built around open standards to “bring internet protocols, security and standards-based manageability into one integrated tool” and make IoT deployment faster and easier and thus speed up the creation of IoT-powered devices.

Launching the mbed IoT Starter Kit Ethernet Edition with IBM means that the company can channel data from internet-connected devices directly into IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform.

The IoT Starter Kit consists of an ARM mbed-enabled development board from Freescale, powered by an ARM Cortex-M4-based processor, together with a sensor IO application shield.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

German Carmakers Team Up To Buy Nokia’s HERE

August 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

German auto makers BMW, Audi and Mercedes, will pay around 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) to acquire Nokia’s maps business, beating out high-tech rivals for location services seen as key to the future of self-driving cars.

Germany’s three premium carmakers joined forces and will hold equal stakes in the business, known as HERE, clubbing together to keep the assets from falling into the hands of Internet rivals in Silicon Valley or China.

The deal has an enterprise value of 2.8 billion euros, including liabilities worth nearly 300 million euros, for which Nokia will compensate the carmakers, the Finnish company said on Monday. The transaction is likely to close in the first quarter of 2016.

The deal allows the auto makers to offer new premium features, like autonomous driving, in their luxury cars, shaking up the pecking order between car makers, their parts suppliers and software rivals like Uber, Google or Apple.

“With the joint acquisition of HERE, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries,” said Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche of Daimler, which invented the motor car in 1886.

But it is unclear how other HERE customers, including rival carmakers, may respond to Germany’s carmakers owning map technology, which many in the auto, Internet and logistics industries see as key to their own strategies.

“There is a risk that the other automakers will be pushed further into the arms of Google,” said Richard Windsor an independent financial analyst who tracks major tech players.

HERE’s primary competitor is Google Maps.

Intelligent mapping systems like HERE’s are the basis on which self-driving cars linked to wireless networks can perform functions such as recalculating a route to the nearest electric charging station or around a traffic jam or accident.

 

 

Facebooks Wants Drones In The Sky By Year End

August 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

At 140 feet, it has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but doesn’t transport passengers — and it’s much lighter too, weighing in at no more than 1,000 pounds. And within the next couple months, Facebook hopes to get its drone off the ground on an inaugural test flight.

Named Aquila, the aircraft is the product of more than a year’s work at the social networking giant. Its function is not to drop retail items from the clouds like Amazon’s drones, but to provide Internet access to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it in under-served parts of the world. Facebook aims to partner with carriers and other companies to provide connectivity, potentially at a lower cost than typical infrastructure like cell phone towers.

Aquila comes out of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, formed last year to develop new technologies for expanding Internet access. The company also hired team members from U.K.-based unmanned aircraft maker Ascenta.

The drone is just one element in the company’s master plan to improve Internet access, which also includes satellites and data-carrying laser beams. But it might be the most awe-inspiring.

“If you think about these little quadcopters, that’s not what we’re building,” said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering, during a talk on the status of the company’s efforts at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

The plane’s entire surface is covered with solar panels. It’s meant to stay up in the air for three months at a time, at an altitude between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. That’s above commercial airlines and above the weather. It could potentially provide Internet access to people in a 50-kilometer (31-mile) radius, Facebook says.

Facebook has been flying scale models of the plane at altitudes of less than 400 feet. After on-the-ground testing, the company is now close to being able to launch the Aquila for a test flight, possibly at a location in the U.S., Parikh said.

The plane itself will receive Internet connectivity from a free space optical communication system, or lasers, also developed by Facebook. The lasers use light to transmit data through space. In this case, the laser system will beam an Internet signal to the plane from the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

Did Microsoft Intentionally Delay The Surface Pro 4?

August 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The dark satanic rumor mill has suggested a good reason Microsoft delayed the launch of its flagship tablet-laptop, Surface Pro 4.

The latest rumors suggest that Microsoft was waiting to jack the latest Intel Skylake processor under its bonnet.

Redmond seemingly wants the new Surface Pro to be state of the art and be a tablet which is useful. Skylake will give it better battery life and performance with current industry standards like Bluetooth 4.1, Cat6 LTE, WiDi 6.0, and A4WP wireless charging weaved into it.

Intel will support the tablets through compatibility with 3D cameras and audio processing software plus better stylus interaction.

There is no sign of confirmation of the rumors. Microsoft has been quiet so far about the Surface Pro 4. We had been expecting it to highlight some of the better features of Windows 10.

However if the rumors are true it will be a hell of a lot better than the MacBook Air 2015 because it will feature innovation, rather than just being thin.

Latest news about its release date suggests a 2016 launch.

Courtesy-Fud

Oracle’s New Processor Goes For The Cheap

August 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle is looking to expand the market for its Sparc-based servers with a new, low-cost processor which it curiously called Sonoma.

The company isn’t saying yet when the chip will be in the shops but the spec shows that could become a new rival for Intel’s Xeon chips and make Oracle’s servers more competitive.

Sonoma is named after a place where they make cheap terrible Californian wine  and Oracle aims the chip at Sparc-based servers at “significantly lower price points” than now.

This means that companies can use them for smaller, less critical applications.

Oracle has not done much with its Sparc line-up for a couple of years, and Sonoma was one of a few new chips planned. The database maker will update its Sparc T5, used in its mid-range systems and the high-end Sparc M7. The technology is expected to filter to the Sonoma lower tier servers.

The Sparc M7 will have technologies for encryption acceleration and memory protection built into the chip. It will include coprocessors to speed up database performance.

According to IDG Sonoma will take those same technologies and bring them down to low-cost points. This means that people can use them in cloud computing and for smaller applications.

He didn’t talk about prices or say how much cheaper the new Sparc systems will be, and it could potentially be years before Sonoma comes to market.

Courtesy-Fud

Yahoo Unveils Livetext Mobile Messaging App

July 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo unveiled a mobile messaging app that combines texting with live one-on-one video.

The app, named Livetext, is video calling with a twist: there’s no audio. To communicate, users type texts and emojis that are overlaid onto the screen during the call.

The app’s format might sound restricting, but Yahoo says Livetext will help users to communicate more freely. The lack of audio, the company says, removes inhibitions that people might feel when they otherwise receive video calls in public.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the simplicity and ease of texting, with the live feeling of calling,” said Adam Cahan, senior vice president of video, design and emerging products at Yahoo, during the app’s unveiling at an event in New York on Wednesday that was webcast.

Livetext was developed from scratch at Yahoo. Its development was aided by Yahoo’s acquisition last year of mobile messaging app MessageMe, the company said Wednesday. It’s yet another messaging app in a sea of competitors like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Still, Livetext is the latest attempt by Yahoo to provide a messaging app that resonates with users. It became available to download for free on Thursday for iOS and Android, in the U.S., U.K, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Users will be able to text in English, French, German and Chinese using the app.

The app streams video only when two people are connected through the app at the same time. Users can search for friends in the app through their Livetext user name, or through the contacts list on their phone.

There is no time limit on calls placed through the app, and no way to save or archive the sessions. The video quality will depend on the strength of the data connection, although connections at 3G and above should suffice, Yahoo said.

It’s available on Android and the desktop, but not on iOS.

 

 

 

 

Samsung Plans Price Cut For Galaxy S6 Phones

July 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Lukewarm demand for its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone and higher marketing costs led Samsung Electronics to another quarter of declining sales and profits in the April to June period.

In the key smartphone market, an area led by Samsung until recently, the popularity of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets and the rise of lower-cost phones from Chinese vendors squeezed Samsung at both the high and low end of the market.

The company said Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge sales were lower than expected.

It still managed to make money but not nearly as much as the same time last year. Operating profit for the quarter was 2.8 trillion won, down about 38 percent on the same period of 2014.

The results come against a backdrop of continuing record quarterly results at smartphone rival Apple. It sold 47.5 million phones in the quarter and recorded sales of $49.6 billion and a quarterly net profit of $10.7 billion — both squarely ahead of sales and profits at Samsung.

For the rest of this year, Samsung said it will attempt to boost smartphone sales by reducing the price of the Galaxy S6 and introducing new large-screen models. This time more than ever before, the company is under intense pressure to score a hit with a new phone to help turn around its declining business.

 

 

Is Wafer Output Headed Down?

July 31, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

United Microelectronics (UMC) expects to post an up to 5 per cent decrease in wafer shipments for the third quarter of 2015.

The outfit’s capacity rate will fall below 90 per cent for the first time after being flat out for ages.

UMC CEO Po-Wen Yen said the third quarter, would suffer from the inventory correction problems that were first noticed in the first quarter.

Current weakness in overall demand, partly due to the uncertainties in economic outlook, will prolong the inventory adjustment through the second half of 2015,” he said.

UMC used 94 per cent of its overall capacity in the second quarter of 2015, when the company shipped a record 1.54 million 8-inch equivalent wafers.

Shipments during the quarter were driven mainly by 28nm products, the foundry noted.

UMC reported consolidated revenues of $1.23 billion for the second quarter, down 6 per cent on last year. Gross margin came to 22.9 per cent compared with 24.3 per cent in the first quarter and 22.9 per cent in second.

UMC created net profits of $1.45 billion in the second quarter of 2015 – the highest level in nine quarters.

Looking into the third quarter, UMC expects to use 87-89 per cent of its overall capacity in the third quarter. Wafer shipments and ASPs will fall up to 5 per cent and about 3 per cent, respectively, on quarter.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Twitter Woes Continue, User Growth Rate Slows

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc’s shares continued to drop after the microblogging company said its number of monthly average users grew at the slowest pace since it went public in 2013.

“This is unacceptable and we’re not happy about it,” Jack Dorsey, who stepped in as interim chief executive on July 1, said on a call with analysts.

Twitter said it had 304 million core users in the second quarter, up from 302 million in the prior quarter.

Twitter’s struggles to increase its audience worries investors, who are focused on the company’s growth potential, and the latest figures did little to reassure them.

The data on users overshadowed the company’s second-quarter earnings and revenue, which exceeded expectations, and its bullish projections for future revenue.

Executives also made clear it would be a long process, and were candid about problems with the service.

“We do not expect to see sustained meaningful growth (in monthly active users) until we start to reach the mass market,” Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said on the call.

“We have not clearly communicated Twitter’s unique value. And as a result non-users continue to ask, ‘Why should I use Twitter?’ “Simply said, the product remains too difficult to use.”

Twitter recognizes “there is an issue that needs to be worked on,” Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena said. “They were giving investors a sense of the challenge and I think the stock sell-off that you saw just reflected that.”

 

 

 

Is Intel Trying To Divide To Conquer?

July 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is trying to boost promotion of its desktop CPU platforms by dividing the market into six pieces.

According to Digitimes which has its paws on the cunning plan said that Intel is talking about something called an Enthusiast Tower.

An Enthusiast Tower, is not a ride at Disneyland, it is the gaming, video/audio content and high performance sector. What Intel defines as “mainstream” has high performance-price ratios.  “All-in-one (AIO) PCs”, “Mini PCs (NUC)”, “Portable AIO PCs” and “Compute Sticks” make up the remaining pieces of Intel’s marketing pie.

The Enthusiast Tower part of Intel’s business is doing well.  It is seeing growing sales, while demand for NUC products and Compute Sticks is also gradually picking up.

Intel said that its MiniPCs will support both Windows and Chrome OS, and the other five only Windows 8.1/10.

In early August, Intel will announce several K-series processors including Core i7-6700K, and Z170 chipsets and will unveil Skylake-S and Skylake-U series processors and H170/B150 chipsets in early September.

Intel will start mass shipping Skylake processors in October and November. Its top-end six-core and eight-core Broadwell-E processors will be in the shops in the first quarter of 2016. They will use LGA 2011-3 and supporting the X99 chipsets and DDR4 memory.

Courtesy-Fud

The NSA Plans To Stop Snooping Bulk Data

July 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The National Security Agency has said that it will end its access to most bulk data collected under a controversial surveillance program in November, but keep records for litigation purposes.

The office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement that the bulk telephony data — the subject of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden which shocked many in the US and abroad — would be destroyed “as soon as possible” to comply with a law passed by Congress in early June.

The statement said that during the 180-day transition period required under the USA Freedom Act, “analytic access to that historical metadata… will cease on November 29, 2015.”

But it added that “for data integrity purposes,” NSA will allow technical personnel to continue to have access to the metadata for an additional three months.

The NSA must preserve bulk telephony metadata collection “until civil litigation about the program is resolved, or the relevant courts relieve NSA of such duties.”

The data kept for litigation “will not be used or accessed for any other purpose, and, as soon as possible, NSA will destroy the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata on expiration of its litigation preservation duties.”

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Invites More Mobile Operators To Internet.org

July 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook is inviting additional mobile operators to join Internet.org, its project to bring Internet access to poorly connected parts of the world.

Internet.org turns one year old this week, and Facebook says it’s ready to scale the project to reach more people.

The company is making it easier for more mobile operators to join the project by launching an online portal where they’ll find technical tools and best practices to help them get started.

So far, Facebook has been working with about a dozen operators in 17 countries to provide an app that gives people free access to a set of basic Internet services.

According to Facebook, people who use the app quickly become paying subscribers — something that will no doubt appeal to the mobile operators it’s trying to partner with.

“Internet.org brings new users onto mobile networks on average over 50 percent faster after launching free basic services, and more than half of the people who come online through Internet.org are paying for data and accessing the Internet within the first 30 days,” Facebook said.

The Internet.org mobile app is perhaps the most tangible element in Facebook’s efforts to expand Internet access — and its own services — to more people throughout the world. It’s also using satellites, drones and lasers that can beam Internet signals through space to bring people online.

While the number of people with Internet access continues to grow, 4.2 billion of the world’s roughly 7.4 billion people will still be offline by the end of the year, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union.

The Internet.org app typically includes a stripped-down version of Facebook and access to other free services like weather reports, health information and services for finding jobs.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook could become the Internet on-ramp for the world.

 

 

 

Will HTML5 Hide Web Exploits?

July 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Some of the features introduced in HTML5 can be used to hide web-based exploits and help them evade security.

Researchers from the University of Salerno and the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy have used three different techniques to obfuscate exploits like the ones usually used in drive-by download attacks.

Functionality provided by HTML5 can be efficient for malware obfuscation, the Italians have proved.

Modern security software can detect a big chunk of threats, but if they use some HTML5 features to hide the exploits served in drive-by download attacks, they could evade static and dynamic detection systems.

HTML5 has a series of scripting application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be used with JavaScript.

Experts say some of these APIs can be used to deliver and assemble the exploit in the web browser without being detected.

One method dubbed “delegated preparation” involves delegating the preparation of the malware to system APIs.

Another called “distributed preparation,” shares the code over concurrent and independent processes running within the browser.

A third involves triggering the code preparation based on the user’s actions on the malicious webpage or website.
VirusTotal detection rates for these sorts of obscured attacks remains low.

The paper published by researchers, with the catchy title of “Using HTML5 to Prevent Detection of Drive-by-Download Web Malware,” contains recommendations about some of the steps that can be taken to counter these obfuscation techniques.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Intel’s Skylake Come To NUCs?

July 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is expected to upgrade its Compute Stick and NUC solutions to Skylake processors starting October.

ECS, Gigabyte, Asustek and ASRock are expected to launch related products.

Sales for the Compute Stick and NUC have been rising and it appears that Intel sees gold in the mini PC segment’s potential. NUC s are seeing stable demand in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Intel is set to release solutions with its new Core m5/m3 processors codenamed Cedar City in the fourth quarter for the Compute Stick.

The new Compute Stick will feature 4GB of memory, 64GB of storage space and support Ultra HD. It will be based around the Core m3-6Y30 processor, which is set to release in October. It will also have Windows 10.

The version with the  Core m5-6Y57 vPro processor, will not come with a pre-installed operating system. In the first quarter of 2016, Intel is planning to launch inexpensive Atom x5 processors.

In November, Intel will launch two Skylake-based processors codenamed Swift Canyon, specifically for the NUC segment and will release high-end Core i7 processors at the end of the first quarter 2016 to improve the product line’s specifications and functions.

Courtesy-Fud