Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Samsung Finally Launches Bixby Voice App For Galaxy S8

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally officially launched voice capabilities for its Bixby smart sidekick in the US, about three months after the artificial intelligence technology first became available on its new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus phones. The company had delayed the launch and missed its own promised “later this spring” deadline, at least in the US.

Owners of its newest phones will be able to access Bixby Voice after downloading a software update, rolling out at 9 p.m. PT. South Korean users, who’ve had access to Bixby Voice in the Korean language since May 1, will also be able to now access the English language capabilities. The company didn’t say when Bixby Voice will be available in other countries.

Bixby is Samsung’s new digital voice assistant that debuted on its latest smartphones. It has its own dedicated button on the side of the device, letting you communicate with the artificial intelligence like you’d use a walkie-talkie. The only problem is the voice part of the assistantdidn’t actually work when the Galaxy S8 hit the market in April. What did work with Bixby was its “Vision, Home and Reminder” functions that identify objects in photos, help you track your day and remind you about upcoming events on your calendar.

Rather than launching voice capabilities right away, Samsung said it needed more time to get Bixby ready for mainstream consumers. It has been testing it out with over 100,000 Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus users in its early access preview program. Those participants generated more than 4 million commands and helped Samsung refine Bixby’s capabilities.

One benefit includes “increased comprehension on command variations.” You can, for instance, ask what the weather is like by saying “Show me today’s weather,” “What’s the weather like today?” or “What’s the forecast today?” Samsung says it has improved Bixby’s response times, increased hands-free operations and included a new “read aloud feature.” You can ask it to read the latest email you’ve received.

Samsung also has worked to make Bixby interact better with third-party apps. If you’re using Google Maps, you can use Bixby to change the location of your origin or destination.

Bixby is the latest entrant in the crowded field of digital assistants that already includes Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Every tech heavyweight is investing in these assistants because they’re heralded as the future of how we’ll interact with our gadgets. The hope is to build a relationship with you now and ultimately get you to buy more of their products later.

Google’s Mobile App Gets New Look, Feel

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google has announced a re-tooling of its search app on mobile phones to include a personalized feed of links about hobbies, travel, sports and other topics, a move that puts the search company into more direct competition with social networks such as Facebook.

Google, the world’s largest search engine and a unit of Alphabet Inc, said the changes would begin rolling out in the United States on Wednesday and other countries in the coming weeks.

The new offering is called “Google Feed,” a name that may conjure comparisons to Facebook’s “News Feed,” a feature on Facebook used to browse updates from friends, family and other sources.

Google said, however, that it was not trying to duplicate Facebook Inc, the world’s largest social network. Instead, the company said it wanted to create another place to see a stream of relevant search results.

“This feed is really about your interests … It’s not really about what your friends are interested in,” Ben Gomes, a Google vice president for engineering, said in a briefing with reporters.

Typical updates might include a link to a website with tips about an upcoming vacation spot, or a link to a page about cycling or another hobby, the company said.

Facebook and Google are jockeying for attention online and by extension, for advertising revenue based on those eyeballs. The two Silicon Valley companies are expected to take in some 50 percent of overall online ad spending in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer.

There were no immediate plans to include advertising in Google Feed, Gomes said.

Google Feed will suggest links based on a user’s Google search history as well as data from other Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Calendar, the company said.

In addition to putting Google Feed on mobile apps, the company is looking at attaching it to web browsers in some form, Shashi Thakur, a second Google vice president for engineering, said during the briefing.

NBC To Host Daily News Show On Snapchat

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Comcast Corp’s NBC News plans to offer a twice-per-day news show on Snapchat, the company said on Wednesday, part of its push to attract younger viewers who tend to watch TV on mobile devices.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc  during its initial public offering as it seeks to boost its digital offering.

Broadcast news outlets like NBC News face an aging audience. The median age of NBC Nightly News, for example, is 64 years old, according to the Nielsen ratings agency. That is much older than the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that advertisers covet.

Last month, NBC News launched a digital video service, called “NBC Left Field” featuring short documentaries to appeal to social media users.

“This is a concerted effort that is crucial to our future,” said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News.

“Stay Tuned” will focus on issues of the day and will air at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT on weekdays and 1 p.m. EDT on weekends. The show will also air for specific breaking news events.

The launch of the daily news show comes amid increasing investor skepticism about Snap’s ability to grow and compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Will WhatsApp Face Competition From Amazon

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Just when you thought the messaging app market couldn’t get any more crowded, along come the rumors that Amazon wants a piece of the action.

According to AFTV News, Amazon has begun surveying customers about the new messaging service to gauge which features are most important them.

Called Anytime, the rumored app will apparently be a one-stop-shop focused on voice and video calls, alongside a photo sharing feature with @mentions, as well as some highly-original real-time filters for photos and video with “special effects and masks.”

So yes, that will almost definitely mean more basic dog-eared AR seflies *eyeroll emoji*.

If the rumors are true, the service would also keep chats private and allows users to “encrypt important messages like bank account details”, allowing them to converse with businesses, make reservations, and – in true Amazon style – virtually shop until they drop.

“Based on the images I’ve been provided, Anytime by Amazon seems to be an all-in-one feature rich service that could even rival social networks,” the AFTV report stated. “[It] will also provide tasks that can be done in groups, like playing games, listening to music, and ordering food.”

There’s no word on how long the app will take to get into the phone-wielding hands of the masses, but a customer said the survey implied it was “a ready product”.

Are you surprised that Amazon is making a move on the messaging app market? We’re certainly not. The firm is desperate to get in on any kind of action these days in its plan to take over the world and be the go-to for everything.

Don’t be shocked when the company launches its own dating service, where we would expect you could get a dinner date with Alexa as part of a Black Friday deal.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Pricing For AMD’s Ryzen 1300X Leaked

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a Reddit post, upcoming Ryzen 3 SKUs, the Ryzen 3 1300X and the Ryzen 3 1200, will be hitting the market at US $129 and US $109 (exc. VAT), respectively.

While AMD has revealed a lot of details regarding its two upcoming quad-core Ryzen 3 SKUs yesterday, including the clocks and the launch date, we are still missing a couple of key details, including the TDP, amount of cache and the price.

In case you missed it yesterday, both Ryzen 3 SKUs are quad-core parts without SMT (Simultaneous Multi Threading) support, so they will stick to “just” four threads. The Ryzen 1300X works at 3.5GHz base and 3.7GHz Turbo clocks, while the Ryzen 3 1200 works at 3.1GHz base and 3.5GHz Turbo clocks. As rumored earlier, the Ryzen 3 lineup should retain the 2MB/8MB cache (L2/L3) as the Ryzen 5 series and should have the same 65W TDP, although these details are left to be confirmed.

Luckily, a Reddit user has managed to get unconfirmed details regarding the price of these two SKUs, suggesting that they should launch at US $129 for the Ryzen 3 1300X and US $109 for the Ryzen 3 1200, excluding VAT. While the price of the Ryzen 3 1300X sounds about right, and similar to what we heard before, we have our doubts regarding the Ryzen 3 1200 price, which we suspect would be closer to the US $100 mark.

In any case, we’ll know for sure in about two weeks when these parts are scheduled to hit retail/e-tail shelves. It will be quite interesting to see these Ryzen 3 SKUs compared to some Intel Core i3 Kaby Lake dual-core parts as we are quite sure that these will give Intel a hard time in that part of the market, offering significantly higher performance for much less money.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Virtual Reality To Expensive For The Masses

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The current generation of virtual reality is not dead, but it’s not exactly full of life, either. What once was a pulsating buzz has faded into the background of an industry, not because there are newer, shinier toys to play with, but simply because for all the newness and shine of VR, there has been little evidence that a significant audience exists for the experiences we can deliver at this time.

Earlier this week, Oculus instituted a temporary $200 price cut of the Rift, dropping the headset and its Touch controllers to a $400 bundle that comes packed with seven free games (including Lucky’s Tale, Medium, Toybox, and Robo Recall) and an Xbox One controller for good measure. That’s in addition to the $200 price cut Oculus rolled out in March for the headset and Touch combo, meaning the company has slashed the price by 50% in just four months.

On its own, this could actually be an encouraging sign, but taken in context of the rest of the news coming out of the VR sector, it’s more concerning than convincing. For one, Oculus looks to be bringing up the rear among the three major high-end VR options on the market, despite being a first mover and having the significant financial backing of Facebook. Through the first half of this year, tracking firm Superdata put the Rift’s installed base at just 383,000 units, compared to HTC Vive’s 667,000 units and PlayStation VR’s 1.8 million.

Even ignoring its relative sales position, Oculus is already in a tough spot in the enthusiast VR fight, technologically a step behind the more expensive Vive, but still more expensive (when considering the cost of a VR-capable PC) and less mass market than the PSVR. That’s a difficult problem for marketing anything, doubly so when what you’re selling is an experience that by its nature needs to be experienced to be fully understood, triply so when you’re drastically scaling back the number of demo units in retail locations where interested customers could get their first taste of VR.

I also question Oculus’ decision to shutter its in-house Story Studio, which was set up with Pixar veterans to show how VR could shift the medium of film as much as it could games. The studio’s Henry won an Emmy in 2016. Its follow-up, Dear Angelica, premiered at Sundance earlier this year to rave reviews and has been submitted for Emmy consideration at this year’s awards, which are still a few months away. In short, Story Studio was exactly the sort of investment in a potentially disruptive medium you would expect a company with long-term ambitions to keep. Instead, they cut it loose, with head of content Jason Rubin essentially saying it was time for external filmmakers to pick up the narrative VR ball (albeit with some $50 million in funding from Oculus).

There’s a bit of a theme there. Just a couple months before closing Story Studio, Rubin pointed out for GamesIndustry.biz at GDC that Facebook–and by extension, Oculus–isn’t a content creation company.

“Facebook’s not a media company,” Rubin said. “So there may be a day where Facebook says we’re going to head towards our core competency… That’s why I don’t have internal teams. I have exactly one group of three people besides Story Studios because that didn’t exist outside.”

Facebook didn’t pay $2 billion for Oculus in 2014 because it wanted to make games. It wanted VR to be a popular thing it could leverage for its social network. If HTC Vive or Sony or Microsoft can make VR work better than Oculus, that still gets VR where the social network wants it to be. That’s not ideal for Facebook, but after the Rift’s slow start, the hundreds of millions it already owes in court judgments, the hundreds of millions more it might be made to pay in the future, and seeing the face of the VR revolution leave under a cloud of controversy, one could understand if the company’s commitment to VR began to waver.

Speaking of the competition, I’m not terribly optimistic with what they’re bringing to the table. Sony’s PSVR is leading the pack, but I’m still skeptical whether the company’s interest in the hardware will be any longer lasting than its support for Vita, or Wonderbook, or PlayStation TV, or Move, or EyeToy, or stereoscopic 3D. Sony’s E3 conference featured some promising games in Polyarc’s Moss, two titles from Until Dawn developer Supermassive, and Skyrim VR, but little that stands out as a system-seller the way that Resident Evil 7, or even the prospect of last year’s Batman and Star Wars VR experiences might have. When asked at E3 about whether that lineup would boost PSVR adoption, Sony’s Jim Ryan was unsure.

“I think we are still really just learning about VR,” Ryan said. “When hopefully we meet in a year’s time, I will be able to give you a better answer to this question. It still won’t be a perfect answer, but I’ll know more.”

That’s not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence from PlayStation’s chief marketer. I’m not sure I want to bet the future health of VR on Sony’s continued support for a market that is (for now, at least) peripheral to its core business.

The situation with HTC and the Vive underscores another issue when trying to establish an emerging field like VR. Vive launched at the cutting edge, but since then has rolled out object tracker peripherals and a wireless adaptor, respectively giving developers more options and addressing a key complaint around high-end VR. In both cases, they would be better served as being part of the core hardware package rather than optional add-ons for what is already the most expensive option on the market. For the next generation of VR, perhaps they’ll be standard.

But who will invest in the next generation of enthusiast VR–on either the consumer side or the manufacturer side–if this generation disappoints? How long does a VR generation need to be before someone who spent $800 on a Vive (not to mention the cost of a VR-capable PC) feels they got their money’s worth and would re-up for a successor? How many great games does it need to have? How many generations does an HTC or Facebook need to take a bath on before the business turns around and justifies the continued investment?

Then there’s Microsoft, which will enter the fray this holiday season with its “mixed reality” VR headsets for Windows that are cheaper and require less of a set up than Oculus or Vive, but appear to make compromises on the technical side to get there. It’s telling that even with Microsoft launching the high-end, VR-capable Xbox One X this year, it is foregoing any sort of console VR push and relying on higher resolutions and better frame rates for Xbox One games as the sales pitch for a One X. Phil Spencer told us at E3 that VR was still years away from the mainstream for gamers, suggesting the company was waiting to launch its console VR until it had a proper wireless solution ready.

At this point, it seems more likely to me that the current enthusiast VR market is an expensive R&D exercise that won’t produce successful systems, but will lay the groundwork for the actual mass market VR, which will instead evolve both in audience and use-cases from the mobile VR world. (We call it mobile VR, but I don’t think I’m alone in having never once seen someone using a mobile VR headset on the subway, in the security line at the airport, or in the waiting room at a dentist.)

A number of the VR developers I’ve spoken to have mentioned wires, price, system-selling software, and installed base as key issues VR needs to tackle to become truly mainstream. As Google Daydream and the Oculus-powered Gear VR have shown, the first two are all but solved problems in mobile VR thanks to the use of existing smartphones. As for the other two, when your system is only $100 or so, the definition of a system-seller changes dramatically, which then has plenty of beneficial implications for the installed base. (Promotions like Samsung giving away Gear VR with new Galaxy phone purchases don’t hurt, either.)

All mobile VR really needs are better interfaces and more powerful phones. The Gear VR motion controller is a good first step for the former, and the latter is improving all the time. If VR is really going to go mass market, doesn’t it make more sense for it to grow not from the high-end early adopter market who would have dropped $600 on a PS3, but from the masses who made a compelling novelty like the $250 Wii a phenomenon?

Courtesy-GI.biz

Court Grants FBI Right To Continue Secret Surveillance Requests

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The FBI will be allowed to continue sending surveillance orders to tech companies and ban them from disclosing those requests, an appeals court ruled Monday.

Internet company Cloudflare and wireless network operator CREDO Mobile sued the federal government to be allowed to disclose public national security letters they have received. They argued that the letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the government to gather information for national security purposes, are unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections.

Critics of national security letters — like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented Cloudflare and CREDO in the case — say they “allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens’ private communications and internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review.” Companies that receive national security letters, or NSLs, are subject to gag orders, which means they can’t even disclose they’ve received such orders unless the letters become declassified. And those gag orders last indefinitely.

A three-judge panel on a US court of appeals in San Francisco on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that NSLs can remain secret. In their unanimous ruling, they said the Supreme Court “has concluded that some restrictions on speech are constitutional, provided they survive the appropriate level of scrutiny.”

The law behind national security letters considers that disclosing the orders could result in danger to the national security of the US, interference with an investigation, interference with diplomatic relations; or danger to the life or physical safety of any person, the judges said in their opinion.

“We therefore conclude that the 2015 NSL law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, both as to inclusiveness and duration,” the opinion said. “Accordingly, we hold that the nondisclosure requirement … survives strict scrutiny.”

Andrew Crocker, an attorney with EFF, said in a statement that he’s disappointed the court “failed to recognize that the NSL statute violates the free speech rights of technology companies that are required to turn over customer data to the FBI and banned indefinitely from ever publicly discussing the requests.”

He added that NSLs prevent companies from being open with their customers.

“Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit avoided addressing the serious First Amendment problems with NSLs, particularly the fact that they are often left in place permanently,” Crocker said. “We’re considering our options for next steps in challenging this unconstitutional authority.”

The US Justice Department declined to comment on the ruling.

Intel Launches ‘Purley’ Xeon To Compete With AMD’s Epyc Processors

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has unveiled a new series of ‘Purley’ Xeon server processors based on its new Skylake-SP architecture. 

The new Intel Xeon SP (‘Scalable Platform’) CPUs, which feature up to 28 processor cores per socket and six terabytes of system memory, were unveiled in New York on Tuesday, and the firm claims a 1.65 times performance boost, on average, compared to the prior generation Broadwell-based server CPUs.  

The launch comes just weeks after AMD unveiled its Epyc line of server processors based on the Zen architecture, which offer up to 32 cores per chip. Intel took a dig, naturally, and claims that its top-end Xeon Scalable processor delivers 28 per cent faster performance than AMD’s Epyc 7601. 

Given the higher core count of its new server chips, Intel has created an all-new Mesh architecture design which is claims will offer a “fundamental change” to performance. Unlike the firm’s previous ‘ring’ design (arf), the Mesh architecture arranges the individual cores in a 3D design, offering more direct paths and, in turn, faster performance. 

The new processors, Intel claims, have been designed for growing, and compute-heavy workloads, such as cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, 5G and artificial intelligence, the latter of which will reportedly see a 2.2x performance increase with Xeon Scalable.  

“Data centre and network infrastructure is undergoing massive transformations to support emerging use cases like precision medicine, artificial intelligence and agile network services paving the path to 5G,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Data Center Group.

“Intel Xeon Scalable processors represent the biggest data center advancement in a decade.”

The new Xeon SP processors also deliver a 3.1 times performance improvement generation-over-generation in cryptography performance, according to Intel, which has also built its Key Protection Technology onto the chip to deliver enhanced protection to security key attacks.

The Xeon Processor Scalable Family offers four processor tiers, representing different levels of performance and a variety of integration and acceleration options: Copper, Silver, Gold and Platinum. 

Intel says that it has already begun rolling out the new hardware to customers, with the likes of Google Cloud, AWS and AT&T having already bagged some of the 500,000 units shipped out ahead of Tuesday’s official launch. 

Intel’s server-class Purley processors are tipped to power Apple’s upcoming iMac Pro, which is set to be released in December.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is Intel Worried About AMD’s Epyc Processor

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is clearly feeling a little insecure about AMD’s new Epyc Server processor range based on the RyZen technology.

Intel’s press office retreated to the company safe and pulled out its favorite pink handbag and emerged swinging.

It did a direct comparison between the two, and in one slide, it mentioned that the Epyc processor was ‘inconsistent’, and called it ‘glued together’.

Intel noted that it required a lot of optimisations to get it to work effectively, comparing it to the rocky start AMD had with Ryzen on the desktop. That is pretty much fighting talk, and it has gone down rather badly.

TechPowerUp noted that even though Epyc did contain four dies, it offered some advantages as well, like better yields. On top of that, they noted: “So AMD’s server platform will require optimisations as well because Ryzen did, for incomparably different workloads? History does inform the future, but not to the extent that Intel is putting it here to, certainly. Putting things in the same perspective, is Intel saying that their Xeon ecosystem sees gaming-specific optimizations?”

Intel still has a healthy lead on AMD in the server space. However, since the launch of Ryzen, Intel has seen a significant drop in support in the desktop market.

Trash talking is usually a sign that there is not much difference between products and it never really works – other than to amuse.

AMD announced its line of Epyc processors last month. The range consists of chips between eight and 32 cores, all of which support eight channels of DDR4-2666 memory. Pricing was announced to start from $400.

Courtesy-Fud

Lloyd’s Of London Sounds The Alarm On Impacts Of Cyber Attacks

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A major, global cyber attack could lead to an average of $53 billion of economic losses, a figure on par with a catastrophic natural disaster such as U.S. Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Lloyd’s of London said in a report on Monday.

The report, co-written with risk-modeling firm Cyence, examined potential economic losses from the hypothetical hacking of a cloud service provider and cyber attacks on computer operating systems run by businesses worldwide.

Insurers are struggling to estimate their potential exposure to cyber-related losses amid mounting cyber risks and interest in cyber insurance. A lack of historical data on which insurers can base assumptions is a key challenge.

“Because cyber is virtual, it is such a difficult task to understand how it will accumulate in a big event,” Lloyd’s of London Chief Executive Inga Beale told Reuters.

Economic costs in the hypothetical cloud provider attack dwarf the $8 billion global cost of the “WannaCry” ransomware attack in May, which spread to more than 100 countries, according to Cyence.

Economic costs typically include business interruptions and computer repairs.

The Lloyd’s report follows a U.S. government warning to industrial firms about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors.

In June, an attack of a virus dubbed “NotPetya” spread from infections in Ukraine to businesses around the globe. It encrypted data on infected machines, rendering them inoperable and disrupted activity at ports, law firms and factories.

“NotPetya” caused $850 million in economic costs, Cyence said.

In the hypothetical cloud service attack in the Lloyd’s-Cyence scenario, hackers inserted malicious code into a cloud provider’s software that was designed to trigger system crashes among users a year later.

By then, the malware would have spread among the provider’s customers, from financial services companies to hotels, causing all to lose income and incur other expenses.

Average economic losses caused by such a disruption could range from $4.6 billion to $53 billion for large to extreme events. But actual losses could be as high as $121 billion, the report said.

As much as $45 billion of that sum may not be covered by cyber policies due to companies underinsuring, the report said.

Average losses for a scenario involving a hacking of operating systems ranged from $9.7 billion to $28.7 billion.

Lloyd’s has a 20 percent to 25 percent share of the $2.5 billion cyber insurance market, Beale said in June.

Former MIT Professor Predicts Telepathy On The Horizon

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A former MIT professor and engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google claims she is close to making communicating telepathically happen relatively soon.

Mary Lou Jepsen quit her job heading up display technology for the Oculus virtual reality arm of Facebook to develop new imaging technologies to help cure diseases.

Shortly thereafter she founded Openwater, which is developing a device that puts the capabilities of a huge MRI machine into a lightweight wearable form.

Openwater is creating a device that can enable us to see inside our brains or bodies in great detail. With this comes the promise of new abilities to diagnose and treat disease and well beyond – communicating with thought alone.

This week Jepsen went further and suggested a timeframe for such capabilities becoming reality. She said that it should take less than eight years until telepathy is possible.

Jepsen, who has also spent time at Google X, MIT and Intel, says the basic idea is to shrink down the huge MRI machines found in medical hospitals into flexible LCDs that can be embedded in a ski hat and use infrared light to see what’s going on in your brain.

“Literally a thinking cap. The idea is that communicating by thought alone could be much faster and even allow us to become more competitive with the artificial intelligence that is supposedly coming for everyone’s jobs very soon.”

She said that the tech is close. “If a person is put into an MRI machine it is possible to tell you what words you’re about to say, what images are in your head, music you’re thinking.”

All that is required is to shrink all that down. If it were that easy, why did the US bother with waterboarding?

Courtesy-Fud

GM, Uber Team Up On Maven Ride-sharing Program

July 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

General Motors Co  announced that it is testing its car-sharing operation, Maven, in Australia through a pilot program with ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc.

The leasing agreement will allow Uber drivers to rent cars produced by GM’s Australian manufacturer GM Holden, the company said.

“We are testing the adoption of one Maven product – Maven Gig – in Australia through a pilot program in Sydney renting Holden cars to Uber drivers,” Sean Poppitt, communications director at GM Holden, said in a statement.

GM’s Maven Gig program is aimed at helping drivers rent a car on demand for independent gigs such as package delivery, food or grocery delivery, and ridesharing, at a time when more people are expected to take up freelance work.

It is currently operational in San Diego and set to be launched in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year, GM said in May.

GM announced a similar North American partnership with Uber in November last year.

A spokesman for Uber was not immediately available for comment.

Is Open Source Winning

July 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Going way back, pretty much all software was effectively open source. That’s because it was the preserve of a small number of scientists and engineers who shared and adapted each other’s code (or punch cards) to suit their particular area of research. Later, when computing left the lab for the business, commercial powerhouses such as IBM, DEC and Hewlett-Packard sought to lock in their IP by making software proprietary and charging a hefty license fee for its use.

The precedent was set and up until five years ago, generally speaking, that was the way things went. Proprietary software ruled the roost and even in the enlightened environs of the INQUIRER office mention of open source was invariably accompanied by jibes about sandals and stripy tanktops, basement-dwelling geeks and hairy hippies. But now the hippies are wearing suits, open source is the default choice of business and even the arch nemesis Microsoft has declared its undying love for collaborative coding.

But how did we get to here from there? Join INQ as we take a trip along the open source timeline, stopping off at points of interest on the way, and consulting a few folks whose lives or careers were changed by open source software.

The GNU project
The GNU Project (for GNU’s not Unix – a typically in-jokey open source monicker, it’s recursive don’t you know?)  was created by archetypal hairy coder and the man widely regarded as the father of open source Richard Stallman in 1983. GNU aimed to replace the proprietary UNIX operating system with one composed entirely of free software – meaning code that could be used or adapted without having to seek permission.

Stallman also started the Free Software Foundation to support coders, litigate against those such as Cisco who broke the license terms and defend open-source projects against attack from commercial vendors. And in his spare time, Stallman also wrote the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), a “copyleft” license, which means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms –  in 1989. Now on its third iteration GPLv3, it remains the most popular way of licensing open source software. Under the terms of the GPL, code may be used for any purpose, including commercial uses, and even as a tool for creating proprietary software.

PGP
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption was created in 1991 by anti-nuclear activist Phil Zimmerman, who was rightly concerned about the security of online bulletin boards where he conversed with fellow protesters. Zimmerman decided to give his invention out for free. Unfortunately for him, it was deployed outside of his native USA, a fact that nearly landed him with a prison sentence, digital encryption being classed as a munition and therefore subject to export regulations. However, the ever-resourceful Mr Zimmerman challenged the case against him by reproducing his source code in the form of a decidedly-undigital hardback book which users could scan using OCR. Common sense eventually won the day and PGP now underpins much modern communications technology including chat, email and VPNs.

“PGP represents the democratisation of privacy,” commented Anzen Data CIO and developer of security software, Gary Mawdsley.

Linux
In 1991 Finnish student and misanthrope Linus Torvalds created a Unix-like kernel based on some educational operating system software called MINIX as a hobby project. He opened up his project so that others could comment. And from that tiny egg, a mighty penguin grew.

Certainly, he could never have never anticipated being elevated to the position of open-source Messiah. Unlike Stallman, Torvalds, who has said many times that he’s not a “people person” or a natural collaborator (indeed recent comments have made him seem more like a dictator – albeit a benevolent one), was not driven by a vision or an ideology. Making Linux open source was almost an accident.

“I did not start Linux as a collaborative project, I started it for myself,” Torvalds said in a TED talk. “I needed the end result but I also enjoyed programming. I made it publicly available but I had no intention to use the open-source methodology, I just wanted to have comments on the work.”

Nevertheless, like Stallman, the Torvalds name is pretty much synonymous with open source and Linux quickly became the server operating system of choice, also providing the basis of Google’s Android and Chrome OS.

“Linux was and is an absolute game-changer,” says Chris Cooper of compliance software firm KnowNow. “It was the first real evidence that open could be as good as paid for software and it was the death knell of the OS having a value that IT teams would fight over. It also meant that the OS was no longer a key driver of architectural decisions: the application layer is where the computing investment is now made.”

Red Hat
Red Hat, established in 1995, was among the first proper enterprise open source companies. Red Hat went public in 1999 with a highly successful IPO. Because it was willing to bet big on the success of open source at a time when others were not, Red Hat is the most financially buoyant open source vendor, achieving a turnover of $1bn 13 years later. Red Hat’s business model revolves around offering services and certification around its own Linux distribution plus middleware and other open source enterprise software.

“Red Hat became successful by making open source stable, reliable and secure for the enterprise,” said Jan Wildeboer, open source affairs evangelist at the firm.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Only 3 Out Of The Top 500 Online Merchants Accept Bitcoins

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

 

If you’ve somehow amassed cache of bitcoins and want to do some online shopping, the bad news is you probably won’t be buying much.

This year, the cryptocurrency is only accepted by three out of the top 500 online merchants, reports Bloomberg. That’s down from five from last year, making using Bitcoin to buy things from merchants a lot tougher.

The lack of merchants is puzzling, given the gains from bitcoins recently — one bitcoin is worth more than an ounce of gold — and may be a sign that the cryptocurrency is better off as an asset than currency.

The Bloomberg report also mentioned that transaction fees could be an issue why the crytocurrency is not widely accepted. With fees climbing, smaller transactions aren’t worth it compared to using other payment methods.

 

Linux Debuts Hyberledger 1.0 Blockchain Software

July 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project officially rolled out the Fabric 1.0, a collaboration tool for building blockchain distributed ledger business networks  such as smart contract technology.

The Hyperledger project, a collaborative cross-industry effort created to advance blockchain technology, said the Hyperledger Fabric framework can be a foundation for developing blockchain applications, products or customized business solutions

Under development for the past 16 months, Hyberledger Fabric 1.0 is ready to be used to create an immutable, secure electronic ledger in industries such as financial services for completing transactions, including clearance and settlement, and healthcare, as a way to validate where electronic patient records exist and who has  access to them.

“Fabric 1.0 will help substantially in both those use cases,” said Hyperledger’s executive director, Brian Behlendorf.

Blockchains can be encrypted or unencrypted, depending on the level of security required, but in both cases the records are auditable because the data in the database cannot be changed and is tied to each authorized participant in the chain. A blockchain, for example, could be used during the clearance and settlement process between Wall Street traders and the banks that support the transactions to verify in real time when each party has received data and agreed to the exchange of funds.

Fabric 1.0 offers a modular architecture allowing components, such as consensus and membership services, to be plug-and-play. It leverages container technology to host smart contracts called “chaincode” that comprise the application logic of the system.

Fabric has been through several release cycles or pilots with 28 of Hyperledger’s member organizations. The include The Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), Fujitsu, GE, Hitachi, Huawei Technologies, State Street Bank, SecureKey, IBM, SAP, and Wanda Group.

There were also contributions from 35 unaffiliated individuals. In total, 159 developers contributed to Hyperledger Fabric, Behlendorf said.

“We had to push this out and encourage companies to start using them in proof-of-concepts and pilots, and some even were happy with the data code at that time and pushed them into production,” Behlendorf said.

“After over a year of public collaboration, testing, and validation… Fabric 1.0 is a true milestone for our community,” Behlendorf said. “Fabric can now advance to production deployment and operations. I look forward to seeing even more products and services being powered by Hyperledger Fabric in the next year and beyond.”

Next Page »