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GPS To Become Obsolete?

March 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Finding GPS unreliable in certain situations, the U.S. government is focusing on developing a more reliable real-time position tracking technology whose signals won’t disappear in blind spots and can’t be jammed.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing “radically” new technologies to deliver a more advanced position- and navigation-tracking system that is more reliable and accurate than GPS, according to a document on DARPA research projects recently released.

DARPA — which is a part of the U.S. Department of Defense — thinks that new real-time positioning technology would give the U.S. military an advantage over rivals. GPS technology has provided a strategic advantage, but it isn’t foolproof, as it can be jammed by opponents or also be inaccessible in some parts of the world.

“The need to be able to operate effectively in areas where GPS is inaccessible, unreliable or potentially denied by adversaries has created a demand for alternative precision timing and navigation capabilities,” DARPA said in the document.

Beyond the military, GPS has had a significant impact on individuals, business and economies. GPS has helped deliver customized content and services to mobile users, and also helped in the timely delivery of goods. But GPS isn’t flexible, and DARPA wants to make its alternative more flexible and customizable with the help of algorithms.

New types of self-contained instruments are under development that could better track position, time and direction of motion, which are critical aspects of GPS. DARPA is developing high-precision clocks, self-calibrating gyroscopes and accelerometers, and high-precision navigation instruments that can track position for long periods without relying on external sources.

DARPA is also researching new technologies that could make real-time tracking possible through a number of sources. DARPA is developing sensors that “use signals of opportunity” such as television, radio, cell towers, satellites, and even lightning, for real-time tracking. The effort, called ASPN (All Source Positioning and Navigation) alleviates issues related to fixing locations in buildings, deep foliage, underwater or underground, where GPS access can be limited.

The ultimate goal is to develop a compact navigation system that could be given to soldiers, put on tanks or implemented in guidance systems.

 

 

 

Amazon Rumored To Be Pursuing Net-a-Porter

March 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com is holding discussions to acquire online luxury retailer Net-a-porter in what could be the biggest acquisition yet for the e-commerce giant, but the negotiations are in early stages and could fall apart, Forbes reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The potential deal, first reported by Women’s Wear Daily, could value Net-a-Porter lower than the valuation of 2 billion euros ($2.16 billion) reported by the fashion industry trade journal, Forbes reported last Thursday, citing the person.

Seattle-based Amazon has long eyed the high-end fashion retail sector and any deal for Net-a-Porter would mean a new commitment in an area where the company lacks a strong presence, Forbes said.

“It’s Day 1 in the category,” Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos told the New York Times in an interview in 2012, saying the company was making a “significant” investment in fashion to convince top brands that it wanted to work with them, not against them.

Media reports in 2014 said Amazon was in talks to buy Indian fashion retailer Jabong.com for $1.2 billion.

Net-a-Porter is owned by luxury goods group Richemont, which bought the London-based company for 392 million euros in 2010.

A spokeswoman for Net-a-Porter said the company does not comment on industry speculation.

Amazon.com and Richemont could not be immediately reached for comment outside regular business hours.

 

Panasonic On The Hunt For Acquisition Targets

March 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp said it is gearing up to spend 1 trillion yen ($8.4 billion) on acquisitions over the next four years, bolstered by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses.

Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn’t have specific acquisition targets in mind for now. But he said the firm will spend around 200 billion yen on M&A in the fiscal year that kicks off in April alone, and pledged to improve on Panasonic’s patchy track record on big deals.

“With strategic investments, if there’s an opportunity to accelerate growth, you need funds. That’s the idea behind the 1 trillion yen figure,” he said. Tsuga has spearheaded a radical restructuring at the Osaka-based company that has made it one of the strongest turnaround stories in Japan’s embattled technology sector.

Tsuga previously told Reuters that company was interested in M&A deals in the European white goods market, a sector where Panasonic has comparatively low brand recognition.

The firm said on Thursday it’s targeting operating profit of 430 billion yen in the next fiscal year, up nearly 25 percent from the 350 billion yen it expects for the year ending March 31.

Panasonic’s earnings have been bolstered by moving faster than peers like Sony Corp and Sharp Corp to overhaul business models squeezed by competition from cheaper Asian rivals and caught flat-footed in a smartphone race led by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics. Out has gone reliance on mass consumer goods like TVs and smartphones, and in has come a focus on areas like automotive technology and energy-efficient home appliances.

Tsuga also sought to ease concerns that an expensive acquisition could set back its finances, which took years to recover from the deal agreed in 2008 to buy cross-town rival Sanyo for a sum equal to about $9 billion at the time.

 

 

USB 3.1 To Arrive With New Desktops Later This Year

March 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

The emerging USB 3.1 standard is on track to reach desktops as hardware companies release motherboards with ports that can transfer data twice as fast as the previous USB technology.

MSI recently announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.

USB 3.1 can shuffle data between a host device and peripheral at 10Gbps, which is two times faster than USB 3.0. USB 3.1 is also generating excitement for the reversible Type-C cable, which is the same on both ends so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.

The motherboards with USB 3.1 technology are targeted at high-end desktops. Some enthusiasts like gamers seek the latest and greatest technologies and build desktops with motherboards sold by MSI, Asus and Gigabyte. Many of the new desktop motherboards announced have the Type-C port interface, which is also in recently announced laptops from Apple and Google.

New technologies like USB 3.1 usually first appear in high-end laptops and desktops, then make their way down to low-priced PCs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst of Mercury Research.

PC makers are expected to start putting USB 3.1 ports in more laptops and desktops starting later this year.

 

 

 

Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 Will Support 8K Resolution

March 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system will support screen resolutions that will not be available on commercial displays for years.

At the WinHEC conference Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 will support 8K (7680*4320) resolution for monitors, which is unlikely show up on the market this year or next.

It also showed off minimum and maximum resolutions supported by its upcoming Windows 10. It looks like the new operating system will support 6″+ phone and tablet screens with up to 4K (3840*2160) resolution, 8″+ PC displays with up to 4K resolution and 27″+ monitors with 8K (7680*4320) resolution.

To put this in some perspective, the boffins at the NHK (Nippon H?s? Ky?kai, Japan Broadcasting Corp.) think that 8K ultra-high-definition television format will be the last 2D format as the 7680*4320 resolution (and similar resolution) is the highest 2D resolution that the human eye can process.

This means that 8K and similar resolutions will stay around for a long time and it makes sense to add their support to hardware and software.

NHK is already testing broadcasting in 8K ultra-high-definition resolutions, VESA has ratified DisplayPort and embedded DisplayPort standards to connect monitors with up to 8K resolution to graphics adapters and a number of upcoming games will be equipped for textures for 8K UHD displays.

However monitors that support 8K will not be around for some time because display makers will have to produce new types of panels for them.

Redmond will be ready for the advanced UHD monitors well before they hit the market. Many have criticized Microsoft for poor support of 4K UHD resolutions in Windows 8.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Facebook Opening Parse For IoT Development

March 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is opening up Parse, its suite of back-end software development tools, to create Internet of Things apps for items like smart home appliances and activity trackers.

By making Parse available for IoT, Facebook hopes to strengthen its ties to a wider group of developers in a growing industry via three new software development kits aimed specifically at IoT, unveiled Wednesday at the company’s F8 developer conference in San Francisco.

The tools are aimed at making it easier for outside developers to build apps that interface with Internet-connected devices. Garage door manufacturer Chamberlain, for example, uses Parse for its app to let people open and lock their garage door from their smartphones.

Or, hypothetically, the maker of a smart gardening device could use Parse to incorporate notifications into their app to remind the user to water their plants, said Ilya Sukhar, CEO of Parse, during a keynote talk at F8.

Facebook bought Parse in 2013, putting itself in the business of selling application development tools. Parse provides a hosted back-end infrastructure to help third party developers build their apps. Over 400,000 developers have built apps with Parse, Sukhar said on Wednesday.

Parse’s new SDKs are available on GitHub as well as on Parse’s site.

 

Lexmark Scoops Up Kofax For Nearly $1B

March 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Lexmark International Inc, known for its printers, said it plans to acquire Kofax Ltd in an about $1 billion deal that would double the size of its enterprise software business.

PC and printer makers have struggled in the recent past as companies reduced printing to cut costs and consumers shifted to mobile devices from PCs.

Hewlett-Packard Co plans to separate its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations this year.

Xerox Corp has also increasingly focused on IT services to make up for the falling sales of its copiers and printers.

Lexmark divested its inkjet printer business in 2013 and has since boosted its enterprise software business.

The Kofax deal will help the company’s Perceptive Software business achieve its revenue target of $500 million in 2016, Lexmark said.

The business makes software to scan everything from spreadsheets to medical images and provides services to banking, healthcare, insurance and retail companies. It contributed about 8 percent to Lexmark’s revenue in 2014 and has grown at more than 30 percent in the past two years.

Kofax provides data services to the financial, insurance and healthcare companies such as Citigroup Inc, Metlife Inc and Humana Inc.

Lexmark said it expects the deal to “significantly” expand operating margins in its enterprise software business, which would now be worth about $700 million. It will also add about 10 cents per share to the company’s adjusted profit in 2015.

 

 

Intel’s Broadwell Spec Apparently Leaked

March 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

People working for the Chinese VR Zone  have found evidence that Intel will only be launching two Broadwell desktop processors in Q2 2015.

The new Broadwell Desktop CPUs are based on the LGA1150 pin layout and will be compatible with the current Z97 motherboards.

ASUS and ASRock recently announced that their motherboards will be able to handle the new 14nm Broadwell processors with a BIOS update. The two new CPUs will be the Intel Core i7-5775C and Core i5-5675C.

There are some odd things on this list. It is not clear what the C stands for in the product names. Our local AMD fanboy says it stands for C*ap while others have suggested, camel or caramel, depending on how hungry they are. The processors are unlocked for overclocking like the previous K models were and it could the K has somehow become a C.

The new i7 has four cores and eight threads running at a base frequency of 3.3GHz and with a turbo to 3.7GHz while the i5 has a base speed of 3.1GHz and a Turbo of 3.6GHz on its four cores, four threads base. The i7 comes with 6MB cache while the i5 only has 4MB and both are powered by the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 iGPU.

Courtesy-Fud

Broadband Providers File Suit Against FCC

March 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Several U.S. broadband providers have filed lawsuits against the Federal Communications Commission’s recently approved net neutrality rules, launching what is a expected to be a series of legal entanglements.

Broadband industry trade group USTelecom filed a lawsuit against the FCC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which has in the past twice rejected the FCC’s net neutrality regulations.

The group argues the new rules are “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion” and violate various laws, regulations and rulemaking procedures.

Texas-based Internet provider Alamo Broadband Inc challenged the FCC’s new rules in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, making a similar argument.

The rules, approved in February and posted online on March 12, treat both wireless and wireline Internet service providers as more heavily regulated “telecommunications services,” more like traditional telephone companies.

Broadband providers are banned under the rules from blocking or slowing any traffic and from striking deals with content companies for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers.

USTelecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement that the group’s members supported enactment of “open Internet” principles into law but not using the new regulatory regime that the FCC chose.

“We do not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation … is legally sustainable,” he said.

Industry sources have previously told Reuters that USTelecom and two other trade groups, CTIA-The Wireless Association and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, were expected to lead the expected legal challenges.

Verizon Communications Inc, which won the 2010 lawsuit against the FCC, is likely to hold back from filing an individual lawsuit this time around, an industry source familiar with Verizon’s plan has told Reuters.

FCC officials have said they were prepared for lawsuits and the new rules were on much firmer legal ground than previous iterations. The FCC said Monday’s petitions were “premature and subject to dismissal.”

 

 

Cisco Uncovers Malware Targeting POS Systems

March 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cisco has revealed details of a new point of sale (PoS) attack that could part firms from money and users from personal data.

The threat has been called PoSeidon by the Cisco team and comes at a time when eyes are on security breaches at firms like Target.

Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a new threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.

Credit card numbers and keylogger data is sent to an exfiltration server, while the mechanism is able to update itself and presumably evade some detection.

Cisco’s advice is for the industry to keep itself in order and network admins to keep systems up to date.

“PoSeidon is another malware targeting PoS systems that demonstrates the sophisticated techniques and approaches of malware authors. Attackers will continue to target PoS systems and employ various obfuscation techniques in an attempt to avoid detection,” said the firm.

“As long as PoS attacks continue to provide returns, attackers will continue to invest in innovation and development of new malware families. Network administrators will need to remain vigilant and adhere to industry best practices to ensure coverage and protection against advancing malware threats.”

The security industry agrees that PoS malware is a cash cow for cyber thieves, highlighting the importance of vigilance and keeping systems up to date.

“PoS malware has been extremely productive for criminals in the last few years, and there’s little reason to expect that will change anytime soon,” said Tim Erlin, director of product management at Tripwire.

“It’s no surprise that, as the information security industry updates tools to detect this malicious software, the authors will continue to adjust and innovate to avoid detection.

“Standards like the PCI Data Security Standard can only lay the groundwork for protecting retailers and consumers from these threats. A standard like PCI can specify a requirement for malware protection, but any specific techniques included may become obsolete as malware evolves.

“Monitoring for new files and changes to files can detect when malware installs itself on a system, as PoSeidon does.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Vessel Launches Early Access, Paid Subcription Video Service

March 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Online video platform Vessel officially debuted its paid subscription service on Tuesday, offering programming at least three days before other websites in a bid to reshape an industry dominated by free content on Google Inc’s YouTube.

Vessel, which costs viewers $3 a month, was founded by former Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom. They aim to create an early window for a selection of web video, similar to the way movies are released in theaters before they arrive on cable TV or the Internet.

“Early access is very valuable,” Kilar said in an interview. “There are a lot of consumers who would love to see something early.”

More than 130 creators will provide early access to content on Vessel. After the exclusive period ends, videos can go to YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or other free, ad-supported sites, and are free on Vessel.

YouTube stars such as Ingrid Nilsen, Rhett & Link and Shane Dawson are among creators whose videos will make their debut on Vessel. Other programming comes from online networks such as food-oriented Tastemade and celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.

Video creators on Vessel keep 70 percent of ad revenue, compared with 55 percent that is typical on YouTube, plus 60 percent of Vessel subscription revenue.

With those incentives, the new service will be an easier sell to creators than offering viewers who are used to watching videos for free, said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

“Vessel must rely on content creators’ popularity and self-marketing to entice their loyal viewers into paying a monthly fee,” he said.

The service is free for one year for viewers who sign up within the first three days.

It is unlikely YouTube will lose significant revenue from a migration to Vessel, Sappington said. YouTube made its debut a decade ago and has more than 1 billion users.

 

 

SAP Mobile App May Have Allowed Hackers To Upload Fake Medical Data

March 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

SAP has fixed two security flaws in a mobile medical app, one of which could have allowed an attacker to upload fake patient data.

The issues were found in SAP’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Unwired, which stores clinical data about patients including lab results and images, said Alexander Polyakov, CTO of ERPScan, a company based in Palo Alto, Calif., that specializes in enterprise application security.

Researchers with ERPScan found a local SQL injection flaw that could allow other applications on a mobile device to get access to an EMR Unwired database. That’s not supposed to happen, as mobile applications are usually sandboxed to prevent other applications from accessing their data.

“For example, you can upload malware to the phone, and this malware will be able to get access to this embedded database of this health care application,” Polyakov said in a phone interview.

The company also found another issue in EMR Unwired, where an attacker could tamper with a configuration file and then change medical records stored on the server, according to an ERPScan advisory.

“You can send fake information about the medical records, so you can imagine what can be done after that,” Polyakov said. “You can say, ‘This patient is not ill’.”

SAP fixed both of the issues about a month ago, Polyakov said.

The German software giant also fixed another flaw about a week ago found by ERPScan researchers, which affected its mobile device management software, a mobile client that allows access to the company’s other business applications.

 

 

Can Intel Succeed In The Mobile Space?

March 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has launched its latest campaign to get back into the mobile market, and this time it might just get away with it.

Intel’s involvement in mobile is a history of dropped balls and lost opportunities. In 1996, Intel supplied the processor for the Nokia Communicator that had early features of smartphones, it lost this to AMD. In 1999, it supplied the computer processor for the early BlackBerry, but sold the business to Marvell in 2005. In 2004, it supplied the brains for the Palm Treo 650, an early smartphone that was discontinued four years later. In 2006, it snubbed a request from Apple to make a processor for the iPhone.

Now CEO Brian Krzanich, is spending billions to gain a mobile foothold as it introduces new Atom microprocessors for smartphones and tablets.

In March, Intel announced a range of new products for mobile computing at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In January, Intel combined its mobile and personal computing businesses into a single computing group.

It has formed alliances with two Chinese companies that make chips for mobile phones and consumer electronic products. And is spending big to get into the new Internet of Things market.

It’s new Core M range is also getting attention from mobile PC makers and companies which want to set up wireless offices.

All this is taking its toll. Last year, Intel posted a $4.2 billion loss in its mobile group by essentially subsidizing the purchase of its tablet chips by tablet makers. The company expects its mobile group to break even in 2016.

Bryant said this was a price that needed to be paid for sitting on the sidelines for a number of years and then fighting your way back into the market.

“We will improve this. We will not continue to accept a business with multibillion dollar losses, but this is the price you pay to get back in. We are getting back in.”

While it is easy to write off Intel in mobile, it is clear that there is a lot happening and Intel is prepared to spend money to get there. Already it is getting attention from the manufacturers, and maybe this time it will not drop any balls.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Updates Android Smart Lock With On-body Detection

March 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google is adding a feature to Android’s smart lock that could significantly reduce the number of times users need to key in a passcode to unlock their phones.

On-body detection uses the accelerometer in the phone to detect when it’s being held or carried. If enabled, the feature requires a passcode the first time the phone is accessed but then keeps the device unlocked until it is placed down.

That means, for example, that users walking down the street won’t have to unlock the phone every time they take their phones out of their pockets.

The feature wasn’t widely announced by Google, but it began operating in some phones on Friday.

Like the other elements of smart lock, it should be used with caution as it can’t detect who is carrying the phone.

“If you unlock your device and hand it to someone else, your device also stays unlocked as long as the other person continues to hold or carry it,” reads a message displayed on phones with the new feature.

The smart lock feature was introduced with Android 5.0 KitKat and allows users to set zones around trusted places, such as a home or office, and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, such as a computer or car radio. When the phone is in those zones it will remain unlocked once it’s been unlocked the first time.

It can also recognize faces and remain unlocked when it sees a trusted face.

 

 

 

 

Medical Data Becoming More Valuable To Hackers

March 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The personal information stored in health care records fetches increasingly impressive sums on underground markets, making any company that stores such data a very attractive target for attackers.

“Hackers will go after anyone with health care information,” said John Pescatore, director of emerging security trends at the SANS Institute, adding that in recent years hackers have increasingly set their sights on EHRs (electronic health records).

With medical data, “there’s a bunch of ways you can turn that into cash,” he said. For example, Social Security numbers and mailing addresses can be used to apply for credit cards or get around corporate antifraud measures.

This could explain why attackers have recently targeted U.S. health insurance providers. Last Tuesday, Premera Blue Cross disclosed that the personal details of 11 million customers had been exposed in a hack that was discovered in January. Last month, Anthem, another health insurance provider, said that 78.8 million customer and employee records were accessed in an attack.

Both attacks exposed similar data, including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, telephone numbers, member identification numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses. In the Premera breach, medical claims information was also accessed.

If the attackers try to monetize this information, the payout could prove lucrative.

Credentials that include Social Security numbers can sell for a couple of hundred dollars since the data’s lifetime is much longer compared to pilfered credit card numbers, said Matt Little, vice president of product development at PKWARE, an encryption software company with clients that include health care providers. Credit card numbers, which go for a few dollars, tend to work only for a handful of days after being reported stolen.