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Slack Acquires Screen Hero

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Slack, the IRC-for-businesses company, has acquired screen-sharing collaboration startup Screenhero with an eye toward adding valuable new communications capabilities to its software.

The deal, which was for an undisclosed sum of cash and stocks, sees Screenhero’s six-person team joining Slack to add screensharing, video chat and voice conferencing to the company’s core enterprise chat room service.

Screenhero is designed to let big teams work together like small teams and has found a dedicated customer base with developers, help desk workers and anybody else who has to work together.

That’s a smart alignment with Slack’s own sales pitch. In fact, Screenhero CEO and co-founder Jahanzeb Sherwani said that 50% of Screenhero’s own customers are also Slack customers, even as both companies made use of each others’ products interally. He added that the company was “under no pressure to sell,” but decided that cozying up with Slack would allow Screenhero to do more with its core concept faster.

It sounds like a match made in “in a Reese’s factory,” quipped Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield.

Under this deal, Screenhero will continue to operate as a separate entity, and people can use it as they always have been. But eventually, Sherwani said, all of its features will make it into Slack and the standalone product will be discontinued.

Butterfield said that it’s just a natural progression for Slackas it goes after “bigger and weirder” companies. You can still use whatever external services you’d like for video, voice and screen sharing, per Slack’s emphasis on supporting as many services as a customer might want to use with slick native integrations. But Butterfield wants to ensure that out of the box, Slack customers get something broadly useful for collaboration without having to go through the effort.

 

 

 

Is Qualcomm Losing Steam?

January 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm is one of the most successful companies to come out of the smartphone revolution that’s taking place. That’s because their mobile chips are powering many of the devices currently on the market.

The company’s successful strategy was once again confirmed by the latest financial statements with profit estimates between $26 and $28 billion for the full fiscal year. But not everything’s rosy inside Qualcomm as the company did mention they recently lost “a large customer”.

Who could that be? Why, none other than their frenemy, Samsung. Qualcomm’s statement seems to corroborate an earlier report that said Samsung would no longer be sourcing the high-end Snapdragon 810 chip from Qualcomm.

According to the original report, which seems to be all but confirmed now, Samsung experienced overheating issues with the high-end silicone and decided to drop it from its upcoming Galaxy S6 flagship.

Qualcomm’s execs on the other hand said their chip works exactly as intended and they offer proof of that the fact the Snapdragon 810 has already been confirmed to be in LG’s next flagship, and is expected to show up in a number of other devices including the unannounced HTC M9.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Courting The Enterprise With New ‘WorkMail’ Service

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc ramped up its attempts to woo corporate clients by announcing an email and scheduling service that will compete with Microsoft Corp and Google Inc .

The service, dubbed WorkMail, will launch in the second quarter and has been developed by the company’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS). It highlights Amazon’s efforts to convince deep-pocketed companies, called enterprises in tech parlance, to shift more of their work to AWS.

Launching an email and scheduling service is likely the first step toward a broader suite of Amazon tools to gain corporate clients, analysts said. For example, Google’s Gmail offers many other services beyond email and calendars including file-sharing and video conferencing.

AWS has spent the last couple of years trying to get corporate clients on board because big businesses spend more on data centers than startups, who were the initial focus of its business. But there are concerns that Amazon is spreading itself too thin, given its other sizeable investments in areas like Hollywood-style production and consumer devices.

“Email is a Trojan Horse into the enterprise,” Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said. He added that email is a $1 billion opportunity for Amazon given the popularity of AWS and Amazon’s willingness to sacrifice margins for volume.

If Amazon adds more services for companies, it could bring in about $10 billion more in extra revenue, Sebastian said.

 

 

Google Fiber Expanding South

January 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Fiber is expanding to the metro areas of Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., reaching 18 cities in those areas.

The fiber optic cable service, with speeds of 1Gbps, is already active in the Kansas City area, as well as Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas.

Google has been working with city leaders in the new areas for the past year, “and now the really hard work begins,” said Dennis Kish, vice president of Google Fiber in a blog posting.

He also said Google continues to explore bringing fiber to five other areas: Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose. Updates on those areas will come later this year.

Kish hailed findings by President Barack Obama and others that show fast Internet connections are vital to economic development. In cities such as Kansas City, Kans. and Kansas City, Mo., the construction of Google Fiber in residential areas started in 2012 and was opened to businesses by 2014. Google Fiber has also pushed AT&T to launch a number of competitive fiber projects.

“Fiber is on fire,” said Heather Burnett Gold, president of Fiber to the Home Council for the Americas, in reaction to Google’s announcement. “Communities must be planning/deploying gigabit infrastructure today in order to be part of the global economy tomorrow.”

City leaders in Raleigh welcomed the news as well.

“High-speed broadband can help cities enhance service deliver and civic engagement,” said Gail Roper, chief information and community relations officer for the City of Raleigh, in a statement.

 

DoS Bug Found In Android

January 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Security researchers have discovered a bug in the Android WiFi Direct feature that could allow hackers to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on Android devices.

WiFi Direct allows Android devices to connect to one another directly without needing a third-party device like a wireless router. The feature runs as standard in most Android smartphones today.

The guys at Core Security found the vulnerability, dubbed CVE-2014-0997, and said that a number of Android smartphones are vulnerable and can be affected by a DoS attack when scanning for WiFi Direct-capable devices.

An attacker could implement the DoS attack by sending a specially crafted 802.11 probe response frame “causing the Dalvik subsystem to reboot because of an Unhandle Exception on WiFiMonitor class”, said Core Security.

“On some Android devices processing a probe response frame with a WiFi-Direct (P2P) information element that contains a device name attribute with specific bytes generates a malformed supplicant event string that ends up throwing the IllegalArgumentException. As this exception is not handled the Android system restarts.”

In laymen’s terms, the attacker could essentially reboot an Android device remotely, knocking it off the wireless connection.

Devices currently affected by the bug include the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4 running Android version 4.4.4, the LG D806 and the Samsung SM-T310 running Android 4.2.2, and the Motorola RAZR HD running Android 4.1.2.

Core Security said that other devices could also be affected. Android 5.0 Lollipop is not vulnerable to the exploit, so the firm suggests that Android users should update to the latest version where possible.

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Testing New Stripped Down Version Of Its Mobile App

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Facebook is testing a scaled down version of its mobile app that requires far less data, which could boost usage of the social networking service among people with weaker Internet service or older phones.

Facebook “Lite” is available for devices running Android 2.2 and up. The size of the free app is 252 kilobytes, and it’s meant for 2G networks in areas with limited connectivity. Users can perform a bunch of basic functions like post status updates with photos, comment on people’s posts, message friends, have group conversations, and receive notifications. Posts from the news feed are meant to load quickly.

Early reviews on the Google Play store for the app have been positive, with many praising its low data and battery usage.

Facebook launched the app over the weekend in parts of Africa and Asia, said a report in TechCrunch. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment further.

The Lite app appears to be related to Facebook’s Internet.org project, which seeks to provide free access to Facebook and other basic Internet services in developing countries. The Internet.org app is already available in a handful of countries such as Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Colombia. In addition to Facebook, the app provides access to other services like the weather, Wikipedia, and health and educational information. Carriers can charge users for paid access to other services. In addition to Facebook, other founding partners of Internet.org include Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung.

With the Lite app, Facebook might be testing people’s responsiveness to a set of basic Facebook services without the ancillary ones. It may also help Facebook learn how it could further improve the functions of its Internet.org app.

Facebook tested a different stripped down version of its site in late 2009 and early 2010, although only for the desktop. It was shut down in April 2010.

 

 

Auto Industry Helps Texas Instruments Bottom Line

January 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Texas Instruments appears to have done rather well thanks to a growing demand for chips from the car industry.

The company posted fourth-quarter revenue of $3.27 billion, up 8 percent from the year-ago period and slightly above what the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street predicted by reading their tarot cards.

This was mostly because TI deepened its focus on analogue and embedded chips which are in demand from carmakers, telecom companies and industrial customers.

Revenue from Texas Instruments’ largest market, “industrial,” grew a bit in 2014, while revenue from its communications market expanded as wireless carriers installed next-generation base stations.

TI has been winding down its unprofitable wireless business and refocusing on analogue and embedded chips. Factories that Texas Instruments bought at relatively attractive prices in recent years and the chipmaker’s robust sales force give it an advantage over smaller competitors.

The company’s fourth-quarter net income rose 61 percent to $825 million. Earnings per share were 76 cents.

Texas Instruments forecast first-quarter revenue of between $3.07 billion and $3.33 billion.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $3.26 billion for the fourth quarter and $3.19 billion for the first quarter.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Dropbox Acquires Startup Pixelapse

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Dropbox, never one to shy away from an acquisition, has purchased startup Pixelapse, which provides a GitHub-like version control service for “tens of thousands” of visual designers. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“Our new development efforts will be focused on bringing the same kinds of collaboration and workflow experiences that you’re used to in Pixelapse over to the core Dropbox product,” said the company’s traditional “hey we’ve been acquired” blog post about the deal.

The way Pixelapse works is simple and familiar to anyone who’s used a version control service like GitHub before: Visual design project files get stored in a dedicated folder. Make a change to a project asset, and those changes get synced to the cloud, where they’re viewable from a cloud interface. There’s even an activity feed to see who worked on what within a team.

If you or anybody else (the client you’ve shared the project with, the boss in charge of the project, or just the rest of the project team) wants, they can go back and view the entire history, comparing revisions and rolling back changes if necessary. You can even show off the history of a project to the public with an embeddable code widget.

If that sounds a lot like Dropbox’s existing version control, just tailored to a very specific vertical — namely, designers — collect your prize at the door. From Dropbox’s perspective, this is a shrewd move that enhances the platform’s appeal with a project management feature that developers love but designers could never access. The startup’s origins stem from co-founder Min Ming Lo’s time as a design intern at Google, where nobody had any idea what assets belonged to whom or how to give feedback.

For existing users, never fear. Pixelapse promises on its website that the service is safe for at least another year and that it’s still accepting sign-ups, which is a good omen given that so many similar deals of this type see immediate service shutdown.

 

 

New Internet Browser Vivaldi Launches

January 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Well known software developer Jon von Tetzchner has launched a new internet browser, offering an interface for high-volume users who “have problems fitting all their open tabs on one screen”, he said in a Reuters interview.

Known as Vivaldi and available on desktop computers from Tuesday, the browser’s initial launch covers the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

“A mobile phone and a tablet version are in the pipeline. We are working on it, but they won’t be out until they’re ready,” said von Tetzchner, who owns 90 percent of the company’s shares and has paid for the development.

“At some point it will need to fund it self and to reach that point we will need a few million users. I have no doubt that we will reach that number quite easily,” he added.

With features like personalized notes, bookmarks with small screen shots and speed dials with options for multiple groups and folders, Vivaldi hopes to attract high-volume users.

Despite tough competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Corp’s Firefox and Opera Software’s browser, von Tetzchner believes there is still room for more.

“We welcome everyone, but this is first of all a browser for people who expect and need more,” he said. “There is without a doubt a demand for this type of browser even though I don’t expect it to take more than a few percent of the total market.”

Vivaldi has signed a few affiliation deals ahead of the launch and is in talks with several potential partners for functionalities like search and online shopping.

“We have made several deals and have started a dialogue with others. But because some of these are potential competitors, we’ve wanted to go live with the browser first.”

Named after the 18th century composer Antonio Vivaldi, the name carries an inescapable reference to von Tetzchner’s previous role as co-founder and long-time head of browser and mobile phone technology firm Opera Software.

 

Cablevision To Launch Wi-Fi Phone Service

January 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Cablevision System Corp said that it would launch in February a wireless Internet phone service to give customers an alternative to more expensive data plans from cellular companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The “Freewheel” phone service, which runs on any WiFi connection, is an attempt by Cablevision to retain and potentially add subscribers at a time when cable companies are losing out to lower-priced, bundled TV and Internet services from telecom firms.

Cablevision said the phone service was the first of its kind to be launched by a cable company and aims to tap users seeking to download unlimited amounts of data on their mobile phones using WiFi, which is less expensive than a cellular connection.

Such services could pose a challenge to traditional telecom carriers. Currently, carrier Republic Wireless and Massachusetts-based startup Scratch Wireless offer users similar services that use WiFi to control data costs.

“There has been a dramatic shift in how consumers use their mobile devices: today, it’s all about data, and WiFi is now preferred and clearly superior to cellular,” Kristin Dolan, chief operating officer of Cablevision, said in the statement.

Cablevision, controlled by New York’s Dolan family, has been investing in its “Optimum” WiFi network since 2007, setting up over 1.1 million WiFi hotspots or access points in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Cablevision’s WiFi phone service will be offered at $29.95 per month and $9.95 per month for subscribers of its “Optimum Online” service. It will be available exclusively on the Motorola Moto G smartphone that users will have to purchase, the company said.

The $180 Android phone will be sold to “Freewheel” users without a contract at a discounted price of $99.95, it added.

 

 

 

China Further Restricts Internet, Blocks VPN Access

January 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

China is further tightening its grip on access to the Internet by blocking services that allow users to get around government censorship.

Several foreign-based operators of virtual private network (VPN) services said Friday that access to their services in China had been disrupted as a result of the crackdown and users are facing a harder time getting to some foreign websites.

Virtual private networks work by establishing an encrypted pipe between a computer or smartphone and a server in a foreign country. All communications are sent inside the pipe, effectively shielding Internet traffic from government filters that determine whether a site can be accessed. VPNs are used by Chinese citizens to get to external news sources and by resident foreigners and businesses for day-to-day communications.

StrongVPN, a commercial provider that operates a network of servers around the world, said users in China had recently begun experiencing connection problems to some of its sites. Comments alongside a company blog post indicate the list of sites affected is changing and sites that might work one day are failing the following day.

Another VPN provider, Golden Frog, told customers they might have more success connecting to services in Hong Kong or The Netherlands than those in the United States or Australia.

The Chinese government appears to be using two techniques to disrupt service, said Andrew Staples, a spokesman for Golden Frog. One, deep packet inspection, examines the data in Internet packets to try to determine if it’s a VPN connection. The other, IP blocking, shuts off traffic destined for the Internet addresses used by VPN servers.

 

 

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

ARM Develops IoT For Students

January 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has created a course to teach IoT skills to students at University College London (UCL)

The course is designed to encourage graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) to seek careers in IT.

The IoT Education Kit will teach students how to use the Mbed IoT operating system to create smartphone apps that control mini-robots or wearable devices.

Students are expected to be interested in building their own IoT business, or joining IoT-focused enterprises like ARM. The course will also try to limit the number of Stem graduates pursuing non-technology careers.

ARM reported statistics from a 2012 study by Oxford Policy and Research revealing how many engineering graduates (36 percent of males, 51 percent of females), technology graduates (44 percent, 53 percent) and computer scientists (64 percent, 66 percent) end up with non-Stem jobs.

The IoT Education Kit will be rolled out by UCL’s Department of Electronics from September 2015, with a week-long module for full-time and continuing professional development students.

The Kit comprises a complete set of teaching materials, Mbed-enabled hardware boards made by Nordic Semiconductor, and software licensed from ARM. A second teaching module for engineering graduates is being developed for 2016.

“Students with strong science and mathematical skills are in demand and we need to make sure they stay in engineering,” said ARM CTO Mike Muller.

“The growth of the IoT gives us a great opportunity to prove to students why our profession is more exciting and sustainable than others.”

UCL professor Izzat Darwazeh also highlighted the importance of Stem skills, saying that “many students are not following through to an engineering career and that is a real risk to our long-term success as a nation of innovators”.

Courtesy-TheInq

LG Refutes Claims Of Overheating Qualcomm Phone Processors

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

South Korean smartphone maker LG Electronics Inc said on Thursday that it has not experienced any overheating problems with Qualcomm Inc’s new Snapdragon processor that is powering a curved-screen device going on sale later this month.

“I am very much aware of the various concerns in the market about the (Snapdragon) 810, but the chip’s performance is quite satisfactory,” Woo Ram-chan, LG vice president for mobile product planning, told reporters at a press event for the company’s G Flex2 smartphone.

The comment came after Bloomberg reported a day earlier that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the world’s top smartphone maker, decided not to use the new Qualcomm processor for the next flagship Galaxy S smartphone after the chip overheated during testing. Samsung and Qualcomm have declined to comment on the report, which cited unidentified sources.

Samsung is widely expected to unveil the new Galaxy S smartphone in early March, and Bloomberg reported that the Korean firm will use its own processors instead.

But LG’s Woo said on Thursday that internal tests for the G Flex2, powered by the new Qualcomm processor, show that the new product emits less heat than other existing devices. The new phone is scheduled to start selling in South Korea on Jan. 30.

“I don’t understand why there is a issue over heat,” he said.

 

 

Rumors Say Samsung Is Quietly Seeking To Buy Blackberry

January 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

For a while, the rumor mill has manufactured hell on earth yarns claiming that Samsung is set to buy the Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry.

The deal always seems to fall through, and in any event has never happened.

However the Financial Post has found evidence that this time Samsung is actively pursuing a plan to take over or buy a significant stake in BlackBerry.

The story is still a rumour because both companies have denied such a plan may be in the works, but a document obtained by the Financial Post, prepared for Samsung by New York-based independent investment bank Evercore Partners, outlines the case for, and the potential structure of a possible purchase of BlackBerry.

The paper is a little elderly and was written in the last quarter of 2014, but a source familiar with the matter said that Samsung remains very interested in acquiring all or part of BlackBerry for the right price.

J.K. Shin, Samsung’s co-chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that his company is in talks to use some of BlackBerry’s technology in the South Korean company’s devices, but is not interested in an acquisition. “We want to work with BlackBerry and develop this partnership, not acquire the company.”

But it appears that Samsung was caught off guard by a Reuters leak earlier this week. It had hoped it could move in quickly on BlackBerry, and the company’s share price would stay low. When the news went up and the share price rose its bid looked a little weak.

BlackBerry appears to have learned of the price Samsung was hoping to pay through the Reuters leak, before the company could make a formal offer. This is the sort of thing Samsung wanted to avoid.

In five years, BlackBerry thought the return on their turnaround strategy as implemented by John Chen was going to do better than the cash they will be receiving today.

Still, the source maintains that Samsung is still keen on making a deal happen. The talk earlier this week about Samsung extending its cooperation with BlackBerry, which was notably lacking in specifics, is “just setting it up,” the source said. “Samsung hasn’t walked away” from an acquisition. “They’re leaning towards it.”

Courtesy-Fud