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Amazon Makes ‘Dash’ Button Free

September 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that its ‘Dash’ button, which allows customers to place orders instantly, will now be effectively free.

The company’s Prime members can now purchase the button for $4.99 and get the amount discounted on their first purchase using the button, the e-commerce giant said on Wednesday.

The button will now be available to all Prime members – those paying $99 a year for two-day delivery and other benefits.

The company said it will add 11 more brands to the button, bringing the total to 29.

The ‘Dash’ button, launched earlier this year, allows Amazon’s Prime members to order a product with just a push, using a WiFi connection, and can be hung or hooked anywhere in the home.

 

 

Can The Lenovo IdeaPad Challenge Microsoft’s Surface Pro?

September 4, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo has unveiled it’s updated IdeaPad and IdeaCentre devices aimed at those looking to upgrade to Windows 10 systems, including a Skylake-powered Surface competitor.

Lenovo’s new line-up includes seven computers, comprising the IdeaCentre AIO 700 desktop PC, the IdeaPad Miix 700a 2-in-1 tablet hybrid, and five laptops: the IdeaPad 300 and 500 and their lighter cousins, the IdeaPad 100S, 300S and 500S.

Lenovo said that the new designs feature an option for Intel’s RealSense 3D cameras alongside Windows 10 for “never-before-seen PC performance” while “giving discerning shoppers multiple reasons to upgrade this holiday season”.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 (above) sees the firm setting its sights squarely on Microsoft’s Surface, with the device sporting an integrated kickstand, optional keyboard cover and the same dual watchband hinges as seen on on the Yoga 3 Pro.

It also boasts a 12 inch Full HD+ 2160×1440 display, a 6th-generation Intel Core processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB SSD and either Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Home.

The IdeaPad MIIX 700 starts at $699, and will be available sometime this year.

The Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 700 desktop (below) is said to deliver up to double the power, screen resolution and memory capacity of the previous-generation, making it ideal for videos and gaming, Lenovo said.

The desktop has the latest Intel Core i7 processor, coupled with up to a 27in UHD 10-point multitouch display alongside JBL stereo speakers and discrete graphics.

“This all-in-one desktop is upgraded to up to twice the CPU performance, screen resolution and memory capacity of its three-year-old previous generation, offering music and movie buffs double the incentive to refresh their hardware this season,” the firm said.

There’s also a removable slip-off back panel providing flexibility for those wanting to upgrade or maintain the system. The IdeaCentre AIO 700 24in desktop starts at $1,099 and will be available in October.

Meanwhile, the new Lenovo IdeaPad 300 and 500 laptops are claimed to be 33 percent thinner than the same range three years ago. This doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but Lenovo promised that the devices will “take portability to the next level”, weighing 2.1kg for the 14in laptop and 2.3kg for the 15in.

They come with up to Nvidia GeForce 920 graphics, 1TB of storage and Dolby Advanced Audio. The IdeaPad 500 will be powered by the latest Intel 6th generation Core i7 processor with optional JBL speakers.

For those who want an even thinner and lighter laptop, the IdeaPad 100S, 300S and 500S are thinner and lighter than their IdeaPad 300 and 500 cousins, and much lighter than their comparably priced counterparts from three years ago. The IdeaPad 100S 14in laptop is 35 percent lighter, while the IdeaPad 500S 15in laptop is 20 percent lighter.

The IdeaPad laptop range will start from $179, going up to $499 depending on model, size and specifications, and will be available in October.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Researchers Explore Humans As Networks For Wearable Devices

September 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

People who wear networked gadgets all over their bodies could possibly become a network themselves.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found a way for wearables to communicate through a person’s body instead of the air around it. Their work could lead to devices that last longer on smaller batteries and don’t give away secrets as easily as today’s systems do.

The proliferation of smartphones, smart watches, health monitoring devices and other gear carried close to the body has led to so-called personal area networks that link the gadgets together and provide a path to the Internet through one that has a Wi-Fi or cell radio. Today, those PANs use short-range over-the-air systems like Bluetooth.

But radio technologies like Bluetooth can’t transmit well through the body itself, so they have to go around it. Bluetooth signals can travel as far as 10 meters (30 feet) which increases the chance of eavesdropping and leads to high “path loss,” an effect that weakens signals on the way to their destinations, the researchers said.

A team led by Professor Patrick Mercier of the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has discovered a way to use the body itself as the medium for data transmission. It uses magnetic fields and shows path loss that’s 10 million times lower than what happens with Bluetooth.

This could make the magnetic networks much more efficient, so devices don’t have to work as hard to communicate and can have smaller batteries — or get longer useful lives with the same size batteries. The team hasn’t actually tested the system’s energy use yet. They envision the technology being used for networks of health sensors that monitor many parts of the body.

Wireless technologies like Bluetooth radiate electrical and magnetic waves, which a human body tends to absorb, Mercier said. By contrast, his team’s network transmits data over magnetic fields that are created between two coils. Those fields can easily travel through the body. The system works like NFC (near-field communications), but at a slightly longer range.

 

 

 

Huawei Goes After High-end Smartphone Market With Mate S

September 4, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

China’s Huawei Technologies has introduced a new smartphone , taking aim at the high end of the market, which is dominated by Apple and Samsung Electronics.

The Mate S, launched on the sidelines of Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin, has a 5.5-inch display, a 13 mega pixel rear camera and fingerprint security. Huawei says it is one of the first smartphones to include a Force Touch display, which can distinguish between a light tap and deep press, enabling access to more functions just by pressing harder.

Huawei became the world’s third-biggest smartphone company by sales last month, according to research firm Gartner, overtaking Chinese rival Lenovo, and aims to become the first Chinese firm to sell more than 100 million smartphones this year.

But it is still far behind Samsung, which had 21.9 percent of the market in the second quarter, and Apple, on 14.6 percent. Huawei’s share rose to 7.8 percent from 5.4 percent in the first quarter.

Huawei’s Mate S phone will retail for 649 euros ($732) — comparable to some higher-end Apple iPhone 6 series models — with a premium version for 748 euros, the Chinese company said.

“Huawei aspires to be the next Samsung, successful with both premium design and by shipping large numbers of smartphone models,” said IHS analyst Ian Fogg, who expects Huawei to ship about 109 million smartphones this year.

“2015′s Huawei smartphone launches show the company is finally coming close to meeting these market goals which Huawei set some years ago.”

The top of the smartphone market is a tough environment, as Samsung has experienced. While it remains the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Apple is reaping most of the rewards. The U.S. company is estimated by some analysts to earn 90 percent or more of the industry’s profits.

Huawei has its roots in telecoms equipment gear where it competes with the likes of Ericsson and Nokia, but it has invested heavily in consumer devices in recent years.

Its Mate S will be available in more than 30 countries including China, Germany, Israel,Japan, France, Germany and Spain and can be pre-ordered in Western Europe from Sept. 15.

 

 

 

 

Ericsson Developing Next-gen LTE, Focuses On IoT

September 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ericsson is developing LTE with faster upload speeds, as well as using unlicensed spectrum to speed up downloads and customizing the technology for Internet of Things applications.

The Swedish telecom equipment vendor is planning on showing off some of the developments at the CTIA Super Mobility conference next week in Las Vegas.

5G will likely be one of the hottest topics at CTIA, but LTE still has lots mileage left — after all, the first two letters stand for Long Term. And it’s a lot easier to upgrade an existing network than roll out a new one.

One of the more contentious upgrades is using unlicensed spectrum for LTE. Detractors fear it will affect Wi-Fi performance, which uses the same frequencies.

To prevent that from happening, a number of methods are being developed to make LTE play well alongside Wi-Fi. At CTIA, Ericsson is demonstrating LTE-U (Unlicensed) Fair Sharing, which continually monitors the radio environment to determine the overall average channel availability.

The company is also showing LTE at speeds up to 600Mbps with the help of carrier aggregation and better signal encoding. Carrier aggregation, which is part of LTE-Advanced, allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two or more channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one.

Because of the amount of spectrum needed, not all operators will be able to offer 600Mbps.

The work that’s been done to increase bandwidths has so far focused on faster download speeds. Using some of the same technologies, attention is now being turned to speedier uploads, as well.

However, future LTE networks are also being developed to work better with the Internet of Things. A new version called  LTE Category 0 is much slower than current networks, but that’s fine since most IoT apps don’t need lots of bandwidth. The upside is that the cost of devices drops and battery lives can be extended to 10 years and more.

To show what’s possible, Ericsson has teamed up with chipmaker Sequans to demonstrate a prototype network and device.

All the LTE upgrades are part of Ericsson’s Networks Software 16A and 16B. They will be used on indoor and outdoor base stations and become available next year.

 

 

 

Verizon To Offer Virtualized Firewall Service

September 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon will begin offering a virtualized firewall service across its global network later this month, part of its move into software-defined networking.

The goal is to help businesses such as manufacturers or retailers, who may be running networks in far-flung places, to have better security when connecting their applications to the corporate network, said Shawn Hakl, head of network platforms and managed services for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

The type of organizations Verizon is aiming to attract are those running a Layer 3 private network who may want a better and more reliable connection for people using mobile apps.

Mobile users will connect to whatever network is available and then onto Verizon’s private network, Hakl said. Applications can securely connect, and the traffic can be put through the usual security inspections before it goes into the corporate network.

“You can make sure that you essentially got a secure transaction,” Hakl said. “You can establish an encrypted tunnel to that device, and you can ensure that data is not exposed.”

The primary use case Verizon sees now for the technology is for 4G or LTE modems in the back of routers, Hakl said. Some businesses use those type of connections as a backup for primary wireline circuits.

The connections made should result in a better user experience, and there is little configuration that needs to be done on end-user devices, he said.

Verizon is one of many large network operators looking to SDN to bring more flexibility to the services they offer to customers and at a lower price.

 

 

Xiaomi Develops Their Own SoC

September 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Xiaomi is the latest big phone manufacturer trying to make its own SoCs to differentiate itself from the fearsome competition.

China’s biggest smartphone manufacturer is working on its own SoC that is scheduled to appear in 2016. Details are thin on the ground but it would appear that the company is working on its own ARM based chip. This will help company to compete with Apple, Samsung and Huawei. These three already have an inhouse SoC.

Apple started making its own SoC a while ago with the original iPhone and Samsung has joined in a few years later. This is going to become more common in the phone industry.

Samsung caught everyone by surprise when it announced that its flagship Galaxy S6  and the latest Galaxy 6 Note and edge ended up with a 14nm based 7240 . Before this, they used Qualcomm chips for their high end devices.

HTC ended up using Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 while LG G4 flagship phone chose the Snapdragon 808 which was a slightly slower version of the chip.

Huawei has acquired HiSIlicon SoC manufacturer a few years ago and the company makes its own SoC branded Kirin. The company is doing a decent job with its latest Kirin 930. This “four plus four” A53 chip with one cluster with 2.0 GHz and another with 1.5Ghz seems like a decent chip. It even has Cat 6 modem to compete better.

The future Kirin 950 will have A72 cores and even Cat 10 modems but this is something we will see in course of 2016.

If Xiaomi becomes successful in its SoC plans, it will put Qualcomm and MediaTek in a tough position. The company is using Snapdragon 810 in its MI Note Pro, and Snapdragon 615 in Mi 4i phone.

Redmi Note 2 is using the quite popular MediaTek SoC Helio X10 SoC that ended up in quite a few phones coming from the Far East.

Xiaomi has already developed LC1860 processor for its low end Redmi 2A, which was a sub $100 phone. This was developed by the Xiaomi-owned Pine Cone Electronics working with Chinese chip maker Leadcore Technology. The LC 1860 was significantly less expensive that similar spec Qualcomm chip.

LG has been working on its own SoC codenamed Odin and we still haven’t seen a single device with it. Making SoC chips with an integrated LTE is hard and it costs Qualcomm and MediaTek billions of dollars to refresh the latest offering at least once a year. This was why Nvidia and Texas Instruments have dropped out of this game as it was too hard to compete.

Courtesy-Fud

PayPal Rival, Klarna Launches In USA

September 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Payments firm Klarna debuted its U.S business on Tuesday and announced that Overstock.com, one of the biggest U.S. online retailers, would be its first major retail partner.

The company, which has grown throughoutn Europe and gained a 10 percent share of the Northern European e-commerce market, said it had partnered with around 10 U.S. merchants so far.

Sweden-based Klarna, founded in 2005 and backed by investors such as Sequoia Capital and Atomico, is now planning for rapid expansion in the United States, where it will take on rivals such as PayPal and Stripe.

“I would be disappointed if we didn’t have hundreds of merchants on the platform doing millions of transactions as early as in 2016,” Klarna North America CEO Brian Billingsley, told Reuters.

Klarna’s services allow online consumers to buy goods by entering easy-to-remember details such as an e-mail address and zip code. It also lets consumers pay after delivery with Klarna assuming the risk in the interim and paying the retailer immediately.

Klarna, which had net sales of $319 million last year, said it was currently seeing “significant growth” in its core markets in the Nordics and Germany.

Asked how much the group could grow in 2016, Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said it was to early to tell as the U.S business was still in its infancy.

“There is definitely a potential to quickly reach half a billion dollars in revenue in a very short period of time,” he said.

Klarna said the company would double in size if it was to capture half a percentage of the U.S market.

“And while of course our ambitions are much higher than half a percentage, it is definitely an interesting reflection of how extremely big the market is,” Siemiatkowski said.

 

 

Uber Hires Security Experts For Vehicle Technology

September 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber Technologies Inc  has added two top vehicle security researchers, the company announced, high-profile additions that come as the ride-hailing service ramps up its work on technology for self-driving cars.

Charlie Miller, who had been working at Twitter Inc, and Chris Valasek, who worked at security firm IOActive, have resigned from their jobs and will join Uber this week.

Miller and Valasek won wide attention this month after demonstrating that they could hack into a moving Jeep.

Uber said that Miller and Valasek will join the company’s Advanced Technologies Center, a research laboratory Uber opened in Pittsburgh in February and staffed with dozens of autonomous vehicle experts hired away from Carnegie Mellon University.

An Uber spokeswoman said Miller and Valasek will work with the company’s top security officers “to continue building out a world-class safety and security program at Uber.”

Raffi Krikorian, who heads Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, tweeted a welcome to the duo last week.

Miller tweeted that he was looking forward to starting his new job on Tuesday. Valasek tweeted that his last day at IOActive will be Monday.

As Uber plunges more deeply into developing or adapting self-driving cars, Miller and Valasek could help the company make that technology more secure.

Uber envisions autonomous cars that could someday replace its hundreds of thousands of contract drivers. The San Francisco company has gone to top-tier universities and research centers to build up this capability.

 

 

T-Mobile Threatens ‘Data Thieves’

September 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile USA is on a mission to stop data thieves, which it says are taking advantage of the company’s unlimited high-speed data plan through excessive tethering — the use of smartphone data service on other devices.

The carrier offers unlimited 4G LTE on smartphones, but limits data usage through tethering to 7GB a month under a Smartphone Mobile HotSpot feature, which reduces speed beyond that limit. If a customer needs more LTE tethering, he or she can add on more.

But CEO John Legere has accused some users of “hacking” the system to swipe high-speed tethered data, by strategies like downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones or writing code to mask their activity.

“It’s a small group — 1/100 of a percent of our 59 million customers — but some of them are using as much as 2 terabytes (2,000GB!) of data in a month,” Legere wrote.

“I’m not sure what they are doing with it — stealing wireless access for their entire business, powering a small cloud service, providing broadband to a small city, mining for bitcoin — but I really don’t care!,” he added.

Legere said the company was going first after the 3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing, as they can compromise the network experience for other T-Mobile customers. The company claims to have developed technology that can detect the people who choose to break its terms and conditions.

Erring customers will be warned, and then lose access to the company’s unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan, and be moved to an entry-level limited 4G LTE data plan, according to a support page.

 

 

OpenStack Appears To Be Going Non-Profit

September 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The OpenStack Community is turning its attention to support for containers and improving the platform’s enterprise-worthiness, as the OpenStack Foundation celebrated gaining non-profit status from the US government, a move that will free up extra resources for development, the organisation said.

Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce said at the OpenStack Silicon Valley conference at California’s Computer History Museum that OpenStack has developed over the past five years into a general-purpose “integration engine” for IT departments to build infrastructure that allows them to operate a diverse array of applications and services.

“OpenStack has become a framework for computing that lets you plug in commercial and open source options for virtualisation, storage and networking, which is a key benefit for users. What that points to is that OpenStack operates as an integration engine that can take different types of hardware and software, and integrate them into a unified platform that users can operate applications and services on top of,” he said.

Bryce announced that the OpenStack Foundation, which oversees the activities of the OpenStack developer community, has been officially recognised as a tax-exempt non-profit business by the US government.

“From a practical perspective, this means we will have more resources to invest in the community over the long term,” he said.

Bryce also announced the launch of a new App Dev section on the OpenStack.org website with resources to help developers make better use of the OpenStack APIs, including a whitepaper on containers.

Containers are the hot technology of the moment, as they hold the promise of packaging applications and services for easy deployment in the cloud, with greater density and scalability than using virtual machines. Much of the effort in the OpenStack community is thus now focused on making containers work without being too restrictive or tying users into one container platform or another.

Docker has garnered much publicity for its container technology, but successfully bringing containers to OpenStack involves more than just supporting Docker, as Craig McLuckie, group product manager for Google’s Compute Engine platform, explained.

“There needs to be something to map containers to your OpenStack infrastructure, the compute, storage and network resources, so that applications inside the containers can access these,” he said.

Naturally, McLuckie held up the Kubernetes project that Google founded as a key part of the solution, with other pieces supplied by OpenStack’s Magnum and the Murano project started by OpenStack firm Mirantis.

“Magnum adds Kubenetes to OpenStack, while Mirantis’ Murano provides native Kubernetes package integration,” McLuckie explained, but adding that there is still much work to be done on properly integrating containers into OpenStack.

“We need to work together as a community to ensure that the core service model can span virtual machines and containers, and we need better integration with the Neutron (networking) module and a solution for containers on bare metal,” he said.

“Virtual machines still have a future as they are the only way to achieve the isolation some applications and services need, but for many people containers are the way forward for most workloads.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Pentagon Partners With Apple And Boeing On Wearable Technology

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter granted $75 million to assist a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.

Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing , Apple and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.

“This is an emerging technology that takes advanced flexible materials for circuits, communications, sensors and power and combines them with thinned silicon chips to ultimately produce the next generation of electronic products,” Carter said.

He was speaking at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The consortium, which will be managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, will add $90 million to the federal money. Local governments will chip in more, boosting the group’s total five-year funding level to $171 million.

Defense officials say the rapid development of new technologies around the globe is forcing the Pentagon to seek partnerships with the private sector rather than developing most of its technology itself, as it once did.

The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub, which will be based in San Jose, is the seventh of nine such institutes planned by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize the U.S. manufacturing base.

 

 

Drones To Have Intel Inside

August 31, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Chipmaker Intel is taking its competitive game up a notch by investing in its own drones.

Intel has written a check for more than US$60 million to Yuneec International, a Chinese aviation company and drone maker.

This is not the first time that the Chipmaker has invested in drones. It has written smaller amounts for the drone makers Airware and PrecisionHawk. The Yuneec deal is its largest investment in a drone company yet.

Apparently Intel thinks that drones are potential computing platforms for its processors.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he believed in a smart and connected world. And one of the best ways to bring that smart and connected world to everyone and everywhere has been drones.

Amazon and Google are developing drones as they seek new ways to deliver items to consumers, Intel just wants to make sure that its chips are delivering the payload. There is no indication that it is building a secret airforce which it will use to take down competition – that would be silly.

Yuneec makes a range of drones built for aerial photography and imaging. Its technology also powers manned electric aircraft.

Courtesy-Fud

The EU To Launch Review Of Uber

August 31, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to resolve legal disputes that have pitted the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.

Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.

The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.

Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.

The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.

“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year. In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France,Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favors regular taxis at its expense.

The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy - where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.

 

 

Acer Warms To Takeover Possibility

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Acer Inc founder Stan Shih said he would welcome a takeover of the struggling Taiwanese computer manufacturer after a drastic decline in its stock price, while warning any potential buyer would have to pay a heavy amount.

“Welcome,” Shih told reporters in response to a question about whether Acer would be open to a takeover. He added however that any buyer would get an “empty shell” and would pay dearly.

“U.S. and European management teams usually are concerned about money, their CEOs only work for money. But Taiwanese are more concerned about a sense of mission and emotional factors,” he said.

His remarks were first reported by Taiwanese media on Thursday and were confirmed by a company spokesman.

Acer has reported steep on-year sales falls in recent months, including a 33 percent drop in July.

It suffered a T$2.89 billion ($90 million) loss in the first six months of 2015, versus a slight profit in the same period last year. It booked losses for all of 2011, 2012 and 2013 amid cratering PC sales.

Its stock price has fallen by nearly half since early April.