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Workhorse Wants In On The Drone Delivery Business

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Workhorse, a truck maker based in Loveland, Ohio apparently wants in on the drone package delivery business.

Workhorse isn’t as high profile as Amazon or Google, but it demonstrated an eight-rotor delivery drone designed to work with its electric trucks and use some of the same battery technology.

“Our concept is, you have a package-delivery drone that rides on top of a truck as the driver goes about his day, and helps to pick off outliers on his route to help cut down on the cost of delivery per package,” said Elliot Bokeno, a mechanical engineer with Workhorse, who demonstrated the drone at a conference at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

If a driver had four deliveries in one part of town but only one in another, the drone might be able to handle that single, less convenient delivery.

The technology combines autonomous and manual control.

GPS is used to determine the delivery location, and the drone flies there without any human input, Bokeno said. But when it gets to the address, a downward-pointing camera switches on and an operator at a remote center takes over.

The operator guides the drone down, making sure to avoid people and obstacles, and releases the package. The drone then resumes autonomous flight and makes its way back to the truck.

In tests, the drone has flown as fast at 55 mph and has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. The company is working with Panasonic, which provides batteries for Workhorse’s electric vehicles, on more advanced battery technology that will increase flight times to 45 minutes.

Bokeno said his company has already talked to several package delivery companies about using its technology.

For now, tests of the technology over relatively short distances continue. Workhorse is collaborating with the University of Cincinnati and hopes to begin multi-mile delivery tests soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Nokia Unveils Virtual Reality Camera

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Finland’s Nokia, once the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, has debuted a spherical camera designed for making 3D movies and games that can be watched and played with virtual reality headsets.

The device, showcased at an event in Los Angeles, takes video and audio in 360 degrees with eight sensors and microphones, and is the first from Nokia’s digital media solutions business — one of its new focuses for future growth.

Nokia is going through restructuring after selling its mobile phone business to Microsoft last year and following that up with a proposed 15.6 billion euro ($17.2 billion) acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, which is set to boost its main network equipment business.

“We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other,” Nokia executive Ramzi Haidamus said in a statement.

In May, GoPro introduced a similar system using 16 cameras and Google’s software, while several other technology companies such as Facebook and Samsung have announced different plans to enter the virtual reality market.

Nokia is also planning to come back to the phone business by designing and licensing handsets once its deal with Microsoft allows it to do that late next year.

 

 

 

Facebook Invites More Mobile Operators To Internet.org

July 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Will HTML5 Hide Web Exploits?

July 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-Fud

 

Can OSX Make Macs Vulnerable To Rootkits?

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The software genii at Apple have redesigned their OSX software to allow malware makers to make designer micro-software that can infect Macs with rootkits.

Obviously the feature is one that Apple software experts designed specifically for malware writers, perhaps seeing them as an untapped market.

The bug in the latest version of Apple’s OS X allows attackers root user privileges with a micro code which could be packed into a message.

Security researcher Stefan Esser said that this was the security hole attackers regularly exploit to bypass security protections built into modern operating systems and applications.

The OS X privilege-escalation flaw stems from new error-logging features that Apple added to OS X 10.10. Plainly the software genii did not believe that standard safeguards involving additions to the OS X dynamic linker dyld applied to them because they were protected from harm by Steve Job’s ghost.

This means that attackers to open or create files with root privileges that can reside anywhere in the OS X file system.

“This is obviously a problem, because it allows the creation or opening (for writing) of any file in the filesystem. And because the log file is never closed by dyld and the file is not opened with the close on exec flag the opened file descriptor is inherited by child processes of SUID binaries. This can be easily exploited for privilege-escalation,” Esser said.

The vulnerability is present in both the current 10.10.4 (Yosemite) version of OS X and the current beta version of 10.10.5. Importantly, the current beta version of 10.11 is free of the flaw, an indication that Apple developers may already be aware of the vulnerability.

An Apple spokesman said that engineers are aware of Esser’s post of course they did not say they would do anything about it. They will have to go through the extensional crisis involved in realising that their product was not secure or perfect. Then the security team will have to issue orders, signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to an internal inquiry, lost again, and finally bury it in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM Buys Compose Cloud Services Company

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has added another stick to its pile, picking up a company called Compose to increase its standing in the cloud database-as-a-service (DBaaS) market.

The firm has come straight out with the news and explained how it expects to benefit.

Compose, it said, offers a bountiful on-demand business and will let IBM roll out DBaaS offerings to a presumably hungry market. IBM has a big focus on the cloud and likes to see action around its Bluemix platform.

IBM said that Compose is a player in the MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch and PostgreSQL DBaaS game, and that this honour will extend itself to the new parent and its punters.

“Compose’s breadth of database offerings will expand IBM’s Bluemix platform for the many app developers seeking production-ready databases built on open source,” said Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM cloud data services.

“Compose furthers IBM’s commitment to ensuring developers have access to the right tools for the job by offering the broadest set of DBaaS and the flexibility of hybrid cloud deployment.”

IBM acquires @composeio as complement to Cloudant CouchDB, cloud data warehouse, dashDB, and more #bluemix services. https://t.co/2j4ASqisGi

— IBM Bluemix™ (@IBMBluemix) July 23, 2015

There is money behind this, and IBM said that the DBaaS market is likely to be worth almost $20bn by 2020 thanks to thousands of companies and their multitudes of demands for easy to grasp databases. This is not the first cloudy move the firm had made.

Compose, naturally, is keen on the arrangement and expects that its union with the veteran firm will increase the scale of its services, and allow customers more freedom to innovate.

“By joining IBM, we will have an opportunity to accelerate the development of our database platform and offer even more services and support to developer teams,” said Kurt Mackey, co-founder and CEO at the firm.

“As developers, we know how hard it can be to manage databases at scale, which is exactly why we built Compose – to take that burden off our customers and allow them to get back to the engineering they love.”

No financial terms were revealed.

Courtesy-TheInq

Best Buy To Begin Selling Apple Watch In August

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch will go on sale at stores of Best Buy Co Inc, the largest U.S.consumer electronics chain, starting Aug. 7.

The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc  said.

“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.

Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.

The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

 

 

Cloud Services Behind Amazon’s Rising Revenue

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc’s shares surged more than 20 percent last Friday, adding more than $46 billion to the company’s market value, after strong growth in the e-commerce giant’s cloud business drove a surprise quarterly profit.

The company’s market capitalization soared to more than $270 billion, overtaking that of Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer.

Revenue from Amazon’s cloud operations – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – nearly doubled in the second quarter, indicating that the business was poised to drive sustainable earnings for the online retailer, Wall Street analysts said.

Operating margins at the unit jumped to 21.4 pct from 7.7 percent.

“Product sales are Amazon’s bread, but AWS is its butter,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in a note, raising his price target on the stock by 21 percent to $700.

“They delivered a pretty large profit, we expected a loss … they exercised discipline and did not invest in new consumer electronic product launches.”

Investors have raised concerns that the company’s aggressive spending may not pay off. But strong growth in AWS and positive commentary on the Amazon Prime service allayed some worries.

Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for speedier delivery and exclusive access to certain movies, music and Kindle books, tend to spend more than regular users of Amazon’s services.

“The scale of their distribution network is starting to generate better incremental margins,” Barclays analyst Paul Vogel said.

“That, coupled with the continued strong growth in both revenue and margins at AWS, moves us from cautious to optimistic on the next year of growth for Amazon.”

Amazon, which last reported a profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, considers AWS its main engine of growth, along with Amazon Prime and Marketplace, where the company acts as a middleman for third-party vendors.

 

 

 

Microsoft Set To Release Advanced Threat Analytics

July 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is very close to releasing Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) the security sure-up that it first announced three months ago.

ATA, or MATA as we called it for our own small amusement, is the result of three months’ real world testing, and the culmination of enough user feedback to inform a final release.

That final release will happen in August, which should give you plenty of time to get your head around it.

Hmmm. Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Analytics seems like a very good idea focused on the enterprise.

— Kevin Jones (@vcsjones) May 4, 2015

Idan Plotnik, who leads the ATA team at Microsoft, explained in an Active Directory Team Blog post that the firm is working towards removing blind spots from security analytics, and that this release should provide a strong and hardy tool for the whacking away of hacking.

“Many security monitoring and management solutions fail to show you the real picture and provide false alarms. We’ve taken a different approach with Microsoft ATA,” he said.

“Our secret sauce is our combination of network Deep Packet Inspection, information about the entities from Active Directory, and analysis of specific events.

“With this unique approach, we give you the ability to detect advanced attacks and stolen credentials, and view all suspicious activities on an easy to consume, simple to explore, social media feed like attack timeline.”

The Microsoft approach is an on-premise device that detects and analyses threats as they happen and on a retrospective basis. Plotnik said that it combines machine learning and knowledge about existing techniques and tactics to proactively protect systems.

“ATA detects many kinds of abnormal user behaviour many of which are strong indicators of attacks. We do this by using behavioural analytics powered by advanced machine learning to uncover questionable activities and abnormal behaviour,” he added.

“This gives the ability for ATA to show you attack indicators like anomalous log-ins, abnormal working hours, password sharing, lateral movement and unknown threats.”

A number of features will be added to the preview release, including performance improvements and the ability to deal with more traffic, before general availability next month.

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Unveils ‘Send’ Mobile App

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft unveiled a mobile-minded alternative to email that’s focused primarily on short, quick messages.

Named Send, the new tool aims to deliver a simple experience much like that offered by text messaging or instant messaging software but without the need to know a co-worker’s mobile number or username. Instead, Send lets users quickly fire off a message to any co-worker using just their email address; no subject line, salutations or signatures are required.

“On my way,” might be one example, or “Are you in the office today?”

The app connects to Office 365 business and school email accounts to find frequent and recent contacts; users need only tap on one to start a conversation. A “Quick Reply” option allows for speedy responses.

That Office 365 connection, meanwhile, also means conversations are synced with Outlook, letting users continue them from anywhere. Messages sent using Send are treated internally like any other work email and comply with an organization’s email compliance policies, Microsoft said.

Send is now available free for iPhone through the Microsoft Garage in the U.S. and Canada. Versions for Windows Phone and Android are coming soon, as are additional IT controls. Currently the app works with Office 365 business and school email accounts, but Microsoft plans to make it more broadly available in the coming months, it said.

 

 

 

HP Goes After Security In Smartwatches

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

HP has released a study suggesting that anyone who uses a smartwatch is offering their wrist to vagabonds, criminals and privacy probers.

Blam! HP ain’t messing. “You got a smartwatch?” it says. “Then damn, son, you are in trouble!”*

A report apparently straight outta HP finds that the smartwatch lets us all down by not doing encryption right, not considering privacy and using second rate authentication.

In the current threat market, this would be a pretty much a full house of problems and pretty bad form on the part of providers like Apple.

Security firm Bitdefender has wrapped itself around the study, and describes the threat as “extreme” in its reporting of the HP smartwatch horror story.

The INQUIRER has not been able to find the report, but it has found mention of it. We shall turn to what we can while our inquiries hang in PR purgatory.

ESET has its own report on the study and offers advice on securing wearable technology, including smartwatches, on its website.

The security firm quotes from the report, saying that HP security personnel are fretting about increased adoption and the rising tide of threats.

“Smartwatches have only started to become a part of our lives, but they deliver a new level of functionality and we will increasingly use them for sensitive tasks,” Jyoti Prakash, country director for India and south Asia at HP Enterprise Security Products, is quoted as saying.

“As this activity accelerates, the watch platform will become vastly more attractive to those who would abuse that access, and it’s critical that we take precautions when transmitting personal sensitive data or bringing smartwatches into the workplace.”

The best practice if a zombie has bitten your arm and infected you with a virus, for example, would be to chop it off. Your arm, that is.

Here, we suggest that perhaps you consider what you share, where you share it and what you share it on as your best response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Walmart Buys Out Chinese E-commerce Yihaodian

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Wal-Mart Stores Inc acquired full ownership of Chinese e-commerce firm Yihaodian.com, buying out the 49 percent stake that it did not already own to accelerate its push online, the U.S. retail giant announced.

The investment will help Wal-Mart target China’s fast-growing online market at a time when largely brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch of competition from online rivals and a slowing of the world’s second-largest economy.

Wal-Mart’s move also comes after China said last month it will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, with the goal of encouraging foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the sector.

“[Yihaodian's] local experience, combined with Walmart’s global sourcing and our strong local retail presence and supply chain will allow us to deliver low prices on the products customers need in new and exciting ways,” Neil Ashe, head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce division, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, added the purchase of the stake would help accelerate its e-commerce business in China and boost coordination between its physical and online stores. It did not disclose the price paid for the stake, which was bought from former executives and financial services group Ping An.

Wal-Mart’s Asia head Scott Price told Reuters earlier this year that online retail was important to help tap China’s younger generations and that the firm would increasingly look to weave together its online and offline presence in the market.

Wal-Mart, France’s Carrefour SA and Britain’s Tesco PLC have all seen sales growth slip over the last five years in China, losing market share to local rivals, according to consumer analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The U.S. retailer also announced on Thursday that company insider Wang Lu will take the helm at Yihaodian. The e-commerce firm’s CEO and Chairman had quit earlier this month “to pursue their next venture”.

 

 

 

ZTE To Offer High-end Axon Smartphone In U.S.

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese mobile brands don’t normally stir much interest in the U.S., so when ZTE teased its newest smartphone, the Axon, it initially didn’t mention the company at all.

The company’s online promotions in advance of the launch featured a mysterious high-end Android device. The marketing scheme paid off, according to Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices business, sparking media interest. It even caused some to wonder if the product was Korean-made, since Chinese brands have a low-end image to U.S. consumers, according to Zeng.

ZTE was happy to clear up any preconceived notions. “Chinese brands can also come out with top-tier products,” Zeng maintained.

The Axon is a premium handset that the company claims can rival flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and LG.

It is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early August, and is already available for pre-order, with a no-contract price of $449. That’s about $200 less than an iPhone 6 when bought without carrier subsidies. But consumers are still getting the latest in smartphone technology.

For the Axon, this includes a 2560 by 1440 screen, an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, all fitted in a sleek metal case with leather on the back cover.

Zeng noted that it took ZTE 18 months to develop the product. The company wanted to make sure it had everything, such as the ability to shoot 4K video, and a rear-facing camera with dual lenses.

ZTE kept pushing the phone’s launch date back to include more features, Zeng said. It also tapped talent from North America, hiring Seattle-based design firm Teague and former BlackBerry employees to help build the product.

ZTE has been expanding in the U.S., although competition remains stiff. In this year’s first quarter, it was ranked as the U.S.’s sixth largest smartphone vendor, with a 4.5 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Industry leaders Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, have a combined market share of 62 percent.

 

 

 

 

HP To Use Wind Power

July 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

HP has proclaimed that it will buy 12 years of wind power from SunEdison and use it to run a new data centre in Texas.

The firm’s embracing of the wind market follows similar commitments from Facebook, which is planning to run its newest centre, the fifth so far, on wind power alone.

HP said that the 12-year purchase agreement will provide 112MW of wind power sourced from SunEdison and its nearby facilities.

The company said that 112MW could power some 40,000 homes, and will save more than 340,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

HP added that the deal puts the firm well on the way to meeting its green goals this year, five years earlier than the 2020 previously stated.

The renewable energy purchase is a first for HP and will power the new 1.5 million square foot data centre in Texas.

“This agreement represents the latest step we are taking on HP’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint across our entire value chain, while creating a stronger, more resilient company and a sustainable world,” said Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president and chief progress officer for corporate affairs at HP.

“It’s an important milestone in driving HP Living Progress as we work to create a better future for everyone through our actions and innovations.”

SunEdison, which HP calls the “world’s largest renewable energy development company”, is predictably excited to be the provider chosen to put the wind up HP servers.

“Wind-generated electricity represents a good business opportunity for Texas and for HP,” said Paul Gaynor, executive vice president, Americas and EMEA, at SunEdison.

“By powering its data centres with renewable energy, HP is taking an important step toward a clean energy future while lowering operating costs.

“At the same time, HP’s commitment allows us to build this project which creates valuable local jobs and ensures Texan electricity customers get cost-effective energy.”

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry Snaps Up AtHoc

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it will acquire privately-held AtHoc, a provider of secure, networked crisis communications, as it moves to broaden its software offering and generate revenue from its BBM messaging service.

San Mateo, California-based AtHoc’s services are used by a number of top clients including the U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security and a host of blue-chip companies, to provide software that seamlessly allows them to reach staff via their smartphones, or via digital displays, radios, and even sirens, in times of crisis. Its services help organizations and people share information during business continuity and rescue efforts.

The terms of the transaction, which is expected to close by November, were not disclosed.

“AtHoc is an alerts system, but it also needs richer content and that can be provided by BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which offers not just text, but voice, picture and video sharing, so we can provide a much richer experience to their clients,” said BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen in an interview.

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by the smartphone pioneer, as it pivots to focus more on software and turn around its faded fortunes.

Earlier this year, Chen said he saw a part of the company’s targeted software revenue growth in the current fiscal year coming from acquisitions of companies that will allow it to sell more value-added services.

In April, Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry announced plans to acquire privately-held software maker WatchDox, which secures files. Its services are used by some of the world’s top federal agencies, private equity firms, and a slew of Hollywood studios.

This followed last year’s buyout of Secusmart, a German firm that specializes in voice and data encryption and British tech start-up Movirtu, whose software allows users to have two phone numbers on the same device with a single SIM card.

“AtHoc, with its messaging alerts, is the next piece in the puzzle,” said Chen, noting that the firm has some large marquee clients that compliment BlackBerry’s own customer base.

The acquisitions made so far have helped BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services that cater to the needs of its core base of clients, such as corporations and government agencies.