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Samsung Still Facing Challenges Recovering Galaxy Note 7 Phones

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung’s recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones because of exploding batteries remains a challenging task, and some users, for example, in Canada, are still not exchanging their devices for a refund or a different phone.

The South Korean company has decided to cut these phones from the network, adopting similar measures to those taken last month in New Zealand and earlier this month in Australia.

The company said Wednesday that starting Dec. 12, functional limitations on Note7 phones, including curbs on the battery charge, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disablement will be introduced in Canada.

From Dec. 15, customers still using the Note7 will no longer be able to connect to any Canadian mobile network service to make calls, use data or send text messages. Samsung said it had been able to secure nearly 90 percent of the Note7 devices that were brought into the Canadian market.

When Samsung announced in September a recall of the Note7 in tandem with Health Canada, a Canadian federal government department, it was said that about 22,000 of the recalled smartphones were sold in the country.

Samsung announced a global recall of the Note7 in early September after it found a “battery cell issue.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Sept. 15 announced a recall in the U.S. of about 1 million Note7 phones as it found that the lithium-ion batteries in the devices could overheat and catch fire. By Oct. 13, the CPSC expanded the recall to include replacement Note7 phones that Samsung had supplied to customers under the first recall as they too were found to have the battery problem.

The company also stopped production of the phones. It has yet to explain in detail what caused the batteries to explode. A recent report suggested that the phone design could compress the battery even during normal operation.

Samsung said on Dec. 1 that it was working with local carriers to disconnect from Dec. 15 Note7 phones that were still being used by customers in Australia. Note7 owners in the country responded well to the recall, but a small number of affected devices are still with them, the company said. Customers in New Zealand were to be disconnected from Nov. 18.

The Note7 recall has been both a public relations and financial debacle for Samsung. The company has reported that the third quarter revenue of its IT and Mobile Communications division was down 15 percent from the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit fell 95 percent to 100 billion won, as a result of the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7.

Turner Broadcasting To Create Shows Exclusively For Snapchat

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

snapchat-150x150Turner Broadcasting System Inc will develop additional video content for mobile app Snapchat and team up with the social media company on advertising, Turner announced, as they expand a partnership to broaden their reach among millennials.

TV networks of the Time Warner Inc unit, including TBS and Adult Swim, will create original series exclusively for the unit of Snap, Inc, the broadcaster said in a statement.

The companies also renewed their March agreement for Snapchat to create Live Stories, collections of user-submitted photos and videos centered around a specific event, with sports shows from Turner. The shows include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship.

Turner will lead sales efforts for Live Stories and shows, while Snapchat will take the lead for sponsorships on the Discovery channels.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Turner formed the partnership with Snap in 2015, and forged links with other digital media companies, to court younger viewers who prefer mobile gadgets to television. Turner said its networks reach more than 75 percent of millennials each month, the same audience that Snapchat targets.

The partnership began with the launch of Snapchat’s Discover feature which allows companies to offer and manage their own content. The original channels included Turner’s CNN and Bleacher Report, a San Francisco-based sports news website.

Bleacher Report, which had been available worldwide except in the United States, France and Australia, will launch a U.S. Discovery channel on Jan. 4. CNN will increase its content on Discovery.

Snap has partnered with multiple traditional U.S. media companies, including Viacom Inc and Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal, as it prepares to go public early next year.

This year Turner has also invested in digital media companies Mashable and Refinery29, and launched a digital video startup within CNN called Great Big Story.

Is FitBit King Of Wearables?

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

You might not be aware of it, because the Tame Apple Press is going on an offensive, but Apple is losing the wearable’s market to Fitbit.

Today the tech press was full if a bizarre story claiming that Apple was going to clean up this Christmas with its iWatch. This is news to use because we knew that sales in the iWatch were falling. Nevertheless, Tim Cook was being quoted on Reuters as saying this would be the best Christmas ever for Jobs’ Mob’s iWatch.

We wondered how the story even got printed but it turned out it was because another report came out from IDC which revealed that not only were Smartwatch shipments down 51.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016 but Apple’s iWatch sales had fallen by 71 percent.

The IDC report show that the overall wearables market is up 3.1 percent year over year, but the winner is Fitbit and not Apple.

Fitbit saw a year on year growth of 11 percent. It shipped 5.3 million units in Q3 2016, representing a 23 percent share of the market. The company looks set to acquire Pebble and eventually offer a true smartwatch of its own, cementing its position at the top of the pile.

Chinese giant Xiaomi sits in second place with a 16.5 percent market share and 3.8 million units shipped in Q3, while fitness brand Garmin is in third position with a 5.7 percent market share and device shipment volumes of 1.3 million.

Apple is in fourth place and Samsung is the last manufacturer on the list. It may only have a 4.5 percent market share thanks to its 1 million shipped units, but that still represents YoY growth of almost 90 percent.

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Plans To Release Six Smartphone Games Next Year

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

sony-smartphone-games-150x150Japan’s Sony Corp  will release as many as six mobile phone games in the next year, looking to build on its own gaming franchises success off of console rival Nintendo Co’s Pokemon GO.

The upcoming titles will free up some of Sony’s popular gaming franchises, such as Everybody’s Golf, from PlayStation consoles to make them available on Apple Inc’s  iOS and Google’s Android mobile platforms.

An aggressive push into the rapidly growing segment is seen as a necessity for Sony as its games unit has emerged as the group’s largest profit contributor following an overhaul of the group’s consumer electronics business.

Sony revealed on Wednesday a total of 10 mobile gaming titles it is working on, including those to be released in the financial year starting in April. The 10 titles include PaRappa the Rapper and Arc The Lad.

They will be available initially in Japan and eventually in other Asian countries, Tomoki Kawaguchi, executive director of Sony’s mobile gaming unit, told reporters.

The announcement comes before Nintendo debuts its game franchise Super Mario Bros on Apple’s iPhone next week.

While disappointing sales of Wii U consoles helped push Nintendo into mobile gaming, Sony has been a decisive winner in console gaming with over 40 million PlayStation 4 sales, almost double the sales of Microsoft Corp’s XBox One.

But Sony is facing the increasing threat from mobile in countries such as Japan, the world’s third largest game market where mobile gaming accounts for more than half of the $12.4 billion market, according to games research firm Newzoo.

Sony has launched some games for smartphones through its music entertainment unit but failed to fully introduce mobile gaming to its PlayStation business.

Analysts doubt Sony’s chances of major success in mobile gaming, citing a lack of powerful characters like Nintendo’s Super Mario and Donkey Kong, which have achieved widespread appeal globally.

Google Data Centers Push For 100% Renewable Energy Usage In 2017

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-bldg-150x150Google announced that it will be able to power all of its global data centers and corporate offices from 100% renewable energy in 2017, a goal the company has been working toward for years.

Back in 2010 Google began signing long-term contracts to purchase renewable energy directly from solar and wind farm suppliers. The company’s first contract was to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Iowa.

Last year, Google purchased another 842MW of renewable energy, nearly doubling the clean power it had purchased, which took it to 2 gigawatts (GW) of cumulative renewable power.

“Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, stated in a blog.

Google pursued a multi-pronged approach to reach its 100% renewable energy goal, buying electricity through power purchase agreements(PPAs) that locked in contracts for carbon-free energy at a set price. The guaranteed revenue from PPAs also allowed renewable energy suppliers to invest with confidence in additional capacity, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic panels. Google also started creating more efficient facilities that would use less energy.

Google has signed onto 20 renewable energy projects around the world — about two-thirds of which are in the U.S. — amounting to more than $3.5 billion in clean energy investments.

Google also purchased its power through renewable energy credits, each one of which represents 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity sold separately from commodity power sources and fed into the general electrical grid.

“Over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60% and 80%, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option,” Hölzle said. “Electricity costs are one of the largest components of our operating expenses at our data centers, and having a long-term stable cost of renewable power provides protection against price swings in energy.”

“Our ultimate goal is to create a world where everyone — not just Google — has access to clean energy,” he added.

Will Facebook Get Acquired By Evil Google?

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The word on the information street is that Google wants to buy Facebook. It is entirely speculative, but could have legs.

Information leaked suggests that talks are well advanced between the two companies.

Anecdotal evidence from many Facebook users suggests that talks are well advanced and the companies are already sharing experimental data, between themselves, of user data. Other sources suggest that Microsoft (Vole) is also interested in Facebook and, conversely, that Facebook is interested in buying Microsoft.

None of the companies cared enough to comment to Fudzilla at press time. 

Courtesy-Fud

Will EA Copy Activision’s Gaming Strategy With Battlefield?

December 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

According to the announcement made by EA earlier this week, it appears that there won’t be any new Battlefield game for a “couple of years”.

The announcement, which says that there are no plans for a new Battlefield game for another “couple of years”, was made during EA’s Investor Program by EA’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen and came as a rather big surprise, especially considering that the latest Battlefield 1 was a big success.

It appears that EA will be rather focusing on Battlefront, the Star Wars themed game, and the next one will be both “much bigger” and “much more exciting”, which was something that was a big drawback of the first Battlefront.

Of course, EA still plans to release those four expansion packs but we do not know any future plans for the franchise.

Hopefully, this also means that EA will have something special in store for future Battlefield titles as they certainly both surprised everyone and made a great hit by using the World War I.

Courtesy-Fud

Smartphone-based Bank Number26 Expanding

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

number26-bank-150x150Mobile phone only bank Number26 is now offering its services in 17 countries in the euro zone, expanding from a smaller core of European markets it entered a year ago, it said on Tuesday.

The Berlin-based company is backed by Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s richest men and Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, along with other investors including Berlin’s Earlybird Ventures and Zurich-based Red Alpine.

The company, which received its own banking license from German financial regulator Bafin this year, offers online accounts for cash withdrawals, savings and insurance services that users manage on their mobile phones.

 It currently counts 200,000 customers in 8 countries.

Without the expense of branches or legacy computer infrastructure and by relying on selective outsourcing, mobile-first banks can challenge established banks by promising lower lending rates and higher rates on savings.

Established banks have responded by plowing more money into upgrading their own computer systems, rolling out mobile apps of their own, closing retail bank branches and investing in fintech startups.

N26, which first launched in 2015 in Germany and Austria, then moved into Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Slovakia, is now adding the Benelux countries, the Baltics, Finland, Portugal and Slovenia.

“We have built Europe’s most modern mobile bank,” Number26 Chief Executive and co-founder Valentin Stalf said in a presentation at the TechCrunch Disrupt London conference.

“We are getting closer to building a truly European bank.”

Will The TeraHertz Band Help Increase Wi-Fi Speeds

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

teraResearchers have worked out a way to push Wi-Fi speeds to 34 Gbps using the TeraHertz band.

While greater bandwidth in the 300GHz and above band has been known for a while it is pointless because the range makes it a chocolate teapot.

Some researchers have managed to hit 100 Gbps but when it only works for a few centimetres it is not commercially viable.

Now boffins at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have got the technology to provide a great 34 Gbps speed with a decent range.

Naoto Oshimo, one of the scientists behind this latest test, said that “device performance is almost sufficient for short-distance wireless communication such as KIOSK downloads, which might be its first application”. By that they mean that they have managed 10 metres, almost OK for home use.

Oshimo believes that this technology will scale hugely in terms of the speed as well, and we could eventually be looking at topping the 1Tbps mark.

Courtesy-Fud

Helio Finally Launches X27 And The X23 SoCs

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek has announced two more Helio X20 series products – a Helio X27 and an X23 and as you can figure out from the names; Helio X27 is faster than the X25 while X23 is a bit slower. 

Helio X25 was the fastest deca-core 20nm SoC from MediaTek with three cluster designs and this SoC ended up in quite a few prominent China higher end phones including a few Meizu devices. But it looks like customers wanted a bit faster camera, SoC and GPU performance for its late 2016 early 2017 phones, the ones that will launch before the Helio X30 comes to market.

Jeffrey Ju, Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer at MediaTek said: “The MediaTek Helio platform fulfills the diverse needs of device makers. Based on the success of MediaTek Helio X20 and X25, we are introducing the upgraded MediaTek Helio X23 and X27. The new SoCs support premium dual camera photography and provide best in-class performance and power consumption,”

The Helio X25 has two Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.5 GHz, four Cortex A53 clocked at 2.00 GHz and last four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.55GHz. The Mali GT880 graphics is clocked at 850 MHz.

The Helio X20 has two Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.1 GHz, four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.85 GHz and last four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.4GHz. The Mali GT880 graphics is clocked at 780 MHz.

The newcomer, Helio X27, has two Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.6 GHz, four Cortex A53 clocked at 2.00 GHz and the last four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.6 GHz. The Mali GT880 graphics is clocked at 875 MHz. The rest of the specification is identical to the Helio X25.

The Helio X23 has two Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.85 GHz and the last four Cortex A53 clocked at 1.4GHz. The Mali GT880 graphics is clocked at 780 MHz. As you can see, this is just a slightly faster version of Helio X20 and it sits just below Helio X25 with its specs.

Thanks to MediaTek-engineered advancements in the CPU/GPU heterogeneous computing scheduling algorithm, both products deliver more than a 20 percent overall processing improvement and significant increases in web browsing and application launching speeds. This definitely sounds promising but you should bear in mind that MediaTek had enough time to optimize these designs of the new and updated SoCs.  

Phones based on the Helio X27 and X23 will be available soon.

Courtesy-Fud

Mozilla’s Search Deal With Yahoo Appears To Be Paying Off

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mozilla-logo-2-150x150Mozilla has reported that revenue for 2015 was up 28% over the year before, the biggest increase in three years.

Nearly all the $421 million booked by the Mozilla Foundation came from royalty payments, the bulk of which originated, as always, from search deals that set defaults in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla Foundation is the nonprofit organization that oversees Mozilla Corp., the commercial arm which builds and maintains Firefox for personal computers and smartphones.

According to a financial statement, $417 million, or 99% of all revenue, came from royalty payments. The percentage of revenue derived from royalties has never dipped below 91% — Mozilla’s fortunes have always been tightly linked to the Firefox search deals — but 2015’s portion was the highest since 2010.

 Although Mozilla has tried to diversify its revenue sources, notably in early 2014 when it experimented with in-browser advertising, those attempts have not succeeded. Mozilla dropped the in-Firefox ad idea in December 2015, for example.

Nor has it been able to monetize mobile to any extent: Its Android and iOS versions of Firefox — the latter is actually just a wrapper around Apple’s Safari browser — have never been able to collect more than a minuscule portion of the market. Mozilla’s revenues, then, largely rely on the desktop Firefox, which runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Search-based revenue was approximately $410 million, representing 98% of all royalty income and 97% of Mozilla’s total revenue. The $410 million was $119 million more than in 2014, representing a 41% increase.

Mozilla was able to squeeze more out of its Firefox search deals because of two decisions it made in late 2014. First, it dumped the global arrangement it had with Google — whereby Google’s search engine was the default for virtually all copies of Firefox — and instead struck country-specific or regional deals with a dozen different search and information providers. Secondly, it negotiated a lucrative deal with Yahoo, which was made the default search provider for U.S. Firefox users.

The second deal was the more important of the two. Yahoo paid Mozilla about $375 million in 2015 — and is contracted to continue payments of that size until 2019 — or approximately $100 million more than Google laid out in 2013, the last full year of its Firefox arrangement. Other search contracts contributed $35 million to Mozilla’s coffers, Computerworldcalculated from the organization’s financial statement and tax return.

Mozilla trumpeted the change in search strategy even as it declined to point out the positive impact to its bottom line. “We decided that one global default search partner was no longer the right choice for our users or the web,” the organization said in a “State of Mozilla” report. “Instead, we adopted a more local and flexible approach by country to control our own destiny and to diversify the user experience and competitive landscape of web search globally.”

Seagate And Amazon Backing Into The Clouds

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hard drive maker Seagate has teamed up with Amazon to create a $99 1TB external hard drive that automatically backs up everything stored on it to the cloud.

Dubbed the Seagate Duet, the drive’s contents are cloned to Amazon Drive. All you need to do is plug in the drive, sign in with your Amazon account and that is it.

You can drag and drop files over, and access them from the web or Amazon’s Drive app on smartphones and tablets. Seagate claims you’ll get a year of unlimited storage just for buying the hard drive, which normally costs $59.99 annually.

Amazon’s listing for the Duet has some fine print. At the moment the offer is for the US and is not valid for current Amazon Drive Unlimited Storage paid subscription customers.

You also have to redeem the promo code within two months of buying the hard drive if you want the years’ worth of unlimited cloud storage.  Returning the Duet, will see your 12 months of unlimited drive storage slashed down to three.

Courtesy-Fud

PC Shipments Expected To Finally Rise In 2017

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While PC shipments are set to decline in 2016, beancounters at IDC think that the drop will be better than expected and there will be an improvement in 2017.

IDC expects PC vendors to ship a total of 258.2 million units this year, a figure which would be 6.4 percent lower than last year. It had been expected that there would be a 7.2 percent fall. Now IDC is saying that growth will still be negative in 2017, but shipments are expected to decrease by just 2.6 percent compared to this year.

Commercial shipments of notebooks will grow this year, while desktops should stay flat in terms of growth. The pressure from mobile devices is said to decrease as the markets mature. The tablet market in particular is not as big of a concern or threat to PCs as it is declining too.

IDC Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research vice president Loren Loverde said that the PC market continues to perform close to expectations.

“Some volatility in emerging regions is being offset by incremental gains in larger mature markets while the interaction with tablets and phones is stabilizing. We continue to see steady progression toward smaller desktops and notebooks as replacement buying helps stabilize overall shipments in the coming years”.

Looking towards 2020, IDC claims that the market will still face a decline in terms of unit shipments, but only a small one at 0.8 percent. In 2020, PC vendors are expected to move 250 million units.

IDC Devices and Displays senior research analyst Neha Mahajan said:

“Despite continued weakness in the consumer segment, the US PC market is showing some signs of stability in the near future with some sources of optimism for the long haul. Backed by early Windows 10 transitions that are expected to boost commercial PC shipments in the next couple of years, and steady growth of PCaaS (PC as a Service) which should help shorten refresh cycles of commercial systems in the long-term, the overall US PC market sentiment certainly seems to be improving”.

Courtesy-Fud

‘Distributed Guessing’ Hacking Turns Focus To Credit Card Numbers

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

credit-card-theft-150x150Credit card fraud has been added to the list of things that distributed processing can hasten.

An e-commerce site will typically block a credit card number after 10 or 20 failed attempts to enter the corresponding expiry date and CVV (card verification value), making life difficult for fraudsters who don’t have a full set of credentials.

But there are plenty of e-commerce sites out there, and it’s possible to obtain missing account details by submitting slightly different payment requests to hundreds of them in parallel.

It takes less than six seconds to perform the “distributed guessing attack,” according to the researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. who figured out how to do it.

Guessing the expiry date of a valid card isn’t all that difficult: Cards are typically issued for five years at most, so sending the 60 possible values to different websites will get a confirmation from one of them. The three-digit CVV is a little harder, involving spreading 1,000 requests across multiple websites.

“Practically unlimited guesses can be made by distributing the guesses over many websites, even if individual websites limit the number of attempts,” wrote researchers Mohammed Aamir Ali, Budi Arief, Martin Emms, and Aad van Moorsel.

The title of their paper asked the question: “Does The Online Card Payment Landscape Unwittingly Facilitate Fraud?”

Their answer is emphatically yes — at least for Visa cards, for which they were able to submit sufficient requests to obtain the missing values.

MasterCard’s centralized payment network, on the other hand, detected their attack on a card account after fewer than 10 authorization attempts.

Ali and colleagues studied 389 websites drawn from the 400 most-visited according to Alexa.com. Of those, just 47 used the 3D Secure authorization system, making them immune to the attack.

The weak links in the system were the 26 sites that required only the card number and the expiry date to validate payment. The 20 of them allowing at least six guesses provided ample capacity for guessing such an easy answer.

A further 291 sites would validate a card number with just the expiry date and CVV — but with 238 of them allowing six or more guesses, the CVV could soon be obtained.

Is More ZEN Information Coming This Month?

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While waiting for Zen is remarkably like waiting for Godot, we have just been told that AMD will be holding a sneak peek of its high-performance Zen CPU on 13 December.

The preview will be streamed at 1 p.m. PST on December 13. You can sign up at AMD’s website to have a shifty. The host of the event will be the video gamer hack, Geoff Keighley and it will be called “Watch New Horizon.”

According to the email the event will be an “ exclusive advance preview of our new ‘Zen’ CPU ahead of its 2017 Q1 launch”.

“See eSports & Evil Geniuses legend PPD put ‘Zen’ through its paces. There’ll be appearances from special guests and giveaways. This is the first time the public will be able to try it themselves and see its capabilities. If you’re serious about gaming, this is an event you do not want to miss.”

What we are expecting is that AMD will show off the quad-core version of Zen. AMD will have four Zen-based CPUs in the “Summit Ridge” family launching early next year.

The top end will probably include two eight-core chips with Simultaneous Multi-Threading, and an SR5 with six cores, and a quad-core SR3.

What we are curious about is if the pricing rumors are correct. The highest-end 8-core will be $500, while a second, slower eight-core chip could be as low as $350. This will really scare the bejesus out of Intel as it is promising better performance for half the price.

Other rumors say that the six-core SR5 will hit the shops for $250 and the quad-core SR3 will be $150. Intel gear will set you back $320 for its quad-core Core i7-6700K chip, and the cheapest six-core costs $380.

Courtesy-Fud

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