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Box Riding High After Success IPO

January 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Box made a splashy entrance on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, opening at $20.20 per share, or 44 percent higher than the price it had set for itself the night before.

With 12.5 million shares for sale, the initial public offering raised some $175 million that Box can now use to invest in its business, and a market capitalization of $1.6 billion.

By Friday afternoon, the stock — trading under the symbol “BOX” — had reached as high as $24.73 per share, or 77 percent above its IPO price.

“It was unbelievable,” said Steve Sarracino, a founder and partner at Activant Capital, noting that current prices were giving Box a valuation on a par with the $2 billion it saw in its last private funding round in July.

“We were watching closely because for the first time it looked like the public market was going to impose discipline on the private market, but they blew right through there. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it tells us the market is risk-on,” he said.

Wall Street’s warm reception can only come as welcome reassurance for Box, whose IPO journey has been a rocky one. After originally filing to go public last March, the company ended up postponing those plans, citing unfavorable market conditions.

Looking ahead, though, there’s no doubt Box will have to move quickly. Storage is a commodity business,analysts have noted, and Box will have to make sure customers see it as a provider of more than just storage.

 

 

 

RHEL Finally Available On IBM’s Power8

January 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has made the Power8 version of the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) beta available through its Power Development Platform (PDP) as the firm continues to build support for its Power systems.

IBM and Red Hat announced in December that RHEL 7.1 was adding support for the Power8 processor in little endian instruction format, as the beta release was made available for testers to download.

This version is available for developers and testers to download from today through the IBM PDP and at IBM Innovation Centres and Client Centres worldwide, IBM announced on its Smarter Computing blog.

“IBM and Red Hat’s collaboration to produce open source innovation demonstrates our commitment to developing solutions that efficiently solve IT challenges while empowering our clients to make their data centres as simple as possible so they can focus on core business functions and future opportunities,” said Doug Balog, general manager for Power Systems at IBM’s Systems & Technology Group.

The little endian support is significant because IBM’s Power architecture processors are capable of supporting little endian and big endian instruction formats. These simply reflect the order in which bytes are stored in memory.

The Power platform has long had Linux distributions and applications that operate in big endian mode, but the much larger Linux ecosystem for x86 systems uses little endian mode, and supporting this in Red Hat makes it much easier to port applications from x86 to Power.

Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12 launched last year with little endian support for the Power8 processor, as did Canonical’s Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

However, Red Hat and Suse are understood to be continuing to support their existing big endian releases on Power for their full product lifecycles.

IBM sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo last year, and has focused instead on the higher value Power Systems and z Systems mainframes.

In particular, the firm has touted the Power Systems as more suitable for mission critical workloads in scale-out environments like the cloud than x86 servers, and has been forging partnerships with firms such as Red Hat through its OpenPower Foundation.

Courtesy-TheInq

AMD’s Carrizo Coming In The Second Quarter

January 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD released its earnings today and one cool question came up about the upcoming Carrizo mobile APU.

Lisa SU, the new AMD President and CEO, told MKM Partners analyst Ian Ing that Carrizo is coming in Q2 2015.

This is a great news and AMD’s Senior VP and outgoing general manager of computing and graphics group John Byrne already shared a few details about his excitement about Carrizo.

There are two Carrizo parts, one for big notebooks and All in Ones called Carrizo and a scaled down version called Carrizo L. We expect that the slower Carrizo-L is first to come but, Lisa was not specific. Carrizo-L is based on Puma+ CPU cores with AMD Radeon R-Series GCN graphics is intended for mainstream configurations with Carrizo targeting the higher performance notebooks.

Usually when a company says that something is coming in Q2 2015 that points to a Computex launch and this Taipei based tradeshow starts on June 2 2015. We strongly believe that the first Carrizo products will showcased at or around this date.

Lisa also pointed out that AMD has “significantly improved performance in battery life in Carrizo.” This is definitely good news, as this was one of the main issues with AMD APUs in the notebook space.

Lisa also said that AMD expects Carrizo to be beneficial for embedded and other businesses as well. If only it could have come a bit earlier, so let’s hope AMD can get enough significant design wins with Carrizo. AMD has a lot of work to do in order to get its products faster to market, to catch up with Intel on power and performance or simply to come up with innovative devices that will define its future. This is what we think Lisa is there for but in chip design, it simply takes time.

Courtesy-Fud

NASA Test New Robotic Helicopter

January 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The robotic rovers navigating around Mars are limited by what their onboard cameras are capable of viewing.

If they could see further ahead, they might be able totravel three times as far in a single Martian day, enabling them to better find sites to explore and gather more information, faster, than they can today.

To speed up the rovers’ work, NASA is considering sending a robotic helicopter to Mars that could act as a scout for their explorations.

“So why would we want to put a helicopter on Mars?” asks Mike Meacham, a mechanical engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in a video presentation. “If I’m the rover right now, I can’t really see the terrain behind me. But if I had a helicopter with a camera on it, all of a sudden, I can see a whole lot more.”

Dubbed the Mars Helicopter, the robot could be an add-on to future Mars rovers. Weighing 2.2 pounds and measuring 3.6 feet from the tip of one blade to the other, the helicopter would be able to detach from the rover and fly on its own.

So far, JPL engineers have built a proof-of-concept prototype and have been testing it in a 25-foot vacuum chamber.

Because of the difference between the atmosphere on Earth and on Mars, the helicopter’s blades would have to spin at about 2,400 rpm to provide lift, NASA said.

“The system is designed to fly for two to three minutes every day,” said Bob Balaram, a chief engineer at JPL. “There’s a solar panel on the top and that provides us with enough energy for that short flight, as well as to keep us warm through the night. So in those two to three minutes, we expect to have daily flights of about half a kilometer or so.”

For now the JPL team is focused on relentlessly testing the helicopter.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Google, The Wireless Carrier?

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google has put in place the framework for its own cellular service by acquiring capacity on the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile USA, according to news reports.

The sprawling search company would sell the service directly to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Tech news site The Information reported on the deals earlier this week.

Google is heavily involved in mobile through its Android operating system, the world’s most widely used mobile OS, as well as through selling mobile advertising, and is pushing to make more radio spectrum available for wireless services. But the partnerships with Sprint and T-Mobile would bring the company into the cellular business itself, offering Google phone plans directly to consumers.

The deals would make Google an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), a carrier that doesn’t build or operate its own network but sells services that run on the partners’ infrastructure. Sprint is the third-largest U.S. mobile carrier and T-Mobile is the fourth largest.

As a powerful and well-heeled newcomer, Google might disrupt the cellular industry, just as it has the wired broadband business with its Google Fiberservice. The U.S. mobile industry has been wracked by new business models and falling prices in recent years.

It’s not clear whether the company will launch a full-scale national effort or a more limited rollout. There are terms in Google’s contract with Sprint that would allow for renegotiation if Google draws a huge number of subscribers, the Journal said.

 

 

 

Facebook Going After Hoaxes, Fake News Stories

January 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said it has put measures in place  to clamp down on “hoaxes” and fake news stories that can spread rather rapidly  on its 1.35-billion member online social network.

The company said it had introduced an option to allow Facebookusers to flag a story as “purposefully fake or deceitful news” to reduce the distribution of news stories reported as hoaxes.

Facebook said it will not remove fake news stories from its website. Instead, the company’s algorithm, which determines how widely user posts are distributed, will take into account hoax reports.

“A post with a link to an article that many people have reported as a hoax or chose to delete will get reduced distribution in the News Feed,” Facebook explained.

Facebook has become an increasingly important source of news, with 30 percent of adults in the U.S. consuming news on the world’s largest social network, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center in collaboration with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Facebook cited stories about dinosaur sightings and research supposedly proving the existence of Santa Claus as examples of fake news stories.

Facebook said “satirical” content, such as news stories “intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire,” should not be affected.

 

 

The ESA Goes With Red Hat For Cloud Services

January 22, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The European Space (ESA) has deployed a private, on-premise cloud platform designed to serve its community in Europe. The infrastructure is partly based on a custom version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The ESA Cloud needs to be constantly available to the space agency’s large user base, ensuring high levels of reliability and flexibility and the management capabilities of a modern IT environment, according to Red Hat.

Hosted applications include software development and testing, satellite data processing, document management and “more traditional” corporate IT services used during day-to-day operations.

The ESA Cloud infrastructure is based on systems from VCE, including a blade architecture with x86 CPUs, and cloud management software from Orange Business Services.

RHEL is one of the platforms supported within the ESA Cloud, and the space agency worked closely with Red Hat to customise the enterprise OS.

The customisation and implementation phase was particularly important, the ESA said, because its requirements are “dramatically” different to those of any other enterprise.

The scenarios Red Hat and the ESA IT team had to deal with were quite often “absolutely new”, the company stated.

The ESA Cloud is designed to provide complex virtual environments “within minutes” to end users, shortening the time needed to reach an organisation’s business and scientific targets.

Monitoring computing resources consumed in real time is another important feature of ESA’s private cloud, allowing the IT team to optimise the available capacity to support specific agency projects.

The first ESA Cloud data center is ready for production in Frascati, Italy, and the space agency has already completed a similar site in Darmstadt, Germany.

Future targets include increasing the number of available services, and disaster recovery capabilities to face “any possible large-scale calamity”.

Courtesy-TheInq

IBM Seeking Cloud Expansion Through Acquisitions

January 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

IBM will favor purchases that strengthen its cloud services, the company’s CFO said Tuesday, as it seeks ways to expand its business after 11 straight quarters of declining revenue.

“Most of our acquisitions will probably be on an ‘as a service’ basis, as opposed to an on-premise model,” CFO Martin Schroeter said during IBM’s quarterly earnings call, in response to a question.

“That’s the nature of the market and where we have a lot of opportunity, because we don’t play in some of those areas today,” he said.

IBM could use the growth. On Tuesday it said revenue for the last quarter declined across all major segments — hardware, software and services. Profits were down as well, though they beat the forecast of financial analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

IBM sees cloud services as one of its best chances for growth, as sales of its more traditional products, including mainframes and Unix servers, continue to decline.

Two years ago it bought SoftLayer to help it compete with Amazon Web Services, and last year it bought Cloudant, which provides a database as a service, and Light House Security, another cloud provider. This year, it looks like more cloud deals will be in the works.

Meanwhile, CEO Ginni Rometty has been selling off businesses that produce little or no profit. In October, she announced a plan to sell IBM’s chip manufacturing business for US$1.3 billion to Global Foundries, and before that she sold its x86 server business to Lenovo.

So IBM’s revenue is shrinking in part by design, but it needs to expand its other, more profitable businesses to compensate for the losses. And that isn’t yet happening at a fast enough rate.

 

 

NSA Reportedly Hijacked And Repurposed Third-Party Malware

January 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

In addition to having its own bag of digital tricks, the U.S. National Security Agency reportedly hijacks and repurposes third-party malware.

The NSA is using its network of servers around the world to monitor botnets made up of thousands or millions of infected computers. When needed, the agency can exploit features of those botnets to insert its own malware on the already compromised computers, through a technology codenamed Quantumbot, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported.

One of the secret documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel contains details about a covert NSA program called DEFIANTWARRIOR that’s used to hijack botnet computers and use them as “pervasive network analysis vantage points” and “throw-away non-attributable CNA [computer network attack] nodes.”

This means that if a user’s computer is infected by cybercriminals with some malware, the NSA might step in, deploy their own malware alongside it and then use that computer to attack other interesting targets. Those attacks couldn’t then be traced back to the NSA.

According to the leaked document, this is only done for foreign computers. Bots that are based in the U.S. are reported to the FBI Office of Victim Assistance.

The NSA also intercepts and collects data that is stolen by third-party malware programs, especially those deployed by other foreign intelligence agencies, if it is valuable. It refers to this practice as “fourth party collection.”

In 2009, the NSA tracked a Chinese cyberattack against the U.S. Department of Defense and was eventually able to infiltrate the operation. It found that the Chinese attackers were also stealing data from the United Nations so it continued to monitor the attackers while they were collecting internal UN data, Der Spiegel reported.

It goes deeper than that. One leaked secret document contains an NSA worker’s account of a case of fifth party collection. It describes how the NSA infiltrated the South Korean CNE (computer network exploitation) program that targeted North Korea.

“We found a few instances where there were NK officials with SK implants on their boxes, so we got on the exfil [data exfiltration] points, and sucked back the data,” the NSA staffer wrote in the document. “However, some of the individuals that SK was targeting were also part of the NK CNE program. So I guess that would be the fifth party collect you were talking about.”

In other words, the NSA spied on a foreign intelligence agency that was spying on a different foreign intelligence agency that had interesting data of its own.

Sometimes the NSA also uses the servers of unsuspecting third parties as scapegoats, Der Spiegel reported. When exfiltrating data from a compromised system, the data is sent to such servers, but it is then intercepted and collected en route though the NSA’s vast upstream surveillance network.

 

 

 

 

Canonical To Jump Deeper Into The IoT With Ubuntu

January 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Canonical has announced a new version of the Ubuntu operating system designed to bring a united front to the Internet of Things (IoT), after a preview alpha was trialed late last year.

The super-stripped down, lightweight Snappy Ubuntu Core is designed to allow developers to create IoT applications quickly and easily and release them securely across the network.

This means that many devices with firmware that would have been unpatched after vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed can now be updated quickly, easily and silently.

Apps are at the heart of the infrastructure, with app store functionality able to offer off-the-peg firmware, applications and runtime libraries to help facilitate common standards across the IoT.

“We found that the IoT required a way of installing apps similar to the way you do on your phone,” Maarten Ectors, Ubuntu VP for the IoT, told The INQUIRER.

“Developers can have app stores for things that don’t have app stores today. That could be your vacuum cleaner, it could be your robot, it could be a drone.”

The company hopes that the future of robots will be a large part of the success of Snappy, and is working closely with a range of start-ups and Kickstarter projects to bring home automation and intelligent robotics to life.

“As people add more items and add complexity to their home networks, they want stuff to just work and to keep working, no matter what vulnerabilities we discover in the huge mountain of open source software that is powering all of it,” added Mark Williams, founder and guvnor of Ubuntu.

“Many of these items that you’ll be buying will be Ubuntu anyway, but Snappy will allow them to be fully robust, fully automated and fully secure.”

Ubuntu Core requires a tiny footprint. It can work with as little as 600MHz of processing power and 128MB of RAM, with suitable ARM processor baseboards starting at $35 retail.

Also x86 compatible, this flexibility means that the overall product could see IoT products being mass produced for matters of pennies.

Last year Broadcom offered a similar device called the Wiced Sense, a $20 kit aimed at helping to design IoT prototypes.

The first Snappy Ubuntu Core products are expected to be announced in the second quarter. Expect to see a lot of them on Christmas lists for 2015.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

U.S. And Britain Ramping Up Joint Cyber Defense Efforts

January 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. and Britain are increasing their collaboration to thwart digital threats. They are planning to launch more attacks against each other to test their defenses and scare away possible enemies.

The U.S. and the U.K. have been working together to prevent cyber attacks for some time, but are going to increase the collaboration. They will combine their expertise to set up “cyber cells” on both sides of the Atlantic to increase sharing information about threats and to work out how to best protect themselves and create a system that lets hostile states and organization know they shouldn’t attack, said U.K. prime minister David Cameron in an interview published by the BBC.

Cyber attacks “are one of the biggest modern threats that we face,” according to Cameron who is visiting Washington for talks with U.S. president Barack Obama. One of the topics high on the agenda is digital security.

The countries will increase the “war games” launched at each other to test defenses. “It is happening already but it needs to be stepped up,” Cameron said, adding that British intelligence service GCHQ and the U.S. equivalent NSA have know-how that should be shared more.

“It is not just about protecting companies, it is also about protecting people’s data, about protecting people’s finances. These attacks can have real consequences to people’s prosperity,” he said.

The increased cooperation between the countries comes in the wake of the Sony hack and the apparent hacking of the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which posted tweets threatening families of U.S. soldiers and claiming to have hacked into military PCs.

 

 

 

Will Windows 10 Have An Impact On Tablets?

January 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

CCS Insight has said that, while Microsoft’s share of the tablet market is expected to grow, Windows 10 will have “little impact” before the end of 2016.

CCS has cast its eye over tablet sales, and said that while the market saw minimal growth in 2014, sales are likely to increase by 28 percent in 2015.

The growth will largely be driven by Android, thanks to affordably priced tablets running Google’s software, while Apple is expected to continue to woo those in the market for a high-end device.

Apple will also grow its position in the business tablet market, CCS expects, thanks to its partnership with IBM.

However, CCS stressed that Microsoft should not be overlooked. Sales of Windows-based tablets won’t see huge growth this year, but will gain a bigger share of the market.

Marina Koytcheva, CCS director of forecasting, said: “We expect Android to continue dominating the low-end and mid-range market, with Apple taking the lion’s share of the high-end.

“But Windows is gaining a bigger slice of the pie, albeit from a very low level, and should not be overlooked.”

Koytcheva added that Microsoft’s decision to scrap its licence fee for Windows devices under 9in is a major factor.

“It has given Windows fresh impetus, as it has spurred manufacturers to produce a better range of devices at a variety of prices, as low as $99 for HP’s Stream 7, for example,” she said.

Windows 10 is expected to make its debut on 21 January, but isn’t likely to have much of an impact, according to CCS.

“Microsoft still runs the risk of failing to convert the wide availability of cheaper Windows tablets into strong growth in unit sales before 2017,” Koytcheva said.

“Windows 10 will take time to make its mark, and developers will need a few months to perfect applications for the new platform. We expect Windows 10 to have little impact on tablet sales before late 2016.”

Courtesy-TheInq