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Pandora’s Listeners Decline

October 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Pandora Media Inc, owners of the leading Internet radio service, reported a lower-than-expected increase in listeners in the third quarter, sending the company’s shares down 6 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Pandora said it had 76.5 million active listeners as of Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected 76.7 million, according to market research firm StreetAccount.

Total listener hours rose to 4.99 billion from 3.99 billion, but again fell short of the average estimate of 5.02 billion.

Pandora’s profit and revenue both beat market expectations, however, as more people listened to streamed music on their mobile phones.

Mobile revenue increased 52 percent to $188 million, while local advertising revenue rose 118 percent to $41.8 million.

Despite its huge user base, Pandora faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Inc’s Beats online streaming service, Google Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing music streaming business.

 

 

Amazon, Simon & Schuster Sign Deal Over E-books

October 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Online book retailer Amazon.com Inc revealed that it has signed a multi-year deal with Simon & Schuster Inc, the second Big-Five book publisher, on the future price of e-books.

Amazon, which had been in discussions with Simon & Schuster since July over pricing, confirmed the deal first reported by the Business Insider news blog that the two had reached an agreement.

Amazon had been locked in a months-long standoff with publisher Hachette Book Group, the fourth-largest U.S. book publisher owned by France’s Lagardere, over digital book pricing. That has led to numerous issues for authors.

Industry experts had expected other publishers eventually to be drawn into negotiations as well, as the Internet retailer tries to set new benchmarks for the e-book market.

Negotiations with Simon & Schuster took about three weeks and closed two months before Amazon’s contract expired, according to Business Insider.

Simon & Schuster made its original offer and an agreement was reached after a few changes by Amazon, the source told Business Insider.

 

 

FCC To Explore Next-Generation Wireless Networks

October 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, on Friday, stated that U.S. regulators will look “to infinity and beyond” to harness new technology that can help build a new generation of mobile wireless connections.

The FCC on Friday voted unanimously to open a so-called “notice of inquiry” into what it and the industry can do to turn a new swath of very high-frequency airwaves, previously deemed unusable for mobile networks, into mobile-friendly frequencies.

The FCC’s examination would serve as a regulatory backdrop for research into the next generation of wireless technology, sometimes referred to as 5G and which may allow wireless connections to carry a thousand times more traffic.

“Today we’re stepping in front of the power curve,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on Friday at the meeting.

In question are frequencies above 24 gigahertz (GHz), sometimes called millimeter waves, that have previously been deemed technically unweildy for mobile connections, though have the potential to carry large amounts of data and give the promise of lightning-fast speeds.

Millimeter waves work best over short distances and have required a direct line-of-sight connection to a receiver. They are now largely used for point-to-point microwave connections.

The FCC said it will study what technologies could help get around the technological and practical obstacles and what kind of regulatory regime could help a variety of technologies to flourish on those airwaves, including the potential for services other than mobile.

The U.S. wireless industry continues to work on deploying the 4G connections, though some equipment manufacturers, such as Samsung are already testing data transmission on the higher frequencies.

 

 

Does Samsung Fear A Processor War?

October 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Kwon Oh-hyun has said he is not worried about a price war in the semiconductor industry next year even though the firm is rapidly expanding its production volume.

“We’ll have to wait and see how things will go next year, but there definitely will not be any game of chicken,” said Oh-hyun, according to Reuters, suggesting the firm will not take chip rivals head on.

Samsung has reported strong profits for 2014 owing to better-than-expected demand for PCs and server chips. Analysts have also forecast similar results for the coming year, so things are definitely looking good for the company.

It emerged last week that Samsung will fork out almost $15bn on a new chip facility in South Korea, representing the firm’s biggest investment in a single plant.

Samsung hopes the investment will bolster profits in its already well-established and successful semiconductor business, and help to maintain its lead in memory chips and grow beyond the declining sales of its smartphones.

According to sources, Samsung expects its chip production capacity to increase by a “low double-digit percentage” after the facility begins production, which almost goes against the CEO’s claims that it is not looking for a price war.

Last month, Samsung was found guilty of involvement in a price fixing racket with a bunch of other chip makers stretching back over a decade, and was fined €138m by European regulators.

An antitrust investigation into chips used in mobile device SIM cards found that Infineon, Philips and Samsung colluded to artificially manipulate the price of SIM card chips.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will The Chip Industry Take Fall?

October 14, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microchip Technology has managed to scare Wall Street by warning of an industry downturn. This follows rumours that a number of US semiconductor makers with global operations are reducing demand for chips in regions ranging from Asia to Europe.

Microchip Chief Executive Steve Sanghi warned that the correction will spread more broadly across the industry in the near future. Microchip expects to report sales of $546.2 million for its fiscal second quarter ending in September. The company had earlier forecast revenue in a range of $560 million to $575.9 million. Semiconductor companies’ shares are volatile at the best of times and news like this is the sort of thing that investors do not want to hear.

Trading in Intel, whiich is due to report third quarter results tomorrow, was 2.6 times the usual volume. Micron, which makes dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, was the third-most traded name in the options market. All this seems to suggest that the market is a bit spooked and much will depend on what Chipzilla tells the world tomorrow as to whether it goes into a nosedive.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Mulling Retail Store In New York

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com, the largest online retailer in the world, is exploring the possibility of opening its first brick-and-mortar store — in New York City — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The company, which is reportedly opening the store on Manhattan’s busy 34th Street, is looking to experiment with a retail store that would focus on same-day delivery in the city, as well as give customers a place for product returns, exchanges and even online order pickups, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) .

The store also would give shoppers a place to check out – and hold in their hands — Amazon’s Kindle e-readers and Fire smartphone.

Kelly Cheeseman, a spokeswoman for Amazon, told Computerworld, “We have made no announcements about a location in Manhattan.”

“This is kind of interesting because it’s so counter-intuitive,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “People buy in different ways and often, with holiday buying, folks shift sharply to stores as their procrastination catches up with them at the end of the season. Amazon loses business when this happens and by setting up stores in very high-traffic areas, they can go after at least some of this business.”

The brick-and-mortar store also will be an in-your-face reminder for people to think about shopping at Amazon as they move through Manhattan. They might not be able to stop in the store but it might nudge them to look online – especially at Amazon.com — for that sweater, book or stand mixer they want to buy.

“I think it’s more about bringing publicity to Amazon during the holiday season rather than a new move to bricks and mortar,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “First, it’s in New York City — in the heart of midtown Manhattan — and it will be open during the Christmas shopping season. I would also imagine that this will garner Amazon a lot of attention during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events.”

 

 

Beats And Bose Cancels Lawsuit, Settles Headphone Dispute

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A high-profile patent fight over noise cancelling headphones between Bose Corp and Beats Electronics ended on Friday with both sides settling the case out of court.

The terms of the settlement were not being disclosed, a spokeswoman for Bose said in an email, adding only that the dispute had been “resolved.”

Bose, which makes high-end sound systems and headphones, filed the case last July in federal court in Delaware, alleging Beats had willfully infringed upon five of its patents in its Studio and Studio Wireless line of headphones.

Privately held Bose said it had lost profits and sales as a result and was seeking unspecified damages from Beats, which Apple Inc acquired this year for $3 billion.

A document filed with the court on Friday said both sides would dismiss the case and bear their own costs and legal fees.

The two companies also asked the International Trade Commission to suspend its investigation into the matter. Bose had asked the commission to block the import of Beats’ noise-cancellation products from China, where they are manufactured.

Beats headphones have become popular with music fans since the company was founded by rap mogul Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006. Besides headphones, Beats has also entered online music streaming, competing with the likes of Pandora and Spotify.

A representative from Beats was not immediately available for comment.

 

Kaspersky Working To Thwart Tyupkin ATM Malware

October 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Kaspersky has revealed that it is working with Interpol in attempting to foil a gang of cash machine (ATM) hackers who have found a way to make it spit out its contents without even using a card.

The hack is incredibly carefully thought out. Hackers gain access to cash machines, through mole employees or perhaps cleaners, and add the malicious code, named Tyupkin by Kaspersky. The cash machine continues to function as normal.

The malware is triggered only at set times – Sunday and Monday nights – thus avoiding being accidentally triggered by a member of the public.

At that time, the mule is sent to the machine and types in a series of digits unique to that raid based on an algorithm known to the gang.

He then makes a second call to the gang who generate the second half of the code from their end, thus ensuring that the mule isn’t tempted to swan off with the dough.

At that point, it’s Winsday. The machine will display how much is in each cash compartment and willingly spits it out to the waiting mule who goes back to distribute the swag.

“Offenders are constantly identifying new ways to evolve their methodologies to commit crimes, and it is essential that we keep law enforcement in our member countries involved and informed about current trends and modus operandi,” said Sanjay Virmani, director of the Interpol Digital Crime Centre.

“We strongly advise banks to review the physical security of their ATMs and network infrastructure and consider investing in quality security solutions,” added Vicente Diaz, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, who, coincidentally, knows a company that can offer those solutions. Fancy.

Among the recommendations Kaspersky offers is a reminder to switch away from default passwords for systems including the system BIOS for each cash machine.

In June of this year, two Canadian teenagers showed how they had broken into an in-store ATM simply by downloading the instructions from the internet and using unchanged default passwords.

Malware for ATMs first came to the fore in 2008 when two Louisiana criminals reconfigured a cash machine to make it believe that it had smaller denomination bills than it really did.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Toshiba Introduces Smart Glasses To Battle Google’s

October 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba is entering the smart glasses market. The company is introducing a prototype pair of glasses at the Ceatec trade show in Japan this week, and while they might not edge Google Glass out of the market, they should be a bit cheaper.

Called Toshiba Glass, they have a tiny, lightweight projector clipped onto one of the arms near the lens. That projector displays an image that reflects off the inside of the lens to provide an augmented reality-type display.

It’s a similar principle to Google Glass, which also uses a built-in projector. But unlike Google Glass, Toshiba’s glasses don’t have a prism over the lens to reflect the image into the eye.

Instead, with Toshiba’s product, the glasses lens itself comprises a series of narrow, vertical prisms. They’re pretty much invisible when you look straight through the lens, but an image projected from an angle reflects back into the eye.

Toshiba says the glasses weigh 42 grams — about the same as Google Glass, according to this report (Google doesn’t give the weight in its specs). But they’re far less impressive than Google’s product for a few reasons.

One is that Toshiba Glass isn’t wireless — it connects to a smartphone in your pocket in order to work. That’s partly because the battery for the projector would make the glasses too heavy, according to Toshiba — although Google somehow managed it.

The other they’re less impressive is that Toshiba Glass isn’t a full-blown computer. It’s really just a display system that connects to your smartphone.

Still, it might be a lot cheaper than Google Glass, which retails for $1,500.

Toshiba hopes to ship the product next year in Japan and North America, according to a representative at the Ceatec trade show near Tokyo, where Toshiba is showing its glasses for the first time.

It will offer three styles of frame — standard, sporty, and industrial, the last being protective googles like you might wear in a lab.

 

 

Is Master Chief Returning To Halo 5?

October 8, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

In a recent interview with OXN, Mile Colter who plays Agent Locke in Halo Nightfall claims that his character is the primary character that people will be playing in the Halo 5 game. That is not to say that Master Chief will not have a significant role in Halo 5 as well.

Part of the campaign will apparently be Locke’s search for Master Chief. Still we don’t know if Locke is a friend or not, so it is obvious that the relationship between the two will be a big part of the story in Halo 5 according to our sources.

Hard to say how accurate this all is, but we do know that we don’t have much longer to wait till the Nightfall series starts airing on the Halo Channel starting November 11th.

Courtesy-Fud

DoCoMo Unveils Navigation Handles, Wearable Skin Sensor To Detect Fat Burning

October 8, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japanese mobile giant NTT DoCoMo on Monday unveiled Yubi Navi, a prototype navigation and communication device that uses haptic feedback to convey information.

Coated with white rubber, Yubi Navi looks a bit like a game controller or TV remote. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and contains small actuators that twist it left or right or make it bulge slightly in the middle.

When used for navigation, it can guide a user to a destination by prompting him to turn left or right at a given intersection. When the goal is reached, it vibrates.

The idea is to free people from the need to keep looking at a map displayed on their smartphone.

At the Ceatec tech expo outside Tokyo, DoCoMo did demos of prototypes of the device, which were linked to a power source via wires. A screen displayed a 3D animation of the streets of a town through which attendees could virtually navigate with the help of Yubi Navi.

Aside from avoiding the dangers involved in not paying attention to one’s surroundings, this can help people enjoy a location more by noticing new shops and other attractions,” said Koji Okamoto of DoCoMo’s strategic marketing department. “In Japan, walking with smartphones is a big problem and we want to solve it.”

The device can also be used to send tactile “nudges” to other people as a form of communication, much like the haptic messaging functions of the Apple Watch.

DoCoMo also demonstrated one of its own wearables on Monday, a credit card-size sensor that straps on your forearm to tell you how much fat you’re burning.

The 54-gram prototype is a semiconductor-based gas sensor that can detect acetone molecules, which are emitted from the skin when fat is being burned.

DoCoMo managed to shrink the sensor from one that weighed 6 kilograms. It can link to a smartphone via Bluetooth and relay data on how much acetone it detects.

“We’d like to realize a healthier world just by wearing such a device that can measure various types of health indexes like fat burning,” said Satoshi Hiyama, an engineer with DoCoMo’s Frontier Technology Research Group.

The device could be further miniaturized to fit into fitness bands or smartwatches, Hiyama said.

 

 

 

 

 

Panasonic Introduces Pin-sized Battery For Wearables

October 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Power-sipping wearable devices could shrink even more with a new rechargeable battery from Panasonic.

The electronics maker on Friday announced a “pin-shaped” lithium-ion battery that’s 20 millimeters (.03 inches) long with a diameter of 3.5 mm, about one-twentieth the size of AAA batteries. Panasonic said it’s the smallest in the industry in terms of capacity by volume.

The CG-320 battery has a nominal capacity of 13 mAh and voltage of 3.75 V, which allows for Bluetooth and NFC (near-field communication) links with smartphones.

Its compact form factor and low weight make it ideal for wearable devices such as smart glasses, fitness bands and hearing aids as well as electronic pens, according to Panasonic.

While compact batteries could shrink the overall size of wearables, usability and interfaces help determine how big they are.

“The size, which is the smallest of its kind in the industry, can allow more flexible product design, and high strength and stability of form delivers high reliability,” a spokeswoman for Panasonic wrote in an email.

The battery could also help reduce the size and weight of wearables, she said, adding that the Internet of Things (IoT) is another possible application.

The CG-320′s capacity is lower than that of a wearable battery such as the Jawbone UP24 activity monitor’s 32 mAh lithium-ion polymer battery, but the latter is larger.

Panasonic is developing two more pin-shaped batteries with capacities of 30 mAh and 50 mAh. They’re slightly larger and heavier than the CG-320.

Battery size and power are a key aspect of wearable devices that has been putting a damper on wider-scale development and popularization. The Apple Watch, for instance, will likely require a daily recharge. That can be seen as a big hassle for a device that’s relatively small.

A number of attempts to innovate on materials and control systems for wearable batteries are being pursued.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has tested a prototype battery based on the lithium carbon fluoride (CFx) chemical formula that could go for 10 years or more without a recharge.

Jawbone, meanwhile, doubled the battery charge of the UP24 to two weeks through a firmware update with enhanced algorithms.

Panasonic’s battery is similar to conventional cylindrical lithium-ion batteries. It has negative and positive electrode sheets wrapped around each other inside a small stainless steel tube.

The company plans to mass-produce the battery, with monthly production of 100,000 units and shipping to begin in February.

 

 

 

Will ARM Servers Boost HP’s Bottom Line

October 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The maker of expensive printer ink HP expects new lower-power servers made with technology from ARM Holdings to make inroads in niche data centres over the next year. If vice president of server engineering Tom Bradicich is right, then it could give Intel a good kicking in its bottom line.

Bradicich said that penetration is low at the moment because the ARM chip was starting from nothing but the take-up is pretty encouraging. HP this week launched new servers made with chips designed by Applied Micro Circuits with intellectual property licensed from ARM. ARM’s supporters, which now include HP say some data centres can be made more cost effective and energy efficient by using them instead of Intel’s server chips.

Bradicich said HP’s new 64-bit ARM-based servers were ideal for handling specialized data-centre workloads like search and scientific analysis. Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Utah plan to use HP’s new servers for scientific analysis and high-performance computing, while PayPal plans to use another version of the servers.

With AMD and other chipmakers working on their own ARM server chips, variety is a key factor for customers that have long depended on Intel, Bradicich said.

Intel has launched its own line of “Atom” low-power server chips to counter the ARM threat. HP offers servers made with Atom chips but said they are not selling that well.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Can The Call Of Duty Franchise Make A Comeback?

October 3, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Industry analyst Sterne Agee has predicted another year of declining sales for Call of Duty, with Advanced Warfare expected to sell 15 per cent fewer copies than Ghosts.

To be more specific, that’s a difference of 3 million units, with Advanced Warfare expected to sell around 17 million. Obviously, that’s still a very healthy number, and the sort of success that most publishers rarely experience, but nevertheless it would be ill news for what remains Activision’s most important franchise.

Ghosts was, in itself, markedly less successful than Black Ops II, and a second year of decline will be enough to cause concern within Activision. When pre-orders for Ghosts were lower than expected, Eric Hirshberg attributed it to the transition to a new generation of consoles. With a minimum of 15 million PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones now in the wild, that explanation would not stand up quite as well with Advanced Warfare.

In a note given to Cinema Blend, Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia gave several reasons for the possibility of ongoing decline, one of which was the number of people who are still waiting to upgrade to new generation hardware, and may not buy any new software until they do. The others were sharply declining sales of Xbox 360 and PS3 software, and the fact that some Call of Duty fans may have been disappointed with Ghosts.

A significant counter to that is the positioning of Battlefield: Hardline, which slipped to March 2015 release and left Activision’s franchise free of its fiercest competitor.

Given its huge investment in Bungie’s Destiny and the relatively cool critical response that greeted the game, Activision will be hoping that Sterne Agee’s research is not an indicator of Call of Duty’s long-term health.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

MIT Developing Drug Hunting, Underwater Robots

October 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

They may not be as fast or efficient as airport sniffer dogs, but robots are gearing up to take the fight against drug smuggling underwater. Researchers at MIT are working on submersible machines that could use ultrasound to find drugs hidden on ships.

Their prototype, which looks like a bowling ball, is designed to move along the hulls of ships. It could use ultrasound scanning to detect hollow spaces in false hulls and propeller shafts where drugs might be stashed.

Developed by grad student Sampriti Bhattacharyya and Harry Asada, a professor of engineering at MIT, the robot is divided into two halves, one waterproof and the other water-permeable.

The former houses a rechargeable lithium battery and electronics, while the latter contains six pumps that force water out through tubes, driving the bot forward.

The robot can move between 0.5 and 1 meter per second while pressed against the hull of a ship, and its battery charge lasts about 40 minutes.

The submersible was made using 3D-printed structural elements, meaning it could be manufactured for as little as US$600. That’s cheap enough to allow a swarm robot approach, with dozens of machines working in unison to ferret out contraband.

“It’s very expensive for port security to use traditional robots for every small boat coming into the port,” Bhattacharyya was quoted as saying in an MIT News article.

The prototype was recently presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Chicago, but tests so far have focused on whether it can travel in a straight line and stay in contact with an underwater surface. It still has to be equipped with an ultrasound sensor.

The researchers hope to add improvements such as batteries that can recharge wirelessly and changes to the propulsion system that would extend operating time to 100 minutes per charge. Performing ultrasound scans without being in contact with a hull is another possible enhancement, since ships can be fouled with barnacles that would hamper the bots.

The anti-smuggling robot follows an effort by consulting company Boston Engineering and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a tuna-shaped underwater vehicle called BIOSwimmer. That vehicle is designed to inspect flooded bilges and tanks of ships and to use a camera and sonar to detect hull anomalies that might signal the presence of drugs.