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Cisco Systems, Thales Sign Deal On Cybersecurity

June 30, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

French electronics group Thales looking to boost its revenues by hundreds of millions of euros in the cybersecurity field through a strategic agreement it has signed with Cisco Systems, it said on Tuesday.

“We hope that with this agreement, we will add several hundred millions of euros in the next years,” said Jean-Michel Lagarde, who heads secure communications and information systems at Thales.

“It will have a multiplier effect, as this is not only about cybersecurity, but also about secure systems for cities and airports.”

The two companies have been partners since 2010 and plan to co-develop a solution to better detect and counter cyber attacks in real time, it said.

Thales generates 500 million euros ($550 million) annually in the cybersecurity business, notably in data protection thanks to the acquisition in March of Vormetric for 375 million euros.

The jointly developed solution will be aimed first at French infrastructure providers and will then be deployed globally, Cisco and Thales said in a statement.

 

 

Emojis Coming To The Big Screen

June 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Emojis have become an important and essential communication tool for most people using any messaging application, so naturally, now there’s a movie coming.

Sony Pictures Animation has announced that it will produce an animated movie about “the secret world of our phones and the beloved characters that have become daily necessities in global interpersonal communication.”

“Emojimovie: Express Yourself” is due in August 2017. It will be written by Eric Siegel and Anthony Leondis and directed by Leondis. He previously wrote and directed “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch” and “Igor.”

Deadline had earlier reported that Sony beat out two other movie studios bidding for the movie, paying “near seven figures” for the title.

So what emojis might make the cut and appear in the movie? The smiley seems the likely star and is the most-used emoji in every country except France, according to a SwiftKey study published in 2015. In France, the heart emoji is the favorite.

Emojis first appeared on cell phones in 1999 when NTT DoCoMo launched its i-Mode wireless Internet service in Japan. Since then, they have spread worldwide and are available on all modern smartphones, messaging systems and computers.

Emojis’ Japanese roots explain some of the stranger characters, which might mean little to people in the West but related to some important cultural festivals, food or other aspects of Japanese life.

 

 

 

UberEATS Launches In London

June 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ride-hailing company Uber debuted its meal delivery service app UberEATS in London on Thursday, the second European city where users will be able to order food to their home, entering a burgeoning British market.

The service, which is currently available in 17 cities around the world including Paris, will compete with rivals such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, which have advertised heavily in the capital in recent months.

Britons will be able to download the app on their iPhone or Android handset from midday on Thursday and order meals from restaurants which will be delivered by Uber drivers.

Deliveries will be made to customers in central London from over 150 eateries between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. with plans to expand further away from the center in the coming weeks.

Uber has faced months of protests from drivers of the capital’s long-dominant black cabs but earlier this year transport bosses rejected options which could have imposed strict new restrictions on how it operates.

 

Nokia Slashes Another 1,000 Jobs

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is eliminating 1,032 jobs in Finland as part of a cost-cutting plan following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the telecom network equipment maker said in a statement last Friday.

Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of jobs in its home country over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals.

Nokia started the latest cost cutting program in April and is targeting 900 million euros ($1 billion) of operating cost synergies from the Alcatel deal by 2018.

The company has declined to give an overall figure for global job cuts, but has said it in talks with employee representatives in about 30 countries.

Nokia employs about 104,000 people worldwide, with about 6,850 in Finland, 4,800 in Germany and 4,200 in France.

 

 

Intel Look To Atomic Energy For Mobile Technology’s Future

May 13, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Shortly after cancelling two generations of Atom mobile chips, Intel putting its weight behind future low-power mobile technologies with a new research collaboration with a French atomic energy lab.

Fundamental research leading towards faster wireless networks, secure low-power technologies for the Internet of Things, and even 3D displays will be the focus of Intel’s collaboration with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

Intel and the CEA already work together in the field of high-performance computing, and a new agreement signed Thursday will see Intel fund work at the CEA’s Laboratory for Electronics and Information Technology (LETI) over the next five years, according to Rajeeb Hazra, vice president of Intel’s data center group.

The CEA was founded in 1945 to develop civil and military uses of nuclear power. Its work with Intel began soon after it ceased its atmospheric and underground nuclear weapons test programs, as it turned to computer modeling to continue its weapons research, CEA managing director Daniel Verwaerde said Thursday.

That effort continues, but the organization’s research interests today are more wide-ranging, encompassing materials science, climate, health, renewable energy, security and electronics.

These last two areas will be at the heart of the new research collaboration, which will see scientists at LETI exchanging information with those at Intel.

Both parties dodged questions about who will have the commercial rights to the fruits of their research, but each said it had protected its rights. The deal took a year to negotiate.

“It’s a balanced agreement,” said Stéphane Siebert, director of CEA Technology, the division of which LETI is a part.

Who owns what from the five-year research collaboration may become a thorny issue, for French taxpayers and Intel shareholders alike, as it will be many years before it becomes clear which technologies or patents are important.

Hazra emphasized the extent to which Intel is dependent on researchers outside the U.S. The company has over 50 laboratories in Europe, four of them specifically pursuing so-called exa-scale computing, systems capable of billions of billions of calculations per second.

 

 

 

VeVo Hits 17 Billion While Calling Goof The Devil

May 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Vevo might be the new MTV for millennials, who might not know MTV that played music a few decades ago. Vevo CEO Erik Huggers had an interview at a Hunter Walk blog talking about YouTube, subscription base and the future.

Vevo CEO, ex Intel and ex BBC executive Erik Huggers mentioned that the Vevo will get a subscription based service but for the time being the company will stay with add supported content. Huggers first worked first on the iBBC player and later at Intel OnCue, then Verizon before getting the Vevo CEO.

The company has announced a new Apple TV, iOS and Android applications for people who like to watch the content on the TV console or their tablets and phones. Huggers mentioned that Vevo was getting 17 billion unique views per month. He said that if you are musician you will prefer Spotify for audio streaming and Vevo to YouTube, and here is why.

Peter Mensch, the manager of bands including Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse  told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the music business:

“YouTube, they’re the devil. We don’t get paid at all.”

The BBC quoted him saying that YouTube was killing the record industry.

There is now way you can say it better than this, Mensch obviously knows what he is talking about. When we dug a bit deeper into the issue, bands have issues with complete albums being uploaded to YouTube. The big bands don’t get paid at all, at least according to Peter Mensch.

Vevo might turn its back to YouTube, despite its current business model where the company uses YouTube to distribute its videos. We see a big change coming. Artists are obviously not happy as people are ripping their stuff and not paying.

Online publishing was an area where big mistakes were made 20 + years ago. Online magazines usually rely on marketing, same as YouTube, but it seems that YouTube, Facebook and other big social based website make a lot of money and giving YouTubers and artists pennies.

Huggers believes Vevo can offer a tailored experience which is personalised for individuals who love music videos via various channels including Apple TV or mobile applications. Imagine if Vevo starts offering exclusive concert footage of your favourite bands, this would probably be worth of a few bucks a month, wouldn’t it?

Courtesy-Fud

 

Poll Finds Most People Want ‘Dark Net’ Shut Down

March 30, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Seven in 10 people say the “dark net” – an anonymous online home to both criminals and activists afraid of government snooping – should be shut down, according to a global Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

The findings, from a poll of at least 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, come as policymakers and technology companies argue over whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators and law enforcement more easily thwart hackers and other digital threats.

The U.S. Justice Department is currently trying to force Apple Inc to write software to allow access to an iPhone used by San Bernardino, California shooter Rizwan Farook.

The dark net refers to an area of the Internet only accessible via special web browsers that ensure anonymity, where content is hidden and data typically encrypted.

The Ipsos poll was commissioned the Waterloo, Ontario-based Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The think tank is part of a commission seeking to shape Internet governance.

The question asked in the poll pointed out the dark net’s anonymity can protect journalists, human rights activists, dissidents and whistleblowers, but also hide child abuse networks and illegal marketplaces selling weapons and narcotics.

The portion of respondents who either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed it should be shuttered ranged between 61 percent and 85 percent, with support strongest in Indonesia, India, Egypt and Mexico and weakest in Sweden, South Korea and Kenya.

Other countries polled included Pakistan, Australia, the United States, France, Germany, Turkey, and Tunisia.

“The public clearly wants law enforcement to have the tools to do its job. But if you flip it around and say should they have access to your data they tend to feel differently,” said Fen Osler Hampson, director of the global security and politics program at CIGI.

Only 38 percent of all respondents said they trust that their online activities are not monitored.

Hampson said public concern about online privacy will likely grow as more and more cars, appliances and infrastructure connect to online networks.

 

Priceline’s Booking.com To Allow Hotel Reservations For Cuba

March 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Priceline Group has agreed with Cuba to make Cuban hotel rooms available to U.S. customers through subsidiary Booking.com, becoming the first U.S. online travel agency to sign a deal with the island, a Booking.com executive said.

The deal comes on the first full day of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba and on the heels of U.S. hotel firm Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s agreement with the Cuban government to manage and market three Havana hotel properties.

Booking.com would allow Americans traveling to Cuba to reserve and pay for rooms at a number of Cuban and foreign hotels, starting in several weeks, Booking.com Americas Managing Director Todd Dunlap told Reuters in an interview.

Americans previously had to reserve Cuban hotels principally through travel agencies or tour groups.

Booking.com would operate initially in Cuba only in Havana, Dunlap said. It planned to work with foreign firms already on the island, including France’s Accor and Spanish chains Meliá Hotels International SA and NH Hotel Group SA. It was also working on deals with state-run Cuban chains.

The only major American lodging booking service currently available to Americans traveling to Cuba is online home-rental marketplace Airbnb, which began operating in Cuba in April last year.

Priceline began working on bringing its services to Cuba shortly after President Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with the island on December 17, 2014.

Cuban tourism infrastructure has seen significant strain since U.S. relations to the island warmed. Prices have surged for the island’s 63,000 hotel rooms, many of which are booked solid months in advance. Cuba received a record 3.52 million visitors last year, up 17.4 percent from 2014. American visits rose 77 percent to 161,000, not counting hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans.

Tourism to Cuba is still technically illegal under the U.S. trade embargo. U.S. travelers to the island are required to do so under “general licenses” which permit travel for religion, family visits, cultural exchange, sports, and other purposes approved by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. On March 17 OFAC said it would allow individual people-to-people educational exchanges, as well.

 

 

Hilton, IBM Team Up On Concierge Robot

March 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hilton and IBM announced that the two companies are teaming up to pilot a smart robot, dubbed Connie, that will act as a hotel concierge, answering guests’ questions and learning as it works.

Connie, which will be working in a pilot test at the Hilton McLean in Virginia, is designed to interact with hotel guests and answer questions about hotel amenities, local attractions and dining options.

“We’re focused on reimagining the entire travel experience to make it smarter, easier and more enjoyable for guests,” said Jonathan Wilson, vice president of product innovation and brand services at Hilton Worldwide, in a statement.

The robot is using IBM’s Watson machine-learning APIs, like speech to text, text to speech and its natural language classifier.

The more guests interact with Connie, the more it learns, adapts and improves its recommendations.

The project also is pulling in WayBlazer, a cognitive search platform focused on travel.

The robot, built by France-based Aldebaran, which also makes the well-known Pepper robot, is a NAO humanoid robot that is approximately 23 inches tall. (Pepper is nearly 5 feet tall.) According to the company, NAO is in its fifth version and 7,000 have been sold.

Having a robot helping hotel guests isn’t a new idea.

About a year ago, Aloft hotel in Cupertino, Calif. began using an autonomous robotic butler to deliver small amenities — like toothbrushes or a small snack — to guests’ rooms.

The robot has been so popular that the hotel chain has decided to bring similar robots, called Butlr, to two of its other properties.

The Hilton project, though, is taking this idea a step further.

Instead of simply using the robot to travel to the guest’s room and deliver something, Connie is designed to actually interact with guests.

The hotel is hoping Connie will be able to answer guest questions like where they should go to find great Italian food or where the best mini-golf course is nearby.

And because of the machine learning aspect of the robot, the more interactions Connie has with guests, the more it will learn about what guests want and hone its recommendations.

 

 

Will Facebook Go Open-Source

December 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook has unveiled its next-generation GPU-based systems for training neural networks, Open Rack-compatible hardware code-named “Big Sur” which it plans to open source.

The social media giant’s latest machine learning system has been designed for artificial intelligence (AI) computing at a large scale, and in most part has been crafted with Nvidia hardware.

Big Sur comprises eight high-performance GPUs of up to 300 watts each, with the flexibility to configure between multiple PCI-e topologies. It makes use of Nvidia’s Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, and as a result is twice as fast as Facebook’s previous generation rack.

“This means we can train twice as fast and explore networks twice as large,” said the firm in its engineering blog. “And distributing training across eight GPUs allows us to scale the size and speed of our networks by another factor of two.”

Facebook claims that as well as better performance, Big Sur is also far more versatile and efficient than the off-the-shelf solutions in its previous generation.

“While many high-performance computing systems require special cooling and other unique infrastructure to operate, we have optimised these new servers for thermal and power efficiency, allowing us to operate them even in our own free-air cooled, Open Compute standard data centres,” explained the company.

We spoke to Nvidia’s senior product manager for GPU Computing, Will Ramey, ahead of the launch, who has been working on the Big Sur project alongside Facebook for some time.

“The project is the first time that a complete computing system that is designed for machine learning and AI will be released as an open source solution,” said Ramey. “By taking the purpose-built design spec that Facebook has designed for their own machine learning apps and open sourcing them, people will benefit from and contribute to the project so it can move the entire industry forward.”

While Big Sur was built with Nvidia’s new Tesla M40 hyperscale accelerator in mind, it can actually support a wide range of PCI-e cards in what Facebook believes could make for better efficiencies in production and manufacturing to get more computational power for every penny that it invests.

“Servers can also require maintenance and hefty operational resources, so, like the other hardware in our data centres, Big Sur was designed around operational efficiency and serviceability,” Facebook said. “We’ve removed the components that don’t get used very much, and components that fail relatively frequently – such as hard drives and DIMMs – can now be removed and replaced in a few seconds.”

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Big Sur announcement is Facebook’s plans to open-source it and submit the design materials to the Open Compute Project. This is a bid to make it easier for AI researchers to share techniques and technologies.

“As with all hardware systems that are released into the open, it’s our hope that others will be able to work with us to improve it,” Facebook said, adding that it believes open collaboration will help foster innovation for future designs, and put us closer to building complex AI systems that will probably take over the world and kill us all.

Nvidia released its end-to-end hyperscale data centre platform last month claiming that it will let web services companies accelerate their machine learning workloads and power advanced artificial intelligence applications.

Consisting of two accelerators, Nvidia’s latest hyperscale line aims to let researchers design new deep neural networks more quickly for the increasing number of applications they want to power with AI. It also is designed to deploy these networks across the data centre. The line also includes a suite of GPU-accelerated libraries.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

The EU Wants Anywhere, Anytime For Online Subscriptions

December 10, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The European Union is aming to push for allowing consumers to access to their online subscriptions for services like Netflix, Sky and Canal+ when they travel in the 28-member bloc, setting it up for a battle with media groups.

The proposal was presented by the executive European Commission (EC) on Wednesday, along with a longer-term strategy for making copyrighted works more easily available across the EU, likely to run into stiff opposition from the media industry as well as from artists.

Letting people take online subscriptions abroad chimes with Brussels’ aim of tearing down borders in the online world and is reminiscent of its efforts to allow use of domestic mobile phone subscriptions abroad without paying hefty roaming charges.

Under the proposal, consumers with subscriptions to services such as Sky TV Now, ProSiebenSat.1MaxDome TV in Germany or Netflix in France, would be able to view content they have paid for when they temporarily travel abroad.

What temporarily means has been left open, but the EC expects companies to set limits on the amount of time people can use their subscriptions abroad so they do not abuse the system by buying cheaper services outside their home country.

While Netflix is already available in many European countries, content is tailored to local tastes, so a French user in Belgium, for example, will not have access to the specific French catalog without using workarounds such as virtual private networks.

“People who legally buy content – films, books, football matches, TV series – must be able to carry it with them anywhere they go in Europe,” said Andrus Ansip, commission vice-president for the digital single market.

The EC also proposed rules protecting people when they buy goods and digital content online, estimating this will spur up to an additional 13 million consumers to start buying online from other EU countries.

However, the bigger battle with the media industry is likely to come next year, when the EC plans to enhance the availability of TV and radio programs online across the 28-member bloc.

Broadcasters, film producers and rights holders fear even a modest dilution of territorial licenses would diminish their value. “Any dilution of territorial exclusivity could lead to pan-European licensing, ultimately destroying that rich, culturally diverse content offer that we are all striving to create,” said Mathieu Moreuil, head of European policy for England’s Premier League.

 

 

Russia’s Search Giant Yandex Wants EU To Investigate Google’s Android

November 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Russia’s dominant search site Yandex said it has asked the European Commission to investigate Google’s practices in relation to its Android mobile operating system in the European Union.

The new complaint could strengthen the case against Google, possibly giving enough ammunition to EU antitrust regulators to eventually charge the company with anti-competitive business practices, on top of accusations related to its Google Shopping service.

The formal request was filed in April 2015 and largely mirrors the Russian company’s claims against the U.S. company in a Russian anti-monopoly case that Yandex won.

Russia’s competition watchdog ruled in September that Google had broken the law by requiring pre-installation of its search application on mobile devices running on its Android operating system.

“We think that the Russian finding of abuse of dominance is instructive, and is a conclusion that can readily be adopted in other jurisdictions, including the EU,” Yandex said.

Yandex is one of the few companies to publicly complain about Android.

It joins U.S. tech firm Disconnect, Portuguese app store Aptoide, and lobbying group FairSearch whose members include Microsoft, Expedia, TripAdvisor and French price comparison site Twenga.

Yandex, which rivals Google in Turkey as well as Russia and several other former Soviet republics, said its business development in Europe would depend, among other factors, on the outcome of the European Commission’s investigation.

“We hope the European Commission … offers their help in restoring fair competition and ensuring equal opportunity to pre-install mobile applications on Android-based devices not only for Google, but also for other developers,” it said.

Yandex is ahead of Google in Russia with a search market share of around 60 percent, but it has been slow expanding abroad – a position it flagged when selling shares in a $1.3 billion initial public offering on Nasdaq in 2011.

 

 

Facebook To Widen Safety Check Tool Feature

November 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook’s Safety Check tool to alert friends and family about their safety was activated for the first time after the terror attack in Paris on Friday, with a large number of users reporting they had benefited from it.

But that move drew widespread criticism online that the company had been partial, as it had not activated the feature in other locations recently hit in terror attacks, notably the twin attacks in Beirut on Thursday.

The social networking company was also criticized for releasing a photo filter that allowed users to show support for the people of Paris using the colors of the French flag on their profile pictures, with some people online charging the company with double standards for not releasing similar filters for the terror attacks in Beirut and other locations. One user, Hubert Southall, offered to design filters for users, saying that Facebook “needs to include all affected nations.”

Facebook’s current travails highlight the minefields a global company can encounter as it tries to accommodate sensitivities across the countries it operates in, where users’ priorities can be different and there is often the tendency for certain groups to feel they are not important enough for a giant multinational.

In the wake of the controversy over the activation of Safety Check in Paris, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured its users that the tool would be turned on more frequently in the future during human disasters. “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

The Safety Check tool asks users believed to be in the location of an emergency if they are safe and lets them inform their friends by clicking a button. People also can check in on users who they believe are in the emergency area. The tool was first used in a “very early version” in Tokyo during the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster and later after recent earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal as well as Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines.

 

 

Facebook Tests Disappearing Messages Feature

November 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook has confirmed that it is conducting a small test of a Snapchat-like feature, enabling users to send messages that will automatically disappear.

“We’re excited to announce the latest in an engaging line of optional product features geared towards making Messenger the best way to communicate with the people that matter most,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “Starting today, we’re conducting a small test in France of a feature that allows people to send messages that disappear an hour after they’re sent. Disappearing messages gives people another fun option to choose from when they communicate on Messenger.”

This should sound familiar to Snapchat users who are accustomed to their messages disappearing shortly after they’re sent.

Users can turn the Facebook feature on by tapping an hourglass icon in the upper right corner of the Messenger screen. Tap the hourglass again to turn it off.

Facebook is testing disappearing messages for iOS and Android users in France only. While the feature may be available in more countries over time, Facebook didn’t have any current plans to share.

This may be a good defensive move for the social network.

Facebook has been struggling to retain, or even attract, younger users who are being lured away by apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

To deal with this problem, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for a reported $3 billion in late 2013. The offer was turned down, though.

Then in early 2014, Facebook tried to go after Snapchat’s users by unveiling a new mobile app called Slingshot. The app was designed to enable users to instantly share photos and videos with multiple friends.

Now that Facebook is taking a different tack, the question is whether it can steal away Snapchat’s user base.

 

 

 

 

 

Britain’s New Surveillance Plans Raise Ire Of Privacy Advocates

November 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Britain has announced plans for sweeping new surveillance powers, including the right to find out which websites people visit, measures ministers say are vital to keep the country safe but which critics denounce as an assault on freedoms.

Across the West, debate about how to protect privacy while helping agencies operate in the digital age has raged since former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of mass surveillance by British and U.S. spies in 2013.

Experts say part of the new British bill goes beyond the powers available to security services in the United States.

The draft was watered down from an earlier version dubbed a “snoopers’ charter” by critics who prevented it reaching parliament. Home Secretary Theresa May told lawmakers the new document was unprecedented in detailing what spies could do and how they would be monitored.

“It will provide the strongest safeguards and world-leading oversight arrangements,” she said. “And it will give the men and women of our security and intelligence agencies and our law enforcement agencies … the powers they need to protect our country.”

They would be able to require communication service providers (CSPs) to hold their customers’ web browsing data for a year, which experts say is not available to their U.S. counterparts.

“What the British are attempting to do, and what the French have already done post Charlie Hebdo, would never have seen the light of day in the American political system,” Michael Hayden, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, told Reuters.

May said that many of the new bill’s measures merely updated existing powers or spelled them out.

Police and spies’ access to web use would be limited to “Internet connection records” – which websites people had visited but not the particular pages – and not their full browsing history, she said.

“An Internet connection record is a record of the communications service that a person has used – not a record of every web page they have accessed,” May said. “It is simply the modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill.”