MSI recently announced a 970A SLI Krait motherboard that will support the AMD processors and the USB 3.1 protocol. Motherboards with USB 3.1 ports have also been released by Gigabyte, ASRock and Asus, but those boards support Intel chips.
USB 3.1 can shuffle data between a host device and peripheral at 10Gbps, which is two times faster than USB 3.0. USB 3.1 is also generating excitement for the reversible Type-C cable, which is the same on both ends so users don’t have to worry about plug orientation.
The motherboards with USB 3.1 technology are targeted at high-end desktops. Some enthusiasts like gamers seek the latest and greatest technologies and build desktops with motherboards sold by MSI, Asus and Gigabyte. Many of the new desktop motherboards announced have the Type-C port interface, which is also in recently announced laptops from Apple and Google.
New technologies like USB 3.1 usually first appear in high-end laptops and desktops, then make their way down to low-priced PCs, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst of Mercury Research.
PC makers are expected to start putting USB 3.1 ports in more laptops and desktops starting later this year.
The vague announcement raised the question of whether Verizon is simply trying to show its competitive value against Google and AT&T, which have both announced fiber Internet services in a number of cities.
“I think Verizon is trying to play catch up to the others without saying it that way,” said independent analyst Jeff Kagan. “The only question I still have is will Verizon be a real competitor or is this mostly just talk to cover their butts in the rapidly changing marketplace?”
What Verizon did disclose in a news release was that it will be modernizing undisclosed portions of its so-called 100G (for 100 Gbps) metro optical network using packet-optimized networking gear from Ciena and Cisco. Testing and deployment of the Ciena 6500 optical switch and Cisco’s Network Covergence System will happen this year, with plans to go live in 2016. /
“We are not announcing specific geographies at this time,” Verizon spokeswoman Lynn Staggs said in an email. She said the new equipment is not directly related to fiber connections to the premises of homes or businesses. By comparison, both Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower are designed with 1 Gbps connections to homes, schools and businesses in mind.
Staggs said Verizon is upgrading connectivity between central Verizon offices and the backbone network. On top of that service, there is generally an “access” network for the last mile to connect the customer and the metro network, she added.
No matter how Verizon describes the ultimate purpose of its metro network, it is clear to analysts and others that Verizon’s metro upgrades could be used to prepare for last-mile fiber connections to businesses, schools and even homes to take on Google and AT&T directly. “Deploying a new coherent, optimized and highly scalable metro network means Verizon stays ahead of the growth trajectory while providing an even more robust network infrastructure for future demand,” said Lee Hicks, vice president of Verizon network planning, in a statement.
The service, dubbed Pony Express, would ask users to provide personal information, including credit card and Social Security numbers, to a third-party company that would verify their identity, according to a Re/code report on Tuesday.
Google also would work with vendors that distribute bills on behalf of service providers like insurance companies, telecom carriers and utilities, according to the article, which was based on a document seen by Re/code that describes the service.
It’s not clear whether Pony Express is the actual name of the service or if Google will change the name once it launches. It’s planned to launch by the end of the year, according to the report.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.
A handful of vendors such as Intuit, Invoicera and BillGrid already offer e-billing payment and invoicing software. Still, a Google service, especially one within Gmail, could be useful and convenient to consumers if the company is able to simplify the online payment process.
A benefit for Google could be access to valuable data about people’s e-commerce activities, although there would be privacy issues to sort out. Google already indexes people’s Gmail messages for advertising purposes.
Plus, the service could give Google an entry point into other areas of payment services. The company has already launched a car insurance shopping servicefor California residents, which it plans to expand to other states.
It’s unclear who Google’s partners would be for the service, but screen shots published by Re/Code show Cascadia Financial, a financial planning company, and food delivery service GreatFoods.
Azul specializes in bespoke open source Java runtimes and has announced that it is expanding into embedded product lines.
Scott Sellers, CEO and co-founder, and Howard Green, VP of marketing, were keen to extol the virtues of an embedded system.
“If you go with an Oracle system, not only do you have to pay a license fee but you are restricted to off-the-peg solutions,” explains Sellers.
“Because we are an open source solution we can create exactly what the customer needs, then feed that expertise back into the community where it will eventually end up in the official builds of Java.”
Oracle now bases its products around the open source community before releasing its own stable, closed source editions, so Zulu Embedded will often contain cutting edge functionality which is not available to standard (and paying) Java users.
“Our products are built out of a customer need. It’s not just about cost, but about finding new ways to use the Java runtime, which is still the most popular programming language in the world, and creating ways of getting it to do new things,” says Green.
The arrival of Zulu Embedded will open a whole host of opportunities for Internet of Things (IoT) building, but Sellers is keen for the product to be seen as more than just an IoT platform.
“Of course, by creating customized solutions we are able to strip out the libraries that are unnecessary and make a more nimble runtime with a smaller footprint, which makes it ideal for the IoT, but there is far more to it than that – everything from routers, to set-top boxes to ATMs,” explains Green.
The product officially launches today, but has been subject to a significant amount of testing in the field with selected customers.
“In actual fact, it has been available on a limited basis since last September and there are already over two million units running Zulu Embedded in the field,” says Green.
The product will be monetized by offering enterprise-grade support options to customers, while the product itself is freely available.
“We see the end-of-life schedule of Java SE as a major selling point for our own product,” says Green.
Oracle’s support for Java SE 7 has already expired, and it’s another two years before version 8 also reaches end-of-life. Azul, meanwhile, remains committed to its open source products indefinitely.
“Compared to all the alternatives which are either limited in lifespan or have large upfront licensing costs, we’re sure that, combined with our ongoing support, we’re the right choice for anyone wanting flexible deployment of Java,” says Sellers.
Zulu Embedded works across a huge number of platforms, including Mac, Windows and Linux, on Intel and AMD x64 architectures with ARM compatibility to follow.
It is also compatible with physical servers such as Windows Server, hypervisors including VMware and Hyper-V and cloud solutions like Microsoft Azure, Red Hat, Suse and Docker.
For Java as a language, however, Zulu Embedded is something of a return to its roots.
“Sun Microsystems [the original owners of Java] were very successful in the embedded market and paved the way for the vast number of applications that already have a Java runtime. With the end of support for Java 7, many people will be looking at where to go next,” explains Sellars.
Consumer users of Java have repeatedly lashed out at Oracle for its use of bundleware in Java installations, which recently spread to Mac users.
Zulu is available immediately from the Azul website, along with details on working with the Embedded version.
We’ve come a long way in the past nine years, when Sun and Azul were counter-suing over patents. Today, open source is the beating heart of Java, though many won’t realize it.
Online video platform Vessel officially debuted its paid subscription service on Tuesday, offering programming at least three days before other websites in a bid to reshape an industry dominated by free content on Google Inc’s YouTube.
Vessel, which costs viewers $3 a month, was founded by former Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom. They aim to create an early window for a selection of web video, similar to the way movies are released in theaters before they arrive on cable TV or the Internet.
“Early access is very valuable,” Kilar said in an interview. “There are a lot of consumers who would love to see something early.”
More than 130 creators will provide early access to content on Vessel. After the exclusive period ends, videos can go to YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or other free, ad-supported sites, and are free on Vessel.
YouTube stars such as Ingrid Nilsen, Rhett & Link and Shane Dawson are among creators whose videos will make their debut on Vessel. Other programming comes from online networks such as food-oriented Tastemade and celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.
Video creators on Vessel keep 70 percent of ad revenue, compared with 55 percent that is typical on YouTube, plus 60 percent of Vessel subscription revenue.
With those incentives, the new service will be an easier sell to creators than offering viewers who are used to watching videos for free, said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.
“Vessel must rely on content creators’ popularity and self-marketing to entice their loyal viewers into paying a monthly fee,” he said.
The service is free for one year for viewers who sign up within the first three days.
It is unlikely YouTube will lose significant revenue from a migration to Vessel, Sappington said. YouTube made its debut a decade ago and has more than 1 billion users.
On-body detection uses the accelerometer in the phone to detect when it’s being held or carried. If enabled, the feature requires a passcode the first time the phone is accessed but then keeps the device unlocked until it is placed down.
That means, for example, that users walking down the street won’t have to unlock the phone every time they take their phones out of their pockets.
The feature wasn’t widely announced by Google, but it began operating in some phones on Friday.
Like the other elements of smart lock, it should be used with caution as it can’t detect who is carrying the phone.
“If you unlock your device and hand it to someone else, your device also stays unlocked as long as the other person continues to hold or carry it,” reads a message displayed on phones with the new feature.
The smart lock feature was introduced with Android 5.0 KitKat and allows users to set zones around trusted places, such as a home or office, and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, such as a computer or car radio. When the phone is in those zones it will remain unlocked once it’s been unlocked the first time.
It can also recognize faces and remain unlocked when it sees a trusted face.
Security researchers who participated in the Pwn2Own hacking contest have demonstrated remote code execution exploits against the top four browsers, and also hacked the widely used Adobe Reader and Flash Player plug-ins.
South Korean security researcher and serial browser hacker Jung Hoon Lee, known online as lokihardt, single-handedly popped Internet Explorer 11 and Google Chrome on Microsoft Windows, as well as Apple Safari on Mac OS X.
He walked away with US$225,000 in prize money, not including the value of the brand new laptops on which the exploits are demonstrated and which the winners get to take home.
The Pwn2Own contest takes place every year at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, Canada, and is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative program. The contest pits researchers against the latest 64-bit versions of the top four browsers in order to demonstrate Web-based attacks that can execute rogue code on underlying systems.
Lee’s attack against Google Chrome earned him the largest payout for a single exploit in the history of the competition: $75,000 for the Chrome bug, an extra $25,000 for a privilege escalation to SYSTEM and another $10,000 for also hitting the browser’s beta version — for a total of $110,000.
The IE11 exploit earned him an additional $65,000 and the Safari hack $50,000.
Lee’s accomplishment is particularly impressive because he competed alone, unlike other researchers who teamed up, HP’s security research team said in a blog post.
Also on Thursday, a researcher who uses the hacker handle ilxu1a popped Mozilla Firefox on Windows for a $15,000 prize. He also attempted a Chrome exploit, but ran out of time before he managed to get his attack code working.
Mozilla Firefox was also hacked, during the first day of the competition, by a researcher named Mariusz Mlynski. His exploit also leveraged a Windows flaw to gain SYSTEM privileges, earning him a $25,000 bonus on top of the standard $30,000 payout for the Firefox hack.
Most of the attacks demonstrated at Pwn2Own this year required chaining of several vulnerabilities together in order to bypass all defense mechanisms put in place in operating systems and browsers to prevent remote code execution.
The final count for vulnerabilities exploited this year stands as follows: five flaws in the Windows OS, four in Internet Explorer 11, three each in Mozilla Firefox, Adobe Reader, and Flash Player, two in Apple Safari and one in Google Chrome.
The apps have not yet been patched against the FREAK attack, short for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys, which was revealed by researchers on March 3.
The unpatched apps, which were not identified, are in categories including finance, communication, shopping, business and medicine, computer security company FireEye said in a blog post Tuesday.
The findings highlight how even some of the most publicized and severe flaws can take quite a bit of time to get fixed. That poses risks for people using apps whose developers are not quick to patch them.
Researchers revealed earlier this month that many software programs and browsers were vulnerable to FREAK, which is a flaw that can allow an SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Security Layer) encryption key to be downgraded to 512 bits — much weaker than the 2,048-bit keys typically used today.
The flaw is a legacy of U.S. government export restrictions in the 1990s that banned selling software products overseas with strong encryption keys. Many products can still be forced into using weaker keys, which can be cracked by running mathematical software on a public cloud service.
FREAK is unique in that a wide variety of products need to be upgraded to fix the problem. Apple and Google have patched their mobile operating systems, but many apps compatible with those devices must also be upgraded. FireEye found many examples where, as of last week, that hadn’t happened.
It found 1,228 Android applications in Google Play that are still vulnerable, of the 10,985 they analyzed. All the apps had been downloaded more than a million times. On the iOS side, FireEye said 771 of 14,079 apps it looked at were vulnerable, though in most cases only if they were running on iOS versions prior to 8.2, which patched the issue. Only seven apps were still vulnerable on iOS 8.2.
Users can tap or click a dollar icon in a new chat window to send money to their friends, after they link a Visa or MasterCard debit card issued by a U.S. bank to their accounts.
The free feature will roll out over the next few months for users in the United States who access Facebook Messenger through desktop computers or Google Inc’s Android and Apple Inc’s iOS operating systems on mobile devices.
Users can create a PIN or enable Touch ID if they have an iPhone to add a level of security to the payments.
Snapchat had launched a similar service last November, called Snapcash.
The mobile messaging company partnered with online payments company Square to allow Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone.
The OpenSSL project team has confirmed that it will make available releases on March 19th to fix a number of security defects, classified as ‘high’ severity.
Gavin Millard, Technical Director of Tenable Network Security believes that the vulnerabilities involved effect OpenSSL 1.0.2a, 1.0.1m, 1.0.0r and 0.9.8zf.
“With the contributors to the OpenSSL project staying tight lipped apart from stating it will be classified as “High Severity”, it would be prudent for organisations to identify all systems affected in advance of the patch to deploy the updates if required,” he said.
Fears are that the vulnerabilities will be just as bad as Heartbleed, which is still alive and kicking on non-updated servers. Millard said that hopefully this bug will be less severe than Heartbleed but, until Thursday, only a few will know.
For the full, translated conference, see the video below.
The SecuTABLET, based on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and being presented by BlackBerry unit Secusmart at tech fair CeBIT 2015 in Germany, reflects the Canadian company’s stress on secure connections for governments and businesses as it seeks to preserve a niche market after a drubbing in recent years at the hands of emerging smartphone makers such as Apple Inc.
“Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry’s portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions,” said Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle, chief executive officer of Secusmart GmbH, in a statement on the new device.
The device was undergoing certification by the German Federal Office for Information Security for secure rating, the statement said, adding that the new tablet used the same security technology as the Secusmart Security Card.
“Working alongside IBM and Samsung, we have added the last link in the chain of the Federal Security Network. Subject to certification of the SecuTABLET, German government agencies will have a new way to access BlackBerry’s most secure and complete communications network in the world,” Quelle said.
Every three years I install Linux and see if it is ready for prime time yet, and every three years I am disappointed. What is so disappointing is not so much that the operating system is bad, it has never been, it is just that who ever designs it refuses to think of the user.
To be clear I will lay out the same rider I have for my other three reviews. I am a Windows user, but that is not out of choice. One of the reasons I keep checking out Linux is the hope that it will have fixed the basic problems in the intervening years. Fortunately for Microsoft it never has.
This time my main computer had a serious outage caused by a dodgy Corsair (which is now a c word) power supply and I have been out of action for the last two weeks. In the mean time I had to run everything on a clapped out Fujitsu notebook which took 20 minutes to download a webpage.
One Ubuntu Linux install later it was behaving like a normal computer. This is where Linux has always been far better than Windows – making rubbish computers behave. I could settle down to work right? Well not really.
This is where Linux has consistently disqualified itself from prime-time every time I have used it. Going back through my reviews, I have been saying the same sort of stuff for years.
Coming from Windows 7, where a user with no learning curve can install and start work it is impossible. Ubuntu can’t. There is a ton of stuff you have to upload before you can get anything that passes for an ordinary service. This uploading is far too tricky for anyone who is used to Windows.
It is not helped by the Ubuntu Software Centre which is supposed to make like easier for you. Say that you need to download a flash player. Adobe has a flash player you can download for Ubuntu. Click on it and Ubuntu asks you if you want to open this file with the Ubuntu Software Center to install it. You would think you would want this right? Thing is is that pressing yes opens the software center but does not download Adobe flash player. The center then says it can’t find the software on your machine.
Here is the problem which I wrote about nearly nine years ago – you can’t download Flash or anything proprietary because that would mean contaminating your machine with something that is not Open Sauce.
Sure Ubuntu will download all those proprietary drivers, but you have to know to ask – an issue which has been around now for so long it is silly. The issue of proprietary drives is only a problem for those who are hard core open saucers and there are not enough numbers of them to keep an operating system in the dark ages for a decade. However, they have managed it.
I downloaded LibreOffice and all those other things needed to get a basic “windows experience” and discovered that all those typefaces you know and love are unavailable. They should have been in the proprietary pack but Ubuntu has a problem installing them. This means that I can’t share documents in any meaningful way with Windows users, because all my formatting is screwed.
LibreOffice is not bad, but it really is not Microsoft Word and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is lying.
I download and configure Thunderbird for mail and for a few good days it actually worked. However yesterday it disappeared from the side bar and I can’t find it anywhere. I am restricted to webmail and I am really hating Microsoft’s outlook experience.
The only thing that is different between this review and the one I wrote three years ago is that there are now games which actually work thanks to Steam. I have not tried this out yet because I am too stressed with the work backlog caused by having to work on Linux without regular software, but there is an element feeling that Linux is at last moving to a point where it can be a little bit useful.
So what are the main problems that Linux refuses to address? Usability, interface and compatibility.
I know Ubuntu is famous for its shit interface, and Gnome is supposed to be better, but both look and feel dated. I also hate Windows 8′s interface which requires you to use all your computing power to navigate through a touch screen tablet screen when you have neither. It should have been an opportunity for Open saucers to trump Windows with a nice interface – it wasn’t.
You would think that all the brains in the Linux community could come up with a simple easy to use interface which lets you have access to all the files you need without much trouble. The problem here is that Linux fans like to tinker they don’t want usability and they don’t have problems with command screens. Ordinary users, particularly more recent generations will not go near a command screen.
Compatibly issues for games has been pretty much resolved, but other key software is missing and Linux operators do not seem keen to get them on board.
I do a lot of layout and graphics work. When you complain about not being able to use Photoshop, Linux fanboys proudly point to GIMP and say that does the same things. You want to grab them down the throat and stuff their heads down the loo and flush. GIMP does less than a tenth of what Photoshop can do and it does it very badly. There is nothing that can do what CS or any real desktop publishers can do available on Linux.
Proprietary software designed for real people using a desktop tends to trump anything open saucy, even if it is producing a technology marvel.
So in all these years, Linux has not attempted to fix any of the problems which have effectively crippled it as a desktop product.
I will look forward to next week when the new PC arrives and I will not need another Ubuntu desktop experience. Who knows maybe they will have sorted it in three years time again.
Microsoft has been running its “personal assistant” Cortana on its Windows phones for a year, and will put the new version on the desktop with the arrival of Windows 10 this autumn. Later, Cortana will be available as a standalone app, usable on phones and tablets powered by Apple Inc’s iOS and Google Inc’s Android, people familiar with the project said.
“This kind of technology, which can read and understand email, will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana, which we are working on now for the fall time frame,” said Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research and a part of the Einstein project, in an interview at the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters. Horvitz and Microsoft declined comment on any plan to take Cortana beyond Windows.
The plan to put Cortana on machines running software from rivals such as Apple andGoogle, as well as the Einstein project, have not been reported. Cortana is the name of an artificial intelligence character in the video game series “Halo.”
They represent a new front in CEO Satya Nadella’s battle to sell Microsoft software on any device or platform, rather than trying to force customers to use Windows. Success on rivals’ platforms could create new markets and greater relevance for the company best known for its decades-old operating system.
The concept of ‘artificial intelligence’ is broad, and mobile phones and computers already show dexterity with spoken language and sifting through emails for data, for instance.
Still, Microsoft believes its work on speech recognition, search and machine learning will let it transform its digital assistant into the first intelligent ‘agent’ which anticipates users needs. By comparison, Siri is advertised mostly as responding to requests. Google’s mobile app, which doesn’t have a name like Siri or Cortana, already offers some limited predictive information ‘cards’ based on what it thinks the user wants to know.
That’s the word from industry analysts after Google announced that it’s opening what is going to be called the Google Shop in Currys PC World, a well-known electronics store in London.
“This is about marketing, not selling,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. “While Apple’s stores are real stores with huge volumes, this is about building the brand and exposing people to Google who don’t know about all the Google offerings.”
The Google shop is set up to offer customers the chance to see and try out Google’s range of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecast streaming-media devices, as well as learn about how they work together, according to the company.
Store visitors also will be able to try out Google’s software tools and apps, using a series of immersive features, like a Chromecast Pod that allows users to play movies and YouTube videos, as well as an immersive surround-screen installation called Portal, designed to let users seemingly fly through any part of the planet using Google Earth.
“It’s more an amusement park than a shop, which is what, I think, Google intends,” said Gottheil. “Google is doing a very good job with its brand, but it can always be better. You can’t be too rich, too thin or have good enough marketing.”
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, noted that as popular as Google’s products, like Android, and services, like Google Maps and Google Earth, are, there’s always room for improvement.
“I think that Google sees the need to make their products even more accessible and sees the store as one method to explore,” he added. “However, they have to realize that these are going to be loss leaders. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to measure the actual value of the stores to Google’s bottom line… If I were them, I’d look at store traffic as the major metric. If they’re getting people into the store, then it’s a win.”
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has raised its production target for the new flagship Galaxy smartphones after receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews from the mobile markets, the Electronic Times newspaper is reporting.
The South Korean paper, citing an unnamed source, said Samsung increased its total production target for the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge devices to 8 million units for April from 7 million previously. The company’s production target for March remained unchanged at 5 million units, according to the paper.
A Samsung spokeswoman said the company did not comment on rumors or speculation.
Designed from scratch in an operation dubbed “Project Zero”, the Galaxy S6 and its curved-edges variant are critical for Samsung’s plans to reverse plunging smartphone revenues that led to its first annual earnings fall in three years in 2014.
The new phones have been well-received for the revamped design and various technological improvements, prompting some brokerages to increase shipments forecasts for Samsung smartphones this year. They will start selling in 20 countries on April 10.