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IBM Buys Compose Cloud Services Company

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has added another stick to its pile, picking up a company called Compose to increase its standing in the cloud database-as-a-service (DBaaS) market.

The firm has come straight out with the news and explained how it expects to benefit.

Compose, it said, offers a bountiful on-demand business and will let IBM roll out DBaaS offerings to a presumably hungry market. IBM has a big focus on the cloud and likes to see action around its Bluemix platform.

IBM said that Compose is a player in the MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch and PostgreSQL DBaaS game, and that this honour will extend itself to the new parent and its punters.

“Compose’s breadth of database offerings will expand IBM’s Bluemix platform for the many app developers seeking production-ready databases built on open source,” said Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM cloud data services.

“Compose furthers IBM’s commitment to ensuring developers have access to the right tools for the job by offering the broadest set of DBaaS and the flexibility of hybrid cloud deployment.”

IBM acquires @composeio as complement to Cloudant CouchDB, cloud data warehouse, dashDB, and more #bluemix services. https://t.co/2j4ASqisGi

— IBM Bluemix™ (@IBMBluemix) July 23, 2015

There is money behind this, and IBM said that the DBaaS market is likely to be worth almost $20bn by 2020 thanks to thousands of companies and their multitudes of demands for easy to grasp databases. This is not the first cloudy move the firm had made.

Compose, naturally, is keen on the arrangement and expects that its union with the veteran firm will increase the scale of its services, and allow customers more freedom to innovate.

“By joining IBM, we will have an opportunity to accelerate the development of our database platform and offer even more services and support to developer teams,” said Kurt Mackey, co-founder and CEO at the firm.

“As developers, we know how hard it can be to manage databases at scale, which is exactly why we built Compose – to take that burden off our customers and allow them to get back to the engineering they love.”

No financial terms were revealed.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Oracle Make Money Off Android?

July 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Database outfit Oracle’s moves to try and copyright APIs appear to be part of an attempt for Oracle to make money on Android.

Oracle has asked a U.S. judge for permission to update its copyright lawsuit against Google to include the Android which it claims contains its Java APIs.

Oracle sued Google five years ago and is seeking roughly $1 billion in copyright claims if it manages to convince a court that its APIs are in Android it could up the damages by several billions.

Oracle wrote in a letter to Judge William Alsup on Wednesday that the record of the first trial does not reflect any of these developments in the market, including Google’s dramatically enhanced market position in search engine advertising and the overall financial results from its continuing and expanded infringement.

Last month, the US Supreme Court upheld an appeals court’s ruling that allows Oracle to seek licensing fees for the use of some of the Java language. Google had said it should use Java APIs without paying a fee.

Courtesy-Fud

 

HP Goes After Security In Smartwatches

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

HP has released a study suggesting that anyone who uses a smartwatch is offering their wrist to vagabonds, criminals and privacy probers.

Blam! HP ain’t messing. “You got a smartwatch?” it says. “Then damn, son, you are in trouble!”*

A report apparently straight outta HP finds that the smartwatch lets us all down by not doing encryption right, not considering privacy and using second rate authentication.

In the current threat market, this would be a pretty much a full house of problems and pretty bad form on the part of providers like Apple.

Security firm Bitdefender has wrapped itself around the study, and describes the threat as “extreme” in its reporting of the HP smartwatch horror story.

The INQUIRER has not been able to find the report, but it has found mention of it. We shall turn to what we can while our inquiries hang in PR purgatory.

ESET has its own report on the study and offers advice on securing wearable technology, including smartwatches, on its website.

The security firm quotes from the report, saying that HP security personnel are fretting about increased adoption and the rising tide of threats.

“Smartwatches have only started to become a part of our lives, but they deliver a new level of functionality and we will increasingly use them for sensitive tasks,” Jyoti Prakash, country director for India and south Asia at HP Enterprise Security Products, is quoted as saying.

“As this activity accelerates, the watch platform will become vastly more attractive to those who would abuse that access, and it’s critical that we take precautions when transmitting personal sensitive data or bringing smartwatches into the workplace.”

The best practice if a zombie has bitten your arm and infected you with a virus, for example, would be to chop it off. Your arm, that is.

Here, we suggest that perhaps you consider what you share, where you share it and what you share it on as your best response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

ZTE To Offer High-end Axon Smartphone In U.S.

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Chinese mobile brands don’t normally stir much interest in the U.S., so when ZTE teased its newest smartphone, the Axon, it initially didn’t mention the company at all.

The company’s online promotions in advance of the launch featured a mysterious high-end Android device. The marketing scheme paid off, according to Adam Zeng, CEO of ZTE’s mobile devices business, sparking media interest. It even caused some to wonder if the product was Korean-made, since Chinese brands have a low-end image to U.S. consumers, according to Zeng.

ZTE was happy to clear up any preconceived notions. “Chinese brands can also come out with top-tier products,” Zeng maintained.

The Axon is a premium handset that the company claims can rival flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and LG.

It is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early August, and is already available for pre-order, with a no-contract price of $449. That’s about $200 less than an iPhone 6 when bought without carrier subsidies. But consumers are still getting the latest in smartphone technology.

For the Axon, this includes a 2560 by 1440 screen, an eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of RAM, all fitted in a sleek metal case with leather on the back cover.

Zeng noted that it took ZTE 18 months to develop the product. The company wanted to make sure it had everything, such as the ability to shoot 4K video, and a rear-facing camera with dual lenses.

ZTE kept pushing the phone’s launch date back to include more features, Zeng said. It also tapped talent from North America, hiring Seattle-based design firm Teague and former BlackBerry employees to help build the product.

ZTE has been expanding in the U.S., although competition remains stiff. In this year’s first quarter, it was ranked as the U.S.’s sixth largest smartphone vendor, with a 4.5 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Industry leaders Apple and Samsung, on the other hand, have a combined market share of 62 percent.

 

 

 

 

Google + Photos To End On August 1st

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Bad news for Google+ Photos, the photo-sharing service that’s part of the company’s social network.

Google will begin closing down the service on Aug. 1 on Android, with the Web and iOS devices to follow soon after.

For a time, Google touted the service as a key element in Google+, with a range of editing tools and image enhancement technologies rolled out over the years.

But Google hinted that its days might be numbered when the company rolled out its new Google Photos service at Google I/O in May.

The closure of Google+ Photos is likely to prompt more questions about the future of Google+, which has struggled to rival the success of Facebook.

Photos and videos stored in Google+ Photos will be moved to Google Photos. People who don’t want to use the new service can download their images using Google Takeout, the company said.

Google Photos provides free, unlimited photo and video storage in Google’s cloud, along with tools to organize the media.

 

 

 

YouTube Gains Adds Billions To Google’s Bottom Line

July 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google shares rose by 16.3 percent to $699.62 on Friday, adding about $65 billion to its market value, as strong growth in YouTube viewership eased investor concerns about Facebook Inc’s push into video.

Google’s class A shares chalked up their largest single-day percentage change in more than seven years on Friday.

The surge, which comes a day after it reported better-than-expected profit for the first time in six quarters, sent the Nasdaq composite index to a record intraday high.

The rise in Google’s market value was more than the total market capitalization of Caterpillar Inc, the world’s biggest construction equipment maker.

Google’s shares hit a record high of $703, valuing it at $471.50 billion and cementing its position as the world’s second most valuable company after Apple Inc.

At least 27 brokerages raised price targets on Google’s stock, with analysts also welcoming new Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat’s emphasis on disciplined spending.

At the highest price target of $800, Google would be valued at $545 billion. Apple is valued at about $740 billion.

The energy brought to Google by Porat, who joined in May from investment bank Morgan Stanley, is likely to drive the stock in the short and medium term, analysts say.

“She is known to be tough as nails when it comes to expense management …,” FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said. “A lot of investors are comforted by the fact that her first quarter as CFO, reporting, she is delivering.”

 

SanDisk Debuts New Wireless Streaming Thumb Drive

July 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

SanDisk has released the newest addition to its wireless storage line – the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.

The Connect Wireless Stick ranges in capacity from 16GB to 128GB and in price from $30 to $100.

SanDisk’s first Wireless Stick, the Connect Wireless Flash Drive, was released two years ago and it came in 16GB and 32GB capacities and was priced at $49.99 and $59.99, respectively.

As its predecessor did, the new wireless thumb drive also uses a USB 2.0 (480Mbps) connection to upload content before being able to stream it over Wi-Fi. SanDisk claims the Connect Wireless Stick has enough bandwidth to stream high-definition movies and music to up to three devices at the same time.

The drive is capable of supporting a single video stream for up to 4.5 hours on a single charge, SanDisk said.

The new flash drive is controlled via the SanDisk Connect app, which is free and downloadable from SanDisk’s or or Amazon.com’s website.

The Connect Wireless Stick is compatible with iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android devices, Windows PCs and Apple computers. It works with iOS version 8.0 or higher, Android 4.2 or higher, Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS 10.6 or higher, and via web browser for other Wi-Fi enabled devices, according to SanDisk.

The thumb drive is 3.03-in x 0.75-in x 0.43 in. in size and comes with a one-year warranty.

 

 

Will Wearable Devices Ever Take Off?

July 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

While Intel and Apple are touting the Internet of Things as the next big thing, it is starting to look like the numbers will be too small to attract the necessary economies of scale.

Normally what happens when there is “new thing” in the tech market enough people buy a product to stimulate the supply chain. This encourages suppliers to mass produce and push costs lower. This maintains the momentum as a waves of others buy because the price drops on components.

But word on the street is that while vendors have launched wearable products, orders for wearable devices may not be sufficient to drive growth for related component suppliers.

The vendors have many different devices and each of them needs only a small amount of components support.

Component makers look at what they need to supply such devices and realize that they are not going to make their money back anytime soon and are giving it a miss.

The same applies to the upstream suppliers need to specifically establish a team as big as a smartphone team to help clients develop new wearable devices.
Already there is a lot of competition in the wearable devices market particularly as 90 per cent of wearable devices shipments are two types of products – smartwatches and bracelets.

Punters have shown that they are not interested in these and demand is really weak.

The Apple Watch was touted to be the leader of the wearable industry, mostly by Apple and its chums, only achieved sales less than three million units prior to mid-June, much weaker than originally expected.

The problem appears to be that while everyone is saying “wearables” no one has really come up with a good product yet, or one that attracts anyone’s attention. If Apple could not market up a storm, then chances are there will never be one.

This could put Intel in a bind. Much of its efforts have been going to providing products to support a boost in mobile wearables. If this never happens then it could be in trouble.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Said To Be Developing A Virtual Assistant

July 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is rumored to be developing a virtual assistant for its Messenger app.

According to a report in The Information, the world’s largest social network is working on the virtual assistant, which has been internally dubbed Moneypenny, presumably after the fictional secretary in the James Bond books and movies.

Facebook is developing the service that would enable users to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, the report noted, citing three unnamed sources.

Messenger is Facebook’s mobile instant messaging app, which is designed to work with voice and text. The app reportedly has more than 700 million monthly users.

Facebook declined to comment on the report.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said it makes sense for Facebook to venture into the realm of virtual assistants after the success of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

If the report is accurate, the question is how Facebook would weave together a “virtual” assistant with the ability to ask “real people” for help.

Moorhead suggested that a live person could be contacted if the virtual assistant wasn’t coming up with the information that the user needed.

It also could be that if, for instance, a user asks for information about a certain bicycle, the virtual assistant could check for comments about it from the user’s Facebook friends or the entire Facebook user community.

“It makes sense that they would try this, for sure,” said Moorhead. “The best assistants have mountains of information on us that can be used to improve context. And Facebook has more personal data than anyone other than Google.”

 

 

Enterprise Customers May Save Faltering Tablet Market

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

With global tablet sales waning, there is a bright spot for hardware manufacturers: Business purchases of tablets for workers in jobs such as retail sales or field work.

Forrester predicted that tablets used for enterprises will grow to 20% of the entire market by 2018, up from 6% in 2010. These include Apple iPads as well as Windows and Android tablets that are generally purchased and managed by a company on behalf of workers, either for solo use or shared with others.

That level of growth is impressive compared to the recent sales dip for the iPad, which sold 12.62 million iPads in the second quarter, a drop of 23% compared to the same period a year ago, Forrester analyst JP Gownder noted in a blog.

“Clearly, all is not well in tablet-land,” Gownder said.

In a separate report, Gownder noted a nose-dive in Android tablet prices, which recently went from below $200, then to less than $100 and even under $50 — “stripping away profit margins.”

Forrester and other analyst firms have noted the general tablet decline, attributed mainly to consumers keeping older tablets and to the growth of bigger smartphones with displays that are larger than 5-in., sometimes called “phablets,” that reduce the need for smaller tablets. The Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus are examples of such smartphones.

IDC noted the tablet slowdown last October, and predicted slowing growthfrom 2016 through 2018.

The bright spot — tablets purchased by companies — is being driven by various factors, Gownder said, including a vendor focus on enterprise services and apps. Microsoft and Dell, among other partners, will benefit with Windows 10 on tablets, while the Android for Work initiative will help address Android security concerns with tablets, he said. And Apple has partnered with IBM to provide iOS apps for tablets that matter in workplaces.

The desire by workers to use tablets and bring their own devices to work has helped push company purchases, he said. The tablets are being used in various ways by different workers, including package delivery drivers, sales associates and field technicians and even by restaurant customers to review menus at their tables.

 

 

Microsoft’s Windows Phone Given One More Chance

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft will continue making smartphones for its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, but the company has squashed the device strategy pursued by its former CEO and will probably give up entirely unless Windows 10 reverses years of missteps in mobile, analysts said.

After Microsoft wrote down $7.6 billion of its investment in Nokia and again reorganized, it will turn to a revamped, two-part strategy, one piece older, the other relatively new, the experts argued.

Microsoft’s smartphones will follow the trailblazing of the more successful Surface tablet line, which after two years with little return hit its stride in 2014 with the debut of the Surface Pro 3. “We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family,” CEO Satya Nadella told employees in an all-hands email recently.

In plain English, the Lumia line will be relegated to a peripheral position — the spot the Surface Pro 3 now occupies in comparison to the broader personal computing device market and best exemplified in smartphones by Google’s “hero” Nexus handsets.

“Microsoft will have something very similar to where the Surface line is now,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in a Friday interview. “The idea will be to create inspiring hardware that motivates their ecosystem. They’ll go after the ‘halo’ effect.”

Windows phones will not disappear. Not yet. “I am committed to our first-party devices including phones,” asserted Nadella, showing that, at least for now, Microsoft won’t scrub Windows smartphones from its portfolio.

The reality, however, is stark: Even with billions poured into mobile, Windows powered just 2.7% of the handsets shipped worldwide last year, down from 3.3% in 2013, according to IDC. And because Microsoft was responsible for more than 95% of all Windows smartphones in 2014, a pull-back by the firm means there’s little chance of changing the OS’s fortunes.

 

 

 

 

Car Companies Limiting Data They Share With Technology Partners

July 14, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Automobile manufacturers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple Inc and Google Inc through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.

But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems – steering, brakes and throttle, for instance – as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.

“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.

Consultant AlixPartners estimates global revenues from digitally connected cars will grow in value to $40 billion a year worldwide by 2018, from $16 billion in 2013, and auto companies would like to hold on to as much of that money as possible.

“The risk is, if you give up control and somebody else figures out that business model, then you lose the future revenue stream,” said Friedmar Rumpel, vice president in AlixPartners’ automotive practice.

 

 

 

Is BlackBerry Getting Closer To Building Android Devices?

July 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd , which has been tight-lipped about its plans to make a mainstream Android smartphone, fueled more speculation about its plans this week when it scooped up two Android-related domain names.

Several blog posts in the last two days have noted that the Canadian handset maker bought the domain names “AndroidSecured.com” and “AndroidSecured.net” this week. That spurred more chatter that it intends to build a device powered by Google Inc’s  Android platform, which powers the vast majority of smartphones sold across the globe.

The purchase of the domain names is particularly interesting since BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has declined to confirm a June Reuters report that said the company was planning an Android phone.

Speculation that BlackBerry will embrace Android was also spurred this week by a Digitimes report that said the company plans to roll out several models of Android-based phones.

In the past three weeks, however, Chen has said at least twice that he would only build an Android phone if he can “secure Android”.

BlackBerry downplayed the significance of its domain name purchases in an email on Friday, saying: “BlackBerry frequently registers domain names to support the breadth of our cross-platform portfolio. Android is an important part of our cross-platform enterprise software strategy.”

Indeed, one of the domains, “AndroidSecured.com”, currently redirects users to a BlackBerry enterprise-focused site.

But that has not stopped a barrage of chatter on tech blogs about the purchases being part of BlackBerry’s plan to build its own secure Android, going beyond supporting existing Android phones on its BES12 device-management system. BES12 allows corporate and government clients to secure Android-, iOS-, Windows- and BlackBerry-powered devices on their networks.

Under the leadership of Chen, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been pivoting toward software and device management as its recent devices, powered by its BlackBerry 10 software, have failed to win mass appeal. Analysts and tech gurus believe a move to Android could give BlackBerry’s device arm a new lease on life.

 

 

OpenSSL Patches Bug With The Quickness

July 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

OpenSSL has issued a patch for the ‘high severity’ bug it warned about earlier this week, and has advised that firms apply the patch as soon as possible.

While fears were raised that we could have another Heartbleed on our hands, it’s thought that the bug was not exploited.

Still, OpenSSL was quick to push out of a fix for the issue, and has provided information on the nature of the problem.

“During certificate verification, OpenSSL (starting from version 1.0.1n and 1.0.2b) will attempt to find an alternative certificate chain if the first attempt to build such a chain fails,” it said.

“An error in the implementation of this logic can mean that an attacker could cause certain checks on untrusted certificates to be bypassed, such as the CA [certificate authority] flag, enabling them to use a valid leaf certificate to act as a CA and ‘issue’ an invalid certificate.

“This issue will impact any application that verifies certificates, including SSL/TLS/DTLS clients and SSL/TLS/DTLS servers using client authentication.”

Commenting on the prompt release of the patch, David Harley, senior research fellow at security firm ESET said: ”It’s significant in that it addresses a bug which could have been exploited to bypass checks on untrusted certificates, though I’m not aware of any instance where it was actually exploited.

“It’s worth remembering, perhaps, that it’s not unknown for a TLS certificate to be made available for a site that isn’t what it appears to be. I’m thinking of the recent case where a researcher registered a site with a name that resembled a legitimate bank’s domain name and had no problem buying a certificate for it.

“It’s important to remember that even when traffic is correctly encrypted it doesn’t mean that the traffic is legitimate.”

The OpenSSL project team, a group of developers responsible for supporting the commonly used OpenSSL encryption protocol, announced the forthcoming patch in a mailing list posting by developer Mark J Cox early last week.

“The OpenSSL project team would like to announce the forthcoming release of OpenSSL versions 1.0.2d and 1.0.1p,” said Cox.

“These releases will be made available on 9 July. They will fix a single security defect classified as ‘high’ severity. This defect does not affect the 1.0.0 or 0.9.8 releases.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung Galaxy’s Note Smartphone Rumored To Launch In August

July 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung Electronics Co is bumping up the launch of a key premium smartphone model, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, as the South Korean tech giant seeks to revive sales after a sluggish second quarter.

The world’s top smartphone maker will launch a new version of its Galaxy Note phablet in mid-August, the person said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. Previous versions, such as the Note 3 and 4, typically launched in September.

A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.

The mid-August launch will likely put the new Note smartphone model on the market ahead of arch-rival Apple Inc’s next iPhones. The U.S. company is preparing for its largest initial production run for new phones so far by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week.

Samsung is seeking to rebound from a disappointing 2014, when its annual profit hit a three-year low as smartphone earnings slumped. Though Samsung’s earnings are recovering, its second-quarter guidance of a 6.9 trillion won ($6.11 billion) operating profit fell short of market expectations following a supply shortage for the curved-screen version of its flagship Galaxy S6 smartphone.

“I don’t know how much the earlier launch will help boost the company’s average selling price for smartphones, but this suggests that Samsung will work hard to maintain its market share for the high-end market,” said HDC Asset Management fund manager Park Jung-hoon.