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Android Malware Using Twitter To Communicate With Infected Phones

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Twitter-on-smartphones-150x150Twitter users aren’t the only ones getting updates from the micro-blogging social media site. One maker of Android malware is also using Twitter to communicate with infected smartphones, according to security firm ESET.

The company uncovered the feature in a malicious app called Android/Twitoor. It runs as a backdoor virus that can secretly install other malware on a phone.

Typically, the makers of Android malware control their infected smartphones from servers. Commands sent from those servers can create a botnet of compromised phones and tell the malware on all the phones what to do.

The makers of Android/Twitoor decided to use Twitter instead of servers to communicate with the infected phones. The malware routinely checks certain Twitter accounts and reads the encrypted posts to get its operating commands.

Lukas Stefanko, an ESET researcher, said in a blog post that this was an innovative approach.  It removes the need to maintain a command and control server, and the communications with the Twitter accounts can be hard to discover.

“It’s extremely easy for the crooks to re-direct communications to another freshly created account,” he said.

ESET said this was first Twitter-controlled Android botnet it had ever found. Windows-based botnets using Twitter have been around since at least 2009.

ESET said Android/Twitoor hasn’t been detected in any app stores, so it probably spreads through malicious links sent to the victim. The malware pretends to be a porn player or multimedia messaging app, and it’s only been active for about a month.

So far, Android/Twitoor has been found downloading versions of mobile banking malware to users’ phones.

“In the future, we can expect that the bad guys will try to make use of Facebook statuses or deploy LinkedIn and other social networks,” Stefanko added.

Driverless Taxis Debut On Singpaore Streets

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nutonomy-driverless-taxis-150x150The world’s first driverless taxi debuted Thursday in a limited public trial on the streets of Singapore.

Developer nuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its “robo-taxi” in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned dull launch of the service in 2018.

“This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” nuTonomy executive Doug Parker told Reuters.

The trial rides took place in a Mitsubishi i-MiEv electric vehicle, with an engineer sitting behind the steering wheel to monitor the system and take control if necessary.

The trial is on an on-going basis, nuTonomy said, and follows private testing that began in April.

Parker, whose company has partnered with the Singapore government on the project, said he hoped to have 100 taxis working commercially in the Southeast Asian citystate by 2018.

Nutonomy is one of several companies racing to launch self-driving vehicles, with automakers and technology firms striking new alliances.

Swedish automaker Volvo AB said last week it had agreed to a $300 million alliance with ride-hailing service to develop a driverless vehicle.

Israeli driving assistant software maker Mobileye NV said its vehicle, developed with Delphi Automotive Plc, would be ready for production by 2019, while Ford Motor Co said its self-driving car was slated for 2021.

 

Drones Take On Pizza Delivery

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Drone-pizza-delivery-150x150A New Zealand pizza chain wants to be the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.

Some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon.com Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.

Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc conducted the first single commercial drone delivery – coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich – as part of a trial.

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.

With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.

“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,” New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.

But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.

“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,” Solaris said.

Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.

The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.

 

nVidia NVLINK 2.0 Going In IBM Servers

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-nLinkOn Monday, PCWorld reported that the first servers expected to use Nvidia’s second-generation NVLINK 2.0 technology will be arriving sometime next year using IBM’s upcoming Power9 chip family.

IBM launched its Power8 lineup of superscalar symmetric multiprocessors back in August 2013 at the Hot Chips conference, and the first systems became available in August 2014. The announcement was significant because it signaled the beginning of a continuing partnership between IBM and Nvidia to develop GPU-accelerated IBM server systems, beginning with the Tesla K40 GPU.

The result was an HPC “tag-team” where IBM’s Power8 architecture, a 12-core chip with 96MB of embedded memory, would eventually go on to power Nvidia’s next-generation Pascal architecture which debuted in April 2016 at the company’s GPU Technology Conference.

NVLINK, first announced in March 2014, uses a proprietary High-Speed Signaling interconnect (NVHS) developed by Nvidia. The company says NVHS transmits data over a differential pair running at up to 20Gbps, so eight of these differential 20Gbps connections will form a 160Gbps “Sub-Link” that sends data in one direction. Two sub-links—one for each direction—will form a 320Gbps, or 40GB/s bi-directional “Link” that connects processors together in a mesh framework (GPU-to-GPU or GPU-to-CPU).

NVLINK lanes upgrade from 20Gbps to 25Gbps

IBM is projecting its Power9 servers to be available beginning in the middle of 2017, with PCWorld reporting that the new processor lineup will include support for NVLINK 2.0 technology. Each NVLINK lane will communicate at 25Gbps, up from 20Gbps in the first iteration. With eight differential lanes, this translates to a 400Gbps (50GB/s) bi-directional link between CPUs and GPUs, or about 25 percent more performance if the information is correct.

NVLINK 2.0 capable servers arriving next year

Meanwhile, Nvidia has yet to release any NVLINK 2.0-capable GPUs, but a company presentation slide in Korean language suggests that the technology will first appear in Volta GPUs which are also scheduled for release sometime next year. We were originally under the impression that the new GPU architecture would release in 2018, as per Nvidia’s roadmap. But a source hinted last month that Volta would be getting 16nm FinFET treatment and may show up in roughly the same timeframe as AMD’s HBM 2.0-powered Vega sometime in 2017. After all, it is easier for Nvidia to launch sooner if the new architecture is built on the same node as the Pascal lineup.

Still ahead of PCI-Express 4.0

Nvidia claims that PCI-Express 3.0 (32GB/s with x16 bandwidth) significantly limits a GPU’s ability to access a CPU’s memory system and is about “four to five times slower” than its proprietary standard. Even PCI-Express 4.0, releasing later in 2017, is limited to 64GB/s on a slot with x16 bandwidth.

To put this in perspective, Nvidia’s Tesla P100 Accelerator uses four 40GB/s NVLINK ports to connect clusters of GPUs and CPUs, for a total of 160GB/s of bandwidth.

With a generational NVLINK upgrade from 40GB/s to 50GB/s bi-directional links, the company could release a future Volta-based GPU with four 50GB/s NVLINK ports totaling of 200GB/s of bandwidth, well above and beyond the specifications of the new PCI-Express standard.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Notebooks Moving To On-Board Memory?

August 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebook vendors have largely moved to on-board memory designs and are killing off DIMMs so that they can make their Intel Apollo Lake-based notebooks as slim as possible.

According to Digitimes shipments of Intel’s 14nm Apollo Lake CPUs, which feature low-power consumption, high performance and reduced sizes is apparently on the increase and with that a move to on board memory designs. The reason is that the manufactures think an anorexic look is super fashionable.

Numbers of new notebooks using LPDDR4 has also increased as vendors have continued to make efforts to minimize power consumption, improve performance, while prolonging battery life.

Acer has two new ultra-thin notebooks, the Aspire S 15 and S 17, both featuring a thickness of less than 17mm. Other vendors, including Lenovo, Asustek Computer, HP and Dell are also expected to focus on ultra-thin notebooks and 2-in-1 models for the second half of 2016, Digitimes said.

Courtesy-Fud

MIT Researchers Develop Technique To Triple Wireless Speeds

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

MIT-logo-150x150MIT researchers have uncovered a way to transfer wireless data using a smartphone at a speed about three times faster and twice as far as existing technology.

The researchers developed a technique to coordinate multiple wireless transmitters by synchronizing their wave phases, according to a statement from MIT on Tuesday. Multiple independent transmitters will be able to send data over the same wireless channel to multiple independent receivers without interfering with each other.

Since wireless spectrum is scarce, and network congestion is only expected to grow, the technology could have important implications.

The researchers called the approach MegaMIMO 2.0 (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) .

For their experiments, the researchers set up four laptops in a conference room setting, allowing signals to roam over 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi. The speed and distance improvement is expected to also apply to cellular networks. A video describes the technology as well as a technical paper (registration required), which was presented this week to the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16).

The researchers, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, are: Ezzeldin Hamed, Hariharan Rahul, Mohammed Abdelghany and Dina Katabi.

 

Judge Sides With Fitbit In Infringement Lawsuit By Jawbone

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Fitbit-logo-150x150Fitbit Inc was cleared of stealing rival Jawbone’s trade secrets, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, ending Jawbone’s hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit’s wearable fitness tracking devices.

The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe U.S. intellectual property, because “no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret.”

The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone’s business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details.

Two of the patents were withdrawn, however, and four others were invalidated by the judge, before a May trial that was limited to the trade secrets claims.

Fitbit Chief Executive Officer James Park said in a statement on Tuesday that Jawbone’s allegations were without merit and an attempt “to disrupt Fitbit’s momentum to compensate for their own lack of success in the market.”

A representative for Jawbone could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fitbit is biggest maker of wrist-based and clippable fitness devices, which track users’ steps, calories burned, heartrates and other parameters. It sold 5.7 million devices in the second quarter, beating revenue estimates.

Jawbone makes a range of activity trackers under the UP brand but has been losing market share. It is no longer among the top five wearables vendors, according to market research firm International Data Corp.

Tuesday’s ruling comes on the heels of a victory for Jawbone in a separate trade case filed against the company by Fitbit. On July 19, another commission judge found all three Fitbit patents in that case were invalid. Fitbit has asked the full trade commission to review the ruling.

Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.

 

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Sales Exceed Supply Chain’s Expectations

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Galaxy-Note-7-150x150Better-than-expected demand for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 is creating supply problems worldwide, the South Korean tech giant said, suggesting strong initial sales for the new premium smartphone.

While robust demand could help deliver another solid quarter of earnings, Samsung also risks missing out on potential sales if it cannot boost supply quickly. Rivals such as Apple Inc are poised to launch new phones which could pull customers away from Samsung if a shortage persists.

“As pre-order results for the Galaxy Note 7 have far exceeded our estimates, its release date in some markets has been adjusted,” Samsung told Reuters in a statement without commenting on where launch delays could occur.

Production problems for the curved displays for the Galaxy S6 edge phone resulted in disappointing sales last year, and some investors fear a repeat if the world’s top smartphone maker does not move quickly to meet Note 7 demand.

Samsung said it was trying to boost production at the secret locations where the Notes are made, and aimed to meet demand “as early as possible”. It gave no further details.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no production issue for the curved screens used on the Galaxy Note 7 and that the shortage would not be a long-term problem.

“The party got more visitors than Samsung expected, so they just need to put more food out,” said Nomura analyst C.W. Chung, who said the supply situation was not a major risk given that Samsung made key parts such as displays and chips in-house.

Samsung could sell as many as 15 million Galaxy Note 7 phones this year, Chung said, compared with an estimated 9 million Galaxy Note 5 phones sold last year.

The phone went on sale on Aug. 19 in countries including the United States and South Korea, where it retails for 988,900 won ($882).

 

Microsoft Makes A Deal With Lenovo

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.

The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.

Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.

The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.

Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.

“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Releases 64-bit Versions Of Office 2016 Applications For Mac

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Office-on-Mac-150x150Microsoft has released 64-bit versions of its Office 2016 applications for the Mac, after a series of previews since April.

The five apps — Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word — will be updated to 64-bit for all customers, including those with an Office 2016 retail license, a consumer or commercial subscription to Office 365, and a volume license. Most users will be updated automatically as the suite launches an update app on its regular schedule.

Microsoft has been testing the 64-bit versions with Office Insider participants since April.

Apple has long urged developers to release 64-bit versions of applications — the Mac’s operating system has supported only 64-bit Intel processors since 2011’s OS X Lion — but Microsoft has been one of the most significant holdouts.

For users, the biggest benefit is the ability to work with much larger files — thanks to the significantly bigger swaths of memory that a 64-bit operating system can access.

Unlike the Windows edition of Office 2016, which comes in both 32- and 64-bit flavors, the Mac-specific suite will be available only in 64-bit after September. Microsoft offered users a one-month grace period during which version 15.25 will be provided in both 32- and 64-bit.

“There may be situations in which the customer has to change code that’s not 64-bit ready,” Microsoft said in a support document, referring to possible conflicts with third-party Office add-ons. “If customers can’t immediately move forward to 64-bit builds, we will make available a one-time 32-bit update for the 15.25 release in addition to the default 64-bit updates.”

That 32-bit version of 15.25 must be downloaded manually from Microsoft’s site.

The support document included instructions for reverting to 32-bit if Office 2016 had already been updated to 64-bit.

 

Target To Focus More On Digital Efforts To Enhance Customer Experience

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Target-Stores-150x150U.S. retailer Target Corp plans to put more emphasis on technologies that enhance customers’ store experience and on other digital efforts, Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara said.

Target will focus on its website, Target.com, and offline-online experiences such as order pickup and digital marketing, McNamara said in a blog post on the company’s website.

“Technology and supply chain are the new battlegrounds for retail,” he said. “The retailers with the strongest technology and supply chain will have the best chance of winning.”

Target will also focus on efforts such as store replenishment and merchandising systems to keep its stores well stocked, he said.

The retailer is in the middle of a hiring boom, McNamara said, adding that the company had hired about 700 engineers since he joined as CIO in February 2015.

Target had 341,000 employees as of Jan. 30, according to a regulatory filing.

 

Intel To Focus On The Backend For 5G

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Fresh after scoring a reasonably sized contract for the iPhone, Intel is getting more excited about its mobile business and is talking about its 5G plans.

5G is a good thing to talk about as there is no standard yet and it could be years away before carriers think of moving to away from 4G. However, it does inspire confidence that companies, like Intel are busy researching it.

However the Intel Developer Forum (IDF),in San Francisco heard how Intel is not that interested in trying to create 5G modems for mobiles and will instead focus on the back-end infrastructure supporting the technology.

Intel said that while 5G will power the mobile internet, Intel believes there will be a lot of room for its processors and data centers to look after the millions of sensors, cars and internet of things devices which will all be part of it.

Intel said that 2G networks were about phones and voice, and it was rolling out 4G there were requirements that hadn’t been planned for when it was originally designed.

While 5G is expected to start appearing by 2020, it should support IoT devices, as well as broadcast-like services and lifeline communications. This means that the backbone of datacenters will need to be in place to make it go.

While Intel has been talking about this backbone, it does seem odd that it is not mentioned much about the modem front end of the technology. Our guess is that it is something that Intel cannot ignore and does not appear to be doing so, with its various Internet of Things gadgets.

Courtesy-Fud

HipChat Adds Videocalling Feature

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hipchat-video-calls-150x150It just became easier for HipChat customers to see one another whenever they want it. The company launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.

HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.

Group video calls are only available for teams that pay for HipChat Plus, which costs $2 per user per month.

The new video calling features are based on technology HipChat vendor Atlassian acquired with the JitSi open source video-conferencing product. The company still makes the open source version available, but this integration brings video calling into HipChat natively.

Right now, group video calling is only available on HipChat’s desktop apps, but it will make its way to mobile in some form in the future.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Slack can answer with video calling features of its own, after the high-flying productivity startup acquired screen sharing company Screenhero in January 2015.

Some teams may still find themselves in need of dedicated videoconferencing services, if they use specialized hardware for video meetings or if their needs exceed what HipChat can offer. For example, meetings in HipChat can’t have moderators with special privileges, and are limited to 10 participants at launch.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

AMD Goes Turbo

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has put TrueAudio Next onto Github as part of its LiquidVR SDK.

AMD is trying to tackle the same audio problems as targeted by Nvidia’s VRWorks Audio. The aim according to the brief is to:

“Create a scalable AMD technology that enables full real-time dynamic physics-based audio acoustics rendering, leveraging the powerful resources of AMD GPU Compute.”

In other words, it will give immersive audio alongside VR headsets and allow audio to catch up a bit with graphics.

Writing in the GPU Open blog, Carl Wakeland, a Fellow Design Engineer at AMD, said that the 2D screen had resulted in sound never really getting a look in. Some games had bought in 3D audio as a novelty but this could be a distraction. But head-mounted display “changes everything.”

AMD TrueAudio Next is a significant step towards making environmental sound rendering closer to real-world acoustics with the modelling of the physics that propagate sound – AKA auralisation.

The new AMD TrueAudio Next library is a high-performance, OpenCL-based real-time math acceleration library for audio, with special emphasis on GPU compute acceleration. But it is not perfect yet, although the fact it has real-time GPU compute backing it up it is pretty good, apparently.

Wakeland says that two primary algorithms need to be catered for – time-varying convolution (in the audio processing component) and ray-tracing (in the propagation component).

“On AMD Radeon GPUs, ray-tracing can be accelerated using AMD’s open-source FireRays library, and time-varying real-time convolution can be accelerated with the AMD TrueAudio Next library.”

AMD uses a new ‘CU Reservation’ feature to reserve some CUs for audio, as necessary, and the use of asynchronous compute.

 

Courtesy-Fud

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