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Ohio Wooing Amazon For Billion Dollar Data Center

September 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

State and local officials in Ohio are attempting to woo Amazon.com Inc with tax breaks and other perks to convince the No. 1 U.S. online retailer to build a $1.1 billion data center in central Ohio and create 120 jobs, according to public records.

The records offer a rare look at the typically tight-lipped company’s growth plans for its popular cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, founded in 2006. There are 10 AWS data centers, called regions within the company, around the world, including four in the United States, AWS said.

“We are constantly evaluating a long list of additional target countries and U.S. locations,” AWS said in a statement.

In late August, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority extended an estimated $81 million in tax breaks to an Amazon subsidiary called Vadata Inc, according to state filings.

In exchange for the tax deal, Amazon has committed to invest at least $1.1 billion over the next three years to build a data center. It will also create 120 jobs with an average salary of $80,208 by the end of 2018, according to the filing.

Separately, city officials in Dublin, Ohio, are also looking to transfer 68.7 acres of city-owned land to the company from 2015 until 2024 – worth $6.75 million – among other perks, according to city documents posted online.

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported that Dublin city officials are expected to vote on whether to proceed with the Amazon offer on Sept. 22.

 

 

 

AMD and Ubuntu Working Together On Canonical

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has joined with Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical to make it easier for users to deploy an Openstack private cloud.

The partnership comprises of the Seamicro SM15000 server, the Ubuntu LTS 14.04 Linux distribution and Openstack, which includes a set of tools to build more flexible and reliable private clouds.

“The AMD and Canonical collaboration overcomes the complexity of deploying OpenStack technology and provides an out of the box experience making it possible to deploy a private cloud in hours compared to days,” AMD said.

“The joint solution automates complex configuration tasks, simplifies management, and provides a graphical user interface to dynamically deploy new services on demand.”

AMD said that a large amount of engineering resources have gone into the project to provide an integrated set of products that mitigate the complexity of an Openstack technology deployment.

“The SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack is an amazing solution filling a need in the industry for an Openstack solution that can be deployed easily without spending a fortune on professional services or hiring teams of people,” the firm added.

The Seamicro SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack combination is touted as one the most scalable configurations in the industry, due to its benchmark record for hyperscale cloud computing. The record of 168,000 virtual machines was achieved using Metal as a Service (MAAS) and Juju, both part of Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack. MAAS was used to deliver the bare metal servers, storage and networking, and Juju was used for deployment.

The solution is available today, the firms announced jointly, boasting it is “the most scalable, automated application for deploying Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack in hyperscale environments”.

Today AMD also announced another partnership, with RealVNC to bring remote access software to devices running AMD Firepro professional graphics cards.

The venture is said to “get an experience similar to using a local desktop” and will integrate the software with AMD’s Firepro line of professional graphics cards so users can “work at whole new levels of detail, speed, responsiveness and creativity, wherever they are in the world, whenever they need to”.

The collaboration also allows users to edit hi-resolution photos, edit and manipulate 4k videos or render large 3D and CAD files from a laptop and, eventually, even their tablets or smartphones.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Does Lexar Have The Fastest SD Cards?

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

flash storage vendor to claim the title of the fastest SD card.

Just a day after we reported on the Sandisk Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-I card, the Micron subsiduary has announced the Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II range.

The new UHS-II standard cards offer transfer speeds of up to 300MBps, with write speeds of 260MBps, making them up to three times the speed of the Sandisk UHS-I card.

“UHS-II technology really raises the bar in terms of performance. The latest UHS-II additions to our Lexar Professional product portfolio provide users the ability to capture and offload work even faster, so they can get back to what’s important–capturing great images and video,” said Lexar director of card product marketing Adam Kaufman.

“Our multi-line UHS-II product offering gets performance into the hands of any user at a great value and with the Professional 2000x card, it comes right out of the box.”

UHS-II cards are backwards compatible with previous generations, automatically downgrading to UHS-I and Class 10 for compatibility, but the company is also offering the SR2 reader, an add-on device that allows you to use the 2000x series at its full potential.

The company has also added to its 1000x range with transfer speeds of 150MBps/95MBps. All cards come with Image Rescue software and a limited lifetime warranty.

Both cards will be available in the last quarter of the year. The 2000x series will come in 32GB and 64GB flavors for $150.99 and $199.99. The 1000x series starts at $49.99 for 16GB, with increments all the way up to a 256GB version for $799.99. The Professional Workflow SR2 reader will cost $39.99.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Adobe’s Subscription Plan Working?

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe has posted a 46 per cent year-on-year drop in net profits, placing its strategy of shifting customers to cloud subscriptions into doubt. For two years, the company has tried to stop punters making one-off purchases of software and move them on to Creative Cloud subscriptions.

It worked well initially but it seems that the results are not that good with Adobe blaming higher operating expenses and weaker profit margins for the sharp dip in profits.

Revenue from Adobe’s digital media business, which includes Creative Cloud, fell by more than 2 per cent in the third quarter. It is not because customers did not like the idea. Adobe added around half a million subscribers. The company says it has 2.8 million Creative Cloud customers, up from 2.3 million in the previous quarter.

What appears to have happened is that Adobe has success converting enterprise customers to Creative Cloud, small businesses and individuals are more reluctant to sign up for rolling subscriptions, and are sticking with older versions of products such as Photoshop and InDesign.

Adobe recently introduced lower-cost subscription packages for photographers, which include Photoshop and Lightroom for a quarter of the original price.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM New Training Program Results In Pay Cut For Enrolled Employees

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

IBM has started a new training program that will cut the pay of participating employees by 10%.

According to an IBM internal memo dated Sept 12th. The memo sent to affected employees begins by telling the worker that an assessment has revealed “that some managers and employees have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”

It then tells the recipient that “you have been identified as one of these employees,” and says that from mid-October through the end of March, “you will dedicate up to one day per week,” or up to 23 working days total, “to focus on learning and development.”

But IBM is coupling this training with a six month salary reduction. The key statement in the memo is this: “While you spend part of your workweek on learning and development activities, you will receive 90% of your current base salary.”

Salary will be restored to the full rate effective April 1, 2015.

Asked about program, IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino said the firm “is implementing a skills development program for a small number of U.S. strategic outsourcing employees. Under this program, these employees will spend one day a week developing skills in key growth areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile and social.”

There was negative reaction from some IBM employees.

One IBM IT professional, who asked not to be identified, said he was “shocked” to be added to the list, particularly since his work has been consistently praised by managers.

By reducing pay “by a significant amount,” IBM is acting “in the hopes that the employees won’t be able to sustain that pay and decide to quit, exempting IBM from letting them go and have to pay severance,” the employee said.

One source familiar with the program said the percentage of employees impacted is small, in the single digits.

While employees may see the pay cut as unfair, the salary reduction is viewed by management as a form of employee “co-investment” in training, and as a better alternative to laying off and hiring employees with the latest skills. It’s not that these employees lack skills, but they don’t necessarily have the ones that are needed today, the source said.

 

 

 

 

Google Targeting New Mexico To Test Internet Delivery Drones

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is gearing up to test Internet delivery by drone high above New Mexico, according to a government filing.

The company has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use two blocks of frequencies for the tests, which are scheduled to last about six months and begin in October. They will be conducted above an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers in the center of New Mexico to the east of Albuquerque.

“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google said in its application. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”

Google said its application for temporary permission to make the transmissions was needed “for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

The FCC allows companies to redact certain portions of their applications when they might provide too much information to competitors.

In the application, Google said it wants to use two blocks of frequencies, one between 910MHz and 927MHz and one between 2.4GHz and 2.414GHz. Both are so-called “industrial, scientific and medical” (ISM) bands typically used for unlicensed operations.

The application has not yet been approved.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by the company to trial Internet delivery from the skies.

The company unveiled its ambitious Project Loon last year, which uses a series of high-altitude balloons that float in winds at about 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth. The first experiments with Loon involved using a transmission system based on WiFi, but earlier this year the company began experimenting with LTE cellular transmissions in a test site in Nevada.

Google acquired Titan Aerospace in April this year for an undisclosed price.

 

Is PayPal Taking Shots At Apple Pay?

September 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Paypal has taken out some full page newspaper ads that try to lure users away from Apple Pay and back to its long-standing alternative.

eBay-owned Paypal has already swiped at Apple Pay in a blog post, but it wasn’t very critical.

It asked consumers a number of questions about how they might choose a payment provider, and reminded them of the things that they should consider before deciding to embrace Apple Pay.

That was on 9 September, at which time the firm kicked off a marketing campaign, which was backed by some online videos, to remind people of its length of time in the industry.

“We’ve been centered on payments for 15 years working across all platforms, all parts of the ecosystem and compliant with regulations. Keeping people’s money safe is our top priority,” it said, before asking punters to consider what kind of outfit they place their trust in.

The newspaper ads go further and straight for the jugular, and bring up a recent incident in which Apple was criticised for lack of security.

Inciting the market, and hopefully taking its mind off the fees Paypal takes on transactions, Paypal said that “people rule” and that these ruling people demand that their money be kept safer than their selfies.

This is a very obvious dig at Apple over the recent celebrity pictures leak that was traced to iCloud.

Remember though, that while Paypal asked merchants and customers to connect only with providers that they trust, its service is accepted as a payment mechanism on iTunes.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Software Patents Going Bye Bye?

September 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like attempts to apply patents to software are being killed off by the US court system, after the Supreme Court ruled against certain aspects of the software being patented.

The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

Now the lower courts appear to be bringing the ruling’s practical consequences into focus and it looks like software patents are getting a kicking. There have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision and each of them has led to the patent being invalidated.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Patent Office handed out a growing number of what might be called “do it on a computer” patents. These patents take some activity that people have been doing for centuries — say, holding funds in escrow until a transaction is complete — and claim the concept of performing that task with a computer or over the internet. The patents are typically vague about how to perform the task in question.

The Supreme Court invalidated a patent which claimed that it’s owners invented the concept of using a computer to hold funds in escrow to reduce the risk that one party would fail to deliver on an agreement. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a computer did not turn this centuries-old concept into a new invention.

This has lead to lots of other patents being declared llegal. On July 6, a Delaware trial court rejected a Comcast patent that claimed the concept of a computerized telecommunications system checking with a user before deciding whether to establish a new connection. The court said that the patent could easily be performed by human beings making telephone calls.

Basically this means that you can’t take a normal human activity, do it with a computer and call it an patentable invention.

It would kill off the famous one click patent if that were ever challenged.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp To Manufacture Low-power Mobile Displays

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sharp has targeted 2017 for mass production of a new display it says will reduce power consumption in mobile phones and tablets.

The MEMS-IGZO display, being developed under a 2012 tie-up with Qualcomm subsidiary Pixtronix, could be used in smartphones and tablets as well as larger displays.

Compared to current LCDs, MEMS-IGZO technology can operate without blurring the image in temperatures as low as -30 C (-32 F), offers better color purity and gamut, and has ultra-low power consumption.

Depending on usage, devices could run for twice as long using the new displays instead of LCD, said Pixtronix President Greg Heinzinger.

The “programmable display” can change power usage depending on whether the user is looking at a video or an e-book, for instance, Heinzinger said, adding that most display technologies use the same power regardless of the content. Color gamut, depth and fidelity can also be modified depending on use.

Power efficiency will become a crucial feature of next-generation displays because resolution has basically reached the limits of perception of the human eye, Sharp Devices Group Chief Officer Norikazu Hohshi told the briefing.

The company is licensing MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology from Pixtronix. Qualcomm has long been trying to make the technology popular, and commercialized its related Mirasol low-power display in its Toq smartwatch last year.

MEMS displays work in a fundamentally different way than LCDs. Thousands of miniature shutters, as tiny as one per pixel, modulate light emitted from RGB LEDs to produce different colors. It takes only 100 microseconds for the shutters to move and the system has a faster reaction time than LCD pixels, which are each paired with a color filter to allow either red, blue or green light to pass.

IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) refers to Sharp’s semiconductor technology used with the MEMS shutters. The MEMS-IGZO displays can be built using existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure, which would be a cost benefit.

 

 

Google Launches Android One Program

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google Inc rolled out in India on Monday the first smartphones under its Android One project, pricing them at around 6,399 rupees ($105) to capture the low-cost segment of the world’s fastest growing smartphone market.

The Mountain View-Based company tied up with Indian mobile players Micromax, Karbonn and Spice Mobiles to launch the affordable phones, which are powered by its operating system and aimed at emerging markets.

After launching in India, Google said it plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.

Google outlined the pricing and expansion details in a marketing document seen by Reuters. The company is due to host an official media event later on Monday.

India is seen as a lucrative market for low-cost smartphones because many people are buying the devices for the first time. Just 10 percent of the India’s population currently owns a smartphone, brokerage Nomura said in a recent research note, and that figure is likely to double over the next four years.

Google, however, is not the only company jostling for a share of the Indian market.

There are at least 80 smartphone brands in India and analysts say the Android One phones must offer customers more than just affordability if it wants to compete with similarly priced devices made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Motorola and China’s Xiaomi.

“The initial pricing never sticks but it’ll be tough for them to compete if they don’t come down further,” said Neil Shah, research director for devices and ecosystems at Hong Kong-based technology research agency Counterpoint Research.

In June, Google had announced the launch of the Android One project, which aims to boost demand for low-end Android smartphones by vastly improving their quality.

 

HP Scoops Up Eucalyptus Software

September 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

HP is about to make one of its few purchases since it cocked up buying Autonomy in 2011.

HP wants to buy cloud software startup Eucalyptus Software which provides open-source software for building private and hybrid clouds, or Internet-based computing services.

It is not a big sale — HP is tipped to pay less than $100 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the fiscal fourth quarter, after which Eucalyptus Chief Executive Officer Marten Mickos will join HP as senior vice president and head of its cloud business. He will report to CEO Meg Whitman and be tasked to buy HP’s “Helion” cloud computing services. Martin Fink, who now leads the cloud business, will remain chief technology officer as well as director of HP Labs, which focuses on researching next-generation products.

Although it has been making losses, HP has a lot of cash in the bank. It ended the July 2014 quarter with $4.9 billion in operating company net cash. In August, Whitman told analysts HP was in a position to make acquisitions if needed, though it remains committed to returning half its cash to shareholders.

Courtesy-TheInq

HP May Be Looking To Unload Snapfish

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hewlett-Packard Co is taking a look at putting its web-based photo sharing service Snapfish on the block, and has held discussions with multiple private equity and industry buyers, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Snapfish, which HP bought for more than $300 million in 2005 and currently sits within its printing and personal systems group, is considered non-core for the company, the person said, asking not to be named because the matter is not public.

A spokesman for HP declined to comment.

Last year, HP replaced the printing and personal business’ long-time head Todd Bradley with former Lenovo executive Dion Weisler. Bradley has since left the technology company, to join Tibco Software Inc as its president.

Some of the parties that have been eyeing Snapfish have also expressed interest in buying another online photo-sharing services provider, Shutterfly Inc, the person said.

Shutterfly hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners over the summer to find a buyer, and is expected wrap up its process in the next several weeks, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

 

 

iPhone 6 Plus Already Delayed Due To High Demand

September 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Customers may have to wait three to four weeks to get their hands on Apple Inc’s  iPhone 6 Plus, after a record number of orders for the company’s latest smartphones put a huge dent in the available supply.

The new iPhone 6 goes on sale on Sept. 19 in the United States but the company began taking online orders on Thursday. While the larger 5.5-inch “Plus” models now display a wait time of up to a month, the 4.7-inch version remains available for delivery on Sept. 19, Apple’s website showed.

Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint Corp, also showed shipment delays of up to six weeks on their respective websites. Apple said the pace of orders has so far outstripped any of its previous iPhones.

“Response to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been incredible, with a record number of pre-orders overnight. Pre-orders are currently available online or through the Apple Store App,” spokeswoman Trudy Muller said.

Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design. The latest iPhones come with larger screens and some analysts had anticipated that production issues may keep a lid on initial runs.

Its suppliers had scrambled to get enough screens ready because the need to redesign a key component had disrupted panel production, supply chain sources told Reuters last month.

It was unclear whether the hiccup could limit the number of phones available to consumers, the sources said at the time. Apple declined to comment on supply chain issues.

In addition, Chinese customers may also have to wait until the year-end before they can buy the iPhone 6. Apple is yet to set a release date for China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.

The company unveiled its latest iPhones along with a watch and a mobile payments service last Tuesday.

 

Intel Shows It’s Wireless Technology

September 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

Intel demoed its “no wires future” of wireless gigabit docking at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in California.

Intel wireless gigabit docking is a fully cable-free experience that includes wireless docking, wireless display and wireless charging. Intel demonstrated a reference design based on a next generation 14nm Intel processor on stage during its opening keynote on Tuesday.

Intel hopes to implement this technology by the end of 2015.

“Not only your wireless display, but storage, keyboard and mouse – all the other peripherals you have that have been weighing down our backpacks or strewn across our desk, we’re eliminating with one technology, and that’s wireless gigabit,” said an Intel expert on stage.

“It’s not only a secure and also localised connection – so you can use it in high dense areas such as in an office – but also extremely fast performing at over three times the performance of today’s WiFi.

“But while that’s cool we still have one more cord in our bag and let’s get rid of it: ditch that brick. That last thing that’s weighing us down is [resolved by] wireless power; the ease of use and installation it has is really going to be an advantage using the wireless resonance technology.”

The technology works over a simple receiver that goes into client devices, along with a resonance board that acts as a dock, which creates its own wireless hotspot.

Intel demonstrated how the standard will work using a laptop that automatically powered up and charged as soon as it reached the surface of the table due to the magnetic charging field built into the desk surface.

Intel said that this technology could also charge wireless Bluetooth earpieces, wearable devices, tablets and notebooks. However, it doesn’t have to be built into devices to work, as Intel said it can also be retrofitted into the cases of the devices we are carrying around.

Intel’s wireless gigabit technology is another push towards the firm’s vision of a cable-free future, meaning there’ll be no annoying wires or leads connecting computers to monitors, laptops to plug sockets or tablets to projectors.

The semiconductor giant first announced this view in August, saying that it’s looking to change the enterprise IT market with a strategy that will offer “three major experiences” in the office, that is, wireless display connectivity, wireless docking and wireless charging.

Courtesy-TheInq

BlackBerry Acquires Mobile Technology Start-up Movirtu

September 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry has purchased a U.K-based mobile technology start-up whose software allows multiple phone numbers on a single device, the Canadian tech firm said on Thursday.

The acquisition of Movirtu helps BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services to cater to the needs of its core base of corporate and government clients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Movirtu’s virtual SIM technology allows an individual to have both a personal and business number on a single mobile device, with separate billing for voice, data and messaging usage on each number.

This allows employees to switch between work and personal profiles easily without carrying multiple devices or SIM cards.

“Clearly this fits nicely within the strategy we have so far articulated. We are building recurring revenue streams in value-added services and providing more value to enterprises,” the head of BlackBerry’s enterprise unit John Sims said in an interview.

Sims said Movirtu’s technology would allow IT administrators for example to restrict calls and emails to a work number after a particular time, without blocking personal calls or emails to the same device.

BlackBerry, which dominated the smartphone market in its infancy, has been reshaping itself over the course of the last year as its devices have lost ground to Apple’s iPhone and a slew of rival devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.

Under the leadership of its new chief executive John Chen, the company has moved rapidly to stabilize itself by selling certain assets, partnering to make its manufacturing and supply chain more efficient, and raising cash via the sale of its real estate holdings.

Chen, a well-regarded turnaround artist in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like mobile data security and mobile device management.

The company has been making small acquisitions in the last few months, as it looks to build out its offerings for so-called enterprise clients made up primarily by large corporations and government agencies that are in many cases still major users of Blackberry devices.