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EU, USA Reach Deal On Data-transfer Pact

June 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. and the European Union have reportedly come to an agreement on the language of a key data transfer pact, including limits on U.S. surveillance.

The revamped EU-U.S. Privacy Shield was sent to EU member states overnight, according to a report from Reuters. Privacy Shield would govern how multinational companies handle the private data of EU residents.

Member states are expected to vote on the proposal in July, unnamed sources told Reuters. Representatives of the EU and the U.S. Department of Commerce didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments on the reported deal.

Critics of Privacy Shield, including European privacy regulators, have said the deal is too complex and fails to reflect key privacy principles.

The new language sent to member states includes stricter data-handling rules for companies holding Europeans’ information, Reuters reported. The new proposal also has the U.S. government explaining the conditions when they would collect data in bulk, according to the report.

Negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic have been rushing to craft a new trans-Atlantic data transfer agreement since the Court of Justice of the European Union struck down Safe Harbor, the previous transfer pact, last October.

The court ruled that Safe Harbor didn’t adequately protect European citizens’ personal information from massive and indiscriminate surveillance by U.S. authorities. Safe Harbor had been in place since 2000.

 

 

Intel May Get Rid Of Its Security Business

June 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Intel is contemplating shedding  its security business as the company tries to focus on delivering chips for cloud computing and connected devices, according to a news report.

The Intel Security business came largely from the company’s acquisition for $7.7 billion of security software company McAfee. Intel announced plans to bake some of the security technology into its chips to ensure higher security for its customers.

With the surge in cyberthreats, providing protection to the variety of Internet-connected devices — such as PCs, mobile devices, medical gear and cars — requires a fundamentally new approach involving software, hardware and services, the company said in February 2011, when announcing the completion of the McAfee acquisition.

Intel has been talking to bankers about the future of its cybersecurity business for a deal that would be one of the largest in the sector, reported The Financial Times, citing people close to the discussions. It said a group of private equity firms may join together to buy the security business if it is sold at the same price or higher than what Intel paid for it.

“I could see them selling a piece of the service, but not all security capabilities,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

“Intel has a decent security play right now and security is paramount to the future of IoT,” Moorhead said. “Hardware-based security is vital to the future of computing.”

Intel is declining to comment on the report, a company spokeswoman wrote in an email.

 

 

IBM Going After Chinese Supercomputer

June 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The US is clearly embarrassed the Chinese Sunway TiahuLight system is leading the supercomputer arms race. Now the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced that is having a new IBM system, named Summit, delivered in early 2018 that will now be capable of 200 peak petaflops.

That would make it almost twice as fast as TaihuLight.  The Summit will be based around IBM Power9 and Nvidia Volta GPUs. Summit use only about 3,400 nodes. Each node will have “over half a terabyte” of coherent memory (HBM + DDR4), plus 800GB of non-volatile RAM that serves as a burst buffer or extended memory.

IBM are not the only ones worried about the Chinese getting ahead on speed. Cray announced this week  its Cray XC systems are now available with the latest Intel Xeon Phi (Knights Landing) processors.

The company said the new XC systems, which feature an adaptive design that supports multiple processor and storage technologies in the same architecture, deliver a 100 per cent performance boost over prior generations. Cray also unveiled the Sonexion 3000 Lustre storage system, which can deliver speeds of almost 100GB/sec in a single rack.  These should be rather good at number crunching too.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel And Nokia Joining Forces

June 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia is teaming up with Intel to make its carrier-grade AirFrame Data Center Solution hardware available for an Open Platform Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) Lab.

Basically this means that the hardware can be used by the OPNFV collaborative open source community to accelerate the delivery of cloud-enabled networks and applications.

Nokia said the OPNFV Lab will be a testbed for NFV developers and accelerates the introduction of commercial open source NFV products and services. Developers can test carrier-grade NFV applications for performance and availability.

Nokia is making its AirFrame Data Center Solution available as a public OPNFV Lab with the support of Intel, which is providing Intel Xeon processors and solid state drives to give communications service providers the advantage of testing OPNFV projects on the latest and greatest server and storage technologies.

The Nokia AirFrame Data Center Solution is 5G-ready and Nokia said it was the first to combine the benefits of cloud computing technologies to meet the stringent requirements of the telco world. It’s capable of delivering ultra-low latency and supporting the kinds of massive data processing requirements that will be required in 5G.

Morgan Richomme, NFV network architect for Innovative Services at Orange Labs, OPNFV Functest PTL, in a release. “NFV interoperability testing is challenging, so the more labs we have, the better it will be collectively for the industry.”

AT&T has officially added Nokia to its list of 5G lab partners working to define 5G features and capabilities. It’s also working with Intel and Ericsson.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Apple Pulls The Plug On Thunderbolt Display

June 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple announced that is will discontinue its Thunderbolt Display, the high-resolution external display that users of the MacBook and other Macs could use to get a better picture and work with more apps.

The company said Thursday that the 27-inch widescreen display with LED backlight technology will be available on Apple’s online store, in Apple retail stores and from authorized resellers while supplies last.

The Thunderbolt Display currently retails on the Apple online store at $999. It has a 2560 x 1440 resolution.

It isn’t clear whether Apple plans to follow with newer versions that use 5K resolution displays at 5120 by 2880 pixels, which is the display technology Apple uses on its high-end iMac. There was speculation earlier that a new version would be announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference this month.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Apple planned to offer a refresh to the display.

Apple said in an emailed statement that “there are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

 

 

Apple Begins Testing Of Safari 10 Browser

June 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has begun testing Safari 10 with developers running the 2014 and 2015 editions of macOS, gearing up for a fall release of the updated browser to users of Yosemite and El Capitan.

Safari 10 was introduced earlier this month as part of macOS Sierra, this year’s operating system upgrade.

Apple typically supports its newest browser on three editions of macOS: The latest version and its two predecessors. The now-current Safari 9, for example, receives updates, including security patches, on last year’s El Capitan, 2014′s Yosemite and 2013′s Mavericks.

Safari 10 will be supported on Sierra, El Capitan and Yosemite. Meanwhile, Mavericks will remain on Safari 9.

The Safari 10 preview is currently available only to registered Apple developers, who pay $99 annually for access to early builds, development tools and documentation.

The general public will get its first look at Safari 10 next month after Apple opens up its broader-based public beta program for Sierra. Those who have signed on to the beta preview will also be able to download preliminary versions of Safari 10 for El Capitan and Yosemite, running the preview browser but sticking with their older, more stable operating systems.

Some of Safari 10′s signature features will be available only within macOS Sierra, including web-based Apple Pay — where payment is authorized with an iPhone or Apple Watch — but others will be supported by older versions of the operating system. Among the most notable are the new ability for developers to distribute and sell Safari add-ons in the Mac App Store, and easy portability of iOS content blockers to macOS.

If Apple replicates last year’s beta schedule, it will release the first public preview of macOS Sierra and Safari 10 around July 14.

 

 

Interest Grows In Collaborative Robots

June 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Robots that work as assistants in unison with people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, according to industry experts.

Collaborative robots, or “cobots”, tend to be inexpensive, easy to use and safe to be around. They can easily be adapted to new tasks, making them well-suited to small-batch manufacturing and ever-shortening product cycles.

Cobots can typically lift loads of up 10 kilograms (22 lb) and can be small enough to put on top of a workbench. They can help with repetitive tasks like picking and placing, packaging or gluing and welding.

Some can repeat a task after being guided once through the process by a worker and recording it. The price of a cobot can be as little as $10,000, although typically they cost two to three times that.

The global cobot market is set to grow from $116 million last year to $11.5 billion by 2025, capital goods analysts at Barclays estimate. That would be roughly equal to the size of the entire industrial robotics market today.

“By 2020 it will be a game-changer,” said Stefan Lampa, head of robotics of Germany’s Kuka, during a panel discussion organized by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) at the Automatica trade fair in Munich.

Growth in industrial robot unit sales slowed to 12 percent last year from 29 percent in 2014, the IFR said on Wednesday, weighed by a sharp fall in top buyer China.

The world’s top industrial robot makers – Japan’s Fanuc and Yaskawa, Swiss ABB and Kuka – all have collaborative robots on the market, although sales are not yet significant for them.

But the market leader and pioneer is Denmark’s Universal Robots, a start-up that sold its first cobot in 2009 and was acquired by U.S. automatic test equipment maker Teradyne for $285 million last year.

 

 

Mobile World Congress Coming To USA In 2017

June 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile World Congress, considered by many experts as the most important tech trade show in the world, is coming to the U.S. Trade groups GSMA and CTIA are joining forces to bring a smaller version of the event to the U.S. in 2017.

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas will debut Sept. 12 to 14, 2017, in San Francisco and will replace U.S. trade group CTIA’s Super Mobility conference. Super Mobility will continue this year in Las Vegas from Sept. 7 to 9.

The new conference will be the “first truly global wireless event” in the Americas, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement.

The new trade show, however, will apparently be more focused, spotlighting the leading innovations from the North American mobile industry, John Hofman, CEO of GSMA, said in a statement.

The trade groups expect about 30,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors at the 2017 trade show, similar to the numbers from CTIA’s Super Mobility conference.

GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year drew more than 100,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibitors. The 2017 Barcelona event will take place from Feb. 27 to March 2.

The new Mobile World Congress Americas will feature C-level speakers, exhibits featuring the latest mobile technologies, and a regulatory and public policy program.

 

 

Google Fiber Acquires Webpass, Increases Urban Coverage

June 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google Fiber has agreed to purchase Internet service provider Webpass to quickly increase its urban coverage and offer customers a combination of fiber and wireless delivery of high-speed Internet.

For Google Fiber, which has typically worked with cities in planning and building a fiber network from scratch, the acquisition will give the Alphabet business a headstart in many markets, particularly in dense urban areas.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Google did not immediately comment on the acquisition.

Webpass in San Francisco owns and operates its Ethernet network, thus removing its dependence on phone and cable companies. It has operations in San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, San Diego, Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago and Boston. The company offers business connections from 10 to 1,000 Mbps and to residential customers service from 100 Mbps to 1Gbps.

Google is already working in San Francisco, where Webpass also operates, and is negotiating with property owners and managers in buildings near existing fiber infrastructure to explore connecting their residents to gigabit Internet.

Webpass will help to further expand that coverage as it will remain focused on the rapid deployment of high-speed Internet connections for residential and commercial buildings, mainly using point-to-point wireless, Webpass President Charles Barr said in a blog post Wednesday that announced the proposed acquisition.

“Google Fiber’s resources will enable Webpass to grow faster and reach many more customers than we could as a standalone company,” Barr wrote.

 

 

 

BlackBerry Says Device Business Is Top Priority

June 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd’s top priority this year is to make its devices business turn a profit, its chief executive said, even as it weighs the future of its hardware operation.

“The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line,” Chief Executive John Chen told investors at the company’s annual meeting. “We’ve got to get there this year.”

Chen has previously said a decision would be made by September on the future of the unit, which has suffered a sustained drop in sales in recent quarters.

But at the meeting, attended by around 100 people, he said he sees better opportunity in providing services that enable increasingly commoditized hardware to do more.

“I don’t personally believe handsets will be the future of any company,” he said.

BlackBerry, once the smartphone market leader before being displaced by Apple Inc and competitors run on Alphabet Inc’s Android platform, has worked to reposition itself as a software and service provider focused on device management for large organizations.

In its presentation to investors, the company said it expects the broader market for types of software it is producing to expand to $17.6 billion by 2019, from $525 million in 2012 and below $4 billion in 2015, powered by growth in medical, legal, financial and automotive industries.

But some of those in attendance were skeptical about BlackBerry’s ability to deliver on its strategic pivot.

“The first word that comes to mind is lackluster,” said one shareholder at the meeting who declined to give his name. “Time is running out.”

Chen reiterated that BlackBerry wants to grow its software revenue by 30 percent in this fiscal year, which he estimated would be double overall market growth, and to notch positive free cash flow.

BlackBerry is due to report first quarter results on Thursday.

Chen took up the CEO role in 2013 with a reputation as a turnaround artist. But the company’s stock has only risen modestly since then, with many investors waiting for signs the now-smaller company will be able to carve out new opportunities.

“I appreciate the strategy,” said Ken Tota, an investor in BlackBerry’s biggest shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. He said he was optimistic a renewed focus on security could help reinvigorate BlackBerry over the next five years.

“It’s a niche, but it’s a worldwide niche,” he said.

 

 

Twitter Moves Further Into Video With New ‘Watch Mode’ Feature

June 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter is looking to compete even more with Facebook. The platform is moving into video in a major way with 140-second clips in both Twitter proper and Vine, a new video section called Watch Mode, and video recommendations for other videos to watch. The network’s most popular users, like President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber, are getting a stand-alone app called Engage, which sounds a lot like Facebook Mentions.

Twitter is making video a huge priority by extending video length from 30 seconds to 140 seconds (staying on-brand, of course). Those longer videos are also coming to Vine, but don’t worry, the popular app for creating hilarious video loops isn’t changing its 6-second limit. Instead, you can post 140-second clips alongside your Vines.

You won’t have to watch these longer videos in-tweet. Now tapping on a video in your timeline will launch a new full-screen viewing mode with recommended clips surfaced just below. The same experience applies to longer videos on Vine.

The new features are rolling out soon on Twitter for iOS and Android.

Twitter Engage launched Tuesday on iOS to help video creators and other important people see metrics on their clips, including likes, retweets, mentions, and views. They can also see demographics for their videos and a feed of what their fans are talking about.

Unlike Facebook Mentions, Engage isn’t solely aimed at celebrities. But the two apps are similar in that they show mentions from so-called “influencers” and filter comments from fans.

Twitter has to try new things, especially since its user growth has stalled at 310 million monthly active users and Wall Street isn’t happy about it. To compare, Instagram just announced it has more than 500 million monthly active users, 300 million of whom check the app on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

Twitter Acquires Machine Learning Company Magic Pony

June 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter has been quite vocal regarding its interest in machine learning in recent years, and earlier this week the company put its money where its mouth is once again by purchasing London startup Magic Pony Technology, which has focused on visual processing.

“Magic Pony’s technology — based on research by the team to create algorithms that can understand the features of imagery — will be used to enhance our strength in live [streaming] and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter,” Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

The startup’s team includes 11 Ph.Ds with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, high-performance computing and computational neuroscience, Dorsey said. They’ll join Twitter’s Cortex group, made up of engineers, data scientists and machine-learning researchers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition follows several related purchases by the social media giant, including Madbits in 2014 and Whetlab last year.

 

 

 

Is IBM’s Watson Driving Cars?

June 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has put its Watson artificial intelligence (AI) tech into a 3D printed car, merging two tech trends to create a self-driving pseudo milk float.

The electric vehicle, dubbed Olli, can hold up to 12 people rather than a load of bottled cow juice, and can be seen on the streets of Washington DC, and soon Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas.

OK, so we know that driverless cars are pretty much a thing now, particularly as we spotted one near Google’s Mountain View HQ. But the smart thing about Olli is its use of Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive, a version of the cognitive computing tech that allows people to talk to the vehicle.

Passengers can ask Olli the evergreen ‘Are we there yet?’ and it will answer, hopefully in a mildly exasperated voice. It’s basically a bit like Knight Rider‘s KITT only less stylish and without The Hoff.

However, Olli is not just a chatty car as the Watson IoT tech helps it to learn as it ferries people around and gathers data from over 30 sensors around the chassis.

The Olli was designed and built by Local Motors. Co-founder John B Rogers Jr, who has one of the most American names we have ever written, said: “Olli with Watson acts as our entry into the world of self-driving vehicles, something we’ve been quietly working on with our co-creative community for the past year.

“We are now ready to accelerate the adoption of this technology and apply it to nearly every vehicle in our current portfolio and those in the very near future. I’m thrilled to see what our open community will do with the latest in advanced vehicle technology.”

Several tech and car companies now working on driverless cars, and the roads could become an automotive robot battleground as Google’s self-driving cars compete with Mercedes’ autonomous automobiles.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Dell Close To Deal To Sell Software Business

June 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Buyout firm Francisco Partners and the private equity arm of activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp are in advanced negotiations to purchase Dell Inc’s software division for more than $2 billion, three people familiar with the matter said.

Divesting the software assets will help Dell refocus its technology portfolio and bolster its balance sheet after it agreed in October to buy data storage company EMC Corp for $67 billion. EMC owns a controlling stake in VMware Inc, a cloud-based virtualization software company.

Dell is seeking to sell almost all of its software assets, including Quest Software, which helps with information technology management, as well as SonicWall, an e-mail encryption and data security provider, the people said.

Boomi, a smaller asset focusing on cloud-based software integration, will be retained by Dell, one of the people added.

An agreement between Dell and the consortium of Francisco Partners and Elliott could be reached as early as this week, the people said, cautioning that the negotiations could still end unsuccessfully.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Dell declined to comment, while Francisco Partners and Elliott did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A sale of Dell’s software division would free it from some of its least profitable assets and cap the program of divestitures that the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker embarked on following its deal with EMC. EMC shareholders are due to vote on the deal with Dell on July 19.

While Elliott has sought to buy companies in the past as part of its shareholder activist campaigns, the Dell software deal would represent its first major private equity investment since it hired Isaac Kim, previously a principal at private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, last year to help expand its capacity in leveraged buyouts.

Francisco Partners focuses on private equity investments in the technology sector. It has raised about $10 billion in capital and invested in more than 150 technology companies since it was launched more than 15 years ago.

 

 

 

FAA Set To Announce Commercial Drone Rules

June 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration this week is expected to unveil rules for the commercial use of drones, but the new regulations will limit their flights to daytime and to within the line of sight of operators.

The specifics of the rules, which will allow drones weighing about 50 pounds, could come at some point today, The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting industry officials. But they are unlikely to please some proposed commercial operations of drones, which would like the aircraft to be allowed to operate at night and outside the operator’s line of sight.

The FAA in February 2015 proposed draft rules, which would allow commercial drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems, to operate, though under restrictions such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds (25 kilograms), flight altitude of a maximum of 500 feet (152 meters) above ground level, and rules that limit flights to daylight and to the visual line of sight of the operators.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in January that the much-delayed rules would be finalized by late spring. “By late spring, we plan to finalize Part 107, our small UAS rule, which will allow for routine commercial drone operations,” Huerta said at an event in May, reiterating the proposed timeline.

But Amazon.com told the FAA last year that the rules as proposed would not allow its Prime Air package delivery service to take off. Pointing out that its drones require minimal human intervention, Amazon recommended that the rules “specifically permit the operation of multiple small UAS by a single UAS operator when demonstrated that this can be done safely.”

The FAA said in May it was setting up a long-term advisory committee, led by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, to guide it on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace. The FAA has already been permitting as exemptions some experimental uses of drones.

New safety rules in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, passed by the U.S. Senate in April, propose a pilot program to develop and test technologies to intercept or shut down drones when they are near airports. To avoid conflict between the variety of laws enacted by the states and federal regulations on drones, the bill has proposed that the FAA rules on drones get preemption over local and state laws. But some legislators  are expected to oppose the rule that will prevent the states from making laws on drones as the bill goes to the U.S. House of Representatives.