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Apple Mac Sales Slump

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple announced last week that it had sold a record number of Macs for a September quarter.

“The Mac…had its best year ever, with the highest annual Mac revenue in Apple’s history,” said CEO Tim Cook in prepared remarks during a Nov. 2 call with Wall Street analysts. Apple recorded revenue of $25.8 billion from Mac sales in its fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30.

Mac unit sales of nearly 5.4 million bested both industry and financial analysts’ expectations. Before Apple released its data, research firm IDC had pegged Apple’s number at 4.9 million, while rival Gartner offered an even lower estimate: 4.6 million. And according to Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who regularly polls Wall Street for quarterly forecasts, every analyst from a group of more than two dozen undershot Mac sales, some by over half a million machines.

Unit sales were up 10.2% over the same quarter in 2016, and the Mac’s ASP, or “average selling price,” jumped to $1,331, a year-over-year rise of $156, for an increase of 13.3%.

According to IDC, the 5.4 million Macs represented almost exactly 8% of the 67.2 million personal computers shipped worldwide in the September quarter.

Apple executives explained the bonanza in different ways when they spoke with financial experts last week.

“This performance was fueled primarily by great demand for MacBook Pro,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “[And] we are also seeing great traction for Mac in the enterprise market, with all-time record customer purchases in fiscal year 2017.”

“Mac revenue growth…was driven by notebook refreshes we launched in June and a strong back-to-school season,” asserted Cook.

When asked why the Mac beat outsiders’ sales predictions, IDC Research Director Linn Huang concurred with Cook that back-to-school sales had been strong. But he had another idea. “To understand 2017, you have to go back to 2016, which was a very poor year for Apple,” said Huang. “It ended a very long stretch where Apple consistently beat the [PC] market.”

Facebook Workplace Finds Enterprise Client in Virgin Atlantic

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The nature of Virgin Atlantic’s business means many of its employees are continuously globetrotting. Ensuring effective communications channels – a challenge for any company – isn’t easy: nearly half of the airline’s 10,000 employees are cabin or cockpit crew members.

Two months ago, the airline rolled out Facebook’s Workplace, the business version of the social network tool, in a bid to improve information-sharing between staff and senior execs. It currently functions primarily as an intranet for internal communications, though the company plans to integrate the software with other apps and processes, such as ServiceNow, eventually.

Since it was launched, Workplace has been widely adopted across the organization, said Virgin Atlantic CIO and senior vice president for technology Don Langford.

“We went live in the beginning of September and our target for the end of the year was for us to be at 65% adoption,” he said. “We are already over that now; we have got over 7,000 people up on it, so over 70%.”

Aside from the 70% activation rate, 65% are accessing the tool on a weekly basis, and 32% of groups are active weekly. (Tellingly, 34% of the users have added their own Workplace profile pictures.)

Deploying an enterprise social network is one thing, but convincing people to use it daily is often quite another. Raúl Castañón-Martínez, senior analyst at 451 Research, said that adoption rate of Workplace at Virgin Atlantic is “very impressive,” particularly considering the number of users accessing the tool on a weekly basis.

“It validates Workplace’s value proposition, which is based on widespread adoption across the organization,” he said.

Langford credited the swift uptake to the familiarity workers already had with Facebook – a potential lesson for other companies.

“Workplace has that advantage of having that same interface, that same way of working,” he said, “and we felt – correctly it turned out – that using Workplace would allow our people to move quite seamlessly across from a Facebook platform to a Workplace platform…. That certainly proved to be true.”

Verizon Wireless To Sign A Streaming Deal With NFL

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc, no. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, is closing in on a deal  with the National Football League for digital streaming rights, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

With the new agreement, Verizon will be able to give subscribers access to games on all devices, including big-screen TVs, and not just phones, according to the people, Bloomberg said.

Verizon will lose exclusive rights to air games on mobile devices, Bloomberg quoted two people as saying. Verizon’s rights will include the NFL’s Thursday night games, among others, one of the people said, according to Bloomberg.

Financial details and the duration of Verizon’s contract with the NFL could not immediately be learned, Bloomberg said.

Neither NFL nor Verizon could immediately be reached for a comment by Reuters.

OnePlus Phones Have Dangerous Hacking Backdoor

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Hackers who obtained OnePlus phones can obtain virtually unlimited access to files and software through use of a testing tool called EngineerMode that the company evidently left on the devices.

Robert Baptiste, a freelance security researcher who goes by the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter after the “Mr. Robot” TV show character, found the tool on a OnePlus phone and tweeted his findings Monday. Researchers at security firm SecureNow helped figure out the tool’s password, a step that means hackers can get unrestricted privileges on the phone as long as they have the device in their possession.

The EngineeerMode software functions as a backdoor, granting access to someone other than an authorized user. Escalating those privileges to full do-anything “root” access required a few lines of code, Baptiste said.

“It’s quite severe,” Baptiste said via a Twitter direct message.

OnePlus disagreed, though it said it’s decided to modify EngineerTool.

“EngineerMode is a diagnostic tool mainly used for factory production line functionality testing and after sales support,” the company said in a statement. Root access “is only accessible if USB debugging, which is off by default, is turned on, and any sort of root access would still require physical access to your device. While we don’t see this as a major security issue, we understand that users may still have concerns and therefore we will remove the adb [Android Debug Bridge command-line tool] root function from EngineerMode in an upcoming OTA.”

SecureNow found the tool on the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 5. Android Police reported it’s also on the OnePlus 3T. And Baptiste said it’s also on the new OnePlus 5T.

Baptiste had spotted evidence that EngineerMode was written by mobile chipmaker Qualcomm. But Qualcomm said Wednesday that’s not the case.

“After an in-depth investigation, we have determined that the EngineerMode app in question was not authored by Qualcomm,” the company said in a statement. “Although remnants of some Qualcomm source code is evident, we believe that others built upon a past, similarly named Qualcomm testing app that was limited to displaying device information. EngineerMode no longer resembles the original code we provided.”

Microsoft Unveils ‘Near Share’ Wireless File-sharing Feature

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft last week unveiled another Windows 10 preview, a regular occurrence in its Insider program, that featured a handful of additions to the under-construction OS. One of those, called “Near Share,” is a simple wireless service meant for impromptu file transfer between devices.

The easiest way to pigeonhole Near Share is to think of it as Microsoft’s belated doppelgänger of Apple’s “AirDrop,” the share service that debuted on Macs, iPhones and iPads six years ago.

Although AirDrop is one of the most under-used tools in macOS and iOS, there’s no reason Near Share has to follow suit on Windows 10. That’s why Computerworld dug up information on the feature now, rather than wait for its debut next year.

Near Share is Microsoft’s name for its ad hoc file transfer feature in Windows 10.

Like Apple’s AirDrop, which it resembles, Near Share is a file transfer service that works only between nearby devices. It’s designed for occasional inter-device transfer where simplicity and convenience are paramount. Rather than email a presentation from one device to another, for example, or upload to an online storage service or the network, Near Share lets one user zip the file directly from his or her PC to a colleague’s.

Not to beat the comparison horse, but again, it works much like AirDrop, the iOS and macOS file-sharing feature. Near Share relies on both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth alone, to sniff out nearby devices, create an ad hoc peer-to-peer network, then transfer the file.

Like AirDrop, Windows 10’s Near Share uses Bluetooth to broadcast the presence of the sharing-enabled device, detect other ready devices, then negotiate the connection between the two. For all but the smallest files – which are transmitted via Bluetooth – Near Share moves the file over a point-to-point Wi-Fi link.

That Wi-Fi connection uses the Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer (P2P) industry standard.

Microsoft doesn’t say, but Bluetooth – the limiting factor here – can reach as far as 300 feet. Most Bluetooth, however, maxes out at an effective range that’s considerably less. Apple, for instance, recommends that AirDrop be used only when devices are within 30 feet of each other.

Microsoft debuted the file transmission in Build 17035 of its Windows 10 Insider program, released Nov. 8. Devices on both ends of the transfer must be running that or a later build of Insider. The feature must also be enabled on both devices by toggling the “Near Share” switch under the “Shared Experiences” section of Settings.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios must also be present in both devices. A Wi-Fi connection to the Internet, or even a Wi-Fi network, is not necessary.

DiD apple Rush The iPhone X

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

There seem to be more local problems popping up on Apple’s latest super expensive iPhone X.

According to Macrumors, one of the bugs is related to audio. Some people rich enough to own the latest phone are reporting buzzing and crackling from the stereo speakers.

Some people rich enough to own the latest phone are reporting buzzing and crackling from the stereo speakers.

One customer took his crackling iPhone X back to the Mac shop where he bought it and Apple replaced it with another phone which had the same problem.

So far Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the latest problem to afflict the shiny device but according to some reports the difficulty isn’t down to the hardware but to the operating system.

If that’s true, then the problem may well be fixable.

Over the weekend other buyers of the bright and shiny gadget claimed their phones were showing a green line on the devices display.

Meanwhile other news reports claim that you can beat Apple’s Face ID system by wearing an elaborate mask.  And it is an elaborate mask that you probably couldn’t knock up in your bedroom in a thrice.

Courtesy-Fud

Qualcomm To Power Alibaba

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm and Alibaba have ported Alibaba Cloud Link One to run on the Qualcomm MDM9206 global multi-mode LTE IoT modem.

This is all part of a cunning plan to allow developers to quickly develop and deploy solutions that connect with the Alibaba Cloud using LTE IoT connectivity and client software running directly on the LTE system-on-chip (SoC).

Qualcomm pre-integrated the Alibaba Cloud Link One on to the MDM9206 modem, so that module manufacturers and IoT Tight and cost-effective integration between edge devices and the cloud.

The porting fixes a vast array of the existing and emerging LTE IoT use cases, including smart transportation (e.g. bike sharing), smart cities, as well as industrial IoT applications in areas such as smart grid, smart metering (e.g. electricity, gas, water), asset tracking and more.

It means that Qualcomm will have a foot in the door as more of our hardware becomes sentient and cloud based.

Courtesy-Fud

FDA Approves Digital Drug Tracking System For Meds

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Soon making sure medication is taken correctly will be easier to track.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug in the US with a digital ingestion tracking system.

Abilify MyCite, an aripiprazole tablet embedded with an ingestible sensor, uses digital tracking to record whether the medication was taken. The tablet has been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder, and for use as an add-on treatment for depression in adults, the FDA said.

The pill’s sensor sends a message to a wearable patch that transmits the information to an app, allowing patients to track the medication’s ingestion on their phone. Patients can also let their doctor or carer view the information through a portal online.

 Abilify MyCite’s sensor has been around since 2012, developed by Proteus Digital Health. In 2016, British Airways got in on the digital drug game, patenting a sensor-packed smart pill that measures your temperature, stomach acidity and more to help fight jet lag.

Will Cloud Services Explode In 2018

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Number crunchers at Forrester have been shuffling their tarot cards and reached the conclusion that the cloud will be even bigger in 2018.

Apparently next year cloud computing will cross a special threshold.

Forrester predicts that more than 50 percent of global enterprises will rely on at least on public cloud platforms to drive digital transformation and delight customers.

This means that cloud will become business critical and is now a mainstream enterprise core technology.

Forrester believes that the cloud is consolidating, so outfits need to start planning now to mitigate lock-in risk.

SaaS vendors are likely to expand to become true platform providers and make it even easier to consume their software.

Cloud platforms outside North America will become more locally focused and target specific regional or industry needs. This is probably because governments are busy spying on each other’s clouds and don’t want data leaving the country.

Forrester said that Kubernetes has won the war for container orchestration dominance so it is probably not a good idea to think of something different.

Private and hybrid cloud spending will rebound after a slowdown, driven by a raft of new on-premises cloud solutions, Forrester predicts.

Cloud management solutions will start to be sold in parts or offered for free as competition heats up.

Forrester adds that Enterprises will shift 10 percent of their traffic from carrier backbones to colocation and cloud service providers.

Courtesy-Fud

Disney Plans To Take On Netflix With Streaming Service

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Disney’s future streaming service will face off with Netflix, the reigning streaming champ, with lower prices, CEO Bob Iger said in an earnings call earlier this week.

In August, Disney announced its plans to pull movies like “Moana” from Netflix and instead stream them along with future films like the sequel to “Frozen” on its own service, which will launch in 2019.

Iger said:”I can say that our plan on the Disney side is to price this substantially below where Netflix is. That is in part reflective of the fact that it will have substantially less volume. It’ll have a lot of high quality because of the brands and the franchises that will be on it that we’ve talked about. But it’ll simply launch with less volume, and the price will reflect that.”

Iger went on to say that the company’s main goal starting out will be to attract as many subscribers as possible, diverting at least some of the wind out of Netflix’s sales.

Disney-owned brands include Pixar, Lucasfilm (of Star Wars), Marvel Studios (think of all those “Thor” and “Avengers”-themed shows and films) and the ABC television network. While Marvel shows developed for Netflix are expected to stay on that service, such as “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” features like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will likely move to Disney’s service.

Disney first signed a deal to stream content through Netflix in 2012.

 

Is Bitcoin’s Rising Value Finally Over?

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin fell below $7,000 on Friday to trade more than $1,000 down from an all-time high hit earlier in the week, as some traders dumped it for a clone called Bitcoin Cash, sending its value up around a third.

Bitcoin has been on a tear in recent months, with a vertiginous sevenfold increase in value since the start of the year that has led to many warnings the bitcoin market – now worth well over $100 billion – has become a bubble that is about to burst.

 It reached a record high of $7,888 around 1800 GMT on Wednesday after a software upgrade planned for next week that could have split the cryptocurrency in a so-called “fork” was suspended.

But it has quickly retreated from that peak, falling to as low as $6,718 around 1330 GMT on Friday. It later recovered a touch to trade around $6,880 by 1645 GMT, but that was still down almost 4 percent on the day.

“The market realized that the price rise was an over-reaching, so people started selling… (and) there are many long and short positions that amplify price movements.”

As bitcoin tumbled, Bitcoin Cash, which was generated from another software split on Aug.1, surged, trading up as much as 35 percent on the day to around $850, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

Facebook Has A Unique Way To Fight Revenge Porn

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is prompting people to share their nude photos. But this isn’t what it sounds like.

The goal of the social network’s plan is to make sure people’s nude photos aren’t used for revenge porn by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The way it’ll work is people will share their photos with Facebook via its Messenger app and the company will then “hash” the images, which is a process that converts the photos into a unique digital code. Once Facebook has that code, it can block the images from ever being uploaded to its site. The company will store the images for a short time and then delete them.

The company is piloting the technology in Australia with a small government agency headed by e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly,” Inman Grant told the ABC.

Other tech companies have used similar types of hashing technology in efforts to rid the internet of child pornography. Google, Microsoft, and Twitter have used unique digital codes to detect exploitative images, some of which have led to the arrests of people distributing the photographs on the web.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.

Marissa Mayer Blames Russians For Yahoo Hacking

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer offered up apologies for two massive data breaches at the internet company, blaming Russian agents for at least one of them, at a hearing on the growing number of cyber attacks on major U.S. companies.

”As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users,” she told the Senate Commerce Committee, testifying alongside the interim and former CEOs of Equifax Inc and a senior Verizon Communications Inc executive.

“Unfortunately, while all our measures helped Yahoo successfully defend against the barrage of attacks by both private and state-sponsored hackers, Russian agents intruded on our systems and stole our users’ data.”

 Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless operator, acquired most of Yahoo Inc’s assets in June, the same month Mayer stepped down. Verizon disclosed last month that a 2013 Yahoo data breach affected all 3 billion of its accounts, compared with an estimate of more than 1 billion disclosed in December.

In March, federal prosecutors charged two Russian intelligence agents and two hackers with masterminding a 2014 theft of 500 million Yahoo accounts, the first time the U.S. government has criminally charged Russian spies for cyber crimes.

Those charges came amid controversy relating to alleged Kremlin-backed hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible links between Russian figures and associates of President Donald Trump. Russia has denied trying to influence the U.S. election in any way.

Special Agent Jack Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Division said in March the 2013 breach was unrelated and that an investigation of the larger incident was continuing. Mayer later said under questioning that she did not know if Russians were responsible for the 2013 breach, but earlier spoke of state-sponsored attacks.

Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, asked Mayer on Wednesday why it took three years to identify the data breach or properly gauge its size.

Mayer said Yahoo has not been able to identify how the 2013 intrusion occurred and that the company did not learn of the incident until the U.S. government presented data to Yahoo in November 2016. She said even “robust” defenses are not enough to defend against state-sponsored attacks and compared the fight with hackers to an “arms race.”

Yahoo required users to change passwords and took new steps to make data more secure, Mayer said.

 

Twitter 280-Character Tweets Go Worldwide

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microblogging website Twitter Inc, known for its iconic 140-character tweets, officially announced that it would roll out 280-character tweets to users across the world.

Twitter said it ran a test on 280-character tweets in September that showed users spent less time editing their tweets and were less likely to abandon them.

User posting in languages including Japanese, Korean and Chinese, which do not face the issue of “cramming”, will continue to have a limit of 140 characters, Twitter said.

The company did not say when it would start allowing users to post 280-character tweets.

Is The iPhone X Too Fragile

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone X is so fragile it will break the first time you drop it

 Cnet has just discovered to its horror that for some reason having two breakable glass surfaces makes the hugely expensive phone rather fragile.

In its breakability tests Cnet found that the glass on either side the iPhone X has more potential surface area to scratch. On the plus side, at least the stainless steel frame should, in theory, be tougher to scuff than the aluminium on previous models.

The tester rubbed the screen with medium grain sandpaper, the scratches were visible, and slightly more pronounced on the Space Gray version. Doing the same on the stainless steel frame left no visible scuffs.

“When I turned over the phones though, I noticed their screens already had some additional tiny dents and scratches just from rubbing up against the ceramic surface I was testing them on. They key test didn’t do much, and the sandpaper left a similar mark as on the back glass.”

The drop test from 3 feet (0.9 m) showed showed visible damage.

The back hit first, but it then did a flip and landed screen-side down with the back facing me so the tester could see the damage immediately. The glass from three of the four corners cracked at different degrees of severity and scuffed up the side of the camera mount. The bottom right-hand corner took the biggest hit and had the largest fracture flanking the corner. Even the stainless steel on the frame looked chipped on this side where the phone hit the floor. The top right corner also had a small tear and scuff on the frame, and another tiny bump on the bottom left hand corner of the glass.

If the phone was dropped on the screen it was destroyed.

There were deeper fractures extending diagonally across the entire back of the phone from the impact. There were new cracks on the bottom edge of the screen.

Everything still worked fine, but this iPhone X definitely looked banged up.

Of course Cnet loves Apple, so the writer did not warn users not to waste their money on such a lemon. Instead he advised wasting more money on Apple’s insurance.  A better solution would be to save money, and buy a phone at half the cost which is a little more robust.

Courtesy-Fud

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