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Oracle Goes After Amazon Amazon Web Services

October 1, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Database management firm Oracle has said that its new cloud service will match the price being offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Oracle confirmed the new competitive pricing strategy for its cloud offering at its OpenWorld conference.

Chairman Larry Ellison said Oracle’s cloud platform will “have the same pricing as Amazon or any other infrastructure provider.” He said the company’s new platform would include analytics, mobile, identity and social features.

Oracle’s switch to cloud services could also see the business improve efficiencies by running everything itself. Oracle’s cloud move has damaged the outfit’s bottom line, but Ellison’s successor as CEO, Safra Catz, believes the company is now in a good position to benefit from the migration.

“As the movement to the cloud grows, we expect this transition will affect our revenue to the positive,” she said. “These customers will essentially replace their software-support payments with a cloud subscription, which will mean substantially more revenue to Oracle.”

Oracle also introduced flash storage and data recovery products and its M7 microprocessor to speed up database software.

Courtesy-Fud

 

BlackBerry’s Passport Smartphone Sold Out, Says CEO

September 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry’s new qwerty Passport smartphone quickly sold out just hours after going on sale online last Wednesday, with another 200,000 back orders waiting in line, BlackBerry CEO John Chen proudly announced.

Chen didn’t indicate how many units were sold online, but said ShopBlackBerry.com sold out the Passport in six hours, with Amazon.com selling iout in 10 hours before customers began leaving online orders that had reached 200,000 as the day it debuted. The device has a price tag of $599 unlocked.

“That’s extremely good receptivity” for Passport, Chen said.

But that wasn’t Chen’s only good news in what he called a “very solid” second quarter that ended Aug. 30 with an earnings loss of $11 million, or 2 cents per share, compared to an 11-cent per share loss the previous quarter. Still, revenues were $916 million for the quarter, down from $966 million in the previous quarter, and well below the $1.5 billion reported for the same quarter a year ago.

Chen predicted profitability for BlackBerry by mid-year 2015, possibly in the first fiscal 2016 quarter that starts in March 2015. “You can see a progressively good trend going forward,” Chen said.

Chen said that large companies, especially in banking and government, are coming back to BlackBerry for its smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 software for security and management. They are coming for “stability,” he said.

“The product is broader and deeper and has history with most customers,” Chen added. “I have spoken to many executives and people are very interested in working with us. Our technology works and works well. Governments use it and major banks use it. We’re winning them back — knock on wood, I don’t want to be overconfident — and we’re starting to see that with very big companies.”

He also predicted more interest in BlackBerry once it launches its next operating system, BlackBerry 12, on Nov. 13 at an event in San Francisco.

The company posted a number of successes, including what it called a “normalized” use of cash of $36 million in the recent quarter, compared to $255 million in the prior quarter.

 

 

Kuddle, Microsoft To Launch Child Safe Tablet

September 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Kuddle, a Norwegian photo-sharing app created for children, plans to roll out a child safe tablet with Microsoft on Dec 1, and expects to sign funding deals with several venture capital firms within weeks, its chief executive said on Monday.

The Oslo-based company said it was on track to reach its goal of one million users by year-end and plans to soon raise another $5 million of fresh funds on top of the nearly $6 million it has already raised.

“We are working with Microsoft on several child safe devices which will be sold on our online store,” Chief Executive Ole Vidar Hestaas said. “The first device will be an Ipad Mini sized tablet prized under $100 that will be ready ahead of the Kuddle Store launch.”

“This is a child friendly device and it is not possible to download games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto) or apps like Snapchat,” Hestaas said.

Kuddle, which bills itself as a rival to Instagram, lets parents monitor what their children publish and keeps access to content restricted, preventing strangers from seeing and sharing pictures. There are no hashtags or comments to prevent online bullying and “likes” are anonymous.

Hestaas said the company also is in talks with Samsung and Microsoft’s Nokia phones unit on similar cooperation, and that it was also working on deals with European telecoms operators Telenor and Vodafone for child safe Kuddle SIM cards to be sold separately or linked up to one of its devices.

The app, which has a target of 1 million users by the end of 2014, is now available in 7 languages. The most significant growth has recently come from Brazil and the US.

Hestaas said he expects to conclude funding deals with several major international venture capital funds within weeks.

The firm’s present investors include Norwegian golf ace Suzann Pettersen.

 

 

Will Sony’s Morpheus Succeed?

September 30, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

PS4 is going gangbusters, 3DS continues to impress, Steam and Kickstarter have between them overseen an extraordinary revitalisation of PC gaming, and mobile gaming goes from strength to strength; yet it’s absolutely clear where the eager eyes of most gamers are turned right now. Virtual reality headsets are, not for the first time, the single most exciting thing in interactive entertainment. At the Tokyo Game Show and its surrounding events, the strongest contrast to the huge number of mobile titles on display was the seemingly boundless enthusiasm for Sony’s Morpheus and Oculus’ Rift headsets; at Oculus’ own conference in California the same week, developers were entranced by the hardware and its promise.

VR is coming; this time, it’s for real. Decades of false starts, disappointments and dodgy Hollywood depictions will finally be left behind. The tech and the know-how have finally caught up with the dreams. Immersion and realism are almost within touching distance, a deep, involved experience that will fulfil the childhood wishes of just about every gamer and SF aficionado while also putting clear blue water between core games and more casual entertainment. The graphical fidelity of mobile devices may be rapidly catching up to consoles, but the sheer gulf between a VR experience and a mobile experience will be unmistakeable.

That’s the promise, anyway. There’s no question that it’s a promise which feels closer to fulfilment than ever before. Even in the absence of a final consumer product or even a release date, let alone a killer app, the prototypes and demos we’ve seen thus far are closer to “true” virtual reality than many of us had dared to hope. Some concerns remain; how mainstream can a product that relies on strapping on a headset to the exclusion of the real world actually become? (I wouldn’t care to guess on this front, but would note that we already use technology in countless ways that would have seemed alien, anti-social or downright weird to people only a generation ago.) Won’t an appreciable portion of people get motion sickness? (Perhaps; only widespread adoption will show us how widespread this problem really is.) There’s plenty to ponder even as the technology marches inexorably closer.

One thing I found myself pondering around TGS and Oculus Connect was the slightly worrying divergence in the strategies of Sony and Oculus. A year or even six months ago, it felt like these companies, although rivals, were broadly marching in lock step. Morpheus and Rift felt like very similar devices – Rift was more “hobbyist” yet a little more technically impressive, while Morpheus was more clearly the product of an experienced consumer products company, but in essence they shared much of the same DNA.

Now, however, there’s a clear divergence in strategy, and it’s something of a concern. Shuhei Yoshida says that Morpheus is 85% complete (although anyone who has worked in product development knows that the last 10% can take a hell of a lot more than 10% of the effort to get right); Sony is seemingly feeling reasonably confident about its device and has worked out various cunning approaches to make it cost effective, from using mobile phone components through to repurposing PlayStation Move as a surprisingly effective VR control mechanism.

By contrast, Oculus Connect showed off a new prototype of Rift which is still clearly in a process of evolution. The new hardware is lighter and more comfortable – closer to being a final product, in short – but it’s also still adding new features and functionality to the basic unit. Oculus, unlike Sony, still doesn’t feel like a company that’s anywhere close to having a consumer product ready to launch. It’s still hunting for the “right” level of hardware capabilities and functionality to make VR really work.

I could be wrong; Oculus could be within a year of shipping something to consumers, but if so, they’ve got a damned funny way of showing it. Based on the tone of Oculus Connect, the firm’s hugely impressive technology is still in a process of evolution and development. It barely feels any closer to being a consumer product this year than it did last year, and its increasingly complex functionality implies a product which, when it finally arrives, will command a premium price point. This is still a tech company in a process of iteration, discovering the product they actually want to launch; for Luckey, Carmack and the rest of the dream team assembled at Oculus, their VR just isn’t good enough yet, even though it’s moving in the right direction fast.

Sony, by contrast, now feels like it’s about to try something disruptive. It’s seemingly pretty happy with where Morpheus stands as a VR device; now the challenge is getting the design and software right, and pushing the price down to a consumer friendly level by doing market-disruptive things like repurposing components from its (actually pretty impressive) smartphones. Again, it’s possible that the mood music from both companies is misleading, but right now it feels like Sony is going to launch a reasonably cost-effective VR headset while Oculus is still in the prototyping phase.

These are two very different strategic approaches to the market. The worrying thing is that they can’t both be right. If Oculus is correct and VR still needs a lot of fine-tuning, prototyping and figuring out before it’s ready for the market, then Sony is rushing in too quickly and risks seriously damaging the market potential of VR as a whole with an underwhelming product. This risk can’t be overstated; if Morpheus launches first and it makes everyone seasick, or is uncomfortable to use for more than a short period of time, or simply doesn’t impress people with its fidelity and immersion, then it could see VR being written off for another decade in spite of Oculus’ best efforts. The public are fickle and VR has cried wolf too many times already.

If, on the other hand, Sony is correct and “good enough” VR tech is pretty much ready to go, then that’s great for VR and for PS4, but potentially very worrying for Oculus, who risk their careful, evolutionary, prototype after prototype approach being upended by an unusually nimble and disruptive challenge from Sony. If this is the case (and I’ve heard little but good things about Morpheus, which suggests Sony’s gamble may indeed pay off) then the Facebook deal could be either a blessing or a curse. A blessing, if it allows Oculus to continue to work on evolving and developing VR tech, shielding them from the impact of losing first-mover advantage to Sony; a curse, if that failure to score a clear win in the first round spooks Facebook’s management and investors and causes them to pull the plug. That’s one that could go either way; given the quality of the innovative work Oculus is doing, even if Sony’s approach proves victorious, everyone should hope that the Oculus team gets an opportunity to keep plugging away.

It’s exciting and interesting to see Sony taking this kind of risk. These gambles don’t always pay off, of course – the company placed bets on 3D TV in the PS3 era which never came to fruition, for example – but that’s the nature of innovation and we should never criticise a company for attempting something truly interesting, innovative and even disruptive, as long as it passes the most basic of Devil’s Advocate tests. Sony has desperately needed a Devil’s Advocate in the past – Rolly, anyone? UMD? – but Morpheus is a clear pass, an interesting and exciting product with the potential to truly turn around the company’s fortunes.

I just hope that in the company’s enthusiasm, it understands the absolute importance of getting this right, not just being first. This is a quality Sony was famed for in the past; rather than trying to be first to market in new sectors, it would ensure that it had by far the best product when it launched. This is one of the things which Steve Jobs, a huge fan of Sony, copied from the company when he created the philosophies which still guide Apple (a company that rarely innovates first, but almost always leapfrogs the competition in quality and usability when it does adopt new technology and features). For an experience as intimate as VR – complete immersion in a headset, screens mere centimetres from your eyes – that’s a philosophy which must be followed. When these headsets reach the market, what will be most important isn’t who is first; it isn’t even who is cheapest. The consumer’s first experience must be excellent – nothing less will do. Oculus seems to get that. Sony, in its enthusiasm to disrupt, must not lose sight of the same goal.

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

BMW Begins Automated Driving Trials

September 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

German luxury carmaker BMW is partnering with Chinese internet giant Baidu to kick off highly automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai.

BMW research vehicles capable of highly automated driving have already undergone thousands of kilometers of trials on German autobahns. The project will now be expanded to include other large cities in China, BMW said on Monday.

“BMW is embarking on a further research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China as well,” the Munich-based automaker said in a statement.

“China’s fast-expanding urban centers present the engineers with challenges such as multi-level highways.”

Prototype cars developed in this project will initially be operated on urban highways in Beijing and Shanghai.

BMW needs a partner because cars with semi-autonomous driving functions need high-resolution maps to help measure precisely when they are in danger of hitting a curb, or missing a turn.

Cars currently have insufficient memory to store detailed maps of an entire country, so automakers need to team up with telecoms and internet providers to help autonomous vehicles download detailed maps on the go.

Baidu operates China’s largest search engine and is also a provider of map services and cloud services.

 

 

 

RedHat Ups Game With Fedora 21

September 29, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.

Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.

The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”

Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.

Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.

Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.

Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.

Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.

Courtesy-TheInq

Jimmy Johns The Latest Chain To Fall Victim To Data Breach

September 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Sandwich restaurant chain Jimmy John’s said there was a potential data breach involving customers’ credit and debit card information at 216 of its stores and franchised locations on July 30.

An intruder stole log-in credentials from the company’s vendor and used the credentials to remotely access the point-of-sale systems at some corporate and franchised locations between June 16 and Sept. 5, the company said.

The chain is the latest victim in a series of security breaches among retailers such as Target Corp, Michaels Stores Inc and Neiman Marcus.

Home Depot Inc  said last week some 56 million payment cards were likely compromised in a cyberattack at its stores, suggesting the hacking attack at the home improvement chain was larger than the breach at Target Corp.

More than 12 of the affected Jimmy John’s stores are in Chicago area, according to a list disclosed by the company.

The breach has been contained and customers can use their cards at its stores, the privately held company said.

Jimmy John’s said it has hired forensic experts to assist with its investigation.

“Cards impacted by this event appear to be those swiped at the stores, and did not include those cards entered manually or online,” Jimmy John’s said.

The Champaign, Illinois-based company said stolen information may include the card number and in some cases the cardholder’s name, verification code, and/or the card’s expiration date.

 

 

MediaTek Jump Into “The Internet Of Things” Space

September 26, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

SoC designer MediaTek has launched a new push to develop technologies used in wearables and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

Dubbed MediaTek Labs, the new organisation will offer tools for developers such as software and hardware development kits (SDKs and HDKs), but it will also offer other forms of support, i.e. tech support and marketing.

MediaTek LinkIt dev platform

The MediaTek LinkIt platform promises to offer a full-service approach for developers keen to enter the space. It allows developers familiar with MediaTek’s Arduino implementation to quickly migrate to the new platform

For the time being the platform is limited to the MediaTek Aster MT2502A processor. The company says it is the world’s smallest commercially available SoC. The chip can work with MediaTek’s WiFi and GPS companion chipsets.

The company is calling on developers to join the MediaTek Labs initiative and in case you are interested you can check out the details on the new MediaTek Labs website.

MediaTek Aster spec

Now for some juicy hardware. The Aster MT2502A is an ARM7 EJ-S part clocked at 260MHz. The dev board features 4MB of RAM and 16MB of flash. GPS and WiFi capability can be added using the MT3332 and MT5931 chips. The platform supports microSD, Bluetooth (including BLE), along with GSM and GPRS communications.

The Aster is clearly not an SoC for feature packed wearables with high resolution screens, but it could be used in more down to earth applications such as fitness trackers.

MediaTek says it will offer three platforms based on two wearable solutions. The One Application Use (OAU) platform is for fitness trackers and simple Bluetooth devices. The Simple Application Platform (SAU) is intended for smart watches, wristbands and more elaborate fitness trackers.

SAU is the focus segment for the Aster chipset and it should offer 5 to 7 days of battery life.

MediaTek Rich Application Platform

The Rich Application Platform (RAU) is for Android Wear and it will offer a lot more functionality out of the box, including camera support, 3D graphics, as well as Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS in the same package.

This platform sounds a bit more interesting, but details are sketchy. For some reason many media outlets erroneously described the first Aster chip as MediaTek’s only smartwatch chip, but it is clearly not intended for the Rich Application Platform.

We have yet to see what sort of silicon MediaTek can conjure up for high-end wearables, but this is what it has in mind. The platform is designed for high-end smartwatches and glasses. It will feature multicore processors clocked at 1GHz or more. The platform also includes Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, GPS, WiFi, sensors and a proper TFT screen. Battery life is described as short, two to three days, which sounds a bit better than what the current generation of smartwatches can deliver.

Courtesy-Fud

Hackers Prefer Your Medical Records Over Your Credit Cards

September 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Your medical records are worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market.

Last month, the FBI warned healthcare providers to guard against cyber attacks after one of the largest U.S. hospital operators, Community Health Systems Inc, said Chinese hackers had broken into its computer network and stolen the personal information of 4.5 million patients.

Security experts say cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, which has many companies still reliant on aging computer systems that do not use the latest security features.

“As attackers discover new methods to make money, the healthcare industry is becoming a much riper target because of the ability to sell large batches of personal data for profit,” said Dave Kennedy, an expert on healthcare security and CEO of TrustedSEC LLC. “Hospitals have low security, so it’s relatively easy for these hackers to get a large amount of personal data for medical fraud.”

Interviews with nearly a dozen healthcare executives, cybersecurity investigators and fraud experts provide a detailed account of the underground market for stolen patient data.

The data for sale includes names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations.

Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.

Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information.

 

ARM Shows Off The Interet Of Things Processor

September 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

ARM has unveiled a 32-bit Cortex-M processor for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, promising to double the compute and digital signal processing (DSP) capability of its present microcontroller units (MCUs).

ARM said that the Cortex-M7 single computer chip will power high-end embedded applications used in next generation vehicles, connected devices, and smart homes and factories.

“The addition of the Cortex-M7 processor to the Cortex-M series allows ARM and its partners to offer the most scalable and software-compatible solutions possible for the connected world,” said ARM CPU group GM Noel Hurley. “The versatility and new memory features of the Cortex-M7 enable more powerful, smarter and reliable microcontrollers that can be used across a multitude of embedded applications.”

The Cortex-M7 processor achieves a performance score of five Coremark/MHz, ARM claims, which the firm says allows the Cortex-M7 to deliver a combination of high performance and digital signal control functionality that will enable MCU silicon makers to use in it highly demanding embedded applications while keeping development costs low.

Launching with early licensees such as Atmel, Freescale and ST Microelectronics, The Corex-M7 is expected to be used in smart control systems employed in a range of applications such as motor control, industrial automation, advanced audio, image processing, a variety of connected vehicle applications and other IoT devices.

Features of the Cortex-M7 include: a six stage, superscalar pipeline delivering 2,000 Coremarks at 400MHz in a 40LP process; AXI interconnect supporting 64-bit transfer and integrated optional caches for instruction and data allowing efficient access to large external memories and powerful peripherals; and tightly coupled memory interfaces for rapid response.

ARM said that the updates in the new chip of faster processing of audio and image data and voice recognition will be immediately apparent to users.

“The core also provides the same C-friendly programmer’s model and is binary compatible with existing Cortex-M processors. Ecosystem and software compatibility enables simple migration from any existing Cortex-M core to the new Cortex-M7,” ARM claimed. “System designers can therefore take advantage of extensive code reuse which in turn offers lower development and maintenance costs.”

ARM said the Cortex-M7 could be available in devices as early as next year.

Earlier this month, ARM announced that it signed 50 licensing agreements with silicon partners to fab chips based on its 64-bit ARMv8-A processor, claiming it has seen growing momentum for the architecture.

A total of 27 companies signed agreements for the company’s ARMv8-A technology in September, including all of the silicon vendors selling application processors for smartphones plus most of those targeting enterprise networking and servers.

Courtesy-TheInq

Google Envisions High Altitude Internet-connected Balloons Circling The Earth

September 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is hoping to launch a fleet of high-altitude balloons that will orbit the planet, providing Internet connectivity to remote areas — and it plans to do so within a year.

That’s the plan that Astro Teller, head of Google’s secretive “moonshot factory” GoogleX, told an audience at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge today. The effort - known as Project Loon — should prove to be a good way to get wireless Internet access to billions of people who don’t have it today, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.

The Review also noted that Teller said Google should soon have enough balloons to prove that the project, which is focused on connecting cell phone users, is feasible. “In the next year or so, we should have a semi-permanent ring of balloons somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.

Google, working with local cellular providers, has been testing balloon-powered Internet access for more than a year now.

The company is tackling a huge problem. For two/thirds of the world’s population, a fast and affordable Internet connection is out of reach. Google is trying to solve this problem with a network of balloons that fly above the Earth twice as high as commercial airplanes.

In June 2013, Google launched 30 high-altitude balloons above the Canterbury area of New Zealand as part of a pilot test with 50 users trying to connect to the Internet using them.

Then in April, the company announced that one of its balloons circled the Earth in 22 days.

Google’s vision is to build a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on stratospheric winds about 12.4 miles high, providing Internet access to remote and underserved areas. The balloons communicate with specially designed antennas on the ground, which in turn connect to ground stations that connect to the local Internet service provider.

Though the concept seems far-fetched, Google X is the division of Google that came up with Glass, wearable computers that are in the prototype stage, and self-driving cars which have been logging miles on highways and city streets.

 

Will Oculus Go Into The Mobile Space?

September 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

We attended the first ever Oculus Connect conference, the beats and chatter of a cocktail reception just next door, Max Cohen is being brutally honest about the company’s mobile-based virtual reality headset.

“I can spend ten minutes talking about the problems with this device. We’re not afraid of them,” the VP of mobile says with a smile.

“It overheats if you run it too long. It is 60 Hertz low persistence, which means some people will notice flicker. The graphical quality is obviously a lot less than the PC. Battery life is a concern. There’s no positional tracking.

“We could try to say this is the be-all end-all of VR. We’d be lying. That’s a bad thing. We would hurt where we can get to the be-all end-all of VR. Everyone, Samsung, Facebook, Oculus, we’re all aligned with making a damn good product that we put out in the market and then working on improving it. Really soon, maybe even sooner than you think, we’ll get to that amazing VR experience for everyone.”

“Samsung, Facebook, Oculus, we’re all aligned with making a damn good product”

Cohen’s talking about the Gear VR, the Samsung backed headset that offers a more portable and accessible entry into the virtual reality world for developers and users alike. It’s John Carmack’s passion project at the company and clearly it’s Cohen’s too.

“The first thing they did was to put me in the HD prototype with the Tuscany demo. I was floored, of course,” he remembers.

“Then I got to see the Valve room and then he showed me this mobile project. It was running on a Galaxy S4 at the time. It crashed a little bit. There were a lot of problems with it, but I just thought this was so amazing. I went back and was talking to a friend of mine who’s an entrepreneur. He said it’s rare that you have the opportunity to work on transformational hardware, and that’s really what this was.”

The story of the Gear VR is a simple one; Oculus went to the Korean company hoping to work with them on screens for the PC-based Rift and found Samsung had been working on a headset you could simply slide a Samsung Galaxy phone into to experience virtual reality. Now the companies are working together on both devices, with Samsung fielding calls from Carmack on a regular basis.

“It’s a collaboration. It’s not we tell them what to do or they tell us what to do,” Cohen continues. “We’re the software platform, so when you put that on, you’re in Oculus, but that wouldn’t be possible without maximizing the hardware. Carmack and our team works very closely with their engineering team. They make suggestions about UI as well. We’re working together to make the best possible experience. If it wasn’t collaborative, this thing just honestly wouldn’t function because this is really hard to do.”

The focus of Oculus Connect isn’t the media or sales or even recruitment, but developers. Supporting them, showing them the technology, offering them advice on the new territory that is virtual reality. Cohen, like everyone else I speak to at the weekend, believes developers and their content is absolutely key to the success of the hardware.

“At the end of the day, we want to make the developers’ lives as easy as possible so they can make cool content.”

“Facebook invested in the platform. They didn’t buy it. What they did is they’re also committing money to make sure it’s successful on an ongoing basis”

That content will be supported by an app store, and Cohen wants it to be a place where developers can make a living, rather than just a showcase of free demos. Jason Holtman, former director of business development at Valve, is overseeing its creation.

“We’re going to launch initially with a free store, but maybe a month later, follow along with commerce,” says Cohen.

“At the end of the day, as great as doing the art for free and sharing that is, we will have a hundred times more content when people can actually monetize it. This is a business. There’s nothing wrong with that. People need to be able to feed themselves. Our job is to make the platform as friendly for developers as we can so that it’s painless. You don’t have to worry about a bunch of overhead.”

There’s a sense that the Facebook money, that headline-grabbing $2 billion, has given the team the luxury of time and the chance to recruit the people they need to make sure this time virtual reality lives up to its promises. Other than that, Facebook seems to be letting Oculus just get on with it.

“That’s the thing… a lot of people, with the Facebook acquisition, asked how that would impact us and the answer is it hasn’t, in terms of our culture, and Facebook’s actually supportive of the way Oculus is because we know that content makes or breaks a platform,” says Cohen.

“They invested in the platform. They didn’t buy it. What they did is they’re also committing money to make sure it’s successful on an ongoing basis. We could have continued to raise a lot of venture capital. It would have been very expensive to do it right. Now we have replaced our board of directors with Facebook, but that’s completely fine. They are helping us. They are accelerating our efforts.”

No one at Oculus is talking about release dates for consumer units yet, and Cohen is no different. It’s clear that he and the team are hungry for progress as he talks about skipping minor updates and making major advances. He talks about “awesome” ideas that he’s desperate to get to, and pushing the envelope, but what matters most is getting it right.

“I think everyone understands that with a little bit more magic, VR can be ubiquitous. Everyone needs it. I think a lot of people understand what we need to do to get there, but it takes hard work to actually solve those things. Oculus and Facebook have lined up the right team to do it, but I want us to actually have time to do that,” says Cohen.

“We’re not trying to sell millions now. We’re trying to get people and early adopters, tech enthusiasts and all that interested in it.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Lyft Car-Sharing Service Acquires Rival Hitch

September 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Car-sharing service Lyft has purchased Hitch, a startup in the mobile app-enabled car-pooling business, to integrate the service with its own shared rides business that it set up last month.

“Similar to Lyft, Hitch has always believed the shared rides experience is inherently social, and we’re excited that they’re joining the team to accelerate this movement together,” Lyft wrote in a blog post Monday.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hitch co-founders Snir Kodesh and Noam Szpiro will join the Lyft team as the company expands personal transit to more cities across the U.S. Hitch offers its service in San Francisco.

“We observed too many empty cab seats and noticed that public transit could be improved with the addition of dynamic routing,” the Hitch co-founders wrote in a blog post. “We built an app, a sophisticated engine optimized for pairings, and started to grow our platform–with new users and drivers alike.”

The Hitch platform will close for drivers and passengers starting Tuesday. Current Hitch drivers will move to the Lyft community, to which many are already signed on as ride-sharing drivers, Lyft said.

The company said it had seen “incredible” growth and demand for its shared rides business Lyft Line in San Francisco, which launched in August. Lyft Line held out the promise that it would connect people with a ride already going the same way for up to 60 percent less than an original Lyft ride. Lyft Line would roll out first in San Francisco on iOS, with support on Android and services in other cities to follow, the company said at launch.

Rivals Uber and Sidecar have also begun similar car-pooling services.

 

 

 

Adobe Scoops Aviary Software

September 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe has bought Aviary, a software company that specialises in mobile photo editing software products.

The New York based company provides a software development kit (SDK) tool for mobile applications that offers developers a customisable photo editor that can be embedded into apps on iOS, Android, Windows and web applications using HTML5.

Aviary, which claims to have had more than 100 million downloads to date, announced the news on its website, saying that the deal will allow it to extend its technology and tools not only to Aviary app users but also to users of thousands of other creative mobile apps.

“Together we will build and connect the next generation of creative applications,” said Aviary CEO Tobias Peggs in a blog post.

The acquisition came about due to the rather convenient location of Aviary’s headquarters very close to the offices of Behance, which joined Adobe 18 months ago and is now a base for Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering. The two firms got to talking and realised they shared interests.

Peggs knew Behance co-founder Scott Belsky, who now serves as Adobe’s VP of products and community. Talks between the two lead to the deal, as it became obvious that the companies both “shared a strong vision for mobile creativity” and should join forces to “accelerate combined efforts and better serve even more app developers”.

Belsky said the Aviary team will play “a crucial role” helping build and connect the next generation of creative applications.

“This acquisition is both a complement and an accelerant to our vision for mobile creativity. As a company serving the creative world, Adobe has a responsibility to remove friction from the creative process and enable the creative world to create in new and remarkable ways,” he said.

Peggs said that the Aviary and Adobe teams have already begun brainstorming what they can do, hinting that they will continue to support and enhance Aviary’s SDK as part of Adobe’s broader Creative SDK portfolio.

“While ensuring no interruption to Aviary’s developer community, or their apps’ users, we plan to add additional components and services for developers to incorporate – such as the ability to save creations to Creative Cloud in Adobe file formats, access Photoshop technology, and connect creativity across devices using the Creative SDK,” he explained.

The deal is likely to see Adobe develop better mobile graphics editing software products like Photoshop.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Cloudflare May Go Keyless SSL Encryption

September 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cloudflare has announced that it has been working on SSL encryption that does not require keys.

Instead of using keys, authorisation algorithms take place at a cloud level doing away with the need for on-premises encryption systems that are prone to denial of service attacks.

Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, Cloudflare has not revealed its existing client list, but it said that Goldman Sachs has been among the companies piloting and trialling service.

The service has been in private beta for the past six months and the company claims that new users can be up and running with the service in a matter of hours, making an entire tier of on-premises hardware redundant at a stroke.

In a statement to Newsfactor, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said, “Keyless SSL is designed to allow companies that had previously needed to use on-premise hardware to now get the infinite scalability and infinite elasticity of a cloud service. The primary competitor to the technology is hardware you install yourself to perform firewall, load balancing, performance optimization, and other functionality. Unfortunately, that on-premise software suffers from limitations when organizations need it to scale.”

The advent of cloud-based keyless SSL could prove useful to a wide range of businesses from financial institutions to government departments.

The issue of SSL security was highlighted earlier this year with the discovery of the Heartbleed vulnerability, which affected an unprecedented proportion of online services causing a stampede to patch them before hackers could capitalise on the discovery.

The upshot of the Heartbleed incident was the creation of the Core Infrastructure Initiative, a consortium from the industry, which actively maintains the SSL standard at a level it had not seen previously.

Meanwhile some organisations have created their own forks of SSL, including the recently relaunched LibreSSL and Google’s in-house boring SSL.

Courtesy-TheInq