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Acer Warms To Takeover Possibility

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Acer Inc founder Stan Shih said he would welcome a takeover of the struggling Taiwanese computer manufacturer after a drastic decline in its stock price, while warning any potential buyer would have to pay a heavy amount.

“Welcome,” Shih told reporters in response to a question about whether Acer would be open to a takeover. He added however that any buyer would get an “empty shell” and would pay dearly.

“U.S. and European management teams usually are concerned about money, their CEOs only work for money. But Taiwanese are more concerned about a sense of mission and emotional factors,” he said.

His remarks were first reported by Taiwanese media on Thursday and were confirmed by a company spokesman.

Acer has reported steep on-year sales falls in recent months, including a 33 percent drop in July.

It suffered a T$2.89 billion ($90 million) loss in the first six months of 2015, versus a slight profit in the same period last year. It booked losses for all of 2011, 2012 and 2013 amid cratering PC sales.

Its stock price has fallen by nearly half since early April.

 

 

Qualcomm To Wirelessly Charge BMWs

August 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has launched its new Official Safety Car for season two of the FIA’s Formula E Championship.

For those not in the know, the Formula E Championship is for electric cars, and they are no longer the milk floats that English people get stuck behind in narrow streets.

The new Official Qualcomm Safety Car is the BMW i8 but it will be charged wirelessly with an advanced Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system.

The Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system delivers twice the amount of energy to the BMW i8′s batteries per hour as compared to last year’s 3.6kW system.

This halves the full charge time, enabling the vehicle to fully charge in one hour. Employing Qualcomm Halo DD technology, with magnetic architecture optimization, ensures higher coupling coefficients and drives lower system currents, higher inefficiencies and the ability to support higher power levels.

A Qualcomm spokesman said that an open championship has encouraged teams to develop their own powertrain tech.

This ensures that the racing remains highly competitive, and it supports the goal of Formula E to advance the development of new technologies for electric vehicles and to bring those technologies, vital to sustainable mobility, to the attention of millions of people around the globe, a spokesman said.

Qualcomm’s general manager of wireless charging, Steve Pazol said Qualcomm was excited to continue its support of Formula E in this second season.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Report Reveals Hi-tech Vehicle Systems Are Rarely Used By Owners

August 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Although car makers are spending billions of dollars to install cutting-edge technologies in vehicles, a new report shows many owners don’t use them.

According to J.D. Power’s 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, 20% of new-vehicle owners have never used 16 of 33 of the latest technology features.

The 2015 DrIVE Report measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership.

The five features owners most commonly report that they “never use” are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); heads-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

Additionally, there are 14 technology features that 20% or more of owners don’t even  want in their next vehicle. Those features include Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services and in-vehicle voice texting. When narrowed to just Gen Yers, the number of vehicle owners who don’t want entertainment and connectivity systems increases to 23%.

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface (HMI) research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”

About the technology now offered in new cars, vehicle owners said they simply “did not find it useful,” adding that it “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”

Vehicle owners who said their dealer did not explain a tech feature also had a higher likelihood of never using it, the survey found.

J.D. Power built its report on responses from more than 4,200 vehicle owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership. The report was conducted between April and June 2015.

 

 

 

IBM Thinks Businesses Should Block TOR

August 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM security research has found that people are using the so-called dark net to launch cyber attacks, force ransomware demands on punters and make distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

The dark net, accessed via Tor, is often tagged as a threat. The IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly 3Q 2015 report identifies a spike in bad traffic and leads with a warning.

The report introduces Tor as the network that takes people to the dark net. We might start calling it the ferryman and the passage across the river Styx, but things are complicated enough.

IBM said that Tor is used by “non-malicious government officials, journalists, law enforcement officials” and bad people alike. It is the latter that should concern us.

“This latest report reveals that more than 150,000 malicious events have originated from Tor in the US alone thus far in 2015,” the report said.

“Tor has also played a role in the growing ransomware attack trend. Attackers have evolved the use of encryption to hold data hostage and demand payment/ransom for the decryption code.”

We have been here before, and ransomware has been a feature of many a security alert this year already. We heard, courtesy of Bitdefender, that ransomware charges start at £320, and are a real pain to deal with. We also heard that it is Android mobile users in the UK who get the worst of the hackers’ grabbing-for-money treatment.

Back at the IBM report, and we find IBM X-Force on the issue. X-Force, which is nothing like X-Men, said that hackers push internet users who are easily fooled by flashy online advertisements into installing the new cyber nightmare. Ransomware, it warns, will separate you from your cash.

“A surprising number of users are fooled by fake/rogue antivirus [AV] messages that are nothing more than animated web ads that look like actual products. The fake AV scam tricks users into installing or updating an AV product they may never have had,” it explains, adding that in some cases people pay the money without thinking.

“Afterward, the fake AV keeps popping up fake malware detection notices until the user pays some amount of money, typically something in the range of what an AV product would cost.”

This establishes the subject as a mark, and the hackers will exploit the opportunity. “Do not assume that if you are infected with encryption-based ransomware you can simply pay the ransom and reliably get your data back,” said IBM.

“The best way to avoid loss is to back up your data. Regardless of whether your backup is local or cloud-based, you must ensure that you have at least one copy that is not directly mapped visibly as a drive on your computer.”

Tor nodes in the US spewed out the most bad traffic in the first half of this year, according to the report, adding up to about 180,000 attacks. The Netherlands is second with around 150,000, and Romania is third with about 80,000.

The bulk of this negative attention lands at technology and communications companies. You might have assumed the financial markets, but you were wrong. IBM said that ICT gets over 300,000 Tor thwacks every six months, manufacturing gets about 245,000, and finance gets about 170,000.

IBM said that the old enemy, SQL injection attacks, is the most common Tor-led threat to come at its customers. Vulnerability scanning attacks are also a problem, and IBM said that the use of the network as a means for distributed DoS attacks should “Come as no surprise”. It doesn’t.

“These attacks combine Tor-commanded botnets with a sheaf of Tor exit nodes. In particular, some of the US-based exit nodes provide huge bandwidth,” explained the report.

“Employing a handful of the exit nodes in a distributed DoS orchestrated by the botnet controller and originating at dozens or hundreds of bot hosts can impose a large burden on the targeted system with a small outlay of attacker resources, and generally effective anonymity.”

There is a lot more. The bottom line is that bad things happen on the dark net and that they come to people and businesses through Tor. IBM said that concerned outfits should just block it and move on, which is along the lines of something that Akamai said recently.

“Corporate networks really have little choice but to block communications to these stealthy networks. The networks contain significant amounts of illegal and malicious activity,” said Akamai.

“Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions.”

That sounds fine to us, but won’t someone give a thought to those non-malicious government officials out there?

Courtesy-TheInq

Gogo To Boost In-flight Broadband Speeds With New Technology

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

In-flight broadband provider Gogo’s 2Ku technology has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, paving the way for data speeds up to 70Mbps. The company plans to launch commercial services this year.

Clearing this regulatory hurdle was an important step for Gogo. The company has received the final so-called Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA, which it required in order to launch the next-generation technology.

Seven commercial airlines have signed up for either a trial or fleet deployment of 2Ku, covering more than 500 commercial aircraft, Gogo said without giving names. The aircraft will be upgraded next year.

The 70Mbps that 2Ku can deliver is a big improvement over the 3.1Mbps Gogo was able to offer when it got started about five years ago.

The higher speeds are achieved through the use of two antennas: one for the link to the aircraft and the other for the return link to the ground, according to Gogo. The new system is cheaper to install and run, said GoGo, meaning airlines could afford to put it on more planes.

Capacity is shared between all users on the same aircraft, so the actual data speeds users experience will depend on what other passengers are streaming or downloading.

Today GoGo offers connectivity on Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United and Virgin America flights. Data plans include a 24-hour pass at $16 and an unlimited monthly pass at $59.95.

 

 

Best Buy To Sell Apple Watch In All Stores By September

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Best Buy will offer the Apple Watch in all of its 1,050 retail locations by the end of September, responding to strong consumer demand for the wearable.

By Sept. 4, the Apple Watch will be available in 900 Best Buy stores, and it will appear in the retailer’s remaining locations by the end of the month, CEO Hubert Joly said.

Best Buy began selling the wearable in 100 stores as well as online on Aug. 7. The company had planned to expand availability to 200 additional stores by the Christmas shopping season.

However, “early momentum” from the Apple Watch “triggered” Best Buy to expand and accelerate the rollout, Joly said during a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings.

Joly didn’t say how many Apple Watches the chain has sold so far. Apple hasn’t shared watch sales data either.

During Apple’s third-quarter earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook said customers would have more ways to purchase the smartwatch because the company expects it to be a popular Christmas gift. A few days later, Best Buy said it would carry the wearable.

Best Buy is the only major retailer to stock the Apple Watch. The device can also be purchased from Apple’s retail and online stores and from a few high-end clothing and department stores.

Joly also discussed plans to expand Best Buy’s relationship with Apple.

The Apple shop-in-a-shop sections of 740 Best Buy stores are getting a makeover, with new fixtures and larger display tables to show Apple hardware, he said. So far, Best Buy has remodeled 350 of those departments and will revamp another 170 by the holiday shopping season.

 

 

 

 

Oracle Shows Off New SPARC Processor

August 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has been sharing a few details about its SPARC processor code-named Sonoma. Sonoma is not a sleeping Italian mama at all but a place where Americans grow wine that Europeans will not touch.

Sonoma is supposed to be a “low-cost SPARC processor for enterprise workloads.” The chip uses the SPARC M7 design, DDR4 memory interfaces, PCIe electronics and InfiniBand interfaces in a single package. Eight SPARC 4th generation cores, hooks into the system RAM and built using a 20nm process with 13 metal layers.

Each package has a shared 8MB L3 cache, shared L2 caches with 512KB per core pair and private L1 32KB caches.

There are two DDR4 memory controllers, each with four DDR4-2133/2400 channels, up to two DIMMs per channel, and up to 1TB of DRAM per socket. Oracle it can manage 77GB/s bandwidth with the wind behind it and if it is going downhill.

Basant Vinaik, Oracle’s senior principal engineer of CPU and I/O verification, told the Hot Chips conference that Sonoma contains a crypto-unit with user-level crypto instructions.

“The cache has been optimized to reduce latency and increase throughput. Sonoma achieves low latency with its integrated memory controller. We use speculative memory read to do this. Software can tune this using threshold registers.”

Courtesy-Fud

Will Samsung Recall The Galaxy Note 5

August 27, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Days after Apple finally decided to replace faulty cameras on a batch of their premium phones, we find out that there’s a serious design flaw in Samsung’s newest flagship phablet with a pen.

You know how Apple invests a lot of effort into filming gorgeous-looking promotional videos for their overpriced products? And then, sometimes, they don’t really think the products all the way through, so you may end up having to return it for repairs within weeks from splurging on them? We wrote about the issues with the camera on the iPhone 6 plus here.

You know how Samsung was repeatedly accused of shamelessly coppying Apple for years? How there was even a multi billion dollar law suit and an almost equally large court sentence? Honestly, we thought that fining Samsung for going with rounded corners, just like Apple’s, was a bit over the top, but now we’re not sure if the companies aren’t tied together more than we would have believed.

Case in point: Samsung’s newest and arguably best designed phablet to date, the Note 5, seems to have a serious design flaw. And if you ever use the Note 5 pen while drunk, you might get to know that flaw intimately.

As Android Police discovered, it’s very easy to insert the pen into the Note 5 backwards. And if you do, there is a very high chance that you will irreparably break the phone. Namely, the pen clasping mechanism seems to grasp it so firmly, that even if you do manage to pry it out, the mechanism might not function any more. And maybe even more worryingly, the software on the phone won’t recognise the insertion or removal of the pen anymore. So none of that handy S Pen ease of use that Samsung has been so diligently designing over the years.

Well, we’re hoping to find out very soon what exactly Samsung intends to do to mitigate/resolve this little mess in the coming weeks. If we find out first, we’ll let you know asap.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Expands Prime Now, Adds Alcohol Delivery

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that it will begin delivering wine, beer and spirits to U.S. customers for the first time as part of its speedy delivery service, Prime Now.

The online retailer is expanding Prime Now, its one- and two-hour service, to Seattle, where the company is headquartered, and offering alcohol deliveries there.

Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 per year shopping membership program, offers free two-day delivery on millions of items. It is a key testing ground for the retailer’s new services, ranging from TV and on-demand video to fast delivery.

Amazon has said it has “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Analysts estimate the program to have around 40 million users worldwide.

The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City last year. It facilitates integration of the retailer’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, which has been slower to expand to new markets.

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing and competitive market in the United States. Instacart, a grocery delivery company, announced on Tuesday that it had expanded to Indianapolis, its 17th city. Other startups, like Postmates, which focuses on meal delivery, also deliver personal care goods and alcohol for customers using a network of couriers.

Prime Now customers can order using an app available on both iOS and Android devices. Orders are shipped from smaller warehouses, or hubs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company opened two facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, to handle Prime Now deliveries.

 

Appeals Court Rules FTC Has Authority To Regulate Cyber Security

August 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A U.S. appeals court has ruled that the Federal Trade Commission has authority to regulate corporate cyber security, and may pursue a lawsuit accusing hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide Corp of failing to properly safeguard consumers’ information.

The 3-0 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Monday upheld an April 2014 lower court ruling allowing the case to go forward.

The FTC wants to hold Wyndham accountable for three breaches in 2008 and 2009 in which hackers broke into its computer system and stole credit card and other details from more than 619,000 consumers, leading to over $10.6 million in fraudulent charges.

Noting the FTC’s broad authority under a 1914 law to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices, Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro said Wyndham failed to show that its alleged conduct “falls outside the plain meaning of ‘unfair.’”

Wyndham brands include Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Super 8 and Travelodge.

A company spokesman, Michael Valentino, said “safeguarding personal information remains a top priority” for the Parsippany, New Jersey-based company. “We believe the facts will show the FTC’s allegations are unfounded,” he added.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez welcomed the decision.

“It is not only appropriate, but critical, that the FTC has the ability to take action on behalf of consumers when companies fail to take reasonable steps to secure sensitive consumer information,” she said.

Congress has not adopted wide-ranging legislation governing data security, a growing concern after high-profile breaches such as at retailer Target Corp, infidelity website Ashley Madison, and even U.S. government databases.

In a test of its power to fill the void, the FTC sued Wyndham in June 2012, claiming its computers “unreasonably and unnecessarily” exposed consumer data to the risk of theft.

Wyndham accused the FTC of overreaching, but U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark, New Jersey, let the case proceed.

Affirming that ruling, Ambro rejected Wyndham’s argument that it lacked “fair notice” about what the FTC could require.

He also rejected what he called Wyndham’s “alarmist” argument that letting the FTC regulate its conduct could give the agency effective authority to regulate hotel room door locks, or sue supermarkets that fail to sweep up banana peels.

 

 

 

Intel To Invest Heavily In Mirantis For OpenStack

August 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has teamed up with OpenStack distribution provider Mirantis to push adoption of the OpenStack cloud computing framework.

The deal, which includes a $100m investment in Mirantis from Intel Capital, will provide technical collaboration between the two companies and look to strengthen the open source cloud project by speeding up the introduction of more enterprise features as well as services and support for customers.

The funding will also bring on board Goldman Sachs as an investor for the first time, the firm said, alongside collaboration from the companies’ engineers in the community on OpenStack high availability, storage, network integration and support for big data.

“Intel is actually providing us with cash, so they’ve bought a co-development subscription from us. Then, in addition, we’ve strengthened our balance sheet by putting more equity financing dollars into the company. So overall the total funds are at $100m,” said Mirantis president and co-founder Alex Freedland.

“With Intel as our partner, we’ll show the world that open design, open development and open licensing is the future of cloud infrastructure software. Mirantis’ goal is to make OpenStack the best way to deliver cloud software, surpassing any proprietary solutions.”

Freedland added that the collaboration means that there’s nothing proprietary in the arrangement that it is flowing directly into open source. No intellectual property is going to Intel.

“All this is community-driven, so everyone will be able to take advantage of it,” he added.

The move is part of the Cloud for All initiative announced by Intel in July.

Intel is becoming increasingly involved in OpenStack. The company said at the OpenStack Summit in May that it is making various contributions, including improving the security of containerised applications in the cloud using the VT-x extensions in Intel processors.

Other big companies are also backing the open source software. Google announced in July that it had joined the OpenStack Foundation as a corporate sponsor in a bid to promote open source and open cloud technologies.

Working closely with other members of the OpenStack community, Google said that the move will bring its expertise in containers and container management to OpenStack while sharing its work with innovative open source projects like Kubernetes.

Courtesy-TheInq

Alibaba Ads Artificial Intelligence To Its Cloud Service

August 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Alibaba’s cloud computing business is attempting to gain enterprise customers with a new artificial intelligence service designed for data mining and analysis.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has announced DT PAI, a platform designed to comb through a client’s data and analyze it for useful information.

The service could help companies find key trends within their customer data, or even recommend goods to users, according to Alibaba. For example, online shoppers could take a picture of an item they like, upload the image and then receive the e-commerce listing about where they can buy the product.

Alibaba had been experimenting with this concept back in 2011 through its own e-commerce search engine.

Alibaba’s DT PAI platform now aims to streamline AI development for the enterprise market, reducing the time and expertise needed. Interested customers can simply “drag-and-drop” what functions they want, before proceeding to application development, the company said.

“What used to take days can be completed in minutes,” said Xiao Wei, senior product expert with Alibaba’s cloud business, in a press release.

Alibaba isn’t exactly known for AI development, but there are other factors to consider. In China, the company dominates as the country’s leading e-commerce player, and its initial public offering in the U.S. was the world’s largest at US$25 billion.

In addition, the company has a fast-growing cloud computing business, which is expanding globally. It has already opened a data center in Silicon Valley, and more are slated for other markets such as Europe and Japan.

In expanding, however, Alibaba will have to contend with better-known cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, according to analysts.

 

 

 

 

LG To Unveil Upgraded G Pad Tablet

August 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Even if the tablet market is in stuck in a rut, vendors aren’t giving up on the product category. LG Electronics will debut the best model of its G Pad tablet series at the IFA trade show in Berlin next week.

LG’s latest tablet, the G Pad II 10.1, is more powerful and has a better screen than its predecessor,  but it also has a slightly smaller battery.

A quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor powers the G Pad II and its 10.1-inch screen has a 1200 x 1920 pixel resolution. That’s a big step up from the original G Pad 10.1, which had a Snapdragon 400 processor and an 800 x 1280 pixel screen.

The G Pad II also has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of integrated storage that can be expanded using the tablet’s microSD card slot. There is a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera at the front.

Features that could turn out to be useful include a Reader Mode, which makes reading e-books more comfortable by reducing the blue light of the display backlight, according to LG. On the software side, the tablet comes preloaded with Microsoft Office and an additional 100GB of free OneDrive storage for two years.

LG didn’t reveal when the G Pad II 10.1 will go on sale, but said it will be available in North America, Europe and Asia. Pricing for the LTE and Wi-Fi models will be announced locally at the time of launch, the company said.

 

 

 

Google Including Tweets In Desktop Search

August 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

An earlier agreement between Google and Twitter that has placed tweets in Google search results on mobile devices since earlier this year has now been expanded to the desktop.

Relevant tweets will appear in desktop results for queries performed in English. The search doesn’t need to include the term “twitter” or twitter hashtags — if there are tweets that Google thinks are relevant, it will surface them anyway.

Last Friday, for instance, a search for “President Obama” returned recent tweets from Obama’s Twitter account near the top of the page, below a few news articles.

The tweets that appear will include photos and links that may have been contained in the tweet.

Google has provided links to tweets in its search results for a long time, but showing the actual tweets could potentially give a boost to Twitter at a time when it’s struggling to add new users.

Google noted the expansion on Friday in an update to its earlier announcement around the mobile rollout.

The company has said it will make the feature available in other languages besides English.

 

 

Are Both AMD And nVidia Readying To Release A 14nm GPU?

August 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD and Nvidia both appear to be certain to get their “14 nm” out next year.

According to TweakTown Nvidia is apparently dotting the “I” and working out where to put in the semi-colons for its Pascal GPU using TSMC’s 16nm FinFet node. AMD rumored has been wining and dining its old chums at GlobalFoundries to use its 14nm process for its Greenland GPU.

Although these sound like different technologies the “14nm and 16nm”  is difference how you measure a transistor. The outcome of both 14 and 16 should be a fairly same sized transistor with similar power features. TSMC calls its process 16nm FinFet, while Samsung and GloFo insist on calling it 14nm FinFet.

The dark satanic rumor mill suggests that the Greenland GPU, which has new Arctic Islands family micro-architecture, will have HBM2 memory. There will be up to 32GB of memory available for enthusiast and professional users. Consumer-oriented cards will have eight to 16GB of HBM2 memory. It will also have a new ISA (instruction set architecture).

It makes sense, AMD moved to HBM with its Fury line this year. Nvidia is expected to follow suit in 2016 with cards offering up to 32GB HBM2 as well.

Both Nvidia and AMD are drawn to FinFET which offers 90 percent more density than 28nm. Both will boost the transistors on offer with their next-generation GPUs, with 17 to 18 billion transistors currently being rumored.

 

Courtesy-Fud