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Will GPU Open Sourcing Work

September 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An open saucy general-purpose graphics processor (GPGPU) has been unveiled at the Hot Chips event.

The GPGPU is relatively crude and is part of another piece of an emerging open-source hardware platform called MIAOW.

Karu Sankaralingam, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that an open source hardware platform is emerging that has inherent value

He said that big companies will someday be built using open source hardware, just as multi-billion-dollar Web giants owe their existence to open source software.

He said more people needed to contribute to open source hardware to improve the platform layer so there’s enough for entrepreneurs to build from it.

A 12-person team developed the MIAOW core in 36 months. Their goal was simply to create a functional GPGPU without setting any specific area, frequency, power or performance goals.

The resulting GPGPU uses just 95 instructions and 32 compute units in its current design. It only supports single-precision operations. Students are now adding a graphics pipeline to the design, a job expected to take about six months.

MIAOW compares favourably on several benchmarks to AMD’s latest high-end chip, Tahiti. However, it also falls far short on other benchmarks. Apparently AMD had a quick look at it and said that the designers were not doing anything “too crazy”.

However quite how MIAOW will navigate through the shark infested patent sea is anyone’s guess.

Courtesy-Fud

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

Is Samsung Working On An 18 Inch Tablet?

August 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung is working on a huge Android-based tablet that could be used in living rooms, offices, or schools, presumably as a coffee table.

According to Sam Mobile the SM-T670, codenamed ‘Tahoe’, is an Android 5.1 Lollipop-based tablet with an 18.4-inch display.

It will have a TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. It will have a rather low 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot and a 5,700 mAh battery.  Face it though a tablet this big is not going to spend a lot of time being carried about or needing a battery.

Apparently it will have an 8-megapixel primary camera and a 2.1-megapixel secondary camera. It will be 451.8 mm wide, 275.8 mm tall, and 11.9 mm thick.  Strangely no one has mentioned the things weight.

Samsung is also said to be working on a Windows 10-based tablet with a high-resolution 12-inch display, a 13nm Intel Core M chipset, 4GB RAM, and an S Pen.

Courtesy-Fud

Swatch To Beef Up Its Smartwatch Offerings

August 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Swatch is making plans to add to its new smartwatch range, the Swiss watchmaker’s chief executive stated in a recent newspaper interview.

The Biel, Switzerland-based company is competing with Apple and other watchmakers in the budding smartwatch market.

“Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.”

Hayek told the paper Swatch would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The Swiss company’s strategy appears primarily to revolve around including individual tech features in different models rather than going head to head with Apple to create all-in-one smartwatches combining many functions.

On top of its Touch Zero One, which can track the distance the wearer travels and help beach volleyball players measure the power of their hits, Swatch is planning to launch watches with an embedded “near field communication” chip this year.

 

Google Unveils New Wi-Fi Router For Home

August 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a Wi-Fi router, the latest move in the company’s efforts to get ready for the connected home and draw more users to its services.

The cylinder-shaped router, named OnHub, can be pre-ordered for $199.99 at online retailers including the Google Store, Amazon.com Incand Walmart.com.

The router comes with in-built antennas that will scan the airwaves to spot the fastest connection, Google said in a blog post.

With the router, users will be able to prioritize a device so that they can get the fastest Internet speeds for data-heavy activities such as downloading content or streaming a movie.

The router can be hooked up with Google’s On app, available on Android and iOS, to run network checks and keep track of bandwidth use among other things.

Google said OnHub automatically updates with new features and the latest security upgrades, just like the company’s Android OS and Chrome browser.

The router is being manufactured by network company TP-LINK, Google said, hinting that ASUS could be the second manufacturing partner for the product.

The product launch comes days after Google restructured itself by creating Alphabet Inc, a holding company to pool its many subsidiaries and separate the core web advertising business from newer ventures like driverless cars.

Making products for the smart home is one such venture.

Google last year bought Nest, a smart thermostat maker, for $3.2 billion, aiming to lead the way on how household devices link to each other and to electricity grids.

The global market for “Internet of Things”, the concept of connecting household devices to the Internet, will nearly triple to $1.7 trillion by 2020, research firm International Data Corp said in June.

 

 

Microsoft Tests News Reading App

August 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft is quietly working on an app thats geared toward people who want help keeping up with today’s barrage of news.

The app, called NewsCast, hasn’t been formally announced, but it was first spotted by Neowin’s Brad Sams. It takes in articles from around the Web and starts reading summaries of them to users in an ongoing playlist. Users can save articles for reading later and view the full text of any article NewsCast pulls in using a built-in browser or a distraction-free reading view.

It’s all designed to keep users up to date on the latest news while they’re commuting and don’t want to be staring at tiny text on their phone.

According to a publicly accessible webpage for the app, NewsCast is a proof-of-concept product from the Bing News and Speech teams and seems to be testing only inside Microsoft. The teams are “trying to validate several hypothesis”[sic] with the app, though it’s not clear what they’re testing. Collecting feedback from users is a major focus of NewsCast’s current build — tapping a feedback button in the app opens an email that includes a three-question survey about what users like, dislike and want from it in the future.

Microsoft isn’t the only tech company going after mobile news summaries. Facebook is reportedly testing its own Twitter-like news app, and Yahoo has received accolades for its News Digest app, which gives users bite-sized summaries about current events.

 

 

Microsoft Announces Major Updates To Yammer

August 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft unveiled a bevy of improvements to its Yammer enterprise social network, focused on helping people connect more easily with their teams.

By default, people who access Yammer via their web browser will be taken to a new “Discovery” feed on the service’s home page that is supposed to better show them relevant content from their groups along with other public teams across their company’s network. It’s supposed to help keep people in closer touch with important discussions they may be missing on Yammer.

After users finish reviewing new content in one group, Yammer will display a pop up banner with a link to the next group they’re subscribed to that has new content. Yammer’s mobile apps will get similar functionality through a new Group Updates feed that lets users see a list of different conversations in various groups all on one screen. That way, they won’t have to look through individual groups to get the same information. That feature will begin rolling out on Android first before making it to Yammer’s iOS app.

In addition, Yammer is also tweaking the design of individual groups’ pages. Now, each group will have a full-width banner at the top of its page, and discussions within the group can now take up a wider space on the page to aid in lengthier discussions. The whole page has also been redesigned to focus users’ attention on important content.

Icons in the left-hand sidebar will show the users that are active in groups they are a part of, so they can stay up-to-date on where conversations are happening in real time. It’s a move that could make Yammer more competitive with popular chat solutions like Slack, which has been growing incredibly rapidly and was recently valued at $2.8 billion.

Yammer’s mobile app also gained support for attaching files from external storage services like OneDrive and Dropbox, inviting coworkers to a user’s network by email and mentioning people in comments.

There’s even more up Yammer’s sleeve on top of all these updates. The social network’s iPhone app will soon have a companion version for the Apple Watch that will let people interact with content from their coworkers.

The updates come at a time when Microsoft is putting more effort into improving its workplace collaboration tools.

 

 

 

Will Apple Release A Cheaper iPhone?

August 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Apple is about to spike plans to make a cheaper, plastic iPhone 6C.

The Tame Apple Press became all moist when the news that Apple was going to make a a plastic bodies and 4in screens in an iPhone 6C?  This would mean that Apple would not only have three phones coming out this year, but actually have one that it could put into cheaper markets.

We have heard that logic before, and it never really worked. And now it looks like Apple has abandoned the plan (if it even had it in the first place).

A marketing firm claims it has seen testing data for just two new iPhones, which strongly suggests that an iPhone 6C launch is not imminent.

Fisku, had access to data that shows identifiers for models in testing. Its logs recently showed two new iPhones, which showed up as “iphone8,1″ and “iphone8,2″ – most likely codenames for the upcoming iPhone 6s (or 7, depending on Apple’s choice of moniker) and the iPhone 6s Plus (or 7 Plus).

If the phone is launched it might be at a much later date, but so far it looks like Apple will stick to launching just two models.

Courtesy-Fud

Lenovo-backed ZUK Brand Enters Mobile Phone Market

August 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Lenovo’s latest smartphone strategy downplays the company name, instead spotlighting a new brand, ZUK.

The newly created brand debuted its first Android phone, the Z1, which will arrive in China later this month, offering strong specs and an affordable price. International launches are expected later this year.

Any mention of Lenovo was absent at the product launch. That strategy may seem strange, given that Lenovo is already a well-known brand in China, its home market. Lenovo has long been the country’s leading PC maker and at one point was its largest smartphone vendor.

However, the competition in China’s handset industry has increased. Vendors including Apple and Samsung, along with dozens of other homegrown players such as Xiaomi and Huawei, are all fighting for a piece of the market.

The competition has started to take a toll on Lenovo’s business. In this year’s second quarter, it fell out of the top-five ranking for China’s largest smartphone vendors and grabbed only a 5 percent market share, according to research firm Canalys.

The challenge for Lenovo is developing a clear strategy, said Canalys analyst Nicole Peng. In China, the company has excelled at selling low-end phones, but its brand isn’t as well known for offering higher-end devices.

“People are moving on and buying their second smartphone,” she added. “They want that next phone to be much better. So Lenovo, at this stage, is finding it very difficult to compete.”

 

 

Microsoft To Begin Android, iOS Skype For Business Beta

August 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft is set to begin inviting users to test the new iOS and Android apps of Skype for Business, the enterprise communications software whose latest version was rolled out several months ago.

The preview will include a number of benefits including a redesigned in-call experience. The new call screen features larger buttons to make it easier to manage a call on a phone’s smaller screen. The app’s new dashboard is designed to make communication easier by pulling a user’s most recent conversations, upcoming meetings and the ability to search all their contacts into one place.

Video calls will now fill the screen on a user’s phone, so it’s easier for them to see their colleagues. Furthermore, the new app’s design is supposed to simplify the video, content and IM panes and make navigating between them easier.

Getting access to the preview apps will be a somewhat involved process. IT administrators can visit skypepreview.com and nominate up to four end users each to test the iOS and Android apps. Administrators have to apply by Friday to be considered for the first testing batch. After that, Microsoft will evaluate the nominations and pick out a group of testers for the applications.

Users who have the Lync 2013 app for iOS or Android will get automatically upgraded to Skype for Business when the app launches later this year. It’s compatible with deployments of Lync Server 2013, Skype for Business Server 2015 and Skype for Business Online.

Skype for Business was officially released in April for Windows PCs, but Microsoft has been slower to update and rebrand other platforms. Windows Phone owners already have access to a new Skype for Business app, which launched last month.

 

 

Nokia Moving Forward With Its Return To Mobile Phones

August 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is seeking software experts, testing new products and looking for sales partners as it plots its return to the mobile phone and consumer tech arena it abandoned with the sale of its handset business.

Once the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, the Finnish firm was caught off guard by the rise of smartphones and eclipsed by Apple and Samsung. It sold its handset business to Microsoft  in late 2013 and has since focused squarely on making telecoms network equipment.

Now Nokia boss Rajeev Suri is planning a comeback. He must wait until late 2016 before he can consider re-entering the handset business – after a non-compete deal with Microsoft expires – but preparations are underway.

The company has already dipped its toe into the consumer market; it has launched an Android tablet, the N1, which went on sale in January in China and days ago unveiled a “virtual-reality camera” – heralding it as the “rebirth of Nokia”.

It has also launched an Android app called Z Launcher, which organizes content on smartphones.

Meanwhile its technologies division has advertised on LinkedIn dozens of jobs in California, many in product development, including Android engineers specializing in the operating software Nokia mobile devices will use.

Nokia had also planned to lay off about 70 people at the division, according to a May announcement, but a company source told Reuters that the figure had since been halved.

Nokia itself is not giving much away about its preparations, beyond saying some staff at the 600-strong technologies division are working on designs for new consumer products, including phones, as well as in digital video and health.

But it will not be easy to claw its way back to relevance in the fast-changing, competitive mobile business where Apple has been scooping up nearly 90 percent of industry profits, nor for it to carve out a place in electronics.

One ace Nokia that holds is ownership of one of the mobile industry’s biggest troves of intellectual property, including patents it retained after selling its handset business.

 

 

 

HTC To Cut Devices, Focus On High-end Market

August 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp said it will eliminate some jobs and discontinue models as part of its strategy to focus on high-end devices to better compete with the likes of AppleInc and Samsung Electronics.

“The cuts will be across the board,” Chief Financial Officer Chialin Chang told reporters after HTC reported a second-quarter loss and forecast another for the third-quarter. “They will be significant.”

Chang said the cost reductions would extend to the first quarter of next year, but declined to give further details.

A pioneer in early smartphones, HTC has been dismissed by industry watchers as confused, unoriginal and uncompetitive.

The company has been losing market share over the past few years, hit by intense competition at the high-end of the market from the likes of Apple and Samsung Electronics while budget Chinese rivals have also eclipsed its low-cost offerings.

HTC shares have fallen 51 percent so far this year. The stock closed 1.69 percent lower before the results were announced.

Chang said HTC was banking on selling high-end models in emerging smartphone markets such as India, where he said the company has a 20 percent market share of phones priced between $250-$400.

Analysts, however, are less optimistic, saying HTC is likely to continue to struggle for the next four quarters at least.

“We believe HTC will keep losing share in the smartphone market and will keep losing money,” analyst Calvin Huang with Taiwan’s SinoPac Securities wrote in a recent research note.