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Technology Has Had Negative Impact On Privacy, Survey Reveals

January 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet users in the U.S., France Germany and other nations are increasingly concerned about the impact technology has on privacy, and feel legal protections are insufficient.

In 11 of the 12 countries surveyed as part of a report published by Microsoft, respondents said that technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative. Most concerned were people in Japan and France, where 68 percent of the respondents thought technology has had a mostly negative impact on privacy.

A majority want better legal protections and say the rights of Internet users should be governed by local laws irrespective of where companies are based.

Internet users in India, Indonesia and Russia were the least concerned, according to the survey. In general, those in developing countries were less bothered.

Surveys like this one should always be looked at with a healthy dose of skepticism. But there is little doubt that people are wary of how their personal data is used by companies and governments, according to John Phelan, communications officer at European consumer organization BEUC.

That people shouldn’t take privacy for granted has been highlighted on several occasions in just the last week.

Shortly after the horrific Paris shootings, British Prime Minister David Cameron was criticized for saying that authorities should have the means to read all encrypted traffic.

Also, U.S. mobile operator Verizon Wireless found itself in hot water over the way one of its advertising partners used the Unique Identifier Headers Verizon embeds in its customers’ Internet traffic to recreate tracking cookies that had been deleted by users. Online advertising company Turn defended its practises, but still said on Friday it would stop using the method by next month.

Worries about privacy aren’t likely to subside anytime soon, with more devices becoming connected as part of the expected Internet of Things boom.

The “Views from Around the Globe: 2nd Annual Poll on How Personal Technology is Changing our Lives” survey queried 12,002 Internet users in the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Japan and France.

 

 

 

Microsoft Looking Into Light Beams

January 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Researchers have worked out a way that means you will never have to plug in your phone again.

Yunxin Liu, Zhen Qin and Chunshui Zhao from Microsoft Research’s Beijing campus have developed a new system they call AutoCharge.

The researchers’ paper said that “wireless power methods have several disadvantages, preventing them from being used in our targeted usage scenarios”

Electromagnetic radiation of wireless power is much higher than wireless communications (Wi-Fi or 3G). Thus, safety to human bodies is a big issue in wireless power. As a result, wireless power is usually used only in extreme scenarios such as in outer space, for military purposes, or in very short ranges.

Radio frequencies used in wireless power are much lower than the frequencies of light, it is hard to emit the radio waves within a straight beam. This causes energy waste if the receiver is not large enough and makes it hard to ensure safety.
The current crop of wireless charging solutions for smartphones typically require special phone cases and ‘charging pads’, and work using electromagnetic induction. Power is transmitted only over a few centimetres.

However the researchers came up with a way of using solar power techniques to charge smartphones.

Indoor surrounding light is usually much than the sunlight and thus cannot be used to charge a smartphone but instead of relying on the sun, the team built a prototype charger that can be mounted on a ceiling and automatically locate a smartphone lying on a table, then charge it using a directed beam of light.

The light charger has two modes. In the ‘detection’ mode, it uses a camera and image recognition software to detect objects with the size and shape of a smartphone lying on a table. The charger will rotate until it detects an object that looks like a smartphone.

The device then enters charging mode and turns on its light. The prototype used an UltraFire CREE XM-L T6 Focusing LED Flashlight.

Courtesy-Fud

LG Stops OLED Production For Now

January 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

South Korea’s labor ministry has ordered LG to halt operations of an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel production line following a nitrogen gas leak.

The ministry, in a statement posted on its website yesterday, said the production ban will last as authorities investigate a nitrogen gas leak that killed two workers.

An LG spokeswoman confirmed that production at the OLED TV panel line has been halted. She declined to specify the ban’s effect on sales or production and said the firm will work to resume operations as quickly as possible.

The leak happened days after LG unveiled its Best of CES-winning Art Slim OLED sets and might affect a timely launch if the investigation takes a while.

The leak happened around 12:50 p.m. at the P8 factory in Paju, about 40 kilometers north of Seoul. The workers from LG Display and its subcontractor were carrying out routine maintenance on the ninth floor when the valve of a nitrogen gas cylinder was presumably opened by mistake.

One worker died at the scene, with another being pronounced dead on his way to the hospital, authorities said.

Courtesy-Fud

New ZeuS Based Trojan Targeting Banks Worldwide

December 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A new computer Trojan developed off of the infamous ZeuS banking malware is targeting users of more than 150 banks and payment systems from around the world, security researchers warn.

The new threat, dubbed Chthonic, is based on ZeusVM, a Trojan program discovered in February that is itself a modification of the much older ZeuS Trojan.

“The Trojan is apparently an evolution of ZeusVM, although it has undergone a number of significant changes,” security researchers from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab said in a blog post. “Chthonic uses the same encryptor as Andromeda bots, the same encryption scheme as Zeus AES and Zeus V2 Trojans, and a virtual machine similar to that used in ZeusVM and KINS malware.”

Like ZeuS, Chthonic’s main feature is the ability to surreptitiously modify banking websites when opened by victims on their computers. This technique, commonly known as Web injection, is used to add rogue Web forms on banking websites that ask victims for sensitive information, like credit card details or second-factor authorization codes.

However, Chthonic has a modular architecture that allows cybercriminals to extend the Trojan’s functionality. The Kaspersky Lab researchers found Chthonic modules designed to collect system information, steal locally stored passwords, log keystrokes, allow remote connections to the computer through VNC, use the infected computer as a proxy server and record video and sound through the computer’s webcam and microphone.

According to Kaspersky Lab, there are several Chthonic-based botnets with different configurations, suggesting the malware is being used by different groups.

“Overall, the botnets we are aware of target online banking systems of over 150 different banks and 20 payment systems in 15 countries,” the company’s researchers said. “The cybercriminals seem most interested in banks in the UK, Spain, the US, Russia, Japan and Italy.”

 

 

Demand For Solar Power Continues To Rise

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Demand for solar power grew at an impressive clip by 16%  in 2014, representing 44 billion watts (gigawatts) of capacity purchased during the year.

At the same time, China, which in past years had flooded the market with solar panels, did not see growth as strong as had been expected. The growth was mainly due to healthy U.S. and Japanese markets, according to the report from EnergyTrend, a research division of TrendForce.

Overall, supply and demand remained stable, according to EnergyTrend.

“At the end of 2014, the overall supply chain maintained a solid utilization rate, while China’s tier-one module manufacturers also continued to break shipment records,” Jason Huang, research manager at EnergyTrend, said in the report.

Ironically, because the price of photovoltaic (PV) modules (the building blocks of solar panels) bottomed out last year, investors worldwide became concerned that profits would also drop. PV prices plummeted after China saturated the market with low-cost solar panel modules. The result: PV capacity rose from 31 gigawatts (GW or a billion watts) in 2012 to a record 39GW last year, even as investments in solar capacity dropped, according to a 2014 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In 2015, worldwide solar demand is projected to be 51.4GW, with the key markets — China, the United States and Japan — taking up 57% of the overall share.

The rise of emerging markets (the solar installation countries that are not in the top 10) has begun to appear. In 2015, the growth momentum of the emerging markets will become more apparent, and the overall demand will surpass 10GW.

 

 

LG Plans On Rolling Out Quantum Dot TVs In 2015

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc will roll out a new range of high-tech TVs in early 2015, expanding its line-up while it strives to cut costs that make its prized light-emitting diode (OLED) sets too expensive for most consumers.

A spokesman for the world’s No. 2 TV maker after domestic rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Tuesday LG will start selling products using quantum dot technology early next year. He didn’t disclose details including pricing.

The technology incorporates a film of tiny light-emitting crystals into regular liquid crystal displays (LCD), boosting picture quality. LG will have 55-inch and 65-inch ultra-high definition quantum dot TVs on display at the major CES trade show next month in Las Vegas.

Japan’s Sony Corp is so far the only major TV maker selling quantum dot models.

LG was widely expected to launch quantum dot TVs next year, having declared its intention to use the products in a dual-track strategy as the firm and its affiliate LG Display Co Ltd try to push OLED prices down. Analysts say it may take the LG firms several years to meet that goal.

The OLED TV sets remain expensive: a 65-inch ultra-high definition model launched in Korea earlier this year was priced at 12 million won ($10,993). A comparable Sony quantum dot TV costs about $3,799, according to the Japanese firm’s website.

Samsung Electronics has said quantum dot is one of many technologies it is considering. Analysts expect Samsung Electronics to launch quantum dot TVs next year, and believe it could be more aggressive in pushing the products than LG, which remains committed to OLED.

The LG spokesman said Dow Chemical Co is supplying quantum dot material. Dow Chemical confirmed the supplier relationship in an emailed statement.

Dow is building a quantum dot factory in South Korea using technology from partner Nanoco Group Plc, with production starting in the first half of 2015.

 

 

Softbank Decides To Shrink Silicon Valley Presence

December 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank Corp  will soon scale back its Silicon Valley offices, sources with knowledge of the matter said, signaling the company won’t revive efforts to buy T-Mobile U.S. Inc .

SoftBank subsidiary Sprint Corp dropped its bid to acquire the No. 4 U.S. carrier in August but the companies did not rule out future consolidation.

The Japanese telecommunications company is now transferring “the bulk” of manpower out of its West Coast operations, including dispersing development engineers to Sprint headquarters in Kansas, said the people, who declined to be identified because the move has not been made public.

SoftBank is also considering renting out one of two buildings it leased at an annual cost of over $3 million to accommodate a T-Mobile-driven expansion, the people said. The building has stood largely empty, they said.

The failed bid by Japan’s acquisitive No. 3 mobile carrier was a rare setback for founder Masayoshi Son. The billionaire encountered resistance from U.S. regulators, who insisted on keeping the number of major wireless carriers at four.

“There were people sent to Silicon Valley for the purpose of making (mobile phone) platforms, but that job was done and there’s nothing else to do,” said one of the people.

SoftBank spokesman Matthew Nicholson said some SoftBank employees are moving back to Tokyo or going to Kansas as certain joint projects between the company and Sprint have finished. He declined to comment regarding the relationship between the departures and the failed bid to acquire T-Mobile.

SoftBank bought No.3 U.S. carrier Sprint last year for $22 billion as part of an overseas expansion that has included investments across Asia.

 

Microsoft Expects To Release Windows 10 Next Autumn

December 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Corp expects to have begin offering its Windows 10 operating system to the publict by autumn 2015, slightly later than previous comments had suggested.

Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner told Japanese news service Nikkei on Wednesday that the new system would be released “early next fall.”

Microsoft has not publicly set a firm timetable for the release of Windows 10, but only last week suggested the possibility of an earlier release.

“By next late summer and early fall we’ll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That’s the current plan of record,” Turner told the Credit Suisse Technology Conference last Thursday.

An autumn release would put Windows 10 on track for launch three years after Windows 8, which got a mixed reception as it confused many traditional PC users with a design more suited to tablets.

Microsoft unveiled the name Windows 10 in late September, saying the jump in numbers from 8 to 10 marked a leap as it looks to unify the way people work on tablets, phones and traditional computers.

An early test version of Windows 10 – which blends the traditional look and much-loved start menu with newer features – has been available for download from Microsoft’s website for more than two months.

Windows is still a core part of Microsoft’s business and dominates the desktop computing market with 1.5 billion users. But the growth of smartphones and tablets means Windows now runs on only about 14 percent of computing devices worldwide, according to tech research firm Gartner.

 

 

Will Smartphones Get LPDDR4

December 4, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Uncategorized

The DDR market is rather predictable, after DDR2 comes DDR3 followed by DDR4 and will probably be followed by DDR5. The Low Power market is no exception. Most mainstream to high end phones are powered by LPDDR3 memory and this includes the latest iPhone, Samsung Note or Galaxy, LG G3 or HTC One M8 phones among others.

The future, or early 2015 to be more precise, brings the LPDDR4 a next generation mobile DRAM standard. LPDDR4 launches with an I/O data rate of 3200 MT/s and a target speed of 4266 MT/s, compared to 2133 MT/s for LPDDR3. It also operates with 1.1V, a 10 percent lower voltage compared to 1.2 with LPDDR3. The LPDDR4 standard is very fresh as JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) has announced the final specification on August 25th 2014. In case you are not familiar with the term, JEDEC is an independent semiconductor engineering trade organization and standardization body.

Samsung has managed to double the clock rate from the current 800 MHz with LPDDR3 to 1600MHz with LPDDR4, increasing the total memory bandwidth from 12.8GB/s with LPDDR3 to 25.6 GB/s DRAMeXchange expects that one percent of Samsung market share in DDR memory will be LPDDR4, but in a year’s time, in Q4 2015, DRAMeXchange expects that Samsung’s LPDDR4 market share could expand to 30 percent of total LPDDR4 supplies.

SK Hynix, another big name in the DDR industry, expects to grow from the current 1 percent to 18 percent in a year. US based Micron has not yet entered the LPDDR4 market but it is expected that the company can capture a good 25 percent of it in Q4 2015. Qualcomm has officially confirmed that its 2015 flagship Snapdragon 810 supports LPDDR4 1600MHz Dual-channel 64-bit (25.6GBps) memory and we expect that a lot of top brands in the phone industry based their high end phones on this chip. Have in mind that only the Snapdragon 810 supports LPDDR4 while Snapdragon 808, 805, 801 and a bit older 800 are stuck with the LPDDR3.

Qualcomm is also the first company to introduce working LPDDR4 hardware, in the form of its Snapdragon 810 engineering platforms.

We expect Nvidia Erista to feature LPDDR4 support, while Mediatek and Intel will probably announce its LPDDR4 SoCs next year. No word on Apple’s next generation SoC, but Apple does not tend to be behind the curve, so we would be surprised if it did not go LPDDR4 next year, too.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Pictures Still Struggling After Cyber Attack

December 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

More than a week after a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Hollywood studio isstill struggling to restore some systems as investigators searched for evidence to identify the culprit.

Some employees at the Sony Corp entertainment unit were given new computers to replace ones that had been attacked with the rare data-wiping virus, which had made their machines unable to operate, according to a person with knowledge of Sony’s operations.

In a memo to staff seen by Reuters, studio co-chiefs Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal acknowledged that “a large amount of confidential Sony Pictures Entertainment data has been stolen by the cyber attackers, including personnel information and business documents.”

They are “not yet sure of the full scope of information that the attackers have or might release,” according to the memo first reported by Variety, and encouraged employees to take advantage of identity protection services being offered.

Their concern underscores the severity of the breach, which experts say is the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate.

Government investigators led by the FBI are considering multiple suspects in the attack, including North Korea, according to a U.S. national security official with knowledge of the investigation.

The FBI said Tuesday that it is working with its counterparts in Sony’s home country of Japan in the investigation.

That comes after it warned U.S. businesses on Monday about hackers’ use of malicioussoftware and suggested ways to defend themselves. The warning said some of the software used by the hackers had been compiled in Korean, but it did not discuss any possible connection to North Korea.

 

 

Americans Will Have To Wait For Fastest LTE Speeds

December 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LTE’s theoretical maximum download speed will increase to 450 Mbps next year — but most users won’t be able to take advantage of it, as many mobile operators simply don’t have enough radio spectrum.

The broadband speed users get depends on a myriad of different factors, but in the network it all starts with the amount of spectrum their operator uses. Future increases will be fueled by a technology called carrier aggregation, which lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one.

This month, chip maker Qualcomm and network equipment manufacturer Ericsson have been doing their best to let the world know speeds at up to 450Mbps will be possible next year, with product launches, interoperability tests and a demo with Australian network operator Telstra.

The demonstration used 60MHz of spectrum made up of three separate 20 MHz LTE channels in the 2600MHz, 1800MHz and 700MHz bands. That the mobile operators need 20MHz in each of threebands to get to 450Mbps makes the technology an option for only a select few.

For example, because spectrum in the U.S. is often licensed in 10 MHz chunks, North American subscribers are unlikely to see 450Mbps anytime soon, according to Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research. In Europe, LTE penetration is still low, so mobile operators are more focused on migrating subscribers to regular LTE. The first to get 450Mbps will instead be users in Asia, Saadi said.

Ericsson and Qualcomm are more upbeat, and think there is potential in North America and Europe as well. But the bulk of the deployments will use carrier aggregation at slower speeds, according to Peter Carson, senior director of marketing at Qualcomm. Speeds of 300Mbps or even 375Mbps are within reach of many more mobile operators, and that’s still a big step for users.

 

 

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

Panasonic Considering A Push Into Home Appliances

November 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp is mulling over M&A deals to bolster its presence in the European home appliance market, its chief executive said on Monday, as it shifts its focus to growth following years of restructuring.

“We need a partner who understands the European market in the white goods segment,” CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, credited with leading the company’s turnaround since his appointment in 2012, told Reuters in an interview.

Panasonic returned to a positive net cash position last quarter for the first time in five years, a year and a half ahead of schedule, after exiting unprofitable product lines in smartphones, plasma TVs and semiconductor chips.

In contrast to Sony Corp, another Japanese consumer electronics icon struggling with deep losses in TVs, smartphones and other consumer electronics, Panasonic has been turning to new growth areas such as advanced driver assistance systems that look into blind spots or aid in parking. It is also supplying batteries to electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.

While Panasonic’s transformation has shifted its focus to the automotive sector and other industrial clients, it also sees home appliances – unlike smartphones and other gadgets it has quit or pared back – as a potentially profitable area where it could tap its expertise in power-saving technologies.

Panasonic is aiming for 10 trillion yen ($90 billion) in revenue in the 2018/19 financial year compared with a target of 7.75 trillion yen in the current year to March, and has said this could be achieved in part through acquisitions.

Tsuga said Panasonic had room to expand in home appliances, particularly in Europe where it is a minority shareholder in Slovenian appliance maker Gorenje under an alliance that includes joint manufacturing and sales.

“We could deepen this partnership, or pursue other alliances,” Tsuga said. Asked whether that could include an acquisition, he said: “I wouldn’t rule that out. That’s currently under consideration.”

 

 

 

Nintendos’s New Healthcare Division To Develop Sleep Tracking Device

October 31, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd will develop a device to monitor a user’s fatigue and map their sleep, Chief Executive Satoru Iwata said on Thursday, the first offering from the company’s newly created healthcare division.

The device will be co-created with U.S. firm ResMed Inc, which currently makes products to treat sleep disorders, and will be available in the financial year ending March 2016.

“By using our know-how in gaming… to analyse sleep and fatigue, we can create something fun,” Iwata said.

Nintendo, better known for its Mario video game franchise and Wii and Wii U consoles, has said it expects its healthcare division to turn a profit in 2015/2016. The company already offers fitness games on its Wii console, played with a motion sensor controller.

According to an image Iwata shared at a media conference, the device will be about the size of a hand and can be placed on a user’s bedside table. It will use microwave transmission sensors to track sleep, with the data collected used to help users cultivate healthy sleeping habits.

Iwata refused to discuss the company’s sales expectations for the new device beyond saying that it may be offered via a subscription service rather than a one-off purchase.

“We only start something new if we think we will be able to create a big market, but as I’m not able to discuss pricing plans and other details today I don’t think there’s much point in giving a figure for our projected scale,” he said.

The device was launched a day after Nintendo reported an unexpected quarterly profit, after hit games gave a boost to sales of its Wii U console.

 

 

Samsung Shows Off 20nm DDR4

October 23, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has started shipping its first 8Gbit DDR4 memory chips and 32GB dual in-line memory modules (Dimms) for servers manufactured using a 20nm process technology.

The Korean chip maker said the 20nm production process had been expanded from its PC and mobile memory markets to the enterprise server market with these fresh components, which it began producing earlier this month.

The new 32GB module offers a data transfer rate per pin of up to 2,400Mbps, equating to a 29 percent performance increase when compared with a DDR3 1866 server module, Samsung claimed. The firm is also planning on increasing the speed of the DDR4 modules further to 3,200Mbps.

Using the new 8Gbit DDR4 components, Samsung is initially delivering 32GB registered Dimms, but said the chips will allow production of future server modules with a capacity of up to 128GB by applying 3D through-silicon via technology to manufacture the chips.

“Our new 20nm 8Gbit DDR4 Dram more than meets the high performance, high density and energy efficiency needs that are driving the proliferation of next-generation enterprise servers,” said Samsung’s VP of memory marketing, Jeeho Baek.

As well as increased performance, the new DDR4 chips are touted as offering improved error correction features for greater memory reliability in enterprise servers.

The new DDR4 chip and modules use 1.2v, which is currently the lowest possible voltage.

Samsung’s 20nm chips follow Intel’s launch of the Xeon E5-2600 v3 family last month, which were the first server processors from the chipmaker to support the new memory standard.

Courtesy-TheInq