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Amazon, Simon & Schuster Sign Deal Over E-books

October 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Online book retailer Amazon.com Inc revealed that it has signed a multi-year deal with Simon & Schuster Inc, the second Big-Five book publisher, on the future price of e-books.

Amazon, which had been in discussions with Simon & Schuster since July over pricing, confirmed the deal first reported by the Business Insider news blog that the two had reached an agreement.

Amazon had been locked in a months-long standoff with publisher Hachette Book Group, the fourth-largest U.S. book publisher owned by France’s Lagardere, over digital book pricing. That has led to numerous issues for authors.

Industry experts had expected other publishers eventually to be drawn into negotiations as well, as the Internet retailer tries to set new benchmarks for the e-book market.

Negotiations with Simon & Schuster took about three weeks and closed two months before Amazon’s contract expired, according to Business Insider.

Simon & Schuster made its original offer and an agreement was reached after a few changes by Amazon, the source told Business Insider.

 

 

IBM Launches BlueMix For The IoT

October 21, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has announced its approach to marketing Bluemix cloud services for the Internet of Things (IoT) with its IBM Internet of Things Foundation service based on its Smarter Planet initiative.

The firm claims that its IBM Internet of Things Foundation service “makes it possible for a developer to quickly and easily extend an internet-connected device such as a sensor or controller into the [IBM Bluemix] cloud”, and then “build an application [for] the device to collect the data and send real-time insights back to the developer’s business”.

IBM promotes its Bluemix cloud services as an open standards cloud platform for building, managing and running all types of applications for the web, mobile, big data and smart devices.

Big Blue says its Internet of Things Foundation service “delivers rapid access to, and provides valuable insights from, IoT device data coming from billions of internet-connected sensors and controllers”.

The firm cited IDC estimates that there are already nine billion IoT devices in the world, and that there will be as many as 28 billion IoT devices by 2020.

IBM foresees that by providing IoT devices connectivity in cloud services, “equipment and asset manufacturers can use IoT to provide remote service and monitoring to residential and commercial customers, oil and gas companies can remotely monitor and provide predictive maintenance to critical equipment, and logistics companies can track and monitor the condition of goods in transit”, as just some of the industrial, consumer services and financial applications of IoT-enabled systems.

“Think of the IoT Foundation as an extremely fast on-ramp to the cloud for the millions of intelligent IoT devices that are now being shipped, and the billions already internet connected,” said IBM Internet of Things VP John R. Thompson.

IBM said it plans to enlist partners for its IoT efforts, which it expects will include ARM, B&B Electronics, Elecsys, Intel, Multi-Tech Systems and Texas Instruments. Along with these partners, it plans to develop a set of certified instructions, or “recipes” for connecting IoT devices, sensors and gateways.

IBM Bluemix cloud services are already available for developers worldwide, and the IBM Internet of Things Foundation will be available from 21 October. You will need an IBM account to participate, of course.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Will TSMC’s FinFet Chips Show Up In Early 2015?

October 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC has announced that it will begin volume production of 16nm FinFET products in the second half of 2015, in late Q2 or early Q3.

For consumers, this means products based on TSMC 16nm FinFET silicon should appear in late 2015 and early 2016. The first TSMC 16nm FinFET product was announced a few weeks ago.

TSMC executive CC Wei said sales of 16nm FinFET products should account for 7-9% of the foundry’s total revenue in Q4 2015. The company already has more than 60 clients lined up for the new process and it expects 16nm FinFET to be its fastest growing process ever.

Although TSMC is not talking about the actual clients, we already know the roster looks like the who’s who of tech, with Qualcomm, AMD, Nvidia and Apple on board.

This also means the 20nm node will have a limited shelf life. The first 20nm products are rolling out as we speak, but the transition is slow and if TSMC sticks to its schedule, 20nm will be its top node for roughly a year, giving it much less time on top than earlier 28nm and 40nm nodes.

The road to 10nm

TSMC’s 16nm FinFET, or 16FinFET, is just part of the story. The company hopes to tape out the first 10nm products in 2015, but there is no clear timeframe yet.

Volume production of 10nm products is slated for 2016, most likely late 2016. As transitions speed up, TSMC capex will go up. The company expects to invest more than $10bn in 2015, up from $9.6bn this year.

TSMC expects global smartphone shipments to reach 1.5bn units next year, up 19 percent year-on-year. Needless to say, TSMC silicon will power the majority of them.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Doubling Reward For It’s Ad Based Bugs

October 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is doubling the bounty it will pay for security vulnerabilities related to code that runs its advertising system, the company announced.

A comprehensive security audit of its ads code was recently completed, but Facebook “would like to encourage additional scrutiny from whitehats to see what we may have missed,” wrote Collin Greene, a security engineer, in a blog post. “Whitehats” refers to ethical security researchers, as opposed to “blackhats” who take advantage of vulnerabilities.

According to bug bounty program guidelines, Facebook pays a minimum of $500 for a valid bug report. Until the end of the year, that has been increased to $1,000.

Greene wrote that the majority of reports it receives concern more common parts of Facebook’s code, but the company would like to encourage interest in ads “to better protect businesses.”

Facebook’s ad tools include the Ads Manager, the ads API (application programming interface) and Analytics, which is also called Insights, Greene wrote. The company also wants close scrutiny of its back-end billing code.

“There is a lot of backend code to correctly target, deliver, bill and measure ads,” Greene wrote. “This code isn’t directly reachable via the website, but of the small number of issues that have been found in these areas, they are relatively high impact.”

Greene wrote that Facebook typically sees bugs such as incorrect permission checks, insufficient rate-limiting, edge-case CSRF (cross-site request forgery) issues and problems with Flash in its ads code.

 

The Linux Foundation Develops A Dronecode

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Linux Foundation has announced Dronecode, a new initiative to encourage cooperation on the peaceful use of drones.

Dronecode brings together existing open source code for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles under the auspices of a non-profit governance system.

There are already 1,200 developers working on the newly aligned projects, with over 150 code commits per day being added.

Among the drone designers already using the Dronecode standard are Skycatch, DroneDeploy, HobbyKing, Horizon Ag, PrecisionHawk, Agribotics and Walkera.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, about the project was the person who gave said information.

“Unfortunately when most people think of drones they think of military use, but drones are being used in a variety of cool, exciting ways – agriculture, search and rescue, realtime mapping, construction,” he said.

“Folks who design the software that powers these drones have the same problems as the people who create cloud computing servers. There’s a lot of software inside a drone.

“Creating the software stack by yourself seems a little bit crazy! The Linux Foundation is a place where we can grow these type of software communities.”

Drones are now so popular that they have their own storefront on Amazon.

Earlier this year we reported on the possibility of flyby hack attacks on internet-connected TVs using drones.

But contrary to what we learned from the recent series of Keifer Sutherland asthma-fest 24, the open source aspect won’t make drones more hackable.

“It actually makes it harder for them to be hacked, because if you have visibility to the source code itself you can audit it for security vulnerabilities, have peer reviews … and yes, you’ve been watching too much 24.”

Courtesy-Theinq

IBM And SAP Join Forces In The Cloud

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and SAP announced a partnership on Tuesday to offer SAP HANA cloud services to enterprise customers.

HANA is short for High Performance Analytical Appliance, and is an in-memory, column-oriented relational database management system.

“SAP HANA converges database and application platform capabilities in-memory to transform transactions, analytics, text analysis, predictive and spatial processing so businesses can operate in real time,” says SAP.

SAP’s partnership with IBM and its SoftLayer cloud services will enable large enterprises that want an alternative to supporting SAP HANA in their own data centres to outsource data centre infrastructure costs.

IBM and SAP jointly-announced: “The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud offering is now available through IBM’s highly scalable, open and secure cloud.

“SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud will expand to major markets with the addition of the IBM cloud data centres.

“This is expected to enable customers to deploy their SAP software around the globe in a faster and more secure environment that is backed by IBM’s proven cloud capabilities.”

SAP CEO Bill McDermott added: “We look forward to extending one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the IT industry.

“The demand for SAP HANA and the SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA in the cloud is tremendous and this global agreement with IBM heralds a new era of cloud collaboration.

“We anticipate customers will benefit from this collaboration and expansion of SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.”

IBM CEO and president Ginni Rometty said: “This announcement is a significant milestone in the deployment of enterprise cloud.

“It builds on our two companies’ long history of bringing innovation to business, and extends IBM’s position as the premier global cloud platform.

“Our secure, open, hybrid enterprise cloud platform will enable SAP clients to support new ways to work in an era shaped by big data, mobile and social.”

We reckon that SAP’s partnership with IBM for SAP HANA services is also likely to lead to more opportunities for IBM consulting services to deliver SAP customisation and implementation services to enterprise customers.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Will Smartphones Eventually Destroy The Tablet Market?

October 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Gartner is warning that tablet sales could fall to the power of the cheaper and bigger smartphones. Gartner’s Q3 and annual figures for device sales worldwide — covering smartphones and tablets as well as PCs of all sizes — shows that tablet sales in 2014 will only see 11 per cent growth over last year, compared to growth of 55 percent the year before.

This works out to a projected 229 million tablets selling in 2014, or 9.5% of overall worldwide device sales, which will total 2.4 billion devices for the year, and 2.5 billion in 2015. In short the novelty is wearing off and tablets are getting a good kicking from Android smartphones. Devices built on Google’s mobile operating system will see sales of 1.2 billion devices this year, working out to more than half of all devices sold.

Ultramobiles, the not-quite-PC and not-quite-tablet and not-quite-phone category, will remain niche but continue growing: there will be 37.6 million of these sold this year, and as befits a fast-growing but still-small category, ultramobiles will grow the fastest, doubling in sales in 2015 while the other categories continue to see only modest rises. Ultramobiles are also suffering from the same issue as tablets. People are simply not replacing them as much.

“In the tablets segment, the downward trend is coming from the slowdown of basic ultramobiles,” Gartner concludes.

The life cycle of tablets and ultramobiles is around three years and buyers this year won’t replace devices until 2018. Gartner says it projects 83 million less new tablet purchasers in 2014-2015 and 155 million less tablet replacements through 2018.

Roberta Cozza, a Gartner analyst and co-author of the report said there are too many solid devices out there and users don’t have a reason to upgrade to the new units. Cozza also confirmed Samsung is heads and shoulders above all other OEMs.

If you look at PCs, ultramobiles and phones, Samsung is still number one, with around a 20 per cent share this quarter. Samsung’s fortunes are driven by Android and its share in the PC category is “tiny.”

With Apple in second place at around 10 percent, Nokia in third just behind it and Lenovo in fourth in the overall category.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Launches Telemedicine Beta Feature

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is offering a temporary trial of a new feature that allows people seeking medical advice to also connect with a physician for an online consult.

The feature, part of the Google+ Helpouts online collaboration video service that launched a year ago, allows healthcare workers to share expertise through live video and provide real-time advice from their computers or mobile devices.

“When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people,” a Google spokesperson said in an email response to Computerworld.

The new Helpouts feature offers a link to a video service that a physician or other healthcare worker has established for advising patients who’ve used a particular search query, such as “congestive heart failure” or “shoulder injury.”

Video chat services and other forms of remote communications with healthcare workers have increased 400% from 2012 levels.

This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million out of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.

With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth improved a hundredfold from a decade ago, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office.

 

 

 

Dawn Of The Robots By 2025?

October 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Gartner envisions things like robots and drones replacing a third of all human workers by 2025.

“One day, a drone may be your eyes and ears,” said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner’s research director. In five years, drones will be a standard part of operations in many industries, used in agriculture, geographical surveys and oil and gas pipeline inspections.

Smart machines are an emerging “super class” of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind, said Sondergaard. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text.

This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner.

“Knowledge work will be automated,” said Sondergaard, as will physical jobs with the arrival of smart robots.

“Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025,” said Sondergaard. “New digital businesses require less labor; machines will be make sense of data faster than humans can.”

Among those listening in this audience was Lawrence Strohmaier, the CIO of Nuverra Environmental Solutions, who said Gartner’s prediction is similar to what happened in other eras of technological advance.

“The shift is from doing to implementing, so the doers go away but someone still has to implement,” said Strohmaier. IT is a shift, although a slow one, to new types of jobs, no different than what happened in the machine age, he said.

The forecast of the impact of technology on jobs was also a warning to the CIOs and IT managers at this conference to consider how they will adapt.

“The door is open for the CIO and the IT organization to be a major player in digital leadership,” said David Aron, a Gartner analyst.

CIOs have been steadily gaining authority, and 41% of CIOs now report to the CEO, a record level, said Aron. That’s based on data from 2,810 CIOs globally.

To be effective leaders, Gartner argues that CIOs have shifted from being focused on measuring things like cost to being able to lead with vision and describe what their business or government agency must do to take advantage of smarter technologies.

 

 

IBM Finally Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3

October 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has stopped support for its pioneering productivity package Lotus 1-2-3.

A notice on the IBM website confirms that there is to be no further support for the spreadsheet, database and diagram package that was first released to market 31 years ago.

The final supported edition, the Millennium Edition, reached end of life as on 30th September. It is unknown how many users, if any, it still had at that time.

Lotus Software, the original creators of Lotus 1-2-3 was the original dominant force in the PC productivity market. Its unique tiled interface (ring any bells?) was hugely popular and led to a $3.5bn takeover by IBM in 1995, as the company attempted to get a stranglehold on the email market with Lotus Notes, by integrating Lotus products as the default in IBM PCs.

At that time, Lotus 1-2-3 was so important that it was used as one of two compatibility benchmarks for IBM PC clones, the other being Microsoft Flight Simulator. But when version 3 was beset by technical hitches, it gave Microsoft’s young upstart Excel a chance to catch up.

Eventually, Lotus 1-2-3 became part of Smartsuite, a Windows ported package to rival Microsoft Office. Support for Smartsuite as a whole came to an end last year, and the end of Lotus 123 marks the effective end of the Lotus brand. It is survived by Lotus Notes, now branded IBM Notes, and several other productivity products, increasingly focused on cloud based productivity.

In 2011, IBM gave away Lotus Symphony, the nominal successor to Lotus 1-2-3 to the Apache Foundation for open sourcing.

Today, IBM’s ambitions lie in the cloud, with its supercomputer Watson recently rolled out to customers on a freemium basis for data analytics without the need for on premise hardware.

Courtesy-TheInq

Angry Birds Rovio Plans To Eliminate Jobs

October 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games developer Rovio, owner of the globally successful Angry Birds brand, said on Thursday it was planning to cut up to 130 jobs in Finland, or 16 percent of its total workforce.

“We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized. As a result, we announced today that we plan to simplify our organization … we also need to consider possible employee reductions,” Chief Executive Mikael Hed said in a statement.

According to Rovio, the Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal birds’ eggs, is the No. 1 paid mobile application of all time.

Rovio has expanded the brand into an animated TV series and merchandising of toys and clothing, but at the same time it has struggled to retain players, resulting to its earnings halving last year.

In August, the company named Pekka Rantala, a former Nokia executive, as its next CEO.

 

 

TSMC And ARM Announce 64-bit FinFet

October 2, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

TSMC’s 16nm FinFET process (16FinFET or 16FF) is now in risk production. The companies collaborated to optimise ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8 processors designs for the new node.

The designs are now being optimised for TSMC’s improved 16FF+ process, which promises to deliver a 11% performance gain in the same power envelope for the A57 and a 35% reduction for the A53. The companies hope to finalise their work on 16FF+ optimisation by the end of the year.

The initial results for the first generation 16FF process are encouraging. The big Cortex A57 core manufactured in 16FF can achieve a sustained clock of 2.3GHz. It is backed by Cortex A53 cores running at the same clock and consuming an average of 75mW for most workloads.

Pete Hutton, executive VP and president of ARM product groups, said the joint effort will eventually transform end-user experiences across the next generation of consumer devices and enterprise hardware.

“This silicon proof point with ARM Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors demonstrates the additional benefits in performance and power efficiency that 16nm FinFET technology delivers to big.LITTLE implementations,” said Hutton.

Cliff Hou, VP of R&D at TSMC, said the company is proud to be the first foundry to validate an ARM big.LITTLE chip on 16nm technology. He said the collaboration with ARM will continue and the companies will strive to deliver market-leading SoCs for mobiles, servers and infrastructure applications using new nodes.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Lenovo To Release New Yoga Tablets, Hybrids In Time For Holidays

October 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo plans on rolling out new Yoga tablets and hybrids in time for the end-of-year holiday season, with actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher having a hand in the design and development of the products.

The “innovative and stylish” Yoga products “will become very popular presents for the holiday season,” said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s CEO, during a call on Monday.

Lenovo is holding an event in London on Oct. 9 to announce the new products, with Kutcher joining the announcement by satellite. Kutcher holds the title of “product engineer” with Lenovo.

Product details weren’t shared, but hints have already started popping up on Lenovo’s website. One product on tap could be the Yoga 3 Pro, with a product page saying “Shhh. Can’t talk now.” The Yoga 3 Pro will succeed the Yoga 2 Pro laptop-tablet hybrid, which has a 13.3-inch screen attached to the base. That’s unlike other hybrid designs in which the screens are detachable.

Lenovo offers Yoga tablets and hybrids with screen sizes between 8 and 13.3 inches. The 8- and 10-inch Yoga tablets have Android, while the 11.6- and 13.3-inch hybrids have Windows.

Also on the way could be new Yoga tablets with different screen sizes and upgraded processors. Intel has started shipping new Core M chips based on the Broadwell architecture, which Lenovo has used in the new ThinkPad Helix announced earlier this month. The Yoga tablets with Android have been criticized for poor performance and could use processor upgrades.

Yuanqing’s comments were made on a call about Lenovo’s plans to soon complete the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business for US$2.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close on Wednesday.

Lenovo is also expected to complete the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion by the end of the year. Lenovo sells its smartphones mostly in China, Europe and Asia, and the Motorola Mobility acquisition will provide a pathway to the U.S. smartphone market.

Hardware will remain Lenovo’s key focus in the coming years, but the company is also building its software, services and security portfolio to go along with devices, Yuanqing said.

 

 

Mobile Devices OK’d For In-flight Use In Europe

September 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Airline passengers traveling on European airline flights will be able to leave their cell phones and other mobile gadgets on throughout the entire flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Friday.

European airlines can allow any kind of electronic devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones to remain switched on for the entire trip without having to use the airplane mode. Switching to airplane mode was mandatory until now.

“This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services,” EASA said in a news release.

It is up to the airline to decide whether to allow the use of electronic devices. In order to do so, they will have to go through an assessment to ensure the aircraft systems are not affected by device transmission signals in any way.

However, to ensure safety on board, passengers will likely be asked by the cabin crew to stow their devices during taxi on the runway and take-off, an EASA spokesman said, adding that airlines can still set rules on when devices can be used.

 

 

Facebook Set To Unveil New Advertising Platform

September 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc is gearing up to introduce a new advertising platform to improve effectiveness of online ads, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The product is a redesigned version of Atlas Advertiser Suite, an ad management and measurement platform that Facebook bought from Microsoft Corp last year.

It is expected to help marketers target Facebook users more effectively by measuring which users have seen, interacted or acted upon ads that appear on Facebook’s services and on third-party websites and apps.

The product will also provide a tool for marketers to buy ads to target Facebook users across the Web.

Microsoft took on Atlas with its $6.3 billion acquisition of digital ad agency aQuantive in 2007. Unable to make it work for its own purposes, Microsoft wrote off $6.2 billion of the aQuantive deal’s value in 2012.

The world’s No.1 Internet social network, which lags behind market leader Google Inc in U.S. market for online display ads, did not reveal how much it paid for the technology.

Facebook counts 1.5 million advertising customers and the company’s ad business saw strong growth across all of its geographic regions, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told Reuters in July.

Mobile advertising revenue grew 151 percent year-over-year, accounting for roughly 62 percent of Facebook’s overall ad revenue in the second quarter.