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Will Cortana Impact Windows 10 Battery Life?

July 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It is just over a month until Microsoft introduces Windows 10, and as you should know by now, Cortana is one of the key elements of the new OS.

Cortana always listens in order to hear its name and be a smart digital assistant. This is Microsoft answer to Siri and Google Now that is making its way to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, this will affect your notebook battery life. We have spoken with a few industry sources and we can definitely confirm that Windows 10 with enabled Cortana will have an impact on the battery life. We are testing this as we speak to check how big the impact is.

We don’t know how significant the battery life decrease will be, but the good thing is that you will be able to switch Cortana off in case you don’t need it. We heard that many new Toshiba notebooks will come with a dedicated Cortana button, as this is the easiest way to save battery life. Cortana on Toshiba won’t listen until you press the button.

It would be smart if Microsoft would come up with Cortana enable / disable keyboard shortcut. Win + Q will enable Cortana news while Win + S will bring you directly to the Cortana search engine.

Windows 10 seems to be a logical upgrade for anyone who has Windows 8.1 on their notebooks and misses the options from Windows 7, and some familiar UI elements. We use Windows 8.1 on some devices, while most of our computers still have Windows 7 and nothing more. Microsoft DirectX 12 will force us to Windows 10 but from what awe can tell from Preview release, the upgrade to Windows 10 from with 7 seems like quite seamless and logical step.

Just make sure to be aware that your notebook battery life might suffer because of Cortana. Have in mind that this “talk to your PC and expect a smart answer” option can be disabled.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

IBM Partners With Box

June 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.

The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”

Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.

The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.

IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.

The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.

Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.

IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.

Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.

Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.

What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.

It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.

Courtesy-TheInq

HBO To Offer Episodes Of New Shows On Facebook

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Premium cable network HBO said it would make available the premiere episodes of two new comedy series on Facebook, underlining the growing popularity of the social networking site as a video platform.

The popularity of web videos have led to U.S. networks experiment with new platforms to attract new viewers. With about 1.44 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a sough-after outlet for companies looking to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads.

Last week, Amazon.com Inc released the pilot episode of its show “Catastrophe” for a limited time on the social media network, instead of its own Prime Instant Video streaming service.

HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, said on Wednesday viewers would be able to access the premiere episodes of Dwayne Johnson-starrer “Ballers” and “The Brink” on Facebook for a limited period. The two new original series premiered this past Sunday.

Turner Broadcasting, another Time Warner network, said in April it granted exclusive video-on-demand rights to its Cartoon Network and Adult Swim programs to video streaming service Hulu.

On Tuesday Hulu said it would soon allow users to add CBS Corp’s TV network Showtime to their subscriptions.

 

 

Google Launches Free Streaming Music Service

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a free version of its music streaming service, as it sought to upstage the debut of Apple Inc’s rival service next week.

Google Play Music has offered a $9.99 per month subscription service for two years but Tuesday’s launch is the first free version of the streaming service. It is available online and will be available on Android and iOS by the end of the week, Elias Roman, Google product manager, said.

Apple said earlier this month it would launch a music streaming service on June 30 for $9.99 per month along with a $14.99 per month family plan, with a free three-month trial.

As with other streaming services, such as Spotify and Rhapsody, Google Play Music curates playlists. Users can tailor playlists based on genre, artist or even activity, such as hosting a pool party or “having fun at work.”

“We believe this is a play that will expose a lot of people to the service,” Roman said in an interview.

Unlike Google’s subscription music service, the free service will carry ads, be unavailable offline and exclude certain songs.

Roman said millions of people look at Google Play Music each month but are not ready to pay for a subscription. By offering a free version of the service, he said, the search engine hopes more people will be compelled to pay for an upgraded version.

Ted Cohen, managing partner of TAG Strategic, a digital entertainment consultancy, said the timing of Google’s launch was strategic.

“It’s a smart time to do it with all the attention around Apple,” Cohen said. “If they did it absent the Apple service, it wouldn’t be the same story.”

Google declined to say how many subscribers it has but said they more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year. But rivals Pandora, Spotify and Beats Music had far more mobile downloads than Google Play Music in 2014, according to data from analytics firm App Annie

.

 

Microsoft To Tweak Windows 10 Preview Program

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft announced that it would soon tweak the Windows 10 preview program as its engineers push toward the July 29 launch of the final code to customers.

As of the next build to the Windows Insider program, Microsoft will require that participants associate their Microsoft Account — typically the same username and password combination for accessing company services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive and Skype — with the preview on their PC.

“You’ll need to connect the MSA [Microsoft Account] that you registered for the Windows Insider Program with (and accepted the ‘Microsoft Windows Insider Program Agreement’) in order to continue receiving new Windows 10 Insider Preview builds (both Fast and Slow rings) from Windows Update,” wrote Gabriel Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft’s operating system group who regularly blogs about the preview.

Most testers have already done so, but those that haven’t need to toe the line. “We’re introducing new infrastructure in Windows Update to help us deliver new builds more effectively to Windows Insiders, and ensure that we’re flighting builds to people who have registered and opted in to the program,” said Aul.

Part of that move is due to the impending release of Windows 10, another to the fact that Microsoft will — contrary to past practices with beta programs — continue Insider after the initial launch.

Insider will then become Windows 10′s fastest release “branch” — Microsoft’s label for the multiple update cadences it will offer users — and receive new features, functionality and UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) changes before those on other tracks. Within Insider, users can select from different “rings” — subsets that denote how rough-edged the builds are — as they will be able to do if updating on the other tempos, “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business.”

Aul also reiterated what he had said previously on Twitter, that Insider participants would receive the July 29 first stable release starting that day.

 

 

 

Is The Oculus Ready For Mainstream?

June 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

One of the emerging players in the industry is definitely Oculus Rift, a potential leader of the whole Virtual Reality niche.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is definitely a good place to show off new tech, and visitors get to see the multi-billion dollar gaming industry jewels at their best. A veritable who is who of the gaming and publishing industry is competing for visitors’ attention and some 50,000 people get to see some of the latest and greatest gaming achievements.

Since Oculus got picked up by Facebook for $2 billion, everyone started to believe that VR is the place to be. Nvidia and AMD, the undisputed leaders of the gaming hardware industry, are investing huge amounts of money and effort to make Virtual Reality a reality, pardon the pun. Oculus needs a lot of GPU performance, the sort of performance you can get from the latest graphics hardware. It will spend every texel that your graphics engine can compute and it will need even more. Oculus needs at least a Radeon R9 290 or Geforce GTX 970 graphics card in order to get you a decent gaming expirience.

This VR need for performance, coupled with demand for 4K panels and gaming rigs, will push graphics hardware development to the next level and there is no doubt that 2016 GPUs will pass the 10 billion transistor barrier.

We got a chance to try the Oculus CV1 Consumer Version that is set to launch in Q1 2016 and we had a whole 7 minutes to play with it. We have to admit that Oculus has a virtually nonexistent public relations department and that we can be happy that we got these seven minutes with the Edge of Nowhere game. You get to chose from a few titles including EVE Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere, Chronos, AirMech VR, Lucky’s Tale, Herobound: Spirit Champion, VR Sports: Challanage, Esper or Damadged Core. We did tried EVE Valkyrie on both AMD and Nvidia hardware at Crescent Bay demo.

The resolution didn’t change from Crescent Bay last beta Oculus that we got to try so many times. You can see individual pixels and despite the fact that you can look around and see 360 degrees, you would want to get somewhat better resolution.

The second problem was that the Edge of Nowhere game is really hard to play. The Xbox 360 controller is not the greatest tool that will keep you from falling trough the void. It is hard and no, we didn’t get to try the new controller.

My biggest concern is the fact that Virtual Reality glasses are making your slightly dizzy. There are more than a few people who feel really bad after minutes of using Oculus. If 3D glasses at movie theater make you dizzy and uncomfortable, Oculus VR will be your cryptonite. This is going to be a tough nut to crack. Getting into Virtual Reality world and coming out might be a troublesome expirience, too. Every single Oculus demo we got to try since the first one was a few minutes long. We want to see what happens after one or more hours of gameplay. This will be the key thing for the future of Oculus VR (and other VR solutions).

On a less critical note, the glasses get to mess up your hair as you can clearly see from the picture above.

Have in mind that virtual reality is the way to get you to Star Trek holodeck and we hope that this will happen sooner rather than later, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Mark Zuckerberg was very smart to buy Oculus, as the company wants you to move to a VR space and make time consuming stuff such as chat more personal. Millennials will be able to chat more on a much more personal level than older generations, who got used to MIRC, ICQ and Skype.

The fact that HTC and Valve are already making Oculus run for its money is great, as every industry needs competition. Some other players are trying to get to this market but we saw a few other smaller players that are trying their best, but they are still not at the level where these big boys are.

Every new technology just needs time to mature, and Virtual reality is no exception. Just give it some time and please don’t expect it to be the best thing since sliced bread.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung To Fix Swiftkey Smartphone Security Flaw

June 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung agreed to update the security software on its Galaxy smartphones to fix a flaw that researchers warned could let attackers access people’s devices.

Last week, researchers at NowSecure, a mobile security company, identified the flaw in SwiftKey, a keyboard application that comes preloaded on Galaxy smartphones. The flaw could be exploited even when SwiftKey was not used as the default keyboard, NowSecure said.

On Thursday, Samsung said it would issue a fix that wouldroll out over the coming days to owners of the Galaxy S4, released in 2013, and later models. Those devices have Samsung’s Knox security platform installed by default and can receive over-the-air security policy updates. Users must have automatic updates activated in their phone’s settings, Samsung said on its website.

For earlier Galaxy phones that don’t come with Knox, Samsung said it was working on an expedited firmware update. Availability will vary depending on the model, region and service carrier.

SwiftKey’s app, which predicts words as users type, is also available from the Google Play and Apple App stores. But those versions of the app were not affected by the vulnerability, a SwiftKey spokeswoman said last Thursday.

 

Box Integrate Microsoft’s Office Online With Its Storage Service.

June 19, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Box followed competitor Dropbox to integrate Microsoft’s Office Online with its cloud storage service.

“Today, we’re introducing Box for Office Online, making it easier than ever for our customers to create and manage their Word docs, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets securely from anywhere and on any device, right from Box,” said David Still, Box’s chief of mobile products, in a post to his company’s blog.

Like the ties between Dropbox and Office Online — the latter is Microsoft’s browser-based app trio of Excel, PowerPoint and Word — Box lets customers open documents from within its service, edit and then save back to the cloud. Box users will also be able to create new Office Online documents.

Dropbox added the same functionality to its browser-based UI in April, part of a broader partnership with Microsoft that kicked off in November 2014.

Still also promised future Box moves to bring it more on par with Dropbox. “Later this year, [Box and Microsoft] intend to further collaborate on integrations with native Office clients on iOS, Android, and Windows,” Still wrote.

He did not provide a release window for updates to Box’s mobile apps.

Microsoft added Dropbox support to its Office apps on iPhone, iPad and Android late last year, and Dropbox released a Windows Phone app in January.

Box took advantage of Microsoft’s Office 365 Cloud Storage Partner Program, an initiative by the Redmond, Wash. developer to extend the influence of Office by letting third-party cloud storage services connect to Office Online and Office for iOS. Box signed up with the program in mid-February.

“By opening up Office Online, Microsoft is showing an amazing amount of proactive enablement for moving the future of work this direction,” said Box CEO Aaron Levie in a separate post.

Although Microsoft competes with both Dropbox and Box with its own OneDrive cloud storage service, the company has aggressively moved toward a more agnostic outlook, whether regarding rival platforms or competitive services.

 

 

 

Twitter To Add Auto-playing Videos In User Feeds

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter has come a long way from its foundation of 140-character messages. The site will now display videos that play automatically in users’ feeds.

Advertisers’ videos and those uploaded to Twitter natively through its new video recording tool will play automatically on the company’s desktop site and in its iOS app, with Android functionality coming soon, the company announced.

The changes also apply to videos recorded with Twitter’s Vine app and GIFs.

Autoplaying videos, though possibly annoying, will help Twitter compete against Facebook, which started placing autoplaying videos, including those from advertisers, in users’ feeds in 2013. Twitter makes the bulk of its money through advertising, and more Internet companies are looking to siphon video advertising dollars away from traditional TV.

On Twitter, the videos will start playing without sound unless they’re tapped on.

Twitter users who don’t want autoplaying videos can change their settings to revert to the click-to-play format. Users can also change their settings so videos only play automatically when they’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Users will not see auto-playing videos if they have a low bandwidth connection on their device, Twitter said.

Twitter is using the same amount of viewing time as Facebook to define a video “view”: three seconds.

Twitter began testing auto-playing videos earlier this year.

 

 

Amazon Considering Non Courier People To Deliver Packages

June 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Inc is currently working developing a mobile application that would pay ordinary people, rather than professional courier companies, to deliver packages en route to other destinations, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

Amazon would enlist brick-and-mortar retailers in urban areas to store the packages, likely renting space from them or paying a per-package fee, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company’s timing for the service, known internally as “On My Way”, could not be learned, the Journal reported.

The service could give Amazon more control over the shopping experience and help limit shipping costs, the report added.

Shipping costs at the Seattle-based e-commerce giant rose 31 percent in 2014, outpacing sales growth of 19.5 percent.

Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

Microsoft Set To Encrypt All Bing Search Traffic By Default

June 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft will beef up Bing’s security when it begins encrypting all of its search traffic by default this summer.

Bing has offered HTTPS encryption for the past year and a half as an opt-in feature, but now Microsoft will default to locking down everybody’s search queries.

Providing encryption gives a new layer of protection to Bing users and helps guard their traffic from snooping.

With this move, Microsoft catches up to its peers in the search market. In 2011, Google began encrypting searches by default for users who were signed in to their Google account. Starting in 2013, the search giant moved all search traffic through HTTPS. Yahoo, Microsoft’s search alliance partner, began encrypting search traffic from its homepage by default in early 2014.

With the switch to encrypted traffic, Microsoft is also changing the way that webmasters get information about searches that lead to their websites. The company will still offer a referrer string so that website operators and marketers can see that the encrypted traffic is coming from Bing, but won’t provide the exact search term that led people to a page.

Instead, Bing Webmaster Tools will continue to provide aggregated keyword and ranking data so that website operators can keep track of what draws users to their websites along with how they compare with the competition. Advertisers will be able to see what search queries triggered their Bing ads using the Search Query Terms Report, which also provides information on other performance metrics like clicks, impressions and conversions.

 

 

Online Password Company LastPass Reports Hacking

June 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

LastPass users will be required to change their master passwords after the online password locker company reported that its network was breached last Friday.

The company announced the breach in a blog post Monday after investigating “suspicious activity” discovered by its security team. According to LastPass, the investigation did not reveal any evidence that the attackers stole encrypted data from users’ password vaults, nor did the intruders gain access to LastPass users’ accounts. That said, the attackers were able to steal account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes.

Those last two pieces of data make it possible for the attacker to figure out any weak master passwords, though CEO Joe Siegrist said LastPass’s protections (which include running 100,000 rounds of PBKDF2-SHA256 server-side) make it “difficult to attack the stolen hashes with any significant speed.”

Because of that, everyone who uses the service will have to set a new master password for their vault, and anyone logging into their account from a new device or IP address will need to verify their identity via email if they don’t have two-factor authentication enabled.

LastPass lets people store passwords for numerous sites and can then log them into those sites automatically, so they don’t need to remember individual passwords. It includes tools for generating strong passwords with complex character strings, and users need only remember their master password to use the service. But its security, of course, depends on LastPass itself not getting hacked.

LastPass is among the most popular password lockers in use today, in part because the company offers its service for free to users who want to protect their login credentials and other secure information. At this point, it’s not clear how many users are affected by the attack.

 

 

 

Adobe Goes Stock

June 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe has announced a bunch of major updates to its Creative Cloud software, bringing new tools and services in the 2015 edition, including new features in Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, Premiere Pro CC and InDesign CC.

However, one of the more interesting parts of the announcement is the introduction of the firm’s stock content service called Adobe Stock, which will be integrated into the firm’s Creative Cloud offering.

Adobe said that the new service “radically simplifies buying and using stock content”, including photos, illustrations and graphics.

It’s a growing collection of over 40 million curated, high-quality images that can be accessed by launching Adobe Stock directly within CC desktop software.

Watermarked images can be added to Creative Cloud Libraries, and then used across multiple desktop tools.

“When creatives are ready to license the image for finished work, they can do it directly within the desktop software they are working in,” the firm said.

Adobe Stock will be available as a standalone stock service too, but for a price. This will allow designers and marketers who are not yet Creative Cloud members to download, purchase and sell stock images.

The release of Adobe Stock is bound to shake up the stock image market, as Adobe customers are active contributors to stock image services and regular purchasers of stock content. Adobe is very aware of this.

“An estimated 85 per cent of creatives who buy stock content use Adobe tools, and more than 90 percent of stock content sellers use Adobe software in the preparation of their photos and images,” said Adobe.

Creatives can also contribute work to Adobe Stock, and the software will offer rates to photographers and designers contributing content to the growing database.

Adobe Stock is available today in 36 countries and 13 languages, but it doesn’t come cheap. Pricing for Creative Cloud individuals and team customers is £7.19 for a single image, £23.99 per month for 10 images, and £143.99 per month for 750 images.

Separate prices are available for Adobe Stock customers who are not Creative Cloud members, Adobe said.

The updates across Adobe’s existing Creative Cloud software include new features as well as speed upgrades across 15 CC desktop applications.

One in particular is the 25-year-old Photoshop CC which introduces Artboards, a way to design cross-device user experiences in a single Photoshop document and quickly preview them on a device.

This new version also includes a preview release of Photoshop Design Space, a work environment focused on the needs of mobile app and website designers.

Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC also gain a new Dehaze feature which eliminates fog and haze from photos, including underwater shots, for clearer images.

Premiere Pro CC sees the addition of a Lumetri Color Panel for better colour corrections using sliders and more simple controls, as well as Morph Cut, which makes it easier to deliver polished interview content by smoothing out jump cuts in talking-head shots in creating sequences.

Meanwhile, Adobe said that Illustrator CC is now 10 times faster and 10 times more precise than CS6 owing to a boost to its Mercury Performance Engine, which means users can now pan and zoom smoothly without delays.

Courtesy-TheInq

Wall Street Appears To Back FinFET

June 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Leading Wall Street analyst JPMorgan has decided that FinFET technology is going to do wonders to the top chip capital equipment companies bottom lines.

In a statement the bean counters claim that chips have been through a long evolution process that will only continue into the future.

The report said that FinFET technology design chips are the breakthrough that could be monumental for the leaders in the field and those producing them.

Some believe the FinFET transistor structure promises to rejuvenate the chip industry by rescuing it from the short-channel effects that limit device scalability faced by current planar transistor structure, the report said.

The JPMorgan analysts said that with the ability to achieve higher performance designs at lower power, there will be a long string of FinFET-related equipment investments in the coming years.

FinFETs are estimated to be up to 37 per cent faster while using less than half the dynamic power or cut static leakage current by as much as 90 per cent.

It also thinks that any shareholder wanting to make a bob or two should invest in the three companies that are making them.

Despite reporting solid first-quarter earnings that were above consensus, and giving guidance that was in line with expectations, the stock has continued to underperform.

The difference between whether a firm is making FinFETs or not could be the best way of telling if a firm is going to do well.

JPMorgan analysts see continued FinFET capacity expansion and transition to 3D NAND, with DRAM spending remaining strong next year.

Courtesy-Fud