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Samsung To Sell Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Smartphones

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics wants to unclutter your home with a monitor that can wirelessly charge smartphones and other mobile devices.

The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6-inch and 27-inch formats and is the industry’s first to have an integrated wireless charging station, the South Korean manufacturer said Monday.

But your phone will have to support the Qi wireless charging standard, which was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and is supported by makers such as Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and Huawei.

The charging area is on the stand for the monitor, and an LED lights up when it’s in use. The monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and is optimized for video games, with richer black hues when it’s in game mode. The screen will not distort graphics with stutter and lag and has a response time of 4 milliseconds, Samsung said.

Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows 10, the SE370 also has an eye-saver mode that reduces blue light, which is believed to cause eye strain and sleep problems.

Samsung did not provide information about pricing or availability for the SE370 monitor and did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The company’s Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge flagship smartphones support the Qi and rival Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards for wireless charging. Earlier this year, Samsung released its own branded charging pad to juice them up.

The latest Qi specification, announced last month, will allow manufacturers to provide much faster wireless power charging options than earlier versions.

The platform has also caught on with makers such as Ikea, which launched a collection of furniture in April with built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers.

Qi had been competing with PMA and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Following a decision earlier this year, however, the two organizations announced their merger in June, with a new name yet to be decided.

 

 

Best Buy To Begin Selling Apple Watch In August

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch will go on sale at stores of Best Buy Co Inc, the largest U.S.consumer electronics chain, starting Aug. 7.

The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc  said.

“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.

Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.

The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

 

 

Apple Offering Free Beats Headphones For Back-to-school Promo

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple launched its annual back-to-school promotion in the U.S., switching the deal to a free pair of Beats headphones for customers who buy eligible Macs.

The promotion launched later this year than in the past: In 2014, for example, Apple started its back-to-school campaign July 1.

Buyers who purchase a qualifying Mac between now and Sept. 18 receive a $199.95 credit toward a a pair of Beats Solo2 On-Ear Headphones, which list for that amount. Alternately, the credit can be applied to a pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, which run $299.95, making the out-of-pocket expense $100.

The promotion launches today in Apple’s retail stores and participating authorized on-campus stores but won’t appear on the company’s e-store until Aug. 6.

9to5Mac.com first reported on the promotion earlier today.

This year’s back-to-school promotion gives parents of college students and incoming freshmen, and teachers and staff members of all grade levels — including K-12 — the credit when they buy a new iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Unlike years past, iPads and iPhones do not qualify.

For the last four years, Apple has handed out gift cards and maxed the amount of the offer at $100. Before that, a more generous Apple gave rebates of up to $300 toward the purchase of an iPod Touch.

Educational discounts on the hardware also apply. MacBooks and MacBook Airs are reduced by $50 for parents of students and for faculty and staff. The discounts on other products are $100 on MacBook Pros, $100 to $200 on Retina 5K iMacs, $50 to $100 on iMacs, and $200 to $300 on Mac Pros.

 

 

 

Unpatched Vulnerabilities Uncovered In Mobile IE

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Security researchers have provided details about four unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer for Windows Phone because Microsoft has not moved quickly enough to fix them.

The flaws could potentially be exploited to execute malicious code on computers when users visit compromised websites or open specially crafted documents. They were reported through Hewlett-Packard’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) program.

HP’s TippingPoint division, which sells network security products, pays researchers for information on unpatched high-risk vulnerabilities in popular software. The company uses the information to create detection signatures, giving it a competitive advantage, but also reports the flaws to the affected vendors so they can be fixed.

The ZDI team gives vendors 120 days to develop fixes before making limited information about the flaws reported to the public. That deadline was apparently reached for the four Internet Explorer vulnerabilities this week.

The ZDI advisories describe the type, impact and general location of the flaws, but intentionally leave out technical details that could help attackers create exploits for them. In other words, they don’t classify as full disclosure.

Three of the new ZDI advisories don’t have sufficient information for other researchers or hackers to easily rediscover the issues, said Carsten Eiram, the chief research officer at vulnerability intelligence firm Risk Based Security, via email. The fourth one, however, is a bit more detailed, he said.

That advisory, tracked as ZDI-15-359, covers a vulnerability that was used by security researcher Nicolas Joly during the Mobile Pwn2Own hacking contest organized by ZDI in November last year. As part of the contest rules, researchers disclose the vulnerabilities they use with ZDI, which then shares them with the affected vendors.

Microsoft said in an emailed statement that it would take “appropriate steps” to protect its customers, but noted that no attacks had been reported so far.

 

 

 

Microsoft To Open Source Radio Code

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has begun to open source some more of its code, this time for the Microsoft Research Software Radio (Sora).

“We believe that a fully open source Sora will better support the research community for more scientific innovation,” said Kun Tan, a senior researcher on the Sora project team.

Sora was created to combat the problem of creating software radio that could keep up with the hardware developments going on around it.

The idea behind it is to run the radio off software on a multi-core PC running a basic operating system. In the example, it uses Windows. But then it would.

A PCIe radio control board is added to the machine with signals processed by the software for transmission and reception, while the RF front-end, with its own memory, interfaces with other devices.

The architecture also supports parallel processing by distributing processing pipelines to multiple cores exclusively for real-time SDR tasks.

Sora has already won a number of awards, and the Sora SDK and API were released in 2011 for academic users. More than 50 institutions now use it for research or courses.

As such, and in line with the groovy open Microsoft ethos, the software has now been completely open sourced, with customizable RF front-ends, customizable RCB with timing control and synchronization, processing accelerators and support for new communication models such as duplex radios.

The Sora source code is now up on GitHub. Use cases already in place include TV whitespace, large scale MIMO and distributed MIMO systems.

Microsoft has made a number of moves towards open sourcing itself over the past year. Most notably, The .NET Framework at the heart of most Windows programs was offered up to the newly created .NET Foundation.

It was announced yesterday that Google is releasing its Kubernetes code to the Linux Foundation to set up a standardized format for containerization.

Courtesy-Fud

Walmart Buys Out Chinese E-commerce Yihaodian

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Wal-Mart Stores Inc acquired full ownership of Chinese e-commerce firm Yihaodian.com, buying out the 49 percent stake that it did not already own to accelerate its push online, the U.S. retail giant announced.

The investment will help Wal-Mart target China’s fast-growing online market at a time when largely brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch of competition from online rivals and a slowing of the world’s second-largest economy.

Wal-Mart’s move also comes after China said last month it will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, with the goal of encouraging foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the sector.

“[Yihaodian's] local experience, combined with Walmart’s global sourcing and our strong local retail presence and supply chain will allow us to deliver low prices on the products customers need in new and exciting ways,” Neil Ashe, head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce division, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, added the purchase of the stake would help accelerate its e-commerce business in China and boost coordination between its physical and online stores. It did not disclose the price paid for the stake, which was bought from former executives and financial services group Ping An.

Wal-Mart’s Asia head Scott Price told Reuters earlier this year that online retail was important to help tap China’s younger generations and that the firm would increasingly look to weave together its online and offline presence in the market.

Wal-Mart, France’s Carrefour SA and Britain’s Tesco PLC have all seen sales growth slip over the last five years in China, losing market share to local rivals, according to consumer analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The U.S. retailer also announced on Thursday that company insider Wang Lu will take the helm at Yihaodian. The e-commerce firm’s CEO and Chairman had quit earlier this month “to pursue their next venture”.

 

 

 

BlackBerry Snaps Up AtHoc

July 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd announced that it will acquire privately-held AtHoc, a provider of secure, networked crisis communications, as it moves to broaden its software offering and generate revenue from its BBM messaging service.

San Mateo, California-based AtHoc’s services are used by a number of top clients including the U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security and a host of blue-chip companies, to provide software that seamlessly allows them to reach staff via their smartphones, or via digital displays, radios, and even sirens, in times of crisis. Its services help organizations and people share information during business continuity and rescue efforts.

The terms of the transaction, which is expected to close by November, were not disclosed.

“AtHoc is an alerts system, but it also needs richer content and that can be provided by BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which offers not just text, but voice, picture and video sharing, so we can provide a much richer experience to their clients,” said BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen in an interview.

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by the smartphone pioneer, as it pivots to focus more on software and turn around its faded fortunes.

Earlier this year, Chen said he saw a part of the company’s targeted software revenue growth in the current fiscal year coming from acquisitions of companies that will allow it to sell more value-added services.

In April, Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry announced plans to acquire privately-held software maker WatchDox, which secures files. Its services are used by some of the world’s top federal agencies, private equity firms, and a slew of Hollywood studios.

This followed last year’s buyout of Secusmart, a German firm that specializes in voice and data encryption and British tech start-up Movirtu, whose software allows users to have two phone numbers on the same device with a single SIM card.

“AtHoc, with its messaging alerts, is the next piece in the puzzle,” said Chen, noting that the firm has some large marquee clients that compliment BlackBerry’s own customer base.

The acquisitions made so far have helped BlackBerry ramp up its portfolio of services that cater to the needs of its core base of clients, such as corporations and government agencies.

 

 

Verizon Wireless Enjoying Success With Subscriber Growth

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc reported a suprise rise in quarterly profit as more new customers signed up for its postpaid wireless services and subscriber defections fell to a three-year low.

The biggest U.S. wireless service provider added 1.1 million wireless retail postpaid subscribers – those who pay each billing cycle based on usage – on a net basis in the second quarter, in line with estimates from analysts polled by market research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Customer defections, also known as churn in the telecommunications industry, for Verizon’s wireless postpaid business dipped to 0.90 percent versus the 0.99 percent estimated by FactSet.

Revenue from Verizon’s FiOS high-speed Internet, TV and phone service rose 10 percent to $3.4 billion, while tablet sign-ups totaled 852,000 in the quarter.

Wireless carriers have been offering heavy promotions and discounts on tablets as they look to boost crucial subscriber growth numbers and limit customer churn.

Verizon is gearing up to launch its online video service to unlock new revenue streams as competition in the wireless industry from smaller players such as T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp heats up.

The company bought AOL Inc in June in a $4.4 billion bet that a push into mobile video and targeted advertising can help it find new growth avenues.

Verizon said it added 842,000 4G smartphones to its postpaid customer base in the quarter.

 

 

Big Retailers Halt Online Photos After Potential Data Breach

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Costco Wholesale Corp , Sam’s Club and several other large retailers have disabled their online photo printing stores in recent days, over concerns about a possible data breach at PNI Digital Media, which manages and/or hosts photo services sites.

Last week CVS Health Corp disabled its CVSphoto.com site, and the week before Walmart Canada’s walmartphotocentre.ca took a similar action after it was informed that customer credit card data had been potentially compromised.

Other photo printing sites that might have been recently affected included Rite Aid Corp and British supermarket chain Tesco’s.

“We take the protection of information very seriously. PNI is investigating a potential credit card data issue, and outside security experts are assisting in the investigation,” said Kirk Saville, vice president, global communications at Staples Inc, which bought Vancouver-based PNI last year.

Some websites said they had been advised by PNI of a potential breach, while others said they acted because of recent reports.

Costco Canada and Rite Aid noted that PNI has limited access to customer information since it does not process credit cards, but the photo service sites were temporarily taken down as a precaution.

CVS and Walmart Canada asked customers to monitor their credit card transactions closely for unauthorized charges.

Tesco’s page simply said it was it was unavailable for routine maintenance.

The retailers’ main websites and other services were not affected by the potential breach.

 

 

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Adallom

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp plans to purchase Israeli cyber security company Adallom for $320 million, the Calcalist financial newspaper is reporting.

Adallom, which develops cloud security platforms, is expected to become the center for Microsoft’s cyber security business in Israel, the newspaper said.

Adallom could not be reached for comment and officials at Microsoft in Israel declined to comment.

The U.S. technology company has made several recent acquisitions in Israel, including security software developer Aorato for a reported $200 million. It also bought text analysis firm Equivio and the technology of digital pen maker N-trig.

Adallom has raised about $50 million from venture capital funds Sequoia Capitol and European Index Ventures as well as EMC Corp and Hewlett-Packard, among others, Calcalist said.

Adallom was founded in 2012 has 80 employees at its offices in Israel and the United States.

It offers users information security technology on remote servers. It can secure information stored on Salesforce’s, Microsoft’s or Google’s cloud services and protect it from cyber attacks.

 

 

Spam Rate Finally Falls Below 50%

July 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Spam emails have dropped to less than 50 percent of all email in June, the lowest in a decade, Symantec said Thursday in its latest Intelligence Report.

The levels of spam have been slowly falling since 2010 for multiple reasons. Network providers are more tuned into the problem and are taking action faster when there are issues on their services.

Also, unlike six or seven years ago, sending billions of messages per day from massive botnets isn’t as feasible anymore.

Law enforcement, along with companies including Microsoft, have aggressively gone after some of the largest botnets over the past few years and worked to technically shut them down. Although some botnet operators have been able in some instances to regain control, the increased attention makes it more difficult for them to work.

Improved filtering and blocking also means that fewer unsolicited marketing messages reach inboxes where people might click on a message to buy a product. Response rates to spam are notoriously low, so it means spammers must reach many inboxes in order to build a business.

That’s not to say spam is going to completely stop, but as the cost of entry into the spam business rises and the likelihood of a return falls, it’s less of an incentive.

In June, Symantec saw 704 billion email messages sent. Of those, 353 billion were classified as spam. At one of the peaks of the spam epidemic in June 2009, 5.7 trillion of the 6.3 trillion messages sent were spam, according to past data from Symantec.

Symantec noted that phishing and email-based malware fell in June, which is evidence that “attackers are simply moving to other areas of the threat landscape.”

 

 

Xerox To Revamp Healthcare IT Business

July 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Xerox Corp said it would overhaul its healthcare IT business and record a related impairment charge of about $145 million in the second quarter.

The company said it would end sales of its integrated eligibility system, a software system which can support operations in call centers and document imaging.

The healthcare business provides administrative and care management solutions to state Medicaid programs and government healthcare programs.

“Going forward, Xerox will focus on managing and completing the current Health Enterprise implementations, and will be highly selective in responding to new Medicaid Management Information System opportunities,” the company said on Friday.

The healthcare business contributes “$2 billion plus” to total revenue, a company spokeswoman said. The company reported total revenue of $19.54 billion for 2014.

“Basically, they are focusing their government healthcare business away from less profitable initiatives that they were pursuing. I see it as a positive,” Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross said.

“From a long-term stand point, it (Medicaid) is a profitable business,” Cross said.

Xerox, which has been shifting its focus to IT services from making printers and copiers, adjusted its earnings estimate for the quarter ended June to reflect the charge.

The company said it now expects earnings from continuing operations of 9-11 cents per share, below its prior guidance of 17-19 cents per share.

Shares of Xerox, which is expected to report second-quarter results on July 24, were up 1.6 percent at $10.79 in afternoon trading.

 

Did Microsoft Drop DVD Support In Windows 10?

July 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has decided that there is no point putting Windows 10 on a DVD and insisting that people install from a Flash drive.

Windows 10 will be shipped on USB drives rather than traditional DVDs, although you might be able to find one on DVD if you ask Microsoft very nicely.

USB versions of Windows 10 Home and 10 Pro are listed for pre-order on Amazon already, running $120 and $200 respectively.

It is all fairly obvious. Most cheap PCs ship without a drive these days which has made home-made USB installation drives the only option. We can still remember the outcry when people complained about the number of floppy disks it took to install Windows 95.

Windows 98 came out on a CD drive to cut down the numbers. Now it seems that DVDs are now going the way of the dodo too.

Courtesy-Fud

Darkode Hacking Forum Shut Down

July 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Law enforcement agencies from 20 countries collaborated to cripple a major computer hacking forum, and U.S. officials filed criminal charges against a dozen people associated with the website, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Darkode.com on is displaying a message saying the site and domain had been seized by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Darkode, a password-protected online forum for criminal hackers, represented one of the gravest threats to the integrity of data on computers across the world, according to David Hickton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Through this operation, we have dismantled a cyber hornets’ nest of criminal hackers which was believed by many, including the hackers themselves, to be impenetrable.”

Five of the defendants face charges in Hickton’s district.

Darkode allowed hackers and other cybercriminals to sell, trade and share information and tools related to illegal computer hacking, the law enforcement agencies alleged.

Before becoming a member of Darkode, prospective participants were allegedly vetted through a process that included an invitation by a member, the DOJ said in a press release. The prospective member then pitched the skill or products he or she could bring to the forum.

Darkode members allegedly used each other’s skills and products to infect computers and electronic devices of victims around the world with malware, the DOJ said.

The takedown of the forum and the charges announced Wednesday came after the FBI’s infiltration of Darkode’s membership.

 

 

 

Facebook’s Oculus Acquires Gesture Recognition Firm Pebble

July 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Facebook’s Oculus unit announcd that it has agreed to acquire Israeli gesture recognition technology developer Pebbles Interfaces for an undisclosed amount.

The announcement was made in a blog posted by Oculus.

Israel’s Calcalist financial news website said the deal was worth tens of millions of dollars.

While other companies pioneering the virtual reality field focus on full-body movement, Pebbles’ technology detects and tracks hand movement. It is aimed primarily at gamers but also has applications for TV, computers, or smartphone operation while driving.

Recently Pebbles integrated its technology with Oculus glasses, which translate finger gestures into virtual movement through a camera mounted on the glass frame, Calcalist said.

Investors in Pebbles include Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi, Israeli venture capital fund Giza and U.S. storage firm SanDisk, Calcalist said.