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Many Cisco Devices Remain Vulnerable To NSA Exploits

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cisco-systems-150x150More than 840,000 Cisco networking devices globally are exposed to a vulnerability that’s similar to one exploited by a hacking group believed to be linked to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The vulnerability was announced by Cisco last week and it affects the IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR software that powers many of its networking devices. The flaw allows hackers to remotely extract the contents of a device’s memory, which can lead to the exposure of sensitive information.

The vulnerability stems from how the OS processes IKEv1 (Internet Key Exchange version 1) requests. This key exchange protocol is used for VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and other features that are popular in enterprise environments.

Cisco discovered the vulnerability internally after analyzing an exploit for Cisco PIX firewalls that was leaked last month by a hacking outfit called Shadow Brokers. The exploit was part of a larger set of attack tools that Shadow Brokers claimed are being used by a cyberespionage group known in the security industry as the Equation, believed to be linked to the NSA.

Because other hackers could find the same flaw by analyzing the exploit leaked by Shadow Brokers, Cisco decided to inform its customers about it through a security advisory, even though the company is still working on developing and releasing patches.

Many of the affected IOS, IOS XE and IOS XR releases don’t yet have fixed versions, but Cisco released detection signatures for intrusion prevention systems that could be used to protect networks from potential attacks.

The Shadowserver Foundation, an organization that tracks cybercrime and assists with botnet takedowns, has started an internet-wide scan to find Cisco devices affected by this vulnerability — with the goal of reporting them to their owners.

Its latest scan identified devices with 840,681 distinct IP addresses that responded as vulnerable to the probe.

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Google Launches AI Chat App Allo

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

allo-1-150x150Google-parent Alphabet Inc rolled out Allo, a messaging app that integrates Google’s search feature and a chatbot that uses machine learning to “improve” itself over time.

The new messaging service, which was unveiled in May, will compete with Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp and Messenger. The much-anticipated launch comes a month after Google rolled out Duo, its video calling app.

Allo features a chatbot powered by Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant like Apple Inc’s Siri.

Users can call up the assistant in a chat by typing “@google” followed by a search query and the results will be displayed in the chat itself.

“The more you use it, the more it improves over time,” Amit Fulay, group product manager, wrote in a blog post.

The app has a “Smart Reply” feature that suggests responses to chats and can be send with just a tap.

“If your friend sends you a photo of their pet, you might see Smart Reply suggestions like ‘aww cute!’,” Fulay wrote.

Users can also use stickers and scribble on photos before sending them.

Allo will have end-to-end encryption only while chatting in “Incognito” mode. Whatsapp chats have end-to-end encryption.

Google has started rolling out Allo and said the app would be available worldwide in the next few days.

Intel Goes Bullish

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

It is starting to look like the PC market is picking up and Intel has raised its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in more than two years.

Shares in Intel as much as 4.1 percent to a more than 15-year high on the back of the news which indicates the PC depression might be finally coming to an end..

Sales in the company’s PC business declined three percent to $7.3 billion in the latest quarter. The unit includes sales of chips for mobile phones and tablets. But Intel said that the green shoots of recovery are here.

Firstly HP said last month that revenue in its computer business rose 7.5 percent in the third quarter from the second as sales of notebooks improved. At the time FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said commentary from Intel and HP suggested that PCs were “not as dead as people were thinking.”

Research firm IDC said in July global PC shipments fell less than expected in the second quarter, helped by strength in the United States.

Intel now says it expected third-quarter revenue to be $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, compared with its prior forecast of $14.9 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

That implies the highest-ever quarterly revenue for Intel. Wall Street analysts on average were expecting $14.90 billion.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said the pre-announcement was a good first step to the PC story stabilising at Intel. Shares of rival AMD were up about 1 percent, while those of Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) and HP were marginally higher.Shares in Intel had shot ip up 2.6 percent at $37.53

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Goes After Repeat Software Pirate In Court

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-bldg-150x150Microsoft filed suit against a Wisconsin man for allegedly selling stolen Windows and Office activation codes, claiming in court documents that he is a repeat pirate who still owes the company $1.2 million from an earlier judgment.

In a complaint filed Sept. 8, Microsoft accused Anthony Boldin, of Brookfield, Wisc., of selling software activation codes to company investigators from four different websites he maintained. Two of those websites are now shuttered — only a message stating that the sites are no longer selling software remained Monday — but two others continued to operate.

The 25-character activation codes are a core component of Microsoft’s anti-piracy technology. Although the software can be copied an unlimited number of times, the keys individually lock a license to a device or a specific user. Minus a legitimate key — and thus, activation — Microsoft’s software retreats to a hobbled or even crippled mode.

Although Microsoft did not name the sources for the keys it said Boldin sold illegally, the firm pointed a finger at China. “Over the past several years, criminals in China and elsewhere have created a global black market for decoupled product activation keys that have been stolen from Microsoft’s supply chain,” the complaint stated. “The decoupled product activation keys end up in the hands of downstream distributors, such as Defendants, who then pass off the stolen keys to the general public as licensed software.”

According to that complaint, and other documents Microsoft lawyers submitted to a Wisconsin federal court, company investigators bought activation keys to licenses of Windows 8.1 and several versions of Office, some at significantly reduced prices, from Boldin’s websites. All the keys were illegitimate: Two were issued for use with academic programs in China, one was for Microsoft’s internal use, and four keys were stolen “tokens” assigned to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for pre-loading software on a new device.

Microsoft also said that Boldin was well known to the company’s legal team.

“Microsoft sued Boldin in this Court on two prior occasions for violating its intellectual property rights (in March 2000 and again in December 2006),” the complaint read. “Notably, this Court entered two separate orders permanently enjoining Boldin from any infringing use or distribution of Microsoft software.”

Not only did Boldin continue to sell stolen or misappropriated activation keys, Microsoft alleged, but a $1.2 million judgment levied in the second case has gone unpaid.

Microsoft asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing Boldin from illegally selling Microsoft software, and to expedite discovery so that the company may determine whether there are others in cahoots with Boldin and locate his financial accounts.

Did Apple Really Drop The HeadPhone Jack To Gain Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

It seems that Apple did not remove the headphone jack to allow it to provide more space after all.

When Apple killed off the speaker jack its CEO Tim Cook said, “that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there’s a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack.”

OK fair enough, so what did Apple do with the extra space? Well it turns out that the latest tear down carried out by iFixit found that Apple was doing nothing with the extra space it gained from getting rid of the headphone jack.

It wrote that in place of the headphone jack, is a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone. In other words, Apple has not put anything into the space at all, just some acoustics holes, which lead nowhere and molded plastic.

We somewhat cynically suggested that the reason that Apple got rid of the headphone jack was nothing to do with providing new functions on the iPhone 7. Instead we see it as a way to prop up its wireless headphone business .

It does appear that the tear down confirms this as it is unlikely that the iPhone 7 needed this fake plastic grill and acoustic holes. It appears to be a rather costly feature for the user who will now have to fork out a fortune for new headphones.

Courtesy-Fud

Oracle Going After Amazon Web Services In Cloud Storage Wars

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

oracle-cloud-storage-150x150Larry Ellison has placed Amazon Web Services on notice with his latest statement:  Oracle is going to give Amazon a run for its money in the cloud market.

“Amazon’s lead is over,” he said during his keynote address at the OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. “Amazon’s going to have serious competition going forward.”

To that end, the company he co-founded is launching a set of new cloud data centers that are aimed at providing more powerful compute instances to help it compete against the likes of AWS, Azure and other cloud players. The generation 2 data centers will help bring a variety of performance improvements to customers who want to run high-performance workloads in the cloud.

The infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering that Ellison announced on-stage is aimed at giving companies low-cost access to incredibly powerful hardware in the cloud. It’s an attempt to draw businesses towards Oracle’s services as they start migrating applications to take advantage of the performance and low pricing available as a result of not operating their own data centers.

Ellison showed off a new Oracle Dense Cloud IO bare metal cloud server offering that will provide developers with 36 CPU cores, 512GB of D-RAM, and 28.8TB of SSD storage. That’s a ton of compute capacity, all aimed at high-performance enterprise workloads. It’s more power than Amazon offers with one of its most powerful instance, the i2.8xlarge. It comes at a cost of $5.40 an hour, which is cheaper than what Amazon charges.

Deepak Patil, a vice president of product development at Oracle, said in an interview that the company was able to compete with Amazon on price and performance for three reasons: The different way that it architects its infrastructure, its access to the latest and greatest hardware and the fact that its cloud platform is built on top of Oracle-made hardware.

Oracle vice president of software development Mark Cavage said that the company plans to charge a flat 7.5 cents per instance hour per core across all of its compute offerings. In addition to its bare-metal options, the company will also offer four- and eight-core virtual machines at launch. By the end of the year, Oracle will also make one- and two-core VMs available.

 

Twitter’s Livestream of NFL Game Touted As A Success

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-livestream-150x150Twitter Inc received an average of 243,000 viewers to Thursday’s National Football League livestream of the New York Jets triumph over the Buffalo Bills, the first time the social media platform has broadcast an NFL game.

The event drew mostly praise from Twitter users and media experts have said the NFL deal helps Twitter maintain its position as a venue for live video.

Still, the Twitter audience was only a fraction of the average of 15.7 million people watching across television and digital platforms, according to NFL data of the game, which the Jets won, 37-31.

Twitter’s arrangement with the NFL comes as sports fans increasingly rely on the internet to watch video at the expense of traditional cable and satellite connections.

The microblogging platform has struggled with user growth and advertising competition, and livestreaming the games gives it a new avenue to attract users as it tries to catch up with rivals such as Facebook Inc.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA  Ford Motor Co, Bank of America Corp and Verizon Communications were among the brands that ran video ads during the game’s livestream.

The deal with the NFL has the potential to reignite brands’ interest in working more with Twitter after it has had a bumpy ride over the past several months, said Victor Pineiro, senior vice president, social media at Big Spaceship, a Brooklyn, New York-based digital ad agency.

“We still see a big role for it,” he said.

For example, there is an opportunity for brands to be part of the conversation around the games through sponsored tweets and other means, said Edithann Ramey, vice president, marketing for Chili’s Grill and Bar, a Dallas-based restaurant chain.

“It’s very intriguing to us in terms of the number of impression they bring and ways we can jump in and be part of the conversation,” Ramey said.

witter is the second tech company to livestream an NFL game. In October, Yahoo Inc livestreamed a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills in London, which attracted an average of 2.36 million viewers, versus the 243,000 in the Twitter game.

About 15.2 million viewers watched at least part of the game on Yahoo, while a total of 2.3 million people tuned into Thursday’s game or pregame show on Twitter for at least three seconds, according to the NFL.

The Yahoo game, however, was not broadcast on U.S. TV nationwide and in some cases, the stream automatically started playing on Yahoo websites.

 

Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer Will Cost Less Than $300

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

da-vinci-mini-3d-printer-150x150XZY Printing has announced its least expensive 3D printer for students, educators and small businesses at a cost of $290.

The new da Vinci Mini is available at XYZ Printing’s online store, as well as at other online retailers such as Amazon, Overstock.com and Sam’s Club, which has priced it at $270.

The machine is 5.9-in x 5.9-in x 5.9-in in size, and comes with free use of the company’s XYZmaker 3D modeling software.

XYZ Printing, which has built a reputation around affordable consumer-grade machines, previously boasted its entry-level — the da Vinci Junior 1.0 — as the lowest-priced product at just $349.

Computerworld reviewed the da Vinci Junior 1.0 and noted that while it had some standout features, it was still a machine squarely targeted at beginners and didn’t offer a lot of sophisticated features.

Only the company’s da Vinci Minimaker, a 3D printer for children, is a less expensive machine — at $250.

“XYZ Printing’s new da Vinci Mini 3D printer… addresses the needs of 3D printing enthusiasts without sacrificing quality and ease-of-use,” Simon Chen, CEO of XYZ Printing, said in a statement. “No matter your level of 3D printing experience, the da Vinci Mini is the perfect tool to create high-quality products at an affordable price.”

The new da Vinci Mini comes with several features that are often associated with much more expensive 3D printers, such as embedded Wi-Fi, allowing users to transmit object files from their computers to the machine over their home networks.

The machine also self-calibrates its print bed, alleviating the need for users to level the bed by hand. The printer also comes with an auto-loading filament system, meaning users aren’t required to feed the PLA filament — the plastic material that’s used to create the printed object — into the heated print head by hand.

The da Vinci Mini has an aluminum print bed, which the company claims increases durability and is better at diffusing heat so that printed objects can more easily be removed without burning the user’s hands.

 

PC Market Showing Signs Of Life

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

pcs-150x150The PC market is showing some signs of growth, with Intel boosting its revenue guidance based on improved chip shipments.

The chip maker has raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter to $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, an improvement from $14.9 million, plus or minus $500 million.

That’s due to PC makers replenishing laptop and desktop inventory, which means Intel is shipping out more chips. It’s likely in anticipation of the holiday season, when PC shipments rocket.

“The company is also seeing some signs of improving PC demand,” Intel said in a statement.

In the second quarter of the year, PC makers slowed down chip orders and were clearing out existing stock of laptops and desktops. PC shipments declined by 4.5 percent during that period, according to IDC.

Shipments of gaming PCs, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks are driving PC shipments. Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 has also ended, which means users are more likely to buy new PCs to get Windows 10.

Meanwhile, new laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips are now available. All the top PC makers have announced new 2-in-1s and laptops with Intel’s new chips. New Kaby Lake chips for gaming PCs will be announced in January.

Intel also has started shipping Pentium and Celeron chips, both aimed at low-cost laptops, based on the same architecture and code-named Apollo Lake. Many Chromebooks are based on Apollo Lake chips.

 

UPS Plans To Expand 3D Printing Operations

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

ups-logo-150x150United Parcel Service plans to grow its 3D printing service by expanding to Asia and Europe, the U.S. shipping company has told Reuters, in a bid to fully embrace and get ahead of a trend that threatens to eat away a small but lucrative part of its business.

Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction.

To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them.

“3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” Alan Amling, UPS vice president for corporate strategy, told Reuters.

The dynamic – welcoming rather than fighting a threatening new technology – is not unlike automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG teaming up with ride-hailing services Uber and Gett, respectively.

Amling said UPS is looking at either Singapore or Japan for an Asian 3D printing factory. He did not say where the company might open a European facility, though UPS’s operational hub in Europe is in Cologne, Germany.

UPS has already got into the business in its home market. In May, it launched a U.S.-based 3D printing service with Fast Radius, a 3D printing company based outside Atlanta, where UPS is headquartered. UPS bought an unspecified stake in Fast Radius, which has a 3D printing factory at UPS’s Louisville, Kentucky, hub.

There are also now 3D printers at 60 UPS stores in the United States that print parts using industrial grade thermoplastics. Customers can upload images for printing at the Fast Radius factory or at one of those UPS stores and have the printed products shipped to any location.

Sony Aims To Extend Content For Its Virtual-Reality Headset

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

playstation-vr-headset-150x150Sony Corp plans to extend content for its dedicated virtual-reality (VR) headset into non-gaming areas such as TV and film, and has no plans to join the burgeoning market for smartphone-based headsets, its gaming division chief said.

Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, said in an interview that he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for the PlayStation VR headset, due for release on Oct. 13.

“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.

House’s gaming division has been one of Sony’s main sources of profit in recent years as sales of TV sets and other once-core electronics goods decline in the face of price competition.

As smartphone gaming now encroaches on the console market, Sony has opted to seek growth through innovations such as VR. However, analysts have said non-gaming content is necessary to broaden the appeal – and profitability – of VR.

Sony’s VR headset works in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 games console and will retail at a price lower than Facebook Inc’s Oculus Rift and HTC Corp’s Vive headsets that require more expensive personal computers to run.

But smartphone-powered headsets will be far cheaper and more portable because they use the smartphone screen as the display.

There are well over 100 smartphone-based VR headsets from 65 developers already on the market, according to Lux Research. Alphabet Inc’s Google will add to that number with its Daydream VR platform that works with its Android mobile operating system.

Sony’s House argued that smartphones would not be capable of achieving the highest quality VR experience.

“We are focused on great gaming VR experiences,” he said. “I haven’t seen a cellphone or mobile-based VR experience that really gets our content teams excited.”

House said, beyond gaming, Sony is looking into TV and film and will also concentrate on seeking “ways of bringing much more static experiences to life” in areas such as museums and planetariums.

Sony has said it is working with more than 230 developers globally, and expects over 50 titles by the end of the year, include non-gaming content such as cartoons and music, karaoke and landscape videos.

 

Windows Apps Make It To The Microsoft App Store

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

microsoft-windows-store-150x150Developers now have the ability to add their Windows desktop apps to people shopping through Windows 10’s app store thanks to Microsoft’s latest update.

It’s a move powered by Project Centennial, which lets developers take older Windows apps (known in Microsoft parlance as Win32 apps), port them to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and then sell them on the Windows Store.

Making it easier for developers to port those apps to the Windows Store may help grow the catalog of apps available to users at a time when Microsoft is pushing the store as a new and better way to get software for Windows 10 devices. Several companies have Centennial-powered apps rolling out over the next few days, including Evernote, which ported its Windows desktop app to the store.

“We’re excited to bring our full-featured Evernote app to the Windows Store,” Seth Hitchings, Evernote’s vice president of engineering, said in a press release. “The Desktop Bridge vastly simplifies our installer and uninstaller.”

Evernote previously had a Windows Store app, but it didn’t have all of the features of its Win32 desktop app.

Project Centennial was first announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco earlier this year. At that time, Microsoft executives said that there were 16 million Win32 apps out on the market, so this launch marks a major expansion of what the Universal Windows Platform can do.

To help with that, Microsoft is making its Desktop App Converter available to developers in the Windows Store, so it’s easy for them to stay up to date with changes to Project Centennial.

On top of that news, Microsoft is also working with the companies behind InstallShield, WiX and Advanced Installer to help build in UWP conversion with Project Centennial into their usual development workflow for building Win32 apps. In addition to building an MSI installer for older versions of Windows, those tools will also help developers build a UWP app that can be pushed to the Store.

 

Twitter Launches New Video Streaming Service

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-jack-dorsey-150x150Twitter Inc rolled out a new video streaming application for Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc TV platforms, as well as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One gaming console as it brings its video content to the forefront.

The application will also be available for users of these devices without a Twitter account or a pay-TV subscription, the company said.

The application will feature video content from a number of Twitter’s partners, including the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, as well as curated tweets and shorter video from its Vine and Periscope services.

The news comes a day ahead of the first of the 10 NFL Thursday night games that Twitter obtained streaming rights for in April.

Jack Dorsey-led Twitter has made a significant push into video, signing deals with several media companies and sports organizations to stream major events.

Twitter To Further Loosen 140 Character Limit In Tweets

September 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

twitter-logo-4-150x150Twitter reportedly will further relax restrictions on its 140-character limit for tweets as soon as next week.

Reports emerged in June that Twitter was looking to expand its character limit – maybe even giving users a 10,000-character limit. But while a change may be in the offing, it doesn’t look to be nearly that dramatic.

According to The Verge, Twitter will make a change to its character limit on Sept. 19.

The company will not exactly expand the number of characters it allows, but will stop counting some things, like images, GIFs and videos, against the limit. Twitter may also stop counting user names at the beginning of replies.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, the change would be a good thing.

“It’s certainly a small difference, but I know I appreciate it,” he said. “I like the discipline of the character limit, but I don’t like having to try and fit in names and links.”
However, Gottheil wouldn’t want to see Twitter do away with the limit all together.

“Sometimes you want more room, but that would happen with any limit, and not having a limit would make it a totally different experience,” he said. “So you live with 140, but it’s nice that it will be 140 for what you write, not 140 less things like names. It will also encourage you to include more names, which should add to the community feel.”

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said such a shift by Twitter could lead to more.

“Users want more room to tweet when they’ve added something like a picture or video,” he added. “This could be the start of something they could build momentum around…. Recently, Twitter has been taking more steps backwards than forward. Twitter isn’t growing, and in social media if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. To make progress, they need momentum to move them forward and this move could be a start.”

 

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