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Lenovo To Offer Free McAfee Over Superfish Security Concerns

March 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd announced that it will offer free subscriptions to Intel Corp’s security software to customers who purchased laptops that were shipped with a program known as “Superfish,” which made PCs vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Lenovo, the world’s biggest personal computer maker, last week advised customers to uninstall the Superfish program.

Security experts and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended the program be removed because it made users vulnerable to what are known as SSL spoofing techniques that can enable remote attackers to read encrypted web traffic, steal credentials and perform other attacks.

Lenovo announced the offer to provide six-month subscriptions to Intel’s McAfee LiveSafe on Friday as it also disclosed plans to “significantly” reduce the amount of software that it ships with new computers.

Pre-loaded programs will include Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, security products, Lenovo applications and programs “required” to make unique hardware such as 3D cameras work well, Lenovo said.

“This should eliminate what our industry calls ‘adware’ and ‘bloatware,’” the Lenovo statement said.

Adi Pinhas, chief executive of Palo Alto, California-based Superfish, said in a statement last week that his company’s software helps users achieve more relevant search results based on images of products viewed.

He said the vulnerability was “inadvertently” introduced by Israel-based Komodia, which built the application that Lenovo advised customers to uninstall.

Komodia declined comment.

 

 

Can MediaTek Give Qualcomm A Run For Its Money?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

While Qualcomm’s 20nm Snapdragon 810 SoC might be the star of upcoming flagship smartphones, it appears that MediaTek has its own horse for the race, the octa-core MT6795.

Spotted by GforGames site, in a GeekBench test results and running inside an unknown smartphone, MediaTek’s MT6795 managed to score 886 points in the single-core test and 4536 points in the multi-core test. These results were enough to put it neck to neck with the mighty Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC tested in the LG G Flex 2, which scored 1144 points in the single-core and 4345 in the multi-core test. While it did outrun the MT6795 in the single-core test, the multi-core test was clearly not kind on the Snapdragon 810.

The unknown device was running on Android Lollipop OS and packed 3GB of RAM, which might gave the MT6795 an edge over the LG G Flex 2.

MediaTek’s octa-core MT6795 was announced last year and while we are yet to see some of the first design wins, recent rumors suggested that it could be powering Meizu’s MX5, HTC’s Desire A55 and some other high-end smartphones. The MediaTek MT6795 is a 64-bit octa-core SoC clocked at up to 2.2GHz, with four Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 cores. It packs PowerVR G6200 graphics, supports LPDDR3 memory and can handle 2K displays at up to 120Hz.

As we are just a few days from Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 which will kick off in Barcelona on March 2nd, we are quite sure that we will see more info as well as more benchmarks as a single benchmark running on an unknown smartphone might not be the best representation of performance, it does show that MediaTek certainly has a good chip and can compete with Qualcomm and Samsung.

Courtesy-Fud

Will DirectX 12 Allow AMD and nVidia To Play Together?

March 2, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DirectX 12 looks set to bring Nvidia and AMD together, in a way that neither will be particularly happy about.

According to Toms Hardware one of the unexpected features of DirectX 12 is the ability to use Nvidia GPUs alongside AMD GPUs in multi-card configurations.

This is because DirectX 12 operates at a lower level than previous versions of the API it is able to treat all available video resources as one unit. Card model and brand makes no difference to a machine running DX12.

This could mean that the days of PC gamers having to decide between AMD or Nvidia could be over and they can pick their referred hardware from both companies and enjoy the best of both worlds. They will also be able to mix old and new cards.

However there might be a few problems with all this. Rather than worrying about your hardware optimization software developers will have to be on the ball to make sure their products work.

More hardware options means more potential configurations that games need to run on, and that could cause headaches for smaller studios.

Courtesy-Fud

Bad News For Lenovo Continues As Website Is Hacked

February 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.

Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.

Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.

In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.

“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”

Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.

Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.

Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.

 

Will nVidia Put AMD Out Of Business?

February 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that the world is rushing to Nvidia to buy its latest GPU at the expense of AMD.

According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014 with Nvidia increasing its market share over AMD by 20 per cent and AMD’s market share has dropped from 35 per cent at the end of 2013 to just 24 per cent at the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, Nvidia has gonr from 64.9 per cent at the end of 2013 to 76 per cent at the end of 2014.

The report JPR’s AIB Report looks at computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics for desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments.

In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

On a year-to-year basis, total AIB shipments during the quarter fell by 17.52 per cent , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell by 0.72 percent .

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs declined from a high of 63 per cent in Q1 2008 to 36 per cent this quarter.

So in other words It is also clear that the Radeon R9 285 release didn’t have the impact AMD had hoped and NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than expected.

This is ironic because the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and AMD makes some good gear, has better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive.

Courtesy-Fud

Lenovo Hit With Lawsuit Over Superfish Adware

February 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo admitted to pre-loading the Superfish adware on some consumer PCs, and now outraged customers are dragging the computer maker to court on the matter.

A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed late last week against Lenovo and Superfish, charging both companies with “fraudulent” business practices and of making Lenovo PCs vulnerable to malware and malicious attacks by pre-loading the adware.

Plaintiff Jessica Bennett said her laptop was damaged as a result of Superfish, which was called “spyware” in court documents. She also accused Lenovo and Superfish of invading her privacy and making money by studying her Internet browsing habits.

The lawsuit was filed after Lenovo admitted to pre-loading Superfish on some consumer PCs. The laptops affected by Superfish include non-ThinkPad models such as G Series, U Series, Y Series, Z Series, S Series, Flex, Miix, Yoga and E Series.

Lenovo has since issued fixes to remove Superfish applications and certificates from PCs. Microsoft’s Windows Defender and McAfee’s security application also remove Superfish since Friday.

Lenovo earlier admitted it “messed up” by preloading Superfish on computers. The software plugs product recommendations into search results, but can hijack connections and open major security holes, thus leaving computers vulnerable to malicious attacks.

The first complaints of Superfish on Lenovo’s laptops emerged in September last year, but it became a real security issue when a hacker Marc Rogers pointed it out in a blog post.

Bennett, a blogger, purchased a Yoga 2 laptop to conduct business and communicate with clients. She noticed “spam advertisements involving scantily clad women” appearing on her client’s website when writing a blog post for the customer. After seeing pop-ups on other websites, she assumed her computer had spyware or had been hacked, but then scoured the forums to notice similar behavior on other Lenovo laptops. She then rooted out the problem to be Superfish, which could intercept secure communication and leave computers vulnerable.

Superfish also used memory resources and took up Internet bandwidth, according to the court document.

Damages from Lenovo and Superfish are being sought as part of the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

 

 

 

Antitrust Case Against Google Over Android Apps Dismissed

February 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that alleged Google harmed consumers by forcing Android mobile phone makers to use its apps by default. The plaintiffs were given three weeks to amend their complaint.

The two consumers who filed the suit failed to show that Google’s allegedly illegal restrictive contracts on manufacturers of Android devices resulted in higher prices on phones, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said in a Feb. 20 ruling.

The complainants, who were seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, said that Google required manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, to set the search giant’s own apps as default options on Android-based phones, restricting access to competing software such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The complaint alleged that this practice limited competition in the search engine market, stifled innovation and resulted in higher prices for phones.

But Freeman ruled that the complainants failed to establish a link between software requirements and phone pricing, also noting that “there are no facts alleged to indicate that defendant’s conduct has prevented consumers from freely choosing among search products or prevented competitors from innovating.”

She gave the plaintiffs three weeks to amend the antitrust complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

 

 

Microsoft Doubling Price For Those Who Still Want XP Support

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft will double the per-PC price of support for enterprises still holding onto Windows XP systems when the anniversary of the aged OS’s retirement rolls around in April, according to a licensing expert familiar with the situation.

The per-PC price for what Microsoft calls “custom support agreements” (CSAs) will increase to $400, the expert said after requesting anonymity.

CSAs provide critical security updates for an operating system that’s been officially retired, as Windows XP was on April 8, 2014. CSAs are negotiated on a company-by-company basis and also require that an organization has adopted a top-tier support plan, dubbed Premier Support, offered by Microsoft.

The CSA failsafe lets companies pay for security patches beyond the normal support lifespan while they finish their migrations to newer editions of Windows. Most enterprises have shifted — and are continuing to do so — to Windows 7 rather than adopt Windows 8.1.

Last year, just days before Microsoft retired Windows XP, the company slashed the price of CSAs to $200-per-device with a cap of $250,000.

Because a CSA is an annual-only program — and Microsoft limits each organization to just three years of post-retirement support — agreements must be renewed each year. The first renewals come due in less than two months.

Ideally, companies that signed up for a CSA last year will have retired large numbers of Windows XP machines in the interim. If a firm reduced the number of Windows XP PCs by half, it will pay the same as last year if it renews the agreement at the higher per-device price.

It’s difficult to gauge the persistence of Windows XP in commercial settings, but the operating system, which debuted in 2001, continues to appear in analytics firms’ tracking.

According to U.S.-based Net Applications, for example, the global user share of XP stood at 20.7% of all Windows-powered PCs in January, representing more than 300 million machines. Meanwhile, Irish metrics company StatCounter pegged XP’s usage share at 12% for January.

 

 

 

Microsoft Severs Ties With The Darkside

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The security of the employees of Phantom Dust developer Darkside Game Studios is in doubt, after Microsoft decided to sever all professional ties to the studio.

Phantom Dust is a remake of an Xbox game from 2004, which was designed by Yukio Futatsugi, the creator of Panzer Dragoon. Darkside’s project was unveiled at E3 last year as an exclusive title for the Xbox One, but whatever agreement existed between the studio and Microsoft has been terminated.

Here’s the official line: “Microsoft partnered with Darkside Game Studios in the development of Phantom Dust, but our working relationship has now ended. We have great respect for their studio and their work in the industry.

“While we do not have anything new to share on Phantom Dust at this time, we can confirm that development of the title continues. We look forward to sharing more details on the game as we get closer to release.”

Darkside, which is based in Florida, has contributed to the development of a host of major releases, including a couple of Xbox exclusives: Sunset Overdrive, Gears of War: Judgment, the Borderlands franchise, the Bioshock franchise; it’s a solid track record, albeit entirely composed of contract work, and Phantom Dust was to be its first solo project.

However, the “respect” Microsoft has for that track record is now the subject of suspicion, with several sources from within Darkside claiming that the company has been forced to layoff its entire staff – around 50 people.

“The executives who saw it were impressed and as late as this morning gave our team every indication that the project was on solid ground,” one of the sources said to Kotaku. “Yet we got the phone call today that someone up on high who in all likelihood wasn’t even aware of the game in detail shut it down.”

The notion that the alleged termination of Darkside’s working relationship with Microsoft was sudden is reinforced by the studio’s recruitment page, which advertised six open positions as recently as the start of January. Among the perks listed there, one stands out: “Working with major publishers.”

Microsoft offered no comment on the situation at Darkside, but we are pursuing the studio’s management for clarification.

Courtesy-Gi.biz

Internally Intel Is Going All In On IoT

February 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A leaked report has revealed how Intel is convincing its own staff of its Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and data analytics.

Apparently Intel wants to eat its own dog food to reduce costs, improve inefficiencies and boost performance, a major internal report has revealed.

Intel IT supports over 106,000 employees in 66 countries, and the report is an intriguing look into how a technology giant tackles the same challenges and opportunities facing the customers and markets it serves.

The report explained that the company has fitted sensors in different environments, such as production and manufacturing facilities, to improve performance and efficiency.

“Collection and analysis of pressure variation using the Intel IoT Gateway enabled yield improvement in one manufacturing operation,” the report notes.

“In another use case, predictive triggers for electromechanical parts failure in complex test equipment helped to improve output and yield.”

A third project involves using wireless IoT sensors at Intel’s data centers to gather information on humidity, power demand, water temperature and air pressure.

“Data analysis identified non-intuitive changes to our existing room power, space and cooling infrastructure, enabling us to design a free-cooling data centre with an averagepower usage effectiveness of 1.07, cutting annual power costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the report said.

The report revealed that 85 percent of all new services installed for the company’s Office, Enterprise and Services divisions are hosted in the cloud.

“We attribute the success of our private cloud to implementing a provider-like cloud hosting strategy, advancing self-service infrastructure as a service and platform as a service, and enabling cloud-aware applications,” the report said.

“Our private cloud saves about $7.5m annually while supporting an increase of 17 percent in operating system instances in the environment.”

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Says It Will Adopt International Standard For Cloud Privacy

February 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has adopted a new standard for cloud privacy that commits the technology giant to protect the privacy of customers’ data, not to use it for advertisement purposes, and to inform the customer of legal requests for personal data.

The company said it was adopting the ISO/IEC 27018, published last year by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which outlines a common set of security categories and controls that can be implemented by a public cloud computing service provider acting as a processor of personally identifiable information.

Microsoft said the British Standards Institute had verified that both Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online, in addition to Microsoft Azure, are in line with the standard’s code for the protection of personal data in the public cloud. Microsoft Intune was similarly certified by testing company Bureau Veritas.

Microsoft and other cloud companies have come under a cloud after revelations in 2013 by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, about large-scale surveillance by the agency.

Some Internet companies were charged with providing to the NSA real-time access to content on their servers, which the companies denied. There were also reports that the agency was tapping into communications links between the data centers of Yahoo and Google.

Microsoft promises under the new standard to let customers know where their data is, and identify the third party to customers if it works with other companies who need to access the customers’ data. “In addition, if there is unauthorized access to personally identifiable information or processing equipment or facilities resulting in the loss, disclosure or alteration of this information, we’ll let you know about this,” Smith wrote.

 

 

Will Samsung Release A 14nm Octa Processor?

February 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has announced an updated version of its Exynos 7 Octa processor. Last year it announced a 64-bit, ARMv8 processor based on a 20nm design, but these new chips will be 14nm processors.

The big news is that Samsung says mass production of the first chips developed with a 14nm FinFET process is underway. It looks like the Exynos 7 Octa processor will be the first to see the shift from 20nm to 14nm. Samsung says the technology will be used in additional products later in 2015.

This could be good news in terms of efficiency and performance. Samsung says the new chips could be up to 20 percent faster while using 35 percent less power. Thing better performance and longer battery life.

Intel’s Broadwell chips are also based on 14nm designs. But those processors are designed for desktops, notebooks, and tablets, while Samsung’s ARM-based chips are aimed at mobile devices, primarily smartphones.

Like we said last week, Samsung has beaten Intel, Apple and Qualcomm in the race for the first 14nm phone SoC – and now it’s in mass production to boot. We are just weeks away from Samsung shipping the Exynos 7 inside the Galaxy S6.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Wooing Windows Users With Free iWork For iCloud

February 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has opened the beta of its iWork for iCloud application suite to Windows-only users, letting people without an iOS device or OS X-powered Mac create an Apple ID needed to access the Web apps.

Apple in mid-2013 launched iWork for iCloud — the browser-based versions of its productivity apps Pages, Numbers and Keynote — requiring an Apple ID for access. Apple IDs are normally associated with an Apple-made device, such as an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Consumers who owned a Windows PC but also, say, an iPhone, had an Apple ID and thus were able to access iWork for iCloud.

This latest change gives anyone, including those without a stake in the Apple ecosystem, access to iWork for iCloud.

iWork for iCloud, which has been in beta for more than a year and a half, is Apple’s productivity answer to Microsoft’s Office. Starting in the fall of 2013, Apple began giving away the iOS and OS X iWork apps to new buyers of iPhones, iPads and Macs; iWork for iCloud is the browser-based side of those apps.

The availability of iWork for iCloud will tempt few if any Windows-only consumers: They have free access to Microsoft’s own Web apps, dubbed Office Online.

 

 

Sony Getting Cozy With MediaTek

February 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sony is expected to use more MediaTek application processors in upcoming Xperia smartphones.

According to Digitimes, the Japanese consumer electronics giant is planning to increase its reliance on MediaTek chips in entry-level and mid-range smartphones this year. There is still no word on high-end products, and it seems Qualcomm’s 800-series parts will continue to power Xperia flagships for the time being.

Sony is also working with a number of Taiwanese ODMs like Foxconn, FIH Mobile, Compal and Arima Communications. The company’s latest Xperia E4 smartphone was in fact outsourced to Arima.

As for Foxconn/FIH Mobile and Compal, they are said to be developing 4G models for Sony, which means they are supposed to cover the mid-range segment. Most of this new models are expected to be based on MediaTek’s new octa-core MT6752 processor, which packs 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores.

The affordable MT6752 has already found its way into a number of Chinese mid-range smartphones, as well big-brand devices like the HTC Desire 826 and Acer Liquid Jade S.

Courtesy-Fud

RapidShare Is Closing It’s Doors

February 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

File-sharing site RapidShare is closing its doors after a many a year of offering web storage, and is advising customers to clean up and get out.

RapidShare has weathered the storms of the copyright controversies and has even been able to withstand a number of legal approaches.

The firm has not given a reason for its decision, and has not given its users much time to react.

A note on the RapidShare homepage thanks customers for their years of support, and says that there are two dates to be aware of, one at the end of this month and one at the end of March, and that people ought to be done with its services by then.

“Dear RapidShare customers. Kindly note that RapidShare will stop the active service on March 31st 2015. Extensions of Standard Plus and Premium accounts will be possible until February 28th 2015,” the note says.

“We strongly recommend all customers to secure their data. After March 31st 2015 all accounts will no longer be accessible and will be deleted automatically.”

RapidShare has remained up while others have fallen, Megaupload for example, but has received the same kind of attention.

The company has fiercely denied allegations that it is a source of pirate booty, and defended a reputation that MarkMonitor was trying to dirty back in 2011.

“RapidShare is a legitimate company that offers its customers fast, simple and secure storage and management of large amounts of data via our servers.”

But it seems that RapidShare has had enough of the market, possibly because the paid-for cloud storage market is now mostly dominated by the free options. These include Mega, which came out of the ashes of Megaupload.

Courtesy-TheInq