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StoreDot Says It Can Recharge Mobile Phone In 30 Seconds

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

An Israeli firm claims it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes, advances that could transform two of the world’s most dynamic consumer industries.

Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.

While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone, the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day’s power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds.

“These are new materials, they have never been developed before,” said Doron Myersdorf, the founder and chief executive of StoreDot, whose investors include Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

The innovation is based around the creation of “nanodots”, which StoreDot describes as bio-organic peptide molecules. Nanodots alter the way a battery behaves to allow the rapid absorption and, critically, the retention of power.

The company has raised $48 million from two rounds of funding, including backing from a leading mobile phone maker. Myersdorf declined to name the company, but said it was Asian.

With the number of smartphone users forecast to reach 1.75 billion this year, StoreDot sees a big market, and some experts think that — with more work — it could be on to a winner.

“We live in a power hungry world … people are constantly chasing a power outlet. StoreDot has the potential to solve this real big problem,” said Zack Weisfeld, who has worked with and evaluated ventures in the mobile phone sector globally.

“They still have some way to go, to deal with size of battery and power cycle rounds, but if solvable, it’s a very big breakthrough,” he told Reuters. A power cycle round refers to the number of times a battery can be re-charged in its lifetime.

Myersdorf said a fast-charge phone would cost $100-$150 more than current models and would ultimately be able to handle 1,500 recharge/discharge cycles, giving it about three years of life.

 

 

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

Symantec Uncovers Advanced Spying Malware

November 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

An advanced malicious software application has been discovered that since 2008 was used to spy on private companies, governments, research institutes and individuals in 10 countries, anti virus software maker Symantec Corp said in a report on Sunday.

The Mountain View, California-based maker of Norton anti virus products said its research showed that a “nation state” was likely the developer of the malware called Regin, or Backdoor. Regin, but Symantec did not identify any countries or victims.

Symantec said Regin’s design “makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets,” and was withdrawn in 2011 but resurfaced from 2013 onward.

The malware uses several “stealth” features “and even when its presence is detected, it is very difficult to ascertain what it is doing,” according to Symantec. It said “many components of Regin remain undiscovered and additional functionality and versions may exist.”

Almost half of all infections occurred at addresses of Internet service providers, the report said. It said the targets were customers of the companies rather than the companies themselves. About 28 percent of targets were in telecoms while other victims were in the energy, airline, hospitality and research sectors, Symantec said.

Symantec described the malware as having five stages, each “hidden and encrypted, with the exception of the first stage.” It said “each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat.”

Regin also uses what is called a modular approach that allows it to load custom features tailored to targets, the same method applied in other malware, such as Flamer and Weevil (The Mask), the anti virus company said. Some of its features were also similar to Duqu malware, uncovered in September 2011 and related to a computer worm called Stuxnet, discovered the previous year.

Symantec said Russia and Saudi Arabia accounted for about half of the confirmed infections of the Regin malware and the other countries were Mexico, Ireland, India, Iran,Afghanistan, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan.

 

 

Government Officials Warns Consumers To Secure Their Web Cams

November 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Government officials in the U.S. and the UK are warning consumers to secure their webcams after websites that broadcast the contents of those cameras have sprung up online.

One of the better-known sites, Insecam, appeared to have gone offline after the warnings, but at least one site that publishes similar content was still available.

The websites show footage from security cameras used by businesses and in people’s homes, including CCTV networks that secure buildings and even cameras built into baby monitors.

Last week  the U.K.’s data protection watchdog warned of a website based in Russia that accesses thousands of webcams using their default logins and passwords, which it said can be easily found online.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also weighed in, warning users to ensure video feeds are encrypted and that wireless routers are protected by passwords.

“Once you’ve bought your IP camera, check its security settings and keep its software up-to-date,” wrote Nicole Vincent Fleming, a consumer education specialist with the FTC in a blog post.

Security experts have long warned that not changing the default credentials on such devices can allow them to be accessed by hackers.

The domain name Insecam.cc was registered through GoDaddy earlier this month, though whoever registered it chose to keep their registration details private in the “whois” domain directory.

The U.K. information commissioner has reportedly urged the Russian authorities to take down the site.

 

 

Amazon’s Zocalo Goes Mobile

November 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced two much-needed boosts to its fledgling Zocalo productivity platform, making the service mobile and allowing for file capacities of up to 5TB.

The service, which is designed to do what Drive does for Google and what Office 365 does for software rental, has gained mobile apps for the first time as Zocalo appears on the Google Play store and Apple App Store.

Amazon also mentions availability on the Kindle store, but we’re not sure about that bit. We assume it means the Amazon App Store for Fire tablet users.

The AWS blog says that the apps allow the user to “work offline, make comments, and securely share documents while you are in the air or on the go.”

A second announcement brings Zocalo into line with the AWS S3 storage on which it is built. Users will receive an update to their Zocalo sync client which will enable file capacities up to 5TB, the same maximum allowed by the Amazon S3 cloud.

To facilitate this, multi-part uploads will allow users to carry on an upload from where it was after a break, deliberate or accidental.

Zocalo was launched in July as the fight for enterprise storage productivity hots up. The service can be trialled for 30 days free of charge, offering 200GB each for up to 50 users.

Rival services from companies including the aforementioned Microsoft and Google, as well as Dropbox and Box, coupled with aggressive price cuts across the sector, have led to burgeoning wars for the hearts and minds of IT managers as Microsoft’s Office monopoly begins to wane.

Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Pay Enjoys Success As More Retailers Jump Onboard

November 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. consumers have been leery of in-store mobile payments for years, but Apple Pay is making gains in that area just a month after the service launched Oct. 20.

Apple’s latest success with Apple Pay includes the addition of support from hundreds of grocery stores within six major chains in the past week: BiLo Holding, 830 stores; Harvey’s and Winn-Dixie, 530; Albertson’s and Jewel-Osco, 180; Shaws and Star Markets, 150; United Food Stores, 60; and Associated Food Stores, 135. Wegmans and Whole Foods were already part of the original 35 retail chains offering Apple Pay in an estimated 225,000 stores, about 5% of all possible U.S. retail locations.

In addition, on Thursday, American First Credit Union said its Visa card now supports Apple Pay, joining more than 500 U.S. banks already supporting the service through Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.

In the past week, SunTrust and Regions Bank added their support.

McDonald’s has confirmed that more than 50% of its in-store mobile payments at 14,000 restaurants were made with Apple Pay in its first month. Whole Foods recently said it processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions in the first three weeks of the service. And Walgreens, the national drug store chain, said in-store mobile payments had doubled since Apple Pay launched.

 

 

Apple To Bundle Beats Music Into iOS

November 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc will bundle the subscription music service it acquired from Beats into its iOS operating system early next year, according to an article by the Financial Times.

The inclusion of the paid-for Beats service in an iOS software update, which would instantly make it available on millions of iPhones and iPads, could happen as early as March, the daily reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The move will mark the company’s first big push into subscription music, at a time when downloads from its iTunes are in decline, the paper said.

The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will compete with music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud.

Google Inc said last week that YouTube is rolling out a long-awaited paid monthly music subscription service called YouTube Music Key.

Apple, which bought music streaming and audio equipment company Beats in May for $3 billion, could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

 

WhatsApp Adds End-to-End Encryption

November 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Stepping up efforts to keep its users messages safe from prying eyes, WhatsApp announced that it now supports end-to-end encryption for messages sent between users.

The end-to-end encryption comes thanks to a collaboration between WhatsApp and Open Whisper Systems, an open-source development company focused on secure communications.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has more than 600 million users who log in monthly, making Open Whisper’s encryption deployment the largest ever in the area of end-to-end encrypted communication, Open Whisper said.

The encryption is on by default. It’s only available for Android right now, though the companies are working to roll out support for other platforms.

End-to-end encryption has gained attention following the disclosures about government surveillance last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Meanwhile, the flood of cyber attacks targeting retailers and Internet companies alike have highlighted the need for better data security.

Edward Snowden himself has called end-to-end encryption the best possible form of encryption, because it keeps people’s data encrypted even while it’s on company servers. The data, in theory, can only be decrypted on people’s personal devices. That means outside groups must target individuals’ machines if they want to access the data.

Some other mainstream services like Google have released products to facilitate end-to-end encryption. And along with Apple, Google’s also working to make encryption the default on smartphones.

But end-to-end encryption still is primarily offered by lesser known companies that don’t rely on people’s data for advertising.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption uses Whisper’s TextSecure protocol, which encrypts text messages over the air and on people’s phones.

WhatsApp declined to comment further on the encryption deployment.

 

 

Snapchat To Offer Mobile Payments Service

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile messaging company Snapchat is rolling out a new service that wil allow users to send money to each other, in a partnership with online payments company Square.

The service, dubbed Snapcash, allows Snapchat users to link their debit cards to their account and quickly send money to a contact by starting a chat on a smartphone, typing in a dollar sign and an amount and hitting a green button, Snapchat explained in a post on its official blog.

The move marks the latest sign of expansion plans for Los Angeles-based Snapchat, which lets users exchange photos that automatically disappear after a few seconds. The company has been valued at $10 billion in its most recent fundraising effort, according to media reports, and is considered a growing threat to Web companies including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc.

“We set out to make payments faster and more fun, but we also know that security is essential when you’re dealing with money,” Snapchat said in the post.

The company said that debit card information will be stored by Square and that Square will process the payments, transferring money between bank accounts. Snapchat said that Snapcash is available in the United States for users aged 18 and above.

 

 

Should Encryption Be The Norm?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Encryption should be a matter of priority and used by default. That’s the message from the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the worldwide body in charge of the internet’s technology infrastructure.

The IAB warned in a statement that “the capabilities and activities of attackers are greater and more pervasive than previously known”.

It goes on to say: “The IAB urges protocol designers to design for confidential operation by default. We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default.

“We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic.”

The purpose, the IAB claims, is to instill public trust in the internet after the myriad high-profile cases in which computer traffic has been intercepted, ranging from bank details to email addresses and all points in between.

The news will be unwelcome to the security services, which have repeatedly objected to initiatives such as the default encryption in iOS8 and Android L, claiming that it is in the interest of the population to retain the right to intercept data for the prevention of terrorism.

However, leaked information, mostly from files appropriated by rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, suggests that the right of information interception is abused by security services including the UK’s GCHQ.

These allegations include the collection of irrelevant data, the investigation of cold cases not in the public interest, and the passing of pictures of nude ladies to colleagues.

Courtesy-TheInq

Should AMD And nVidia Get The Blame For Assassin’s Creed’s PC Issues?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Ubisoft is claiming that the reason that its latest Assassin’s Creed game was so bad was because of AMD and Nvidia configurations. Last week the Ubisoft was panned for releasing a game which was clearly not ready and Ubisoft originally blamed AMD for its faulty game. Now Ubisoft has amended an original forum post to include and acknowledge problems on Nvidia hardware as well.

Originally the post read “We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin’s Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available.”

However there is no equivalent Nvidia-centric post on the main forum, and no mention of the fact that if you own any Nvidia card which is not a GTX 970 or 980. What is amazing is that with the problems so widespread, Ubisoft did not see them in its own testing before sending it out to the shops. Unless they only played the game on an Nvidia GTX 970 and did not bother to test it on a console, it is inconceivable that they could not have seen it.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Goes Upscale With New MICA Bracelets

November 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Soon to be released bracelets with technology from Intel Corp and design cues from fashion brand Opening Ceremony will connect the wearer with Facebook, Google and Yelp via an AT&Tdata plan,no smartphone necessary.

Called My Intelligent Communication Accessory, or MICA, the snakeskin bracelets are aimed at fashion-conscious women and are an attempt by the two companies to stand out in a growing field of often-clunky smartwatches and fitness brands that have yet to catch on widely with consumers.

“We really approached this first and foremost about why would a woman want to wear this everyday, and how can it be incorporated into her wardrobe,” Humberto Leon, creative director at Opening Ceremony, said in a phone interview last week.

As well as lapis stones, obsidian and an 18k gold coating, the devices include a sapphire curved screen on the inside of the wrist that displays text messages, calendar items and events from Google and Facebook, and recommendations of nearby restaurants and stores from Yelp.

After Intel was late to smartphones and tablets in recent years, Chief Executive Brian Krzanich has been determined to make sure the top chipmaker is at the forefront of future trends in mobile computing.

Krzanich gave the green light for the chipmaker to develop the bracelet with Opening Ceremony after his wife wore a prototype for several days and liked it, he recently said.

Incoming alerts discreetly vibrate the bracelet instead of making a noise. Its $495 price tag includes a two-year data plan with AT&T, which means it does not rely on a smartphone for connectivity, as do most smartwatches, the companies said in a press release.

As well as working with Opening Ceremony, Intel in March bought fitness bracelet maker Basis Science and it has teamed up with watch retailer Fossil Group to develop other wearable computing devices.

 

Amazon Goes With Intel Zeon Inside

November 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Amazon has become the latest vendor to commission a customized Xeon chip from Intel to meet its exact compute requirements, in this case powering new high-performance C4 virtual machine instances on the AWS cloud computing platform.

Amazon announced at the firm’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas that the latest generation of compute-optimized Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machine instances offer up to 36 virtual CPUs and 60GB of memory.

“These instances are designed to deliver the highest level of processor performance on EC2. If you’ve got the workload, we’ve got the instance,” said AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr, detailing the new instances on the AWS blog.

The instances are powered by a custom version of Intel’s latest Xeon E5 v3 processor family, identified by Amazon as the Xeon E5-2666 v3. This runs at a base speed of 2.9GHz, and can achieve clock speeds as high as 3.5GHz with Turbo boost.

Amazon is not the first company to commission a customized processor from Intel. Earlier this year, Oracle unveiled new Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems with a custom Xeon E7 v2 processor.

The processor is capable of dynamically switching core count, clock frequency and power consumption without the need for a system level reboot, in order to deliver an elastic compute capability that adapts to the demands of the workload.

However, these are just the vendors that have gone public; Intel claims it is delivering over 35 customized versions of the Intel Xeon E5 v3 processor family to various customers.

This is an area the chipmaker seems to be keen on pursuing, especially with companies like cloud service providers that purchase a great many chips.

“We’re really excited to be working with Amazon. Amazon’s platform is the landing zone for a lot of new software development and it’s really exciting to partner with those guys on a SKU that really meets their needs,” said Dave Hill, ‎senior systems engineer in Intel’s Datacenter Group.

Also at AWS re:Invent, Amazon announced the Amazon EC2 Container Service, adding support for Docker on its cloud platform.

Currently available as a preview, the EC2 Container Service is designed to make it easy to run and manage distributed applications on AWS using containers.

Customers will be able to start, stop and manage thousands of containers in seconds, scaling from one container to hundreds of thousands across a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances, the firm said.

Courtesy-TheInq

Better 911 Call Location Finding Coming To Mobile Phones

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Emergency responders will be able to better locate callers who dial 911 on their cellphones from indoors as the U.S. wireless industry improves caller-location for the majority of such calls in the next few years.

Historically, satellite and other technologies have helped emergency responders find people who called from outdoors, while landlines commonly automatically provided dispatchers with an address. Cellphone calls from indoors, however, have been tougher to locate because walls weaken signals.

Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US have reached a deal with public-safety groups to get specific location data to 911 dispatchers for 40 percent of wireless 911 calls within two years and 80 percent within six years.

The wireless association CTIA announced the agreement with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and the National Emergency Number Association on Friday.

The deal marks a milestone in the long-running effort to help first-responders get to emergencies quickly as people increasingly rely on cellphones for 911 calls and to improve their ability to locate emergencies in places such as schools, shopping malls and hotels.

The Federal Communications Commission has long required data from wireless 911 calls to include location information based on outdoor technologies. But technology has been insufficient to direct responders to specific floors, rooms or particular areas of a building.

The FCC earlier this year challenged the wireless industry to help responders locate emergencies indoors, within 50 meters horizontally and 3 meters vertically, estimating it could save more than 10,000 lives every year.

The “heightened location accuracy,” available to supporting networks and handsets, will find callers through nearby devices connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth that will be logged with a specific location in a special emergency-services database.

Over time, the wireless carriers plan to ensure each handset can turn on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity in emergency-call instances, if it is disabled.

The FCC had proposed the rollout timeframe of two years for 67 percent of cellphone calls and five years for 80 percent, though the companies and public safety groups reached a slightly different consensus.

 

 

 

 

 

Oracle And SAP Settle Piracy Dispute

November 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has won a limited victory in its long-running lawsuit with rival SAP.

The action was taken in reference to events dating back to 2007, which saw employees of SAP’s TomorrowNow unit accused of illegally downloading Oracle software.

German company TomorrowNow was bought by SAP as a means to undercut Oracle’s internal tech support rates, with the ambition of getting customers to migrate to SAP solutions, reports Reuters.

In 2006, TomorrowNow started the process of undermining its parent’s position, offering cut-price support to users of the Siebel database and CRM.

Oracle was originally awarded $1.3bn back in 2010, but this was adjusted downwards on multiple appeals.

SAP acknowledged that its employees had been in the wrong, but disputed the damages awarded. SAP offered a $306m payment in 2012, but did so more in hope than expectation given its admissions.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge gave Oracle the option to settle for $356.7m or force a retrial, and the company has now decided on the former with a further $2.5m in interest.

“We are thrilled about this landmark recovery and extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded,” said Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley.

“This sends a strong message to those who would prefer to cheat than compete fairly and legally.”

SAP agreed: “We are also pleased that, overall, the courts hearing this case ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP announced a partnership with IBM last month to bring its HANA service to enterprise cloud users.

Courtesy-TheInq