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T-Mobile Rolls Out ‘Data Stash’ Plan

December 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has announced a monthly data rollover plan for consumers and business customers called “Data Stash,” but the plan still will not allow workers to share their data with others in a work group.

Data Stash works much the same way for users who have a Simple Choice plan (or Simple Choice for Business Value Plan) and have purchased 3GB or more of LTE data per month for smartphones and 1GB or more for tablets.

T-Mobile will give those existing customers, as well as new customers, 10GB of free LTE data in January. The data must be used by the end of 2015, and once it’s gone, each month of unused data in a plan can be rolled over monhtly for up to a year.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere described data rollover as a high priority for customers, noting that they asked on Twitter in 2014 more than 40,000 times for such a program. And Legere bashed rivals like AT&T and Verizon Wireless who don’t offer such a program, contending that $50 billion annually is lost by wireless customers who have paid for data but then see it disappear at the end of the month when it doesn’t roll over.

“We’re putting an end to this appalling industry practice today,” he said.

Even so, Data Stash won’t let workers share their data allotments with other workers in a group, as T-Mobile describes on its Web site: “Our data plans are specific to the person, so businesses aren’t wasting time and effort tracking everyone’s usage. In other words, this is not a shared data option.”

 

 

Dell Debuts Next-Gen Firewalls

December 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dell has merged its SonicPoints with Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls to create what it claims are secure wireless networks. According to the company, the Dell SonicWALL firewalls automatically detects and provision SonicPoints, while it pushes appropriate security updates as well as policies to ensure enterprise-class security.

Of course, it also claims to simplify management, deliver a lower TCO and protect you from badgers at the same time. But it is a pretty interesting product. The SonicPoint AC Series of wireless access points would be able to support the high-performance IEEE 802.11ac wireless standard in order to offer close to three times that of the last wireless standard (802.11n).

SonicPoints will offer deep packet inspection security from Dell SonicWALL next-generation firewalls. This opens the door for small- and mid-sized organizations to leverage enterprise-class wireless performance and security, all the while simplifying wireless network setup and management.

With enterprise-level performance, WiFi-ready devices are able to hook up from greater distances, while making use of bandwidth-intensive mobile apps, including video and voice, working in higher-density environments with virtually no signal degradation.

Courtesy-Fud

BlackBerry Launches ‘Classic’ Smartphone

December 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry Ltd rolled out its much anticipated Classic on Wednesday, a smartphone it hopes will help it win back market share and woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices.

The Canadian mobile technology company said the new device, which bears striking similarities to its once wildly popular Bold and Curve handsets, boasts a larger screen, longer battery life, an expanded app library with access to offerings from Amazon.com Inc’s Android App store, and a browser three times faster than the one on its legacy devices.

“The conversation about BlackBerry has changed in the last year,” Chief Executive John Chen said as he launched the Classic at Manhattan’s upscale Cipriani restaurant. “We are here to stay, there is no question about that. Now we have to engineer our growth.”

He said BlackBerry had listened to its fans and brought back the command bar functionality that helped make its legacy phones easy to navigate.

When the company initially introduced its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices early in 2012 it put more emphasis on touchscreens, alienating many fans of its physical keyboard.

Those who moved to the new physical keyboard phones that BlackBerry launched later were unhappy that command keys such as the Menu, Back, Send and End buttons, along with the trackpad had been dropped.

With the Classic and the recent launch of its Passport smartphone, Chen is in some ways taking the company back to its roots, re-emphasizing the physical keyboard, rather than trying to compete directly against the touchscreen handsets of dominant rivals like Samsung Electronics and Apple.

“We expect the Classic to be the most popular BlackBerry enterprise device and the easiest transition for current BB7 (legacy device) users,” said Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um.

 

 

Study Finds Android Apps Frequently Using Permissions Granted

December 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Android apps really take advantage of those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information: one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute, French researchers have found. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.

In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data — the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on — and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.

The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.

Many apps access phones’ identifying characteristics to track their users, the researchers said. One of the few options users have to avoid this tracking is a switch in the “Google Settings” app to reset their phone’s advertising ID. That’s not much help, though, as apps have other ways to identify users. Almost two-thirds of apps studied in the three-month real-world test accessed at least one mobile phone identifier, a quarter of them at least two identifiers, and a sixth three or more. That allows the apps to build up profiles of their users for advertising purposes.

Location was one of the most frequently-accessed items of data. It accounted for 30 percent of all accesses to personal information during the test, and 30 percent of the apps studied accessed it at some point. The Facebook app recorded one volunteer’s location 150,000 times during the three-month period — more than once per minute, on average, while the Google Play Store tracked another user ten times per minute at times. Often, the only use apps make of such information is to serve personalized advertising, as was the case with one game that recorded a user’s location 3,000 times during the study.

 

 

Red Hat RHEL Adds IBM’s Power 8

December 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.1 Beta with enhancements to improve ease of use, manageability and performance, as well as support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture.

RHEL 7.1 Beta is the next point release following the enterprise Linux vendor’s initial production release of RHEL 7.0 in June.

RHEL 7.1 adds OpenLMI support to streamline system configuration management with thin logical volume manager provisioning, along with kernel and user mode components supporting Ceph block storage devices.

The update also offers support for Microsoft CIFS for mixed vendor data centre environments that need it, providing native access to Microsoft Windows file and print services.

RHEL 7.1 also enhances identity management security with one-time password authentication via LDAP and Kerberos protocols and the FreeOTP standard, and introduces a certificate authority management tool.

In addition, RHEL 7.1 includes Security Content Automation Protocol Security Guides that reduce the complexity of compliance testing and enhance security assurance.

Building on RHEL 7.0 support for Linux containers in physical, virtual and cloud deployments in development, test and production environments, RHEL 7.1 adds access to Docker 1.2 in the RHEL 7 Extras channel.

For users with demanding workload responsiveness requirements, RHEL 7.1 adds real-time dispatching for workloads that require very precise and deterministic processing times. This capability is delivered with Linux kernel enhancements and additional userspace packages that can be added on top of a stock RHEL 7.1 installation.

Finally, RHEL 7.1 includes support for IBM Power8 little endian architecture for customers using the IBM Power8 systems infrastructure.

Running in little endian mode accelerates application portability to the IBM Power8 systems, thus allowing customers using IBM Power8 systems to use the existing ecosystem of Linux applications as developed for the x86 architecture.

Interested users can read the RHEL 7.1 Beta Release Notes, and can download the RHEL 7.1 Beta at Red Hat’s website.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

FCC To Demand Higher Broadband Speeds For Provider Subsidies

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will require broadband providers getting new federal subsidies to build networks in rural areas to deliver download speeds of at least 10Mbps.

The FCC voted last Thursday to update its rules for the Connect America Fund, the broadband subsidy program funded through fees on telephone service, with a major change being the increase in minimum download speeds from 4Mbps to 10Mbps from fixed broadband providers.

Broadband providers AT&T and Verizon had opposed the speed increase, and one of the FCC’s Republican commissioners questioned whether the new speed requirement could limit deployment.

The new speed requirements could double the cost of deployment to rural areas, but the commission did not also double the time that broadband providers could complete their deployments, Commissioner Ajit Pai said.

Instead of increasing the funding window for deployments from five to 10 years, as dozens of members of Congress had requested, the commission increased funding term to six years in most cases. Adding new speed requirements without allowing much more time for broadband providers to receive funding may discourage broadband providers from participating, Pai said.

“I fear we are going to leave many communities without broadband for the foreseeable future,” Pai said. “Incentivizing wireline broadband providers to deploy service deep into the unserved countryside requires a balance act. Today’s order disrupts that balance.”

But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency doesn’t want to pay for “second-class broadband service.” If large broadband providers don’t agree with the terms of the subsidy, the FCC will use an auction to bring service to rural areas, he said.

 

 

Patent Disputes Putting Xiaomi Smartphone Growth Plans In Jeopardy

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Patent wars have become commonplace with smartphone vendors across the world, and now Xiaomi is no exception. The Chinese company announced it had halted its product sales in India, due to a patent dispute with Swedish network equipment vendor Ericsson.

The legal troubles throw a wrench in Xiaomi’s international expansion, and could open the company to even more lawsuits from other patent holders, analysts warn.

In Ericsson’s case, the company said it had spent more than three years complaining to Xiaomi about the alleged patent infringement, which relates to the telecommunications technology used in the company’s phones.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action,” the company said in an email, which claimed that Xiaomi had declined to pay a fair licensing fee for the technology.

In response, Xiaomi said it was working with Ericsson to resolve the matter, without elaborating. But doing so will probably come at some financial cost.

Xiaomi has enjoyed an almost meteoric rise, becoming China’s top smartphone maker this year. However, the company was only founded in 2010, and doesn’t possess an extensive patent portfolio that so many older technology firms like Ericsson wield.

Although Xiaomi declined to comment on its patent activities, analysts expected that the company would eventually run into intellectual property matters at some point in its international expansion.

“It’s possible lawsuits will be filed in other countries, and not just from Ericsson, but other vendors that want to use patents as a weapon against Xiaomi,” said Wang Jingwen, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

Xiaomi, which still sells most of its phones in China, made India a focus of its international efforts. The company still has a small market share in the country, but its phones have been selling like hot cakes there.

It could simply end up paying Ericsson and other companies for access to their patents, but that could mean paying a hefty price.

“If Xiaomi is willing to pay for the licensing fees to Ericsson, the issue can be resolved,” said Xiaohan Tay, an analyst with research firm IDC. “But the higher cost for smartphones may be passed on to consumers, and Xiaomi may not be able to offer phones at such a low cost to consumers anymore.”

 

 

Softbank Decides To Shrink Silicon Valley Presence

December 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank Corp  will soon scale back its Silicon Valley offices, sources with knowledge of the matter said, signaling the company won’t revive efforts to buy T-Mobile U.S. Inc .

SoftBank subsidiary Sprint Corp dropped its bid to acquire the No. 4 U.S. carrier in August but the companies did not rule out future consolidation.

The Japanese telecommunications company is now transferring “the bulk” of manpower out of its West Coast operations, including dispersing development engineers to Sprint headquarters in Kansas, said the people, who declined to be identified because the move has not been made public.

SoftBank is also considering renting out one of two buildings it leased at an annual cost of over $3 million to accommodate a T-Mobile-driven expansion, the people said. The building has stood largely empty, they said.

The failed bid by Japan’s acquisitive No. 3 mobile carrier was a rare setback for founder Masayoshi Son. The billionaire encountered resistance from U.S. regulators, who insisted on keeping the number of major wireless carriers at four.

“There were people sent to Silicon Valley for the purpose of making (mobile phone) platforms, but that job was done and there’s nothing else to do,” said one of the people.

SoftBank spokesman Matthew Nicholson said some SoftBank employees are moving back to Tokyo or going to Kansas as certain joint projects between the company and Sprint have finished. He declined to comment regarding the relationship between the departures and the failed bid to acquire T-Mobile.

SoftBank bought No.3 U.S. carrier Sprint last year for $22 billion as part of an overseas expansion that has included investments across Asia.

 

Samsung Finally Starts 14nm FinFET

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A company insider has spilled the beans in Korea, claiming that Samsung has started Apple A9 production in 14nm FinFET.

The A9 is the next generation SoC for Apple iPhone and iPad products and it is manufactured on the Samsung – GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. In the other news, Samsung’s Ki-nam, president of the company’s semiconductor business and head of System LSI business has confirmed that the company started production of 14-nanometre FinFET chips.

The report mentions Austin as a possible site for Apple products but we wonder if the GlobalFoundries Fab 8 in New York State could become one of the partners for the 14nm FinFET manufacturing. Samsung didn’t officially reveal the client for the 14nm FinFET, but Apple is the most obvious candidate, while we expect to see 14 / 16nm FinFET graphics chips from AMD and Nvidia but most likely in the latter half of 2015 at best.

Qualcomm is likely to announce new LTE modem based on 14nm FinFET and the flagship SoC Snapdragon 810 is a 20nm chip. Qualcomm is manufacturing its 810 chips as we speak to meet demand for flagship Android phones coming in Q1 2015. Flagship Samsung, HTC and LG phones among others are likely to use Snapdragon 810 as a replacement for this year’s Snapdragon 801, a high end chip that ended up in millions of high-end phones.

Samsung / GlobalFoundries14nm FinFET process is 15 percent smaller, 20 percent faster, and 35 percent more power efficient compared to 20nm processors. This definitely sounds exiting and will bring more performance into phones, tablets, GPUs and will significantly decrease power consumption. The move from 28nm is long overdue.

We believe that Qualcomm’s LTE modem might be the first chip to officially come with this manufacturing process and Apple will probably take most of the 14nm production for an update in its tablets and phones scheduled for 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Shows New IoT Platform

December 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel showed off a new platform which it claims makes it easier for companies to create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.

Intel’s platform is like Lego and based on the chipmaker’s components and software for companies to create smart, connected devices. The only difference is that you can’t enact your own Doctor Who scene from it.

Doug Davis, head of Intel’s Internet of Things business, said at a launch event in San Francisco it will make it a doddle to connect to data centres in order analyse data collected from devices’ sensors.

Intel’s chips should compute capability in end-point devices that scale from its highest performance Xeon processor to the Quark family of products.

Intel’s Internet of Things Group had $530 million in revenue in the September quarter. That accounted for just 4 percent of Intel’s total revenue in the quarter, but it grew 14 percent over the previous year, which was faster than the company’s PC business.

Dell, SAP, Tata Consultancy, Accenture and other companies are working with the new reference model, Davis said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Ericsson Goes After Xiaomi

December 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Ericsson has thrown a spanner into Chinese firm Xiaomi’s expansion plans, and has reportedly stopped it from selling handsets in India.

According to reports, this is already happening. We have asked Ericsson to confirm its role and what it wants to say about it. It told us that the reports are true and that it is ready to defend itself.

“It is unfair for Xiaomi to benefit from our substantial R&D investment without paying a reasonable licensee fee for our technology. After more than 3 years of attempts to engage in a licensing conversation in good faith for products compliant with the GSM, EDGE, and UMTS/WCDMA standards, Xiaomi continues to refuse to respond in any way regarding a fair license to Ericsson’s intellectual property on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” it said in a statement.

“Ericsson, as a last resort, had to take legal action. To continue investing in research and enabling the development of new ideas, new standards and new platforms to the industry, we must obtain a fair return on our R&D investments. We look forward to working with Xiaomi to reach a mutually fair and reasonable conclusion, just as we do with all of our licensees.”

Xiaomi has responded to Bloomberg but it declined to say too much until it has access too all of the information.

“Our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have,” said the spokesperson. “India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws.”

The banning on the sale of devices was approved by a court in Delhi India, according to reports, and is based on an Ericsson claim on eight patents that it owns.

Xiaomi has bold plans for its own future and sees itself competing against rivals like Samsung and Apple. It has given itself between five and 10 years to do this, and will presumably want to include the Indian market in those plans.

Courtesy-TheInq

BitTorrent Releases It’s Maelstorm Browser

December 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Bittorrent has announced the alpha release of its latest product, a browser known as Project Maelstrom.

The browser, which is currently invite only, is designed to utilize the BitTorrent protocol to power the web.

The concept is simple. Instead of hosting content on a centralized server, it is distributed peer to peer. This is the latest in a long line of ways to legally utilize the BitTorrent protocol legally, moving its reputation away from the illegal file-sharing days of old.

It’s a little bit like hosting a website using the inbuilt IIS services hidden away in Windows, but with a less linear distribution infrastructure, and the added safety of not giving someone access to data stored directly on your computer.

The company has already launched BitTorrent Sync, a file synchronization system that works across remote locations and BitTorrent Bleep, also currently in alpha, offering peer-to-peer instant messaging. Media file-sharing has found a legal model with BitTorrent Bundles.

In the company blog, CEO Eric Klinker said, “If we are successful, we believe this project has the potential to help address some of the most vexing problems facing the Internet today.

“How can we keep the Internet open? How can we keep access to the Internet neutral? How can we better ensure our private data is not misused by large companies? How can we help the Internet scale efficiently for content?”

Promoting the legal use of BitTorrent is a primary consideration for the company which bears the name of a practice associated with sites like the recently, and possibly permanently erstwhile Pirate Bay.

The move has been sparked, in part by the threats to net neutrality that have come to the forefront of the minds of internet users over the past year. By decentralizing web distribution, BitTorrent hopes to remove the “gatekeeping” aspect provided by the companies who are overstepping their boundaries in attempts to run the web.

Courtesy-TheInq

Hacking Could Cost Sony Studios $100 Million

December 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp’s movie studio could face tens of millions of dollars in costs from the massive network breach that severely hindered its operations and exposed sensitive data, according to cybersecurity experts who have studied past breaches.

The tab will be less than the $171 million Sony estimated for the breach of its Playstation Network in 2011 because it does not appear to involve customer data, the experts said.

Major costs for the attack by unidentified hackers include the investigation into what happened, computer repair or replacement, and steps to prevent a future attack. Lost productivity while operations were disrupted will add to the price tag.

The attack, believed to be the worst of its type on a company on U.S. soil, also hits Sony’s reputation for a perceived failure to safeguard information, said Jim Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Usually, people get over it, but it does have a short-term effect,” said Lewis, who estimated costs for Sony could stretch to $100 million.

It typically takes at least six months after a breach to determine the full financial impact, Lewis said.

Sony has declined to estimate costs, saying it was still assessing the impact.

The company has insurance to cover data breaches, a person familiar with the matter said. Cybersecurity insurance typically reimburses only a portion of costs from hacking incidents, experts said.

 

 

Federal Judge Says U.S. Lawmakers Should Give NSA ‘Carte Blanche’

December 9, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. National Security Agency should have an unlimited ability to collect digital information in the name of protecting the country against terrorism and other threats, an influential federal judge stated during a debate on privacy.

“I think privacy is actually overvalued,” Judge Richard Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said during a conference about privacy and cybercrime in Washington on Thursday.

“Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct,” Posner added. “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

Congress should limit the NSA’s use of the data it collects — for example, not giving information about minor crimes to law enforcement agencies — but it shouldn’t limit what information the NSA sweeps up and searches, Posner said. “If the NSA wants to vacuum all the trillions of bits of information that are crawling through the electronic worldwide networks, I think that’s fine,” he said.

In the name of national security, U.S. lawmakers should give the NSA “carte blanche,” Posner added. “Privacy interests should really have very little weight when you’re talking about national security,” he said. “The world is in an extremely turbulent state — very dangerous.”

Posner criticized mobile OS companies for enabling end-to-end encryption in their newest software. “I’m shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search,” he said.

 

 

Can SSD’s Last Longer Than Manufacturers Estimate?

December 9, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

An uninterrupted test of solid state disc (SSD) drives has revealed that many modern devices could stand being rewritten for far longer than expected.

SSD drives, while being significantly faster than their traditional spindle counterparts, are generally believed to have a shorter lifespan because the memory only has a finite number of rewrites.

Indeed most SSD manufacturers only offer guarantees of a few years before the device becomes unwritable and the data that remains becomes permanently etched.

But researchers at The Tech Report have discovered that some brands of SSD are capable of lasting hundreds of years, with two devices involved in the ongoing project reaching the 2 petabyte milestone.

In all, six devices were originally involved in the test, but only two – the Kingston HyperX 3K and Samsung 840 Pro – are still functioning.

Already in the great SATA interface in the sky are another Kingston and another Samsung device, a Corsair and an Intel which, like a character from Logan’s Run, is designed to take its own life if it gets too old.

Of the two survivors, only the Samsung is yet to report any errors whatsoever, but the Kingston has been able to move data about from damaged sectors without any data loss, so far, and is still in the running.

However, even the losing drives have a lot to be proud of. All have managed to carry on long after their expected lifespan, and had they not been turned into digital Solomon Grundys (Google it), there is little doubt that they would all be working long after we’ve moved on to quantum computing with data stored in invisible light particles; or swam back into the ocean.

Courtesy-TheInq