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Microsoft And Kyocera End Patent Spat

July 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft and Kyocera called a truce regarding a patent spat that began earlier this year by expanding a patent cross-licensing deal between them.

In a tersely worded, four-sentence press release, the companies said the licensing deal would enable them to use “a broader range of each other’s technologies in their respective products.” Beyond that, the terms were not disclosed.

It’s another win for Microsoft’s ongoing practice of seeking patent licenses from Android manufacturers. Earlier this year, the company sued Kyocera because of components that are part of Android that Microsoft says infringe on its patents. Licensing patents related to Android is a big business for the company, which revealed last year that Samsung paid more than $1 billion from July 2012 to June 2013 as part of a patent licensing deal.

Microsoft and Samsung announced in February that the two companies had settled their own litigation over license payments for Android-related patents.

Microsoft has signed several other cross-licensing agreements this year, including one with Taiwanese manufacturer Qisda and another with Melco Group, the parent company of electronics maker Buffalo.

 

Is Mastercard Going With Selfies?

July 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Mastercard has announced plans to roll out a verification technology that requires a selfie to process payments.

The industry’s latest move in the shameless act of narcissism is a biometric face scanning technology that will let customers replace their PINs with their face, according to MasterCard chief product security officer, Ajay Bhalla.

Bhalla told CNN Money that the multinational financial services corporation has teamed up with all the major phone manufacturers to deliver the technology.

“The new generation, which is into selfies, I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it. This [app] seamlessly integrates biometrics into the overall payment experience,” he said.

“You can choose to use your fingerprint or your face. You tap it, the transaction is OK’ed and you’re done.”

The selfie payment feature will roll out on a trial basis first in the US, with a full scale deployment to follow at an unspecified date.

The system requires users to blink when prompted once they have held their device at eye-level for the checkout process to complete.

This ensures that potential cyber crooks cannot use a still image of the user to hack into their personal account.

MasterCard announced last month that all retail outlets across Europe will accept contactless payments by 2020, paving the way for wider adoption of mobile payment solutions.

Mike Cowan, head of emerging payments products at MasterCard, revealed at the company’s Future of Payments event in London that Europeans will soon be able to tap to pay anywhere.

“From the beginning of 2016 any new payment terminal that gets deployed must accept contactless, and every single terminal must accept it by 2020,” he said.

This means that new point of sale terminals must adhere to the new standard on deployment from 1 January 2016, while existing terminals that don’t yet support contactless payments must be replaced by 1 January 2020 at the latest.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Qualcomm Has No Plans To Split

July 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

US chipmaker Qualcomm has told the world that it will not be dumping its “essentially useless chip making” business.

Hedge fund Jana Partners said in April that Qualcomm would make a pile more dosh if it just stuck to being a patent troll and stopped trying to flog “essentially worthless” chips.

Apparently Qualcomm thought about it. Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs the idea has been talked about for a long time, but came to the conclusion that the status quo contained a lot more “synergies.” Apparently synergies are a good thing to have about the place, particularly if you have a breeding pair.

Jacobs was less optimistic about Jana Partners’ idea which was apparently full of dis-synergies which might eat the synergies – or just diss them in public.

Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs said all this intensifying industry competition was not enough to spin off his chip business from its patent-licensing business.

Jacobs said, however, that the company is always evaluating its options and that the situation could change in the future, so maybe there a future for a Qualcomm troll walloping other companies with dis-synergies.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Fiber Broadband Access Boost Homes Value?

July 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The availability of really fast broadband in your neighborhood could boost homes value by more than 3 percent.

High-speed fiber broadband service, with 1 Gbps download speeds, can add more than $5,400 to the value of an average U.S. home, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH), an advocacy group made up of fiber equipment vendors and broadband providers.

That $5,400 figure is approximately equal to adding a new fireplace, half of a new bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University.

Speed matters, the study found. For homes where 1 Gbps broadband was available, sale prices were 7 percent higher than for homes in areas with broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or lower.

The study, possibly the first to look at the link between home values and fiber service, could help drive a new “fiber boom,” like late in the late 2000′s, said Kevin Morgan, FTTH’s board chairman and director of marketing communications at Adtran, a telecom equipment maker.

Several broadband providers have announced new deployments in recent months, and the study can help local governments push providers for new fiber deployments, added Heather Gold, FTTH’s president and CEO.

FTTH helps local officials work with providers on deploying new or faster broadband service, Gold said. “If a community wants to get fiber to the home and they understand the economic value … both to homeowners and the community in total, that helps them decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to help this broadband provider make an attractive investment case,’” she said.

In 2014, FTTH released a study finding higher per capita gross domestic product in communities where gigabit Internet was available.

The study used home sales data from 2011 to 2013, U.S. Census Data and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s 2012 and 2013 national broadband maps to investigate the relationship between broadband availability and home prices.

 

 

 

Yahoo Beefs Up Mobile Search

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo is beefing up its search service on mobile devices, following Google’s lead by highlighting content such as images, videos and reviews ahead of regular search results

The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.

A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”

Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.

Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.

In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.

 

 

HBO To Offer Episodes Of New Shows On Facebook

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Premium cable network HBO said it would make available the premiere episodes of two new comedy series on Facebook, underlining the growing popularity of the social networking site as a video platform.

The popularity of web videos have led to U.S. networks experiment with new platforms to attract new viewers. With about 1.44 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a sough-after outlet for companies looking to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads.

Last week, Amazon.com Inc released the pilot episode of its show “Catastrophe” for a limited time on the social media network, instead of its own Prime Instant Video streaming service.

HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, said on Wednesday viewers would be able to access the premiere episodes of Dwayne Johnson-starrer “Ballers” and “The Brink” on Facebook for a limited period. The two new original series premiered this past Sunday.

Turner Broadcasting, another Time Warner network, said in April it granted exclusive video-on-demand rights to its Cartoon Network and Adult Swim programs to video streaming service Hulu.

On Tuesday Hulu said it would soon allow users to add CBS Corp’s TV network Showtime to their subscriptions.

 

 

AMD’s Quantum Has Intel Inside

June 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Project Quantum PC system, with graphics powered by two of the new Fiji GPUs may have got the pundits moist but it has been discovered that the beast has Intel inside

KitGuru confirmed that the powerful tiny system, as shown at AMD’s own event, was based upon an Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard with an Intel Core i7-4790K ‘Devil’s Canyon’ processor.

Now AMD has made a statement to explain why it chose to employ a CPU from one of its competitor in what is a flagship pioneering gaming PC.

It told Tom’s Hardware that users wanted the Devil’s Canyon chip in the Project Quantum machine.

Customers “want to pick and choose the balance of components that they want,” and the machine shown off at the E3  was considered to be the height of tech sexiness right now.

AMD said Quantum PCs will feature both AMD and Intel CPUs to address the entire market, but did you see that nice Radeon Fury… think about that right now.

IT is going to be ages before we see the first Project Quantum PCs will be released and the CPU options might change. We would have thought that AMD might want to put its FinFET process ZEN CPUs in Project Quantum with up to 16 cores and 32 threads. We will not see that until next year.

Courtesy-Fud

Cyber Criminals Find Financial Industry Most Lucrative

June 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Banks, Stocker Brokerages and credit card firms are becoming more desirable to money-hungry cyber crooks whose fraudulent operations now account for 300 percent more attacks than any other industry.

That’s according to the latest Finance Industry Drill Down report by security firm Websense, which says that because of the value at stake in compromising hosts in the finance sector, criminals are spending “a tremendous amount of time” on the investigation and lure stages of attacks.

This is to make sure attempts are sophisticated enough to be successful against any defences a business might have in place.

Based on Websense’s telemetry data from the Websense ThreatSeeker Network and the Websense Advanced Classification Engine, the findings revealed the financial sector is one of the biggest targets of cyber-attacks and thus these attacks are increasing in volume and sophistication.

Some of these attacks can earn big bucks for those launching them. We spoke to Websense’s Principal Security Analyst, Carl Leonard, who told us that one of the most popular malware campaigns launched against the financial sector over the past year managed to steal a whopping £100,000.

Leonard added that these hackers are usually working in small groups, but the interesting thing is that they are less skilled than what they would have been traditionally due to the rise of “malware-as-a-service” (MASS).

MAAS refers to a coveted underground network of cybercrooks and hackers who are always on the outlook for new tools to exploit, and are exchanging source code for existing malware, then using basic skills to customise these, enabling even entry-level threat actors to successfully create and launch data theft attacks.

This wide-spread availability of exploit kits on sale on the undergroung cyber markets, comprising a combination of old techniques with newer ones, is resulting in attacks which are difficult to track back to the source. Old threats are thus being recycled into new ones and launched through email and web channels, “challenging even the most robust defensive postures”.

“The barriers to entry are reducing due to malware-as-a-service because you don’t need to have skills of previous years,” explained Leonard. “You can acquire the skills and malware kits that allow you to conduct tools as a malware author.

“These authors can subscribe to a service, which [constantly] provides them with very recent versions of malware.”

The most dangerous malware tools found by Webense to be wrecking havoc in the financial sector are:

Rerdom, an attack vector from the Asprox family of malware responsible for a huge amount of attacks against every industry. This attack group is often known as a spam generator, but it has vast functionality and is increasingly being used to target financial services customers in the form of sending malicious emails, click fraud, harvesting FTP, browser, and email credentials. It accounts for 30 percent of threats found in the financial services industry, Websense said.

Vawtrack, a malicious banking trojan, accounts for 13 percent of all threats in the sector and is being used in attempts to steal a wide range of victims’ credentials. Websense said it was created for gathering personal information and stealing it without leaving traces. The banking trojan can easily take over passwords, digital certificates, browser history and cookies. Its defense mechanism tries to detect any installed AV and disable it by using the Windows mechanism called Software Restriction Policies.

The third most popular malware threat seen in the financial sector is one called Geodo, which Websense said has been found in the sector 400 percent more than any other industry. The security firm describes it as an update of the Cridex attack, and has a separate email worm that looks to steal credentials and self-perpetuate, thereby initiating more lures.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Freescales Debuts Linux SoC

June 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Freescale has been showing off its two Linux-ready, 28nm i.MX7 SoCs.

Based around the Cortex-A7 cores and Cortex-M4 MCUs, the pair have lower power consumption than the predecessor the i.MX6.

The single-core, 800MHz i.MX7 Solo (i.MX7S) and dual-core, 1GHz i.MX7 Dual (i.MX7D) are the first use the Cortex-A7.

The reduced power consumption has happened at the expense of a performance reduction. The up-to-1GHz Cortex-A7 cores are slower than the i.MX6′s up to 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 cores. In addition, there’s no mention of the earlier Vivante GPUs or 3D acceleration. Like the UltraLite, there’s only a simple 2D image processing engine.

Freescale said the i.MX7′s Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 cores have a core efficiency levels of 100 ?W/MHz and 70 ?W/MHz, respectively. The SoC’s overall power efficiency is 15.7 DMIPS/mW, and a new Low Power State Retention (LPSR) mode runs at 250 ?W. In LPSR sleep mode, the i.MX7 consumes only 250 ?W, while supporting DDR self-refresh mode, GPIO wakeup, and memory state retention.

The savings are down to the newer Cortex-A7 architecture and a 28nm “ultra low leakage process,” as compared to the i.MX6′s 40nm process. The i.MX7 also features a new discrete power domain architecture.

The i.MX7 ships with Linux, and supports Android, and is aimed at wearables, Point-of-Sale gear and smart home controls.

The i.MX7 SoCs are paired with a new Freescale PF3000 PMIC which has features up to four buck converters, six linear regulators, an RTC supply, and a coin-cell charger. The chip is supposed to optimize peripheral power delivery, system memory and processor cores. The PMIC also supports one-time programmable memory for controlling startup sequence and output voltages.

The i.MX7 has a Cortex-M4 microcontroller unit (MCU) core for offloading processing. The Cortex-M4 can run Freescale’s own MQX, at up to 266MHz, compared to 200MHz on the SoloX.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Oracle To Extends Cloud Offerings, Takes On Amazon

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Oracle Corp founder and Executive Chairman Larry Ellison announced that his database company is expanding its cloud-computing offerings, bringing Oracle into more direct competition with Amazon.com Inc.

“We’re prepared to compete with Amazon.com on price,” said Ellison in a webcast presentation, after announcing that Oracle would offer online storage and capability for customers to run their applications entirely in Oracle’s cloud.

The expansion is a major new step for Oracle, which is shifting its traditional database and customer relationship management businesses to the cloud.

“This is a really big deal,” said Ellison, who stepped aside in 2014 as chief executive of the company.

Amazon Web Services is the market leader in providing cloud computing capability to customers, followed by Microsoft Corp’s Azure service and International Business Machines Corp.

Oracle, which calls its cloud offering the Oracle Cloud Platform, will provide a cost-effective alternative to Amazon, said Ellison.

“Our new archive storage service goes head-to-head with Amazon Glacier and it’s one-tenth their price,” said Ellison. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.

Oracle’s cloud business is growing quickly, running at a rate of about $2.3 billion a year in revenue, based on last quarter’s figures.

By comparison, Amazon and Microsoft get about $6.3 billion each in cloud revenue per year.

 

 

SoftBank’s Personal Robot With Emotions Already Sold Out

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Any lingering doubt about whether people were excited to get their own personal robot has been removed.

SoftBank Robotics Corp., an international company based in Japan, put 1,000 personal robots, priced at $1,600, on sale last Saturday. Within one minute, they were sold out. Customers also must pay a $120 per month cloud connection fee and and monthly insurance of $80.

It was the first time that SoftBank had allowed people to put in orders for the robot, dubbed Pepper.

There has been high interest in the robot’s launch because its creators say Pepper not only can read and respond to human emotions but it will have its own emotions. According to SoftBank, the robot can autonomously generate emotions by processing information from its cameras and sensors.

SoftBank said more sales will be announced next month.

“With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions,” the company said in a statement. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”

The robot is designed to raise its voice or can sigh depending on its emotions at the moment. Pepper also will show its emotions – based on different colors and motions – on a chest display.

The robot also has an ecosystem of more than 200 apps.

Last week, SoftBank announced a deal to team deal to team with Foxconn Technology Group, an Apple manufacturer, and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to build and sell robots for the home and enterprise worldwide.

SoftBank will retain 60% of its company but for an investment of $118 million U.S. each, both Foxconn and Alibaba will receive 20 percent stakes in the robotics maker.

 

 

 

Apple Watch Expected To Dominate Smartwatch Market

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch is expected to capture nearly two-thirds of the smartwatch market for all of 2015, according to a new forecast from market research firm IDC.

IDC had said two weeks ago that Apple will ship to retailers about 21 million Apple Watches in 2015. That’s in the mid-range of other analyst forecasts of 15 million to 30 million for the new device.

Then last week IDC said that all smartwatches and a small number of other smart wearables will total 33.1 million shipments in 2015, putting Apple Watch at 63% of that total. Smart wearables are defined by IDC as devices capable of running third party apps, such as Apple Watch and Android Wear watches like the Moto 360.

The IDC prediction comes amidst some other striking analyst forecasts for the Apple Watch, but also amid questions about the overall value of smartwatches.

Financial analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald recently declared the Apple Watch will “prove to be the best selling product in Apple’s history (within the first 12 months.)” Various estimates say it took one day of pre-orders to sell 1 million Apple Watches, while it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhones and 28 days to sell 1 million iPads.

Research firm Slice Intelligence told Reuters that about 2.8 million Apple Watches were sold through mid-June, nearly two months after the device first went on sale. Apple hasn’t reported how many Apple Watches it has sold and is not expected to separately report that number in the future. Slice gets its insights by mining e-mail receipts. The entry-level Apple Watch costs $349 and is the most popular in sales, Slice said.

About 20% of Apple Watch customers are also buying a spare watch band, with the entry-level sports band selling for $49, Slice noted.

 

 

 

Facebook Gaining On YouTube In Video Ad Race

June 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook is catching up to YouTube as a destination for big companies to market their products via online videos, the fastest growing category of Internet ads, a report published on Monday said.

The competition for video viewers opens up a new front in the clash between the two web giants that already compete in other types of advertising given their appeal to young and international consumers, Ampere Analysis said in a study.

London-based Ampere predicts a new advertising “arms race” between the two rivals, neck and neck in terms of audience sizes with around 1.4 billion to 1.3 billion monthly active users, respectively for Facebook and YouTube. That means consumers are likely to be forced to see more ads, but also enjoy a richer range of video programming as a result, it said.

The Internet will overtake TV advertising in 12 key markets, representing 28 percent of global ad spending by 2017, separate research by media-buying firm Zenith Optimedia said on Monday. Ad spending is projected to reach $531 billion this year.

Online video is now growing faster than any other digital category or subcategory, rising 33 percent in 2014, and is forecast to grow 29 percent a year through 2017, Zenith said.

The two reports were released as the week-long Cannes Lions international advertising conference opens this week.

Ampere Analysis argues that Facebook is morphing from a platform most advertisers use for building general brand awareness to one that can deliver “pre-roll” advertisements that marketing companies prefer for ensuring their messages are actually viewed.

Currently, YouTube remains a more flexible marketing platform, offering advertisers the full range of video ads which run before, during or after a video program is shown.

“If the social network’s own video ambitions are to be realized, and if it is to convince content owners it is a viable alternative to YouTube, it must deliver comparable returns,” Ampere Research Director Richard Broughton said.

 

 

Intel Finally Buys Recon Eyewear

June 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has acquired Canadian smart eyewear maker Recon Instruments in a bid to further boost its position in the wearable technology market.

Recon is best known for the Recon Snow2, a ski mask with an integrated display, and the Recon Jet (below), a pair of smart sunglasses for cyclists and runners.

The firm will join Intel’s New Technologies Group as part of the deal, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

An Intel spokesperson said that the acquisition is “small and not financially material to Intel”, and TechVibes reported that the amount is likely to be around $175m.

Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group, said in a blog post: “Recon was formerly an Intel Capital portfolio company, and we’ve got to know and admire their products and people over the last couple of years.

“This acquisition gives Intel a talented, experienced wearable computing team that will help us expand the market for head-mounted display products and technologies.”

Recon co-founder and CEO Dan Eisenhardt added: “Intel is an ideal partner for Recon. As part of Intel, we’ll have the resources to continue the mission we began with the creation of Recon in 2008, but with a level of efficacy and speed that’s beyond the reach of a pioneer in a new market.

“We’ll continue leading the smart eyewear category for sports, and we’ll be able to bring our technology and innovation to completely new markets and use cases where activity-specific information, delivered instantly, can change the game.”

Intel’s acquisition of the Google Glass competitor comes amid speculation that the firm’s chips will power Google’s next-generation smartglasses, which are tipped for release later this year.

However, with smart eyewear maker Vuzix and Recon under its wing, Intel is likely to be plotting to make its own stamp on the wearables market.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Are Developers Rushing To The Cloud?

June 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

There are now almost five million developers using the cloud as a platform, according to new figures from Evans Data, which also predicts that a further five million will be using it in the next six months.

The figures state that 4.9 million are using the cloud currently, and 4.1 million say they will in the next six months. A further 5.2 million will use it in six to 12 months and just 4.8 million have no plans to use it at all.

The figures represent a huge surge in use of the cloud in the year to come, representing a revolution in the way developers operate.

The figures are bolstered in the main by independent software vendors and developers working on proprietary corporate software for their company. Currently the biggest users of cloud for development are in Asia Pacific, with Latin America lagging behind.

Speaking about the findings, Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data, said: “Not only does it increase productivity and decrease cost, but it provides a level of flexibility unavailable before which paves the way for new technology trends like the Internet of Things.

“That’s why so many developers have embraced cloud as a development platform, and why so many more expect to do so in the future.”

New additions to the cloud model are being introduced on an almost daily basis, and it has become nigh on impossible to ignore the opportunities that virtual development brings.

IBM announced SuperVessel last week to encourage open source cloud development on the Power platform, bolstering the existing and wildly successful Bluemix environment.

EMC has also announced a Cloud Data Lake as a way of pooling cloud resources from businesses like Cloudera and VMWare.

Courtesy-TheInq