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GM Announces Way For Parents To Track Teen Drivers

July 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

GM has announced that it will be offering a way for parents to track their teens’ driving behavior in order to reduce accidents.

In the U.S., the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Teen Driver,” as GM is calling it, will debut in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

The new system can be set to track the distance driven, the maximum speed traveled, any over-speed warnings issued during a drive, stability control events, antilock brake events, forward collision alerts and forward-collision braking events (if the vehicle is equipped to offer them).

To use Teen Driver, a parent needs to unlock the feature by creating a PIN in the “settings” menu of their available MyLink system, which then allows them to register their teen’s key fob. The system’s settings are turned on only to registered key fobs.

After a car is driven, a parent can enter a password on MyLink and see a report card of the driving event.

“We developed this system so parents could use it as a teaching tool with their kids — they can discuss and reinforce safe driving habits,” GM safety engineer MaryAnn Beebe said in a statement. “As a mother of two, I know anything that has the potential of keeping one’s family safer is of great value to parents.”

Driver-tracking systems are nothing new. A vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (internal computer) and on-board diagnostics (OBDs)already allow insurance companies to track driver behaviorin order to offer lower rates to good drivers. Those systems, however, require a dongle to be plugged into any vehicle’s OBDII port, which is located under the driver-side dashboard.

GM is calling Teen Driver the first built-in system of its kind that lets parents view on a display how their teenager drove the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Google Glass Back?

July 7, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

It seems that Google has not given up on its Google Glasses project after all.

The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that Google is testing the next version of the Google Glass called GG1.

Apparently the geek gizmo is being looked at by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which is testing them to see they are safe for human use. They are not the fashion police, so they are more likely to pass the test.

The next Glass details revealed in GG1′s documentation which said the new product is going to appear on a particularly Glass-like rectangular display.

The rumors suggest that the device is available on a submenu that requires users to “scroll left and right” — the scrolling directions used on the last version of Glass.

Google pulled the gadget from testing, despite a fair bit of interest last year.

Courtesy-Fud

 

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

 

Google’s Waze To Test Out Carpooling Program

July 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google-owned online mapping company Waze is planning to introduce a carpooling pilot program in Israel where commuters pay fellow drivers a small fee for a ride to and from work.

The new application, called RideWith, will use Waze’s navigation system to learn the routes drivers most frequently take to work and match them up with people looking for a ride in the same direction.

Google bought Israel-based Waze, which uses satellite signals from members’ smartphones to offer real-time traffic information, for about $1 billion two years ago.

“We’re conducting a small, private beta test in the greater Tel Aviv area for a carpool concept, but we have nothing further to announce at this time,” Waze told Reuters of its foray into the increasingly competitive field of ride-sharing.

Drivers will be limited to just two journeys a day and will not be able to earn a salary from RideWith, a source close to the company said, differentiating it from businesses such as Uber, where drivers can turn a profit.

Should RideWith be rolled out globally, this limitation could help it avoid the backlash Uber is facing in a number of countries that want to protect professional taxi drivers.

Waze does not expect there to be enough drivers to meet demand at first, but as more sign on, passengers will be able to order a ride either to or from work while chipping in a bit for the cost of gas and wear and tear on the car, the source said.

 

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

Hyundai Betting On Hydrogen Fuel Cells

July 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Despite minimal market adoption, Hyundai Motor Co. said that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles represent the future of eco-friendly cars more than all-electric vehicles.

Hyundai, the largest carmaker in South Korea, began selling its Tuscon Fuel Cell SUV last year, but only 273 out of a target 1,000 vehicles were purchased or leased.

Most of the Tuscon Fuel Cell vehicles, which retail for $76,000, were purchased in Europe and California, according to reports confirmed by Hyundai America.

Over the next four years, Hyundai plans to invest another $10 billion in hybrid cars, electric battery vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell models.

Fuel cell vehicles, however, represent a better opportunity for growing sales — even over electric vehicles — because there is less market competition, according to Kim Sae Hoon, general manager at Hyundai’s fuel cell engineering design team.

The hydrogen vehicles also offer grater flexibility for designers, in that they can scale in size from small cars to buses, Hoon said.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are already being used in trucks and buses. That’s an advantage for hydrogen vehicles since all-electric engines don’t perform as well in larger vehicles, which require bigger batteries that need more charging, according to Devin Lindsay, IHS Automotive’s senior analyst.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor as exhaust. They also have remarkable advantages over all-electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model S, in that they can travel 300 miles on a tank of fuel and can refuel in just five minutes. By comparison, a Tesla using the company’s so-called “Superchargers” requires at least 20 minutes to achieve a half-charged battery. A full charge will provide a range of up to 265 miles.

High prices and the dearth of fueling stations are barriers to sales of fuel cell vehicles. Hyundai said it will be another 10 years before hydrogen cars start gaining wider acceptance. Today, hybrid cars and electric vehicles are dominating the green-vehicle market.

As was the case with all-electric vehicles when they first emerged in the mid-2000s, high prices and the lack of fueling stations have stifled uptake of fuel cell vehicles. In a statement, Hyundai said it will take another decade before hydrogen cars gain wider acceptance.

 

 

 

 

Will Cortana Impact Windows 10 Battery Life?

July 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It is just over a month until Microsoft introduces Windows 10, and as you should know by now, Cortana is one of the key elements of the new OS.

Cortana always listens in order to hear its name and be a smart digital assistant. This is Microsoft answer to Siri and Google Now that is making its way to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, this will affect your notebook battery life. We have spoken with a few industry sources and we can definitely confirm that Windows 10 with enabled Cortana will have an impact on the battery life. We are testing this as we speak to check how big the impact is.

We don’t know how significant the battery life decrease will be, but the good thing is that you will be able to switch Cortana off in case you don’t need it. We heard that many new Toshiba notebooks will come with a dedicated Cortana button, as this is the easiest way to save battery life. Cortana on Toshiba won’t listen until you press the button.

It would be smart if Microsoft would come up with Cortana enable / disable keyboard shortcut. Win + Q will enable Cortana news while Win + S will bring you directly to the Cortana search engine.

Windows 10 seems to be a logical upgrade for anyone who has Windows 8.1 on their notebooks and misses the options from Windows 7, and some familiar UI elements. We use Windows 8.1 on some devices, while most of our computers still have Windows 7 and nothing more. Microsoft DirectX 12 will force us to Windows 10 but from what awe can tell from Preview release, the upgrade to Windows 10 from with 7 seems like quite seamless and logical step.

Just make sure to be aware that your notebook battery life might suffer because of Cortana. Have in mind that this “talk to your PC and expect a smart answer” option can be disabled.

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.

 

 

 

Microsoft Display Ads Business Going To AOL

July 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.

The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.

Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.

The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.

“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.

Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.

Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.

Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.

 

 

 

Amazon Adds More Countries To List Of Places It Will Offer Loans

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc will rollout its business loan program for small sellers later this year in eight new places including China, where credit is becoming a key factor in competing for new vendors and grabbing market share.

Until now, the e-retailer has offered the service only in the United States and Japan. Amazon Lending, founded in 2012, now plans to offer short-term working capital loans in other countries where it operates a third-party, seller-run marketplace business, the head of Amazon Marketplace, Peter Faricy, told Reuters.

The countries are Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The service is on an invite-only basis and is not open to all sellers on Amazon’s platform.

Other large retailers including eBay Inc’s PayPal and Alibaba Group Holdings, which run third-party marketplaces, are also turning to credit to boost their vendor base.

Some lending industry officials who help lenders assess credit risk say these retailers are taking on risky loans because they don’t know the shape of the credit market in which the sellers are operating.

Small businesses have high failure rates, especially in China and India, added William Black, a former U.S. banking regulator and professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri.

Amazon said it can safely offer loans based on internal data and because it takes loan payments out of the sales proceeds it pays sellers.

PayPal spokesman Josh Criscoe said eBay merchants who use PayPal are eligible for the working capital loans and credit is offered to only those customers that have a strong PayPal sales history. PayPal has provided more than $500 million in capital since September 2013, with an average loan disbursement of $2 million per day.

A spokeswoman for Alibaba’s financial services arm Ant Financial, which offers these loans, said credit is offered to Taobao, Tmall merchants and other small business owners who meet certain conditions. The company also offers such loans to customers in some countries like the United States and Britain.

 

 

Yahoo Still Plagued By Sluggish Growth

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo’s share gains since November from a partnership with Mozilla may be a clue about whether the search company can gain new users through the just-announced contract to change Internet Explorer’s and Chrome’s default search through installations of Oracle’s Java.

Although the news of the Yahoo-Oracle partnership got the lion’s share of attention, CEO Marissa Mayer also used last week’s shareholder meeting to mention the Mozilla pact.

The five-year contract with Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has boosted Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market, but growth has stalled for the last three months, according to measurement company comScore.

On Wednesday, Mayer asserted that the Mozilla deal — negotiated last fall — was “profitable,” but didn’t provide any numbers to back that up. Neither Yahoo nor Mozilla has disclosed how much the former paid to become Firefox’s default search engine in the U.S.

By comScore’s measurement, Yahoo accounted for 12.7% of all U.S. searches in May, the same share it controlled in both March and April. Although that was 2.5 percentage points higher than in November 2014 — before Firefox began urging users to accept Yahoo as the default — and represented a six-month increase of 25%, May’s share was down from the January peak of 13%.

From all indications, Yahoo has gotten as much out of the Firefox deal as it will likely get. The flip-side is that Yahoo has hung onto most of what it grabbed from Google — Firefox’s previous default — even as Google has tried to get users to return.

For May, comScore pegged Google’s share at 64.1%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. Microsoft’s share rose that one-tenth of a point to end May at 20.3%. Because Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, Microsoft’s technology accounted for 31.4% of all U.S. searches, still less than half Google’s 65.2%.

 

 

Cisco Warns Of Bug In Virtual App

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cisco has warned of a default Secure Shell vulnerability in three of its virtual applications.

The flaw could allow attackers to decrypt traffic exchanged in the services, and has been detailed in a Cisco security advisory.

It affects Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance (SMAv), Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, which are already commercially available.

Cisco said that it “is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerabilities”, but warned that attackers who got hold of the private keys could decrypt communications with a man-in-the-middle attack.

The default private encryption keys were preinstalled on all three of the products, a move which is considered bad security practice.

“Successfully exploiting this vulnerability on Cisco SMAv allows an attacker to decrypt communication toward SMAv, impersonate SMAv, and send altered data to a configured content appliance,” the advisory said.

“An attacker can exploit this vulnerability on a communication link toward any content security appliance that was ever managed by any SMAv.”

Cisco has released a patch which deletes the preinstalled SSH keys and explains how customers can correct the problem.

The Cisco-sa-20150625-ironport SSH Keys Vulnerability Fix comes as part of several product upgrades, and must be manually installed from a command line interface.

Cisco’s advisory said that the patch is not required for physical hardware appliances, or for virtual appliance downloads or upgrades after 25 June.

Cisco revealed details of a new point of sale attack earlier this year that could part firms from money and customers from personal data.

The threat, called PoSeidon by the Cisco team, came at a time when eyes were on security breaches at firms like Target.

Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

Samsung To Stop Disabling Windows Updates On PCs, Tablets

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Samsung agreed to stop disabling Windows Update on its PCs and tablets, bowing to a chorus of complaints — including Microsoft’s — that it had interfered with the way users intended the patch service to work on their devices.

“We will be issuing a patch through the Samsung Software Update notification process to revert back to the recommended automatic Windows Update settings within a few days,” a Samsung spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.

Samsung’s pledge put an apparent end to the week’s kerfuffle, which began when Patrick Barker, a crash-debugging and reverse-engineering expert, and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), charged the Korean company with silently changing how Windows Update delivers bug fixes and security patches to customers.

Samsung’s own SW Update — a tool used to update its branded personal computers and tablets with new drivers and refresh third-party, pre-installed software — changed Windows Update’s settings to prevent it from automatically downloading and installing updates, the default setting that Microsoft recommends. Instead, SW Update switched the setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them.”

Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit. “We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks,” the company said Wednesday. “We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue.”

Samsung first said it was, like Microsoft, looking into Barker’s findings, but subsequently denied that it had blocked a Windows 8.1 update — a red herring, since that had never been alleged — and at the same time admitted it manipulated Windows Update.

By Friday, whatever conversations occurred between Microsoft and Samsung made the latter change its mind on messing with the former’s patch service. “Samsung has a commitment to security and we continue to value our partnership with Microsoft,” the Samsung statement read.

 

 

 

 

NASA, Microsoft Team Up On Holographic Glasses

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Space Station is going to feel a little bit more like Star Trek.

NASA announced that it is collaborating with Microsoft to enable astronauts onboard the orbiting space station to use the company’s virtual reality headset.

Two pairs of Microsoft’s HoloLens computerized eyeglasses are scheduled to be sent to the space station when SpaceX launches its seventh commercial resupply mission on June 28.

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director of the space station program, said in a statement. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens in January at a Windows 10 event where CEO Satya Nadella said the device will be the world’s first holographic computing platform. The device is designed to allow users to see high-definition holograms with surround sound. They’re also built to understand voice commands and hand gestures.

The project that NASA and Microsoft are teaming up on has been dubbed Sidekick and is focused on helping astronauts who need to perform various tasks off-Earth.

By using HoloLens, which look much like a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and are expected to ship on July 29 along with Windows 10, the astronauts should be able to perform some on-station tasks with less training and be more efficient in the work they’re doing.

NASA already has tested the devices on board NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to make sure they work as expected in gravity-free environment.