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Yahoo Out, Google In For Firefox Corporate Browser

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google picked up a previous location as the default search engine on Mozilla Corp’s Firefox Internet browser in the United States and other regions as the browser maker stunned Verizon Communication Inc’s Yahoo by canceling their deal.

Google confirmed the move but declined, along with Mozilla, to disclose revenue-sharing terms of the multiyear agreement. Google’s growing spending to be the primary search provider on apps and devices such as Apple Inc’s iPhone has been a major investor concern.

 Google will be Firefox’s default search provider on desktop and mobile in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s chief business and legal officer.

The decision was “based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search and the broader content experience for our users,” Dixon said. “We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search.”

Verizon said Mozilla terminating the Yahoo agreement caught it off guard.

“We are surprised that Mozilla has decided to take another path, and we are in discussions with them regarding the terms of our agreement,” said Charles Stewart, a spokesman for Verizon’s Oath unit, which oversees Yahoo.

The search provider switch came as Mozilla announced Firefox Quantum, a faster, new version of the browser that company says is “30 percent lighter” than Google Chrome in that it uses less computer memory.

For a decade until 2014, Google had been Firefox’s worldwide search provider. Google then remained the default in Europe while regional rivals such as Yahoo, Russia’s Yandex and China’s Baidu Inc replaced it elsewhere.

Former Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer won a five-year contract with Mozilla in 2014 when Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser were battling for users.

 Chrome’s U.S. market share has since doubled to about 60 percent, according to data from analytics provider StatCounter, with Mozilla, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp browsers capturing the rest.

Yahoo paid Mozilla $375 million in 2015 and said that it would pay at least the same amount annually through 2019, according to regulatory filings.

Yahoo and Google aim to recoup placement fees by selling ads alongside search results and collecting valuable user data. Google said in October that contract changes drove a 54 percent increase in such fees to $2.4 billion in the third quarter.

 

Mozilla Revamps Firefox For iOS Devices

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Mozilla has rolled out a revamped Firefox for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, debuting the new look that will also grace the more popular desktop version of the browser next week.

Firefox for iOS version 10, which is available in the App Store, features the same user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) that will also mark Firefox 57 for Windows, macOS and Linux, when it ships Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Derived from an ongoing project tapped as “Photon,” the Firefox UI/UX mimics the minimalism of other browsers, notably Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge, with reduced clutter at the top of the window that includes combined address and search bars.

Firefox for iOS 10’s other changes range from a revamped menu under the three-lined “hamburger” icon at the upper right to a recast new tab display, with the latter replicating the desktop browser’s design.

But most of the drum-thumping that Mozilla has done for what it has billed as “Firefox Quantum” – the alternate name for the upcoming Firefox 57 – is simply moot, and muted, on iOS.

That’s because, like all browsers allowed into the App Store, Firefox for iOS is, at root, Safari, because Apple mandates that rivals rely on the same WebKit rendering and Nitro JavaScript engines used by its own Safari. Firefox on iOS, as is Chrome on the iPhone and iPad, is little more than a different UI wrapper around iOS’s default browser.

That leaves competitors able to credibly compete only on a UI basis, and on the argument that it’s more productive to use the same browser on both mobile and desktop.

So, Firefox on iOS cannot boast the same speed improvements that mark Firefox Quantum on personal computers – Mozilla said Quantum is twice as fast as Firefox of a year earlier – nor will the iPhone and iPad browser be able to offer the future additions Mozilla envisions for its desktop browser, among them a graphics processor-enhanced renderer.

Apple’s long-standing rule conceivably has multiple fathers, but the most important to Apple, certainly, is that it precludes anyone gaining a performance edge over Safari, which Firefox might if Mozilla were allowed to use its own under-the-hood technologies. Minus performance differences, there are few reasons for switching.

Apple’s position has paid off.

While Microsoft has seen its browsers’ share tank on the far-more-open Windows – in October, Internet Explorer and Edge accounted for 19.7% of all Windows browsers, down from 52% just two years earlier – Apple has kept its users close, and on Safari. According to Irish analytics vendor StatCounter, 92% of all browsing activity on iOS in October was via Safari. In the U.S., Safari’s percentage on iOS was a slightly higher 95.3%.

Another metrics vendor, U.S-based Net Applications, pegged Safari’s worldwide user share on iOS at 89.2%. (Those percentages from StatCounter and Net Applications were only possible to calculate because Safari runs only on iOS.)

 

AVAST To Seek An IPO In 2018

November 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

AV outfit Avast has hired Rothschild to prepare the business for an initial public offering (IPO) which could value the firm at as much as $4 billion.

CVC Capital Partners, which took control of the Prague-based company in 2014, could seek a London listing for Avast in the first half of next year if market conditions allow.

If successful, Avast’s float would represent the largest ever UK technology IPO. However it would have to navigate a tough market, which has seen a number of planned London listings pulled in recent weeks.

CVC hired Rothschild after talking to a series of banks as part of a contest in October, the sources said, adding Rothschild will carry out the preliminary work for the deal which includes the selection of global coordinators and bookrunners.

Avast, which previously attempted to float on Nasdaq in 2012, has Summit Partners among its minority investors alongside Czech entrepreneurs Pavel Baudiš and Eduard Kuera who founded the company in 1991.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Linux Desktop Gaining In Popularity

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Linux fanboys were dancing in the streets when NetMarketShare’s desktop operating system analysis, which showed Linux leaping from 2.5 percent in July, to almost five percent in September.

The news was seen as living proof that 2017 was the year of the Linux desktop and that things would only get better for next year.

Sadly, though, it was all a terrible mistake Vince Vizzaccaro, NetMarketShare’s executive marketing share of marketing has said that the reported Linux share was incorrect.

“We are aware of the issue and are currently looking into it”, he said.

According to the US federal government’s Digital Analytics Program (DAP) that shows desktop Linux, as usual, hanging out in “other” at 1.5 percent.

Windows, as always, is on top with 45.9 percent, followed by Apple iOS, at 25.5 percent, Android at 18.6 percent, and macOS at 8.5 percent.

The figures are US-based so they over emphasis Apple. Linux tends to do better in poorer parts of the world where people must justify spending money on more important functions such as power, stability rather than just the logo on the case.

The article does, however, acknowledge that Linux’s real market share is probably a little higher this month.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Ransomware Reach Epidemic Levels In 2018

November 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Sophos expects that ransomware will become a fully fledged epidemic in 2018.

While 2017 has already seen some major outbreaks, Sophos believes that ransomware will continue to grow in 2018, affecting more companies and platforms. Cybercrooks, it said, are becoming more sophisticated.

Throughout 2017, there have been a string of global IT security crises, from WannaCry to NotPetya. According to Sophos, attackers have been able to perfect their ransomware delivery techniques to cause such outbreaks.

While most ransomware hits Windows users, the report found that other platforms aren’t immune. Attackers have also been targeting mobile devices, particularly Android.

Ransomware, the firm says, is a “vexing problem” for businesses. Generated in May 2017, WannaCry was the biggest ransomware to affect customers – beating previous leader Cerber, which appeared in early 2016.

WannaCry made up 45.3 per cent of the ransomware tracked by Sophas, with Cerber accounting for 44.2 per cent.

Dorka Palotay, a researcher at the firm, said cybercriminals will likely launch more complex ransomware attacks in the future.

“For the first time, we saw ransomware with worm-like characteristics, which contributed to the rapid expansion of WannaCry,” he said.

“This ransomware took advantage of an old Windows vulnerability to infect and spread to computers, making it hard to control,” he added.

“Even though WannaCry has tapered off and Sophos has defenses for it, we still see the threat because of its inherent nature to keep scanning and attacking computers.

“We’re expecting cyber criminals to build upon WannaCry and NotPetya and their ability to replicate, and this is already evident with Bad Rabbit ransomware, which shows many similarities to NotPetya.”

The report also explored the rise and fall of NotPetya, which made headlines in June 2017. Sophos said this attack was far less damaging than WannaCry, and it suspects cybercriminals were merely “experimenting”.

“NotPetya spiked fast and furiously before taking a nose dive, but did ultimately hurt businesses. This is because NotPetya permanently destroyed data on the computers it hit. Luckily, NotPetya stopped almost as fast as it started,” said Palotay. “

“We suspect the cybercriminals were experimenting or their goal was not ransomware, but something more destructive like a data wiper.

“Regardless of intention, Sophos strongly advises against paying for ransomware and recommends best practices instead, including backing up data.

Android ransomware is also on the rise, according to the research. The report has revealed that the number of attacks on users using Google’s mobile platform grew month-on-month during 2017.

The firm said that by the end of the year, its systems will have identified an estimated 10 million suspicious Android apps. In comparison, 8.5 million were processed in 2016.

Rowland Yu, a SophosLabs security researcher focusing on mobile malware, said: “In September alone, 30.37 per cent of malicious Android malware processed by SophosLabs was ransomware.

“One reason we believe ransomware on Android is taking off is because it’s an easy way for cybercriminals to make money instead of stealing contacts and SMS, popping ups ads or even bank phishing which requires sophisticated hacking techniques.

It’s important to note that Android ransomware is mainly discovered in non-Google Play markets – another reason for users to be very cautious about where and what kinds of apps they download.” 

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Broadcom Acquisition Attempt Of Qualcomm Succeed

November 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has surged $61.81 on a rumor that some people close to the matter have heard that Broadcom is thinking about being bought.

From what we know, this is unlikely to happen and even if you look at Broadcom’s balance sheet, Qualcomm without the NXP acquisition has a market cap of $91.23 billion. Broadcom was bought by AVGO.

Avago Technologies bought Broadcom back in late May 2015 for $37 billion and the company today has a market cap of $117.707 billion –  simple mathematics demonstrate that Broadcom/AVGO would not be able to afford Qualcomm, but let’s wait and see what happens.

However, some sort of joint venture or merger would not be out of the question. Qualcomm has had quite a few success stories with previous mergers, including Atheros which helped Qualcomm a lot in the Wi-Fi and network portfolio.

Over the last two decades, Qualcomm made at least 43 acquisitions and if you ask Fudzilla, we would rather say that Qualcomm could snap Broadcom AVGO up and not the other way around.

Since the companies are doing similar things in the network space, there are likely to be a lot of concerns with regulatory agencies all over the world.

It is not every day that your stock jumps from $54.84 to $61.82 or 12.71 percent in a day. 

One good thing for Qualcomm is that Wall Street finally realized that despite the Apple dispute, Qualcomm is worth much more than was yesterday or the day before.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Notebook Sales On The Decline Again

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Notebook sales are continuing to fall faster than Donald Trump’s popularity with global shipments of notebooks (excluding detachable 2-in-1 models) declined 4.2 percent on year to 40.79 million units in the third quarter of 2017.

According to Digitimes Research beancounters weakening demand in the consumer sector and a corporate reorganization at Asustek Computer offset gains resulting from better-than-expected Chromebook sales and brisk sales of gaming models in China.

Notebook shipments are expected to see a boost in the fourth quarter as it is traditionally a peak season, fueled by year-end holiday sales and Double Eleven online shopping day in China.

Google is flat out promoting Chromebooks in the consumer market, and Microsoft and other brands are pushing notebook sales, including leasing, in the business sector.

Global notebook shipments are expected to reach 41.72 million units in the fourth quarter, up 2.3 percent on quarter and 0.5 percent from a year earlier.

The slow pace of the shipment growth for the fourth quarter indicates that the current rebound in the notebook market is toast.

HP has maintained its leading market position and see its shipments reach a new high in the fourth quarter, powered by brisk sales both in the consumer and business sectors. Lenovo is second as its shipments will resume momentum following the completion of its recent management reshuffle.

Dell gets the bronze as it ships over 60% of its products to the business segment, where the sector growth is lower than that for the consumer market.

Fruity cargo-cult Apple has seen its shipments decline in the fourth quarter mostly because it could not be bothered releasing new products.

Asustek Computer will see shipments rebound in the fourth quarter, outracing Acer to capture the fifth position.

Courtesy-Fud

Does Virtual Reality Have Unlimited Potential

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Virtual reality, exciting as it may be for enthusiasts, is a technology that has yet to truly take hold with the masses, let alone transform people’s daily lives in the way that smartphones have. First, 2016 was supposed to be the “Year of VR.” Then, in 2017, we’ve heard over and over about the trough of disillusionment from VR developers. But that’s okay, because these early VR developers believe that they can become the leaders of a VR space that one day will be mainstream.

Certainly, that’s what Oculus VP of Content Jason Rubin thinks and it’s why his company continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the ecosystem. If you ask Rubin to respond to analysts’ assessment that VR’s so-called trough is becoming more of an abyss, he’ll tell you why comparisons to other technologies, like Kinect, simply aren’t valid.

“I tried to explain this in my keynote [at Oculus Connect] in a few sentences and I think I utterly failed to get the point across,” Rubin tells me. “When I said that VR gets compared to other technologies, each technology is different. I would suggest the easiest explanation I can give to a type of technology that VR gets compared to that is exactly wrong to compare would be 3D TV. 3D TV, when it came out, you could understand exactly how good 3D TV could get… It’s two cameras sitting next to one another. It’s still not real 3D yet. It’s stereoscopic, but you can’t move your head and see behind things. So I could say right then and there I am not spending a dollar extra on 3D. And, for that reason, none of the networks wanted to make 3D content…So you saw the entire potential of that device in the moment it was launched and you could easily dismiss it. 

“Let’s look at VR. I can tell you that there is a world in which VR acts a little bit more like a holodeck than it does today. That is way out of our timeline, but if you talk to Michael Abrash about what VR could be in his lifetime or the next lifetime, you start to get into some weird discussions, because VR could be, literally, anything. There is nothing that can come after VR because VR could simulate anything.

He continues, “VR’s potential is literally infinite because as we go from, as Mark [Zuckerberg] said, admittedly bulky goggles to smaller glasses to tricking your inner ear to getting into haptic and touch, you can imagine a world in which VR can do literally anything you can imagine. So, if we judge VR on today’s market, we are making a mistake. Even if the trough of disillusionment is deeper than many analysts might have wanted it to be, or they’re making that momentary discussion, this is silly… Can we imagine a world where there’s no screen door effect? Yes. Can we imagine a world where it’s not heavy? Yes. Can we imagine a world where there’s more content? Yes. So, unlike 3D TV, in exactly the opposite way, it has infinite potential. Not limited potential. Infinite potential. The question is, how long will it take to get there?”

Some have used the discontinuation of the Kinect from Microsoft not only as a reminder of the demise of traditional motion gaming ushered in by the Wii, but as a cautionary tale for technology that just doesn’t resonate on a large enough scale.

Rubin dismisses any Kinect comparisons as well: “Kinect was not as easy to understand as 3D TV. So I cannot look at Kinect and say, ‘Well, that’s [like] 3D TV.’ When I looked at Kinect first, I thought, ‘Huh, this could do some interesting stuff.’ But it was also not [something with] infinite potential because, ultimately, all it can do is track one or more bodies and put the information that those one or more bodies was transmitting onto a screen.

“So Kinect looked great, reached its potential quickly, and then the additional potential failed to deliver. And developers looked at Kinect – and I was there, I remember I was talking to Microsoft about building a Kinect game at one point very early on – and two years later it was pretty clear to everyone that this was not going to be the future. We had reached the potential. So, while Kinect started looking like VR, it very quickly reached its potential. I will tell you as we sit here today, whether this generation of VR, or a next generation of VR, one generation of VR will take over the world. That’s infinite potential. And that’s why I don’t like any of these analogies. They all fall flat for me.”

An analogy he does like, however, is one that Intel’s Kim Pallister shared with me recently. And that is the VR space is still searching for its Wii – a headset that sacrifices some performance for a much more attractive price and accessibility. When Oculus Go launches next year at $199 – $100 more than Gear VR, with which it’ll share a library – Rubin believes the standalone headset could be the answer to the Wii question.

“The perfect product market fit is the right hardware quality with the right price point and the right software to drive it,” he says. “I would suggest that VR is on the path to finding that perfect product.”

Go is far from perfect, but Rubin believes it will offer consumers a good balance between price and performance. “That $199 buys you a significant amount of capability,” he offers. “First of all, it’s fully contained. It doesn’t need a phone to plug into it. So, right off the bat, if you happen not to be a Samsung phone user… it doesn’t require you to switch to Android from iOS or switch to Samsung from another Android marketplace. In being all-in-one, it also allows you to take it on and off quickly. It won’t draw on your phone’s battery. Updates, carrier things, other stuff like that are taken care of much more cleanly because it’s not doing double duty as a phone and a VR device.

“The lenses are fantastic. They’re our latest technology. They’re amazing. If you try it, you will know I’m not exaggerating. The ergonomics are fantastic. When you take apart a phone and you take the pieces you need for a VR device out and distribute it around a headset appropriately, the weight isn’t slung all the way out at the end of your nose, so it feels better. [Gear VR] is still a great way of getting VR inexpensively. But if you’re a big VR enthusiast and you use it often or if you don’t have a Samsung device, Oculus Go gives you an opportunity to jump into the market. So our addressable market at low price point radically improves.”

The other major hardware announcement at Oculus Connect was the company’s Santa Cruz headset – an all-in-one HMD that offers six degrees of freedom and hand-tracking (as compared with 3DOF on Gear/Go) but Oculus isn’t revealing it as a consumer product just yet. Similar to the multiple dev kit iterations that Rift went through following its Kickstarter reveal, it appears that Santa Cruz is going to continue to be tweaked by the engineers on the team. One thing is clear, though: barring a technological miracle, there’s no way Santa Cruz will be able to replicate the exact high-end VR experience that Rift provides.

“To be completely honest, that [power equation] is still a part of our research,” Rubin notes. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re looking at the marketplace that it would come into. We’re looking at the capabilities that are needed to run inside-out tracking, because all of that has to be in the device. We’ll make that decision. Having said that, anyone with a mild amount of technical expertise, could pretty quickly determine that the power usage, the cooling, and the other demands of the PC min spec even that we’ve taken on Rift is not likely to show up in a portable device in the immediate future.”

There’s no doubt that committing to VR remains a risky proposition for many studios still. EVE Valkyrie dev CCP Games just exited VR altogether, and while this interview was conducted prior to that news, Rubin sees a light at the end of this chaotic VR tunnel. Studios may rise and fall around VR in the next few years, but those who manage to stick around may be amply rewarded.

“The chaos and excitement is creating a lot of failure that will eventually lead to success,” Rubin stresses. “So if a company or three or five or ten are struggling, that is the business. They understand that. They may complain, but that’s the world we live in. They’re betting on the long-term success of the hardware, and their ability to be the Naughty Dog, the Zynga, the Rovio, whatever, of VR. There are companies now that are succeeding if you look at the numbers, making million dollar, multi-million dollar titles.

“That did not exist a few years ago. They could not [invest that much]. A few hundred thousand dollars, maybe you could make your money back. Could you make a million dollar title? Probably not. But if you just read across the press, there are companies out there that are self-sustaining and they’re making titles that are a few million dollars… As we continue to make more and more [games with larger budgets], we bring more consumers into the marketplace. As we keep our price reasonable, we bring more people into the marketplace. That allows $2 million games to become $3 million games, etc, etc. As long as we stay ahead of that curve, and continue to expand the size and scope of the products we’re making, we will continue to make the ecosystem larger and larger, and that will bring more and more people in and that makes developers more likely to succeed on their own.”

For that reason, Oculus has been funding games by investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the ecosystem. But it’s clear that Oculus would rather see the ecosystem become self-sustaining. At that point, then we’ll truly see some AAA efforts on digital storefronts.

“If we pull this off – and I intend to – in the long run, we will be able to back away, and there will be companies like EA and Activision and Take-Two and everyone else that are putting $100 million into VR games and making their money back without any input from us,” Rubin adds. “That is the eventual success state. When we reach that point, to wrap this into some of the other questions you asked, some of those people will also want to do non-game things, and that will lead to opportunities to create the next Uber of VR or the Airbnb of VR or whatever strikes the people.”

There’s been a fair amount of controversy surrounding Oculus’ exclusives, but to Rubin it’s the competition that’s not doing VR any favors. “Again, if you’re not investing in the ecosystem, you are not driving VR’s success. You are coming along for the ride,” he states.

These days, Oculus closely scrutinizes every project before it commits to funding rather than looking to fund every small developer that comes knocking at its door.

“If a team comes to Oculus with a $1 million title or so, the question we ask ourselves is, ‘Do we need to finance this?’ That title can make its money back,” he says. “Especially, when we don’t fund it, they can put it out on multiple VR platforms, which we’re all for. It just increases the odds of making their money back. As Microsoft and others enter the marketplace, that is good for VR, because it is yet more pieces of hardware out there. Unfunded content that comes out for all of them has a better chance of making its money back.

“The shape of what we fund will change as that window of investment that can pay off gets larger and larger every year as the consumer base grows. And it may be that we continue to stay ahead of that to the point where we’re funding very expensive games and very expensive non-games. If we get to that point where we’re spending twice what we’re spending now on an average title, the only way we’ve gotten there is the average self-invested title is significantly larger too, because it can afford to make that investment and get a return on its investment. I’m not looking to retire anytime soon. But I do think we’ll get there some day.”

As Rubin alludes to, non-games could very well become a large chunk of Oculus’ business in the future. Right now, Oculus is a games-first company, but clearly social platform software and enterprise software for various industries is gaining in importance. And with the new VR interface for Oculus (called Dash) that allows you to control all your programs within VR, thereby eliminating the PC monitor, it’s conceivable that Oculus could become more like Microsoft – gaming would be just a slice of the corporation.

“Games were a big part of the launch of the [Apple] App Store because it was a low hanging fruit and it was obvious. But, in the long run, there is no question that, when we reach a billion people [in VR], games will be A use case, not THE use case,” Rubin says. “Social will be a massive use case…So will applications and utilities, because we all have things to achieve in our life. Seems to me, since I’ve been alive, every year we get more things we need to achieve in our life. So if we find a technology that makes some of those things easier, faster, or more efficient, we will adopt it. And that is exactly what drove mobile phone usage. It’s in your pocket. Look at how much easier I can do x, y, or z, and you immediately start doing it. By definition, as a computer platform, we will do all of those things. But we will start with entertainment and move towards them. By the way, we announced our enterprise partner program, so we are already taking steps to broaden.” 

One of the problems that content producers may have with VR is that it’s such a young technology that keeps evolving. It’s effectively changing faster than some studios can keep up with. This, too, will stabilize, Rubin promises.

“As a long-term developer of content… the most frustrating and exciting times always happen at the same point,” he says. “It is frustrating because there is so much change. So as a developer, creative, or other app creator, you are frustrated by how much things are changing and how rapidly they’re changing. But it’s also the most exciting time because, invariably, that change leads to opportunity and then opportunity leads to success. I can give you an endless number of examples of this. When cartridge based 2D games went CD and 3D, 2D cartridge based character action game makers stuck with 2D because 2D was something they knew and they made hundreds of millions of dollars at that time making those products. My little team at Naughty Dog didn’t have that background, so we joined the frustrating and exciting change to 3D and we watched a lot of companies try and fail at how to get various things into 3D. My company happened to get it right and we created Naughty Dog and billion-dollar franchises. 

“The exact same thing happened at the beginning of mobile,” he continues. “If you remember iPhone 1, iPhone 2 – every resolution of the screens would radically change. The capability of the screens would change. It was crazy town. And we didn’t know what people wanted out of the devices… Again, when Facebook opened up the opportunity for people to make apps on Facebook, nobody knew how to make a social app. [That] created Zynga. Was it frustrating? Oh my God! I actually was working on games back then. I’m sitting in Facebook’s offices [and] I will still say this. They changed the underlying SDK and rule-set on a bi-weekly basis and we were working on stuff that was going to take six months to a year to come out. It was incredibly frustrating and crazy. [But] it created multiple billion-dollar companies.”

VR developers are in the midst of figuring out how to best leverage the medium’s best traits. Titanfall creator Respawn, for example, announced a new project at Oculus Connect that aims to depict the realism of being a soldier. Rather than simply glorify the violence the way some shooters do today, Respawn wants to make you feel the tension and fear that someone on the battlefield must endure.

very empathetic,” Rubin notes. “I would also add that it may be that if you experience certain things in VR, it will teach you a lesson about what that would be like in real life. And so everything is a lesson and a learning. I will also say that Respawn is very aware of what they make. They’re good citizens. So judge us when the product comes out.”

Respawn’s title isn’t due until 2019, but as we’ve seen with the VR marketplace itself, patience is a virtue.

“The one thing I have no control of at Oculus is bringing software through production any faster. And it pains me,” Rubin laments. “All the Crash [Bandicoot games] were made in a year. Jax took two years. Two years is aggressive these days. At some point, it’s going to be a lifetime to bring out software. I hope we can figure out a better way. But, yes, unfortunately, it will take a little while, but the payoff will be there when we finish.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

MediaTek Goes Up

November 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek saw its gross margin rise to 36.4 percent in the third quarter from 35 percent in the second, while net profits soared 129 percent sequentially to $167.8 million.

The company said that its gross margin was an improvement compared with 35.2 percent during the same period in 2016. This was possible thank to a favourable product mix led to the gross margin growth, the outfit said.

MediaTek’s third quarter revenues were up 9.6percent on quarter but down 18.8 percent from a year ago. This was due to a seasonal pick-up in demand for certain consumer electronics products. It added the on-year decrease mainly to lower chip shipments for smartphones.

Operating profits were up 110.3 percent sequentially but down 34.9 percent on year. Operating margin for the quarter was 7.8 percent, up from 4.1percent in the prior quarter but down from 9.7 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Net profits for the third quarter of 2017 were a 35.4 percent on-year decline.

MediaTek predicted it will post revenues of between $ 1.96 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, with gross margin ranging from 34.5 percent to 37.5 percent.

Sales of MediaTek’s smartphone and tablet chips accounted for 35-40 percent of the company’s total revenues in the third quarter.

MediaTek co-CEO Rick Tsai said that shipments of MediaTek’s Helio P23 series that comes with new LTE Cat 7 modem already kicked off in small volume in the third quarter, said Tsai, adding that the shipments will expand in the fourth quarter.

MediaTek has started shipping its entry-level MT6739 chips in the fourth quarter, Tsai indicated. Shipments of MediaTek’s mobile chips will reach a combined 110-120 million units in the fourth quarter.

The outfit is preparing to launch of new Helio P-series mobile chips that will support AI, facial recognition, AR and VR capabilities in the first quarter of 2018, Tsai noted. The new products will help the company continue to improve its gross margin and regain market share, Tsai said.

Non-mobile SoC chips sales including solutions for IoT applications, power management ICs and ASIC chips will see impressive growth in the fourth quarter, Tsai claimed. The segment is expected grow by a third in 2017, Tsai said.

Courtesy-Fud

US Government Agencies Start To Give Kaspersky The Boot

November 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

US federal government agencies have met the first three deadlines of the September directive calling for the removal of Kaspersky Lab security products from all government systems and networks. 

In September, the US government ordered the removal of all Kaspersky software from federal agencies due to fears of influence from Russian president Vladimir Putin. Agencies were given 90 days to do this.

Following this directive, an official working at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed that the “vast majority” agencies have removed all Kaspersky software.

Michael Duffy, who leads cybersecurity and communications at the DHS, explained that fewer than half of their agencies were using Kaspersky’s anti-virus software.

He didn’t give a specific percentage about how many agencies have actually met the DHS deadline or how many have been using Kaspersky software but said they’re moving in the right direction.

Kaspersky has faced a lot of pressure from the US government over the past few months amid claims the Kremlin is using its software to conduct cyber espionage.

Of course, Kaspersky has flatly denied these claims, but that hasn’t stopped US officials from making new ones. Duffy spoke to reporters at the 27 October meeting of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

He said the agency won’t comment on any individual cases, but each agency was given an ample timeframe to remove the software. This task is lengthy due to the complex nature of Kaspersky’s products.

There are many other systems that are based on Kaspersky anti-virus and its application programming interface, cautioned Duffy.

While US government agencies work to banish the software, some traces of it will still be left behind, a former DHS official told FCW.

John Norton, who worked at the agency when George W. Bush set it up, said: “Probably the best example is anybody who has a home computer and has tried to remove some kind of app they didn’t want anymore. It’s still in there in some form. It’s difficult to clean that up.”

Responding to the directive in September, a spokesperson for Kaspersky said: “Given that Kaspersky Lab doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, the company is disappointed with the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company.

“Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russia.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Do Consumers Have Trust In The Security Behind IoT

November 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Security outfit Gemalto has just released a survey which says that 90 percent of consumers lack confidence in the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The survey showed that two thirds of consumers and almost 80 percent of organizations support governments getting involved in setting IoT security because they did not trust manufacturers to protect them.

Gemalto Data Protection CTO Jason Hart said it was clear that both consumers and businesses have serious concerns around IoT security and little confidence that IoT service providers and device manufacturers will be able to protect IoT devices and more importantly the integrity of the data created, stored and transmitted by these devices.

“With legislation like GDPR showing that governments are beginning to recognize the threats and long-lasting damage cyber-attacks can have on everyday lives, they now need to step up when it comes to IoT security. Until there is confidence in IoT amongst businesses and consumers, it won’t see mainstream adoption.”

Consumers’ main fear – cited by two thirds of respondents – was hackers taking control of their device. In fact, this was more of a concern than their data being leaked (60 percent) and hackers accessing their personal information (54 percent). Despite more than half (54 percent) of consumers owning an IoT device (on average two), just 14 percent believe that they are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the security of these devices, showing education is needed among both consumers and businesses.

In terms of the level of investment in security, the survey found that IoT device manufacturers and service providers spend just 11 percent of their total IoT budget on securing their IoT devices. The study found that these companies do recognize the importance of protecting devices and the data they generate or transfer with half of companies adopting a security by design approach. Two thirds of organizations report encryption as their main method of securing IoT assets with 62 percent  encrypting the data as soon as it reaches their IoT device, while 59 percent as it leaves the device. Ninety two percent of companies also see an increase in sales or product usage after implementing IoT security measures.

According to the survey, businesses are in favor of regulations to make it clear who is responsible for securing IoT devices and data at each stage of its journey (61 percent) and the implications of non- compliance (55 percent). Almost every organization (96 percent) and consumer (90 percent) wanted government-enforced IoT security regulation.

Encouragingly, businesses are twigging that they need support in understanding IoT technology and are turning to partners to help, with cloud service providers (52 percent) and IoT service providers (50 percent) the favored options. When asked why, the top reason was a lack of expertise and skills (47 percent), followed by help in facilitating and speeding up their IoT deployment (46 percent).

Hart said: “The lack of knowledge among both the business and consumer worlds is quite worrying and it’s leading to gaps in the IoT ecosystem that hackers will exploit.”

“Within this ecosystem, there are four groups involved – consumers, manufacturers, cloud service providers and third parties – all of which have a responsibility to protect the data. ‘Security by design’ is the most effective approach to mitigate against a breach. Furthermore, IoT devices are a portal to the wider network and failing to protect them is like leaving your door wide open for hackers to walk in. Until both sides increase their knowledge of how to protect themselves and adopt industry standard approaches, IoT will continue to be a treasure trove of opportunity for hackers.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Ryzen Paying Off For AMD

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has announced its Q3 2017 financial results and the company managed to grow 26 percent year over year.  2017 is the year of Zen, both Ryzen and Epyc, as well as some decent advancement in the GPU space.

The revenues for AMD in Q3 of $1.64 billion shows a 26 percent increased year-over-year and up 34 percent quarter-over-quarter.  Lisa Su, the mighty AMD CEO said that Ryzen family combined to significant graphics growth, resulting in a 74 percent increase in the Computing and Graphics segment revenue year-over-year.

The general investment is paying off, but it is hardly surprising that AMD hit such high growth numbers as the CPU business for skyrocketed with the introduction of Ryzen. Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors reached 40 percent to 50 percent of desktop market share at strategic e-tailers worldwide, which definitely sounds to us like the best-case scenario, cherry picking.

Back to some more numbers. AMD’s gross margin was 35 percent, up 30 percentage points year to year and up two percent quarter to quarter. Operating income was $126 million, compared to an operating loss of $293 million a year ago and operating income of $25 million in the prior quarter.

Net income was $71 million, compared to net losses of $406 million a year ago and $16 million in the prior quarter. Earnings per share were $0.07, compared to losses per share of $0.50 a year ago and $0.02 in the prior quarter.

AMD launched Ryzen 3 and Ryzen PRO in this quarter and PRO has been adopted by Dell, Lenovo and HP among others.

Ryzen PRO-based offerings, which have been adopted by all major commercial PC providers, including Dell, Lenovo, and HP, expanded its presence in the commercial space.

AMD is preparing to ship Ryzen Mobile in Q4 with Acer, HP and Lenovo announcing some systems in the same quarter. OEM adoption is accelerating as customers ramp shipments in advance of the holiday sales cycle.

AMD achieved record GPU revenues in the quarter based on significantly improved ASPs and higher unit shipments than a year ago. This was driven by a strong demand from Polaris and Vega based GPUs in both the gaming and cryptocurrency markets. For some reason, AMD’s CEO refers to this market as a blockchain market, probably as it sounds better to investors. Vega RX is significantly outpacing the previous premium Radeon GPUs at enthusiast level.

AMD confirmed that its Radeon Instinct MI25, GPU compute solution is shipping in volume to mega-cloud data centers that want to experiment with something that is not Nvidia nor Intel based. Radeon Pro WX 9100 profession graphics cards started shipping late in Q3 2017.

Amazon Web Services announced its adoption of AMD Radeon Pro technology to power Amazon AppStream 2.0. There is also an announced cooperation with Baidu with the goal to build more flexible and powerful AI computing platforms based on Radeon Instinct.

Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom segment revenue was approximately flat year-over-year and increased 46 percent sequentially. AMD enjoyed seasonal demand for Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One X holiday season sales combined with Epyc datacenter revenues.

EPYC datacenter shipped to key cloud and OEM datacenter customers. Epyc is deployed by three of the super seven mega datacenter providers including Baidu, Microsoft Azure and Tencent. HP Enterprise and Dell are bringing their EPYC-based platforms to market in Q4.

In Q4 2017 AMD expects non-GAAP gross margin to be approximately 35 percent, non-GAAP operating expenses to be approximately $410 million, non-GAAP interest expense, taxes, and other to be approximately $30 million, and inventory to be down sequentially.

The 2017 annual revenue is expected to increase more than 20 percent compared 2016.

All in all, the 2017 plan is working quite well, but despite the good scores, Wall Street was not that impressed. In the aftermarket, AMD’s share price dropped 9.61 percent from $14.25 USD to $12.69 as the investors expected more in Q4 2017.

It is very easy to forget that a year to date AMD (market cap $13.492 Billion) was trading at $7.50 so roughly a half of what it was yesterday with dips as low as $6.30 (November 10 2016). And yet these same semiconductor expert investors strongly believe that $198.68 for Nvidia stock and $119.208 billion is justified.

It is all in the eye of the beholder, or how well you are pitching your story.

Courtesy-Fud

Will 7nm SoCs Finally Come To Market In 2018

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

It looks like that you will see first 7nm SoCs in the second half of 2018 and currently all the major players are working on designs.

This is the next big step for the mobile industry that will significantly increase the number of transistors per square millimeter while reducing the overall SoC power. The current trend is to use more AI centric circuits in the designs as this helps the SoC and the overall device to understand the given data much better.

AI, of course, stands for Artificial intelligence and there is another term that the industry uses called Machine Learning. ARM promises its Cortex A75/A55 in the course of 2018 and there will be quite a lot of these in late 2018.

Samsung 7nm

There will be multiple players offering 7nm. Samsung calls its 7nm EUV, short for extreme ultraviolet lithography. Samsung should be ready for full production in 2018.

Samsung has 8nm manufacturing on its roadmap and that, to us, sounds like a glorified and heavily optimized 10nm.

TSMC 7nm

TSMC, the other 7nm player, has announced that it plans to have risk production this year. TSMC’s 7nm Fin Field-Effect Transistor was already used for 256Mb SRAM with double digit yields in June 2016. Risk production started in April 2017. Of course, it’s one thing is to make a SRAM chip and another other is to get a multibillion transistors SoC in full production.

TSMC claims that compared to its 10nm FinFET process, TSMC’s 7nm FinFET features 1.6X logic density, ~20 percent speed improvement, and ~40 percent power reduction.

GlobalFoundries 7nm

GlobalFoundries promises more than 40 percent performance with its 7nm design compared to 14nm designs and that the total power from 14nm to 7nm will fall by more than 60 percent. GlobalFoundries didn’t compare its designs to 10nm as it never managed to move to this rather tough manufacturing process.

GloFo expects customers to place over 17 million gates per square millimeter and that the first risk production will start in 1H 2018. The 7nm LP process from GlobalFoundries is based on optical lithography with EUV compatibility and it supports up to 17 levels of metal layers.

Snapdragon 835 in 10nm features three billion chips and the 7nm variant can pack significantly more in the same space. There is absolutely no doubt that Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei and MediaTek are working on 7nm designs as we speak.

7nm Gains

One of the key advantages that the mobile industry has that it moves faster to a new manufacturing node than the PC and GPU industries. Qualcomm was the first company to ship 10nm three billion transistor chips and Intel still cannot ship its 10nm design that is now almost two years late. Originally Cannon Lake 10nm chips were expected in 2016 and they have been pushed back to 2018.

AMD is using 14nm for both CPU and GPUs while Nvidia has 12nm which is really a derived and optimized 16nm FinFET process from TSMC.

Bear in mind that when it comes to the PC chips, Intel has some of the best engineers in the world and it has been stuck with 14nm for three generations now. The tick tock clock got broken as the transition to a new node becomes harder than ever.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Kaspersky’s Western Business Be Saved

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Eugene Kaspersky, the co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, which is at the center of US government security claims, has revealed further details about plans to have its software examined and audited in an independent code review.

However, the former deputy director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), Rick Ledgett, claims that this is not enough.

Kaspersky Lab said on Monday that it will ask independent parties to review its products in a process starting in the new year. The initiative is part a bid to distance itself from allegations that it allows the Russian government to use its popular anti-virus software to conduct cyber espionage.

The company is planning to provide software regulation and review bodies with the source code of current and future products, working with “the broader information-security community and other stakeholders”, Kaspersky said in a statement.

In addition, the company will also give outside organizations access to other aspects of its business, including software development. These reviews will begin in the first quarter of next year.

It said the aim of this is to “verify the integrity” of its solutions and processes. The company’s products are used on around 400 million computers worldwide.

Kaspersky is calling this a “global transparency initiative”, although it hasn’t yet named the outside reviewers that it will employ. Instead, it said that it is working with parties that sport “strong credentials in software security and assurance testing for cyber-security products”.

Distancing itself from Russia, the company will open specialist centers throughout Asia, Europe and United States. Here, customers, governments and other organizations will be able to access the results of the reviews.

And it’ll expand its independent security research program, paying specialists as much as $100,000 if they find security vulnerabilities in its products.

However, writing today, Ledgett claimed that the initiative won’t address the core problem.

“On the face of it this sounds like a good move, but in reality it doesn’t address the alleged activity,” Ledgett claimed.

He continued: “When you download any anti-virus software and click on the very long end-user license agreement, somewhere in there you agree to give that software access to all the files on your computer and all the files that will be sent to and from your computer…

“This all makes perfect sense for legitimate anti-virus companies, but it’s also a potential gold mine if misused. Instead of looking for signatures of malware, the software can be instructed to look for things like ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ or ‘proprietary’ – literally anything the vendor desires. Any files of interest can be pulled back to headquarters under the pretext of analyzing potential malware.”

He concluded: “Eugene Kaspersky’s proposal to have experts analyze Kaspersky anti-virus code is irrelevant in this case, because the code is doing exactly what it has been designed to do, but in a way that is inconsistent with what customers expect and are paying for. It’s not the code itself, it’s the use of the code…

“If Eugene Kaspersky really wanted to assuage the fears of customers and potential customers, he would instead have all communications between the company’s servers and the 400 million or so installations on client machines go through an independent monitoring center.

“That way evaluators could see what commands and software updates were going from Kaspersky headquarters to those clients and what was being sent back in response.”

Just last month, the use of Kaspersky products was banned throughout US government agencies amid fears that the company has been working with the Kremlin.

Despite this, the company has denied any involvement with the Russian government, adding that it doesn’t work with any governments in order to engage in espionage.

Co-founder Eugene Kaspersky said: “Internet balkanization benefits no one except cybercriminals. Reduced cooperation among countries helps the bad guys in their operations, and public-private partnerships don’t work like they should.

“We need to re-establish trust in relationships between companies, governments and citizens. That’s why we’re launching this Global Transparency Initiative: we want to show how we’re completely open and transparent.

He added that the company is ethical in its practices. “We’ve nothing to hide. And I believe that with these actions we’ll be able to overcome mistrust and support our commitment to protecting people in any country on our planet.” 

Courtesy-TheInq

IoT Botnet Worse Than Mirai Wreaking Havoc On Organizations

October 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Check Point has caught wind of a new IoT botnet that’s “more sophisticated than Mirai” and has already affected at least one million organizations worldwide.

Check Point first unearthed the botnet, codenamed ‘IoT_reaper’, at the beginning of September and claims that, since, it’s already enslaved millions of IoT devices including routers and IP cameras from firms including GoAhead, D-Link, TP-Link, Avtech, Netgear, MikroTik, Linksys and Synology.

The latest campaign shares similar technical aspects to Mirai but is said to be more dangerous as it is able to “evolve” in order to exploit vulnerabilities in devices connected to the internet, which it then uses to spread the malware to other devices.

The security firm warns that the botnet is “rapidly spreading worldwide” and could soon be weaponized the launch cyber-attacks in the same fashion of Mirai last year. 

Check Point said: “While some technical aspects lead us to suspect a possible connection to Mirai, this is an entirely new and far more sophisticated campaign that is rapidly spreading worldwide.”

“It is too early to guess the intentions of the threat actors behind it, but with previous botnet DDoS attacks essentially taking down the internet, it is vital that organizations make proper preparations,” the team noted.

Check Point says that, so far, it estimates that “over a million organizations have already been affected worldwide, including the US, Australia and everywhere in between.

It expects this number to keep growing, noting that “our research suggests that we are now experiencing the calm before an even more powerful storm. The next cyber hurricane is about to come.”

“It is vital to have the proper preparations and defense mechanisms in place before an attack strikes,” Check Point warns.

This isn’t the first Mirai-like threat that’s been uncovered. Earlier this year, a new threat called ‘BrickerBot’ was revealed, which – as its name suggests – threatened to permanently brick IoT devices, rather than harnessing them to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) network.

Courtesy-TheInq

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