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Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Nokia Slashes Another 1,000 Jobs

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is eliminating 1,032 jobs in Finland as part of a cost-cutting plan following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the telecom network equipment maker said in a statement last Friday.

Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of jobs in its home country over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals.

Nokia started the latest cost cutting program in April and is targeting 900 million euros ($1 billion) of operating cost synergies from the Alcatel deal by 2018.

The company has declined to give an overall figure for global job cuts, but has said it in talks with employee representatives in about 30 countries.

Nokia employs about 104,000 people worldwide, with about 6,850 in Finland, 4,800 in Germany and 4,200 in France.

 

 

Microsoft Exiting Feature Phone Market, Sales Division

May 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has announced that it is selling its entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd and HMD Global Oy for $350 million.

FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Co Ltd, would also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam as a part of this deal, Microsoft said.

The company said its 4,500 employees from Vietnam will transfer to or will have an opportunity to join FIH Mobile or HMD Global Oy.

Microsoft will transfer all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software and services, care network and other assets, customer contracts, and critical supply agreements to both the companies as a part of the deal.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones from OEM partners, the company said.

 

 

Nokia Hits 10Gbps Speeds

May 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia has demonstrated the feasibility of 10Gbps symmetrical data speeds over traditional hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable networks, such as those operated by Virgin Media in the UK.

Trumping BT’s 5Gbps XG.fast trials, Nokia’s prototype technology, called XG-Cable, is still at the proof-of-concept stage, but should easily integrate into the DOCSIS 3.1 suite of specifications focused on providing cable operators with technology innovations to transform the industry.

DOCSIS is the set of standards governing data access over cable TV networks, and DOCSIS 3.1 was designed to enable capacities of 10Gbps downstream, but only 1Gbps upstream. Nokia has taken this a step further by demonstrating that symmetrical speeds of 10Gbps are possible.

The technology is still at an early stage of development and no in-service date has been even floated by Nokia, but the test by Nokia Bell Labs has apparently demonstrated that the technology is viable using existing HFC cable networks, where fibre-optic cable is used to connect to cabinets on the street and coaxial copper cable lines are used for last-leg distribution to the customer premises.

XG-Cable means that cable operators will at some point in the future be able to use existing HFC cables in the last 200 meters to provide upstream speeds never before achievable owing to the limited spectrum available, according to Nokia.

This will enable the provision of ultra-fast broadband services to consumer locations that were not physically or economically viable unless fiber was brought all the way to the premises.

“The XG-Cable proof-of-concept is a great example of our ongoing effort and commitment to provide the cable industry with the latest innovations and technology needed to effectively address the growing demand for gigabit services,” said Federico Guillén, president of fixed networks at Nokia.

“The proof-of-concept demonstrates that providing 10Gbps symmetrical services over HFC networks is a real possibility for operators. It is an important achievement that will define the future capabilities and ultra-broadband services cable providers are able to deliver.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is Mozilla Going After The FBI?

May 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Mozilla is taking legal action to find out whether its code was affected during an FBI investigation into Tor, the privacy browser that shares a lot of Firefox code.

Mozilla has concerns that the FBI has found a vulnerability that it will not disclose. The firm wants to know what it might be so that it can apply a fix. The FBI has not helped out, so the software company has taken its case to the courts.

“User security is paramount. Vulnerabilities can weaken security and ultimately harm users. We want people who identify security vulnerabilities in our products to disclose them to us so we can fix them as soon as possible,” said Mozilla lawyer Denelle Dixon-Thayer in a blog post as she explained that this is not a political action.

“Today, we filed a brief in an ongoing criminal case asking the court to ensure that, if our code is implicated in a security vulnerability, the government must disclose the vulnerability to us before it is disclosed to any other party.

“We aren’t taking sides in the case, but we are on the side of the hundreds of millions of users who could benefit from timely disclosure.”

The situation arose after an FBI investigation into a Tor-based child abuse site. The site was closed down, and the FBI reportedly installed malware to trace the users.

This suggests that the FBI has a decent way into the software, which raises concerns for Mozilla.

“The relevant issue in this case relates to a vulnerability allegedly exploited by the government in the Tor Browser,” said Dixon-Thayer.

“The Tor Browser is partially based on our Firefox browser code. Some have speculated, including members of the defence team, that the vulnerability might exist in the portion of the Firefox browser code relied on by the Tor Browser.

“At this point, no one (including us) outside the government knows what vulnerability was exploited and whether it resides in any of our code base.

“The judge in this case ordered the government to disclose the vulnerability to the defence team but not to any of the entities that could actually fix the vulnerability. We don’t believe that this makes sense because it doesn’t allow the vulnerability to be fixed before it is more widely disclosed.”

Mozilla would like the FBI to follow the same disclosure procedures as the technology industry and do the decent thing by letting the company know as soon as possible.

“Court-ordered disclosure of vulnerabilities should follow the best practice of advance disclosure that is standard in the security research community,” she said.

“In this instance, the judge should require the government to disclose the vulnerability to the affected technology companies first, so it can be patched quickly.

“Governments and technology companies both have a role to play in ensuring people’s security online. Disclosing vulnerabilities to technology companies first allows us to do our job to prevent users being harmed and to make the web more secure.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Is Apple Infringing Again?

May 16, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple has found itself in the middle of another accusation that it may not invented some of the technology it made a fortune from.
VoIP-Pal (VPLM) claims that Jobs’ Mob owes it $2.8 billion because of the way its iMessage and FaceTime services work.

“Apple employs VPLM’s innovative technology and products, features, and designs, and has widely distributed infringing products that have undermined VPLM’s marketing efforts,” the complaint reads.

iMessage apparently deals with the classification of a user and the manner in which the call is routed.

VoIP-Pal originally initiated its lawsuit against Apple back in February in a US District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, but delayed the lawsuit until May, since it wants to reach an “amicable resolution” with Apple. “

Clearly that did not happen. The Tame Apple Press has called the company a Patent Troll because it does not generate income. VoIP-Pal said that Digifonica, which was acquired by the former back in 2013, started design on its system in 2004.

This is not the sort of thing that Apple needs right now. It is sales for the iPhone are dropping down the loo and unlikely to pick up at all this year. Apple has piles of cash it is sitting on, but it would rather not spend it on paying off people for technology it claims to have invented.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Viking Horde Malware Invades Android Devices

May 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

A new strain of malware dubbed ‘Viking Horde’ has potentially infected hundreds of thousands of Android devices by masquerading as popular apps in Google Play.

Viking Horde was uncovered by the security team at Check Point and reported to Google on 5 May. The malware is viewed as particularly dangerous because it can target rooted and non-rooted devices.

However, rooted devices are the most at risk, as this allows the malware to download additional components that make it almost impossible to remove.

“On rooted devices, Viking Horde delivers additional malware payloads that can execute any code remotely,” the security firm said. “It also takes advantage of root access privileges to make itself difficult or even impossible to remove manually.”

Once a user has installed an app containing the Viking Horde malware, the infected device joins a botnet, or network controlled by the attacker, without the owner knowing. The bots are used by the hacker for advertising clicks to generate income.

“The malware’s primary objective is to hijack a device and then use it to simulate clicks on advertisements in websites to accumulate profit,” Check Point said.

Users’ personal information is also at risk given that the app has access to all parts of a device that it infects, while some user reviews claim that the app also sends premium text messages, which could be used for DDoS attacks, spamming and delivering malware.

“SCAM!!! COSTS ME £4.50 THE GAME WAS ASKING FOR ROOT ACCESS which was suspicious then asks for sms permissions then sent a message that costs £4.50 then deletes it to cover it up,” said one user review on Google Play.

The malware has been found inside five apps in the Google Play store: Viking Jump, Parrot Copter, WiFi Plus, Memory Booster and Simple 2048. Viking Jump, the most popular of the apps with between 50,000 and 100,000 downloads, can still be found in the app store, although the others have been removed.

Check Point said that most of those who downloaded Viking Horde-infected apps are in Russia, Spain, Lebanon, Mexico and the US.

Viking Horde isn’t the only threat plaguing Android users at present. It was revealed last week that users of Snapdragon-powered smartphones are at risk from a “undetectable” Qualcomm software flaw that leaves text messages and call histories open to hackers.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Amazon Launches Video Service Similar To YouTube

May 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc debuted a service on Tuesday that allows users to post videos and earn royalties from them, setting up the world’s biggest online retailer to compete directly with Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.

The service, called Amazon Video Direct, will make the uploaded videos available to rent or own, to view free with ads, or be packaged together and offered as an add-on subscription.

Amazon will pay content creators 50 percent of the revenue earned from rental receipts or sale of the videos, according to the company’s license agreement. For ad-supported videos, the creators will get half of the net ad receipts.

Amazon’s fast-growing Prime loyalty program already offers original TV programming and access to digital entertainment products such as Prime Music and Prime Video, as well as one-hour delivery of purchases, for an annual fee of $99.

YouTube offers a free, ad-supported service as well as a $10-per-month subscription option called YouTube Red.

Amazon, though, has a long way to go to catch up with YouTube, the go-to venue for video on the internet since 2005.

“I don’t see 50 million Prime users making a huge dent in the 2 billion YouTube user ecosystem,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in an email to Reuters.

Ivan Feinseth, at Tigress Financial Partners, said Amazon had the technological wherewithal and financial resources to be a contender in any business, but was similarly cautious.

“I don’t know if it’s going to totally disrupt YouTube, or even some of the other services, but for those that are heavy Amazon users, it will have an appeal,” he told Reuters.

Users of Amazon’s service will be able to make their videos available in United States, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Japan.

The company has also signed up several partners for the service, including Conde Nast Entertainment, the Guardian, tech blog Mashable and toy maker Mattel Inc.

Amazon has been making a concentrated push into video.

Amazon recently launched a monthly subscription to its video program for $10.99 and plans to offer its video streaming service as a standalone service for a monthly fee of $8.99.

 

Is Qualcomm Facing Another Security Flaw?

May 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

FireEye has found a vulnerability in Qualcomm software packages which are under the bonnet of hundreds of Android phone models.

Google announced this week that it released an Android update to patch shedloads of vulnerabilities, but the advisory mentioned an information disclosure vulnerability in the Qualcomm tethering controller (CVE-2016-2060) that allows a malicious application to access user information.

FireEye said that this vulnerablity is “high severity,” but Google noted that it does not affect Nexus devices. The patch for the issue is not in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository but might make it in the  latest driver updates for affected devices.

The security outfit said that researchers informed Qualcomm about the vulnerability in January and the vendor developed a fix by early March, when it started reaching out to OEMs to let them know about the issue. Now it’s up to the device manufacturers to push out the patch to customers. So probably a long time then.

The flaw exists in an open source software package maintained by Qualcomm and is related to the Android network daemon (netd).

“The vulnerability was introduced when Qualcomm provided new APIs as part of the ‘network_manager’ system service, and subsequently the ‘netd’ daemon, that allow additional tethering capabilities, possibly among other things,” FireEye said.

The flaw has been confirmed to affect devices running Android 5.0 Lollipop and earlier, which currently account for roughly three-quarters of Android devices. Researchers noted that the affected Qualcomm software package is used in a variety of projects, including the popular CyanogenMod, and the vulnerable APIs appear to have been around since at least 2011.

The vulnerability can be exploited to escalate privileges to the built-in “radio” user, which has permissions that are normally not available to a third-party app. The most efficient way to exploit CVE-2016-2060 is via a malicious application that is granted the “ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE” permission.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Do Smartphones Cause Cancer?

May 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

It is looking incredibly unlikely that mobile phone use is giving anyone cancer.  A long term study into the incidence of brain cancer in the Australian population between 1982 to 2013 shows no marked increase.

The study, summarized on the Conversation site looked at the prevalence of mobile phones among the population against brain cancer rates, using data from national cancer registration.

The results showed a very slight increase in brain cancer rates among males, but a stable level among females. There were significant increases in over-70s, but this problem started before 1982.

The figures should have even been higher as Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and related techniques, introduced in Australia in the late 1970s can spot brain tumors which could have otherwise remained undiagnosed.

The data matches up with other studies conducted in other countries, but in Australia all diagnosed cases of cancer have to be legally registered and this creates consistent data.

The argument that mobile phones cause cancer has been running ever since the phones first arrived. In fact the radiation levels on phones has dropped significantly over the years, just to be safe rather than sorry. However it looks like phones have had little impact on cancer statistics – at least in Australia.

Courtesy-Fud

 

The U.S. International Trade Commission Investigating 7 Smartphone Makers

May 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into seven smartphone makers on charges of patent infringement, which could lead to a ban on the sale of certain phones imported and sold by these vendors in the country.

The commission said it is looking into devices from a group of mainly Asian companies, including Lenovo and its Motorola subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, ZTE, Sony, LG Electronics, HTC and BlackBerry.

The complaint was filed against these companies by Creative Technology of Singapore and its U.S. subsidiary Creative Labs of Milpitas, California, on March 24.

Known for its Sound Blaster sound cards for PC audio, Creative has charged these companies with infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,928,433 entitled “Automatic Hierarchical Categorization of Music by Metadata,” which claims various methods for accessing different types of data, such as music or video files, on a portable media player.

Apple is said to be one of the licensees of the patent, and in 2006, Apple paid Creative $100 million for a nonexclusive license, according to Creative’s complaint. Creative had earlier that year asked the ITC to block the sale of Apple’s iPod devices for allegedly infringing the same patent.

Among the alleged infringing products named in the complaint are Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphone and other Samsung phones containing either the Google Play Music app (version 5.9.l854R.l904527), or the Samsung Music app (version 6.0.1508051449), which were installed on the phones prior to import.

The products at issue in the investigation are smartphones, “with the capability of playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display,” the ITC said in a statement Thursday.

If it finds infringement after investigation, the ITC can place a ban on the sale of products by these vendors, under a limited exclusion order requested by the complainant. The ITC cautioned that the launch of an investigation did not imply a decision on the merits of the case. It will set a target date for completion of the investigation within 45 days of its institution.

 

 

India Says No To Apple’s Used iPhones

May 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

India has squashed a plan by Apple Inc to import used iPhones, according to a government official, dealing a blow to the U.S. tech giant that has been seeking to revive waning sales of its flagship smartphones.

Apple sells what it calls refurbished iPhones at a discount in some countries, including the United States. Extending this practice to India would have likely helped it increase its share in one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets against competitors with much cheaper offerings.

But India, which is pushing a ‘Make in India’ initiative to boost the competitiveness of its manufacturing sector, rejected the proposal citing rules against importing used electronics.

“India does not encourage dumping or recycling of hazardous materials,” NN Kaul, a spokesman for the telecom ministry said.

Apple’s proposal was opposed by domestic phone makers who claim selling refurbished iPhones – devices that have been returned by buyers or repaired to factory condition after damage – would breach India’s anti-dumping rules. The Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association had written to India’s telecom ministry to stall the move.

An Apple spokeswoman in Singapore did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The news comes at a time when Apple posted its first-ever drop in iPhone sales amid weakness in China, its most important market after the United States.

In India, Apple only has about a 2 percent market share but its sales there surged 56 percent in the first three months, driven mainly by cheaper older-generation devices such as the iPhone 5S while demand for the new iPhone SE disappointed.

“The 5S’ success in India has more to do with affordability of a premium brand than a preference for smaller phones, and the move to the more expensive SE will discourage budget buyers,” said Wilmer Ang, an analyst at research firm Canalys.

The newly launched iPhone SE retails at 39,000 rupees ($585) in India – almost $200 higher than its U.S. price.

 

 

Amazon To Beef Up Alexa With Investment In TrackR

May 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is investing between $250,000 and $500,000 in Bluetooth technology firm TrackR to expand the reach of its Alexa virtual assistant, according to a source familiar with the matter

Alexa is the cloud-based system that controls the Amazon Echo, a speaker system launched by Amazon in 2014 that has emerged as a surprise hit. “Alexa” is the name the device responds to when users make requests, such as “turn on radio.”

Amazon and TrackR declined to comment on the size of the investment.

Like Apple Inc’s  Siri and Google’s Google Now, Alexa is designed to answer questions or take other actions in response to simple voice queries.

Unlike its rivals, Amazon allows non-Amazon devices to integrate Alexa technology. The investment in TrackR came through Amazon’s $100 million “Alexa Fund,” which invests in and supports technologies that broaden Alexa’s abilities.

Santa Barbara, California-based TrackR uses Bluetooth technology to help track lost items. Users put a small chip on an item, such as a wallet or TV remote, and can order those products to make a sound through their phone so that they can be found.

If a TrackR customer loses an item out of Bluetooth reach, any TrackR user can connect to the device using the company’s network to alert the owner of the lost item.

The Alexa partnership will give the TrackR service a voice response capability and will also integrate in the other direction and enable people to find their lost items via the Echo.

“The ability to bring on more partners and realize that you are building an entire ecosystem – I think that is what was really important for us,” said Chris Herbert, who co-founded TrackR with friend Christian Smith in 2009.

TrackR raised $8.7 million last year in a Series A round led by Foundry Group.

Amazon has made roughly 15 investments so far through the Alexa Fund, including The Orange Chef, which helps connect kitchen prep devices, and Garageio, which makes a connected garage door opener.

 

What Can We Expect From Smartphones In The Future?

May 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

The smartphone market has hit a bit of a lull. Sure, they’ve got bigger and faster (that’s what she said) but it’s been hard to get really excited about new phones recently beyond the fact that, well, they’re new.

The iPhone 7 may – or may not – change this, but it’s more likely to be a new design, a slightly faster processor and maybe a new iOS version.

But what if we look further into the future, say 2020 or 2021, and devices like the iPhone 9 or Galaxy S9? What will hit the market then to get excited about? Mind-control text capabilities? Full 360-degree video filming? Bendable screens? Week-long battery life?

Battery life
Well, let’s start with the battery. Sadly, week-long battery life on a smartphone seems unlikely even by 2020, as Dr Kevin Curran, reader in Computer Science at Ulster University and a senior member of the IEEE, explained to the INQUIRER.

“On average, we only see improvements in capacity of six per cent per annum. So by 2020 we can only really expect a 25 per cent improvement in battery life,” he said.

However, while 25 per cent may sound good, Curran warned that these improvements tend to be offset by the fact the battery has to work harder as devices get more powerful and have higher density pixel displays.

Headlines proclaim major breakthroughs with battery technology, but Curran believes it’s unlikely that battery life will improve significantly, although there is work being done to change this.

“There are promising breakthroughs with regards to lithium-sulphur, supercapacitors, hydrogen fuel cells, solid state batteries and others, but history should tell us to be cautious about any new dramatic claims in having solved the problem of packing energy into a battery,” he said.

OK, so forget battery life. Surely there must be other new and exciting features to look forward to? Well, one technology is thermal imaging.

This was actually unveiled recently on the Cat S60 (pictured below), and Curran believes that other manufacturers will add this to their phones in time.

“This allows for a multitude of use cases, including detecting heat loss around windows and doors, spotting moisture and missing insulation, identifying over-heating electrical appliances and circuitry, and seeing in complete darkness,” he explained.

“This additional sensor allows much better control and depth in the photos you can take,” Curran added.

Meanwhile, analyst house CCS Insight has predicted that wireless charging will be standard by 2020, given that Apple is likely to include this technology in the iPhone 7.  That should save scrabbling around for charging points.

Courtesy-Fud

VeVo Hits 17 Billion While Calling Goof The Devil

May 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Vevo might be the new MTV for millennials, who might not know MTV that played music a few decades ago. Vevo CEO Erik Huggers had an interview at a Hunter Walk blog talking about YouTube, subscription base and the future.

Vevo CEO, ex Intel and ex BBC executive Erik Huggers mentioned that the Vevo will get a subscription based service but for the time being the company will stay with add supported content. Huggers first worked first on the iBBC player and later at Intel OnCue, then Verizon before getting the Vevo CEO.

The company has announced a new Apple TV, iOS and Android applications for people who like to watch the content on the TV console or their tablets and phones. Huggers mentioned that Vevo was getting 17 billion unique views per month. He said that if you are musician you will prefer Spotify for audio streaming and Vevo to YouTube, and here is why.

Peter Mensch, the manager of bands including Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse  told a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the music business:

“YouTube, they’re the devil. We don’t get paid at all.”

The BBC quoted him saying that YouTube was killing the record industry.

There is now way you can say it better than this, Mensch obviously knows what he is talking about. When we dug a bit deeper into the issue, bands have issues with complete albums being uploaded to YouTube. The big bands don’t get paid at all, at least according to Peter Mensch.

Vevo might turn its back to YouTube, despite its current business model where the company uses YouTube to distribute its videos. We see a big change coming. Artists are obviously not happy as people are ripping their stuff and not paying.

Online publishing was an area where big mistakes were made 20 + years ago. Online magazines usually rely on marketing, same as YouTube, but it seems that YouTube, Facebook and other big social based website make a lot of money and giving YouTubers and artists pennies.

Huggers believes Vevo can offer a tailored experience which is personalised for individuals who love music videos via various channels including Apple TV or mobile applications. Imagine if Vevo starts offering exclusive concert footage of your favourite bands, this would probably be worth of a few bucks a month, wouldn’t it?

Courtesy-Fud