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Tesla, Panasonic Join Forces On Battery Factory Deal

August 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Panasonic Corp confirmed on Thursday it would invest in U.S. electric autombile maker Tesla Motors Inc’s planned $5 billion lithium-ion battery plant in the United States.

The Japanese company, which already supplies batteries for Tesla, said it was analyzing the demand for batteries before deciding on an amount to invest in the joint venture. It had earlier said it would invest in stages and that any expenditure this year would be small.

“We have not yet decided exactly how much we will invest and when,” said Chief Financial Officer Hideaki Kawai.

“However, Tesla is a very important partner to us and discussions are continuing. We need to look very carefully at auto demand and respond appropriately so of course that means taking a step-by-step approach to investment,” he added.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that Panasonic would initially invest around 20 to 30 billion yen ($200-300 million) into the factory and would ultimately invest about $1 billion.

Demand for batteries from the U.S. premium eco-car maker has been a boon for Panasonic as it tries to expand its business as an industrial supplier, especially to the auto sector, and reduce its reliance on volatile consumer markets.

Under the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land while Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the equipment, machinery and other manufacturing tools, they said in a joint statement.

Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has said that he expected Panasonic to become the main partner in the Gigafactory, which the company says will be able, when fully operational in 2020, to make more lithium-ion batteries in a year than were produced worldwide in 2013. It is currently looking at three new sites to locate the plant.

 

OkCupid Admits Experimenting On Customers

July 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

OkCupid, a top U.S. dating website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said, weeks after Facebook Inc similarly admitted to misleading users in a psychological study.

“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are,” co-founder Christian Rudder wrote in a blog post. “Even when they should be wrong for each other.”

Conversely, couples told they were bad matches, even when OkCupid’s algorithm showed the opposite, were less likely to exchange four messages. Exchanging four messages is an OkCupid measure for gauging romantic interest.

In the post, titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” Rudder explained the tests helped the company refine its product. He did not respond to an email asking how many users were tested.

“Most ideas are bad,” he wrote. “Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”

An IAC spokeswoman said OkCupid planned to continue with the experiments, which are known in the business as A/B testing.

But experimenting on users without their consent could cost the company credibility, said Irina Raicu, director of the Internet ethics program at Santa Clara University.

“They are messing with emotions and with communications,” she said. “That’s different than other things we are A/B tested about.”

The experiment drew heavy criticism online. In a tweet, University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze suggested a few new clauses for online user licensing agreements:“We reserve the right to induce despair” and “You agree that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.”

 

 

goTenna Debuts Personal Antenna In Case Of Disasters

July 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A Brooklyn-based startup called goTenna has developed a portable antenna that will come to the rescue when cellular service is unavailable.

The portable antenna connects to a smartphone via a Bluetooth Low Energy link. Once connected, users with either an iOS or Android app can then send text messages through the antenna. (The recipient must also have a goTenna, and consequently the product is sold in pairs.)

The device uses the 151MHz-154MHz frequencies, with range depending on location. In a densely populated place like Manhattan, that range could be less than a mile. In more open spaces, up to 50 miles is possible. The antenna, which takes a USB-delivered charge, will store messages and hold them until a connection can be made.

Businesses employ a range of backup communications technologies, including long-range satellite phones and ham radios, as well as shorter range walkie-talkies. The goTenna could serve as an alternative to a walkie-talkie — and even offers some advantages over other options. For example, its messages are encrypted and private, a separate device isn’t needed, and people can use the goTenna system with their smartphone interface.

The goTenna also has the ability to “shout” a message by delivering it to all goTenna users who have opted in to receive a broadcast.

“That fact that we are totally decentralized means that in many ways it can be a backup to your backup,” said goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo, who co-founded the company with her brother, Jorge Perdomo, goTenna’s CTO.

In addition to using goTenna as an emergency tool, Perdomo said people could use the technology as a means of communicating while they’re traveling, when they’re taking part in outdoor recreation activities, or when they’re involved in any type of situation that requires private communication. The antenna uses a Lithium-ion battery and is estimated to last two to three days with normal use, or as long as 30 hours if it’s on continuously.

Perdomo said the outages created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted her to imagine ways smartphones could be made to directly communicate with other phones.

The goTenna will ship in late fall, but a pair of the devices can be preordered for $149.99.

 

 

 

Dell, BlackBerry Downplay Apple-IBM Alliance

July 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

IBM Corp’s recent move to team up with Apple Inc to sell iPhones and iPads loaded with corporate applications has excited investors in both companies, but two rivals say they are unfazed for now.

Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.

“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.

PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.

Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”

While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.

IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”

 

 

Oracle Goes DaaS

July 28, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has launched a service to deliver data from the cloud collected from multiple sources in order to drive business intelligence and decision-making.

Initially the firm is delivering products using data from marketing and social media, letting enterprise customers use this information for business benefit without having to worry about its source or management.

Oracle’s Data as a Service (DaaS) is a suite of offerings that are intended to provide data that can simply be plugged into any relevant application the customer requires. It is being delivered as part of the Oracle Cloud, alongside the firm’s existing infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) offerings.

The first offerings are Oracle DaaS for Marketing, giving users access to a vast array of anonymised user-level data gathered from many sources; and Oracle DaaS for Social, which delivers enriched social media data providing intelligence on customers, competitors and market trends.

According to Oracle Data Cloud GM Omar Tawakol, the service enables customers to separate their own data from existing application siloes, enrich it with data from external sources, and then feed it into a variety of different applications to drive more informed decisions.

Takawol said the platform is based on Oracle’s leading data products, combined with assets Oracle gained through its acquisition of data marketing firm BlueKai earlier this year.

“We believe this is the next revolution in how applications can become more useful, by being enriched with data not just from that application itself, but from others within the enterprise and from outside the boundaries of the organisation itself,” he said.

But Oracle’s proposition is more than just providing a raw data feed for customers to subscribe to: the firm claims that it can deliver cleaned-up data to comply with data-protection and privacy regulations across the globe, and can also aggregate social data by identifying the same users across different social networks.

In effect, Oracle appears to be offering a service similar to the US government’s PRISM intelligence-gathering platform, but intended for business intelligence and marketing purposes.

Speaking at Oracle’s launch event, Ovum analyst Tom Pringle said that the timing is right for such DaaS offerings to come to market, but warned that it is early days for this kind of service and that potential pitfalls lay in the way, such as privacy concerns.

“Data has moved out of the IT department and into the boardroom, so it is now front and centre for organisations around the world. As more and more business processes have shifted into becoming online services, DaaS becomes a natural extension of that,” he said.

But privacy and legal rights are “growing in the public consciousness”, Pringle said, and warned that any misstep over use of harvested public data could pose a “danger to the reputation” of the business involved.

“It’s still early days for what is basically an entirely new category of service, and what path it will take is not clear,” he said.

Oracle DaaS for Marketing is available now in a new subscription model, while Oracle DaaS for Social currently has limited availability, the firm said. Oracle did not specify pricing for the new services, and had not responded to requests from The INQUIRER at the time of writing.

Courtesy-TheInq

Google’s Growth Will Be In A Shift To Mobile

July 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google Inc  is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.

At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.

The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.

Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.

Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.

Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.

The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.

However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.

“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.

Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.

Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc  are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.

But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.

Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.

The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”

 

 

Bank Of America Accused Of Using $300M Worth Of Illegal Software

July 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Bank of America illegally copied $300 million worth of Tibco’s enterprise software for use in a large-scale IT project at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary, Tibco alleges in a lawsuit.

The bank amassed huge quantities of Tibco software while it was still within the terms of a license agreement that expired in February 2013, then used the software for the project when it was out of license, according to the suit.

As of Tuesday, Bank of America hadn’t filed a response to Tibco’s suit, which was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. But a spokesman said the bank had done nothing wrong.

“We have a long history of positive relationships with our third party partners,” spokesman Mark Pipitone said via email. “In accordance with that, we have acted in good faith to observe the scope of Tibco’s license at all times, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Tibco’s lawsuit provides a detailed narrative of Bank of America’s alleged wrongful deeds.

The bank is a long-time Tibco customer, and an addendum to its 2010 license agreement allowed Bank of America to deploy various Tibco products for a further three years from that date, the suit states.

But the license had “specific restrictions” on how the bank could deploy and make copies of the software, Tibco says. The restrictions aren’t specified in the lawsuit, which says some terms of the companies’ agreement are subject to a confidentiality provision.

About six months after the bank’s license expired, Tibco discovered the bank was “rolling out a large integration initiative called Merrill Lynch One,” the suit states.

It was initially deployed to 400 advisors in September 2013, with another 14,000 set to be migrated during this year, according to the suit.

The bank does “not have licensed copies of the TIBCO Registered Software, and have instead made unauthorized copies and used the same for the Merrill Lynch One Project,” the suit alleges.

The alleged stockpiling of software during the three-year license period resulted in an accumulation of copies worth at least $300 million, it says.

 

Will Google’s Project Zero Succeed?

July 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Google has announced “Project Zero”, a dramatically-named initiative that looks to mitigate the risk of internet users getting hit by targeted cyber attacks.

Started by a group of Google security researchers with the mission of ridding the world of security dangers such as zero-day attacks, Project Zero will hire “the best practically-minded security researchers”, Google said, promising to contribute all of their time “toward improving security across the internet”.

The group was put together after certain Googlers started spending “some of their time on research that makes the internet safer, leading to the discovery of bugs like Heartbleed,” said Google researcher Chris Evans in a blog post.

“We’re not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers,” Evans explained. “We’ll use standard approaches such as locating and reporting large numbers of vulnerabilities.”

Evans said that Project Zero will also conduct new research into mitigations, exploitation, program analysis, and anything else that the researchers decide is a worthwhile investment.

The Googlers at Project Zero will commit to doing their work transparently, with every bug discovered being filed in an external database. They will also report bugs only to the software’s vendor and no third parties.

“Once the bug report becomes public, typically once a patch is available, you’ll be able to monitor vendor time-to-fix performance, see any discussion about exploitability, and view historical exploits and crash traces,” Evans said. “We also commit to sending bug reports to vendors in as close to real-time as possible, and to working with them to get fixes to users in a reasonable time.”

Not to long before the announcement of Project Zero on Tuesday, Google came under fire from European Union courts, which have forced the firm to forget certain people’s irrelevant or outdated online histories. Within days of the court order going into effect, EU citizens were begging Google to have their pasts expunged, at the rate of 10,000 requests per day.

However, it has since emerged that the buried webpages haven’t been technically disabled, nor have they been erased, security Firm Sophos reports.

“Regardless of what the directive is being called, courts technically didn’t grant Europeans the right to be forgotten. Rather, it gave them the right to be relatively obscured, by having eligible pages flagged so they don’t show up in search results,” said Sophos in a blog post.

“The data is still out there. And now, a newly launched site is archiving the forcibly de-indexed pages, in the name of opening up to the internet as a whole the discussion regarding what should or should not be ‘forgotten’.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Touch ID Patent Falters

July 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple’s application to trademark the name ‘Touch ID’ for its fingerprint scanning technology has been rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Apparently the name already belongs to an outfit called Kronos, a US-based company that makes workforce management software.

The USPTO pointed out that granting Apple the patent for Touch ID may create confusion among potential users. Kronos’s Touch ID technology is also related to fingerprint recognition and has been doing rather well. It has had the trademark since 2001, while Apple’s application was submitted in January this year only.

The iPhone maker has six months to respond to the letter and provide an alternative. If Apple fails to do so, its application will be considered abandoned by the US patent office and the company will have to rename the feature. The Tame Apple Press gets all moist about the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which was billed as the “killer ap” on the iPhone 5S.  It is going on the iPad range in October.

The fact Apple could not be bothered to check the name was trademarked before it stuck it in the iPhone5S is probably going to cause it some problems. After all it had a few difficulties with the iPad name.

Courtesy-Fud

Oracle To Release A Whopping 115 Security Patches

July 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Oracle announced plans to release 115 security patches for vulnerabilities affecting a vast number of its products, including its flagship database, Java SE, Fusion Middleware and business applications.

The update includes fixes for 20 weaknesses in Java SE, all of which can be exploited by an attacker remotely, without the need for login credentials, Oracle said in an announcement prior to Tuesday’s patch release.

Some 29 fixes are for Oracle’s Fusion Middleware suite, with 27 able to be exploited over a network without the need for authentication. Affected middleware components include BI Publisher, GlassFish Server, HTTP Server, JDeveloper, WebCenter Portal and WebLogic Server.

Six other patches are for Oracle’s database. Two of the vulnerabilities can be exploited remotely without login credentials.

Another seven patches target Hyperion, one of Oracle’s BI (business intelligence) products.

The update also includes fixes for security weaknesses in a range of Oracle applications, including E-Business Suite, Siebel CRM, PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail Applications and Primavera.

Oracle Virtualization will get 15 fixes, eight of which target vulnerabilities that can be exploited over the Internet without login credentials.

Finally, some 10 fixes will ship for MySQL. None of the related vulnerabilities can be attacked remotely without authentication.

Oracle releases patches on a quarterly basis. The last update, in April, delivered 104 fixes.

 

Google, Dropbox Team Up To Ward Off Patent Trolls

July 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google, Dropbox and a few other high-tech firms have devised a new way to help protect themselves against patent trolls.

Patent trolls, or “non-practicing entities,” are companies that buy up old patents and try to monetize them by accusing others of infringement. They usually request a one-off licensing fee to end a lawsuit, something many companies reluctantly pay because it’s cheaper than defending the claim.

The practice has become a significant problem in the high-tech field, in part because of the complex nature of modern software and hardware.

In an attempt to stop it, six high-tech companies have banded together to launch the License on Transfer Network, or LOT Network.

Members of Lotnet retain full ownership and licensing rights of their patents, but they agree to provide each other with a royalty-free license should any of the patents ever be sold.

That means if Dropbox, for instance, sells a patent on data storage to a third party, Google and the other members will first receive a license to the technology. That should insulate them from any lawsuits brought by the patent’s new owner.

Besides Google and Dropbox, the launch members include SAP, Canon, Asana and Newegg. They hope the agreement will reduce the nuisance of patent trolling.

“The LOT Network is a sort of arms control for the patent world,” said Allen Lo, deputy general counsel for patents at Google, in a statement. “By working together, we can cut down on patent litigation, allowing us to focus instead on building great products.”

The group is offering membership to other technology companies.

 

Apple’s iWatch Will Have Multiple Screens, Designs

June 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc plans to introduce smartwatches with multiple screen sizes and designs this fall,  according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Taiwan’s Quanta will begin mass production of Apple’s first smartwatches from July, in time for an October launch, several sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal on Friday also cited sources saying Quanta would manufacture the device.

One of the sources told Reuters on Thursday that Apple expects to ship 50 million units of the so-called iWatch within the first year of the product’s release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.

The smartwatch will come with a slightly rectangular display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally, the source added. The watch-face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities, according to the source.

Another source told Reuters that LG Display Co Ltd is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget’s initial batch of production.

The iWatch will also contain a sensor that monitors a user’s pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for that feature, two sources said on Thursday.

Apple’s smartwatch will follow similar devices by Samsung, Sony Corp, Motorola and LG Electronics Inc – gadgets that tech watchers say have not been appealing or user-friendly enough for mass adoption.

But the market is growing fast. Data firm IDC estimates that worldwide shipments of wearable computing devices, including smartwatches, will triple this year over 2013.

 

Microsoft Releases Special Browser Just For Developers

June 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Developers can test drive new features of the next version of Internet Explorer using a test edition Microsoft has released for their use.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel, which can be downloaded for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1, runs independently of the user’s copy of IE, allowing programmers to test the newest browser features without disrupting their current browser settings.

The Internet Explorer Developer Channel will offer an early version of IE while it is still being worked on by Microsoft programmers. Developers can preview features planned for the upcoming editions of the browser to help them better build Web applications and pages that use the new capabilities.

Microsoft also hopes that developers will offer feedback, so the company can better implement the pending features.

The developer version offers a sandbox-like testing environment so it does not interfere with the user’s IE browser profile. The browser does not run as quickly as the standard edition of IE and because it is a beta version, should not be used in production environments.

With the test version, Microsoft is replicating the fast development environments used by other browser makers.

Mozilla offers nightly builds of the next version of the Firefox browser under development. Google also offers developer versions of its Chrome browser.

Microsoft plans to issue frequent updates to the test version of IE, announcing them through the DevChannel.Modern.IE developer resource site.

Microsoft’s browser also comes with F12 Developer Tools, designed to help debug and optimize Web pages and Web applications.

 

Vodafone Shows Interest In ‘Connected Cars’ With Latest Purchase

June 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Vodafone is acquiring an Italian car electronics maker for 145 million euros ($197 million), hoping to leap ahead in the race to connect more products to the internet and offset slowing growth in its core mobile phone business.

Telecoms and technology firms are looking to tap an expected surge in demand for so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications – or using the internet to get products from cars and washing machines to turbines and medical equipment to carry out more tasks, more efficiently.

Cars are at the forefront of the new industry, as manufacturers strive to add new features such as streaming music, playing audio books, navigation aids and security improvements to their vehicles.

Only about 10 percent of vehicles currently have built-in connectivity to the internet, but that number is expected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2020, according to British consulting firm Machina Research.

Vodafone said on Monday it had agreed to buy Cobra Automotive Technologies, which provides products aimed at improving car security, telecommunications and vehicle tracking for the automotive and insurance industries.

“The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services,” said Erik Brenneis, Director of M2M at Vodafone.

“We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services.”

Other mobile operators are also investing in the M2M industry – also known as “the internet of things” – looking for new sources of income as stiff competition and regulation slow growth in their core market.

For example, Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, spent $612 million in cash in 2012 to buy Hughes Telematics, which sells products including GPS tracking, communications and safety features in cars.

 

Disney Gaming Studio Makes A Profit

June 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Mickey Mouse outfit Walt Disney expects global retail sales from its 10-month-old Infinity video game to reach $1 billion.

Disney launched Infinity in August to help turn around its interactive gaming unit, which lost $1.4 billion from fiscal year 2008 to 2013. In an overhaul in March, the division laid off about one-quarter of the workforce, cut the number of games it develops and focused its advertising more on the fast-changing mobile market.

A month ago, Disney reported global retail sales of $550 million for Infinity. Sales of the game helped the interactive unit post a $14 million profit for the quarter that ended in March. Jimmy Pitaro, president of the company’s interactive unit said that Infinity will be a billion-dollar franchise. It is expected to do even better when the game’s next version, “Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes” is launched. Infinity lets users play with characters from Disney and Pixar films such as Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Lightning McQueen from “Cars.” The 2.0 version that will be launched in the fall brings in Marvel heroes such as Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man.

Still Infinity has not done as well as its rival Activision Blizzard “Skylanders” franchise which has made $2 billion in revenue.

Courtesy-Fud