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Lenovo To Release New Yoga Tablets, Hybrids In Time For Holidays

October 1, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo plans on rolling out new Yoga tablets and hybrids in time for the end-of-year holiday season, with actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher having a hand in the design and development of the products.

The “innovative and stylish” Yoga products “will become very popular presents for the holiday season,” said Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo’s CEO, during a call on Monday.

Lenovo is holding an event in London on Oct. 9 to announce the new products, with Kutcher joining the announcement by satellite. Kutcher holds the title of “product engineer” with Lenovo.

Product details weren’t shared, but hints have already started popping up on Lenovo’s website. One product on tap could be the Yoga 3 Pro, with a product page saying “Shhh. Can’t talk now.” The Yoga 3 Pro will succeed the Yoga 2 Pro laptop-tablet hybrid, which has a 13.3-inch screen attached to the base. That’s unlike other hybrid designs in which the screens are detachable.

Lenovo offers Yoga tablets and hybrids with screen sizes between 8 and 13.3 inches. The 8- and 10-inch Yoga tablets have Android, while the 11.6- and 13.3-inch hybrids have Windows.

Also on the way could be new Yoga tablets with different screen sizes and upgraded processors. Intel has started shipping new Core M chips based on the Broadwell architecture, which Lenovo has used in the new ThinkPad Helix announced earlier this month. The Yoga tablets with Android have been criticized for poor performance and could use processor upgrades.

Yuanqing’s comments were made on a call about Lenovo’s plans to soon complete the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business for US$2.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close on Wednesday.

Lenovo is also expected to complete the acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $2.91 billion by the end of the year. Lenovo sells its smartphones mostly in China, Europe and Asia, and the Motorola Mobility acquisition will provide a pathway to the U.S. smartphone market.

Hardware will remain Lenovo’s key focus in the coming years, but the company is also building its software, services and security portfolio to go along with devices, Yuanqing said.

 

 

BlackBerry’s Passport Smartphone Sold Out, Says CEO

September 30, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry’s new qwerty Passport smartphone quickly sold out just hours after going on sale online last Wednesday, with another 200,000 back orders waiting in line, BlackBerry CEO John Chen proudly announced.

Chen didn’t indicate how many units were sold online, but said ShopBlackBerry.com sold out the Passport in six hours, with Amazon.com selling iout in 10 hours before customers began leaving online orders that had reached 200,000 as the day it debuted. The device has a price tag of $599 unlocked.

“That’s extremely good receptivity” for Passport, Chen said.

But that wasn’t Chen’s only good news in what he called a “very solid” second quarter that ended Aug. 30 with an earnings loss of $11 million, or 2 cents per share, compared to an 11-cent per share loss the previous quarter. Still, revenues were $916 million for the quarter, down from $966 million in the previous quarter, and well below the $1.5 billion reported for the same quarter a year ago.

Chen predicted profitability for BlackBerry by mid-year 2015, possibly in the first fiscal 2016 quarter that starts in March 2015. “You can see a progressively good trend going forward,” Chen said.

Chen said that large companies, especially in banking and government, are coming back to BlackBerry for its smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 software for security and management. They are coming for “stability,” he said.

“The product is broader and deeper and has history with most customers,” Chen added. “I have spoken to many executives and people are very interested in working with us. Our technology works and works well. Governments use it and major banks use it. We’re winning them back — knock on wood, I don’t want to be overconfident — and we’re starting to see that with very big companies.”

He also predicted more interest in BlackBerry once it launches its next operating system, BlackBerry 12, on Nov. 13 at an event in San Francisco.

The company posted a number of successes, including what it called a “normalized” use of cash of $36 million in the recent quarter, compared to $255 million in the prior quarter.

 

 

Will Sony’s Morpheus Succeed?

September 30, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

PS4 is going gangbusters, 3DS continues to impress, Steam and Kickstarter have between them overseen an extraordinary revitalisation of PC gaming, and mobile gaming goes from strength to strength; yet it’s absolutely clear where the eager eyes of most gamers are turned right now. Virtual reality headsets are, not for the first time, the single most exciting thing in interactive entertainment. At the Tokyo Game Show and its surrounding events, the strongest contrast to the huge number of mobile titles on display was the seemingly boundless enthusiasm for Sony’s Morpheus and Oculus’ Rift headsets; at Oculus’ own conference in California the same week, developers were entranced by the hardware and its promise.

VR is coming; this time, it’s for real. Decades of false starts, disappointments and dodgy Hollywood depictions will finally be left behind. The tech and the know-how have finally caught up with the dreams. Immersion and realism are almost within touching distance, a deep, involved experience that will fulfil the childhood wishes of just about every gamer and SF aficionado while also putting clear blue water between core games and more casual entertainment. The graphical fidelity of mobile devices may be rapidly catching up to consoles, but the sheer gulf between a VR experience and a mobile experience will be unmistakeable.

That’s the promise, anyway. There’s no question that it’s a promise which feels closer to fulfilment than ever before. Even in the absence of a final consumer product or even a release date, let alone a killer app, the prototypes and demos we’ve seen thus far are closer to “true” virtual reality than many of us had dared to hope. Some concerns remain; how mainstream can a product that relies on strapping on a headset to the exclusion of the real world actually become? (I wouldn’t care to guess on this front, but would note that we already use technology in countless ways that would have seemed alien, anti-social or downright weird to people only a generation ago.) Won’t an appreciable portion of people get motion sickness? (Perhaps; only widespread adoption will show us how widespread this problem really is.) There’s plenty to ponder even as the technology marches inexorably closer.

One thing I found myself pondering around TGS and Oculus Connect was the slightly worrying divergence in the strategies of Sony and Oculus. A year or even six months ago, it felt like these companies, although rivals, were broadly marching in lock step. Morpheus and Rift felt like very similar devices – Rift was more “hobbyist” yet a little more technically impressive, while Morpheus was more clearly the product of an experienced consumer products company, but in essence they shared much of the same DNA.

Now, however, there’s a clear divergence in strategy, and it’s something of a concern. Shuhei Yoshida says that Morpheus is 85% complete (although anyone who has worked in product development knows that the last 10% can take a hell of a lot more than 10% of the effort to get right); Sony is seemingly feeling reasonably confident about its device and has worked out various cunning approaches to make it cost effective, from using mobile phone components through to repurposing PlayStation Move as a surprisingly effective VR control mechanism.

By contrast, Oculus Connect showed off a new prototype of Rift which is still clearly in a process of evolution. The new hardware is lighter and more comfortable – closer to being a final product, in short – but it’s also still adding new features and functionality to the basic unit. Oculus, unlike Sony, still doesn’t feel like a company that’s anywhere close to having a consumer product ready to launch. It’s still hunting for the “right” level of hardware capabilities and functionality to make VR really work.

I could be wrong; Oculus could be within a year of shipping something to consumers, but if so, they’ve got a damned funny way of showing it. Based on the tone of Oculus Connect, the firm’s hugely impressive technology is still in a process of evolution and development. It barely feels any closer to being a consumer product this year than it did last year, and its increasingly complex functionality implies a product which, when it finally arrives, will command a premium price point. This is still a tech company in a process of iteration, discovering the product they actually want to launch; for Luckey, Carmack and the rest of the dream team assembled at Oculus, their VR just isn’t good enough yet, even though it’s moving in the right direction fast.

Sony, by contrast, now feels like it’s about to try something disruptive. It’s seemingly pretty happy with where Morpheus stands as a VR device; now the challenge is getting the design and software right, and pushing the price down to a consumer friendly level by doing market-disruptive things like repurposing components from its (actually pretty impressive) smartphones. Again, it’s possible that the mood music from both companies is misleading, but right now it feels like Sony is going to launch a reasonably cost-effective VR headset while Oculus is still in the prototyping phase.

These are two very different strategic approaches to the market. The worrying thing is that they can’t both be right. If Oculus is correct and VR still needs a lot of fine-tuning, prototyping and figuring out before it’s ready for the market, then Sony is rushing in too quickly and risks seriously damaging the market potential of VR as a whole with an underwhelming product. This risk can’t be overstated; if Morpheus launches first and it makes everyone seasick, or is uncomfortable to use for more than a short period of time, or simply doesn’t impress people with its fidelity and immersion, then it could see VR being written off for another decade in spite of Oculus’ best efforts. The public are fickle and VR has cried wolf too many times already.

If, on the other hand, Sony is correct and “good enough” VR tech is pretty much ready to go, then that’s great for VR and for PS4, but potentially very worrying for Oculus, who risk their careful, evolutionary, prototype after prototype approach being upended by an unusually nimble and disruptive challenge from Sony. If this is the case (and I’ve heard little but good things about Morpheus, which suggests Sony’s gamble may indeed pay off) then the Facebook deal could be either a blessing or a curse. A blessing, if it allows Oculus to continue to work on evolving and developing VR tech, shielding them from the impact of losing first-mover advantage to Sony; a curse, if that failure to score a clear win in the first round spooks Facebook’s management and investors and causes them to pull the plug. That’s one that could go either way; given the quality of the innovative work Oculus is doing, even if Sony’s approach proves victorious, everyone should hope that the Oculus team gets an opportunity to keep plugging away.

It’s exciting and interesting to see Sony taking this kind of risk. These gambles don’t always pay off, of course – the company placed bets on 3D TV in the PS3 era which never came to fruition, for example – but that’s the nature of innovation and we should never criticise a company for attempting something truly interesting, innovative and even disruptive, as long as it passes the most basic of Devil’s Advocate tests. Sony has desperately needed a Devil’s Advocate in the past – Rolly, anyone? UMD? – but Morpheus is a clear pass, an interesting and exciting product with the potential to truly turn around the company’s fortunes.

I just hope that in the company’s enthusiasm, it understands the absolute importance of getting this right, not just being first. This is a quality Sony was famed for in the past; rather than trying to be first to market in new sectors, it would ensure that it had by far the best product when it launched. This is one of the things which Steve Jobs, a huge fan of Sony, copied from the company when he created the philosophies which still guide Apple (a company that rarely innovates first, but almost always leapfrogs the competition in quality and usability when it does adopt new technology and features). For an experience as intimate as VR – complete immersion in a headset, screens mere centimetres from your eyes – that’s a philosophy which must be followed. When these headsets reach the market, what will be most important isn’t who is first; it isn’t even who is cheapest. The consumer’s first experience must be excellent – nothing less will do. Oculus seems to get that. Sony, in its enthusiasm to disrupt, must not lose sight of the same goal.

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

RedHat Ups Game With Fedora 21

September 29, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

RedHat has announced the Fedora 21 Alpha release for Fedora developers and any brave users that want to help test it.

Fedora is the leading edge – some might say bleeding edge – distribution of Linux that is sponsored by Red Hat. That’s where Red Hat and other developers do new development work that eventually appears in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other Red Hat based Linux distributions, including Centos, Scientific Linux and Mageia, among others. Therefore, what Fedora does might also appear elsewhere eventually.

The Fedora project said the release of Fedora 21 Alpha is meant for testing in order to help it identify and resolve bugs, adding, “Fedora prides itself on bringing cutting-edge technologies to users of open source software around the world, and this release continues that tradition.”

Specifically, Fedora 21 will produce three software products, all built on the same Fedora 21 base, and these will each be a subset of the entire release.

Fedora 21 Cloud will include images for use in private cloud environments like Openstack, as well as AMIs for use on Amazon, and a new image streamlined for running Docker containers called Fedora Atomic Host.

Fedora 21 Server will offer data centre users “a common base platform that is meant to run featured application stacks” for use as a web server, file server, database server, or as a base for offering infrastructure as a service, including advanced server management features.

Fedora 21 Workstation will be “a reliable, user-friendly, and powerful operating system for laptops and PC hardware” for use by developers and other desktop users, and will feature the latest Gnome 3.14 desktop environment.

Those interested in testing the Fedora 21 Alpha release can visit the Fedora project website.

Courtesy-TheInq

FBI Is Concerned About Encryption On Smartphones

September 29, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation expressed some concerns about moves by Apple and Google to include encryption on smartphones, the agency’s director has stated.

Quick law enforcement access to the contents of smartphones could save lives in some kidnapping and terrorism cases, FBI Director James Comey said in a briefing with some reporters. Comey said he’s concerned that smartphone companies are marketing “something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” according to news reports.

An FBI spokesman confirmed the general direction of Comey’s remarks. The FBI has contacted Apple and Google about their encryption plans, Comey told a group of reporters who regularly cover his agency.

Just last week, Google announced it would be turning on data encryption by default in the next version of Android. Apple, with the release of iOS 8 earlier this month, allowed iPhone and iPad users to encrypt most personal data with a password.

Comey’s remarks, prompted by a reporter’s question, came just days after Ronald Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and former assistant director of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division, decried mobile phone encryption in a column in the Washington Post.

Smartphone companies shouldn’t give criminals “one more tool,” he wrote. “Apple’s and Android’s new protections will protect many thousands of criminals who seek to do us great harm, physically or financially. They will protect those who desperately need to be stopped from lawful, authorized, and entirely necessary safety and security efforts. And they will make it impossible for police to access crucial information, even with a warrant.”

Representatives of Apple and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments on Comey’s concerns.

 

General Motors Hires Its First Cybersecurity Chief

September 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

General Motors Co has named an engineer to serve as its first cybersecurity chief as the No. 1 U.S. automaker and its rivals are starting to focus on how to better secure their vehicles against hackers.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker promoted manager Jeff Massimilla to the post as part of an eight-month review of its product design and engineering, said GM Vice President of Global Product Development Mark Reuss.

“If you look at the technology…as we put semi-autonomous and autonomous systems into vehicles, we have to be able to look at this at a very very critical systems level and do it defect-free for the customer,” Reuss said. “So that’s the competitive advantage we’re trying to really put in place for General Motors.”

Vehicles rely on tiny computers to manage everything from engines and brakes to navigation, air conditioning and windshield wipers. Security experts say it is only a matter of time before malicious hackers are able to exploit software glitches and other vulnerabilities to try to harm drivers.

Security researchers in recent years have uncovered vulnerabilities in those systems that they say make cars susceptible to potentially dangerous attacks.

For example, at last year’s Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek exposed methods for attacking the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. In August of this year they published a list of the world’s “most hackable” cars.

A group of well-known hackers and security professionals in August sent an open letter to GM and other automakers asking them to implement basic guidelines to defend cars from cyber attacks.

The non-profit group, known as “I am the Calvary” has suggested that carmakers adopt a five-part cyber-safety program to make their products less susceptible to attacks by hackers.

Egil Juliussen, an analyst with IHS Automotive, said that the move reflects the increasing importance of cybersecurity to the industry.

 

 

Jimmy Johns The Latest Chain To Fall Victim To Data Breach

September 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Sandwich restaurant chain Jimmy John’s said there was a potential data breach involving customers’ credit and debit card information at 216 of its stores and franchised locations on July 30.

An intruder stole log-in credentials from the company’s vendor and used the credentials to remotely access the point-of-sale systems at some corporate and franchised locations between June 16 and Sept. 5, the company said.

The chain is the latest victim in a series of security breaches among retailers such as Target Corp, Michaels Stores Inc and Neiman Marcus.

Home Depot Inc  said last week some 56 million payment cards were likely compromised in a cyberattack at its stores, suggesting the hacking attack at the home improvement chain was larger than the breach at Target Corp.

More than 12 of the affected Jimmy John’s stores are in Chicago area, according to a list disclosed by the company.

The breach has been contained and customers can use their cards at its stores, the privately held company said.

Jimmy John’s said it has hired forensic experts to assist with its investigation.

“Cards impacted by this event appear to be those swiped at the stores, and did not include those cards entered manually or online,” Jimmy John’s said.

The Champaign, Illinois-based company said stolen information may include the card number and in some cases the cardholder’s name, verification code, and/or the card’s expiration date.

 

 

Hackers Prefer Your Medical Records Over Your Credit Cards

September 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Your medical records are worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market.

Last month, the FBI warned healthcare providers to guard against cyber attacks after one of the largest U.S. hospital operators, Community Health Systems Inc, said Chinese hackers had broken into its computer network and stolen the personal information of 4.5 million patients.

Security experts say cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, which has many companies still reliant on aging computer systems that do not use the latest security features.

“As attackers discover new methods to make money, the healthcare industry is becoming a much riper target because of the ability to sell large batches of personal data for profit,” said Dave Kennedy, an expert on healthcare security and CEO of TrustedSEC LLC. “Hospitals have low security, so it’s relatively easy for these hackers to get a large amount of personal data for medical fraud.”

Interviews with nearly a dozen healthcare executives, cybersecurity investigators and fraud experts provide a detailed account of the underground market for stolen patient data.

The data for sale includes names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations.

Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected.

Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information.

 

Every Three Minutes A Mobile Device Is Wiped, Says Fiberlink

September 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

One mobile device is wiped every three minutes as part of a corporate security compliance, according to a study of 130,000 devices managed by MaaS360, the Fiberlink mobile device management platform.

Fiberlink, an IBM company, manages millions of mobile devices for businesses worldwide through the MaaS360 platform. The company said today that a study of data from 2013 revealed that, on average, businesses wipe 10% to 20% of their entire device population every year.

Everyone wipes. Fiberlink’s data showed businesses from every vertical and size are clearing data from mobile devices to address security concerns.

Remote mobile data wipe capability has become a controversial, if not de facto, standard among corporate privacy policies and is a key feature offered by mobile device management (MDM) platforms. Even cloud storage service providers are offering the capability today.

Corporate attitudes toward bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are often poorly formed and can, in general, fall into one of three categories: There’s no official BYOD policy, devices are banned or no one talks about it.

As more companies embrace BYOD and the lines continue to blur between personal and professional use, companies are finding new ways to balance security concerns with employee productivity. One method is to have employees agree to a remote wipe policy, which can sometimes mean personal data on the phone is lost as well.

One method of dealing with the sensitive personal data that employees don’t want deleted is “dual persona” mobile devices, or smartphones and tablets that run two separate mobile operating systems that allow disparate instances.

Dual-persona capability allows businesses to lock down corporate data on one OS, while allowing users to take advantage of whatever apps they want to run on the other “personal” OS.

According to Fiberlink’s study of its own clients, 63% of devices are partially wiped and 37% are fully wiped.

Additionally, 49% of wipes are done automatically and 51% are done by someone at the organization.

The most common reasons for automatic wipes are because devices have been jailbroken or because companies are enforcing enrollment and application compliance policies, Fiberlink’s data showed.

 

Will Oculus Go Into The Mobile Space?

September 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

We attended the first ever Oculus Connect conference, the beats and chatter of a cocktail reception just next door, Max Cohen is being brutally honest about the company’s mobile-based virtual reality headset.

“I can spend ten minutes talking about the problems with this device. We’re not afraid of them,” the VP of mobile says with a smile.

“It overheats if you run it too long. It is 60 Hertz low persistence, which means some people will notice flicker. The graphical quality is obviously a lot less than the PC. Battery life is a concern. There’s no positional tracking.

“We could try to say this is the be-all end-all of VR. We’d be lying. That’s a bad thing. We would hurt where we can get to the be-all end-all of VR. Everyone, Samsung, Facebook, Oculus, we’re all aligned with making a damn good product that we put out in the market and then working on improving it. Really soon, maybe even sooner than you think, we’ll get to that amazing VR experience for everyone.”

“Samsung, Facebook, Oculus, we’re all aligned with making a damn good product”

Cohen’s talking about the Gear VR, the Samsung backed headset that offers a more portable and accessible entry into the virtual reality world for developers and users alike. It’s John Carmack’s passion project at the company and clearly it’s Cohen’s too.

“The first thing they did was to put me in the HD prototype with the Tuscany demo. I was floored, of course,” he remembers.

“Then I got to see the Valve room and then he showed me this mobile project. It was running on a Galaxy S4 at the time. It crashed a little bit. There were a lot of problems with it, but I just thought this was so amazing. I went back and was talking to a friend of mine who’s an entrepreneur. He said it’s rare that you have the opportunity to work on transformational hardware, and that’s really what this was.”

The story of the Gear VR is a simple one; Oculus went to the Korean company hoping to work with them on screens for the PC-based Rift and found Samsung had been working on a headset you could simply slide a Samsung Galaxy phone into to experience virtual reality. Now the companies are working together on both devices, with Samsung fielding calls from Carmack on a regular basis.

“It’s a collaboration. It’s not we tell them what to do or they tell us what to do,” Cohen continues. “We’re the software platform, so when you put that on, you’re in Oculus, but that wouldn’t be possible without maximizing the hardware. Carmack and our team works very closely with their engineering team. They make suggestions about UI as well. We’re working together to make the best possible experience. If it wasn’t collaborative, this thing just honestly wouldn’t function because this is really hard to do.”

The focus of Oculus Connect isn’t the media or sales or even recruitment, but developers. Supporting them, showing them the technology, offering them advice on the new territory that is virtual reality. Cohen, like everyone else I speak to at the weekend, believes developers and their content is absolutely key to the success of the hardware.

“At the end of the day, we want to make the developers’ lives as easy as possible so they can make cool content.”

“Facebook invested in the platform. They didn’t buy it. What they did is they’re also committing money to make sure it’s successful on an ongoing basis”

That content will be supported by an app store, and Cohen wants it to be a place where developers can make a living, rather than just a showcase of free demos. Jason Holtman, former director of business development at Valve, is overseeing its creation.

“We’re going to launch initially with a free store, but maybe a month later, follow along with commerce,” says Cohen.

“At the end of the day, as great as doing the art for free and sharing that is, we will have a hundred times more content when people can actually monetize it. This is a business. There’s nothing wrong with that. People need to be able to feed themselves. Our job is to make the platform as friendly for developers as we can so that it’s painless. You don’t have to worry about a bunch of overhead.”

There’s a sense that the Facebook money, that headline-grabbing $2 billion, has given the team the luxury of time and the chance to recruit the people they need to make sure this time virtual reality lives up to its promises. Other than that, Facebook seems to be letting Oculus just get on with it.

“That’s the thing… a lot of people, with the Facebook acquisition, asked how that would impact us and the answer is it hasn’t, in terms of our culture, and Facebook’s actually supportive of the way Oculus is because we know that content makes or breaks a platform,” says Cohen.

“They invested in the platform. They didn’t buy it. What they did is they’re also committing money to make sure it’s successful on an ongoing basis. We could have continued to raise a lot of venture capital. It would have been very expensive to do it right. Now we have replaced our board of directors with Facebook, but that’s completely fine. They are helping us. They are accelerating our efforts.”

No one at Oculus is talking about release dates for consumer units yet, and Cohen is no different. It’s clear that he and the team are hungry for progress as he talks about skipping minor updates and making major advances. He talks about “awesome” ideas that he’s desperate to get to, and pushing the envelope, but what matters most is getting it right.

“I think everyone understands that with a little bit more magic, VR can be ubiquitous. Everyone needs it. I think a lot of people understand what we need to do to get there, but it takes hard work to actually solve those things. Oculus and Facebook have lined up the right team to do it, but I want us to actually have time to do that,” says Cohen.

“We’re not trying to sell millions now. We’re trying to get people and early adopters, tech enthusiasts and all that interested in it.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

BlackBerry Launches New Passport Smartphone

September 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

BlackBerry launched an unconventional new smartphone dubbed the Passport on Wednesday, as it undertakes one of the most critical phases of its long turnaround.

The one-time smartphone industry pioneer recently concluded a three-year long restructuring process and has largely halted the bleed, but it is now up to Chief Executive John Chen to prove that the company’s new devices and services are capable of generating sustainable new streams of revenue and returning it to profitability.

“BlackBerry is still fighting for survival. They still need to turn around and develop a viable ongoing business model,” said Morningstar analyst Brian Colello.

“Their products are certainly pointing toward that and the new strategy makes sense, but there is still a lot of execution risk at this point in a very competitive market.”

BlackBerry debuted the Passport on Wednesday in Toronto, with simultaneous events also held in London and Dubai.

The launch of the Passport, which boasts a big square screen and a unique touch-sensitive tactile keyboard, will kick off a frenzied spell for Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry. The company is set to report fiscal second-quarter results on Friday and within a couple of months it is also expected to launch the long-awaited BlackBerry Classic, which bears similarities to its once wildly popular Bold smartphone.

“BlackBerry just needs one hit phone for now,” Colello said. “It doesn’t quite matter whether it is the Passport, the Classic or anything else, but they do need one device to jump-start the hardware business again. The big question really is whether any of these devices will kick-start it.”

The company is hoping the Classic and the launch of its new mobile device management system – BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES12) – will help it claw back ground ceded to rivals in both the hardware and services market.

The BES 12 platform will allow IT managers at large firms and government agencies to not only manage and secure BlackBerry devices, but also all Android, iOS and Windows-based devices on one platform.

Chen, a well-regarded turnaround expert in the tech sector, intends to remain a competitor in the smartphone arena, but is focused on reshaping the company to build on its core strengths in areas like mobile data security and mobile device management.

 

 

Cloudflare May Go Keyless SSL Encryption

September 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cloudflare has announced that it has been working on SSL encryption that does not require keys.

Instead of using keys, authorisation algorithms take place at a cloud level doing away with the need for on-premises encryption systems that are prone to denial of service attacks.

Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, Cloudflare has not revealed its existing client list, but it said that Goldman Sachs has been among the companies piloting and trialling service.

The service has been in private beta for the past six months and the company claims that new users can be up and running with the service in a matter of hours, making an entire tier of on-premises hardware redundant at a stroke.

In a statement to Newsfactor, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said, “Keyless SSL is designed to allow companies that had previously needed to use on-premise hardware to now get the infinite scalability and infinite elasticity of a cloud service. The primary competitor to the technology is hardware you install yourself to perform firewall, load balancing, performance optimization, and other functionality. Unfortunately, that on-premise software suffers from limitations when organizations need it to scale.”

The advent of cloud-based keyless SSL could prove useful to a wide range of businesses from financial institutions to government departments.

The issue of SSL security was highlighted earlier this year with the discovery of the Heartbleed vulnerability, which affected an unprecedented proportion of online services causing a stampede to patch them before hackers could capitalise on the discovery.

The upshot of the Heartbleed incident was the creation of the Core Infrastructure Initiative, a consortium from the industry, which actively maintains the SSL standard at a level it had not seen previously.

Meanwhile some organisations have created their own forks of SSL, including the recently relaunched LibreSSL and Google’s in-house boring SSL.

Courtesy-TheInq

RedHat Scoops Up FeedHenry To Bolster Mobile Space

September 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Red Hat has acquired Feedhenry, a designer of mobile apps for the enterprise market.

The company sees the acquisition as a key driver to offer cross-platform support for its existing software products, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux Openstack 7, which it released earlier this year.

Feedhenry uses Node.js architecture to create mobile apps supporting both the client and server, running natively across Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry, as well as offering web apps in HTML5. It combines a wide range of toolkits and APIs offering integration with existing systems and most popular software applications from enterprise vendors like Salesforce, SAP and Oracle.

The purchase price is said to be approximately $82 million in cash (just over $8m) and is expected to close in quarter three fiscal year 2015.

Craig Muzilla, SVP of the Application Platform Business group at Red Hat said, “The mobile application platform is one of the fastest growing segments of the enterprise software market. As mobile devices have penetrated into every aspect of enterprise computing, enterprise software customers are looking for easier and more efficient ways for their developers to build mobile applications that extend and enhance traditional enterprise applications.”

“Feedhenry will help us enable customers to take advantage of the capabilities of mobile with the security, scalability, and reliability of Red Hat enterprise software.”

Red Hat said that it will continue to sell and support Feedhenry is products and work with its existing customer base. Feedhenry products will continue to offer a wide variety of cloud deployments, but under the ownership of Red Hat is likely to see particular emphasis on Openshift and Openstack. At the end of last month, Red Hat’s long-serving CTO Brian Stevens left the firm, according to a brief press announcement.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Yelp Settles FTC With FTC Over Child Privacy Violation Charges

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yelp has agreed to pay $450,000 to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to settle charges that the firm accepted registrations to its services from children under 13 through its apps.

The FTC had earlier on Tuesday lodged a complaint against the service that connects people with local businesses, stating that it had violated a number of rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Before 2009, users could only register through the website, where Yelp had a screening mechanism to prohibit users under the age of 13 from registering. However, in 2009, Yelp introduced a registration feature in its app, allowing users to register for new accounts through the application but failed to implement a working age-screen mechanism in the feature, according to the FTC complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As a result, both the iOS and Android versions of the app accepted registrations and collected information from users who entered dates of birth indicating that they were underaged, the complaint added. This went on until April 2013.

Yelp said in a blog post earlier this week that it had reached a settlement with the FTC regarding the bug in the mobile registration process that failed to disallow registrations from individuals under 13. Birth dates on Yelp are optional in the first place, so users are always free to register without one, it noted.

The FTC charged Yelp with violating the COPPA Rule by failing to provide notice to parents of its information practices, and to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children.

Under the proposed settlement, Yelp has to destroy the personal information of children under 13 who registered with the service within 30 days of the entry of the order, in most cases.

Yelp said that only about 0.02% of users who actually completed the registration process during the time period provided an underage birth date, “and we have good reason to believe that many of them were actually adults.”

The company had an average of about 138 million monthly unique visitors in the second quarter of this year.

 

 

AMD and Ubuntu Working Together On Canonical

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has joined with Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical to make it easier for users to deploy an Openstack private cloud.

The partnership comprises of the Seamicro SM15000 server, the Ubuntu LTS 14.04 Linux distribution and Openstack, which includes a set of tools to build more flexible and reliable private clouds.

“The AMD and Canonical collaboration overcomes the complexity of deploying OpenStack technology and provides an out of the box experience making it possible to deploy a private cloud in hours compared to days,” AMD said.

“The joint solution automates complex configuration tasks, simplifies management, and provides a graphical user interface to dynamically deploy new services on demand.”

AMD said that a large amount of engineering resources have gone into the project to provide an integrated set of products that mitigate the complexity of an Openstack technology deployment.

“The SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack is an amazing solution filling a need in the industry for an Openstack solution that can be deployed easily without spending a fortune on professional services or hiring teams of people,” the firm added.

The Seamicro SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack combination is touted as one the most scalable configurations in the industry, due to its benchmark record for hyperscale cloud computing. The record of 168,000 virtual machines was achieved using Metal as a Service (MAAS) and Juju, both part of Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack. MAAS was used to deliver the bare metal servers, storage and networking, and Juju was used for deployment.

The solution is available today, the firms announced jointly, boasting it is “the most scalable, automated application for deploying Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack in hyperscale environments”.

Today AMD also announced another partnership, with RealVNC to bring remote access software to devices running AMD Firepro professional graphics cards.

The venture is said to “get an experience similar to using a local desktop” and will integrate the software with AMD’s Firepro line of professional graphics cards so users can “work at whole new levels of detail, speed, responsiveness and creativity, wherever they are in the world, whenever they need to”.

The collaboration also allows users to edit hi-resolution photos, edit and manipulate 4k videos or render large 3D and CAD files from a laptop and, eventually, even their tablets or smartphones.

Courtesy-TheInq