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AMD Faces Legal Issues Over Spectre and Meltdown Bugs

February 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has been sued by a company because of the way it handled the Spectre and Meltdown bugs.

It is not exactly because of the flaws, but because of the speed at which AMD said that it was not in trouble because its chips did not suffer from the bugs.

Rosen Law Firm is a global investor rights firm, where a class action lawsuit has been kicked off on “behalf of purchasers of the securities of Advanced Micro Devices”. The lawsuit details:

“Defendants during the Class Period made materially false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (1) a fundamental security flaw in Advanced Micro’s processor chips renders them susceptible to hacking; and (2) as a result, Advanced Micro’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times. When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages”.

So AMD is in deep trouble over saying: “To be clear, the security research team identified three variants targeting speculative execution. The threat and the response to the three variants differ by microprocessor company, and AMD is not susceptible to all three variants. Due to differences in AMD’s architecture, we believe there is a near zero risk to AMD processors currently. We expect the security research to be published later today and will provide further updates at that time”.

AMD boldly splitting infinitives which had not been split before said the allegations were without merit and it intends to “vigorously defend against these baseless claims”.

AMD’s current CPUs, Zen core-based products, are entirely immune to Meltdown. Type 2 Spectre attacks that work on AMD hardware are tricky to carry out and need a different set of code for the “same” attack on a different device. AMD Type 1 attacks will not work on Intel or ARM hardware because of implementation differences, and the converse is true too. This means hackers would have to tailor their malware to not just the Type 1/2/3 attack but also for the specific hardware.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Shipped Nearly 4M Pixel Phones, Analyst Says

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google won’t reveal the number of Pixel phones it shipped in 2017, but one analyst from the research firm IDC has a number: 3.9 million.

The analyst, IDC Research Director Francisco Jeronimo, said the figure includes both generations of the phone, the Pixel 1 and 2. For comparison, it’s a “tiny portion” compared with the entire 1.5 billion market size for smartphones altogether, Jeronimo said. And it’s just a sliver compared with the 77.3 million iPhones Apple sold in the last quarter alone.

A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Though the numbers are small, the good news for Google is that they’re growing. Jeronimo said Google doubled its Pixel sales in the last year.

Google debuted the Pixel, the search giant’s first branded phone, in October 2016, and unveiled the second generation of the device exactly one year later. The company has made a serious investment in hardware. In 2016, Google brought in former Motorola executive Rick Osterloh to lead its hardware division, which includes its Google Home smart speakers, Chromecast streaming devices and Google Wi-Fi routers.

The company also said last year it made a $1 billion investment in hardware maker HTC to bring to Google 2,000 engineers, many of whom worked on the Pixel. And the search giant’s hardware division keeps growing. Last week, Google said it’s folding Nest, the smart device maker, into the Google hardware team, after Nest was spun out into a separate company under Google’s parent Alphabet in 2015.

Google Unveils Continuously Updating Email Feature

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Gmail became dynamic. Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday demonstrated a software programming system that would enable emails to feature continuously updating information and greater interactivity.

Users could see automatically updated flight information in a booking confirmation email. They could fill out surveys without leaving a message or review close-up shots of products in a marketing pitch without opening a browser window.

The envisioned changes are an outgrowth of Google’s AMP project, or accelerated mobile pages, Aakash Sahney, a product manager overseeing Gmail, said in a blog post Tuesday.

AMP is a set of programming intended to make webpages load faster by stripping out layers of technology.

It has drawn praise from publishers such as Hearst Corp and the Washington Post for making their websites more inviting for users. But some web developers have expressed concern that Google is getting too much say in how the web operates.

Google is pushing forward. The Gmail integration marks the first broader use for AMP. Other email providers can adopt AMP as well, Google announced as it kicks off an AMP-focused conference for software developers in Amsterdam.

The initial version of AMP for email is aimed at bulk senders. A retailer, for example, that sends a weekly sales notice could ensure that recipients see the current price or availability of an item no matter when the email is opened.

Bookmarking service Pinterest, scheduling app Doodle and Priceline Group Inc’s Booking.com are testing AMP for email, according to Google.

Will Qualcomm Succumb To Broadcom Higher Bid

February 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Broadcom plans to unveil a new $120 billion offer for Qualcomm to pressure the US rival to the negotiating table.

The move comes ahead of a Qualcomm shareholder meeting scheduled for March 6, when Broadcom is seeking to replace Qualcomm’s board of directors by nominating its own slate for election.

Broadcom is scheduled to meet with its advisers later to finalize an offer that values Qualcomm between $80 and $82 per share, two of the sources said. Broadcom’s previous $70 per share offer consisted of $60 per share in cash and $10 per share in stock.

Broadcom plans to offer Qualcomm a higher-than-usual breakup fee in the event regulators thwart the deal, according to the sources. Typically, such break-up fees equate to approximately three percent to foue percent of a deal’s size.

All this is off the record and Broadcom Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan may decide to significantly change the terms at the last minute.

Broadcom has said it is very confident a deal can be completed within a year of signing an agreement. Qualcomm has said that the regulatory review processes required around the world would take more than 18 months and be fraught with risks. Already Chinese companies have dropped hints to their politicians that they will be in trouble dealing if such a super company is formed.

Qualcomm has told its shareholders that Broadcom’s hostile bid is aimed at acquiring the company on the cheap.

Qualcomm reported quarterly profit and revenues last week that beat analysts’ expectations as demand surged for its chips used in smartphones and cars.

Qualcomm is also trying to clinch an acquisition of its own, proposing to buy NXP Semiconductors NV for $38 billion. The deal was approved by European Union antitrust regulators last month, and only China has yet to approve it. Qualcomm expects the government’s blessing later this month.
The NXP deal still faces an uncertain future as some of its shareholders, including activist hedge fund Elliott Management, have asked Qualcomm to raise its offer. Qualcomm is expected to decide later this month.

Courtesy-Fud

OLED Display Maker eMagin Gets $10M Boost From Apple, LG

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A small firm that produces OLED microdisplays is getting some attention from tech giants with big plans for virtual and augmented reality.

Apple, LG and Valve are making a $10 million investment in eMagin, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Hopewell Junction, New York-based company makes microdisplays used in the military, medical and industrial fields, but it has recently turned its attention to companies building consumer headsets.

“We entered into strategic agreements with multiple Tier One consumer product companies for the design and development of microdisplays for consumer head-mounted devices and, together with these companies, negotiated with mass production manufacturers for higher volume production capabilities,” eMagin said in its filing.

The company’s flagship product is a 2K display with a resolution of 2,048 by 2,048 pixels and a 70 percent fill factor, the percentage of each pixel that can be used to gather light.

The investment, made in the form of a new stock issuance, was expected to be completed before the end of January, according to the filing.

The investment underscores the tech community’s commitment to virtual reality, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to a computer-generated 3D environment. Augmented reality, meanwhile, overlays digital images on the real world via special headsets.

Apple amped up its AR play in January when it released its ARKit 1.5 to developers. The software, which is part of the upcoming iOS 11.3 release, will pack new features to enable richer apps, including the ability to places items on vertical walls and doors, not just horizontal surfaces like tables.

LG and Valve have also partnered on developing a VR head-mounted display.

Apple and eMagin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Verizon Is Re-tooling It’s Unlocked Phones Policy

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon is strengthening it’s security protocols to protect its phones.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier announced that it would begin locking the phones it sells to consumers, which will prevent them from using a SIM card from another carrier. Initially, the phones will be unlocked as soon as a customer signs up and activates the service. But later in the spring, the company will begin the practice of keeping the phone locked for a period of time after the purchase — in line with the rest of the industry.

Verizon said it is doing this to deter criminals from stealing phones, often on route to retail stores or from the stores themselves. Unlocked phones make attractive targets because they can be resold on the black market or used overseas with different carriers. That’s particularly the case for iPhones, which are a top target for thieves because of their high resale value.

“We’re taking steps to combat this theft and reduce fraud,” Tami Erwin, executive vice president of wireless operations for Verizon, said in a statement. “These steps will make our phones exponentially less desirable to criminals.”

For consumers, there’s little immediate impact because the phone gets unlocked immediately through a software update. But the policy change in the spring could be a hassle for customers who buy a new phone and then go overseas. One way of saving on international roaming fees is to buy a SIM card from a local carrier. If you have a locked phone, you’ll need to contact Verizon to unlock the device before switching out your SIM card — assuming the carrier will make the exception.

The policy change underscores how the issue of phone theft remains prevalent despite the CTIA wireless trade group, the carriers and phone makers banding together to add antitheft tools to phones in 2015. A study conducted by fraud and theft data provider Recipero in 2016 found that 5 percent of devices offered for sale or trade-in at retail were reported lost or stolen, while 4 percent of warranty claims were made on lost or stolen phones.

Verizon wouldn’t say how long the locked period would be, adding only that it would provide an update ahead of when it rolls out the policy. It also declined to provide a specific timeline. The wait period is in place to deter scammers from signing up for service using stolen identities to get a new phone and immediately turning around and selling the device.

The move may elicit a backlash from people concerned that this isn’t a consumer-friendly action. But Verizon’s policy to sell entirely unlocked phones — which it has done ever since it began selling 4G LTE devices — was the most generous in the industry. That’s largely because of a deal with the Federal Communications Commission requiring it to unlock phones as part of its acquisition of a block of 700 megahertz spectrum, which it uses to power its LTE network.

AT&T requires you to pay off your phone and be active on your service for at least 60 days. Even then, there’s a 14-day wait after you make your request. Sprint also requires that you have paid off your phone and wait 50 days, although the phone is automatically unlocked. T-Mobile has the same paid device requirement and a 40-day wait period, but will offer to temporarily unlock the device sooner for travel.

Even after the change, Verizon will continue to unlock the phone regardless of whether it’s paid off or not. The company will also still accept unlocked phones from other carriers.

Adobe Confirms Another Zero Day Exploit Impacting Flash

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe Has finally issued a warning about a Flash zero-day flash that hackers linked to North Korea have reportedly been exploiting since November. 

Security researchers and South Korean authorities have long warned that cyber attackers based in the North have been tapping into an Adobe Flash zero-day flaw.

They believe that hackers associated with the authoritarian government in Pyongyang are using the zero-day vulnerability to launch attacks on South Korean researchers working on projects about North Korea.

After the serious flaw was uncovered, the South Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (KR-CERT) warned citizens that an “attacker may be able to convince a user to open a Microsoft Office document, web page, or spam mail containing a Flash file”.

Attackers have been embedding a dodgy Flash SWF file into seemingly innocent looking Word and Excel documents in order to infect victims’ computers. But the researchers have slammed Adobe for not doing enough to tackle the flaw.

During this time, Adobe has not offered much insight into the flaw, but experts at KR-CERT have offered recommendations while Adobe works on a patch. They include removing Flash Player completely and using the Firefox web browser.

Simon Choi, a security researcher based in South Korea, has spent much of his time exploring the flaw. He believes that North Korean hackers first started using the flaw in November 2017.

“Flash zero-day vulnerability made by North Korea has been used from mid-November 2017. They attacked South Koreans who mainly do research on North Korea,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

Adobe has finally got round to issuing an advisory based on the flaw (CVE-2018-4878), which is rated as critical. The company promised to release a patch on 5 February.  

“Adobe is aware of a report that an exploit for CVE-2018-4878 exists in the wild, and is being used in limited, targeted attacks against Windows users,” it explained.

“These attacks leverage Office documents with embedded malicious Flash content distributed via email.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft Office 2019 May Only Work On Windows 10

February 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Software king of the world Microsoft has decided that its nice new shiny Office 2019 will not run on versions of Windows before Windows 10.

In a support article for service and support of Windows and Office, Microsoft has revealed you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 10 if you want the latest version of Office without subscribing to the company’s Office 365 service.

It’s a move that’s clearly designed to push businesses that are holding off on Office 365 into subscriptions, as the standalone Office 2019 software will only be supported on Windows 10 and not Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 machines.

Microsoft is also altering the support lifecycle for Office 2019, so it will receive five years of mainstream support and then “approximately two years of extended support”.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Testing ‘Downvote’ Button

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It’s probably the easiest ways to express your opinion: like or dislike.

Yet for a more than a decade, Facebook only offered the happier option, the thumbs-up. That’s about to change.

The social networking giant is testing a new feature that lets some people register a negative reaction to comments with a button called “downvote.”

The goal, Facebook said, is to allow people to weigh in on comments people leave on public pages, like those for President Donald Trump. When selected, the button offers reporting options like “offensive,” “misleading” and “off topic.”

“We are not testing a dislike button,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts.”

Facebook is currently only testing this feature in the US, with a small number of people using its app on Android-powered phones.

The move marks yet another way Facebook is hoping to spur more interaction on its site, and keep its users happy. Offering easy ways for people to mark comments as “offensive” and “misleading” may help quell users’ concerns about harassment, as well as the impact of Russian propagandists who used the site to spread misleading information during the 2016 election.

Facebook’s efforts also answer people’s long-running response to the company’s mascot, the thumbs-up “like” button, which was rolled out in 2009. While the “like” feature allows users to express their approval over a post or a photo, some people complained it was too limiting.

“Not every moment is a good moment,” said Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Q&A session in 2015. He said he realizes people may not want to “like” a current event such as the Syrian refugee crisis or a family member passing away. But at the time, he didn’t want users to merely vote up or down on people’s posts.

The answer was a set of emojis, which the company released in 2016. The reactions expanded options to a laughing face, an angry face, a “wow,” a sad face and a heart. “It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that’s that simple,” Zuckerberg said when announcing the initiative.

Unlike the “like” button or “reactions,” the downvote button isn’t about giving feedback to commenters but rather to Facebook. The intention is to give users a way to flag inappropriate, uncivil or misleading comments, Facebook said.

It doesn’t affect a comment’s ranking, and users won’t even see how many people downvoted a comment.

Facebook said there are currently no plans to expand the feature.

Microsoft Gaming Division Growing

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft today reported its quarterly earnings, giving a glimpse into the health of its gaming business in the process.

Over the final three months of 2017, Microsoft’s gaming business brought in $3.92 billion, up 8% year-over-year. Much of that growth was driven by sales of the Xbox One X, which launched during the quarter at a premium price point of $500. Microsoft said hardware revenues for the quarter were up 14% year-over-year.

Microsoft’s gaming software and services revenues were also up, but not as sharply. The company saw a 4% rise year-over-year, with continuing growth in digital distribution helping offset first-party AAA revenues that were down compared to the previous holiday season. Microsoft’s 2016 holiday lineup included Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3, while the 2017 slate relied on Forza Motorsport 7.

As for Xbox Live, Microsoft reported 59 million active users on the service during the last three months of the year, up 7% year-over-year.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Nintendo To Push Mario Kart To Mobile Devices

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Now that Nintendo has already released hits such as Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Super Mario Run on both iOS and Android, it’s chose to bring its signature death race to the market. Nintendo has teased the next installment of its mobile market takeover: Mario Kart Tour.

After a very successful 3rd quarter Nintendo already appears to be revving up for the next fiscal year. The Japanese giant of gaming has not given us a lot to go on, but we have a title, a franchise, and a date.
Nintendo plans to release its mobile Motorsport mania sometime between April 1st, 2018 and March 31st, 2019. While that may be a rather large window of time, the prospect of having the mustachioed mascot motoring on your mobile devices within the next fiscal year ought to have some fans chomping at the bit.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Updates Its NUC Systems

February 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is updating its NUCs with new models including the “Hades Canyon” gaming model (with AMD graphics), a “Bean Canyon” model sporting 8th-Gen Intel Coffee Lake chips, and a new entry-level set of “June Canyon” computers with low-power Celeron and Pentium chips based on the new Gemini Lake architecture.

Intel has posted technical specs for the new NUC7CJY NUC kit to its website which means we will probably see the June Canyon models out first.

Chipzilla is also talking about a NUC7JYB board, which is the motherboard and processor without any case, memory, or storage.

Lillyputing said that this would be a 4? x 4? motherboard with a soldered 10-watt processor. Systems will be available with a choice of a Celeron J4005 dual-core processor with Intel HD 600 graphics or a Pentium Silver J5005 quad-core chip with Intel HD 605 graphics.

June Canyon PCs can support up to 8GB of DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400 memory with two SODIMM slots. The NUC7CJY kit is expected to arrive with 4GB of RAM preinstalled, as well as 32GB of eMMC flash storage.

Other features include:

2.5-inch drive bay for HDD or SSD
SD card slot
2 HDMI 2.0a ports (4k60 support
3.5mm audio jack
mini TOSLINK jack for 5.1 channel audio
Gigabit Ethernet
802.11ac WiFI
Bluetooth 5.0
4 USB 3.0 ports
dual digital mic array for far-field voice detection

The June Canyon NUC may be low power, but it’s not fan-less as there’s a fan placed over the motherboard to keep the system from overheating during use.

Courtesy-Fud

Nintendo’s Switch Helps Push Profits Higher

February 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

The former maker of playing cards Nintendo reported its biggest third quarter operating profit in eight years, driven by smashing demand for its new Switch games console.

The outfit now expects annual earnings to outstrip its previous estimate. This is thanks to the growing popularity of the hybrid home-portable Switch which nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price to nine-year highs. Sales have far exceeded initial estimates, beating those of predecessor Wii U, and leaving suppliers scrambling for parts.

Nintendo posted an operating profit of $1.07 billion for the third quarter, up almost fourfold from a year ago. This is the highest ever that the company has earned in the October-December period since 2009.

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that Switch sales during the holiday season were stronger than expected in Japan, the United States, and Europe.

Nintendo sold 7.2 million Switch consoles in the three months through December and raised its annual sales forecast to 15 million units from 14 million units.

That already exceeds lifetime sales of 13.56 million consoles for the Wii U which was on the market for about five years.

The company expects Switch console sales to further rise to 20 million units or more next year, starting April.

As yet another attempt to diversify, Nintendo said this month it would launch in April “Labo” a set of LEGO-style accessories for the Switch console that kids can build themselves on cardboard sheets.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Watch Sets Record For Shipped Devices

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The electronics giant, Apple, has shipped 8 million Apple Watches in the fourth quarter of 2017, Canalys research shows, which the firm said is a record for wearables sold by a company during a quarter. Fitbit was the previous record holder, Canalys told CNET, shipping 6.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Apple has won the wearables game,” said Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. The company shipped 18 million Watch devices throughout 2017, a 54 percent increase on 2016.

While Android Wear competitors, like the Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei’s Watch 2, are compatible with both Androids and iPhones, Apple’s Watch devices don’t work with Android phones. “Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base,” Low added.

Apple’s 2017 wearable success is in large part thanks to its September-released Watch Series 3, which added cellular connection — allowing you to make phone calls from your Watch — to the product range. Canalys said the Watch did particularly well in the US, Australia and Japan, where major carriers sold it over the holiday season.

It’s congruent with what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a call to investors last week. “It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch,” he said, “with over 50 percent growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

In terms of volume, Apple’s closest competitor is Chinese company Xiaomi and its inexpensive Mi Bands: In 2017’s third quarter, Apple held 23 percent of the market, compared to Xiaomi’s 21 percent. Fitbit wasn’t far behind though, with a market share of 20 percent.

Google Brings Nest Thermostat Unit Into The Fold

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

 Alphabet Inc has combined smart thermostat maker Nest, which had operated as an independent unit, into its Google hardware group, the company announced in a blog post.

The move unifies Google’s growing hardware team, which designs smartphones, laptops and speakers, with Nest, which sells video doorbells, security cameras and thermostats that automatically adjust settings based on user behavior.

Rick Osterloh, who leads Google’s hardware efforts, and Nest Chief Executive Marwan Fawaz, said in the blog post that they hoped integration of their teams would “supercharge Nest’s mission” to make homes safer, friendlier to the environment and more affordable.

Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion in 2014. Nest operated on its own as part of the establishment in 2015 of holding company Alphabet, which also explored selling the firm in 2016, Reuters reported.

Alphabet has not taken impairment charges in the last three years on its acquisitions.

Nest device sales represented a big chunk of revenue for Alphabet’s “Other Bets” division, which brought in $1.2 billion last year. Other Bets now is left with revenue-generating units such as Access, which sells Internet services, and Verily, which licenses medical technology.

Google spokeswoman Lily Lin said “significant role reductions” are not expected at Nest because the businesses are not being combined “to gain efficiencies.”

 Nest and Google also will stay at their separate offices “for the foreseeable future,” she said.

The companies had already begun to collaborate on hardware development, with Google last year testing acoustics and its speakers at a Nest facility.

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