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Online Video Streaming Biting Into Dish Network Customer Base

July 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp reported an unexpected loss in pay-TV subscribers as more consumers increasingly opt for online video-streaming services.

Dish said it lost 281,000 net pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30, missing the average analyst estimate of a loss of 91,000 subscribers, according to market research firm FactSet StreetEstimate.

However, average revenue per user rose to $89.98 from $87.91, helped by price increases for its video service.

Dish raised its 2016 video service rates in January.

To offset losses in its core pay-TV business, the company last year launched a cheaper $20-per-month Sling TV online streaming service that offers a slim bundle of channels, including live programming from networks such as ESPN.

Net income attributable to Dish rose to $410 million, or 88 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, from $324 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose to $3.84 billion from $3.83 billion.

 

Does M$ Have A Strategy For Windows?

July 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

As we reported earlier today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed the virtues of its cloud computing platform.

But he didn’t say very much about Windows at all.

And, according to Seeking Alpha financial analyst Mark Hibben in a note to his clients, it’s almost as if Nadella has given up the ghost on the now long in the tooth operating system.

He didn’t say much about smartphones either but admitted that Windows 10 won’t hit the one billion user mark.

But there are another billion and a bit people out there who are using previous versions of Windows and Hibben thinks that that’s Microsoft should really take advantage of that opportunity.

Hibben thinks that while Nadella is practically creaming himself about the cloud the same sort of urges don’t seem to apply to Windows.

Windows phone revenues have fallen 71 percent compared to the same period last year and Microsoft seems to lack a strategy for smartphones in the future.

So has Microsoft given up on Windows? That, surely, can’t be the case.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Qualcomm Appears To Be Back In The Black

July 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has had a better than expected results in its Q3 earnings, beating street and even its own estimates.

Qualcomm offered $5.2 billion to $6 billion revenue guidance and it managed to make $6 billion. Non-GAAP diluted EPS was projected at $0.90 – $1.00 and Qualcomm actually managed to make $1.16.

The MSM chip shipments were guided at 175 million to 195 million while the company actually sold 201 million of these chips.

Total reported device sales was expected to be between $52 billion and  $60 billion and in reality Qualcomm scored $62.6 billion. Qualcomm shipped between 321 million to  325 million 3G/4G devices and estimated reported 3G/4G device average selling price was at $191 – $197.

There are a few reasons for such good results, the first being Samsung. The company chose Snapdragon 820 for some markets with its flagship phones. The Snapdragon 820 ended up in 115 devices and it looks like one of the strongest high end phone chips in a while.

The introduction of the Snapdragon 821 will rekindle the fire and will make some additional sales for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and a few other high end phones including some phones from LG and others. The 4G modem business is in good shape but one has to be careful as Qualcomm might lose some of the iPhone business to Intel. Everyone wants carrier aggregation capable modems these days, that is Cat 6 and up and Qualcomm offers this from Snapdragon 430 to the Snapdragon 820.

It is interesting to notice that while Apple iPhone sales were down, Qualcomm did better mainly as when Apple declines at   the high end, Qualcomm can make money from its high end Snapdragon chips.

We expect to see the announcement of Snapdragon 830 before the end of the year while devices shipping with the new chip in late Q1 2017 or early Q2 2017. As far as we know this might be the 10nm SoC but we will have to wait and see.

Qualcomm is investing heavily in improvements of 4G, current and future generations as well as a concentrated focus on 5G. From where we stand, Qualcomm still has the best chances to dominate the 5G market, especially due to the fact that 5G is an evolution of 4G with some new wave length and concepts added to it.

Last year’s loss of Samsung Galaxy S6 design win hurt a lot, and now the big customer is back, it seems that investing in a custom ARM Kryo core and dominating in Adreno graphics paid off.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google’s Transparency Reports Uptick In Governments Requesting User Data

July 21, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Government requests worldwide for user data related to search engine traffic on Google surged by 29% from 2014 to 2015, according to the search site’s most recent Transparency Report.

Google reports on the government requests every six months. In the second half of 2015, it said it received more than 40,000 requests for data related to more than 81,000 user accounts; That compares to the first half of the year when Google received about 35,000 requests related to about 69,000 accounts.

In the second half of 2014, Google received 31,140 requests from U.S. entities for user information related to more than 50,000 accounts.

“Usage of our services [has] increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers,” Google said.

By far, the U.S. leads the world in government requests for data: it submitted 27,157 requests related to 12,523 user accounts in the second half of last year. The next highest country was Ireland with 12,114 requests, followed by Germany with 11,562 reqeusts.

Google agreed to hand over “some” user data for 64% of the requests worldwide, but it handed over data for U.S. government requests 79% of the time.

Several search engines and social media sites voluntarily offer annual or semi-annual transparency reports related to state and federal law enforcement information requests about user data.

Google has been publishing its semi-annual Transparency Report since 2011; the latest statistics show that requests for user data is at an all-time high.

In 2014, Apple, Microsoft, and Google were among 10 top tech companies that signed  a letter backing passage of the USA Freedom Act, which would curtail bulk collection of Internet metadata by government agencies.

Passed in June 2015, the USA Freedom Act now requires transparency when the government demands user information from technology companies. Nevertheless, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said there still needs to be more transparency when it comes to government-mandated back doors, as well as what deleted data is kept around in case government agents seek it in the future.

 

 

 

ZTE Debuts Zmax Pro Smartphone For $99

July 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

ZTE’s $99 ZMax Pro includes some of the latest smartphone technologies, which is a pleasant surprise for a low-priced handset.

The smartphone has a 6-in. screen and is available only through MetroPCS in the U.S. It weighs about 175 grams and is 8.9 millimeters thick.

It has some top-line features found in the latest smartphones, like a USB Type-C port. It also runs on the latest Android OS 6.0 code-named Marshmallow.

The Gorilla Glass 3 screen shows images at a full HD resolution. The handset has 32GB of internal storage and a micro-SD card for expandable storage. That’s a lot of storage for a handset under $100.

The handset is comparable to the new fourth-generation Moto G handset, which is now available unlocked on Amazon.com for $199.99 for a 16GB model. The Zmax Pro has a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, along with an eight-core Snapdragon 617 processor, all of which are also packaged in the Moto G.

The ZTE phone also has a 3,400 milli-amp-hour battery, which provides about 25 hours of talk time and 400 hours of standby time. It also features a fingerprint reader, which isn’t commonly found in low-cost handsets.

However, the smartphone lacks some other features. It includes 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, not the latest 802.11ac, which offers a wider range and faster speeds.

The smartphone succeeds last year’s ZMax 2, which sold for $149. The handset may be available unlocked and through other carriers in the future, but the company wasn’t ready to share details.

 

 

Intel’s NUC Gets Uncovered

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s NUC consumer roadmap has leaked online showing that Intel is seriously holding a torch for tiny PCs.

Fan-less Tech found some slides which shows Intel has some exciting new hardware planned for release over the next couple of years.

The roadmap shows that Intel will make its new Celeron processor available in the fourth quarter of 2016 with its Arches Canyon model. Its 7th-gen Core chip looks like it will be available at the beginning of 2017 within the Baby Canyon i7 model. Intel will continue to offer the recently launched Skull Canyon through 2017.

Based on the leaked information, Intel has plans to continue its NUC line at least through 2018, offering progressively faster hardware with more options to meet custom applications of the device.

Intel’s NUCs are doing rather well and have been getting good reviews. They are getting increasingly tied to Intel’s chip upgrades so they are remaining fairly cutting edge.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Arm Really A Good Fit For Softbank?

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Softbank, the naysayers were mostly on ARM’s side. But it seems that Softbank is having trouble selling the idea to its own shareholders.

Shares in Japan’s Softbank have fallen 10 per cent after it agreed a controversial $30 billion deal to buy UK chip designer ARM.

Part of the reason that shareholders greeted the idea with horror was that it would dump a pile of debt on the company, but the other reason was the value of the company was expected to plummet after Brexit causes the UK economy to collapse.

It was for this reason that the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond welcomed the deal saying that despite the vote to leave the EU, Britain “has lost none of its allure to international investors”. Of course sending profits overseas is just the sort of thing that is good for the British economy under Hammond’s new glorious economic plan.

Common sense, as expressed by ARM co-founder Hermann Hauser, said it represented a “sad day” for the UK’s technology sector. ARM was a golden child which emerged from the days when the UK used to actually make computers.

Analysts had been hoping that Softbank, which has raised nearly 19 billion in cash through sales of some of its assets, was going to use some of that cash to reduce its debt or reward shareholders.

Instead it has secured a $10 billion bridge loan to finance part of its ARM purchase.

SoftBank has pledged to preserve ARM’s existing management team, maintain its headquarters in Cambridge, at least double the number of employees in the UK over the next five years and increase its overseas workforce.

Courtesy-Fud

 

SoftBank To Acquire ARM For $32 Billion

July 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank will acquire UK chip design company ARM Holdings to take advantage of growing demand for processors and other technologies for the internet of things and mobile markets.

SoftBank is paying £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash for the chip company that licenses its designs to a large number of chip suppliers to smartphone makers and to the emerging IoT market.

The Japanese company will retain ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and plans to double the number of employees in the U.K. over the next five years, when it will also increase the company’s headcount outside the U.K.

ARM, with 4,064 employees,  will be an independent business within SoftBank, which will pay for the acquisition from existing cash resources and a loan. SoftBank said it intends to retain the current ARM organization including the existing senior management team, brand, and partnership-based business model and culture.

SoftBank has invested in a number of media and technology companies, including Internet retailer Snapdeal in India and ride-hailing app company Didi Chuxing in China. It also acquired Sprint Nextel in 2013.

The acquisition of ARM would place the company in a market where it would be an upstream supplier to some of the biggest names in the tech industry as licensees of ARM’s designs like Qualcomm gear up to supply chips to the connected devices market.

“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,’” said SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a statement Monday.

 

 

 

Was The Rise Of The Machines A.I. Contest A Success?

July 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Winograd Schema Challenge is a competition intended to reward technologists who can build a system that understands the kind of ambiguous sentences humans come out with all the time, but which are simple for other humans, even stupid ones, to understand.

Get it right 90 per cent of the time and $25,000 is up for grabs. And with things like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant, the Winograd Schema Challenge must surely be as good as obsolete by now.

Right? Wrong.

The best two entrants at the event this week achieved correct scores only 48 per cent of the time, little better than randomly guessing the meaning of the sentences they were supposed to crack.

This is despite a decade of advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which has barely shifted since the late 1950s, according to some.

The Challenge posed a series of ambiguously worded sentences to the entrants such as:

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big (small). What was too big (small)?

The town councillors refused to give the demonstrators a permit because they feared (advocated) violence. Who feared (advocated) violence?

There is an ambiguity in the above examples, read literally, about what is too big (or small) and exactly who is fearing violence, although a semi-intelligent human should be able to work it out with ease.

The problem, according to Gary Marcus, a research psychologist at New York University, who acted as an advisor for the Challenge, is that computers lack common sense, and programming it into them is incredibly difficult.

Indeed, the MIT Technology Review said that most of the entrants in the Challenge used a combination of hand-coded grammatical understanding and a ‘knowledge base’ of facts. It still didn’t help much, though.

However, one of the two best-placed systems, led by Quan Liu, a researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China, together with researchers from York University in Montreal and the National Research Council of Canada, used neural network-based machine learning in a bid to train their computer to recognise the many different contexts in which words can be used.

Liu claimed that after fixing a problem in the AI, he was able to achieve a success rate closer to 60 per cent, which is still a long way from being able to go home with a cheque for $25,000.

The Challenge is deliberately designed to be different from the Turing Test, which tests only whether a human can be fooled into thinking that an AI program is human.

The trouble with this is that there are more than enough idiots who could be fooled into helping an AI system to pass that test. The language test, in contrast, provides a more objective test of genuine AI, argued Marcus.

The failure of the AI programs in the Challenge highlights how far chatbots and other supposedly revolutionary AI-based machines still have to go before humans can clock-off for the last time and leave running the planet to computers.

Some experts have claimed that its development will spark the next industrial revolution, while others, such as Apple co-founder and pontificator Steve Wozniak, suggest that we’ll be adopted as pets by robots.

Google, Microsoft and Facebook didn’t bother entering, perhaps because they feared outright humiliation.  Maybe next year.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Nintendo Questioned Over Pokemon GO Data Collection, Privacy

July 14, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A Democratic U.S. senator requested the software developer behind Nintendo Co Ltd’s Pokemon GO to clarify the mobile game’s data privacy protections, amid concerns the augmented reality hit was unnecessarily collecting vast swaths of sensitive user data.

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota sent a letter to Niantic Chief Executive John Hanke asking what user data Pokemon GO collects, how the data is used and with what third party service providers that data may be shared.

The game, which marries Pokemon, the classic 20-year-old cartoon franchise, with augmented reality, allows players to walk around real-life neighborhoods while seeking virtual Pokemon game characters on their smartphone screens – a scavenger hunt that has earned enthusiastic early reviews.

Franken also asked Niantic to describe how it ensures parents give “meaningful consent” to a child’s use of the game and subsequent collection of his or her personal information.

“I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users’ personal information without their appropriate consent,” Franken wrote.

“As the augmented reality market evolves, I ask that you provide greater clarity on how Niantic is addressing issues of user privacy and security, particularly that of its younger players,” he added.

Franken additionally asked Niantic to provide an update on a vulnerability detected on Monday by security researchers who found Pokemon GO players signing into the game via a Google account on an Apple iOS device unwittingly gave “full access permission” to the person’s Google account.

Pokemon GO on Tuesday released an updated version on iOS to reduce the number of data permissions it sought from Google account users.

Niantic did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Franken’s inquiry.

The company, spun off by Google last year, created the game in tandem with Pokemon Co, a third of which is owned by Nintendo.

 

IS Kaby Lake Responsible For the End Of Core M?

July 14, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The rumor mill has suggested that Skylake’s successor, Kaby Lake, with its 14nm goodness might be responsible for the death of the Core m5/m7 name.

Instead everything will be the Core m3/i5/i7. The microarchitecture will also bring new features such as native USB 3.1 generation 2 support and improved GPU architecture.

Kaby Lake-Y will have 4.5 watt dual-core chips with Intel HD 615 graphics, the Core M3-7Y30 will have a 1 GHz CPU w/2.6 GHz turbo boost and 300/900 MHz graphics, the Core i5-7Y54 will have a 1.2 GHz CPU w/3.2 GHz turbo boost and 300/950 MHz graphics, while while the Core i7-7Y75 will hae a 1.3 GHz CPU w/3.6 GHz turbo boost and 300/1050 MHz graphics.

The Kaby Lake-U gets 15 watt dual-core chips with Intel HD 620 graphics, the Core i3-7100U has a 2.4 GHz CPU with 300/1000 MHz graphics (turbo boost N/A) and the Core i5-7200U has a 2.5 GHz CPU w/3.1 GHz turbo boost and 300/1000 MHz graphics. Lastly the Core i7-7500U has a 2.7 GHz CPU w/3.5 GHz turbo boost and 300/1050 MHz graphics.
If this is right then Intel is planning to shake up its naming conventions so that some Core i3 chips will probably offer more performance than other Core i7 chips.

So the Kaby Lake chips will be based on the same 7th-gen Intel Core architecture, and they’ll all have Intel HD 600 series graphics. But Y series chips will be much slower than U, H, or S processors. This is going to get confusing.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Samsungs Galaxy S7 Active Really Waterproof?

July 13, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

If you look at adverts for Samsung’s new Galaxy you would be forgiven for thinking that the smartphone is waterproof. Unfortunately according to US consumer reports, it isn’t.

The Samsung advert shown in Italy ends with the dramatic placing of a Galaxy into a glass of water. Which looks impressive.

Consumer Reports performs an immersion test when a manufacturer claims that its product is water-resistant and the Galaxy S7 Active failed.

While the phone performed extremely well in other tests. Consumer Reports is refusing to recommend it because the water resistant claim is incorrect.

Samsung says its phone follows an engineering standard called IP68 that covers both dust- and water-resistance, and that the phone is designed to survive immersion in five feet of water for 30 minutes.

Consumer Reports placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurised to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When it removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen was borked.

A second Galaxy S7 Active also failed the same test and neither phone worked properly again.

Samsung says it has received “very few complaints” about this problem, and that in all cases, the phones were covered under warranty. A spokes Samsung sang:

“The Samsung Galaxy S7 active device is one of the most rugged phones to date and is highly resistant to scratches and IP68 certified. There may be an off-chance that a defective device is not as watertight as it should be.”

The company says it is investigating the matter.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Display Screens That Fold, Roll Will Be Available Next Year

July 12, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Displays capable of being folded and rolled up have been shown in prototype smartphones, wearables and other devices — but when will such products be available?

Advances in technology suggest they aren’t too far off in the future. Such devices could start showing up as early as next year or 2018, said Jerry Kang, senior principal analyst for emerging display technologies and OLED at analyst firm IHS.

Manufacturers are trying to launch them in devices like tablets that can fold into a smartphone-size device. It’s possible to use these displays in wearable devices, but reliability, weight and battery life need to be considered, Kang said.

Small folding screens will likely come before larger ones, mainly due to the economics of making such displays, Kang said.

The displays will be based on OLED (organic light-emitting diode), considered a successor to current LED technology. OLEDs don’t have lighting back-panels, making them thinner and more power efficient.

At CES this year, LG showed a stunningly thin paper-like display that could roll up. The company projects it will deliver foldable OLEDs by next year.

There are advantages to screens that can be folded or rolled up. They could lead to innovative product designs and increase the mobility of devices, Kang said.

For example, it could be easier to fit screens around the contours of a battery and other components. It will also provide a level of flexibility in how a user can change the  shape of a device.

Displays that can fold and roll are an extension of flexible displays, which are already in wearables, smartphones and TVs. For example, some TVs have flexible screens that are designed so that they can be slightly curved.

Samsung and LG started using flexible AMOLED displays in smartphones in 2013 and are adapting those screens for wearables. Those companies are also leading the charge to bring displays that can bend and fold to devices.

 

 

 

Is Intel Losing Interest In Android?

July 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s mobexit is gathering traction with Inteldeciding to slash its Android development.

While the outfit is still claiming that it is chums with Google, it is now saying that its Android development for tablets is the latest thing it is not interested in.

Intel has been cutting back on its Android upgrades for tablet hardware which suggests it is not interested. Instead it is working on 2-in-1s, which run mostly on Windows.

Intel’s x86 version of Android was mainly for devices with Atom processors, which the chip maker is phasing out. The replacement is Apollo Lake which will run Windows, but it is unclear if it will ever support Android.

The last Android which worked on Intel gear was Android 5.1.1, Lollipop, Intel-based mobile devices mostly run Android 5.0 or older versions.

What might keep Intel in Android might not be its own commitment to Android, but the fact that Google is keen to make its OS work with x86 chips. Google has said that Android 7.0 Nougat, will be compatible with x86 machines which will keep Intel in the game – if it wants to be.

PC World has suggested that Intel could offload development to the independent Android-x86 Project last month delivered the Android-x86 6.0 Release Candidate 1.

Intel is still a lead partner in Google’s Brillo. This is an embedded IoT OS with the dash of Android under the bonnet. Brillo works on Intel’s Edison development board, which can be used to make wearables, robots, smart home devices and other IoT gadgets.

But it is pretty clear that Intel is not interested in some of Google’s VR projects like DayDream which are based on Android.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Oracle Giving Java EE The Boot?

July 12, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle has been on the blower after we ran a story saying it as losing interest in its Java. EE and might be pulling the plug on the open saucy operating system because it was not making the outfit enough cash.

Oracle’s spokesperson Mike Moeller has told us that Oracle remains committed to Java EE, despite what everyone thinks.

He said that “Oracle is committed to Java and has a very well defined proposal for the next version of the Java EE specification – Java EE8 – that will support developers are as they seek to build new applications that are designed using micro-services on large-scale distributed computing and container-based environments on the Cloud.”

Moeller added that Oracle is working closely with key partners in the Java community to finalize the proposal and will share the full details with the broader Java community at JavaOne in September.

So now you know.

Courtesy-Fud