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Facebook To Promote Posts Tied To Trendy Or Popular Topics

September 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook users begin to see more posts higher in their feeds tied to popular events or topics of conversation, with less popular posts getting pushed further down.

The change comes courtesy of an update to Facebook’s news feed algorithm announced Thursday, focused on giving users “more timely stories.” It affects posts both from users’ friends and from pages to which they’re connected.

Facebook wants more of its users to engage on the site when they might be watching the same sports game or TV show — something that already happens on Twitter — and then brush their posts under the carpet when the event is over or the topic fizzles out.

Facebook routinely tweaks its news feed algorithm, but this update has the potential to advance the company’s efforts in the area of news delivery. It’s a departure from the site’s roots as a means for solely keeping in touch with family and friends.

The update is built around two changes. First, posts that are related to trending topics will appear higher and faster in the feed, Facebook said. When a friend or a Page to which you’re connected posts about something that’s currently a hot topic of conversation on the site, the post is more likely to appear higher in the feed.

Facebook users can already get a sense of what’s popular on the site by looking at the “trending” topics section in the right-hand column, which Facebook rolled out earlier this year. On Thursday, some of the topics listed included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, pop singer Gwen Stefani and the video game Final Fantasy XV.

Posts that aren’t as relevant to what’s hot, in other words, will get less priority.

Secondly, Facebook said it would be considering not just the number of likes that posts receive in determining their placement, but when people choose to like, comment and share. If a lot of people are interacting with a post right after it was posted, but the activity drops off a few hours later, “this suggests the post was most interesting at the time it was posted,” Facebook said. As a result, that post would get promoted higher early on and less later.

 

 

Sony Launches SDK For SmartEyeglass

September 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony has rolled out an SDK (software development kit) for its SmartEyeglass head-mounted display, another step toward challenging Google Glass.

The glasses can connect to Android smartphones via Bluetooth and project green monochrome text or basic graphics across a field within the lenses.

Sony said it will begin sales of the eyewear to developers by March 31, the end of its fiscal year. They will be sold in Japan, the U.S. and some European countries.

The Developer Preview SDK includes an emulator, tutorials, sample code and design guidelines to make the most of the device’s hardware and sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and brightness sensor.

The glasses, which weigh 77 grams, are more than 85 percent transparent and include a camera that can shoot 3-megapixel images and VGA video.

Sony has emphasized that the glasses project images to a user’s natural line of sight, which differs from the Google Glass display set in a corner.

“Sony’s competitive edge lies in our achievement of a thin lens with high transparency thanks to our unique holographic light guide plate technology, which enables us to provide a bright field of vision,” a Sony spokeswoman wrote in an email.

“Furthermore, the screen size is large, and images and text are displayed from the front for both eyes (not only one eye) to facilitate easier viewing and prevent eye fatigue.”

The price for the glasses as well as availability of a consumer version are still to be decided, she added.

Bulky prototype versions of the glasses were shown at the IFA and CES electronics shows earlier this year.

Potential applications include displaying cooking instructions for chefs, running time for joggers and messages from friends.

Augmented reality-style functions are also possible, such as displaying information when a user looks at a certain bottle of wine, facial recognition or navigation information in an unfamiliar city.

 

 

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

 

France’s Iliad To Decide On T-Mobile Bid In October

September 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

French budget-conscious telecom operator Iliad has set a mid-October deadline to decide whether to improve its bid for T-Mobile US or walk away as it faces resistance from seller Deutsche Telekom, several people familiar with the situation said.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns 66 percent of the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, has doubts that Iliad will be able to improve the U.S. business since the French startup has no track record in the country, a source close to the German company’s management said.

Under the deal structure proposed by Iliad, Deutsche Telekom would have to keep a stake in the combined company.

Iliad is currently in talks with several U.S. banks to help it finance a possible improved bid for T-Mobile US alongside existing lenders HSBC and BNP Paribas, the people familiar with the situation said, after a $33 per share offer for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US was rejected by Deutsche Telekom.

Chief Financial Officer Thomas Reynaud said Iliad’s key leverage ratio would not surpass 4.5 times net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). He also said that Iliad would limit any capital increase to fund the T-Mobile bid to 2 billion euros ($2.57 billion).

Iliad is also seeking to team up with private equity funds including KKR to raise about $5-6.5 billion, the sources, who could not be named because the talks are private, said.

T-Mobile US, Iliad and KKR declined to comment. Deutsche Telekom could not be reached immediately for comment.

Iliad’s management team has now finished road shows to meet U.S. investors and is waiting to hear back from potential investors, the sources said.

Depending on how positive the feedback is from private equity investors, the French firm could be able to table an improved bid in the second week of October, two of the sources said.

Iliad could offer between $35 and $40 per share for a stake in T-Mobile of between 60 percent and 90 percent, depending on the appetite of private equity funds and lenders for the deal, two other sources said.

 

 

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.

 

 

Amazon Expands Kindle Lineup, Increases Pricing

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc continued its push into hardware with the debut of six new or upgraded devices, including a high-end $199 e-reader called the Kindle Voyage and its cheapest-ever touch-screen tablet.

The No. 1 U.S. online retailer also revamped its basic Kindle e-reader to include a touch screen. It will cost $79, about 15 percent more than the current basic model.

Other new devices unveiled on Wednesday are a $99 Kindle Fire HD tablet, which includes a smaller, six-inch screen as well as a tablet designed for kids that starts at $149. Amazon also upgraded its 7-inch and 8.9 inch Fire tablets.

All the upgraded and new devices start shipping in October.

The expanding Kindle lineup underscores Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ commitment to developing devices as a way to retain users and bolster its core business of retail and shopping.

This year alone, Amazon has launched a set-top box, a grocery ordering wand and a Fire smart phone, which debuted in July to lackluster reviews.

Amazon, which entered the hardware sector with the 2007 launch of the Kindle, has adopted a strategy of selling the devices at cost, and it profits when users buy content or goods.

It has been investing heavily in content, inking a deal this year to stream some HBO shows including “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” to members of its Prime subscription program.

“The vast majority of people are still using the tablets,” David Limp, vice president of devices for Amazon, said during a briefing with reporters in New York.

Executives touted the Kindle Voyage as the thinnest device Amazon has ever made. The company hopes heavy readers might adopt the device, which more closely mimic a paper book.

 

 

Ericsson Exiting Modem Business

September 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ericsson, the world’s largest mobile network equipment manufacturer, is shutting down its modem business, shutting a loss-making unit with the departure of about 1,000 staff.

The decision comes amid falling prices of modems, rising demands on research and development and a shrinking market as more smartphone makers buy modems and processors, which Ericsson does not make, together.

The Swedish company had said it would evaluate the future of the business within 18 to 24 months of taking it on in 2013 when joint venture partner STMicroelectronics pulled out.

Ericsson’s chief executive said on Thursday the rapidly changing market meant the company had concluded it would be too expensive for the business to succeed.

“In addition, we believe we can use this money in a better way,” Hans Vestberg told Reuters.

The Swedish company said the decision to end the development of modems would mean it could shift resources to developing radio networks.

Ericsson had targeted a top three market position for its modems business, which employs around 1,600 people, alongside U.S. firms Qualcomm and Intel.

The move to stop developing new modems would mean around 1,000 staff leaving Ericsson, Vestberg said.

Some of the other employees would find work at a new research and development unit within Ericsson’s core radio networks business that will be set up in Sweden’s Lund and employ 500 in total.

Some would also continue working with the M7450 modem which was launched in August, Vestberg said, although it was hard to say for how long Ericsson would go on making it as that would depend on the success of the smartphones in which it sits.

In total, Ericsson employed slightly more than 115,000 at the end of the second quarter.

Ericsson said it expected the move to lead to significant cost savings, without specifying. In the three quarters since the modems business was integrated in Ericsson, it had racked up 1.7 billion Swedish crowns (238 million) in operating losses.

 

 

Ohio Wooing Amazon For Billion Dollar Data Center

September 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

State and local officials in Ohio are attempting to woo Amazon.com Inc with tax breaks and other perks to convince the No. 1 U.S. online retailer to build a $1.1 billion data center in central Ohio and create 120 jobs, according to public records.

The records offer a rare look at the typically tight-lipped company’s growth plans for its popular cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, founded in 2006. There are 10 AWS data centers, called regions within the company, around the world, including four in the United States, AWS said.

“We are constantly evaluating a long list of additional target countries and U.S. locations,” AWS said in a statement.

In late August, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority extended an estimated $81 million in tax breaks to an Amazon subsidiary called Vadata Inc, according to state filings.

In exchange for the tax deal, Amazon has committed to invest at least $1.1 billion over the next three years to build a data center. It will also create 120 jobs with an average salary of $80,208 by the end of 2018, according to the filing.

Separately, city officials in Dublin, Ohio, are also looking to transfer 68.7 acres of city-owned land to the company from 2015 until 2024 – worth $6.75 million – among other perks, according to city documents posted online.

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported that Dublin city officials are expected to vote on whether to proceed with the Amazon offer on Sept. 22.

 

 

 

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

 

Does Lexar Have The Fastest SD Cards?

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

flash storage vendor to claim the title of the fastest SD card.

Just a day after we reported on the Sandisk Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-I card, the Micron subsiduary has announced the Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC/SDXC UHS-II range.

The new UHS-II standard cards offer transfer speeds of up to 300MBps, with write speeds of 260MBps, making them up to three times the speed of the Sandisk UHS-I card.

“UHS-II technology really raises the bar in terms of performance. The latest UHS-II additions to our Lexar Professional product portfolio provide users the ability to capture and offload work even faster, so they can get back to what’s important–capturing great images and video,” said Lexar director of card product marketing Adam Kaufman.

“Our multi-line UHS-II product offering gets performance into the hands of any user at a great value and with the Professional 2000x card, it comes right out of the box.”

UHS-II cards are backwards compatible with previous generations, automatically downgrading to UHS-I and Class 10 for compatibility, but the company is also offering the SR2 reader, an add-on device that allows you to use the 2000x series at its full potential.

The company has also added to its 1000x range with transfer speeds of 150MBps/95MBps. All cards come with Image Rescue software and a limited lifetime warranty.

Both cards will be available in the last quarter of the year. The 2000x series will come in 32GB and 64GB flavors for $150.99 and $199.99. The 1000x series starts at $49.99 for 16GB, with increments all the way up to a 256GB version for $799.99. The Professional Workflow SR2 reader will cost $39.99.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Adobe’s Subscription Plan Working?

September 18, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Adobe has posted a 46 per cent year-on-year drop in net profits, placing its strategy of shifting customers to cloud subscriptions into doubt. For two years, the company has tried to stop punters making one-off purchases of software and move them on to Creative Cloud subscriptions.

It worked well initially but it seems that the results are not that good with Adobe blaming higher operating expenses and weaker profit margins for the sharp dip in profits.

Revenue from Adobe’s digital media business, which includes Creative Cloud, fell by more than 2 per cent in the third quarter. It is not because customers did not like the idea. Adobe added around half a million subscribers. The company says it has 2.8 million Creative Cloud customers, up from 2.3 million in the previous quarter.

What appears to have happened is that Adobe has success converting enterprise customers to Creative Cloud, small businesses and individuals are more reluctant to sign up for rolling subscriptions, and are sticking with older versions of products such as Photoshop and InDesign.

Adobe recently introduced lower-cost subscription packages for photographers, which include Photoshop and Lightroom for a quarter of the original price.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM New Training Program Results In Pay Cut For Enrolled Employees

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

IBM has started a new training program that will cut the pay of participating employees by 10%.

According to an IBM internal memo dated Sept 12th. The memo sent to affected employees begins by telling the worker that an assessment has revealed “that some managers and employees have not kept pace with acquiring the skills and expertise needed to address changing client needs, technology and market requirements.”

It then tells the recipient that “you have been identified as one of these employees,” and says that from mid-October through the end of March, “you will dedicate up to one day per week,” or up to 23 working days total, “to focus on learning and development.”

But IBM is coupling this training with a six month salary reduction. The key statement in the memo is this: “While you spend part of your workweek on learning and development activities, you will receive 90% of your current base salary.”

Salary will be restored to the full rate effective April 1, 2015.

Asked about program, IBM spokeswoman Trink Guarino said the firm “is implementing a skills development program for a small number of U.S. strategic outsourcing employees. Under this program, these employees will spend one day a week developing skills in key growth areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile and social.”

There was negative reaction from some IBM employees.

One IBM IT professional, who asked not to be identified, said he was “shocked” to be added to the list, particularly since his work has been consistently praised by managers.

By reducing pay “by a significant amount,” IBM is acting “in the hopes that the employees won’t be able to sustain that pay and decide to quit, exempting IBM from letting them go and have to pay severance,” the employee said.

One source familiar with the program said the percentage of employees impacted is small, in the single digits.

While employees may see the pay cut as unfair, the salary reduction is viewed by management as a form of employee “co-investment” in training, and as a better alternative to laying off and hiring employees with the latest skills. It’s not that these employees lack skills, but they don’t necessarily have the ones that are needed today, the source said.

 

 

 

 

Google Targeting New Mexico To Test Internet Delivery Drones

September 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is gearing up to test Internet delivery by drone high above New Mexico, according to a government filing.

The company has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use two blocks of frequencies for the tests, which are scheduled to last about six months and begin in October. They will be conducted above an area of more than 1,400 square kilometers in the center of New Mexico to the east of Albuquerque.

“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google said in its application. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”

Google said its application for temporary permission to make the transmissions was needed “for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

The FCC allows companies to redact certain portions of their applications when they might provide too much information to competitors.

In the application, Google said it wants to use two blocks of frequencies, one between 910MHz and 927MHz and one between 2.4GHz and 2.414GHz. Both are so-called “industrial, scientific and medical” (ISM) bands typically used for unlicensed operations.

The application has not yet been approved.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by the company to trial Internet delivery from the skies.

The company unveiled its ambitious Project Loon last year, which uses a series of high-altitude balloons that float in winds at about 20 kilometers (65,000 feet) above the Earth. The first experiments with Loon involved using a transmission system based on WiFi, but earlier this year the company began experimenting with LTE cellular transmissions in a test site in Nevada.

Google acquired Titan Aerospace in April this year for an undisclosed price.

 

Is PayPal Taking Shots At Apple Pay?

September 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Paypal has taken out some full page newspaper ads that try to lure users away from Apple Pay and back to its long-standing alternative.

eBay-owned Paypal has already swiped at Apple Pay in a blog post, but it wasn’t very critical.

It asked consumers a number of questions about how they might choose a payment provider, and reminded them of the things that they should consider before deciding to embrace Apple Pay.

That was on 9 September, at which time the firm kicked off a marketing campaign, which was backed by some online videos, to remind people of its length of time in the industry.

“We’ve been centered on payments for 15 years working across all platforms, all parts of the ecosystem and compliant with regulations. Keeping people’s money safe is our top priority,” it said, before asking punters to consider what kind of outfit they place their trust in.

The newspaper ads go further and straight for the jugular, and bring up a recent incident in which Apple was criticised for lack of security.

Inciting the market, and hopefully taking its mind off the fees Paypal takes on transactions, Paypal said that “people rule” and that these ruling people demand that their money be kept safer than their selfies.

This is a very obvious dig at Apple over the recent celebrity pictures leak that was traced to iCloud.

Remember though, that while Paypal asked merchants and customers to connect only with providers that they trust, its service is accepted as a payment mechanism on iTunes.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Software Patents Going Bye Bye?

September 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like attempts to apply patents to software are being killed off by the US court system, after the Supreme Court ruled against certain aspects of the software being patented.

The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

Now the lower courts appear to be bringing the ruling’s practical consequences into focus and it looks like software patents are getting a kicking. There have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision and each of them has led to the patent being invalidated.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Patent Office handed out a growing number of what might be called “do it on a computer” patents. These patents take some activity that people have been doing for centuries — say, holding funds in escrow until a transaction is complete — and claim the concept of performing that task with a computer or over the internet. The patents are typically vague about how to perform the task in question.

The Supreme Court invalidated a patent which claimed that it’s owners invented the concept of using a computer to hold funds in escrow to reduce the risk that one party would fail to deliver on an agreement. The Supreme Court ruled that the use of a computer did not turn this centuries-old concept into a new invention.

This has lead to lots of other patents being declared llegal. On July 6, a Delaware trial court rejected a Comcast patent that claimed the concept of a computerized telecommunications system checking with a user before deciding whether to establish a new connection. The court said that the patent could easily be performed by human beings making telephone calls.

Basically this means that you can’t take a normal human activity, do it with a computer and call it an patentable invention.

It would kill off the famous one click patent if that were ever challenged.

Courtesy-Fud