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Will Cortana Impact Windows 10 Battery Life?

July 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It is just over a month until Microsoft introduces Windows 10, and as you should know by now, Cortana is one of the key elements of the new OS.

Cortana always listens in order to hear its name and be a smart digital assistant. This is Microsoft answer to Siri and Google Now that is making its way to Windows 10.

Unfortunately, this will affect your notebook battery life. We have spoken with a few industry sources and we can definitely confirm that Windows 10 with enabled Cortana will have an impact on the battery life. We are testing this as we speak to check how big the impact is.

We don’t know how significant the battery life decrease will be, but the good thing is that you will be able to switch Cortana off in case you don’t need it. We heard that many new Toshiba notebooks will come with a dedicated Cortana button, as this is the easiest way to save battery life. Cortana on Toshiba won’t listen until you press the button.

It would be smart if Microsoft would come up with Cortana enable / disable keyboard shortcut. Win + Q will enable Cortana news while Win + S will bring you directly to the Cortana search engine.

Windows 10 seems to be a logical upgrade for anyone who has Windows 8.1 on their notebooks and misses the options from Windows 7, and some familiar UI elements. We use Windows 8.1 on some devices, while most of our computers still have Windows 7 and nothing more. Microsoft DirectX 12 will force us to Windows 10 but from what awe can tell from Preview release, the upgrade to Windows 10 from with 7 seems like quite seamless and logical step.

Just make sure to be aware that your notebook battery life might suffer because of Cortana. Have in mind that this “talk to your PC and expect a smart answer” option can be disabled.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Fiber Broadband Access Boost Homes Value?

July 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The availability of really fast broadband in your neighborhood could boost homes value by more than 3 percent.

High-speed fiber broadband service, with 1 Gbps download speeds, can add more than $5,400 to the value of an average U.S. home, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH), an advocacy group made up of fiber equipment vendors and broadband providers.

That $5,400 figure is approximately equal to adding a new fireplace, half of a new bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University.

Speed matters, the study found. For homes where 1 Gbps broadband was available, sale prices were 7 percent higher than for homes in areas with broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or lower.

The study, possibly the first to look at the link between home values and fiber service, could help drive a new “fiber boom,” like late in the late 2000′s, said Kevin Morgan, FTTH’s board chairman and director of marketing communications at Adtran, a telecom equipment maker.

Several broadband providers have announced new deployments in recent months, and the study can help local governments push providers for new fiber deployments, added Heather Gold, FTTH’s president and CEO.

FTTH helps local officials work with providers on deploying new or faster broadband service, Gold said. “If a community wants to get fiber to the home and they understand the economic value … both to homeowners and the community in total, that helps them decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to help this broadband provider make an attractive investment case,’” she said.

In 2014, FTTH released a study finding higher per capita gross domestic product in communities where gigabit Internet was available.

The study used home sales data from 2011 to 2013, U.S. Census Data and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s 2012 and 2013 national broadband maps to investigate the relationship between broadband availability and home prices.

 

 

 

Microsoft Display Ads Business Going To AOL

July 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.

The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.

Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.

The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.

“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.

Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.

Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.

Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.

 

 

 

Yahoo Still Plagued By Sluggish Growth

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo’s share gains since November from a partnership with Mozilla may be a clue about whether the search company can gain new users through the just-announced contract to change Internet Explorer’s and Chrome’s default search through installations of Oracle’s Java.

Although the news of the Yahoo-Oracle partnership got the lion’s share of attention, CEO Marissa Mayer also used last week’s shareholder meeting to mention the Mozilla pact.

The five-year contract with Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has boosted Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market, but growth has stalled for the last three months, according to measurement company comScore.

On Wednesday, Mayer asserted that the Mozilla deal — negotiated last fall — was “profitable,” but didn’t provide any numbers to back that up. Neither Yahoo nor Mozilla has disclosed how much the former paid to become Firefox’s default search engine in the U.S.

By comScore’s measurement, Yahoo accounted for 12.7% of all U.S. searches in May, the same share it controlled in both March and April. Although that was 2.5 percentage points higher than in November 2014 — before Firefox began urging users to accept Yahoo as the default — and represented a six-month increase of 25%, May’s share was down from the January peak of 13%.

From all indications, Yahoo has gotten as much out of the Firefox deal as it will likely get. The flip-side is that Yahoo has hung onto most of what it grabbed from Google — Firefox’s previous default — even as Google has tried to get users to return.

For May, comScore pegged Google’s share at 64.1%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. Microsoft’s share rose that one-tenth of a point to end May at 20.3%. Because Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, Microsoft’s technology accounted for 31.4% of all U.S. searches, still less than half Google’s 65.2%.

 

 

Cisco Warns Of Bug In Virtual App

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cisco has warned of a default Secure Shell vulnerability in three of its virtual applications.

The flaw could allow attackers to decrypt traffic exchanged in the services, and has been detailed in a Cisco security advisory.

It affects Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance (SMAv), Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, which are already commercially available.

Cisco said that it “is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerabilities”, but warned that attackers who got hold of the private keys could decrypt communications with a man-in-the-middle attack.

The default private encryption keys were preinstalled on all three of the products, a move which is considered bad security practice.

“Successfully exploiting this vulnerability on Cisco SMAv allows an attacker to decrypt communication toward SMAv, impersonate SMAv, and send altered data to a configured content appliance,” the advisory said.

“An attacker can exploit this vulnerability on a communication link toward any content security appliance that was ever managed by any SMAv.”

Cisco has released a patch which deletes the preinstalled SSH keys and explains how customers can correct the problem.

The Cisco-sa-20150625-ironport SSH Keys Vulnerability Fix comes as part of several product upgrades, and must be manually installed from a command line interface.

Cisco’s advisory said that the patch is not required for physical hardware appliances, or for virtual appliance downloads or upgrades after 25 June.

Cisco revealed details of a new point of sale attack earlier this year that could part firms from money and customers from personal data.

The threat, called PoSeidon by the Cisco team, came at a time when eyes were on security breaches at firms like Target.

Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.

Courtesy-TheInq

RedHat Goes PaaS With Linux

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced the release of OpenShift Enterprise (OSE) 3, a new version of its Platform-as-a-Service offering.

Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)7, Openshift is built on Docker Linux containers with Kubernetes orchestration using technology developed in collaboration with Google.

The news comes in a busy week for Red Hat, which has also announced a new productivity tie-up with Samsung and taken a leading role in the formation of a new alliance known as the Open Container Project to standardise containers.

Users will have access to a wide range of apps via the Red Hat Container Certification Programme. Middleware solutions including Red Hat JBoss Enterprise, Web Server (Tomcat) and JBoss A-MQ messaging are also included.

Included are a number of tools to help developers create and collaborate, with web, command line, and integrated development environment interfaces. Options include direct code-push from GIT and source to image building. There is also flexibility for deployment, rollback and integration.

In addition, a preview of Openshift Dedicated has been released. The public cloud service based on OpenShift 3 will succeed Openshift Online, which already hosts 2.5 million applications online, allowing businesses to quickly build, launch and deploy bespoke apps.

Ashesh Badani, vice president and general manager, OpenShift, Red Hat, said, “This release of OpenShift Enterprise 3 employs open source containers and orchestration practices to change the developer experience and move the platform in the direction of what customers are asking for – a flexible platform for a microservices architecture.

“Our continued upstream work in the Docker and Kubernetes communities enable us to deliver the most updated technology platform for developers and operators, enabling them to remain competitive through quicker innovation.”

To assist users, Red Hat is offering a range of enterprise administrator courses to teach users how to deploy, configure and manage the system, which can result in a Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform as a Service – a worthy certificate for any office wall.

OpenShift 3 is available now with bespoke pricing models based of socket and core pairings.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

Samsung To Stop Disabling Windows Updates On PCs, Tablets

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Samsung agreed to stop disabling Windows Update on its PCs and tablets, bowing to a chorus of complaints — including Microsoft’s — that it had interfered with the way users intended the patch service to work on their devices.

“We will be issuing a patch through the Samsung Software Update notification process to revert back to the recommended automatic Windows Update settings within a few days,” a Samsung spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.

Samsung’s pledge put an apparent end to the week’s kerfuffle, which began when Patrick Barker, a crash-debugging and reverse-engineering expert, and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), charged the Korean company with silently changing how Windows Update delivers bug fixes and security patches to customers.

Samsung’s own SW Update — a tool used to update its branded personal computers and tablets with new drivers and refresh third-party, pre-installed software — changed Windows Update’s settings to prevent it from automatically downloading and installing updates, the default setting that Microsoft recommends. Instead, SW Update switched the setting to “Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them.”

Microsoft didn’t care for that one bit. “We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks,” the company said Wednesday. “We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue.”

Samsung first said it was, like Microsoft, looking into Barker’s findings, but subsequently denied that it had blocked a Windows 8.1 update — a red herring, since that had never been alleged — and at the same time admitted it manipulated Windows Update.

By Friday, whatever conversations occurred between Microsoft and Samsung made the latter change its mind on messing with the former’s patch service. “Samsung has a commitment to security and we continue to value our partnership with Microsoft,” the Samsung statement read.

 

 

 

 

NASA, Microsoft Team Up On Holographic Glasses

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Space Station is going to feel a little bit more like Star Trek.

NASA announced that it is collaborating with Microsoft to enable astronauts onboard the orbiting space station to use the company’s virtual reality headset.

Two pairs of Microsoft’s HoloLens computerized eyeglasses are scheduled to be sent to the space station when SpaceX launches its seventh commercial resupply mission on June 28.

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director of the space station program, said in a statement. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens in January at a Windows 10 event where CEO Satya Nadella said the device will be the world’s first holographic computing platform. The device is designed to allow users to see high-definition holograms with surround sound. They’re also built to understand voice commands and hand gestures.

The project that NASA and Microsoft are teaming up on has been dubbed Sidekick and is focused on helping astronauts who need to perform various tasks off-Earth.

By using HoloLens, which look much like a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and are expected to ship on July 29 along with Windows 10, the astronauts should be able to perform some on-station tasks with less training and be more efficient in the work they’re doing.

NASA already has tested the devices on board NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to make sure they work as expected in gravity-free environment.

 

 

 

Yahoo Beefs Up Mobile Search

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo is beefing up its search service on mobile devices, following Google’s lead by highlighting content such as images, videos and reviews ahead of regular search results

The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.

A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”

Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.

Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.

In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.

 

 

AMD’s Quantum Has Intel Inside

June 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Project Quantum PC system, with graphics powered by two of the new Fiji GPUs may have got the pundits moist but it has been discovered that the beast has Intel inside

KitGuru confirmed that the powerful tiny system, as shown at AMD’s own event, was based upon an Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard with an Intel Core i7-4790K ‘Devil’s Canyon’ processor.

Now AMD has made a statement to explain why it chose to employ a CPU from one of its competitor in what is a flagship pioneering gaming PC.

It told Tom’s Hardware that users wanted the Devil’s Canyon chip in the Project Quantum machine.

Customers “want to pick and choose the balance of components that they want,” and the machine shown off at the E3  was considered to be the height of tech sexiness right now.

AMD said Quantum PCs will feature both AMD and Intel CPUs to address the entire market, but did you see that nice Radeon Fury… think about that right now.

IT is going to be ages before we see the first Project Quantum PCs will be released and the CPU options might change. We would have thought that AMD might want to put its FinFET process ZEN CPUs in Project Quantum with up to 16 cores and 32 threads. We will not see that until next year.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Officially Releases Office Apps For Android

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft officially released its Office apps for Android, publishing the final versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word to Google Play.

The three apps are free for consumers, who may use them only for non-commercial purposes; in other words, not for work- or business-related tasks.

Microsoft kicked off previews last month, wrapping up the release of the suite’s apps for the OSes maintained by rivals Google (Android) and Apple (iOS). The gradual rollout began in March 2014 with the surprise debut of Office on the iPad less than two months after Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO.

Previously, Microsoft released betas of Office for Windows 10 Mobile — the operating system that will launch before the end of this year for smartphones and smaller tablets — and for Windows 10 on desktops, 2-in-1s and larger tablets. Neither of those collections have been completed.

Microsoft’s change in tenor and pivot in strategy have been clearest over the last 17 months as it crafted and then released touch-based Office apps for every major operating system except Windows, turning a decades-long practice of protecting its own OS on its head.

As with the Office apps on other devices, Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Android can be used by consumers free of charge for basic tasks, including viewing, creating and editing documents. A Microsoft Account — the credentials used to access Microsoft’s services, such as Outlook.com and Skype — is required for all but viewing documents, and on larger Android devices, for everything but viewing and printing.

Business customers and anyone who wants to utilize advanced features, however, require a current Office 365 subscription.

 

 

 

Facebook Allowing Users Without An Account To Use Messenger

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.

The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.

Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.

 

 

 

Community Solar Farms Projected To Grow By 500% This Year

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Community solar farms, which chunks out clean energy to a group of shareholders, have emerged as the next largest solar market in the U.S.

Over the next two years, community solar in the U.S. is poised to see its market size increase seven-fold, and by 2020 it will be expanding by half a billion watts annually, according to a new report by GTM Research.

One of the benefits of a community solar farm is that it offers consumers who don’t even own a home (such as renters) the ability to go solar.

Community solar farms, like community gardens, share the photovoltaic energy among a group who purchase a share of the total energy produced by the site and receive the benefits of reduced costs on their electric bill.

According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), there are at least 52 community farms the U.S. states. And, at least 10 states are encouraging their growth through policy and programs.

Twenty-four states have at least one community solar project in operation, with 12 states operating at least two community farms or more, GTM said. The leading states based on operating capacity are Arizona, Colorado, California and Massachusetts.

At least 10 states are considering active community solar legislation to promote shared resources.

California, for example, is preparing to implement two community solar programs, one for utility-led development and another for third-party development. The program calls for 600 megawatts (MW) by 2019, with 110.5MW required by 2016.

Clean Energy Collective (CEC) and SunShare are the market leaders in building community solar farms, with a 32% combined market share, according to GTM.

As with other solar collectives, CEC and SunShare typically partner with utilities to develop high-volume, one-off community solar projects. Additionally, GTM Research reported today that 55 billion watts (55 gigawatts or GW) will be installed globally in 2015, a 36% increase over 2014.

Solar will account for roughly half of new electricity capacity out to 2020, the new report stated.

The United States will be the third-ranked PV market this year, behind only China and Japan. GTM Research forecasts the United States to install 8GW, which constitutes 14% of the global PV market.

 

 

 

Ford Creates Global Team To Focus On Self-driving Cars

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co is finally ramping up its efforts to roll out self-driving cars, according to company executives.

The U.S. automaker will expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle lineup over the next five years, they said. Such systems, the precursors of fully autonomous vehicles, enable hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.

Ford has lagged behind competitors, notably General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc, which have all announced plans to begin offering semi-automated driving systems over the next 18 months.

On Tuesday, Ford said it had created a global team to develop self-driving vehicles, with 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer as director.

The move elevates a low-key research effort to a higher-profile advanced engineering project, and signals Chief Executive Mark Fields’ intent to accelerate Ford’s presence in the area.

“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, said Tuesday in Palo Alto, California.

Nair said the move is “another step closer to production” of fully autonomous vehicles. He declined to say when such vehicles would reach the market, but other companies have targeted 2020.

Much of the engineering development work will take place at Ford’s recently opened research and innovation center in Palo Alto in northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the company expects to have 125 employees by year-end.

More than a dozen global automakers and suppliers have teamed up with tech startups and established companies in the area to develop advanced safety and self-driving systems.

Automatic braking and pedestrian detection, which are available on Ford’s Mondeo sedan in Europe, will debut next year on one of its U.S. vehicles and in most Ford products globally by 2019.

A key supplier of pedestrian-detection technology is Mobileye NV, which is working with Ford, GM, Tesla and other automakers to bring such advanced safety systems to market.