The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have described the changes as an unfair and deceptive trade practice, subject to an investigation and injunction by the FTC, in their complaint Monday.
WhatsApp said last week it will be sharing some account information of users with Facebook and its companies,including the mobile phone numbers they verified when they registered with WhatsApp. The sharing of information will enable users to see better friend suggestions and more relevant ads on Facebook, it added.
Messages, photos, and account information shared on the messaging app would not be shared on Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see, WhatsApp said.
For Facebook, which paid $22 billion for WhatsApp, the changes are an attempt by the social networking company to earn revenue from the platform.
The company that Facebook acquired some two years ago is likely to claim that it is not in violation of any promise made previously as it is giving users the choice to opt out of the new program.
Users are being prompted to tap to “Agree” to the updated terms of service and privacy policies. They can also opt out within 30 days on the account settings by unchecking the relevant box or toggling the control regarding sharing of account information.
If users opt out, “the Facebook family of companies will still receive and use this information for other purposes such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities,” the company said.
A federal appeals court in California has tossed out a U.S. government lawsuit that accused AT&T Inc of deception for reducing internet speeds for customers with unlimited mobile data plans once their use exceeded certain levels.
The company, however, could still face a fine from the Federal Communications Commission regarding the slowdowns, also called “data throttling.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said it ordered a lower court to dismiss the data-throttling lawsuit, which was filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC sued AT&T on the grounds that the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier failed to inform consumers it would slow the speeds of heavy data users on unlimited plans. In some cases, data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent, the lawsuit said.
The FTC said the practice was deceptive and, as a result, barred under the Federal Trade Commission Act. AT&T argued that there was an exception for common carriers, and the appeals court agreed.
Asked about the appeals court ruling, a spokesman for AT&T said: “We’re pleased with the decision.”
An FTC spokesman said the agency has not yet decided whether to appeal. “We are disappointed with the ruling and are considering our options for moving forward,” FTC spokesman Jay Mayfield wrote in an emailed comment.
The company, however, could face action from the FCC. In June 2015, the agency proposed a fine of $100 million for AT&T’s alleged failure to inform customers with unlimited data plans about the speed reductions. AT&T has contested that proposed fine.
Princeton University researchers have developed a 25-core open source processor that can be scaled to create a monster 200,000-core PC stuffed with 8,000 64-bit chips. The chip is called Piton after the metal spikes driven by rock climbers into mountain sides, and was presented at the Hot Chips symposium on high-performance computing in Cupertino this week.
“With Piton, we really sat down and rethought computer architecture to build a chip specifically for data centres and the cloud,” said David Wentzlaff, a Princeton assistant professor of electrical engineering and associated faculty in the Department of Computer Science.
“The chip we’ve made is among the largest ever built in academia and it shows how servers could run far more efficiently and cheaply.”
The current version of the Piton chip measures 6mmx6mm. It has more than 460 million transistors, each as small as 32nm, the bulk of which are contained in 25 cores.
Companies and academic institutions have produced chips with many dozens of cores in recent years, but the readily scalable architecture of Piton can enable thousands of cores on a single chip with half a billion cores in the data centre, said Wentzlaff, adding that more cores ought to mean more processing power.
“What we have with Piton is really a prototype for future commercial server systems that could take advantage of a tremendous number of cores to speed up processing,” he said.
At the same time, he suggested, the design could also cut power consumption and therefore heat dissipation.
The programs being run in a typical data centre used by hundreds of thousands or even millions of users rely on similar operations at the microprocessor level. The Piton chip’s cores can recognise these instances and execute identical instructions consecutively so that they flow one after another.
This can increase energy efficiency by about 20 per cent compared with a standard core, according to the researchers.
A second innovation is called a memory-traffic shaper that mediates between the demands of different applications accessing memory on the chip. The researchers claimed that this can yield an 18 per cent improvement in performance compared with conventional means of memory allocation.
Piton also assigns areas of the on-chip cache memory to specific cores, while the cores themselves can be reserved or assigned to particular applications.
Generously, rather than creating a startup to exploit the various innovations, Wentzlaff confirmed that the designs will be published under an open source licence.
“We’re very pleased with all that we’ve achieved with Piton in an academic setting, where there are far fewer resources than at large commercial chipmakers. We’re also happy to give out our design to the world as open source, which has long been commonplace for software, but is almost never done for hardware,” he said.
The architecture has been designed to be easily scalable, enabling it to handle the large-scale repetitive processing tasks increasingly demanded of servers running in cloud data centres.
The ever shrinking Biggish Blue has showed off details of its new Power 9 technology at the Hot Chips conference.
Power9 is a new CPU architecture based on 14nm FinFET process technology and should be out in the second half of 2017. Of course it is not headed for mainstream desktops and notebooks – it is being targeted to compete with AMD’s Opteron and Intel’s Xeon.
IBM said that Power9 was developed to handle the evolution of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and analytics.
There are two flavours – a “scale-out” model optimised for two CPU sockets on the motherboard, and a “scale-up” model built for multiple CPU sockets.
They feature two processor configurations each. There is a chip packed with 24 SMT4 processor cores that’s optimised for the Linux ecosystem, and a chip packed with 12 SMT8 processor cores optimised for the PowerVM. The SMT8 has eight threads whereas the SMT4 only has four.
The “scale out” model will depend on direct attach memory and have eight direct DDR4 ports. The “scale out” model uses buffered memory and use eight buffered channels. IBM said the Power9 will have a reduced pipeline compared to Power8 which means improved performance in applications that use modern coding.
Big Blue listed the other benefits introduced by Power9 architecture including advanced branch prediction, local pipe control of load/store operations, and even a new instruction set providing support for emerging algorithms, broader data type support, energy and frequency management, and acceleration.
High-tech computing firm Nutanix has purchased two startups to enhance its data and storage services, as the firm continues to grow its business despite a protracted delay in its initial public offering.
San Jose, California-based Nutanix said on Sunday it bought PernixData, a software company that facilitates data storage, and Calm.io, a development and automation startup, both also located in California.
Adding the new technologies will enable Nutanix to improve the speed of its cloud computing platform and enhance or create new software products, the company said.
The chief executives of both acquired companies said their company culture and technology were complementary with Nutanix’s.
“One thing that keeps both these companies going is innovation,” PernixData CEO and Co-founder Poojan Kumar said on a call with reporters.
The deal is a move to grow Nutanix’s business while remaining in the private market, despite the company filing for an IPO in December. At the time, the company estimated raising $200 million in the deal, but has not yet priced shares.
Investors expected Nutanix – valued at $2 billion after its last financing round – to be among the first companies out in January, but a volatile market battered public technology stocks and put the IPO market into a deep freeze. The market remains challenging, with just 59 deals pricing this year, down 55 percent from the same time last year, according to Renaissance Capital, a manager of IPO-focused funds.
Technology IPOs have been particularly difficult, as buyers are reluctant about valuations. There were no technology IPOs this year until April, and there have been only seven since.
Some experts say the acquisitions will further kick out Nutanix’s IPO, as the companies will need time to integrate their employees and technology.
“Larger transactions … push out IPOs as integration and other aspects of a deal can create one more thing for investors to understand and management teams to articulate,” said Kapil Venkatachalam, principal at Technology Crossover Ventures, who was not part of the Nutanix deal.
“The acquisitions of Calm.io and PernixData are completely independent of any IPO process and have no impact on any plans,” a Nutanix spokesman said.
There are now 200 companies putting their support behind Privacy Shield, the framework agreement allowing businesses to process the personal information of European Union citizens on servers in the U.S.
Companies must register with the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce to be covered. It’s a self-certification process, so the ITA is only checking that the forms are filled in correctly, not that companies are necessarily complying with all 13,894 words of the rules. The Privacy Shield rules are needed to ensure that EU citizens’ personal information is afforded the same legal protection in the U.S. as required under EU law.
The ITA began processing applications on Aug. 1, and by Aug. 26 had accepted 90, relating to a total of 200 companies including “additional covered entities.”
Two you might have heard of are Microsoft and Salesforce.
Microsoft’s promise to play by the Privacy Shield rules covers data processed by its Caribbean, Indian, Licensing, Mobile, Online, Regional Sales and Technology Licensing divisions as well as the main company.
But that same registration also says EU citizens’ data could be handled by a dozen partially digested acquisitions:Acompli, bought in 2014 to enhance the mobile clients for Outlook; Blue Stripe Software, a cloud management company it picked up in 2015; Android lock-screen maker Double Labs; e-discovery specialist Equivio; FieldOne Systems, an addition to its Dynamics CRM; sales gamification startup Incent Games; cloud monitor MetricsHub; customer self-service portal maker Parature; big data analytics platform maker Revolution Analytics; calendar app Sunrise Atelier; online mapping toolmaker Vexcel, and organizational analytics company VoloMetrix.
Salesforce.com’s registration is simpler: It covers “Salesforce.com, inc. and its U.S. subsidiaries.”
Privacy Shield is the successor to the Safe Harbor framework, which covered transatlantic data transfers from July 2000 until October 2015, when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that it provided inadequate protection for Europeans’ privacy rights.
Some 5,534 organizations signed up to Safe Harbor before the court ruling came, with the certification status still listed as “current” for 3,375 of them.
If the ITA continues to process self-certifications at the current rate, it could take two years or more before all those who sheltered in Safe Harbor are defended by Privacy Shield.
Number crunchers working for Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry’s research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia have noted that during the second quarter AMD gained market share in the add-in board (AIB) market.
But while AMD fans might be cheering, and while Nvidia fanboys work out ways they can beat them up after school, JPR says that over all the AIB market decreased.
For those who came in late, AIBs using discrete GPUs are found in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They are sold directly to customers as aftermarket products, or are factory installed by OEMs.
AIBs are the higher end of the graphics industry with their discrete chips and private, often large, high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.
The PC add-in board (AIB) market now has just three chip (GPU) suppliers which also build and sell AIBs. The primary suppliers of GPUs are AMD and Nvidia. There are 48 AIB suppliers, the AIBOEM customers of the GPU suppliers, which they call “partners”.
JPR has been tracking AIB shipments quarterly since 1987-the volume of those boards peaked in 1999, reaching 114 million units, in 2015, 44 million shipped.
The news for the quarter was encouraging and seasonally understandable, quarter-to-quarter, the AIB market decreased -20.8 percent (compared to the desktop PC market, which increased 2.5%), the report said.
AIB shipments during the quarter decreased from the last quarter -20.8 percent, which is below the ten year average of -9.7 percent.On a year-to-year basis, it found that total AIB shipments during the quarter rose 0.8 percent, which is greater than desktop PCs, which fell -0.2 percent, JPR added.
In spite of the overall PC churn, which is mostly because of tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.
The overall GPU shipments (integrated and discrete) is greater than desktop PC shipments due double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics.
Another reason is the increase in dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD’s Crossfire or Nvidia’s SLI technology Improved attach rate. The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs has declined from a high of 63 percent in Q1 2008 to 34 percent this quarter, a decrease of -22.7 percent from last quarter which was negative. Compared to this quarter last year it increased a single miserable percentage point.
This research said that the global GPU market demand in Q2’16 decreased from last quarter, and decreased from last year, to 83.32 million units.
“In recent years, as the gaming ecosystem is shaping up, software and hardware developers, information service providers, and even governments have been attempting to unearth market opportunities coming from this new arena. However, global PC shipment volume is forecast to fall further,” the report said.
Last week, Remedy tapped Tero Virtala to be its new CEO and said he would guide the Quantum Break studio’s move to developing multiple projects simultaneously. Virtala recently spoke with GamesIndustry.biz to flesh that idea out a little more and provide other details about his vision for the company’s future.
To start with, Virtala acknowledged that Remedy had intended to make a move into multiproject development for a while.
“This idea has lived for such a long time, but naturally, Quantum Break being such an ambitious and big project, it took most of the resources, people, the energy, most of the money the studio has been using for a long time,” Virtala said. “Now Quantum Break has been made and there is a new phase clearly starting for the company. As this strategic path has been discussed, it’s a commonly shared view that going for multiple projects is the way the people at the company want to go. And it also makes a lot of sense.”
Even though Remedy managed to put out the digital release Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and free-to-play mobile game Agents of Storm while Quantum Break was in the works, it’s clear much of the studio’s focus was on its Xbox One title. As Virtala explained, Quantum Break was an immense task for the studio: a new IP on a new platform with new gameplay mechanics and new tech, all paired with a new transmedia approach that would see a four-episode live-action serial created alongside the game.
“You take so many new things at one time and it made sense to focus on just one big project at a time,” Virtala said. “Now when we fast-forward to this moment, there’s so much more experience and skills, competencies that we can use with what we’ve learned. Also, the technology and tools we’ve developed are much further along and much more reusable than they used to be. So that built a base we can utilize, and then you take what else is needed for two projects.”
The studio’s old method of focusing on one big game for as long as five years at a time just isn’t sustainable in the long run, particularly when Remedy prides itself on cutting edge technology and envelope-pushing creativity.
“The industry’s developing so fast,” Virtala said. “On the one hand, there are so many great games out there, so when you’re bringing your game out, it has to stand out. It has to be unique. It has to be [high] quality. And if our studio is focusing on one project only, we’re putting all our people there. It usually means the length of the project grows, and if you take four or five years to develop a game, it’s a very risky game. You start the project with certain assumptions of the market, and in four or five years’ time in this type of creative, technology-driven industry, it changes so fast.”
That approach was also limiting the partners Remedy could work with. Virtala had nothing but great things to say about long-time partner Microsoft, but a relationship like that with a single-project studio would necessarily keep the company from collaborating with other publishers. And of course, Remedy fans would probably like more than one new game every five years or so.
Virtala wants Remedy to make more games, and he wants a shorter development cycle for those games. At the same time, he stressed, “We stay loyal to the strengths we have in this industry,” which he interprets as excellent games with a distinctive quality, visually impressive and immersive worlds populated with compelling characters.
As for how Remedy can deliver content to the same quality on a much shorter time scale, Virtala didn’t give many specifics. The company has a headcount of 125 people with another 15 open positions, but Virtala declined to say if there were plans to dramatically expand the staff size. As for doing more with the same amount of people, he did note that the technology and tools that have been developed for Quantum Break over the past five years can be used in future games, so “we are definitely able to provide AAA quality in a shorter time than we have before.”
He was similarly careful when talking about whether the shorter development cycle would be achieved by changing the types of games Remedy makes. The company is exploring “new game mechanics” that
Facebook Inc made updates to its popular “Trending” feature, which shows users the most-talked about topics of the day, to make it more automated and further eliminate the potential for human bias, the company wrote in a blog post.
The update is Facebook’s latest attempt in recent months to stress its neutrality as its influence grows.
The feature came under scrutiny in May after a news report alleged it suppressed conservative news, which prompted a demand from Republican members of the U.S. Congress for more transparency. Facebook said an internal probe found no evidence of bias.
The Trending feature shows users the most-talked about stories and topics on the top right-hand corner of Facebook’s home page with one-sentence descriptions. To eliminate the potential for bias, Facebook said it would no longer rely on editors to write descriptions for the topics and would instead show users the topic and how many people are discussing it.
Facebook said in an e-mailed statement that the composition of its Trending team would focus more on technical expertise since it no longer needed editors to write descriptions. The company did not say whether it was laying off employees.
Facebook maintains it is a neutral platform, but its political influence has come under scrutiny, especially as its user base swells. It has 1.7 billion people on its social network, and studies have shown it has the power to influence people’s behavior, ranging from registering as organ donors to registering to vote.
After the May news report first surfaced, Facebook penned a lengthy blog post explaining how the Trending feature works, the first time it had done so. Less than two weeks later, the company said it changed some procedures and outlined those changes in an effort to be more transparent.
Nvidia has updated its Grid software platform with deeper performance profiling and analytics tools for planning, deployment, and support of virtual GPU users.
According to the company the improved management tools address both host (server) managment and virtual client monitoring. Nvidia says that with the new Grid software, admins will be able to get information about the number of virtual graphics instances in use and the number they can potentially create.
They can also see usage information for the stream processors on board each card, the percentage of the card’s frame buffer that’s in use, and the load on each card’s dedicated video encode and decode hardware.
Each guest vGPU instance will tell admins information on encoder and decoder usage, frame buffer occupancy, and the vGPU use. Nvidia adds that it all takes the guess work out of vGPU provisioning and the data it’s exposing about vGPU usage will let system administrators tailor their virtual user profiles better.
All this means that it might stop the admins giving too much processing power to accounts when it is needed for the graphics team. Nvidia thinks those operational improvements will also help lower costs. The August 2016 Grid software update should be available immediately.
Google is believed to be spending a small fortune getting content ready for the platform, particularly video games and apps, licensing sports leagues and shooting 360-degree videos.
Daydream is being hardwired into Android 7.0 which launched this week. Google says that Samsung, HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi, Alcatel, Asus and LG had agreed to make “Daydream ready” smartphones.
Google wants the software to be the Android of VR. It will provide a VR platform and other outfits will create the hardware and its Android chums will configure their smartphones to run the beast. But while the product is nearly good to go, so far no one has put their hand up and said they will be making headsets specifically for the platform.
The VR market is getting crowded from Facebook, Sony, Samsung Electronics and HTC. However there are a limited number of apps and even fewer games. Sony’s Morpheus headset is tethered to its PlayStation video-game console, but Google is focused on lower quality mobile-based VR, whereby consumers snap their phones into a visor or headset. With the headset on, Daydream presents users with an array of apps, from YouTube to HBO Now.
Twitter users aren’t the only ones getting updates from the micro-blogging social media site. One maker of Android malware is also using Twitter to communicate with infected smartphones, according to security firm ESET.
The company uncovered the feature in a malicious app called Android/Twitoor. It runs as a backdoor virus that can secretly install other malware on a phone.
Typically, the makers of Android malware control their infected smartphones from servers. Commands sent from those servers can create a botnet of compromised phones and tell the malware on all the phones what to do.
The makers of Android/Twitoor decided to use Twitter instead of servers to communicate with the infected phones. The malware routinely checks certain Twitter accounts and reads the encrypted posts to get its operating commands.
Lukas Stefanko, an ESET researcher, said in a blog post that this was an innovative approach. It removes the need to maintain a command and control server, and the communications with the Twitter accounts can be hard to discover.
“It’s extremely easy for the crooks to re-direct communications to another freshly created account,” he said.
ESET said this was first Twitter-controlled Android botnet it had ever found. Windows-based botnets using Twitter have been around since at least 2009.
ESET said Android/Twitoor hasn’t been detected in any app stores, so it probably spreads through malicious links sent to the victim. The malware pretends to be a porn player or multimedia messaging app, and it’s only been active for about a month.
So far, Android/Twitoor has been found downloading versions of mobile banking malware to users’ phones.
“In the future, we can expect that the bad guys will try to make use of Facebook statuses or deploy LinkedIn and other social networks,” Stefanko added.
Developer nuTonomy invited a select group of people to download their app and ride for free in its “robo-taxi” in a western Singapore hi-tech business district, hoping to get feedback ahead of a planned dull launch of the service in 2018.
“This is really a moment in history that’s going to change how cities are built, how we really look at our surroundings,” nuTonomy executive Doug Parker told Reuters.
The trial rides took place in a Mitsubishi i-MiEv electric vehicle, with an engineer sitting behind the steering wheel to monitor the system and take control if necessary.
The trial is on an on-going basis, nuTonomy said, and follows private testing that began in April.
Parker, whose company has partnered with the Singapore government on the project, said he hoped to have 100 taxis working commercially in the Southeast Asian citystate by 2018.
Nutonomy is one of several companies racing to launch self-driving vehicles, with automakers and technology firms striking new alliances.
Swedish automaker Volvo AB said last week it had agreed to a $300 million alliance with ride-hailing service to develop a driverless vehicle.
Israeli driving assistant software maker Mobileye NV said its vehicle, developed with Delphi Automotive Plc, would be ready for production by 2019, while Ford Motor Co said its self-driving car was slated for 2021.
A New Zealand pizza chain wants to be the world’s first company to offer a commercial drone delivery service, a milestone in the quest to save time and money with an air-borne supply chain dispensing with people.
Some of the world’s biggest companies including Amazon.com Inc and Google, or Alphabet Inc as it is known, have plans to make deliveries by drone and aviation authorities in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have been relaxing rules to allow air deliveries.
Last month, U.S. convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc conducted the first single commercial drone delivery – coffee, donuts and a chicken sandwich – as part of a trial.
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd conducted a demonstration pizza delivery by drone in the New Zealand city of Auckland on Thursday, and afterwards said it aimed to be the first company to launch a regular drone service, late this year.
“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a 2-tonne machine delivering a 2-kilogram order,” Domino’s Chief Executive Officer Don Meij said in a statement.
With clear skies and small population of 4.4 million, New Zealand last year became one of the world’s first countries to clear commercial drone deliveries.
“Our enabling laws and regulation means we have the ideal environment,” New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges said after the Domino’s test flight.
But Philip Solaris, director of another drone company, X-craft Enterprises, said that while New Zealand has accommodating regulations on drones, Domino’s would be held back by a rule requiring drones to be kept in sight at all times.
“I can’t truly see how commercially viable that idea is because you would have to literally have somebody walking along to keep it in the line of sight, watching it at all times,” Solaris said.
Domino’s service would still need to overcome “random hazards (like) power lines, moving vehicles, children in the backyard playing”, he said.
The Domino’s and 7-Eleven deliveries both used drones provided by U.S.-headquarted Australian drone company Flirtey.
While we were hoping to see it bundled with some recently launched Polaris-based graphics cards, it appears that AMD wants to give some love to those that decide to buy AMD’s FX-series CPUs.
To be available in most popular retail/e-tail stores, the bundle will include a copy of the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided game with a purchase of a 6- or 8-core AMD FX CPU. According to details provided by AMD, the promotion will run from August 23rd to November 14th or until the supply lasts.
Currently, some of the hot AMD FX-series CPUs like the 6-core FX-6300 or 8-core FX-8320 are selling for as low as US $100 and US $130, so bundling a US $60 game sounds like a really good deal.
Hopefully, AMD will decide to bundle the game with some of its Polaris-based graphics cards after Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gets its DirectX 12 patch later in early September.