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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.

 

 

Will AMD’s FreeSync Appear In Early 2015?

September 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Last week in San Francisco we spent some time with Richard Huddy, AMD’s Chief gaming scientist to get a glimpse what is going on in the world of AMD graphics. Of course we touched on Mantle, AMD’s future in graphics and FreeSync, the company’s alternative to Nvidia G-Sync.

Now a week later AMD is ready to announce that MStar, Novatek and Realtek scaler manufactures are getting ready with DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync and AMD’s Project FreeSync. They should be done by end of the year with monitors shipping in Q1 2015.

FreeSync will prevent frame tearing as the graphic card often pushes more (or fewer) frames than the monitor can draw and this lack of synchronisation creates quite annoying frame tears.

FreeSync will allow Radeon gamers to synchronize display refresh rates and GPU frame rates to enable tearing and stutter-free gaming along with low input latency. We still do not have the specs or names of the new monitors, but we can confirm that they will use robust DisplayPort receivers from MStar, Novatek and Realtek in 144Hz panels with QHD 2560×1440 and UHD 3840×2160 panels up to 60 Hz.

It took Nvidia quite some time to get G-Sync monitors off the ground and we expect to see the first 4K G-Sync monitors shipping shortly, while QHD 2560×1440 ones have been available for a few months. Since these are gaming monitors with a 144Hz refresh rate they don’t come cheap, but they are nice to look at and should accompany a high end graphic card such as Geforce GTX 980 or a few of them.

Radeon lovers will get FreeSync, but monitors will take a bit more time since AMD promises Project FreeSync-ready monitors through a media review program in 1Q 15 and doesn’t actually tells us much about retail / etail availability.

Courtesy-Fud

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.

 

 

Can Dell Make A Profitable Low Cost ARM Server?

September 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Michael Dell, founder of Dell, has said the company may use ARM for its mainstream servers. Speaking at the Dell Solutions Summit in Brussels, Dell said: “If ARM works, really works, and costs less, we will use ARM.”

This is a bit of a poke in the eye for the company’s relationship with Intel. The company has just released the 13th generation of its PowerEdge server suite, based on Intel’s newest Xeon chip, the E5 2600 v3. Dell said that as ARM moved to 64-bit architecture; it became more interesting to him. But at the moment Intel is absolutely the best and that’s what customers want.”

Dell said the company has a long-standing partnership with companies such as Intel because the capital required to build the next generation of semiconductors is significant.

“We are co-dependent on each other. If you look at Intel’s revenue reports, you will find that Dell represents 15% of Intel’s ‘other’ revenue,” he said. “If you look at the enterprise customers, their infrastructures have a long tail of legacy IT, which have to be tested and certified, so they are not exactly jumping on the ARM bandwagon.”

Courtesy-Fud

Did The Milky Way Galaxy Form From Colossal Crashes?

September 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The history of the Milky Way has a new wrinkle.

Scientists used radio telescopes like the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a vast array of receivers in Chile — used to probe galaxies within 40 million to 600 million light-years from Earth. After observing dozens of merging galaxies, astrophysics found that many galactic collisions will create disc galaxies similar to the Milky Way, a surprising finding.

Their observations of carbon monoxide in 37 colliding galaxies showed pancake-shaped zones of molecular gas, similar to the shape that disc galaxies — which include spiral galaxies and lenticular galaxies — would assume.

“This is a large and unexpected step towards understanding the mystery of the birth of disc galaxies,” lead researcher on the study Junko Ueda, a postdoctoral fellow at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, said in a European Southern Observatory statement.

Before, astronomers thought that only elliptical galaxies could arise from mergers. Simulations from the 1970s, however, concluded that elliptical galaxies should be the most popular type of galaxy in the universe. Yet these odd-shaped entities comprise less than 30 percent of galaxies. The new study could help explain why scientists see so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the universe, according to ESO.

The astronomers’ work is the biggest molecular gas study so far, but they said they plan more work to follow up on their research. Astronomers emphasized more observations of older galaxies are required to see if mergers behaved similarly in the young universe.

“We have to start focusing on the formation of stars in these gas discs. Furthermore, we need to look farther out in the more distant universe,” Ueda said. “We know that the majority of galaxies in the more distant universe also have discs. We, however do not yet know whether galaxy mergers are also responsible for these, or whether they are formed by cold gas gradually falling into the galaxy. Maybe we have found a general mechanism that applies throughout the history of the universe.”

The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement.

Courtesy-Space

 

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.

 

 

IBM Launches Watson Analytics

September 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

In an effort to expand its Watson analysis technology, IBM is trying out a new service that can answer questions business managers might have about their data.

IBM has launched a beta of Watson Analytics, an interactive Q&A service designed to answer questions and highlight trends within sets of enterprise data.

The service “is about putting powerful analytics in the hands of every business user,” said Eric Sall, IBM vice president of marketing for business analytics.

Traditional business intelligence tools remain too difficult to use for business managers, Sall said. “It is hard to get the data. It is hard to analyze the data if you’re not a specialist, and it is hard to use the tools,” he said. Watson Analytics attempts to streamline the process.

Natural language systems are becoming increasingly prevalent as a form of human-computer interface. Apple’s Siri, Google’s GoogleNow and Microsoft’s Cortana all act as virtualized personal assistants, able to answer a range of simple questions on behalf of their users.

Watson Analytics operates in a similar manner, in that it can offer responses to questions posed by the user in their chosen language, rather than forcing the user to develop a SQL query, master a complex statistical package or write data-parsing code to better understand some large set of data.

The effort is the latest move in IBM’s $1 billion initiative to commercialize Watson technologies.

IBM Research developed Watson to compete with human contestants on the “Jeopardy” game show in 2011, using natural language processing and analytics, as well as many sources of structured and unstructured data, to formulate responses to the show’s questions.

In the years since, the company has been working to commercialize the Watson technology by identifying industries that could benefit from this form of cognitive computing, such as health care, law enforcement and finance.

Earlier this year, IBM launched the Watson Discovery Advisor, which is customized for scientific researchers who need to deeply probe one specific body of scientific knowledge, such as chemistry or cellular biology.

Another service, the company’s Watson Engagement Advisor, uses the artificial intelligence technology to aid in customer support.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Boeing, SpaceX Teaming Up To Build ‘Space Taxis’

September 18, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

NASA will join forces with Boeing and SpaceX to build commercially owned and operated “space taxis” to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, ending U.S. dependence on Russia for rides.

The U.S. space agency also considered a bid by privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp, but opted to award long-time aerospace contractor Boeing and California’s SpaceX with contracts valued at a combined $6.8 billion to develop, certify and fly their seven-person capsules.

Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion to SpaceX’s $2.6 billion. SpaceX is run by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, also the chief executive officer of electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors.

“SpaceX is deeply honored by the trust NASA has placed in us,” said Musk, a South Africa-born, Canadian American billionaire. “It is a vital step in a journey that will ultimately take us to the stars and make humanity a multi-planet species.”

The awards position Boeing and SpaceX to be ready for commercial flight services in 2017, said Kathy Leuders, manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew program. She said both contracts have the same requirements.

“The companies proposed the value within which they were able to do the work and the government accepted that,” Leuders told reporters in a conference call.

The contract has taken on new urgency given rising tensions between the United States and Russia over its annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Boeing’s CST-100 spaceship would launch aboard Atlas 5 rockets, built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing. SpaceX, which already has a $1.3 billion NASA contract to fly cargo to the space station, intends to upgrade its Dragon freighter to carry astronauts.

NASA has said that in addition to test flights, the awards would include options for between two and six operational missions.

By flying astronauts commercially from the United States, NASA could end Russia’s monopoly on space station crew transport. The agency pays $70 million per person for rides on Russian Soyuz capsules, the only flights available for astronauts since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.

China, the only other country to fly people in orbit besides the United States and Russia, is not a member of the 15-nation space station partnership.

 

 

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.