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Are Tablets Dead?

May 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

There more evidence that tablets were never the game-changer that Steve Jobs tried to peddle them as, and were just the keyboardless netbooks we said they were.

IDC siad that for the first quarter of 2016, overall worldwide tablet shipments fell to 39.6 million, a 14.7 percent drop from the same period a year ago,  However the only part of the segment which did ok were tablets with keyboards – or as we used to call them, netbooks.

IDC said that the decline of ordinary tablets was partly due to traditional first-quarter slumps but also a complete lack of interest on the part of customers.

Traditional tablets accounted for 87.6 percent of all tablet shipments. But tablets that come with detachable keyboards increased of more than 4.9 million units last quarter. That was a gain of 120 percent from the same period last year and an all-time high for tablets with detachable keyboards.

Tablets are dying because more people are buying big-screened phones as an alternative. You remember Fablets? They were what Steve Jobs claimed would never work because they prefered smaller smartphones or bigger tablets. In fact he was talking rubbish and was trying to keep his keyboardless netbook idea going.

IDC said that the newer tablets don’t offer enough new features to entice people to upgrade. After all tablets were always looking for an app which made them useful, which never arrived.

To counteract the downturn, more manufacturers are turning to tablets with detachable keyboards that can thus serve as laptops – on otherwords returning to the netbooks that the Tablets were said to replace.

“With the PC industry in decline, the detachable market stands to benefit as consumers and enterprises seek to replace their aging PCs with detachables,” IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement.

Apple saw its shipments and market share drop but remained in first place. Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the new 256GB storage option for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are “healthy additions” to the lineup, IDC said. Samsung also saw its shipments and market share decline. Though the Samsung Galaxy Tab lineup is still popular, its detachable TabPro S is dead in the water thanks to its $900 price tag.

Amazon has found success with its starting-at-$49 Fire, showing that consumers will still buy bargain-priced tablets. Missing from the list was Microsoft in spite of the popularity of its Surface Pro products, which start at $900.

IDC said:

“The Surface line is great. But it’s tough to drive volume in the first quarter. Prices of Surface products are fairly high, but Microsoft is in the top five list for tablets with detachable keyboards. The top five for tablets as a whole is a tougher nut to crack given the large slate volumes compared to detachables.”

Courtesy-Fud

 

Elon Musk Opens Training ‘Gym’ For AI Programmers

May 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Techie entrepreneur Elon Musk has rolled out an open-source training “gym” for artificial-intelligence programmers.

It’s an interesting move for a man who in 2014 said artificial intelligence, or A.I., will pose a threat to the human race.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence,” Musk said about a year and a half ago during an MIT symposium. “If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that… with artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. In all those stories with the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and he’s sure he can control the demon. It doesn’t work out.”

Today, Musk is moving to help programmers use A.I. and machine learning to build smart robots and smart devices.

“We’re releasing the public beta of OpenAI Gym, a toolkit for developing and comparing reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms,” wrote Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s CTO, and John Schulman, a scientist working with OpenAI, in a blog post . “We originally built OpenAI Gym as a tool to accelerate our own RL research. We hope it will be just as useful for the broader community.”

The OpenAI Gym is meant as a tool for programmers to use to teach their intelligent systems better ways to learn and develop more complex reasoning. In short, it’s meant to make smart systems smarter.

Musk is a co-chair of OpenAI, a $1 billion organization that was unveiled last December as an effort focused on advancing artificial intelligence that will benefit humanity.

While Musk has warned of what he sees as the perils of A.I., it’s also a technology that he needs for his businesses.

The OpenAI Gym is made up of a suite of environments, including simulated robots and Atari games, as well as a site for comparing and reproducing results.

It’s focused on reinforcement learning, a field of machine learning that involves decision-making and motor control.

According to OpenAI, reinforcement learning is an important aspect of building intelligent systems because it encompasses any problem that involves making a sequence of decisions. For instance, it could focus on controlling a robot’s motors so it’s able to run and jump, or enabling a system to make business decisions regarding pricing and inventory management.

Two major challenges for developers working with reinforcement learning are the lack of standard environments and the need for better benchmarks.

Musk’s group is hoping that the OpenAI Gym addresses both of those issues.

 

 

 

 

As TV Stations Offer Up Wireless Spectrum, 5G Will Be Easier

May 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Television stations have agreed to sell off 126MHz of premium wireless spectrum to mobile carriers in an ongoing U.S. Federal Communications Commission auction, potentially bringing higher speeds and more reliable networks to customers.

The 126MHz of spectrum was the highest amount anticipated by the FCC in the so-called incentive auction, agency officials said Friday. In most areas of the country, the agency will be able to auction 10 blocks of 10MHz to mobile carriers and other interested bidders.

This low-band spectrum, in the 600MHz band, is highly coveted by mobile carriers because it can cover long distances and penetrate walls and other obstacles. Mobile carriers have pushed for more spectrum as their customers’ network use keeps growing, and the low-band spectrum will help carriers roll out faster 5G service, supporters say.

FCC officials didn’t release the number of TV stations that agreed to give up their spectrum, but they said the number was significant. Participating TV stations can either move their over-the-air signals to other spectrum or go off the air in exchange for a share of the auction proceeds. The auction could raise $60 billion, according to some estimates.

“Robust broadcaster participation is key to the success” of the auction, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “Today’s announcement reflects the voluntary decision by many broadcasters that this auction truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The auction will lead to “vast economic and consumer benefits,” Wheeler added.

Mobile trade group CTIA applauded the amount of spectrum that will be available. The trade group is “is encouraged to see so much interest in the FCC’s incentive auction, which will play a critical role in making spectrum available for 4G LTE and 5G technologies,” CTIA president and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement.

The reverse-auction phase, in which TV stations will solicit bids for their available spectrum, begins May 31.

 

TiVo To Be Acquired By Rovi

May 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Online entertainment company Rovi plans to purchase digital video recording firm TiVo for $1.1 billion in a stock and cash deal, the companies announced on Friday.

TiVo has cloud-based technology for integrating live, recorded, on-demand and Internet television into one user interface, with search, discovery, viewing and recording options from a variety of devices. Its technology has been deployed by operators including Virgin Media and Vodafone Spain.

Rovi announced in March that Sharp’s new Aquos TVs would include its G-Guide electronic programming guide.

The combined company is forecast to have more than $800 million in revenue in the current year. More than 10 million TiVo-served households are expected to be added to the current base of about 18 million homes that use Rovi guides. The new entity will serve nearly 500 service providers worldwide, the companies said.

The deal between Rovi and TiVo, besides creating a large media and entertainment technology company with complementary products and services, will also lead to the setting up of a company with a worldwide portfolio of more than 6,000 issued patents and pending applications worldwide.

The two companies have a strong licensing business and have also sued key players like  Comcast for patent infringement in the past. The companies said they have more than $3 billion in combined IP licensing revenue and past damage awards.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter and the combined company will use the TiVo name. Tom Carson, CEO of Rovi will be the chief executive of the new company.

 

 

Samsung Scores With Apple

May 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

After five years, it seems that Apple is back to loving Samsung’s NAND flash memory again.

According to ETNews, Samsung will be back inside the iPhone 7 after five years.  While many thought that the reason that Apple pulled Samsung out of the iPhone 6s was pettiness over the trademark battle over who invented the rounded rectangle, it turns out that Apple’s wanted electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding requirements or special coatings on the memory packages.

Apple was looking to individually shield more parts inside its devices so it could dispense with discrete metal shielding components, which could ultimately save on logic board space and allow more room. At the time Samsung’s use of ball grid array (BGA) packaging put it at a disadvantage to competing products that use land grid array (LGA) package contacts, which allow the package to sit flush with the printed circuit board.

Samsung’s existing sputter coat EMI shielding technologies were insufficient for Apple’s performance requirements, becuase of the shielding gaps created by the raised BGA contacts. However new, cheaper spray techniques for ultra-thin coats of metal shielding has changed all that.  Also Samsungs 3D V-NAND memories offering up to 256 Gb densities on the market currently.

Samsung is also set to start supplying Apple with OLED panels for future iPhones. All up it means that a big chunk of your iPhone is a Samsung. Still you get what you pay for. Anyway, with the acception of Foxconn, being an Apple supplier is a kiss of death in the long term. Maybe Apple thought it was better to score its revenge on Samsung by making it a partner.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Motorola Going To Court?

May 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Lenovo owned Motorola has been slapped with a $5m class action lawsuit over allegations of shoddy customer service and not honoring warranty policies.

News of the lawsuit comes via Trusted Reviews, which learned this week that the complaint was filed against Motorola on 21 April in Illinois, accusing the company of “unfair, unscrupulous, immoral and oppressive” business practices.

The lawsuit’s main plaintiff, Douglas Lynch, decided to take legal action after a long-drawn out battle over a Moto 360 repair. He contacted Motorola for a replacement after the backplate of his smartwatch cracked, and was informed that a replacement would take four days to reach him.

The replacement failed to arrive, and Lynch was eventually sent a Moto 360 two months later that was a cheaper model than the one he had purchased.

Lynch isn’t alone in having a bad experience with Motorola. Girard Gibbs LLP, one of the law firms handling the case, told Trusted Reviews that Motorola owes “thousands of people” compensation.

This is evident on Reddit, where pissed off Motorola customers have flocked to tell similar stories.

One Redditor said:  ”I have had some of the worst support from them on my Moto G 3rd gen I bought last year.

“I tried to buy an extended warranty plan they supposedly offered, but their website was so jankedy that even after a few escalations over a FEW MONTHS to various higher ups in their support department with no resolution to the problem I finally just gave up and decided to never buy a Motorola phone again.”

Another added: “Wish someone would do the same in the UK as they wouldn’t replace my 6 month old 360 and I ended up having to pay about £120 to get it fixed when it was a hardware problem.”

Esfand Nafisi, an attorney at Girard Gibbs LLP, explained that the actual compensation owed is “likely higher” than the $5m referred to in the original filing, adding: “We want these issues to be resolved for all consumers.”

Motorola said in a statement: “Motorola has a long history of providing exceptional products and services to its customers. We are aware of the lawsuit, and are investigating the claims, which we believe to be without merit.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Do Parallel Universes Exist?

May 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Is our universe unique? From science fiction to science fact, there is a proposal out there that suggests that there could be other universes besides our own, where all the choices you made in this life played out in alternate realities. So, instead of turning down that job offer that took you from the United States to China, the alternate universe would show the outcome if you decided to venture to Asia instead.

The idea is pervasive in comic books and movies. For example, in the 2009 “Star Trek” reboot, the premise is that the Kirk and Spock portrayed by Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are in an alternate timeline apart from the William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy versions of the characters.

The concept is known as a “parallel universe,” and is a facet of the astronomical theory of the multiverse. There actually is quite a bit of evidence out there for a multiverse. First, it is useful to understand how our universe is believed to have come to be.

Around 13.7 billion years ago, simply speaking, everything we know of in the cosmos was an infinitesimal singularity. Then, according to theBig Bang theory, some unknown trigger caused it to expand and inflate in three-dimensional space. As the immense energy of this initial expansion cooled, light began to shine through. Eventually, the small particles began to form into the larger pieces of matter we know today, such as galaxies, stars and planets.

One big question with this theory is: are we the only universe out there. With our current technology, we are limited to observations within this universe because the universe is curved and we are inside the fishbowl, unable to see the outside of it (if there is an outside.)

There are at least five theories why a multiverse is possible, as a 2012 Space.com article explained

1. We don’t know what the shape of space-time is exactly. One prominent theory is that it is flat and goes on forever. This would present the possibility of many universes being out there. But with that topic in mind, it’s possible that universes can start repeating themselves. That’s because particles can only be put together in so many ways. More about that in a moment.

2. Another theory for multiple universes comes from “eternal inflation.” Based on research from Tufts University cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, when looking at space-time as a whole, some areas of space stop inflating like the Big Bang inflated our own universe. Others, however, will keep getting larger. So if we picture our own universe as a bubble, it is sitting in a network of bubble universes of space. What’s interesting about this theory is the other universes could have very different laws of physics than our own, since they are not linked.

3. Or perhaps multiple universes can follow the theory of quantum mechanics (how subatomic particles behave), as part of the “daughter universe” theory. If you follow the laws of probability, it suggests that for every outcome that could come from one of your decisions, there would be a range of universes — each of which saw one outcome come to be. So in one universe, you took that job to China. In another, perhaps you were on your way and your plane landed somewhere different, and you decided to stay. And so on.

4. Another possible avenue is exploring mathematical universes, which, simply put, explain that the structure of mathematics may change depending in which universe you reside. “A mathematical structure is something that you can describe in a way that’s completely independent of human baggage,” said theory-proposer Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as quoted in the 2012 article. “I really believe that there is this universe out there that can exist independently of me that would continue to exist even if there were no humans.”

5. And last but not least as the idea of parallel universes. To go back to the idea that space-time is flat, the number of possible particle configurations in multiple universes would be limited to 10^10^122 distinct possibilities, to be exact. So, with an infinite number of cosmic patches, the particle arrangements within them must repeat — infinitely many times over. This means there are infinitely many “parallel universes”: cosmic patches exactly the same as ours (containing someone exactly like you), as well as patches that differ by just one particle’s position, patches that differ by two particles’ positions, and so on down to patches that are totally different from ours.

Arguing against a parallel universe

Not everyone agrees with the parallel universe theory, however. A 2015 article on Medium by astrophysicist Ethan Siegal agreed that space-time could go on forever in theory, but said that there are some limitations with that idea.

The key problem is the universe is just under 14 billion years old. So our universe’s age itself is obviously not infinite, but a finite amount. This would (simply put) limit the number of possibilities for particles to rearrange themselves, and sadly make it less possible that your alternate self did get on that plane after all to see China.

Also, the expansion at the beginning of the universe took place exponentially because there was so much “energy inherent to space itself,” he said. But over time, that inflation obviously slowed — we do have humans that aren’t expanding infinitely, he pointed out. Among his conclusions: that means that multiverses would have different rates of inflation and different times (longer or shorter) for inflation. This decreases the possibilities of universes similar to our own.

“Even setting aside issues that there may be an infinite number of possible values for fundamental constants, particles and interactions, and even setting aside interpretation issues such as whether the many-worlds-interpretation actually describes our physical reality,” Siegal said, “the fact of the matter is that the number of possible outcomes rises so quickly — so much faster than merely exponentially — that unless inflation has been occurring for a truly infinite amount of time, there are no parallel universes identical to this one.”

But rather than seeing this lack of other universes as a limitation, Siegal instead takes the philosophy that it shows how important it is to celebrate being unique. He advises to make the choices that work for you, which “leave you with no regrets.” That’s because there are no other realities where the choices of your dream self play out; you, therefore, are the only person that can make those choices happen.

Courtesy-Space

 

Intel’s Updated USB Type-C Designed To Replace Headphone Jacks

April 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Intel this week unveiled plans to make an upgraded USB Type-C connector that would enable audio input and output, potentially replacing the long-standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack used in today’s electronic devices.

Intel, which revealed its plans during a lecture at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, also believes USB Type-C would simplify connections of multi-channel audio equipment to various devices.

Unlike the traditional 3.5mm analogue audio jack, a USB Type-C interface could charge a device in addition to transmitting sound and data. For example, it could transfer health and fitness data from a mobile device.

The USB Type-C connectors are reversible, so orientation isn’t an issue when plugging something into a device. The USB 3.1 Gen1 specification offers up to 5Gbps of data throughput; the Gen2 specification offers up to 10Gbps.

USB Type-C cables and connectors would replace the last analog receptacles on computers and mobile devices. Intel’s strategy was first reported by AnandTech.

In Intel’s presentation, it described USB C-Type connectors as being able to support both analog and digital musical content. But the upgraded connector would “promote” a changeover from analog to digital as users would see “improved digital headset features.”

A USB Type-C connector that supports audio feeds would also enable new form-factors, improve user experience and “provide a future path for USB technologies,” Intel said in the presentation.

 

 

 

Can USB-C Replace The 3.5mm Headphone Jack?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has called for the standard 3.5mm headphone jack to be dropped in favor of connections like USB-C.

Intel does not think there is much wrong with the 3.5mm audio jack, but apparently there are more advantages to a digital connection. USB-C would allow would mean higher quality and “cleaner” audio, apparently. USB-C could also allow for headphones to track health data like your body temperature and tell the doctors if your ears are bleeding.

At present, Intel is finalizing the USB Type-C Digital Audio technology and plans to release its specification later in Q2. The company does not reveal a lot about the standard right now, but notes that it is working on updating the USB Audio Device Class 2.0 specifications to support new connector, expand the list of recent audio specifications and features, improve power management and simplify the discovery and configuration model to make the upcoming headsets as easy to use as today’s headsets.

Intel calls like this can be taken with a grain of salt. OEMs are the people who decide this sort of thing, but with Intel’s support maybe more companies might consider it. However digital is not all it is cracked up to be.  In the audio world there is a new trend back to old style vinyl and tube amps are still a thing.

At the moment there is no actual music being produced and those who can actually write good music are dying off, so it probably does not matter what headphone socket you have – there is going to be nothing worth listening to in a few years.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Nintendo Making A Mistaking With The NX?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.

Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”

Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.

Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.

A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.

News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Twitter Troubles Continue, Misses Revenue Estimates

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter Inc  disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.

Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.

“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”

On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.

Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc  which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.

The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.

 

 

Mac Finally Gets Skype For Business App

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s new business communication product is finally making its way to the Mac.

The company announced the first technical preview of Skype for Business for Mac on Tuesday, giving users of Apple computers an easy way to connect to meetings they have scheduled through Microsoft’s professional audio and videoconferencing software.

When users sign into the app, they’ll see their Skype for Business meetings for the current day and the following one, and will be able to easily join in with the other people invited.

Skype for Business is the successor to the company’s venerable Lync product, which is still available for Mac during this transition.

The final release of the Mac version of Skype for Business is slated for the third quarter. Between now and then, Microsoft has two additional beta phases planned for the app. The second beta phase will include instant messaging, presence indicators and access to a user’s contacts.

In the third beta phase, Microsoft will bring along support for telephony and other advanced features supported by other versions of the product. That’s important for businesses that have paid for advanced Skype for Business features like the ability to place phone calls from the application over a traditional phone line.

This beta push is part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to extend the reach of its products to a wide variety of platforms, including the Mac.

 

Does Acer Support Virtual Reality?

April 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Acer’s boss Jason Chen says his company will not make its own VR devices and will focus on getting its gaming products to work with the existing VR platforms.

Eyebrows were raised when Acer released its new Predator series products which support  virtual reality devices. The thought was that Acer might have a device of its own in the works. However Acer CEO Jason Chen said there were no plans and the goal was to get everythink working with the four current major VR platforms Oculus, HTC’s Vive, OSVR and StarVR.

He said that VR was still at a rather early stage and so far still has not yet had any killer apps or software. Although that never stopped the development of tablet which to this day has not got itself a killer app. But Chen said that its demand for high-performance hardware will be a good opportunity for Acer.

Acer is planning to add support for VR devices into all of its future Predator series products and some of its high-end PC products.

Chen told Digitimes that said Acer was investing in two robot projects, the home-care Jibo and the robot arm Kubi in the US, and the company internally has also been developing robot technologies and should achieve some results within two years. Acer’s robot products will target mainly the enterprise market.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Can Astronomers Finally Explain The “WOW! Singal?

April 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

The story behind the famous “Wow!” signal has an eerie quality that has inspired countless science fiction alien encounters and is often lauded as one of the strongest pieces of evidence that we are, in fact, not alone in the universe.

However, its “alien intelligence” authenticity has been questioned since that fabled night on Aug. 15, 1977 at 10:16 p.m. ET when astronomer Jerry Ehman used the Ohio State University’s Big Ear radio telescope to sweep the skies for signals that may have originated from an extraterrestrial civilization.

On that night, Ehman found something. And since that night, astronomers have been trying to figure out what it means.

While pointed in the direction of 3 star systems named Chi Sagittarii, in the constellation of Sagittarius, Big Ear detected a 72 second radio wave burst, a signal far stronger than background noise. On the observatory’s computer printout, Ehman circled the burst with the infamous annotation “Wow!”

This excitement wasn’t an overstatement, it was this kind of signal he was looking for, the kind of signal astronomers thought a technologically-capable alien civilization would produce.

The Big Ear printout contains a bunch of apparently random numbers and letters, but Ehman’s red pen circles a cluster of digits “6EQUJ5″ with other circles around a “6″ and “7″ on separate columns. This particular code first uses the numbers 1-9 and then the alphabet A-Z to denote signal strength. As the burst suggests, the signal strength hit “6″ and then blasted through the letters reaching a peak of “U” before subsiding back into the numerical scale at “5.” There was then a slight wave trailing the main signal (hence the circled “6″ and “7″). The wave profile of the “Wow!” signal is graphically envisaged here.

However, since that day in 1977, a detection of a signal of that strength has not been replicated. Even after the SETI Institute was founded in 1984, and countless efforts have been made to find another radio burst like the “Wow!” signal, astronomers have been faced with silence in the cosmos; a problem that has only served to intensify the Fermi Paradox unease.

Now, Antonio Paris of St Petersburg College, Fla., an ex-analyst of the US Department of Defense, hopes to solve the mystery and he suspects that an entirely different cosmic phenomenon is to blame.

In an interview with TheGuardian.com, Paris says that his investigative background sent him on a mission to find another possible explanation for the “Wow!” signal and he tracked down two “suspicious” comets that may have been in the vicinity of Chi Sagittarii on Aug. 15, 1977. Interestingly, these comets, called 266P/Christensen and 335P/Gibbs, were only discovered in 2006 and 2008, so weren’t considered as possible reasons for the signal in 1977 as no one knew of their existence.

But what have comets got to do with errant radio bursts?

The “Wow!” signal was recorded in the 1420MHz radio frequency band. It just so happens that cosmic neutral hydrogen naturally radiates at this frequency — it is therefore an abundant signal that is commonly used in astronomy. This is no coincidence; through alien-hunting logic, should there be an extraterrestrial species wanting to make contact, what frequency would they use? Firstly, as we only have ourselves to use as an alien template, we have to assume that hypothetical aliens will likely use radio waves. Secondly, if they are using radio waves to communicate with us, they would likely use a frequency that other intelligent aliens would be naturally tuned into. 1420MHz is the “universal water cooler,” where intelligent life could check into and potentially chat.

The bummer is, however, that comets contain copious amounts of hydrogen in their atmospheres. Say if the “Wow!” signal was actually caused by the chance passage of a comet through the radio telescope’s field of view, packing a powerful radio surge?

In 2017, Comet 266P will once again orbit in front of Chi Sagittarii and Comet 335P will do so the following year and Paris wants to test this hypothesis. Unfortunately, existing radio telescopes are already booked, so he has to buy or build his own radio antennae in time for the cosmic encounters. He has a crowdfunding campaign set up to raise the $20,000 he needs and is most of the way there.

It may be a long shot, but as is the way with many astronomical studies, all possible phenomena need to be ruled out before a discovery is made and, should Paris’ experiment prove the “Wow!” signal was in fact caused by interference by an undiscovered comet, the universe will get quieter once again, making the Fermi Paradox even more bewildering.


Courtesy-Space

 

Will NASA Go OpenStack At JPL?

April 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has built a new private cloud based on Red Hat’s build of the OpenStack framework to fulfill the growing computing requirements of its space missions, such as the Mars rovers.

The move was announced to coincide with the OpenStack Summit, and means that NASA’s JPL has access to enterprise-scale computing resources that will enable researchers to tap into their own private cloud and maximise the organisation’s server and storage capacity to process flight projects and research data.

The new cloud has been built by JPL’s own engineers, but Red Hat said that its experience from long-term participation in the OpenStack Foundation and key upstream contributions to specific platform projects made it well suited as the partner for this collaboration.

The move is not NASA’s first involvement with OpenStack. In fact, the entire OpenStack project grew out of a collaboration between the space agency and hosting firm Rackspace to develop an open source cloud computing platform to help drive the administration’s next generation of projects.

Red Hat said that by using its Red Hat OpenStack Platform to build their private cloud, the JPL’s engineers managed to save significant time and resources by retooling and consolidating in-house hardware rather than procuring entirely new infrastructure.

“This is a testament to the reliability, availability and scalability offered by a fully open cloud infrastructure built on Red Hat OpenStack Platform. We are proud of the partnership with NASA JPL to meet their needs for an agile infrastructure to meet their projected growth, while helping to reduce the data centre footprint,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan, Red Hat’s general manager for OpenStack.

Red Hat recently released the latest version of its platform, Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8, as well as the Red Hat Cloud Suite which combines its OpenStack build with the OpenShift Enterprise platform-as-a-service layer for running container-based applications and services.

Courtesy-TheInq