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Dubai Police Department Debuts Robocop

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Known for glitz and cutting edge technology, Dubai has deployed a first-of-it’s kind robotic cop. The Robocop has started its duties as part of a new police program.

The Robocop is a customized service robot from Pal Robotics that will be posted in malls and tourist attractions, and people can use the touchscreen embedded in its chest to report crime, pay fines and get information.

“Now most people visit police stations or customer service, but with this tool we can reach the public 24/7 and it won’t ask for any sick leave or maternity leave,” Brig Khalid Al Razooqi, Dubai Police director general of smart services, said in a statement.

The robot has built-in cameras that will stream video back to the police command center. The next batch will be used to tackle crimes, and the police force has plans for a 3-meter tall robot piloted by a police officer from the inside for travel up to 80 kilometers per hour and carrying heavy equipment.

Brig Al Razooqi said the Dubai police plan to add robots until they reach around 25 percent of the force by 2030, allowing the human members of the police to focus their attention on other areas.

Is The U.S. Tech Sector Truly Leading The Way

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The US stock market is doing rather well, but it is entirely based on the tech industry which have been making up all the gains.

Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains in the sharemarket while the bulk of US companies are just slouching around like teenagers in a mall.

Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. Other companies grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year.

The Wall Street Journal said that this part of a trend. Digital industries such as technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services grew 2.7 per cent annually over the past 15 years.

The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries such as health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period.

As technology companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry.

Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Higgs Boson Completely Understood?

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

I’m sure by now we’ve all heard the refrain: “The Higgs boson creates mass.” And if you haven’t heard it, well, now you have. This simple statement seems to pack a wallop of a concept: that every pound and gram of your body, down at the submicroscopic scale, is due to this invisible Higgs goo that fills up the universe.

Hence the nickname “The God Particle,” which has frustratingly entered the public consciousness. Without the Higgs, there wouldn’t be mass. Without the Higgs, all the physics that we know and love would come screeching to a halt, particles flying off at the speed of light, hardly ever having the chance to interact.

The Higgs boson does indeed play a role in mass, but it’s much less significant than you might think. Zooming in on you, we find that your body is made of organs, which are made of tissues, which are made of cells, which are made of molecules, which are made of atoms. Atoms have a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons, and those electrons are incredibly wimpy — so insignificant that for most mass calculations they can simply be ignored.

Digging into the atomic nucleus, we find protons and neutrons, the meat and potatoes of the atom. But they too are made of even-smaller components — the quarks. Each proton and neutron is composed of a triplet of quarks tightly bound together by gluons, the carriers of the strong nuclear force. 

And here’s where it gets really weird. If you added up the masses of the three quarks that comprise each proton or neutron, you would only end up with around 1 percent of the total mass. 

That’s right. The total mass of all the fundamental parts of you (electrons and quarks) is just a laughably tiny part of your weight. Instead, most of the blame for tipping the scales is the energy of the interactions between your parts. Those gluons holding the protons and neutrons together are massless, but the very fact that they’re doing their job — that is, gluing — gives rise to a binding energy.

It costs energy to rip apart a proton or neutron, and since we live in a universe where E=mc2, energy is mass (the c for the speed of light just tells us how much energy is in a bit of mass; the fundamental concept in that famous relation is that mass and energy are totally equivalent). 

Hence, most of your mass is really the binding energy of your protons and neutrons. And none of that has anything to do with the Higgs boson.

The missing mass

But the impressive-sounding statements about the fundamental connection between the Higgs and mass aren’t all subatomic smoke and mirrors. The Higgs does play a (small) role here: It’s the explanation for the mass of your parts, the electrons and quarks themselves. Even though they aren’t very heavy, they’re not entirely massless, and they can thank the Higgs for that.

And the nature of that mass-making interaction? Often, the Higgs field is likened to a rich and creamy soup, or maybe a dense and heavy fog, or even a vat of thick and goopy honey. Whatever the poor choice of metaphorical words, the analogy is clear: the Higgs field permeates the cosmos, impeding the free travel of carefree electrons and quarks

I’m not the biggest fan of these viscous comparisons. They make it seem like movement is the key to the relationship between the Higgs and particle mass. As if the only way that an electron can acquire mass is by traveling through the murkiness of the Higgs field around us.

To me, metaphors like this fall far short of describing the true nature of the relationship. Instead, when metaphors fail, it’s best to retreat to the safety of the mathematics. After all, the game of physics is to use mathematics to describe the workings of the universe; it’s in the math that relationships are described and discovered. Descriptions of those relationships using a natural language are always going to come up a little bit short.

When it comes to the Higgs and electrons, the mathematics is very clear. When we allow for the existence of a universe-filling Higgs field, that field has certain properties, based on the work that field has to do to split the weak nuclear force from its electromagnetic sibling. And we’re free to ask: Given such-and-such field with such-and-such list of properties, does it interact with anything else?

And indeed it does: The Higgs field interacts with the electron field, the quark fields and all the other lepton fields. And it interacts with those other fields in a very specific place in the mathematical formulas that physicists use to describe their nature and evolution: The Higgs pops up in the exact spot where we usually put the mass of the particle.

So there it is. Let the math speak for itself for once in its life. The mass of an electron — or the mass of a quark or any other lepton — is its interaction with the Higgs field. No syrup, no sticky paper, no buzzing flies. No metaphors, analogies, or similes. Just a plain, bare, naked statement of dumbfounding fact.

What is the mass of an electron? It’s the interaction between an electron and the Higgs field. And that’s all there is to it.

Courtesy-Space

T-Mobile Offers To Pay For Your Verzion iPhone, Google Pixel Device

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has upped the ante regarding Verizon Wireless customers.

The company announced that it will cover the payments left on your Apple iPhone or Google Pixel if you bring it over from Verizon. Since they work equally well on both networks, the hope is that customers will just keep their phones when using T-Mobile service. The offer is a limited promotion that starts on May 31.

It’s the latest push by T-Mobile to extend its lead over rivals by getting you to make the jump. The competition has heated up with every carrier offering an unlimited plan, but T-Mobile has continually shaken things up with new offers. The carrier teased that this was the first of three announcements as it rolls into summer.

Initially, you will still have to pay off the balance of what you owe on the phone before you switch. After 15 days on T-Mobile’s service, the carrier will send you a digital prepaid MasterCard for that same value. If you have an early termination fee, T-Mobile said it will cover that as well. To ward off scammers, T-Mobile will only accept Verizon customers who have an established account for at least 60 days.

Families of up to five will be able to take advantage of this deal.

“We want all phones on all carriers to have complete freedom,” said Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert. “We think it’s the start of a trend.”

The offer only works with iPhones and Pixels. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said he is working with other manufacturers to ensure their phones are easily switchable, “but we’re not there yet.”

AT&T and Sprint customers aren’t completely left out. T-Mobile will likewise cover the cost of your phone if you switch, but you’ll have to buy a new device on T-Mobile. Sievert said that it takes a longer time to port a phone from those two carriers over to T-Mobile, so there isn’t an instant switch like with Verizon devices. Those customers will be able to sell that phone or use it for another account once it’s paid off. T-Mobile had previously required that customers trade in that device.

Apple And Nokia Resolve Patent Dispute, Sees Future Collaboration

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple has resolved a patent fight with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to purchase more of its network products and services.

The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware.

Such legal battles are common in the industry but can drag on for years and analysts had not been expecting such a quick resolution to the dispute that started in December.

Under the deal announced in a joint statement from the companies on Tuesday, Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores and look at further collaboration in health.

Digital health is one of the areas Nokia is targeting as it tries to develop new businesses to offset the industry-wide slump in demand for network equipment. Last year, Nokia bought France’s Withings S.A., a small firm with products such as activity trackers and baby monitors built on digital platforms.

“There could emerge big future value from this as Apple could become an important distribution channel,” said Handelsbanken analyst Daniel Djurberg, who has an “accumulate” recommendation for Nokia shares.

“I have not given any value so far for Nokia’s digital health business, but might apply an option value to it.”

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told the company’s annual general meeting later on Tuesday that the deal would help expand network sales beyond telecom operators to global internet and technology giants.

“(The deal) involves a business collaboration … in particular in areas of IP and optical equipment, which is quite key to webscale players when they build their data centers,” he said. “It’s a good deal, a multi-year licensing deal, and I love it that it has an industrial deal and aspect to it.”

Under the patent license agreement, Nokia will receive a “significant” upfront cash payment and additional revenues from Apple starting from the current quarter. The companies did not give further details but analysts said the revenue was likely to be far higher than a previous deal.

Inge Heydorn, fund manager at Sentat Asset Management, said it was a smart move to collaborate on digital health products.

“It’s interesting for Nokia in a five- to 10-year perspective since I think it will be hard to be profitable within mobile infrastructure,” said Heydorn, whose firm does not hold any shares in Nokia.

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Intel Goes AMD GPU Inside

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

We can now confirm the rumors that Intel has given up on Nvidia because it has written a checkto license AMD’s graphics.

It looks like veteran GPU editor Kyle Bennet was right when he first reported the rumor, however wild it sounded. We didn’t contemplate it but wrote about it  several times. Intel needs a GPU licence and the Nvidia – Intel licensing agreement ended on March 17 2017, so Intel doesn’t have a license. It is more likely that Intel has a licencee from AMD but neither company has officially announced it.  

Apple is licensing GPU tech from Imagination Technologies at least for the next eighteen to twenty four months until it gets its own. Samsung, MediaTek use ARM or Imagination Graphics IP but even without these two have good desktop / notebook graphics. Qualcomm acquired a huge set of IP from ATI when it was known as Imagion, and was the foundation for the Adreno today.

Nvidia Intel’s shotgun wedding ends in divorce

If you are in Intel’s shoes,there are two options, Nvidia or AMD. We know that Nvidia sued Intel and forced it into a settlement and now that the shotgun wedding is over, Intel wants out. Nvidia and Intel had many  disagreements over the Nforce chipset and the licensing, that resulted with $1.5 Billion settlement that Intel agreed to pay for five years. It does tend to sour a marriage somewhat if you go to court BEFORE the honeymoon, or indeed the marriage. Or the copulation – oh sorry we didn’t mean to menion sex.

AMD  needs money and licensing is a healthy revenue stream that will keep it going for numerous quarters. The licensing money usually positively affects gross margins, again something that AMD desperately needs to improve.

AMD loves Intel

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group worked at Apple and worked closely with Intel too. He probably played an important role in these negotiations.

It remains to be seen when it will be formally announced and when it will start affecting AMD’s bottom line. The cooperation and agreement will allow Intel to access AMD’s graphics Intellectual Properties and most things Radeonish.

AMD will  weaken its position to fight Intel on in the integrated solutions, but licensing money should help overcome that issue. Despite that fact that these companies  compete, they are close when it comes to graphics.  

Of course, when we came to know the existence of the deal, we will dig much harder  to get the many more details about potential new products and if the Radeon will get inside of the future Intel CPUs. Intel takes a lot of time to implement a new architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Can NBCUniversal Compete In The Mobile Games Space

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

As the mobile market continues to boom and the nascent virtual reality space becomes a larger sector within mobile thanks to devices like Samsung Gear and Google Daydream, NBCUniversal is aiming to leverage its bevy of popular IP such as Fast & Furious, Minions, Despicable Me, Jurassic World and more. According to GamesBeat, the company has hired former Disney mobile games leader Chris Heatherly to oversee a new mobile game and virtual reality publishing group.

The goal is to leverage properties from DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, and Universal Pictures by directly getting involved in the creation, development, marketing and distribution of games as opposed to licensing out brands, which has been done previously. For example, Despicable Me had been licensed to Gameloft, and the publisher’s Minion Rush game went on to be downloaded more than 800 million times. While self-publishing is now a focus, the company said it will still complement its business by licensing some brands as well.

“Universal has decided to take a strategic position in games,” Heatherly said. “We are pushing heavily in the digital space. And they see there is no bigger digital space than games. It’s part of a larger plan to build evergreen franchises that support multiple products across multiple businesses.”

Heatherly will serve as executive vice president of games and digital platforms within Universal Brand Development, and he will be joined by James Molinets, senior vice president of production; Timothy FitzRandolph, vice president of creative; and Fabian Schonholz, senior vice president of technology and operations. The former two executives were key members of the Disney mobile team and also oversaw the kids-focused virtual world, Club Penguin.

While NBCUniversal said it’s going to be 80% focused on creating mobile games, interest in VR as an “emerging area” is building as well. “We are leveraging the best talent that is already out there… On the VR front, we are doing quite a few things. One of them we can announce soon,” he teased.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Can Companies Mine The Moon AT A Profit

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The first-ever private mining operation on the moon is scheduled to kick off in 2020, when a landing craft sent by Florida-based Moon Express will ferry a single scoop of lunar dirt and rocks back to Earth.

Unlike the three governments that have led lunar missions — the United States, the Soviet Union, and China — the owners of this private firm have something history-making in mind for that little ball of extraterrestrial soil: They plan to sell it.

“It will instantly become the most valuable and scarcest material on Earth,” says Bob Richards, the CEO of Moon Express. “We’ll make some of it available to scientific research. But we also plan to commoditize it ourselves.”

Moon Express is gearing up to become the first company to ever transport a commercial asset from space back to Earth. But it’s not alone.

Several ambitious startups are busily developing plans to launch mining operations on both the moon and asteroids, with initial proof-of-concept missions set to kick off over the next few years and more robust operations within a decade. China is a key player, too, along with a tiny, unlikely European upstart: the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Those seeking to conquer celestial commodity markets are beckoned by the glittering wealth that could await them in space.

“We believe that the first trillionaires will be made from space resources,” says Richards.

Exactly which minerals will drive those fortunes remains to be seen.

The moon holds significant amounts of a special type of a futuristic fuel source called helium-3 — enough, some say, to meet all of Earth’s power demand for thousands of years providing scientists can master the fusion power technology to utilize it.

A fortune could be made by anyone able to capture and exploit one of the mountain-sized asteroids made of platinum or other precious metals thought to be orbiting the sun, or deposits of rare earth elements on the moon.

Others point to the potential for zero-gravity construction of super-massive colonizing spacecraft and mammoth floating structures using raw materials sourced from asteroids.

Most, however, are focused on a resource that’s commonplace on Earth: water.

Water, space entrepreneurs say, will be the key space commodity for an economy expanding into the solar system — both because it can sustain life as drinking water and breathable air, and because it can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel.

Sourcing water from space could, for example, turn the moon into a depot for more ambitious missions.

“Water is like the oil of the solar system,” said Richards. “The moon could become a gas station in the sky.”

In the near term, Moon Express is focused on providing relatively low-cost transport to the surface of the moon for commercial, private, academic, and government customers.

One client that’s already signed up is the moon-burial company Celestis, which offers to send cremated human remains to the surface of the moon for a starting price of $12,500.

In 2016 Moon Express became the first private company in history to receive permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and land a craft on the moon.

The company is planning three lunar missions by the time it brings back the small scoop of lunar soil, between the size of a baseball and basketball, in 2020.

Selling part of that scoop to private interests — for example, as moon gems for jewelry for the ultra-rich — will set an important precedent. The international Outer Space Treaty of 1967 says no country can claim sovereignty over extraterrestrial territory. But in 2015 President Barack Obama signed a law granting private citizens the rights to resources recovered from space.

The company’s first mission, slated for this year, will be in part an attempt to win the Google Lunar XPrize. The competition offers $20 million to the first private company able to land a rover on the moon’s surface, travel 500 meters, and then broadcast hi-definition images back to Earth.

Another company fielding a team for the XPrize, which also plans to eventually tap moon water, is Japan’s ispace Inc.

In December, ispace signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s national space agency, JAXA, for the “mining, transport, and use of resources on the moon,” according to a company statement.

During an initial phase of operations, from 2018 through 2023, ispace will go prospecting on the moonscape, sending exploratory robots into lunar craters and caves to check for water. Production is planned to begin in 2024.

China is also eyeing moon resources — especially helium-3.

As an energy source, helium-3 is as alluring as it is elusive: a non-radioactive agent that wouldn’t produce dangerous waste. The isotope is released by the sun and carried through the cosmos on solar winds that are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, but collect on the surface of the moon.

As a result, the moon is “so rich” in helium-3, it could “solve human beings’ energy demand for around 10,000 years at least,” a top Chinese scientific advisor to the country’s moon exploration program, Professor Ouyang Ziyuan, told the BBC.

 

One of the top proponents of lunar helium-3 is Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who walked on the moon during NASA’s Apollo 17 mission and wrote a 2006 book advocating lunar helium-3 mining called Return to the Moon.

Others, however, are deeply skeptical — even if the necessary fusion technology, which has long eluded researchers, is mastered.

“I do not see this as being an economic solution to Earth’s energy needs,” Ian Crawford of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Birkbeck College, University of London, said in an email. “The problem is that the abundance is very low, of the order 10 parts per billion by mass in even the most abundant regions.”

Another potentially attractive lunar resource is the platinum group of metals, including iridium, palladium and platinum, which have special qualities that make them highly useful in electronic devices. Such elements, rare on earth, are thought to be bountiful on the moon.

Richards of Moon Express said it’s too soon to specify the most valuable resource on the moon.

“It would be speculative and predictive to say which specific element is going to be the game-changer,” he said. “Pick your favorite spice.”

For now, he says, the key target is water — which, to be sure, can be found on frozen asteroids circling the sun as well.

Two US companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, are leading the charge into asteroid mining, largely with the aim of providing resources that other types of space missions will need.

Rick Tumlinson, chairman of Deep Space Industries, said his company plans to land its first prospector on an asteroid by 2020.

The company will use tiny scouts to explore and study prospective targets. When a prime asteroid has been located, a larger robot will land on it, bite out a chunk, and then use solar power to evaporate and capture water from the sample.

“Water, we believe, is relatively easy to harvest from asteroid materials,” said Tumlinson.

If all goes according to plan, “by the middle-20s, we’d be producing serious quantities of resources,” he said.

Planetary Resources is also focused on water.

“You can concentrate that solar energy and heat up the surface of the asteroid and literally bake off the water in the same way you’d bake a clay pot,” says CEO Chris Lewicki.

 

Both Lewicki and Tumlinson also point to the potential for supplying building materials in space, which could allow for the construction of super-massive floating structures that would be ungainly to launch from Earth.

In space, “you can build these huge structures we see in movies and science fiction,” said Lewicki. “The resource that will allow us to do that is the metal that’s on asteroids. We can use technology like 3D printing. We can print up a structure in space that never has to hold itself up on Earth, never has to take a violent rocket ride.”

As billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos explore ideas for colonizing space and Mars, someone, advocates of space mining say, will need to provide the raw materials, water and fuel the colonizers will need.

And while space mining might sound like science fiction, serious backers with deep pockets are taking notice.

A total of $1.8 billion was invested in space ventures in 2015 — more than in the prior 15 years combined, according to the Tauri Group consultancy. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most of any year, the group found.

The tiny European nation of Luxembourg has invested 25 million euros in Planetary Resources, and collaborated on the development of Prospector-X, the first spacecraft from Deep Space Industries.

The moon, said Richards, is like Earth’s 8th continent, and it’s largely unexplored.

“We’re like early pioneers,” he said, “looking at a whole new world.”

 

Courtesy-Fud

 

 

Apple Update Now Allows Mac Users To Install Windows 10 Creators Version

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple has updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that allows users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

Expedia Now Accepting Online Reservations For Cuba

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. online travel services company Expedia announced that it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, looking to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.

Expedia joins a dozen U.S. airlines and cruise operators that have already ventured into the Cuban market since the United States announced a detente with its former Cold War foe in 2014 and eased travel and trade restrictions.

“I see a lot of potential. We are talking about the largest country in the Caribbean with significant hotel expansion plans,” Veronica Vega, Expedia area manager for Caribbean, said in an interview.

The number of visitors to Cuba rose 13 percent to a record 4 million in 2016, driven by a 74 percent jump in U.S. travelers. A survey recently showed the number of American visitors alone could multiply sevenfold to 2 million by 2025.

Expedia’s move comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration conducts a full review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. During his campaign, Trump had threatened to roll back the normalization of relations.

That does not seem to have dampened U.S. interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives said it was hard to imagine Trump, a former businessman, taking measures that would harm U.S. companies already in Cuba.

U.S. law still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama’s administration allowed Americans to travel more easily to Cuba for educational, cultural and other authorized purposes without having to go on organized group tours.

Expedia said Americans would simply have to certify that their trips fell under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.

“We are very excited about being able to facilitate travel and give people the independence to select their itinerary,” said Vega.

Expedia said it would offer both hotel and BnB options and that customers would be able to pay online at the time of booking.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Zelda will be the next Nintendo IP to get the mobile treatment, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal, with the new title expected to follow the Animal Crossing later this year.

The WSJ’s sources indicated that Animal Crossing is expected to launch in the second half of calendar 2017, with The Legend of Zelda to follow. However, the sources said that the order of the releases could still change, with Zelda arriving first.

With games based on Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. already released and Animal Crossing on the way, a version of Zelda was arguably inevitable. However, the success of Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch has bolstered public interest in the IP; in its recent financial results, Nintendo said that Breath of the Wild had sold 2.76 million units on Switch by March 31, despite the console only selling 2.74 million units.

One crucial detail that remains unclear is how the Zelda mobile game will be sold. Nintendo has talked openly about its reluctance to implement a traditional free-to-play model with its iconic franchises, opting for a free-to-try approach with Super Mario Run that ultimately carried a $10 in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

However, in March this year Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was disappointed with the revenue earned from Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes uses a more typical version of the free-to-play model, but a Nintendo representative described it as “an outlier.”

“We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model,” the company said. Whether that holds true for Zelda on mobile remains to be seen.

Nintendo and DeNA, which is involved with the game’s development, both resisted the WSJ’s request for comment.

Courtesy-Fud

Will SSDs Take The Place Of Hard Drives

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Flash memory based solid state storage devices (SSD) are pushing hard disk drives out of the market and will replace them, according to the president of NAND controller developer Silicon Motion.

Robert Fan told New Electronics  that SSDs were taking over the whole category now and we’re seeing with Seagate and Western Digital that their hard disk market is declining.

Fan said flash moves the data quicker and more reliably. Because it is not mechanically-based it has better durability to withstand shocks, high pressures and temperatures. He claims it consumes much less power.

Flash controllers will also organize the way data is stored to achieve ‘wear levelling’. The locations in a flash memory will gradually wear out with repeated write/erase cycles, so using the available memory cells equally is important to avoid premature failure.

Applying single- and multi-cell technologies in its products, Silicon Motion is also exploring 3D NAND. According to Fan. pictured left: “3D NAND is the latest generation of flash technology. It enables very high capacity and very low cost. All the NAND vendors – like Samsung, Toshiba – are moving towards supplying 3D NAND.”

While much has been written about the benefits of SSDs in enterprise applications, the technology is also finding uses in other areas. “One of our key growth areas in the past couple of years has been in the client SSDs,” Fan noted. Client SSDs are built for the consumer market, rather than for enterprise applications, and may provide fewer write cycles.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Kittson Really A Successor To The Itanium Line

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has released the successors to the Itanium “Poulson” microprocessors and they are showing all the development and evolution of an Apple product.

The Itanium 9720, 9740, 9750 and 9760 CPUs are better known as “Kittson” and really are so similar to their predecessor you could not tell them apart.

In fact the only improvement in “Kittson” lineup is slightly increased operating frequency in two models.

The new range has four and eight CPU cores depending on SKU, up to 32 MB of last level cache, and 2 DDR3 memory controllers. They are clocked at up to 2.66 GHz, and support Hyper-Threading technology. Other supported features are Turbo Boost and Virtualization technologies.

They have shedloads of RAS features, such as machine check architecture with ECC and parity protection, Instruction Replay technology, hot add and removal.

Each on-chip memory controller supports two interconnects to Intel 7500 and 7510 Scalable Memory Buffers. The CPU works with DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory. The Itanium 9720 is rated at 130 Watt TDP and the 9740, 9750 and 9760 SKUs have 170 Watt TDP.

Courtesy-Fud

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