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Get Ready To Pay Taxes For Using Ride-Hailing Apps In Massachusetts

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Uber-taxis-150x150Massachusetts will begin levying a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the nickel fee into law this month as part of a sweeping package of regulations for the industry.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee.

“I don’t think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors,” said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police.

“They’ve been breaking the laws that are on the books, that we’ve been following for many years,” said Larry Meister, manager of the Boston area’s Independent Taxi Operator’s Association.

The law levies a 20-cent fee in all, with 5 cents for taxis, 10 cents going to cities and towns and the final 5 cents designated for a state transportation fund.

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts.

The law says the money will help taxi businesses to adopt “new technologies and advanced service, safety and operational capabilities” and to support workforce development.

Regulations for how the fee will be collected and a plan for how it will be spent still need to be drawn up, said Mark Sternman, a spokesman for the state’s MassDevelopment agency, which will be in charge of the money.

Riders and drivers will not see the fee because the law bars companies from charging them. Instead, companies themselves will pay the state, although Evdakov said it will be passed on to riders or drivers one way or another.

Authorities worldwide are grappling with how to regulate and tax ride-hailing. Seattle has passed a law that allows drivers to unionize. In Taiwan, Uber is battling a tax bill of up to $6.4 million.

Despite the cost, ride services in Massachusetts appear to have accepted the fee in exchange for other provisions. For example, the law does not ban them from picking up at Boston’s airport or convention center, although there will be special rules for those sites.

Lyft is pleased with the law even though it is not perfect, spokesman Adrian Durbin said.

Soliciting readers for how to spend the 5-cent fee, a column in the Boston Globe offered ideas such as hospitality training, incentive bonuses and help so taxi owners could buy “flagship” vehicles like a 1940s Checker or a Porsche.

Meister said the money could go toward improving a smartphone app his association has started using, or to other big needs.

“We definitely need some infrastructure changes,” he said.

 

Samsung To Launch Refurbished Smartphone Program

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung-logo-2-150x150Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is gearing up to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The South Korean technology firm is looking for ways to sustain earnings momentum after reviving its mobile profits by restructuring its product line-up. As growth in the global smartphone market hits a plateau, Samsung wants to maximize its cost efficiency and keep operating margins above 10 percent.

The world’s top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States.

Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public.

The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the company does not comment on speculation.

It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery.

Rival Apple Inc’s iPhone has a re-sale value of around 69 percent of its original price after about one year from launch, while Samsung’s flagship Galaxy sells for 51 percent of the original price in the U.S. market, according to BNP Paribas.

Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers.

Apple sells refurbished iPhones in a number of markets including the United States, but does not disclose sales figures. It is trying to sell such iPhones in India, where the average smartphone sells for less than $90.

Selling used phones could help Samsung fend off lower-cost Chinese rivals that have been eating into its market share, and free up some capital to invest elsewhere or boost marketing expenditure.

Deloitte says the used smartphone market will be worth more than $17 billion this year, with 120 million devices sold or traded in to manufacturers or carriers – around 8 percent of total smartphone sales. Some market experts expect the used market to grow fast as there are fewer technology breakthroughs.

“Some consumers may prefer to buy refurbished, used premium models in lieu of new budget brands, possibly cannibalizing sales of new devices from those budget manufacturers,” Deloitte said in a report.

Intel’s Kaby Lake Line-Up Revealed

August 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Chinese tech website Coolaler posted an extensive list of Intel’s upcoming Kaby Lake desktop processors based on Socket LGA 1151 yesterday.

There are 10 processors in the list, all quad-core parts with TDPs ranging from 35W up to 95W – and only two unlocked models. The lineup is broken up into three segments – “K” series for unlocked parts, “S” series which means “standard” parts without suffixes, and “T” series which means low-power variants.

Core i7 7700K, Core i7 7700 and Core i7 7700T

At the top of the list is the first unlocked model – Core i7 7700K with a 4.2GHz core clock (4.5GHz Boost), four cores, eight threads, an 8MB cache and 95W TDP. This is followed by two variants, the Core i7 7700 3.6GHz and Core i7 7700T 2.9GHz.

Core i5 7600K, Core i5 7600 and Core i5 7600T

The next unlocked model is the Core i5 7600K with a 3.80GHz core clock (4GHz Boost), four cores, four threads, a 6MB cache and 95W TDP. This is followed by two variants, the Core i5 7600 3.5GHz and the Core i5 7600T 2.8GHz.

Core i5 7500, Core i5 7500T, Core i5 7400 and Core i5 7400T

At the bottom of the list are four more models – the Core i5 7500 with a 3.4GHz core clock, the Core i5 7500T with a 2.7GHz core clock, the Core i5 7400 with a 3GHz core clock and the Core i5 7400T with a 2.4GHz core clock.

The main difference on the surface between Kaby Lake and Skylake desktop parts is that the clockspeeds seem to be increased. Architecturally speaking, however, the new design should give at least 5 to 10 percent overall performance improvement based on benchmarks released back in May. The chips will also add native USB 3.1 support, native Thunderbolt 3 support, native HDCP 2.2 support, full fixed-function HEVC main10 and VP9 10-bit hardware decoding. In terms of a release date, the source mentions that Kaby Lake mainstream desktop parts have been slightly pushed to early Q1 2017.

As announced earlier this week at the Intel Developer Forum, the company’s current focus is to bring the new architecture to mobile form factors (4W to 15W TDP) this fall for the various shopping seasons beginning with so called “back to school”, before continuing with desktop products in the first quarter of next year.

Courtesy-Fud

HipChat Adds Videocalling Feature

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hipchat-video-calls-150x150It just became easier for HipChat customers to see one another whenever they want it. The company launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.

Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.

HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.

Group video calls are only available for teams that pay for HipChat Plus, which costs $2 per user per month.

The new video calling features are based on technology HipChat vendor Atlassian acquired with the JitSi open source video-conferencing product. The company still makes the open source version available, but this integration brings video calling into HipChat natively.

Right now, group video calling is only available on HipChat’s desktop apps, but it will make its way to mobile in some form in the future.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Slack can answer with video calling features of its own, after the high-flying productivity startup acquired screen sharing company Screenhero in January 2015.

Some teams may still find themselves in need of dedicated videoconferencing services, if they use specialized hardware for video meetings or if their needs exceed what HipChat can offer. For example, meetings in HipChat can’t have moderators with special privileges, and are limited to 10 participants at launch.

 

Major Technology Giants Join Forces To Crackdown on ‘Robocalls’

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robocalls-150x150Major technology and communication companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on “robocalls,” automated, prerecorded phone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”

AT&T Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that held its first meeting with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The strike force will report to the FCC by Oct. 19 on “concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions,” said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, chairman of the group.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and consider a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in July urged major companies to take new action to block robocalls, which often come from telemarketers or scam artists.

“This scourge must stop,” Wheeler said on Friday, calling robocalls the No. 1 complaint from consumers.

“The bad guys are beating the good guys with technology,” Wheeler said. In the past, he has said robocalls continue “due in large part to industry inaction.”

Stephenson emphasized “the breadth and complexity” of the problem.

“This is going to require more than individual company initiatives and one-off blocking apps,” Stephenson said. “Robocallers are a formidable adversary, notoriously hard to stop.”

The FCC does not require robocall blocking and filtering but has strongly encouraged phone service providers to offer those services at no charge.

The strike force brings together carriers, device makers, operating system developers, network designers and the government.

Other companies taking part include Blackberry Ltd, British Telecommunications Plc, Charter Communications Inc, Frontier Communications, LG Electronics Inc, Microsoft Corp, Nokia Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Sirius XM Holdings Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular Corp.

Consumers Union, a public advocacy group, said the task force is a sign “phone companies are taking more serious steps to protect their customers from unwanted calls.”

AMD Goes Turbo

August 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has put TrueAudio Next onto Github as part of its LiquidVR SDK.

AMD is trying to tackle the same audio problems as targeted by Nvidia’s VRWorks Audio. The aim according to the brief is to:

“Create a scalable AMD technology that enables full real-time dynamic physics-based audio acoustics rendering, leveraging the powerful resources of AMD GPU Compute.”

In other words, it will give immersive audio alongside VR headsets and allow audio to catch up a bit with graphics.

Writing in the GPU Open blog, Carl Wakeland, a Fellow Design Engineer at AMD, said that the 2D screen had resulted in sound never really getting a look in. Some games had bought in 3D audio as a novelty but this could be a distraction. But head-mounted display “changes everything.”

AMD TrueAudio Next is a significant step towards making environmental sound rendering closer to real-world acoustics with the modelling of the physics that propagate sound – AKA auralisation.

The new AMD TrueAudio Next library is a high-performance, OpenCL-based real-time math acceleration library for audio, with special emphasis on GPU compute acceleration. But it is not perfect yet, although the fact it has real-time GPU compute backing it up it is pretty good, apparently.

Wakeland says that two primary algorithms need to be catered for – time-varying convolution (in the audio processing component) and ray-tracing (in the propagation component).

“On AMD Radeon GPUs, ray-tracing can be accelerated using AMD’s open-source FireRays library, and time-varying real-time convolution can be accelerated with the AMD TrueAudio Next library.”

AMD uses a new ‘CU Reservation’ feature to reserve some CUs for audio, as necessary, and the use of asynchronous compute.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Did Meteorites Destroys Life On Mars?

August 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The sites of meteorite impacts on Mars are often considered to be good places to look for life. After all, it’s most likely that if any trace of life (past or present) ever took hold on the Red Planet, it would most likely be preserved under the bedrock of Mars’ harsh surface. Should there be a recent impact, could we search the debris to seek-out this recently excavated pristine rock for life?

Alas, in new research, this kind of impact crater search could be a fool’s errand; the energy of the impact likely sterilized any material we’d consider organic and related to life.

Researchers from Imperial College London carried out simulations of meteorite impacts in the lab to see how organic compounds fared when exposed to the kinds of impact pressures they could experience on Mars.

What they found wasn’t very promising if we hope to find evidence of life inside impact craters. For example, organic compounds associated with basic microbial and algal life (known as long chain hydrocarbon-dominated matter) were destroyed by the pressure of impact. On the other hand, other organic compounds associated with plant life (known as aromatic hydrocarbons) were chemically altered, but, according to a press release, “remained relatively resistant to impact pressures.”

Meteorites often contain organic chemicals not related to life that are resistant to the pressures of massive impacts.

So far, there has been little evidence of organics found that would suggest any kind of life has ever existed on Mars, but this new research provides an insight to what could be a previously overlooked complication in that search for life.

“We’ve literally only scratched the surface of Mars in our search for life, but so far the results have been inconclusive,” said Mark Sephton of Imperial College London. “Rocks excavated through meteorite impacts provide scientists with another unique opportunity to explore for signs of life, without having to resort to complicated drilling missions. Our study is showing us is that we may need to be nuanced in our approach to the rocks we choose to analyse.”

Rather than relying on computer simulations of meteorite impacts, the researchers used a piston cylindrical device to recreate the pressures and temperatures associated with a range of impact energies on various materials. They will continue to carry out these lab tests to see what energies give hypothetical Mars life the best chance of leaving their biological signature and which will pulverize their biology into oblivion.

“The study is helping us to see that when organic matter is observed on Mars, no matter where, it must be considered whether the sample could have been affected by the pressures associated with blast impacts,” added Wren Montgomery, also from Imperial. “We still need to do more work to understand what factors may play an important role in protecting organic compounds from these blast impacts. However, we think some of the factors may include the depths at which the rock records are buried and the angles at which meteorites hit the Martian surface.”

As we plan further exploration of the Martian surface, the more we can learn about where potential signs of Mars life could be hiding the better as, for now, we can’t assume that every crater will be a Mars biology goldmine.

Courtesy-Space

 

Apple Finally Jumps On The AR Bandwagon

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Apple is trying to convince the world it is “coming up with something new” by talking a lot about Artificial Reality.

It is a fairly logical development, the company has operated a reality distortion field to create an alternative universe where its products are new and revolutionary and light years ahead of everyone else’s. It will be curious to see how Apple integrates its reality with the real world, given that it is having a problem with that.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been doing his best to convince the world that Apple really is working on something. He needs to do this as the iPhone cash cow starts to dry up and Jobs Mob appears to have no products to replace it.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, Cook said Apple is “doing a lot of things” with augmented reality (AR), the technology that puts digital images on top of the real world.
He said:

“I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology. So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain we talked about.”

However Apple is light years behind working being done by Microsoft with its Microsoft’s HoloLens headset and the startup Magic Leap’s so-called cinematic reality that’s being developed now.

Cook appears to retreat to AR whenever he is under pressure. But so far he has never actually said that the company is developing any.

Appple has also snapped up several companies and experts in the AR space. And in January, the Financial Times claimed that the company has a division of hundreds of people researching the technology.
But AR would be a hard fit to get a product out which fits Apple’s ethos and certainly not one for years. Meanwhile it is unlikely we will see anything new before Microsoft and Google get their products out.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Alien Mega Structure Becomes More Complex

August 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

You’re probably all too familiar with the story of KIC 8462852, a star that’s been the focus of much speculation and excitement over the past few months.

KIC 8462852 was observed by NASA’s Kepler mission and has become infamous for its bizarre and unprecedented transit signal that was flagged by citizen scientists. Now new research of precision Kepler observations has shown that the overall brightness of the star — unofficially named “Tabby’s Star” after astronomer Tabetha S. Boyajian who discovered the peculiar signal — has been decreasing, which poses a new and confusing problem for astronomers trying to understand what the heck is going on.

Kepler’s prime mission is to look for small worlds that pass in front of their parent stars causing a slight dimming of starlight. The “transit method” has been hugely successful and has confirmed well over 2,000 planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy.

But Tabby’s Star’s transit signal, otherwise known as a “light-curve”, stopped astronomers in their tracks. Something passed in front of it, dimming its starlight a whopping 20 percent and other jumbled transit signals revealed that something wasn’t quite right with this particular star. Then, in an interview with The Atlantic, Penn State University astronomer Jason Wright speculated that the signal could be indicative of an “alien megastructure” that’s in the process of being built. You can catch up on the controversy surrounding the anomalous signal in my recent Discovery News article “Closing In on ‘Alien Megastructure’ Clues.”

So, until now the leading (natural) explanation of the strange light-curve has focused on the possibility of a huge swarm of comets passing in front of the star, blocking a substantial portion of starlight from Kepler’s optics. Recently, this hypothesis was given a little more credence after observations by the Submillimeter Array and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii revealed little evidence it might be caused by the debris cloud of some planetary smashup. But the “swarm of comets” explanation still fell short of fully explaining the phenomenon, though for now it remains the leading rationale.

All this uncertainty has only boosted speculation surrounding the (unnatural) explanation: that an advanced alien civilization is building some kind of Dyson Sphere-like structure around a star to (perhaps) collect solar energy for all of its energy consumption needs. In this scenario, pieces of the alien array are passing in front of the star, causing the anomalous transit signal. Of course, scientists being a rational bunch think there’s a more likely explanation for the light-curve, but aliens will always hog headlines.

So, in an effort to track down a rational explanation, Bradley Schaefer from Louisiana State University decided to study historical observations of KIC 8462852 in astronomical photographic plates from the past century to see if the star exhibited any bizarre fluctuations in brightness in the past. Sure enough, yes, the star is a bit of an oddball and has shown a long-term decreasing trend in brightness! Since the 19th Century, its brightness has decreased steadily by nearly 20 percent.

Now, astronomers Ben Montet (from Caltech) and Joshua Simon (from the Carnegie Institute) have released a paper to the arXiv preprint service detailing recent Kepler observations of KIC 8462852 since the space telescope was launched in 2009. Although the dataset for this time period is comparatively small, Monet and Simon found yet another surprise.

In the 4 years of Kepler’s primary mission, the star showed an unprecedented dimming of 3.5 percent. So not only did Kepler detect transient dips in brightness of up to 20 percent, there also seems to be a very definite downward trend in brightness throughout our observational history of the star.

After studying photometric observations for other stars surrounding KIC 8462852, there’s no other star that shows such dramatic behavior. What’s more, there’s very few known phenomena that could be causing this. So once again, astronomers are clutching at straws in an effort to explain what is going on.

“Broadly speaking, the morphology of the light curve is generally consistent with the transit of a cloud of optically thick material orbiting the star,” Monet and Simon write in their paper. “The breakup of a small body or a recent collision that could produce a cloud of material could also plausibly produce a family of comets that transit the host star together as one group, explaining the light curve…”

However, like all rational explanations for the behavior of KIC 8462852, there’s an infuriating “but.”

According to the researchers, for the cloud theory to hold true, it would need to be orbiting the star at “impossibly large distances” from the star or would need to have a strange structure that increases in density as it transits across the face of the star. This poses a challenge and they say that the idea is far from complete.

Nothing that we come up with explains the nonlinear long-term dimming we observe and the weird dips from @tsboyajian. The plot thickens!

— Ben Montet (@benmontet) August 5, 2016

So now we’re back, once again, in the rather uncomfortable territory of speculating about the root cause behind yet another Tabby’s Star mystery.

OK, who has any ideas left? #TabbysStar https://t.co/QleluTOeUd

— Jason Wright (@Astro_Wright) August 5, 2016

Though the majority of studies are focused around trying to understand what caused the dramatic transit signals — Swarm of comets? Planetary smashup? — these explanations don’t really help when trying to understand why there’s a dramatic long-term dimming. Could this new mystery be explained away by some bizarre cloud of dust? Or is it down to some unknown stellar physics gone wild?

Regardless, none of these studies have been able to shake Wright’s early speculation that some alien civilization could be constructing a massive star-encompassing structure. And now, with these dimming observations, could it be that we’re seeing a megastructure as it’s being built?

 

Courtesy-Space

 

U.S. Water Technology Company Xylem To Acquire Sensus

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. water technology company Xylem Inc announced that it will acquire Sensus USA Inc, a provider of advanced metering technologies to utilities, for around $1.7 billion in cash.

The acquisition would make Xylem a major player in the market for smart meters, at a time when regulatory requirements and a drive for savings are pushing both companies and consumers to control their water and energy consumption more tightly.

Xylem will finance the deal with about $400 million of its non-U.S. cash, new and existing credit facilities, and a combination of short- and long-term debt, the company said in a statement.

Xylem, which manufactures equipment used in water and wastewater applications, reaffirmed its 2016 earnings forecast and said it expects the deal to add to its adjusted earnings in 2017.

Reuters exclusively reported earlier on Monday that the companies were nearing a deal.

Sensus, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a supplier of smart metering and related communications systems to the water, gas, heat and electric utility sectors. Its revenue was $837 in the year ended March 2016.

Xylem said the purchase price was 10.7 times Sensus’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in fiscal 2016. Rye Brook, New York-based Xylem had revenue of $3.7 billion last year.

Sensus is one of the longest held investments in the history of private equity. Buyout firm Jordan Company, in partnership with Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s private equity arm, acquired the company for $650 million in 2003.

Goldman’s private equity business still owns 34 percent of Sensus, with Jordan Company owning the remainder.

Sensus’s financial metrics have steadily improved since bottoming three years ago, driven by stronger end-market demand and comprehensive cost-cutting initiatives, ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc said earlier this year.

New product launches, combined with Sensus’s restructuring efforts, should benefit operating results over the medium term, Moody’s added.

 

 

 

Oracle Unveils What It Calls The Largest Marketplace Of Audience Data

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Oracle rolled out what it terms the largest marketplace of audience data targeted specifically at brands that sell to other businesses using programmatic and data-driven B2B marketing techniques.

The new offering from Oracle Data Cloud includes more than 400 million business users and one million addressable U.S. companies, the company said. Factored into that mix are proprietary insights from Oracle BlueKai, Datalogix, and AddThis as well as data from Oracle partners Bombora, Dun & Bradstreet, FullContact, Gravy Analytics, HG Data, Infogroup, PlaceIQ, and TransUnion. Predictive analytics from Leadspace are included as well.

The data derives mostly from the U.S., but some international B2B segments are available, Oracle said.

“B2B marketers can now take advantage of more than 700 enhanced Oracle B2B audience segments, as well as a robust B2B audience marketplace boasting more than 4,000 pre-built audiences from partners,” Oracle said.

The offering aims to help marketers align digital expenditures with campaign objectives and sales outreach, providing a regular flow of relevant and qualified leads from target accounts.

The move is likely in part a result of Oracle’s $1.2 billion investment in Datalogix in late 2014, said Jim Wheaton, principal and cofounder with Wheaton Group.

Datalogix is one of four major cross-vertical “data co-ops” that focus on the acquisition, integration, and ongoing management of massive quantities of data about American consumers and businesses, Wheaton said via email. The others include Abacus, I-Behavior, and Wiland.

Oracle has long targeted the B2B market with sales tools designed to help organizations identify new opportunities, and it’s been “very useful for targeting and territory planning,” said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group.

“This marketing data provides the same kind of opportunity, and I expect there might be software add-ons to sell with it,” Pombriant said. Either way, “having a massive, up-to-date data source should be a boon to many companies.”

 

 

 

Data Breach Hits HEI Hotels

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A data breach at 20 U.S. hotels operated by HEI Hotels & Resorts for Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt and Intercontinental may have exposed payment card data from tens of thousands of food, drink and other transactions, HEI  has said.

The breach follows similar attacks at Hyatt Hotels Corp and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc in recent months.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based HEI, which is privately held, said malware designed to collect card data was found on HEI’s systems.

The malware was discovered in early to mid-June on payment systems used at restaurants, bars, spas, lobby shops and other facilities at the properties, Chris Daly, a spokesman for HEI, said in emails and phone calls.

The number of customers affected is difficult to calculate because they might have used their cards multiple times, Daly said. About 8,000 transactions occurred during the affected period at the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara hotel in California, and about 12,800 at the IHG Intercontinental in Tampa, Florida, Daly said.

The malware affected 12 Starwood hotels, six Marriott International Inc properties, one Hyatt hotel and one InterContinental Hotels Group PLC hotel. It was active from March 1, 2015 to June 21, 2016, with 14 of the hotels affected after Dec. 2, 2015, HEI said on its website on Friday.

Marriott and IHG declined to comment. Representatives from the other hotel groups did not respond to requests for comment.

HEI said outside experts investigated the breach and determined that hackers might have stolen customer names, account numbers, payment card expiration dates and verification codes. The hackers did not appear to have gained PIN codes, since those are not collected by its system, it added.

The company has informed federal authorities and has installed a new payment processing system that is separate from other parts of its computer network.

Among the properties affected were Starwood’s Westin hotels in Minneapolis; Pasadena, California; Philadelphia; Snowmass, Colorado; Washington, D.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Also affected were Starwood properties in Arlington, Virginia; Manchester Village, Vermont; San Francisco; Miami; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The Marriott properties affected were in Boca Raton, Florida; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Chicago; San Diego, California; and Minneapolis.

 

 

 

Samsung Beats TSMC For FinFET Business

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Tech giant Samsung Electronics  won a contract to make Nvidia GPUs according to South Korea’s Chosun Biz newspaper.

The paper said Samsung would start making the next-generation Pascal GPUs using its 14-nanometre production technology before year-end. It did not specify the value of the order or say how many chips will be made. Samsung and Nvidia are not saying anything.

According to the newspaper Samsung Electronics is currently testing the Nvidia Pascal (Pascal) architecture on new production lines at the S1 campus Giheung, Gyeonggi Province. It is expected that the first GPU from Nvidia will be supplied by Samsung later this year.

Nvidia normally ships this sort of thing through Taiwan’s TSMC but has changed its mind because of recent unstable supply issues and the fact it wants to diversify its production line, the paper claimed.

Courtesy-Fud

 

nVidia Makes Financial Gains

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia released its financial results yesterday for the second quarter of its fiscal year 2017, which ended July 31, 2016.

The company’s numbers came in slightly better than expected during a quarter fueled by consumer interest in the 4K-capable 16nm Pascal GPU product family, along with increasing enterprise investments in Nvidia’s GPU-accelerated deep learning, computer vision and AI platforms and products.

The company turned in revenues of $1.43 billion with 58.1 percent adjusted gross margin. This is up nine percent from $1.30 billion in Q1 (February 1 to May 1, 2016) and up 24 percent from $1.103 billion a year earlier in Q2 FY2016 (April 27 to July 26, 2015).

Looking ahead at a forecast for Q3 FY2017 – ending late October – the company is issuing guidance between $1.65 and $1.71 billion, or between 57.5 and 58.5 percent adjusted gross margin.

During the company’s Q2 FY2016 ending July 31, 2016, the company unveiled its flagship Geforce GTX 1080 graphics card along with the Geforce GTX 1070 and Geforce GTX 1060. Just two days later after the quarter ended, it released an even higher-performing Pascal enthusiast model – the Geforce GTX Titan X – although revenue numbers from this card will be presented in Q3 FY2017 results in a few months from now.

“Strong demand for our new Pascal-generation GPUs and surging interest in deep learning drove record results,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer, NVIDIA. “Our strategy to focus on creating the future where graphics, computer vision and artificial intelligence converge is fueling growth across our specialized platforms — Gaming, Pro Visualization, Datacenter and Automotive.”

As we mentioned a few days ago, the driverless automotive market is expected to grow to $42 billion in nine years and so far the few companies that have signed on with Nvidia’s Drive PX hardware include BMW, Ford, Daimler and Audi. Nvidia is currently working closely with Audi as its primary brand but will soon move to Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini and Bentley.

“We are more excited than ever about the impact of deep learning and AI, which will touch every industry and market. We have made significant investments over the past five years to evolve our entire GPU computing stack for deep learning. Now, we are well positioned to partner with researchers and developers all over the world to democratize this powerful technology and invent its future,” Jen-Hsun said.

During the quarter ending July 31st, Nvidia also launched the Quadro P6000 workstation GPU with 12 teraflops of compute power, introduced the Tesla P100 accelerator for PCI-E based servers, released its first self-created game called VR Funhouse, and introduced an ultra-high resolution screenshot capture utility called Ansel, although it is limited to a few select games for now.

Courtesy-Fud

Scientist Find Additional Twenty Earth Like Planets

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Astronomers are narrowing the field in their search for a “second Earth.”

An international team of researchers has identified the 20 most Earth-like worlds among the more than 4,000 exoplanet candidates that NASA’s Kepler space telescope has detected to date, scientists report in a new study.

All 20 potential “second Earths” lie within the habitable zones of their sun-like stars — meaning they should be able to harbor liquid water on their surfaces — and are likely rocky, the researchers said.

Identifying these Earth-like planets is important in the hunt for alien life, said study lead author Stephen Kane, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University (SFSU).

“[It] means we can focus in on the planets in this paper and perform follow-up studies to learn more about them, including if they are indeed habitable,” Kane said in a statement.

Kane and his team sorted through the 216 habitable-zone Kepler planets and candidates found so far. (A “candidate” is a world that has yet to be confirmed by follow-up observations or analysis. Kepler has found about 4,700 candidates to date, more than 2,300 of which have been confirmed; about 90 percent of all candidates should eventually turn out to be the real deal, mission team members have said.)

Second-Earth candidates had to be safely within the habitable zone. If a planet is too close to the inner edge, it could experience a runaway greenhouse effect like the one that occurred on Venus. And if it’s too close to the outer edge, the planet could end up being a frigid world like Mars, the researchers said.

In addition to categorizing the planets by their place in the habitable zone, Kane and his team also sorted them by size, ruling out worlds that were big enough to be gaseous.

There are five confirmed planets in the top 20: Kepler-186f, Kepler-62f, Kepler-283c, Kepler-296f and Kepler-442b. The other 15 are unconfirmed candidates.

Categorizations like this suggest that the universe is teeming with planets that could possibly harbor life, study team members said.

“It’s exciting to see the sheer amount of planets that are out there,” study co-author Michelle Hill, an Australian undergraduate studying abroad at SFSU, said in the same statement. “[It] makes you think that there is zero chance of there not being another place where life could be found.”

The new study has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. You can read it for free on the online preprint site ArXiv.org here: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1608.00620v1.pdf.

Courtesy-Space

 

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