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AMD Develops The Excavator Processor Specifically For Gamers

February 5, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has unveiled a handful of new processors as part of its 2016 desktop refresh, including the first chip based on the Excavator core to target desktop PCs. The firm will also release new motherboards with high-speed USB 3.1 ports and connectors to support M.2 Sata SSDs.

AMD’s new desktop processors are available now, and aimed chiefly at the enthusiast and gamer markets. They comprise three chips fitting into the firm’s FM2+ processor socket infrastructure for mainstream systems.

Two of these chips are based on the Godavari architecture and are APUs featuring Steamroller CPU cores and Graphics Core Next GPU cores. The A10-7860K has four CPU cores and eight GPU cores with a clock speed of 3.6GHz, while the A6-7470K has dual CPU cores and four GPU cores at a clock speed of 3.7GHz. Both have a maximum Turbo speed of 4GHz.

The A10-7860K is not AMD’s top-end chip, coming in below the A10-7870K and the A10-7890K, but it does replace three existing chips in the A10 line-up, the A10-7850K, A10-7700K and A10-7800.

“The interesting thing about the A10-7860K is that it delivers the same high 4GHz Turbo speed, but it is a 65W part, so it delivers comparable performance to the A10-7850K, but we’re dropping 30W,” said AMD client product manager Don Woligroski.

 

The third chip is badged under AMD’s Athlon brand, as it has CPU cores only and does not qualify as an APU. The Athlon X4 845 features four of the new Excavator cores used in the mobile Carrizo platform, clocked at 3.5GHz with a Turbo speed of up to 3.8GHz.

Neither is the Athlon X4 845 at the top of the Athlon stack, but is “more of an efficient, really great low-cost part”, according to Woligroski.

AMD will also deliver new motherboards to complement the latest processors sometime during the first quarter of 2016. These bring support for USB 3.1 Gen2 ports with the new Type-C connector, offering 10Gbps data rates, plus connectors for M.2 SATA SSD modules. M.2 modules are more usually seen in laptop and mobile systems because of their compact size.

Future AMD desktop chips will converge on a common socket infrastructure known as AM4, according to Woligroski. The first processors to use this are likely to be the upcoming Summit Ridge desktop chip and Bristol Ridge APU.

AMD also announced a new heatsink and fan combination for cooling the chips. The AMD Wraith Cooler (below) is claimed to deliver 34 percent more airflow while generating less than a 10th of the noise of its predecessor at 39dbA.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Hackers Attempt Attack On 20+ Million Alibaba Accounts

February 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hackers in China attempted to gain access to over 20 million active accounts on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Taobao e-commerce website using Alibaba’s own cloud computing service, according to a state media report posted on the Internet regulator’s website.

An Alibaba spokesman said the company detected the attack in “the first instance”, reminded users to change passwords, and worked closely with the police investigation.

Chinese companies are grappling a sharp rise in the number of cyber attacks, and cyber security experts say firms have a long way to go before defenses catch up to U.S. counterparts.

In the latest case, hackers obtained a database of 99 million usernames and passwords from a number of websites, according to a separate report on a website managed by the Ministry of Public Security.

The hackers then used Alibaba’s cloud computing platform to input the details into Taobao. Of the 99 million usernames, they found 20.59 million were also being used for Taobao accounts, the ministry website said.

The hackers started inputting the details into Taobao in mid-October and were discovered in November, at which time Alibaba immediately reported the case to police, the ministry website said. The hackers have since been caught, it said.

Alibaba’s systems discovered and blocked the vast majority of log-in attempts, according to the ministry website.

The hackers used compromised accounts to fake orders on Taobao, a practice known as “brushing” in China and used to raise sellers’ rankings, the newspaper said. The hackers also sold accounts to be used for fraud, it said.

Alibaba’s spokesman said the hackers rented the cloud computing service, but declined to comment on security measures designed to stop the system being used for the attack. He said they could have used any such service, and that the attack was not aided by any possible loopholes in Alibaba’s platform.

“Alibaba’s system was never breached,” the spokesman said.

The number of accounts, 20.59 million, represents about 1 out of every 20 annual active buyers on Alibaba’s China retail marketplaces.

 

 

Are Light Powered Transistors On The Horizon?

February 5, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A team of researchers have emerged from their smoke filled labs claiming to have invented a transistor which runs on light rather than applied voltage.

According to Technology Review University of North Carolina in Charlotte say the new transistor controls the electrons to flow through it so that when the lights are on it and turns itself off when it gets dark.

This means that devices can be made smaller than field effect transistors because they don’t require doping in the same way and can be squeezed into smaller spaces. Meanwhile the speeds are faster.

Apparently the idea is not rocket science and is based on the idea that materials have been known to be photoconductive.

What the team has done is create a device which uses a ribbon of cadmium and selenium a couple of atoms thick. This can conduct more than a million times more current when on than off. This is about the same as regular transistors.

Of course it is years away from being a product yet. They still have not worked out how to send light to each transistor and if that will cost more power.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Fiber To Be Free For Some

February 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Fiber has announced free gigabit Internet service to residents of selected public housing projects connected to its fiber optic service in U.S. cities.

The program debuted at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families.

Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a conference call that under the ConnectHome program, up to 200,000 children in affordable housing in 28 different U.S. cities are expected to be connected to fast Internet. Google Fiber is expected to be a part of those connections in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Nashville and San Antonio, he said.

There will be no cost to local housing authorities, their residents or HUD. Google will absorb the costs of the free service and there will be no fees or contract.

The Kansas City area was the first Google Fiber location in the nation, starting in 2012. Today, the service is available in two other cities — Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah — with work under way in six others. Normally, residents in Kansas City pay $70 a month for Google Fiber fast Internet service.

In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.

In Austin, Google plans to complement free Internet service for some families with investments in computers labs and digital literacy classes. Plans for other cities were not announced.

 

 

Fitness Trackers Leaking User Data, Study Finds

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some of the more popular sports wearables don’t just let you track your fitness, they also allow you to be tracked.

That’s what Canadian researchers found when they studied fitness-tracking devices from eight manufacturers, along with their companion mobile apps.

All the devices studied except for the Apple Watch transmitted a persistent, unique Bluetooth identifier, allowing them to be tracked by the beacons increasingly being used by retail stores and shopping malls to recognize and profile their customers.

The revealing devices, the Basis Peak, Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart, Jawbone Up 2, Mio Fuse, Withings Pulse O2 and Xiaomi Mi Band, all make it possible for their wearers to be tracked using Bluetooth even when the device is not paired with or connected to a smartphone, the researchers said. Only the Apple device used a feature of the Bluetooth LE standard to generate changing MAC addresses to prevent tracking.

In addition, companion apps for the wearables variously leaked login credentials, transmitted activity tracking information in a way that allowed interception or tampering, or allowed users to submit fake activity tracking information, according to an early draft of the report, “Every Step you Fake: A Comparative Analysis of Fitness Tracker Privacy and Security.” It was published by Canadian non-profit Open Effect, and researched with help from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

The apps are typically used to gather data from the fitness tracking device and upload it to a central server, where users can analyze their performance and perhaps compare it with that of other device wearers.

Using a man-in-the-middle attack, researchers were able to spy on traffic between the apps and the servers for all but two of the apps, Apple’s Watch 2.1 and Intel’s Basis Peak 1.14.0. For the six remaining apps, this allowed them to observe even encrypted data sent via HTTPS.

Apple and Intel used a technique called certificate pinning to avoid being fooled by the fake security certificates presented by the researchers. Intel has been highlighting the risks of poorly secured wearable devices since at least 2014, when it published the report “Safeguarding the Future of Digital America 2025.”

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless Of The Rhetoric Windows Tablets Doing Ok

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

For years Microsoft held a torch for the tablet even while everyone else mocked them. When Apple turned the concept into a gimmick and everyone bought one, Microsoft was mocked for not really understanding the tablet.

Now it seems that Redmond is the only one making tablets that people want again, as the market slowly shrinks to the point before Jobs claimed “his” invention was a “game changer.”

Strategy Analytics said that final quarter of 2015 witnessing the worst year-on-year decline for a product that it has seen.

The company’s ‘Preliminary Global Tablet Shipments and Market Share by Operating System: Q4 2015′ report estimates that tablet shipment numbers fell to 69.9 million units in Q4, which is a record drop of 11 per cent. Over the full year of 2015, shipments reached 224 million units which represented a drop of 8 per cent.

TrendForce estimated a bigger drop over the course of the full year with a 12.2 per cent decline compared to 2014′s shipment numbers.

However Strategy Analytics said that the only one to do well was Microsoft. Windows tablets witnessed growth of 59 per cent in Q4 compared to the previous year.

Part of this is because 2-in-1 PCs are doing well and expected to do better. Strategy Analytics observed a huge 379 per cent  leap in year-on-year growth in Q4 2015.

Eric Smith, Senior Analyst, Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said: “2-in-1 Detachable Tablets have reached an inflection point in 2015 as computing needs continue to trend more and more mobile and Tablets with Windows 10 can compete against iOS in the premium and high price bands and equally well against Android in the mid and lower price bands.

“The Q4 2015 launch of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book was met with many ‘Surface clones’ by Microsoft’s OEM partners at lower price points. This variety of devices will bolster momentum of Windows Tablets going forward.”

Apple is still the top tablet vendor with a share of 23.1 per cent in Q4 of last year. But it fell heavily from 27.3 per cent the previous year. Cupertino’s shipment numbers dropped from 21.4 million units to 16.1 million units this year.

Samsung was in second place with a 12.9 per cent market share, down from 13.9 per cent the previous year. Lenovo saw slight growth in third place with an increase from 4.7 per cent to a 5.7 per cent share in Q4 2015, with Amazon slipping to fourth place, dropping from 4.9 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Giving Yammer To All Office 365 Subscribers

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft is ramping up its efforts to expand the reach of its Yammer work social network — and better compete with other workplace collaboration tools – announcing that any organization with an Office 365 subscription will gain access to the service and have it automatically activated.

The service will start rolling out to users in waves. The automatic activation will allow businesses to quickly spin up online communities for their workers.

Microsoft will also let users sign in to Yammer with the same username and password they use to access all of their other Office 365 apps and services. System administrators will, however, have the ability to prevent users from accessing Yammer.

The first Yammer rollout will target businesses with fewer than 150 licenses and that have an Office 365 subscription that includes Yammer.

Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion. At the time, it was a high-flying technology startup in the hot enterprise social network space, althought it hasn’t been taken up widely. Microsoft said that more than 500,000 businesses are using it, up from 200,000 at the time of its acquisition.

Yammer faces increased competition in the workplace collaboration space. Rival Slack’s real-time chat capabilities have made it a popular choice, though that software doesn’t replicate the message board and information feed aspects of Yammer’s product. However, when Facebook for Work becomes publicly available — it’s in a closed beta test — that offering will more closely compete with Yammer’s core functionality.

 

Nintendo Keeps Drop Year Over Year

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s finances took a dip in the company’s third quarter report for FY 2015 – sales stayed relatively stable with just 3.9 per cent shrinkage to 427.7 billion Yen ($3.5bn), but profits dropped by 32 per cent year-on-year to 40.5 billion Yen ($336m).

Although the bottom line failed to excite, plenty of familiar faces performed well for the publisher’s software arm, as well as a few new names. Top seller was Child friendly Wii U shooter Splatoon, shifting over four million units. Super Mario maker wasn’t far behind on 3.34 million, whilst Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer reached 2.93 million. Collectively the 3DS family sold 5.88 million units of hardware and 38.87 million games. The Wii U totalled 3.06 million consoles and 22.62 million pieces of software. 20.50 million Amiibo figures were sold, and approximately 21.50 million Amiibo cards.

Those eagerly awaiting news of either the new NX system or the company’s first smartphone game will be disappointed – neither was mentioned in the company’s forward looking statements. Instead, the publisher focused on relatively known quantities.

“For Nintendo 3DS, we will globally release a special edition hardware pre-installed with Pokémon title(s) from the original Pokémon series on February 27 which marks the 20th year since the original Pokémon series release,2 read the accompanying statement.

“Furthermore, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and key titles from third-party publishers are scheduled for release. For Wii U, we will strive to maintain the attention level of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, which are continuing to show steady sales, while introducing new titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Meanwhile, for Amiibo, we will continue to expand the product lineup in order to maintain momentum. At the same time, we will aim to further expand sales by offering new gaming experiences with the use of Amiibo. In addition, the first application for smart devices, Miitomo, is scheduled for release.”

The company has maintained its full year target of 35 billion Yen in profit.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Amazon Plans On Opening Up To 400 Bookstores

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc will open up to 400 physical bookstores, according to a major U.S. mall operator with knowledge of the proposal.

Amazon recently experimented with brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November. An expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc, said on Tuesday, responding to an analyst’s question after it reported earnings.

On the call, Mathrani compared Amazon’s plans to similar moves by eyeware company Warby Parker or men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, both of which opened physical stores after finding success online.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.”

Before branching out to offer everything from fresh groceries to original TV programming, Amazon got its start as a bookseller 20 years ago. It has since revolutionized the publishing industry by introducing its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

Amazon’s bookstore in Seattle carries books selected based on customer ratings and popularity on Amazon.com. The storefront also provides a space for visitors to test-drive Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.

Any move by Amazon to expand stores would further antagonize long-time rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, which operated 640 bookstores across the United States as of January. Shares of Barnes & Noble fell more than 5 percent on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Mathrani’s comments on Tuesday.

Kevin Berry, vice president of investor relations at General Growth Properties, declined to comment beyond what was said during the conference call.

 

AMD Goes Virtual With GPUs

February 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has revealed what it claims are the world’s first hardware virtualized GPU products — AMD FirePro S-Series GPUs with Multiuser GPU (MxGPU) technology.

The big idea is to have a product for remote workstation, cloud gaming, cloud computing, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

In the virtualization ecosystem, key components like the CPU, network controller and storage devices are being virtualized in hardware to deliver optimal user experiences. So far the GPU has been off the list.
AMD MxGPU technology, for the first time, brings the modern virtualization industry standard to the GPU hardware.

AMD MxGPU technology is based on SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization), a PCI Express standard and brings hardware GPU scheduling logic to the user.

The outfit claims that it preserves the data integrity of Virtualized Machines (VM) and their application data through hardware-enforced memory isolation logic preventing one VM from being able to access another VM’s data.

It also exposes all graphics functionality of the GPU to applications allowing for full virtualization support for not only graphics APIs like DirectX and OpenGL but also GPU compute APIs like OpenCL .

The new AMD FirePro S7150 and AMD FirePro S7150 x2 server graphics cards will combine with OEM offerings to create high-performance virtual workstations and address IT needs of simple installation and operation, critical data security and outstanding performance-per-dollar.

Typical VDI use cases include Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Media and Entertainment, and office applications powered by the industry’s first hardware-based virtualized GPU.

Sean Burke, corporate vice president and general manager, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD said that the AMD hardware virtualization GPU product line is another example of its commitment to offering customers exceptional cutting edge graphics in conjunction with fundamental API software support.

“We created the innovative AMD FirePro S-series GPUs to deliver a precise, secure, high performance and enriched graphics user experience — all provided without per user licensing fees required to use AMD’s virtualized solution.”

Jon Peddie, president, Jon Peddie Research. “The move to virtualization of high-performance graphics capabilities typically associated with standalone workstations only makes sense, and will likely gain significant traction in the coming years.”

Pat Lee, senior director, Remote Experience for Desktop and Application Products, VMware said that AMD FirePro S7150 and AMD FirePro S7150 x2 GPUs complement VMware Horizon by giving more users a richer, more compelling user experience. Systems equipped with AMD FirePro cards can provide VMware Horizon users with enhanced video and graphics performance, benefiting especially those installations that focus on CAD and other 3D intensive applications.”

IT budgets can support for up to 16 simultaneous users with a single AMD FirePro S7150 GPU card which features 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, while up to twice as many simultaneous users (32 in total) can be supported by a single AMD FirePro S7150 x2 card which includes a total of 16 GB of GDDR5 memory (8GB per GPU). Both models feature 256-bit memory bandwidth.

Based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture to optimize utilization and maximize performance, the AMD FirePro S7150 and S7150 x2 server GPUs feature:

• AMD Multiuser GPU (MxGPU) technology to enable consistent, predictable and secure performance from virtualized workstations with the world’s first hardware-based virtualized GPU products to enable users with workstation-class experiences matched with full ISV certifications.

• GDDR5 GPU Memory to help accelerate applications and process computationally complex workflows with ease.

• Error Correcting Code (ECC) Memory to ensure the accuracy of computations by correcting any single or double bit error as a result of naturally occurring background radiation.

• OpenCL 2.0 support to help professionals tap into the parallel computing power of modern GPUs and multicore CPUs to accelerate compute-intensive tasks in leading CAD/CAM/CAE and Media & Entertainment applications that support OpenCL allowing developers to take advantage of new GPU features.

• AMD PowerTune is an intelligent power management system that monitors both GPU activity and power draw. AMD PowerTune optimizes the GPU to deliver low power draw when GPU workloads do not demand full activity and delivers the optimal clock speed to ensure the highest possible performance within the GPU’s power budget for high intensity workloads.

AMD FirePro S7150 and S7150 x2 server GPUs are expected to be available from server technology providers in the first half of 2016.

The AMD FirePro S-Series GPUs with MxGPU technology are being exhibited in a Dell server system at SolidWorks World 2016 in Dallas, Texas at the moment.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Evernote Officially Exits E-commerce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A little more than two years after Evernote announced that it would offer a suite of branded products through its own online retail store, the productivity company is walking away from the business of selling products like socks, messenger bags and wallets.

As foreshadowed by a series of sales and app changes last year, the current incarnation of the Evernote Market — a hub for people to buy branded swag and connected tools for the popular note-taking software — will no longer exist as of today.

In its place will be a page that directs people to a handful of products made by partner companies that are tightly integrated with Evernote’s service and were previously sold through the Market. Users will still be able to buy the ScanSnap Evernote Edition scanner, Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition stylus and Evernote-branded Moleskine notebooks that are designed to work with the notetaking software.

The companies that make those items will be in charge of selling them and handling distribution, allowing Evernote to get out of the business of holding inventory and fulfilling orders. That means all of the Market’s non-integrated items, like business card holders and the company’s infamous socks, will be unavailable after after tonight.

In some ways, the Market experiment was a fairly successful one. 40% of people who purchased goods from the Market were subscribers to Evernote’s free tier, meaning that the company was able to monetize people who weren’t paying for the premium version of its service. In the first year of its existence, Market made a little more than $12 million, though it’s not clear how it continued to fare after that.

It’s a move that illustrates Evernote’s current strategy of winnowing down the products and services it’s providing to just focus on a core set of experiences that can make the startup money.

 

 

Is nVidia’s Pascal Finally Coming In April

February 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The dark satanic rumour mill has been flat out manufacturing hell on earth yarns that Nvidia is about to release a new Pascal GPU soon.

The logic is that Nvidia has the time to counter AMD’s Polaris by pushing out a Pascal GPU sooner than anyone expected.

Kotaku claims that NVIDIA looks set to beat AMD’s Polaris architecture when the new GPU appears. In fact it hinted that AMD brought down the price of the Radeon R9 Nano to $499 to counter this move in the high end of the market.

The latest rumor is that Nvidia will be churning out Pascal architecture in all its GPUs from April. When the new GPUs arrive they will be marketed as “TITAN-grade” which goes to show that they will be replacing the current offerings that are marketed under the “TITAN” brand. As for the main GP100 chip will come with 32GB of VRAM.

These rumors about the GPUs with the Pascal architecture are currently based on shipping manifests that have spotted on the Zauba database in India which deals with products that are imported or exported from the country.

It is thought that Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will unveil the Pascal GPU in April during the GPU Technology Conference. In fact it is likely that Huang will announce it during his April 4 keynote which is the conference’s first day.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Are We All Star Dust

February 3, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Take a deep breath.

That air filling up your lungs, that oxygen pulled into your bloodstream, stoking your metabolic fire, making you possible, is old. Older than you, older than the Earth itself. That oxygen once lived in the heart of a star that is now long dead. That calcium in your bones? That iron in your blood? The same.

Billions of years ago, there was no Earth, no sun, nor even a solar system. There was just a relatively featureless cloud of gas and dust, hundreds of light-years across. Pretty much in stable equilibrium, that cloud could persist for hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years. But given just a little nudge — perhaps by a nearby supernova going off, sending its blast wave echoing through the nascent cloud — it quickly fragmented, folding in on itself in a complicated tangle of knots and streams.

Pockets of gas pinch off and catastrophically collapse, in some cases reaching such incredible densities and pressures that nuclear fusion begins deep in the heart of a young system: This is the birth of a star .

The shattered remains of the cloud organize themselves into a disk. The disk spawns planets that cannibalize more material as they grow and compete for space around the new sun. In fits and starts and collisions, and in migrations and bursts of intense radiation, the leftover debris is cleared from the system, leaving a family: a star (maybe two), a few rocky planets, gas giants, asteroids and frozen leftovers in the outskirts.

A solar system is born.

A few new elements breeze into the solar system over the millennia, but by and large, what the solar system was born with is all it has.

The elemental mixture of that primordial gas cloud determines the fate of the system. Not enough silicon? No rocky planets. Just a hint of oxygen? No liquid water on those planets. A bare handful of carbon? Nothing to use to build little critters to swim around in that water.

But how did this solar system’s particular mixture of elements get in that gas cloud oh so many billions of years ago in the first place? To tell the truth, I already gave the answer: fusion.

In that newborn sun, and in its heart today, a nuclear fire rages. The crushing weight of the sun’s own gravity — layer after endless layer of gas trying to squeeze itself into the center — encourages atomic nuclei to overcome their natural repulsion for each other and fuse, like every bad rom-com you’ve ever seen.

The fusion process leaves a little bit of energy left over , and the countless fusion reactions are enough to power the sun’s radiation for billions of years — and give Earth the warmth and light needed to make life possible.

The process just needs to start with hydrogen, a simple proton. And there is plenty of that in the earliest moments of the universe. All else follows. Every star in the sky, including Earth’s own sun, is a massive, sleepless factory for creating new elements. Hydrogen to helium. Onward to carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. In more massive stars, the chain pushes even further, to include calcium, magnesium, neon and argon. All the way to iron and nickel.

But there, the party stops. After iron and nickel, fusion doesn’t produce energy anymore — it takes it. Fusion still happens, but there’s nothing to stop the relentless gravitational collapse, no energy production to re-flate the star and balance the contraction. The infalling material tries to jam onto the core, is stopped by the solid iron ball at the center, and quickly retreats. In other words: boom!

A supernova is one of the most fantastic displays of reckless energy seen across the universe . Billions of stars’ worth of energy, wasted in a single flash lasting a few weeks. In that energetic inferno, anything is possible. Want to waste energy fusing some new heavy elements? Who cares — there’s plenty to spare! Have some more! It’s party time!

It’s in that furious explosion that the rest of the periodic table is filled out. What wasn’t fused in the heart of a star is birthed in the star’s death throes, in complicated dances of nuclei and stray neutrons.

This isn’t just a cute bedtime story — this is science, after all, and it requires some evidence. The theory was sweated out in a landmark paper led by physicist William Fowler, who went on to receive a Nobel Prize for his efforts.

Today, scientists can identify what elements stars are made of, as each element leaves a distinct thumbprint in the starlight. Physicists can observe the fusion happening in the core of Earth’s sun by capturing stray neutrinos, a byproduct of the fusion reaction, in detectors here on Earth. Researchers can examine supernova remnants to identify trace elements drifting through the broken clouds. Scientists can explain why some elements are more abundant in the universe than are others: If a particular chain reaction is more common in stars, then the element produced by that reaction will make its mark on the cosmos.

And human beings can see how they really are made of stars — the ashes of long-dead stars, but stars nonetheless.

Those points of light in the night sky are connected to people in a deep and meaningful way. Human blood and bones are a part of the natural cycle of formation, birth, life and death of humanity’s heavenly cousins. People come from stars and will return to the stars; every star dies, and in some fashion spreads its material back from where it came. And when the light from Earth’s sun finally snuffs out, it will carry humanity’s ashes back into the darkness, to be reshaped again into new worlds, and possibly new life.

Courtesy-Space

 

Yahoo To Slash 15% Of Workforce

February 3, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer announced cost-cutting measures that include slashing 15 percent of the company’s workforce, or roughly 1,600 jobs, and closing several business units, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The plans were announced after Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.  It did not specify which business units might be closed.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said the company could not comment during its quiet period before releasing earnings.

Activist investors have pressed Yahoo to sell its core business rather than spin it off, even though a sale would likely incur more taxes.

It is unclear whether the plan Mayer is expected to announce would satisfy their demands, but cutting costs could make Yahoo more attractive to buyers.

Verizon has said it is interested in acquiring Yahoo if it were up for sale. Other potential buyers would include media and private equity firms, analysts said.

Yahoo had about 11,000 employees as of June 30, according to its website, down from a Dec. 31, 2014 total of about 12,500 full-time employees and what it called fixed term contractors.

Separately, a former Yahoo employee filed a lawsuit against the company Monday challenging its “quarterly performance review” process, on grounds it assigned numerical ratings to workers that in some cases were used to fire those at the bottom of the scale.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, said the plaintiff was terminated in 2014, despite being previously praised, as a result of the QPR process.

The filing said Yahoo’s use of the QPR process to terminate large numbers of employees violates federal and California laws that require employers to disclose mass layoffs above a certain threshold.

 

 

Google Adds Australian Accents And Slang To Its Software

February 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet search giant Google has finally added Australian slang and language recognition to its applications, addressing complaints that its software had difficulty in understanding thick local accents and complex place names.

Long accustomed to having their distinctive slang misunderstood, Australians can now substitute “footy” for football, “arvo” for afternoon and find directions to Mullumbimby or Goondiwindi, a spokesman told Reuters.

The extended vocabulary came after Google, which is now part of holding company Alphabet Inc, added an Australian accented voice to its Google Maps and search applications last week.

“People are starting to talk to their phones much more regularly now. Mobile voice searchers have doubled in the last year,” Google Australia spokesman Shane Treeves said.

“Particularly all those tricky Aussie place names, they just sound much better in an Aussie voice that can get them right.”

Google and its chief competitor, Apple Inc, have saturated the United States and Western Europe with their devices, leaving foreign language markets as some of the prime places to grow.

In December, Apple released a version of its virtual personal assistant, Siri, for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Google’s Android phones’ search function already offered some support in Arabic.

Google’s Android operating system was used by roughly 54 percent of mobile devices sold in Australia in December, placing it ahead of Apple iOS at 38 percent, according to data published by research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The addition of Australian language features to Google’s software could carry with it a sense of vindication for local users, who have long groused about its inability to understand them.