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Online Video Streaming Biting Into Dish Network Customer Base

July 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

U.S. satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp reported an unexpected loss in pay-TV subscribers as more consumers increasingly opt for online video-streaming services.

Dish said it lost 281,000 net pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30, missing the average analyst estimate of a loss of 91,000 subscribers, according to market research firm FactSet StreetEstimate.

However, average revenue per user rose to $89.98 from $87.91, helped by price increases for its video service.

Dish raised its 2016 video service rates in January.

To offset losses in its core pay-TV business, the company last year launched a cheaper $20-per-month Sling TV online streaming service that offers a slim bundle of channels, including live programming from networks such as ESPN.

Net income attributable to Dish rose to $410 million, or 88 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, from $324 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose to $3.84 billion from $3.83 billion.

 

Qualcomm Appears To Be Back In The Black

July 22, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has had a better than expected results in its Q3 earnings, beating street and even its own estimates.

Qualcomm offered $5.2 billion to $6 billion revenue guidance and it managed to make $6 billion. Non-GAAP diluted EPS was projected at $0.90 – $1.00 and Qualcomm actually managed to make $1.16.

The MSM chip shipments were guided at 175 million to 195 million while the company actually sold 201 million of these chips.

Total reported device sales was expected to be between $52 billion and  $60 billion and in reality Qualcomm scored $62.6 billion. Qualcomm shipped between 321 million to  325 million 3G/4G devices and estimated reported 3G/4G device average selling price was at $191 – $197.

There are a few reasons for such good results, the first being Samsung. The company chose Snapdragon 820 for some markets with its flagship phones. The Snapdragon 820 ended up in 115 devices and it looks like one of the strongest high end phone chips in a while.

The introduction of the Snapdragon 821 will rekindle the fire and will make some additional sales for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and a few other high end phones including some phones from LG and others. The 4G modem business is in good shape but one has to be careful as Qualcomm might lose some of the iPhone business to Intel. Everyone wants carrier aggregation capable modems these days, that is Cat 6 and up and Qualcomm offers this from Snapdragon 430 to the Snapdragon 820.

It is interesting to notice that while Apple iPhone sales were down, Qualcomm did better mainly as when Apple declines at   the high end, Qualcomm can make money from its high end Snapdragon chips.

We expect to see the announcement of Snapdragon 830 before the end of the year while devices shipping with the new chip in late Q1 2017 or early Q2 2017. As far as we know this might be the 10nm SoC but we will have to wait and see.

Qualcomm is investing heavily in improvements of 4G, current and future generations as well as a concentrated focus on 5G. From where we stand, Qualcomm still has the best chances to dominate the 5G market, especially due to the fact that 5G is an evolution of 4G with some new wave length and concepts added to it.

Last year’s loss of Samsung Galaxy S6 design win hurt a lot, and now the big customer is back, it seems that investing in a custom ARM Kryo core and dominating in Adreno graphics paid off.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Launches Stream Video Sharing Service For The Enterprise

July 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft may have YouTube for businesses on its hands with the beta launch of a new service on Monday.

It’s called Stream, and it’s supposed to let people easily work together with one another on videos and then share that content both inside and outside their company.

In the realm of consumer web services, video is ascending. Facebook has been emphasizing video posts on its popular social network, while YouTube is still going strong. Microsoft is trying to take some of that mojo and bring it to the business world with the launch of the open beta for Stream.

Stream allows users to log in to a video portal that lets them see all of the videos that are shared with them, and do things like subscribe to channels, search for subject matter they want to explore, and follow co-workers whose videos they want to see.

People who create videos can upload footage to the service by dragging and dropping files from their computers. Stream will handle the processing and let people add titles, descriptions, and even a caption file so that hearing-impaired viewers can read along with what’s being said.

The service also has the ability to set sharing permissions that can let anyone in an organization view a video, or lock it down to just a small group of people. That way, it’s possible for users to get feedback on a video from a small group before pushing it out to the wider company.

It’s all powered by Azure Media Services, a cloud-based video streaming system that Microsoft has been building up to host a variety of products including public cloud video encoding services used for the Olympics and Skype Meeting Broadcast, a service that lets Skype for Business customers send out a video feed to thousands of viewers.

Microsoft has a smorgasbord of planned features on the roadmap for Stream. IT managers, for example, will have access to greater management controls for the service. Microsoft also plans to add additional intelligence to Stream’s search, and let users of its nPowerApps software build applications that leverage its video viewing and capture capabilities.

Stream is similar to other business apps that Microsoft has recently launched, like Power BI, the company’s data visualization and business intelligence tool, and PowerApps, a service that lets employees build mobile applications that use company data. Like those applications, Stream is a subscription service that lets businesses get a particular capability without buying into one of Microsoft’s big suites.

 

 

 

Intel’s NUC Gets Uncovered

July 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s NUC consumer roadmap has leaked online showing that Intel is seriously holding a torch for tiny PCs.

Fan-less Tech found some slides which shows Intel has some exciting new hardware planned for release over the next couple of years.

The roadmap shows that Intel will make its new Celeron processor available in the fourth quarter of 2016 with its Arches Canyon model. Its 7th-gen Core chip looks like it will be available at the beginning of 2017 within the Baby Canyon i7 model. Intel will continue to offer the recently launched Skull Canyon through 2017.

Based on the leaked information, Intel has plans to continue its NUC line at least through 2018, offering progressively faster hardware with more options to meet custom applications of the device.

Intel’s NUCs are doing rather well and have been getting good reviews. They are getting increasingly tied to Intel’s chip upgrades so they are remaining fairly cutting edge.

Courtesy-Fud

 

U.S. National Science Foundation To Spend $400M On Wireless Research

July 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. National Science Foundation will shell out than $400 million over the next seven years to pay for next-generation wireless research in an effort to bring super-fast mobile service to the country.

U.S. officials hope the investments will speed up the county’s move to next-generation 5G mobile service, potentially offering speeds of 10Gbps, and allow for a rapid expansion of the internet of things.

The next-generation mobile services will enable self-driving cars, an “always on” IoT, smart cities, new virtual reality offerings and video to aid police, firefighters and emergency medical responders, said John Holdren assistant to President Barack Obama for science and technology.

“Time and again, history has shown us that when we make sustained federal investments in fundamental academic research and in public-private partnerships … we as a nation reap the benefits,” Holdren said at an NSF event in Washinton, D.C., Friday.

The NSF funding, part of a new White House Advanced Wireless Research Initiative, includes $50 million as part of a partnership with more than 20 mobile companies and trade groups to roll out advanced wireless testing sites in four U.S. cities. The testing will include deployment of small cells to boost signals of high-band, millimeter wave spectrum.

The announcement piggybacks on a Federal Communications Commission vote last Thursday to open up nearly 11 gigahertz of high-band spectrum to 5G and IoT services.

The NSF expects to spend $350 million over the next seven years on fundamental research and testing of next-generation wireless technologies, the agency said.

The FCC and other agencies want to focus on making spectrum available so that wireless companies can experiment with the best ways to deliver new services, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Some countries have pushed to set 5G standards before moving forward, but not the U.S., he said.

 

 

 

Was The Rise Of The Machines A.I. Contest A Success?

July 19, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The Winograd Schema Challenge is a competition intended to reward technologists who can build a system that understands the kind of ambiguous sentences humans come out with all the time, but which are simple for other humans, even stupid ones, to understand.

Get it right 90 per cent of the time and $25,000 is up for grabs. And with things like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant, the Winograd Schema Challenge must surely be as good as obsolete by now.

Right? Wrong.

The best two entrants at the event this week achieved correct scores only 48 per cent of the time, little better than randomly guessing the meaning of the sentences they were supposed to crack.

This is despite a decade of advances in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which has barely shifted since the late 1950s, according to some.

The Challenge posed a series of ambiguously worded sentences to the entrants such as:

The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big (small). What was too big (small)?

The town councillors refused to give the demonstrators a permit because they feared (advocated) violence. Who feared (advocated) violence?

There is an ambiguity in the above examples, read literally, about what is too big (or small) and exactly who is fearing violence, although a semi-intelligent human should be able to work it out with ease.

The problem, according to Gary Marcus, a research psychologist at New York University, who acted as an advisor for the Challenge, is that computers lack common sense, and programming it into them is incredibly difficult.

Indeed, the MIT Technology Review said that most of the entrants in the Challenge used a combination of hand-coded grammatical understanding and a ‘knowledge base’ of facts. It still didn’t help much, though.

However, one of the two best-placed systems, led by Quan Liu, a researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China, together with researchers from York University in Montreal and the National Research Council of Canada, used neural network-based machine learning in a bid to train their computer to recognise the many different contexts in which words can be used.

Liu claimed that after fixing a problem in the AI, he was able to achieve a success rate closer to 60 per cent, which is still a long way from being able to go home with a cheque for $25,000.

The Challenge is deliberately designed to be different from the Turing Test, which tests only whether a human can be fooled into thinking that an AI program is human.

The trouble with this is that there are more than enough idiots who could be fooled into helping an AI system to pass that test. The language test, in contrast, provides a more objective test of genuine AI, argued Marcus.

The failure of the AI programs in the Challenge highlights how far chatbots and other supposedly revolutionary AI-based machines still have to go before humans can clock-off for the last time and leave running the planet to computers.

Some experts have claimed that its development will spark the next industrial revolution, while others, such as Apple co-founder and pontificator Steve Wozniak, suggest that we’ll be adopted as pets by robots.

Google, Microsoft and Facebook didn’t bother entering, perhaps because they feared outright humiliation.  Maybe next year.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Microsoft Reduces OneDrive Storage Allotment

July 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Users of Microsoft’s OneDrive have begun receiving notifications that their storage allotments have already, or will soon be, reduced to 5GB.

The emails to OneDrive account holders were the first step in a process that Microsoft announced last year as part of a broader reduction in cloud-based storage allowances. The free amount was to be lowered from 15GB to 5GB, and another 15GB that many had — the photograph-specific “Camera Roll” bonus that had been given to any who asked — was to be erased.

In April 2016, Microsoft warned OneDrive users that the automatic reductions and access restrictions would begin in July, when accounts with more than 5GB of content would be marked read-only. Users would be able to view and download files stored in such accounts, but they would not be able to add new documents, photographs or other files.

Microsoft has pledged that customers whose accounts exceeded 5GB will be able to access their files for nine months, or until around the end of April 2017.

Some OneDrive customers have received emails telling them that as of yesterday, July 13, their accounts were set as read-only. Others have gotten similar messages, but with a July 27 deadline, making the emails a 14-day warning and giving users two weeks to remove enough files to drop the total under the 5GB limit.

Additional restrictions are to be placed on OneDrive accounts next year. In April 2017, Microsoft will lock accounts in excess of 5GB, blocking users from accessing all files. Three months after that, Microsoft has said it may start deleting files in overstocked accounts.

OneDrive users with a free account subject to the 5GB limit have several options. They can reduce the quantity stored online, purchase additional storage, or request a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, a subscription service that comes with 1TB of OneDrive space.

More information about the OneDrive changes and their timing can be found in a FAQ on Microsoft’s website.

 

 

 

AT&T Using Drones For Cell Tower Inspections

July 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T is now deploying drones to inspect its cellular towers and foresees them as a way to complement its wireless LTE network.

Down the road, the carrier said it might use a drone as a Flying Cell on Wings (COW) to enhance LTE coverage at a large concert or sporting event where thousands of fans can clog the network. Or a drone could be used in rapid disaster response, offering wireless coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to an area hit by a storm or other catastrophe.

Some of those ideas were laid out in a blog this week by John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T.

The blog includes a video showing how drones are already being deployed to inspect tall cell towers. The inspection drones use live video fed wirelessly to an engineer in an office who can do up-close inspections of cables and components high above the ground. The process is quicker and safer than using humans and allows access to parts of a tower that a person could not access.

Drones can also be connected to an LTE network in a specific area to capture data for analysis through remote AT&T servers to allow for networking changes and fixes in real time if problems occur.

Art Pregler, drone program director for AT&T, said the drone inspection information tends to be more accurate than what’s been available in the past. “This is exciting,” he said. “We’re in the infancy of drone use in the commercial sector. The sky’s the limit.”

As drones continue to evolve, so do robots and artificial intelligence, he noted. “We can see all of this coming together in a very interesting man-machine relationship,” Pregler said.

 

 

 

Is AMD Share Price Making A Comeback?

July 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A report from financial analysts Seeking Alpha has issued guidance on the share price of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and said the company’s outlook is quite bright.

The report said that only 11 months back AMD was one of the most shorted stocks in the USA largely as a result of falling revenues and losses.

But, said Bill Maurer at Seeking Alpha, all that has completely changed now. Analysts think that AMD’s share price is currently overvalued.

It all hangs on how well AMD performs when it releases its earnings next week.

The introduction of the RX 480 was supposed to help out on revenues but there’s a question mark over how well it’s contributed to the bottom line.

On the bright side, the arrangement it had with Nantong Microelectronics terminated in the quarter and that ended up meaning a net cash bonus of over $320 million.

The share price currently stands at over $5. AMD’s biggest phone the processors based on Zen architecture are promised to start shipping later this year. This should have an effect on the stock value.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is LG Making Gains In The 4K Display Arena?

July 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG Display has said that it is seeing signs of improvement in the display panel industry and expects its business performance to pick up in the second half of the year.

LG Display CEO Han Sang-beom said that times are a changing thanks mostly to the outfit’s cost cutting.

Panel makers have suffered from price declines in recent quarters due to weak sales of consumer electronics such as smartphones and televisions. But there are signs that things have bottomed out and panel prices for some televisions, tablets and monitors picking up in June.

This will be a great relief for LG which has had a tough time of it. It is expected to post a 96 percent fall in April-June operating profit to $15.72 million, according to the average forecast of analysts in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/ survey. The fact that it backed Apple so closely over the years has also caused problems when iPhone sales dried up. Things are expected to be worse when the iPhone 7 comes out with very little new under the bonnet.

Han said flexible organic light-emitting diode screens were proving popular and LG Display was preparing to supply them to “major” Chinese clients for mobile products. The company currently supplies such screens, mainly for smartwatches, to LG Electronics and Apple.

“It’s clear that plastic OLED is a major trend. While the smartphone market has stagnated it is still a growth market, so we will focus on preparing capacity and developing products accordingly,” Han said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Skype Launches New Chromebook And Linux Versions

July 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Linux and Chromebook owners now can now install new versions of Skype.

Microsoft launched an alpha version of a new client for Linux on Wednesday, in a push to get users of the open-source operating system to make video calls and send messages with Skype.

There was a Linux client available for the service previously, but this launch is a move by the company to get users of the operating system on the latest version of Skype. Users will get a new interface, emoticons and a file-sharing interface.

Chrome users will be able to use web.skype.com to make calls from Google’s web browser and desktop operating system starting Wednesday, too. Like the Linux client, the new Chrome client is still in alpha, so there are likely to be bugs, along with missing features.

These launches are important as Skype faces increased competition in the messaging and digital calling space. Apps like Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts have all either built or are building voice and video calling functionality into their services.

The new Linux app allows users to connect with other people using the latest versions of Skype across many other platforms. But it’s based on new calling architecture that makes it incompatible with the previous version of Skype for Linux and some older versions of Skype on other platforms.

 

Amazon Announces Prime Day Sale Was Best Ever

July 15, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon reported that it’s Prime Day was the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant.

The company’s second annual sales event, which was held Tuesday, saw customer orders surpass Prime Day 2015 by more than 60% worldwide and more than 50% in the U.S., the company reported.

“It was a huge success,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst with Forrester Research. “It was a big day, by all accounts, with enormous growth. It reinforces that e-commerce continues to grow and that Amazon is a significant part of that growth.”

Amazon’s Prime Day is a one-day sales event for members of Prime, the company’s membership program. Products in nearly all of Amazon’s copious shopping categories were put on sale.

Despite some reports of customers’ having problems checking out after making their purchases, more than 90,000 TVs were sold, along with more than 2 million toys, 1 million pairs of shoes and hundreds of thousands of Kindle e-readers.

Amazon also received twice as many orders via its mobile app than it did during Prime Day last year. More than 1 million customers used the Amazon app for the first time during the sale, the company said.

For U.S. sales alone, Amazon reported that device sales were three times higher compared to Prime Day 2015. It was also the biggest sales day for Amazon’s Echo personal assistant and the company’s e-readers.

When it came to techie purchases, Amazon sold U.S. members more than 14,000 Lenovo laptops and more than 23,000 iRobot Roomba 614 Vacuum cleaning robots.

While it was a big day for the online retailer, one day does not outshine the rest of the year, especially with back-to-school sales, and then holiday sales, coming up.

“No single day is going to change the fortunes of any retailer,” said Mulpuru-Kodali. “It’s one day of 365 or 366 days in any given year.

 

 

IS Kaby Lake Responsible For the End Of Core M?

July 14, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The rumor mill has suggested that Skylake’s successor, Kaby Lake, with its 14nm goodness might be responsible for the death of the Core m5/m7 name.

Instead everything will be the Core m3/i5/i7. The microarchitecture will also bring new features such as native USB 3.1 generation 2 support and improved GPU architecture.

Kaby Lake-Y will have 4.5 watt dual-core chips with Intel HD 615 graphics, the Core M3-7Y30 will have a 1 GHz CPU w/2.6 GHz turbo boost and 300/900 MHz graphics, the Core i5-7Y54 will have a 1.2 GHz CPU w/3.2 GHz turbo boost and 300/950 MHz graphics, while while the Core i7-7Y75 will hae a 1.3 GHz CPU w/3.6 GHz turbo boost and 300/1050 MHz graphics.

The Kaby Lake-U gets 15 watt dual-core chips with Intel HD 620 graphics, the Core i3-7100U has a 2.4 GHz CPU with 300/1000 MHz graphics (turbo boost N/A) and the Core i5-7200U has a 2.5 GHz CPU w/3.1 GHz turbo boost and 300/1000 MHz graphics. Lastly the Core i7-7500U has a 2.7 GHz CPU w/3.5 GHz turbo boost and 300/1050 MHz graphics.
If this is right then Intel is planning to shake up its naming conventions so that some Core i3 chips will probably offer more performance than other Core i7 chips.

So the Kaby Lake chips will be based on the same 7th-gen Intel Core architecture, and they’ll all have Intel HD 600 series graphics. But Y series chips will be much slower than U, H, or S processors. This is going to get confusing.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Scoops Up Video Software Company Anvato

July 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has purchased Anvato, the developer of a video software platform, to beef up its cloud offering in the area of video delivery.

Anvato’s Media Content Platform, used by many large media and entertainment companies including NBCUniversal, Univision and Fox Sports, will complement the efforts of Google Cloud Platform to offer scalable media processing and workflows in the cloud, Belwadi Srikanth, senior product manager for Google Cloud Platform, wrote in a blog post.

The Mountain View, California, company offers software that automates the encoding, editing, publishing and secure distribution of video content across a variety of platforms.

The Google Cloud Platform and Anvato teams will work together to deliver cloud technologies that help “businesses in the media and entertainment industry scale their video infrastructure efforts and deliver high-quality, live video and on-demand content to consumers on any device — be it their smartphone, tablet or connected television,” Srikanth wrote.

Anvato said it will deliver on the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure the video processing software technology it already offers pay TV operators, programmers, broadcasters and live event producers.

Google’s cloud rivals, including Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, have also made investments in the area of providing services to companies offering video delivery.

AWS acquired Elemental Technologies, a Portland, Oregon-based provider of technologies for video delivery over the internet. Elemental software helps media and entertainment companies take live and on-demand video, designed for traditional networks like cable, and reformat it for distribution to PCs, phones and other devices.

 

 

Verizon Hikes Plan Rates, Boost Data Limits

July 8, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc, the No. 1 U.S. wireless provider, announced that it would increase plan rates but will also boost data buckets by 30 percent for its customers, who increasingly stream content through mobile devices.

As of July 7, the company rolled out a revamped version of its My Verizon mobile app to let customers control data overages and billing, as well as manage plans, it said. Moreover, emulating moves by some of its rivals such as AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc, it will let customers carry unused data over to the next month and begin offering users on certain plans unlimited text and calling to and from Mexico and Canada.

The redesigned plans and app come as the company, known for its high-quality network, is locked in a battle for subscribers with competitors in the saturated U.S. wireless market.

Smaller rival Sprint Corp has been offering half-off discounts, and T-Mobile has launched free music, video-streaming plans and other customer-friendly offers and free gifts to attract customers away from competitors to their networks.

The new rate plans are meant to help customers tackle data overage costs and “reflect the significant growth in individual data use,” Rob Miller, vice president of consumer pricing at Verizon said in a webcast on Wednesday.

Verizon is hiking rates and increasing data across all its plans. For instance, the basic “S” plan will cost $35, a $5 rise, and offer double the data at 2 gigabytes and the high-end “XXL” plan will cost $10 more at $110 and offer 24 gigabytes as opposed to the previous 16 gigabyte limit.

The company also said it will introduce a “safety mode” that protects customers from data overages by slowing down their speeds. The feature is free for those on the “XL” and “XXL” plans and costs $5 for those on the “S”, “M”, “L” plans, it said.