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Pandora’s Listeners Decline

October 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Pandora Media Inc, owners of the leading Internet radio service, reported a lower-than-expected increase in listeners in the third quarter, sending the company’s shares down 6 percent in extended trading on Thursday.

Pandora said it had 76.5 million active listeners as of Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected 76.7 million, according to market research firm StreetAccount.

Total listener hours rose to 4.99 billion from 3.99 billion, but again fell short of the average estimate of 5.02 billion.

Pandora’s profit and revenue both beat market expectations, however, as more people listened to streamed music on their mobile phones.

Mobile revenue increased 52 percent to $188 million, while local advertising revenue rose 118 percent to $41.8 million.

Despite its huge user base, Pandora faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Inc’s Beats online streaming service, Google Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing music streaming business.

 

 

Will Google’s Algorithm Change Stop Piracy?

October 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Nosey Google has updated its search engine algorithms in an attempt to restrict piracy web sites appearing high in its search rankings.

The update will mean piracy sites are less likely to appear when people search for music, films and other copyrighted content.

The decision to roll out the search changes was announced in a refreshed version of a How Google Fights Piracy report, which was originally published in September 2013.

However, this year’s updated report features a couple of developments, including changes to ad formats and an improved DMCA demotion search signal.

The move is likely to be a result of criticism received from the entertainment industry, which has argued that illegal sites should be “demoted” in search results because they enable people to find sites to download media illegally.

The biggest change in the Google search update will be new ad formats in search results on queries related to music and movies that help people find legitimate sources of media.

For example, for the relatively small number of queries for movies that include terms like ‘download’, ‘free’, or ‘watch’, Google has instead begun listing legal services such as Spotify and Netflix in a box at the top of the search results.

“We’re also testing other ways of pointing people to legitimate sources of music and movies, including in the right-hand panel on the results page,” Google added.

“These results show in the US only, but we plan to continue investing in this area and to expand it internationally.”

An improved DMCA demotion signal in Google search is also being rolled out as part of the refresh, which down-ranks sites for which Google has received a large number of valid DMCA notices.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week,” Google said, adding that it will also be removing more terms from autocomplete, based on DMCA removal notices.

The new measures might be welcomed by the entertainment industry, but are likely to encourage more people to use legal alternatives such as Spotify and Netflix, rather than buying more physical media.

Courtesy-TheInq

Twitter To Allow Users To Stream Music

October 21, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc  will allow users to play podcasts, music and other audio clips direct from their timelines, or message feeds, by using a  new feature designed in partnership with Berlin-based audio-streaming service SoundCloud.

The online messaging service introduced what it dubbed “Audio Card,” through which users can listen to a variety of content whilst browsing their timelines.

For starters, Twitter has promised audio from SoundCloud’s partners, which include such diverse sources as NASA, the Washington Post, CNN, David Guetta, Coldplay and Warner Music.

But it’s trying to snag more content partners in future, Twitter said in a recent blog posting.

Twitter didn’t say how Audio Card might evolve, except to stress that it offers musicians a chance to post exclusive clips.

“Many more musical artists and creators will be able to share exclusive, in-the-moment audio to millions of listeners on Twitter,” the company added.

Twitter’s new feature comes after rivals from Apple Inc to Google Inc have jumped into the business of music-streaming, considered the fastest-growing segment of a music market dominated by iTunes.

Twitter had reportedly been in discussions to acquire audio-sharing website SoundCloud, which has been called the Youtube of music, as far back as June.

 

Cisco Warns Users To Lock Down Webex To Prevent Snooping

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Cisco has warned users to lock down WebEx after a security researcher and journalist discovered many big-name companies left some online meetings open for anyone to join.

Brian Krebs wrote on his blog that he found companies and organizations that failed to password protect WebEx meetings, which allowed “anyone to join daily meetings about apparently internal discussions and planning sessions.”

Meeting schedules for organizations were available through WebEx’s “Event Center,” he wrote.

Cisco has a variety of options for WebEx that are intended to accommodate sensitive meetings and ones intended for the public.

For example, Cisco requires a password to be set by default for a meeting, but that option can be turned off, wrote Aaron Lewis, who works in global social media marketing, on a company blog.

“The most secure meetings will always be protected by a complex password,” Lewis wrote.

Companies may publicly list a meeting for webinars that anyone can join, but “if your WebEx site administrator or IT department allows listed meetings, then we recommend listing your meeting only if there is a true business reason,” Lewis wrote.

Another tip is to disable the option “join before host,” which will then give the host visibility on who has joined. Also, setting the “host as presenter” prevents someone else form joining the meeting and sharing content, Lewis wrote.

Krebs wrote he found meetings not protected by a password from a host of companies and organizations, including Charles Schwab, CSC, CBS, CVS, The U.S. Department of Energy, Fannie Mae, Jones Day, Orbitz, Paychex Services and Union Pacific.

 

Google Launches Telemedicine Beta Feature

October 15, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is offering a temporary trial of a new feature that allows people seeking medical advice to also connect with a physician for an online consult.

The feature, part of the Google+ Helpouts online collaboration video service that launched a year ago, allows healthcare workers to share expertise through live video and provide real-time advice from their computers or mobile devices.

“When you’re searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available. We’re trying this new feature to see if it’s useful to people,” a Google spokesperson said in an email response to Computerworld.

The new Helpouts feature offers a link to a video service that a physician or other healthcare worker has established for advising patients who’ve used a particular search query, such as “congestive heart failure” or “shoulder injury.”

Video chat services and other forms of remote communications with healthcare workers have increased 400% from 2012 levels.

This year in the U.S. and Canada, 75 million out of 600 million appointments with general practitioners will involve electronic visits, or eVisits, according to new research from Deloitte.

With an aging Baby Boomer population and broadband bandwidth improved a hundredfold from a decade ago, telemedicine is exploding as a convenient and less costly alternative to the traditional visit to the doctors’ office.

 

 

 

Dell Launches New SuperMassive 9800 Firewall

October 15, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

DELL is showing off ”enterprise class” security for small to medium businesses with the launch of a SuperMassive 9800 next-generation firewall, which it claims will protect against high-profile bugs such as Shellshock and Heartbleed.

Touted as the most powerful in the fresh 9000 line-up, and sounding a little like a gang of rappers, the SuperMassive 9800 offers services such as advanced Deep Packet Inspection with speeds up to 20Gbps, and Dell’s patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection (RFDPI) single-pass threat prevention engine.

RFDPI scans multiple application types and protocols to spot internal and external attacks and application vulnerabilities, Dell said, making it better at detecting attacks.

The SuperMassive 9800 is also bundled with Dell’s Global Management System 8.0, a tool designed to manage systems and offer real-time event monitoring, analytics and reporting from a single centralised dashboard.

Dell claims that this makes it easier to meet compliance regulations while managing and monitoring network security processes.

The firm claimed that the SuperMassive 9800 provides 97.9 percent “security effectiveness” and helps to protect customers from Shellshock and Heartbleed-level vulnerabilities.

“The recent disclosures of the ShellShock and HeartBleed industry-wide vulnerabilities demonstrate that organisations are literally a few well-formed packets away from infrastructure disaster, proving the need for instant and automated security scaled to meet the needs of the network,” said executive director of Dell Security, Patrick Sweeney.

“The SuperMassive 9800 provides that level of instant security on a flexible, feature-rich platform.”

Shellshock was uncovered in September, and some experts claim that it could be more serious than the Heartbleed SSL bug uncovered in April.

The Bash bug, as implied by its name, is a vulnerability that allows unscrupulous users to take control of Bourne Again Shell (Bash), the software used to control the Unix command prompt on some Unix-like systems.

Researchers at FireEye and Trend Micro warned later in September that hackers were still mounting cyber attacks across the globe thanks to exploits of Bash bug vulnerabilities, made worse by an unsuccessful patch.

Courtesy-TheInq

Beats And Bose Cancels Lawsuit, Settles Headphone Dispute

October 13, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

A high-profile patent fight over noise cancelling headphones between Bose Corp and Beats Electronics ended on Friday with both sides settling the case out of court.

The terms of the settlement were not being disclosed, a spokeswoman for Bose said in an email, adding only that the dispute had been “resolved.”

Bose, which makes high-end sound systems and headphones, filed the case last July in federal court in Delaware, alleging Beats had willfully infringed upon five of its patents in its Studio and Studio Wireless line of headphones.

Privately held Bose said it had lost profits and sales as a result and was seeking unspecified damages from Beats, which Apple Inc acquired this year for $3 billion.

A document filed with the court on Friday said both sides would dismiss the case and bear their own costs and legal fees.

The two companies also asked the International Trade Commission to suspend its investigation into the matter. Bose had asked the commission to block the import of Beats’ noise-cancellation products from China, where they are manufactured.

Beats headphones have become popular with music fans since the company was founded by rap mogul Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006. Besides headphones, Beats has also entered online music streaming, competing with the likes of Pandora and Spotify.

A representative from Beats was not immediately available for comment.

 

Verizon’s Redbox Instant Streaming Video Service Shutting Down

October 7, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Redbox Instant, a streaming video service partnership between Verizon Communications Inc and Outerwall Inc’s Redbox, will cease to exist this week because the venture has not been as successful as hoped, the two companies jointly announced.

The service, which combined the Redbox DVD rental kiosk business with a streaming video offering from Verizon, was launched in 2013 to compete against online video company Netflix Inc  but never caught on with consumers.

Redbox Instant will shut down on Oct. 7th, the companies said in a joint statement.

“The joint venture partners made this decision after careful consideration,” the statement said. “The service had not been as successful as either partner hoped it would be.”

Subscribers will receive an email notifying them of the termination of the service. A separate email will be sent on Oct. 10 with details on refunds, the statement said.

The alliance marked Verizon’s first foray into video streaming outside its network operating region, but it never gained a foothold against online rivals such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc and Hulu Plus.

The telephone company had only offered Web video services to subscribers using its FiOS TV service, which competes with cable providers such as Comcast Corp  and Time Warner Cable.

 

 

IBM Finally Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3

October 6, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM has stopped support for its pioneering productivity package Lotus 1-2-3.

A notice on the IBM website confirms that there is to be no further support for the spreadsheet, database and diagram package that was first released to market 31 years ago.

The final supported edition, the Millennium Edition, reached end of life as on 30th September. It is unknown how many users, if any, it still had at that time.

Lotus Software, the original creators of Lotus 1-2-3 was the original dominant force in the PC productivity market. Its unique tiled interface (ring any bells?) was hugely popular and led to a $3.5bn takeover by IBM in 1995, as the company attempted to get a stranglehold on the email market with Lotus Notes, by integrating Lotus products as the default in IBM PCs.

At that time, Lotus 1-2-3 was so important that it was used as one of two compatibility benchmarks for IBM PC clones, the other being Microsoft Flight Simulator. But when version 3 was beset by technical hitches, it gave Microsoft’s young upstart Excel a chance to catch up.

Eventually, Lotus 1-2-3 became part of Smartsuite, a Windows ported package to rival Microsoft Office. Support for Smartsuite as a whole came to an end last year, and the end of Lotus 123 marks the effective end of the Lotus brand. It is survived by Lotus Notes, now branded IBM Notes, and several other productivity products, increasingly focused on cloud based productivity.

In 2011, IBM gave away Lotus Symphony, the nominal successor to Lotus 1-2-3 to the Apache Foundation for open sourcing.

Today, IBM’s ambitions lie in the cloud, with its supercomputer Watson recently rolled out to customers on a freemium basis for data analytics without the need for on premise hardware.

Courtesy-TheInq

Verizon Changes Mind, Won’t Throttle Unlimited LTE Users After All

October 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Wireless backed away from a widely criticized plan to slow down the connections of heavy data users with unlimited LTE plans.

The carrier had announced in July it would extend a practice it calls network optimization to unlimited LTE subscribers starting in October. Network optimization targets the top 5 percent of data users on the network when a cell site is under the heaviest demand, and slows down those users’ network performance. Verizon had already applied the practice to the top users of its 3G network.

“We’ve greatly valued the ongoing dialogue over the past several months concerning network optimization and we’ve decided not to move forward with the planned implementation of network optimization for 4G LTE customers on unlimited plans,” the carrier said in a statement on Wednesday. “Exceptional network service will always be our priority and we remain committed to working closely with industry stakeholders to manage broadband issues so that American consumers get the world-class mobile service they expect and value.”

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler attacked the plan in a letter to Verizon, suggesting it was a ploy to get customers to switch from their unlimited plans to ones with a cap on monthly data usage. Verizon no longer sells new unlimited plans but allows subscribers with those plans to keep them.

“I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as ‘reasonable network management’ a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for ‘unlimited’ service,” Wheeler wrote in the late July letter to Verizon Wireless President and CEO Dan Mead.

Digital rights group Public Knowledge also attacked so-called data throttling, as well as practices by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA.

The showdown demonstrated the tension over increasing demand for mobile data, which carriers say puts a strain on their networks. Among other things, that demand has led operators to seek ever more spectrum and apply network management techniques they say are necessary to keep serving all subscribers well. Though LTE makes much more efficient use of the airwaves than 3G does, LTE networks are serving a rapidly growing number of subscribers.

 

 

 

Study Reveals Internet Speeds Have Increased, DDoS Attacks Down

October 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Internet connection speeds are increasing worldwide, while distributed denial-of-service attacks are down, according to the latest report from networking services company Akamai.

The second quarter of this year saw a number of firsts, Akamai noted in its 2014 State of the Internet Report.

For starters, the average global Internet connection speed rose above the arbitrary but noteworthy milestone of 4Mbps for the first time. The worldwide connection speed jumped 21% from the first to second quarter of the year, hitting 4.6Mbps, Akamai reported.

Despite seeing only a 4% quarterly increase, South Korea held onto its top spot in two key areas. It has the highest average bandwidth at 24.6Mbps, and it also has the highest percentage of its population on a broadband connection — 95%, which ties South Korea with Bulgaria.

Akamai also noted that an 18% quarterly growth for Hong Kong brought that country to an average connection speed of 15.7Mbps, pushing it ahead of Japan, which now matches Switzerland with an average connection speed of 14.9 Mbps.

The U.S. did not make the world’s top five or even the top 10 when it comes to Internet connection speed. Instead, the U.S. ranked #14 globally — behind East Asia and mixed among the Nordic countries — with an average connection speed of 11.4Mbps, an 8.9% increase over the first quarter of 2014.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said he’s not surprised that global Internet connection speeds are up, saying it “just makes sense.

“There’s been an increase in fibre to the home and 4G mobile broadband. Technology has gotten better too, particularly with wireless speeds, and the carriers have had to increase bandwidth to meet the demand of the customers.”

Kerravala also is not surprised that the U.S. is not at the top of the pack when it comes to Internet connection speeds.

“The U.S. has been slow, primarily because it has a few carriers that dominate the market and that creates a lack of competitiveness,” he added. “I think the U.S. should be embarrassed about where they sit.”

Akamai also found that in the second quarter of this year online attacks originated from IP addresses in 161 different countries or regions. That’s 33 fewer than was found in the first quarter of this year.

By far the largest number of attacks (43%) came from China, according to the report, with Indonesia coming in second with 15%. The U.S. marked third place with 13% of all attacks, up slightly from 11% in the first quarter.

 

Sony PlayStation TV Will Arrive At Stores On October 14th

September 24, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp said PlayStation TV set-top box, which allows users to access movies and TV episodes from the PlayStation store, will arrive at retail locations in the United States and Canada on Oct. 14.

The price for a standalone PlayStation TV (PS TV) is $99.99, the company wrote in a blog. For $139.99, customers can get a wireless controller, an 8 GB memory card and “The Lego Movie” videogame along with the PS TV.

Around 700 games will be available to PS TV users, including “Metal Gear Solid” and the franchise “Killzone: Mercenary”.

PS TV was released in Japan and other Asian countries under the name “PlayStation Vita TV” last fall. Sony is trying to expand its entertainment network services to compete against players like Amazon.com Inc.

Sony did not say when it will launch its online TV service.

The company signed a deal earlier this month to carry 22 Viacom Inc channels, including Comedy Central and MTV, on its planned online TV.

PlayStation boss Shaun Layden told tech blog Re/code in June the company was “on track” to unveil its product some time this year.

Sony’s web TV service will join the ranks of an already crowded market with devices from Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Roku.

 

 

Sony Launches SDK For SmartEyeglass

September 22, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony has rolled out an SDK (software development kit) for its SmartEyeglass head-mounted display, another step toward challenging Google Glass.

The glasses can connect to Android smartphones via Bluetooth and project green monochrome text or basic graphics across a field within the lenses.

Sony said it will begin sales of the eyewear to developers by March 31, the end of its fiscal year. They will be sold in Japan, the U.S. and some European countries.

The Developer Preview SDK includes an emulator, tutorials, sample code and design guidelines to make the most of the device’s hardware and sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and brightness sensor.

The glasses, which weigh 77 grams, are more than 85 percent transparent and include a camera that can shoot 3-megapixel images and VGA video.

Sony has emphasized that the glasses project images to a user’s natural line of sight, which differs from the Google Glass display set in a corner.

“Sony’s competitive edge lies in our achievement of a thin lens with high transparency thanks to our unique holographic light guide plate technology, which enables us to provide a bright field of vision,” a Sony spokeswoman wrote in an email.

“Furthermore, the screen size is large, and images and text are displayed from the front for both eyes (not only one eye) to facilitate easier viewing and prevent eye fatigue.”

The price for the glasses as well as availability of a consumer version are still to be decided, she added.

Bulky prototype versions of the glasses were shown at the IFA and CES electronics shows earlier this year.

Potential applications include displaying cooking instructions for chefs, running time for joggers and messages from friends.

Augmented reality-style functions are also possible, such as displaying information when a user looks at a certain bottle of wine, facial recognition or navigation information in an unfamiliar city.

 

 

Will Intel Debut NUC This Year?

September 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Everyone is not too happy with Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC) brand that the company came up with for its small form factor desktop replacements at IDF 2012. Intel started shipping these small desktops in early 2013.

NUC started off with Sandy Bridge-based parts codenamed Ski Lake (DCP847SK) and with the Celeron 847 it got quite a lot of attention thanks to more affordable pricing. A year after Intel launched multiple Core i3 based SKUs with Ivy Bridge and this year it introduced models based on Wilson Canyon platform and Haswell CPUs. Affordable Bay Trail models appeared as well.

The latest Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK measures tiny 116.6mm x 112mm x 34.5mm and sells for about 370 USD in states and 300 Euro in Germany or £278 in the UK. Back at IDF 2014, Intel’s biggest developer conference some people close to NUC projects told us that since the launch the project has been success.

It started with 250,000 shipped units in the first generation and grew to half a million units with second generation products. There is a chance that this year Intel might sell as many as one million units as an ultimate goal but shipments in the 750,000 to 1 million range might be more realistic. Even if Intel sells around 750,000 units, it will mean that they managed to triple the market within rather short time.

There will be Braswell and Broadwell fourth generation NUCs coming in 2015, but Intel needs to launch 15W TDP part Broadwell and this happens in Q2 2015 as far as we know. We don’t know if the Braswell NUC comes as soon as Broadwell-U or a bit later, but it is in the works.

This Braswell NUC should be really affordable and should replace the Bay-Trail M based DN2820FYKH powered by the Celeron N2820. Have in mind that this entry level Celeron costs a mere $144 at press time and only needs some RAM and an HDD to work. At its lowest spec 2GB SODIMM sell for as low as $10 and Toshiba has MSATA 62GB drive for as low as $24.95.

This means a small, power efficient machine that can run Windows goes as low as $179. No wonder that they are so popular.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp To Manufacture Low-power Mobile Displays

September 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sharp has targeted 2017 for mass production of a new display it says will reduce power consumption in mobile phones and tablets.

The MEMS-IGZO display, being developed under a 2012 tie-up with Qualcomm subsidiary Pixtronix, could be used in smartphones and tablets as well as larger displays.

Compared to current LCDs, MEMS-IGZO technology can operate without blurring the image in temperatures as low as -30 C (-32 F), offers better color purity and gamut, and has ultra-low power consumption.

Depending on usage, devices could run for twice as long using the new displays instead of LCD, said Pixtronix President Greg Heinzinger.

The “programmable display” can change power usage depending on whether the user is looking at a video or an e-book, for instance, Heinzinger said, adding that most display technologies use the same power regardless of the content. Color gamut, depth and fidelity can also be modified depending on use.

Power efficiency will become a crucial feature of next-generation displays because resolution has basically reached the limits of perception of the human eye, Sharp Devices Group Chief Officer Norikazu Hohshi told the briefing.

The company is licensing MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology from Pixtronix. Qualcomm has long been trying to make the technology popular, and commercialized its related Mirasol low-power display in its Toq smartwatch last year.

MEMS displays work in a fundamentally different way than LCDs. Thousands of miniature shutters, as tiny as one per pixel, modulate light emitted from RGB LEDs to produce different colors. It takes only 100 microseconds for the shutters to move and the system has a faster reaction time than LCD pixels, which are each paired with a color filter to allow either red, blue or green light to pass.

IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) refers to Sharp’s semiconductor technology used with the MEMS shutters. The MEMS-IGZO displays can be built using existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure, which would be a cost benefit.