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Android Malware Fake Shuts Down Phones To Steal Data

February 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Next time you turn switch off your Android mobile phone, you might want to pop the battery out as an extra precaution.

Security vendor AVG has spotted a malicious program that fakes the sequence a user sees when they shut off their phone, giving it freedom to move around on the device and steal data.

When someone presses the power button on a device, a fake dialog box is shown. The malware then mimics the shutdown animation and appears to be off, AVG’s mobile malware research team said in a blog post.

“Although the screen is black, it is still on,” they said. “While the phone is in this state, the malware can make outgoing calls, take pictures and perform many other tasks without notifying the user.”

The malware requires an Android device to be “rooted,” or modified to allow deep access to its software. That may eliminate a lot of Android owners who don’t modify their phones.

But some vendors of Android phones ship their devices with that level of access, potentially making it easier for the malware to get onto a device.

This malware is unlikely to show up in Google’s Play Store, since Google tries to block applications that have malicious functions. But it could be a candidate for one of the many third-party app stores with looser restrictions.

 

Cox Communications Developing Digital In-home Health Service

February 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Cable TV and internet service provider Cox Communications Inc, working alongside the Cleveland Clinic medical center announced a new venture to develop in-home healthcare services, stepping into a market that is poised to grow as medical care goes digital.

The joint venture in Atlanta called Vivre Health is designed to help Cox expand its reach into healthcare beyond its current services such as providing broadband for hospitals.

The plan is to foster in-home monitoring and treatment, such as video consultation via broadband and home use of equipment to monitor and manage recovery from surgery, Cox executives said. That could cut down on costly in-person visits to doctors and hospitals.

The Cleveland Clinic, a world-renowned academic medical center based in Ohio, will offer expertise to help create new services for patients.

Cox also made an investment in HealthSpot, a company that provides walk-in kiosks where patients can interact with doctors through videoconferencing and take measurements with medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs. The kiosks are being tested in several states at pharmacies and retailers. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

“Home health is an area that will see tremendous growth over time,” Asheesh Saksena, chief strategy officer for Cox Communications, said in an interview. “It will require more and more broadband capability.”

Cable TV providers such as Cox are seeking new revenue in areas such as healthcare and home security as their traditional business of selling TV services to residential clients matures.

Cox, the third-largest broadband and cable provider in the United States with about 6 million customers, already provides Internet and other capabilities to hospitals as part of its business services.

Healthcare customers represent about 10 percent of Cox’s business services clients. Business services are the company’s biggest growth engine with more than $1.8 billion in annual revenue.

With its investment in HealthSpot, Cox hopes to get patients used to the idea that they do not always have to visit a doctor, clinic or hospital for treatment.

 

 

Intel Give A Boost To Its Exascale Computing Effort

February 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s exascale computing efforts have received a boost with the extension of the company’s research collaboration with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Begun in 2011 and now extended to September 2017, the Intel-BSC work is currently looking at scalability issues with parallel applications.

Karl Solchenbach, Intel’s director, Innovation Pathfinding Architecture Group in Europe said it was important to improve scalability of threaded applications on many core nodes through the OmpSs programming model.

The collaboration has developed a methodology to measure these effects separately. “An automatic tool not only provides a detailed analysis of performance inhibitors, but also it allows a projection to a higher number of nodes,” says Solchenbach.

BSC has been making HPC tools and given Intel an instrumentation package (Extrae), a performance data browser (Paraver), and a simulator (Dimemas) to play with.

Charlie Wuischpard, VP & GM High Performance Computing at Intel said that the Barcelona work is pretty big scale for Chipzilla.

“A major part of what we’re proposing going forward is work on many core architecture. Our roadmap is to continue to add more and more cores all the time.”

“Our Knights Landing product that is coming out will have 60 or more cores running at a slightly slower clock speed but give you vastly better performance,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Mozilla Goes After Flash

February 18, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Mozilla has created a way of rendering Adobe Flash animations without all that pesky mucking about in Adobe Flash.

Shumway is an experiment designed to transcode .swf files into native HTML5 on the fly.

This means that users will get the experience, but won’t need to install Flash to do it, thus avoiding the clunky, slow, bug-ridden shonkbox that it has become.

Adobe has had to fix 37 zero-day vulnerabilities as a result of Project Zero research alone. But the technology, which is only months short of its 20th birthday, is proving increasingly difficult to secure, and keeping it moving is becoming reminiscent of Grommit laying out tracks in front of the runaway train.

Mozilla’s experimental but elegant solution is similar to Google’s way of securing photos in Gmail – remove the local rendering aspect of the offending plug-in.

However, at present the system works only with product demos for Amazon and using only the latest Nightly compiled version of Firefox.

However, a posting from Mozilla boffin Chris Peterson said: “The Shumway team has been improving compatibility with Flash video players and will whitelist more Flash video sites soon.”

Considering that Google’s Android and all Apple products already avoid Flash like the plague, it remains surprising how many sites still use the standard.

Google recently migrated YouTube videos to HTML5, but Flash is still available as a fallback and many older sites still render Flash, including a great number of classic internet memes which would become unplayable if everyone dropped Flash – the first digital 8-track tape player.

If you want to try it, download the Nightly desktop version of Firefox, go into the config menu and change the flag for shumway.disabled to false.

Google still embeds a Flash plug-in into the Chrome browser, while Internet Explorer continues to offer it as a separate add-on.

However, it seems that, with more and more problems and initatives like this, we’re one step closer to seeing Adobe Flash go the way of Old Yeller.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Intel Bring Braswell Based Pentium To Market In Q3?

February 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s transition from 22nm to 14nm, with out-of-order architecture better known as Atom, was not a walk in the park.

Intel had to delay its next generation Atom out-of-order architecture codenamed Braswell all the way to Q3 2015 and, at that time, we expect to see the Braswell-based Pentium N3700 replacing the Bay-Trail-M BGA based N3540. Last time we mentioned Braswell, the processor was delayed to Q2 2015 and now it slipped an additional quarter.

The Pentium N3700 is 14nm quad core clocked at 1.6GHz, with the ability to jump all the way to 2.4GHz. The Bay Trail-M based Pentium N3540 is clocked at 2.16GHz base clock and 2.66GHz Turbo.

As you can see, Braswell 14nm has a significantly lower clock and Turbo at a 6W TDP (Thermal Design Power) and 4W Scenario Design Power (SDP). Pentium N3640 Bay Trail has a 7.5W TDP and 3.5W SPD, so the TDP went significantly down but the SDP went up, just barely.

The Intel HD Graphics core also works at 400MHz base and 700MHz maximum frequency on the Braswell Pentium N3700, which is slower than the N3540 with its 313MHz base and 896MHz Turbo clock.

The Pentium N3700 supports DDR3L 1600 MHz memory, has 2MB cache and it comes in BGA packaging. The good news is that the new platform supports Chrome, Linux, Windows 7 64-bit only as well as Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 64-bit only.

There will be a few other Braswell 14nm dual- and quad-core processors that will end up branded as Celerons. The Atom brand name is gone in the notebook / Chromebook market.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Pulling The Plug On Helpouts Video Service

February 16, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is has decided to shutter Helpouts, the company’s service to provide answers and advice by connecting information seekers with experts via live video.

With Helpouts, Google sought to provide an information platform built around live tutorials rather than clickable search results or links. The goal of the service, launched in 2013, was to let people connect with experts to get information about practically anything, whether it be photography, cooking, fitness or home improvement. Google took a 20 percent transaction fee from most types of paid sessions. A desktop version was offered, as well as mobile apps.

But Helpouts never took off. “The Helpouts community includes some engaged and loyal contributors, but unfortunately, it hasn’t grown at the pace we had expected,” Google posted Friday to the Helpouts website. Google will shut down the service on April 20. Users can download their Helpouts history with the Google Takeout service until Nov. 1 of this year, the company said.

The Helpouts mobile apps appear to already have been removed from the Google Play and Apple App stores.

Google didn’t provide any additional comment on the reason behind the shutdown. Helpouts’ main competitors may have been Google’s other products, including its web search engine.

For example, Google now displays relevant information in response to people’s queries via its Knowledge Graph feature at the top of the search results page, in addition to the traditional website links. The feature now covers a range of topics including public figures, places and nutrition data, with health information being the latest addition.

Google did not charge a transaction fee on health-oriented Helpouts.

 

 

 

 

 

Will Intel Broadwell-E Show Up Next Year?

February 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is planning to continue making unlocked superclocked X-series processors that we all know as Haswell-E or Sandy Bridge-E.

The next one in line to replace the current Haswell-E series is called Broadwell-E, and this is an eight-core 140W processor. The information comes from Intel’s own roadmap and we don’t have too many details yet.

Just like the Core i7 5960X, Core i7 5930K and Core-i7 5820K, there will be one unlocked eight-core Broadwell-E X version of Broadwell-E and two six-core K versions. They will all share the same 140W TDP. We know that it is too early to talk about official branding, but Core i7 6960X sounds about right.

Broadwell E will use the LGA 2011-v3 socket and the current X99 PCH chipset. We guess that there will be a bios update and that the new Broadwell-E parts should work on existing X99 motherboards that you can already buy today. The platform relies on DDR4 memory, just like Haswell-E. We expect it will start with the $999 eight-core flagship (X version) and go down to about $400 for the slowest six-core part.

If you are in market for one, start saving right now, as Broadwell-E should launch roughly a year from now.

Courtesy-Fud

Will 8K TV’s Make 4K TV Useless?

February 12, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Did you just buy 4K Ultra-High Definition TV? Got yourself a 5K resolution MacBook? Throw them away! They’re worthless rubbish!

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has just announced Embedded DisplayPort 1.4a, a new standard which will allow 8K resolution monitors. By squishing more data down the cable, resolutions of 7680×4320 will be possible.

But it doesn’t stop there, because eDP 1.4a can also make existing displays look crisper and sharper, even if they don’t pack the pixel power.

VESA board member Craig Wiley enthused: “The adoption of eDP for embedded displays is now positioned for growth as eDP 1.4a has become highly optimised, especially at resolutions above quad HD.

“Compared to other embedded interfaces, it has the richest feature set along with the lowest power, wire count and EMI radiation, particularly when used with high-resolution panels.”

After a pause for breath, he continued: “It will continue to evolve, along with DisplayPort, but with its own unique features specifically optimised for embedded applications such as all-in-one PCs, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.”

Members of VESA can inspect the standard immediately and get cracking on designing the next round of mega-monitors, which you can expect to see rolling out in 2016 on big devices. As for mobiles, though, squishing all those pixels into a phone screen may take a little longer.

Dell has already joined Apple with a 5K monitor released last November, sporting 15 million pixels.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

New Spyware Infection Can Steal Pics, Data From iPhones

February 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A group of cybercriminals that target governments, the military and journalists has turned its attention to the iPhone, according to Trend Micro.

The computer security firm says it has discovered new spyware that infects iPhones, gathers large amounts of personal information and sends it to a remote server.

The spyware, called XAgent, is delivered via a phishing attack using a technique called island hopping. In that, the phones of friends and associates of the true target are first infected and then used to pass on the spyware link. It’s based on the assumption that the target is more likely to click on links from people they know than from strangers.

Once installed, XAgent will collect text messages, contact lists, pictures, geo-location data, a list of installed apps, a list of any software processes that are running and the WiFi status of the device. That information is packaged and sent to a server operated by the hackers. XAgent is also capable of switching on the phone’s microphone and recording everything it hears.

XAgent runs on both iOS 7 and iOS 8 phones, whether they’ve been jailbroken or not. It is most dangerous on iOS 7 since it hides its icon to evade detection.

On iOS 8 it isn’t hidden and needs to be manually launched each time the phone is rebooted — a process that would require the user to purposely reinfect their phone each time. For that reason, Trend Micro believes the spyware was written before iOS8 was launched last year.

While close to three quarters of Apple mobile devices are using iOS 8, a quarter are still running iOS7, according to data published by Apple this week.

“We’ve been monitoring the actors behind this for quite some time,” said Jon Clay, senior manager of Global Threat communication at Trend Micro, in a phone interview. “The criminals have introduced [the iOS app] as part of their campaign to move further into the [targeted] organization, using this rather than PC malware.”

While the identity of the hackers isn’t known, Trend Micro says it believes those behind what it calls “Operation Pawn Storm” to be a pro-Russian group. Past targets have included military organizations, defense contractors, embassies and media groups.

 

 

 

FAA Drone License Requests Sees Big Spike

February 5, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The Federal Aviation Administration has given out eight more drone licenses, the latest approvals for several hundred applications it has received.

While people are free to fly drones for personal use and enjoyment, the FAA has claimed commercial use requires a license — something that comes with specific requirements. Pilots of commercial drones must have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, the drone must remain within line of sight at all times, and the pilot must be assisted by an observer.

Nevertheless, the attraction of operating a drone has led 342 companies and individuals to apply for licenses, the FAA said Tuesday.

A large number of those applications relate to drone use for imaging applications, as can be seen from Tuesday’s approvals. The newest licenses went to companies planning to use drones for video and TV production, aerial photography and surveying and inspecting flare stacks in the oil, natural gas and petro-chemical industry.

The latest licenses bring to 24 the number of licenses issued by the FAA since September last year, when the first licenses went to movie and TV production companies.

Regulations governing use of drones, or “unmanned aerial systems” in government-speak, are continuing to develop. Several stipulations already exist including a ban on flying drones within five miles of airports. Also off limits are many professional sports events including NFL and MLB games, NCAA games in stadiums that seat more than 30,000 people and many NASCAR events.

The FAA warned before last weekend’s Super Bowl that drone operators could face jail time for violating a no-fly zone that extended 30 nautical miles around the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

 

 

Intel Delays Its Photonics Technology

February 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has delayed shipment of a component module required for its silicon photonics technology, because they are not meeting quality specifications.

The original batch of modules, which was supposed to ship at the beginning of the year, will now be used as samples for testing.

Now it looks like silicon photonics cables for connecting servers won’t be installed before 2016.
The delay will hurt customers who are counting on silicon photonics for specific applications in the near term, although more widespread adoption was still a few years away anyway.

Servers that support silicon photonics will have special MXC connectors in which fibre optic cables are plugged. One MXC connection, which combines multiple silicon modules, could eventually transfer data at up to 1.6Tbps (terabytes per second), or 800Gbps in each direction.

Silicon photonics has been researched for more than a decade and Intel wants to make sure the modules work well before launch.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Nintendo On The Right Course?

February 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo is heading back to black, with the company’s financial announcements this week revealing that it’s expecting to post a fairly reasonable profit for the full year. For a company that’s largely been mired in red ink since the end of the glory days of the Wii, that looks like pretty fantastic news; but since I was one of the people who repeatedly pointed out in the past when Nintendo’s quarterly losses were driven by currency fluctuations, not sales failures, it’s only fair that I now point out that quite the reverse is true. The Yen has fallen dramatically against the Dollar and the Euro in recent months, making Nintendo’s overseas assets and sales much more valuable in its end-of-year results – and this time, that’s covering over the fact that the company has missed its hardware sales targets for both the 3DS and the Wii U.

In short, all those “Nintendo back in profit” headlines aren’t really worth anything more than the “Nintendo makes shock loss” headlines were back when the Yen was soaring to all-time highs a few years ago. The company is still facing the same tough times this week that it was last week; the Wii U is still struggling to break 10 million units and the 3DS is seeing a major year-on-year decline in its sales, having faltered significantly after hitting the 50 million installed base mark.

In hardware terms, then, Nintendo deserves all the furrowed brows and concerned looks it’s getting right now. Part of the problem is comparisons with past successes, of course; the Wii shipped over a million units and the DS, an absolute monster of a console, managed over 150 million. In reality, while the Wii U is having a seriously hard time in spite of its almost universally acclaimed 2014 software line-up, the 3DS isn’t doing badly at all; but it can’t escape comparison with its record-breaking older sibling, naturally enough.

Plenty of commentators reckon they know the answer to Nintendo’s woes, and they’ve all got the same answer; the company needs to ditch hardware and start selling its games on other platforms. Pokemon on iOS! Smash Bros on PlayStation! Mario Kart on Xbox! Freed from the limited installed base of Nintendo’s own hardware – and presumably, in the case of handheld titles, freed to experiment with new business models like F2P – the company’s games would reach their full potential, the expensive hardware division could be shut down and everyone at Nintendo could spend the rest of their lives blowing their noses on ¥10,000 notes.

I’m being flippant, yes, but there’s honestly not a lot more depth than that to the remedies so often proposed for Nintendo. I can’t help but find myself deeply unconvinced. For a start, let’s think about “Nintendo’s woes”, and what exactly is meant by the doom and gloom narrative that has surrounded the company in recent years. That the Wii U isn’t selling well is absolutely true; it’s doing better than the Dreamcast did, to pick an ominous example, but unless there’s a major change of pace the console is unlikely ever to exceed the installed base of the GameCube. Indeed, if you treat the Wii as a “black swan” in Nintendo’s home console history, a flare of success that the company never quite figured out how to bottle and repeat, then the Wii U starts to look like a continuation of a slow and steady decline that started with the Nintendo 64 (a little over thirty million consoles sold in total) and continued with the GameCube (a little over twenty million). That the 3DS is struggling to match the pace and momentum of the DS is also absolutely true; it’s captured a big, healthy swathe of the core Nintendo market but hasn’t broken out to the mass market in the way that the DS did with games like Brain Training.

Yet here’s a thing; in spite of the doom and gloom around downward-revised forecasts for hardware, Nintendo was still able to pull out a list of this year’s million-plus selling software that would put any other publisher in the industry to shame. The latest Pokemon games on 3DS have done nearly 10 million units; Super Smash Bros has done 6.2 million on 3DS and 3.4 million on the Wii U. Mario Kart 8 has done almost five million units, on a console that’s yet to sell 10 million. Also selling over a million units in the last nine months of 2014 on 3DS we find Tomodachi Life, Mario Kart 7 (which has topped 11 million units, life to date), Pokemon X and Y (nearly 14 million units to date), New Super Mario Bros 2 (over 9 million), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (nearly 9 million) and Kirby: Triple Deluxe. The Wii U, in addition to Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, had million-plus sellers in Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land.

That’s 12 software titles from a single publisher managing to sell over a million units in the first three quarters of a financial year – a pretty bloody fantastic result that only gets better if you add in the context that Nintendo is also 2014′s highest-rated publisher in terms of critical acclaim. Plus, Nintendo also gets a nice cut of any third-party software sold on its consoles; granted, that probably doesn’t sum up to much on the Wii U, where third-party games generally seem to have bombed, but on the 3DS it means that the company is enjoying a nice chunk of change from the enormous success of Yokai Watch, various versions of which occupied several slots in the Japanese software top ten for 2014, among other successful 3DS third-party games.

Aha, say the advocates of a third-party publisher approach for Nintendo, that’s exactly our point! The company’s software is amazing! It would do so much better if it weren’t restrained by only being released on consoles that aren’t all that popular! Imagine how Nintendo’s home console games would perform on the vastly faster-selling PS4 (and imagine how great they’d look, intones the occasional graphics-obsessive); imagine how something like Tomodachi Life or Super Smash Bros would do if it was opened up to the countless millions of people with iOS or Android phones!

Let’s take those arguments one at a time, because they’re actually very different. Firstly, home consoles – a sector in which there’s no doubt that Nintendo is struggling. The PS4 has got around twice the installed base of the Wii U after only half the time on the market; it’s clear where the momentum and enthusiasm lies. Still, Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 managed to sell several million copies apiece on Wii U; in the case of Mario Kart 8, around half of Wii U owners bought a copy. Bearing in mind that Nintendo makes way more profit per unit from selling software on its own systems than it would from selling it on third-party consoles (where it would, remember, be paying a licensing fee to Sony or Microsoft), here’s the core question; could it sell more copies of Mario Kart 8 on other people’s consoles than it managed on its own?

If you think the answer to that is “yes”, here’s what you’re essentially claiming; that there’s a large pent-up demand among PlayStation owners for Mario Kart games. Is there really? Can you prove that, through means other than dredging up a handful of Reddit posts from anonymous people saying “I’d play Nintendo games if they were 1080p/60fps on my PS4″? To me, that seems like quite a big claim. It’s an especially big claim when you consider the hyper-competitive environment in which Nintendo would be operating on the PS4 (or Xbox One, or both).

Right now, a big Nintendo game launching on a Nintendo console is a major event for owners of that console. I think Nintendo launches would still be a big event on any console, but there’s no doubt that the company would lose focus as a third-party publisher – sure, the new Smash Bros is out, but competing for attention, pocket money and free time against plenty of other software. It’s not that I don’t think Nintendo games could hold their own in a competitive market, I merely don’t wish to underestimate the focus that Nintendo acquires by having a devoted console all of their own underneath the TVs of millions of consumers – even if its not quite the number of millions they’d like.

How about the other side of the argument, then – the mobile games aspect? Nintendo’s position in handheld consoles may not be what it used to be, but the 3DS has roundly trounced the PlayStation Vita in sales terms. Sure, iPhones and high-end Android devices have much bigger installed bases (Apple shifted around 75 million iPhones in the last quarter, while the lifetime sales of the 3DS are only just over 50 million), but that comparison isn’t necessarily a very useful one. All 50 million 3DS owners bought an expensive device solely to play games, and the lifetime spend on game software of each 3DS owner runs into hundreds of dollars. The “average revenue per user” calculation for Pokemon on the 3DS is easy; everyone paid substantial money for the game up front.

By comparison, lots and lots of iOS and Android users never play games at all, and many of those who play games never pay for them. That’s fine; that’s the very basis of the F2P model, and games using that model effectively can still make plenty of money while continuing to entertain a large number (perhaps even a majority) of players who pay nothing. Still, the claim that moving to smartphones is a “no-brainer” for Nintendo is a pretty huge one, taken in this context. The market for premium, expensive software on smartphones is very limited and deeply undermined by F2P; the move to F2P for Nintendo titles would be creatively difficult for many games, and even for ones that are a relatively natural fit (such as Pokemon), it would be an enormous commercial risk. There’s a chance Nintendo could get it right and end up with a Puzzle & Dragons sized hit on its hands (which is what it would take to exceed the half a billion dollars or so the company makes from each iteration of Pokemon on 3DS); there’s also an enormous risk that the company could get it wrong, attracting criticism and controversy around poor decisions or misjudged sales techniques, and badly damage the precious Pokemon brand itself.

In short, while I’m constantly aware that the market seems to be changing faster than Nintendo is prepared to keep up with, I’m not convinced that any of the company’s critics actually have a better plan right now than Satoru Iwata’s “stay the course” approach. If you believe that PlayStation fans will flock to buy Nintendo software on their console, you may think differently; if you think that the risk and reward profile of the global iOS market is a better bet than the 50-odd million people who have locked themselves in to Nintendo’s 3DS platform and shown a willingness to pay high software prices there, then similarly, you’ll probably think differently. Certainly, there’s some merit to the idea that Nintendo ought to be willing to disrupt its own business in order to avoid being disrupted by others – yet there’s a difference between self-disruption and just hurling yourself headlong into disaster in the name of “not standing still”.

There’s a great deal that needs to be fixed at Nintendo; its marketing and branding remains a bit of a disaster, its relationships with third-party studios and publishers are deeply questionable and its entire approach to online services is incoherent at best. Yet this most fundamental question, “should Nintendo stay in the hardware business”, remains a hell of a lot tougher than the company’s critics seem to believe. For now, beleaguered though he may seem, Iwata still seems to be articulating the most convincing vision for the future of the industry’s most iconic company.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

AT&T Spends Big At Spectrum Auction

February 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T Inc shelled out nearly half the total in the record-setting U.S. sale of airwaves for mobile data, followed by Dish Network Corp spending heavily to manage a surprise win at No.2 ahead of Verizon, results showed on Friday.

AT&T bid a total of $18.2 billion to win licenses of so-called AWS-3 spectrum. Dish itself did not win any licenses, but had invested in bidding partners SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC and Northstar Wireless LLC, which bid a total of $13.3 billion.

The two companies, backed also by financial firms including BlackRock Inc  but with little to no revenue, had applied to receive a discount as small-business entities, bringing their net bid amount to $10 billion.

Verizon and T-Mobile bids were $10.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively, according to the results of the Federal Communications Commission’s largest ever auction.

“Dish was the one that surprised most, spending a couple of billion more than anticipated,” said Jefferies & Co analyst Mike McCormack.

Dish’s larger-than-expected bid for over 700 licenses put a damper on the investors’ hypothesis that the satellite company had expected to turn around and sell the newly acquired airwaves to Verizon or another buyer. However, Dish’s plans remain unclear.

Verizon made slightly lower-than-expected bids but the company had hinted to investors that it would do so in December, McCormack added.

The record $44.9 billion auction, which ended on Thursday, demonstrated the voracious appetite of wireless carriers and other companies for spectrum to satisfy the growing consumer demand to stream video and other data-guzzling content.

AT&T, Dish’s partners and Verizon snapped up airwaves in some of the most coveted and expensive markets, such as New York and California.

 

 

 

 

Slack Acquires Screen Hero

January 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Slack, the IRC-for-businesses company, has acquired screen-sharing collaboration startup Screenhero with an eye toward adding valuable new communications capabilities to its software.

The deal, which was for an undisclosed sum of cash and stocks, sees Screenhero’s six-person team joining Slack to add screensharing, video chat and voice conferencing to the company’s core enterprise chat room service.

Screenhero is designed to let big teams work together like small teams and has found a dedicated customer base with developers, help desk workers and anybody else who has to work together.

That’s a smart alignment with Slack’s own sales pitch. In fact, Screenhero CEO and co-founder Jahanzeb Sherwani said that 50% of Screenhero’s own customers are also Slack customers, even as both companies made use of each others’ products interally. He added that the company was “under no pressure to sell,” but decided that cozying up with Slack would allow Screenhero to do more with its core concept faster.

It sounds like a match made in “in a Reese’s factory,” quipped Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield.

Under this deal, Screenhero will continue to operate as a separate entity, and people can use it as they always have been. But eventually, Sherwani said, all of its features will make it into Slack and the standalone product will be discontinued.

Butterfield said that it’s just a natural progression for Slackas it goes after “bigger and weirder” companies. You can still use whatever external services you’d like for video, voice and screen sharing, per Slack’s emphasis on supporting as many services as a customer might want to use with slick native integrations. But Butterfield wants to ensure that out of the box, Slack customers get something broadly useful for collaboration without having to go through the effort.

 

 

 

LG Profits Rise

January 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

LG Display posted $1.245 billon in operating profit last year which is a 16.7 percent rise from a year earlier.

It is the largest increase in six years boosted by stronger demand for handset displays.

In a filing to the Korea Exchange, the LG affiliate said sales were down 2.1 percent.

Despite the drop in sales, its net profit jumped 119 percent on stronger margins.

This means that the company can pay its first dividend in four years.

Analysts were positive about the result and its outlook for the first quarter of this year.

LG supplies displays to Apple, HP, Dell, Sony and other top-tier Chinese TV makers.

The analyst said LG Display will benefit most among its chief Japanese and Taiwanese rivals as the Korean company is better in terms of output commitment, on-time delivery and better pricing.

LG Display, which is 37.9 percent owned by LG Electronics, said its moves to boost the sale of UHD displays for TVs to leading Chinese TV manufacturers also paid off.

Courtesy-Fud