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DEA Has A Program That Tracks Cars Moving Across The Country

January 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program to track cars close to the U.S.-Mexican border has been gradually expanded nationwide and is regularly used by other law enforcement agencies searching for criminal suspects.

The extent of the system, which is said to contain hundreds of millions of records on motorists and their journeys, was disclosed in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. Much of the information disclosed to the ACLU was undated, making it difficult to understand the growth of the network, which is different from the cameras used to collect traffic tolls on expressways.

One of the undated documents said more than 100 cameras had been deployed in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. The cameras snap each vehicle that passes, recording its license plate, the direction of travel and the time. Some cameras also snap a picture of the driver and passengers.

It was set up in 2008 and was opened to other law enforcement agencies in May 2009. Two years after it was launched, the system helped the DEA seize 98 kilograms of cocaine, 8,336 kilograms of marijuana and collect $866,380. Its use was also expanded to the hunt for cars being driven by suspects in child abductions, rapes and other crimes.

But it’s unclear if there is any court oversight of the network. The ACLU said that any federal, state or local law enforcement agent that had been vetted by the DEA could conduct queries on the database.

Records on cars that don’t generate a “hit” in law enforcement investigations are said to be stored for six months — a period the ACLU said was “far too long.”

 

 

Auto Industry Helps Texas Instruments Bottom Line

January 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Texas Instruments appears to have done rather well thanks to a growing demand for chips from the car industry.

The company posted fourth-quarter revenue of $3.27 billion, up 8 percent from the year-ago period and slightly above what the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street predicted by reading their tarot cards.

This was mostly because TI deepened its focus on analogue and embedded chips which are in demand from carmakers, telecom companies and industrial customers.

Revenue from Texas Instruments’ largest market, “industrial,” grew a bit in 2014, while revenue from its communications market expanded as wireless carriers installed next-generation base stations.

TI has been winding down its unprofitable wireless business and refocusing on analogue and embedded chips. Factories that Texas Instruments bought at relatively attractive prices in recent years and the chipmaker’s robust sales force give it an advantage over smaller competitors.

The company’s fourth-quarter net income rose 61 percent to $825 million. Earnings per share were 76 cents.

Texas Instruments forecast first-quarter revenue of between $3.07 billion and $3.33 billion.

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $3.26 billion for the fourth quarter and $3.19 billion for the first quarter.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Adobe Patches Flash Player Again

January 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It’s patch week again for Adobe Flash Player, and this time the update is designed to fix a critical security bug in the much-maligned browser’s multimedia plug-in.

Flash Player has been updated to version 16.0.0.296 to solve the vulnerability previously identified in the APSA15-01 Security Bulletin. The bulletin now contains information about the new version.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 was released with auto-update enabled on 24 January, two days earlier than the expected distribution date.

The standalone release was released on 26 January, as Adobe anticipated in the original bulletin, and users or sysadmins can download the full exe/msi installer straight from the official site.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 is now available for Internet Explorer and the plug-in based browsers on Windows and Mac systems.

A new version (11.2.202.440) is available for Linux operating systems and Oracle Solaris on the same page that provides the Windows/Mac versions.

Adobe is also said to be working with the company’s “distribution partners” to make the update available for those browsers that embed the Flash plug-in, namely Internet Explorer 10 and 11 and Google Chrome.

Flash Player 16.0.0.296 is meant to end the exploitation of a zero-day vulnerability classified as CVE-2015-0311, for which a working exploit was already circulating in the wild.

Successful attacks via drive-by downloads were confirmed against machines running Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows 8.1 and below.

The bug “could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system”, Adobe warned in the original security bulletin.

Installing the updated version of the Flash Player plug-in is recommended.

The new Flash Player release contains no new features apart from fixing the CVE-2015-0311 bug.

Courtesy-TheInq

Cablevision To Launch Wi-Fi Phone Service

January 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Cablevision System Corp said that it would launch in February a wireless Internet phone service to give customers an alternative to more expensive data plans from cellular companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

The “Freewheel” phone service, which runs on any WiFi connection, is an attempt by Cablevision to retain and potentially add subscribers at a time when cable companies are losing out to lower-priced, bundled TV and Internet services from telecom firms.

Cablevision said the phone service was the first of its kind to be launched by a cable company and aims to tap users seeking to download unlimited amounts of data on their mobile phones using WiFi, which is less expensive than a cellular connection.

Such services could pose a challenge to traditional telecom carriers. Currently, carrier Republic Wireless and Massachusetts-based startup Scratch Wireless offer users similar services that use WiFi to control data costs.

“There has been a dramatic shift in how consumers use their mobile devices: today, it’s all about data, and WiFi is now preferred and clearly superior to cellular,” Kristin Dolan, chief operating officer of Cablevision, said in the statement.

Cablevision, controlled by New York’s Dolan family, has been investing in its “Optimum” WiFi network since 2007, setting up over 1.1 million WiFi hotspots or access points in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Cablevision’s WiFi phone service will be offered at $29.95 per month and $9.95 per month for subscribers of its “Optimum Online” service. It will be available exclusively on the Motorola Moto G smartphone that users will have to purchase, the company said.

The $180 Android phone will be sold to “Freewheel” users without a contract at a discounted price of $99.95, it added.

 

 

 

NASA Test New Robotic Helicopter

January 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The robotic rovers navigating around Mars are limited by what their onboard cameras are capable of viewing.

If they could see further ahead, they might be able totravel three times as far in a single Martian day, enabling them to better find sites to explore and gather more information, faster, than they can today.

To speed up the rovers’ work, NASA is considering sending a robotic helicopter to Mars that could act as a scout for their explorations.

“So why would we want to put a helicopter on Mars?” asks Mike Meacham, a mechanical engineer with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in a video presentation. “If I’m the rover right now, I can’t really see the terrain behind me. But if I had a helicopter with a camera on it, all of a sudden, I can see a whole lot more.”

Dubbed the Mars Helicopter, the robot could be an add-on to future Mars rovers. Weighing 2.2 pounds and measuring 3.6 feet from the tip of one blade to the other, the helicopter would be able to detach from the rover and fly on its own.

So far, JPL engineers have built a proof-of-concept prototype and have been testing it in a 25-foot vacuum chamber.

Because of the difference between the atmosphere on Earth and on Mars, the helicopter’s blades would have to spin at about 2,400 rpm to provide lift, NASA said.

“The system is designed to fly for two to three minutes every day,” said Bob Balaram, a chief engineer at JPL. “There’s a solar panel on the top and that provides us with enough energy for that short flight, as well as to keep us warm through the night. So in those two to three minutes, we expect to have daily flights of about half a kilometer or so.”

For now the JPL team is focused on relentlessly testing the helicopter.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

Will Apple Drop Intel?

January 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich has shrugged off rumors that Apple is about to switch to ARM in future Mac releases.

Of course the Tame Apple Press is declaring that this will mean the end of Intel as we know it. AppleInsider even ran a story claiming that Intel’s mobile was effectively destroyed by Apple’s Ax ARM Application Processors

After all only five or six percent of the world run on Apple Macs so the loss of Apple business would be annoying to Intel but no great problem.

Krzanich says the rumors of Apple switching to ARM are just that anyway and not likely.

“Apple is always going to choose the supplier who can provide the most amount of capability in innovation to build on. They’re a company based on innovation.”

Krzanich, who maintains that Intel needs to continue focusing on delivering parts that are better than its competitors.

But does Intel have anything to worry about? Well not really. Apple Macs are at the expensive end of the market and they need chips to match their price tag – well at least half of their price tag. ARM is still a long way from matching anything remotely like the what Intel shoves under the bonnet of Apple macs.

Courtesy-Fud

HP Has Two More Tablets In Route

January 19, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

HP is about to put out two tablets later this year.

The names are expected to be the HP Pro Slate 10 EE G1 and HP Pro Tablet 10 EE G1 and they were found on the world wide wibble by Notebook Italia,.

Both tablets are powered by an Intel quad-core Bay Trail Atom Z3735F processor. Accompanying the processor package is 2GB of RAM, as well as 32GB of internal storage. Both the Pro Slate and Pro Tablet come with 10.1-inch displays, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The Pro Slate sticks with Android, while the Pro Tablet opts for Windows 8.1. The tablets mean they will each come with a stylus, but it would appear that the stylus is just a stand in for your finger, rather than doing anything useful.

Pro Slate will set you back $400.00 and Pro Tablet cost $499.

HP has yet to officially announce either device.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Dailymotion Going After Twitch?

January 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Dailymotion has hopped onto the game streaming juggernaut and launched a game streaming service.

Dailymotion Games will put the firm into a market that so far includes Twitch, a streamer that has cemented its place as a gaming add-on and a coveted option on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.

The Dailymotion information does not dwell on Twitch, which has been a feature of many a gushing press release from console makers such as Sony, but it does say that the live streaming gaming platform has some decent credentials.

For example, the promotional information says that the platform is backed with “industry leading video and live streaming technology”.

The firm also reminds us that it has some history here, and has been e-gaming for some time.

“Since 2011, with the first Dailymotion Cup on Starcraft, Dailymotion has accompanied e-sport growth on the internet,” said Martin Rogard, Dailymotion’s chief operating officer.

“Dailymotion Games is entirely dedicated to e-sports fans and streamers who come together every evening to form an amazingly talented and gregarious community.

“Over the coming months, we will significantly increase our investment in the e-sports domain to ensure worldwide recognition of all our talented content producers.”

Dailymotion said that live streamers will be able to monetise their content, which Microsoft recently confirmed is fine for its users, and that streamers could run their own “controlled video advertisement” and any number of social tools including search and real-time communications. Android and iOS apps are available.

The service is currently in beta. Dailymotion said that it serves some 180 million game videos a month.

 
Courtesy-TheInq

Will 2015 Be The Year Of 4K?

January 15, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

We had a few dozen meetings at CES 2015 with many interesting people and close friends over the last week and we came to a conclusion that 4K and Virtual Reality will play a big role in 2015 and the future of computer graphics.

The GPU industry is making huge steps forward to make higher resolution gaming more popular. The reason behind is rather simple, as 4K has four times the pixel count of 1080p and needs four times the GPU power to deliver superior image quality gets better. The GPU industry simply needed more pixels in order to continue selling the better graphics cards.

There will be a two popular choices in 2015 – one will be a 60Hz 4K, 3840×2160 gaming monitor for people who like the higher resolutions at the expense of lower refresh rates and WQHD 2560×1440 at 144Hz, where you will need to render more frames.

Despite the choice, 4K will be a great tool for selling more new graphics cards and this trend is happening right now. Nvidia has G-Sync while AMD has FreeSync and we believe that these technologies will help in making the gaming experience better in 2015 and beyond. We will come back to this in another, more extensive report.

The other big thing is Virtual Reality, VR for short. Oculus Rift is the most prominent member of this movement, but all VR companies need GPU players as well. It is a fight between AMD, Nvidia and
Qualcomm.

While AMD and Nvidia know how to push more pixels, Qualcomm has sparked Samsung’s interest with the Gear VR that works with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 phablet. We have tried the Developers Kit 2 while a few prominent members of the industry have said that they had a chance to try Crescent Bay, the next generation prototype. It is a leap forward but there is still a lot to be done in order to have a VR chat with your buddies via Oculus in Facebook, or play good VR games.

Crescent Bay got better, but this is not something that is ready for retail, at least this is what a couple of people told us. AMD and Nvidia are now racing in order to get VR right. Oculus and Facebook are great, but we don’t think that they can get to a cool VR experience without Nvidia and AMD. There will be a lot of focus on these two technologies and we cannot wait to see how this plays out.

The pixel count needs to increase, the resolution per eye needs to go up and latency has to go down in order to fool our brain we are actually inside the VR world (and to prevent annoying headaches). This is the future of visualization, but we are not sure it is the right answer for all gaming, as you won’t be able to walk around with Oculus VR inside a bus or train, at least not in the short run, as you need cables, lot of GPU power and you need to see where you go.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Granted Patent For Wearable Cameras

January 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has been issued a patent for a wearable camera that could possibly challenge action cameras made by GoPro Inc.

The patent, which cites specific weaknesses in GoPro’s cameras, includes details about a camera system that can be mounted on bike helmets or scuba masks, Apple said in an application filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

Shares of GoPro, whose cameras can be mounted on helmets, surf boards, bikes and dog harnesses, fell as much as 15 percent.

Apple’s newly patented camera system can also be used under water to take pictures and record sounds, according to the application.

A potential entry by the iPhone maker into the action camera market could also put pressure on privately held Polaroid Corp, which makes the small and colorful Cube cameras.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna, however, said it was premature to assume that Apple would soon launch a wearable camera.

“It does not seem to me that launching an action camera accessory is the most logical product extension for Apple to pursue right now,” Gauna said.

Apple declined to comment, while GoPro was not immediately available for comment.

“I think that it will have about the same impact on GoPro as the iPhone has had on camera makers and that impact is that there are fewer cameras sold but the number isn’t zero,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

Videos shot with GoPro’s cameras have created a buzz on the Internet, attracting millions of views on YouTube.

Olympic gold medal winning snow boarder Shaun White and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater are among well-known athletes who have endorsed the cameras.

Intellectual property blog Patently Apple reported earlier in the day that Apple’s patent, which was filed by the company in 2012, incorporates some intellectual property from Eastman Kodak Co that the company acquired in November 2013.

 

 

LTE-Advanced Leading To Faster 4G Speeds

January 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile device owners around the world are getting faster wireless broadband as LTE-Advanced and smartphones that can take advantage of the technology finally start to take off.

A year ago, LTE-Advanced was only available in South Korea, but it’s now available in 31 countries (including Australia, France, Germany, U.K. and the U.S.) and more are on the way, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

“There is a lot of activity at the moment,” said Alan Hadden, president at GSA.

LTE-Advanced is a collection of different technologies, but the one mobile operators are implementing first is called carrier aggregation. It lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one and send data to users at higher speeds.

Bandwidths at up to 300Mbps are possible, though not all LTE-Advanced networks and devices can muster that. For example, Apple’s new iPhones use a version of carrier aggregation that tops out at 150Mbps, and not all operators have the spectrum to offer that.

However, regardless of which version of LTE-Advanced a network or device supports, the technology offers users higher speeds than ever before.

Chances are greater that you’ll get access to LTE-Advanced if you live in a big city. For example, U.S. operator AT&T has so far upgraded its network in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston.

The technology has been held back due to a lack of supporting devices, but that will change this year thanks to a greater variety of modems from Qualcomm and Intel.

 

 

Intel Finally Starts Shipping Cherry Trail

January 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

In addition to the 14nm Broadwell-U notebook chips announced earlier, Intel has also announced that it has started shipping 14nm Cherry Trail Atom architecture tablet chips to customers.

While it is good to hear that Intel has finally started to ship the successor to the Bay Trail SoC, these chips will most likely be available in actual products sometime in Q2 2015, or according to Intel, in the first half of the year. While Intel did not shed any light on the actual specifications of Cherry Trail SoCs, or the price, it did promise that all details will be unveiled once first Cherry Trail-based devices are announced, so we will keep our fingers crossed to see some first tablets at CES 2015.

For now, Intel only noted that the new architecture will bring improved graphics, improved performance as well as better battery life in both Android and Windows tablets. From earlier information we know that, beside being based on smaller 14nm node, Cherry Trail SoC will use the Airmont CPU architecture paired up with a cut-down Broadwell GPU and might even end up with 16 EUs, which should give it some impressive graphics performance.

Intel also noted that Cherry Trail can be paired with Intel XMM726x modem with Cat 6 LTE for cellular connectivity, which means that we might even see some smartphones based on these SoCs. It will also support Intel’s RealSense technology as well as Wireless Display.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Finally Enters Solid-state External Drive Business

January 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung is finally expanding its product line to include external solid-state drives with a new line of Portable SSD T1 products.

The lightweight drives have capacities of up to 1TB and are small enough to fit in your pocket. They’re significantly more expensive than magnetic hard drives, though, which come in capacities of up to 6TB.

Samsung’s 250GB external SSD is priced at $179.99, a 500GB drive is $299.99, and a 1TB drive is $599.99. By comparison, a 1TB magnetic drive can be acquired for under $100.

External storage is mostly used for data backup. But demand for external drives is growing as users download and store more multimedia and programs. Storage is also limited in Chromebooks and lightweight Windows laptops and hybrids, so users have to revert to external storage to preserve files.

But Samsung’s portable SSDs will be faster and more power-efficient than external hard drives, said Richard Leonarz, senior marketing manager.

SSDs are faster at reading and writing data than hard drives. SSDs also don’t have spinning disks, which are prevalent in hard drives and can draw a lot of power when reading and writing data.

The Portable SSD T1 drives will connect to a PC’s USB 3.0 port. The SSDs have sequential read and write speeds of 450MBps, random read speeds of 8,000 IOPS (input/output per second) and random write speeds of 21,000 IOPS.

Samsung already makes internal SSDs, which are widely used in laptops and have up to 3.2GB in storage capacity. The external SSDs are based on the same advanced 3D V-NAND technology that gives its internal SSDs speed and durability. The 3D V-NAND SSDs have storage units stacked on top of each other, much like a skyscraper, which is a more power-efficient and speedy structure compared to the planar structure used in most SSDs today.

Samsung is now taking on the likes of Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba, which largely sell external hard drives and hybrid SSD-hard drive products.

 

 

Customers Suing Apple Over Device Storage Space

January 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Two Florida men have filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly misrepresenting the amount of storage room available to owners of 16GB iPhones and iPads.

The two, Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara, accused Apple of “unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business acts or practices,” including false advertising, and asked a California federal judge to designate the lawsuit as a class action so that others can participate.

n the complaint filed Dec. 29, Orshan’s and Endara’s lawyers claimed Apple failed to tell buyers that a fifth of the 16GB in low-end iPhones and iPads is occupied by the operating system and pre-installed apps, leaving consumers less than the full amount for their own content, such as apps, photos and other files.

“Reasonable consumers do not expect this marked discrepancy between the advertised level of capacity and the available capacity of the devices, as the operating system and other storage space unavailable to consumers occupies an extraordinary percentage of their devices’ limited storage capacity,” the complaint stated.

By the plaintiffs’ calculations, a 16GB iPhone 6 had 13GB of space available to the user, while the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus and 16GB iPad Air had 12.7GB and 12.6GB, respectively. The portions of the 16GB inaccessible to users ranged from 19% to 21%.

The lawsuit also charged Apple with a Machiavellian strategy that used the disparity between the advertised and actual user-available storage space to push customers into paying for iCloud premium plans. “Using these sharp business tactics, defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawyers wrote.

Apple charges $0.99 per month for an additional 20GB — above the free allotment of 5GB — with other plans ranging from $3.99 monthly (for 200GB) to $19.99 per month (for 1TB).