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Chromebook Outpacing Mac Notebook In U.S. Sales

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

More personal computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS shipped in the U.S. during the first quarter than those built on Apple’s OS X in the same period, IDC  has confirmed.

“Chrome PCs overall, including Chrome desktop units like the Chromebox, out-shipped all Apple personal computers, desktop plus notebook, in the U.S. for Q1,” said Jay Chou, one of several IDC analysts who track device shipments, in an email reply to questions.

Chromebooks, the inexpensive notebooks that run Chrome OS, also out-shipped Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks in the U.S. The first-quarter battle wasn’t even close, according to the notebook-only shipment numbers Chou provided.

Apple shipped an estimated 1.17 million Mac notebooks in the U.S. during the first three months of 2016; IDC said 1.6 million Chrome OS notebooks shipped in the same span.

In other words, 37% more Chromebooks shipped than Mac notebooks.

Last week, Tom Warren of The Verge reported that Chrome OS hardware had out-shipped OS X-equipped Macs after speaking with one of Chou’s colleagues. Subsequently, numerous other outlets, including blogs and mainstream media websites, picked up Warren’s report.

IDC’s shipment data for Chrome OS and OS X systems were estimates generated using information from vendors and Asian component suppliers. Google, which developed Chrome OS, does not reveal shipment numbers: Most Chromebooks originate from third-party OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), including Acer, Asus, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. And although Apple disclosed global Mac sales in its April 26 earnings call with Wall Street, it did not break down that figure by geographic region.

That IDC’s numbers were estimates only was clear when comparing the research firm’s forecast to Apple’s stated sales for the first quarter. Prior to April 26 — when Apple said it had sold 4.03 million Macs worldwide – IDC had projected global Mac shipments at 4.47 million, or about 10% too high.

 

 

 

Facebook Implement Changes To ‘Trending Topics’ Amid Criticism

May 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said that it had made some tweaks to the procedures for its “Trending Topics” section after a news report alleging it suppressed conservative news prompted a U.S. Congressional demand for more transparency.

The company said an internal probe showed no evidence of political bias in the selection of news stories for Trending Topics, a feature that is separate from the main “news feed” where most Facebook users get their news.

But the world’s largest social network said in a blogpost that it was introducing several changes, including elimination of a top-ten list of approved websites, more training and clearer guidelines to help human editors avoid ideological or political bias, and more robust review procedures.

Earlier this month, a former Facebook contractor had accused the company’s editors of deliberately suppressing conservative news. The allegations were reported by technology news website Gizmodo, which did not identify the ex-contractor.

The report led Republican Sen. John Thune to write a letter demanding that the company explain how it selects news articles for its Trending Topics list.

Two days after Thune’s letter, Facebook published a lengthy blogpost detailing how Trending Topics works even though it rarely discloses such practices. Previously, it had never discussed the inner workings of the feature, which displays topics and news articles in the top right hand corner of the desktop homepage for its more than 1.6 billion users.

Facebook said its investigation showed that conservative and liberal topics were approved as trending topics at nearly identical rates. It said it was unable to substantiate any allegations of politically motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources.

But it did not rule out human error in selecting topics.

“Our investigation could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies,” Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, wrote in a company blogpost.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg met last week with more than a dozen conservative politicians and media personalities to discuss issues of trust in the social network.

 

 

Are Transparent Displays On The Horizon?

May 25, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost every sci-fi telivision program has tablets and monitors which are transparent and it seems that Samsung has finally build them. The only problem is that they are not that great to use.

Samsung unveiled the first commercial installation of its cutting-edge mirror display at an upscale hair salon in Seoul, South Korea. The 55-inch display units act as a mirror while playing media over the mirrored image.

The display represents a (90%) transparent layer over an underlying mirror, and is a genuinely transparent display. The Planar LookThru OLED Series offered something similar but cost too much for the great unwashed to use.

Using Intel 3-D camera technology, Samsung’s displays can also show customers in different hair styles, colors and trends, allowing the hairdressers at the Leekaja Hairbis’ Jamsil salon to provide customized, interactive consultations with their clients. Samsung expects mirror displays to be used in retail, interior design, furniture and fashion markets in the future. Similar 55-inch Samsung mirror displays will be available for purchase worldwide in fall 2016.

The Samsung mirror display ML55E provides 90 per cent  transparency and 55 per cent reflectivity, designed to minimize visual distraction and provide clarity, both in the reflective mirror surface and in the media content overlays.   It has been suggested that the technology could be a money spinner –  one study shows the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays is expected to rise to $16 billion by 2020, with TV and industrial/professional use to make up half of the market share.

But the tech is still pretty expensive. One unbranded transparent OLED screen will set you back $1190.00. But there is another problem. Transparent OLED displays might work in sci-fi movie directors, but that is because they allow the camera to interact better with actors in a hard to film situation. Practically though see-through displays which have no touch capability are all really only useful in the exhibition sector.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft To Make Switching Between IE11 And Edge Browsers Easier

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it will introduce changes in this summer’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update to simplify switching from Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) to Edge, and back.

The changes will be aimed at enterprises, the only customer group Microsoft recommends running IE11 in the new operating system.

“We recognize that some enterprise customers have line-of-business applications built specifically for older web technologies, which require Internet Explorer 11,” the company said in a blog post.

Previously, Microsoft included “Enterprise Mode” in Windows 10, a feature that lets an IT staff limit IE11′s operation to specific legacy websites or web apps.

Starting with the Anniversary Update — Microsoft’s name for the one major upgrade it will deliver for 10 this year — the “interstitial” page, one that pops up between running Edge and IE11 when Enterprise Mode kicks in, will vanish.

Currently, a switch from Edge to IE11 opens a page that states, “This website needs Internet Explorer 11″ before IE11 fires up. With the Anniversary Update, the interstitial will no longer appear: IE11 will simply open atop Edge when the user steers to a site or app on the Enterprise Mode whitelist.

The same no-interstitial-page behavior will take place when a worker running IE11 types in an URL that is not on the list: Edge will open without a pause.

Microsoft will also introduce a new group policy for IE11 that will limit the browser’s use to only those sites on the whitelist, barring users from running IE11 for the bulk of their browsing. “Enabling this setting automatically opens all sites that are not included in the Enterprise Mode Site List in Microsoft Edge,” Microsoft said.

IE and Edge have a rapidly-shrinking share of the browser market, but the former will remain important to businesses with older apps and customized internal sites, which unless rewritten will require the older browser. Together, IE and Edge were run by 41.3% of the world’s users in April, a new low that dropped Microsoft into second place behind Google’s Chrome browser.

 

 

 

In-Home Tech Support Companies HelloTech, Geekatoo Merging

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Los Angeles-based startup HelloTech and rival in-home tech support company Geekatoo announced that they have merged, in a sign of consolidation in the hotly competitive on-demand sector.

HelloTech will combine its network of about 150 college students who provide on-demand tech repair to Southern California consumers with Geekatoo’s U.S. network of about 5,000 technicians, the companies said in a joint statement.

The merger connects HelloTech with Geekatoo’s national market and provides Geekatoo with more access to venture capital funding, HelloTech co-founder Richard Wolpert said in an interview.

HelloTech, which launched about a year ago, has raised $17 million from investors, while 5-year-old Geekatoo has raised close to $3 million.

“You could either use capital to expand really quickly or you could merge with a company like Geekatoo that had already spent money doing this,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, which backed HelloTech.

The new company keeps the HelloTech name and will be led by Wolpert. He said the deal was a stock transaction, rather than a cash payment, but declined to provide further details.

Both companies dispatch in-home tech support within hours of a request to fix a wonky printer, install a new TV or troubleshoot WiFi problems, among other services.

HelloTech hit a few bumps last year after launching, with some negative customer feedback that its workforce of predominantly college students was unprofessional.

Wolpert said the company has worked out the glitches. HelloTech has a five-star rating on customer review site Yelp.

Geekatoo Executive Chairman Christian Shelton saw demand for tech services rising as more people add internet-connected devices – such as the smart thermostat Nest or WiFi camera Dropcam – to their homes.

The U.S. tech support industry makes about $30 billion in annual revenue, according to research by Parks Associates, a consulting firm.

“The opportunity is massive,” Wolpert said.

The company’s main competition is Geek Squad, a tech support service founded in 1994 and owned by big-box retailer Best Buy.

HelloTech targets baby boomers with disposable income to spend on new gadgets and someone to help get them up and running.

“There is enormous wealth in the baby boomer generation,” Suster said, and their “digital lives are becoming increasingly complicated.”

 

 

SWIFT Asks Customers To Help Fight Bank Fraud

May 24, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Financial transaction network SWIFT is asking its customers to help it end a string of high-profile banking frauds perpetrated using its network.

The SWIFT network itself is still secure, it insisted in a letter to banks and financial institutions. However, some of its customers have suffered security breaches in their own infrastructure, allowing attackers to fraudulently authorize transactions and send them over the SWIFT network, it said.

That’s the best explanation so far for how authenticated instructions were sent from Bangladesh Bank to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York over the SWIFT network, ordering the transfer of almost $1 billion. The Fed transferred around $101 million of that before identifying an anomaly in one of the instructions. Only $20 million of that has so far been recovered.

“While customers are responsible for the security of their own environment, security is our top priority and as an industry-owned cooperative we are committed to helping our customers fight against cyber-attacks,” SWIFT said in the letter.

SWIFT wants its customers to come forward with information about other fraudulent transfers made using their SWIFT credentials, to help it build a picture of how the attackers are working.

It’s making more than a polite request: It reminded its customers that they have an obligation to provide such information under the terms of their contract, and also to help SWIFT identify, investigate and resolve problems, including by providing diagnostic information following an incident.

SWIFT promised its customers it would share new information about malware or other indicators of compromised systems. It said it would add such information to a restricted section of its website, tacking it onto knowledge base tip number 5020928, “Modus Operandi related to breaches in customer’s environment.”

 

 

Is Qualcomm Getting Into Drones?

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It looks like that Qualcomm wants to make drones smarter and the company plans to use the Snapdragon developer board to do so. We had a chance to see the proof of concept drones that are capable of knowing and mapping environment.

Hugo Swart, Sr Director, Head IoE-consumer electronics at Qualcomm, has explained that the general direction in smart drone market at this time is the consumer electronic. Swart confirmed that the first drones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform technology should be commercially available very soon.

The company see drones as flying cameras, as most of sold drones have being used for video or aerial photography purpose. The drone we saw demonstrated at Qualcomm San Diego campus were powered by Snapdragon 410c developer board and this is one light device. The drone weights just bel 250 grams and it is made from composite materials. It packs a few cameras, four rotors and a Snapdragon 410 based developer board that makes the drone smart.

The actual weight is an important detail, as drones that are less than 250 grams do not have to be registered by the aviation authorities in the US. The demo showed a drone that used multiple camera to map the world around it, and it is aware of its surroundings.

The operator would use the tablet to fly the drone and the software had some nice features, like the use of the GPS to mark the position, and when necessary, the operator would just press the button and drone would find its way back to the marked position.

Since the drone would be using multiple cameras to map the world around it, it would be able to find a new path and avoid possible obstacles on its fly path. The demonstration we saw was done in a controlled environment with a huge rock in the middle of the environment, and the drone was avoiding the rock just as you would expect it.

The drone was able to detect a wall, and it would not let you fly in it and damage it. Drone would simply stop and would not crash and break no matter how hard you would try. The other nice feature was that the drone would be able to find its own way to the position market by GPS. It would not have to fly the path that you already flown, it would be able to find a shorter part to the mark position too.

Adding Snapdragon SoC on the drone would definitely make the flights safer and help you avoid damaging the drones or stuff around you. If you fly big drones for example with big cameras, you do not actually want to crash it and potentially destroy hundreds of dollars worth equipment.

Swart does believe that drones using Snapdragon Fly technology will first find its way in “flying camera drones” while later there might be a commercial applications with the Snapdragon Fly drones. Yes, at some point in the future, drones powered with this technology should be able to deliver packages. That is one of potential areas.

The only downside of this super lightweight drone was the fact that it had a small battery that would let it fly for six to eight minutes. Of course, if you make a larger drone with a larger battery, you would be able to fly it longer, but as we said this is a proof of concept designed to show the capabilities of this flying cameras. Qualcomm will have customers who will make the actual devices, the drone we saw in the demo room, was just to show the capabilities of the platform.

Partners will design its own drones and use the developer board (or integrated Snapdragon platform in an actual drone). The important part is the software who makes the synergy of the flying hardware and the visual compute in one Smart flying drone. If you are into drones, that this will definitely improve the overall experience.

Courtesy-Fud

 

nVidia Outs The Tesla M10

May 24, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia has been talking about its Tesla M10 GPU designed to run on the latest version of the company’s GRID technology.

For those who came in late, GRID technology is supposed to give servers a kick in the graphics back-end. It powers virtual desktops and support cloud-powered gaming.

Nvidia says the Tesla M10 GPU can support up to 64 desktops per board and 128 per server with two boards. This means shedloads of virtual machines  which are potentially dead and alive.

The new graphics card ccan support Citrix’s XenApp and virtual PCs running Windows, or power virtual workstations that need the performance for professional graphics work.

The M10 is a bit like the M6 and M60 as a GPU accelerator – unlike the M10 motorway which is a disappointingly short road connected the M1 to the A414 just south of St Albans.

Companies making use of virtual machines or looking to substitute hardware for more efficient virtual systems can access the GRID and Tesla tech for less than $2 per month per user for use with virtual apps and remote desktop sessions, and the firm will provide virtual PCs for less than $6 per month per user.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Nokia Slashes Another 1,000 Jobs

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Nokia is eliminating 1,032 jobs in Finland as part of a cost-cutting plan following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, the telecom network equipment maker said in a statement last Friday.

Finland’s biggest company has cut thousands of jobs in its home country over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals.

Nokia started the latest cost cutting program in April and is targeting 900 million euros ($1 billion) of operating cost synergies from the Alcatel deal by 2018.

The company has declined to give an overall figure for global job cuts, but has said it in talks with employee representatives in about 30 countries.

Nokia employs about 104,000 people worldwide, with about 6,850 in Finland, 4,800 in Germany and 4,200 in France.

 

 

UPS And SAP To Offer On-demand 3D Printing Service

May 23, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

UPS and SAP announced plans to offer a distributed, on-demand manufacturing network based on 3D printing that will be available through The UPS Store in more than 60 locations around the U.S.

3D printed goods will also be available through UPS’ Fast Radius on-demand production platform and its 3D printing factory in Louisville, KY.

“The integration into one additive manufacturing and logistics solution this summer will make 3D printing accessible to more potential users, enabling them to realize the convenience and cost-savings this technology offers,” UPS said in a statement.

Users can visit the Fast Radius website (formerly CloudDDM) to place 3D printing orders, which will be transferred to the closest 3D manufacturing or UPS Store location based on speed, geography and the product quality the customer requires.

Some orders can be completed and shipped the same day, UPS said. The service is not limited to U.S.-based customers; UPS will take orders globally.

The new service integrates SAP’s extended supply chain software with UPS’s 3D printing machines and logistics network, enabling “on-demand industrial manufacturing for companies of all sizes,” UPS said.

“SAP customers will be able to digitize and simplify the production part approval process through SAP and their orders can be seamlessly routed to UPS for production and delivery,” the company said.

Stan Deans, president, UPS Global Distribution & Logistics, said “additive manufacturing technology is still developing rapidly so manufacturing as a service is a smart approach for many companies.”

 

 

 

Hacker Offering 167 Million LinkedIn User Records For Sale

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A hacker is attempting to sell a database dump containing account records for 167 million LinkedIn users.

The announcement was posted on a dark market website called TheRealDeal by a user who wants 5 bitcoins, or around $2,200, for the data set that supposedly contains user IDs, email addresses and SHA1 password hashes for 167,370,940 users.

According to the sale ad, the dump does not cover LinkedIn’s complete database. Indeed, LinkedIn claims on its website to have more than 433 million registered members.

Troy Hunt, the creator of Have I been pwned?, a website that lets users check if they were affected by known data breaches, said it’s highly likely for the leak to be legitimate. He had access to around 1 million records from the data set.

“I’ve seen a subset of the data and verified that it’s legit,” Hunt said.

LinkedIn suffered a data breach back in 2012, which resulted in 6.5 million user records and password hashes being posted online. It’s highly possible that the 2012 breach was actually larger than previously thought and that the rest of the stolen data is surfacing now.

LinkedIn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attempts to contact the seller failed, but the administrators of LeakedSource, a data leak indexing website, claim to also have a copy of the data set and they believe that the records originate from the 2012 LinkedIn breach.

When the 6.5 million LinkedIn password hashes were leaked in 2012, hackers managed to crack over 60 percent of them. The same thing is likely true for the new 117 million hashes, so they cannot be considered safe.

Worse still, it’s very likely that many LinkedIn users that were affected by this leak haven’t changed their passwords since 2012. Hunt was able to verify that for at least one HIBP subscriber whose email address and password hash was in the new data set that is now up for sale.

Many people affected by this breach are also likely to have reused their passwords in multiple places on the Web, Hunt said via email.

 

 

 

 

Apple To Open Maps Product Development Center In India

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Moving forward with his attempt to attract Indian customers and developers, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that the company was setting up a new development center for its Maps product in Hyderabad in south India.

Apple earlier on Wednesday announced it would set up by early next year a facility in Bangalore to focus on helping developers on best practices and to improve the design, quality and performance of their apps on the iOS platform.

Cook is on his first visit to India, where the company saw a 56 percent year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the first quarter even as its global iPhone sales and overall revenue dropped.

Apple’s new center will focus on the development of Maps for Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. The investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs, the company said.

The Cupertino, California, company did not disclose the size of its investment in the center though some reports have placed the figure at $25 million.

A large number of U.S. companies, including Texas Instruments, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, have set up software, chip design and product development centers in India, to tap the country’s large pool of engineers.

“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations,” Cook said in a statement.

India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world, after China and the U.S., according to Gartner research director Anshul Gupta.

 

 

Google Unveils A.I. Challenger To Amazon’s Alexa

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet’s Google Inc  introduced us to its answer to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant along with new messaging and virtual reality products at its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, doubling down on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the keys to its future.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home.

He also unveiled Allo, a new messaging service that will compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger products and feature a chatbot powered by the Google Assistant. Allo, like WhatsApp, will also have end-to-end encryption when it is rolled out this summer.

Amazon’s Echo, a surprise hit that has other tech giants racing to match it, uses a virtual assistant called Alexa, a cloud-based system that controls the Echo speaker and responds to voice-controlled commands by users.

Like Alexa, Google Assistant can search the internet and adjust your schedule. However, Pichai said Google Assistant can use images and other information to provide more intuitive results.

“You can be in front of this structure in Chicago and ask Google who designed this and it will understand in this context that the name of that designer is Anish Kapoor,” said Pichai, pointing toward a photo of Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture.

For Google Home, the Google Assistant merges with Chromecast and smart home devices to control televisions, thermostats and other products. Google did not offer a specific release date or pricing for Google Home, saying only that it will be available later this year.

 

 

Apple Goes Further With Intel

May 20, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Intel has scored a more significant chunk of the upcoming iPhone 7 which is due to be released this year.

Digitimes deep throats claim that Intel will  supply half the modem chips for use in the new iPhones slated for launch in September 2016.

Intel will itself package the modem chips for the upcoming new iPhones, but have contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and tester King Yuan Electronics (KYEC) to manufacture the chips, the sources said.

Qualcomm is currently the supplier of LTE modem chips for the iPhone, but Apple has been keep to avoid focusing on one supplier. Still, the figure of half the iPhone 7′s is much more than many expected. It is a pity for Intel that the iPhone 7 is not expected to be a big seller – mostly because there is little new under the bonnet and it looks the same as the iPhone 6S.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Exiting Feature Phone Market, Sales Division

May 19, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft Corp has announced that it is selling its entry-level feature phone assets to FIH Mobile Ltd and HMD Global Oy for $350 million.

FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Co Ltd, would also acquire Microsoft Mobile Vietnam as a part of this deal, Microsoft said.

The company said its 4,500 employees from Vietnam will transfer to or will have an opportunity to join FIH Mobile or HMD Global Oy.

Microsoft will transfer all of its feature phone assets, including brands, software and services, care network and other assets, customer contracts, and critical supply agreements to both the companies as a part of the deal.

Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones from OEM partners, the company said.