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Can Fiber Broadband Access Boost Homes Value?

July 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The availability of really fast broadband in your neighborhood could boost homes value by more than 3 percent.

High-speed fiber broadband service, with 1 Gbps download speeds, can add more than $5,400 to the value of an average U.S. home, according to a study commissioned by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH), an advocacy group made up of fiber equipment vendors and broadband providers.

That $5,400 figure is approximately equal to adding a new fireplace, half of a new bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool, according to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University.

Speed matters, the study found. For homes where 1 Gbps broadband was available, sale prices were 7 percent higher than for homes in areas with broadband speeds of 25 Mbps or lower.

The study, possibly the first to look at the link between home values and fiber service, could help drive a new “fiber boom,” like late in the late 2000′s, said Kevin Morgan, FTTH’s board chairman and director of marketing communications at Adtran, a telecom equipment maker.

Several broadband providers have announced new deployments in recent months, and the study can help local governments push providers for new fiber deployments, added Heather Gold, FTTH’s president and CEO.

FTTH helps local officials work with providers on deploying new or faster broadband service, Gold said. “If a community wants to get fiber to the home and they understand the economic value … both to homeowners and the community in total, that helps them decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to help this broadband provider make an attractive investment case,’” she said.

In 2014, FTTH released a study finding higher per capita gross domestic product in communities where gigabit Internet was available.

The study used home sales data from 2011 to 2013, U.S. Census Data and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s 2012 and 2013 national broadband maps to investigate the relationship between broadband availability and home prices.

 

 

 

Microsoft Display Ads Business Going To AOL

July 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft Corp that it will hand over its display advertising business to AOL Inc and sell some map-generating technology to ride-hailing app company Uber, as it scales back on unprofitable operations.

The moves mean Microsoft will focus on its growing search advertising business based on its Bing search engine, and displaying maps on its Windows devices rather than generating the maps themselves.

Microsoft, which employs hundreds of people in its display ad business around the world, said those employees would be offered the chance to transfer to AOL and that it was not making any layoffs.

The world’s largest software company no longer breaks out results for its online operations, chiefly its MSN web portal and Bing, but they have lost more than $10 billion over the past five years. Chief Executive Satya Nadella has said Bing will turn a profit next fiscal year.

“Today’s news is evidence of Microsoft’s increased focus on our strengths: in this case, search and search advertising and building great content and consumer services,” saidMicrosoft in a statement.

Under a 10-year deal struck with AOL, now a unit of Verizon Communications Inc ,AOL will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and in some apps in major countries. As part of the deal, Bing will become the search engine behind web searches onAOL starting next year.

Microsoft also struck a multi-year extension to its existing deal with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform for buyers to purchase online ads.

Microsoft and Uber did not disclose financial terms of their deal, under which Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on imagery acquisition and map data processing. Uber will offer jobs to the 100 or so Microsoft employees working in that area, according to a source familiar with the deal.

 

 

 

Yahoo Still Plagued By Sluggish Growth

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Yahoo’s share gains since November from a partnership with Mozilla may be a clue about whether the search company can gain new users through the just-announced contract to change Internet Explorer’s and Chrome’s default search through installations of Oracle’s Java.

Although the news of the Yahoo-Oracle partnership got the lion’s share of attention, CEO Marissa Mayer also used last week’s shareholder meeting to mention the Mozilla pact.

The five-year contract with Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has boosted Yahoo’s share of the U.S. search market, but growth has stalled for the last three months, according to measurement company comScore.

On Wednesday, Mayer asserted that the Mozilla deal — negotiated last fall — was “profitable,” but didn’t provide any numbers to back that up. Neither Yahoo nor Mozilla has disclosed how much the former paid to become Firefox’s default search engine in the U.S.

By comScore’s measurement, Yahoo accounted for 12.7% of all U.S. searches in May, the same share it controlled in both March and April. Although that was 2.5 percentage points higher than in November 2014 — before Firefox began urging users to accept Yahoo as the default — and represented a six-month increase of 25%, May’s share was down from the January peak of 13%.

From all indications, Yahoo has gotten as much out of the Firefox deal as it will likely get. The flip-side is that Yahoo has hung onto most of what it grabbed from Google — Firefox’s previous default — even as Google has tried to get users to return.

For May, comScore pegged Google’s share at 64.1%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month prior. Microsoft’s share rose that one-tenth of a point to end May at 20.3%. Because Bing powers Yahoo’s search results, Microsoft’s technology accounted for 31.4% of all U.S. searches, still less than half Google’s 65.2%.

 

 

Cisco Warns Of Bug In Virtual App

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Cisco has warned of a default Secure Shell vulnerability in three of its virtual applications.

The flaw could allow attackers to decrypt traffic exchanged in the services, and has been detailed in a Cisco security advisory.

It affects Cisco’s Web Security Virtual Appliance (SMAv), Email Security Virtual Appliance and Security Management Virtual Appliance, which are already commercially available.

Cisco said that it “is not aware of any public announcements or malicious use of the vulnerabilities”, but warned that attackers who got hold of the private keys could decrypt communications with a man-in-the-middle attack.

The default private encryption keys were preinstalled on all three of the products, a move which is considered bad security practice.

“Successfully exploiting this vulnerability on Cisco SMAv allows an attacker to decrypt communication toward SMAv, impersonate SMAv, and send altered data to a configured content appliance,” the advisory said.

“An attacker can exploit this vulnerability on a communication link toward any content security appliance that was ever managed by any SMAv.”

Cisco has released a patch which deletes the preinstalled SSH keys and explains how customers can correct the problem.

The Cisco-sa-20150625-ironport SSH Keys Vulnerability Fix comes as part of several product upgrades, and must be manually installed from a command line interface.

Cisco’s advisory said that the patch is not required for physical hardware appliances, or for virtual appliance downloads or upgrades after 25 June.

Cisco revealed details of a new point of sale attack earlier this year that could part firms from money and customers from personal data.

The threat, called PoSeidon by the Cisco team, came at a time when eyes were on security breaches at firms like Target.

Cisco said in a blog post that PoSeidon is a threat that has the ability to breach machines and scrape them for credit card information.

Courtesy-TheInq

RedHat Goes PaaS With Linux

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Red Hat has announced the release of OpenShift Enterprise (OSE) 3, a new version of its Platform-as-a-Service offering.

Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)7, Openshift is built on Docker Linux containers with Kubernetes orchestration using technology developed in collaboration with Google.

The news comes in a busy week for Red Hat, which has also announced a new productivity tie-up with Samsung and taken a leading role in the formation of a new alliance known as the Open Container Project to standardise containers.

Users will have access to a wide range of apps via the Red Hat Container Certification Programme. Middleware solutions including Red Hat JBoss Enterprise, Web Server (Tomcat) and JBoss A-MQ messaging are also included.

Included are a number of tools to help developers create and collaborate, with web, command line, and integrated development environment interfaces. Options include direct code-push from GIT and source to image building. There is also flexibility for deployment, rollback and integration.

In addition, a preview of Openshift Dedicated has been released. The public cloud service based on OpenShift 3 will succeed Openshift Online, which already hosts 2.5 million applications online, allowing businesses to quickly build, launch and deploy bespoke apps.

Ashesh Badani, vice president and general manager, OpenShift, Red Hat, said, “This release of OpenShift Enterprise 3 employs open source containers and orchestration practices to change the developer experience and move the platform in the direction of what customers are asking for – a flexible platform for a microservices architecture.

“Our continued upstream work in the Docker and Kubernetes communities enable us to deliver the most updated technology platform for developers and operators, enabling them to remain competitive through quicker innovation.”

To assist users, Red Hat is offering a range of enterprise administrator courses to teach users how to deploy, configure and manage the system, which can result in a Red Hat Certificate of Expertise in Platform as a Service – a worthy certificate for any office wall.

OpenShift 3 is available now with bespoke pricing models based of socket and core pairings.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung To Launch For Tizen OS Phones This Year

June 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Behemoth smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to roll out more handsets running on its own Tizen operating system later this year, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.

Samsung will launch several Tizen smartphones at varying prices, the person said without disclosing other specifications.

The person declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokeswoman for the South Korean firm declined to comment.

Samsung aims to build its own ecosystem through Tizen, which powers its smartwatches and premium television sets. But the firm needs more handsets running on the system to expand its user base and attract third-party developers, analysts say.

The company launched its first Tizen smartphone, the Z1, in India in January and has since been selling the device in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It has sold 1 million Z1s so far in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market.

The Z1 was the best-selling smartphone in Bangladesh in January-March, researcher Counterpoint said in a May report.

 

 

NASA, Microsoft Team Up On Holographic Glasses

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The International Space Station is going to feel a little bit more like Star Trek.

NASA announced that it is collaborating with Microsoft to enable astronauts onboard the orbiting space station to use the company’s virtual reality headset.

Two pairs of Microsoft’s HoloLens computerized eyeglasses are scheduled to be sent to the space station when SpaceX launches its seventh commercial resupply mission on June 28.

“HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” Sam Scimemi, NASA’s director of the space station program, said in a statement. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens in January at a Windows 10 event where CEO Satya Nadella said the device will be the world’s first holographic computing platform. The device is designed to allow users to see high-definition holograms with surround sound. They’re also built to understand voice commands and hand gestures.

The project that NASA and Microsoft are teaming up on has been dubbed Sidekick and is focused on helping astronauts who need to perform various tasks off-Earth.

By using HoloLens, which look much like a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and are expected to ship on July 29 along with Windows 10, the astronauts should be able to perform some on-station tasks with less training and be more efficient in the work they’re doing.

NASA already has tested the devices on board NASA’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet to make sure they work as expected in gravity-free environment.

 

 

 

IBM Partners With Box

June 29, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

IBM and BOX have signed a global agreement to combine their strengths into a cloud powerhouse.

The star-crossed ones said in a joint statement: “The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”

Box will bring its collaboration and productivity tools to the party, while IBM brings social, analytic, infrastructure and security services.

The move is described as a strategic alliance and will see the two companies jointly market products under a co-banner.

IBM will enable the use of Box APIs in enterprise apps and web services to make a whole new playground for developers.

The deal will see Box integrate IBM’s content management, including content capture, extraction, analytics, case management and governance. Also aboard will be Watson Analytics to study in depth the content being stored in Box.

Box will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections to allow full integration for email and social.

IBM’s security and consulting services will be part of the deal, and the companies will work together to create mobile apps for industries under the IBM MobileFirst programme.

Finally, the APIs for Box will be enabled in Bluemix meaning that anyone working on rich apps in the cloud can make Box a part of their creation.

Box seems to be the Nick Clegg to IBM’s ham-faced posh-boy robot in this relationship, but is in fact bringing more than you’d think to the party with innovations delivered by its acquisition of 3D modelling company Verold.

What’s more, the results of these collaborations should allow another major player to join Microsoft and Google in the wars over productivity platforms.

It was announced today that Red Hat and Samsung are forming their own coalition to bring enterprise mobile out of the hands of the likes of IBM and Apple which already have a cool thing going on with MobileFirst.

Courtesy-TheInq

Yahoo Beefs Up Mobile Search

June 29, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Yahoo is beefing up its search service on mobile devices, following Google’s lead by highlighting content such as images, videos and reviews ahead of regular search results

The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.

A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”

Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.

Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.

In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.

 

 

AMD’s Quantum Has Intel Inside

June 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Project Quantum PC system, with graphics powered by two of the new Fiji GPUs may have got the pundits moist but it has been discovered that the beast has Intel inside

KitGuru confirmed that the powerful tiny system, as shown at AMD’s own event, was based upon an Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard with an Intel Core i7-4790K ‘Devil’s Canyon’ processor.

Now AMD has made a statement to explain why it chose to employ a CPU from one of its competitor in what is a flagship pioneering gaming PC.

It told Tom’s Hardware that users wanted the Devil’s Canyon chip in the Project Quantum machine.

Customers “want to pick and choose the balance of components that they want,” and the machine shown off at the E3  was considered to be the height of tech sexiness right now.

AMD said Quantum PCs will feature both AMD and Intel CPUs to address the entire market, but did you see that nice Radeon Fury… think about that right now.

IT is going to be ages before we see the first Project Quantum PCs will be released and the CPU options might change. We would have thought that AMD might want to put its FinFET process ZEN CPUs in Project Quantum with up to 16 cores and 32 threads. We will not see that until next year.

Courtesy-Fud

Seagate Goes OneDrive

June 26, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Seagate has announced a tie-up with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, offering users of Seagate Backup Plus drives 200GB of cloud storage for two years after redemption.

The offer is redeemable via the bundled Seagate Dashboard app, which also includes an interface to back up to OneDrive as well as Dropbox and Google Drive.

Seagate has also announced a new version of its 4TB Backup Plus drive, superseding the previous two-platter behemoth with a 20.5mm single-platter version.

This will be easier to carry around, and should be a bit more stable than the cross-volume edition currently in circulation.

“Seagate Technology continues to innovate at a fast pace based on the ever changing needs of its customers,” said Jingwen Li, research analyst for storage systems at IDC.

“With features such as OneDrive cloud storage, and the new 4TB capacity, the Seagate Backup Plus family addresses the growing need for data storage and backup with flexible data access and simple data management in the personal storage market.”

The updated 4TB version will arrive next month at $239, while the existing 500GB to 2TB options are already available starting at $79.99. Desktop versions stretch up to an 8TB version at $359.99.

After a frantic morning of registering the Seagate drives in the office to no avail, we confirmed with Seagate that, in fact, the offer is back-dated only to drives manufactured after January 2015, so loyal customers don’t need to get all excited.

Microsoft opened up its API for OneDrive in February to make it easier for manufacturers to integrate.

More recently the firm opened up the API for Microsoft Office so that other cloud storage providers can integrate their own offerings directly, blowing the productivity market wide open.

Courtesy-TheInq

Facebook Allowing Users Without An Account To Use Messenger

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.

The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.

Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.

 

 

 

Ford Creates Global Team To Focus On Self-driving Cars

June 25, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co is finally ramping up its efforts to roll out self-driving cars, according to company executives.

The U.S. automaker will expand advanced safety technology, including automatic braking, across its global vehicle lineup over the next five years, they said. Such systems, the precursors of fully autonomous vehicles, enable hands-free operation of cars under certain conditions by automating such basic functions as steering, braking and throttle.

Ford has lagged behind competitors, notably General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors Inc, which have all announced plans to begin offering semi-automated driving systems over the next 18 months.

On Tuesday, Ford said it had created a global team to develop self-driving vehicles, with 29-year company veteran Randy Visintainer as director.

The move elevates a low-key research effort to a higher-profile advanced engineering project, and signals Chief Executive Mark Fields’ intent to accelerate Ford’s presence in the area.

“During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup (and) continue to increase automated driving capability,” Raj Nair, Ford’s global product development chief, said Tuesday in Palo Alto, California.

Nair said the move is “another step closer to production” of fully autonomous vehicles. He declined to say when such vehicles would reach the market, but other companies have targeted 2020.

Much of the engineering development work will take place at Ford’s recently opened research and innovation center in Palo Alto in northern California’s Silicon Valley, where the company expects to have 125 employees by year-end.

More than a dozen global automakers and suppliers have teamed up with tech startups and established companies in the area to develop advanced safety and self-driving systems.

Automatic braking and pedestrian detection, which are available on Ford’s Mondeo sedan in Europe, will debut next year on one of its U.S. vehicles and in most Ford products globally by 2019.

A key supplier of pedestrian-detection technology is Mobileye NV, which is working with Ford, GM, Tesla and other automakers to bring such advanced safety systems to market.

 

 

Cyber Criminals Find Financial Industry Most Lucrative

June 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Banks, Stocker Brokerages and credit card firms are becoming more desirable to money-hungry cyber crooks whose fraudulent operations now account for 300 percent more attacks than any other industry.

That’s according to the latest Finance Industry Drill Down report by security firm Websense, which says that because of the value at stake in compromising hosts in the finance sector, criminals are spending “a tremendous amount of time” on the investigation and lure stages of attacks.

This is to make sure attempts are sophisticated enough to be successful against any defences a business might have in place.

Based on Websense’s telemetry data from the Websense ThreatSeeker Network and the Websense Advanced Classification Engine, the findings revealed the financial sector is one of the biggest targets of cyber-attacks and thus these attacks are increasing in volume and sophistication.

Some of these attacks can earn big bucks for those launching them. We spoke to Websense’s Principal Security Analyst, Carl Leonard, who told us that one of the most popular malware campaigns launched against the financial sector over the past year managed to steal a whopping £100,000.

Leonard added that these hackers are usually working in small groups, but the interesting thing is that they are less skilled than what they would have been traditionally due to the rise of “malware-as-a-service” (MASS).

MAAS refers to a coveted underground network of cybercrooks and hackers who are always on the outlook for new tools to exploit, and are exchanging source code for existing malware, then using basic skills to customise these, enabling even entry-level threat actors to successfully create and launch data theft attacks.

This wide-spread availability of exploit kits on sale on the undergroung cyber markets, comprising a combination of old techniques with newer ones, is resulting in attacks which are difficult to track back to the source. Old threats are thus being recycled into new ones and launched through email and web channels, “challenging even the most robust defensive postures”.

“The barriers to entry are reducing due to malware-as-a-service because you don’t need to have skills of previous years,” explained Leonard. “You can acquire the skills and malware kits that allow you to conduct tools as a malware author.

“These authors can subscribe to a service, which [constantly] provides them with very recent versions of malware.”

The most dangerous malware tools found by Webense to be wrecking havoc in the financial sector are:

Rerdom, an attack vector from the Asprox family of malware responsible for a huge amount of attacks against every industry. This attack group is often known as a spam generator, but it has vast functionality and is increasingly being used to target financial services customers in the form of sending malicious emails, click fraud, harvesting FTP, browser, and email credentials. It accounts for 30 percent of threats found in the financial services industry, Websense said.

Vawtrack, a malicious banking trojan, accounts for 13 percent of all threats in the sector and is being used in attempts to steal a wide range of victims’ credentials. Websense said it was created for gathering personal information and stealing it without leaving traces. The banking trojan can easily take over passwords, digital certificates, browser history and cookies. Its defense mechanism tries to detect any installed AV and disable it by using the Windows mechanism called Software Restriction Policies.

The third most popular malware threat seen in the financial sector is one called Geodo, which Websense said has been found in the sector 400 percent more than any other industry. The security firm describes it as an update of the Cridex attack, and has a separate email worm that looks to steal credentials and self-perpetuate, thereby initiating more lures.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Freescales Debuts Linux SoC

June 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Freescale has been showing off its two Linux-ready, 28nm i.MX7 SoCs.

Based around the Cortex-A7 cores and Cortex-M4 MCUs, the pair have lower power consumption than the predecessor the i.MX6.

The single-core, 800MHz i.MX7 Solo (i.MX7S) and dual-core, 1GHz i.MX7 Dual (i.MX7D) are the first use the Cortex-A7.

The reduced power consumption has happened at the expense of a performance reduction. The up-to-1GHz Cortex-A7 cores are slower than the i.MX6′s up to 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 cores. In addition, there’s no mention of the earlier Vivante GPUs or 3D acceleration. Like the UltraLite, there’s only a simple 2D image processing engine.

Freescale said the i.MX7′s Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 cores have a core efficiency levels of 100 ?W/MHz and 70 ?W/MHz, respectively. The SoC’s overall power efficiency is 15.7 DMIPS/mW, and a new Low Power State Retention (LPSR) mode runs at 250 ?W. In LPSR sleep mode, the i.MX7 consumes only 250 ?W, while supporting DDR self-refresh mode, GPIO wakeup, and memory state retention.

The savings are down to the newer Cortex-A7 architecture and a 28nm “ultra low leakage process,” as compared to the i.MX6′s 40nm process. The i.MX7 also features a new discrete power domain architecture.

The i.MX7 ships with Linux, and supports Android, and is aimed at wearables, Point-of-Sale gear and smart home controls.

The i.MX7 SoCs are paired with a new Freescale PF3000 PMIC which has features up to four buck converters, six linear regulators, an RTC supply, and a coin-cell charger. The chip is supposed to optimize peripheral power delivery, system memory and processor cores. The PMIC also supports one-time programmable memory for controlling startup sequence and output voltages.

The i.MX7 has a Cortex-M4 microcontroller unit (MCU) core for offloading processing. The Cortex-M4 can run Freescale’s own MQX, at up to 266MHz, compared to 200MHz on the SoloX.

Courtesy-Fud