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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Linux Convergence Dream

The Elusive Total Linux Convergence Dream

Regular readers know that I usually stick to the well-charted territory of essential terminal commands and practical overviews of Linux history, since they are immediately useful to newcomers.


Thankfully for beginners, the basics don't change very quickly -- but that's not to say that Linux is a stagnant ecosystem. Far from it. Linux can be found at the very frontier of emerging computer trends.
Most current events in the Linux community have little direct impact on the average desktop user, but one recent development that very much does is Canonical's decision to end development of Ubuntu's flagship Unity desktop. This was disheartening news for Unity fans this spring, but over the past few months it has been the subject of intense discussion throughout Linux developer and user circles for what it portends for the community at large.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Facebook Adds 4K to 360 Live

Facebook Adds Hardware, Software Vetting and 4K to 360 Live

Facebook on Tuesday announced several updates to its live-streaming platform, including a new hardware and software vetting program used to create 360-degree video.

Through its new Live 360 Ready Program, Facebook will review hardware and software and approve products that work well with its Live 360 offering. Products deemed "ready" for Live 360 will be allowed to display a Facebook Live logo on their packaging or website.
"Each camera's app or Web experience will enable you to interact with your friends and followers through direct access to Facebook's native reactions and comments," noted Facebook Product Manager Chetan Gupta and Product Marketing Manager Caitlin Ramrakha in an online post.
Facebook has approved 11 cameras and seven software suites so far.
Live 360 Ready cameras included Giroptic iO, Insta360 Nano, Insta360 Air, Insta360 Pro, ION360 U, Nokia Ozo, Z CAM S1, 360Fly HD, 360Fly 4K and 360Fly 4K Pro.
Live 360 Ready software packages included Assimilate SCRATCH VR, Groovy Gecko, LiveScale, Teradek, Voysys, Wowza and Z CAM WonderLive.
"The way we communicate is getting more and more visual, and live 360 video is the richest medium of all," said JK Liu, CEO of Insta360, maker of a Live 360 Ready camera.
"We're excited to bring Facebook users a way to go live in 360 that fits in seamlessly with the way they already use their phones," he told TechNewsWorld.

The 5 Technologies We Need to Change the World

The 5 Technologies We Need to Change the World

I just finished reading an interesting hard science fiction book called The Punch Escrow, by Tal M. Klein (a movie is in the works).

What makes the difference between hard and soft science fiction is that hard science fiction is based on science, while soft is, let's just say, far more imaginative. To be honest, I enjoy both types, and the soft stuff is a ton easier to write. Those pesky physical rules don't get in the way, and you don't have to do research.

The story takes place several decades in the future, and it revolves around the idea of quantum foam and teleportation. It points out why teleportation never may be practical, but it brings up the idea of human 3D printing, which could be used more effectively for space exploration.


However, it also would have a massive number of other uses, both good and bad, which got me thinking about what else could change our future in a massive way. I came up with a list of five potentially world-changing technologies.

I'll close with my product of the week: a book on management that could have a massive effect on your company's success, based on the black boxes used in airplanes. It's called Black Box Thinking.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Intel accuses Qualcomm

Intel accuses Qualcomm of trying to kill mobile chip competition

Intel says Qualcomm's patent spat with Apple is really about quashing competition from Intel.
Intel has jumped into the fray surrounding the Apple-Qualcomm patent spat by accusing the world's biggest maker of mobile phone chips of trying to use the courts to snuff out competition.


The chip giant made the allegation late Thursday in a public statement (PDF) to US International Trade Commission. The commission had requested the statement as part of its investigation into Qualcomm's accusation that Apple's iPhones of infringe six of Qualcomm's mobile patents.
Specifically, Intel said, the case is about quashing competition from Intel, which described itself as "Qualcomm's only remaining competitor" in the market for chips for cellular phones.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Microsoft Rolls Out Linux Support

Microsoft Rolls Out Linux Support in SQL Server 2017 Release Candidate

Microsoft on Monday announced the availability of its first public release candidate for SQL Server 2017, which includes full support for Windows, Linux and Docker containers.

SQL Server on Linux improves on earlier previews with several key enhancements, including active directory authentication; transport layer security to encrypt data; and SQL Server Integration Services that add support for Unicode ODBC drivers.

SQL Server 2017 has demonstrated faster performance than competitive databases or older SQL Server versions with new benchmarks, Microsoft said, including the world record TPC-H 1-TB non-clustered data warehousing benchmark achieved this spring using SQL Server 2017 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and HPE DL380 Gen 9 hardware.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Security, Automation Tools

Red Hat Linux Upgrade Pushes New Security, Automation Tools

Red Hat on Tuesday announced the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 beta.
RHEL 7.4 includes new security and compliance features and streamlined automation, along with tools for improved systems administration.

This latest upgrade comes nearly three years into the series 7 lifecycle. It continues to provide enterprises with a rich and stable foundation for both existing applications and a new generation of workloads and solutions.


"RHEL 7.4 enables data centers to continue running mission-critical stuff. We rarely see the particular features any more. We just take the technology for granted," said Steve Almy, principal product manager for RHEL at Red Hat.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Google create stunning photos using Street View imagery

Google is using AI to create stunning landscape photos using Street View imagery

Google’s latest artificial intelligence experiment is taking in Street View imagery from Google Maps and transforming it into professional-grade photography through post-processing — all without a human touch. Hui Fang, a software engineer on Google’s Machine Perception team, says the project uses machine learning techniques to train a deep neural network to scan thousands of Street View images in California for shots with impressive landscape potential. The software then “mimics the workflow of a professional photographer” to turn that imagery into an aesthetically pleasing panorama.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

China blocking VPNs

China may not be blocking VPNs after all

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the Chinese government would be requiring internet provides to block users’ access to personal VPNs. However, a new report published today in the state-run news site The Paper (spotted by Engadget) seems to contradict that report.

The statement from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says that “authorized” VPNs will be allowed to conduct business as usual, and that the new restrictions only apply to companies using unauthorized VPNs, a policy that the ministry notes has been in place since January.

That said, the statement in The Paper doesn’t really clarify which users are eligible for approval or how that process will work, leaving plenty of room for additional restrictions if the government decides to go that route. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spotify

Spotify denies promoting 'fake artists'

Music streaming service Spotify has denied that some of its playlists contain music tracks by "fake artists".

A music industry publication listed 50 artists it claimed were not real.

They have racked up millions of streams by appearing on mood-based playlists such as Sleep and Ambient Chill, but many have no other visible profile.

However, one industry expert told the BBC Spotify was "not committing a crime" if it was commissioning tracks or buying production music.

"We do not and have never created 'fake' artists and put them on Spotify playlists. Categorically untrue, full stop," Spotify said in a statement.

"We do not own rights, we're not a label, all our music is licensed from rights holders and we pay them - we don't pay ourselves."

Low profile

Some of the artist names in the list, compiled by Music Business Worldwide (MBW), did appear to have a presence on other platforms - generally rival services such as LastFM and YouTube - when checked by the BBC, but most had no website or social media presence in their own right.

For example Relajar, which has racked up 13.4 million streams, comes up only on Spotify in internet search results.

"We're pretty sure A&R [artist and repertoire] teams from across the globe would love to hear about artists with no online presence who have managed to rack up millions of Spotify plays with their first few tracks," wrote MBW.

Mark Mulligan, from Midia Research, said that Spotify could be commissioning others to produce content which it then pays lower royalties for in return.

"Labels are scared because they suspect this is the thin end of the wedge, but it's not forcing those artists to do it," he said.

It was also possible that Spotify was buying existing production music from other companies, Mr Mulligan said.

Some artists choose not to attach their real names to this sort of material.

"We still don't have the smoking gun - there's no proof of payment," he said.

"This is getting creative about how Spotify might try to not have to pay out for all the music it plays.
"Ten years into the Spotify experiment, it still hasn't made a profit despite being the most successful music-streaming platform on the planet."

Source:
Indirabali

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Facebook and Google will participate

Facebook and Google will participate in next week’s big net neutrality protest

Facebook and Google have confirmed their participation in a wide-scale net neutrality protest scheduled for July 12th, according to Fortune. The protest is being called the “Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality,” or “Day of Action” and “Battle for the Net” for short. It’s designed to be an illustrative example of the breadth and magnitude of opposition to the Federal Communication Commission’s recent regulatory behavior (or lack thereof) that open internet advocates fear could roll back years of legislative progress, in a fashion similar to the SOPA and PIPA protests of 2012.

It’s unclear how Facebook or Google plan to participate. However, a number of other tech companies have also confirmed their support, including Amazon, Netflix, Reddit, Mozilla, Kickstarter, and Spotify. “Websites, Internet users, and online communities will come together to sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality,” reads the protest’s official website. “We'll provide tools for everyone to make it super easy for your followers / visitors to take action. From the SOPA blackout to the Internet Slowdown, we've shown time and time again that when the Internet comes together, we can stop censorship and corruption.”

The protest organizers, which include activism groups like Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, have suggestions for these alarm-sounding measures that include everything from in-app push notifications and letter-sending website prompts to profile pic alternatives for Facebook users to deploy. Some companies, like voice chat app Discord and publishing platform Medium, have already confirmed they’ll be using in-app alerts and other means to send the message out.

Source:
Indirabali

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Google Calendar gets an iOS widget

Google Calendar gets an iOS widget, nearly three years after widgets launched

Google Calendar users on iOS, rejoice: the official Google Calendar app for iPhone and iPad has finally gotten a Today widget, allowing you to preview upcoming events at a glance from the “Today’ section of the notification shade and lock screen, as spotted by 9to5Mac.




The widget can show the next two events on your calendar, and expand to show another four. Like other Today widgets, the preview can also be accessed on iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 devices by pressing down with 3D Touch on the Google Calendar icon.

That’s pretty much it. There’s no way to show a full month view like the excellent Fantastical 2 does, which is one of the main reasons it remains my favorite iPhone calendar app. But if you’ve been looking to have more easily accessible information from your Google Calendar, now you can.

Google Calendar’s Today widget update is available now on the App Store.

Source:
Indirabali

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Qualcomm accuses Apple

Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing six patents in iPhone, iPad

Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc will ask the US International Trade Commission to bar Apple Inc from selling some iPhones and iPads in the United States that use chips made by competitor Intel Corp on the grounds that the devices infringe on six Qualcomm patents. 

In a request that would broaden its legal battle with Apple, San Diego-based Qualcomm said it will ask the US ITC to ban imports of the infringing Apple devices. A related lawsuit was filed in federal court in California on Thursday to request monetary damages. 



Qualcomm, which also supplies chips to Apple, said the six patents help devices perform well without draining the battery. 

Apple referred reporters to its earlier comments on the dispute with Qualcomm, which accuse Qualcomm of unfairly imposing what Apple calls a "tax" on Apple devices using Qualcomm chips. 

In its complaint to the ITC, Qualcomm asked the body to ban "iPhones that use cellular baseband processors other than those supplied by Qualcomm’s affiliates." Qualcomm did not name Intel, but Intel began supplying chips for some iPhones starting with the iPhone 7. 


Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but claims that the way Apple implements them in the iPhone does. Intel declined comment. 

Stacy Rasgon, an analyst with Bernstein, said ITC cases typically take 16 months to conclude and the case was unlikely to affect Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone launch expected this fall. "I doubt this puts a lot of immediate pressure on Apple," Rasgon said. 

There has been long-running tension between Qualcomm and Apple over Qualcomm's practice of taking a cut of the total price of the phone in exchange for "modem" chips that help phones use wireless networks data plans. 


The ITC is a popular venue for patent disputes because it handles cases relatively quickly and can more easily bar an infringing product from the U.S. market than federal courts. 

Animosity between the two companies burst into the open in January, when the US Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm and accused it of using "anticompetitive" tactics to maintain its monopoly on a key semiconductor used in mobile phones. 

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law along with the Justice Department, said that Qualcomm used its dominant position as a supplier of certain chips to impose "onerous" supply and licensing terms on cellphone manufacturers and to weaken competitors. 

Days later, Apple sued Qualcomm for US$1bil (RM4.29bil), accusing it of overcharging for chips and withholding promised rebates because of Apple's discussions with South Korea's antitrust regulators in their probe of Qualcomm. 


Separately from this dispute, Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for modem chips that connect phones to wireless networks.

Source:
Indirabali


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Apple Health

Apple Centers Health Data Strategy on iPhone

Apple quietly has been strategizing to expand its growing healthcare business to include the management of digital health records, with the iPhone operating as a central data hub, CNBC reported last week.
Apple has been in talks with numerous health industry groups that are involved in setting standards for the storage and sharing of electronic medical records, in a way that would help consumers gain more control over their private medical information, according to the network.

The plan appears to be a natural extension of Apple’s recent health industry strategy, which includes its Research Kit, CareKit and HealthKit — platforms that allow developers to create apps that help patients, hospitals and researchers find new ways to collect, manage and deliver health data efficiently and directly.

“This has been an interest point as part of Apple’s strategy in the healthcare vertical for some time,” said Daniel Ruppar, digital health global program director at Frost & Sullivan.
Apple last year acquired Gliimpse, a medical records startup that helped collect data from different platforms and organized the information for patients.
Thus far, Apple’s efforts largely have focused on fitness information, but in recent years it has moved into more focused healthcare delivery. For example, the company recently began work on developing sensors that could help diabetic patients manage blood glucose levels.


“They’ve shown on a number of fronts they’ve been tackling health and well being,” said Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile and telecoms at IHS Markit.

Regulatory Challenge

The challenge for Apple going forward is that it tends to attack new businesses on a global scale, and healthcare data requires dealing with a myriad of regulatory and privacy issues that cannot easily be synchronized across a single platform, Fogg told TechNewsWorld.
Also, the sensitivity of personal health data demands a high level of security and transparency, so that hospitals and patients can feel comfortable allowing that type of information to be controlled by an outside party, he said.
“I would hope that Apple is planning to use the iPhone to securely communicate personal medical information from sensor to a HIPAA-compliant cloud service, and that medical records are only permanently retained in the cloud service,” said Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research.
While temporary secure viewing on an iPhone would be nice, it would be better to have another layer of device security sitting between the attacker and the EMR repository, he told TechNewsWorld.
It’s questionable that health information ever will become a big driver of device sales “unless medical systems or insurance companies are going to get into the iPhone distribution game,” Teich said.
The real revenue driver for Apple would be to use a secure back-end EMR cloud service to sell Apple gear to medical institutions, he suggested.
“Protected healthcare information is valuable data,” observed Ed Cabrera, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro.


“Arguably, any time you transition this type of data into another platform, there’s an inherent risk associated with it,” he told TechNewsWorld. “However, Apple has a history of developing security and privacy into their products that leads to better overall protection for their users.”

Business Case

With a healthcare records system on board, Apple likely would see a slight shift in how iPhones were sold and a slight uptake in the medical industry as companies started promoting the iPhone as a tool for doctors, said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for worldwide mobile device trackers at IDC.
However, it wouldn’t be a game changer for iPhone sales, he said.
“Rather, this would further solidify Apple’s stance as a leader in privacy and security, and would put pressure on Android as a whole, as well as Samsung, to step up their game,” Ubrani told TechNewsWorld.
Rival tech companies have made efforts to capture medical data for research, consumer applications and other business opportunities.
Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, this spring partnered with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine to launch Project Baseline, a project to collect broad, phenotypic health data from 10,000 volunteers.
After screening it to ensure the privacy of volunteer participants, the data will be hosted on Google Cloud Platform and available for researchers to gain a better understanding of disease risk factors and other information.
Nokia recently acquired Paris-based Withings, a digital health company that sells smart health products like digital scales, smartwatches and thermometers, and tracks activities as well. Nokia launched a digital health unit led by former Withings CEO Cedric Hutchings.

Apple quietly has been strategizing to expand its growing healthcare business to include the management of digital health records, with the iPhone operating as a central data hub, CNBC reported last week. Apple has been in talks with numerous health industry groups that are involved in setting standards for the storage and sharing of electronic medical records, in a way that would help consumers gain more control over their private medical information, according to the network. The plan appears to be a natural extension of Apple’s recent health industry strategy, which includes its Research Kit, CareKit and HealthKit — platforms that allow developers to create apps that help patients, hospitals and researchers find new ways to collect, manage and deliver health data efficiently and directly. “This has been an interest point as part of Apple’s strategy in the healthcare vertical for some time,” said Daniel Ruppar, digital health global program director at Frost & Sullivan. Apple last year acquired Gliimpse, a medical records startup that helped collect data from different platforms and organized the information for patients. Thus far, Apple’s efforts largely have focused on fitness information, but in recent years it has moved into more focused healthcare delivery. For example, the company recently began work on developing sensors that could help diabetic patients manage blood glucose levels. “They’ve shown on a number of fronts they’ve been tackling health and well being,” said Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile and telecoms at IHS Markit.



Regulatory Challenge The challenge for Apple going forward is that it tends to attack new businesses on a global scale, and healthcare data requires dealing with a myriad of regulatory and privacy issues that cannot easily be synchronized across a single platform, Fogg told TechNewsWorld. Also, the sensitivity of personal health data demands a high level of security and transparency, so that hospitals and patients can feel comfortable allowing that type of information to be controlled by an outside party, he said. “I would hope that Apple is planning to use the iPhone to securely communicate personal medical information from sensor to a HIPAA-compliant cloud service, and that medical records are only permanently retained in the cloud service,” said Paul Teich, principal analyst at Tirias Research. While temporary secure viewing on an iPhone would be nice, it would be better to have another layer of device security sitting between the attacker and the EMR repository, he told TechNewsWorld. It’s questionable that health information ever will become a big driver of device sales “unless medical systems or insurance companies are going to get into the iPhone distribution game,” Teich said. The real revenue driver for Apple would be to use a secure back-end EMR cloud service to sell Apple gear to medical institutions, he suggested. “Protected healthcare information is valuable data,” observed Ed Cabrera, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro. “Arguably, any time you transition this type of data into another platform, there’s an inherent risk associated with it,” he told TechNewsWorld. “However, Apple has a history of developing security and privacy into their products that leads to better overall protection for their users.” Business Case With a healthcare records system on board, Apple likely would see a slight shift in how iPhones were sold and a slight uptake in the medical industry as companies started promoting the iPhone as a tool for doctors, said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for worldwide mobile device trackers at IDC. However, it wouldn’t be a game changer for iPhone sales, he said. “Rather, this would further solidify Apple’s stance as a leader in privacy and security, and would put pressure on Android as a whole, as well as Samsung, to step up their game,” Ubrani told TechNewsWorld. Rival tech companies have made efforts to capture medical data for research, consumer applications and other business opportunities. Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Google parent Alphabet, this spring partnered with Duke University School of Medicine and Stanford Medicine to launch Project Baseline, a project to collect broad, phenotypic health data from 10,000 volunteers. After screening it to ensure the privacy of volunteer participants, the data will be hosted on Google Cloud Platform and available for researchers to gain a better understanding of disease risk factors and other information. Nokia recently acquired Paris-based Withings, a digital health company that sells smart health products like digital scales, smartwatches and thermometers, and tracks activities as well. Nokia launched a digital health unit led by former Withings CEO Cedric Hutchings.

Source:

Nokia vs Xiaomi

Nokia, Xiaomi Announce Business Collaboration, Multi-Year Patent Deal

Nokia and Xiaomi on Wednesday announced business collaboration agreement and a multi-year patent agreement which includes cross licensing for each company's cellular standard essential patents. Under the new business agreement, Xiaomi also acquired patent assets from Nokia.

The Finnish firm, which focuses on telecommunication network equipment, will likely help its Chinese partner gain technological advancements, and help it with its operations in over 30 countries. Apart from smartphone business, the agreement will also benefit Xiaomi with its Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem which the Chinese company claims crossed over 60 million connected devices. Xiaomi claims that there are now over 8 million daily active connected devices on the Mi Ecosystem platform.


The new partnership between Xiaomi and Nokia will mean that the latter will offer network infrastructure equipment usually required by large Web providers and data centre operators. The partnership will also mean that both Nokia and Xiaomi will work together on optical transport solutions for data centre interconnect, IP routing based on Nokia's newly announced FP4 network processor, and a data centre fabric solution.The agreement follows a partnership announced in February this year for Xiaomi's 'private cloud' network

Both the companies will also be working on areas like Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality (or AR and VR), and artificial intelligence (AI).



Commenting on the agreement, Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia said, "Xiaomi is one of the world's leading smartphone manufacturers and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with them. In addition to welcoming such a prominent global technology company to our family of patent licensees, we look forward to working together on a wide range of strategic projects."

Lei Jun, Chairman and CEO of Xiaomi also commented on the partnership, saying, "Our collaboration with Nokia will enable us to tap on its leadership in building large, high performance networks and formidable strength in software and services, as we seek to create even more remarkable products and services that deliver the best user experience to our Mi fans worldwide."


Separately, a report claims that Xiaomi may have got its first smartphone brand partner for its in-house SoC chipset dubbed Surge S1.

According to PhoneArena's report, HMD Global and Xiaomi have signed a deal which will mean that a future Nokia smartphone will feature Surge S1 SoC. Unfortunately, there's no word when we will get to see first phone featuring Xiaomi Surge S1 SoC.

It's worth mentioning that the deal between HMD Global and Xiaomi is separate from the Nokia and Xiaomi partnership.

Source:
Indirabali


Monday, July 3, 2017

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking: 
Trump could push the Earth over the brink



You walk out into the streets. They're melting.

Which is strange, because it's raining. Wait, that's not rain. That's sulphuric acid. Your umbrella is melting too.


That's the dark scenario painted by famed physicist Stephen Hawking to the BBC on Sunday. And who might be responsible for this molten hell on earth? Why, Donald Trump.

"We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible," Hawking told the BBC. "Trump's action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid."

He was specifically referring to Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord and his seeming belief that, well, the concept of global warming was invented by the Chinese for material gain.

"By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children," Hawking told the BBC.


The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

You walk out into the streets. They're melting.

Which is strange, because it's raining. Wait, that's not rain. That's sulphuric acid. Your umbrella is melting too.

That's the dark scenario painted by famed physicist Stephen Hawking to the BBC on Sunday. And who might be responsible for this molten hell on earth? Why, Donald Trump.

"We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible," Hawking told the BBC. "Trump's action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees, and raining sulphuric acid."

He was specifically referring to Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Climate accord and his seeming belief that, well, the concept of global warming was invented by the Chinese for material gain.

"By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children," Hawking told the BBC.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Indirabali


Sunday, July 2, 2017

PCs Shine Again

PCs Shine Again, but for How Long?

Just when PCs looked to be dying a slow, painful death, they became interesting again. As expected, this week's news coming from Computex in Taiwan is flush with new PCs and PC technologies, but is it enough to reinvigorate a market that has faced declining sales since 2011?
The market peaked at just over 365 million units annually, and fell to 269 million units last year, according to Gartner. So, why all the excitement?
The excitement is emerging from both the technology driving PCs and the applications leveraging the processing power of PCs. In terms of technology, the battle between AMD and Intel for processor supremacy has heated up again, along with a new core race.

High-End Battle Impact

AMD kicked off the new battle with its Ryzen processor, featuring up to eight CPU cores with 16 threads, the equivalent of 16 virtual cores. With significantly lower price points, AMD also lowered the starting price for a well-equipped gaming PC to less than $2,000.
Intel has countered with a new line of Core i9 processors that will feature up to 18 cores and 36 threads -- but at a price tag that puts the price of the processor alone at around $2,000. In addition, the graphics processing unit soon will get a significant bump in performance, when AMD introduces new products on its Vega architecture and Nvidia launches products based on its Volta architecture.
If that weren't enough, the I/O on PCs is being upgrading to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, and solid-state drives and memory are getting faster with larger capacities.
While these extreme systems won't have much of an impact on average consumers in 2017, the impact of a performance battle at the high end of the market is that mainstream PCs will see new technologies and substantial bumps in performance at much lower price points starting in 2018.
For people who want to be productive but are more focused on social media, entertainment and light gaming, Microsoft and Qualcomm are pushing the concept of an always-connected PC, leveraging the performance of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 mobile processor.
Think of it as the Microsoft version of the Chromebook, but with the Windows 10 ecosystem and Windows Store, and similarly available from a variety of PC OEMs.

VR and AR Ahead

On the application side, gaming remains the application driving PC technology and market stability. In fact, gaming is the only area where PCs shipments actually have been growing.
However, just on the horizon is a new generation of virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted displays that hold the promise of improving the PC experience in just about every application -- from engineering and design to entertainment and gaming.
This is the first new application well suited for the PC in a long time, because VR and AR require increasingly more processing, graphics and I/O capabilities than the industry can deliver today.

More Power Users

Despite all the activity around PCs, most industry forecasts still point to a down year in 2017. We haven't seen this much innovation in a tech segment in years, so why is the outlook for PCs still so negative? The answer lies in the dynamics of the market.
The first thing to consider is the adoption rate of these new PCs. While gamers are anxious to be on the latest and greatest technology, other power users, like enterprises, have longer and planned upgrade cycles. This means that adoption cycles can take a year or two for new technologies.
On the positive side, however, is that power users account for more than a third of the overall PC market, by some estimates, and the their ranks are growing. The shift to Windows 10 by consumers and enterprise users also bodes well for the overall PC segment next year.

The second issue is the adoption of new applications and technologies. While VR and AR hold promise, the applications are still limited and evolving toward a must-have user experience. In addition, the cost of the high-end HMDs that provide that rich user experience currently are upwards of $800, well out of the price range of the average consumer.
As the number of applications increases, the user experience improves, and as the technology evolves, prices will come down to a more reasonable $200-$300 price range, starting later this year.
Finally, there is the competition from other platforms. While PCs are a great platform for VR and AR today, game consoles, mobile devices, and other platforms will offer viable alternatives in the future, especially as HMDs move to next generation high-speed WiFi and 5G wireless interfaces, starting later this decade.

Keeping the Momentum Going

The new surge in technology around the PC might abate the decrease in PC shipments and may even show an uptick in late 2017 and throughout 2018 as the new platforms are introduced and the technology is pushed down into more affordable price bands, in the view of Tirias Research.
Products like the new Asus ROG Strix GL702ZC and the new Dell Inspiron gaming desktops announced at Computex, which are based on AMD technology, target lower price points than the traditional gaming platforms like Dell's Alienware products.
The technology surge is a positive for the industry, as the same technology will be used for other platforms, ranging from medical systems to gaming consoles. However, the PC still needs to evolve in both form factor and usage models to sustain this brief surge in momentum.

Source:
Indirabali


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hackers Can Guess PINs, Passwords

Hackers Can Guess PINs, Passwords From Brainwaves: Study

Hackers can guess a user's passwords by monitoring their thoughts, according to scientists including those of Indian origin who suggest that brainwave-sensing headsets need better security.

Electroencephalograph (EEG) headsets allow users to control robotic toys and video games with the mind.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US found that a person who paused a video game and logged into a bank account while wearing an EEG headset was at risk for having their passwords or other sensitive data stolen by a malicious software programme.


"These emerging devices open immense opportunities for everyday users," said Nitesh Saxena, associate professor from University of Alabama.

"However, they could also raise significant security and privacy threats as companies work to develop even more advanced brain-computer interface technology," said Saxena.

The team, including PhD student Ajaya Neupane, used one EEG headset currently available to consumers online and one clinical-grade headset used for scientific research to demonstrate how easily a malicious software programme could passively eavesdrop on a user's brainwaves.

While typing, a user's inputs correspond with their visual processing, as well as hand, eye and head muscle movements. All these movements are captured by EEG headsets.

The team asked 12 people to type a series of randomly generated PINs and passwords into a text box as if they were logging into an online account while wearing an EEG headset, in order for the software to train itself on the user's typing and the corresponding brainwave.


"In a real-world attack, a hacker could facilitate the training step required for the malicious programme to be most accurate, by requesting that the user enter a predefined set of numbers in order to restart the game after pausing it to take a break, similar to the way CAPTCHA is used to verify users when logging onto websites," Saxena said.

The team found that, after a user entered 200 characters, algorithms within the malicious software programme could make educated guesses about new characters the user entered by monitoring the EEG data recorded.

The algorithm was able to shorten the odds of a hacker's guessing a four-digit numerical PIN from one in 10,000 to one in 20 and increased the chance of guessing a six-letter password from about 500,000 to roughly one in 500.

"Given the growing popularity of EEG headsets and the variety of ways in which they could be used, it is inevitable that they will become part of our daily lives, including while using other devices," Saxena said.

"It is important to analyse the potential security and privacy risks associated with this emerging technology to raise users' awareness of the risks and develop viable solutions to malicious attacks," he said.

Source:
Indirabali
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