Category: Products

China clamps down on iPhone smugglers

gala_appleApple is not set to launch its iPhone 6 family in mainland China for a while, but that’s just created a smuggling racket as crooks try to cash in on demand for the devices.

According to the Taipei Times, crooks are selling imported iPhone 6s for as much as $3,000 – but authorities have made several seizures of the machines in the last week.

Some have tried to import the iPhones by using speedboats into mangrove swamps while others have taken the more direct route of stuffing their suitcases with contraband Apple phones.

The same report said that “hundreds” of devices had been taken from passengers who sought to import a phone without declaring them.

Greed for Apple iPhones is apparently so high that authorities are suggesting that people despise rather than envy those who have one of the overpriced devices.  The Taipei Times report is here.

Windows 9 out next year

Microsoft campusYou may not have upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7, never mind Windows 8 – but pretty soon you’ll have Windows 9 to think about.

Microsoft will release something it calls  a technical preview of Windows 9 at the end of this month.

The word on the street is that Windows 9 will include the start menu – and it might not be called Windows 9.  The beta is due to be supplied with a single beta.

According to PC Advisor, the preview version will come between the second quarter and the third quarter next year. There will be versions available for smartphones, for PCs and for tablets.

Web site Winbeta said that Microsoft is going to dump the so-called “charms bar”, an annoying menu that comes in from the right hand side of the screeen with buttons to search, share and the like.

The word on the street appears to be that Windows 9, or whatever it’s called, will use 64 bit processors only, although that could present a  problem for heaps of people.

Blackberry goes square with Passport design

blackberry-juicerMobile phone company Blackberry officially released its Passport device, which has a square touch screen and a touch enabled QWERTY keyboard.

It said the unit follows the design of real passports.

The device uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for the display and stainless steel to make it that bit more rugged.

The screen is 4.5-inches square using a 1:1 aspect ratio and a 1440 x 1440 pixel HD display. It has 32GB of storage and a 13 megapixel camera.

The keyboard lets you perform touch functions on the keyboard, scroll web pages, and leaving the full screen space for viewing.

It comes with Blackberry 10.3 operating system along with Amazon Appstore and Blackberry Blend.blackpass

It claims that it has long battery use – and for a very active user provides up to 30 hours of life.

The unit comes with speakers and a quad microphone system/  It’s available now, worldwide.

Apple claims sales record for iPhone 6

Apple's Tim CookGizmo firm Apple claimed it sold over 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones in the three days after it was launched by CEO Tim Cook. (pictured)

The phones are available in the UK, Singapore, Puerto Rico, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Canada, Australia and the USA – and will be sold in 20 more countries on September 26th.

Cook said that while there are supply constraints on the iPhone 6, the launch is Apple’s best ever.

The phones uses Apple’s A8 chip which is a 64 bit microprocessor, touch app Apple Pay and 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch retina HD displays.

The phones also come with an upgrade to the operating system, iOS 8, which offers new features including predictive typing and a Health app.

Apple is using its familiar trick of charging quite a bit extra depending on the memory. In the US, for example the magic figure is a $100 hike between the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB models.

Desktop 3D printer upgraded

Tiertime 3D printerTiertime said it has launched a new desktop 3D printer, called UP BOX.

It costs $1,900 and is aimed at both professional and educational market.

The machine will churn out larger units with a max size of 10x8x8 inches, while the print resolution is now 0.1mm and printing speed 30 percent faster than its predecessor.

Other features include automatic calibration, an air filtration system that cuts down noise and making sure no noxious fumes escape. Perhaps most important to some is  LED based “mood lighting” that tells you where you are on the printing front.

The unit comes with software, a build platform for warp free ABS printing and a one year limited guarantee and service.

The unit will be available in November, through Amazon and other shops, worldwide.

Dell rules the PC monitor roost

Dell logoPC monitor unit shipments amounted to 32.5 million units in the second quarter of this year – and that’s a fall of 2.9 percent compared to the year before.

IDC released findings on the quarter, said that tendency will continue over the next three years.

But LCD technology had a 93 percent market share in the second quarter, an increase of 10.5 percent compared to the same quarter a year before.

The favoured screen size is 21.x-inches, and had a market share of 22.5 percent in the quarter.

While touch screen monitors continue to hold only a tiny part of the total PC monitor share of 0.4 percent, there was stronger growth in the USA than in other markets.

Dell managed to stay number one in the quarter, with market share of 15.4 percent, representing five million units.

Samsung, at number two, had a 17.9 percent share in market value. In revenue terms, it was number one, shipping $1.04 billion wrth of units in the quarter.

HP is the number three worldwide, but held the number one position in Western Europe, and the number two position in the US.

Notebook sales slow in the third quarter

notebooksWhile the computer industry saw comparatively small growth for notebooks in the second quarter, it looks like the third quarter will be much slower.

The third quarter always used to be buoyant for PC sales until sales started to slow a few years ago as smartphones and tablets came into their ascendancy.

Taiwanese wire Digitimes reports that ODMs (original design manufacturers) largely based on the island has fallen quite short of expectations.

It attributes the growth in the second quarter not to a rise in interest in the platforms any more, but because Windows XP was phased out in the spring.

People realised that if they were going to buy a notebook, it would be as well to do it then and move to a new Windows operating system.

Reports earlier this week suggested that sales of tablets in North American and western European markets had reached a degree of stasis too.  Most people who wanted a tablet have got one.

Western Digital fills drives with helium

helium-ballong-flygWestern Digital’s HGST subsidiary has added 8TB and 10TB hard drives to its HelioSeal product line.

These drives are hermetically seals in helium in order to reduce internal drive friction and power use and make your drives sound like Mickey Mouse.

HGST announced its first helium-filled hard drive, the 6TB He6 model in December.  It did rather well and broke all previous records for hard drive areal density.

HGST said that by 2017, it plans to end production of air-filled hard drives for use in corporate data centres and just use helium-filled products.

Along with the thinner gas’s ability to reduce power use, the helium-drives run at four to five degrees cooler than today’s 7200rpm drives, HGST stated.  Sealing air out of the drive also keeps humidity and other contaminates from getting in.

The announcement follows Seagate’s two weeks ago which announced its highest capacity enterprise hard drive would be an 8TB model that bypassed helium for air.

Seagate uses a technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR) to increase the capacity of its drives beyond 4TB. Seagate has said SMR holds the promise of creating 20TB drives by 2020.

HGST’s new 3.5-in 8TB drive uses PMR technology. Both drives use a 12Gbps SAS interface, but by using helium instead of air, HGST said it was able to stack seven platters and reduce power usage at idle by 23 per cent and watts per terabyte of capacity by 44 per cent over its 6TB drive.

Balabit box offers security superguard

praetorianHungarian security company Balabit showed off its Shell Control Box (SCB) at a press gig this  week.

This is a clever gizmo which sits between a data centre and people accessing the data which has an active alert function and which can reconstruct changes people have made to systems as well as preclude certain users from doing different things.

Gabor Marosvari, product marketing manager at Balabit, showed data that demonstrated that 88 percent of internal problems and caused by abuse of privileges,  and 71 percent of all misuses are made using LANs, with 21 percent of those using remote access.

Firewalls, security information and event management (SIEMs) and password managers aren’t enough to protect systems, Balabit claims.  Balabit’s SCB, however, controls privileged user access to remote servers, heads off malicious actions at the gorge, records activities and reports actions for compliance and decision support, it claims. If an intrusion happens, the system can be set up to email the god or goddess that runs the SCB system, and to text them too, if required. It supports the following protocols.

scb

Balabit also claims that it has little competition in the sector. Wallix, CyberARK, Xceedium and Dell Quest use jump hosts; Observe-IT, Centrify and TSFactory are agent based, while Intellinx is a network sniffer.

Balabit, which received an £8 million series A funding from C5 last week, targets banks, central government, telcos, cloud and MSPs, big manufacturers, large enterprises and enterprises using outsourcing.  It doesn’t have any offerings for SMBs, and the cheapest implementation is likely to cost in excess of $10,000. Customers include Raiffeisen, Orange, Telenor, Handelsbanken and Ankara University.

Of course, the big question is that it will be one or two superusers, such as auditors, that has access to the device that monitors an entire enterprise.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes – who will guard the guards themselves? Because she, he, or they are humans too, subject to the emotions, passions, greed and chicanery that affects all of our species.

Get yourself a firewall or get stung

Dell logoPatrick Sweeney, executive director of network security at Dell, talked about next generation firewalls and how the world+dog needs them because of increased security threats.

He said Dell processed 50,000 pieces of malware a day and that means 50,000 new counter measures a day too – with updates to its firewalls pushed out between eight and twelve times a day. Mobility is changing and is being compromised – it’s not just the enterprise. Security from little to large companies all face the same problems and threats.

There’s an increase in criminal to criminal activities, with exploit auction houses, and people offering a distribution service as well as Botnet rental.  The biggest companies in the world and many governments have been badly compromised.

Encryption is used offensively by malware designers which makes it hard to defend networks. Algorithms to defend against these threats must be able to cope with encrypted malware too. Defence has to be at multiple levels, including deep packet inspection to filter content, offer anti-spam, SSL inspection, intrusion protection and others.

Dell has introduced several new features to its SonicWALL offerings including new content filtering policies that are downloaded when people are on the road – an enforced client deployment mode for CFS and AV. Application control is important too, so that highly threatening applications are prevented from being runnable on the network.

Canon offers SMB benefits

canonMFPCanon Europe said that its imageRUNNER2400 series will bring its partners some cool profit benefits.

The multifunctional printer (MFP) is network ready and Francis Thornhill, Canon’s European and UK product manager, said that the devices helps it partners to address challenges of small workgroups.

The device lets Canon partners secure revenues after sales, he said – partners’ contact details are left on the device for end users to re-order consumables and the unit has a triple backed up counter so that bill printing costs can be tracked properly.

The device will be available in March.

A billion smartphones ship

threeiphonesIDC said that a billion smartphones shipped worldwide.

There are over seven billion humans on the planet.

IDC said that that vendors sold 1,004.2 million smartphones – a rise of 38.4 percent from 2012 – which equates to 725.3 million units in 2012.

And smartphones accounted for 55.1 percent of all mobile phone shipments in 2013 – a rise from the 41.7 percent smartphone share in 2012.

Samsung was the market leader, with Apple, Huawei, Lenovo and LG occupying the top five vendors.

Samsung shipped 313.9 million units in 2013, Apple 153.4 million, Huawei 48.8 million, LG 47.7 million and Lenovo 45.5 million.

“Others” exceeded Samsung by shipping 394.9 million units during 2013.

DRAM shortage continues to bite

nand-chipsIt looks as though the shortage of DRAM will continue well into 2014.

A fire at an SK Hynix factory last year was primarily responsible for the run on DRAM and even though the company says that production has resumed, there is still an element of catch up.

According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, speciality DRAM chips are particularly badly affected due to increased demand from various sectors for SDRAMs.

Spot prices for DDR3 memory have risen and are expected to rise even further as the year goes on.

Samsung readies a tablet blitz

Samsung rules the roostGiant chaebol Samsung is readying an assault on the low end tablet market with a range of cheapo machines intended to consolidate its place in the sector.

It will introduce a Galaxy Tab 3 Lite – a seven inch unit – which is set to be priced at $129, Taiwanese wire Digitimes reports. The machine will have a 1024×600 display, use a 1.2GHz Cortex A9 microprocessor, come with 1GB of storage, have a three megapixel camera and Android 4.2, the wire reports.

But it’s not leaving it there, it seems.  It will also introduce more seven inch as well as eight inch, 10 inch and 12 inch models this year.

Samsung remains second in the tablet market, behind Apple, but wants to be number one.

Unlike Apple, and many other players in the tablet market, Samsung has its own fabs and can source memory, microprocessor, display and other components as well as use its own machine assembly lines.

Business to go for smart specs

spyspexA company claims that enterprises will adopt smart glasses faster than your average geek.

APX Labs, which makes Skylight software, claims that Google, Epson and others are making devices which in conjunction with apps will be adopted by large corporations.

Skylight, it claims, will let workers share their view with remote colleagues, continuously monitor important information, control devices, sensors and equipments remotely and find and track objects and people.

Vertical sectors adopting smart glasses are likely to include nurses, doctors, fieldservice technicians, warehouse workers, and factory workers.

Skylight is already being used in multiple large businesses in a beta programme while the software officially launches next January.

Ed English, product manager at APX Labs, gives a little demo in a video here. He isn’t wearing smart glasses.