Tag: techeye

Boeing patents Star Trek shields

cheap_shields_03The US aircraft maker Boeing claims to have invented Star Trek style force fields even before it has built the US enterprise.

Everyone knows that the first Enterprise shipped with ablative plating and any defence involved charging the plating and real shielding did not come until much later.

However Boeing’s patent number 8,981,261 describes a force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage.could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets.

At the moment it will not protect from direct hits from a rifle, let alone a Klingon Bird of Prey.

The system can sense when a shock wave generating explosion occurs near a target. An arc generator then determines the small area where protection is needed from the shock waves.
It then springs into action by by emitting laser pulses that ionise the air, providing a laser-induced plasma field of protection from the shock waves.

“Explosive devices are being used increasingly in asymmetric warfare to cause damage and destruction to equipment and loss of life. The majority of the damage caused by explosive devices results from shrapnel and shock waves,” the patent says.

While Boeing may been granted the patent, it’s unclear how long it will be before the company deploys the real-life force fields.

Legal challenges mount against US net neutrality

1920s-telephone-advertUS Telcos and ISPs have started their first wave of legal attacks against the US’s attempts at net neutrality.

In the US the telcos have done all they can to make sure that they can charge their customers twice by insisting that the big internet users have to give them more money to use their tubes. The government has said twice that they can’t and asked the FCC to regulate ISPs and telcos which setup such schemes.

On Monday, US Telecom — a group that includes some of the nation’s largest Internet providers — filed suit in Washington, while Alamo Broadband sued the Federal Communications Commission in New Orleans.

US Telecom President Walter McCormick said in a statement that he did not believe the Federal Communications Commission’s move to utility-style regulation invoking Title II authority is legally sustainable.

Alamo alleges that the FCC’s net neutrality rules apply onerous requirements on it.

“Alamo is thus aggrieved by the order and possesses standing to challenge it,” the company’s lawyers wrote in the petition, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The challenges were expected, and it looks like any battle will be a show down between a democratically elected government and the bit corporates who really run things in the US.

However the legal challenges are coming much sooner than expected. Many analysts believed that Internet providers would have to wait until the FCC’s rules were officially published in the Federal Register before being eligible to appeal.

In a statement, the FCC called the petitions “premature and subject to dismissal.” It is unclear whether the FCC will be immediately asking for the cases to be thrown out.
Consumer advocacy groups that had pushed hard for the strong new rules said Title II was “the right law” and insisted that the FCC has a strong case.

Google Glass isn’t dead yet

gglassGoogle’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind his outfit’s Glass project is too important to throw away, and that the programme has been put under the control of Nest’s Tony Fadell to “make it ready for users”.

After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However Schmidt said that Google had only ended the Explorer programme and the press claimed that it had cancelled everything.

“Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it.” Schmidt added that Glass remains a “big and very fundamental platform for Google,” and that just like the company’s self-driving cars, the wearable device is a work in progress that will take years to come to fruition.

It’s like saying the self-driving car is a disappointment because it’s not driving me around now, said Schmidt.

Reports last December suggested that Google might be planning to launch a new, cheaper version of Glass this year, based around Intel parts with the updated model also reportedly offering a refreshed design and longer battery life.

However the list of “fixes” needed before Glass was viable was extremely long. However, Schmidt is suggesting that the company is committed to getting something like it into the shops.


Hutchison Whampoa to buy 02

oxygen_maskHutchison Whampoa is expected to finalise a deal to buy Telefonica British mobile unit O2 for $15.70 billion today.

The companies did not face any major issues during the two months of due diligence, which could allow the deal to be announced on Tuesday.

The deal could be announced as early as this morning, but there is some possibility that it might be delayed.

Hutchison is chatting with wealth funds including China Investment Corporation, Singapore’s Temasek and GIC, and one of Qatar’s big government-sponsored outfits to provide the cash.

The company has plans to sell stake worth about 3 billion pounds, which makes about 30 percent of the group to outside investors, the newspaper reported.

Hutchison Whampoa is owned by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, and there might be those in the British government who are not that keen to have a British asset like O2 in the paws of the Chinese. However since no one minded when an Armada of Spanish financiers took the outfit out of British ownership, it is too late to bang Drake’s drum now.

Dell hires ex-AMD man

AMD, SunnyvaleHardware and software vendor Dell said it has hired two people to key positions in its enterprise sales and technology departments.

Rory Read, who was the CEO of Advanced Micro Devices, will be the chief operating offier and president of worldwide commercial sales. He will have overall responsibility for market initiation and all channel sales planning

Paul Perez formerly worked at Cisco where he was VP and genera manager of the firm’s computing systems product group. In his role at Dell, Perez will be the chief technical advisor for its enterprise solutions group.

Perez starts at Dell’s HQ today, while Read will join the company on April 6th next.

Both will report to Marius Haas,who is the chief commercial officer at Dell.

Michael Dell was wheeled out to welcome Read and Perez to the good ship Dell. He said they will add enterprise IT expertise and depth to Dell’s management team.

Read said: “Dell is one of the most exciting companies in the industry right.” He said Dell is the only credible end to end IT company.

Dell hits the high spot

Dell logoEven though terminal clients are in an inexorable decline, thin clients performed quite well in 2014, with growth up 4.6 percent compared to the year before.

And there may be brighter news ahead for thin clients, according to a report from market research company IDC – enterprises are expected to resume projects in 2015 that were delayed by the worldwide slump.

The biggest beneficiary of client devices was Dell, which in the fourth quarter of last year had a 27.2 percent share.

HP took second place, with 25.5 percent of the market, followed by Centerm (10.8%), Igel (5.2%) and NComputing (5.1%).

The total number of units shipped in the quarter amounted to 1,418,402 units, a decline of 12.5 percent from the same period in 2013 – and the decline was due to terminal clients being rather old hat.

Dell did well because it won some key sales in the financial sector, IDC said.

NComputing saw its position in the pecking order drop to the number five positionm for the quarter.

Packing “peanuts” used for batteries

alkaline batteryScientists at Purdue University said that they have converted packing peanuts into high performance carbon electrodes for lithium-ion (Li-on) batteries.

Packing peanuts are not peanuts but fill for boxes to protect goods being shipped. They’re made out of starch.

The researchers said the electrodes will outperform conventional graphite electrodes and is a n environmentally friendly approach.

The Purdue scientists have gone one step further because they have also made carbon nanoparticle anodes from polystyrene.

There’s a mystery here though, because a research assistant said “We were getting a lot of packing peanuts while setting up our new lab”. A professor decided to see if it was feasible to use the packing peanuts in a creative way.

Professor Vilas Pol said that while packing peanuts are used worldwide to ship goods, they’re very hard to break down, and only 10 percent are recycled. That means the majority of them end up in landfills.

Pol said that the method for using these packing peanuts as electrodes is cheap, environmentally friendly, and practical for large scale manufacturing.


IBM cosies up to China

ibm-officeThe CEO of IBM said she has a strategy in which her company will share tech with Chinese firms.

Virginia Rometty was speaking in Beijing at a government sponsored conference, according to Reuters.

She said that a country of over one billion people needed its own IT industry and it was unfair of foreign multinationals just to milk the market or use it as a place to manufacture kit.

Many foreign companies have made successful businesses in China by taking a partner in the country – the government makes this something of a condition in order to trade there.

The report said that IBM would let local companies build servers using the Power chip and also use the software for the mainframes.

The first beneficiary of the deal is a Chinese firm called Suzhou Powercore, which will manufacture the Power chips for home grown servers.

Rometty didn’t appear to speak of human rights in China, which remain an obstacle for other firms.

UK spooks can spy on anyone anywhere

GCHQ buildingThere has been a gasp of horror after it was announced that US spooks wanted the power to spy on anyone, anywhere – but it turns out that their British counterparts have been doing that already.

The UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services and is now revealing it.

According to Privacy International , the British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justifed to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime.

The admission was was made in what the UK government calls its “Open Response” to court cases started last year against GCHQ.

Buried deep within the document, Government lawyers claim that while the intelligence services require authorisation to hack into the computer and mobile phones of “intelligence targets”, GCHQ is equally permitted to break into computers anywhere in the world even if they are not connected to a crime or a threat to national security.

The intelligence services are allowed to exploit communications networks in covert manoeuvres that severely undermine the security of the entire internet. This was how GCHQ hacked into Belgacom using the malware Regin, and targeted Gemalto, the world’s largest maker of SIM cards used in countries around the world.

Many people had assumed that this was the case. But court cases against the UK’s GCHQ are ferreting out numerous details that were previously secret. This shows the value of the strategy, and suggests it should be used again where possible.


Open saucers chase away the girls with DICSS gags

1024px-Musée_Picardie_Archéo_03Male open sourcers, with the sense of humour of 12 year olds, have managed to chase women from the work place by infecting software with jokes about their willies.

While it is mostly “brogrammers” threatening to rape women programmers which have been hitting he headlines apparently the medieval gags about a project called DICSS are getting out of hand.

For those who came in late there is a software hosting site GitHub called “DICSS”.
Github, if you remember, was under fire about a year over accusations of how a female employee was treated.

Offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments that might take the joke too far.

Ironically the DICSS site was created by a bloke called Randy Hunt, who apparently managed to get around gags about his own name by running lots of “brohumour” projects.

Hunt said that the project started as a joke amongst coworkers, after a particularly impassioned argument between religious zealots for LESS, Sass, and Stylus, and why it’s suicide to pick an alternative when “my favourite” is clearly the best.

DICSS was “directly injected CSS” and it became an office joke around the office, that eventually manifested itself online and then in the comments of open sauce software.
It is the sort of thing that creates twitter wars and apparently there are a lot of DICSSHEADS out there.

Of course there is no such thing “directly injected CSS” Hunt was just playing around with the acronym.

As far as one liners go that sound have been the end of it but it seems Hunt could not resist Hunt thrusting his DICSS further.

He told Business Insider after he hacked off people with his Brototype project he thought he would do another wind up so he got his DICSS out publically.

Hunt claims that people want to be offended so when they see his DICSS they get out raged.
“It’s reverse privilege and that people should spend less time complaining about the community and more time encouraging people to push the boundaries of technology a bit and learn to see things in different ways.”

Apparently you can see things differently by looking at Randy’s DICSS.

“The point of all of my joke repo’s is that they’re actually useful code. They just happen to have funny names,” he said.

He denies he is a brogrammer and says he is just a fun guy – which his odd really because if you say that really fast it sounds like he is a fungi — get it?

Randy said that the only people that moaned were those who spend more time policing political correctness than they do making useful software.

True but really it cant be much fun to work with people who constantly make gags about their DICCS.

British firms have no cyber security insurance

insuranceIf a hacker takes out a large UK company, it appears that most of the time the company will have to pay out to fix it. Less than two percent of large British firms have separate insurance against cyber-attacks. Hardly any smaller firms have it..

The UK government has issued a report responding to concern that companies are not protected against the risks of cyber-attacks, which cost billions of pounds annually to the UK economy.

The report, published jointly with insurance broker Marsh, recommends that the government and the insurance industry pool data and information to encourage take-up of cyber insurance.

Half of the business leaders interviewed for the report did not even know cyber insurance existed, it said, even though many firms place cyber attacks among their leading risks.

“Cyber attacks against UK companies present a daily threat to normal UK business operations and are increasing in severity,” the report said.

Of course the government did not think that direct government financial support was needed in the cyber insurance market.

“While some market participants have suggested that a possible government backstop may be necessary, there is no conclusive evidence of the need for such a solution at present,” the report said.

The government supports terrorism insurance scheme Pool Re, through a commitment to make up the shortfall if the scheme runs out of money to pay a claim.

Disney hushed up Jobs’ illness

Three-Wise-MonkeyMickey Mouse outfit Disney hushed up Steve Jobs illness even though it was aware of it a month before it bought his Pixar studio.

Walt Disney Co CEO Bob Iger discovered that Jobs’ cancer had returned less than an hour before Disney announced it was buying Jobs’ Pixar studio in 2006.

However he kept the Apple co-founder’s condition a secret for three years.

Iger told the authors of yet another biography of Jobs, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” he thought about the implications of keeping such a secret at a time when regulators were calling for more disclosure and holding executives more accountable to their fiduciary duties.

The $7 billion deal to buy Pixar made Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder and put him on the entertainment company’s board. Iger decided that Disney was assessing the transaction on the value of Pixar, not Jobs, and his medical condition did not need to be disclosed, the biography said.

Jobs told Iger that the cancer had returned while they were on a private walk at Pixar’s Emeryville, California, campus about 30 minutes before the deal was to be announced. “Frankly, they tell me I’ve got a 50-50 chance of living five years,” Iger quoted Jobs as saying.

According to the book, Iger said he told Jobs: “You’re our largest shareholder, but I don’t think that makes this matter. You’re not material to this deal. We’re buying Pixar, we’re not buying you.”

It would have been interesting if his shareholders agreed.  Most people at the time thought Jobs’ involvement was a divine blessing on a company and had news of his death leaked out, the value of Pixar might have fallen.

Jobs had a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2003 and underwent surgery the following year. The tumor returned and he had a liver transplant in 2009. Jobs died in October 2011.

Apparently the new book is supposed to be “more sympathetic” than the 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson, who dared to say that Jobs was not that nice at certain times and was a bit messy in his personal life.

Lenovo wants more from Smartwatch craze

fobwatchWhile most people think that the smartwatch thing is doomed in the long term, no one seems to have told the manufacturers.

Lenovo is the latest to leak the design of its  upcoming smartwatch indicating that if there is money to be made in the kit, it wants more than anyone else.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing posted an image to Weibo, which shows a number of smartwatches in various states of assembly.

The image shows the new Moto 360 appears to adopt a traditional, exposed-lug design, which should make it easier for users to swap out the band that comes with the Moto 360 for a wider variety of third-party gear.

The current Moto 360 has a lug design which integrates into the bottom of the casing. Even though the Moto Maker gives customers a variety of bands to choose from, this seems to mean that Lenovo things that there is cash to be made by individualising the watches. Perhaps even starting a collection fad.

It also appears that the “flat tire” display found on the original Moto 360 will carry over to its successor. The Moto 360 currently houses its ambient light sensor and display driver in the crescent-shaped cutout at the bottom of the display, and it has been perhaps the most criticized design aspect of the smartwatch.

LG G Watch R, LG Watch Urbane, and Huawei Watch have ditched the ambient light sensor and adopting a slightly larger bezel to accommodate the display driver.

What was seen in the snaps are just prototypes and anything could change between now and an official unveil, but it’s at least good to see that Motorola pressing ahead as the best-selling Android Wear OEM on the market.


Google “fiddled its figures” – official

330ogleThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) considered taking Google to the cleaners in 2012 for abusing its monopoly position but in the end decided against the move.

That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said the five FTC commissioners decided not to pursue their findings.

FTC investigators discovered proof that Google abused its monopolistic position and used techniques that harmed competitors such as TripAdvisor.

The reason the FTC did not pursue the case was because it was going to be hard for the poor dears to prove its case. They also felt that Google was “popular”.

Google has a different angle on the findings claiming there was no need for the FTC to take action because it isn’t evil.

The European Commission (EC) doesn’t appear to be shying away from investigating Google, despite a series of high profile spinning events Google organised towards the end of last year.

The FTC discovered that Google interweaved its own products into search results, skewing objective results.


PCs face an uphill struggle

A not so mobile X86 PCThe consensus is that the PC might not be dead but it is certainly struggling.

And in the third report of its kind we’ve published today, IDC said that until 2010 PCs had the lion’s share of the total smart connected devices market, accounting for around 52.5 percent of shipments with 44.7 percent for smartphones and only 2.8 percent for tablets.

But, said IDC, in 2014 smartphones represented 73.4 percent of total shipments, PCs slipped to 16. percent and tablets 12.5 percent.

That trend is continuing – by 2019 PCs will only represent 11.6 percent of that market, while tablets will have 10.7 percent.

This must all be deeply troubling for chip giant Intel, with revenues still depending on the good old X86 chip and seemingly unable to make inroads into the tablet and smartphone markets.

Here’s an IDC chart demonstrating the trend between 2014 and 2019.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 15.02.21