U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said it would accept public comments on its proposed new “net neutrality” rules through Sept. 15, giving the American public extra time to voice their opinions and concerns on how they think Internet traffic should be regulated.
The FCC has received more than 1 million comments already on new rules for how Internet services providers should be allowed to manage web traffic on their networks.
The FCC had set a deadline of July 15 for the initial comments and then September 10 for replies to those initial comments. However, the surge in submissions overwhelmed the FCC’s website and the agency had delayed the first deadline by three business days.
“To ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings, the Bureau today is extending the reply comment deadline by three business days,” the FCC said on Friday, delaying the final deadline for comments to September 15.
The Internet Engineering Task Force is putting the final touches on HTTP/2, the second version of the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP). The working group has issued a last call draft, urging interested parties to voice concerns before it becomes a full Internet specification.
Not everyone is completely satisfied with the protocol however.
“There is a lot of good in this proposed standard, but I have some deep reservations about some bad and ugly aspects of the protocol,” wrote Greg Wilkins, lead developer of the open source Jetty server software, noting his concerns in a blog item posted Monday.
Others, however, praise HTTP/2 and say it is long overdue.
“A lot of our users are experimenting with the protocol,” said Owen Garrett, head of products for server software provider NGINX. “The feedback is that generally, they have seen big performance benefits.”
First created by Web originator Tim Berners-Lee and associates, HTTP quite literally powers today’s Web, providing the language for a browser to request a Web page from a server.
Version 2.0 of HTTP, based largely on the SPDY protocol developed by Google, promises to be a better fit for how people use the Web.
“The challenge with HTTP is that it is a fairly simple protocol, and it can be quite laborious to download all the resources required to render a Web page. SPDY addresses this issue,” Garrett said.
While the first generation of Web sites were largely simple and relatively small, static documents, the Web today is used as a platform for delivering applications and bandwidth intensive real-time multimedia content.
HTTP/2 speeds basic HTTP in a number of ways. HTTP/2 allows servers to send all the different elements of a requested Web page at once, eliminating the serial sets of messages that have to be sent back and forth under plain HTTP.
HTTP/2 also allows the server and the browser to compress HTTP, which cuts the amount of data that needs to be communicated between the two.
As a result, HTTP/2 “is really useful for organization with sophisticated Web sites, particularly when its users are distributed globally or using slower networks — mobile users for instance,” Garrett said.
Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and other items from third-party vendors using a new personalization option on its website.
Most of the more than 200 items available on the company’s new 3D printed products store, which was rolled out on Monday, can be customized using a new feature that allows users to rotate and change the item they are viewing.
Before it is printed by one of Amazon’s sellers, users can customize a product like as a bobble head figure by changing its skin and eye color, hair style and outfit, Amazon said.
“The customization is something we’re keenly interested in,” said Petra Schindler-Carter, director for Amazon marketplace sales, speaking in an interview. “We’ll always look for new applications for that.”
Amazon, which has more than 240 million users, has expanded its marketplaces division to include new areas such as fine art and wine. It is part of Amazon’s larger investment into new areas like mobile services and original content that led to its larger-than-expected second-quarter loss last week.
The new printing option taps into a broader “Maker movement” among tech entrepreneurs in northern California, and to some extent Europe, that is focused on customizing 3D objects rather than development software or mobile applications.
3D printers have gained in popularity on Amazon Supply, a wholesale site for businesses. That interest led Amazon to offer customers an 3D print option, Schindler-Carter said.
Google Inc is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.
At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.
The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.
Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.
Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.
Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.
Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.
The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.
However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.
“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.
Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.
Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.
But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.
Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.
The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”
Verizon ranked first or was tied for first in 115 of 125 cities for overall network performance during the first half of 2014, leading all three other national carriers — AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Sprint didn’t finish first in any of the cities, while Verizon tied with either AT&T or T-Mobile, or both, in 56. That meant that AT&T was the only first place finisher in 59 cities, including major cities such as Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Colo., Daytona Beach, Fla., Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Seattle.
RootMetrics found that Verizon finished first in 23 of 50 airport network evaluations for the first half of the year and tied for first in seven out of 50 airports. Verizon won or tied at four major airports: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver.
Verizon has its 4G LTE network in 500 U.S. cities, providing access to 97% of the U.S. population. RootMetrics used devices capable of connecting to Verizon’s XLTE network, now operating in 300 cities.
XLTE uses AWS spectrum.
RootMetrics is an independent research company that uses testers driving in cars and in stationary locations, both indoors and outdoors, to conduct thousands of tests in each city to evaluate reliability and speed of connections and call, data and text performance. The company uses unmodified smartphones purchased off-the-shelf from operator stores.
PC Advisor has been going through Apple’s latest iOS 8 operating system and is finding features which appear to be a direct lift from Google. Of course it has to say that Apple is being brilliant and original about stealing the ideas. After it points out that Apple did not invent the music player but it did steal it better than anyone else.
The top 5 iOS 8 features Apple stole from Android include:
Typing suggestions: Start typing and suggested words will appear letter by letter. Hit the correct word and you save the time it would have taken to type the while word and it is a pretty intelligent selection process.
Okay Google: Hotword detection is also the basis of the Google Now Launcher that shipped with the Nexus 5. As long as your phone is awake, saying ‘Okay Google’ wakes up the voice assistant. In iOS 8 Apple has added something similar in the guise of ‘Hey Siri’, the ability to immediately engage Siri simply via a voice command.
Third-party keyboards: Google has long given Android users the opportunity to explore the world outside its own platform. Apple is allowing the same thing on its system now.
Widgets: Widgets have always been part of Android and Apple finally is letting it happen. Of course Apple is not entirely prepared to let you have full control of your device’s desktop. iOS 8 widgets are small app extensions that take up a spot in the Notification Center. Not as good as Android but better than a poke in the eye with a short stick.
Useful notifications: Android has long allowed developers to add up to two action buttons to a notification. So when the message pops up telling you that you have a message you can reply right from the notification, the relevant app opening as required. Now Apple can do that.
While it is accepted that ideas are copied, at least until one of the sides turns into a Patent Troll, what is strange about Apple is that it markets itself as the innovation hub that others follow. It appears that if this was ever true it is not the case now.
Broadcom has come out with a new “smart” chip which it hopes will be at the cutting edge of wearable PCs, such as smartwatches, heart and blood-pressure monitor.
Dubbed Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) smart chip, Broadcom’s designs are supposed to support wireless charging for devices that are too small to connect via a power cord. The devices run an ARM Cortex M3 applications processor that reduces size and cost for OEMs and supports A4WP wireless charging and enhanced data security modes in addition to secure over-the-air firmware updates.
This is an integrated ARM CM3 microcontroller unit with radio frequency and Embedded Bluetooth Smart Stack, all on a single chip. Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom senior director of Embedded Wireless and Wireless Connectivity said that his outfit wanted to push the boundaries on what wearables are capable of with our new smart chip. Broadcom competes in the marketplace with companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor, Marvell and Xilinx.
The Broadcom WICED Smart chip is currently sampling with evaluation boards and SDKs. It is expected to become available sometime in 2014.
“We know you want features that allow you to move as seamlessly as possible between Office Online and the desktop,” wrote Kaberi Chowdhury, an Office Online technical product manager, in a blog post Monday.
Improvements to Excel Online include the ability to insert new comments, edit and delete existing comments, and properly open and edit spreadsheets that contain Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code.
Meanwhile, Word Online has a new “pane” where users can see all comments in a document, and reply to them or mark them as completed. It also has a refined lists feature that is better able to recognize whether users are continuing a list or starting one. In addition, footnotes and end notes can now be added more conveniently inline.
PowerPoint Online has a revamped text editor that offers a layout view that more closely resembles the look of finished slides, according to Microsoft. It also has improved performance and video functionality, including the ability to play back embedded YouTube videos.
For users of OneNote Online, Microsoft is now adding the ability to print out the notes they’ve created with the application.
Microsoft is also making Word Online, PowerPoint Online and OneNote Online available via Google’s Chrome Web Store so that Chrome browser users can add them to their Chrome App launcher. Excel Online will be added later.
The improvements in Office Online will be rolled out to users this week, starting Monday.
Office Online, which used to be called Office Web Apps, competes directly against Google Docs and other browser-based office productivity suites. It’s meant to offer users a free, lightweight, Web-based version of these four applications if they don’t have the desktop editions on the device they’re using at that moment.
Microsoft Corp, under fire for accessing an employee’s private Hotmail account to prove he was illegally passing computer code to a blogger, has said it will now refer all suspicious activity on its email services to law enforcement.
The decision, announced by head lawyer Brad Smith on Friday, reverses Microsoft’s initial reaction to complaints last week, when it laid out a plan to refer such cases to an unidentified former federal judge, and proceed to open a suspect email account only if that person saw evidence to justify it.
“Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves,” said Smith, in a blog post on the software company’s website. “Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.”
Microsoft – which has recently cast itself as a defender of customer privacy – was harshly criticized last week by civil liberties groups after court documents made public in the prosecution of Alex Kibkalo in Seattle federal court for leaking trade secrets showed that Microsoft had accessed the defendant’s email account before taking the matter to legal authorities.
The issue is poignant for Microsoft, which routinely criticizes Google Inc for serving up ads based on the content of users’ Gmail correspondence.
It has also been campaigning for more transparency in the legal process through which U.S. intelligence agencies can get access to email accounts following the revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
“While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us,” said Smith in his blog. “Therefore, rather than inspect the private content of customers ourselves in these instances, we should turn to law enforcement and their legal procedures.”
The company, headquartered in Washington, D.C. and launched in January, is targeting people using major email providers who want stronger privacy controls for more secure communication.
The service is designed to be easy to use for end users who may not have the technical gumption to set up PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a standard for signing and encrypting content.
Virtru is compatible with most major webmail providers, including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo’s Mail and Microsoft’s Outlook webmail, which replaced Hotmail.
Emails sent using Virtru through those services would look like gibberish, providing a greater degree of privacy. Law enforcement or other entities would not be able to read the content unless they could obtain the key.
Virtru uses a browser extension to encrypt email on a person’s computer or mobile device. The content is decrypted after recipients receive a key, which is distributed by Virtru’s centralized key management server.
Although Virtru handles key management, the company is working on a product that would allow that task to be managed on-site for users, as some administrators would be uncomfortable with another entity managing their keys.
Virtru has said it put aside funds to contest government orders such as a National Security Letter or law enforcement request that are not based on a standard of probable cause.