Microsoft To Block SHA-1 Hashing

November 19, 2015 by  
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Software Giant Microsoft has joined Mozilla and will consider blocking the SHA-1 hashing algorithm on Windows to keep the US spooks from using it to spy on users computers.

Redmond had earlier said that Windows would block SHA-1 signed TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates from January 1, 2017, but is now mulling moving up the date to June.

There have been concerns about the algorithm’s security as researchers have proven that a forged digital certificate that has the same SHA-1 hash as a legitimate one can be created. Users can then be tricked into interacting with a spoofed site in what is called a hash collision.

In October, a team of cryptoanalysts warned that the SHA-1 standard should be withdrawn as the cost of breaking the encryption had dropped faster than expected to US$75,000 to $120,000 in 2015 using freely available cloud computing.

Programme manager for Microsoft Edge Kyle Pflug wrote in his blog that Redmond will coordinate with other browser vendors to evaluate the impact of this timeline based on telemetry and current projections for feasibility of SHA-1 collisions.

Mozilla said in October that in view of recent attacks it was considering a cut-off of July 1, 2016 to start rejecting all SHA-1 SSL certificates, regardless of when they were issued, ahead of an earlier scheduled date of January 1, 2017.


Verizon Goes IoT

November 9, 2015 by  
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Verizon has rolled out ThingSpace, a development platform for companies of all sizes to create Internet of Things applications more efficiently and then later manage those apps.

The carrier also announced it is creating a new dedicated network core for IoT connections that can scale far beyond the ability of its existing networks with the intent to reach billions of sensors and devices.

“Continued innovation in smart cities, connected cars and wearables demonstrates that IoT is the future for how we will live and work,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of enterprise products at Verizon during an event held at Verizon’s San Francisco Innovation Center. He said Verizon is taking a “holistic approach” to help expand the IoT market from millions of connections to billions. The event was webcast.

Other major wireless carriers, including AT&T, are developing programs to offer a range of services to industries and cities for connecting IoT sensors to wireless networks and then to cloud services for data analysis.

At Verizon, Lanman said the company is working to lower the cost of connecting billions of existing devices that companies have used for years to Verizon’s network. Holding up a new computer chip made by Sequans Communications, an LTE chip maker, he said the chip will provide a “significant reduction in cost…that changes the game.” It will provide 4G LTE connectivity in modules connected to IoT devices to “make the wide-area network more accessible to developers.”

Also, next year Verizon will launch a new IoT core network within its LTE network to provide a “much lower cost” than with Verizon’s existing wired and wireless networks.

“The cost for an IoT module and the cost to connect will both drop dramatically,” Lanman added. “Whether you are connecting your dog or water meters and any other low-payload devices, we’ll handle it through a new IoT core.”


Qualcomm Goes LTE For Microsoft

October 22, 2015 by  
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Qualcomm has continued its friendship with Microsoft by extending its latest LTE-Advanced modem, the X12, to Windows 10 notebooks and tablets.

The chipmaker was the only major chip provider to optimize its architecture for Windows Phone, and Microsoft’s Lumia devices, which run on Snapdragon 808 and 810 chips.

The Windows 10 devices which come to market later this year will have the option to integrate cellular connectivity with the X12, X7 or X5 LTE modems, which support the Microsoft operating system’s native Mobile Broadband Interface Model (MBIM).

Qualcomm said this would give business users, in particular, a similar experience on their large-screened devices as on their smartphones, giving the particular examples of location-based services and security driving LTE usage on PCs and tablets.

Integrated cellular connectivity has not been so important for notebook users, outside of a few scenarios such as WiFi-less trains, most wireless access from notebooks, and even tablets, is over a WLAN.

Qualcomm makes WiFi chips for portable devices but it does not have such a big market share. Working with Microsoft means it could have a higher presence and a far better chance of delivering mass sales. The Surface Pro and its new Surface Book, is getting good reviews and might even be popular.


Microsoft, Google Cease Fire In Global Patent Deal

October 14, 2015 by  
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Microsoft has been pursuing a more collaborative approach under CEO Satya Nadella, engaging longtime rivals like Salesforce, VMware and Apple. There hasn’t been much love between Microsoft and Google, but an announcement on Wednesday points towards an easing of those tensions.

Google and Microsoft have reached a broad agreement on patent matters, with a legal settlement ending some 20 lawsuits between the companies in the U.S. and Germany. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal brings a laundry list of lawsuits to a close.

“Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues,” they said in a joint statement. “As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility.”

They also agreed to collaborate on patent matters and work together “to benefit our customers.”

The suits that have been settled include those related to mobile phones, video encoding and Wi-Fi technologies. That doesn’t mean Microsoft has given up its campaign to collect royalties from Android device makers for the mobile operating system’s alleged infringement of Microsoft patents.

It’s not clear from the statement what patent matters the companies will be working on together in the future, but changes have already begun. The two companies agreed earlier this month to work together (alongside other firms like Netflix and Mozilla) on a royalty-free video codec.

It remains to be seen if the settlement will lead to more work between Microsoft and Google in other areas. A major sticking point for consumers has been the lack of a Google-made YouTube app for smartphones and tablets running Windows.


RedHat Releases Fedora 23

October 6, 2015 by  
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Red Hat has torn the roof off the sucker once again with the release of Fedora 23 in beta form.

Coming in three incredible versions, Fedora 23 Cloud, Fedora 23 Server and Fedora 23 Workstation, this new edition picks up where the old one left off and runs with it.

The biggest news for fans is the use of compiler flags to help improve security. These are designed to help protect Fedora 23 beta binaries against memory corruption vulnerabilities, buffer overflows and similar issues.

This is the latest iteration of Red Hat’s Linux-based operating system that likes to think of itself as the leading-edge open source operating system across all use cases. It’s hard to believe, but absolutely true.

The dazzling array of updates starts with Red Hat Fedora Server Beta, which offers a new role through the rolekit service in the form of a cache server for web applications, with the underlying functionality delivered by memcached.

Also new is the fact that rolekit can now be triggered by anaconda kickstart to determine what function should be started with the next reboot, and I think we can all agree that’s been a long time coming.

Cockpit also sees some big changes, including a basic cluster dashboard for Kubernetes, Support for SSH key authentication and support for configuring user accounts with their authorised keys and compatibility with multipath disks.

Meanwhile in Fedora 23 Workstation Beta, the fun keeps coming with a preview of GNOME 3.18. Changes to the software application will allow it to offer firmware updates and access to Libreoffice 5. Improvements have also been made to Wayland, with the ultimate aim being to make it the default graphic server in a future release.

Sadly, that’s where the thrillride ends as Cloud Beta contains very little new of note – but we are warned to stay tuned for news of Fedora 23 Atomic Host, said to be coming soon. We’re literally on the edge of our seats and will bring you the news as soon as we get it.


U.S. LTE Speeds Drop

October 5, 2015 by  
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The U.S. has dropped to No. 55 in LTE performance as speeds rise rapidly in countries that have lept ahead some early adopters of the popular cellular system.

The average download speed on U.S. 4G networks inched up to 10Mbps (bits per second) in the June-August quarter, according to research company OpenSignal. That was an improvement from 9Mbps in the previous quarter, but the country’s global ranking fell from 43rd as users in other countries made much larger gains.

The U.S. was one of the first countries with commercial LTE service when Verizon Wireless launched its network in late 2010. But other countries that adopted the system later started with better technology, and some have secured more frequencies or rolled out enhancements that U.S. carriers haven’t embraced as much, OpenSignal said.

New Zealand scored the highest average speed in the quarter with 36Mbps, coming up from nowhere in the rankings. But perennial standouts like South Korea and Singapore kept getting faster, too. The average LTE speed in Korea is now 29Mbps (up by 4Mbps), and in Singapore it’s 33Mbps, up by 5Mbps.

OpenSignal collects data on cellular performance through a free app that mobile subscribers can use to measure the speed they’re getting and find faster networks. The results announced Wednesday are based on readings from more than 300,000 users worldwide, the company said.

Countries like Hungary, the Dominican Republic and Morocco beat the U.S. in average LTE speed, but they aren’t necessarily smartphone paradises. Mobile users in America can use LTE more of the time, for example, because their carrier’s networks are built out. Subscribers in the U.S. are on LTE 78 percent of the time, on average, making the country No. 10 for what OpenSignal calls “time coverage.” Moroccan LTE may be fast, but 49 percent of the time, users there don’t get it, for example.


Raspberry Pi To Get Mass Storage

September 25, 2015 by  
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Bittorrent and WD have teamed up to create a 1TB drive for the Raspberry Pi. The Pi Drive has been designed especially for the Raspberry Pi Model B+ and the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, and offers a viable way to turn a Pi into a media centre, NAS and PVR all in one.

BitTorrent Sync makes it possible to sync content from all your devices straight to the drive, bypassing the cloud and making it an excellent backup device.

It differs from a standard hard drive, not least because it’s low-powered enough to be run off the USB port that charges your Pi, using a splitter cable supplied – no mean feat for a mechanical drive.

It’s not perfect. It’s a standard 2.5in drive but with a USB connection rather than a SATA which means it’s bigger than the Pi and you’ll need to create a bespoke case or let it all hang out in true maker fashion.

Essentially, it’s the same type of drive that you would see if you smashed open one of WD’s external drives, but it would take a brave soul to do so and this way you get the right cable and software to make it all work together.

The tie-up between BitTorrent and WD comes as the former announces version 2.2 of the Sync service which we have been following since inception.

The new version offers a clearer delineation between home and pro users. Home users can buy a lifetime licence for $39.99 which covers all 2.x releases. This comes in addition to the perpetual free version which will no longer be limited to 10 folders.

Instead the monetized version will come from business customers who remain on a monthly fee, and pro user subscriptions for advanced features such as collaboration and file sharing introduced in version 2.1.

The Pi Drive retails at $80 with a 35 percent discount offer through BitTorrent with the code WDPIDRIVE1TB. UK sellers are yet to be confirmed, but will form part of the newly launched BitTorrent Sync reseller programme that launches with this edition.


FCC Commits To 600 Mhz Wireless Spectrum Auction

September 21, 2015 by  
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LAS VEGAS — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has committed to a March 29 start date for an unprecedented auction of 600Mhz wireless spectrum currently under the control of the nation’s broadcasters.

The auction has already been delayed two years, but Wheeler was adamant it will move ahead on a timeline that allows input from broadcasters as well as from wireless providers that would be potential spectrum buyers.

The broadcast spectrum in the 600Mhz band offers the potential to wireless carriers to send data, including video and other multimedia at much faster speeds and with lower latency. Latency refers to the speed required to generate a response to a wireless signal.

“I’m supremely confident [the auction] starts March 29,” he said in keynote comments at CTIA Super Mobility Week 2015 here. Explaining the delays, he said the planned auction is like a “Swiss watch with so many moving parts.”

The FCC plans to issue a new public notice in October that will give further details on the planned schedule. Wheeler said that around Thanksgiving, broadcasters will be able to indicate whether they want to participate in offering up the spectrum they use today.

Once the FCC establishes pricing, the broadcasters can decide whether to move forward or withdraw from the process if the prices don’t meet their needs, Wheeler said. In January, wireless providers — including newcomers, possibly — will be prompted to express interest in joining the auction to buy spectrum.

Wheeler contended that the 600MHz spectrum auction shows the FCC is moving to free up spectrum that the cellular industry says it urgently needs.


Qualcomm To Wirelessly Charge BMWs

September 8, 2015 by  
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Qualcomm has launched its new Official Safety Car for season two of the FIA’s Formula E Championship.

For those not in the know, the Formula E Championship is for electric cars, and they are no longer the milk floats that English people get stuck behind in narrow streets.

The new Official Qualcomm Safety Car is the BMW i8 but it will be charged wirelessly with an advanced Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system.

The Qualcomm Halo 7.2kW wireless charging system delivers twice the amount of energy to the BMW i8′s batteries per hour as compared to last year’s 3.6kW system.

This halves the full charge time, enabling the vehicle to fully charge in one hour. Employing Qualcomm Halo DD technology, with magnetic architecture optimization, ensures higher coupling coefficients and drives lower system currents, higher inefficiencies and the ability to support higher power levels.

A Qualcomm spokesman said that an open championship has encouraged teams to develop their own powertrain tech.

This ensures that the racing remains highly competitive, and it supports the goal of Formula E to advance the development of new technologies for electric vehicles and to bring those technologies, vital to sustainable mobility, to the attention of millions of people around the globe, a spokesman said.

Qualcomm’s general manager of wireless charging, Steve Pazol said Qualcomm was excited to continue its support of Formula E in this second season.


Apple TV Service Delayed Again

August 26, 2015 by  
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Apple Inc will push back rolling out its live TV service to at least next year, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the iPhone maker’s plans.

The company had planned to introduce the service, which is delivered over the Internet, this year.

Discussions with broadcasters such as CBS Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc to license programming are progressing slowly, and lack of content has led Apple to scrap plans to announce the service at a Sept. 9 event, Bloomberg said.

Apple also lacked the computer network capacity to ensure a good viewing experience, Bloomberg said.

The company still plans to introduce a more powerful version of its Apple TV set-top box at the event, which will be held in San Francisco.

Apple was aiming to price the new service at about $30 to $40 a month, media reports have said.