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.


Qualcomm Debuts NextGen Adreno

August 24, 2015 by  
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Qualcomm has announced its next-generation Adreno GPU architecture, promising major improvements to performance, power efficiency and user experience in its upcoming Snapdragon processors.

The first two GPUs available on the new architecture, the Adreno 530 and Adreno 510, will be available integrated with the forthcoming Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 620/618 processors, Qualcomm said, and are claimed to “maximize battery life”.

The new GPUs are the successors to the Adreno 4xx family and are claimed to be the “highest-performance GPU ever designed by Qualcomm”, providing 40 percent lower power consumption and 40 percent faster performance for graphics and GPGPU compute when compared with the Adreno 430.

They will also support OpenGL ES 3.1+ Android Extension Pack, Renderscript, as well as the new OpenCL 2.0 and Vulkan APIs.

Other features include support for 64-bit virtual addressing, allowing shared virtual memory and efficient co-processing with 64 bit CPUs, along with improved fine-grain power management, and new rendering, compositing and compression techniques to enable higher performance at lower power consumption and reduced DRAM bandwidth.

The chip company also announced a new 14-bit Qualcomm Spectra image signal processing (ISP) unit, which will also debut in the Snapdragon 820. It is designed to support DSLR-quality photography and enhanced computer vision, Qualcomm said.

This will bring better camera and imaging technology to upcoming Android devices, Qualcomm said, such as more natural skin tones via 14-bit dual ISP units supporting up to three simultaneous cameras – for example, one facing the user, and two rear facing – and up to 25MP at 30 frames per-second with zero shutter lag.

Qualcomm VP of product management Tim Leland said: “Qualcomm Spectra ISP, together with our Adreno 5xx-class GPU, brings an entirely new level of imaging to smartphones, and is designed to allow Snapdragon-powered devices to capture ultra-clear, vivid photos and videos regardless of motion and lighting conditions and display them with the color accuracy that nature intended.”

Devices based on Snapdragon 820 that feature the new GPU and ISP are expected to be available in the first half of next year.

The specs for Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 mobile processor leaked last week ahead of its rumored launch later in August.

The chip was expected to be officially unveiled later this month, but an analyst called Pan Jiutang let the cat out of the bag, posting some slides on Weibo on Wednesday that revealed pretty detailed specifications.

The slides might not be 100 percent legit, but are in line with many other rumors circulating at the moment, and most likely accurate. It shows that the Snapdragon 820 sports the newer Hydra CPU which is claimed to be 35 percent faster than Qualcomm’s current 810 processor.

This better use of power is a result of the chip’s new 14nm manufacturing process, which is much smaller than with the 20nm Snapdragon 810.


Yahoo Acquires Polyvore

August 12, 2015 by  
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Yahoo Inc announced on Friday that it has agreed to acquire fashion start-up Polyvore to help drive traffic and strengthen its mobile and social offerings.

Yahoo, which did not disclose terms of the deal, said Polyvore will accelerate its ‘Mavens’ growth strategy.

The company has been focusing on four areas — mobile, video, native advertising and social — which it calls Mavens, to drive user engagement and ad sales as it battles intense competition from Google Inc and Facebook Inc .

Revenue from Mavens made up about one-third of the company’s total revenue in the quarter ended June 30.

The Mavens portfolio includes BrightRoll, mobile app network Flurry, mobile ad buying platform Yahoo Gemini and blogging site Tumblr.

Polyvore, the brainchild of 3 ex-Yahoo engineers, was started in 2007.

The Mountain View, California-based company allows users to mix-and-match articles of clothing and accessories and customize them into “sets”.

Polyvore’s co-founder and CEO Jess Lee was earlier part of Google Inc’s  associate manager program, which Marissa Mayer headed before joining Yahoo as CEO.


Yahoo Unveils Livetext Mobile Messaging App

August 11, 2015 by  
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Yahoo unveiled a mobile messaging app that combines texting with live one-on-one video.

The app, named Livetext, is video calling with a twist: there’s no audio. To communicate, users type texts and emojis that are overlaid onto the screen during the call.

The app’s format might sound restricting, but Yahoo says Livetext will help users to communicate more freely. The lack of audio, the company says, removes inhibitions that people might feel when they otherwise receive video calls in public.

“We wanted to bridge the gap between the simplicity and ease of texting, with the live feeling of calling,” said Adam Cahan, senior vice president of video, design and emerging products at Yahoo, during the app’s unveiling at an event in New York on Wednesday that was webcast.

Livetext was developed from scratch at Yahoo. Its development was aided by Yahoo’s acquisition last year of mobile messaging app MessageMe, the company said Wednesday. It’s yet another messaging app in a sea of competitors like Snapchat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Still, Livetext is the latest attempt by Yahoo to provide a messaging app that resonates with users. It became available to download for free on Thursday for iOS and Android, in the U.S., U.K, Canada, Ireland, Germany, France, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Users will be able to text in English, French, German and Chinese using the app.

The app streams video only when two people are connected through the app at the same time. Users can search for friends in the app through their Livetext user name, or through the contacts list on their phone.

There is no time limit on calls placed through the app, and no way to save or archive the sessions. The video quality will depend on the strength of the data connection, although connections at 3G and above should suffice, Yahoo said.

It’s available on Android and the desktop, but not on iOS.


Is Wafer Output Headed Down?

August 10, 2015 by  
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United Microelectronics (UMC) expects to post an up to 5 per cent decrease in wafer shipments for the third quarter of 2015.

The outfit’s capacity rate will fall below 90 per cent for the first time after being flat out for ages.

UMC CEO Po-Wen Yen said the third quarter, would suffer from the inventory correction problems that were first noticed in the first quarter.

Current weakness in overall demand, partly due to the uncertainties in economic outlook, will prolong the inventory adjustment through the second half of 2015,” he said.

UMC used 94 per cent of its overall capacity in the second quarter of 2015, when the company shipped a record 1.54 million 8-inch equivalent wafers.

Shipments during the quarter were driven mainly by 28nm products, the foundry noted.

UMC reported consolidated revenues of $1.23 billion for the second quarter, down 6 per cent on last year. Gross margin came to 22.9 per cent compared with 24.3 per cent in the first quarter and 22.9 per cent in second.

UMC created net profits of $1.45 billion in the second quarter of 2015 – the highest level in nine quarters.

Looking into the third quarter, UMC expects to use 87-89 per cent of its overall capacity in the third quarter. Wafer shipments and ASPs will fall up to 5 per cent and about 3 per cent, respectively, on quarter.