Officials in Japan have announced a plan to build the world’s fastest supercomputer in a bid to reaffirm the country’s place as a leader in technological advancement.
If all goes according to plan, the processing monster will cost 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) and will be cable of 130 quadrillion calculations per second, Reuters reports.
It is a rare thing to be able to use the word “quadrillion” in a manner that isn’t an exaggeration. Phrased another way, the planned supercomputer clocks in at 130 petaflops, which would decidedly surpass the current fastest in the world—China’s Sunway Taihulight which maxes out at 93 petaflops.
Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, had an intriguingly humble way of saying that it will blow the competition out of the water: “As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast.” Which leaves the imagination to wonder about secret hidden supercomputers plowing through data in hollowed-out mountains.
The move comes at a time when Japan hopes to return to its glory days as top dog in technology. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently pushed for his government to work more closely with private industry to assure that Japan leads the way in robotics, batteries, artificial intelligence and other key areas of growth. Read the rest of this entry »
The 10-year-old social networking service has long struggled to define its core purpose and is under the spotlight as it explores selling itself in a process that has attracted potential buyers such as Salesforce.com.
Twitter has made a recent push into news and sports on mobile devices and this foray could pique the interest of a media company as an acquirer, analysts have said.
“Twitter is what’s happening, and what everyone is talking about… News and talk. We’re the people’s news network.”
The memo does not address the sales process. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bloomberg, which first published the memo Monday, reported that it was sent to employees last week. Read the rest of this entry »
Rhett Allain reports: Bob Riggle is 80 years old and he has a car. This car has a 2,500 horsepower engine mounted in the rear. But what happens when you have this much power? Yes, you can see in the video that there are two events. First, the car does a “wheelie” and second the car rolls over.
Fortunately no one was injured, but at least this is a great opportunity for a physics lesson.
Center of Mass and Wheelies
There are some forces acting on this car so let’s start with a diagram.
There are essentially three forces on the car in this case.
- The gravitational force pulls down. We can model this force as though it was only pulling down at one point. We call this point the center of mass (technically, it would be the center of gravity—but on the surface of the Earth these two points are at the same place).
- There is the force that the ground pushes up on the car. Since the car is not accelerating in the vertical direction, this ground force must be equal to the gravitational force.
- The friction force pushes on the tire at the point of contact with the ground. This force pushes the car in the direction that it is accelerating.
But how does this car stay tilted up like that? Shouldn’t the gravitational force make it fall back down? Clearly, it doesn’t. Perhaps the best way to understand this wheelie is to consider fake forces. We normally consider forces as interactions between objects (between the ground and the car or between the Earth and the car). However, it’s sometimes useful to create other forces that are due to accelerations. Now, these are fake forces in that they are not a real interaction. But as viewed in an accelerating reference frame (like inside the car), it is as though there is this real acceleration force.
Since the car accelerates to the left (in the above diagram), the fake force is to the right and keeps the car in wheelie up position.
But what about torque? If you want to rotate an object, you need torque. One expression for torque would be (this is just the scalar form—for simplicity):
In this expression, F is the force, r is the distance from the point of rotation to the point where the force is applied and θ is the angle between these two things. For the total torque about the wheel, it’s really just the torque due to the gravitational force and the torque due to the fake force.
If you put the engine in the front of the car (where it usually is) then the center of mass moves closer to the front. This means the gravitational torque will be much larger (since r is larger). If you get the center of mass closer to the back wheel, the torque from the fake force doesn’t need to be as high to get a wheelie. Read the rest of this entry »
DID THEY OR DIDN’T THEY? Google Caught Whitewashing Autocomplete, Manipulating Search Results to Favor Hillary ClintonPosted: June 10, 2016
Common search terms associated with Clinton appear to have been scrubbed from Google as the tech giant has been accused of manipulating its autocomplete results to favor the Democratic presidential candidate.
“While researching for a wrap-up on the June 7 Presidential Primaries, we discovered evidence that Google may be manipulating autocomplete recommendations in favor of Hillary Clinton,” SourceFed wrote. “If true, this would mean that Google Searches aren’t objectively reflecting what the majority of Internet searches are actually looking for, possibly violating Google’s algorithm.”
For example, when searching Hillary Clinton “cri,” Google finishes the phrase as “crime reform.” On Yahoo, the result is “criminal charges.” On Google’s own trend website, there were not enough searches for Hillary Clinton and “crime reform” to build a graph of the results.
Typing Hillary Clinton and “ind” gives Google users results on Hillary Clinton and Indiana. On Microsoft’s Bing search engine, a user gets Hillary Clinton and “indictment,” yielding results for the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server.
Just putting the name “Hillary Clinton” into Google, you are directed towards searches for her “twitter,” “email,” “age,” and “speech.”
Notably missing is the second top result on Bing, which is of her potential “indictment.”
Here are 10 more examples of questionable Google autocompletes for Clinton:
1. “Hillary Clinton anti…”
Bing gets you antichrist, antisemitic, and anti gay marriage.
Google gets you “anti obama ad.”
2. “Hillary Clinton vin…”
Bing gets you vindictive and a variety of searches focusing on the death of Vince Foster.
On November 6th, 2015 UP Aerospace Inc. launched the 20-foot (6 meter) tall SL-10 rocket into near-space. The mission: deploy the Maraia Capsule testing the aerodynamics and stability of the payload on re-entry to the atmosphere. The rocket reached an altitude of 396,000ft (120,700 meters) and speeds up to Mach 5.5 (3800mph or 6115km/h) at engine burnout.
For the first time ever, a virtual reality recording system will be flown in space. The project, announced by Deep Space Industries (DSI), will use a spherical video capture system to create a virtual reality float-through tour of the International Space Station‘s science lab.
Feeding into the exciting growth of VR systems created by Oculus Rift, Sony, and Samsung, this project, initiated by DSI, is a cooperative effort with Thrillbox, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), managers of the ISS U.S.
National Laboratory. This innovative partnership will allow, for the first time, anyone with a VR headset to have a fully immersive astronaut experience aboard the International Space Station. Additionally, CASIS will use the spherical video to familiarize potential researchers with the scientific facilities on the ISS National Lab.
“The space station is packed with equipment, literally in every direction. Gear is built into the walls, embedded in the floor, and tucked into the ceiling,” said
David Gump, DSI Vice-Chair. “The spherical video captured during a float through will enable people to look everywhere, as they would if they were up in the station themselves.”
Deep Space Industries began the project as an early step in developing VR systems to be used for exploring and mining asteroids, and brought in Thrillbox to focus on distributing the captured images to the greatest number of people.
The partnership between Thrillbox and DSI provides the right combination of expertise in space operations and virtual reality, creating a successful project that provides value for CASIS and offers a unique experience to consumers.
The ISS Floating Tour, in addition to being an amazing experience for high-end devices such as the upcoming retail Oculus Rift and PlayStation headsets, also will be viewable on high-resolution smartphones and tablets.
“As excitement about spherical video spreads to more people, Thrillbox is providing a universal player for web sites and personal computers that delivers a sophisticated way to handle this new format,” said Benjamin Durham, CEO of Thrillbox. “The partnership with DSI will allow us to distribute this unique space experience to consumers around the world.”
A video capture rig with multiple cameras covering a spherical field of view will provide a “you-are-there” experience never before available. In addition to entertaining consumers, this detailed video will be used by CASIS for educating potential researchers and potentially by NASA for familiarizing future ISS crews with the ever-changing internal arrangement of the station’s gear and supplies. Read the rest of this entry »
Vipal Monga writes: Five years ago, 80 clerks and salespeople at Pilot Travel Centers LLC spent a combined 3,200 hours a week tracking and paying for orders for thousands of goods, ranging from candy bars to diesel fuel.
“Today, a computer ‘robot’—basically software—automates these tasks…software sends out payments and records every transaction. As a result, the company needs just 10 clerks working a weekly total of 400 hours to pay suppliers.”
They typed the orders into an accounts-payable database, and printed out thousands of checks to pay suppliers. After slipping them into envelopes and adding postage, they put the checks in the mail.
“Automation is threatening to replace swaths of white-collar workers, much as mechanical robots have displaced blue-collar workers on assembly lines.”
“It was just awful,” said David Clothier, treasurer of the Knoxville, Tenn., company, which operates more than 500 Pilot Flying J truck stops nationwide. “There were humans everywhere.”
Today, a computer “robot”—basically software—automates these tasks. Suppliers send their invoices to Pilot Travel electronically. Its software sends out payments and records every transaction. As a result, the company needs just 10 clerks working a weekly total of 400 hours to pay suppliers.
Robots are taking over corporate finance departments, performing work that often required whole teams of people. Big companies such as Pilot Travel, New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and GameStop Corp., of Grapevine, Texas, are among those using software to automate many corporate bookkeeping and accounting tasks.
Businesses use these programs to save time and staffing costs. Since 2004, the median number of full-time employees in the finance department at big companies has declined 40% to about 71 people for every $1 billion of revenue, down from 119, according to Hackett Group, a consulting firm. Read the rest of this entry »
Before the Apple Watch There Was The Hewlett Packard Calculator Watch, Before That, The Seiko Watchman TV WatchPosted: April 29, 2015
Before the Apple Watch, there was the Hewlett Packard calculator watch. And before that, there was the Seiko Watchman TV watch. A curator from our Museum of American History talks about the evolution of wrist tech on Smithsonian Science News
The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives
WASHINGTON (AP) – Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis report: The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails – on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state – traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.
“In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials.”
The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.
“The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.”
In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.
“Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails.”
Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account – email@example.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym – for official State Department business.
Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.
“It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches.”
But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.
Hillary email story about to metasticize..SHE RAN HER OWN SERVER. Looks VERY premeditated to thwart the law. http://t.co/Uo7zS8XLmb
— Paul Equale (@paulequale) March 4, 2015
A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.
It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
Our computers have become too easy to use.
Joanna Stern writes: Right out of the box, they’re ready to go. No installing operating systems, no typing into a command-line prompt like in the old days. We don’t even have to hit save anymore.
Most weeks, I’m the first to celebrate this and to say I miss nothing about the way it used to be. But not this week.
This week I’ve been using the $35 Raspberry Pi 2, a bare-bones Linux computer no bigger than a juice box. And I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: the thrill of tinkering with a machine and its software. Of course, that thrill is accompanied, from time to time, with the urge to take a baseball bat to an inanimate object.
The Raspberry Pi is the antithesis of our polished, hermetically sealed Apple and Windows PCs. Open the cardboard box and all you’ll find inside is a green board covered with chips, circuits and ports. There’s no keyboard, monitor, or power cord. There isn’t even an operating system. And that’s all by design.
It was made by a U.K.-based nonprofit called the Raspberry Pi Foundation to encourage today’s children, around the age 10 and up, to learn more about how computers really work. Children today “have wonderful technology in their lives, but they are deprived of learning how it works,” Eben Upton, co-founder of the foundation, says. So while every other electronics maker has been slaving away on ease-of-use features, Mr. Upton decided to deliberately create a computer that dials back the user friendliness.
After using the Pi 2, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a great way for children and teenagers to learn about computer hardware and software. It’s also great for us curious adults who are interested in knowing more about the worlds of open-source and software coding, and don’t mind typing arcane commands into a DOS-looking interface to get there.
But don’t let that scare you. I challenged myself to see what I could do with the little thing and it put my problem-solving skills and patience to the test. Even if you’re someone like me, with little to no computer coding knowledge, you’ll be amazed by the number of things you can do with a $35 computer.
A $35 Linux Computer
My journey all started with gathering the right pieces to make the Pi my main computer for past few days.
Not only doesn’t the Pi come with an operating system, there isn’t even a hard drive inside. There is, however, a MicroSD card slot. So I did what the very helpful Raspberry Pi websites and community of experts tell beginners to do: I bought a $10 card preloaded with Raspbian, a basic Linux OS optimized for the Pi. (You can download the free software and put it on a card you already own, too.) Later this year, a new version of Windows will be released for the Pi.
OK, so it costs a little more than $35. I also bought a $5 plastic box to house the board, a $13 USB Wi-Fi dongle and a $8 Pi-compatible MicroUSB power cord from Adafruit.com, a website that sells the Pi and a selection of hardware add-ons for it, and provides tutorials.
With those things, plus a USB mouse and keyboard and an HDMI monitor I already had (TVs work fine, too), I was up and running. To get started, I did have to type some text into the command line and go through some installation processes, but believe it or not, it took less time to set up the computer than to bake a real raspberry pie. (Even with a pre-made crust!)
Raspbian, which launched a Windows-style graphic interface once I installed it, provides a basic desktop and menu with access to programs and settings. Using the preloaded Web browser, I’ve been able to do most of what I do on my laptop—check email, Twitter, Facebook. I also downloaded the free LibreOffice suite from the preloaded Pi Store. Read the rest of this entry »
David W. Buchanan is a researcher at IBM, where he is a member of the team that made the Watson “Jeopardy!” system.
David W. Buchanan writes: We have seen astonishing progress in artificial intelligence, and technology companies are pouring money into AI research. In 2011, the IBM system Watson competed on “Jeopardy!,” beating the best human players. Siri and Cortana have taken charge of our smartphones. As I write this, a vacuum called Roomba is cleaning my house on its own, using what the box calls “robot intelligence.” It is easy to feel like the world is on the verge of being taken over by computers, and the news media have indulged such fears with frequent coverage of the supposed dangers of AI.
But as a researcher who works on modern, industrial AI, let me offer a personal perspective to explain why I’m not afraid.
Science fiction is partly responsible for these fears. A common trope works as follows: Step 1: Humans create AI to perform some unpleasant or difficult task. Step 2: The AI becomes conscious. Step 3: The AI decides to kill us all. As science fiction, such stories can be great fun. As science fact, the narrative is suspect, especially around Step 2, which assumes that by synthesizing intelligence, we will somehow automatically, or accidentally, create consciousness. I call this the consciousness fallacy. It seems plausible at first, but the evidence doesn’t support it. And if it is false, it means we should look at AI very differently.
Intelligence is the ability to analyze the world and reason about it in a way that enables more effective action. Our scientific understanding of intelligence is relatively advanced. There is still an enormous amount of work to do before we can create comprehensive, human-caliber intelligence. But our understanding is viable in the sense that there are real businesses that make money by creating AI.
Consciousness is a much different story, perhaps because there is less money in it. Consciousness is also a harder problem: While most of us would agree that we know consciousness when we see it, scientists can’t really agree on a rigorous definition, let alone a research program that would uncover its basic mechanisms. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarene Leeds reports: Below (after the jump) is Sony’s completed Christmas Day release list as of this morning, but click here throughout the day for updates and for the theaters that plan to show “The Interview” starting Jan. 1.
And if you need a quick refresher on what this film is all about (North Korea, killing Kim Jong-un, bumbling journalists, Lizzy Caplan as a CIA agent – you know, harmless stuff), here are three teasers.
[Update: You can also watch “The Interview” online, starting today at 1 p.m. via YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox, and at Sony’s site, seetheinterview.com. It will cost $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to purchase an HD version.]
“I bleed Microsoft.” – Steve Ballmer resigns from the company board after 14 years. http://t.co/yDzwYc6scN
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) August 19, 2014
In a statement released Thursday, Microsoft says about 12,500 of the professional and factory positions will be cut as part of its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset business. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Daily Caller, Patrick Howley reports: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.
The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”
Here’s a Sonasoft commercial re-enacting how the company quickly and thoroughly saves its clients’ emails after computer crashes:
Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails. Read the rest of this entry »
Amazon’s mystery set-top we keep hearing about like an elusive whale that surfaces distantly for moments before plunging into unlit nether regions is making a few new ripples off reports — rumors, to be sure — that the company’s still toiling and troubling to develop a game console that might compete with, well,everything.
It’s an obvious (if too often glossed-over) point, but the one that matters most in the end: If Amazon (or anyone else, Roku to Apple to Android-based game box X) wants to compete with established industry players like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, it needs what so many have tried and failed, deleteriously, to secure — broad, mainstream, third-party developer support.
Chris O’Brien writes: This morning much of the tech world is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Macintosh computer.
It was Jan. 24, 1984, when a young Steve Jobs — sporting a goofy bow tie — stepped onto a stage in Cupertino, Calif., and unveiled the Macintosh. However deeply cynical we have grown about product launches, there is no doubt about how genuine the enthusiasm was in the auditorium that day.
Just watch the above video to the end and see the audience go completely bonkers. As a bonus, you get to see Jobs showing early signs of his stagecraft.
The event stands as one of Silicon Valley’s most mythic — a single moment that everyone can point to and say, “That was when everything changed.”
And that’s sort of true. But the reality, as always, is more complex.
For the first time, more than half of congressional lawmakers are worth at least $1 million
The Center for Responsive Politics analyzed the personal financial disclosure data from 2012 of the 534 current members of Congress and found that, for the first time, more than half had an average net worth of $1 million or more: 268 to be exact, up from 257 the year earlier. The median for congressional Democrats was $1.04 million and, for Republicans, $1 million even.
To calculate the net worth of lawmakers, the Center added together members’ significant assets, such as corporate bonds and stocks, then subtracted major liabilities such as loans, credit card debt and property mortgages.
Here’s the breakdown: the median net worth for all House members was $896,000 (Democrats averaged $929,000 to Republicans’ $884,000) and, for Senators, $2.5 million. The median net worth for Senate Democrats was $1.7 million, down from $2.4 million in 2011; for Republicans: $2.9 million, up from $2.5 million in 2011.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the other tech titans have had to fight for their lives against their own government. An exclusive look inside their year from hell—and why the Internet will never be the same.
Christoph Niemann writes: On June 6, 2013, Washington Post reporters called the communications departments of Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet companies. The day before, a report in the British newspaper The Guardian had shocked Americans with evidence that the telecommunications giant Verizon had voluntarily handed a database of every call made on its network to the National Security Agency. The piece was by reporter Glenn Greenwald, and the information came from Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old IT consultant who had left the US with hundreds of thousands of documents detailing the NSA’s secret procedures.
Greenwald was the first but not the only journalist that Snowden reached out to. The Post’s Barton Gellman had also connected with him. Now, collaborating with documentary filmmaker and Snowden confidante Laura Poitras, he was going to extend the story to Silicon Valley. Gellman wanted to be the first to expose a top-secret NSA program called Prism. Snowden’s files indicated that some of the biggest companies on the web had granted the NSA and FBI direct access to their servers, giving the agencies the ability to grab a person’s audio, video, photos, emails, and documents. The government urged Gellman not to identify the firms involved, but Gellman thought it was important. “Naming those companies is what would make it real to Americans,” he says. Now a team of Post reporters was reaching out to those companies for comment.
Sony and Microsoft release their first video-game consoles in seven years, but they’re battling for a world of play that is rapidly changing
Simon Parkin reports: This month marks a milestone in the turf war for the space beneath our television sets: it’s the first time that Sony and Microsoft have released new video-game consoles within a week of one another. The PlayStation 4 launched in the U.S. a week ago (and launches in Europe next week), while Microsoft’s Xbox One is available around the world as of today. Both systems are Blu-ray-playing supercomputers squeezed into similar-looking black plastic casing; both are designed to usher in a new era of high-definition, online-enabled video games.
The consoles are a technological leap over their forebears, with broadly similar internal specifications (eight-core CPUs, eight gigabytes of RAM, 500-gigabyte hard drives). Each has a powerful external camera that facilitates facial recognition and allows some games to be played with the human body rather than a controller. Sony’s focus is on the core “gamer”: the PlayStation 4’s multimedia capabilities are still present but are pushed to one side in favor of games (both the hulking Hollywood-style blockbuster games and the smaller independent variety). By comparison, Microsoft’s more expensive Xbox One ($500 compared to $381) has a broader aim, acting as an HDMI-enabled set-top box as well as offering a vast array of non-game apps, from streaming TV and movie services to a camera-enabled fitness program.
Apple reportedly purchases PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D body sensor firm behind Microsoft Kinect for $345MPosted: November 17, 2013
According to Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il, Apple has purchased PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology somewhere near a valuation in the $345M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.
Calcalist reported in July that Apple was mulling a purchase for somewhere in the neighborhood of $280M. PrimeSense had issued a denial that it was in talks to be bought by Apple. As we know with past history surrounding these type of matters, company denials don’t often mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for $400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in country. Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Warren writes: Apple may have announced a new bevy of hardware this week, but the real surprise was a series of aggressive moves to take on Microsoft on the software side. Free alternatives to Microsoft’s Office suite will ship with iOS and Mac hardware, and OS X users running Snow Leopard or higher can now upgrade to Mavericks, the latest version of Apple’s OS, for free. For Mac users, “the days of spending hundreds of dollars to get the most from your computer are gone,” says Apple’s Craig Federighi.
Though no-cost Mavericks is a first for Apple’s OS X, it’s not a first for the industry: Microsoft offers the brand-new Windows 8.1 for free to Windows 8 customers. Together, they mark another major turning point in the post-PC era where desktops and laptops have started to take on numerous smartphone-like characteristics: Metro. iMessage integration. The Windows Store and Mac App Store. Free OS updates. The list goes on.
Microsoft should be very concerned long-term with Apple’s new approach…
That doesn’t mean the two companies are on even footing with the free upgrade message, though. “Microsoft should be very concerned long-term with Apple’s new approach, primarily in the consumer and small business markets,” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, tells The Verge. The threat of free OS upgrades and free productivity software could lure consumers, but only if Apple’s iWorks suite and Mavericks are enough for people to make the switch. Moorhead argues that Microsoft may be forced to consider its upgrade options for future Windows releases. “I think Microsoft will need to rethink any plans to charge for a Windows 9 upgrade like they did for Windows 7.”
NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Nadia Damouni and Bill Rigby report: Three of the top 20 investors in Microsoft Corp are lobbying the board to press for Bill Gates to step down as chairman of the software company he co-founded 38 years ago, according to people familiar with matter.
While Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has been under pressure for years to improve the company’s performance and share price, this appears to be the first time that major shareholders are taking aim at Gates, who remains one of the most respected and influential figures in technology.
A representative for Microsoft declined to comment on Tuesday.
There is no indication that Microsoft’s board would heed the wishes of the three investors, who collectively hold more than 5 percent of the company’s stock, according to the sources. They requested the identity of the investors be kept anonymous because the discussions were private. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has taken plenty of flack for running a company that is supposedly well past its glory days—and the iPhone smartphone franchise is sometimes dismissed as a spent force, losing ground to more innovative brands such as Android and Samsung. Well, here’s a little perspective for the Apple-haters.
The iPhone 5s and 5c sold a record 9 million units during the first weekend after its launch. Consider this: The brand’s sales haul over the last four reported quarters eclipses that of such companies as Home Depot (HD), Microsoft (MSFT), Target (TGT), Goldman Sachs(GS), Amazon (AMZN), PepsiCo (PEP), Comcast (CMCSA), Dell (DELL), Google(GOOG), Pfizer (PFE), and UPS (UPS).
If this single product were its own company in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, IPhone Inc. would outsell 474 of those companies—ranking between Wells Fargo (WFC) ($90.5 billion) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC) ($84.9 billion).
This is what you hear and read. Sure, it was a hell of a run—iPhone, iPad, all that—but it’s about to end, and fast. If you need any proof, just look at China: the world’s largest smartphone market, flooded with ever-cheaper handsets and tablets from domestic manufacturers that didn’t even exist when the iPhone was first announced. You think those cheap handsets and tablets will confine themselves to the Middle Kingdom? Of course not—China will be the epicenter of a global collapse in device prices. The competition will be beyond Thunderdome, fought by companies armed with little more than a free operating system from Google and razor-thin profit margins. The Cupertino (Calif.) maker of chamfered-edged, precision-etched baubles? Toast. Check Apple’s stock price, down around 33 percent since its peak about a year ago.
None of this rattles Tim Cook. Oh, he’s heard it, of course, but his soft-spoken, deliberate manner in interviews is not cover for how, say, Apple’s share price affects his mood. “I don’t feel euphoric on the up, and I don’t slit my wrists when it goes down,” he says. “I have ridden the roller coaster too many times for that.” Read the rest of this entry »
A great find from Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch: “It’s Friday, kids, so calm down and have a laugh. Do this: Stop caring about Apple and Microsoft and Google and the phone in your pocket and the platform of your dreams and all that. Instead, giggle at the following video clip in which Microsoft takes on Apple in a way that I honestly did not see coming. Microsoft knew that the clip would cause controversy, and they yanked it quickly, likely as planned. Whatever…”
My colleague Harry McCracken pointed out last night that Nokia sells nearly 87 percent of all Windows Phones, and that number seems likely to grow. By purchasing Nokia, Microsoft will gain near-complete control over Windows Phone hardware, not just the software.
For smartphones, this is as close to Apple‘s approach as it gets. Apple is famous for its tight integration of hardware and software, which generates lots of satisfied customers as well as huge profits.
Today Microsoft announced that it has reached a “cooperation agreement” with ValueAct Capital, an investment company that had been a thorn in its side. It was said that ValueAct wanted a seat on Microsoft’s board.
Instead, Microsoft and ValueAct have come to a different agreement, in which the president of ValueAct – Mason Morfit – and Microsoft directors will meet to talk over issues relating to the company. Morfit will also be given a chance at joining the board, after the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Steve Ballmer is stepping down as the CEO of Microsoft, and Wall Street is rather pleased.
On Friday, Ballmer announced that, after 33 years with the company that defined software in the 1980s and ’90s, he will retire sometime within the next 12 months. As of noon Eastern, Microsoft’s stock price had climbed nearly 6 percent. The money men have spoken, and for once, they’re making sense.
In some ways, it’s sad to see Big Steve go. He had a wonderful way of filling a room — with his bellowing voice, his endless stream of hyperbole, his sometimes awkward physicality, and, yes, with just the size of his frame. And for those of us who lived through the PC revolution, Ballmer — employee Number 30 at Microsoft — is the company’s one remaining link to the days when it so swiftly took hold of the tech universe.
But during Ballmer’s decade at Microsoft’s helm — he took the reins from founder Bill Gates in 2000 — the company dug itself a hole that it will be lucky to crawl from in the decade to come.
As Carol Burnett sang: “I’m so glad we had this time together, just to have a laugh or sing a song. Seems we just got started and before you know it , comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.'”
About a year after Facebook reportedly joined PRISM, Max Kelly, the social network’s chief security officer left for a job at the National Security Agency, either a curious career move or one that makes complete sense. The Chief Security Officer at a tech company is primarily concerned with keeping its information inside the company. Now working for an agency that tries to gather as much information as it can, Kelly’s new job is sort of a complete reversal.
Facebook, among other tech companies, has distanced itself from the government, claiming it only cooperates when it is legally required to. But, “current and former industry officials say the companies sometimes secretly put together teams of in-house experts to find ways to cooperate more completely with the NSA and to make their customers’ information more accessible to the agency,” report the New York Times’s James Risen and Nick Wingfield.
Before Kelly — who once worked at the FBI — took the job at the NSA, he indicated a coziness with the government. Three weeks after leaving the network in 2010, he made a speech at the Defcon hacking conference that argued greater cooperation between places like Facebook and military defense. “Commercial entities and the military are dealing with the same problem,” he said. “They should both understand their roles in the larger picture. There isn’t enough information shared.” There he was more specifically addressing cyber-attacks from places like China, which as he predicted has turned into a national security issue. But, his speech also indicates that he thinks these two, at times opposed, industries should work together.
It’s unclear what Kelly exactly does at the NSA — he might have a job that has nothing to do with PRISM. Though, the Times report suggests the feds recruited him because of his Silicon Valley ties. “To get their hands on the latest software technology to manipulate and take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Mr. Kelly,” they write.
Facebook linked up with the NSA for PRISM in June of 2009, according to the slide below. Kelly left almost a year to date after that — though it’s unclear if he went right to the NSA. This Venture Beat report calls him a “civilian” three weeks after his departure. The feds may have wanted him for his cybersecurity expertise. Or, maybe that plus his connections made him the perfect NSA recruit.
via The Atlantic Wire.
Do you like Android? You should, it’s amazing. iOS? Wow, what a great platform, no wonder it started a revolution. Windows Phone? Seriously, it’s got a remarkable and beautiful interface. BlackBerry? There are plenty of great reasons people love it. And no matter which platform you adore, it’s shockingly possible to both have a preference and respect that other people may prefer an entirely different device. I know. Totally weird. But true.
Or, you can just call anyone who expresses a contrary opinion a jerk, or a fanboi, or butthurt, some other un-clever and deeply unoriginal pejorative that ends with the suffix “tard” and ultimately makes you look dumber than the person you’re trying, vainly, to insult.
The phone wars, the platform wars, should be left to people who work for Apple and Samsung and Google and Microsoft and Nokia and BlackBerry. Do you work for Apple? Do you work for Samsung? No? Then shut up.
Nobody cares what kind of smartphone you believe in. It’s not a religion.
It’s more like a sports team, for some.
Politico is reporting that Microsoft accidentally delved into the world of partisan politics over the weekend after tweeting out a message insulting conservative author and syndicated columnist Ann Coulter.
In response to liberal economist Robert Reich’s tweet that he would be visiting his granddaughter and sitting on a panel with Coulter over the weekend, the tech giant’s official Twitter feed reportedly responded:
“@RBReich your granddaughter’s level of discourse and policy > those of Ann Coulter.”
Here is a purported image of the tweet:
The tweet was deleted immediately, according to Politico, and was accidentally written by one of the individuals who manages the company’s Twitter account.
“[The] tweet obviously is not an official statement by the company,” Microsoft stated in a press release…
via >> TheBlaze.com…