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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Snapchat needs to evolve—or it’ll be brutally slaughtered by Facebook.

For Facebook, Snapchat isn’t an app to be feared.

It’s a feature to be absorbed.

The world’s largest social network  relentlessly taunts Snap Inc., their much-smaller competitor, known mostly for its disappearing messages app, by lifting Snap’s core functionality, and dumping it into a variety of products it doesn’t really belong.

Who knows what Facebook’s really thinking—the company tends to promote its features with fluff about letting you “share all the moments of your day“—but the ripoffs are almost certainly less about providing a service to users, and much more about outright killing Snapchat.

Some important background: An article in Bloomberg last year said Facebook was in a froth over a decline in “personal sharing” on its social network, which is used by 1.23 billion people every day. (Snapchat’s got 158 million daily users, its IPO filing revealed.) Personal sharing’s important: Your News Feed can’t just be a wasteland of viral videos and news about Hillary Clinton harvesting baby organs or whatever—you return to Facebook to see what your friends are up to.

When friends post personal statuses or pictures, it encourages you to do the same. Then Facebook has a nice crop of eager content-sharers to serve highly personalized ads to. Then, Facebook makes several billion dollars. Great!

The rub for Facebook, here, is that Snapchat’s all about intimate moments (and body parts) shared between friends (and lovers). You can take a snap of whatever, send it to whomever, and you don’t have to worry about your aunt or kid seeing it—as you do on Facebook. It’s a popular idea, and at the time of the Bloomberg report, Snapchat was enjoying explosive growth in its user base:

This lovely graph shows Snapchat's robust growth over a couple of years ending in December 2015.

 

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Intel still beats Ryzen at games, but how much does it matter?

It’s OK now even if it’s not the fastest gaming processor ever—but the future gets tricky.

The response to AMD’s Ryzen processors with their new Zen core has been more than a little uneven. Eight cores and 16 threads for under $500 means that they’re unambiguously strong across a wide range of workloads; compute-bound tasks like compiling software and compressing video cry out for cores, and AMD’s pricing makes Ryzen very compelling indeed.  But gaming performance has caused more dissatisfaction. AMD promised a substantial improvement in instructions per cycle (IPC), and the general expectation was that Ryzen would be within striking distance of Intel’s Broadwell core. Although Broadwell is now several years old—it first hit the market way back in September 2014—the comparison was relevant. Intel’s high-core-count processors—both the High End Desktop parts, with six, eight, or 10 cores, and the various Xeon processors for multisocket servers—are all still using Broadwell cores.  Read More

Lockheed Martin to deliver world record-setting 60kw laser to U.S. Army

Lockheed Martin has completed the design, development and demonstration of a 60 kW-class beam combined fiber laser for the U.S. Army.  In testing earlier this month, the Lockheed Martin laser produced a single beam of 58 kW, representing a world record for a laser of this type. The Lockheed Martin team met all contractual deliverables for the and is preparing to ship it to the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command in Huntsville, Ala.

“Delivery of this laser represents an important milestone along the path to fielding a practical laser weapon system,” said Paula Hartley, vice president, Owego, New York general manager and Advanced Product Solutions within Lockheed Martin’s Cyber, Ships & Advanced Technologies line of business. “This milestone could not have been achieved without close partnership between the U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin; we are pleased to be able to deliver this system for their further integration and evaluation.”

Lockheed martin to deliver world record-setting 60kw laser to U.S. army

Lockheed Martin’s laser is a beam combined fiber laser, meaning it brings together individual lasers, generated through fiber optics, to generate a single, intense . This allows for a scalable laser system that can be made more powerful by adding more fiber laser subunits. The laser is based on a design developed under the Department of Defense’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative Program, and further developed through investments by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army into a 60kW-class system.

“The inherent scalability of this beam combined laser system has allowed us to build the first 60kW-class fiber laser for the U.S. Army,” said Robert Afzal, Ph.D., senior fellow for Laser and Sensor Systems. “We have shown that a powerful directed energy laser is now sufficiently light-weight, low volume and reliable enough to be deployed on tactical vehicles for defensive applications on land, at sea and in the air.”  Read More

 

GO GO GADGET When does the Samsung Galaxy S8 come out? Release date, price, rumours and specs

SAMSUNG is preparing to release the Galaxy S8 and leaks and rumours are already rife about what the new product will include.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new phone including release date, specs, rumours, features and price.

When will it come out?

Samsung fans were dealt a blow after the Galaxy Note 7 explosion debacle pushed the S8 release date back until April.

It has since been confirmed that the new model will be released on March 29, TechRadar reports.

It will be on pre-order from April 10 and is rumoured to land in stores on April 21.

The phone makers revealed that wrong sized batteries were to blame for the Note 7 which overheated and was recalled.

The South Korean firm may have postponed this launch in order to fully investigate those problems.

How much will it cost?

An exact figure has not yet been released but if previous prices and phones of similar models are a comparison then the Galaxy S8 will be in the region of £600.

It is rumoured the phone wil seel for $850 in the US – roughly £700 in the UK, according to TechRadar.

The Galaxy S7 can be bought for £619 while the S6 can be bought for £110.

The company have said they want to make the screen the main feature of the phone, with the aim for it to fill as much of the front face as possible.  Read More

For customer’s in South Korea who bought the ill-fated Note 7 they can get some money off the new phone, by trading their old model in.

Russian bank said it was hacked to frame connection with Trump Organization

(CNN) — The Russian bank that had an “odd” internet link to the Trump Organization during the presidential campaign is now claiming that U.S.-based hackers have recently launched cyberattacks to try to frame the bank.

Cybersecurity experts say this hack is a common type of prank. And it’s not directly related to activity discovered last year between the computer servers of Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.

Alfa Bank believes the hack is meant to make it seem as if the Trump Organization is currently communicating with it.

In a statement, Alfa Bank said “the cyberattacks are an attempt by unknown parties to manufacture the illusion of contact” between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization.

Last week, CNN revealed that the FBI’s counterintelligence team is still investigating whether there was a computer server connection between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank during the U.S. election, according to sources close to the investigation.

The CNN report showed that the corporations offered only possible explanations — but no proof — as to why Alfa Bank was repeatedly looking up the contact information for a computer server used by the Trump Organization.

But on Friday, Alfa Bank claimed hackers are now trying to perpetuate that suspicion by tricking the Trump Organization into sending communication toward the bank.  Read More

 

Everything you need to know about the Google lawsuit that could derail Uber’s future

The first self-driving car prototypes are already navigating the roads in a few cities. But the real action is about to take place in the courtroom.

Google and Uber, the two giants at the forefront of developing the technology, are vying to own the emerging market and to suck up the profits.

The stakes are high and the fight is already getting personal, with Google accusing one of its star engineers of stealing some of its crown jewels.

google waymo

Last month, Waymo, the self-driving company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, sued Uber, claiming that one of its employees stole vital technology shortly before starting his own self-driving company (which Uber later acquired).

Autonomous cars have the potential to upend massive industries ranging from transportation to auto manufacturing. For Google and Uber, the opportunity and the threat posed by a world of self-driving vehicles is huge.

Google has been developing self-driving technology for the better part of a decade, and plans to license that technology to other car companies through Waymo. There’s also a chance Waymo will eventually develop its own ride-hailing service powered by self-driving cars to compete directly with Uber.  Read More

Brazil’s JBS and BRF Launch PR Campaign After Rotten Meat Raids

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Meat companies JBS SA and BRF SA took out full-page advertisements in Brazilian newspapers on Saturday in efforts to burnish their image a day after police conducted a series of raids investigating bribes at meatpacking facilities.

Police said the raids, which threaten an industry with $12 billion in annual exports, were prompted by evidence that some meatpackers had paid inspectors and politicians to overlook the processing of rotten meat and exports with fraudulent documentation and even traces of salmonella.

Facing a crisis that even Brazil’s government said threatens its reputation as one of the world’s biggest exporters of meat products, JBS and BRF launched a public relations offensive to defend the integrity of their practices.

“Quality is the foremost priority of JBS and its brands,” read an advertisement by JBS, the world’s largest meat producer, in publications that included the major dailies of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, plus the weekly newsmagazine Veja.  Read More

Judge issues warrant for specific Google search data from everyone in Edina, Minnesota

Good morning Edina, Minnesota! You fine folks are the lucky winners of a warrant seeking your Google search data. A Minnesota judge has signed off on a warrant seeking specific Google search data from pretty much everyone in the city of Edina. Don’t worry though, there are very specific search terms that the police would like to investigate. The series of events that birthed such a warrant started when the Spire Credit Union was contacted by a man seeking to wire transfer $28,500USD from a line of credit to another bank. Of course, the bank needed to verify the man’s identity so he faxed in a copy of his passport which turns out, was fake.

The Edina Police Department figured out that while searching Google Images for the victim’s name, they found the photo used on the fake passport, and investigators couldn’t find it on Yahoo or Bing. So, they theorized the suspect must have searched Google for the victim’s name while making the fake passport.

This has led the Edina Police to draft the warrant which the judge has signed and approved. The warrant is seeking the names, email addresses, account information, and IP addresses of anyone who searched for the victim’s name in any variety of ways. The victim’s first name is Douglas with the last name redacted in the scanned warrant available on Tony Webster’s blog and Webster poses an interesting question in his post. Read More

How Fed hike will affect mortgages, car loans, credit cards

How Fed hike will affect mortgages, car loans, credit cards

WASHINGTON — Are mortgage rates going up? How about car loans? Credit cards?

How about those nearly invisible rates on bank CDs — any chance of getting a few dollars more?

With the Federal Reserve having raised its benchmark interest rate Wednesday and signaled the likelihood of additional rate hikes later this year, consumers and businesses will feel it — if not immediately, then over time.

The Fed’s thinking is that the economy is a lot stronger now than it was in the first few years after the Great Recession ended in 2009, when ultra-low rates were needed to sustain growth. With the job market in particular looking robust, the economy is seen as sturdy enough to handle modestly higher loan rates in the coming months and perhaps years.

“We are in a rising interest rate environment,” noted Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit.

Here are some question and answers on what this could mean for consumers, businesses, investors and the economy:

Q. I’m thinking about buying a house. Are mortgage rates going to march steadily higher?

A. Hard to say. Mortgage rates don’t usually rise in tandem with the Fed’s increases. Sometimes they even move in the opposite direction. Long-term mortgages tend to track the rate on the 10-year Treasury, which, in turn, is influenced by a variety of factors. These include investors’ expectations for future inflation and global demand for U.S. Treasurys.  Read More

Google, Microsoft Still Waiting On Wikileaks To Deliver CIA Hacking Tools

It’s been two days since Julian Assange promised Wikileaks would hand over more information on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hacker tools to tech giants. That pledge followed a leak of nearly 9,000 documents that Wikileaks claimed belonged to CIA hacking units.

But while that altruistic move should help protect every one of their users from cyberattack, neither Google nor Microsoft had received details from Wikileaks on vulnerabilities in their software by Saturday morning, according to sources familiar with the companies’ security teams.

Google did not offer official comment, but two sources close to the company’s security staff said there had been no contact. One said there was now concern Wikileaks had duped the public with a PR move of little to no substance, though on Thursday one external Android security expert who’d reviewed the CIA files said it appeared there were multiple vulnerabilities Google would need to address.  Read More

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