Friday, July 31, 2015

Angry Birds 2

Angry Birds 2, the first official follow-up to the immensely popular 2009 game, has been released on iOS and Android.

Since the first Angry Birds was released in 2009, its makers have released a huge range of updates, including Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Epic, as well as tie-ins with other franchises like Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Star Wars. But Angry Birds 2 is the first update with  a number — despite not necessarily bringing as many changes as other updates.

Rovio Entertainment, which makes the games, said that the new game adds the option to let players choose which bird they fling and when, adding an element of strategy. The pigs that serve as the game’s enemies also have been updated, bringing with them new constructions that are harder to knock down.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

LG Phone Sales Falter

Korea’s LG shipped a (then) record 14.5 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2014, but now, a year later, it’s a different story. The firm just revealed its Q2 2015 financials and, while not as disastrous as HTC’s, the company itself describes them as “modest.”

The firm, which enjoyed a pretty stellar 2014 during which it doubled profits and shipped 59 million phones, shipped 14.1 million in the last quarter of business which translated to sales of KRW 3.65 trillion ($3.33 billion), a meagre 1 percent increase year-on-year. (It shipped 15.5 million in Q4 2014, and 15.4 million in Q1 2015.)

Calling the last quarter “extremely challenging” across all segments of its business, LG admitted that the market for premium smartphones suffered from lower demand. That said, it claimed to have increased revenue in North America by more than one-third — thanks to its mid-range phones and tablets — while it sold a record 8.1 million LTE smartphones in the quarter.

The company has outed a number of new phones designed to complement its flagship G4, including the G4 Beat, G4 Stylus and G4c — not to mention a mid-range phone for emerging markets. Along that line, the company said it will “more aggressively implement its dual strategy focusing on both premium devices, as well as mid-range smartphones.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Win 10 is Finally Here

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system debuts Wednesday, as the longtime leader in PC software hopes that giving the upgrade away for free will help it carve out a new role in a world where people increasingly rely on smartphones, tablets and information stored online.

The company is counting on tens or even hundreds of millions of people to download its latest release in the coming months. Many people will also get Windows 10 as part of new PCs. The launch will be accompanied by a global marketing campaign for an event the company hopes will be pivotal – both for its own future and for a vast audience of computer users around the world.

Windows 10 is coming to PCs and tablets first, but it’s also designed to run phones, game consoles and even holographic headsets. It has new features, a streamlined Web browser called Edge and a desktop version of Cortana, the online assistant that is Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Apple’s Siri.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What will Win 10 Do?

The next version of Windows, which will start arriving tomorrow, won't do a couple of the things that you'd normally expect a new operating system to do as standard.
It won't immediately make Microsoft a lot of money from licences because it's going to be a free download for the majority of consumers. And it won't provide a much-needed shot in the arm for PC sales either, because many existing PCs will be able to run it, sparing consumers the need to buy a new machine to use the new OS. Windows 10 is the clearest illustration yet of how much the business model around Windows has changed in just a few years.
What Windows 10 will do, however, is fix many of the perceived problems that made Windows 8 so hard to sell: even now, three years after launch, it only has scraped together a 13 percent share of the PC market; Windows 7 (51 percent) and Windows XP (24 percent) still outrank it, according to NetMarketShare.

Monday, July 27, 2015

New Samsung Monitor

Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a monitor that isn’t just about more screen, more pixels, and more visuals. Samsung today unveiled the SE370, claiming it’s the first monitor with an integrated wireless charging function for mobile devices.

In other words, the poorly named SE370 actually serves more than one purpose. The monitor, which comes in 23.6-inch and 27-inch flavors, has two functions: displaying content and charging your smartphone.

Here’s Samsung’s pitch: The SE370 “declutters work areas by doing away with unnecessary cables and ports needed to charge mobile devices.” More specifically, the monitor works with all mobile devices that use the Qi wireless charging standard.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Windows 10 Build 10240

If you have Windows 10 Build 10240, congratulations. You have the “final” Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build of Windows 10.

In as much as there is a final build, of course. In fact, when I received an official, Microsoft-approved, Lenovo Yoga 12 laptop with Windows 10 on it last night, I thought there would be some sort of official stamp of completion. A new wallpaper. A sticker, perhaps? But when I powered it on...I was taken aback. Because there was nothing more than Windows 10 Build 10240 on it.

I asked Microsoft for clarification. ““This build is the latest Windows 10 build, and we’ll continue to update Windows 10 code as we head toward launch and beyond,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are embracing a new way to deliver Windows.”
A few days ago, Microsoft stopped making ISO copies of Windows 10 available. If your Windows 10 PC has updated itself to Windows 10 Build 10240, then you basically have what PC makers have as well. On July 29, those that haven’t caught up will receive Windows 10 Build 10240—or whatever Microsoft is calling it then—and possibly even an entirely new build (or patch). We simply don’t know yet.  

What those of us with Windows 10 Build 10240 have seen, however, have been post-build updates for Windows Defender and other security fixes. More importantly, Microsoft has updated many of the Windows 10 apps separately, much like Google does for its Android operating system, or what Microsoft itself does for Windows Phone. Those fixes have produced notable improvements—for example, the Windows 10 Mail app used to be unable to dig up an old email that it would have to search the server for. Now, it does so in a reasonable amount of time.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Streaming Video is Killing Home WiFi

Findings from the Consumer Entertainment Index (CEI) produced by IP, video and broadband technology specialist ARRIS, suggest that binge-viewing has ‘gone solo’ in 2015. According to ARRIS, this gives service providers an opportunity to personalise content and services to the individual, for a more tailored customer experience.

In addition, nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of global consumers have issues with WiFi at home – a likely consequence of the growing number of connected video devices and a tremendous opportunity for service providers to improve connectivity issues, says ARRIS.

The CEI tracks the evolution of entertainment through the lens of consumer engagement with content, connected devices, and each other.

Worldwide, the average home now has six video devices connected to its WiFi network, and the average household spends almost 6.5 hours each week streaming a subscription service. Moreover, four out of five (81 per cent) of those who stream now do so at least weekly, up from 72 per cent just last year. There is a clear connection between WiFi and mobile TV too, with nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of people who watch mobile TV at least once a week, using WiFi to do so.

These trends are a likely culprit of the Internet issues that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of global consumers experience, as well as their renewed interest in high-speed Internet in every room of the house – a service that 72 per cent indicated was either very important or vitally important.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Apple Stock Price is Down

Apple reported an unusual misstep in the April-to-June quarter, selling fewer iPhones than analysts had been expecting, but it wasn’t all bad news from Cupertino.

Sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were 47.5 million units, lower than the roughly 49 million phones that analysts had been expecting the company to sell. That immediately hit Apple shares, which dropped by more than 5 percent in after-hours trading.

But for the quarter, Apple reported sales of $49.6 billion, up by a third from the same period in 2014 and beating its own financial forecast and the elevated expectations of financial analysts who closely follow the company.

Net profit surged by 38 percent to $10.7 billion, also ahead of estimates.

“We had an amazing quarter, with iPhone revenue up 59 percent over last year, strong sales of Mac, all-time record revenue from services, driven by the App Store, and a great start for Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apples CEO, in a statement.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Win 10 and The Cloud

Microsoft has built one of the largest, most sophisticated cloud infrastructures in the world, using it to power Azure, Office 365, and other enterprise mainstays. By 2018,     those commercial services should bring in $20 billion a year     (up from the current run rate of $8 billion annually), making them an essential part of Microsoft's post-Windows future.
The company's history with consumer-based cloud services is almost as long but not nearly as successful.
The SkyDrive service (now known as OneDrive, thanks to Microsoft's loss in a trademark infringement lawsuit two years ago) launched in August 2007 and has been under steady evolution since then. The OneDrive synchronization client was integrated into Windows 8 in 2012, nearly three years ago, with a major update a year later.
With all that experience, surely OneDrive should be a marquee feature in Windows 10?

If only.

When Windows 10 begins its global rollout in one week, it will include a OneDrive client that is functionally equivalent to what shipped in Windows 8, three years ago. Last fall, the OneDrive product team sheepishly announced it was     yanking the "smart files" feature, which it had introduced with much fanfare in Windows 8.1.
The version of Windows 10 that the public will see beginning July 29 includes a basic OneDrive client that allows selective synchronization of files with its consumer OneDrive service. Office 365 Business customers have to install a separate client to access storage in the OneDrive for Business service.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Will Micron Stay American?

Tsinghua Unigroup’s planned $23 billion bid to purchase Micron Technology, made public last week, hasn’t been confirmed by either party. But the idea of Micron being taken over by a Chinese company has already raised so much concern on Capitol Hill, including from John McCain, that Micron executives are privately warning off their potential suitor.

What is this little-celebrated national asset?

While Micron may not be a well-recognized name in an industry now dominated by Apple, Asian manufacturers, and app-based newbies like Uber, the Boise, Idaho company is one of America’s first, most successful tech startups. It is also one of the US’s last major manufacturers of dynamic random access memory chips, known as DRAM, after clinging to domestic chip-making as rivals folded and got bought out.

In many ways, the homegrown giant’s history mirrors the rise and fall in tech manufacturing in the United States. Micron’s modest origins and low-profile belie its global influence, and now even with a Tsinghau deal unlikely, Micron’s future looks uncertain.

To be fair, though, that’s just as true now of the company as it was when the firm began.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Samsung Tablets

Samsung announced its thinnest smartphone to date last week — that’s the Galaxy A8 — and today the Korean firm took the wraps off its thinnest tablet devices so far: the Galaxy Tab S2.
Like last year’s Galaxy Tab S, design is a big focus for these two devices. And, at just 5.6mm, they are more slender than Apple’s sleekest iPad Air (6.1mm). They are available in two new sizes — 8 inch and 9.7 inch — which weigh in at just 265g and 389g, respectively. That combination of thinness and weight could make them pretty portable devices.

The Galaxy Tab S was impressive, and it shone brightest when it came to multimedia, particularly watching videos and films. It looks to be the same story again with these upcoming models. Samsung’s press materials also play up the ease of reading media on the 2048 x 1536 pixel super AMOLED display, though we’ll reserve full judgment until we’ve had a chance to get them into our hands for a deeper test.

On the specs side of things, the Galaxy Tab S2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. Under the hood it is powered by an octo-core processor, which pairs four 1.9GHz  cores with four 1.3GHz cores — with 3GB RAM and 32 or 64GB of internal memory. The latter is expandable to 128GB via microSD cards.

Friday, July 17, 2015

MSFT Store

Microsoft has renovated an online store that combines its Windows Store and Windows Phone Store into one big virtual shopping mall.

The newly redesigned app store is part of the company's attempt to unify the Windows 10 experience across all devices -- PCs, tablets and mobile phones. In the past, Windows PC and tablet owners looking for apps would have to browse the Windows Store, while Windows Phone users would have to check out the Windows Phone store. But now this one-stop shop is geared for everyone.

The store is a step in the direction toward a true "Universal App" store, which would offer apps for all types of Windows devices and other gear, including the Xbox gaming console. A spokesperson for Microsoft confirmed that the site lets you browse both Windows apps and Windows Phone apps but said that it's not the new "unified Windows Store." The true "Universal App" store has yet to open its doors.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BYOD is Dieing

U.S. companies are moving away from the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend that kicked off in earnest five years ago and had workers using their personal smartphones and tablets for work duties, according to a new study.

An online survey conducted in April and May of 375 U.S. IT professionals in various private businesses found that 53% allowed no BYOD, up significantly from 34% in 2013. No BYOD means that a company provides smartphones and tablets to workers and bans the use of personal devices for work.

Also, just 7% of those surveyed said they allow a full BYOD policy where the company takes no responsibility for devices. Another 40% allow a partial BYOD policy, where the company provides some devices but allows some personal devices to access corporate systems.

"It's not quite the death of BYOD, but there does seem to be a decrease in the use of BYOD in enterprises," said Tim Herbert, senior vice president for research and market intelligence for CompTIA, a nonprofit IT trade association, which conducted the survey.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Windows Server 2003 Support Has Ended

With this month's Patch Tuesday round of security fixes, Microsoft has ended its support for the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

"For anyone who still runs Windows 2003, I hope it is where no one can access it, and they are working on a project to replace those servers," said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer for IT security firm Qualys.
For July, Microsoft issued 14 bulletins, covering a total of 58 vulnerabilities.

The patches cover three critical holes in Microsoft Windows, in both the server and desktop editions, as well as one critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer, versions 7 through 11.
Administrators should apply these critical patches as quickly as possible because the vulnerabilities are already being used by attackers to gain entry into systems.

The remaining patches, deemed by Microsoft as important but not critical, address additional vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office and SQL Server, as well as additional vulnerabilities in Windows.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Chinese Firm To Buy Micron?

The investment arm of one of China’s top universities is planning to offer $23 billion for chipmaker Micron Technology Inc., a person familiar with the matter said, in a deal that would be the largest takeover of a foreign firm by a Chinese company. Micron surged in Frankfurt trading.

Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. will bid $21 a share, or about 19 percent more than Monday’s closing price in New York, and present the offer as soon as Tuesday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Micron spokesman Dan Francisco said the company hasn’t received a proposal.

A purchase would give China, which accounts for more than half of the world’s demand for semiconductors, the technology to build memory chips that go into computers and smartphones. The Chinese government has budgeted to spend as much as 1 trillion yuan ($161 billion) on the chip industry over the next five to 10 years, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Win 10 Roll Out

When Microsoft starts rolling out Windows 10 on July 29, it won't be holding a single news-focused centralized launch or a webcast chock full of PowerPoint slides.

Instead, Microsoft plans to play up "the newest generation of Windows fans," via a global advertising and online-marketing campaign, officials said on July 13.

On July 29, Microsoft will host a number of fan celebrations primarily for its 5 million Windows Insiders in 13 cities around the world, including Sydney, Beijing, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, London, Berlin, Madrid, Singapore, Johannesburg, Nairobi, New Delhi, Dubai and New York City. At these events, there will be hands-on opportunities, demos, entertainments and "opportunities to meet the Windows team," company officials said.

Microsoft also will kick off the launch of Windows 10 in more than 110 Microsoft Stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico on the 29th, with in-store events designed to help customers upgrade to Windows 10

Friday, July 10, 2015

Connecting Cars

Vinli founder Mark Haidar reaches below the steering wheel of a 2007 Toyota Camry – right into the brain of the car – and plugs in a small black device that’s like an extra-large memory stick.

The device will live there, in the rectangular connector known as the OBD port. Any car built after 1996 is equipped with an OBD port, and it’s become hot real estate for tech companies trying to revolutionize the driving experience. Vinli, which starts at $99.00, turns your car into smartphone of sorts – where there’s an app store for your car, and an internet connection.

It has a GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, with LTE connectivity, an accelerometer,” Haidar says.  

So, if you’re on a road trip, maybe in a 1996 Honda Civic, and your kid wants to watch cartoons on a laptop, no problem.

“It makes the driver experience and backseat experience much better,” he says.
Connecting to Netflix from the backseat is nice, but it isn’t the breakthrough technology that helped Vinli raise $6.5 million from companies like Samsung and Cox Automotive this summer.

That was for connecting your car to your phone, your home computer and the people around you. Through Vinli’s app store you can download apps to monitor your car’s health, improve fuel efficiency, and even track your teenager — like one app called Beagle, which lets parents watch the car in real time and even create alerts for speeding.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

MSFT Phone News

When Microsoft announced its deal to acquire Nokia’s mobile phone business, Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive at the time, boasted that the deal was a “bold step into the future.”

But on Wednesday, Microsoft’s current chief executive, Satya Nadella, sought to leave that deal in the past. He announced a broad rethinking of the company’s phone strategy, a change that includes cutting up to 7,800 jobs, mostly from the phone business, and writing off nearly all of the value of its Nokia acquisition.

The move is a clear acknowledgment that the deal was a multibillion-dollar strategic blunder by Mr. Ballmer, who had envisioned it as a way to make Microsoft more competitive in the mobile market dominated by Apple, Google and Samsung. Mr. Nadella is said to have disliked the acquisition originally, though he publicly endorsed it after becoming chief executive.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

More MSFT Job Loses

Microsoft is laying off 7,800 people, primarily employees involved with Windows Phone hardware business, officials announced on July 8.

Microsoft also is taking a $7.6 billion write-down related to its Nokia acquisition, plus a restructuring charge of between $750 million to $850 million. Microsoft plans to complete the job cuts largely by the end of calendar 2015 and completely by the end of fiscal 2016, which means June 30, 2016.

Despite that fact, the company is not throwing in the towel on Windows Phone, one of a handful of first-party devices the company makes. (Other Microsoft-made/branded hardware include the Surface tablet line and Surface Hub conferencing system; Xbox gaming console; Microsoft fitness Band; and the coming HoloLens augmented-reality headset.)

Microsoft still plans to make Lumia phones and is pushing ahead with Windows 10 Mobile, its operating system for Windows Phones and small tablets, expected to hit later this year. Microsoft still plans to launch Lumia flagship devices this calendar year. (The rumor is this fall, once Windows 10 Mobile is available.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ubuntu Compute Stick

Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu version of Linux, has announced that the Ubuntu version of the Intel Compute Stick will go on sale starting this week.

The Compute Stick is basically a computer in an HDMI dongle, allowing users to simply carry their computer around in their pocket, as long as they know that will have an HDMI-capable display wherever they need to use it.

"Consumers are looking for a more personal, flexible and cost-effective computing experience, and also looking for a choice of OS," said Jan Silber, CEO of Canonical, in a statement. "It's great to see Ubuntu becomes part of the Compute Stick family. This is another example of how we're working with Intel to bring a wide range of devices to market to give as many people as possible the chance to discover Ubuntu."

The stick itself will feature the 64-bit version of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and includes an Intel Atom 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. The device also features 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Of course, this isn't the power needed for high-quality media production, but for business-people on the go or those needing to use fairly processor-light applications, the Compute Stick should be fine.

Monday, July 6, 2015

New Version Of Firefox

Mozilla has started letting outside developers use a test version of its Firefox browser with new virtual-reality technology that could make surfing the web more like watching movies or playing video games.

If the beta version of the technology checks out, Firefox users may soon be able to create a customized, fully-interactive online experience using VR devices such as Facebook's Oculus Rift.

A San Francisco-based non-profit foundation with more than 1,000 workers globally, Mozilla is hoping its new MozVR software can help Firefox better compete against Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July

We would like to wish a happy Independence Day to everyone.

God bless America.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Yet Another Win 10 Build

It's actually the "faster Fast Ring," according to a July 2 blog post announcing yet another new Windows 10 test build.

Microsoft is making available to its Windows Insider testers on the Fast Ring yet another new Windows 10 test build.

Today's build, Build No. 10162, is the third preview build for Windows 10 for PCs that Microsoft has rolled out this week alone. Build 10162 follows by a couple of days Build 10159, which provided 300 new bug fixes, plus the new Windows 10 wallpaper, to the five million registered Windows Insiders. On Tuesday, Microsoft rolled out Build 10158.

What's new in today's build? There aren't any details in Microsoft's July 2 blog post, other than the claim that "our testing and internal telemetry metrics show it has better reliability, performance, battery life, and compatibility than any Windows 10 Insider Preview build so far."

If this new build passes muster, Microsoft is likely to make it available to Slow Ring testers, with ISOs, next week, officials said.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

OnePlus 2

OnePlus continues to slowly drop hints as to what the OnePlus 2 will be offering. In the startup's latest teaser, it revealed that its next smartphone will include a fingerprint scanner that is supposed to be easier to use than Apple's Touch ID.

Fingerprinting technology has only recently advanced to the point where its implementation truly adds to the end user's experience, according to a blog post from OnePlus.

In the past, fingerprint readers on mobile devices have been little more than a selling point and far from a useful feature, the company stated.

"We could've done this with the One, but we felt it was better to wait," said OnePlus.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

MSFT Edge Browser

Microsoft is hurtling toward the release of Windows 10, pushing out Build 10158 on Monday to early testers. The new build provides yet more clues as to what the OS will look like when it ships at the end of next month.

One of the biggest changes involves Microsoft Edge, the company’s replacement for Internet Explorer. Microsoft announced the browser’s name at its Build developer conference last month. Today’s update finally shows off the new Edge branding ahead of its public launch with Windows 10. As seen in leaked builds, it’s a blue “e” very similar to the one used for Internet Explorer.

Running on the desktop, Edge now has a black theme that matches the Windows 10 taskbar, along with new menus for sharing content. The browser now supports filling in forms and password fields, bringing it closer to other modern browsers, including its predecessor. Users can also customize Edge’s New Tab page to display only their most visited sites, or their most visited sites along with suggested content that may interest them.

Like the launch of Edge’s branding on Windows 10 Mobile, this update brings a new app ID to the browser, which means that testers will lose their favorites, cookies, history and Reading List items from Project Spartan after the upgrade. Microsoft has instructions for backing up that data, for people who want to maintain continuity in their browsing experience.