Monday, November 30, 2015

IF, and it's a big IF, all things stay the same

Despite the iPad being heralded as the king of tablets, thanks to the variety of Android OEMs, Android is still the reigning platform even when it comes to tablets. However it seems that Microsoft’s Windows platform could start to account for a larger slice of the pie by 2019, at least according to the folks at Strategy Analytics.

According to the company’s latest report, it seems that at the moment, iOS tablets account for about 22% of the market, and Android is commanding a whopping 68%. This basically means that as far as Windows is concerned, they are only holding a very small slice of the pie at 10% of the market.

However it seems that shipments of Windows-based tablets have seen a 58% YOY increase and based on those estimates, Strategy Analytics thinks that Windows could account for 18% of the tablet market by 2019. However it seems that this increase in market share comes mainly at the expense of Android.

The company predicts that by 2019, we could be looking at iOS commanding 23% of the tablet market, 18% for Windows, and 59% that goes to Android which still puts them at the majority, but ceding a lot of ground to Windows. Of course it remains to be seen if that will actually happen, but with devices like the Surface Pro 4 being launched that has been gaining a fair bit of traction, it may very well be possible.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cheero Deals

We have been asked to pass on these special deals to all of our readers. Prices are good from Black Friday to 31st Dec.

Here is the link for the deals:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dell Root Certificates

Every single Dell desktop and laptop shipped since August contains three bogus root certificates, including eDellRoot. Not only that, but two certs include their own private keys! It’s like Superfish all over again...
That means more than ten million computers were infected at source, allowing attackers to spoof secure websites. And they could install infected Windows updates, because the certificate is also able to sign code.

Oh, and if you try to remove eDellRoot, Dell’s bloatware reinstalls it. Nice.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

There will be no tech post today. Enjoy your family and turkey instead!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reclaim Windows Disk Space

Not long ago, Microsoft released a relatively major update for Windows 10. While this is exciting for anyone looking for new features and fixes for their devices, those with small solid state drives might suddenly be feeling the pinch thanks to a loss of 24 GB in storage.

As it turns out, the update doesn’t clear out of your computer after it’s installed, so it ends up sucking down that space unless you manually delete everything. If you’re suddenly running low on drive space — even though you haven’t added anything large recently — then this is likely the reason.

Don’t worry, though, because we’re here to show you how to get rid of those files and reclaim that lost space!

The first thing you need to do is click Start and type “Disk Cleanup” into the box. Select the drive on which Windows 10 is installed (as that’s the one that will have lost the space) and click OK.

Next, click Clean up system files near the bottom of that window. From there, it will do the scan to determine how much space you can save.

On the top of the list, you’ll see Previous Windows installation(s). This is the big one that you’ll want to delete. Just keep in mind that this file lets you restore to previous versions of Windows, which is why Windows doesn’t clean it up in the first place. However, it you don’t plan on going back, then it’s perfectly safe to delete.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Kano Kit for Kids

Learn-to-code startup Kano is now shipping a 10.1-inch HD display to go with its keyboard plus Raspberry Pi DIY computer kit for kids. Back in May the startup announced a $15 million Series A funding round, in part to develop additional hardware add-ons for their core product, such as the screen kit it’s now shipping — but more generally to drive the overarching goal of the company to establish a creative computing brand.

As with the original Kano kit, the screen kit is a DIY accessory that’s designed to get children engaged with the process of putting the hardware together before they can use it for other stuff — albeit at an elementary, plug-in-the-pieces level, rather than entailing more involved electronics techniques, like soldering. Idea being kids as young as six can learn something about the hardware before they get to use it.

The screen kit, which can plug into any HDMI device, comes with a storybook to guide the plug-and-play learning process, which includes a magnifying glass so kids can examine the components and pixels.  The pieces they will need to connect before they have a working display for their Kano computer include a driver board, LCD panel, programmable buttons, a base and stand and plug-and-play cables.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Smart Toys

Looking for this holiday season’s it-toy? Then it’s time to get smart.

That may not be as simple as it sounds, considering the new cadre of characters buzzing and whirring their way on to wish lists.

The big add-on this year isn’t accessories — it’s personality. (Some even talk back.)

As technology spills over into the toy market, manufacturers have moved light years beyond simple battery-powered fare and into the cloud, using the same tech that powers your smartphone. And as toys grow more like other gadgets in our lives, privacy concerns follow.

Front and center is the category known as “toys-to-life.” The Skylanders franchise, published by Activision, has dominated this category after pioneering the concept of making a video game that works with real-life figures. When connected, the figures can summon a character to life on the screen. Over time, the toy will remember each action it’s taken in a game, essentially growing smarter with every use — and offering more personalized play.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Drone Registration

A mandatory consumer drone registration system looks set to be in force in the U.S. before the end of the year after an industry task force delivered its proposals for the system on Saturday.

The group, which included representatives from Google, Amazon and 23 other organizations that use and make drones, was asked a little less than a month ago to come up with the proposal.

With its submission on Saturday,  the FAA and U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) will consider the recommendations along with several thousand comments from members of the public before announcing an interim rule. That is due in December and will go into force soon after it's published, the DOT said.

The fast pace of rule making became necessary because the FAA and DOT are concerned that hundreds of thousands of drones will be given as gifts during the year-end holidays leading to a spike in safety incidents involving the craft.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

LG Pay Announced

Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay… there’ll be one more to add to the list soon. That’s because Korean phone maker LG just quietly outed plans to develop and deploy its own mobile payment service which, to the surprise of precisely nobody, will be called LG Pay.

“It’s official! We have partnered with Shinhan Card and KB Kookmin Card to prepare for the launch of LG Pay,” the company said in an update on its Facebook page.

Those partner names will mean precious little to most TechCrunch readers, unless you happen to live in South Korea or know the country well. That’s because they are local banks that LG will work with to launch LG Pay in its native Korea first. There’s no word on an international launch at this point. An LG spokesperson declined to give more specific details about LG Pay, but did tell TechCrunch that the company “will have more details in the coming weeks.”

Might that mean an actual product or confirmation of plans for an international launch? We shall find out soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Improved Drone Battery Life

Maybe drone makers can ease some of the pressure on themselves by building limits on their own machines.

DJI, a Chinese company that makes more small-scale drones than anyone else, announced on Tuesday a new, so-called geofencing system, which is a way to better control what a drone is flying over.

The system, built on flying restrictions DJI first introduced in 2013, promises continually updated information on a machine’s airspace. Information on something like an airport is already in the system; this might add something like a request by emergency personnel not to fly over a forest fire.

“This is an example of the technology empowering operators to make smart decisions,” said Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs at DJI. “It’s an example of how technology solutions can address concerns.”

What action to take is often up to drone’s pilot, though it is clear that freedom of the skies faces increasing limits. The system has built-in restrictions around sensitive locations such as prisons and power plants, where potential payloads, not the flying itself, are a concern.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pandora News

Pandora is the grandaddy of streaming music, with more than 15 years in business and more monthly listeners using it to hear tunes than anyone save for YouTube. But Pandora, a public company, has struggled to turn a profit, and has seen its user growth slow in recent years. Today it announced that it is acquiring "several key assets" from Rdio, which is filing for bankruptcy. The purchase price is $75 million, and the acquisition includes technology and intellectual property. The announcement says "many employees" from Rdio will be offered the chance to work at Pandora, implying that at least some will be out of work. Rdio's CEO, however, will not be making a move to join Pandora's ranks.

The pairing would make a lot of sense. Pandora struggles in part because its royalty rates are set by the government, something that allowed it to avoid the high costs that have battered Spotify, but soured relationships with the music labels. That in turn kept it from expanding internationally or adding more complex on-demand features.

Rdio, or at least its business model, could help Pandora transition into a more modern and global streaming music service. Rdio has long been praised for its on-demand service, but never gained the traction of its peers, especially in terms of paid subscribers. Pandora is currently available only in the US, New Zealand, and Australia. Rdio, by contrast, has a presence in 100 countries.

Monday, November 16, 2015

BYOD Tablets

Overall tablet shipments have dropped 20% in recent quarters, but workplace uses for the devices are still growing in the U.S.
Based on a survey of 300 U.S. companies completed in September, analyst firm J. Gold Associates determined that the number of companies who have over half their workforce using tablets will grow by up to 155% in the next three years.

"This indicates a strong upward trend," the firm said in an 11-page report on the survey.

The survey also asked about company plans to rely on workers who supply their own tablets under a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scenario.

The survey found that about 12% of the companies surveyed currently rely on BYOD for nearly all their tablet uses, a number that will grow to 21% in three years -- a 78% growth rate. By comparison, 9% more of those heavy tablet users will be using corporate-provided devices by then.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Google Chrome Updates

Windows XP will be getting even less secure next year, when Google stops updating Chrome for users of Microsoft's nearly geriatric operating system.

The company announced today that PCs running XP and Vista will be able to keep using Chrome after April 2016, but Google will cease providing updates to its browser, including security-focused patches. That same deal goes for Mac users running OS 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8.
Google said it was turning off the updates because the makers of all five OSs had stopped providing official support for them.

"Such older platforms are missing critical security updates and have a greater potential to be infected by viruses and malware," Chrome Director of Engineering Mark Pawliger said in a blog post announcing the decision.

Google said earlier this year that it planned to stop supporting old operating systems, and called out XP in particular as a problem. Microsoft's operating system, while more than a decade old, is still clinging to life on computers in homes and organizations large and small. Microsoft ended support for XP last year, but some organizations (including the U.S. Navy) haven't completely made the jump yet.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sony To Stop Beta Tape Production

Editor's note: We have always been big Beta fans. There is still a Beta recorder in my garage but I admit that I have no idea if it still works.

Sometimes the tape keeps going after you thought it had run out. But three decades?

It turns out that Sony is still making videocassette tapes for its Betamax video recording systems, largely vanquished from the gadget scene in the 1980s.
Not for much longer, though. Sony announced Wednesday that it will stop producing Betamax tapes in March of next year.

"This will make the final shipment of all our memory media for Betamax," Sony said in a Japanese-language statement.

Tech standards come and go, and for the most part, Betamax has been long gone.

In its heyday, it was at the center of a cultural moment that may have been the first time consumers really had to worry about competing tech standards. Its battle with the rival VHS standard, the eventual winner, was a momentous one in an era when a television set was probably the most significant electronic device in many households.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yo-kai Watch Comes to the USA

Nintendo on Friday is launching a popular Japanese videogame in North America, the next chapter for a franchise that has raked in more than $2 billion in sales of games, toys and more.

The franchise about hunting ghost-like creatures, made by Level-5 Inc., is so popular in Japan that it spawned a television show and movie, a dance craze, and toys that sell out across the country.

If that all sounds familiar, it’s because Nintendo helped generate a similar frenzy on playgrounds nearly two decades ago with “Pokémon,” another Japanese game about hunting magical creatures. To date, that franchise has sold about 275 million copies, which Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter pegs at about $8 billion in sales.

“Yo-kai Watch” and a sequel have combined to sell 8 million copies. Based on their success in Japan, the new version for Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held machine could bring in “hundreds of millions of dollars” in revenue if it takes off in the U.S., said Sartori Bernbeck, an analyst for industry tracker EEDAR.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Apple iPad Sales

Apple's iPad sales are on the borderline of being immaterial to the company, but some analysts are betting that enterprise sales of the iPad Pro can turn the product line around.

The iPad Pro is available on Wednesday and the tablet with a 12.9-inch display is billed as a laptop replacement. Indeed, the iPad Pro may be more comparable to Microsoft's Surface than its smaller siblings.

What's unclear is whether the iPad Pro will be enough to juice sales overall. Apple CEO Tim Cook has been steadfast about the iPad's prospects. He cites consumer satisfaction, traction in the workplace and engagement. The upgrade cycle for the iPad is still being worked out.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Is MSFT Serious About Storage?

Just as Apple got the size of its iOS upgrades under better control, Microsoft drastically slashed the free allotment of its OneDrive storage service.
Ironic? Absolutely: The OneDrive users who have complained the loudest about the reductions weren't iPhone owners -- the focus of Microsoft's 2014 storage expansion -- but Windows loyalists who had committed to the ecosystem, especially Windows smartphones, which continue to struggle in the marketplace.

In September 2014, Microsoft used negative news about Apple's iOS 8 to double the free space on its OneDrive cloud service. A month after Apple rolled out a diet-plan iOS 9, Microsoft pared OneDrive's free allowance by 83%.

Last year, some iPhone owners were forced to delete content before installing the then-new iOS 8 because of tight storage space on their smartphones and the large size of the new OS. Microsoft exploited the widespread reports of Apple's dilemma to tout OneDrive as an alternative to iOS users removing apps, music and documents -- but especially photographs -- to reclaim enough room to upgrade iPhones and iPads with skimpy local storage.

Friday, November 6, 2015

3D Printing

With the rapid acceleration of 3D printing technology, jewelry, clothing, food, and even pharmaceuticals can now be printed by machines. At EmTech 2015, a group of 3D printing leaders discuss how far the technology has come—and where it's headed.

"Having 3D printer on your desktop gets you to think differently," said Dávid Lakatos. Lakatos, product lead at Formlabs, a desktop 3D printing company, spoke about his company's high-end desktop 3D printers. Formlabs raised $2.9 million on Kickstarter to launch its professional 3D printer called the FORM 1.

But although affordable desktop 3D printers are recent, the technology has been around for decades. "We were in the industrial phase of 3D printing from '84 to 2005," said Lakatos. But in 2005, a "very different kind of 3D printing began appearing. It was for hobbyists." This phase leads up to 2015, when there has been a surge in interest in 3D printing across industries like healthcare, the food industry, and manufacturing.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

MSFT Petition

OneDrive users on Tuesday took to an online petition website and to Microsoft's own UserVoice feature request service to demand that the company rethink its decision to reduce free storage allotments by 83%.

On the petition site, an open letter to the OneDrive team asked for a U-turn. "The newest changes to the storage plans have bought much concern to the OneDrive and Windows community," the petition said. "Discontinuing the unlimited storage option on grounds of abuse is fair enough, but why go to the extent of punishing all your customers?"

As of early Wednesday, the petition had collected nearly 2,000 virtual signatures.

The petition argued for a restoration of the eliminated 100GB and 200GB plans, which Microsoft said would be eliminated in favor of a new 50GB deal, and urged that the cap for Office 365 subscribers be 2TB, double Microsoft's new limit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Android Wearable

The Rufus Cuff, an Android OS wearable, looks like something out of a science fiction TV show. It's possibly the only device out there that can't be categorized using regular criteria. It could be either a smartband or a full-fledged tablet, or maybe something in-between, or maybe none of those things at all. If anything, the Rufus Cuff is more or less the wearable Android tablet for your wrist, one that might feel more aesthetically at home on the U.S.S. Enterprise than in the local supermarket—but it might also be the only current wearable looking for an entirely new definition.

Created by the eponymous Rufus Labs, the Rufus Cuff is the product of an Indiegogo campaign the tech firm launched in 2014. Advertised as "a revolutionary new take on wrist real estate," the Cuff is more of a wrist communicator than a smartwatch or smartband, and its highlighted voice and video call feature makes sure to differentiate its designation.

Despite the fact that the wearable minitablet looks a bit encumbering, with a 3.2-inch touchscreen (available in Jet Black, Turbo Red, and White Out) and a thick, interchangeable silicone wristband that comes in eight different colors, the Rufus Cuff more or less includes the same slew of basic features as comparable devices like the Apple Smartwatch: apps from music to fitness, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectors for web access. And even though it's an Android, the wearable is also compatible with both Android and Apple iOS.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Activision to Buy King Digital

Video game maker Activision Blizzard will buy "Candy Crush Saga" creator King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion, as the heavyweight of console and PC-gaming makes a major push into the faster-growing mobile market.

The deal is one of the biggest in the industry in recent years, more than twice the size of Microsoft Inc's $2.5 billion purchase of "Minecraft" maker Mojang last year, and the biggest-ever acquisition of a mobile gaming company.

The failure of Dublin-based King to replicate the success of Candy Crush with follow-up titles such as "Farm Heroes" and "Pet Rescue" has led some investors to think it may be a one-hit wonder.

But Activision, whose shares were down 0.5 percent at $34.43 in early trading, is betting that its experience in sustaining long-running blockbuster franchises like "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" can help it develop new hit series.

Cowen & Co analysts described the deal as "an absolute steal", but others expressed skepticism.

"The combination increases Activision's scope and scale, but more importantly gives the company another top-quality IP (intellectual property) creator," the Cowan analysts wrote.

Monday, November 2, 2015

ChromeOS Lives On

The tech world got an early Halloween scare Thursday evening when the Wall Street Journal reported Google would “fold” Chrome OS into Android sometime in the next two years.
The morning after, the truth is looking murkier. Google itself has denied that Chrome OS is going away, and several other reports also claim the browser-based operating system will stick around in some form.

What just happened? Let’s dive into what we know.

Why this matters: Android and Chrome OS have lived side-by-side for years, mostly in harmony. Android is optimized for phones and tablets. Chrome OS has touch capabilities but runs on laptops and desktops. While the lines between these device categories are blurring, with more shared features across the two platforms, the Journal’s report was the first recent indication that a full merger was underway. And it was the first to explicitly call Chrome OS’s future into doubt.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

MSFT Amnesty??

If you pirated Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, Microsoft wants to welcome you back—all is forgiven.
Microsoft said Thursday that it will run an “experiment” to offer a path for those users who have either pirated or purchased an unlicensed copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to download a licensed copy from Microsoft itself, or to use a code from a third-party reseller. Either way, the licensed Windows 10 software will be used to update the PC with a valid license.

“We’d like to welcome as many of these customers as possible to the legitimate Windows ecosystem,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said in a blog post Thursday afternoon.

Why this matters: Microsoft originally said in March that users with a pirated copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 would be able to upgrade to Windows 10. The company later clarified that any user who did so would still be running an unlicensed copy.

It’s unclear how much software in the world is pirated—the Business Software Alliance claimed that in 2010 four out of ten software programs installed around the world were illegally copied—but Microsoft’s free upgrade to Windows 10 has surely cut into that. Otherwise, Amazon sells a USB flash drive with Windows 10 Home installed upon it for $110, and Microsoft itself sells Windows 10 Pro for $200.