Monday, February 29, 2016

Raspberry Pi 3

RS Components and element14 have unveiled the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. The latest version of the credit card sized computer features an SoC based on a 64bit ARM Cortex A53 quad core processor, as well as integrated Bluetooth and wireless LAN connectivity IoT development projects.

Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading, said: “Four years ago today, we launched the first Raspberry Pi. Today, we’re launching Raspberry Pi 3. It’s still $35 and it’s still the size of your credit card, but now it comes with on-board wireless LAN and Bluetooth, 50% more processing power, and a quad core 64bit processor. The new Raspberry Pi opens up even more possibilities for IoT and embedded projects; we hope you like it as much as we do.”

The board is based on the Broadcom BCM2837 SoC, which includes an ARM Cortex-A53 quad core processor running at 1.2GHz. A BCM43438 combo device provides IEEE802.11b/g/n wireless LAN, Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. The BCM2837 also integrates a dual core VideoCore IV multimedia coprocessor.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Apple CEO Should Be In Jail

Apple on Thursday asked a judge to vacate the court order directing the tech giant to help FBI agents unlock one of the San Bernardino shooter's smartphones.

The motion is the latest maneuver in the dispute between Apple and the FBI over the bureau’s attempts to access an iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the two assailants in the California terror attack that left 14 people dead.

Apple last week defied the initial order, arguing the request sets a dangerous precedent that would allow the government to force companies to hack their own secure devices.

“If this order is permitted to stand, it will only be a matter of days before some other prosecutor, in some other important case, before some other judge, seeks a similar order using this case as precedent,” Apple said in a motion to vacate the order, filed Thursday afternoon to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The company also insisted that complying with the court order would mean creating software it described as a “back door” that hackers could use to crack other iPhones.

The motion dubbed this software "GovtOS," after Apple's operating system.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Siri to OS X?

Ever since Apple introduced Siri voice control in the iPhone 4S, Mac users have been wondering: when's our turn? Well, that day might finally be near. Sources for 9to5Mac claim that Siri will be a "tentpole" feature of OS X 10.12, which is expected to show at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (usually in June) and release a few months later. Supposedly, it's almost as straightforward as what you see on iOS -- you only have to click a menu bar item or say "hey, Siri" to start issuing commands. It's not clear if there will be any Mac-specific features, but the tipsters warn that the interface could easily change between now and the introduction.

There's nothing to confirm the leak yet, so take it with a grain of salt. However, it's easy to see Apple making this move. Although the company beat Microsoft to the punch in the mobile voice command wars, Windows 10 shipped with a built-in voice assistant (Cortana) last July -- Apple has some ground to make up in the desktop space. If it does, though, it's good news for the industry as a whole. You won't have to be picky about your choice of platform if you want to control your computer from across the room.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Skinware (better known as Users) Problems

Nearly three in four mobile devices returned to mobile network operators and manufacturers in Europe and North America have 'No Trouble Found,' according to the Q4 2015 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health report released today by Blancco Technology Group. In Europe, in particular, device failures soared during the second half of 2015 – rising from 14 percent during the third quarter to 29 percent during the fourth quarter.

The quarterly trend report is based on data collected from millions of iOS and Android smartphones and tablets that underwent diagnostics testing on the SmartChk platform. The report contends that user behavior is the cause of a substantial number of device performance problems, failures and 'NTF' returns, rather than hardware.

"The quantity and types of apps being used, app notification settings, location services settings and battery charging habits are just some examples of how user behavior impacts the day-to-day performance and long-term health of devices," said Pat Clawson, CEO of Blancco Technology Group. "Take Asia, for example, where app adoption is high and the most frequently used apps are in the social networking and messaging categories. When these users fail to close the 40+ apps installed on their devices, it eats into the performance, memory and battery life. And all the while, users presume hardware is to blame when behavior is actually the culprit. It's a paradoxical situation and it happens very often."

Key highlights from the Q4 2015 trend report include:
  • The percentage of issues found on Android devices during the fourth quarter of 2015 was 85 percent, compared to just 15 percent for iOS devices.
  • Samsung topped the list of Android device manufacturers with the highest failure rate (27 percent), followed by Lenovo (21 percent), Motorola (18 percent), Xiaomi (11 percent) and Asus (8 percent).
  • Camera, touch, battery charging, microphone and performance were the top culprits of device failures worldwide.
  • 50 percent of the devices tested in Asia had 'No Trouble Found.'
  • In Asia, frequent use of social networking apps and messaging applications, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat and Line, affected device performance in the region.
  • The increasing usage of emoji and productivity apps in Europe played a contributing role in the increase in device failure rates during the second half of 2015.

Clawson concluded, "Being able to detect with certainty the causes and types of device problems to determine if they are fixable is important. For mobile network operators and manufacturers, it allows them to automate and scale the device diagnostics and repair process to deliver a consistent customer experience. It also helps enterprise businesses support the needs and increase the productivity of their mobile workforce."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Toshiba Cancels Their Smart Glasses

Toshiba has canceled its smart glasses less than one week before the devices were to start shipping. In an announcement today, the Japanese electronics company said it made the decision to stop developing and selling Wearvue TG-1 as part of an effort to streamline its business portfolio and operations.

The firm is struggling to recover from a $1.9 billion accounting scandal and has been hit with a 7.3 billion yen (about $65.7 million) fine from Japan’s Financial Services Agency for falsifying its 2011 and 2012 financial statements.

As part of rehabilitation effort, Toshiba announced that it will restructure to reduce costs by cutting jobs and selling off some segments, including its medical equipment unit.

A company representative told the Wall Street Journal that the Wearvue, which was announced on Jan. 13, had gained enough interest that it “wanted to consider until the very last minute” whether to cancel its release.

Designed for enterprise use, the Wearvue was meant to free the hands of workers in factories and logistics centers by projecting lists and images onto its right-hand lens. The smart glasses were slated to be the first in a series of devices that would “contribute to upgrading working environment for various industries and services,” the company said last month.

Monday, February 22, 2016

New Lenovo Products

At Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona today, Lenovo unveiled a slew of new products. The Chinese company announced two Windows 10 laptops, a Windows 10 tablet, three Android tablets, two Android smartphones, and a global wireless roaming service called Lenovo Connect.

Lenovo, which is the world’s biggest PC maker, also happens to own phone maker Motorola. While the company dominates in PCs, it is trying to grab a solid foothold in the tablet market with Windows 10 and Android offerings, as well as in its smartphone business, by offering Moto phones on the high end and Vibe phones on the low end.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Samsung Chromebook 3

In January, at the CES 2016 event, Samsung took the wraps off the “Chromebook 3” notebook. As the name implies, the third-generation laptop is powered by Chrome OS.

Design-wise, the Samsung Chromebook 3 looks similar to the predecessor. But then, under the hood, Samsung has replaced the ARM SoC with the new Intel Braswell generation Celeron chip.

Apart from guaranteeing better performance, this CPU will apparently provide better battery life when compared to the previous generation models. While the predecessor lasted only for 8 hours, the Chromebook 3 can provide up to 11 hours of heavy usage battery life, after a full 1 hour re-charge, Sam Mobile reported.

Spec-wise, the Chromebook 3 comes with an 11.6-inch display and 1,366 x 768 pixels screen resolution. This notebook is backed by 2 GB or 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. It features a metallic body and weighs 2.5 pounds. An ergonomic keyboard is also part of the device bundle.

This device comes equipped with 16 GB of native storage space, along with a microSD card slot to facilitate expansion. It features HDMI and USB 3.0 ports.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Samsung Gear S2 News

Samsung will release a version of its 3G-connected Gear S2 that ditches the traditional SIM card in favor of an electronic one. It'll be the first mainstream connected wearable that ditches the old technology in favor of its all-digital replacement. The move will help the device save some space, since even a nano-SIM slot requires real estate that could otherwise be used for the battery. The device will land in stores at some point in March, and has the blessing of the GSMA and various global carriers that support the standard.

If there's a snag, it's that none of the networks that Samsung namedrops in its release have operations in the US. For instance, carriers like Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange are on board, as well as Singaporean firms Singtel, M1 Limited and StarHub. It's something of a surprise, since both AT&T and T-Mobile support a version of the technology used in the cellular version of the iPad Air.

Samsung is hoping that the adoption of e-SIMs will help remove some of the hurdles that has held back adoption of internet-of-things devices. After all, the less you have to fiddle around with individual data plans and customer support to get your smart doorbell activated (for instance), the better. Vodafone executive Patrick Chomet agrees, saying that the launch of the e-SIM Gear S2 3G will spearhead a "new generation of devices" connecting to cellular networks.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pentax K-1

The wait is over.  The moment that countless Pentaxians around the globe have waited for is finally upon us.  More than 13 years after Pentax cameras entered the digital age, Ricoh Imaging has officially announced the Pentax K-1, the first full-frame Pentax DSLR to enter production.

In this post we present the highlights of the K-1 along with some brief hands-on commentary.  We hope you enjoy reading about the K-1 as much as we enjoyed writing about it!

Pentax K-1 at a Glance

  • Full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 36.4 megapixels w/ 15-megapixel crop mode
  • Pixel shift super resolution
  • No AA filter
  • AA filter simulator
  • Sensitivity up to ISO 204,800
  • Shutter rated for 300,000 actuations
  • 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization
  • Redesigned viewfinder with LCD overlay
  • 6.5 FPS in crop mode, 4.4 FPS in full frame mode with up to 100 JPEG buffer
  • LCD screen tilts and pivots
  • LED illumination of lens mount, buttons, and card slot
  • Dust & weather sealed
  • Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi
  • USB tethering support
  • $1799  / £1599 launch price
  • Expected to ship around April 5, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

LibreOffice 5.0.5

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 5.0.5, the fifth release of the LibreOffice 5.0 family. Following the announcement of LibreOffice 5.1, LibreOffice 5.0.5 becomes the “still” version (one that has undergone more testing over a longer time), and can be used for the deployment in large organizations.

The Document Foundation suggests deploying LibreOffice 5.0.5 on a large scale only when backed by professional level 3 support from certified developers (a list available at: When migrating to LibreOffice from proprietary office suites, organizations should seek professional support from certified migration consultants and trainers, which are listed on the same webpage.

In addition, there are companies providing LibreOffice LTS (Long Term Support) versions, with incremental updates, targeted at enterprise deployments.

People interested in technical details about the release can access the change log here: (fixed in RC1) and (fixed in RC2).

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Samsung Smart Sneaker

Samsung Electronics will play host to a new wearable device on its stand at Mobile World Congress next week: a smart shoe.

The sole of the Iofit sneaker is loaded with accelerometers and pressure sensors that communicate with a mobile app, making it easier for coaches to provide personalized tips for different sports.

Created by former Samsung employees at the company's C-Lab business development center, Iofit is intended as a replacement for an existing coaching aid, the force plate, in which the pressure sensors are embedded in the floor. Moving the smarts to the shoe, and the coaching function to the phone, will open up such high-tech training support to new markets, its developers hope.

Iofit's array of sensors allow it to monitor the how wearers shift their weight from one foot to the other, and how they balance. An app paired with the shoes can display a real-time pressure map of the soles of their feet, and even link it to a video recording of the wearer's movements.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Streaming Video

Parks Associates notes that 31 percent of U.S. broadband households already own some sort of device - a smart TV, video game system or Blu-ray player - that can stream media, while 14 percent more broadband households plan to buy an Internet TV receiver this year.

And why not? Reasonably priced and easily installed, (with 15 Mbps or better Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet service at home), these high-def Web TV receivers offer an often free bounty of services focused on movies and TV series, plus specialty content from news to fashion, tech to travel, fitness to food.

The latest Roku 4 ($129), Apple TV ($149-$199) and Amazon Fire TV ($99) we've tested are slick little things with lots of firepower and tricks, plus small, comfortable remotes with just enough buttons (and in Apple's case, a responsive slide and press touchpad) to run the show.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I.E. Users Are at Risk

Microsoft this week made good on a 2014 promise and withheld security updates from users of older versions of the company's Internet Explorer (IE) browser.
All Windows users still running IE7 or IE8, and those running IE9 on any other edition of Windows but Vista, as well as those using IE10 on anything but Windows Server 2012, did not receive the patches Microsoft distributed Tuesday to systems equipped with the newer IE11 or Edge browsers.

As is its practice, Microsoft issued a single, cumulative update for IE on Feb. 9. The update, labeled MS16-009, included fixes for 13 vulnerabilities.

While Microsoft did not spell out which fixes were not given to older copies of IE, it isn't difficult to pinpoint those unsent.

Friday, February 12, 2016

HBO Now Falls Short

Time Warner Inc.’s streaming service, HBO Now, has signed up 800,000 subscribers, falling short of at least one estimate of 1.4 million.

HBO, which hadn’t previously disclosed the number of Now subscribers, has been expanding the $15-a-month Web service to compete against Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co, had estimated that HBO Now had gained 1.4 million subscribers.

HBO Chief Executive Officer Richard Plepler, on a conference call, said HBO Now was still not available on some devices like Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox and that new programming from Jon Stewart and others hadn’t yet been introduced to the service. HBO plans to more aggressively market the streaming service in 2016, he said.

Among streaming services, Netflix had 43.4 million paid U.S. subscribers at the end of 2015, and Dish Network Corp.’s Web service Sling TV, which offers about 20 channels for $20 a month, had about 394,000 subscribers by the end of the third quarter of 2015, according to Craig Moffett, an analyst at MoffettNathanson.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Samsung S7 Battery

Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge could have a 38 percent larger battery compared to the Galaxy S6 Edge, according to specs revealed in FCC filing (click FCC ID Label and Location).

The filing, which every phone vendor has to submit before its products can sell in the US, points to a 3,600mAh battery for the S7 Edge, which is expected to have a 5.5-inch screen. In contrast, last year's smaller S6 Edge sported a 2,600mAh battery to power the 5.1-inch screen.

Once the cream of the phone crop, Samsung is hoping for a hit with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Although the Galaxy S6 Edge was generally well received for its curved metal and glass design, Samsung has lost ground in the global arms race. Buyers are gravitating to more budgeted devices, and brands like Huawei, ZTE, and Xiaomi are benefitting from the shift.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LibreOffice 5.1

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 5.1, a full featured open source office suite which compares head-to-head with every product in the same category, while standing out with superior interoperability features.

LibreOffice 5.1 offers a completely reorganized user interface, and several improved features targeted at enterprise deployments: better support for ODF 1.2, interoperability with proprietary document formats and file management on remote servers.

LibreOffice has been downloaded 120 million times since the launch in January 2011. The office suite is deployed by large organizations in every continent, with the latest addition being the Italian Defense Staff with over 100,000 desktops.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fit Pay

Right now, you have slim pickings if you want to pay for things from your wrist: there's the Apple Watch, an upcoming Swatch model, eventual Samsung Gear S2 support and... that's about it. However, Fit Pay might just widen the field a bit. It's crowdfunding the Pagaré smart strap, which brings NFC-based tap-to-pay support to any Pebble Time smartwatch -- yes, including the Round. It should work at most shops that accept Apple Pay or Android Pay (it uses a similar, token-based system), and it shares familiar security measures, such as disabling access when you remove your timepiece. You don't even need to bring your phone once you've set things up.

If you're interested, you'll want to get in early. It takes a relatively modest $49 pledge to get a strap if you're part of the first wave, but that price will go up to $69 if you're late, or $89 if you wait until the official release. That's a lot to shell out to add one feature to a smartwatch, especially when you won't get the Pagaré until July at the earliest. With that said, this could be the ticket if you either have a smartphone that doesn't do tap-to-pay (hi, OnePlus 2) or simply prefer Pebble's lower-priced, longer-lasting smartwatches over the alternatives.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ubuntu 2-in-1

The mobile revolution may have put computers in our pockets, but we've also ended up with all kinds of different-sized devices -- you may well be walking round with a phone, a tablet and a laptop in your bag before you sit down at your desktop PC. The new BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition goes someway to solving that, as it's a tablet that also works as a laptop and a desktop.
Built by Spanish company BQ, the 10-inch M10 is the first tablet to use the Ubuntu operating system. It joins the Ubuntu Editions of the Aquaris E4.5 and E5 HD smartphones and the MX4 smartphone built by China's Meizu.

Ubuntu is a long-established open-source operating system originally for computers, beloved among developers and tinkerers looking for an alternative to Windows or Macs. But in recent years, Canonical, the British company behind Ubuntu, has expanded the operating system so it works in other devices, from phones to drones. The unique selling point is that the same software underpins phones, tablets and computers, unlike, say, Apple's mobile devices and computers, which have similar-looking but very different software.

The advantage of this converged approach is that the tablet can also essentially become a laptop or a desktop computer just by plugging in a monitor via the HDMI port or connecting a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth. The interface changes from a touch-friendly tablet interface to a desktop interface for use with keyboard and mouse. Apps go from full-screen to floating windows you can resize and move around, just like you see on Windows and Mac computers.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Connected Footballs

Would you be excited if you knew exactly how fast Peyton Manning of the Broncos was throwing a football in the Super Bowl? Or would you like to know just how perfect a spiral Cam Newton of the Panthers threw on his last play?

With a Wilson X Connected Football, you would be able to do just that. That’s why Wilson Sporting Goods is making the rounds with a beta version of its new smart football, which is part of the larger trend of connecting sports devices that allow you to more easily measure and improve your sports performance. Such devices are one of the hot trends driving the Internet of Things market, which is expected to be worth $29.5 billion by 2020, according to market researcher IDC.

Wilson Sporting Goods has made the official football of the NFL since 1941. But pretty soon, those footballs are going to be a little different, as they’ll have a small chip inside them that enables them to connect to a smartphone. The Wilson football — a follow-on product to the smart basketball the company launched last September — has accelerometers for detecting motion, a processor, and a Bluetooth connection so you can send the data to a smartphone. Looking at it, you can’t tell it apart from a regular football, except for the lettering that says “connected football.”

Friday, February 5, 2016

MSFT Wants More

Microsoft Corp. wants people to have even more broadband connectivity in flight—and could be positioning itself to expand its cloud and Internet of Things offerings to service the airline industry, according to a recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

Microsoft asked the FCC to allow unlicensed devices to operate on high-frequency spectrum airwaves in the 60 gigahertz (GHz) band as part of the commission's “spectrum frontiers” proceeding (GN Docket No. 14-177), which is looking at ways to open up more spectrum for commercial use to support the next generation of mobile networks, known as 5G.

Powerful data processing and cloud computing are expected to be part of the underlying structure of the next wave of networks. Microsoft is among the top three providers of cloud and data storage solutions in the U.S. along with Amazon Inc. and Apple Inc., according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

If the FCC approves a notice of proposed rulemaking to make four bands of millimeter airwaves above 24 GHz available to private companies to operate in, it could provide a chance for Microsoft to supply airlines in the same way AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless Inc. compete to provide connectivity to automobile manufacturers .

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Sony MILC

Sony used an elaborate event in New York Wednesday to unveil its A6300 4K Ultra HD mirrorless camera as a replacement for the popular A6000, and introduced a new G Master series of E-mount lenses developed for full-frame cameras, higher resolutions of 4K Video and high dynamic range (HDR).

The A6300 features a newly developed 24.2MP APS-C sensor and uses Sony’s ultra-fast 4D Auto Focus system capable of performing adjustments in as little as 0.05 seconds.

Other standout features include: 425 phase detection AF points covering the entire image area; burst still shooting at up to 11 frames per second with continuous AF, and continuous shooting at up to 8fps with continuous AF and exposure tracking with full live view capability.

The A6300 will be available in March 2016 for a $1,000 retail price for the body only, or $1,150 for a kit including the camera and 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Pre-orders begin on February 10th.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IBM Buys The Weather Company

IBM acquired The Weather Company's B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The TV segment, The Weather Channel, was not acquired by IBM, but will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract. The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the Watson IoT Cloud platform, building on a $3B commitment made by IBM in March 2015, to invest in the Internet of Things.

The Weather Company's dynamic cloud data platform, which powers the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles up to 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services each day, will run across IBM Cloud data centers globally and serve as the technology backbone of IBM's data services and Watson IoT businesses.

IBM is dedicating more than 2500 developers worldwide to help its clients and partners collect, analyze and act upon entirely new forms of IoT data resulting from the proliferation of automobile and airplane telematics, building and environmental sensors, wearable devices, medical implants, weather stations, smartphones, social media, manufacturing lines and supply chains, among others.

Google Passes Apple

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) surpassed Apple Inc (AAPL.O) as the most valuable company in the United States in after-hours trading on Monday, knocking the iPhone maker from the top spot that it has held for the better part of four years.

The change may signal the passing of the technology baton to Alphabet - formerly known as Google - from Apple, which surged past Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in market value in 2010. Microsoft in turn eclipsed International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) two decades ago.

It is not without piquancy for Apple and Alphabet, which worked hand-in-hand to develop mobile computing, but fell out bitterly after Google launched its own Android mobile operating system in 2008. Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt left Apple's board the following year.

The two companies' operating systems and apps are in direct competition with each other and Apple is still in litigation with Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), the biggest Android smartphone maker.

Alphabet shares jumped 6 percent on Monday after reporting strong quarterly earnings after the bell, making its combined share classes worth $554 billion, compared with Apple, which had a value of about $534 billion. Apple shares dipped last week after reporting the slowest-ever increase in iPhone shipments and forecasting its first revenue drop in 13 years.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2-in-1 Sales

The saving grace for the declining tablet market is detachable devices, also called 2-in-1s, that can serve as both a laptop and a separate slate-style tablet.

But the initial successes of detachables by all vendors were not enough to make up for the precipitous decline in tablets. All types of tablets declined 10% in 2015, with pure slate standalone tablets declining by 21%, according to market research firm IDC.

IDC reported Monday that Apple's iPad Pro was the top-selling detachable for the fourth quarter of 2015 with about 2 million sold. Apple was the clear winner even though the company saw an overall decline of 25% in tablet shipments for the quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Detachables, however, finished with an all-time high of 8 million devices shipped in the fourth quarter, more than doubling their total over the fourth quarter of 2014, which reached 3.1 million, IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in an interview.