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Softbank Strong-ARMs Its Way Into Internet of Things
July 19, 2016
Softbank Group has agreed to buy British semiconductor maker ARM Holdings for about $31.4 billion in cash, the companies announced Monday. Softbank agreed to pay a hefty premium for ARM, with a price of about $67.28 per ARM share, which is a 42.9 percent premium over the $47.08 closing price as of Friday, the last business day before the deal was announced. The surprise move will help Softbank gain a solid IoT foothold.
SiFive Launches Freedom FOSS SoC Platforms
July 13, 2016
SiFive on Monday announced its flagship Freedom family of system on a chip platforms. The platforms are based on the free and open source RISC-V instruction set architecture that several of the company's founders created at the University of California at Berkeley. SiFive's Freedom U500 and E300 platforms take a new approach to SoCs, redefining traditional silicon business models.
Microsoft Makes It Easier to Say No to Windows 10
June 28, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new Windows 10 upgrade policy -- weeks after losing a $10,000 case in a small claims court. The owner of TG Travel Group in Sausalito, California, last month won a final judgment after she alleged that her computer was upgraded to the new operating system without prior authorization, according to court documents.
Windows Holographic: Changing Our Perception of the World
June 6, 2016
There were a lot of interesting announcements last week, ranging from cool new devices to what was basically an Amazon Echo on wheels from Asus. Such is the nature of Computex -- arguably one of the most powerful technology shows in the world. However, one of the most fascinating was Windows Holographic, which goes far beyond Hololens to redefine the world as we perceive it.
HP Offers Versatile PC Gaming Machines for Grown-Ups
June 2, 2016
HP last week introduced several new additions to its Omen by HP gaming hardware line: 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch laptops, a desktop PC and a 32-inch Quad HD4 display. The laptops will be available next month with a starting price of $900; the desktop and display will be available in August at HP online and at select retailers, with pricing as yet undisclosed.
What Will HPE Sell Next?
May 30, 2016
I joined a bunch of analysts in discussing Hewlett Packard Enterprise's next move at a secret conclave last week. The company had just announced the sale of its IT services, which basically undid much of Mark Hurd's work as CEO. It already had sold off PCs and printers, more than undoing Carly Fiorina's earlier efforts. Granted, HPE spun it like it was an acquisition.
Google's New Custom Chip May Not Live Up to the Hype
May 23, 2016
Google last week announced the Tensor Processing Unit, a custom application-specific integrated circuit, at Google I/O. TPU was built for machine learning applications and has been running in Google's data centers for more than a year. Google's AlphaGo software, which thrashed an 18-time international Go champion in a match earlier this year, ran on servers using TPUs.
Flaw Puts a Billion Wireless Mice at Risk
May 20, 2016
Wireless mice and keyboards are the perfect accessories for a world in which devices increasingly are shuffling off their connection coils, but those accessories -- especially untethered rodents -- also can create new threats for those who use them. One such threat is Mousejack. The attack exploits a vulnerability found in 80 percent of wireless mice.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
Google's Chirp May Try to Drown Out Amazon's Echo
May 13, 2016
The device, which might resemble the OnHub router, would incorporate its Google Now voice assistant technology. Google likely will launch the product later this year, although it's expected to preview it at I/O. The Echo, one of Amazon's biggest product launches in years, combines a speaker with the Alexa personal digital assistant -- voice recognition software that performs numerous functions.
Opera Browser Sips Laptop Juice Rather Than Slurping
May 13, 2016
Opera on Thursday announced a dedicated power-saving mode in the developer version of its Web browser. Tests showed it extended laptop battery life by up to 50 percent against Google Chrome, Opera said. The browser will suggest enabling power-saving mode when a battery has 20 percent of capacity left. Clicking on the battery icon after a laptop is disconnected from its power cable activates it.
Clock Is Ticking for Free Windows 10 Upgrade
May 10, 2016
Microsoft last week announced that Windows 10 was running on 300 million PCs and reminded customers that its free upgrade offer would end July 29. After that date, the price to upgrade to Windows 10 Home will be $119. "We're pleased to see Windows 10 become one of the largest online services in less than a year," said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group.
HP Chromebook 13 Wins High Praise - for a Chromebook
May 2, 2016
HP and Google last week unveiled the HP Chromebook 13. Designed with input from customers on what they want in a next-generation Chromebook, the device is about 13 mm thick, weighs 2.8 pounds, has a brushed anodized aluminum chassis, and is the first Chromebook to use Intel's sixth-generation Core M processors. It has a USB C port, and HP offers a USB-C docking station as an option at $145.
Wall Street Pummels Apple After Weak Q2 Earnings Report
April 28, 2016
Apple shares were trading at around $95 as of mid-day Thursday in the wake of the company's disappointing Q2 earnings report. That was even lower than Wednesday's opening price, which was down more than $8 from Tuesday's $104.35 at market close. The company's second-quarter performance was dismal. The iPhone recorded its first drop in sales -- to 51.2 million units, down from 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter.
Why Is the PC Industry Trying to Kill the PC?
April 25, 2016
Every time the "PC is dead" topic comes up, an old Monty Python movie comes to mind, and I'll bet you can guess which one. PCs are on almost every desk, and the installed base is measured not in the hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands -- it is measured in the hundred millions. Brian Krzanich last week announced a massive layoff at Intel, and once again the alarm sounded.
Intel Pivots From PCs to Cloud
April 22, 2016
Intel this week announced that it would slash 12,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan to focus more on cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things and less on PCs. The cuts, which will involve about 11 percent of Intel's global workforce, will be achieved through voluntary retirements and layoffs, the consolidation of job sites, and a re-evaluation of existing and planned programs.
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus Makes Its Debut
April 20, 2016
Canonical on Thursday launched Ubuntu 16.04, aka "Xenial Xerus," an upgrade that will be supported for the next five years. The latest version for all desktop, server and cloud editions will be available for download starting Thursday. Ubuntu 16.04 includes four major technology advancements geared toward multiplatform uses. Xenial Xerus is the sixth Long Term Support release for Ubuntu.
Apple's MacBook Refresh Draws Tepid Response
April 19, 2016
Apple on Tuesday announced a refreshed MacBook with some incremental improvements but nothing likely to dazzle even the staunchest Mac fans. The improved battery life and fanless design got the attention of tech analyst Eric Smith. "Battery life is always top of mind for consumers," he said. However, he was "a little disappointed" that there has been no improvement to display resolution.
LXLE Gives Aging Hardware a New Lease on Life
April 18, 2016
LXLE is an ideal distro for out-of-the-box functionality to handle your everyday computing needs. It's a well-oiled lightweight distribution based on Ubuntu's long-term support releases for Debian and Lubuntu Linux from a community originating in the U.S. The latest version is 14.04.4, released last month. It runs an optimized LXDE that has a comfortable look and feel.
Hortonworks Ramps Up Hadoop Security
April 14, 2016
Hortonworks this week announced a series of enterprise security efforts to bolster performance and data safety with its Hortonworks Data Platform. The company announced that Pivotal Software will standardize on Hortonworks' Hadoop distribution. The thrust of the product announcements concerned updates on applying security policies and maintaining data governance.
HP Debuts Skinniest Laptop Ever
April 5, 2016
HP on Tuesday unveiled its latest challenger to Apple's laptops, touting it as the thinnest laptop in the world. At 10.4 mm, the HP Spectre's chassis is as thin as a triple-A battery, the company noted. The Spectre is powered by Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and weighs in at 2.45 pounds. It has a 13.3-inch Gorilla glass display, and stereo speakers from Bang & Olufsen.
Lawrence Livermore Lab Buys Brainy IBM Supercomputer
April 5, 2016
IBM last week announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has purchased its TrueNorth processor-based cognitive computing platform. The purchase included an end-to-end ecosystem and a multisocket host node. The lab will build a supercomputer based on the platform to see how neural networks might be used in the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's cybersecurity program.
Foxconn Finally Wrangles Sharp Deal
April 1, 2016
Foxconn has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in Sharp -- about 66 percent -- for roughly $3.5 billion, the companies announced Wednesday. Foxconn has committed to restoring Sharp's profitability and improving operations, according to the companies. "I am confident that we will unlock Sharp's true potential," Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said. The acquisition brings months of speculation to a close.
A Dramatic 16 Years for 4 Tech Titans
March 28, 2016
Following Apple's latest announcements, I noticed a number of reports on how disappointed customers were that there was nothing they wanted to wait in line for hours to buy. I personally thought they should have been excited about that, because I hate to stand in lines. I've never really figured out an Apple fanatic's penchant for pain. Still, it is very clear that today's Apple is very different.
Google Aims to Build a Better iOS Keyboard
March 24, 2016
Google has been developing a third-party keyboard for Apple devices in an effort to increase the number of Google searches on iOS, according to a news report published Tuesday. The keyboard, which is being tested internally, reportedly would incorporate a number of search options and a Swype-like feature to guess the intended word when a user slides a finger from one letter to another.
iPad Pro Wants to Be Your Next PC
March 24, 2016
When Apple unveiled its 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this week, it aimed the tablet squarely at the PC replacement market, with Senior VP Phil Schiller describing it as the "ultimate upgrade for existing iPad users and replacement for PC users." More than 600 million PCs in use are 5 years old or more, he said. The Pro's 64-bit A9X processor rivals that of most portable PCs, Apple said.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
SQL Server on Linux Shows Microsoft's More Flexible Side
March 9, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to release a version of SQL Server 2016 for Linux. "Bringing SQL Server to Linux is another way we are making our products and new innovations more accessible to a broader set of users," said Microsoft's Scott Guthrie. SQL Server will be able to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, in the cloud and on-premises.
Quantum Computer Leap Could Make Today's Encryption Passe
March 8, 2016
Researchers at MIT and the University of Innsbruck last week announced that they had designed and constructed the world's first scalable quantum computer, a development that could make existing encryption technology obsolete. They built the computer using five atoms in an ion trap. The researchers used laser pulses to carry out an algorithm on each atom to correctly factor the number 15.
Report: 3.5 Million HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to DROWN
March 2, 2016
A report released Tuesday on the DROWN vulnerability raises concerns about possible attacks that could expose encrypted communications. DROWN is a serious vulnerability that affects HTTPS and other services using SSL version 2, according to the team of security researchers who compiled the report. The protocols affected are some of the essential cryptographic protocols for Internet security.
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