Author: Adamson Rust

Supreme Court gives courtroom tweeting the green light

The Supreme Court has ruled that tweeting from the courtroom is to be allowed for legal teams and members of the public.

Lord Phillips, the President of the Supreme Court, said that the rise of new communications technology has given challenges for the courts, but that it also brings the benefits of instant updates to the outside world. He said that since most cases that reach the Supreme Court have already gone public by that time, there are little grounds to prohibit tweeting on the basis of confidentiality.

“This means that we can offer a green light to tweeting and other forms of communication, as long as this does not disrupt the smooth running of the court,” he added.

There are some exceptions to this ruling, however, where tighter reporting restrictions apply. For example, cases involving the welfare of a child and cases where publicity of the proceedings may prejudice the outcome of the trial will continue to prohibit tweeting and similar live updates from the courtroom. Such cases will have clearly marked notices on the doors stating the rules.

At the end of December the Lord Chief Justice of the UK made an interim guidance ruling that allowed tweeting in courtrooms, but it only applied to the media and was subject to prior permission being given by the judge in question.

Windows sends error reports to wrong companies

TechEye was tipped off to the fact that Windows may be sending information erroneously to Hewlett-Packard.

We received a message from an individual who said that his ATI display driver crashed and Windows 7 wanted to report the problem to HP, a company who had absolutely nothing to do with the problem.

“So my display driver crashed recently, and Windows 7 was kind enough to suggest that I send additional information to the manufacturer,” our source said. “The only problem? They wanted to send it to HP.”

He sent in a screenshot, which says: “Hewlett-Packard is interested in gathering additional feedback.”


Intel tops list for green energy

Intel bought more green energy than any other company in 2010, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Green Power Partnership list revealed high ratings for many technology firms, with Intel taking the throne at top position. Cisco came in at number 11, Sony was at 27, Motorola at 30, Dell at 35 and Sprint Nextel at 45.

In the process Intel cut down on its CO2 emissions to such a large degree that they would have previously been the same as 218,000 US homes. The company’s green energy now accounts for 88 percent of its total energy.

Sony doubled its green power in 2010, while the entire amount of green power generated by the top 50 companies is 13.5 billion kWh, or the same amount of electricity that would be used by 1.1 million US homes.

The Green Power Partnership includes over 1,300 organisations committed to lowering their carbon footprint and protecting the environment.

The full list is as follows:

1. Intel Corporation

2. Kohl’s Department Stores

3. Whole Foods Market

4. Starbucks

5. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

6. City of Houston, TX7. Johnson & Johnson

8. Staples9. City of Dallas, TX

10. HSBC North America

11. Cisco Systems, Inc.

12. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. / California and Texas Facilities

13. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

14. District of Columbia

15. U.S. Air Force

16. TD Bank, N.A.

17. BNY Mellon

18. City of Chicago, IL

19. University of Pennsylvania

20. BD

21. U.S. Department of Energy

22. Kimberly-Clark Corporation

23. State of Illinois

24. Deutsche Bank

25. Pearson, Inc.26. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

27. Sony Corporation of America

28. Bloomberg LP

29. Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group

30. Motorola, Inc.

31. Best Buy

32. Suffolk County, NY

33. Mohawk Fine Papers Inc.

34. The World Bank Group

35. Dell Inc.

36. Lowe’s

37. Chicago Public Schools

38. State of Connecticut

39. Hilton Worldwide

40. The Dannon Company, Inc.

41. Lockheed Martin Corporation

42. Safeway Inc.

43. State of Wisconsin

44. Harris Bank

45. Sprint Nextel

46. Carnegie Mellon University

47. ING

48. Drexel University

49. Pennsylvania State University

50. Port of Portland

Alienware has a laptop, Palit GTX 560 Ti is almost incomprehensible and Sandy Bridge overclocked

QNAP has released the TS-x12 lineup of affordable high performance Turbo NAS servers, according to HardwareBistro. They feature a 1.2GHz Marvell processor, 256MB of DDR2 RAM, and up to 8TB of networked storage. They also support external media players, including the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and content can be streamed via Wi-Fi or 3G.

HardwareHeaven reviewed the Alienware M17x R3 gaming laptop, which earned a rating of 9 out of 10.  It was praised for its high quality screen and speakers, great performance, and excellent build quality. Its Sandy Bridge processor can mean delays, however, since a recently discovered defect requires Intel to recall all affected products. Its $1,499 price tag was seen as reasonable, but the SSD option was considered overpriced. The basic model with a few custom upgrades at home was suggested as a much cheaper alternative.

The Palit GeForce GTX 560 Ti Sonic graphics card was tested by TweakTown, which tried out two of them in SLI. They faired well in terms of performance, with good overclocking straight out of the box and solid SLI performance, while cooling and value for money also earned it some brownie points. It lost some marks for its basic packaging, but came with with an Editor’s Choice award and a rating of 93 percent.

HotHardware brings news of the HighPoint RocketHybrid HBA solid state drives. They tout extremely high speeds thanks to PCIe SATA 6Gb/s, while Marvell’s HyperDuo technology is included, which can boost the device’s performance by 80 percent. Two models are available at launch, the RocketHybrid 1220 and RocketHybrid 1222, with the former providing two internal SATA ports and the later providing two eSATA ports.

Tom’s Hardware checked out the overclocking capabilities of the Intel Core i7-2600K. Despite the recent problems with Sandy Bridge, it overclocked well, over 4GHz without a voltage increase and up to 5GHz on a standard Intel cooler. There was also no real tradeoff in terms of power efficiency for the increased performance, which is a major consideration, and the addition of fool-proof systems to prevent a burnout make the Sandy Bridge a major contendor.

Internet access restored in Egypt

Egypt’s internet access has been restored today, a day after President Hosni Mubarak promised not to run for re-election in September.

Internet access was curtailed in the country as protests mounted over the 30 year reign of Mubarak, who initially refused to step down or hand over power. Last Tuesday he ordered ISPs and SMS providers to cut services, plunging 55 million phone users and 20 million internet users into a digital abyss.

The problem escalated as protests did, with the final ISP connections being severed yesterday. Despite this, many supporters of democracy and freedom in Egypt attempted to help the beleagured people by working on ways to circumvent the ban. Google developed a speech-to-tweet service as one of these methods.

Renesys, which measures and monitors internet usage said: “We confirm that Facebook and Twitter are up and available inside Egypt,” according to the BBC.

The four major Egyptian ISPs are back online, following Mubarak’s promise to step down in September and bring in reforms, and it should only be a matter of days before net access is fully restored in the country.


Intel funds silicon photonics foundry service

Intel’s supporting a new University of Washington programme designed to dramatically cut the cost of manufacturing silicon photonic chips.

The Optoelectronics Systems Integration in Silicon (OpSIS) project will allow ‘shuttle runs’, in which researchers cut costs by sharing silicon wafers between multiple projects. A single circuit design might use only a few square millimetres, says assistant professor of electrical engineering Michael Hochberg, so that shuttle runs can cut costs by more than 100 times.

“We would like the photonics industry, 10 years from now, to function in a way that’s very similar to the electronics industry today,” he says. “People building optoelectronic systems will send designs out to an inexpensive, reliable third party for manufacturing, so they can focus on being creative about the design.”

In developing the rules and protocols, the team aims to ensure that even non-specialists can design and build functioning chips that integrate photonics and electronics.

“You want a minimum of rules because people are going to use the technology in ways that you never imagined,” says Carver Mead, professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. “You want people to use it in ways that seem crazy.”

Silicon photonics provides a faster, lower-power means for moving data around than electrons; a single optical fiber or waveguide can carry many terabits per second of data.

Companies including Intel and IBM have made major breakthroughs in the technology over the last year.

“OpSIS will enhance the education of US engineering students, giving them the opportunity to learn the new optical design paradigm,” says Intel’s chief technology officer, Justin Rattner.

“The ability to produce such low-cost silicon chips that manipulate photons, instead of electrons, will lead to new inventions and new industries beyond just data communications, including low-cost sensors, new biomedical devices and ultra-fast signal processors.”

OPSIS has already signed up a few early users who are participating in so-called ‘risk runs’ to test the new protocols.

One such is John Bowers, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara who has designed a circuit for the first run.

“By focusing research of many different groups in one process line, that allows you to advance a library of components and processes faster than any one group could do on its own,” Bowers said. “It enables a faster evolution of photonic devices.”

Eventually, the centre plans to offer three runs per year, each of which could accommodate 30 to 40 users. The chips will be built by BAE Systems.

Google catches Bing stealing its search results

Google has accused Microsoft of stealing its search engine results for use in Bing, saying it has proof after it ran a sting operation to catch Microsoft in the act.

According to SearchEngineLandGoogle’s suspicions were first aroused in May 2010, when it wondered why Bing was getting so good at feeding back the same or similar search results to its own engine. It was even returning the same results for misspelled words, even though Google was correcting the spelling and Bing was not. Further sharp increases in suspicious overlaps in search results in October 2010 raised more alarm bells for Google.

At this stage, however, there was no proof, so Google decided to launch a sting operation to catch Bing in the act. It searched for obscure and little used terms which came back with 0 results for Google or Bing. 

Then it manually ranked around 100 synthetic search pages for these terms and checked its own results, which returned pages, while Bing continued to return nothing since it had not been manually altered to do so.

However, after a few weeks of Google employees using Internet Explorer to search for the results in both Google and Bing, Microsoft’s search engine started to magically display the forced search results that Google had orchestrated, heavily suggesting that it was copying Google’s results.

Only about 10 percent of the 100 tests ended with the alleged Bing copying, which baffled Google, but it was enough to indicate that Bing might be up to no good. Google didn’t say it was illegal – since it isn’t losing any money from it – but if it can provide this evidence in a case against Microsoft there could be a dispute on the cards.

At time of publication Microsoft has not denied the accusation.

10.4 percent growth expected in 2011 for tech firms

Most Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in US technology firms predict revenue growth of over 10 percent for 2011, according to a report by BDO USA.

The study found that 77 percent of CFOs in major US technology companies expected a sizeable increase of 10.4 percent in revenue this year. This is up from previous forecasts for 2010 at 9.7 percent and 2009 at only 1.6 percent, suggesting economic recovery is well underway.

There are also expected to be rises in the merger and acquisition (M&A) area, with 78 percent of CFOs expecting there to be increases. Twenty-three percent believe the increases will be “significant” over those of 2010. 

The software sector was seen as the most likely to see high M&A activity, according to 32 percent of CFOs, while media and telecom follow close at 30 percent. Biotechnology and life sciences were at 15 percent, clean technology was at 13 percent and hardware was at 10 percent.

Increased revenue and profitability was seen as the most common reason for acquisitions, according to 39 percent of CFOs. The second major reason was increased market share, with 34 percent of the vote.

Despite this expected growth, KPMG saw falls in M&A Price-to-Earnings ratios for all sectors, including technology, which fell at a much smaller rate of three percent, as we reported earlier. 2011 may present a turnaround for revenue increases through M&A.

More companies are expected to go public in 2011, leading 68 percent of CFOs to predict a big increase in initial public offerings this year. LinkedIn announced its plans to go public at the end of last month and many believe that Facebook and others will follow suit.

Economic fears are quickly becoming a thing of the past for most technology companies, with 83 percent of CFOs confident with their ability to get access to capital and credit. Over half believed that the ecnomic recovery in the US would be the largest factor in driving growth this year. In contrast to this, 61 percent believe the economy can still hinder funding.

Forty-three percent of CFOs revealed their intention to seek extra capital in 2011, up considerably from 2010 and 2009, where the figure was 32 percent and 34 percent respectively. Most of these, 43 percent, will gain capital through private equity.

Competition will also be a major challenge for companies in 2011, thanks to swift advances made in China. 40 percent believe China’s ability to outpace the US in terms of patent applications will be a primary hurdle to overcome this year, while risk moves, a usually high-ranking challenge, was down to 20 percent in second place.

Apple spends $3.9 billion in displays

Apple is investing $3.9 billion to secure LCD display supply for its iPhone and iPad products, according to research by IHS iSuppli.

Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, revealed that the company had made a number of long-term supply agreements with three suppliers of LCD displays. IHS iSuppli believes these three companies are LG, Sharp and Toshiba.

According to IHS iSuppli’s market analysis, these deals would amount to a spend of $3.9 billion by Apple over the next two years, marking a significant investment by the company to ensure it has enough displays for its product lines, the success of which have allowed for such large display spending.

Apple is firmly wedged into the display market, maintaining close ties and spending a fortune on millions of displays for its iPad and iPhone. In fact, it spent $2 billion on displays for these in 2010 alone, with LG, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba providing supplies.

It is expected that the partnerships will strengthen as Apple pumps in investment funds so that there is a constant flow of production and supply of IPS and LTPS LCD panels for the company.

This will give Apple a significant share to pick from and open up new competition with rivals. The deals may ensure that competitors using the Android platform cannot use up all the display supply on the market, which would severely affect production lines.

Infineon posts revenue and income drops

Infineon has posted its results for the first quarter of its fiscal year 2011, revealing a small drop in revenue and income compared to the previous quarter.

Revenue was at €922 million ($1.3 billion), down two percent compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, while total sales were flat. This revenue figure was also a two percent drop on the previous year.

Income was also down from €193 million ($265 million) to €149 million ($205 million), while income for discontinued operations was down from €197 million ($271 million) to €83 million ($114 million). Basic earnings per share were down from €0.18 ($0.25) to €0.14 ($0.19). 

Total segment result for the first quarter was €177 million ($243 million), up four percent on the €171 million ($235 million) brought in in the previous quarter. The total segment result margin was also up from 18.2 percent to 19.2 percent, marking a record high.

Infineon forecasts that its revenue will be up slightly in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, while total segment result is expected to be between 18 and 20 percent. For the entire year Infineon has upped its forecast, expecting revenue growth in the mid-teens and total segment result in the high teens.

Infineon also just completed the sale of its mobile phone business to Intel, which has now become Intel Mobile Communications, and this has brought in $1.4 billion in cash for Infineon.