Category: Business

Marissa Mayer gives her bonus to staff

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced today via her Tumblr page that she will be redistributing her annual bonus and equity stock grant to Yahoo employees to make up for two security hacks which thumped the company.

An independent committee Yahoo brought on to investigate the hacks found the company to be at fault for not sufficiently responding to the security incidents.

The committee said that while significant additional security measures were implemented in response to those incidents, it appears certain senior executives did not properly comprehend or investigate, or act on information provided internally by the company’s information security team. Because of the hacks, Yahoo’s top lawyer, Ron Bell, was fired.

Mayer has accumulated about $162 million during the five years she’s spent as the company’s CEO in both salary and stock awards. She’s also due about $55 million in severance if she decides to leave the company following its acquisition by Verizon.

While it is nice that Mayer is giving her cash to the employees, most of the victims of the security fiasco were customers and users, who are no doubt organising a class action as we write.

Trump’s FCC boss calls Net Neutrality a mistake

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said today that net neutrality was “a mistake” and the Commission was taking steps to turn it into a telco’s wet dream.

Pai said that net neutrality injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market and uncertainty was the enemy of growth.

To be fair Pai has always been opposed to net neutrality and voted against the proposal when it came up in 2015. He had been widely expected to dismantle net neutrality to allow telos to charge people what they like. Basically, Pai’s thinks that internet providers were doing just fine under the old rules and that the new ones have hurt investment.

Both of those points have been discounted. There’s little competition in the wired broadband market, and Consumerist investigated the investment claims in early 2016 and found that internet providers were estimated to spend more in the coming year.

“Today, the torch at the FCC has been passed to a new generation, dedicated to renewal as well as change. We are confident in the decades-long, cross-party consensus on light-touch internet regulation … and we are on track to returning to that successful approach,” Pai said.

He cites the commission’s approval of zero-rating schemes — this, he says, is exactly why all four carriers are now offering unlimited data plans.

This is also rubbish as zero rating isn’t involved in these plans at all. Telcos offer highly competitive unlimited data plans because the last FCC chairman kept them in a competitive environment, leaving four nationwide wireless providers and a clear set of rules for them to follow.

Pai seems to think that the FCC should do nothing unless there’s a huge market failure and that competition can preserve an open internet even without rules.

The fact that the US telcos are hardly in competition and well just use their quasi-monopoly powers to double charge heavy web users is no part of Pai’s reality.

Nvidia shows off GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

Nvida just lifted its kimono on the long-rumoured GeForce GTX 1080 Ti during the San Francisco Games Developers Conference.

The card will sit at the top of Nvidia’s  GeForce offerings snuggled alongside the Titan X and GeForce GTX 1080. According to Nvidia’s marketing material the GTX 1080 Ti, promising significant performance gains over the GTX 1080 and faster than Titan X performance, for a much lower price of $699.

The 12 billion Nvidia GP102 transistors on the card have 3,584 CUDA cores, which is the same as Nvidia’s Titan X.

However, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will have fewer ROP units at 88, versus 96 in the Titan X.

The 1080 Ti will also, however, come equipped with 11GB of premium GDDR5X memory from Micron clocked at 11,000 MHz for an effective 11Gbps data rate.

Peak compute throughput of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is slightly higher than the Titan X due to the Ti’s higher boost clock.

Memory bandwidth over its narrower 352-bit GDDR5 memory interface is 484GB/s, which is also slightly higher than a Titan X as well. Nvidia’s also noted that peak overclocks on the core should hit 2GHz or higher if the wind is in the right direction.

This means that the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti will be faster than the Titan X out of the box, faster still when overclocked.

Nvidia is having to compete with cheaper and just as effective offerings coming out from AMD so the card had to be pretty good.

I gotta grow up says Uber boss

Uber Technologies Chief Executive Travis Kalanick admitted that it was time for him to “grow up” and get help after a video was published showing him getting into a slanging match with one of his drivers who complained about pay rates.

Bloomberg published a video of Kalanick, a co-founder of the company, arguing with a driver who tells him that rates have been cut and he has lost money. The 40-year-old Kalanick responds angrily that some people don’t take responsibility for their own actions.

The video is the latest in a series of challenges and embarrassments for the ride service. The driver in a dash cam tells Kalanick, a passenger, that “people are not trusting you anymore,” and complains that rates for drivers have fallen.

Kalanick responds, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

In his statement released later Tuesday, Kalanick said he was ashamed for treating the driver disrespectfully, and he apologized to the driver and others.

“It’s clear this video reflects me – and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it,” he wrote.

 

Apple tries to appease Trump with some strange numbers

The fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple has told the world that it spent roughly $50 billion last year using US-based suppliers.

The move is an attempt to suggest to the US president Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump that Apple does not really make all its gear in foreign parts.  Apple has previously not mentioned this figure before.

Speaking at an annual shareholder meeting, Cook gave the previously undisclosed data at a time when Apple has come under pressure from President Donald Trump for building its iPhones in China.

“We’re always looking for more ways to help our country. We know that Apple can only exist in the US,” Cook told shareholders.

Cook named 3M and Corning as US companies which Apple buys its stuff from.  But the figures look rather strange and fly in the face of similar announcements a few years ago. In 2013 Apple said it spent Apple Spent Over $3 billion with 7,000 US business suppliers.  That announcement was touted as proof that Jobs Mob was building out its US supply chain.

Named by Cook were US companies 3M and Corning Glass.  The figure sounds quite high but given that an iPhone costs $200 to make and Apple sold 290 million of them in 2016 that means that the total cost was $58 billion. So Cook expects the world to believe that most of Apple’s manufacturing dollar was spent in the US?  Even if Cook’s figure does not just cover the iPhone, it strikes us a trifle high.

The good side about announcing a figure like that is that no one can check it.

 

Axeman looms large at Huawei

Staff at Huawei fear jobs cuts after internal memos highlighted intense pressure to improve earnings.

A key executive said the flagship smartphone business had missed internal profit targets and lost its top spot in China, the world’s biggest market, to new contender Oppo last year.

Richard Yu, head of its consumer business division that includes mobile device operation said mobile gear is still profitable but the profit margin is very low.

In an internal memo sent last Friday, Huawei Group founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei urged all employees to work hard, saying the company would otherwise “fall apart”.

“Thirty-something strong men, don’t work hard, just want to count money in bed, is that possible? Huawei will not pay for those that don’t work hard.”

This has rattled Huawei’s 170,000-strong workforce, 45 percent of which are in research and development,which is probably one of the least secure areas to be working.

“We are now all thinking more of the next steps, realising permanent employment with the company is no longer a given,” one worker moaned to the press.

According to company insiders, Huawei maintained its five percent annual quota to eliminate the worst performers, but was seen indirectly pushing underperformers out by asking them to relocate to undesirable posts.

“Huawei does not have a layoff plan,” the company said in an emailed response, declining further comment.

Consumer business chief Yu said in his New Year’s address to staff that the company needed to adhere to a “streamline strategy” in personnel as well as product portfolio as it must make profitability its focus in 2017.

“We will seek to improve efficiency and profitability by focusing on organizations at all levels, every employee, and every detail, and strictly control costs and risks to ensure sound development, ” Yu said.

“We will not tolerate low-performing managers, and prioritize removal of managers who fail to make noteworthy improvements after working in a position for several years.”

 

Blockchain gains as software giants form alliance

PMorgan Chase, Microsoft,  Intel and more than two dozen other companies have teamed up to develop standards and technology to make it easier for enterprises to use blockchain code Ethereum.

The move is seen as the latest push by large firms to move toward distributed ledger systems and a considerable move forward for the bitcoin based tech.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) will work to enhance the privacy, security and scalability of the Ethereum blockchain, making it better suited to business applications, according to the founding companies.

Members of the 30-strong group also include Accenture, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse Group  and shedloads of other bankers and financial groups. The EEA joins a growing list of joint initiatives by large companies aiming to take advantage of blockchain, a shared digital record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers rather than a centralised authority.

Companies in a wide range of industries are hoping that it can help them streamline some of their processes, such as the clearing and settling of financial securities.

Ethereum, a type of blockchain that can be used to develop decentralised applications, was invented by 23-year-old programer Vitalik Buterin. Several banks have already adapted Ethereum to develop and test blockchain trading applications.

Alex Batlin, global blockchain lead at BNY Mellon, one of the companies on the EEA board, said over the past few years banks and other enterprises have increased collaboration with the Ethereum development community, facilitating the creation of the EEA.

SThe EEA will collaborate with the non-profit foundation that promotes the development of Ethereum, the companies said.

Bill Gates is a master of disguise

Gates disguised as someone from before WW1 when everyone was black and white (Gates is on the right)

Software king of the world, and sworn enemy of the mosquito Sir William Gates III is a master of disguise and moves among his subjects invisibly.

In response to a question during his annual Reddit ask me anything session, Microsoft magnet  Gates says that it doesn’t take too much for him to blend in with the crowd.

“I sometimes wear a hat. For example when I did college tours with my son I wanted the focus to be totally on him. A lot less people recognise me when I have a hat on or else they realise I am trying to be incognito.”

He did not reveal the secret hat he uses and we suspect he can be found under a baseball cap.

The hat disguise is not exactly foolproof. But that’s okay, writes Gates: “Mostly when people do recognise me they are super nice so I don’t feel it is a burden to be noticed most of the time.”

Gates isn’t the only tech celebrity with a penchant for using hats as a disguise. Steve Jobs used to think he could disguise himself from the great unwashed by wearing a top hat. Of course, a top hat is going to attract attention but people saw it and assumed he was just a mad man and looked the other way.

Windows security cure is sorting out Admin rights


More than 94
percent of Windows vulnerabilities are mitigated by removing admin rights, according to a team of insecurity experts.

Avecto, which has issued its annual Microsoft Vulnerabilities report and found that there were 530 Microsoft vulnerabilities reported in 2016, and of these critical vulnerabilities,

All vulnerabilities impacting both Internet Explorer and Edge could be mitigated by removing admin rights, Avecto reported.

Mark Austin, co-founder and CEO of Avecto, said that privilege management and application control should be the cornerstone of your endpoint security strategy, building up from there to create ever stronger, multiple layers of defense.

“These measures can have a dramatic impact on your ability to mitigate today’s attacks. Times have changed; removing admin rights and controlling applications is no longer difficult to achieve,” he said.

Windows 10 was found to have the highest proportion of vulnerabilities of any OS (395), 46 per cent more than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (265 each).

Microsoft Office had 79 vulnerabilities in 2016, up from 62 in 2015 and just 20 in 2014. This data includes Office 2010, Office 2013, Office 2016 and the various applications. Removing admin rights would mitigate 99 per cent of the vulnerabilities in older versions and all of those vulnerabilities would be mitigated in Office 2016.

Avecto said this method of turning off admin privileges works alongside tools such as antivirus to proactively prevent malware from executing in the first place, rather than relying on detection and response after the event.

Nokia releases ancient phone

Nokia has just released a brightly coloured version of the classic 3310 talk and text phone which was the world’s most popular device 17 years ago.

Yup, it looks like we are all waking up in the Year 2000, the only thing different is a slightly bigger screen and a $52 price tag.  You can have 22 hours of talk time and up to one month of standby time too.

The 3310 is a retro gambit and Nokia also launched four moderately priced smartphones ranging from 139 to 299 euros.

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told a news conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that people loved the brand and claimed it had a lot of affection from millions and millions of people.

Once the world’s dominant phonemaker, Nokia in 2014 sold its by-then ailing handset operations to Microsoft for $7 billion, leaving it with its network equipment business and a large patent portfolio.

Last year, it gave the Nokia brand a fresh start by licensing its devices brand to HMD Global, a new company led by ex-Nokia executives and backed by Chinese electronics giant Foxconn.

Industry analysts say the revived Nokia 3310 has the makings of one of the hit devices of 2017, appealing to older Nokia fans in developed markets looking for an antidote to smartphone overload, while also appealing to younger crowds in emerging markets.

The original 3310 sold 126 million phones, the 12th best-selling phone model in history. Nine of the top 12 selling models were produced by Nokia.

The other three three smartphones are cheap Androids. The Nokia 6 smartphone has a 5.5-inch screen, the Nokia 5 with a 5.2-inch screen and the Nokia 3 with a 5.0-inch screen.

It also offered a limited edition of the Nokia 6 with added features retailing for around 299 euros.