Category: Hardware

Apple squashes “right to repair” bill

Details of Man working with electrial components

Details of Man working with electrial components

Extensive lobbying from Apple has managed to save its users from a bill which would have meant they could have helped save the planet by repairing their own gear.

The New York state legislation that would have required manufacturers to provide information about how to repair devices like the iPhone so they could be fixed locally and kept going long after Apple believed they should be scrapped.

But the bill mysteriously failed to get a vote, ending any chance of passage this legislative session. Similar measures have met the same fate in Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts and New York.

It is a quaint way that US lobby groups keep their steel-capped boots on the throats of democracy by gumming up the proceedings.

New York State Senator Phil Boyle (R) who sponsored the bill was disappointed that it was not brought to the floor.

Gordon-Byrne said lobbyists from IBM, Apple, Xerox and Cisco were particularly active in working against the legislation.

Right to repair laws would protect consumers and help the environment by insuring that devices last longer, thus reducing electronics waste. If you or a business can affordably repair a broken device, you may have less incentive to buy a new one, the logic goes.

The Corporate oligarchs who have rule the US since the country revolted against its lawful constitutional monarch, oppose right to repair legislation because it would relax their total control over their products.

Consumer Technology Association once claimed that anyone posing as a repair shop to reverse-engineer such a device to create counterfeit devices.

New Yorkers will have to wait until next year before right to repair legislation has another chance.


Intel managers fume over call to “sell” decimation

decimationChipzilla’s managers are incandescent with rage that they are being ordered to “sell” Intel’s decimation of staff to the people who are given the boot.

Intel wants to get rid of more than 11 percent of its staff as it realises that it has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the mobile industry.  It is shutting down its projects to build chips for Mobile Phones and Tablets.

Techeye has been told that a special webcast is scheduled on Monday for managers only, and it appears that it will be part of a hard core sales pitch to  pressurise managers to convince employees to take voluntary redundancy.

As one manager moaned: “Why the Fuck do I have to deliver the VSP Bullshit to my affected reports instead of them doing their own dirty work?”

He said it was bad enough when Intel’s front line were told to trap staff to hit SSL targets and then force them to have the ISP blood on their hands through the respect and dignity execution.”

“Will probably be required to take waterboarding training next,” he muttered.

The comment has appeared on a staff site called “the lay-off” and already has attracted a few comments from hacked off fellow managers.  Oddly one does not seem particularly upset at front line manager’s (FLMs) plight.

“OP, please, do not protect and SLMs. They are falsch/fake/trash, low level life forms (respect to 10% of them who R exceptions), protecting ONLY their fat asses.”

Another thought that the whole situation proved that Intel had “really had become a shit place to work”.


Nintendo flushes the last of the Wii

Funny-Toilet-221Nintendo is flushing its Wii U this year ending its reign of toilet themed games consoles, according to a report from Japan’s Nikkei.

The Wii U console sold poorly compared to the Wii which was a ray of gold in the darkness in 2012. Nintendo has already stopped manufacturing certain Wii U accessories.

While Wii U hardware is being discontinued, it looks like the launch of the company’s next platform — codenamed NX — is not guaranteed this year. This means users will be caught short if they are looking for Wii.

Nintendo plans to splash out on its  next-generation console sometime in 2016, but there is no guarantee it will be in the shops anytime soon. The company launched its first mobile app, Miitomo, last week.

Nintendo has sold just 12.6 million Wii U consoles since 2012. Its previous home console, Wii sold more than 100 million units.



Amazon gets into VR

AmazonA job advert indicates that the online bookseller Amazon is getting into VR.

The ad, posted to Amazon’s Glassdoor page, is for a ‘Senior Software Development Manager’ who will be responsible for ‘the Virtual Reality experience within Amazon Video.’

The basic qualifications are a degree in computer science, at least 15 years of relevant experience in engineering, seven years of technical experience and an additional five years of experience as a software development manager. Previous experience with virtual reality is optional apparently.

Netflix recently said it wanted to create 360-degree VR projects, it is likely that Amazon will do the same for its Prime service. Intel just wrote a cheque for a company which also makes this sorts of projects.

However it is possible that the bookseller could also be looking into hardware too. It has filed a patent for a VR headset and releasing its new game engine, Lumberyard, which supports VR technology.

The job posting said: ‘Entertainment is evolving rapidly. The future will not be limited to passive 2D experiences. The Virtual Reality team will explore and create the platform and interface for immersive storytelling. This will include an ingestion and playback platform for Virtual Reality experiences.’

US’s ZTE ban backfires

Great-Depression-Unemployment-Line-It seems that the US’s daft ban on ZTE gear is doing more harm to its home-grown businesses which are suffering more.

The U.S. Commerce Department decided to punish ZTE for selling coms gear to the Iranians years ago and issued an export ban on the outfit. However that seems to be punishing a lot of US companies who depend on ZTE’s components or business.

Jose optical-parts maker Oclaro saw its shares plummet because it sells multiple products to ZTE, a maker of mobile devices and telecoms systems.

Chipmaker Integrated Device Technology said the Commerce Department’s ruling “could cause changes to revenue trends” in its quarter ending July 3 its shares fell 1 percent.

Among other suppliers whose shares fell were Lumentum, down 3.3 percent; NeoPhotonics Corp, down 8.6 percent; Fabrinet, down 5.3 percent; Finisar Corp, down 7.7 percent; Inphi Corp, down 7.3 percent; and Skyworks Solutions Inc, down 4.1 percent.
ZTE distributor Avenet fell 1.5 percent.

Qualcomm slid 1.58 percent while its rival MediaTek Inc rose three percent. Any switch by ZTE to replace Qualcomm as a supplier might take several months, because of the need to work out need specifications.

However the worse it yet to come. The worst fallout for US suppliers around ZTE’s telecommunications-infrastructure equipment rather than its handset business.

Still while the US tech industry suffers, at least they can be re-assured that by stuffing themselves up they will be punishing that naughty Chinese telco for breaking a US embargo when the Americans hated the Chinese.

Seagate shows off “the world’s fastest SSD”

Seagate logoSeagate has just unveiled what it is calling “the world’s fastest SSD” and claims that it is production ready.

The SSD is fully compliant with the Open Compute Project (OCP) specification employed by hyperscale data centres and employs the NVMe protocol.

Seagate says that the new SSD is capable of 10GB/sec of throughput when used in 16-lane PCIe slots. Seagate says that this is 4GB/sec faster than the next fast competing SSD solution.

Apparently the outfit is working on a second, lower-performing variant that works in 8-lane PCIe slots and has a throughput of 6.7GB/sec. Seagate wants to use the second model as a more cost-effect SSD for businesses.

Seagate thinks the SSDs will be used modelling or statistical analysis on their own or in conjunction with HDDs for a cost-effective hybrid storage array.  Of course there is no word on price or even a launch date.

French regret complete surrender on AZERTY

GermanSurrender2The French government is regretting letting too many people surrender to that nasty roast beef eating QWERTY keyboard and that its superior French keyboard AZERTY lacks the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

France’s culture and communication ministry acknowledged that residents of the country are facing problems when using different keyboards within their own country, a problem the ministry said it would begin trying to solve. In a statement released this week, the ministry moaned that French keyboards, which use the AZERTY layout rather than the QWERTY layout familiar to English speakers, make it unnecessarily difficult to type common symbols and letters.

Meanwhile the 26 letters of the alphabet as well as common accented letters like é, à, è, and ù are generally represented similarly on an AZERTY keyboard, the ministry said that the @ symbol and the € symbol are inconveniently or inconsistently placed, as are commands to capitalize symbols like “ç”.

Capitalising accented letters is problem in legal texts and government documents where every letter of the names of people and businesses are capitalized. Often, an accent is the only distinguishing factor between two similarly spelled words.

The ministry said that the “hardware limitations” of the French AZERTY keyboard “have even led some of our fellow citizens to think that we should not accentuate capital letters.”
All this is leading some French writers to adopt more anglicized ways of writing and the ministry does not what its “œufs” becoming “oeufs.”

The French culture and communication ministry said that software can often overcome the limitations of the physical keyboard, and autocorrect goes a long way in helping. But they are facing the fact that it is almost impossible to write in French correctly with a keyboard marketed in France.
Then there is the small matter of regional languages like Occitan, Catalan, Breton, and Polynesian which are too hard to type.

Now the French want to come up with a new keyboard and has asked France’s standards organization AFNOR (or the Association Française de Normalisation) to study the best layout for a French-language keyboard. The deadline for a proposed layout would be this summer.

The layout will almost certainly still adhere to France’s current AZERTY layout but with some changes.

Chipzilla improves Compute Sticks

IMG_0682Chipzilla is having another crack at its PC-in-your-pocket form factor by creating new Compute Sticks.

The original Compute Stick which plugged into the HDMI port on your TV or monitor and offered to provide a full-fledged computing experience, did not do as well as the should have.   This was partly because they were  little more than a proof of concept.

Intel’s second crack at the Compute Stick is a little better.   In the shops from February, Intel has three new base model Compute Sticks to choose from. The first is an entry-level option running a quad-core Atom x5-z8400 quad-core processor clocked at 1.44GHz to 2.24GHz. It also features 2GB of RAM, 32GB of eMMC storage, a pair of USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Windows 10.

A second USB port allows users to plug in both a USB mouse and keyboard rather than having to go the wireless route. Intel has upgraded the Wi-Fi. It will set you back $159 which makes the entry-level model underwhelming.

But the Core M models are a lot more interesting.  They are sporting a 6th Generation Skylake Intel Core m models. The higher end has a Core m5-6Y57 vPro processor while the lower end version is equipped with a Core m3-6Y30.

They both have 4GB of DDR3-1866 RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage expandable via microSD card slot, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and three USB 3.0 ports (one on the Compute Stick and two on the power adapter).

All three new Compute Sticks can hardware decode HEVC/H.265 video and the Core M3 and M5 models can manage 4K processing.

Without an OS, the Core m3 model costs $300; Windows 10 adds $100 to the price tag. The Core m5 Compute Stick will sell for $500 and, at least for now, doesn’t appear to offer a version with Windows 10 pre-installed.


Samsung gets into car industry a bit late

accidentcarinwashingtondcSamsung is joining nearly every IT company out there which is desperate to get into making electronics for intelligent cars.

Samsung has announced it will begin manufacturing electronics parts for the automotive industry, with a specific focus on autonomous vehicles.

The South Korean electronics giant is later than the rest of the industry in getting excited about autonomous vehicles.

In October, General Motors announced a strategic partnership with South Korea’s LG Electronics. LG will supply a majority of the key components for GM’s upcoming electric vehicle (EV), the Chevrolet Bolt. LG has also been building computer modules for GM’s OnStar telecommunications system for years.

Apple and Google have also developed APIs that are slowly being embedded by automakers to allow smartphones to natively connect and display their infotainment screens. Those APIs led to the rollout in several vehicles this year of Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto.

Samsung and its tech affiliates are playing catch up for research and development for auto technology, with two-thirds of their combined 1,804 U.S. patent filings since 2010 related to electric vehicles and electric components for cars.

Samsung Electronics revealed its push into the automotive space during its annual structural reorganisation in order to “pre-emptively respond to business uncertainties”.

Initially, Samsung’s automotive components team will focus on building electronics for infotainment and autonomous driving vehicles.


Toshiba, Vaio Fujitsu mull three-way PC merger

24400The dark satanic rumour mill has suggested that Toshiba, Vaio and Fujitsu are thinking about tying the knot and will merge their PC businesses.

The outfits are desperate to get rid of struggling units to overhaul their operations and the pair are looking at some form of collaboration.

Any deal is mostly rumour and if true in the early stages. Tosh needs to raise capital after a $1.3 billion accounting scandal which has meant that the banks are not returning its calls.  It  has already agreed to sell its image sensor business and said it is considering splitting off part of its chip business.

Fujitsu, which announced in October that it intends to split off its PC division, said it is considering various options for the business.

The Nikkei Business Daily reported earlier that Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio  which was spun off from Sony were considering a three way merger of their PC businesses.

The merged company would have just over 30 percent of the Japanese market, overtaking the current top-ranked NEC Lenovo Japan , which controls 26.3 percent, the Nikkei said without citing any source for its information.

A Vaio spokeswoman dismissed the Nikkei report as speculation, adding that the company was not in talks with anyone about its PC operations.