Category: Mobile

Bloke builds his own open saucy self-driving car

A self-driving car does not have to cost you a fortune if you can get away from the car industry, according to a University of Nebraska student.

According to MIT Technology Review Brevan Jorgenson used open source software to convert his Honda Civic into a high tech self-driving car,

His homemade device in place of the rear-view mirror can control the brakes, accelerator, and steering, and it uses a camera to identify road markings and other cars.

Jorgenson built the lot using plans and software downloaded from the internet, plus about $700 in parts.

He started his project after George Hotz of Comma.ai, a San Francisco startup that was developing a $999 device that could upgrade certain vehicles to steer themselves on the highway and follow stop-and-go traffic.

Hotz was forced to cancel plans to launch the product after receiving a letter asking questions about its functionality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In November, he released the company’s hardware designs and software for free, saying he wanted to empower researchers and hobbyists.

The whole thing is powered by a OnePlus 3 smartphone equipped with Comma’s now-free Openpilot software, a circuit board that connects the device to the car’s electronics, and a 3-D-printed case. Jorgenson got the case printed by an online service and soldered the board together himself.

Subsequent tests revealed that the Neo would inexplicably pull to the right sometimes, but a software update released by Comma quickly fixed that. Now fully working, the system is similar in capabilities to the initial version of Tesla’s AutoPilot.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, says that federal and state laws probably don’t pose much of a barrier to those with a desire to upgrade their vehicle to share driving duties. NHTSA has authority over companies selling vehicles and systems used to modify them, but consumers have significant flexibility in making changes to their own vehicle, says Smith, who advises the US Department of Transportation on law and automation.

Gemalto teams up with Microsoft


Security outfit Gemalto i
s teaming up with Microsoft to release of its On Demand Connectivity and eSIM technology for Windows 10 devices.

Gemalto’s works with the release GSM Association (GSMA) new specifications and guidelines for remote SIM provisioning.

Based around a subscription system, Gemalto’s On-Demand Connectivity works with Windows 10 native eSIM support. It is designed to be remotely provisioned by mobile network operators with subscription information and is globally interoperable across all carriers, device makers and technology providers implementing the specification.

This technology will serve as the framework devices of all shapes and sizes use to connect to operator networks. The first wave of devices with this technology is expected to be available to consumers by Christmas.

Roanne Sones, General Manager, Strategy and Ecosystem for Windows and Devices, Microsoft said that eSIM technology remains an important investment for Microsoft as it looks to create even more mobile computing opportunities

“As a key component for the Always Connected Windows experience, we worked closely with Gemalto to develop a solution that meets the new GSMA guidelines.”

Rodrigo Serna, Senior Vice President of Mobile Services and IoT Americas at Gemalto said that Gemalto has created a complete range of subscription management software and services to manage the eSIM life cycle in mobile devices.

“We will continue to work closely with Microsoft and the GSMA to further these advances while protecting the security of end users, who rely on their mobile devices to make everyday life easier.”

Blackberry sued by former workers

Troubled phone maker Blackberry is facing a class-action lawsuit from more than 300 former employees.

The outfit is accused of denying employees their termination entitlements by transferring them to a partner company and, once they had accepted employment there, firing them. The former employees were then allegedly given their final date of work.

“Blackberry’s actions amount to a termination of the employees’ employment. This entitles these employees to statutory, common law, and/or contractual entitlements on termination.”

Blackberry hasn’t commented on the case yet, though the suit said that it has refused to pay those entitlements and the transferred employees have lost their accumulated years of service.

In 2016, Blackberry also laid off around 200 employees from Waterloo and Florida, which followed an announcement in 2012 to cut over 5,000 jobs over the a multi-year period.

Blackberry is going down the toilet lately. No one is buying its phones and its current business plan is to flog its software and general patent trollage.

Blackerry said that it has reviewed the allegations in the lawsuit, and was confident it complied with all its obligations to its employees. It said the case “lacks merit”, and it will defend it “vigorously”.

Air force peeved after Lockheed Martin botched GPS satellite testing

A Lockheed Martin subcontractor botched testing on a key component for the US’s newest Global Positioning System satellites.

According to Bloomberg   subcontractor Harris forced another delay in the delivery of the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites until later this month, and the Air Force is rather hacked off.

Major General Roger Teague, the Air Force’s chief of space programs said that the cock up will mean that the $528 million satellite 34 months late.

Lockheed has a contract to build the first 10 of the satellites designed to provide a more accurate version of the Global Positioning System.  Now the Air Force is wondering if it should award the contract for the rest of the system to Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

Teague said that the incident was avoidable and raised significant concerns with Lockheed Martin subcontractor management/oversight and Harris programme management.

Ceramic capacitors which take higher-voltage power from the satellite’s power system and reduce it to a voltage required for a particular subsystem have been a headache for the project.

Last year, the Air Force and contractors discovered that Harris hadn’t conducted tests on the components, including how long they would operate without failing, that should have been completed in 2010.

Harris spent June to October of last year doing follow-up testing on the wrong parts instead of samples of the suspect capacitors installed on the first three satellites.

Harris “immediately notified Lockheed and the government” after a post-test inspection, Teague said in his message.

“The capacitors met all mission qualification requirements,” he said, so “we are confident the capacitors are mission-ready”.

But Teague said in an interview that Harris was required to perform not only a test to show that the part met design specifications but a separate one to assess the component’s reliability and whether it met a requirement to last 15 years. That second test wasn’t accomplished because “they used the wrong test item,” he said.

The Air Force has decided to accept the first satellite even if its capacitors may be flawed because removing them could delay the delivery until October and cost about $70 million,

The Air Force must pay $100 million to replace the suspect capacitors on the second and third satellites. That’s because the satellites are being developed under cost-reimbursement-type contracts, which require the Pentagon to pay for cost increases, the service said.

Republicans are destroying their emails

tumblr_m3cujpo5xc1qz4ar6o1_500US republicans are trying to avoid their embarrassing emails being found by hackers or foreign powers by using an app that destroys them after they have been read.

The messaging app is an encrypted, self-destructing messaging app called Confide and apparently it has been downloaded by “numerous senior GOP operatives and several members of the Trump administration”.

One operative told Axios that the app “provides some cover” for people in the party. He ties it to last year’s hack of the Democratic National Committee, which led to huge and damaging information dumps of DNC emails leading up to the 2016 election.

Confide makes it difficult to screenshot messages, because only a few words are shown at a time. That suggests that it’s useful not just for reducing paper trails, but for stopping insiders from leaking individual messages.

But the difficulty here is that it is probably illegal. As the Hillary Clinton scandal showed, messages have to be stored and monitored by government officials.

Encrypted message apps like Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp apparently spiked in popularity after Trump’s election, and the Clinton campaign reportedly adopted Signal after the DNC hack was discovered.

Ironically the republicans say they want to clamp down on encryption and other similar security options so that they can spy on “terrorists.”

Oculus ordered to pay up on ZeniMax tech

keep_calm_and_love_your_patent_lawyer_2_inch_round_magnet-re8c2c059dc99401ca676f1a1e58344f5_x7js9_8byvr_324A US jury in Texas ordered Oculus, and other defendants to pay a combined $500 million to ZeniMax Media, a video game publisher that claims Oculus stole its technology.

The jury thought that in 2014, Oculus used ZeniMax’s computer code to launch the Rift virtual-reality headset. ZeniMax alleges that video game designer John Carmack developed core parts of the Rift’s technology while working at a ZeniMax subsidiary. Oculus hired Carmack in 2013.

ZeniMax Chief Executive Robert Altman hailed the verdict and said in a statement the company was considering seeking an order blocking Oculus and Facebook from using its code. It is unclear what impact that would have on the Rift’s market availability.

However, the jury ruled that none of the defendants misappropriated ZeniMax’s trade secrets, but it did think that Oculus’ use of computer code directly infringed on ZeniMax’s copyright. The jurors held Carmack and different Oculus co-founders Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe liable for forms of infringement.

The jury also found Oculus liable for breaching a non-disclosure agreement Luckey signed with ZeniMax in 2012, when he began corresponding about virtual reality with Carmack.

Carmack worked for id Software before that company was acquired by ZeniMax. He is now the chief technology officer at Oculus.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified last month during the three-week trial that none of ZeniMax’s proprietary code was incorporated into the Rift.

In a statement, Oculus spokeswoman Emily Bauer noted the jury’s finding on trade secrets theft and said the company would appeal. “We’re obviously disappointed by a few other aspects of today’s verdict, but we are undeterred,” she said. “Oculus products are built with Oculus technology.”

Nokia does better than expected

Gold-Rush-Eating-boots-N_54Former rubber boot maker Nokia has reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit thanks mostly to the fact it bought Alcatel-Lucent and slashed its costs.

Nokia and its rivals, Ericsson and Huawei, are not having a good time as telecom operators’ demand for faster 4G mobile broadband equipment has peaked, and upgrades to next-generation 5G equipment are still years away.

Fourth-quarter group earnings before interest and taxes fell 27 percent from a year ago to $1.01 billion, but about 25 percent better than the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street predicted.

The networks unit’s sales in the quarter fell 14 percent, more than expected, but its operating margin came in at 14.1 percent, ahead of a market forecast of 11.7 percent.

Nokia said that while networks sales were set to decline further this year, profitability could improve from a 2016 margin of 8.9 percent.

Chief Executive Rajeev Suri said in a statement that he was disappointed with Nokia’s topline development in 2016, he expected its performance to improve in 2017. He saw potential for margin expansion in 2017 and beyond, as market conditions improve and sales transformation programmes gain traction.

Still in the current market, Nokia’s results are strong.  Nokia bought Alcatel-Lucent last year in response to industry changes and is currently axing thousands of jobs as it seeks to cut 1.2 billion euro of annual costs by 2018.

Nokia was caught out by the rise of smartphones and ended up selling its handset business to Microsoft in 2014, leaving it with the networks business and a portfolio of technology patents.

EU clears final global roaming hurdle

EU and country flags - Wikimedia CommonsThe European Union sorted out a preliminary deal early to cap wholesale charges telecom operators pay each other when their customers use their mobile phones abroad, paving the way for the abolition of roaming fees in June.

The caps were the last sticking point to abolish retail roaming charges as of June 15, 2017, crowning a decade of efforts by Brussels to allow citizens to use their phones abroad without paying extra.

Wholesale charges for data – which were the most controversial given the exponential use of mobile internet – will be capped at 7.7 euros per gigabyte from June 2017, going down to 2.5 euro per gigabyte in 2022.

Caps for making calls will decrease from five euro cents per minute to 3.2 euro cents per minute, while those for sending text messages will halve to one euro cent from two euro cents on June.

“Goodbye roaming,” tweeted Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, the EU lawmaker who steered the law on behalf of the European parliament.

The European Commission – the EU executive – will look at the wholesale caps every two years and propose new ones if necessary.

Wednesday’s deal still needs to be confirmed by the full European Parliament and member states but it is likely to be accepted.

The move was being important to show the great unwashed, er ordinary EU citizens, that it looked after their interests and not just those of French and German businesses.

After the agreement to abolish retail roaming charges in June this year, policymakers grappled with the challenge of who would foot the bill as telecom operators still need to pay each other to keep their customers connected abroad.

Countries in northern and eastern Europe where consumers gobble up mobile data at low prices favoured lower wholesale caps to avoid companies raising prices in their home markets, effectively making poorer customers subsidize frequent travellers.

However, places which depend on tourists such as the south, were worried that their operators could be forced to hike domestic prices to recover the costs of accommodating the extra tourist traffic.

BT losing a pizza the action after Italian accounting scandal

banner_pizza_The BT Group is facing two shareholder lawsuits in the United States, after a fifth of the telecommunications company’s market value was wiped out in a single day amid a growing accounting scandal in Italy.

The lawsuits accusing the British company and three top executives of securities fraud were filed in the US District Courts in Manhattan and in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

Both lawsuits were brought by individuals seeking class-action status, and named Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, his predecessor Ian Livingston, and Finance Director Tony Chanmugam as defendants.

A spokeswoman for BT declined to comment on behalf of the defendants. BT had launched an internal probe into its Italian business after a whistleblower flagged concerns.

The price of BT’s shares in London and American depositary receipts in New York fell nearly 21 percent.

BT wrote-down its Italian division to £530 million from £145 million after Patterson expressed disappointment with the “inappropriate behaviour” uncovered.

BT reported slowing demand from government and corporate customers following last June’s vote by Britons to leave the European Union. It said that slowdown, together with the accounting problems, would weigh on results for two years.

But the lawsuits accuse BT of having concealed or made misleading statements about the accounting practices in Italy, causing it to inflate earnings and its stock price.

Companies are frequently sued in the United States after releasing negative news that investors say they did not expect.

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AT&T kills off first iPhone

apple_iphoneIn an end of an error (surely era Ed.), AT&T has shut down its 2G service and finally killed off the first-generation iPhone.

The 2G shutdown has been planned for a few years  and judging by the lack of outcry from Apple fanboys when the network stopped working there can’t be many people still able to get Steve Jobs’ pivotal shiny toy to go. To be fair it is ten years and Apple normally expects people to replace their phone after one.

AT&T notes that the 2G shut down will free up resources and spectrum bandwidth for the network to use for future rollouts of more advanced wireless solutions like 5G down the line.

Of course, the Apple fanboy could move to Blighty, where 2G is still going. In fact some remote areas are only covered by 2G because it is reasoned that some coverage is better than nothing.

Even within more urban and populated areas that have substantial 3G coverage, there is still a large dependence on the reliability of 2G.