Category: Uncategorized

Samsung likely to lead us through the gloom

SamsungWhile the world’s semiconductor industry is in a bit of a sulk, Samsung is expected to cope much better and might make a bob or two.

Intel has had to cut 12,000 jobs, Qualcomm has said fiscal third-quarter chip shipments could fall as much as 22 percent and SK Hynix saw a 65 percent slide in quarterly operating income – its weakest result in three years.

Samsung, while hurting, is not hurting as much. In fact some analysts expect to see a drop of 10 percent in January-March from a year earlier. But that is really a scratch instead of the others, which have more or less lost limbs.

This is because it is in the right place as clients shift towards premium power-conserving DRAM chips for smartphones, as well as solid state drives for data storage using 3D NAND chips.

The technological gap between Samsung and its competitors in fields such as DRAM and NAND has been widening.  Samsung’s chip operating profit is expected to be nearly five times that of SK Hynix.

Samsung also runs the world’s biggest smartphone business, giving it a captive customer for its chips that none of its rivals have.

Healthy initial sales for Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S7 smartphones are expected to be the main driver of first-quarter operating profit, which the firm has said likely rose 10.4 percent from a year earlier to $5.8 billion.

Samsung’s NAND chip prospects are also expected to do well. Samsung was the first to mass produce NAND flash chips using a technology called 3D NAND, helping it assume a dominant position in higher-margin products such as solid-state hard drives for computers and servers.

Some analysts think that Samsung’s  NAND revenue will climb 16 percent and NAND operating profit to jump 69 percent this year. Shipments will also likely outpace the industry average, allowing Samsung to seize more market share.

NAND rivals Toshiba , SK Hynix and Micron are three years behind technology-wise. Samsung has better production technology for DRAM chips, saying the firm is ahead of its closest rivals by at least a year.

Samsung commanded 58 percent of the mobile DRAM market as of the fourth quarter of 2015, according to TrendForce. Mobile DRAM revenue also accounted for more than half of Samsung’s overall DRAM sales for October-March.

China bans Apple mobile entertainment

Mao Tse Tung - Wikimedia CommonsAlready facing slumping iPhone Sales, the fruity cargo cult Apple will have to explain to Wall Street how it miffed the Chinese government so much that it was banned from running its mobile entertainment empire behind the Great Firewall of China.

Apple online book and film services were switched off over the weekend, which was a bit of a downer given that Jobs’ Mob hoped to spin the service as a way of making pots of cash while people were not buying their iPhones.

Apple’s favourite newspaper the New York Times reported that a state regulator demanded Apple halt the service. The move came after Beijing introduced regulations in March imposing strict curbs on online publishing, particularly for foreign firms.

Apple said in a statement on Thursday that it hopes to make the services available to customers in China as soon as possible and the New York Times said that Jobs Mob had a lot of contacts in the Chinese government who would help out.

However the Chinese government might be a little miffed with Apple. Jobs’ Mob  bragged before a senate committee that it had the power to tell the Chinese government that they were not allowed to lift data from iPhones.

Frank Gillett of research firm Forrester said that this might be the beginning of more pressure on Apple by the Chinese government.

The company released its book and movie services in China only late last year, leaving Chinese consumers little time to form a habit.

Chinese consumers’ appetite for the iphones is critical to quarterly earnings. Apple is expected to post its first-ever quarterly drop in iPhone sales, to about 50 million units, reflecting a saturated global market.

Wall Street expects adjusted earnings per share to drop 14 percent to $2.00 and revenue to drop 10 percent to $52.0 billion.


Stealing your neighbour’s wi-fi is anti-Islamic

kaabaJust when you think Islamic religious authorities only make rules to keep the religion in the dark-ages, Dubai’s Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) has come up with a religious edict which is very modern indeed.

According to IACAD stealing your neighbour’s wi-fi would be considered improper Islamic conduct.  The department is legally authorised to determine the overall policy of the Islamic affairs and charitable works in Dubai.

IACAD responded to an anonymous reader’s question on its website, saying “there is nothing wrong in using the line if your neighbours allow you to do so, but if they’d don’t allow you, you may not use it”.

The ruling is fairly logical and is based on the concept that under Islam, as in any major religion, stealing anything is wrong. But it is nice to see it applied to something modern and know that if your neighbour piggy backs on your broadband they are going to hell.

Apple does not want to know how the FBI hacked its iPhone

3 monkeys 3Fruity cargo cult Apple is not going to try and force the FBI to tell it how it hacked the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist and what security hole it used.

Attorneys for Apple speaking on background during a media briefing call on Friday said that it believed the method used to unlock the iPhone 5c would be short lived.

FBI director James Comey admitted that the hack used to unlock the encrypted phone works on a “narrow slice” of devices.

Of course Apple’s attorneys were guessing. They don’t know what the flaw was, but argued that the normal product development would see that a fix for the flaw would be implemented down the line. A little bit of an odd argument.  Apple is basically saying that it will fix a flaw it did not notice sometime in the future when it does not matter.

Apple is usually slow in fixing flaws in its software, it is hard to see it fixing this one, if it finds it, for any reason other than rubbing the FBI’s face in it. Apple was extremely embarrassed when it told the world that its iOS system was so secure it would require it to write a backdoored version of the OS to allow the FBI access. Then an Israeli firm used one of the many security loopholes it has at its disposal to let the FBI in.

Nvidia creates “miracle” deep learning chip

5136037690_97d228fa58Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang announced that the company has created a new chip which can do five miracles – the Tesla P100 for deep-learning computing.

With 15 billion transistors, it’s the biggest FinFET chip Nvidia ever made. Huang told the throngs at the GPUTech conference in San Jose, California. He unveiled the chip after he said that deep-learning artificial intelligence chips have already become the company’s fastest-growing business.

Huang is claiming a lot for the chip saying it could do “five miracles.”  Not quite Jesus’s 37 but clearly Nvidia is catching up – although Huang’s definition of a miracle might be a little different from Christian myth.

“Three years ago, when we went all in, it was a leap of faith,” Huang said. “If we build it, they will come. But if we don’t build it, they won’t come.”

The chip has 15 billion transistors, or three times as much as many processors or graphics chips on the market. It takes up 600 square millimeters. The chip can run at 21.2 teraflops. Huang said that several thousand engineers laboured  on it for years.

“We decided to go all-in on A.I.,” Huang said. “This is the largest FinFET chip that has ever been done.”

Nvidia says it is shipping P100 to IBM, HPE, Dell, Cray, AI and cognitive cloud players, and key research institutions.

Huang showed a demo from Facebook that used deep learning to train a neural network how to recognize a landscape painting. They then used the network to create its own landscape painting.

He said that deep learning has become a new computing platform, and the company is dealing with hundreds of startups in the space that plan to take advantage of the platform.

“Our strategy is to accelerate deep learning everywhere,” Huang said.

Nvidia has also built a 170-teraflop DGX-1 supercomputer using the Tesla P100 chip.

“This is a beast of a machine, the densest computer ever made,” he said.


Panama leak was a spy hack

Panama-Sean-ConneryThe Panamanian lawyer at the centre of a data leak scandal that has embarrassed several world leaders claimed his outfit was the victim of an external hack.

Founding partner Ramon Fonseca said the firm, Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in setting up offshore companies, had broken no laws and that all its operations were legal. He claimed it had never destroyed any documents or helped anyone evade taxes or launder money.

But he said that company emails, extracts of which were published in an investigation by the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media organizations, were “taken out of context” and misinterpreted.

Fonseca said that the leak was not an inside job, but a hack. His company had a theory who carried out the hack and are following it up.

“We have already made the relevant complaints to the Attorney General’s office, and there is a government institution studying the issue,” he added, flanked by two press advisers.

He was miffed that governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful rather than a hacking.

“The only crime that has been proven is the hack,” Fonseca said. “No one is talking about that. That is the story.”

However it is not surprising more than 11.5 million documents have been leaked including the financial arrangements of prominent figures, including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the president of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, resigned, becoming the first casualty of the leak.

Amusingly Prime Minister David Cameron has called the leak, which showed his dad was involved with off-shore companies an invasion of privacy.  Odd really, as Edward Snowden pointed out Cameron did not give a monkey’s about privacy before the leak.


Copyright troll wants to hack your browser

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollCopyright troll Rightscorp wants to hijack the browsers of those it wants to extort money from to force them to pay up rather than go through all that inconvenience of going to court.

Rightscorp tracks the IP addresses of individuals who torrent certain titles. It then sends threatening letters to those users via their ISPs, threatening a giant lawsuit, and then offering a low settlement. But now that the company’s financials are down the loo it has a new cunning plan. It wants to lock users’ browsers until they pay a settlement fine.

The idea was spotted in a filing earlier this week:

“In the Scalable Copyright system, subscribers receive each [settlement] notice directly in their browser. Single notices can be read and bypassed similar to the way a software license agreement works [but] once the internet account receives a certain number of notices over a certain time period, the screen cannot be bypassed until the settlement payment is received.”

The hijacking would have to be done by ISPs, and would be technologically reasonably simple to implement—just redirect every webpage to Rightscorp’s notice instead, although it would be pretty simple to bypass using a VPN instead.

Of course it is going to hack off a lot of ISP customers. These are the people who give the ISP money, while Rightscorp doesn’t.  ISPs in that sort of situation are more likely to go to court to defend their customers from copyright shakedowns.  It does not seem likely that they are going to voluntarily back a hugely invasive and unpopular method of getting the movie theatres more dosh.


Oculus Rift has dodgy Terms of Service

oculus_rift_consumer-6-600x337VR specs the Oculus Rift has a Terms of Service agreement which gives whatever you are working on to Facebook (which owns the Rift).

So if you use the Rift to write a novel, any earnings from the novel belong to Facebook because you used the Rift. Oculus can use anything you developed on the Rift in anyway it likes without your permission,

“By submitting User Content through the Services, you grant Oculus a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual (i.e. lasting forever), non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free and fully sublicensable (i.e. we can grant this right to others) right to use, copy, display, store, adapt, publicly perform and distribute such User Content in connection with the Services. You irrevocably consent to any and all acts or omissions by us or persons authorized by us that may infringe any moral right (or analogous right) in your User Content.”

Oculus can use it even if you don’t agree with its use. Oculus does not go as far as saying that it owns the content—but it can does want access to it in ways that some creators might find intrusive.

OK that is not going to be a problem if you use the Rift as a gaming platform, but many are thinking that they can use it as a desktop interface, which means all that business information is going to belong to Facebook.

You might not be aware that the content has been taken either, because Oculus is allowed to  collect data from you while you’re using the device.

Another clause is also worrying, basically it allows the Rift to be used to spy on anything you do on your computer and track your location and map out the room it is being used.

Location information, which can be derived from information such as your device’s IP address. If you’re using a mobile device, we may collect information about the device’s precise location, which is derived from sources such as the device’s GPS signal and information about nearby WiFi networks and cell towers; and

Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset.’

This data may also be used to directly market products to you.

Heartless Apple refuses to unlock dead boy’s phone

Leonardo Fabbretti (R) with his adopted son Dama Fabbretti.

Leonardo Fabbretti (R) with his adopted son Dama Fabbretti.

The fruity cargo cult Apple’s obession with protecting terrorists phone is having a knock on effect on ordinary people.

Apple arranged a publicity stunt to prove that its phones were “super secure” by refusing to help the FBI unlock the phone of a terrorist.

Unfortunately for Apple the cunning plan went pear shaped when the FBI worked out how to crack the phone using one of Jobs’ Mob’s security flaws.

However Apple’s blanket refusal to unlock phones has impacted the case of an Italian whose iPhone owning son died.

Leonardo Fabbretti’s adopted son Dama died at age 13 of bone cancer in September. Apple is refusing to unlock the phone and allow him to have access to photos of his dead son,

Fabbretti has written a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook pleading to unlock Dama’s phone.

“Don’t deny me the memories of my son. I cannot give up. Having lost my Dama, I will fight to have the last two months of photos, thoughts and words which are held hostage in his phone.”

Fabbretti, who lives in Italy, first contacted Apple back in autum when his son died. Local Apple staff attempted to get the photographs off of iCloud, but Dama had not backed up the device. so the company said there is no way to retrieve them without the passcode. Giving out passcodes was too similar to the FBI case for them to let that happen.

Fabbretti wrote in his letter. “Although I share your philosophy in general, I think Apple should offer solutions for exceptional cases like mine.”

Elop provides Aussie Telstra with brains

ElopThe former Microsoft boss who is credited with bringing Nokia to its knees has found a job down under, advising an Aussie telco how to get its act together.

Stephen Elop has been appointed to the new role of Telstra’s Group Executive Technology, Innovation and Strategy,  According to the company press release he will be  “leading Telstra’s strategy to become a world class technology company”.

Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications and media company which has been having a few outage problems lately. The former government department has done quite well although it does charge rather a lot for its services.

In a hugely amusing press release, Telstra cites Elop’s “deep technology experience” and “innate sense of customer expectations.”

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn said Elop’s new job  brings together aligned lines of business including the Chief Technology Office, Chief Scientist, Telstra Software Group and Corporate Strategy with strong links into product development functions.

Penn is new in the job himself, having taken over on a platform of making the outfit more customer focused.

Elop on the other hand is famous for his his “burning platform” email to Nokia staff in 2011.  He practically destroyed Nokia by telling staff that the company was “standing on a burning platform” and must “change its behavior,” suggesting that the adoption of a non-homegrown platform like Android or Windows Phone 7 is a more realistic possibility.

After he made that the company’s share price went into free fall.  In the end the company was bought by Microsoft and died a death.