LeEco calls off Vizio sale

China’s conglomerate LeEco has abandoned its plans to buy US telly maker Vizio for $2 billion.

The move was announced last year and would have given LeEco a foothold in the Land of the Fee. The company wants to expand its business beyond Chinese market.

Now it seems that the deal has folded due to “regulatory headwinds.”
In a statement, the companies said:”We continue to believe that there is great synergy between the two companies, and are pleased to announce that LeEco and Vizio have reached an agreement that is a win for both companies … LeEco and Vizio will continue to explore opportunities to incorporate the Le app and content within the Vizio connected CE platform, and engage in a collaborative partnership to leverage LeEco’s ecosystem user interface platform, along with the brand’s exclusive content and distribution channels, to bring Vizio products to the China market.”

However there could be other reasons both companies have been getting bad news lately. LeEco is struggling financially and earlier this month it was reported that the company had delayed payroll for its US employees. Vizio was fined the company $2.2 million by the FTC to settle a case involving the TVs’ data collection techniques.

Qualcomm swings handbag at Apple

Chipmaker Qualcomm has replied to the fruity, tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple’s allegation that it has been playing monopoly by swinging a handbag of its own.

It claimed that the iPhone maker breached agreements with the firm and encouraged regulatory attacks on its business in various jurisdictions around the world by making false statements.

Apple had filed the lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. The lawsuit came days after the US government accused the chipmaker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over key semiconductors in mobile phones.

In a statement, Qualcomm said that Apple has launched a global attack on Qualcomm and is attempting to use its enormous market power to coerce unfair and unreasonable licence terms from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm filed counterclaims to Apple’s lawsuit with the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

The chipmaker said in the statement that Apple interfered in its agreements with licensees that manufacture iPhones and iPads.

Qualcomm also said Apple threatened it in an attempt to prevent it from making any public comparisons about the superior performance of the Qualcomm-powered iPhones, and misrepresented performance differences between iPhones using Qualcomm modems and those using competitor-supplied modems.

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in Beijing, alleging the chip supplier abused its clout in the chip industry and seeking $145.32 million in damages.

Microsoft boosts Windows 10 upgrade savings claims

Microsoft has boosted its claim of how much enterprises can save by deploying Windows 10 by 28 percent.

The revised estimate came from a Microsoft-commissioned analysis first done in mid-2016 by Forrester Research.

Forrester said the per-worker savings over a three-year stretch would be $404. To reach that number, the research firm interviewed four Microsoft customers that had begun moving to Windows 10, then modelled a hypothetical organization with 24,000 Windows devices, and a large number of mobile workers among the 20,000 employees.  It then divided that number by its shoe size and multiplied it by the cheque that Microsoft had given it.

Using that pretend company, Forrester forecast the difference between running Windows 10 and retaining Windows 7.

Late last year, Forrester interviewed another quartet of Windows early 10 adopters, then added that data to what it had originally.

The new per-employee savings: $515 over three years, a jump of almost a third. Forrester’s increase in the number of mobile workers — the total climbed by 460 employees — was the biggest factor in the changed estimate.

Forrester and Microsoft said that the migration to Windows 10 would pay for itself in 14 months.

The report says IT administrators “estimate a 20per cent improvement in management time, as Windows 10 requires less IT time to install, manage, and support with in-place deployment and more self-service functions”, while because of the OSs security software, security events requiring IT remediation are reduced or avoided by 33 percent.

1980s BBSes return from the dead

Vintage computing hobbyists are resurrecting lost digital communities and running some on their original 8-bit hardware.

The technology is based around Raspberry Pi and TCPser (which emulates a Hayes modem for Telnet connections).

One runs the original software on a decades-old Commodore 128DCR. Another routes telnet connections across a real telephone circuit that connects to a Hayes modem.

According to Ars Technica, Dura-Europos BBS is back in business after nearly 23 years using an Apple IIe running its original GBBS Pro software, a modern CFFA3000 compact flash drive, and a Raspberry Pi running TCPser.

It can be found at dura-bbs.net, using port 6359.  The rise of the World Wide Web and the demise of protocols that came before it killed off a lot of the BBSes.

Owners of older 8-bit machines had little reason to maintain their hardware as their userbase migrated to the open pastures of the Web, and the number of bulletin board systems plummeted.

But some sysops never quite gave up on the BBS and like to dial in to the BBS using a domain name and port number instead of a phone number in their preferred terminal software.

Besides the old games, there are conversation threads dating back decades were available verbatim like a buried digital time capsule.

It is rather popular because it is fairly private, and is considered pretty much a techies wet dream.

Slice of Tosh tellies might go to Turkey

Turkey’s Vestel is in talks to buy the television unit of Japan’s troubled Toshiba.

An unnamed official for the Turkish maker of electronics and home appliances has confirmed that his company has put in a bid for cash strapped Tosh’s telly business.

Tosh needs the cash. Toshiba, a televisions-to-construction conglomerate expects to book a net loss of about $9 billion for the year that ended in March, due to a writedown related to cost overruns at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse that recently went bankrupt.

It has already said that it will flog off its profit making chip business, but no one really expected its tellies to go Turkish, or that it could find a buyer for its TV business.

Vestel last year signed a five-year agreement with Toshiba, giving it the right to produce and sell televisions under the Toshiba brand in Europe. It is not clear if the Toshiba brand in Europe will get the works, if the deal goes ahead that will be no-body’s business but the Turks.

 

Two violent game studies have been retracted

Two highly public scientific studies which claim that there is a link between violent computer games and real violence have been mysteriously pulled.

The first, entitled “Boom, Headshot!” published in the Journal of Communication Research in 2012 was retracted last January. That study looked at the “effect of video game play and controller type on firing aim and accuracy”, and found that playing first-person shooter games can train a player to become a better marksman in real life.

However Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University, found some inconsistencies in the data published in the study. The lead author of the study, psychology professor Brad Bushman claimed the allegations were part of a smear campaign against him and his co-author

By the end of 2015, OSU launched a misconduct investigation into Whitaker, but hasn’t released any details about its findings.

“A Committee of Initial Inquiry at Ohio State University recommended retracting this article after being alerted to irregularities in some variables of the data set by Drs. Markey and Elson in January 2015. Unfortunately, the values of the questioned variables could not be confirmed because the original research records were unavailable.”

Another paper published in Gifted Child Quarterly in 2016, authored by Bushman and three others, caught the attention of Joseph Hilgard, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. The paper had studied the “effects of violent media on verbal task performance in gifted and general cohort children”, and found that when children watched a violent cartoon for 12 minutes, their verbal skills dropped substantially for a temporary period.

Hilgard was surprised because there was such a huge effect which was unusual, considering the effect size that’s typical in this type of psychology research.

Hilgard said that OSU, Bushman, and others he spoke with about the study were helpful and forthcoming, but could not provide information on the study’s data collection process.

The author who collected the data, it turned out, lived in Turkey and fell out of contact following the recent coup attempt. Last week, Gifted Child Quarterly retracted the paper.

“As the integrity of the data could not be confirmed, the journal has determined, and the co-authors have agreed, to retract the study,” the retraction notice said.

 

LG does better than expected


LG
has estimated that its first-quarter operating profit rose 82 percent to its highest in nearly eight years.

The news surprised the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street who had expected things to be better for the troubled manufacturer but not that good.

LG said its January-March operating profit was $812.62 million and the highest since the second quarter of 2009.

Revenue for the quarter likely rose 9.7 percent, the firm said.

Earlier in the day, Samsung estimated the January-March period will produce its best quarterly profit in more than three years, beating expectations and putting it on track for record annual earnings on the back of a memory chip super-cycle.

Though LG did not elaborate on its forecasts, analysts say LG’s mobile business likely turned an operating loss for the eighth straight quarter. Sales of its new G6 flagship smartphone began in March and will not provide meaningful contributions until the second quarter.

Still, some analysts said losses likely were smaller in January-March as LG’s new lower-tier products fared better and the company reduced marketing spending.

 

Biggest Twit prepares to flog his stock

TwitterThe markets were all tutting over Twitter founder Ev Williams deciding to flog a third of his shares.

Apparently, Williams did not want to get rid of his shares because the company was suffering, he just wanted to buy something nice for himself.

In fact, his announcement make it clear that he was not selling because of Twitter performance reasons, just for personal reasons.

Of course, a cynic would suggest that those personal reasons could be that he does not want to lose more money on a company which could not successfully sell itself.

If he wants to buy anything more than a mars bar and a packet of crisps with his shares then he might have to do it now. Williams is the company’s largest individual shareholder, so his recent announcement may make some investors worried. However, Twitter stock was only down less than one percent Thursday following this news. Recode reports:

Twitter’s stock is down more than 15 percent over the past three months. Williams explained the sale in a blog post, and wrote that he has spent a lot of money investing through his venture fund, Obvious Ventures, and also donated a lot to charity and political campaigns over the past year.

“I’d like to continue,” he added. Williams sold about $4 million in stock this week, according to an SEC filing, and has set up a 10b5-1 trading plan, which means he will sell at pre-determined dates moving forward to avoid any concerns over insider trading.

Uber had software designed to diddle drivers and users

A class-action lawsuit against taxi outfit Uber claims that the taxi outfit is running a “clever and sophisticated” scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine ‘upfront’ rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver.

According to court documents, when a rider uses Uber’s app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver.

The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver’s commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit.

Uber implemented the so-called “upfront” pricing scheme in September and informed drivers that fares are calculated on a per-mile and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and time of a ride.

“However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time using a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver’s application,” according to the suit.

The rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. The driver does not even get any benefit because they are paid a lower rate based on a quicker route.

Uber trousers the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers.

Samsung has a little trouble in Big China

A Chinese court has ordered Samsung’s  mainland subsidiaries to pay $11.60 million to Huawei Technologies for nicking its ideas.

The patent infringement case is Huawei’s first victory against Samsung. Three units of Samsung were ordered by the Quanzhou Intermediary Court to pay the sum for infringing a patent held by Huawei Device Co Limited, the handset unit of Huawei, the Quanzhou Evening News reported.

The verdict is the first of several Huawei lawsuits against the South Korean technology giant. Huawei filed lawsuits against Samsung in May in courts in China and the United States – the first by it against Samsung – claiming infringements of smartphone patents. Samsung subsequently counter sued Huawei in China for IP infringement.

Huawei sued Samsung China Investment, as well as a unit in Huizhou, a unit in Tianjin and two Chinese electronics companies for making and selling more than 20 kinds of Samsung smartphone and tablet products that it said infringed the patent.

It sought compensation for the more than 30 million products that sold for $12.7 billion, including the Galaxy S7, according to the media report.

The court ordered the five firms to stop infringing Huawei’s copyrights and ordered the three Samsung units to pay the damages.