Samsung makes record earnings from chips

Never mind the fact that one of your flagship products caught fire and your Vice Chairman is in jail, Samsung is still winning.

Record earnings at Samsung Electronics chip division are set to propel the tech giant’s first-quarter profit to a three and a half year high, and the quarters ahead could be even better if its newest smartphone, Galaxy S8, is a success.

A boom in memory chips spurred by demand from smartphones and servers has helped Samsung tide over the costly failure last year of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and management turmoil.

Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee is on trial for bribery and other charges linked to a corruption scandal that led to the ouster and arrest of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Shares of Samsung, Asia’s biggest company by market capitalization and the world’s largest memory chip maker, are near record highs after gaining nearly 17 percent so far this year, on top of the 43 percent surge in 2016.

Wall Street has on average estimated Samsung’s January to March operating profit to have risen 41 percent from a year earlier to $8.44 billion.  This is the highest profit since the best ever profit clocked in the third quarter of 2013.

And as Samsung prepares to start selling its revamped Galaxy S8 from April 21, the average forecast from the same survey tips Samsung to report a record 11.9 trillion won profit in the second quarter.

Analysts expect tight supply conditions for memory chips to continue this year, particularly in NAND flash chips used for long-term data storage, keeping Samsung’s margins padded. That leaves the mobile division as the key earnings variable, they said.

Some analysts and Samsung’s head of smartphone business expect the phone’s first year sales to beat that of predecessor S7, setting a new record for the South Korean company.

 

General Motors connects its robots to StarNet

In living proof that not enough people go to sci-fi movies, General Moters connected a quarter of its 30,000 factory robots to the internet.

The largest US  automaker already is reaping the benefits of less down time by analyzing data they sent to external servers in the cloud.

Mark Franks, director of global automation, said connectivity is preventing assembly line interruptions and robot replacements that can take as long as eight hours. Internet monitoring allows GM to order parts when it detects they’re wearing out instead of having to store them at the factory.

He said that reduces inventory and saves cash.

Hooking robots to the internet for preventive maintenance is just the start of a spurt of new robotics technology, Franks said.

GM is using robots that can work safely alongside humans in the factory that produces the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, he said.

Of course putting stuff on the internet makes it less secure and if an AI collective consciousness develops among internet connected devices, then it could use all these robots to take over the world.

You will know this has happened when a GM robot starts to assemble a robot to look for Sara Conner. But in the meantime, GM will be saving a bob or two before that, so that is ok.

Boffins come up with self-repairing smartphone screens

A team of researchers has come up with a new material that could pave the way for self-repairing smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.

The boffins from the American Chemical Society claim that the material, which can stretch up to 50 times its usual size, is able to heal itself “like nothing has happened” even when cut in two.

The material is flexible, transparent and is similar to human skin. When exposed to electrical signals, a current is generated that creates a chemical bonding reaction between molecules.

The most obvious applications for electronics devices seem to be self-healing displays, although lead researcher Dr Chao Wang is also exploring the possibility of a self-healing lithium-ion battery.

The technology is similar to the hydrogen-infused rear cover found on the LG G Flex, which allows for small scratches to be healed. However this material can “automatically stitch itself back together” within one day of being sliced into pieces. The team will present its research at a Tuesday meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Trump wants visiting Brits to hand over all their data

The US government wants visitors from Britain to hand over all their electronic details at the border.

The UK is not the only country being targeted by the new rules, but it does show how stupid the new law is going to be.

Trump is considering whether or not to deploy “extreme vetting” practices at airports around the world, which could force tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the US  to reveal their mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data.

Travelers who want to enter the US could also face questioning over their ideology. Which means that if you make one joke about the country having an orange president, you could be on the next plane home.

Trump made the “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals to combat terrorism a major theme of his presidential election campaign. But his executive order imposing a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries has twice been blocked in court.

His antics have already gutted the tourism industry with most people thinking twice before going to the US.

Already tourists from the UK, France, Australia and Japan participate in the visa waiver program, which requires adherence to strict US standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors.

This could require people to hand over their phones so officials can study their stored contacts and possibly other information.

The aim is to “figure out who you are communicating with,” a senior Department of Homeland Security official was quoted as saying.  “What you can get on the average person’s phone can be invaluable.”

Applicants will be asked to hand over their social media handles and passwords, so that officials could see information posted privately in addition to public posts, the Wall Street Journal said. Which basically means all those TechEye stories mocking the US will keep me from going to US tech conferences.

The Journal report said the DHS official working on the review indicated that questions under consideration included whether visa applicants believe in so-called honour killings, how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the “sanctity of human life” and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

Which is a bit unfair. If they asked me who I would see as a legitimate target, I would be thinking in terms of strategy and see it as an intellectual question and say “Apple headquarters”.

 

 

 

Intel finally gets rid of McAfee

After seven years and a lawsuit from its founder, Intel is finally getting rid of McAfee.

The chip maker has divested its majority holdings in McAfee to investment firm TPG for US$3.1 billion.

McAfee will become a standalone security company, but Intel will retain a minority 49 percent stake. Chipzilla is apparently only interested in internal operations on hardware-level security.

The selloff is a loss for Chipzilla, which spent $7.68 billion to acquire McAfee in 2010. Some analysts think it was the worst thing that Intel ever bought.

Although the idea was good. Intel wanted to add layers of security to hardware and components. It McAfee technology in firmware at the PC and server chip level, and developed security management tools. McAfee technology was used in hardware using real-time operating systems. But most of McAfee was software based and had little ties to Intel’s core hardware strategy.

To fix the problem, Intel ran a parallel hardware security strategy that had little to no ties to McAfee.

Apple orders 70 million bent OLED screens from Samsung


Apple has ordered
more than 70 million OLED screens from Samsung and it is believed that the curved screens will go into its coming iPhone 8

Nikkei Asian Review cited sources close to Apple’s supply chain, has no other details about the order, but says the screens will be used in a phone.

Apple will launch three new iPhones this autumn: Two with a regular, LCD screen, and a “premium” variant that will have a curved OLED screen.

Previous reliable rumours had claimed that Samsung Display will manufacture a total of 160 million OLED panels for Apple which suggests that Apple might not be expecting to sell so many of the pricy phones as it thought.

According to the outlet, all three new iPhones will come with wireless charging, and all three will be waterproof. Furthermore, at least one model will have 3D sensors with built-in facial recognition.

This is all a bit of a snooze really, as it is the sort of tech which adds little to the phone.

Nikkei claims the two LCD-screened iPhones will be 4.7- and 5.5-inches big – just like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, while the premium variant will have a 5.2-inch OLED screen.

US FCC limits broadband competition

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is reversing a requirement imposed that Charter Communications extend broadband service to a million households already served by a competitor.

The requirement was made under the Obama administration to make sure that the telcos competed with each other rather than setting up local monopolies.

It was part of a condition of approval for its acquisition of two cable companies, Charter had agreed in May 2016 to extend high-speed internet access to 2 million customers within five years, with 1 million served by a broadband competitor.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai in a statement said the move was like telling two people you will buy them lunch, ordering two entrees, and then sending both to just one of your companions.

“It runs directly against the goal of promoting greater internet access for all Americans.”

The American Cable Association petitioned the FCC to reverse the requirement in 2016.

The group warned it would have “devastating effects on the smaller broadband providers Charter will overbuild” because they would face competition from an “uneconomic, government mandated entry” that could put some companies out of business.

But equally it could create a situation where cable companies divide up regions to get local monopolies.

Google X worked older staff member to collapse

Google X worked an older staff member so hard he finally collapsed and it laid him off.

According to Business Insider the employee was assigned to fieldwork for Project Wing, which is X’s program to create delivery drones for transporting consumer goods and emergency medicine.

While out in private ranch lands in the Central Valley in California one day, the employee succumbed to either a heart attack or a grand mal seizure because of the hot temperatures in the Central Valley, coupled with a gruelling work schedule of 10-12 hours a day and stress may have brought it on.

The Project Wing drone tester, who returned to work after two months’ leave, found himself demoted and sent back into a field gig before eventually being pushed out of the company.

According to Business Insider, some members of the Project Wing field team painted an alarming picture of hostile work conditions driven by engineers and managers back at headquarters who scheduled the group to conduct loads of tests, thereby producing loads of data, despite the long hours outdoors that such a schedule required.

To make matters worse all their demanding work and data was being ignored because their backgrounds in the military were allegedly viewed disdainfully by Google X.

US state wants to give its drones guns

 The US state which was at the forefront of the French-backed terrorist revolution against its lawful British king thinks that its freedom can be defended by drones with guns.

While thinking that the British government was a tyranny for putting a penny tax on tea, the citizens of Connecticut think they will be somehow freer if police can robotically kill someone by pressing a button on a robot.

Legislation, approved overwhelmingly by the state legislature’s judiciary committee, would ban weaponised drones in the state but an addition to the law exempts agencies involved in law enforcement. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Civil libertarians and civil rights activists are lobbying to restore the bill to its original language before the full House vote.

David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut said according to statistics, coppers tend to shoot minorities. The fear is that armed drones would be used in urban centres and on minority communities.

In 2015, North Dakota became the first state to permit law enforcement agencies to use armed drones but limited them to “less than lethal” weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray.

US to train kids to handle fake news


A pilot education
programme in the US is training kids to spot the difference between fake and real news.

12-year-old students at Clemente Middle School in Germantown, Maryland is one of several schools worldwide which wants to train kids for the reality of living in an online world of fake news.  It is not the only one. In the Czech Republic, high schools teach teens to identify propaganda from Russia and in Sweden, students as young as 10, are trained to spot the difference between news and Fox, er fake news.

In Pennsylvania, a state lawmaker wants mandatory media literacy classes in all public schools.

“The sophistication in how this false information is disguised and spread can make it very difficult for someone, particularly young people, to determine fact from fiction,” says Rep. Tim Briggs.

A survey by Common Sense Media said that while kids are good at consuming news they are rubbish when it comes to spotting what is real and what isn’t.

More than 44 percent of tweens and teens said they can tell the difference between fake news stories and real ones. But more than 30 percent admitted they shared a news story online — only to find out later that it was wrong or inaccurate.

The problem is that anyone can publish anything on the web and drilling the kids with a list of questions about a story could be the key.

One course created by the nonprofit, the News Literacy Project that teachers from California to Virginia are adding to their classrooms. It includes a 10-question checklist for identifying fake news.

  • Who made this?
  • Who is making money off it?
  • Who might help or be harmed by this message?
  • What is left out of this message that might be important?
  • Is this credible (and what makes you think that)?

Other red flags include the lack of a by-line. A headline which is ALL CAPS or has shedloads of exclamation marks.

A story which promising you something “the media” does not want you to know is almost certainly fake.

Teachers say it’s working. Part of the reason: Kids, particularly middle schoolers, are inherently cynical and once they know the rules they are not sucked in.