Tag: chinese

Bitcoin controlled by Chinese

mikadoDespite claims that Bitcoin is free of political and business interference, it seems that the whole operation has been sewn up by the Chinese.

A handful of Chinese companies have effectively assumed majority control of the Bitcoin network. They have done so through investments and vast farms of computer servers dispersed around the country.

According to the New York Times  US executives are now having to travel to China to talk to the real powers behind the throne.

More than 70 percent of the transactions on the Bitcoin network were going through just four Chinese companies, known as Bitcoin mining pools. Most flowed through just two of those companies. That gives them what amounts to veto power over any changes to the Bitcoin software and technology.

Bitcoin is fuelling huge investments in server farms as well as enormous speculative trading on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges. Chinese exchanges have accounted for 42 percent of all Bitcoin transactions this year, according to an analysis performed for The New York Times by Chainalysis. Just last week, the Chinese internet giant Baidu joined with three Chinese banks to invest in the American Bitcoin company Circle.

All this is weird given that Bitcoin was supposed to be independent and decentralized.  It was supposed to be away around the sorts of crackdowns that government’s like the Chinese favour.

 

Chinese want to put HP out of business

Chinese boffins have come up with a cunning plan to put HP out of business.

For years HP has been making printer ink which is more expensive than gold, but the Chinese have worked out a way to make it from water.

Now although governments are keen to pollute the water supply so their mates in big oil can survive, there is still a lot of the stuff about. Whereas printer cartridges are both ridiculously expensive and harmful to the environment.

Jilin University chemistry professor Sean Zhang and his team said that people still print their emails and all sorts of useless things so a paperless office is still the dream of executives with too much time on their hands.

They created an all-new printing system, using water in lieu of ink on a special paper that changes colour when wet.

Dubbing this paper “water-jet rewriteable,” Zhang’s team created it with dyes that are invisible until exposed to moisture; the water opens closed, colourless molecules in the paper, triggering the coloration. The paper can be printed on repeatedly, since the words are erasable.

Our guess is though that it will not solve the problems of printing which has to last a long time, like company reports. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen

 

Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU: Part One

Wednesday’s IDF Keynote started by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of lives lost on 9-11 in 2001. From there, it was business as usual with product hype and promises of future success.

Intel seems to be spotlighting health. It opened with a feel-good video of Jack Andraka, child prodigy and biology whiz. Andraka is a high school sophomore who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in December 2012 for inventing a new method to detect a lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

From there, Intel moved into its theme of “The Internet of Things.” One thing that aroused curiosity was a dull white plastic wristband on every seat. It became an attention-getter later in the programme. In the meantime, everyone got a shot at the podium to talk about their pet project.

Doug Fisher, VP General Manager Software and Services Group, gave a few brief remarks, then introduced Dr. Herman Eul, VP General Manager Mobile and Communications Group. He started off with a video about MTV and Intel getting together to improve the audience’s experience because they do not really understand how wireless works, and what are its limitations.

 
Eul said the goal is to make the mobile platform smarter, the CPU more powerful, and the imaging performance better. He did a brief introduction of “Bay Trail,” the next-generation Atom Z3000 ,  focusing on it being used as a gaming platform. He showed that it is capable of running Windows – which is called heavy legacy software – or running Android OS, Apple OS, Chrome OS, or Linux OS. Bay Trail is a 64-bit processor, built using Intel’s Silvermont 22nm micro-architecture. There will be six variants of the chip available – with dual and quad-core configurations. Clock speeds will range from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Bay Trail’s Hardware and Software supports:  

  • Windows (32/64-bit) and/or Android and/or Chrome
  • Displays resolutions up to 2500 x 1600 (Retina display)
  • Dual independent displays
  • Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • USB 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, NFC, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS
  • X 11, Open GL 3.0 graphics
  • Up to 13MP camera on the rear with Zero shutter lag, burst mode, digital video stabilization, 1080p recording at 60FPS and up to 2MP on the front.

Eul then brought Victoria Molina on stage, a fashion industry consultant and former executive for Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and the Gap, who explained her virtual shopping experience application. They developed it using the Intel Android SDK in about a week  – but gave no information on the experience level of their programmers.

Molina said the most important part of this application is the fit map, an important factor in making the apparel attractive on the wearer, to attain a “cool” outcome. The application uses an avatar based around the person’s measurements, height and weight, and a facial photograph. The shopper goes out to the web site where they want to shop and chooses the clothing to virtually try on before purchasing. Next, the website pulls up sample clothing from their product lines.

After you build your ensemble of clothing, then you can adjust the clothing so the fit is tight, medium, or loose. After deciding on your look, you go through the “Cat Walk” show-n-tell process. That means the avatar is dressed with each one of the outfits in the size and drape you want and it looks like you are a model on a fashion show runway. Molina said, “This will revolutionise the online shopping experience. Because of the huge “cool factor”.

Next, Intel focused on a Bay Trail small-form-factor tablet running and editing videos. Eul invited Jerry Shen, chief executive of Asus, to introduce its T100, a 2-in-1 Bay Trail notebook with over ten hours of battery life. “We are very excited about the Bay Trail quad-core promise,” Shen said.

Asus is more optimistic than Intel regarding battery longevity. Intel claims Bay Trail tablets could weigh as little 14.1 ounces and offer more than eight hours of battery life when the users are watching high-definition video.

Neil Hand, Dell’s VP of Tablets, showed its  Venue 8-inch, Windows 8.1, Bay Trail tablet that is going to be shipping soon. He said it has 4G LTE.
 
Eul talked briefly about upcoming Merryfield, a 22nm SoC which is build on the Silvermont architecture specifically for smartphones. We were told that Airmont, a 14nm process engineering SoC with all the features of Bay Trail for tablets, is on schedule for Q3 2014 release.

Finally, Eul satisfied our curiosity by showing his audio DJ idea which activated those dull white plastic bracelets that were sitting on each chair. A video was projected onto the giant screens in the auditorium showing the Keynote audience and the wristbands lighting up in synch with Eul’s music.

The presentation took another turn with Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel which will be covered in part two.

Sprint catches "reds under the beds"

The new McCarthyism which is infecting Washington at the moment has caused Sprint to dump the Chinese phone making equipment maker Huawei.

Despite the fact that US allies use Huawei and its security appears to be on a par with other telecom gear makers out there, the former British colony of Virginia is trying to get it banned.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Sprint promised him they will not buy telecommunications equipment from the Chinese company Huawei.

Rogers is making a name for himself by claiming that the Chinese government could use Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, to tap into US communications networks and spy on people in the United States.

As we reported yesterday, Rogers has managed to get a ban against Chinese manufacturers getting government contracts, but in this case it looks like he is pressuring even private companies.

The evidence for this is that the company’s CEO Ren Zhengfei was once a member of the Chinese military two decades ago.

Rogers said that he had also managed to spoil a deal between SoftBank and Sprint. Softbank uses a lot of Huawei gear in its Clearwire network which Sprint says will be replaced. Federal regulators had been sniffing around the deal and it seems that that the promise to dump Huawei will make them go away.

Rogers added that he was pleased with Sprint’s mitigation plans, and he will be continuing to look at ways to improve the government’s existing authorities to thoroughly review all the national security aspects of proposed transactions.

In other words he is using “security considerations” to ban everything made which is branded by Chinese companies.

Huawei was tarred and feathered by the US Intelligence Committee after it failed to provide detailed information about their ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Part of the problem was that Huawei does not have any ties to the Chinese Communist Party; in fact its CEO was banned from party membership. Huawei has insisted that the report’s claims are baseless.

Bill Plummer, a spokesperson for Huawei, said the company hasn’t been involved in the review of the Sprint-Softbank deal. He warned that pressuring Sprint to promise not to partner with Huawei would “set a nasty protectionist precedent that could be used against American companies in other markets”.

He pointed out to the Hill that given that all suppliers rely on common global supply chains and are subject to common vulnerabilities, it would seem unlikely that any government would blackball any one supplier because that government would know full well that this would do absolutely nothing to address security concerns.

Plummer added that the US approach was a market-distorting political, protectionist exercise and one that would require American telecommunications carriers and consumers to sacrifice world-leading technology, innovative, competitive and affordable broadband, as well as jobs and inward investment. 

Chinese man builds Windows tablet from scraps

A Chinese man has earned his 15 minutes of fame by doing something that Microsoft could not.

According to a video he posted on Chinese social website Youku, Liu Xinying pieced together an iPad dead ringer using stuff he had lying around, like computer parts, a touch screen and a case with a keypad.

Liu called it the “DIY IPAD 3”. He ends up with a functional tablet computer that looks like a thick iPad but runs on Windows.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the 21-year-old said that since he posted the video online a month ago, he has knocked back loads of requests from people wanting him to make them a cut-price iPad.

He said that he only did it for fun but he did make the point that even using marked up components he was able to build it for $287. Given this half of what Apple charges for its toys, it shows how much Chinese people have to pay. The iPad 2’s bill of materials sits at about $326.

Sadly, technologically it is out of the reach of many iPad owners who are forbidden to replace the batteries in the machines, let alone configure a touch screen. Still, Liu’s machine has a proper keyboard which makes it easier to type with.

 

The "ten commandments" of computer ethics get Taiwanese treatment

When Ramon Barquin presented a list of “ten commendments” for computer ethics in an ethics conference paper in Washington in 1991, he hoped that the text would become an effective code of ethics for the proper use of information technology.

Over the next 15 years, the text was translated into a dozen languages, including simplified Chinese for readers in communist China, but it was never translated into complex Chinese characters for readers in Taiwan. Until now.

You see, China and Taiwan are separated by more than the choppy waters of the Taiwan Strait. Mao Zedong decreed that China use a simplified writing system for its billions of people, and the system in place is called Simplified Chinese Characters. Taiwan, being a different country with a different history, still uses the traditional characters of the ancient Chinese writing system, and the characters used here are called, yes, Complex Chinese Characters.

Enter Jason Chang, a graduate student at Chung Cheng University in southern Taiwan, who volunteered to do turn the ten commandments into “real” Chinese for the U.S. website.

A second year student in the master’s progrram in the university’s department of medical information data management, Chang told TechEye that he had heard about the U.S. website that hosted various translations of the original text and volunteerde to send in a version in complex Chinese characters — which had been overlooked the previous 15 years — representing Taiwan.

The “ten commandments of computer ethics” were first presented in a paper written by Barquin, president of the Computer Ethics Institute in Washington and a former IBM executive who runs his own consulting firm.

Barquin, like most Westerners, was unaware that there was a difference between simplified Chinese and complex Chinese characters as used separately in Beijing and Taipei. But when he learned of the differences, Barquin said he would be happy to have someone in Taiwan add a separate translation for readers here.

Among the “commandments” listed by Barquin are: “Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Harm Other People”; “Thou Shalt Not Interfere With Other People’s Computer Work”; and “Thou Shalt Not Snoop Around In Other People’s Computer Files.”

Want more?

  • Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Steal
  • Thou Shalt Not Use A Computer To Bear False Witness
  • Thou Shalt Not Copy Or Use Proprietary Software For Which You Have Not Paid
  • Thou Shalt Not Use Other People’s Computer Resources Without Authorisation Or Compensation
  • Thou Shalt Not Appropriate Other People’s Intellectual Output
  • Thou Shalt Think About The Social Consequences Of The Program You Are Writing Or The System You Are Designing
  • Thou Shalt Always Use A Computer In Ways That Ensures Consideration And Respect For Your Fellow Humans

It’s not Moses. And we’re not atop Mt. Sinai. But Barquin’s words have travelled far and wide in a Babel of languages, and now they’ve come to Taiwan, too. Food for thought.

Is this ethics code for the IT era a good idea? “Thou Shalt Not Copy Or Use Proprietary Software For Which You Have Not Paid” is probably going to be around for a good long while, no?

Looming Taiwan iPad launch suffers "complex problems" on "simplified glitch"

Apple is keeping mum in Taiwan. While it plans to launch the iPad here someday, nobody knows when that day will dawn.

According to Chin-hsien Lo, a government official who handles tech problems, Taiwan is ready for the iPad, except for one minor, yet very “complex” issue. While communist China uses the ”simplified Chinese character” writing system, which current iPads do handle, capitalist Taiwan uses the traditional ”complex Chinese” writing system which the iPad at present cannot make head or tail of.

Therefore: no iPads in Taiwan until the glitch is fixed.

When a local newspaper tried to contact Apple’s office in Taipei, it was told that iPad launch plans have not yet been finalised for this sunny subtropical island nation just 100 miles off the coast of China.

According to news reports, Apple has several licensed service-providers in Taiwan as well as a major domestic consumer electronics retailer ready to go. But so far the US computer giant has not announced the launch date.

“Until we are informed of the launch date, there is nothing we can do,” an Apple retail store staffer said.

An employee at another Apple retailer said that she expects iPad sales to begin in November when an upgrade of the tablet’s operating system to iOS 4.2 will allow Taiwanese users to input traditional complex Chinese characters. The current OS allows input in simplified Chinese characters only, which can only be read by users in China.

“It’s Greek to me,” said a Taiwanese college student when asked if she could read simplified characters.

Although the iPad has been on the market for more than six months since its U.S. debut in April, and made headlines around the world, Taiwan has not been on the launch pad yet. However,the sleek tablet is expected to make waves here, too.

For now, some savvy Taipei techies have obtained iPads from overseas, including Japan and Hong Kong, and carried them by hand into Taiwan. It’s not completely legal, however.

To get around local regulations banning the sale of parallel imported iPads – the rules say that a person is allowed to buy iPads overseas and bring them back to Taipei for their own use, but not for reselling – some impatient vendors and online sellers here have found a way to skirt the law.

In addition, some Taiwanese people are also advertising services online to purchase iPads abroad and carry them back to Taiwan – for a charge. Owners of these imported iPads are generally paying top dollar, of course.

In the end, it all comes down to a character problem for Apple in Taiwan.

Once traditional Chinese characters make peace with the iPad, there will be two different kinds of iPads on each side of the Taiwan Strait – one for China, one for Taiwan. It’s not a political issue this time. It all comes down to Mao’s legacy, because he’s the bloke who made China go “simplified,” jettisoning 5,000 years of Middle Kingdom history for the sake of his throne.

Acer and Founder team up to grab Chinese market

Chinese firm Founder and Taiwanese company Acer have signed a memorandum of mutual understanding in order to secure a strong foothold in a market where demand for PCs is growing.

After announcing a range of new products in Beijing yesterday, Acer said the partnership would be equal.

It said in a statement: “Both parties intend to jointly involve Acer in the planning, development and design of Founder-brand products for more competitive offerings, such as notebooks, netbooks, mobile Internet devices and e-readers.”

It said that due to the collaboration its PC market share in the first quarter in China will rise from only 3 percent to 9.4 percent and will help narrow its gap with Hewlett-Packard’s (HP’s) 10.3 percent. However, it is unclear on how the partnership will work and whether the two companies will remain as single entities or merge as Acer would not give any comment about business logistics.

However it said with Founder’s comprehensive distribution channels and strength in the PC market including those in tier-four to six cities, rural areas and in segments of corporate and governmental clients, and with Acer’s capability in defining and designing mobile products, the team would be able to “build up strong synergy on product offerings, supply chain and channel coverage”.

It also said the partners would work together on intellectual property rights, supply chain and after-service as well as delving into the handheld PCBs and non-PC products businesses.

Lenovo, is also doing very well in the Chinese market. Yesterday the Chinese company released it’s annual figures, where it claimed that it has turned in a profit for its fiscal fourth quarter and increased its sales at the expense of other PC manufacturers.

For its fourth quarter, it made a profit of $13 million, compared to a loss of $264 million in the same quarter last year.

Sales for the fourth quarter were sharply up by 56 percent year on year to amount to $4.3 billion compared to $2.77 billion in the equivalent quarter last year.

However it seems not everyone is eager to copy Acer’s footsteps with Asustek claiming it has no plans for a merger. Instead it is concentrating in expanding its market share through its existing motherboard and graphics card channel.