Tag: software

Blackberry still trying to escape jam


Although BlackBerry appears to have succeeded at getting out of the smartphone handsets that hung like an albatross about its neck, the Canadian outfit has a long way to go before it can convince the world its software business is a goer.

The company, which will report fourth-quarter and full-year results on Friday, says it has no major gaps in its software portfolio, thanks to the integration of a string of recent acquisitions.

However, it admits that more work is needed to get those offerings into the healthcare and automotive industries and other sectors that it hopes will power future growth.

While analysts see Blackberry as something different from what it was ten years ago, it has not really convinced businesses that it has products they might want.

Chief Executive Officer John Chen would need a late bump in sales to hit the 30 percent growth in software revenue BlackBerry targeted for its recently completed fiscal year.

BlackBerry’s enterprise-value-to-forward-revenue ratio is 3.14 lower than the roughly 4.5 ratio which  Oracle and Microsoft have. In fact, Blackberry is expected to barely break even in the fourth quarter and likely notch revenue of less than $1.4 billion. In the good old days, Blackberry was taking more than $5.5 billion a quarter.

The redesigned company has gone from selling its own phones with the servers and software that manage them for businesses and governments to securing an array of rival devices and the information that flows to and from them.

The company’s 2015 purchases of Good Technology and WatchDox helped it secure a leading position in the enterprise mobility market, and its QNX industrial operating system is key to its self-driving vehicle ambitions. However, there is tough competition in these and other areas of interest.

Chen, who took over the helm of BlackBerry in late 2013, said in December the company would take another four or five quarters to halt the steady decline in its overall revenue, with software sales growth projected to slow to around 15 percent in the fiscal year that began in March.

Red Hat doing well

Red Hat Agent CarterOpen saucy Red Hat’s third quarter results were rather good.

Its third quarter total revenue of $615 million, up 18 per cent year-over-year. Its third quarter total subscription revenue was $543 million, up 19 per cent year-over-year or 18 per cent in constant currency.

Jim Whitehurst, President and Chief Executive Officer of Red Hat said that enterprise and service provider customers were adopting a hybrid cloud strategy for developing, deploying and managing the life-cycle of their critical applications.

“Red Hat is uniquely positioned to address this need. In aggregate, customers utilizing our cloud-enabling technologies either on-premise or in the public cloud are spending more with Red Hat than customers that have not yet embraced our cloud-enabling technologies.

Total revenue for the quarter was $615 million, up 18 per cent in U.S. dollars year-over-year, or 17 per cent measured in constant currency.

GAAP operating income for the quarter was $81 million, up 17 per cent year-over-year. After adjusting for non-cash share-based compensation expense, amortisation of intangible assets, and transaction costs related to business combinations, non-GAAP operating income for the third quarter was $143 million, up 16 per cent year-over-year. For the third quarter, GAAP operating margin was 13.1 per cent and non-GAAP operating margin was 23.3 per cent.

GAAP net income for the quarter was $68 million compared with $47 million in the same quarter last year.
The outfit is predicting that will make $2.397 billion to $2.405 billion in US dollars and its GAAP operating margin is expected to be approximately 13.5 per cent and non-

GAAP operating margin is expected to be approximately 23 per cent.
For the fourth quarter revenue is expected to be $614 million to $622 million.

Microsoft fixes huge Windows 10 bug

bugSoftware King of the World, Microsoft has fixed a rather juicy security flaw in its Windows 10 operating system, which it found only last week.

The security flaw itself allowed for attackers to take advantage of privilege settings which would allow them to potentially install and run applications. Apparently Russian hackers were already taking advantage of the situation. Vole said the security update resolves vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows.

“The most severe of the vulnerabilities could allow elevation of privilege if an attacker logs on to an affected system and runs a specially crafted application that could exploit the vulnerabilities and take control of an affected system. This security update is rated Important for all supported releases of Windows. The security update addresses the vulnerabilities by correcting how the Windows kernel-mode driver handles objects in memory.”

The security update should have already installed in the background on most Windows 10 devices. If not, an update can be force by opening up Settings, Update & security, and clicking on ‘Check for updates’.

Microsoft flicks off lightswitch

il_fullxfull.781035219_7evySoftware King of the World Microsoft has flicked off its LightSwitch technology.

For those who came in late, Visual Studio LightSwitch is a simplified self-service development tool that lets you build business applications quickly and easily for the desktop and cloud.

Vole always pitched it as a simplified development environment which allowed punters to focus on the business logic instead of the application infrastructure.

According to a SpokesVole, LightSwitch was to supposed to accelerate the development of line-of-business apps, but the landscape has changed significantly since it was released. Mobile and cloud had churned out more connected and relevant choices for business app development.

Visual Studio 2015 is the last release of Visual Studio that includes the LightSwitch tooling and as expected Microsoft will continue to support users with existing LightSwitch apps as per the Microsoft Support Lifecycle.

Microsoft is no longer recommending LightSwitch for developing new apps, instead, they are pointing customers towards PowerApps. PowerApps is also a modern solution to build custom business applications that enables increased productivity with business apps that are easily created, shared and managed.

AI beats humans at Doom

Dads Army Frazier - doomedTwo students at Carnegie Mellon University have designed an artificial intelligence program that is capable of beating human players in a death match game of 1993’s Doom.

Guillaume Lample and Devendra Singh Chaplot spent four months developing a program capable of playing first-person shooter games. The program made its debut at VizDoom (an AI competition that centered around the classic shooter) where it took second place despite the fact that their creation managed to beat human participants.

According to Lample and Chaplot their AI “allows developing bots that play the game using the screen buffer.” What that means is that the program learns by interpreting what is happening on the screen as opposed to following a pre-set series of command instructions alone. Basically it  learns to play in exactly the same way a human player does.

Apparenlty the AI won one of the competition games by learning to duck and therefore making itself much harder to hit.

If it is developed then it could improve video game artificial intelligence design with your game AI getting better the longer you play the game. The next cunning plan is to get the game playing Quake, which uses a more complex 3D environment.

Bulgaria goes Open Source

Rila Monastery, BulgariaThe Bulgarian government has issued an edict demanding that all its software should be open sauce.

On the face of it, it is a brave move, not because of the technology involved, but because it cuts politicians from a lucrative source of income – bribes from software companies.

Under the amendments to the Electronic Governance Act, all software written for the government will have to be open-source and to be developed as such in a public repository.

Sadly, this does not mean that the whole country is moving to Linux and LibreOffice, neither does it mean the government will force Microsoft and Oracle to give the source code to their products. Existing contracts will still stand. What it means that whatever custom software the government procures will be visible and accessible to everyone.

A new government agency will enforce the law and will set up the public repository. Bozhidar Bozhanov who helped get law accepted said that the battle is not over.

“The fact that something is in the law doesn’t mean it’s a fact, though. The programming community should insist on it being enforced. At the same time some companies will surely try to circumvent it,” he wrote.

However he said that it was a good step for better government software and less abandonware.

US software worth $1.07 trillion

US dollarSoftware trade outfit, BSA The Software Alliance said that in 2014, the software industry had a $1.07 trillion impact on US gross domestic product.

It is being driven by 2.5 million jobs directly related to the software industry and an additional 7.3 million positions for people in real estate, professional services and other fields the industry supports.

Most of the work is found in California which has 408,143 software jobs (not including supported jobs in other fields) that contributed about $90.53 billion to the GDP.

New York and Texas came in second and third, respectively, in regard to GDP, with New York’s 147,361 software jobs contributing $37.16 billion and Texas’ 200,000 jobs adding about $30 billion.

Alaska’s 1,325 software jobs contributed $248 million to the GDP. Also toward the bottom were Montana, North Dakota and Maine.

In Texas the reason the software companies are there is because of a friendly tax environment has helped attract companies to major cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas.

The numbers appear realistic, unlike the figures that the organsisation cobbled together on piracy.

Microsoft to start charging for Windows 10 soon

Windows 10Microsoft is soon to start charging for Windows 10 and after  29 July Windows 10 Home will cost $119.

According to the Windows bog, more than 300 million devices have activated Windows 10, which is more than enough of a head start for the company to feel comfortable charging for Windows once again.

If you get new gear the cost of Windows will be built in, but if you want to upgrade an existing device or buy a copy to install on a new machine, you’ll have to fork over some cash.

We’ve known from the beginning that Windows 10 would only be free for the first year and 29 July marks the one year anniversary.  It might be a good idea if you want to make the transition you should set aside a day in the next couple months to upgrade.


US DoD upgrades to Windows 10

Consolidated B-24 Liberator "468" B-24M-5-FO Liberator s/n 44-50468 740th Bomb Squadron, 455th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. Crashed on take off from San Giovanni Field,Italy on April 12,1945 killing 6 of the crew.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator
B-24M-5-FO Liberator
s/n 44-50468
740th Bomb Squadron, 455th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force.
Crashed on take off from San Giovanni Field,Italy on April 12,1945 killing 6 of the crew.

The US Department of Defence has upgraded more than four million computers to Windows 10.

What is interesting about the announcement is that the DoD is apparently unconcerned with the privacy and telemetry problems that have put off other Windows users.

Getting four million enterprise upgrades for Windows 10 is great for Microsoft particularly as it comes with certification to Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book devices, meaning that they now appear on its Approved Products List.

The whole thing is unusual. Not only is Windows 10 “bleeding edge” in DoD terms it is also famous for sending information to Volish servers. Unless Microsoft has provided the DoD with a way of avoiding that.

It appears that the DoD wants to reduce costs by ensuring that IT department only has a single version of the operating system to support.

We don’t think that this will be a free upgrade and Vole should be coining it in with this deal. It is the sort of thing that you can expect to see in coming Microsoft adverts.

Kids are mostly alright

the-who-the-kids-are-alrightSince the 1990s there has been an outcry about the rise of violent computer games which were supposed to corrupt children and turn them into psychopaths. Now studies have shown that the violent games did not make a blind bit of difference.

A group of researchers, led by biological psychologist and video game violence skeptic Peter Etchells, has published an analysis suggesting that players of violent games might face a very small increase in risk for behavioural problems.

The area is tricky because it is possible that people with behavioural problems would seek out violent media rather than have it caused by violent games. Then if you focus on the violence, rather than things like the fact that they are challenging, competitive, fast-paced, these could also cause the problem.

Etchells and his team used a study which was based on games from the ’90s.

The data used in this analysis came from people participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which had started with more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. Around 2,400 of the children in the study had answered a questionnaire on their gaming habits when they were eight or nine years old, and around 5,000 had completed an interview called the Development and Well-Being Assessment (“DAWBA”) at the age of fifteen. Approximately 1,800 children fell into both categories.

The researchers focused on two outcomes of the DAWBA: risk for depression, and risk for “conduct disorder.”

Then, they tried to eliminate or control for as many confounding factors as possible. They looked for children who had been rated as high-risk for conduct disorder by their parents when they were seven years old and removed them from the study. The researchers included family history of mental health, maternal education and socio-economic status, religiosity, family structure, gender, bullying victimhood, IQ, and social and emotional problems in their model as well.

Children who had reported playing shoot-em-up games at the age of eight or nine had a slightly increased chance of conduct disorder. The effect was weak, though; just on the border of statistical significance.

The weakness is that ’90s games are not the same sort of thing. However the research suggests that the problem is small potatoes.

“Some have claimed that the magnitude of this effect is larger than the effect of exposure to smoke at work on lung cancer rates. Our findings do not support such claims.”