Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook F8: Social Operating System Redesigning and hitting 800 million users

F8 , a yearly event held by Facebook and takes place in San Francisco, California, is a conference where developers and entrepreneurs collaborate on the future of personalized and social technologies. The f8 conference starts with a keynote speech by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg followed by various breakout sessions concentrating on specific topics. The f8 conference is known for being the place where Facebook introduces new features and announcements to the public for the first time.

Facebook on Thursday delivered an entirely new profile design, called Timeline; a few new verbs to go with the Like button, such as read, listen, watch, run and cook; and a few numbers as well -- among them 800 million.

While the focus of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote at the F8 conference in San Francisco held last September 22, 2011 was on the new products, Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek mentioned that Facebook had passed 800 million users. Facebook's chief technology officer, Bret Taylor, confirmed that fact in a news conference after the keynote. But that wasn't before he mentioned during the keynote that more than 350 million people use Facebook on mobile devices each month.

Zuckerberg earlier in the keynote also mentioned that in one day recently, Facebook had more than 500 million users overall, testifying to the fact that indeed, the world's most popular social network's user base is active.

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New Finding could overturn Laws of Physics

GENEVA, Sept 22 (Reuters) - An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles travelling faster than light -- a finding that could overturn one of Einstein's long-accepted fundamental laws of the universe.

If confirmed, the discovery would undermine Albert Einstein's 1905 theory of special relativity, which says that the speed of light is a "cosmic constant" and that nothing in the universe can travel faster.

The totally unexpected finding emerged from research by a physicists working on an experiment dubbed OPERA run jointly by the CERN particle research centre near Geneva and the Gran Sasso Laboratory in central Italy.

A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos -- tiny particles that pervade the cosmos -- were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN towards Gran Sasso 730 (500 miles) km away, where they were picked up by giant detectors.

Light would have covered the distance in around 2.4 thousandths of a second, but the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds -- or 60 billionths of a second -- less than light beams would have taken.

The existence of the neutrino, an elementary sub-atomic particle with a tiny amount of mass created in radioactive decay or in nuclear reactions such as those in the Sun, was first confirmed in 1934, but it still mystifies researchers.

It can pass through most matter undetected, even over long distances, and without being affected. Millions pass through the human body every day, scientists say.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

HP considers CEO shakeup

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is being considered by Hewlett-Packard directors as a possible candidate for CEO, in a move that would replace its current leader Léo Apotheker, according to several sources close to the situation.

The appointment of Whitman — a longtime and experienced Silicon Valley exec, who joined the board of Hewlett-Packard in January — to the top job at HP is by no means a done deal, sources said.
But a significant contingent on the board is keen to remove Apotheker after what some directors consider a series of management mishaps.

If it occurs, it would be the second major CEO ouster in a short time — Yahoo recently fired its CEO Carol Bartz due to lackluster performance.

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iPhone 5 Launch Event Reported To Be October 4

Apple will hold an event Oct. 4 to announce its fall lineup, including the iPhone 5, the release date for the new iOS 5, and possibly other product updates, according to news reports. Apple has typically unveiled its fall product line around this time. Apple CEO Tim Cook is another notable star in this reported media event. It would make sense that his debut would accompany the iPhone 5 release.

The date that all tech bloggers have marked in their Google Calendars is not new. Back in July, 9to5mac called an October 4 release back in July, based on an internal AT&T insurance memo.
A new tier of device will be created in AT&T’s phone database on October 4th (a Tuesday) which will require a higher rate of insurance. iPhone (and other devices) will move there on the arbitrary October 4th date. It is curious that the iPhone was mentioned specifically and not other devices.

While light years away from a new iPhone launch date confirmation, it could be a sign that new iPhones will hit AT&T in this timeframe.

Before you rearrange your schedule so you can spend the night waiting outside the Mac store, there's one catch: The phone won't release to the public that day, reports Paid Content. "Apple is also expected to start selling the new iPhone within weeks of the announcement."

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Growing cybersecurity threats

Anthony A. Stramella, special assistant to the director of the NSA said "The threat is huge, it’s real and it’s growing, and if you’re going to defend against the threat, you need to know the threat."

Historically, the National Security Agency may be known for its low profile, but a top official from the NSA’s Central Security Service Threat Operations Center sounded a loud and clear warning that the size and growth of the cybersecurity threat landscape demands the good guys start thinking like attackers.

Stramella noted that 40 years after the first computer virus, malware continues to increase in sophistication, as demonstrated in recent years by Koobface, Conficker and Stuxnet, to name a few. However, he said, there are more than 68,000 hacker tools available on the Internet, many of which require no special knowledge to be used effectively by an attacker.

Malware remains a high-profile threat, but Stramella cited many low-profile threats that are equally, if not more dangerous for consumers and enterprises. For instance, downloading smartphone apps has become commonplace for many iPhone and Android device users, but he noted 2010 data from mobile security vendor Lookout Inc. that found more than 80 apps in the Android Marketplace collected personal user data and uploaded it in plain text to remote servers. At least one of those apps transmitted data to China.

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ARCHOS G9 Tablets

Less than two weeks ago, Archos showed off their upcoming G9 tablet at the IFA convention in Berlin. If it didn't set the world on fire, it's still an attractive tablet that's also competitively priced (between $300 and $470) and is just what a tablet buyer is looking for a reasonable iPad alternative. Consumers will get the chance to see for themselves when the device pre-launches in September 20, 2011. The announcement was made via press releases issued today.

All models run Android Honeycomb 3.2 and sport a dual-core processor. The lowest price version - the Archos 80 G9 8GB - has an 8 inch screen, runs at 1 GHZ and sells for $299. The other four models all run at 1.5GHz. The ARCHOS 80 also offers a 16GB version at $329 and a 250GB for $369. The 101 has a 10 inch screen and is available at 16GB for $399 and 250GB for $469. All versions come with Google apps installed and optional flash storage. Not bad, even if most buyers will just be playing Angry Birds.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Google Wallet officially launched

In May, Google announced Google Wallet—an app that makes your phone your wallet—with Citi, MasterCard, Sprint and First Data. Google Wallet allows you to tap, pay and save using your phone and near field communication (NFC), a wireless technology that sends data between two objects when they’re in very close proximity of each other.

As expected, Google has formally announced the first rollout of Google Wallet — the company’s first official entry into the growing mobile payments space.

But Wallet is only taking a baby step today. Google says the app is only being made available to Sprint Nexus S 4G phones, and users will be able to pay with a Citi Mastercard and/or a Google Prepaid Card (which can be funded via any credit card). As Greg Sterling pointed out earlier today, today’s Google Wallet launch is largely symbolic due to its extremely limited availability.
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HP widens mobile device printing support

Although HP worked with Apple on the AirPrint system that allows iOS devices to print directly to certain HP printers and all-in-ones with the ePrint feature, the options for other devices have been more limited.

HP has now released ePrint Home & Biz, an app for Android 2.1 and later, iOS 4.2 and later, and Nokia Symbian phones that allows printing of a variety of document types to more than 200 legacy network-enabled or ePrint-capable printers and all-in-ones from HP.

Supported document types include Microsoft Office, PDF, JPEG and text. If the printer and mobile device aren't on the same local network, the app supports ePrint's remote-printing feature.

Scanning from all-in-ones is also supported on iOS and Symbian devices, providing both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.

ePrint Home & Biz is available from the App Store (and by the end of September from the Australian App Store) and the Android Market. Later this year, the Symbian version will replace the iPrint Photo app currently available from the Ovi Store.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Samsung countersues Apple in Australia

Samsung Electronics filed an appeal against a German court's ban on sales of its Galaxy tablet computers, and accused Apple of patent infringement in Australia, deepening disputes between the companies over smartphone technology.

The company filed the appeal late last week against a court ruling won by Apple to block Galaxy Tab sales in Germany, James Chung, a Seoul-based spokesman for Samsung, said by phone. The South Korean company also filed on Friday a cross claim with the Federal Court of Australia alleging Apple's iPhone and iPad infringe seven patents related to wireless communications standards, it said in an email.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and Samsung have been embroiled in a global battle over market share for both phones and tablet computers. Apple has accused Samsung of “slavishly” copying the iPad and iPhone and has had success in curtailing Galaxy sales in Australia and Germany. There are also lawsuits pending in the US and Asia.

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From Fiction to Fact: Planet orbits 2 suns

Astronomers say a bit of science fiction is now reality. They've spotted a planet orbiting two suns.

The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film Star Wars more than 30 years ago, is now scientific fact. NASA's Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet -- a planet orbiting two stars -- 200 light-years from Earth.

Unlike Star Wars’ Tatooine, the planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it.

Scientists detected the new planet in the Kepler-16 system, a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other from our vantage point on Earth. When the smaller star partially blocks the larger star, a primary eclipse occurs, and a secondary eclipse occurs when the smaller star is occulted, or completely blocked, by the larger star.

Astronomers further observed that the brightness of the system dipped even when the stars were not eclipsing one another, hinting at a third body. The additional dimming in brightness events, called the tertiary and quaternary eclipses, reappeared at irregular intervals of time, indicating the stars were in different positions in their orbit each time the third body passed. This showed the third body was circling, not just one, but both stars, in a wide circumbinary orbit.

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