Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Intel refreshes Sandy Bridge CPU line with three new Core i5 and four Celeron processors

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Intel Sandy Bridge Chips

Intel quietly refreshed its Sandy Bridge CPU lineup today with three new Core i5 processors and four new Celeron-based processors. The new i5 processors are designed for desktops; the top performer is the i5-2550K, which has four cores that run at 3.4GHz (or 3.8GHz when Turbo Boost is maxed out); this processor is priced at $225 and looks like the obvious successor to the i5-2500K, which we included in our killer gaming rig late last year. The other i5 models, the 2450P and 2380P, are both clocked a little slower (3.2GHz and 3.1GHz, respectively), but all three new models also lack graphics processors — Intel let us know that these graphics-less models are designed specifically for desktop systems with add-in graphics and that the company is looking to "provide customers with more choice and design flexibility."
As for the Celeron models, the 797 and 867 are low-power 17W models; the 797 is a single-core running at 1.4GHz, while the dual-core 867 runs at 1.3GHz. There's also two cheaper models with a higher power consumption of 35W — the B720 is a single-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz, while the dual-core B815 runs at 1.6GHz. Three of the Celerons best the outgoing models by 100MHz in their clock speed, while the B815 betters its predecessor with an increase of 100MHz in the GPU speed (but the same processor clock speed). These new processors should be available now, so check them out and get building.
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Firefox 10 now available for download

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Firefox Logo Closeup

It's been nine months since Mozilla announced that Firefox would be moving to a rapid release cycle, and since then the browser has moved from version 4 to 10. According to the beta changelog, the latest release brings the kind of life-changing features you'd expect from a six-week update cycle, with some extension management improvements, a forward button that hides itself until it has a function, the inclusion of APIs for full-screen web apps, and anti-aliasing for WebGL. Firefox 10 also marks the debut of the "Extended Support Release," intended for enterprises that don't want to deal with the hassle of supporting a new browser every six weeks. ESR releases receive no updates apart from necessary security fixes, and will change versions once every seven releases, making the next release due around November.
If you find Firefox's frantic product cycle a bit over the top, it's worth noting that Google, Mozilla's closest competitor, went a full 19 days between releasing Chrome 17 beta and 18 dev earlier this month. Both browsers are rapidly developing and have relatively similar marketshare figures, but the momentum has been in Chrome's favor. Statisticians earlier this month announced Chrome was now the world's second most popular browser, knocking Firefox from a spot it had held for many years. It remains to be seen if small iterative updates are the way back into the game for Mozilla, but this update does bring Firefox a little step closer to its rivals' feature sets. Firefox 10 comes as a silent update for those of you that already have Firefox, or is available for direct download at the PC and Mac source links below
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MetroPCS quietly drops $40 'unlimited' LTE plan

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MetroPCS LTE

After adding new basic plans for 4G LTE in early 2011, MetroPCS has quietly dropped its lowest-cost option. The $40 plan offered unlimited talk, text, web browsing, and YouTube, although some features — like turn-by-turn navigation and streaming video or music channels — weren't part of the deal. Now, the cheapest plan is $50, which is largely the same but adds 1GB of "multimedia streaming." As with all MetroPCS plans, these are contract-free.
While this news only came to light today, the company confirmed to Fierce Wireless that it actually dropped the plan late last year when it stopped selling its first LTE handset, the Samsung Craft. Since no one seems to have noticed until now, we're guessing that cutting the option had more to do with lack of interest than anything else.
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Infobar C01 smartphone launches in Japan on February 3rd

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infobar c01

KDDI's recent resurrection of its au iida Infobar designer phone series seems to have been a success, as the next model is launching in a few days. While last year's A01 had a unique look that touched on the series' design history, it largely stuck to the standard "slab" smartphone form factor that a lot of Japanese customers remain unconvinced by. Its followup, the C01, mixes old and new by taking a 3.2-inch, 16:9 (854 x 480), 306 PPI touchscreen and fusing a traditional "ten-key" Japanese keypad to the bottom. It's running the same "iida UI" found on the A01, which is a heavily (and actually quite attractively) skinned version of Android 2.3 that you can see in the video below.
There are various features standard to the Japanese market, such as a one-seg TV tuner, "osaifu keitai" FeLiCa NFC, emergency earthquake notifications, and infrared data transfer. Unlike a lot of recent Japanese smartphones, however, it's neither waterproof nor WiMax-equipped. If you're in Japan, you'll be able to get your hands on it from February 3rd, though be quick — its matching leather case is limited to 1,000 units.
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The 4Sevens XM18 spits out 15,000 lumens of battery-powered LED light

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4Sevens XM18 15,000 lumen light

At the 2011 Shot trade show in Las Vegas, lighting company 4Sevens showed off a prototype of a new high-powered LED light source. This year they brought the shipping product: the XM18, an LED light capable of emitting a whopping 15,000 lumens. 32 lithium cells power the array of 18 lighting elements, wrapped in a weather-resistant custom housing — complete with a fan. This kind of brightness isn't something to be trifled with, which is reflected in the design: there's a kill switch specifically built into the housing that warns you with a beep every time the device is powered on. If for some reason 15,000 lumens just isn't enough for you, fret not; the light's also modular, so you can bolt multiple models together for an even higher output. The XM18 is available only as a special order, but if you don't mind waiting the four to six weeks of lead time, you can get your order in now for $2,499.

 
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Soft electronics could attach directly to internal organs

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Electronic Tattoo

After years of research, Dr. John Rogers is making progress on electronics that he hopes can fit directly onto a brain or heart. While small electronic devices can currently monitor organ function and prevent problems like irregular heartbeats, the current generation is too inflexible to accommodate natural body movement. Rogers' elastic electronics, however, are made of silicon threads that can stretch and twist, following the contours of whatever they're attached to. One experimental device, for example, fits snugly around an animal heart, collecting information and stimulating the heart muscles with electric current like a nearly invisible pacemaker. Other circuits can be attached to the brain or skin like a temporary tattoo.
Rogers, who has previously collaborated with other scientists to make flexible electronics for devices like cameras, says he hopes his project will "bridge that gap, from silicon, wafer-based electronics to biological, 'tissue-like' electronics, to really blur the distinction between electronics and the body." That sounds almost science fictional, but it's really not a huge conceptual leap from the electrodes used today. Instead, flexible electronics would let the same technology take up less space and cause fewer complications, opening up new possibilities for its use. Premature babies, for example, could be monitored with the flexible electronics in a way that would be difficult with current, larger devices.

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Sky will launch an internet based TV service in the UK in the first half of 2012

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UK pay TV service Sky has just announced its quarterly results, and despite adding 100,000 subscribers as well as notching its "highest ever first-half adjusted operating profit" it will launch a new internet TV service, available to anyone in the country with a broadband connection. Sky describes the new over the top (OTT) service as being aimed at the 13 million UK households who don't currently subscribe to pay TV, with access available via "PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone, games console or connected TV." Initially, it will offer Sky Movies on demand joined by sports and entertainment options later, with access based on either monthly unlimited subscription or "pay-as-you-go" pricing. As far as the company's basic services, it will continue to develop its existing Sky Go product for standard pay-TV subscribers andzeebox iPad companion app, although this seems to initially be a worth competitor for things like Lovefilm and recent UK entrant Netflix. We have plenty of questions about what it will offer cord-cutters and cord-nevers in the UK when it launches in the first half of this year, we should find out more on the earnings call shortly. Until then, hit the PDF link for more detailed financial breakdowns, or check out the IPTV service press release after the break.

Update: Still waiting for Sky Go on Android? The company mentioned during its presentation that the app will finally arrive on Google's platform in February. It will also have new channels, including Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Arts, plus, of course, the new Sky Sports F1 HD channel. The company is also expanding its broadband reach, with plans to cover a million more homes by June 2013, and add a Sky Broadband Unlimited Fibre option. For 20 a month, it offers 40 megabit download speed with no usage caps based on BT Fibre. 

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ARM grabs profits by 45 percent

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The British chip designer continued last year's growth streak with a 45 percent surge in quarterly normalized pre-tax profits compared to Q4 2010. Revenues also rose by 21 percent to £137.8 million ($217 million) -- not bad for a company that started out with twelve engineers in a barn. There's nothing complicated about CEO Warren East's explanation of the results -- he simply says that his company sold more designs to "more new customers" and also raked in more royalties from existing deals. Unless the global economies suffers badly in 2012, ARM says it expects to meet market expectations, targeting an annual profit of $860 million this year.
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APK puts Windows 95, 98 and XP, plus Linux on the EVO 3D

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And here you thought Microsoft bringing Windows 8 to ARM was big news. Turns out, a member of thexda-developers forum has managed to make an APK that puts a variety of Redmond's x86 operating systems on the HTC EVO 3D and its 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon silicon -- Windows 95, 98, XP and even your favorite flavor of Linux are all available for the three dee-equipped handset. All you need to do is install the Bochs Pentium emulator APK and the OS disk image of your choice, modify a couple files, and you'll be doing yesteryear's desktop computing on a handheld in no time
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BOXX electric bike

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Has bicycle design reached its pinnacle? Or are electric bike manufacturers just not trying hard enough? The YikeBike begs to differ, and here joining it is BOXX Corporation's diminutive BOXX. Coming in at just under a meter (or 36-inch inches) long, the 120 pound aluminum "bike" has a top speed of 35 miles per hour and can even haul up to 300 pounds of heft. Yet, despite that compact footprint, the company hasn't skimped on tech, as it boasts traction control, anti-lock brakes and yes, even LED lights. Available in one of ten colors, $3,995 nets you a base 40-mile range model, which can optionally be doubled to 80 by ticking the $599 CORE 2 box. And for those willing to spruce even further, there's a $149 heated seat and $349 1-hour charger on offer
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SlingPlayer for Kindle Fire available tomorrow for $30 in the Amazon Appstore

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Though Sling Media has long been offering apps for Android phones and tablets, Kindle Fire owners have until now been left out in the cold (you know, the whole lack-of-Android-Market-access thing). Tomorrow, though, Fire owners can get their fill of live and recorded TV when the SlingPlayer app goes on sale in the Amazon Appstore. With a price of $29.99, you'll pay the same as you would for any of Sling's other mobile apps, and as far as we could tell when we first got hands-on at CES, the interface is about the same as what you'd get on an Android handset. 
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Android Developers ready to hangout on Google+

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Android Developers ready to hangout on Google+The mobile ninjas over at Android Developers have announced a new medium for advice, collaboration and trainingGoogle+. The collective will use the social networking site to help developers "meet, share, and connect with the people behind the Android developer experience." Programming tips, SDK announcements and training offerings are all on the menu, and the group is promising to hold weekly "broadcast office hours" for live Q&A using the Hangouts feature built-in to Google+. Hit the source link to invite the coding co-op into your virtual circle of choice.
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US Navy ship-mounted railgun closer to reality

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Ah, the railgun. Previously a flight of fancy fit only for wars in works of science fiction, the ultimate in electromagnetic weaponry is one step closer to becoming a reality for the US Navy. We've seen the system working well in the lab, but Raytheon has just gotten $10 million to create the pulse-forming network needed to get a railgun flinging projectiles off the deck of a Naval warship. Making such a network isn't easy, as it must store massive amounts of energy in a small enough package that it can be "used in a modular and versatile way for multiple platforms" -- so that some day, even dinghies will have 33-megajoule stopping power on board. In addition to Raytheon's pulse-forming framework project, the Navy has already tasked BAE and General Atomics to design tactical technologies that'll get future railguns firing up to ten rounds per minute. 
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Samsung Galaxy Note coming to Bell, Rogers and Telus in February

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Those of you who seem to be more closely connected to the Maple Leaf than the pine needle might've jumped on the envious side at the news that folks across the border are getting their hands on the LTE Galaxy Note. Envy no more. Via blog post, Rogers has announced that Samsung's "phablet" creation will be surfing through its fresh 4G waves in the upcoming month. Aside from the Rogers branding we expect to see, it'll be hard to distinguish this Note from its AT&T brother, as it'll be identical in the specs department. Based on a page thrown up at Best Buy Canada, it looks as if it'll sell for $249.99 on a three-year contract (with Bell and Telus getting in on the fun, too), with the first of 'em shipping out on Valentine's Day.
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Clearwire unveils $99 Clear Hub Express and $129 Clear Spot Voyager hotspots

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Clearwire unveils $99 Clear Hub Express and $129 Clear Spot Voyager hotspots
Clearwire's impending LTE rollout isn't going to happen overnight, so why not continue to milk the proverbial cow that is their existing WiMax network? That's exactly what the wireless provider is doing today, with a fresh duo of hotspots. The first, the Clear Hub Express, is a $99 WiFi router-mobile hotspot combo which is destined for home or office duty. The second is the Clear Spot Voyager, which for $124 will hawk WiMax to eight devices for up to six hours of continuous use off its internal rechargeable battery. Those are identical specs to last year's model, the Clear Spot 4G Apollo, albeit sans-screen and in a thinner package. They're available today from Clearwire, and either can be kitted with "unlimited 4G" plans that start at $35 a month
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WiGig SD card gets demoed on tablets

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WiGig SD card gets demoed on tablets, makes DVDs gone in 60 seconds (video)
We're pretty excited about WiGig's miraculous wireless transmission rates and Panasonic's now in the process of jamming the functionality into SD cards set to arrive next year. It's now got a working prototype and DigInfo's managed to grab a brief video demo (embedded below) showcasing the tech. Both photos and videos can be effortlessly pinged from a tablet (housing the aforementioned memory card) to compatible in-car displays. We're told that those heady transfer speeds are more than capable of handling a whole DVD of video content in under a minute, although the range of the transmission remains between one to three meters. We may be willing to cope with that limitation -- especially if these multi-gigabit speeds still make it across to future phones.

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Nintendo, NTT DoCoMo testing DS-powered speech translator

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Nintendo and NTT DoCoMo are reportedly teaming up in order to create a voice-to-text system that'll help hearing-impaired children study. Using a modified DSi, speech is converted into text which is then archived in the cloud -- accessible afterward as a learning aid. That way, a teacher can have their words instantly typed up for reading by the students, who can also play interactive games to help them get along. Trials of the system are being held in Tottori and Okinawa Prefectures, with the overall aim of letting them use it as a universal translator outside the classroom. We're worried we'd be too tempted to swap out Tactical Assault during maths class.
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Sky Anytime+ achieves impossible, will carry iPlayer (and ITV Player)

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Sky Anytime+ achieves impossible, will carry iPlayer (and ITV Player)
Sky's burgeoning Anytime+ VOD platform is getting a hefty boost today. It was previously open only to customers who also hitched to Sky Broadband, but that restriction's being gently relaxed: opening it up to all five million Sky+HD box owners. It's also somehow sweet-talked deadly rivals BBC and ITV into letting their offerings onto the platform -- with ITV Player arriving tomorrow and iPlayer slated for arrival later in the year
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Samsung Refreshes Galaxy Smartphone

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Samsung pulled the wraps off another slick-looking smartphone Monday.
While the model's name doesn't quite trip off the tongue -- the Galaxy S Advance -- it does have some tantalizing features like a four-inch AMOLED display with 480 by 800 resolution and 1 GHz dual core processor.
According to Samsung, the processor in the new Galaxy model launches applications faster, offers smoother screen transitions, processes images more rapidly, and enhances uploading, downloading and browsing performance.
In addition to supporting HSPA and EDGE/GPRS, the svelte unit -- its dimensions are 123.2 by 63 by 9.69 mm and weight is 120 grams -- has a curved body that makes it more comfortable when pressed against the side of a face.
As has become de rigueur for any smartphone these days, the new Galaxy model has front- (1.3 megapixels) and back- (5 megapixels) facing cameras. The back-facing autofocus camera with LED flash can capture 720p video at 30 frames per second and supports a variety of formats including MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX and VC-1.
The unit runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Samsung has pledged to start upgrading its Galaxy lines to the latest version of Android, 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) early this year, but apparently not early enough for this latest Galaxy offering, which will be launched in Russia in February and rolled out to the rest of the world -- excluding North America -- gradually after that.
Samsung isn't the only laggard when it comes to adopting the newest version of Android. Distribution numbers released by Google earlier this month showed that less than one percent of Android devices are running Ice Cream Sandwich.
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Firefox 10 Launches Tuesday

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Mozilla developers have given the green light to ship Firefox 10 on Tuesday.
Notes from a Mozilla meeting last week said that the upgrade was on for January 31, the next ship date in the every-six-week schedule that the company adopted last year. 
The new version includes one of the first components of Firefox's planned silent update mechanism: The browser automatically disables incompatible add-ons and marks all others as compatible.
Add-ons that work with Firefox 4 or later will be marked as compatible in Firefox 10, Mozilla said.
Complaints about incompatible add-ons have been common since Mozilla shifted to the faster release schedule, as add-on developers have been slow to revamp their code or at least mark their extensions as suitable for the newest browser.
Mozilla began automatically marking add-ons as compatible back in March 2011 when it launched Firefox 4, but limited that move to extensions distributed through its own website; the new feature in Firefox 10 does the same for all add-ons, including those not available from Mozilla.
According to the company, extensions offered outside its own download store account for 75 percent of all add-ons.
"Add-on compatibility has always been a huge barrier to releasing more often, so it was critical we have a plan that wouldn't leave add-ons or users behind," Justin Scott, who leads Mozilla's add-on team, said in a September 2011 blog post . "For this new [rapid-release] system to work, we wanted a compatibility process that didn't require developers to lift a finger unless their add-on was one of the few broken."
As Scott hinted, automatic add-on compatibility is one of several features Mozilla is working on so it can offer "silent updates" that upgrade Firefox in the background and without any user interaction. Other parts of the service will debut in future versions of the browser.
Mozilla's current plans are to complete silent update with Firefox 13, now set to launch on June 5.
Also on Tuesday, Mozilla will ship Firefox 3.6.26, a security update for that two-year-old browser. This week's update will be followed by two more before Firefox 3.6 is retired from support in late April.
Firefox 10 will also be the first edition in the Extended Support Release (ESR) line that Mozilla has created for enterprises that cannot -- or will not -- upgrade every six weeks. Firefox ESR will be upgraded every 42 weeks, or seven times slower than the "standard" build of the browser.
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Oracle Handed Setback in HP Itanium Case

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A court in California rejected Oracle's bid to use a fraud claim to undo an agreement to support the Itanium processor, that it is said to have made with Hewlett-Packard.
The Judge was referring to HP's settlement agreement in 2010 with Mark Hurd, former CEO of HP, who later joined Oracle as president. Although Oracle was not a party to the previous litigation by HP against Hurd, its participation in the Hurd litigation settlement negotiations was extensive, he added."The alleged fraud did not prevent Oracle from participating in the negotiations or deprive Oracle of the opportunity to negotiate," Judge James P. Kleinberg of the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County said in a 21-page ruling on Monday.
Judge Kleinberg also ordered unsealed certain sensitive documents that HP and Oracle had separately filed to the court under seal.
Oracle announced in March last year its decision not to support servers running Intel's Itanium processors on new versions of its products including its database, claiming that the processors were nearing end-of-life.
HP, which uses the chip in its high-end servers, sued Oracle in June before the Santa Clara county court.
Oracle claimed that HP had deliberately not disclosed at the time of the Hurd settlement that it was about to hire Leo Apotheker, former CEO of rival SAP, and Ray Lane, Oracle's former president and chief operating officer, both well-known Oracle adversaries.
Oracle also alleged that HP had fraudulently induced it to enter into the agreement, as it withheld information that it was secretly paying Intel US$88 million a year to artificially continue the Itanium chip's life span and represent to its public its long term commitment, when Intel otherwise would have ceased development of the processor.
Oracle claimed that HP knew that if Oracle had known about the secret arrangement with Intel, it would not have agreed to software development around the platform.
The Judge's ruling also refers to the claim that the Hurd settlement included an agreement from Oracle not to launch a hostile takeover bid on HP for 18 months after the settlement agreement.
HP did not specifically comment on these two claims on Monday. It said in a statement after the ruling that it is "pleased" that the court rejected Oracle's attempt to use a fraud claim to undo its contract with HP. "We look forward to seeing the facts made public that demonstrate how Oracle's March, 2011 announcement to no longer develop software for Itanium servers was part of a calculated business strategy to drive hardware sales from Itanium to inferior Sun servers."
Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010.
Oracle said it was "delighted" with the court ruling which has rejected HP's attempt to hide the truth about Itanium's certain end of life from its customers, partners and own employees. "We look forward to seeing all of the facts made public that demonstrate how HP has known for years that Itanium is end of life," it added in an apparent reference to the Judge's decision not to seal certain documents.
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Apple Appeals IPad Trademark Decision in China

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Apple has appealed a Chinese court ruling last December that rejected its ownership of the iPad trademark in the country, and could expose the company to trademark infringement lawsuits from a local company.
Apple had originally filed a lawsuit against Proview to assert its control of the trademark. But In December, the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court announced it had rejected Apple's claim.The maker of the iconic iPad filed the appeal on Jan. 5 with the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province, according to a statement from Proview International, a little known Chinese display monitor company that claims control over the iPad trademark in mainland China.
In its lawsuit, Apple claimed that a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan had sold the iPad trademark rights to a U.K.-based company called "IP Applications". The trademark rights were then sold to Apple in 2010.
The Shenzhen court, however, ruled that the transfer of trademark rights were only made through Proview's Taiwan subsidiary. Proview's Shenzhen-based company, did not attend trademark negotiations, and did not formally transfer any trademark rights, according to the court.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the legal action.
Xie Xianghui, a lawyer representing Proview, said that Apple had asked for the transfer of the iPad trademark to it in the appeal. It is also asking for compensation from Proview to the tune of 4 million yuan (US$636,204) in legal fees.
Apple's appeal claims that Proview's Taiwan subsidiary was acting as a representative for Proview's Shenzhen-based company, he said. But Proview maintains it had no such relationship with the Taiwan subsidiary, and was not in any talks about transferring the iPad trademarks, Xie added.
Apple is making the appeal as Proview has has already filed two lawsuits in Chinese courts, demanding that Apple and local vendor Gome Electronics stop selling tablets using the iPad name. The cases are still pending, Xie said.
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Salesforce.com Launches Desk.com Help-desk Service

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Salesforce.com on Tuesday unveiled a new SaaS (software as a service) help-desk application called Desk.com that can reach end users through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Ample engineering work went into Desk.com since the Assistly acquisition in September, said Alex Bard, vice president and general manager of Desk.com, who served as Assistly's CEO. "This is fundamentally a brand-new product," he said. However, Salesforce.com carried over many of the workflow characteristics from Assistly, Bard added.Desk.com, which is based on Salesforce.com's recentacquisition of Assistly, can be deployed in a matter of days even by companies with no dedicated IT staffers, according to Salesforce.com.
It's important to align help-desk software with social networks, given the sheer amount of time customers are spending on Facebook and other sites, according to Salesforce.com.
Companies are also facing pressure dealing with the "new social, global and mobile customer," given how easy it is for consumers to transmit their opinions about a product or service over the Internet to many people, Bard said.
The Facebook and Twitter integrations are standard and companies can tie their accounts on those social networks to Desk.com in just a few clicks.
Desk.com also includes an HTML5-based mobile interface for cross-device compatibility. The mobile experience provides users with ample functionality to help customers while on the move, according to Salesforce.com. For example, users can send responses to individual support cases, as well as apply other changes, such as raising the priority level or altering the status of a case.
Desk.com also allows companies to build out a knowledge base filled with answers to common questions, allowing customers to solve problems without the need for a human agent.
The Desk.com service is positioned within Salesforce.com's Service Cloud application lineup, which it has grown through other acquisitions, particularly the 2008 purchase of call-center platform vendor Instranet.
Assistly is used by some large enterprises but largely on a departmental basis, Bard said. The other products in the Service Cloud catalog are better geared for the needs of big companies, since they provide "much more ability to customize the experience," he said.
Pricing starts at US$49 per agent per month, with unlimited access. Salesforce.com is also offering "flex" pricing for $1 per hour for part-time agents. The mobile application is included at no extra charge for full-time users. Desk.com is set for release in the first quarter of this year.
With Desk.com, Salesforce.com will go up against competitors such as Zendesk, which has also rolled out integrations with Facebook and Twitter. Pricing for Zendesk ranges from $20 per year for a limited starter edition, up to $99 per user per month for an enterprise edition.
The companies' rivalry has been fairly friendly to date. Zendesk has been a longtime Salesforce.com partner and its website describes the companies' relationship as "fantastic." Zendesk has even pledged to raise some $1 million to support the building of a new children's hospital in San Francisco. In 2010, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and his wife gave that fundraising effort an early boost with a $100 million donation.
But Salesforce.com views Desk.com more as a potential competitor to more ad-hoc ways small-business owners are handling customer service now, such as through email, Bard said
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Intel's New Core I5 Chip Qualifies for Protection Plan

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Intel has rolled out a handful of new Core i5 desktop processors, including one that raises the clock speed and qualifies for a new protection plan under which CPUs can be replaced.
The quad-core Core i5-2550K runs at a clock speed of 3.4GHz and is based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture. The fastest clock speed in the Core i5 desktop processor line was previously provided by the Core i5-2500K chip, which ran at 3.3GHz.
The chip qualifies for replacement under Intel's Performance Tuning Protection Plan, which is a pilot program the company started last month. The plan provides certain out-of-warranty service offerings and replacements in case of damage caused by overclocking or overvoltage of a chip. The plan is separate from a three-year standard warranty that comes with Intel chips.
Chips with the K moniker are targeted at enthusiasts and are unlocked so that those who want to overclock can change settings like turbo, memory, core voltage and other features. The other chips qualifying for the protection plan include the X and LGA2011-socketed boxed processors.
The plan is available directly from Intel, but the Core i5-2550K chip is not yet listed on the Web page that has information about the program. Protection plans for K-chips and X-chips are priced at US$20 to $35.
This protection plan includes CyberPower, Canada Computers and Electronics, Scan Computers, and Altech Computers in its first phase. More resellers will be added on Feb. 13, and Intel will decide in six months whether to continue offering the protection plan.
The Core i5-2550K has 6MB of cache and is priced at $225 in units of 1,000.
The other new Core i5 desktop processors include the quad-core i5-2450P, which runs at a clock speed of 3.2GHz and is priced at $195, and i5-2380P, which runs at a clock speed of 3.1GHz and is priced at $177. The chips have 6MB of cache.
The new Core i5 chips with the P moniker do not have integrated graphics capabilities, an Intel spokesman said.
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Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook Hits Best Buy

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Samsung's Series 5 Ultra laptop is now available at Best Buy retail stores starting at $900 and features impressive specs for an Ultrabook including a 14-inch display and DVD drive.
According to the specs on Best Buy’s product page the Samsung Series 5 weighs-in at 3.2 pounds and measures 0.7 inches thick. The Series 5 runs a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor and comes with 4GB of memory.
Bucking the trend towards using only solid state drives, Samsung has outfitted the Series 5 with a 500GB traditional hard drive plus a 16GB SSD. Otherwise, the laptop has the usual array of ports and connectivity options, including Bluetooth, one USB 3.0 port, a media reader, HDMI, and Gigabit Ethernet.
At $900, the Series 5 at Best Buy is a good deal - especially when you consider the price when the laptop launched in Korea was about $1345 in US dollars (ouch). This 14-inch laptop with multi-format DVD drive and hybrid hard drive may be a good compromise for those who are tempted by the sleek and lightweight appeal of Ultrabooks but aren’t willing to give up on some of the features of mainstream laptops.
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Lenovo to Upgrade ThinkPad Tablet to Android 4.0 in Q2

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Lenovo plans to upgrade its popular ThinkPad Tablet to the latest version of the Android 4.0 operating system in the second quarter this year, the company said on Monday.
The ThinkPad Tablet was launched in July last year as a business tablet. The tablet retails starting at $479 and runs on Android 3.1, which is code-named Honeycomb.
Lenovo in the past has said that upgrades to Android 4.0 would be delivered over the air to its ThinkPad and IdeaPad tablets, but had not provided specific guidance on dates.
The upgrade will provide users access to the latest version of Android 4.0, which provides user interface, connectivity, application and multimedia improvements. The OS, which is designed for both smartphones and tablets, also improves encryption layers for data and e-mail security, which could appeal to enterprise users. The new OS also provides administrators more stronger remote control over tablets.
However, the Android 4.0 upgrade may not enable some hardware-specific features such as Android Beam, which uses NFC (near-field communications) technology to share Web content, maps and directions between tablets by simply tapping. The ThinkPad Tablet does not have NFC features yet.
But the upgrades should provide Lenovo a leg-up over other competition from Cisco, which sells the enterprise-focused Cius tablet with Android. Cisco did not immediately respond to requests for comment on when it would upgrade the Cius.
Upgrades to Android 4.0, which is code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, are already trickling out for a few tablets. Asus is already delivering upgrades over-the-air to Asus' Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablets, but some users are experiencing install problems.
The ThinkPad Tablet has a 10.1-inch screen, weighs 1.65 pounds (0.75 kilograms) and provides eight hours of battery life.
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MetaFlows Launches Low-cost SaaS Product That Unifies Network Security

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Network security monitoring startup MetaFlows launched a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product that can be installed on low-cost hardware to monitor network traffic flow, detect possible intrusions and analyze event logs.
The local MSS sensors capture network events and transmit the corresponding data to the company's cloud system where they get analyzed and sorted by priority. Customers can inspect the results using a secure Web interface.The MetaFlows Security System (MSS) is composed of local software agents that can run on inexpensive off-the-shelf hardware and a cloud-based service where the results are stored.
The sensors can be deployed as stand-alone appliances or they can be installed on the customer's existing hardware using a Linux-based software package that contains proprietary and open source technology.
The software agent includes BotHunter, an IDS (intrusion detection system) software licensed from SRI International; the open source Snort IDS with generic signatures from the Emerging Threats project; the Flow, NetFlow, Sflow and CFlow network traffic monitoring plug-ins; log management tools compatible with OSSEC (Open Source Security) and MetaFlows proprietary applications.
The company also offers a package for setting up a honeypot client that acts as a decoy for internal network threats, although this is an optional feature.
One of MSS' key benefits is the low cost associated with its deployment and maintenance when compared to traditional IDS products, said MetaFlows CEO Livio Ricciulli.
This is partly due to the use of open source software, but also because of improvements made to it by MetaFlows. One example is the modifications made by the company to the PF_RING packet capture library in order to support multithreaded Snort instances on multi-core processors.
This allows MetaFlows sensors to process 800M bps of sustained network throughput when using an eight-core Intel i7 CPU that costs around $1,000. In comparison, the max throughput that can be processed using a standard packet capture library with a single thread is 100M bps.
On the server side, the company has developed a threat prediction algorithm similar to the one used by Google's search engine to rank websites. This technology is used to prioritize events, therefore increasing the productivity of network security analysts.
According to Ricciulli, tests performed by the company showed that with a traditional IDS solution, an analyst has to inspect between 20 and 30 incidents before finding one that requires an action. However, because MetaFlows' predictive algorithm uses anonymous statistics from all customers to determine the most serious events, an analyst will have to inspect only six or seven incidents in order to find an actionable one.
The nature of the platform, which allows data from sensors deployed in multiple computer networks of the same organization to be gathered and inspected in a single place, facilitates better collaboration between analysts.
The cost of a low-end IDS appliance is $20,000, Ricciulli said. The subscription for the service is $4,000 per year and the money spent by a company to pay an administrator for it is around $80,000 per year. In comparison, an MetaFlows appliance costs $2,000, the subscription is $99 per month and the administrator's salary is estimated at $50,000.
MetaFlows is based in San Diego, Florida. The company has received research funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.
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Tilera Targets Intel, ARM With 36-core Server Chip

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Tilera on Monday announced availability of its new 36-core processor, which the company says can trump traditional x86 server chips from Intel in performance-per-watt.
The Tile-GX36 is designed for use in servers that handle large volumes of Internet transactions, the company said. The processor helps reduce power and cooling costs in data centers while swiftly executing social media, search and multimedia streaming transactions.
The Tile-GX36 chip will initially ship at clock speeds of 1.2GHz, and draws up to 24 watts of power. The chip can run more operations per clock cycle while drawing less power than some power-hungry Intel Xeon server chips, said Bob Doud, director of marketing.
The Tilera chip has attributes of a general-purpose CPU as it can run the Linux OS and applications commonly used to serve web data. The fast throughput chip has fewer parallelized cores but is faster than Tilera's 64-core predecessor chip, which shipped a few years ago. A 2U server with eight 36-core chips will draw roughly 400 watts of power, the same as eight Tilera 64-core chips in the box.
"A Gx36 is running at a much higher clock speed ... and with a lot more cache it cranks out more work per core, so we end up seeing higher net performance with a 36-core chip," Doud said.
It's hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison as chip architectures have their own attributes, analysts said. Low-power processors from ARM and Tilera could be beneficial for fast-moving cloud transactions, while the dominant x86 chips are proven and can handle resource-heavy applications like databases.
Internet transactions are usually processed and served through data centers, and there is growing interest in low-power servers as companies look to cut data-center costs. Tilera chips are already being tested in some servers, and early adopters Hewlett-Packard and chip maker Nvidia are building experimental servers with low-power ARM processors, which are found in most smartphones and tablets today. Tilera, ARM and x86 chips are based on separate instruction sets.
ARM may have more name recognition, but Tilera has a more powerful chip with 64-bit capabilities, Doud said. Current ARM processors are only 32-bit, and ARM has said it expects to make a meaningful impact in servers only in 2014 when it releases its 64-bit architecture.
"We're riding on some of the buzz around ARM," Doud said. "It's beneficial to Tilera. We've got the technology now."
But Tilera will not replace Intel in data centers overnight, and its chips will go through years of testing before making its presence felt in the server market, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. It's difficult for companies to move away from the high server reliability and up time provided by x86 chips.
Early adopters can test Tilera chips on low-priority systems like web servers, which won't halt data-center operations in case of a crash. But even those tests would last years.
"We've seen that pattern not only with non-x86, but x86 products," McCarron said, citing the example of Intel's x86 low-power Atom chips, which are being used in experimental servers for tasks like web serving.
"The market for non-x86 has the same kind of requirements where you're going to have an early adopter that is going to play with it," McCarron said.
Rival architectures like ARM and MIPS have their benefits on power consumption, but the total cost of ownership needs to be considered before comparing architectures, said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat.
Having the most power-efficient architecture doesn't do any good unless companies are willing to invest in software development, which is usually much more costly.
"There are and will always be applications that can justify new architectures for power or performance reasons, but they come with a high price tag for the software support and the risk of being locked-in to a sole source architecture," McGregor said.
With Intel's Xeon, there is almost unlimited software support and low total cost of ownership. There is also an alternate chip company in AMD, which is competitive in both price and performance, McGregor said.
But large customers deploying thousands of servers have their own source code are software support is a lesser concern, Tilera's Doud said. The savings experienced over four to five years matter more, and recompiling code is not that "big a deal," Doud said.
Common Linux applications, such as the Apache web server, MySQL database and Memcached caching software have already been ported for use on Tilera's chips. The Tilera architecture supports more than 2,000 Linux packages, and is working on building software support.
"We get no pushback at all," Doud said. "We have all the key libraries."
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