Samsung Develops Software Update for Galaxy Malware

Dec 21, 2012 by

Samsung Electronics Co. said it is developing a software update to address a vulnerability in its Galaxy smartphones and tablets that could allow malicious software, or malware, to target the core operations of the chip that runs them.

The issue exists in smartphones and tablets that are run by processors Samsung itself designed and is tied to the way that the camera in the devices interacts with the processor and software.

Since the vulnerability was made public last week, some third-party companies began to offer software that fixes it, though many of them limit camera functions as a result.

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Lego for grown ups: The construction kit that can make a beer serving robot

Dec 20, 2012 by

  • New Makebot kit uses aluminium struts to allow complex structures
  • Electronic components can be added, and gadgets can even be controlled by a smartphone

 

By Mark Prigg

|

Billed as ‘Lego for adults’, a new construction kit is hoping to appeal to grown ups with a mechanical bent by bringing a bit of their childhood  a bit of childhood back for internet users.

However, rather than a spaceship or a castle, Makebot lets you build far more complex, robotic structures – including a beer pouring robot that can be controlled from a smartphone.

The Chinese firm is attempting to raise $30,000 to fund its starter kit – and has more than doubled its target on the Kickstarter site within hours.

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The Makebot kit will allow users to build a variety of projects, from robots to a replica of Wall-E

The Makebot kit will allow users to build a variety of projects, from robots to a replica of Wall-E

 

It will provides hundreds of mechanical and electronic components with one main difference – for the grown up version, you’ll need a screwdriver to put it together.

the kits will be sold for between £12 ($20) and £245 ($399).

‘Makeblock is an aluminum extrusion based construct platform that can be used to bring your creations to life,’ the firm says.

‘With Makeblock you can make professional and steady robots, machines or even art-ware.

‘The only limit is what you can think of.’

However, rather than children’s Lego, Makeblock is slightly more complex.

‘With the Makeblock platform, the only necessary tool is a screw driver.’

To show off the system, the firm has released a video showing the creations people can make, including transporter robots and even a beer pouring device.

Other, more basic creations can include a spider like animal

Other, more basic creations can include a spider like animal

The unique building block can be slotted together with special screws

The unique building block can be slotted together with special screws

‘Makeblock is an aluminum version of Lego bricks,’ Makeblock founder Jasen Wang told CNN.

‘We’ve done some work to make the electronics and software more friendly to beginners.

‘We use uniform modular connectors with color tags to help you make the right connections, and we plan to have a smartphone app to let beginners interact with their robots without any programming.’

Electronic components, sensors and even DC motors can be added to creations without soldering thanks to specially designed connectors that screw into the building blocks

Electronic components, sensors and even DC motors can be added to creations without soldering thanks to specially designed connectors that screw into the building blocks

Creations such as a mobile tank can even be controlled via a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth to communicate with controller blocks

Creations such as a mobile tank can even be controlled via a smartphone app that uses Bluetooth to communicate with controller blocks

‘We have not yet seen something that lets people build robots with the ease and speed of electronic gadgets,’ the team say.

‘Our goal is to make the ultimate construction platform.

‘You can build paltforms with wheels, tanks tracks and rails to move a camera on – and there is even some connectivity with some Lego parts.

 

 

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Most Facebook users get more from it than they put in, study says

Dec 20, 2012 by

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The Pew Research Internet Project released a report about Facebook on Friday, providing insights into the company that you won’t find in its IPO filing.

Rather than focusing on the company’s financials, the report “Why Most Facebook Users Get More Than They Give” sheds light on how Facebook’s 845 million users engage with Facebook and what they get out of it.

The findings show that social interactions on Facebook closely mirror social interactions in the real world.

For example, over the course of a one-month period, researchers found that women made an average of 11 updates to their Facebook status, while men averaged only six. Also, women were more likely to comment on other people’s status updates than men.

“There was a general trend in our data that women use Facebook more than men,” said Keith Hampton, a professor at Rutgers and lead author of the report. “This is a phenomenon that is not unique to Facebook. Women are traditionally in charge of social relationships offline, and that seems to be true of the online world as well.”

The report says men are more likely to send friend requests and women are more likely to receive them. That’s something else we see in the real world — especially in bars.

The report also says that most people who use Facebook get more out of it than they put into it, which may explain why they keep coming back.

Researchers found that 40% of Facebook users in a sample group made a friend request, while 63% received at least one friend request. They found that 12% of the sample tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo. And each user in the sample clicked the “like” button next to a friend’s content an average of 14 times but had his or her own content ‘liked’ an average of 20 times.

Why the imbalance?

“There is this 20% to 30% who are extremely active who are giving more than they are getting, and they are so active they are making up for feeding everyone extra stuff,” Hampton said. “You might go on Facebook and post something and have time to click ‘like’ on one thing you see in your news feed, but then you get a whole bunch of ‘likes’ on your news feed. That’s because of this very active group.”

He also said extremely active users tend to have a niche: Some are really into friending, others are really into tagging photos, and still others click the ‘like’ button a lot. Rarely is any one user extreme in all those ways.

I asked Hampton what he could tell me about these extremely active people, whom he calls Facebook “power users.” Are they unstoppably social? Unemployed? Lonely?

“It could be people who are always active — whatever they are doing in their life, they are very active. Or it could be that just in the one month we observed them they are active and another month a different group of people would rise up,” he said. “It could be that there is something going on in their life that causes them to be very active, or it could be that some people think of it almost as a job to be active on Facebook.”

ALSO:

Facebook’s IPO filing, by the numbers

Vizio’s 21:9 aspect CinemaWide TV due in March at $3,499

Steve Jobs turning over in his grave? Look-alike touts rival Android

– Deborah Netburn

Photo: A worker at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

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Samsung ATIV S listing obstacle was swept away, and got the network license

Dec 20, 2012 by

Recently, the Windows Phone 8 has become the new darling of the mobile operating system, the topic heat has even cought up with Android and iOS mobile operating system. The major mobile phone manufacturers have hurried to launch their own phones equipped with Windows Phone 8.

Samsung is no exception. According to the latest news, Samsung first Windows Phone 8 mobile phone ATIV S has obtained the network license, which means Samsung ATIV S last obstacle to release in the domestic market has been swept away.

Samsung ATIV S is equipped with 4.8-inch 720P Super AMOLED display which is the largest size among the WP8 phones, 1.9 million front camera and 8.0 million rear camera, the built-in storage space has 16GB and 32GB versions, and it supports microSD card expansion, NFC , Bluetooth 3.0 and some other functions. It is expected to be listed at the end of this year or January next year.

It is reported that the date when Samsung ATIV S gained the certification is December 13 this year, and the network license is WCDMA version. This phone also supports WCDMA, GSM (GPRS) signal systems.

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Smartphone-Controlled Japanese Toilet Keeps A Personal Poop Diary

Dec 20, 2012 by


Satis Smartphone Toilet

Satis Smartphone Toilet via Lixil

The day will come, and come soon, when we will control our entire domestic lives with a phone. We will turn the lights on and off, we will change the temperature to the precise level we desire, we will cook our dinners and make our beds and brew our coffee and close our blinds and feed our pets with a tap and a swipe. We can do most of that now, in fact, though it’s kind of expensive and cobbled-together to implement.

A good step forward is the new Satis toilets from Lixil, which connects to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth so you can tell it to do all those amazing things Japanese toilets can do. Tap to extend the oddly phallic bidet hose. Scroll to lift the toilet seat or flush. Select your favorite song to play it through the toilet’s stereo, because the toilet has a stereo.

Perhaps the weirdest feature is that “you can set up a ‘toilet diary’ to monitor your visits to the can and check on your health,” according to JapanTrends, which adds that it includes “cute euphemistic symbols for what you managed to achieve on different days.” Not sure exactly how cute a symbol could be for what I personally “achieve” on the toilet, but I’m glad someone’s trying! The toilet should be released in February of next year.

[via JapanTrends]

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DotNetNuke acquires software firm iFinity to beef up its Web content management platform

Dec 20, 2012 by

DotNetNuke (DNN), the Silicon Valley company behind a popular Web content management platform for Microsoft .NET, this morning announced that it has bought iFinity, a website and software development company headquartered in Queensland, Australia.

The acquisition of iFinity, a supplier of modules and consulting services for the DotNetNuke website platform, will enable DNN to beef its flagship solution up with a complete URL management solution, helping customers improve search engine optimization.

iFinity founder Bruce Chapman will join the DNN development team, effective immediately.

He writes:

The immediate plans for all the Url-related software are to integrate the codebase into DotNetNuke 7.1, a process which has been kicked off immediately. The underlying Url Master technology will become the standard way of powering all Url related functions in DotNetNuke, for all editions, for all versions from 7.1 onwards.

The majority of the Url management features will go straight into the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, but the underlying capability and improved Urls will be in the open-source community platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all of the available iFinity software products IP will be transferred to DotNetNuke.

DotNetNuke says there have been over 7 million downloads of its open-source project, and that its global community is 1 million members strong.

Founded in 2006 and funded by Sierra Ventures, August Capital and Pelion Venture Partners, DotNetNuke is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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Steve Jobs turning over in his grave? Look-alike touts rival Android

Dec 19, 2012 by

Fake_steve_jobs

Steve Jobs likeness continues to pop up in the most unlikely places. He’s been immortalized as a bronze statue in an office park in Hungary, his image was painstakingly recreated in what might be the world’s most detailed action figure, and now a Taiwanese commercial making its way around the Internet depicts the recently deceased Apple visionary as a shill for an Android-based tablet called Action Pad.

Oh, the irony!

The man playing Jobs in the commercial is Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken, according to a report in Reuters. The commercial never explicitly uses Jobs name, but Ah-Ken is dressed in Jobs trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, his hair is a silvery grey, and he’s wearing glasses. He’s standing on a stage meant to mimic those that Jobs paced across during major Apple announcements and speaking excitedly to an applauding audience. One thing he has that Jobs never had: a halo and wings.

At the end of his talk he says, “Thank God I can play another pad.”

Jobs of course hated Android with his whole being. His biographer Walter Isaacson writes that he never saw Jobs as angry as when he was talking about a lawsuit Apple had filed against Android.

After telling Isaacson that he considered Google’s Android to be a wholesale ripoff of the iPhone, he said:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death, because they know they are guilty.”

Maybe things change in the afterlife?

Action Electronics, the company that makes the Action Pad along with other electronic gadgets, sees no problem with the advertisement. “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good,” a spokeswoman told Reuters. “It’s just an impersonator, not Jobs,” she said.

The reaction on YouTube has been mixed with commenters vacillating between disgust and amusement, but the video itself is rapidly racking up views.

ALSO:

Steve Jobs statue unveiled in Budapest office park

Demand for iPhones in China could skyrocket, analyst says

Steve Jobs action figure is advertised; will Apple respond?

– Deborah Netburn

Image: Screen grab from a Taiwanese commercial for Action Pad that depicts Steve Jobs as a shill for the Android-based tablet. Credit: YouTube

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Popular Photography’s Camera Of The Year Is…

Dec 19, 2012 by

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Satoshi

It’s that time of year again–the time of year to take incredibly detailed macro shots of pointsettias. And what better camera to do it with than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the winner of Popular Photography’s hotly contested “Camera of the Year” contest? The follow-up to one of the most important cameras in the history of photography, the Mark III bests its predecessor in every way, topping strong competitors on its way to the prize. Read more here.

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Smartphone-Controlled Japanese Toilet Keeps A Personal Poop Diary

Dec 19, 2012 by


Satis Smartphone Toilet

Satis Smartphone Toilet via Lixil

The day will come, and come soon, when we will control our entire domestic lives with a phone. We will turn the lights on and off, we will change the temperature to the precise level we desire, we will cook our dinners and make our beds and brew our coffee and close our blinds and feed our pets with a tap and a swipe. We can do most of that now, in fact, though it’s kind of expensive and cobbled-together to implement.

A good step forward is the new Satis toilets from Lixil, which connects to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth so you can tell it to do all those amazing things Japanese toilets can do. Tap to extend the oddly phallic bidet hose. Scroll to lift the toilet seat or flush. Select your favorite song to play it through the toilet’s stereo, because the toilet has a stereo.

Perhaps the weirdest feature is that “you can set up a ‘toilet diary’ to monitor your visits to the can and check on your health,” according to JapanTrends, which adds that it includes “cute euphemistic symbols for what you managed to achieve on different days.” Not sure exactly how cute a symbol could be for what I personally “achieve” on the toilet, but I’m glad someone’s trying! The toilet should be released in February of next year.

[via JapanTrends]

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DotNetNuke acquires software firm iFinity to beef up its Web content management platform

Dec 19, 2012 by

DotNetNuke (DNN), the Silicon Valley company behind a popular Web content management platform for Microsoft .NET, this morning announced that it has bought iFinity, a website and software development company headquartered in Queensland, Australia.

The acquisition of iFinity, a supplier of modules and consulting services for the DotNetNuke website platform, will enable DNN to beef its flagship solution up with a complete URL management solution, helping customers improve search engine optimization.

iFinity founder Bruce Chapman will join the DNN development team, effective immediately.

He writes:

The immediate plans for all the Url-related software are to integrate the codebase into DotNetNuke 7.1, a process which has been kicked off immediately. The underlying Url Master technology will become the standard way of powering all Url related functions in DotNetNuke, for all editions, for all versions from 7.1 onwards.

The majority of the Url management features will go straight into the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, but the underlying capability and improved Urls will be in the open-source community platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all of the available iFinity software products IP will be transferred to DotNetNuke.

DotNetNuke says there have been over 7 million downloads of its open-source project, and that its global community is 1 million members strong.

Founded in 2006 and funded by Sierra Ventures, August Capital and Pelion Venture Partners, DotNetNuke is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

Image credit: Thinkstock

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Fitness Trackers Make Terrible Gifts

Dec 18, 2012 by

Unless the person you’re shopping for has obsessive tendencies, fitness trackers won’t help him or her get into shape.

Fitbit Is Sad

Fitbit Is Sad I’ve been using the more expensive Fitbit One, so this Fitbit Ultra is sad. Dan Nosowitz

Fitness trackers, little pedometer-type things that purport to measure your activity and help you get into shape, are on about a billion gift guides this year. But maybe they shouldn’t be. Here are the two most pressing reasons not to buy someone a fitness tracker like a Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband, or Jawbone Up as a gift.

1. It implies your giftees are fat. And maybe they are but if you feel like that’s something they should know you should probably not use a pedometer as a messenger. Be nice!

2. 99% of people won’t use it. And this is the more pressing reason–it’s not that they’re bad products, exactly, it’s just that fitness trackers have positioned themselves as gadgets for the masses, a futuristic way to get in shape. And they’re not! They are helpful tools for a very particular type of person, and you know maaaaaybe one of that type of person, and that person probably already has one of these.

I’ve been using both of the new Fitbit products for a few weeks now. I am in awful shape, an overripe chimera of laziness and injury and sedentary job and also laziness, and I thought “hey, I bet this’ll help motivate me to get into shape!” It did not, and that’s only partly due to the execution of the product. The Fitbit One, which just about every reviewing publication ranks as the best or one of the best fitness trackers out there, is fine. It’s tiny and well-designed, it can track your steps, it syncs with an app on your phone, it tracks your sleep patterns. All of that stuff together can be very helpful for monitoring your health, but I suspect very few people will actually see the benefit.

That’s because fitness trackers are dumb. I don’t mean dumb as in “bad,” I mean dumb in the same way that an old flip-phone is dumber than a smartphone. It just can’t do very much on its own. Here’s one (unusually active) day of using the Fitbit.

Fitbit App

Fitbit App: I had pho for lunch today. Pho is not listed, although anhyrdrous disodium phosphate is. Weird.  Dan Nosowitz

Last week, before going to bed, I remembered to have the Fitbit track my sleep. I dug the Fitbit out of my pants, put on the big velcro wristband, stuck the Fitbit in the wristband’s pocket, pressed the button to tell the Fitbit I was going to bed, and then went to bed. Woke up the next morning, pressed the button to tell the Fitbit I was awake. Took the Fitbit out of the wristband, put it in my pocket again. Had breakfast. Logged onto the Fitbit app to tell the app I had breakfast. Searched for the specific breakfast I had, guessed how much I had eaten. Logged it. Biked to work–about a 6.5-mile trip–which the Fitbit did not register, because it only registers walking. Logged onto the Fitbit app to tell it precisely how long and how far the bike trip was.

Worked. Had lunch, logged onto the Fitbit app to tell it what I had for lunch. Fitbit directory didn’t list what I had–it mostly includes fast food or chain food–so I guessed at the calorie count. Went to the gym after work. Moved Fitbit from pants to a clip on my workout shorts. Worked out. Fitbit doesn’t pick up on any of that, because I didn’t do anything like walking, which is what the Fitbit measures. Logged onto Fitbit app to tell it what I did. Weighed myself at the gym. Logged onto Fitbit to tell it how much I weigh. Biked home. Logged onto Fitbit app to tell it about that. Ate dinner. Logged onto Fitbit app and took my best guess as to calorie count. Took Fitbit out of pants, synced with iPhone app. Put it into wristband and told it I was going to bed.

From all of that, I saw how many calories I burned, how far I walked, how many flights of stairs I climbed, how many calories I took in. I could see graphs over time, comparing my activity day by day, week by week, month by month. All of that is cool! But I am not an obsessive type, and I lost interest in spending literally hours per day with the Fitbit app after about two days.

This isn’t exclusive to Fitbit; all of the major fitness trackers (Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone Up) have their own quirks and pros and cons–the Fuelband and Jawbone Up, as wristbands, don’t have the problem of having to remember to bring it with you, though they don’t track your food intake–but they mostly work the same way. They’re glorified pedometers with added fitness tracking software. To really get the most out of these gadgets, you have to be kind of obsessive. Just using them casually gets you very little of value; for a few days, it’s cool to see how many steps you take, and I did take the stairs rather than the escalator to get more “points,” but I very quickly tired of it. They just don’t give enough information because they can’t extract enough data, and they can’t be encouraging because they don’t analyze the data they get.

Fitbit In Wristband

Fitbit In Wristband: You stick the Fitbit One in a wristband when you go to bed.  Dan Nosowitz

I still think there’s a place for fitness trackers. The Basis Band, for example, is one step closer to being actually helpful for two main reasons. First: it can measure your heart rate, unlike any of the other trackers I mentioned. Second: it uses that data to recommend new exercises–instead of just giving you a chart, it’ll advise that you walk around the office for ten minutes. That’s much more helpful to the vast majority of people who don’t like looking at charts all day.

Fitness trackers can only really be helpful when they get smart. Data is great, but for most people, it’s not enough to just gather data and present it. You have to analyze it, figure out what it means and how to use it. The dream of a fitness tracker is pretty much like a fitness-centric version of Google Now: it needs to take in your data and then figure out what you actually want to know. That’s the next generation of this data tech–it’s not about the data, it’s about the conclusions. What we want is a fitness tracker that suggests, that figures out your lifestyle and then gives you advice, that actually helps you get into shape rather than just telling you exactly how out of shape you are. Hopefully the next generation of fitness trackers go in that direction. But for now, don’t bother with a pedometer.

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Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Dec 18, 2012 by

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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Samsung Scoops up Emerging SSD Caching Software Maker Nvelo

Dec 18, 2012 by




Startup made a compelling pitch for hybrid systems

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) is one of the most powerful forces into today’s NAND flash market thanks to its heavy R&D investments.  On Monday, Samsung Device division EVP Young-Hyun Jun announced a major acquisition designed to boost Samsung’s hybrid flash drive offerings.

The company decided to purchase Nvelo, a startup who makes caching software called Dataplex, which is geared at giving your laptop or desktop a speed boost from a small (50 GB or so, typically) secondary NAND hard drive.  

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but one can safely assume that the current manufacturers whom Dataplex bundles its software with – OCZ Technology, Corsair, and Crucial — won’t be happy with this development.


Mr. Jun comments, “The acquisition of NVELO will enable us to extend our ability to provide SSD related storage solutions to customers. We are pleased with this transaction as the employees of NVELO share our vision to take SSD storage into the next-generation of performance and reliability.”

Source: Samsung [press release]

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