Category Archives: Tech News

Kodak May Not Sell Digital Imaging Patents in Auction

Kodak’s patent auction promised to be one of the most exciting turning points in the ongoing patent wars, with its digital imaging patents touted to be worth billions of dollars. Kodak had put up more than 1,100 patents up for sale, with most of them related to digital imaging and image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital cameras and smartphones.

We also saw prominent tech giants teaming up with each other to buy the patents, with the likes of Google, Samsung and RPX in one camp, and Apple, Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures in the other.

However, as the bidding progresses, it seems that Kodak may not be able to fetch what it expected to in the auction. Kodak had previously stated that the patents might be worth around $2.2 to $2.6 billion, but the current bidding rate is around $500 million.

Kodak has announced that it might decline to sell some or all of its patents if the bidding fails to push the prices up. It has already pushed the patent auction deadline twice, and may do it again to drum up interest in the auction and fetch a higher price.

Even if the auction does go through, there is no guarantee that it will be cleared by regulatory authorities due to possible antitrust issues.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy months ago, and owes nearly $1.4 billion to Citigroup and other bondholders.

via WSJ

Help The Oatmeal and the Tesla Science Center Build a Tesla Museum

Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek ever. This point is not debatable, all your argument against it is invalid and you ought to read more. We grow up all our lives being taught how an X in some corner of the world invented something. However, you will be amazed to know how many of those inventions you can trace back to one single man, Nikola Tesla. It is no co-incidence because Nikola Tesla indeed was the greatest inventor of all times, but the sad truth is that, he was and still remains an unsung hero in the world of science.

tesla_colorado

We geeks love our geek idols. We might not come off as being serious when we show respect for them with some playful cleverness. However, money is the language of the layman, so let the money speak for itself. The Oatmeal is organizing a major humanitarian effort currently, and you have the rare opportunity to preserve what remains of the eccentric genius’s laboratory. This page at indiegogo is running a fundraiser to save a piece of land that was once home to Tesla’s laboratory, popularly known as Wardenclyffe. The page is attracting donations at nearly $10,000 an hour and it is already approaching $500,000 out of its goal of $850,000 with 44 more days to go. With time, this can turn out to be Internet’s greatest fundraiser and science effort ever.

It all started after Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal wrote a piece on Tesla Museum. Tesla Museum was part of ambitious project, in which a non-profit organization (Tesla Science Center) wanted to build a museum on the exact spot of Wardenclyffe, thereby protecting this historic landmark from the current danger of being replaced with a retail establishment. Inman decided to preserve this endangered heritage through The Oatmeal, and added a humanitarian touch to it by making it a fundraiser. The fundraiser started off pretty well. The next challenge for this effort is to raises $850K, as then, the NY State will match the same amount making the total raised amount to a whopping $1.7 million.

But here is a valid question: Why try to preserve this great man’s biggest failure? Perhaps it is only just, because Tesla failed to build this tower over monetary issues. The sheer amount of bold ambition hidden behind this massive failure will remind us every day of how far we need to push our imagination, in order to make a better world of tomorrow.

Julian Assange Under Threat of Extradition from the British Ecuadorian Embassy

After turning world-politics upside down, Julian Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. However, things got tense earlier today, when police forces started appearing outside the embassy in large numbers, possibly to arrest Assange. Assange sought political refuge from Ecuador, after a British court ordered his extradition to Sweden. He has been in the embassy for two months now.

interpool-julian-assange-arrested

The Ecuadorian Government has not made any statement yet, but it will announce its decision on Assange’s refuge plea at 10 PM AEST today. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks came out with a report stating that the UK Government is threatening Ecuador to forcefully enter its embassy and arrest Assange. This would be in violation of the Geneva Convention laid down by the UN, but the UK is justifying this act with its own Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987.

Assange has upset the entire world with his investigative journalism and release of a series of video tapes and letters pertaining to political, economic and war scandals in countries like the USA, Afghanistan, a few African nations and even India. Since then, the US government has been trying to get its hands on Assange over the infamous incident involving Bradley Manning’s tip-off to WikiLeaks. Though finally, it looks like they will succeed as once Assange is moved out of the Ecuadorian Embassy, he can be extradited to many other countries.

It is amusing to see that the US is playing a double standard card here, as it itself grants refuge to troubled journalists from other oppressive regimes like China. It will be interesting to see how long the US waits to grab hold of Assange.

Update: Ecuador has granted asylum to Julian Assange, but the British police is still keen on arresting him and handing him over to the Swedish government.

(Image via)

Intel vs. ARM: From the World of Servers

It is a well-known fact that Intel dominates the world of personal computers and ARM owns the world of mobiles. Moreover, while Intel has taken its first baby steps towards making mobile processors, ARM has also made a slow entry to the personal computing world. Nevertheless, there is another market where this Intel vs. ARM war can go, and it is the market for servers.

Recently, ARM started showing its head in the server market and as it turns out, there are some impressive reasons for using ARM over Intel for servers. Look at this presentation for some interesting facts on ARM servers. In a few months, Dell and HP are going to enter the ARM server market with all guns blazing. While Dell showcased an ARM based server product back in May, HP has the advantage of being the early adopter. Things have started moving in this competition, and to spice things up, our beloved Ubuntu is ready for this ARM revolution, from version 11.10.

ARM-vs-Intel-Benchmarks

However, the biggest piece of news came yesterday when Intel hit back HP’s ARM server partner Calxeda over a benchmark. According to a benchmark carried out by Calxeda, ARM’s Cortex A9 based ECX-1000 servers could outdo Intel’s Xeon processors in performance, and Intel was not ready to accept this. Therefore, it went ahead, performed its own benchmarks, and came back with another set of results in its own favor. Apparently, both Intel and Calxeda used Apache HTTP benchmarking, but Calxeda used Intel’s Sandy bridge Xeon E3-1240 processors to carry out the tests instead of the latest Ivy Bridge. Additionally, Calxeda limited the Xeon for I/O for the benchmark, and effectively, the CPU was running only at 14% of its total capacity.

Intel and ARM are fighting on multiple fronts, and this is just another battle in the ongoing war. While Intel has the advantage of high performance, ARM has the advantage of power efficiency. They are both masters of their fields, and this war will only leave us spoilt for choice.

Google Celebrates India’s 65th Independence

India is celebrating its 65th Independence Day (66th if you count 15th August 1947 as the first Independence) to mark its independence from the British rule. On this occasion, Google India is celebrating the Independence Day with a colorful doodle on its home page, which on mouse over will greet you with a message, “Indian Independence Day”.

The India Independence Day Google doodle features a peacock with a large colorful plume tail. The peacock in the doodle forms the letter ‘G’ of the Google logo, while the remaining letters of Google logo are seen designed in yellow ochre-blue color.

India Independence 2012 Google Doodle

Google has been celebrating India Independence Day with a doodle on its home page every year since 2003, where most of the doodles featured the Indian national flag. However, the 2011 and 2012 doodles were quite different as Google created the doodles by featuring the Indian national symbols in place of the Tricolour. If you remember, the 2011 Google doodle was a sketch of Delhi’s Red Fort.

Independence Day, Republic Day on 26 January, and Mohandas Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October are the three important national holidays observed in all the states of India, including the union territories. A day before the Independence Day, the President of India delivers the “Address to the Nation”, which is televised across the country. On 15 August every year, the Prime Minister of India hoists the Indian flag on the ramparts of the historical site Red Fort in Delhi.

Along with India, three other countries celebrate their Independence Day on August 15 – Bahrain, South Korea and Republic of the Congo.

Happy Birthday India.

What Happened with Knight Trading?

Knight Capital’s (NYSE: KCG) is a 17-year old Jersey-city firm that executes high-frequency trades on behalf of retail brokers (like ETrade). It suffered massive trading losses because of a technology glitch on August 1, 2012. A $5 billion trade that was supposed to take place over 5 weeks was done in 20 minutes. Meaning, it was making trades of about $10 million in a minute. This expensive mistake affected shares from many other companies too, like Ford Motors and American Airlines to name a few.

The problem was with a new trading program, which was supposed to give Knight an advantage over its competitors. This incident highlights the effect that computerized trading has on organizations. Thomas Joyce, the CEO, has used his long-standing reputation in Wall Street to offer his word that this failure to detect such severe software problems will not occur again. For long, he has been among the strongest supporters of electronic trading and all it stood for.

As Knight trading looks to resume trading on the NYSE and NESE-designated markets tomorrow (August 13, 2012), it would help to take a look at their turn of fortune.

1995 – Knight Capital Group was founded

1998 – Knight Capital Group went public

2012 – 8/1/2012 – Technical error at Knight Capital Group rolls prices of 140 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange

  • 9.30 AM – Trading bell, Knight queues up a huge volume of orders
  • 9.40 AM – NYSE identifies Knight as the source of an unnatural spike in trade
  • 10.00 AM – Knight identifies the root of the problem
  • 10.15 AM – Orders that Knight sent are completed

End loss: $440 million

However, this glitch may also present an opportunity for canny investors. Though Knight’s shares have fallen to $2.90 from $13, analysts estimate that it will earn 40 cents a share in 2013 (source: investmentnews.com). There is the possibility that Knight will come riding through, but the issue is will they have enough confidence from the market to make a recovery from it. Let us hope that this Knight does not die by the sword.

Tablets are Disrupting IT (Gaming, Enterprise, and More)

The humble tablet has evolved from a simple reading console. It now promises to become a powerhouse as its processing capabilities increase.  For example, consider the iPad. The 55 million iPads on the market will very quickly catch up with the 60 million Xboxes. As tablets attack the gaming, organization (enterprise) and other technology-related sectors, let’s have a look at the possibilities.

Tablets and Gaming

Link the tablet market to the growing gaming industry. The limitations that many gamers will see with this arrangement (for example, with the iPad) are primarily hardware based. There are rumors that seek to dispel the myth that limitations because of hardware can hinder the use of tablets. Consider Apple’s iPad streaming to the TV, this may be one interesting update that we can look for in its future product that opens a whole range of further applications of the tablet. Knowing the Apple-release style, they will clearly not be rushed. However, they require to capitalize on the momentum of the iPad sales.

Tablets and Enterprises

Consider this, I am currently planning for my MBA placement interviews. The topic that I will be focusing on is “tablets” and all its glory. It is the “happening” thing right now. Imagine having most enterprise applications being run from mobile apps rather than on your regular desktop applications. Imagine the flexibility that this will provide enterprises and their various businesses. This is a powerful combination for the future.Image from digitaltrends.com

The use of tablets extends beyond regular miscellaneous activities. For example, we use it to surf, read books, listen to music. The ecosystem of its prospective use is much wider and more distributed than we currently see. Today tablets are primarily made for personal consumption. If we bring in tablets for organisations, then this market will see a boom.

Hardware product manufacture is a very risky business of course. You have to only look at various firms like Facebook, who would definitely want to get into the business of tablets and mobility, but unfortunately, they realize the high level of competition and ground that they have to break through, in terms of market entry barriers.

Tablets and What-not

The reality of the gaming/enterprise market and tablets intertwining is an inescapable fact. The coming year promises to be an interesting play of how IT firms will try to  monetize their social ability.

I think that there is plenty of opportunity today for collaboration between tablets with other industries, who may not be considered as traditional partners. One way tablet companies can try to monetize further, is to for example, combine their core technology competency with well-established technology-leaning companies ( example, gaming companies). Combined with the unstoppable growth that tablets are seeing; the combination of tablets, enterprises, and games looks like an a revolution in the making.

Enter Gauss: A Nation State Sponsored Malware, with a Knack for Bank Accounts

We have seen Stuxnet designed to attack nuclear plants in Iran, we have seen Flame designed for mass surveillance of Middle-eastern nations and we have seen Duqu, the sister trojan of Stuxnet also aimed at Iran. How low does this cyber-espionage war fall? Well, low has a new definition now, as a new trojan Gauss has been discovered, which apparently steals bank account details of individuals.

stop-virus

The Gauss trojan surfaced as part of an ongoing investigation on Flame. It is believed to have been created mid-2011, and released in three months. The Gauss trojan shows the same level of sophistication as seen in Stuxnet and Duqu.

Kaspersky defines Gauss as,

In 140 chars or less, “Gauss is a nation state sponsored banking Trojan which carries a warhead of unknown designation”. Besides stealing various kinds of data from infected Windows machines, it also includes an unknown, encrypted payload, which is activated on certain specific system configurations.

Gauss is based on the flame platform, and performs an array of hacks ranging from infecting USB sticks, to stealing browser cookies, to listing the contents of system drives to hijacking social networking accounts. It was aimed mainly at Here is a paper released by Kaspersky Labs on the Gauss trojan [PDF link].

The Gauss trojan names its modules after famous mathematicians like Gauss himself, Lagrange and Godel. The primary module which implements the data stealing capabilities is called Gauss, and hence the name itself. This main payload, which affects USB storage devices, is protected by numerous layers of hashing and a strong RC4 encryption. Kaspersky has also urged cryptography experts to help with the decryption.

 

News Reading App Pulse Launches Gorgeous Web App

Popular news reading app Pulse has finally unshackled itself from the mobile platform with the launch of Pulse for the Web. When Pulse arrived for the iPad in 2010, it instantly garnered widespread acclaim due to its intuitive and pretty interface. Since then it has broadened its reach to iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, expanded its catalogue by signing up dozens of publishers, and diversified by adding video channels. Now, Pulse feels that it is finally ready to reach out to a wider audience.

Pulse-News-Reader-Home

Pulse for the Web focuses on the same things that made its mobile app so popular in the first place – a gorgeous clean interface that makes reading publications you love and discovering stories that you like simple and fun. In order to take full advantage of the larger resolution offered by desktops, Pulse has done away with its grid interface. Instead, the home page features a beautiful mosaic layout with large images and clean typography. Clicking on any link opens up the story in a clean distraction-free overlay. Pulse for the Web stays in sync with your mobile devices, and if you already have an account, all your settings will be instantly ported over.

Pulse-News-Reader-Article-View

Pulse team also worked with Microsoft to leverage advanced touch integration offered by Internet Explorer 10. Pulse web app supports swiping between articles, pinch-to-zoom, and more. If you have a Windows 8 tablet, Pulse for Web will practically behave like a native app.

Go ahead; take the new Pulse for the Web for a spin on pulse.me. I played around with it briefly, and the Pulse team is definitely not exaggerating when they claim to have not compromised on quality while porting to the web. In fact, the web app is even more beautiful and intuitive than the original mobile app. Pulse already has more than 15 million users, and Pulse for Web will only help in increasing that figure.

Google Now Includes Gmail in Search Results

Yesterday, in a blog post titled “Building the search engine of the future, one baby step at a time“, Google unveiled some interesting information about the future of its search engine. Perhaps its most surprising announcement, is that it plans to include information from your Gmail account in your search results.

gmail result
Gmail Search Results (Courtesy Google Blog)

At the moment, this program is voluntary and you have to join their field trial to participate in the service. The link for the trial is https://www.google.com/experimental/gmailfieldtrial. Pictured above, you can see an example of what the Gmail results might look like. In Google’s example, they imagine that you may be going on a biking trip. When you type the search query “biking in tahoe”, you will get the typical search results, but out to the side you will see email results from friends where they may have suggested good trails or eateries nearby.

Some other cool features they’re considering involves organizing information from Gmail in a very readable way. The example they used was typing the query “my flights” into the search box. Pictured below, you can see they pull the pertinent information from your email and display directly on your search results page.

flights
(Courtesy Google Blog)

Google is trying to make its search more relevant. One of the ways it wants to do this is by making information more personal. The biggest threat to Google search is Facebook. Simply put, Facebook has ridiculous amounts of personal information on its users and if it ever figures out a way to “monetize” this information, look out Google! Another point that Google made was about its voice recognition service. Below, you can watch a sample of Google’s enhanced speech recognition for search.

[Video Link]

Google is trying to do everything it can to enhance its search. It seems that most of its diversification attempts haven’t been very successful which leaves it in the vulnerable position of being a one trick pony. Unfortunately, past endeavors to tap into user data exposed some serious privacy issues. It appears that Google is being a little more cautious with this attempt as it currently is an opt-in service.

Google Football Doodle London 2012 – Day 15 Olympics

Day 15 of the Olympic Google Doodle is already here. Although the doodle will go live on Google’s home page after the clock strikes twelve, you can go ahead and play the next doodle here, and try your best with the scores.

Today’s London 2012 Day 15 Google Doodle is all about Football (Soccer). The latest Google doodle wants you to save some goals for your country, and more the number of goals you save, the better your points will be and the higher number of stars you will be awarded.

Google Football Doodle Day 15 Olympics

Google London 2012 Football Doodle features a goalkeeper in a blue shirt which lets you to save the goals as your opponent in the red shirt tries to score goals. The opponent has 5 footballs, and tries to shoot the balls one after the other.

London 2012 Google Football Doodle: How to Play?

Playing the football Google doodle is quite simple. All you need to do is click on the play button to start the game. You being the goalkeeper, the aim is to save as many goals as possible, as the player on the other end starts shooting the ball in random directions.

You can use the left and right arrow keys to move the goalkeeper in left and right directions respectively. Alternatively, you can control the keeper with your mouse, which is a lot easier than the arrow keys. To save a goal, you can press the space bar, or click the left mouse button, which will help you block the ball. However, if the ball is shot at ground level, simply block the ball by moving the player toward the ball’s direction.

For every goal saved, you will be awarded one point; however, for every goal that you’re unable to save, you get a “X” mark indicating that you’ve lost a chance. If you get three “X” on the top left counter, that’s the end of the game.

London 2012 Google Doodle: How to Get Three Stars?

To get three stars, try to block as many goals as possible. You get three stars if you save around 45 goals, or more. You will be awarded two stars if you save 10 or more goals and one star if the goals saved are below 10.

Note: After you’ve crossed 20 points, the opponent starts shooting the ball a little faster, making it harder and confusing to stop the goals.

This is the fourth interactive Olympic Google Doodle. If you missed the other three — Hurdles, Basketball, and Slalom Canoe Google Doodle Game, you can go here and play them.

Steam Goes Beyond Gaming; Will Feature Software Titles Soon. But Will It Work?

Not quite content with occupying the lion’s share of the digital distribution games market, Valve’s digital delivery service, Steam is now set to expand into non-gaming titles. Making the announcement as a press release, Valve mentions that the first set of software titles are heading to the Steam store for both Mac and PC.

Steam logo

Valve mentions that applications ranging from creativity to productivity will available on Steam. The first set of software titles are set to hit the store from September 5th. What’s even more exciting is that SteamWorks — which allows for Cloud storage on Steam Cloud and auto-updates — will be available to software titles as well.

Will it work?

Steam did experiment with non-gaming media for digital distribution — particularly when Indie Game: The Movie was released on Steam store, which didn’t do too bad.  There are still couple of points that might stick out about software coming to the Steam store:

  • Cross-platform licensing:  Steam for Ubuntu is coming soon, Steam for Mac is already here. SteamPlay allows for a game license to be used across multiple devices and multiple platforms. Software title developers, however, are quite insistent about single-use-only licensing. We’ll have to wait and watch to see how many developers will be going ahead with single-license-multiple-platform approach.
  • Steam’s DRM: The popular opinion about DRM in Steam is that it’s DRM done well. Now I don’t agree that it’s done well — though it’s not that bad either. Steam games require that you stay online when you launch the titles. If you plan to play offline then there’s a “Go offline” option that must be explicitly used before you go offline — without doing this, the probability that you’ll be able to launch a title is less than 1%. These restrictions are unlikely to go well when we’re talking about productivity applications.
  • Going against existing, preloaded marketplace: Windows, OS X, Ubuntu — all feature their own built-in Stores. Windows 8’s Windows store features prominently as a Tile on the Start Screen, the Mac App Store has gained some traction amongst OS X users and with Ubuntu, you’re guaranteed to take a look at the software centre at least once a day. Will these be enough to deter the casual users from loading Steam?
Having said that, Steam’s approach to include software titles will be an interesting change to look at. Now all that I pray is that future Steam Sales will include software titles as well.

iPad Takes 70% of Chinese Tablet Sales

iPad Takes 70% of Chinese Tablet Sales

Recently, Apple  has  cashing in on China with the iPad, iPhone and Mac line of computers. Because of this, all of Apple’s platforms have been gaining markershare like crazy in China and parts of Asia. In fact, China Daily reports that Apple controls roughly 72.6% of the tablet market in China. These numbers are up just over 20% from Q1. These numbers are coming from the market researcher Analysys International.

The expected reason for this jump in iPad sales is because the new iPad was finally approved for sale in China and the iPad 2’s price was dropped. Another reason these numbers are so high is because China does not yet offer the Kindle Fire, Nook Color/Tablet or the Nexus 7, so there isn’t much competition from the lower end of the tablet market within China. If you’re curious, the second leading tablet in China is produced by Lenovo and holds just 8.38% of tablet marketshare in China. China Daily also reports that Samsung holds only 3.59% of the tablet marketshare. China Daily has not revealed markershare for other Android tables as of now, however, we hope to see more marketshare specifics in the future.

Source: China Daily Europe
Image Source: Yutaka Tsutano


London 2012 Slalom Canoe Google Doodle Game

As expected, we have another Google doodle today, and there’s no time to rest your fingers. Today, Google presents the London 2012 Slalom Canoe Game, also known as White-water slalom, where the main goal is to navigate a decked canoe through a course of hanging gates on river rapids in the best time possible.

Canoe Slalom made its debut at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games. However, it wasn’t considered a regular Olympic sport until Barcelona 1992. In this sport, the athletes negotiate a 250 metre white water course, flowing at a rate of 13 cubic metres per second, and dropping 5.5m from start to finish.

Over the last two days, Google has creatively come up with two interactive doodle, which were not only exciting to play, but has also provided users the best killer way to pass time. Google presented the first Olympic interactive doodle, which was based on the Hurdles race that certainly kept us hooked for quite some time. And last night, Google came up with the Basketball shooting hoops doodle.

Google Doodle London 2012 Canoe Game

The search engine giant continues to present its interactive and addictive doodles on its home page. In today’s London 2012 Slalom Canoe Google doodle game, all you need to do is navigate through the water channel, avoiding small hurdles in-between, and make it to the finish line in the best possible time.

How to play London 2012 Slalom Canoe Google Doodle Game?

Visit the Google homepage and click on the play button. When you’re all set to go, press the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard repeatedly to control the canoe as well as to increase the speed. You need to navigate the canoe through the hanging gates in order to fetch more points or stars. If you fail to pass through the gates, extra seconds are added to your final time as penalty.

Also, you need to avoid small hurdles that you come across, which not only slows down the canoe, but also damages it, with cracks appearing on it from the front. The goal — try completing the lap as fast as possible.

Kim Dotcom Raid Video Revealed

Back in January 2012, the U.S government shutdown the popular file sharing website Megaupload and arrested it’s rich founder Kim Dot Com. The arrest made a lot of news because Megaupload was a very popular service used by millions of users and it also led to several other file sharing websites shutting down.

Kim Dotcom

While Kim Dotcom was freed on bail in February 2012, the popular file sharing site is still shutdown prompting the users to sue the FBI.

In latest developments, a New Zealand high court said that the warrants issued against Kim Dotcom did not hold merit and was invalid. However, the U.S. is still looking to deport the Dot Com Mogul back to the United States to face criminal justice.

While the case is still ongoing, a video of the armed raid at Kim Dotcom’s mansion in New Zealand was released online. The raid was organized by the New Zealand police in cooperation with the United States FBI and Just Department among others. The video below reveals how the armed cops stormed Dotcom’s mansion with guns, helicopters and attack dogs. It almost seemed like a Hollywood movie.

Dotcom alleges that he was manhandled by the cops, however, the video does not show everything and just focuses on how the armed cops got into the house. More updates on the arrest and developments can be found at Wikipedia.