Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Get Adobe Flash player

How would you change the Nexus 10?

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 31 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

It’s a 10.1-inch tablet with a 2,560 x 1,600 display, and that’s all we need to know. Google’s Nexus 10 may have been the Galaxy Tab that everyone wanted, but what did our reviewer think of it? Sadly, strapping a laptop-class display onto a tablet doomed the device’s battery life, making it last around three hours less than its closest rivals. Did that deter you from buying one? We doubt it, so why not share your feelings about this product over on our forum?

Facebook and Google in tech cold war

Posted by Rattana_S On March - 30 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Facebook and Google are locked in a high-stakes, multi-billion dollar battle to shape the future.

Both companies are spending like crazy on emerging technologies. Their aims: when their current businesses are disrupted — and they will be — they’ll have a fallback plan.

“While Facebook is doing well now, it knows that its core business could degrade just as MySpace’s did,” said Carl Howe, analyst at Yankee Group.

That’s why Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) has poured billions of dollars into a photo sharing network, facial recognition software, a chat app and now virtual reality company Oculus. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), in turn, has invested billions in driverless cars, wearable gadgets, military robots and — most recently through its purchase of Nest — connected home devices like smoke detectors and thermostats.

It’s as if Facebook and Google are now combatants in Silicon Valley’s version of a Cold War arms race.

“Facebook and Google are high technology titans engaged in a real world game of ‘Monopoly’ to grab the choicest technology properties in a bid to maintain and extend their dominance with each other as well and various other rivals,” said Laura DiDio principal analyst at consultancy ITIC.

Related: Facebook to buy virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion

These are long-term bets. For all their attempts to diversify, neither company’s purchases have helped them expand beyond their core business models just yet. Both Google and Facebook generated about 90% of their revenue from advertising last year.

By buying Oculus, Facebook is betting that the next tech wave could be ruled by wearable devices. Google is making a similar bet with Glass and its Android Wear smartwatch platform.

Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday that he believes virtual reality has a chance to become the communications platform of the future.

But Oculus is unlike most wearable devices — it is closed off from the rest of the world, taking over most of your senses, including your entire field of vision. That’s great for gaming but it’s not like we’re going to be able to walk down the street with these things as we do today with smartphones and could even do one day with smartwatches and Google Glass.

“Oculus has a lot of cool, very immersive applications,” said Ron Gruia, principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan. “At the same time, Oculus is very isolating, limiting its usefulness.”

Even if it doesn’t succeed, the bet seems to be worth it for Facebook. The company spent $2 billion on Oculus but only $400 million in cash — loose change for a company with $11.5 billion in its corporate coffers.

But in the emerging Cold War between Facebook and Google, Facebook can’t take quite as many risks. Google has $59 billion in cash and can lose a bet every once in a while, as it did with Motorola Mobility. (Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion in 2011 but subsequently shed most of the assets, including the recent sale of Motorola’s smartphone business to Lenovo for about $3 billion.)

Google’s mission of cataloging information is also broader than Facebook’s “connecting people” goal. So while Facebook can make wild bets like it is with Oculus, it has less wiggle room than Google in ensuring they pay off. Investors showed their disapproval on Wednesday as well. Shares of Facebook were down more than 3%.

But give both companies credit for knowing they can’t rest on their laurels. Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook’s Zuckerberg seem to recognize that it’s not easy to stay on top of the tech world forever.

Numerous firms that were once industry titans fell to Earth after they failed to adapt to a new wave of technology. In fact, both companies literally have their headquarters in the graveyard of former tech darlings.

Facebook’s Menlo Park offices are in the former home of Sun Microsystems, which Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) snapped up in 2010. And Google lives in the former headquarters of Silicon Graphics Inc. — the once-mighty computing company that filed for bankruptcy in 2009. To top of page

Google has said the number of requests it has had from governments to share information about its users has gone up by 120% in the past four years.

The rise was blamed on an increase in users, but the company also said more governments were starting to “exercise their authority to make requests”.

In releasing the data the search giant renewed its calls for government surveillance reform.

Last year, 53,356 requests for data were made globally, Google said.

The majority of requests come from the US – but the figures do not include bulk surveillance carried out by the country’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Google has been publishing the twice-yearly Transparency Report since 2009.

Transparency push

Not all requests Google receives are successful. In the period of July to December 2013, 69% of the UK government’s 1,397 requests resulted in user information being passed over.

In the US, 83% of 10,574 requests were granted.

“We consistently push back against overly broad requests for your personal information,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s legal director.

“But it’s also important for laws to explicitly protect you from government overreach.

“That’s why we’re working alongside eight other companies to push for surveillance reform, including more transparency.”

Following revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden into US spying – technology companies have been pressing for more openness in the activities of governments.

Google has joined some of the sector’s big hitters – including Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter – in pushing for the right to publish data into national security requests as well demands made for law enforcement purposes.

Journalists targeted

In a separate publication on Friday, two Google engineers revealed the extent of state-sponsored hacking attempts on journalists and news organisations.

The engineers suggested that 21 of the top 25 news organisations in the world had been targeted – and that while general users face such attacks, journalists were “massively over-represented” in the study’s data.

Shane Huntley and Morgan Marquis-Boire presented their findings at the Black Hat security conference in Singapore.

Mr Huntley told Reuters: “If you’re a journalist or a journalistic organisation we will see state-sponsored targeting and we see it happening regardless of region, we see it from all over the world both from where the targets are and where the targets are from.”

He added that Chinese hackers had accessed a US news organisation – which was not named – by sending out a fake questionnaire to staff.

This week Microsoft revealed that, without a warrant, it accessed the Hotmail account of a French blogger in order to track down an employee leaking source code to some of its products, ultimately leading to that employee’s arrest. Microsoft’s actions created an uproar among users, causing it to spell out both its means, and its justification. Microsoft claims it needs to establish if “there is evidence sufficient for a court order” before conducting any searches, as allowed under its terms of service (the ones you read and agreed to). In response, Electronic Frontier Foundation fellow Andrew Crocker calls Redmond’s claim that it can’t obtain a warrant on itself a false premise with massive potential for abuse. Instead of “Warrants for Windows,” he argues that bringing in the FBI and obtaining a warrant is not only possible, but that it would be in line with Microsoft’s policy to require a warrant before revealing user info to others.

Though the process may be legal, a larger queasiness arises because, as worded, Microsoft’s TOS could submit a user’s inbox to those searches merely by violating its Code of Conduct. That could happen by (for example) emailing links that depict nudity, incite or express profanity, or facilitate the sale of firearms. Crocker himself states that, presumably, Microsoft isn’t using these standards as an excuse to dig through inboxes. His problem with its actions is more that by relying only on permission given by internal and external legal teams and its TOS, but not the actual court system, a potential for abuse exists.

As The Guardian details, other providers like Apple, Google and Yahoo (or likely AOL, which owns this blog) have similarly worded policies that could be used to access user data in order to protect their property. We asked Crocker about those, and he states that the EFF’s criticism stands in regards to similar policies, and that, while this particular case likely arose from an unusual set of circumstances, the fact we have no way of knowing if a company accessed our data is troubling (In the update on its policies, Microsoft said it would include data on the number of these types of searches in its bi-annual transparency report). In one case, TechCrunchfounder Mike Arrington even claimed that while he cannot be sure, he’s “nearly certain” Google may have accessed his Gmail inbox to sniff out a leaker. Whatever the case, we suddenly have some weekend reading time set aside for the topic of end-to-end encryption with GNU Privacy Guard and “how to setup your own email server.”