SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:44:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 GoPro’s new ‘Hero’ is a game changer Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:44:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> New entry level GoPro Hero with integrated caseGoPro, Inc. is releasing its new Hero line of cameras on October 5th. The range includes the Hero, the Hero4 Silver and the Hero4 Black.

While the three new models vary in price and specifications, it is the GoPro Hero that is set to make the biggest impact; especially amongst customers new to GoPro.

It is set to retail for just $129.99 and features such as 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second or 720p HD video at 60 frames per second, as well as shooting 5-megapixel stills make it an excellent entry level option at a very competitive price. While it lacks Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, available in the Hero4 Silver and Hero4 Black models, it is also waterproof to 131’ (40m), according to GoPro.

The Hero4 Silver retails for $399.99 and features a touch-display, 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second and 720p HD video at 120 frames per second, 12MP photos up to 30 frames per second, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Protune for photos and video and is waterproof to 131’ (40m).

The range topping Hero4 Black is certain to excite the pros with its 2x more powerful processor and 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p HD video at 120 frames per second video capabilities in addition to also shooting 12MP stills.

It is hard to find fault with this lineup, although one drawback seems to be the short battery life. A report from The Wall Street Journal has it lasting a mere 2.5 hours.

Alternatives such as the Polaroid Cube and the Sony Action Cam are already on the market and HTC is about to launch their ReCamera, but the GoPro Hero is bound to be popular with strong brand recognition, high specifications and a very attractive price tag.

Image via GoPro
]]> 0
OpenDaylight gets a lot more open – and functional – with second “Helium” release Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:00:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> open sourceJust short of eight months after launch, the OpenDaylight Project is already marking its second lap towards unifying the software-defined networking (SDN) ecosystem with a new major release that fully lives up to the breakneck reputation of community-driven projects.

The successor to the original Hydrogen version appropriately takes the name of the next element on the periodic table and lays down the groundwork for future iterations with a set of strategic improvements that are most significant in the context of OpenDaylight’s big-name backers. Helium, as the release is known, is equal part milestone and steppingstone.

A coalition of vendors featuring networking kingpin Cisco Systems Inc. and more than a dozen other companies formed the OpenDaylight Project last April under the auspices of the Linux Foundation as a response to the rapid spread of SDN solutions in the marketplace. The initiative, which has since ballooned in size to include over 40 corporate sponsors, aims to provide for the network what OpenStack is for the cloud: a common management management layer that allows users to implement the products that best suit their requirements without concern for the compatibility issues that have traditionally made it difficult to combine technologies from different suppliers.

In accordance with that goal, the latest Helium release extends support to several key features in the Neutron networking component of OpenStack. The roster includes the Security Groups capability for regulating access to instances, distributed virtual routing and the LBaaS function, which permits the use of third party load balancing tools.

That enables organizations to make their deployments of the cloud platform more resilient against both regular usage spikes and distributed-denial-of-service attacks that involve a malicious party attempting to overwhelm their infrastructure with requests. But the security benefits of the LBaaS integration are much more than an added bonus.

Network protection is a core focus with Helium, which also introduces much-needed authorization, authentication and auditing capabilities that bring OpenDaylight a big step closer towards enterprise-readiness. Plus, it enables high-availability and clustering, two equally crucial enterprise features that are just as essential to delivering the kind of reliability expected from production environments.

Besides OpenStack, the new version also extends support to a number of other strategically important open-source technologies, most notably the Table Type Patterns model for handling traffic in environments employing the software-defined OpenFlow protocol. Telecoms can bring comparable of automation to their cable modem termination systems leveraging complementary integration with the PacketCable MultiMedia framework, which provides similar functionality.

To prevent all those features from weighing down on user environments, Helium has carefully been bundled with Apache Karaf, a container makes it possible for admins to choose which specific functions to install when setting up their OpenDayLight deployments. The release sports a revamped interface that aims to simplify that chore and streamline ongoing management with the same stroke.

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc
]]> 0
Slim, colorful and cheap – HP’s new Stream series of Windows tablets Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:20:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The colorful HP Stream series of laptopsAnnounced September 29th, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s new colorful and thin HP Stream series of Windows laptops and tablets are machines looking to combine work and play. The range consists of two new laptops and two tablets. HP’s announcement of their new additions is perfectly timed in the lead-up to the holidays, with availability due for November 2014.

Included with the devices is free cloud storage and free 4G connectivity on selected models. In addition is the option of 1 terabyte of storage in Microsoft OneDrive for a year and access to Office 365 Personal edition for a year.

Mike Nash, vice president in the Personal Systems Group at HP said “The HP Stream products announced today hit the mark with sleek design, portability, access to free cloud storage, and the familiarity of Windows and Office 365.”

The two new laptops come with the option of an 11.6-inch or 13.3-inch high-definition display. The 13.3-inch version has a touch display option as well as an optional 200 megabytes of free 4G data each month. The larger version will retail for $230, while the smaller version will be $200. You can choose between two colors, Orchid Magenta or Horizon Blue.

As for the tablets, HP announced a HP Stream 7 (with a 7-inch screen) and the HP Stream 8 (with an 8-inch screen). With a year of Office 365 usage and 60 minutes of Skype included, you are set up from the get go. You also have the option for 200 megabytes of 4G data on the 8-inch version. The 7-inch version will cost $100, while the 8-inch version will only set you back $150.

Back in August HP announced the first member of the Stream family, the 14-inch HP Stream laptop.

Image credit: HP
]]> 0
Xbox One at last on sale in China, without Halo Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:45:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Xbox console with Chinese flagOn Monday, September 29, Xbox One went on sale in more than 4,000 retail outlets in 37 cities across mainland China. The country recently ended a 14-year ban on the sale of foreign-made game consoles, making Microsoft, Corp.’s Xbox One the first game console to go on sale there after the ban was lifted.

The launch and distribution of the console is handled by BesTV, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group and Microsoft’s partner in China.

“This milestone is significant for both our partnership with China and our global expansion plan. Every new market launch is unique and we’re grateful to our fans for their patience and enthusiasm,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We will continue to work closely with our partner BesTV to bring exciting games, entertainment and app experiences to delight gamers across China.”

After initial delays the Xbox One, dubbed “China Day One”, went on sale with a meager 10 game titles available. China has to approve each title for release and they have very strict regulations regarding violent content in video games. The 10 approved titles include the likes of Forza 5, Dance Central: Spotlight, PowerStar Golf and Naughty Kitties (a Chinese exclusive at the moment) to name a few.

Popular titles such as Halo, Titanfall and Destiny are notably absent from the lineup. According to Microsoft and their partner, BesTV, they are working on a lineup of 70 additional games, but they will have to pass regulatory approval first of course.

Although fans lined up for the Xbox One, it is not yet known how many units were sold on opening day. Microsoft has also not said how many units it needs to sell in China in order to deem their entry into the market as a success. They do at least have a lead on rivals.

Image via Le Journal du Geek
]]> 0
FireChat: Off-the-grid messaging app fuels Hong Kong’s protests Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:51:43 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small__7619777396Sites like Twitter and Facebook hit the headlines for their role in the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, and now pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have discovered a new kind of mobile service to help them organize their own rallies.

Called FireChat, the service is a basically just a messaging app, but it’s quite different from the likes of WhatsApp, Line and WeChat. Rather than connecting over the next, FireChat works ‘off-the-grid’ – which means it doesn’t need a carrier connection or Wi-Fi signal. Instead, FireChat uses a technology called peer-to-peer “mesh networking”. It connects using other devices as a go between, using a phone’s hardware to link people in a kind of digital daisy chain.

Right now, FireChat can connect devices up to 200 feet apart. The geographic limit means the app is really only useful in crowds, but that’s exactly what the Hong Kong protests have drawn. And since the crowd is so dense, many people are able to create a large mesh network to spread updates.

FireChat first came to prominence among Hong Kong’s protestors when student activist Joshua Wong advised his peers to download the app on Facebook, and since then the app has literally spread like wildfire. Open Garden, the firm behind FireChat, reports the app was downloaded 100,000 times at the weekend, with an average of 33,000 people using it at any given time.

One of the most appealing aspects of FireChat is there’s no easy way to shut down a mesh network. The only real way would be to somehow switch off the Bluetooth signal of every single phone in the network, and that’s almost certainly beyond the capabilities of Hong Kong’s authorities.

As far as drawbacks go, the major one is that FireChat isn’t encrypted, which means all the messages are public. There’s also no private chat function, which means it’s rather limited as a political tool.

Nevertheless, with apps like WeChat apparently being censored and reports of Instagram being blocked, FireChat has succesfully proven the value of having a service that’s resistant to government-imposed shutdowns.

photo credit: ROSS HONG KONG via photopin cc
]]> 0
Opinion: Consumerization boosting user interface quality for all Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:21:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> happy crowd users cheerSince the first commercial computers of the 1950s the user interface (UI) has been the ugly stepchild of corporate software. Always the last component to be designed, UIs are often boring, forms-based, and difficult to use, said Infor Global Solutions CEO Charles Philips in an interview on theCUBE from Inform 2014.

Part of the reason, as Wikibon CEO David Vellante said recently on theCUBE, is that neither the IT department, which selects software based on the features list, cost, and compatibility with the corporate infrastructure, nor the CFO, who signs off on the purchase but will never use it, care about the UI. The users who are stuck with these monsters have little say and no better alternatives. Choices range from bad to worse.

However, users may be in for a welcome change thanks to the consumerization of corporate software. Mobile consumer apps, in contrast to corporate productivity applications, are all about the UI. And some new-age productivity software companies at least are paying attention.



Tableau, Inc. is one example. Even though it was born on Microsoft Windows and not in the cloud, Tableau was designed from the ground up to appeal to end users. Its growth strategy is “land and expand”, and that has worked spectacularly well for the company as users proudly show off their creations to their colleagues.

Tableau is intuitive, responsive, and appealing to end-users, which are adjectives that few would attach to the average ERP or data analysis program. And the UI is vital for that. The result is that today it has legions of enthusiastic users who are its best sales people. A product that snuck in the door on the laptops of a few employees with no corporate endorsement has swept through organizations to the point that IT and the C-suite are forced to add it to the company standard product suite. That is the definition of user revolt, in this case against user unfriendly analysis tools.

The annual Tableau conferences, like the one that recently concluded in Seattle,  have the flavor of revival meetings, with cheering crowds greeting even minor product enhancement announcements when they aren’t running to the next class to learn what else they can do with a product that they commonly describe as fun to use.



baby-84626_1920Infor, under CEO Phillips, has taken this a giant step forward by creating its own design department called “Hook and Loop” with staff recruited from the fashion and video design fields. It has rebuilt its Lawson ERP system for the cloud with a new UI designed to make it easy and even fun to use. Hook and Loop is intimately involved in the design and creation of all of the company’s new and redesigned software, Infor’s Chief Creative Officer Mark Scibelli explained on theCUBE.  The company set up a Hook and Loop design lab at Inforum 2014 where attendees, including theCUBE, could tour the results of its work and talk to the designers.

Trend for the future


This new focus on the UI is clearly a trend out of the consumerization of productivity software. Users whose experience with computers was once only with the clunky software they used at work now carry tablets and smartphones for personal use. In that environment the UI is everything.

Users boycott mobile apps with poor UIs regardless of their other advantages. They carry those new expectations into the office, where they quickly become impatient with the clunky experience of the software they are expected to work on all day. Software-as-a-service vendors, who often focus on the small-to-medium company market in verticals such as hospitality, have to design their UIs to appeal to non-technical end-users, because those are their customers.

There are productivity benefits, too. Software that office workers enjoy using makes them more productive and reduces training time. Studies have shown that it also boosts morale, which improves retention. Good UI design is particularly important for mobile workers, who often work in distracting environments. Employees who feel in control and who look forward to using the tools on their computers are going to be better at their jobs overall. This is a trend too long in coming.

feature image by francistoms via photopin cc
Photo credit by PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay
]]> 0
Oracle’s new Sparc M7 chip delivers ‘ten times faster’ performance boost Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:15:21 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Oracle M7 Sparc chipOracle Corp’s overarching message at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld event might be all about the cloud, but that doesn’t mean it’s keeping quiet in its hardware business.

During his OpenWorld keynote on Sunday night, Oracle’s undisputed leader Larry Ellison revealed the company is still heavily invested in the Sparc processor technology it acquired along with Sun Microsystems back in 2010. The latest generation – Sparc M7 – is set to launch sometime next year, and in the words of Ellison is, “the most important thing we’ve done in silicon, maybe ever.”

We got a first glimpse of what to expect at the Hot Chips conference last August when Oracle’s Systems Vice President John Fowler described the CPU as having 32-cores with 64MB of on-chip L3 cache. The chips, he said, could easily be stacked into a 32-way SMP configuration to give a total of 1,024 cores offering up to 64 terabytes of RAM.

But according to Ellison, what makes the Sparc M7 really, really special are the so-called “acceleration engines” baked inside that are specifically designed to speed up Oracle apps.

“We’ve actually put database acceleration engines into our microprocessor, and with that we can speed up query performance by a factor of ten,” Ellison claimed.

The Sparc M7 achieves this by handling the compression inside the silicon. “It turns out you compress when you load the data into memory, and you decompress when you read the data and process the data,” said Ellison. “It turns out the ratio of reading and decompression is many times, ten times more frequent than loading the data into memory. So the real magic to speeding things up is not compression, it’s decompression.”

This allows the Sparc M7 to process database queries at a lightening-fast 120GB a second – according to Ellison, that’s ten times faster than what conventional hardware and software solutions can manage.

Ellison also boasted of the chip’s new memory protection capabilities that prevent apps from accidently deleting data or causing problems with other applications.

“The failures are intermittent; they’re extremely hard to trap, they’re extremely hard to trace,” he said. “With memory protection, you can discover those bugs really early, so it saves you a fortune finding really difficult bugs. But the cool thing about it is because it’s in hardware, you can leave this memory protection on without paying any performance price.”

Those are some pretty impressive claims, but critics have already slammed Oracle for being late to the game.

“Apparently, Oracle has finally copped to the reality that this 30+ year old DBMS is slow,” Aaron Auld, CEO of rival database firm EXASOL, told SiliconANGLE. “Oracle’s answer to the inadequacies of their foundational 12c product is “silicon” and lots of it. This M7 chip is going to be the ultimate Oracle lock-in strategy. Oracle will begin embedding parts of the database software in these proprietary ASICs.”

Even if this is all part of Oracle’s lock-in strategy, it’ll take some time for customer’s sentences to be handed down. Ellison refused to be drawn on a release data for the Sparc M7, saying only that it would be available sometime next year.

photo credit: Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France via photopin cc
]]> 0
Cisco inflates hybrid ‘Intercloud’ with 30 new partners Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:14:23 +0000 Continue reading ]]> small__6162847895With the cloud wars heating up, Cisco Systems has just announced a signifcant expansion of its Intercloud ecosystem, with 30 new global partners and a $1 billion injection of cash from Cisco Capital.

Cisco is hoping to boost adoption of its Intercloud, an OpenStack-based technology that aims to bridge the gap between cloud service providers by connecting disparate platforms with secure private access. It cites rapid growth of the hybrid cloud model as the driving force behind its Intercloud expansion, saying that more and more enterprises are using services that rely on multiple public and private clouds.

As such, Cisco’s just welcomed the likes of British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, Equinix and NTT DATA into its ecosystem, which it claims will provide users with a globally distributed hybrid platform with “near infinite” scalability and the benefits of local hosting and data sovereignty.

New partners including Comstor, Ingram Micro and Tech Data will become aggregators of Cisco’s Intercloud, the company said.

“As we look ahead to the next 30 years at Cisco, we’ll look back on today as a milestone almost as significant as that day in 1984 when our founders helped two network islands talk to each other,” wrote Cisco President Rob Lloyd. “Perhaps more importantly, I think we’ll look back on today as the day we enabled customers to achieve the vision of hybrid IT and created the IT platform truly ready for the Internet of Everything.”

In a blog post, Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi described how Uber runs analytics on passenger/driver data, credit card processing and live traffic data in multiple clouds.

“The credit card processing could be done in a private cloud whose infrastructure is being managed by Cisco Metacloud OpenStack distribution, while the analytics processing could be occurring in a public cloud, such as AWS,” wrote Tarazi. “That creates a need to stitch the disparate underlying infrastructures into a seamless whole that can satisfy the performance and availability service level agreements (SLAs) and security and compliance policies of the applications.”

Along with its new partners, Cisco has just launched new Hybrid Cloud bundles that allow private cloud users to extend their infrastructure inside Cisco’s Information-as-a-service offering. The bundles also allow non-public cloud users to gain the same capabilities with a complete hybrid cloud and Cisco’s IaaS solution.

Cisco’s Intercloud network now encompasses an additional 250 data centers located in 50 countries, while the $1 billion cash infusion will be used to help fund its cloud partners.

photo credit: messycupcakes via photopin cc
]]> 0
Here’s why the intelligence community bought a stake in MemSQL Mon, 29 Sep 2014 23:00:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> MemSQLYou probably haven’t heard of the newest database startup in In-Q-Tel’s investment portfolio, but if history is anything to go by, there’s more than a good chance you will. Consisting almost solely of big names such as Cloudera Inc. and MongoDB Inc., the exclusive club of analytics vendors to have acknowledged receiving funding from the intelligence community’s venture capital arm now includes MemSQL Inc. as well.

The three-year-old Y Combinator graduate offers a unique database that combines an in-memory row store with a columnar system to enable heavy-duty transaction processing and real-time analysis of unstructured streams in the same environment. Since other solutions only support one capability or the other, organizations have historically had no choice but to use a different product for each use case, which required paying for more software licenses and hiring extra staff to manage the added complexity that comes with multiple offerings.

MemSQL promises to do away with that operational headache and help budget-strapped IT organizations free up more resources in the process. The startup’s namesake platform abandons the traditional appliance-centric approach to database design for a distributed architecture not unlike Hadoop’s that splits up workloads across low-cost commodity servers. To top it off, the column store component of the software is optimized to take advantage of flash storage, which makes it suitable for powering even the most latency-sensitive analytical applications.

The multipurpose nature of MemSQL complements a wide range of use cases, the startup highlights on its website, from real-time advertising to infrastructure monitoring. But absent from the list is the reason that In-Q-Tel presumably decided to make the investment: the database’s capacity for handling raw intelligence.

MemSQL not only provides a means for rapidly ingesting that kind of fast-moving and varied information but also eliminates the need to perform time-consuming ETL (extract, transformation and load) operations in order to make the different types of incoming data accessible for analysis. Removing that bottleneck can make it possible to act on information much faster than in traditional environments.

Staying true to its secretive nature, In-Q-Tel didn’t disclose how much funding it placed into MemSQL, only revealing that the investment will “generate market opportunities for its in-memory distributed database with government entities.” The funding was announced in conjunction with an update that introduces geo-distributed replication, performance improvements to the column store and the ability to import large volumes of data from Amazon Inc.’s S3 object storage service as well as traditional file systems.

]]> 0
Facebook knows why you just bought that sex toy Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:24:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Facebook knows...Facebook, Inc. is relaunching Atlas, the ad service it purchased from Microsoft Corp. at the beginning of the year, and its new and improved capabilities could prove to be a threat to Google Inc.’s online ad market dominance. The announcement is expected to be made this week , during the 11th annual Advertising Week conference in New York. The rebooted Atlas service will reportedly combine its sophisticated ad and purchase tracking features with Facebook’s rich user data.

The original Atlas service was appealing to marketers because it tracked online purchases, and provided information about how online ads may have influenced those purchases. Facebook saw in Atlas an opportunity to prove the effectiveness of Facebook ads to marketers. It quickly became clear that an enhanced version of the sales and tracking tool would be beneficial to the marketers in their Facebook ad campaigns, as well as their ad campaigns across the web.

The new Atlas can track online ads and purchases on websites across the Internet, and because it now uses Facebook profile data for tracking, it’s far more accurate. Using Facebook profiles gives the service an unprecedented amount of cross channel tracking capabilities. Facebook will be able to follow and track individuals as they use mobile apps, something that cookies, the dominant tracking technology, are unable to do. From start to finish, the platform provides features that go beyond what Google can offer. Advertisers can take advantage of Facebook’s user demographics and its knowledge graph to fine tune ad campaigns with razor sharp targeting. The campaign can be launched on Facebook, in apps such as Instagram, and across the web, to just the right audience. When purchases are made, marketers will be able to see all the ad impressions that led up to the sale. Even purchases that are made at brick and mortar locations can be tracked, if they’re linked in any way to a Facebook profile, such as providing an email address at the time of purchase. It’s the type of data that can reassure marketers that advertising dollars are being well spent, which is likely to result in larger ad buys. In this way, the Atlas platform almost makes Google’s AdSense look primitive. Facebook is expected to reveal additional details about the platform’s rollout soon.

photo credit: Aleera via Flickr cc
]]> 0