SiliconANGLE Extracting the signal from the noise. Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:29:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Valve will offer HTC Vive dev kits for free to select developers Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:22:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> htc-valve-vive-vr-headsetIn order to get its new virtual reality (VR) device out onto the market as quickly as possible, Valve will be offering free development kits for the upcoming HTC Vive to a small handful of developers.

Valve Corporation and HTC Corporation have already sent free dev kits to a select number of developers, according to Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi speaking to Ars Technica, such as Owlchemy Labs (Aaaaaa! For The Awesome), Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread), Fireproof Games (The Room), and Cloudhead Games (The Gallery). Others are planned and it’s possible to sign up for a free Vive dev kit, but to get in on that will have to sign up.

Approved developers will get the Developer Edition kit for “free, at least initially,” Lombardi said. He also stated that this was part of an effort to get the development community charged up and prepared before the planned 2015 release of the Vive.

According to the SteamVR landing page, the dev kit “includes a headset, two single-handed controllers, and a system that tracks them all in the same absolute space.” And it will be available Spring 2015. HTC’s developer page includes a link for developers to sign up and request a developer edition.

While this is great news for developers—it also keeps the Vive out of the hands of the general public and the press because the dev kit is not coming out for public consumption. Since developers will have to sign up and be accepted, although it is free, this still corrals the distribution of dev kits according to HTC and Valve’s whims.

As a VR device, the Vive appears to be nothing short of amazing and the partnership between HTC and Valve means it will be well-placed against competitors. As the Vive approached launch it will be facing off against the Oculus Rift—which has no commercial release yet, but does have dev kits in the wild—and the Sony Morpheus—which will not be out until 2016.

Image credit: HTC Corporation, HTC Vive from
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Talon broadens client support in new version of enterprise file-sharing app Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:37:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> SynchronizeTalon Storage Solutions, Inc. has extended its MobileFast file-sharing application to support Android and Windows Phone clients as part of a broad set of enhancements announced this week. Previously, the platform only supported Apple iOS client devices.

Users of all three platforms can now retrieve documents from Windows file shares for online or off-line editing using the native management capabilities of the Windows NTFS file system, a feature that Talon said is unique to its product. Users can also share files directly with colleagues and customers, with synchronization and version control handled by the MobileFast server.

MobileFast is one of a growing number of products in the enterprise file synch and share (EFSS) category that have sprung up to deal with the proliferation of mobile devices that need to access corporate data. It’s attacking the growing problem of data proliferating in the field without central accounting or control.

“The problem with shadow IT is that sharing files and intellectual property between end-users and between end-users and third parties causes the centralized and secure environment to be blown out of the water,” said Product Director Jaap van Duijvenbode. “CIOs are losing control over their data management.”

MobileFast sits on top of an existing Microsoft infrastructure and uses Microsoft conventions for functions like permissions and folders. It also integrates seamlessly with Active Directory and Microsoft SharePoint file-sharing settings, van Duijvenbode said.

A new virtual network support feature enables workers to maintain existing file shares and drive mappings on remote files, so that downloaded files are synchronized back to their original locations on the server. Laptop users can take advantage of full offline networking mode with local virtual cache, preserving Windows semantics.

MobileFast support HTTPS or SSL encryption, and adds compression and block-level synchronization to reliably and securely manage document distribution across a far-flung network, van Duijvenbode said. The product can also optionally use two-factor authentication at the share, folder and file levels.

The privately funded company targets enterprises that want to maintain a single set of data both for remote offices and mobile offices. Pricing is based on the number of concurrent users starting at $72 per concurrent user per year.

Image via Pixabay.
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HTC One M9 vs. Galaxy S6 vs. iPhone 6 Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:00:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The HTC One M9 went on sale at midnight, which means there’s another flagship device to choose from. Which flagship device will you be purchasing? Is it Apple’s iPhone 6 from last year? Samsung’s Galaxy S6, which you can now pre-order? Or the HTC One M9?

Check out the specifications of these three devices to help you decide which one fits you best.

HTC One M9     Galaxy S6 Edge     iphone 7 concept1

Design and dimension


HTC One M9: Height 144.6mm x width 69.7mm x depth 9.61 mm, weight 157g; features a dual-tone all-metal body with mirrored edges that are ergonomically tapered to effortlessly fit your grip. The unibody back is curved to deliver the streamlined look and feel of the HTC One series smartphones.

Galaxy S6: Height 143.4mm x width 70.5mm x depth 6.8mm; weight 138g; features a metal bezel that cascades into sophisticated glass; sports a Gorilla Glass 4 back cover.

iPhone 6: Height 138.1mm x width 67mm x depth 6.9mm; weight 129g; features an ion-strengthened cover glass, rounded edges and curves that seamlessly connect with the anodized aluminum enclosure at the back.



HTC One M9: 5-inch Super LCD3 capacitive touchscreen display with 1920×1080 pixels, ~441 ppi pixel density and Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

Galaxy S6: 5.1-inches, 2560×1440, Super AMOLED display with 577ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

iPhone 6: 4.7-inches, LED-backlit, widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology; 1334×750-pixel resolution at 326 ppi or Retina HD display, with a fingerprint-resistant, oleophobic coating on the screen.

Internal components


HTC One M9: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa core 64-bit, 4 x 2.0GHz + 4 x 1.5GHz, Adreno 430 GPU, and has an internal memory of 32GB, which can be upgraded to up to 2TB with a microSD, 3GB RAM, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC, infrared and microUSB 2.0.

Galaxy S6: Exynos 7420 chipset; 64-bit Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A5; 32/64/128GB memory with no microSD slot for expansion; 3GB RAM; NFC; infrared port; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot; Bluetooth LE; A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou.

iPhone 6: A8 chip with 64-bit architecture; M8 motion coprocessor; runs iOS 8; available in 16/64/128GB with no microSD slot; NFC chip; Bluetooth 4.0; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot.



HTC One M9: 20MP primary camera with dual-LED flash with features such as automatic simultaneous video and image recording, geo-tagging, face/smile detection, HDR and panorama; and a 4MP HTC Ultra Pixel front camera.

Galaxy S6: Back camera: 16MP, 5132 x 2988 pixels, optical image stabilization, autofocus, LED flash; selfie camera: 5 MP, 1080p@30fps, dual video call, Auto HDR; wide-angle lenses.

iPhone 6: 8MP iSight camera with 1.5µ pixels; autofocus with focus pixels; True Tone flash; five-element lens; sapphire crystal lens cover; auto image stabilization; burst mode; slo-mo video; 1.2MP FaceTime camera; burst mode; auto HDR; geo-tagging; face detection.



HTC One M9: Ambient light, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, magnetic and a Sensor Hub

Galaxy S6: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, gesture, heart rate.

iPhone 6: Barometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, fingerprint.



HTC One M9: A non-removable Li-Po 2840 mAh battery that can last up to 391 hours on standby, 25 hours and 20 minutes talk time on 2G, or up to 21 hours and 50 minutes on 3G. It has a Quick Charge feature that charges to up to 60 percent in just 30 minutes.

Galaxy S6: Non-removable Li-Ion 2550 mAh battery.

iPhone 6: Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion 1810 mAh battery with a standby time of 250 hours.

Operating system


HTC One M9: Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense

Galaxy S6: Android 5.0 Lollipop.

iPhone 6: iOS 8.

Things to Consider


The HTC One M9 is thicker and a bit heavier compared to the other two devices, with its display quality falling between the devices. The HTC One M9’s primary camera has a higher resolution compared to the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6, and its battery may even last longer than the other two. But there’s one special offering that makes the HTC One M9 standout even more: the Uh Oh Protection.

The Uh Oh Protection offers buyers of the HTC One M9 one free phone replacement within the first 12 months after you purchase the device. It covers cracked screen, water damage and even when changing network carrier. If you don’t use the one free phone replacement in the first 12 months, you get $100 off on your next HTC One purchase.

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BlackBerry’s turnaround remains on track with surprise quarterly profit Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:13:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> BlackBerry-CEO-John-Chen-300x168When John Chen took over as BlackBerry CEO a little over 20 months ago, the company was caught in a seemingly irreversible death spiral, hemorrhaging cash all over the place. Many analysts were predicting the company’s demise, and the company reportedly came close to selling itself to China’s Lenovo on more than one occassion

But then along came Chen with a radical plan to revamp the company as a provider of smartphones and services for the enterprise, and over the last year and half he’s managed to pull off a stunning turnaround. This Friday, Chen announced BlackBerry had posted a surprise profit of $0.04 per share, or $0.08 more than the consensus estimate of a $0.04 loss.

“Our focus this past year was on getting our financial house in order while creating a multi-year growth strategy and investing in our product portfolio,” Chen said on Friday in a prepared statement. “We now have a very good handle on our margins, and our product roadmaps have been well received.”

It’s not all good news though, with BlackBerry’s sales picture looking a little less rosy. Mobile device sales remain on the low side, with the firm recognizing revenue on just 1.3 million BlackBerry phone sales, with 1.6 million of those devices sold to customers. That’s unchanged from a year ago, when the firm also recognized revenue on 1.3 million BlackBerry phone sales, though at the time it said it had sold 3.4 million devices in total.

But of course, BlackBerry is moving on from being ‘just a mobile phone company’ anyway. While its smartphone business remains a focus, Chen is in the process of transforming BlackBerry into a provider of software and services too, and that could potentially be far more lucrative. At the same time, Chen is narrowly targeting big business customers rather than the consumer market.

“Our financial viability is no longer in question,” said Chen during BlackBerry’s earnings call, noting that he is halfway through his turnaround efforts.

Earlier this month, BlackBerry announced plans to bring some of its key offerings, including its security services and the BlackBerry Hub interface to the Android and iOS platforms. In addition, the company is also partnering with Google to support Android for Work, and is also collaborating with Samsung’s Knox security platform.

That doesn’t mean BlackBerry is totally giving up on smartphones though. At this month’s Mobile World Congress, it unveiled two new devices, including the touch-based BlackBerry Leap, and a so far unnamed device that features a curved edge with a slide-out keyboard.

photo credits: Sebastian Anthony via photopin cc
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Epic Games reveals three more Unreal dev grant winners Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:55:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Unreal Engine 4Earlier this year, Epic Games announced that it would be giving out grants to worthy developers using Unreal Engine 4 for their games, and today the North Carolina-based studio has announced three new winners, bringing the number of to nine with grants totalling $139,000 so far.

“There’s not any sort of contract involved in this,” Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said in February, speaking about the grant program. “If your project merits awesomeness, then we’ll give the award out. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position of accounting for anybody’s funds. It’s your money at that point and you can do with it what you want. The kind of teams that we’re looking at doing these projects are super motivated to do good work, and so I doubt we’ll see anybody doing anything other than furthering their project goals.”

Epic plans on eventually giving out up to $5 million in grants to game developers.




404Sight from Retro Yeti Games – $13,000

Developed by a team of University of Utah students, 404Sight is an endless running game that Epic compares to Mirror’s EdgeRobot Unicorn Attack, and Wipeout. On its website, Retro Yeti Games explains that 404Sight is also about Net Neutrality, saying, “Our game is a statement about protecting Net Neutrality and preventing ISPs from slowing and restricting access to the internet.”


ADR1FT from Three One Zero – $15,000

ADR1FT (apart from having a slightly annoying name) is a low gravity survival game where players are put in the role of an amnesiac astronaut adrift in a partially destroyed space station. The game supports virtual reality and tasks players with floating through shredded corridors, scavenging to replenish their quickly depleting oxygen supplies while trying to figure out what happened to them. You can view a trailer with lots of heavy breathing here.


Storm United from PixelBeam – $10,000

MMO shooter Storm United was about a month from releasing last year when Unreal Engine 4 came out, and the team at PixelBeam made the decision to hold off releasing it and instead port the entire game over to the new engine. Storm United will soon be on Steam Greenlight, and Epic says it will feature “deep social interactions.”

Screenshot via Unreal Engine/YouTube
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Roost smart battery integrates with Facebook’s Parse IoT Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:11:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> big data love heart numbers analytics open falling pour spillThis week’s Smart DevOps roundup features the integration between a smart battery and an Internet of Things (IoT) platform, the acquisition of an open source project to help developers create IoT solutions and a new OpenJDK-based Java platform for IoT.

Roost smart battery integrates with Facebook’s Parse

At the F8 Facebook Developer Conference, Roost, the smart Wi-Fi enabled 9v battery maker, announced its pioneering integration with Facebook’s Parse IoT. Roost has chosen Parse, a cloud app platform, as its cloud infrastructure provider for its smart battery and entire smart home platform.

The Roost smart battery turns old smoke or CO₂ detectors into smart gadgets, without purchasing entirely new devices or rewiring. Just swap your old 9v battery with Roost, download the accompanying iOS or Android app and start receiving notifications from your now smart smoke detector. It alerts you if your smoke alarm was triggered and when it needs you to replace the battery. You can even assign emergency contacts, which will be immediately informed when the alarm is triggered.


SmartBear Software acquires Swagger API

SmartBear Software, which provides open source API testing and development tools, acquired the Swagger API open source project from Reverb Technologies. Swagger is an API description format used by developers for most of their programming needs to deliver solutions and innovations for IoT, microservices and mobile applications. With the acquisition, SmartBear now owns two of the most widely adopted API open source initiatives: SoapUI and Swagger.

“Swagger has been the clear leader of the API description format discussion for several years – its ecosystem and passionate community is unsurpassed in the field,” said Ole Lensmar, CTO at SmartBear. “We look forward to working withTony Tam, Swagger’s creator, to give Swagger the dedicated backing and support it needs for growth, primarily to ensure the open source project’s evolution but also to ease its adoption into enterprise scenarios.”


Azul introduces Zulu Embedded

Azul Systems, Inc., a company that focuses on the development of Java and Java Virtual Machine, introduced the Zulu Embedded a new OpenJDK-based Java platform for developers and manufacturers in the embedded, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) markets. Zulu Embedded delivers all the power and richness of the Java platform and is designed to speed time to market, reduce required component costs and increase developer productivity. It is 100 percent open source, which greatly reduces the cost associated with Java licensing and offers flexible pricing models such as per device, per user flat rate and customer specific plans.

“Zulu Embedded is a game-changer for the embedded, mobile and IoT markets,” said Scott Sellers, Azul Systems president and CEO. “As a 100 percent open source solution already proven in millions of devices, Zulu Embedded greatly reduces costs associated with traditional Java licensing, making it compelling for a broad set of high volume and industrial embedded products that require a robust, customizable, standards compliant Java runtime.”

photo credit: Special*Dark via photopin cc
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Facebook helping iOS devs by open-sourcing its React Native framework Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:05:11 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Facebook Like thumbs up social mediaDevelopers looking to make the leap from web to mobile apps often have a tough road ahead of them, as the two formats can have very different requirements and code structures. Facebook is looking to make this transition a little bit easier by open-sourcing its React Native framework for all users.

“There are many reasons the native mobile environment is more difficult to work with than the web,” Facebook software engineer Tom Occhino wrote in a blog post announcing the new open-source format. “For one thing, it’s harder to lay things out on the screen, and we often have to manually compute the size and position of all our views. We also don’t have access to React or Relay, which have made it easier to scale the process of developing websites and growing our engineering organization. One of the most painful things about our transition to mobile, though, is how much it’s slowed down our development velocity.”

According to Occhino, Facebook has been using its React Native framework internally “for some time now,” and it has greatly sped up the mobile app development process.

React Native is a spinoff of Facebook’s React JavaScript platform, a popular framework used by the social network and many others to develop web apps. With React Native, developers can easily pull in existing JavaScript programs and access native iOS functions, which both improves performance speed and shortens development time.

“The only difference in the mobile environment is that instead of running React in the browser and rendering to divs and spans, we run it in an embedded instance of JavaScriptCore inside our apps and render to higher-level platform-specific components,” Occhino wrote. “One of the best parts about this approach is that we can adopt it incrementally, building new products on top of it or converting old products to use it whenever and wherever it makes sense. Just as we didn’t need to rewrite all of in order to start using React in some places, we don’t need to rebuild our entire mobile Facebook applications in order to start realizing the benefits of React Native.”

By making the framework open source, Facebook wants to “develop in the open as much as possible, collaborating with others who are facing the same challenges.”

photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc
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Report: Slack raises up to $160 million Series E on a $2.76 billion valuation Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:12:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 8362293703_6c489973d7_nEnterprise messaging platform provider Slack Technologies Inc. is said to have raised up to $160 million Series E on a $2.76 billion valuation.

The round hasn’t been officially confirmed by the company, however The Wall Street Journal reported that new investors have committed $135 million to the round, with Slack having the option to raise another $25 million from existing or new investors.

The round is said to have been led by Horizons Ventures, and included Index Ventures
DST Global and Institutional Venture Partners.

Rumors of the round first surfaced May 24 when it was reported that the round would be in the range of $100 million to $160 million on a $2 billion valuation.

Slack has only existed in its current for since January 2013, after previously being known as Tiny Speck Inc., the maker behind an online game called Glitch; having failed with online gaming the company pivoted into enterprise messaging….as you do.

Despite its newness, the company can brag of some impressive user numbers, boasting in February that it had more than 500,000 daily users across more than 600,000 teams sending 300 million messages per month.

The rise of the unicorns


Slack is the poster company for what Forbes dubbed back in January a Unicorn, a mythical company with a valuation of $1 billion or more, a figure Slack achieved 8 months after launching its main product.

Some 13 months after launching its product (while the company rebranded in January 2013, its product didn’t launch until February 2014) that valuation is now nearly 3 times that figure, a number some might find both staggering, and representative of what more and more are calling the great second tech bubble.

There’s no question that Slack’s numbers are impressive, but a valuation at nearly $3 billion 13 months post launch either shows exuberant support, or a market that’s ready to throw money at anything that looks half decent because there’s so much money floating around they have to spend it on something.

Including this new round (and taking it at $160 million, not the possibly smaller figure) Slack (including while it was still Tiny Speck) has raised at least $340 million to-date (the figure for a seed round in 2010 was not disclosed.) Previous investors include Slow Ventures, The Social+Capital Partnership, Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

photo credit: Unicorn Man via photopin (license)
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Microsoft rolls out new Azure Site Recovery and Backup tools Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:12:38 +0000 Continue reading ]]> microsoft-logoMicrosoft has launched a couple of new features for its Azure Site Recovery and Backup services.

First up is Azure Site Recovery, which has been given the ability to enable “protection and disaster recovery” for physical servers and VMware virtual machines. It allows businesses to remotely monitor the health of their machines and create tailor-made recover plans in the event of any disasters.

Should something go wrong, Site Recovery ensures you can smoothly failback to your on-premise infrastructure to keep things up and running. Microsoft adds that customers can also use Site Recovery as a means to test new versions of their applications, before using the failback center to move them into production.

These features are a direct challenge to VMware, which performs the same task with its vCloud Air offering via a single controller from the cloud. Microsoft is obviously trying to muscle in on its turf.

The second item is Azure Backup, which is now available as a preview. Using Azure Backup, businesses can ensure they SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, Windows clients and Hyper-V virtual machines applications are always backed up. For now, Microsoft says the focus is on providing backup services for its on-premises hardware, but it’s also making a preview of the service for data that resides in customer’s existing data centers.

Microsoft is clearly aiming both services at large enterprises, and says they should be especially appealing to those who wish to shift to hybrid cloud deployments.

In one final piece of news out of Redmond, Microsoft said its Azure API Management Premium service is now out of preview. The service has been officially launched with a couple of new features to the Azure Active Directory, including per-app multifactor authentication and password rollover.

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Google makes Cloud Platform installs easy with Cloud Launcher Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:15:17 +0000 Continue reading ]]> cloud launcherGoogle Inc. announced a handy new feature for its Cloud Platform Thursday that will make life a lot easier for first timers or those looking to save time: the Cloud Launcher.

The launcher offers easy installation of over 120 open source packages that have been configured by Bitnami, for Google, for deployment. To use, users simply select a package from the library, specify any parameters required for the install, and bingo: the package is then up and running.

According to the Google Cloud Platform blog, Cloud Launcher includes developer tools and stacks such as Apache Solr, Django, Gitlab, Jenkins, LAMP, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and Tomcat. Also included are popular databases like MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, as well as applications including WordPress, Drupal, JasperReports, Joomla and SugarCRM.

Google claims that many of the packages have been specifically built and performance-tuned for Google Cloud Platform, although they are still working to make sure that all packages are integrated with Google Cloud Monitoring for performance metrics and service monitoring.

“Deploying an application requires that all underlying runtime components and packages be in place and configured correctly” Google Cloud Platform Product Manager Varun Talwar says. “This often becomes a labor-intensive, time-consuming task. Developers should spend most of their time on design and writing code. Time spent finding and deploying libraries, fixing dependencies, resolving versioning issues and configuring tooling is time away from that work. ”

Appealing Amazon alternative


Install packages from Bitnami have been available for Amazon Web Services for a considerable number of years, but not in an as easy one-click solution as Google is presenting with Cloud Launcher.

Developers have their differences of opinion over AWS vs Google Cloud, and while the latter has become particularly popular for app development, the former remains the more popular service for hosting. The announcement adds another layer to Google’s Cloud offering in its (perhaps never ending) battle with Amazon in the cloud market.

To check it out, you can visit Cloud Launcher here. If you don’t currently have a Google Cloud account, they offer a free trial that gives you $300 in credit.

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