Monday, September 21, 2015



Link to TechEye

Robots could bring manufacturing back to the US and EU

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:11 AM PDT

humans-channel4-amc-sci-fi-tv-seriesThe falling cost of intelligent robots may help bring back car manufacturing to the EU and US

Donald Walker, Chief Executive of auto supplier Magna suggested that rising wages in China and the cost of importing heavy components like electric car batteries into Europe may lead established car makers to introduce more highly efficient automated manufacturing closer to home.

Speaking at the Frankfurt auto show Walker said that assembly plants were evolving and the cost of robots was going down.

By 2025 the total cost of manufacturing labor is projected to fall between 18 and 33 percent in countries which already deploy industrial robots, including South Korea, China, the U.S. Germany and Japan, a study on advanced manufacturing technologies by the Boston Consulting Group showed.

The emergence of hybrid and electric cars means auto makers have seen an increasing demand for large batteries, Walker explained.

“If you look at a battery, it is a big heavy thing to ship. The things that hold the battery, the bumpers, the wheels, those are big bulky parts,” Walker said.

“I think you will still see cars made where the market is. And based on that, the big bulky parts and a lot of the technology in there, will probably be made locally,” Walker said

Telefonica’s O2 deal goes under EU investigation

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:04 AM PDT

European flagHutchison Whampoa will face an extensive EU investigation over its bid for Telefonica’s British unit.

Apparently the company is prepared to sell network capacity and frequencies to head off antitrust concerns.

Hutchison’s $16 billion acquisition of Telefonica’s O2 business would make it the top mobile operator in Britain. But the Commission wants a tougher line on telecoms mergers, including forcing companies to divest infrastructure network.

It is worried that we could end up like the US with a small number of telecos who can more or less do what they like.

Hutchison, owned by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing wants the deal as part of an expansion into   Europe.

The EU competition authority had previously set an October 16 deadline for its preliminary review of the deal.

It is now expected to follow that up with an extensive investigation because of the case’s complexity, according to the sources familiar with the matter. A full-scale or so-called phase-two investigation lasts around five months.

Hutchison may have to sell parts of the combined entity’s network capacity and frequencies – or spectrum – to get the green light.  Sources indicate it is prepared to do so.



VW recall ordered over fudged emission tests

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:02 AM PDT

b299405f6eafe0ac98ce9d9405a17663 (1)The Obama administration has ordered Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, after the carmaker illegally installed software in its diesel-power cars to evade emission standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the German automaker of using software to detect when the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing. When the software is switched off the cars chuck out 40 times more pollution.

Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance said she expected more from a company which became famous for a car which was designed by the Nazis.

Agency officials issued the car company a notice of violation and said it had admitted to the use of a so-called defeat device. The recall involves 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-15.

A spokeswoman for Volkswagen confirmed that the company had received the notice and said the automaker was cooperating with the investigation. She declined to comment further on the case.

Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, first noticed the discrepancy between Volkswagen's emissions in testing laboratories and on the road. They brought the issue to the attention of the E.P.A., which conducted further tests on the cars, and ultimately discovered the use of the defeat device software.

Under the terms of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department could impose fines of as much as $37,500 for each recalled vehicle, for a possible total penalty of as much as $18 billion.

AVG spies and sells private data to advertisers

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:57 AM PDT

spyIf you are worried about your private data ending up in the hands of advertisers it is probably better to avoid installing the free version of  AVG "security software."

A change to its privacy policy has confirmed that AVG thinks it is a great idea to collect "non-personal data" and sell it to the highest bidder. This is a little odd given that you normally by security software to stop this sort of thing happening.

The new privacy policy comes into effect on 15 October so you might want to buy more sensible security software before then.

AVG explained that the ability to collect search history data had also been included in previous privacy policies, albeit with different wording. So if you were unfortunate enough to run AVG software you might have already sold the family silver without being aware of it.

Alexander Hanff security expert and chief executive of Think Privacy warned that AVG had now officially become spyware.

He told Wired that antivirus software runs on our devices with elevated privileges so it can detect and block malware, adware, spyware and other threats.

“It is utterly unethical to [the] highest degree and a complete and total abuse of the trust we give our security software.”

Previous versions of AVG’s privacy policy stated it could collect data on “the words you search”, but didn’t make it clear that browser history data could also be collected and sold to third parties. In a statement AVG said it had updated its privacy policy to be more transparent about how it could collect and use customer data.

AVG spokesperson told Wired that it was either spying or it would have to pack in its free security software.

“Those users who do not want us to use non-personal data in this way will be able to turn it off, without any decrease in the functionality our apps will provide. While AVG has not utilised data models to date, we may, in the future, provided that it is anonymous, non-personal data, and we are confident that our users have sufficient information and control to make an informed choice.”

It is a pity really. AVG is the third most popular antivirus product in the world and has an 8.6 percent share of the global market. Avast, which also provides free security software, admits that it collects certain non-personal information and sell it to advertisers.

Microsoft’s Surface is suddenly interesting

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:55 AM PDT


Microsoft-Surface-Pro-42Microsoft is getting some knock on effect from the fact that Apple copied its Surface design.

When Microsoft first announced the Surface Pro back in 2012 Apple fans mocked that it had a  kickstand, but also an "odd" cover that doubled as a keyboard. And to top things off, the device made use of a stylus. The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously said in 2010, "If you see a stylus, they blew it."

Now Apple has bought in all those things in its new iPad for an outrageous price, commentators are starting to wake up to the fact that the Surface is, and probably has been, rather good.  As a result Microsoft's announcement hardware event in New York on October 6 is attracting a lot of attention.

Since Apple is charging a fortune for what is essentially an out-of-date Surface, punters are keen to see what Microsoft will come up with that is much better.

Everyone is expecting an Intel Skylake processor lurking under the Surface Pro 4's glass display and perhaps some movement on available RAM and storage capacities (the current Surface Pro 3 tops out with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD).   It will have, of course Windows 10.

Apple was not the only one copying the Surface. Lenovo introduced its ideapad MIIX 700, which incorporates its own kickstand and an Intel Skylake-based Core m7 processor. But when the Surface Pro 4 is out all competition bets will be off.  Curiously it is Microsoft which is the innovation leader all of a sudden.

How on earth did that happen?


Advert blocker software pulled

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:51 AM PDT


StopThe developer of a popular iPhone ad-blocker app has pulled the software from the Apple store having had a change of heart about the software.

Marco Arment, a programmer who made the Peace ad-blocking app for iPhones saw his software rise from nowhere to being the number one paid app on the store.

It allows users to read online content — but strip out the ads.  This is pretty much like ad-bloc which has been around forever, so we can't see what the fuss is about.

However media companies are furious because it prevents them from stopping you from reading their web pages with annoying adverts which take up all the screen and you have to click to close.

“Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: While they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” the developer wrote on his blog.

If you bought Peace, the developer is providing guidance on how to get your money back. “Even though I'm ‘winning,’ I've enjoyed none of it. That's why I'm withdrawing from the market,” the developer wrote on his blog. d-blocker.

It is not as if he was the only advertising blocker software maker and there are shedloads out there. If media companies wanted to stop this sort of rubbish they should bring out less intrusive advertising.

Apple finally admits update bricks phones

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:47 AM PDT

maxresdefaultFruity cargo cult Apple has admitted that its iOS 9 update process has bricked the phones of some users.

There have been many complaints that devices were unable to progress past the “Slide to Upgrade” screen when moving to the latest version of iOS.

Apples solution is not great.  It is telling users to wipe their device and pray to Steve Jobs that you made a backup.

Instructions posted to the Apple support site advised users to perform a factory reset on the frozen iThing and then restore from a previous backup.

Apple’s suggested clean install procedure does work, but it can take you several goes.

The issue appeared to be largely relegated to devices running iOS 7 skipping over to iOS 9, Apple would not confirm if that was in fact the case.

In fact the only work around you can be sure of is to hit your iPhone with a hammer and buy something less problematic, and cheaper.

Apple peddles censored news

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:43 AM PDT

surprised-newspaper-readerFruity cargo cult Apple believes that there is a market for news “selected” for the needs of Apple fanboys..

The Apple News app is being billed as delivering readers a selection of stories from around the mediasphere that's tailored to their specific interests and reading habits.

It claims that all its friends in the Tame Apple Press are signing up to join it.  In fact if you want to feel like being sick, you can always read what these "Apple partners" are saying about the awful service

"Like Apple Music before it, Apple News enjoys a distinct advantage over third-party competitors by virtue of coming preinstalled on every iPhone and iPad running iOS 9. Also like Apple Music before it, the app immediately impresses with its appealing interface—and gradually disappoints with its as-yet-unrealized potential," enthused the Slate.

However the news system, which is supposed to protect you from the perils of click bait actually does stop decent stories going through.  It also gives you stories such as those which mention C list celebs and reality telly stars who no one should be interested in.

In fact, the signs are that what Apple wants you to read is probably not what you should be reading.  Whatever algorithms Apple is using is no better or worse than a human magazine editor.

However one thing is likely to be certain, you are not reading this story on Apple News.  Apple is a company which is famous for its reality distortion field.  It has a policy of not commenting on news which is unfavourable to it – unless it really has too.  Its recent statements about how well it is doing in China fly in the face of what analysts expect the company to archieve.

Trusting a company which operates in such a way selecting your news is insane.  How can you ever be sure that you will ever see a negative Apple story, or a piece of information you really need about your shiny too.


Fiorina is getting bitten by her HP past

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 01:41 AM PDT

Carly Former HP queen Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign has been hit by a story which is connected to her doings while making expensive printer ink.

Fiorina has been sounding off in favour of the Iranian peace deal which her fellow GOP members are convinced is going to be broken by those evil Muslims who should never be trusted. Until recently the Winsome Carly had said that if she was made president she would have undone the deal if she was elected.

While Fiorina's change of heart would normally be greeted as sane by many right thinking people, her fellow GOP rivals have dug up an item from her past which she would rather have forgotten.
When Fiorina was CEO of HP the outfit was involved in a scandal to flog printers in Iran through a subsidiary company in Dubai despite the trade embargo. The sales were halted shortly after the business dealings were published by the Globe.

Fiorina claimed no knowledge that the approximately $100 million of sales through the subsidiary were coming from Iran. The San Jose Mercury News found evidence that Fiorina at least knew a little bit about it.

It dug up a statement from the period where she commented that Middle East sales were defying global trends, and, issued a press release saying sales topped $100 million and that a big chunk of it came from Iran.

In 2010 she partially admitted HP's business in Iran and defended it in an interview with Lady Globes magazine, on the basis that technology could open up Iran to the world. She said that the Iran business was "distributing printer ink," which she said that was permitted in export law.

However HP had an office in the Dubai free-trade zones notorious for funnelling American goods to Iran, Portfolio reported. The gravy train was derailed in January 2009, HP severed ties with Redington Gulf when the distributor publicly bragged about it.

Anyway it appears that this particular skeleton in her closet will not go away and the news is being circulated on the world wide wibble again.

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