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TMCNet:  Boot up: why 4K?, phablets rising, Hypponen snubs RSA, and more

[December 24, 2013]

Boot up: why 4K?, phablets rising, Hypponen snubs RSA, and more

(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A burst of 9 links for you to chew over along with your turkey and mince pies, as picked by the Technology team Is 4K BS? >> Tim Bray I hear that Sony & friends are going to start telling us that our HDTVs aren't good enough and we all need to up­grade to 4K (which is twice the di­men­sions and 4 times the pix­els of 1080p). NBC news says the ex­perts are un­con­vinced, and quotes one of them: retina sci­en­tist, pho­tog­ra­pher, and blog­ger Bryan Jones. I thought I'd do the num­bers and yeah, I think it's prob­a­bly BS.


Includes code for you to work out that you don't need 4K on your TV either.

Phablets to outdo small tablets in 2014: technalysis's O'Donnell >> Forbes In the US, people routinely mock extra-big smartphones that approach tablet-computer dimensions. Maybe it's time to stop snickering. Demand for these odd-sized devices is growing so fast in Asia, Europe and Brazil that "phablets" worldwide in 2014 should outsell traditional smaller tablets, predicts Bob O'Donnell, the founder of Technalysis Research.

"I thought phablets were ridiculous at first," O'Donnell concedes. "How could you hold one to your ear to make a call? But over time, they grow on you." For 2014, he predicts that 175 million phablets will be sold worldwide, versus a more modest 165 million sales of smaller tablets (screens measuring 8 inches or less on the diagonal.) As only 16% of users' time on smartphones is spent talking, having a big screen is useful. But O'Donnell seems to be anticipating a larger Apple design "in spring or autumn". Stick to the latter.

Toshiba ships DVD media with laptop without DVD drive >> Gadget Writing Tim Anderson: One day you will be able to buy a Windows device and have a smooth and delightful experience getting started.

To be fair, something like a Surface tablet can give offer a reasonable experience if you are lucky.

Not so a Toshiba Portege Z930 ultrabook – at least, not if you buy one with Windows 7 pre-installed, and want to run Windows 8, as a contact of mine has just done.

Why would you not buy one with Windows 8 pre-installed instead? With hindsight, that is what I would recommend; but since it says on the box, "This system is pre-installed with Windows 7 Pro software and also comes with a license and media for Windows 8 Pro software," he did not think it much mattered.

The problem: The Z930 has no optical drive, but Windows 8 is supplied in the form of two recovery DVDs.

Amazingly, things then get worse.

An open letter to the chiefs of EMC and RSA >> F-Secure Weblog Mikko Hypponen: On December 20th, Reuters broke a story alleging that your company accepted a random number generator from the National Security Agency, and set it as the default option in one of the your products, in exchange of $10m. Your company has issued a statement on the topic, but you have not denied this particular claim. Eventually, NSA's random number generator was found to be flawed on purpose, in effect creating a back door. You had kept on using the generator for years despite widespread speculation that NSA had backdoored it.

As my reaction to this, I'm cancelling my talk at the RSA Conference USA 2014 in San Francisco in February 2014.

Things are starting to happen.

Why Huobi purportedly has higher volume than BTCChina and OKCoin >> Great Wall of Numbers Tim Swanson: For those unfamiliar with Huobi, it is now the largest Bitcoin exchange in China doing roughly 40,000-80,000 in volume a day (versus 4,000 at OKCoin) – though these numbers could be suspect (see the last section below).  Earlier today I spoke with my friend who is building an exchange in Shanghai who explained the volume discrepancy.

The way the current exchanges in China are nearly all set up is that all of the trading is actually conducted using the CEO's personal bank account.  That is to say, none of the exchanges (at first) utilized a corporate account.  At some point this past year the big exchanges managed to switch to corporate accounts in some form or fashion.  So on top of the 3rd party payment provider ban issues last week, the CEOs at the big exchanges (probably) expect some kind of crackdown on personal accounts so they are trying to go completely legitimate and avoid the risks associated with personal liability.

Quite scary for the CEOs and those doing business through them.

Inside knowledge likely in Target breach, experts say >> Network World Plot thickens: the scant details released by the retailer Thursday left some experts believing the criminals had to have some inside knowledge of the company's point-of-sale system in order to compromise it so effectively.

Either people inside the organization were involved or, "at the very least, (the thieves) had sophisticated knowledge and a clear understanding of the cardholder data flows, in order to pinpoint where to steal this very specific data and then exfiltrate it," Mark Bower, director of information protection solutions at Voltage Security, said.

A world managed by apps is closed for those without a smartphone >> Tech Socio Tech FJ van Wingerde sees a new sort of digital divide: The people who are economically disadvantaged enough that acquiring a new or replacing a broken smart handheld is just fricking hard, will find themselves burdened always having only secondary access to the world: always having to type 20 digit numbers though hostile phone menu trees to finish topping up, having to go to a specific location to find the right form and find it is out of stock this week and wasting a trip, carry little top-up cards and keys they may lose, not being able to remotely check on their homes or work, not reaping the benefits of a world going digital.

Thieves hit Berlin Apple Shop after crashing in with stolen car >> Bloomberg Thieves crashed a stolen car through an Apple shop window in Berlin early this morning, escaping with laptops, iPads and iPhones in two other vehicles, police said. It was the seventh break-in of its kind in the city this year.

"These are not amateurs," Berlin police department spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said by telephone. "We suspect that we're dealing with a gang." A stolen Opel Corsa was used to smash the Apple store window and the thieves escaped in two Audis, Neuendorf said. On 9 December, thieves drove into Berlin's Alexa shopping mall and took about €100,000 ($137,000) of electronics.

Tribune to acquire Sony audio recognition unit Gracenote for $170m >> TechCrunch Global consumer electronics conglomerate Sony is getting a tiny bit leaner with the sale of Gracenote, a business unit that provides audio recognition and metadata solutions to a number of device manufacturers and media companies. Tribune will spend $170m to buy out Gracenote in a deal that is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, and will combine it with Tribune Media Services (TMS).

The sale comes five years after Sony acquired Gracenote in a deal worth $260m… Sony has been making cuts in its media business, and has come under pressure from investor Daniel Loeb to spin off the entertainment unit. Getting rid of Gracenote, which provides technology not just to Sony, but to a number of its competitors in the consumer electronics world, therefore makes a bit of sense.

The only way it makes sense is if it's losing money.

Happy Christmas to everyone. Boot Up will be back next week.

(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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