Monthly Archives: January 2013

dell-logo

Dell considering going private: Bloomberg, Reuters

dell-logoThe PC maker Dell is considering potential buyouts from private equity firms, reports Bloomberg. According to the news agency, at least two people familiar with the matter have told it that Dell is in talks with TPG Capital and Silver Lake private equity firms, but these discussions are still preliminary and could fall apart.

The report further adds that several large banks have been approached for the financing, as Dell’s market cap is around $18.9 billion (as of Jan 11, 2013) and would need large financing if going-private plans have to go through.

A similar report from Reuters, which also cites two of its sources, confirmed what Bloomberg is reporting.

This isn’t the first time that Dell has considered going private. CEO and founder Michael Dell confirmed at an investor meet in June 2010 that he had considered taking the company private.

Some analysts believe that taken Dell private might help the company in its shift from PC business to enterprise hardware, software and services by escaping the investor scrutiny.  “You can be bolder in your decisions when you are a private company,” one analyst noted. While others are skeptical about the size of Dell and its going private is no easy task because of the massive financing requirements.

“The market value of Dell has come down so much that a buyout has become something that is plausible. They have about $5 billion in net cash and also free cash flow generation that could sustain payments on debt from a leveraged buyout,” told S&P Capital IQ analyst Angelo Zino to Reuters. “However, we think it’s unlikely, given the sheer size of Dell and where the stock is currently trading at.”

Dell has declined to comment on the talks.

Dell, which was founded by Michael Dell in University dorm room in 1984, has been ceding market share to HP and Lenovo to the past few years. Even the latest preliminary report from Gartner suggests that Dell lost 2 pc of market share in the Q4, 2012, slipping to 10.2 pc from 12.2 pc in 2011.

Image credit: Reuters

archos-gamepad

Archos GamePad coming to US in February for $169

archos-gamepadArchos GamePad might have been available in the Europe since December 2012, but now the word in coming in that US consumers will also be able to use this gaming Android tablet starting next month. According to a report at ARM Devices, an Archos executive confirmed at CES that GamePad will make its US debut in February for $169.

French manufacturer Archos has been trying to ramp up its manufacturing until now, to be able to supply the huge demand that will come with release in markets like US, noted ARM Devices.

To remind you, the Archos GamePad comes with a 7 inch 1024×600p display, 1.6GHz dual-core processor with a quad-core GPU, 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The device also comes with several physical controls that can be mapped with the on-screen controls in any Android game using a pre-installed app from Archos. Some of the games automatically get mapped to the physical buttons.

Archos GamePad seems like a great device for such a price and would surely find many takers stateside.

Archos GamePad key features

  • Display: 7’-inch 1024x600p capacitive 5 points multitouch screen
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • ARM CORTEX dual-core A9 @ 1.6GHz processor
  • Quad-core Mali 400 MP
  • Flash Memory: 8GB* + microSD Slot (SDHC compatible up to 32GB)
  • 1GB RAM
  • Front camera
  • USB 2.0: Mobile Transfer Protocol (MTP)
  • mini HDMI output6(Mini HDMI / HDMI cable sold separately)
  • Wi-Fi
  • G-sensor
  • Built-in Microphone
  • Dimensions & weight    • 229.8 x 118.7mm x 15.4mm (9’’x 4.6’’x 0.6’’) | 330g (11.6 oz)
HP-Envy-x2

Worldwide PC shipments decline in Q4, 2012, a trend?

Seems tablets are finally eating the PC pie. According to the latest preliminary report released by Gartner, the worldwide PC shipments totalled 90.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 4.9 percent decline year-on-year basis.  This fall further gives credibility to the notion that consumers are increasingly choosing tablets as their main computing device rather than opting for a desktop or laptop, unless required.

“Tablets have dramatically changed the device landscape for PCs, not so much by ‘cannibalizing’ PC sales, but by causing PC users to shift consumption to tablets rather than replacing older PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. It makes sense and even personally I have heard from multiple consumers that they are looking to grab a tablet as their next computing device as they don’t really do more than web browsing or media consumption on their current personal computers.pc-vendor-shipments-2012-gartner

“Whereas as once we imagined a world in which individual users would have both a PC and a tablet as personal devices, we increasingly suspect that most individuals will shift consumption activity to a personal tablet, and perform creative and administrative tasks on a shared PC. There will be some individuals who retain both, but we believe they will be exception and not the norm,” Kitagawa added.

Windows 8, which was expected to rejuvenate PC sales, hasn’t done much to help. “Analysts said some PC vendors offered somewhat lackluster form factors in their Windows 8 offerings and missed the excitement of touch,” noted Gartner in a press release.

In terms of the manufacturers, HP leads the pack with 14.6 million shipments and 16.2pc market share, followed closely by Lenovo with 13.9 million units and 15.5pc market share.

Highlights:

  • In the U.S., PC shipments totalled 17.5million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 2.1 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011
  • PC shipments in EMEA totalled 28.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 9.6 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2011
  • PC shipments in Asia/Pacific totalled 29.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, a 1.8 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2011.

us-emea-pc-vendor-shipments-2012-gartner

playstation3-slim-new

Next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles could be priced upto $400: Report

 

playstation3-slim-newThe gaming fraternity is highly anticipating the launch of the next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft alike. Many rumours in the past have hinted that both companies are likely to launch their new consoles this year’s E3 with the sales beginning year end.

The latest set of findings, courtesy Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research, indicate that the next-gen consoles will be priced around $350-$400 in the US, reports Gamesindustry International.

The analyst who stated the pricing point in a note to investors mentions that his finding is based on his chats with “a number of companies involved in video game development and distribution” during CES 2013.

According to him, the next Xbox should expectedly arrive in November with the next Playstation to launch in October. But he also takes into account the fact that Sony’s PS4 may encounter early production issues, attributing this bit to his “field checks”.

Further, Sebastian is of the view that the next game consoles will consist mostly of “off the shelf” PC components, including an Intel-based chip for Microsoft’s console. He adds, “For Microsoft, this design will also allow for more integration with Windows 8 and Windows Mobile devices.”

As far as Nintendo is concerned, Sebastian feels that the company may struggle to attract new buyers for the Wii-U and that the console will remain more or less restricted to the core Nintendo fan base.

He also predicts that 2013 will be another tough year for the games industry. The reason being, the hype surrounding the launch of next gen consoles, which could lead to a possible decline in sales for current platforms. Some of the games that made it to his anticipated hit list for 2013 are GTA V, new releases in the Skylanders, Call of Duty, Battlefield franchises and Bungie’s Destiny.

 
oracle-Java

Oracle releases Java 7 Update 11 with vulnerability fixes

oracle-JavaAs promised, Oracle has released a fix for recently revealed Java security vulnerability in the form of Java 7 Update 11.  You can grab the download from Oracle website.

“This Security Alert addresses security issues CVE-2013-0422 (US-CERT Alert TA13-010A – Oracle Java 7 Security Manager Bypass Vulnerability) and another vulnerability affecting Java running in web browsers,” Oracle noted in a security alert.

This update also includes a change to the default Java Security Level setting from Medium to High, meaning the user is now always prompted before any unsigned Java applet or Java Web Start application is run.

With this, the current nightmare for Oracle might be over, but experts claim that there are still several vulnerabilities in Java, which need to be fixed.

Adam Gowdiak, a researcher with Poland’s Security Explorations, told Reuters that the update from Oracle leaves unfixed several critical security flaws. “We don’t dare to tell users that it’s safe to enable Java again,” said Gowdiak.

Earlier, critical security vulnerability was found on Java 7 Update 10, which allowed hackers to install malicious software on computer systems. The US Department of Homeland Security later issued a vulnerability note detailing the bug and urged users to disable Java on their computers.

anon-mit_hack

Anonymous hacks MIT website; leaves tribute for Aaron Swartz

anon-mit_hackInternet is dealing with Aaron Swartz’s suicide in different ways, while some are paying tribute to this free-information activist by uploading academic papers online for free (#pdftribute), others like Anonymous are doing what they do the best – hacking.

This hacker collective broke into two of MIT websites earlier today and posted memorials for Aaron Swartz. The hacked webpages have now been taken down, but you can see the message posted by them below.

In Memoriam, Aaron Swartz, November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013, Requiescat in pace.

A brief message from Anonymous.

Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government’s prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for – freeing the publicly-funded scientific literature from a publishing system that makes it inaccessible to most of those who paid for it – enabling the collective betterment of the world through the facilitation of sharing – an ideal that we should all support.

Moreover, the situation Aaron found himself in highlights the injustice of U.S. computer crime laws, particularly their punishment regimes, and the highly-questionable justice of pre-trial bargaining. Aaron’s act was undoubtedly political activism; it had tragic consequences.

Our wishes

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors who use them.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for reform of copyright and intellectual property law, returning it to the proper principles of common good to the many, rather than private gain to the few.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for greater recognition of the oppression and injustices heaped daily by certain persons and institutions of authority upon anyone who dares to stand up and be counted for their beliefs, and for greater solidarity and mutual aid in response.

We call for this tragedy to be a basis for a renewed and unwavering commitment to a free and unfettered internet, spared from censorship with equality of access and franchise for all.

For in the end, we will not be judged according to what we give, but according to what we keep to ourselves.

Aaron, we will sorely miss your friendship, and your help in building a better world. May you read in peace.

——

Who was Aaron Swartz? A hero in the SOPA/PIPA campaign, Reddit cofounder, RSS, Demand Progress, Avaaz, etc…:

Aaron Swartz’s funeral is on Tuesday. Here are details:

Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of #Aaron Swartz

——

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You’ll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.

There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It’s outrageous and unacceptable.

“I agree,” many say, “but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it’s perfectly legal – there’s nothing we can do to stop them.” But there is something we can, something that’s already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources – students, librarians, scientists – you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not – indeed, morally, you cannot – keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.

Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.

But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral – it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.

Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it – their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.

There is no justice in following unjust laws. It’s time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.

We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that’s out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.

With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge – we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?

Aaron Swartz

July 2008, Eremo, Italy

——-

You were the best of us; may you yet bring out the best in us.

-Anonymous, Jan 13, 2013.

——

(Postscript: We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We understand that it is a time of soul-searching for all those within this great institution as much – perhaps for some involved even more so – than it is for the greater internet community. We do not consign blame or responsibility upon MIT for what has happened, but call for all those feel heavy-hearted in their proximity to this awful loss to acknowledge instead the responsibility they have – that we all have – to build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud, and honour the ideals and dedication that burnt so brightly within him by embodying them in thought and word and action. Original frontpage)

What’s the role of MIT in all this?

Although hacker group does not blame MIT for Swartz’s death, the family of the dead internet activist has put the blame on both MIT and Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office for leading Aaron to take this extreme step.

He was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from JSTOR using Massachusetts Institute of Technology on-campus network in an attempt to make them freely available.

“Although JSTOR later dropped the charges against Swartz after he handed over his hard drives containing the stole journals, the U.S. attorney’s office continued prosecuting Swartz. MIT is considered to have tacitly supported the decision by U S attorneys to continue pursuing Swartz’s criminal prosecution,” noted All Things D in a news report.

In related news, MIT has announced that it is going to conduct an internal investigation looking into the university’s role in this whole matter.

“I want to express very clearly that I and all of us at MIT are extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man who touched the lives of so many,” wrote president L. Rafael Reif in a statement on Sunday. “It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy.”

APPLE_IPHONE_5

Apple slashes iPhone 5 component orders: WSJ, Nikkei

APPLE_IPHONE_5News is coming in from multiple sources that Apple has cut its orders for iPhone 5 components by almost half in the anticipation of weaker-than-expected demand in the current quarter. While, these reports from WSJ and Reuters (quotes Nikkei) don’t really give any exact numbers, so it is hard to pinpoint an exact reason for Apple’s actions.

According to Wall Street Journal, Apple’s orders for iPhone 5 screens for the January-March quarter have dropped to roughly half of what the company had previously planned to order. Reuters, which quotes Japanese publication Nikkei, also reports the order cuts for LCD panels being used in iPhone 5.

“Apple Inc has almost halved its order with suppliers of LCD panels for the iPhone 5 in the current quarter due to weak demand,” noted Reuters in a news report.

According to Reuters, Apple is reducing the LCD orders from the earlier planned 65 million units, but did not reveal the exact number of new LCD panel orders from the iPhone maker.

WSJ adds that it is not just LCD panel orders that Apple is cutting, it has also cut orders for other key components, quoting an unnamed source.  The Cupertino based company had apparently notified the suppliers last month about the revised orders.

But, Why?

Several theories are floating around to explain this alleged action from Apple, one of the most prominent theories is that the iPhone 5 sales might not have been as strong as previously anticipated and demand may be fading.

Another notion is that the early arrival of new iPhone 5s might be reason why this fruity company is cutting LCD orders, as the rumoured iPhone 5s uses a new display technology “Touch On display.”

pdftribute

A #pdftribute to Aaron Swartz

Researchers, academicians post their works as PDFs on Twitter in tribute

pdftributeTwitter is suddenly abuzz with academia coming out in the open to share the PDFs of their research and other scholarly works on the micro-blogging website Twitter. These people are paying their tribute to Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide day before yesterday, probably in the depression of on-going federal case of attempting to publicly release academic papers from JSTOR, a subscription-only service. His trial was supposed to start in a few days and if convicted he would have spent most of his life in jail.

Swartz helped develop RSS, co-owned Reddit and engaged in Internet digital activism, co-founding Demand Progress, a political action group that campaigns against Internet censorship.

The idea of sharing academic works as a tribute to Aaron was floated on Reddit yesterday night and it seems to have caught on now. According to a Tweetreach report, at the time of writing this post, there were over 500 tweets per hour with #pdftribute and more than 2.5 million impressions.

Eva Vivalt, who started this hash-tag and shared the above Tweetreach figure, noted on her blog:

Aaron Swartz’s death affected me like it did so many people. After I started to tweet this to people, Jessica Richman (@venturejessica), who is much more twitter-savvy than me, suggested using the hashtag #pdftributetoaaronswartz, which I then suggested shortening to #pdftribute. We both tweeted and tweeted, and others also joined in and tweeted and tweeted.

You can follow the #pdftribute tweets here.

oracle-Java

Oracle to fix Java security flaw soon

oracle-JavaOracle has announced it is preparing an update for the Java software to address a security vulnerability that was identified recently. “A fix will be available shortly,” the company said in a statement following U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s urge to computer users to disable Java from their web browsers.

Company also added that the recently discovered flaw only affects Java 7, the program’s most-recent version, and Java software designed to run on browsers, reports Reuters.

There is still no word on how soon we will be able to see this update, but considering Oracle has acknowledged the problem, it should be coming real soon.

Earlier on Thursday, the exploit was first discovered by a French Researcher, which was followed by an advisory by the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).

It noted:

Overview – Java 7 Update 10 and earlier contain an unspecified vulnerability that can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system.

Description – Java 7 Update 10 and earlier contain an unspecified remote-code-execution vulnerability. This vulnerability is being attacked in the wild, and is reported to be incorporated into exploit kits.

Impact – By convincing a user to visit a specially crafted HTML document, a remote attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system.

This advisory was followed by Mozilla’s announcement to add Java 7 Update 9, Java 7 Update 10, Java 6 Update 37, and Java 6 Update 38 to its Firefox add-on block list. Apple also did not take long to disable Java 7 on Macs that already have the plug-in installed.

Java has increasingly become a prime target for hackers. It even surpassed Adobe Reader as the most frequently attacked piece of software. To give you a perspective, Java was responsible for 50pc of all cyber-attacks in 2012 in which hackers exploited software bugs to hack computers.

Xbox-360-Consoles

Xbox continues its reign at top for 24th straight month

Microsoft announced yesterday that its Xbox 360 gaming console still holds the top sales spot thanks to 1.4 million unit shipments in December 2012. This makes it the 24th straight month to see Xbox’s reign at the top of console sales, as per data released by NPD Group.

Microsoft revealed that data released by NPD group also shows that in December, Xbox 360 held seven of the top 10 console game titles, including “Halo 4,” “Assassin’s Creed III,” “Just Dance 4,” “NBA 2K13,” “Far Cry 3,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” and “Madden NFL 13.” Meaning Xbox or Microsoft got most of the console spending from the consumers during the same period.

Originally announced in 2005, Xbox is crying for a replacement, and if it was not for the introduction of Kinect, Microsoft might not have held the sales crown for so long.  We are expecting to see the new Xbox debut this year’s E3.

Microsoft’s Xbox ambassador Major Nelson has already started teasing an announcement at E3 by starting a countdown for the event on his blog.

PS: Microsoft might be happy quoting data from NPD group, as it shows Xbox at the top, but IDC has an interesting fact to add. According to the research firm, in December 2012, Sony’s PS3 eclipsed the number of Xbox 360’s shipped worldwide, despite the PS3 launching a year later than the Xbox 360 (an estimated 77 million bundles versus approximately 76 million bundles shipped). To put it in more perspective, while NPD group is talking about monthly sales, IDC is talking about total shipments, but still you get it – right? Not everything is going great for Xbox and we need a new one.