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Microsoft Now Makes Money From Surface Line, Q1 Sales Reach Almost $1 Billion

timothy posted 12 hours ago | from the but-that's-just-on-the-surface dept.

Microsoft 81

SmartAboutThings writes Microsoft has recently published its Q1 fiscal 2015 earnings report, disclosing that it has made $4.5 billion in net income on $23.20 billion in revenue. According to the report, revenue has increased by $4.67 billion, compared to $18.53 billion from the same period last year. However, net income has decreased 14 percent compared to last year's $5.24 billion mainly because of the $1.14 billion cost associated with the integration and restructuring expenses related to the Nokia acquisition.

But what's finally good news for the company is that the Surface gross margin was positive this quarter, which means the company finally starts making money on Surface sales. Microsoft didn't yet reveal Surface sales, but we know that Surface revenue was $908 million this quarter, up a massive 127 percent from the $400 million this time last year. However, if we assume that the average spent amount on the purchase of this year's Surface Pro 3 was around $1000, then we have less than 1 million units sold, which isn't that impressive, but it's a good start.

Automation Coming To Restaurants, But Not Because of Minimum Wage Hikes

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the my-compliments-to-the-chefbot dept.

Robotics 629

dcblogs writes: McDonald's this week told financial analysts of its plans to install self-ordering kiosks and mobile ordering at its restaurants. This news prompted the Wall Street Journal to editorialize, in " Minimum Wage Backfire," that while it may be true for McDonald's to say that its tech plans will improve customer experience, the move is also "a convenient way...to justify a reduction in the chain's global workforce." Minimum wage increase advocates, the Journal argued, are speeding along an automation backlash. But banks have long relied on ATMs, and grocery stores, including Walmart, have deployed self-service checkouts. In contrast, McDonald's hasn't changed its basic system of taking orders since its founding in the 1950s, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a research group focused on the restaurant industry. While mobile, kiosks and table ordering systems may help reduce labor costs, the automated self-serve technology is seen as an essential. It will take the stress out of ordering (lines) at fast food restaurants, and the wait for checks at more casual restaurants. It also helps with upselling and membership to loyalty programs. People who can order a drink refill off a tablet, instead of waving down waitstaff, may be more inclined to do so. Moreover, analysts say younger customers want self-service options.

FTDI Removes Driver From Windows Update That Bricked Cloned Chips

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the righteous-backpedaling dept.

Hardware 509

New submitter weilawei writes: Last night, FTDI, a Scottish manufacturer of USB-to-serial ICs, posted a response to the ongoing debacle over its allegedly intentional bricking of competitors' chips. In their statement, FTDI CEO Fred Dart said, "The recently release driver release has now been removed from Windows Update so that on-the-fly updating cannot occur. The driver is in the process of being updated and will be released next week. This will still uphold our stance against devices that are not genuine, but do so in a non-invasive way that means that there is no risk of end user's hardware being directly affected." This may have resulted from a discussion with Microsoft engineers about the implications of distributing potentially malicious driver software.

If you design hardware, what's your stance on this? Will you continue to integrate FTDI chips into your products? What alternatives are available to replace their functionality?

Ask Slashdot: Smarter Disk Space Monitoring In the Age of Cheap Storage?

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the percentages-matter-too-though dept.

Data Storage 168

relliker writes In the olden days, when monitoring a file system of a few 100 MB, we would be alerted when it topped 90% or more, with 95% a lot of times considered quite critical. Today, however, with a lot of file systems in the Terabyte range, a 90-95% full file system can still have a considerable amount of free space but we still mostly get bugged by the same alerts as in the days of yore when there really isn't a cause for immediate concern. Apart from increasing thresholds and/or starting to monitor actual free space left instead of a percentage, should it be time for monitoring systems to become a bit more intelligent by taking space usage trends and heuristics into account too and only warn about critical usage when projected thresholds are exceeded? I'd like my system to warn me with something like, 'Hey!, you'll be running out of space in a couple of months if you go on like this!' Or is this already the norm and I'm still living in a digital cave? What do you use, on what operating system?

Apple 1 Sells At Auction For $905,000

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the hey-motherboard-problems-are-an-apple-tradition dept.

The Almighty Buck 81

Dave Knott writes One of the few remaining examples of Apple Inc's first pre-assembled computer, the Apple 1, sold for $905,000 at an auction in New York on Wednesday. The final price outstrips expectations, as auction house Bonhams had said it expected to sell the machine, which was working as of September, for between $300,000 and $500,000. The buyer was The Henry Ford organization, which plans to display the computer in its museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Only 63 surviving authentic Apple 1's were listed in an Apple 1 Registry as of January out of the 200 that were built. The auctioned computer is thought to be one of the first batch of 50 Apple-1 machines assembled by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Steve Job's family garage in Los Altos, California in the summer of 1976. It is also believed to be one of only 15 that still have functioning motherboards. That's a bit more beastly than the original price.

Sale of IBM's Chip-Making Business To GlobalFoundries To Get US Security Review

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the asking-permission-is-the-new-liberty dept.

Government 94

dcblogs writes IBM is an officially sanctioned trusted supplier to the U.S. Defense Dept., and the transfer of its semiconductor manufacturing to GlobalFoundries, a U.S.-based firm owned by investors in Abu Dhabi, will get U.S. scrutiny. Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams, who authored a report last year for an industry group about U.S. supply chain vulnerabilities and national security, said regulators will have to look closely. "I don't want cast aspersions unnecessarily on Abu Dubai — but they're not Canada," said Adams "I think that the news that we may be selling part of our supply chain for semiconductors to a foreign investor is actually bad news."

BitTorrent Performance Test: Sync Is Faster Than Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the pardon-us-fellas dept.

Data Storage 124

An anonymous reader writes Now that its file synchronization tool has received a few updates, BitTorrent is going on the offensive against cloud-based storage services by showing off just how fast BitTorrent Sync can be. More specifically, the company conducted a test that shows Sync destroys Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Dropbox. The company transferred a 1.36 GB MP4 video clip between two Apple MacBook Pros using two Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters, the Time.gov site as a real-time clock, and the Internet connection at its headquarters (1 Gbps up/down). The timer started when the file transfer was initiated and then stopped once the file was fully synced and downloaded onto the receiving machine. Sync performed 8x faster than Google Drive, 11x faster than OneDrive, and 16x faster than Dropbox.

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips.

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the playing-dirty dept.

Hardware 688

janoc writes It seems that chipmaker FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers, and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? Hackaday says, "It’s very hard to tell the difference between the real and fake versions by looking at the package, but a look at the silicon reveals vast differences. The new driver for the FT232 exploits these differences, reprogramming it so it won’t work with existing drivers. It’s a bold strategy to cut down on silicon counterfeiters on the part of FTDI. A reasonable company would go after the manufacturers of fake chips, not the consumers who are most likely unaware they have a fake chip." Update: 10/24 02:53 GMT by S : In a series of Twitter posts, FTDI has admitted to doing this.

Raspberry Pi Founder Demos Touchscreen Display For DIY Kits

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the pi-you-can-see dept.

Displays 80

An anonymous reader writes: Over 4 million Raspberry Pis have been sold so far, and now founder Eben Upton has shown off a touchscreen display panel that's designed to work with it. It's a 7" panel, roughly tablet sized, but slightly thicker. "With the incoming touchscreen panel The Pi Foundation is clearly hoping to keep stoking the creative fires that have helped drive sales of the Pi by slotting another piece of DIY hardware into the mix." Upton also discussed the Model A+ Raspberry Pi board — an updated version they'll be announcing soon.

Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the history-revealed dept.

Software 121

zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.

Samsung Acknowledges and Fixes Bug On 840 EVO SSDs

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the not-presented-on-a-platter dept.

Data Storage 101

Lucas123 writes: Samsung has issued a firmware fix for a bug on its popular 840 EVO triple-level cell SSD. The bug apparently slows read performance tremendously for any data more than a month old that has not been moved around on the NAND. Samsung said in a statement that the read problems occurred on its 2.5-in 840 EVO SSDs and 840 EVO mSATA drives because of an error in the flash management software algorithm. Some users on technical blog sites, such as Overclock.net, say the problem extends beyond the EVO line. They also questioned whether the firmware upgrade was a true fix or if it just covers up the bug by moving data around the SSD.

Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance?

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the definitely-mine dept.

Android 108

MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, Futuremark began handing out copies of PCMark for Android to members of the press, in an effort to get its leaderboards filled while the finishing touches were being put on the app. That might give you pause in that the results, generated today, are not going to be entirely accurate when the final version comes out, but that's not the case. Futuremark has encouraged publication of results generated with the benchmark. What makes PCMark for Android useful benchmark is that it not only tests for performance, but also for battery-life and performance combined. As such, you can easily figure out which devices sacrifice battery-life for performance and which ones have a good blend of both. The HTC One M8 really stands out, thanks to its nearly balanced performance/battery-life ratio. A result like that might make you think that neither value could be that great, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the battery-life rating on that phone places far beyond some of the other models, only falling short to the OnePlus One. And speaking of that phone, it becomes obvious with PCMark why it's so hyped-up of late; it not only delivers solid performance, it boasts great battery-life as well.

Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own

timothy posted 4 days ago | from the funny-how-things-catch-on dept.

Android 172

SmartAboutThings writes The smartwatch market is still in its nascent form, but with Apple releasing its AppleWatch in early 2015, things are going to change. And Microsoft wants to make sure it's not late to the party, as it has been so many times in the past. That's why it plans on releasing its own smartwatch, which would be the first new category under CEO Nadella. The device could get launched with two specific features that could make it stand apart from other similar devices — much better battery life and cross-platform support for iOS and Android users. A release before this year's holiday season is in the cards, with no details on the pricing nor availability. (Also at Reuters and The Inquirer.)

IBM Pays GlobalFoundries $1.5 Billion To Shed Its Chip Division

timothy posted 4 days ago | from the watson-told-them-to dept.

IBM 84

helix2301 writes with word that Big Blue has become slightly smaller: IBM will pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries in order to shed its costly chip division. IBM will make payments to the chipmaker over three years, but it took a $4.7 billion charge for the third quarter when it reported earnings Monday. The company fell short of Wall Street profit expectations and revenue slid 4 percent, sending shares down 8 percent before the opening bell.

iFixit Tears Apart Apple's Shiny New Retina iMac

timothy posted about a week ago | from the good-work-if-you-can-get-it dept.

Desktops (Apple) 108

iFixit gives the new Retina iMac a score of 5 (out of 10) for repairability, and says that the new all-in-one is very little changed internally from the system (non-Retina) it succeeds. A few discoveries along the way: The new model "retains the familiar, easily accessible RAM upgrade slot from iMacs of yore"; the display panel (the one iin the machine disassmbled by iFixit at least) was manufactured by LG Display; except for that new display, "the hardware inside the iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display looks much the same as last year's 27" iMac." In typical iFixit style, the teardown is documented with high-resolution pictures and more technical details.

Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You

timothy posted about a week ago | from the only-if-I-get-to-drive dept.

Robotics 82

Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."

Apple's Next Hit Could Be a Microsoft Surface Pro Clone

timothy posted about a week ago | from the they-have-the-technology dept.

Input Devices 251

theodp writes "Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will. I've been expecting a touch-screen Apple laptop for a few years now, and keep being wrong.

Researchers Scrambling To Build Ebola-Fighting Robots

timothy posted about a week ago | from the at-one-remove dept.

Medicine 87

Lucas123 (935744) writes U.S. robotics researchers from around the country are collaborating on a project to build autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and telepresence robots that could safely decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. Organizers of Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers are planning a workshop on Nov. 7. that will be co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. "We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola. Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact," said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the almost-before-it-began dept.

Networking 75

An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.

High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the imperial-walkers dept.

Japan 34

jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside a predefined range.

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