Merged VR: Augmented Reality Cubed

There is considerable development activity at the high end of hardware and content creation for virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as such AR aliases as mixed reality, extended reality and others. Most industry investment is aimed at leading-edge gaming and industrial application development. However, the low-end of the market is also worth looking at, to see how people and institutions without big budgets — consumers and education — might adopt these technologies sooner, rather than waiting years for all the advancements to trickle down to lower price points.…

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Ubuntu Budgie Distro: Simple, Clean and User-Friendly

Ubuntu Budgie is one of the few Linux distros to offer integration of a Budgie desktop-only edition, other than Solus OS, whose developers created it. Ubuntu Budgie is classy and user-friendly. It does not sacrifice performance for reliance on a simple design. It is maintained by a United Kingdom-based developer community. Previously called “Budgie-Remix,” it is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the Budgie desktop. Although based on the Ubuntu Linux family, Ubuntu Budgie is not from Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company. The Solus community originally developed Budgie from scratch and tightly integrated…

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While You Wait: 4 Potentially Higher-Status Alternatives to the iPhone 8

At a rumored US$1,400 sale price the coming iPhone 8 likely will test just how much people are willing to pay for a new phone — particularly, how much parents are willing to fork over for their kids. While iPhones once conveyed status and sense of luxury, similar to a brand like Cadillac, pretty much everyone and their brother has iPhones today. The first few customers who get their hands on the latest model will be envied for about a week — but the phones will be extremely common by…

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Cortana Makes Smart Thermostat a Glas Act

Microsoft and Johnson Controls this week unveiled Glas, a smart thermostat that runs on Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core, a special operating system designed specifically for smaller devices. Glas also utilizes Microsoft’s smart voice assistant Cortana and its Azure Cloud to help users save energy while monitoring air quality in the home. Heating and cooling of a residential home accounts for around 48 percent of energy use, making it the largest energy expense for most families, noted Johnson Controls, a provider of HVAC, fire and security systems, and maker of…

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Jio Phone, Free With Rs. 1,500 Deposit, Unlimited 4G Data 2017

JioPhone made a splash at the Reliance AGM on Friday as Mukesh Ambani took the covers off the long-rumoured 4G feature phone. The handset, introduced as “India ka Smartphone” and launched at an “effective price” of Rs. 0 (though buyers will have to shell out a refundable, upfront deposit of Rs. 1,500 for the device). JioPhone will be crucial for the company in tapping the estimated 50 crore feature phone users who have not been able to join the Jio 4G bandwagon because of the high costs associated with smartphones. Although Reliance…

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CoreOS, OCI Unveil Controversial Open Container Industry Standard

CoreOS and the Open Container Initiative on Wednesday introduced image and runtime specifications largely based on Docker’s image format technology. However, OCI’s decision to model the standard on Docker’s de facto platform has raised questions. Some critics have argued for other options. Version 1.0 provides a stable standard for application containers, according to Brandon Philips, CTO at CoreOS and chair of the OCI Technical Oversight Board. Having a standard created by industry leaders should spur OCI partners to develop further standards and innovation, he said. Reaching the 1.0 mark means that the OCI…

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Microsoft Rolls Out Linux Support in SQL Server 2017

Microsoft on Monday announced the availability of its first public release candidate for SQL Server 2017, which includes full support for Windows, Linux and Docker containers. SQL Server on Linux improves on earlier previews with several key enhancements, including active directory authentication; transport layer security to encrypt data; and SQL Server Integration Services that add support for Unicode ODBC drivers. SQL Server 2017 has demonstrated faster performance than competitive databases or older SQL Server versions with new benchmarks, Microsoft said, including the world record TPC-H 1-TB non-clustered data warehousing benchmark…

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HP Is Back: Should It Rename Itself Compaq 2017

HP just took over the PC market lead worldwide. You probably don’t get how incredible this is, so here’s an analogy: It’s as if a crooked referee put a bunch of lead on a racer who already was overweight and shuffled him to the back of the pack, but in the end, the guy finished first. You’d seriously want to look under his T-Shirt to see if you’d find Superman’s costume. This isn’t Apple coming up with an iPod or iPhone and flanking the market — this is a firm that…

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Google Brings Machine Learning to Online Marketing Assessment 2017

Google earlier this week unveiled Google Attribution, a tool that uses machine learning to measure the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across a variety of devices and channels. Part of a series of new measurement tools introduced at Google Marketing Next, Google Attribution aims to help marketers determine what is driving consumers to make their online purchasing decisions. Google is at an “inflection point,” noted Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior vice president of ads and commerce, when it comes to the use of technology to measure online marketing effectiveness. “What’s exciting is…

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The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame

I hope that, like me, you are off this long holiday weekend and have a chance to think about the drama that now surrounds the U.S. administration. What I find fascinating isn’t that the government is a bit of a mess but that the accidental transparency of this administration is focusing us more on the visibility of the problems rather than on the problems themselves. For instance, let’s take the issue with the Russians hacking the election. President Obama knew about it but largely sat on the information, while President…

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Google Gives Up Scanning Personal Gmail

Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes — a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges. Gmail is the world’s most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users. Google attributed its decision to gains it has made in the enterprise. Its G Suite business over the past year has more than doubled in size to 3 million paying corporate customers, who are not subject to the scanning process. “G Suite’s Gmail is already not used…

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Android, Chromebook Make a Sweet Couple

Chrome OS and Android Apps now run together on some Chromebooks. Many, but not all, Chromebook models will get the operating system update that allows it as fall approaches. The Asus Chromebook Flip C100P — the first Chromebook to get the upgrade — is an impressive example of what will come with the hybrid integration of Chrome OS and Android apps. The performance is not flawless, but many of the apps work well enough to offer a nonplussed working experience. The Google Chrome OS developer team last month released the…

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Red Hat and Ericsson Forge 5G, Open Source Alliance

Red Hat and Ericsson on Wednesday announced an alliance meant to speed adoption of open source solutions in the information and communications technology space. The alliance will help promote a range of fully open source and production-ready cloud solutions, spanning OpenStack, software defined-networking and software-defined infrastructure, the companies said, to meet the growing demand for products using 5G and the Internet of Things. Red Hat has a long history of collaborating with Ericsson on platforms including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat JBoss Middleware. The new alliance represents an…

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The United States of Amazon 2017

Amazon’s significant expansion into yet another market — this time, grocery stores — dominated many of my conversations last week. Clearly, Amazon warned us. I’ve been here before — you see, back in the 1990s, when Amazon was just books, I was running the company’s e-commerce unit. I got into an argument with one of the analysts focused on Amazon, who believed the company wouldn’t go beyond books. I argued that the model it was using could — and would — expand to other things, but even I wasn’t thinking…

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Cyberattackers Kick Down a Few Parliament Email Doors

The United Kingdom’s Parliament on Monday reported a cyberattack on its email system over the weekend, when hackers attempted to access user accounts without authorization. Due to the “robust measures” in place to protect the legislative body’s accounts and networks, fewer than 1 percent of the 9,000 accounts on the network were compromised, officials said in a statement. Accounts that were compromised had weak passwords that did not conform to guidance on creating strong passwords from the Parliamentary Digital Service, according to the statement. Individuals with compromised accounts have been…

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Art, History and 3D Printing 2017

The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California, last month debuted its Reboot Reality exhibit, which includes numerous installations with an interactive component. Visitors can don Occulus VR headsets to appreciate classical works of art in virtual reality — a completely new museum experience. There long has been a debate on what constitutes “art” — and opinions have differed as to how music, film, radio and TV fit in. The debate in recent years has focused on video games, and there are compelling arguments both in support of and…

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