Category Archives: INDIA

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PC users: beware of CryptoLocker malware!


‘Ransomware’ attached to email purporting to come from Royal Mail will permanently encrypt all files on your PC,

cryptolocker
CryptoLocker will encrypt files with a public key that is widely seen as unbreakable,

PC users are being warned to be on their guard against emails purporting to be from the Royal Mail and containing CryptoLocker, a malicious piece of software that locks computers with an unbreakable encryption.

The email states that a lost or missing package is waiting for you at your local sorting office and asks recipients to download an attachment to find out more. Those who do immediately start to install the CryptoLocker malware on to their computer, without realising what they have done.

CryptoLocker will encrypt all the data on the computer, including photos, music and personal documents, using a public key.

A message will then appear on the screen stating that all of the data is locked and can only be unlocked with a private key, which the scammers promise to hand over once the computer owner has sent them a payment.

The fraudulent Royal Mail email was discovered when a victim contacted the Action Fraud call centre. It is the second piece of malware hidden in a fake Royal Mail email that has come to light in recent months.

As a result of the scams, Royal Mail has issued advice warning members of the public that it will never include attachments in an unsolicited email, and stating that it does not email its customers asking for any personal information. It has also notified the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

“We encourage any customer who receives a suspicious email claiming to be from Royal Mail to contact our customer services department on 08457 740 740,” a spokesperson said, adding that the company follows “robust security procedures” to protect its customers.

Anyone wishing to book a redelivery of a Royal Mail parcel can do so online at the Royal Mail website.

Scammers using CryptoLocker typically ask for ransoms of either $300 or €300, which must be sent through an anonymous pre-paid cash voucher such as MoneyPak or Ukash or the equivalent amount in Bitcoins.

If the extortionists do not receive the payment within 72 to 100 hours, victims are warned the private key will be destroyed and nobody will ever be able to recover their data.

The encryption uses publicly available, well-established algorithms developed by governments and other legitimate bodies that means it is widely seen as unbreakable. When Guardian Money warned readers about CryptoLocker ransomware in October, a spokesperson for security firm Sophos told us that “if you haven’t got back up and you get hit by CryptoLocker, you may as well have dropped your PC over the side of the bridge”.

Since then, it is estimated that more than 250,000 PCs have been infected and the UK’s National Crime Agency has warned 10 million UK-based email users are being targeted.

Only PCs running Windows can be infected but the CryptoLocker malware can be hidden in any executable attachment or sneak on to your computer via a driveby download from a disreputable or infected website.

click here   10 ways to beat CryptoLocker

Posted By Mantosh Pal

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10 ways to beat CryptoLocker


Protecting your files from CyptoLocker and other malware starts with a few sensible precautions,

Heavy chain with a padlock around a laptop
What can you do to prevent cybercriminals locking all your personal files and demanding    money to free them,

A few sensible precautions will help minimise the chances of a CrytoLocker attack. So what are our top tips?

Back up your files. If you use an external hard drive, don’t leave it connected to your PC unless you are backing up. Alternatively, pay for an online back-up service – but bear in mind you may still be vulnerable if your backed-up files are mapped as a network drive. Check with your provider if you are unsure.

Create files in the Cloud and upload photos to online accounts like Flickr or Picasa.

Switch to a spam- and virus-filtered email service. Google Mail, for example, does not allow you to receive or send executable files (that can install viruses) as email attachments, even if they are hidden in zip files. (It also does not allow you to send them).

Don’t go to online porn sites, which are often the source of malware downloads. Take care when clicking on adverts; never open Twitter links and attachments from people you don’t know or trust.

Make sure your operating system is up-to-date with the latest security.

Install the latest versions of your internet browsers and update add-ons such as Java and Adobe Flash.

 • Get reputable anti-virus software and ensure you update it frequently.

On Windows 7, double-check that you have set up System Restore points or, if you are using Windows 8, configure it to keep the “file history”.

Act quickly. If you do accidentally download a dodgy attachment, bear in mind it is likely to take some time for the encryption to take place. If you immediately download and run an anti-virus programme, such as the free anti-virus toolkit available from Sophos, it could destroy the CryptoLocker before all your files have been encrypted – however, you will permanently lose affected files.

Encrypt the files you particularly want to keep private, such as documents containing your passwords or personal information, to prevent criminals from reading what’s in them.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Apple India offers up to Rs. 40,000 buy back discount on purchase of new laptops


apple_mac_macbook_air_websiteApple is offering up to Rs. 40,000 buy back discount on purchase of a new Mac laptop in India, if you turn in your old Mac laptop for exchange.

As per an advertisement in a leading daily, Apple is offering a discount of up to Rs. 40,000 if you give a Mac laptop that is less than two years old in exchange. The company will offer up to Rs. 30,000 for turning in Apple portables that are between two and three years old, while the discount on offer for exchanging Mac laptops that are between three and four years old is Rs. 25,000. If you have a Mac laptop that is more than four years old, you’re out of luck, since there is no discount on offer under the present scheme.

The advertisement notes that the final offer value is at the sole discretion of the reseller, a standard practice with these buy back schemes. Apple adds that this is “limited period” offer, but does not mention an end date.

The discounts are being offered on purchase of Mac laptops only. In other words, you can turn in your old Mac laptop to get discounts on a new one – there’s nothing to interest present or prospective owners of Mac mini, iMac or Mac Pro computers.

Interestingly, the advertisement adds that the offer is also available on laptops of other brands as well – customers are advised to check in-store for more details. Though Apple does not mention it specifically, we expect the discounts on offers on Windows laptops of a similar age to be significantly lower. If you have a Windows laptop and are looking to switch to the Mac, you may want to see if your local Apple reseller has a good buy back offer that interests you.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

 

Google, ASI start virtual tour of 30 Indian monuments!


(This is the trekker Google used to photograph Taj Mahal)
(This is the trekker Google used to photograph Taj Mahal)

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Google on Thursday announced availability of virtual tours for 30 Indian monuments. They said that from today web users across the world will be able to explore monuments like Taj Mahal, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Agra Fort on Google Maps and the Google Cultural Institute in 360-degree view in their internet browser.

The 30 monuments are part of a total 100 monuments that Google would photograph and map in India. The project was launched last year.

“Today, this partnership with Google makes it possible for billions of people across the world to see and explore our magnificent heritage, to take a walk at the Rock Cut Jain Temple, to marvel at the Nagarjuna Konda Buddhist Stupas and to relive history in Fatehpur Sikri. With the release of these new panoramic images, we aim to create a dynamic, immersive online experience by which people within India and around the world can understand and engage more of India’s diverse cultural heritage,” said union minister of culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch.

Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director, Google India, added, “We hope the imagery will help make India’s heritage and culture more accessible to people at home and abroad

To photograph the monuments, Google has used its “trekker” technology. The trekker is a machine that a volunteer or a Google employee can wear like a backpack. It has cameras that take photos while the user is walking around the monument. These photos are later stitched together to create a panoramic view of the monument.

A Google official told TOI that the company hopes to complete photography and mapping at the remaining monuments in another two months.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

‘India needs more than 4 lakh hackers’


According to CERT-In, the national incident response centre, a government nodal agency, at least 42 million Indians were hit by cyber crimes and the recorded loss of the same was a staggering $8 billion loss in disaster in the past 12 months.

Mohan Gandhi, an Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad graduate provides anti-piracy solutions through his company Entersoft Information Systems. In this interview with rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Gandhi speaks about the challenges while dealing with cyber security and also what it is to be an ethical hacker.

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How important is it for India to have ethical hackers?

Forty two million Indians were hit by cyber crimes in the last 12 months, with a total of $8 billion recorded in direct financial losses to the corporate world. India is the third-most affected nation due to hackers.

In terms of cyber attacking abilities and fortification standards of India is far below Israel, the United States and China. China filters and monitors almost every packet/piece of information.

Unfortunately, India has seen many government, and defense websites being hacked in the recent times. Our country has been traditionally defensive in terms of information security.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella to get $1.2 mn salary; total package at $18 mn


New York:  Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, will get a base annual salary of USD 1.2 million, but his overall package after taking into account bonus and stock awards may reach USD 18 million (Rs. 112 crore) a year besides various other perks.

As per his new employment agreement, the Indian-origin CEO of USD 78-billion software major will be paid his salary on “semi-monthly” basis at an annual rate of USD 1.2 million (Rs. 7.5 crore).

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella to get $1.2 mn salary; total package at $18 mn46-year-old Nadella, who has been with Microsoft for 22 years, would also be eligible for a cash bonus, which can range from zero to 300 per cent, resulting into total payout of up to USD 3.6 million.

Besides this, Nadella, who is a cricket fan, will get stock awards to the tune of USD 13.2 million, taking the total package to USD 18 million.

Nadella’s annual salary would be determined by the company’s Executive Incentive Programme (EIP).

The top executive would be eligible for an annual EIP stock award worth USD 13.2 million from 2015 fiscal year, according to Microsoft’s offer letter to Nadella.

“For Microsoft’s 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, your annual cash award target will be 300 per cent of your salary earned as CEO during the fiscal year.

“Your actual cash award can be from 0-300 per cent of the target and will be based on your performance as evaluated by the Board,” the letter said, a copy of which has been submitted to the US market regulator SEC.

Nadella, who became the third CEO of Microsoft after Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, was paid an annual salary of USD 675,000 for the fiscal year 2013 as the President of the firm’s server and tools business.

Going by reports, Nadella pocketed a cash bonus of USD 1.6 million last year.

Microsoft’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

“We expect that you will work with the Compensation Committee of the Board to assess and revise, if appropriate, the EIP to ensure alignment with business priorities. There are currently two key components of the EIP,” the letter said.

To further align Nadella’s interests with the long-term performance of Microsoft, he would be granted Long-Term Performance Stock Awards (LTPSAs).

“One-third of your LTPSAs will be earned based on Microsoft’s total shareholder return relative to the S&P 500 over each of three overlapping, five-year performance periods (LTPSA performance periods) commencing on the grant date and the first and second anniversaries thereof,” the letter said.

Nadella previously held various senior positions at Microsoft in server and tools, cloud and enterprise, online services and advertising platform divisions. He joined Microsoft in 1992.

pOstEd bY MANTOSH PAL

Technology predictions for 2014: smarter cities, bigger games!


From expanded connectivity, drones and patent wars to cheaper tablets, monster games and smart wearables,

Self-driving cars, drones, smart wearables and ever-cheaper tablets and devices are just some of what 2014 holdsSelf-driving cars, drones, smart wearables and ever-cheaper tablets and devices are just some of what 2014 holds

This is the year that cities become even smarter. Local authorities and councils the world over have invested in social capital and connected infrastructure with the aim of better understanding the needs of their citizens.

The Watershed arts venue in Bristol, for example, organised a Playable City Award in 2013, whose aim was “to commission an original, future-facing work, that used creative technology to explore the theme of the playable city.” London, meanwhile, has introduced bins that send text messages when they are nearly full and has used sensors installed under parking bays in the West End to relieve congestion in the area – and the city is manually moving Boris Bikes to bays people are cycling from but not cycling towards (generally, if it’s at the top of a hill).

In 2014, more cities will iterate and experiment. They’ll implement new technologies to not only create a better connected city but to enhance the environment. That could include street lights switching on due to residents complaining about the lack of light on Twitter. There’s a great number of opportunities available – and that’s an exciting prospect.

  • Games:

Bungie's Destiny game logo
Destiny from Bungie, creators of Halo, is set to make 2014 a year to remember.

Although the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launch games were largely disappointing, 2014 will certainly see both machines move up a gear. The twin giants of the release schedule will be the epic space opera Destiny from Bungie Software, and Titanfall, the new sci-fi shooter from Respawn Entertainment. This is basically the makers of Halo versus the creators of Call of Duty in one galactic face-off. There will be robot limbs and crashed space ships everywhere.

And the carnage won’t end there. 2014 is a year of gigantic action blockbusters. Ubisoft has its cyberpunk romp Watch Dogs, as well as the ingenious online multiplayer strategy shooter, The Division. The PS4 has intriguing steampunk adventure The Order: 1886, while Xbox One has the new post-apocalyptic thriller, Quantum Break, which ties in with and interacts with a TV series of the same name. We can expect more of this media crossover “excitement” as the barriers between games consoles and set-top boxes crumble.

More intriguing perhaps is the rise of persistent online worlds and emergent simulations. We’re getting three very interesting space exploration titles in the form of Star Citizen (from the creator of the legendary Wing Commander series), No Man’s Sky from tiny UK studio Hello Games and Starbound, from another British developer, Chucklefish – the latter two promising vast procedurally generated galaxies.

But closer to home, this will also be a year of ideas. From Chris Hecker’s fascinating asymmetrical two-player body language game Spy Party, to Jonathan Blow’s Myst-like adventure The Witness, to the storybook mythology of Tengami and the heartbreaking adventure title That Dragon Cancer, 2014 will mess with our heads and expectations of what games are. And if you don’t want to be messed with, that’s fine – there are sequels, so many sequels. Hotline Miami 2, Dark Souls II, Metal Gear Solid V and the hugely promising Elder Scrolls Online. 2014 will take a brave look at the future of gaming technology, but it will bring the past along for the ride.

  • Patents:

Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone
Nokia holds many key patents, and is not afraid to use them,

Sick of hearing about patent lawsuits between big-name tech companies? Bad luck – 2014 is going to bring more of them, after a relative lull in 2013. The part of Nokia that isn’t being sold to Microsoft is sharpening its patent portfolio, and has begun exercising it successfully against HTC. Next in line is Google (particularly Google Maps) and other Android handset makers.

Apple and Samsung will also be back in a Californian court in March, in a second trial in which each is asserting five patents – in Apple’s case, all relating to function, not “how it looks”. Samsung’s list includes two standards-essential patents (SEPs) – which it’s obliged to license, so it’s hard to see it prevailing on those.

Besides those, Rockstar, a company which owns a $4.5bn haul of patents from now-dead Canadian network company Nortel (and is in turn owned by Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony and BlackBerry), has filed patent infringement cases against Google, Samsung, HTC, Asus, LG, Pantech, Huawei and ZTE – all Android device makers. In a countersuit, Google says that Rockstar’s lawsuit is put “a cloud on Google’s Android platform; threatened Google’s business and relationships with its customers and partners, as well as its sales of Nexus-branded devices”.

All to play for in that one – and Rockstar has a cherry on top, which is a separate case against Google where it claims the search company infringes a search patent filed in 1997, before Google even existed.

  • Emerging market smartphones:

The Chinese market for smartphones has been expanding like a balloon, and it’s continuing. Expect 230m handsets to be sold there in 2014, almost all of them “AOSP” Android (not running Google services).

India too is growing fast – millions of people there will be getting their first smartphone in 2014, and that could change the complexion not only of the mobile market, but also the country itself. One of the strongest phone brands in India? Nokia. Is this going to be Microsoft’s chance?

And South America is being targeted by handset makers interested in getting Firefox OS into peoples’ hands. There’s everything to play for as huge numbers of people get their first internet connection.

  • Wearables:

Nike Fuelband SE
Fitness trackers or personal nag machines?

With luck, 2014 will be the year that wearables actually become wearable – rather than being nagging devices that hassle you to take more steps to meet your “daily exercise quota”. The key problem is crossing the gulf between being “something you wear”, and “something you want to be seen wearing”.

Google Glass still has dorkiness problems, for all its evident usefulness. All eyes are on Apple to do something there, but it can be the smaller companies that surprise.

  • PCs and tablets:

Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet
The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 was a full Windows 8.1 computer squeezed into a tablet formfactor and weighed the same as a laptop.

The market for PCs (desktops and fixed-keyboard notebooks) will be flat, at best, but Microsoft – and computer makers – have a lot staked on “convertibles” with detachable keyboards, and touchscreen laptops.

However, there’s no sign that people are interested in them. We like our PCs in traditional packages, and all of Microsoft’s efforts with the Surface haven’t persuaded people that they need one; it’s a weight thing. Thinner and lighter always wins on mobile, and even the new generation of Surface isn’t thin and light enough to beat other tablets. (And success then comes down to how many apps they can run.)

Rumours of a larger Apple tablet – up to 12in? – could mean that the iPad is ready to mature and expand into newer segments. Tablet sales are still rocketing, and even if many are being used as TV replacements (certainly the case in Asia), it’s still an opportunity for app developers to get in front of users.

  • Cheaper, ever cheaper:

Tesco Hudl tablet
Tesco’s Hudl tablet cost just £119 and flew off the shelves.

The budget tablet market exploded in 2013, filling the void left largely untouched by Apple, Google and other big-brand manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung. Lower specified, but cheaper-priced Android tablets costing in the £100 range flew off the shelves, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

Surprise entries from Aldi, Argos and Tesco made headlines, with the latter’s Hudl tablet showing that devices around £100 could perform well enough for the average consumer and inspire impulse buys.

This year is likely to see that downward pressure on price continue, with more and more affordable tablet computers available as more people who wouldn’t have considered buying a computer let alone a tablet at prices well over £100 purchase them.

Tesco has already confirmed that it is working on an updated Hudl tablet for release in 2014, while other British high street brands are likely to follow suit. We’ve already seen tablets go on sale for as little as £30, so could 2014 be the year that tablets fell out of cereal packets?

Buyer beware, however, as you get what you pay for with these ultra-low cost tablets – and for tablets such as the terrible Argos MyTablet, your money is better saved and spent elsewhere.

  • The boring matters matter:

Amazon Prime Air drone
Amazon is working on a Prime Air drone delivery system that could deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, but regulatory challenges stand in its way. Photograph: ZUMA/REX

Silicon Valley’s attitude has always been to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Sometimes, the law catches up with the companies that push their luck, and they are forced to close or comply – although, all too often, the damage has been done. Napster may have been shut down, but our relationship with paying for music has never quite recovered. Other times, the law is forced to change to accommodate the shifts that technology has made possible. That’s why you can now use your Kindle on a plane during take-off and landing.

But in recent years, the gap between the cutting edge of technology and the cutting edge of regulation has been getting smaller and smaller, and 2014 could be the first year in which the roles are reversed. For 3D printing, wearable computing and personal drones, legislators are already gearing up to tackle whether – and how – the law should react.

These technologies haven’t yet hit the mainstream, but they have already sparked consternation in the public. 3D-printed guns have already sparked legislation in congress, West Virginia is set to become the first state to ban using Google Glass in a car, and the FAA is committed to reviewing the rules that currently ban companies such as Amazon from using drones to deliver goods. But the biggest fight hasn’t even warmed up: that will be the battle around self-driving cars. If you thought it was hard to convince regulators to let you use electronic devices on planes, try to find a regulator who will be happy to have a driver asleep at the wheel.

  • Truly smart technologies:

Google Glass tapped by woman
Google Glass could be the future, if it can get over its image and imaging problems. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images,

We’ll see the app store for Google Glass open early this year, and so will finally start to see what wearable, immersive technology will be capable of once developers start to explore the device fully to a wider audience. Expect to see Google working hard to make consumers feel more comfortable with the concept of pervasive image and video recording, challenging and shifting the norm of what is socially acceptable.

Also expect to see Google continue to try to refocus its core search business around social, and with more disquiet from marketers, publishers and businesses as they realise they are being pushed into using Google+.

The education space will become increasingly interesting, with everything from the newly invigorated computer science curriculum in UK schools, to the spread of open online learning courses; it will be interesting to see how many of the prestige UK universities choose to exploit their status and reputation by publishing some free courses as a marketing tool.

Tech entrepreneurs will keep expanding into increasingly diverse niches, so it will be amusing to try and pick out the most obscure market being disrupted in 2014.

As for a few new year wishes, I’d like to see some meat on the bones of the 3D printing movement to take it beyond novelty into something useful, practical and relevant for most civilians. I’d also like to see some big steps in services that aggregate all, or a lot, of our data for us, and automate the administration of living, whether that’s bills or dentist appointments. Whatever the answer is, it needs to cut out the tedium of filling in boxes with details that machines should be able to do for us. Google Now, but more so. And as ever, could somebody please, please make email better?

  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies:

“Bitcoin accepted here”, reads a sign at the entrance to a bar in Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany. Photograph: Alamy

I’m wary about making predictions about bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general. The first time I wrote about them, in March of 2013, I said that the value of bitcoin looked like a bubble. If, instead of writing the piece, I’d went out and bought £100 of them, I’d currently be sitting on bitcoins worth a little under £2000. The Alex Hern Regrets Index is near an all-time high.

But I do, fundamentally, stand by what I wrote back then. The price of a bitcoin looks ever more out of proportion with the number of people using it, and that’s a state of affairs that cannot continue. This time last year, the cost of one bitcoin was $13; it is now hovering around $800. And yet, this time last year there were 39,000 bitcoin transactions per day, a number which has barely moved at all, currently standing at 41,000. People are paying ever more heady sums of money for a currency they are steadfastly not using.

But the dying days of 2013 provided a hint as to how this trend will continue into the New Year, with the explosion in value of the “altcoins”.

Because bitcoin is an open-source software project, the programming code at the heart of it is available for anyone to take and use in making their own cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins. The first and biggest of these, Litecoin, was created in October 2011, and exploded in value in November 2013, its price shooting up tenfold in a matter of days.

The next month saw the creation of Dogecoin, an altcoin that had one killer USP: a picture of an adorable Shiba Inu on the front and a website written in multicoloured comic sans and faux broken English. Look, it’s the internet; don’t try to understand.

But the association with the popular Doge meme alone was enough to give Dogecoin the cachet required for its own boom and bust. At its peak, around Christmas, when 30m Dogecoins were stolen in a hacking attack on a Dogecoin bank (another new commonplace of cryptocurrencies), the haul was worth around $18,000.

So, my prediction for 2014? An extrapolation: the smart money, getting bored of Bitcoin, will start moving on to the various altcoins, chasing the massive profits they can no longer get from bitcoin proper. They’ll see their own bubbles of hype and investment, with diminishing returns each time. And by the end of next year, there will still only be a few people actually using bitcoin as a payment mechanism for anything other than illegal and fringe-legal purposes.

  • Microsoft, Apple, and Google:

Inside a Google server farm.
Microsoft, Apple and Google all rely on huge amounts of server power for their globe-spanning services. Photograph: Connie Zhou/AP

Microsoft is going to go through big changes in 2014: the arrival of only its third chief executive, replacing Steve Ballmer, comes as its revenue streams and business models are under growing attack. Mobile computing is becoming a tsunami, eroding the traditional reliance on the desktop and Office. As Microsoft pivots into being a “devices and services” company (which will also own its own handset company, bought from Nokia), it will be competing on every front with Apple and Google.

Prediction: there will be high-profile departures and murmurings of dissent as the new chief executive digs in. Consumers will continue to ignore Windows 8. The coming death of Windows XP (in corporate terms) in April will prompt first-quarter commercial PC sales, but see a lull afterwards. Windows Phone will make gains at the low end, but be unable to dislodge Android or iOS at the high end.

Apple is on its third chief executive if you only include Steve Jobs and John Sculley (and ignore the revolving doors of the mid-90s). Tim Cook’s genius at operations shows in how Apple is now making scores of different versions of the iPhone for different markets, yet everyone thinks there’s only one (the iPhone for the new China Mobile 4G system, for example, differs from all others sold worldwide).

Every new year sees a raft of wild predictions about the unicorns Apple must release or be condemned to obscurity, at least in commentators’ eyes. Every year Apple predictably doesn’t do them. So what will it do?

Prediction: it won’t release a TV – the same TV it hasn’t released for years. It might update the Apple TV set-top box to do more (add an App Store?), but that’s been a “safely wrong” prediction for years too.

It will probably release a wearable something-or-other; a watch seems most likely. Filing for “iWatch” trademarks, as it has in Europe and Japan, is a good sign that something’s afoot. Shouldn’t there be leaks from the supply chain by now, though?

A bigger iPad Air – iPad Pro? – looks likely. A touch-based Macbook Air, though, doesn’t.

Google is only on its second chief executive (and even he was the original one). It’s still a relatively young company, but its rapid growth has seen Larry Page reining in some projects that haven’t been core to what Google does – collect information and collate it. Google+ is core; Google Reader wasn’t. And selling adverts is the ultimate core. Quite where Google Glass fits into this isn’t yet clear; nor is Motorola, which loses huge amounts of money while selling fewer handsets each quarter.

There are also lingering antitrust hassles: besides Europe, where the questions about Google’s integration of its vertical search such as shopping and maps into its front page have gone on for three years, Canada has now begun asking exactly the same questions. It’s a big inconvenience for Google – though the bigger headache might be the patent lawsuits referred to above.

Prediction: Google Glass will go on limited sale, and have limited success; its best use is in narrow commercial applications. Android will continue eating the mobile world, and getting into embedded systems, though frequently without Google services embedded.

Posted By Mantosh Pal

Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo purportedly leaked with Android 4.3, 5-inch display!


Samsung, in an attempt to cash in the popularity of its Galaxy Grand mid-range smartphone series, seems all set to introduce a new device dubbed Galaxy Grand Neo, claims a new report.

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SammyHub has purportedly revealed the specifications of the Samsung’s rumoured Galaxy Grand Neo smartphone, which interestingly seem to fit the previously-rumoured Galaxy Grand Lite, and might very well be the same phone.

According to the site, the alleged Galaxy Grand Neo will come with a 5-inch WVGA (800×480 pixel) display, with no word on the screen technology, and a 1.2GHz quad-core A7 processor, which the site claims is similar to the one found on the Galaxy Grand 2.

Further, the site suggests that the alleged Galaxy Grand Neo will run Android 4.3 with Samsung’s high-end smartphone feature ‘Multi Window’. On the design front, the site speculates that the rear panel of the rumoured Galaxy Grand Neo will feature a soft-touch back, as seen before on Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Grand 2. In addition, the site expects the price of the alleged Galaxy Grand Neo to be below Galaxy Grand 2’s price.

As of now, not many details about other specifications of the reported Galaxy Grand Neo like RAM, battery, camera and dual-SIM functionality have been revealed.

As mentioned above, an earlier report had also indicated that Samsung is also working on a ‘Lite’ variant of the Galaxy Grand, believed to be called Galaxy Grand Lite.

Rumoured specifications of the alleged Galaxy Grand Lite includes a 5-inch display with a resolution of 480×800 pixels; dual-SIM support; 5-megapixel rear camera; VGA front-facing camera; 1.2GHz quad-core processor; 1GB of RAM and microSD card support. Further, the rumoured Galaxy Grand Lite will supposedly come in three colour variants – Black, Lime Green and Orange.

In December, Samsung finally launched the Galaxy Grand 2 in India. However, the company is yet-to-announce the final price of the smartphone, though it did give a tentative price range between Rs. 22,900 and Rs. 24,900.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

The Windows 8.1 Store: Much improved, but still a long way off iOS and Android!


Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

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Over the past few years, vendor-specific “App Stores” have become a vital component of mobile device strategies. Amazon, Google, and Apple have all poured significant efforts into developing their own iterations of the concept — with Windows 8.0, released last year, Microsoft fully intended to jump into the fray. The results, however, were not encouraging. The original Windows Store was something of a mess — poorly curated, badly designed, and overly flat, with far too much data crammed into rows and columns with little other context. The Windows 8.1 Store, in contrast, is something altogether different and significantly better.

We’re breaking the store improvements out in particular because it’s the gateway users rely on to access all other potential programs. The changes here matter more than the changes in any single application.

W80-Store1-ResizeThe Windows 8.0 Store had a few good ideas, with the most popular and top rated apps presented by default, with large icons, but dozens more were simply shoved into large icon-muddles. Categories were given at the top of each section, but the apps within those categories weren’t described unless clicked on. The new arrangement actually packs fewer icons into the same space, but provides far more useful information.

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Windows 8.1 now leads with personalization recommendations, with a single-application Spotlight to the left and a list of applications to the right. Applications are now described in-line; there’s no more need to click on each application to see what the heck it actually is. Scrolling is contextual — if the mouse is on the left, the Spotlight will scroll, if it’s on the right, the general window scrolls (and replaces the Spotlight).

In Windows 8.1, the right-click context menu was minimal, with just two options — Home or Your Apps. All of the various categories were pushed off the right-hand side of the screen, with no real explanation for why they were ordered (Spotlight, Games, Social, Entertainment) or the ability to skip to a new category. If you wanted to see the Entertainment apps, you had to scroll to “Entertainment,” then click the header.

Windows 8.1 provides a much more detailed right-click menu, shown below.

Windows 8.1 Store Menu / ResizeNow you can jump straight to certain categories from the top of the application. This is a vastly improved way of dealing with things, and it gives you better, fine-grained control over which applications you want to see. The only downside to the new system is that the old search category boxes in the Windows 8 Store that let you choose between free or paid apps, or sort by various categories, were actually handy, and could have been usefully retained. In fact, they are retained, but they only appear if you search for a specific game or application. Simply clicking on the “Games” or “Social” sections doesn’t make them appear. This is probably a bug, but the current system is still easier to use than the old one was.Windows 8 Store, category viewYou can’t look at the old category labels, however, without being reminded of just how bad the layout was. Endless rows and columns of name-only products, in seemingly random colors, with no embedded information whatsoever. The new subheads show fewer titles, but provide a vastly better experience. Games are now accompanied with a brief description, and the smaller number of titles displayed on each page makes it easier to evaluate the options.Windows 8.1 Store, category viewClick on a game, and the full-screen presentation of the title is smarter, too. In Windows 8.0, no reviews or additional apps from the same publishers are available on the main page. The redesign gives the same basic info, controls, screenshots, related apps, apps by the same developer, the game’s rating, and shows the first column of reviews beginning on the right. This redesign makes far better use of the available screen space.

 

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal

India’s e-commerce market rose 88% in 2013: Survey


English: Skyline of Mumbai from across Back Bay.
English: Skyline of Mumbai from across Back Bay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Jawaharlal Nehru Trust Port in Navi M...
English: Jawaharlal Nehru Trust Port in Navi Mumbai, India. One can see unloaded trucks on the right heading for the harbor cranes, while loaded trucks on left head out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

India‘s e-commerce market grew at a staggering 88 per cent in 2013 to $ 16 billion, riding on booming online retail trends and defying slower economic growth and spiralling inflation, according to a survey by industry body Assocham.

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English: DTC Buses in Delhi, India
English: DTC Buses in Delhi, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The increasing Internet penetration and availability of more payment options boosted the e-commerce industry in 2013,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

“Besides electronics gadgets, apparel and jewellery, home and kitchen appliances, lifestyle accessories like watches, books, beauty products and perfumes, baby products witnessed significant upward movement in last one year,” Rawat said.

According to the survey, India’s e-commerce market, which stood at $2.5 billion in 2009, reached $8.5 billion in 2012 and rose 88 per cent to touch $16 billion in 2013. The survey estimates the country’s e-commerce market to reach $56 billion by 2023, driven by rising online retail.

As per responses by 3,500 traders and organised retailers in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Kolkata who participated in the survey, online shopping grew at a rapid pace in 2013 due to aggressive online discounts, rising fuel prices and availability of abundant online options.

Among the cities, Mumbai topped the list of online shoppers followed by Delhi, while Kolkata ranked third, the survey found.

The age-wise analysis revealed that 35 per cent of online shoppers are aged between 18 years and 25 years, 55 per cent between 26 years and 35 years, 8 per cent in the age group of 36-45 years, while only 2 per cent are in the age group of 45-60 years. Besides, 65 per cent of online shoppers are male while 35 per cent are female.

To make the most of increasing online shopping trends, more companies are collaborating with daily deal and discount sites, the survey pointed out.

The products that are sold most are in the tech and fashion category, including mobile phones, ipads, accessories, MP3 players, digital cameras and jewellery, among others, it found.

India has Internet base of around 150 million as of August, 2013, the survey said.

“Having close to 10 per cent of Internet penetration in India throws a very big opportunity for online retailers to grow and expand as future of Internet seems very bright,” Rawat said.

Those who are reluctant to shop online cited reasons like preference to research products and services online (30 per cent), finding delivery costs too high (20), fear of sharing personal financial information online (25) and lack of trust on whether products would be delivered in good condition (15), while 10 per cent do not have a credit or debit card.

 

Posted By Mantosh Pal