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HP Sprout desktop PC is smarter than Apple iMac with Retina 5K display: Here's ...


Apple just released the new iMac with a 27-inch 5K Retina display for its core market of designers, but another desktop manufacturer has a brand new machine that is targeted towards Apple's market.


Hewlett-Packard (HP) is cementing its reputation as an innovator with Sprout, the desktop computer system that surpasses our ingrained expectations of what a desktop computer can and cannot do. Sure, it does not have the same big, bold and beautiful graphics that one can enjoy on Apple's latest computer, but that is pretty much where the iMac's superiority over Sprout ends.


Under the hood, Sprout has more or less similar components as the high-end iMac, including an Intel Core i7 processor, a top-of-the-line NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. However, it is what designers, filmmakers, musicians and other creative types can do with Sprout that makes the difference.


Key to Sprout's game-changing new computer is the combination of an Illuminator equipped with a 14-megapixel camera and an array of sensors equipped with Intel's RealSense 3D tracking technology and a 20-inch flexible Touch Mat that works as a capacitive, multi-touch projecting screen with 20 touch points. Users can write or draw anything on the mat, which are captured by the scanner on the Sprout's Illuminator and digitized so that they can be resized, rotated, moved around, edited and combined with other elements on the touchscreen.


It's not just 2D, however. HP is making a big leap into blending the physical and digital into what it calls 'blended reality' by allowing users to place real, physical objects, such as a ball, a mug or anything that could fit into the mat, and have them transferred into the screen. For now, scanning can only accommodate one side of the object, but the technology is new, and HP is working on an update that will allow full 3D scanning that will be available in 2015.


Joshua Davis, media arts director at design firm Sub Rosa, is one of the early testers of Sprout. This is what he has to say [video] about HP's new computer:


'A scanner, a depth sensor - these are typically separate things. If you could take all those things and put them into a single device, it means that the entry point is a million times faster. That's the potential of this machine. I can get creative quicker, faster and easier.'


At $1,899, Sprout is less expensive than Apple's $2,499 iMac. Buyers will be able to get hold of their first Sprout computers next month from select Microsoft and Best Buy stores and also through HP's website, which is taking pre-orders now.


The Google shakeup continues: Andy Rubin is out

The corporate shakeup at Google continues and now it's Andy Rubin, the former head of the company's Android business and the current head of its robotics arm, who's out.


A Google spokesperson confirmed to Computerworld Thursday night that Rubin is leaving the company, but declined to say how his departure might affect Google's robotics efforts.


'I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next,' Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said in a statement. 'With Android, he created something truly remarkable -- with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you.'


Rubin joined Google in 2005 after the company bought Android Inc., the business he had founded. He acted as a senior vice president in charge of Android for about eight years, taking on Apple's iPhones and building the Android brand into the world's most popular mobile operating system


In December 2013, he was repositioned to manage Google's burgeoning robotics division. He took over the division as the company was busily acquiring about eight robotics businesses, including Boston Dynamics, one of the best-known robotics companies in the world.


This latest executive shift comes on the heels of a corporate shakeup that saw several Google executives take a step back as one man -- Sundar Pichai -- took over several major divisions.


Seemingly looking to keep Google acting more like a hungry start-up than an aging company that's trying to fend off competitors, Page put Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, in charge of a large swath of the company's core products and services. The move is expected to give Page more time and energy to focus on strategic moves, while Pichai focuses on the details of day-to-day business.


Before this latest move, Pichai, who joined Google in 2004, had been in charge of Chrome, Google Apps and Android.


He reportedly now also will be oversee research, search, maps, Google+, commerce and ad products and infrastructure. Robotics efforts easily could fall under the 'research' umbrella, potentially giving Pichai control over what was once Rubin's domain.


The executives in charge of the areas Pichai recently took over had been reporting directly to Page. They now report to Pichai.


Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said Rubin's departure is not a significant loss to Google.


'It doesn't touch on core businesses,' he said. 'I think robotics for Google is one of a number of potential avenues for future growth, but by no means the only one. I don't think there's a crisis or anything. Companies change.'


Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said he wouldn't be surprised if Rubin didn't care for having to suddenly report to Pichai. He also noted that Google might also be scaling back on the robotics acquisitions, leaving Rubin in a less powerful position.


'After the reorganization, there could have been some disagreement over reporting,' he added. 'Regardless of the trigger point, the shakeup [at Google] continues.'


Despite the fact that Rubin had ridden Android to a high position of popularity and power, Moorhead did not see Rubin's departure as a huge loss for Google.


'He had been off working science projects, not really in the mainstream business anymore,' he explained. 'Additionally, he isn't the most public figure either, so it's not like they lost the face of Google.'



Pirate Bay cofounder found guilty of hacking


Image: AP Photo/Scanpix Sweden/Bertil Ericson/Associated Press


Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a Swedish hacker and founder of file-sharing website Pirate Bay, was found guilty of hacking crimes in Denmark on Thursday.


In what the prosecution called the country's biggest hacking case, Svartholm Warg, 30, was found guilty of breaking into various Danish public databases controlled by IT service provider CSC in 2012, accessing hundreds of thousands of social security numbers, criminal records and extradition agreements. Svartholm Warg allegedly committed the crime along with his accomplice, a 21-year-old Dane only known as 'JKT' (the judge asked his name not to be published) according to media reports.


Throughout the trial, Svartholm Warg's lawyer argued that the hacker was innocent, and that someone else carried out the crimes by hacking into his computer.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument,' Svartholm Warg's lawyer Luise Høj said, according to TorrentFreak. 'It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


The hacking theory was supported by security researchers Jacob Appelbaum, who provided evidence in the trial. Appelbaum expressed his disappointment with the conviction on Twitter.


Gottfrid convicted. I'm sad to hear that only two of the jurors understand the technology involved: https://t.co/cpqXvgUHP7 #FreeAnakata


- Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) October 30, 2014


The judge will announce the length of their sentence on Friday. The prosecution has asked for six years in prison.


'The punishment should be close to the maximum punishment, which can be six years in prison,' the senior prosecutor in the case, Maria Cingari, said according to local media. 'It shouldn't be under five years.'


Svartholm Warg has already spent 11 months in prison in Denmark. Has was arrested in 2012 in Cambodia, where he was living at the time, and then extradited to Sweden, where he was facing similar charges for hacking into the servers of a company that provided tax services to the Swedish government.


While serving a one-year sentence in Sweden, he was then extradited to Denmark approximately a year ago.


Previously, in 2009, Svartholm Warg and Pirate Bay's three other founders were found guilty of copyright violations.


Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

FCA's Ferrari Move Likely To Make Capital Raising Exercise Run Smoothly

Alfa Romeo 156, Ferrari look tuning by CARROZZERIA SCANNALIATO, front badge, seen in Düsseldorf, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) shocked investors with its decision to float off 10 per cent of storied luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari and return the rest of it to shareholders, but as the dust settled on the deal, investors saw the sale more as a canny way to persuade investors to sign up to the capital raising plan, with little impact on the long-term future of FCA.


FCA Wednesday announced plans to raise about $4.7 billion including an estimated around $1 billion from the sale of Ferrari, a $2.5 billion convertible bond, and the sale of shares. FCA owns 90 per cent of Ferrari. Piero Ferrari, son of the founder Enzo, owns 10 per cent.


Before news of the deal, FCA was seen as the world's most indebted automobile manufacturer. After the deal is completed some investment banks don't think much will change.


'FCA will still be left with seven to eight billion euros ($8.8 billion to $10.1 billion) of net debt, over eight billion euros of pensions and healthcare liabilities and massive negative working capital. This still makes FCA the most leveraged automaker in the world, on our reckoning,' said Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton.


'Spinning off Ferrari is another clever exercise in value maximization. The structure and timing of the deal is genius - as it provides a juicy carrot for shareholders - if they participate in the capital raise, they get to own Ferrari shares too,' Warburton said.


Warburton asked 'what is the real end-game here', and said it was designed to eventually allow family owners the Elkanns to leave the auto business, which will own about one quarter of FCA after the deal.


Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel is a sceptic too,


'While we see the rationale behind the decision to make Ferrari independent, it does not change our cautious view on FCA,' said Gommel.


Gommel said FCA's inability to reduce financial leverage organically is a major concern, and cut his rating on FCA to 'Sell'.


Gottfrid Svartholm Found Guilty in Hacking Trial

Gottfrid Svartholm has today been found guilty of hacking crimes by a Danish court. The Swedish Pirate Bay founder and his 21-year-old accomplice were found to have illegally accessed systems operated by IT company CSC. It was the biggest hacking case ever conducted in Denmark.


After being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012 it took two years before Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.


The Swede and his 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It developed into the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.


The case broadly took shape along two lines. The prosecution insisted that Gottfrid and his Danish accomplice, both experts in computer security, had launched hacker attacks against CSC back in April 2012 and maintained access to those systems until August that same year.


The defense claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that others had carried out the crimes, remotely accessing Gottfrid's computer after comprising its security.


Evidence was produced by the prosecution which showed discussion taking place between hackers with the names 'Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat' and 'My Evil Twin'. The topic in hand was the security and setup of CSC's databases and systems. These people were Gottfrid and his IT consultant co-defendant, the prosecution said.


From the beginning, Gottfrid's position was that his computer, from where the attacks had taken place, had been compromised. This version of events was supported by respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum who gave evidence for the defense not only in this case, but also in Gottfrid's Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.


Speaking with Denmark's TV2 earlier today, Gottfrid's lawyer Luise Høj said that her client should be found not guilty since it had been established that third parties had carried out the crimes.


'My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction,' Høj said.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


But it wasn't to be. This morning the Court of Frederiksberg found both Gottfrid and his accomplice guilty of hacking into the systems of CSC. Both unlawfully accessed confidential information including police drivers' license records, social security information plus criminal records.


Dismissing the remote control defense, Judge Ulla Otken said the hacking of CSC had been both 'systematic and comprehensive.'


All three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts. Two jurors voted to acquit after concluding that the remote access defense could not be ruled out.


Following his extradition from Sweden, Gottfrid has spent 11 months behind bars in Denmark. His Danish accomplice, who refused to give evidence to the police and maintained silence right up until his trial in September, has spent 17 months in jail.


Breaking news, article will be updated.

Gottfrid Svartholm Found Guilty in Hacking Trial

Gottfrid Svartholm has today been found guilty of hacking crimes by a Danish court. The Swedish Pirate Bay founder and his 21-year-old accomplice were found to have illegally accessed systems operated by IT company CSC. It was the biggest hacking case ever conducted in Denmark.


After being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012 it took two years before Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.


The Swede and his 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It developed into the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.


The case broadly took shape along two lines. The prosecution insisted that Gottfrid and his Danish accomplice, both experts in computer security, had launched hacker attacks against CSC back in April 2012 and maintained access to those systems until August that same year.


The defense claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that others had carried out the crimes, remotely accessing Gottfrid's computer after comprising its security.


Evidence was produced by the prosecution which showed discussion taking place between hackers with the names 'Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat' and 'My Evil Twin'. The topic in hand was the security and setup of CSC's databases and systems. These people were Gottfrid and his IT consultant co-defendant, the prosecution said.


From the beginning, Gottfrid's position was that his computer, from where the attacks had taken place, had been compromised. This version of events was supported by respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum who gave evidence for the defense not only in this case, but also in Gottfrid's Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.


Speaking with Denmark's TV2 earlier today, Gottfrid's lawyer Luise Høj said that her client should be found not guilty since it had been established that third parties had carried out the crimes.


'My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction,' Høj said.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


But it wasn't to be. This morning the Court of Frederiksberg found both Gottfrid and his accomplice guilty of hacking into the systems of CSC. Both unlawfully accessed confidential information including police drivers' license records, social security information plus criminal records.


Dismissing the remote control defense, Judge Ulla Otken said the hacking of CSC had been both 'systematic and comprehensive.'


All three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts. Two jurors voted to acquit after concluding that the remote access defense could not be ruled out.


Following his extradition from Sweden, Gottfrid has spent 11 months behind bars in Denmark. His Danish accomplice, who refused to give evidence to the police and maintained silence right up until his trial in September, has spent 17 months in jail.


Breaking news, article will be updated.

November's Games with Gold announced for Xbox One and Xbox 360

Gobble gobble

November 2014's Xbox Games with Gold have been announced, and even though Microsoft says they are 'no turkeys,' they are pretty much turkeys. Rather than complain about free things though, I'll just give thanks. It is November after all! Here's what's coming next month to Xbox LIVE Gold members for Xbox One and Xbox 360.


Xbox One

Volgar the Viking (normally $9.99) - Avialable Nov. 1-30



Volgar the Viking poses a challenge gamers haven't seen since the early days of gaming. The controls are easy to learn -- as you only need a couple of buttons -- but the challenge comes from all sides. Literally.


Starting November 1, you'll be able to take on the role of the sword-swinging, shield-blocking, spear-throwing, bearded Viking and defeat enemies in gorgeous 16-bit pixel graphics.


Xbox 360

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (normally $14.99) - Avialable Nov. 1-15



A sequel to the wildly popular Viva Piñata, you are once again tasked with creating a home for your fellow piñatas. In addition to the challenges you'll face from the evil Professor Pester and his Ruffians, you'll also face the challenges that come with trying to please and attract new piñatas to your garden. Trouble in Paradise gives you 'better controls, more tools, and more robust mulitplayer support' than the original game. For those who don't like the challenge, there's a more-relaxing sandbox mode where you are free to just build your garden with the annoyances of managing peksy piñata needs.


Red Faction: Guerrilla (normally $19.99) - Avialable Nov. 16-30



On Mars circa 2125, the Earth Defense Force -- the original good guys from the first two Red Faction titles -- have become corrupt, and are exploiting the miners and other good folk on the planet. It's your job to take down the oppressive regime and set up a new power structure in its place. Guerrilla is different from other Red Faction games in taht it's open-world, meaning you can go anywhere.


It's not the greatest lineup, but it's not like November's PS Plus is much better.



Feds fine dating site for making fake profiles


Laura Nubuck/SXC


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -


Turns out I'm not actually that popular with the ladies of flirtcrowd.com.


The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.


JDI -- which operates 18 dating websites, including cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com -- must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices. The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.


JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet, according to the complaint.


The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships, which cost between $10 and $30 per month, and JDI renewed those memberships in many cases without consent.


JDI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Going forward, the company must clearly disclose to users that they will receive messages from fake profiles, and is barred from setting up recurring memberships without authorization.


Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned

Games publishers and industry figures must 'stand-up and condemn' the movement referred to as 'GamerGate', developer Zoe Quinn has told the BBC.


Ms Quinn has been at the centre of a furore which some argue is about ethics in journalism, but others consider to be a largely misogynist hate campaign.


The 27-year-old was forced to leave her home after receiving death threats.


She said publishers must 'say GamerGate, and what it's been doing, is wrong'.


'The fact that so much of the responsibility is offloaded to the people most harmed by it, when somebody in a much safer position than I am can stand up and condemn it... it's frustrating.'


Intimate details


In a highly-emotional interview, Ms Quinn told the BBC how her life had 'completely changed' after she had become embroiled in the row.


In August, an ex-boyfriend of Ms Quinn published a blog post, that ran to thousands of words, detailing intimate details about their relationship.


'Start Quote

I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.'


The posts included an accusation that Ms Quinn had had a relationship with a journalist at prominent games site Kotaku in an attempt to get positive reviews for her game, Depression Quest.


The allegation proved untrue - but the debate continued, and is now approaching its third month.


Ms Quinn, who has not returned home since the initial threats, had been speaking at the annual Gamecity event in Nottingham - despite a previous threat she would suffer a 'crippling injury' the next time she went to a games conference.


'I used to go to games events and feel like I was going home,' Ms Quinn said.


'Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?


'It's terrifying. It sucks to not have any privacy. This has all been so public. It's more scrutiny than a politician faces - it's living with constant fear in a place I called home.'


'Horrible misrepresentation'


Some firms - such as Ubisoft - have come forward and said they were strongly against 'harassment, bullying and threats'.


The Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for US developers, released a statement saying: 'Threats of violence and harassment are wrong.'


But Ms Quinn said she did not feel it went far enough.


'We need everybody to stand-up and condemn it - and not in this milquetoast 'harassment is bad you guys' way - because they don't think that what they're doing is harassment.'


She added: 'When people that are prominent in the industry can stand up and say 'I'm part of games, I love games, this hate mob doesn't speak for me, this is not welcome in games', it has the two-fold effect of making it less damaging to those that this can hurt, and it does something repair this horrible misrepresentation of this medium that so many of us love.


'Condemning them and say they do no speak for games - it's so fundamental, otherwise this is going to keep happening.'


'Pure toxicity'


Analysis of discussion about GamerGate has indicated that misogynist abuse - and vitriolic messages in general - is not limited to either 'side' of the argument.


Journalist Allum Bokhari, a writer for TechCrunch, has said there was credible evidence that at least one well-known trolling group was 'working to provoke both sides against each other'.


Meanwhile, some people previously offering highly vocal support of GamerGate have backed off.



'Through a snowball effect of misinformation, trolling, and ideological/emotional bias on both sides, the issue is quickly descending into a quagmire attracting trolls, extremists, and opportunists needlessly stirring the pot of controversy,' said one prominent figure who backed GamerGate, but wished to remain anonymous in this article.


'The harassment is ultimately an unfortunate variable affecting both sides of this situation, and it distresses me to see anyone live in fear.


'Dismissing GamerGate as a misogynist hate movement is not going to make it go away, because it just simply is not that - it's a consumer boycott.


'Until we act like adults and come together to have a conversation on the ethics of games journalism, it's only going to get worse and worse - that's why I'm now choosing to distance myself from the issue.'


Ms Quinn herself suggested that the gaming ethics argument could progress - but only if it distanced itself fully from GamerGate tag.


'If you have any care for this industry, if you have any care for the future of games, you need to leave.


'If you have actual concerns, start over without [GamerGate]. If your concerns can't exist on their own, if they have to be supported off the backs of ruining lives, then how legitimate are your concerns?'


'Maybe they'll be back'


As well as Ms Quinn, other women in the games industry have had to leave home due to threats to their safety, including Brianna Wu, a developer in Boston, and Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist writer and commentator.


Ms Sarkeesian had published a series of YouTube videos criticising the depiction of women in many popular games. Some felt it was applying a level of political correctness not needed in gaming.



Ms Quinn said it was important to keep talking about the issue openly.


'I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.


'I have a folder on my desktop called 'those who left' - every time somebody sends me a message saying 'hey, I really admire your strength, but it's not worth it for me, I'm leaving', I save these.


'I'm going to hopefully go back through it in a few years, and maybe they'll be back.'


As for whether she would be able to continue her own career, she said: 'I love games more than they hate me.'


Follow Dave Lee An extended interview with Zoe Quinn will be published later on Thursday. on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

Hewlett


Tech giant Hewlett-Packard yesterday launched a new 3D scanner device aimed at those who work in creative industries like engineers, advertisers and artists. The device named Sprout is an all in one desktop computer that features a 23 inch diagonal display and a 4 camera sensory display that will capture the details of 2D and 3D objects for scanning. In place of a keyboard and mouse, the computer can instead come with a 20 point touch pad. It has been promoted as a great way for people to easily create scrapbooks or photo collages of real life items like certificates and awards. By placing the item over the scanner, it will be scanned and a rendition immediately appears on the display which you can manipulate the way you want. It has also been touted as a great choice for professionals looking to share their work with others and allow online communities to make real time changes to projects. The company is offering a software called MyRoom to help in this effort. This device is set to be in stores next month and is expected to retail at $1,899. It is expected to attract plenty of buyers when compared with similar offers from companies like iMac that retail at $2,499. Christmas time is a big sale period for tech devices and HP is hoping to attract innovative professionals who will be delighted with the design and features of Sprout. They have announced that the computer will be available from November 9th at stores like Best Buy and Microsoft. Several stores are also expected to set up interactive displays so that customers have a chance to try it before they buy it.


Why the US Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability


America's slow and expensive Internet is more than just an annoyance for people trying to watch 'Happy Gilmore' on Netflix. Largely a consequence of monopoly providers, the sluggish service could have long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness.


Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege, according to The Cost of Connectivity, a report published Thursday by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.


The report compares Internet access in big American cities with access in Europe and Asia. Some surprising smaller American cities - Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri); Lafayette, La.; and Bristol, Va. - tied for speed with the biggest cities abroad. In each, the high-speed Internet provider is not one of the big cable or phone companies that provide Internet to most of the United States, but a city-run network or start-up service.


The reason the United States lags many countries in both speed and affordability, according to people who study the issue, has nothing to do with technology. Instead, it is an economic policy problem - the lack of competition in the broadband industry.


'It's just very simple economics,' said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who studies antitrust and communications and was an adviser to the Federal Trade Commission. 'The average market has one or two serious Internet providers, and they set their prices at monopoly or duopoly pricing.'



For relatively high-speed Internet at 25 megabits per second, 75 percent of homes have one option at most, according to the Federal Communications Commission - usually Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T or Verizon. It's an issue anyone who has shopped for Internet knows well, and it is even worse for people who live in rural areas. It matters not just for entertainment; an Internet connection is necessary for people to find and perform jobs, and to do new things in areas like medicine and education.


'Stop and let that sink in: Three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st-century economics and democracy,' Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., said in a speech last month.


The situation arose from this conundrum: Left alone, will companies compete, or is regulation necessary?


In many parts of Europe, the government tries to foster competition by requiring that the companies that own the pipes carrying broadband to people's homes lease space in their pipes to rival companies. (That policy is based on the work of Jean Tirole, who won the Nobel Prize in economics this month in part for his work on regulation and communications networks.)


In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission in 2002 reclassified high-speed Internet access as an information service, which is unregulated, rather than as telecommunications, which is regulated. Its hope was that Internet providers would compete with one another to provide the best networks. That didn't happen. The result has been that they have mostly stayed out of one another's markets.


When New America ranked cities by the average speed of broadband plans priced between $35 and $50 a month, the top three cities, Seoul, Hong Kong and Paris, offered speeds 10 times faster than the United States cities. (In some places, like Seoul, the government subsidizes Internet access to keep prices low.)


The divide is not just with the fastest plans. At nearly every speed, Internet access costs more in the United States than in Europe, according to the report. American Internet users are also much more likely than those in other countries to pay an additional fee, about $100 a year in many cities, to rent a modem that costs less than $100 in a store.


'More competition, better technologies and increased quality of service on wireline networks help to drive down prices,' said Nick Russo, a policy program associate studying broadband pricing at the Open Technology Institute and co-author of the report.


There is some disagreement about that conclusion, including from Richard Bennett, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a critic of those who say Internet service providers need more regulation. He argued that much of the slowness is caused not by broadband networks but by browsers, websites and high usage.


Yet it is telling that in the cities with the fastest Internet in the United States, according to New America, the incumbent companies are not providing the service. In Kansas City, it comes from Google. In Chattanooga, Lafayette and Bristol, it comes through publicly owned networks.


In each case, the networks are fiber-optic, which transfer data exponentially faster than cable networks. The problem is that installing fiber networks requires a huge investment of money and work, digging up streets and sidewalks, building a new network and competing with the incumbents. (That explains why super-rich Google has been one of the few private companies to do it.)


The big Internet providers have little reason to upgrade their entire networks to fiber because there has so far been little pressure from competitors or regulators to do so, said Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and author of 'Captive Audience: Telecom Monopolies in the New Gilded Age.'


There are signs of a growing movement for cities to build their own fiber networks and lease the fiber to retail Internet providers. Some, like San Antonio, already have fiber in place, but there are policies restricting them from using it to offer Internet services to consumers. Other cities, like Santa Monica, Calif., have been laying fiber during other construction projects.


In certain cities, the threat of new Internet providers has spurred the big, existing companies to do something novel: increase the speeds they offer and build up their own fiber networks.


Is HP's latest the PC of the future?

An all-in-one PC with an integrated 3D scanner, a projector and a 20-inch touch mat where the keyboard would traditionally sit, the Sprout is meant to represent what HP calls the latest in 'blended reality'.


What that means is that you can place an object on the mat and the scanner will capture it in three dimensions. Then the projector will project the digitized image onto the mat and you can manipulate it with your hands.


'Touch' it, turn it around, pull it and stretch it -- think Iron Man -- the computer uses an array of cameras to track your position relative to the object so that everything moves and flows smoothly.


The computer also offers an interesting take on the concept of the second screen -- the 20-inch touch mat also works as a display that can show everything from graphics to palettes and control nobs in editing and manipulation applications, minimizing clutter on the PC's main 23-inch display.



But creating and manipulating digital images is just the start. Once you've finished playing at Tony Stark you can hit print and send it to HP's first 3D printer -- the Multi Jet Fusion.


'We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices,' said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP. 'Sprout by HP is a big step forward in reimagining the boundaries of how we create and engage with technology to allow users to move seamlessly from thought to expression.'


Away from virtual reality manipulation, the Sprout PC is also a traditional desktop. It runs the latest version of Windows and packs a Core i7 Intel processor, Nvidia graphics and has a 1TB hard disk so should be equally impressive at doing less Iron Man things such as running Photoshop, gaming and video editing.


And it will have to be good at the more traditional things because although the Sprout will be going on sale in November in the US for $1899.99, HP's first 3D printers won't be coming to market until 2016.


Tim Cook Comes Out As Gay In Powerful Businessweek Essay

Posted:



Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay in a powerful essay for Bloomberg's Businessweek.


In the essay, published Thursday, Cook said that he has never denied being gay, but has not publicly discussed his sexuality until now: 'So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.'


He described how his sexuality has given him an acute social perspective.


Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple.


Head over to Businessweek to read Cook's full essay.


Lenovo closes acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google

Motorola will continue to operate in Chicago under the leadership of President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh.


Lenovo said on Thursday that it had closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, gaining a larger foothold in the US and other developed markets.


CNET

Under the agreement, Lenovo will pay former parent Google $2.91 billion, including $660 million in cash and $750 million in newly issued Lenovo stock. The remaining $1.5 billion will be paid to Google in the form of a three-year promissory note. While Lenovo gets Motorola's mobile device business, Google keeps the patent portfolio.


The transfer of Motorola to Lenovo from Google marks the end of a short chapter for the storied handset vendor. Credited with the invention of the cellphone, Motorola's brand had taken a hit over the last several years as Apple's iPhone and Samsung rose in prominence. Under Google, Motorola had refined its product portfolio to just a few devices, and developed a focus on the low-end and emerging markets with its affordable Moto G and Moto E smartphones.


Motorola will continue to operate out of Chicago and will still be led by President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh.


'With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere,' Osterloh said in a blog post.


For Lenovo, which has a stronger reputation as the No. 1 PC manufacturer in the world, Motorola lends the company badly needed credibility in the smartphone business. Motorola gives Lenovo a recognizable brand in most developed markets, especially the US, where it also has strong relationships with the wireless carriers.


Liu Jin, executive vice president and president of Lenovo's mobile business group, will serve as chairman of the Motorola Management Board.


Jin said he expects to sell more than 100 million mobile devices this year -- including smartphones and tablets.


'Motorola has already built solid momentum in the market, and their recent results show consumers are excited about their exceptional products that stand out for their design and simplicity,' Jun said.


Motorola over the last two months has unveiled a number of strong products, including a revamped Moto X and Moto G, the Nexus 6 for Google, as well as Tuesday's debut of the Droid Turbo for Verizon Wireless.


Android 5.0 Lollipop Update Confirmed for Asus ZenFone Smartphones


Asus has confirmed on its official forum that six of its devices (and their variants) will be receiving an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop next year.


The list of devices scheduled to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop includes the popular Asus ZenFone series of smartphones - ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6 - alongside Padfone S and Padfone Infinity (second gen).


According to the official listing (via a Taiwanese publication), the ZenFone 4 (A400CG/ A450CG), ZenFone 5 (A500CG/ A501CG), ZenFone 5 LTE (A500KL), ZenFone 6 (A600CG/ A601CG), and PadFone S (PF500KL) will be receiving the Android 5.0 Lollipop update starting April 2015. The refreshed Asus Padfone Infinity (A86), on the other hand, will receive the update in June.



Asus, starting early October, rolled out the Android 4.4 KitKat OS update for the ZenFone 4 A400CG, ZenFone 5 (A501CG) and ZenFone 6 (A601CG) handsets worldwide.


Notably, Google, Motorola, Sony, HTC and LG have already revealed the list of devices expected to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. Meanwhile, Samsung has hinted about few high-end smartphones likely to receive the update.


Some of the notable features of the Android 5.0 Lollipop version include a cleaner, flatter design with a more fluid interface and animations. There is a new 'Quick settings' menu that has been revamped, and includes new controls like flashlight, hotspot, cast screen controls and more. The lock screen now displays richer notifications, and users can view and respond to messages directly from the lock screen.


Android 5.0 Lollipop also comes with an opt-in kill switch dubbed 'Factory Reset Protection', which will allow users to wipe out the device's data on will. There is the new Messenger app; a guest user mode with custom options for access; and screen pinning that lets users fix in place the screen that's displayed without allowing guests to go further. Google has also added a new battery saver feature to Android 5.0 Lollipop, claiming to extend device battery life by up to 90 minutes.


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