Android Silver: A change to look out for

On October 22, 2008 a smartphone named HTC Dream with a new OS got introduced into the commercial market. It turned out to be a revolution and the OS went onto climb new heights in the years followed. As of 2013 the devices made using the OS is sold more than Windows, IOS and Mac OS devices. Yes we are talking about Android OS.

ANDROID

Ever since the initial launch, Android devices have undergone several evolutions which earned it, an ever increasing user community. Standing in 2014 many possess the latest version of Android OS – “Android 4.4 KitKat (API level 19)”. With a whole lot of features and supported devices Android OS holds a large share of the smartphone market. Since the smartphone market is widening its market to new heights what will be the plans that the makers of Android is focusing on. Only time can explain. But the rumors about the introduction of a new android programme have gained lot of enthusiastic hearts recently. A new programme called Android Silver.

 

Android-Silver

Android Silver

Google’s smartphones and tablets are given the Nexus branding but silver is more like an advanced Nexus programme, but instead of one manufacturer and one device, Google will work with multiple firms on multiple devices. It’s not clear whether Nexus devices will continue with Android Silver devices or be replaced entirely.

Google wants to help manufacturers to deliver a better Android experience, so it is said that participating firms will get help from Google with development and marketing costs, and their devices will get privileged treatment when it comes to software updates.

There will be Android Silver kiosks in shops and a video support service for Silver users, but the existing Nexus programme will be stopped.

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Benefits

It should stand for the availability of wider choice of high-end Android devices at judicious prices, and those devices will be free from the bloatware, unwanted apps and customization that slows down devices. What these standards or requirements will be exactly is unclear at the moment. They are also likely to come with the latest version of Android, a stock version like Google Play editions, and fewer pre-installed apps

That’s because participating firms will have to agree to work with stock Android in much the same way Microsoft’s Signature programme banished bloatware from participating PCs. There are chances that Google will set some kind of price range or limit for Android Silver devices to make them attractive to customers.

The devices might be limiting the number of non-Google apps that are pre-installed on devices or ensure that phone owners will be able to uninstall them. The priority will be set to google apps.A customer do not have to be concerned about the updates related to the android version for silver devices.

Multiple Manufacturers?

Silver should help the smaller firms compete with Samsung. Companies that don’t have Samsung’s massive R&D and budgets will be able to benefit from Google’s financial support.

On the lower side, by becoming part of the Silver programme the manufacturers may find it difficult to differentiate their products from one another: if the rumors are correct and Google is specifying the hardware as well as the software and hence the manufacturers cannot do much to make their devices different from their competent devices.

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Who and Why?

LG and Motorola may be joining hands with google for initial devices. Others are expected to follow.

By regulating the manufacturers, Google can ensure consistency and quality across devices – perhaps a Full HD screen and a quad-core processor will be minimum specs -something that isn’t always available in a regular smartphone. By working more closely with manufacturers, Google can ensure that Silver customers get the best possible Android experience.

Even though it sounds great, but there’s another rumor going around that Google gives away Android because it wants users’ data and Samsung’s dominance is a threat to that. If Samsung junctions or drops android that will leave a large loss in Google’s data gathering.

By putting the Android brand at the centre of multiple firms’ marketing and helping those firms better compete with Samsung, Silver could be an attempt to minimize the loss Samsung could cause. If Silver is successful, it might just convince Samsung to stick with Android for longer.

Android Silver: When will it be on hands?

When will these Android Silver devices arrive? Well, it’s unlikely to be this year because the launch of new devices like the Nexus 6, Nexus 8 and a new Nexus 10 is to be finalized. Most probably by next year we’ll be able to hear more about Android Silver.

Information Courtesy: Techradar,PC Advisor

 

What the “Heartbleed” Security Bug Means

HEARTBLEED BUGIt’s a very painful occasion when our heart bleeds. Does it occurs only to Humans. Millions of websites are already facing the prospect of data leak because of Heartbleed, if they haven’t leaked out information already. It is assumed that it  have been in existence for two years, but found out only recently.

 

What is the Heartbleed bug?

Heartbleed is a major security flaw that if exploited, will cause a web server to reveal user content. It’s a bug that affected hundreds of millions of websites, exposing usernames, passwords, encryption keys, and other sensitive data. The main reason why this security flaw gained so much attention is because it’s a vulnerability that occurred in OpenSSL, an open source software, used across the globe to encrypt communications happening over the Internet. It was an abrupt but necessary reminder that when it comes to the Internet, nothing is safe.  Sites like Mashable, have compiled a list of popular sites that could have been compromised by this vulnerability.

“In the wake of the HeartBleed vulnerability, many organizations and hosting providers have lulled themselves into a false sense of security by relying on Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) to automatically deal with HeartBleed attacks,” Halon Security CEO Jonas Falck said recently. “IDS systems were designed to sniff out vulnerabilities, but closed source development teams take too long to respond and patch issues like HeartBleed.”

He continued, “The Open Source community has received a bad rap for the OpenSSL exposure, but the community has rallied together to patch the issue quickly. If anything, the HeartBleed issue has shown how reliant the Internet as a whole is on Open Source, so if corporations can give back to the Open Source community after taking advantage of OpenSSL or so long, there will be more eye balls spotting vulnerabilities earlier in the future.”

According to Falck, “the Internet will never be 100% safe” from hackers and vulnerabilities like Heartbleed. With the right strategies, however, security companies can take steps to protect businesses and consumers more thoroughly.

Many prominent websites have already released fixes for the exposure and several more are in the process of fixing it. But the actual problem lies in the fact that it’s not enough for these sites to simply fix their servers.

How to protect yourself/your servers from Heartbleed ?

If you’re a server admin: The Heartbleed bug has been patched in version 1.0.1g of OpenSSL. If the updated package isn’t available for your distro yet, the compile-time option of -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS will also mitigate against the bug.

If you’re a web surfer: The users should update their passwords and login information immediately for the handful of sites that really matter to you or risk cyber criminals still accessing their data, as these hackers now know the digital keys used by the server to authenticate user requests.

  • Avoid using the same password at two sites that matter to you. This lowers the security level of any site with that password to the level of the sleaziest and least-secure site where you’ve ever used it.
  • Try using a password manager, which will generate an unlimited set of unique, “difficult” passwords and remember them for you.
  • Use the two-step sign-in processes for every system that allows them, for eg. Gmail.

Do you own a website ? Do you want to know if your site is susceptible to Heartbleed vulnerability. Use this tool : https://filippo.io/Heartbleed/  Usually our engineers use this tool to cross check the sites that  we’re working on.

The Heartbleed bug will cause ripples for years to come — and in the short term, possibly a tsunami of high-profile hacks as well, unless big websites move very quickly indeed.  Heartbleed has created a massive uproar in the cyber world for legitimate reasons.  Please make sure to follow always the latest security guidelines in your applications and try to ensure protection from all such vulnerabilities.

An Android computer in the size of a USB stick – ‘Project Ophelia’

The Dell Inc. (formerly Dell Computer), one of the leading American multinational computer technology corporation based in Round Rock, Texas, United States, that develops, sells, repairs and supports computers and related products and services, is said to be working on a new device under the code-name “Project Ophelia”.

dell-usb-computer-opheliaMost of the time, little computers aren’t products of the big name hardware manufacturers. Dell has apparently taken note of the tiny computer market, and has responded with the oft-rumored Project Ophelia, a $100 Android-powered USB stick PC that plugs into any monitor’s HDMI slot.

Here are some of it’s features:

  • Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • Built on the Android 4 OS — supports Web browsing, social networking, media playback and Android Apps.
  • Allows instant access to the countless apps available on the Google Play Store.
  • Securely connects to Windows desktops and applications running on back-end systems from all leading infrastructure providers including Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
  • No batteries to charge or change – it self-powers through the display it’s plugged into.
  • Remembers settings for each individual to enhance usability.
  • Compatible with many existing Dell Wyse thin clients and software products.
  • Managed by Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager software as a service (SaaS) which offers enhanced security and authentication.

It can also be used to power virtual instances of other desktop operating systems on a remote server or in the cloud. Sources from IDG News Service says, Dell’s Project Ophelia “can turn any screen or display with an HDMI port into a PC, gaming machine, or streaming media player.”Project Ophelia

For the past five years, Dell has been moving gradually away from its consumer PC roots. The company’s desktop and mobile computer business has suffered in the global PC-buying slump of the last year. Its consumer segment has been losing money, while the enterprise business outside of PC sales accounts for a majority of Dell’s revenue.  The struggling PC vendor will apparently use Ophelia to help reinvent itself as company founder Michael Dell continues his efforts to take Dell private, and now the computer on a stick is one step closer to launching.

“Project Ophelia” will be available during the first half of this year. Now it’s shipping to beta testers ahead of a public release scheduled for this fall.  The device will be priced around $100, IDG claims.

It’s time for Windows 8

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The next generation of Microsoft’s Windows is out. As usual like for their previous operating systems, this version was also in news and technology community forums and blogs for some time from 2009, but this time even before the predecessor Windows 7. On the day of October 26, 2012 Microsoft announced its release to the public, along with its revolutionary new products Windows surface tablets.

Sensing the pulse of technology advancement, this OS is meant for mobile devices, in addition to the usual desktops and laptops support. This becomes a turning point for Windows OS sequence by Microsoft because with an entirely different desktop screen, touch features, Windows App Store, Cloud storage and support to ARM processor based devices.

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System Requirements:

Windows 8 can be installed on a PC with minimum 1 GB (2 GB for 64bit OS), 1GHz speed and 16 GB Hard disk space (20 GB for 64bit OS).

Major new features:

  • “Windows 8 style UI” – Formerly Metro UI, basically a customizable tiles-based interface.
  • Touch gestures – Windows 8 supports touch gestures like swiping from left to switch applications, swiping from right for the menu. Drag from top to down closes an application while down to top invokes the app specific menu
  • Semantic Zoom – to get a high level view
  • Charms – We can say this is kind of replacement for old Start Menu.
  • Performance – There is a significant increase in performance
  • The Windows App Store – Just like Google Play Store or Apple App Store, Microsoft also now have a place to download free and paid applications
  • SkyDrive – Windows 8 can sync data to the cloud, Microsoft’s own SkyDrive cloud storage service
  • Anti Virus – Built in Antivirus with Windows Defender
  • Lock Screen – The lock screen is now interactive with photos, and customizable apps like calendar, clock etc.
  • Task Manager – Task Manager has lot more improvement on Windows 8
  • Control Panel – Microsoft re-designed the traditional control for the new OS
  • Social Media Integration – You can share items to social media and emails and between apps.
  • USB 3.0 – Windows 8 supports native USB version 3.0

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Different editions of Windows 8

  • Windows 8 – This is the basic edition, with tiled interface, IE10 etc.
  • Windows 8 Pro – Professional edition, specifically for business users and enthusiasts
  • Windows 8 Enterprise – Offers all features of Pro, with additional features for IT companies
  • Windows RT – For ARM microprocessor based tablets. It comes as pre-installed

As an introductory offer, Microsoft is running a campaign at the moment (Oct 2012) for upgrades from Windows 7 & Vista at a discounted price.


Windows 8 Application Development

You can get started with Windows Store Apps from here.

Windows Store Apps can be developed using HTML5-CSS3-JavaScript, XAML-C#/VB.NET/MC++ using Visual Studio or DirectX programming.

MSDN Magazine

Keep your Microsoft Technology knowledge up-to-date by monitoring MSDN magazine online version here.

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This month’s (August 2011) issue have these major topics:

  • Team Foundation Server (TFS) & Exchange – Building a ticketing system
  • Microsoft Visual Studio Light Switch – Advanced programming & building business apps
  • HTML5 – Build apps
  • Multi-Platform Development – About portable class libraries
  • Artificial Intelligence – Particle swarm optimization
  • Parallel Programming – on .NET apps etc.

PIT Solutions builds Brazil Election Compasses

www.meuvoto2010.org and http://senado.edemocracycentre.ch/ are election compasses developed by PIT Solutions for the Brazil presidential and senate elections respectively.

The election compasses are VAAs (Voting Advice Applications) applications that enable prospective voters to compare how their policy preferences overlap with the stated policy positions of the main candidates.

Prior to an election, the main candidates are coded on their policy positions by a group of academic researchers. Users of the tool then fill in the same questionnaire and express their preferences. The system then matches the answers of the candidates with that of the users. The end result is a ranking of candidates based on the degree of congruence between the candidates and the user.

The PIT Solutions team has implemented both the compasses using the popular Symfony web-application framework.

PIT Solutions and Alturos joint venture is named Okeban Software Services

Murg, Switzerland – June 08, 2010 –   PIT Solutions GmbH and Alturos Software AG, after few years of collaboration finalized the last steps to officially form Okeban Software Services Pvt. Ltd. at Technopark, Trivandrum, India.  The establishment of Okeban Software Services Pvt. Ltd. is aimed at combining strengths of Alturos and PIT Solutions to offer high-end web-based solutions and services to their clients globally, with specific attention to clients from DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) region.

Through their European presence in Switzerland and Austria, they would consult their clients on IT strategies and solutions, which would later be realized through their software factory in India.  Rafeek K. Mohammed is the CEO of Okeban Software Services Pvt. Ltd.

About Alturos AG

Alturos Software AG is a well-trusted technology partner when it comes to turning creative new business ideas into web-enabled, feature-rich and highly scalabe Internet solutions and portals.  Alturos boosts online sales and improves marketing concepts through consulting services and evaluates and implements business plans from A to Z, and through matching technology experts with entrepreneurs and VCs.

About PIT Solutions GmbH

PIT Solutions GmbH is an IT services provider with operations offices in Switzerland and India. They are an ideal partner for complex web and standalone application development needs owing to quality deliveries and cost-aware solutions.  Established in the year 2000, the over ten years of experience in the industry has seen hundreds of small, medium and large projects executed with diverse, cutting-edge technologies. PIT Solutions employs a 200-strong pool of skilled software engineers who possess the right mix of experience and skills to understand customers’ needs and provide them the right solutions.

PIT Solutions’ 10th Anniversary Celebrations

The year-long 10th anniversary celebrations of PIT Solutions were kicked off in style in January 2010. A grand function marked the start of the festivities. The function was special in many ways – one being that it was a full house with every PITSian present; another was that some of our most special clients and venture partners were there too to take part.

It was 10 years ago, at the turn of the millennium, that a group of young engineers along with a Swiss entrepreneur started up the company at Technopark, one of the few IT parks that existed at that time. The company was named PIT Solutions, taking inspiration from the flurry and efficiency that one can see at the pit stops of Formula 1 racing. Upon hindsight, it is remarkable that the company has weathered two of the most trying periods of global recession, and despite them has grown from strength to strength. This was reminisced in a flashback presentation given by the directors at the party venue.

The rest of the evening was rendered colorful by music and dance programs performed by the PITSians themselves. Some of the programs staged easily rivaled those of hardcore professionals thus proving that techies can be equally adept at the arts too.

Friendship and teamwork drive companies to growth and prosperity. Friendship was the theme of the first item of the evening – a solo song by Anwar. The intensity of the singer matched the depth of the theme of friendship.Taking it on from there were Harikrishnan and Devikrishna rendering a duet, which had the message for the crowd.

The directors of PIT Solutions took over and walked the audience through a nostalgic journey of the past 10 years of the company and the trials and triumphs they underwent in taking it to the present day. Dieter talked about his first meeting with Rafeek back in 1998 through a common business friend. Thomaskutty talked about the chance circumstances that brought him into the startup in the year 2000. Rafeek remembered the early pains of starting up and the difficulties in taking off amidst the global recession of the early noughties. A photo slide show with live commentary by Thomaskutty amused the crowd, especially the veterans of PITS who found themselves featured in the photos.

Over a thousand people have worked and contributed to PIT Solutions’ success over a span of 10 years, but a few people have really indulged more than the others and have become key players through their persistent contributions. Twelve people were on this elite list and were honored by the director board. BijuTP, Arjun, Soumia, Smitha, Ajesh, Lucky, Ramkumar, Aneesh, Nithya, Pradeep and BijuBC were the veterans with between 5 to 10 years of association with PIT Solutions.

Sports competitions were ongoing as a run up to the commencement of the anniversary celebrations, and had generated overwhelming interest and awesome participation. Prizes and trophies were given away to the winners during the function with the guests taking turns to felicitate the winners.

Kathak is a North Indian traditional dance form that is known for it elegant costumes and fast swirling moves. Deepthi, Reshmi and Gayatri dazzled on stage with a grand performance.

Much to the delight of everyone, a magic show was presented by Athira which truly enthralled the spectators. The magician made the acts of illusion even more interesting through soliciting participation by representatives from the audience.

A fun dance followed that used a Russian folk song to sync the steps. The costume itself evoked laughter even before the first steps were planted.The group song that followed had a team of seven humming the tunes of …… through some spirited vocal triumphs.Harikrishnan and Haneesh returned from it to add a duet performance that was an inspirational Tamil song.

Then came the magnum opus of the evening that everyone was eagerly waiting for – a sterling dance extravaganza from the PITS guys and girls. Their relay-style performance to multiple musical scores took every spectator along with and had them humming along and tapping toes in sync.

The kids had a gala time too with their lisped cutie steps in near-to-perfect rhythm to the music beats.The items were well sandwiched with entertainment fillers that really kept the tempo steady throughout the evening.

Talk on Blue Brain Project

Dr.Henry Markram delivered a presentation on the Blue Brain Project on Jan 27th, 2010 at Technopark, Trivandrum, South India. The talk was hosted by PIT Solutions.

The Blue Brain Project is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain, in order to understand brain function and dysfunction through detailed simulations. The aim of the project, founded in May 2005 by the Brain and Mind Institute of the École Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, is to study the brain’s architectural and functional principles. The project is headed by the Institute’s director, Henry Markram.

The Chief Guest at the talk was Dr. Jayakrishnan, the honourable Vice Chancellor of Kerala University. Dr. Jayakrishnan also happens to be associated with the Swiss Federal Institute (EPFL), which houses the Brain Mind Institute of which Dr. Henry Markram is the director. He wished the Blue Brain Project all success and wished early breakthroughs in unraveling the mysteries of the mind.

Mr.Thomaskutty Sebastin, Head of Business Development and Partner of PIT Solutions, had the responsibility of introducing Dr. Henry Markram to the audience. Thomaskutty gave a broad outline of the scientific career and achievements of Dr. Markram. He also described how his association with Dr. Markram started during their days at EPFL together.

Dr.Markram through his presentation threw light on the immense complexity of the mammalian brain just by explaining the working of a single neuron. The brain contains millions of such neurons. It revealed to the audience how enormous the task would be to simulate the brain using supercomputers, which is going to be the first step for the Blue Brain project.His simple style of presentation and the rich visuals brought to fore all the facts to everyone, even to the layman present. Dr. Markram also used the occasion to announce that PIT Solutions will build the Internet portal to access Blue Brain. The portal will allow the research community, hospitals, industry and the public to access Blue Brain.The Q&A session that followed the talk was an animated one with a few but a varied array of questions from different sections of the audience. Dr. Markram answered the queries in his typical patient and precise demeanor.

Mr.Mervin Alexander, CEO of Technopark, in his address expressed appreciation and gratitude for choosing Technopark as the venue for conducting a talk on such a path-breaking scientific research project. He brought to the audience’s notice that hosting this talk at Technopark is actually part of PIT Solutions’ tenth anniversary celebrations.

The CEO of PIT Solutions, Mr. Rafeek. K. Mohammed in his vote of thanks mentioned about the association of PIT Solutions with Dr. Markram that has led to PIT Solutions’ involvement in the Blue Brain Project. He also recalled that it is the successful ongoing execution of Frontiers, another project of which Dr. Markram is a part, which has helped to build the business relationship and trust over the years.

The media were in full  attendance to cover the talk now converged for a press meet. The talk itself and the impact of the Blue Brain project on humanity and medicine had created considerable interest among the media on the future of the project and the role of PIT Solutions in it. Dr. Markram, Rafeek Mohammed, and Thomaskutty Sebastian attentively answered the queries from the media persons and made lucid the Blue Brain – PIT Solutions connection.

Dr.Markram described about the Frontiers project ,its objectives and scope, and how PIT Solutions has been supporting in the smooth execution of it. He explained how it has led to PIT Solutions’ significant involvement in the Blue Brain Project and shared subtle hints of the scale of the project. Rafeek said that PIT Solutions is committed to provide all the IT support needs that the project may need. He shared the challenges involved in finding and engaging the best IT professionals to work for Blue Brain’s success.

Windows7 getting popular?

Windows7

One of the latest operating systems, Windows7 is getting popular throughout the world. Microsoft believes they are able to cover up the tragedy(?) of Windows Vista OS. Windows XP was very popular than any other Windows Operating Systems and this new OS is expected to be popular more than that.

Here are some of the noted features:

  • PIN – Keep programs and files handy: pin them to the taskbar or Jump Lists.
  • SNAP – Instant arrange two windows exactly side by side.
  • HomeGroup – Share files, music—even printers—in just four clicks.
  • Play To – Send media from your PC to compatible devices on your home network.
  • Windows Touch – Touch your screen to resize a photo or map or to quickly scroll through your files.

Let me go in to some more features I noticed. I am on Windows7 Ultimate.

  • Windows7 looks like Windows Vista. Well, it may be because it is using same kernel of Vista. But there are many additions and you will feel yourself faster in performance than Vista or XP. Gadgets are still there.
  • I personally felt the setup very simple. But same time I have the information from some website that around 68% problems reported by users regarding this OS is related to installation. Not sure whats wrong.
  • Introduction of ribbons (the one you can see in Microsoft Office Applications) in Wordpad and MS Paint. Calculator appearance also really good now.
  • Heard there is an improved firewall attached
  • Comes with DirectX 11. You know DirectX is the graphics engine behind Windows Operating systems which gives us best experience for user interface.