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Monthly Archives: September 2017

29
Sep
2017

Google Opens Up Search Ad Buys To Rivals With Little Hope Of Improvements

by Bill

Until now, Google has reserved spots on particular search times for itself, but now it has promised to open up bidding on those terms to rivals at the top of product search results in Europe. Google announced the change in response to a June ruling by the European Commission, which found in part that Google had systemically abused its dominance in search to gain competitive advantages. This is one of the three cases pending against Google in Europe that may lead to sweeping Antitrust regulatory action in the EU and beyond if Google fails to impress regulators with its remediation actions.

The June ruling by the commission ordered Google to pay €2.42 billion ($2.8 billion dollars) in fines, but analysts agree that one time expense is nothing compared to the longer term threat to their business model if regulators persist. For example, Paul Gallant, an analyst with Cowen, is quotes saying that Google is likely concerned that the order could also be applied to other verticals including travel and local search.

To strengthen its legal footing with EU regulators, Google also said Wednesday that Google Shopping (which is the core of the case) will start operating as a standalone unit in Europe, bidding against all companies for featured spots to help level the playing field, but experts and insiders are saying that change is far from being enough of a move to actually open up real competition.

As Maurice Stucke, a law professor and the cofounder of the Konkurrenz Group, explained, “Imagine if a company became a monopoly by burning down all the warehouses and factories of its rivals. If regulators instruct the company to stop burning things down, the monopoly will say, ‘Fine I can live with that. I promise not to burn down any more factories.” Yet clearly, that’s not a solution to the problem that persists.

It will be interesting to see which way these cases are resolved, with the balance of millions of search terms and billions or trillions of dollars at stake.

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22
Sep
2017

Light Has Been Stored as Sound For The First Time

by Bill

Scientists have discovered a way to store light-based information as sound waves on a computer chip. Why does that matter? The conversion is critical to shifting away from the inefficient electronic computers currently in use to a light-based computer that moves data at a much faster velocity than anything on the market right now.

Light-based photonic computers have the potential to run at least 20 times faster in theory, and they won’t produce heat or require anywhere near as much energy as existing devices. By processing data in the form of photons rather than electrons IBM, Intel and others have been seeking a method of slowing the data down from its light form so that the processing power of modern computers would be sufficient to handle it all.

Coding information into photons is surprisingly easy, as we do when we send information via optical fiber – however; retrieving information at the speed of light and then processing it is not yet possible because it’s simply too fast.  This new alternative slows down the light and converts it into sound, allowing researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia to access data at a speed far greater electronic computing, though significantly slower than the speed of light.

“The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain,” said project supervisor Birgit Stiller. However, that also means that computers can still achieve amazingly high speeds with no heat caused by electronic resistance, and no interference from electromagnetic radiation.

“This is an important step forward in the field of optical information processing as this concept fulfills all requirements for current and future generation optical communication systems,” added team member Benjamin Eggleton.

First, photonic information enters the chip as a pulse of light, where it interacts with a ‘write’ pulse, producing an acoustic wave that stores the data. Another pulse of light, called the ‘read’ pulse, then accesses this sound data and transmits as light once more pulse of data.  While unimpeded light will pass through the chip in 2 to 3 nanoseconds, once stored as a sound wave, information can remain on the chip for up to 10 nanoseconds, which is long enough for it to be retrieved and processed.

“Building an acoustic buffer inside a chip improves our ability to control information by several orders of magnitude,” said Merklein. “Our system is not limited to a narrow bandwidth. So unlike previous systems this allows us to store and retrieve information at multiple wavelengths simultaneously, vastly increasing the efficiency of the device,” added Stiller.

The research has been published in Nature Communications for peer review and may usher in a new era of information dissemination at the speed of sound, as we continue searching for ways to go even faster and one day access information at true light speed ahead.

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08
Sep
2017

Equifax Hack Hits 143 Million Consumers

by Bill

It is now being widely reported that the credit reporting agency Equifax has been breeched and hackers may have obtained personal information, including the credit card and social security numbers, of as many as 143 Million consumers in what may be the largest financial security breach of all time.

“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” said Chief Executive Officer Richard Smith of Equifax in the official statement by the company about the incident. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”

In fairness, it is important to point out that even the best security systems in the world remain potential targets of hackers who tirelessly attempt to overcome the many barriers against entry. In what has become a constant game of cat and mouse, hosting companies and cybersecurity analysts continually develop new layers of protection while nefarious groups seek to worm their way in – and even if the good guys win 99.99999% of the time, even a single breach among thousands of attempts is deemed unacceptable by the media and the public.

Lost in much of the reporting is the widespread impact these kinds of events often have on digital commerce. They sometimes have an unfortunately chilling effect on consumer confidence, and on the merchant side they can create a devastating effect as cards are often reissued and rebills which would have continued abruptly come to a halt.

National Net will continue our work creating and implemented leading edge strategies to secure every bit and byte of data that passes through our servers, and we are always available to provide additional service and support if any incident does occur. Hopefully things like the quantum entanglement transmissions we reported on a few weeks ago will eventually create a truly impervious data network for everyone, and until then the best we can all do is to provide eternal vigilance as we work to preempt every attempt.

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01
Sep
2017

SanDisk Unveils Groundbreaking 400GB microSD Card

by Bill

Remember those 5 ¼” floppy disks back in the day? Single sided, double sided, and then the high-density version that packed a whopping 1.2 MB onto a single giant disc bigger than your whole hand? Now, just a few decades later, SanDisk has unveiled a groundbreaking new 400GB microSD card that is smaller than your fingertip and holds as much data as 333,333 of those old floppy discs!

The driving force behind all the R&D is the ever-expanding need for capacity, especially on mobile devices that are now becoming equipped with features like 4K video recording, and an undercurrent of distrust of cloud storage services due to hacks or widely reported governmental intrusions.

The 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card was first made public on Thursday morning at the IFA 2017 conference, offering and impressive 144GB more storage than any other microSD card on the planet. It supports a blazing fast 100MB read speed, A1 app performance, and a UHS Speed Class 1 for the best performance available. So having all that extra space doesn’t come at the cost of reduced speed or increased load times.

Some tech magazines have lambasted the new card because it comes with a retail price of $249.99 on store shelves…. Which does make us wonder, how much would those tech reporters have been willing to pay back in the day to have more than 300K floppy discs of memory working at more than 1000x the access speed and taking up almost zero physical space? The price of progress isn’t always low, but it has proven itself time and again to be worth every penny.

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