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02
Apr
2015

Google Android Devs Fix Bandwidth Supremacy Defaults

by Bill

Google AndroidThe new software update Android 5.1 fixes an annoying issue that has plagued mobile devices for years. You might recall plenty of times in the past when your phone automatically found a nearby WiFi network to access and connected to it in the background, only to provide a much slower connection than what your cell service was already supplying in that location. Now, an Android phone won’t do that anymore because it just became smart enough to properly prioritize whichever connection is capable of sending the most packets in any given period of time.

There are advantages to WiFi, most notably the lack of a monthly cap on included bandwidth from a phone carrier, so most users leave WiFi on anywhere they go in the hope that a store or other open network nearby will offer faster connections and uncapped data usage. Unfortunately too many of those networks are painfully slow or bugged in some way that causes your browsing to slow to a staggered crawl, even though a phone connection would be many times faster instead. It’s also worth pointing out that carrier networks have grown much more robust in recent years with LTE speeds that can rival many WiFi shared connections open to the public. The manual solution has been for users to selectively turn off their WiFi to improve performance… but not any more.

The Android 5.1 update that began rolling out across the U.S. this week includes a new firmware feature that gives your device the ability to recall which networks you have attempted joining in the past with poor results. The device can then cross-check that list in the future to prioritize networks accordingly, or keep you on the LTE from your mobile carrier when it is actually faster than the available WiFi nearby.

There are a few other fixes in the Android 5.1 update, and most including this one will go unnoticed by many consumers, though their innate sense of satisfaction with their device is likely unwittingly to rise as a direct result. You can also now connect to Bluetooth devices without needing to click through three settings menus, and Quick Settings are finally available from the lock screen directly. Google devs have also enhanced the Android platform’s security, so that a stolen device will remain unusable even if someone resets it until a dealer reauthorizes it with your information after checking a valid ID.

It will take weeks before the myriad of devices that are part of the Android ecosystem are able to be updated, but if your phone or tablet offers you 5.1 as an update it’s a download you should install with a smile.

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25
Mar
2015

Death of the Desktop: New Report Shows Acceleration of Mobile Market Share

by Bill

death of the PCIDC is one of the leading market research firms in the tech sector, and a new report they have published suggests that not only are desktop computers dying off… their inevitable demise may actually come sooner than previously expected. They are predicting a drop of nearly 5% in desktop users this year, which is a downward revision from their earlier projection of a 3.3 percent decline. That equates to roughly 293.1 million PC units being shipped this year.

Apple has already sold more than 74 million iPhones in the last quarter alone. That means the iPhone may outsell desktop computers all by itself next year. Now add in the number of Android and other devices flooding the mobile market and it becomes clear that user habits are rapidly evolving.

Adding insult to injury, the PC market is also losing money. IDC reports the PC market contracted by 0.8% last year to $201 billion in revenue, with an expectation of another 6.9% drop this year and by 2019, an overall market size of no more than $175 billion, (while Apple amassed more than 183 Billion alone in 2014 and appears to be on a growth trajectory thanks to the rapidly growing popularity of mobile computing over desktop alternatives.

Intel has long been a bellwether of the entire PC industry as the primary supplier of microprocessors and they are curtailing their own revenue outlook by almost a billion dollars in the first quarter of 2015m, based on soft demand from businesses for desktop computers and less inventory throughout their supply chain. Meanwhile, Google exceeded Intel’s capital expenditures by nearly 10% in 2014 after an extended era where Intel was the biggest spender. Intel R&D went into property, manufacturing, and chip-building infrastructure. Google spends its cash on the data centers, servers, and networking gear. The companies making desktops are now losing their dominance to the companies make mobile users and device agnostic consumers happy the most.

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17
Mar
2015

$10,000 Apple Watch Worth Much Less Than The New Tiered Battery They Revealed

by Bill

Apple ClockApple’s newest marketing blitz included several new products, but the media latched onto one of the least important aspects of the products the company revealed. Yes, the Apple Watch is likely to bring more people into the wearable computing era, and some of the features are interesting – but way too much has been made of the gold Apple Watch and its $10,000 price tag. This is especially true when compared to the ingenuous new battery architecture the company quietly included in the new MacBook.

The new MacBook is the first to use ‘terraced battery placement’ which is a new way of stacking Lithium Ion cells that experts claim can improve battery life any pretty much any Lithium Ion device by 35% without requiring more weight or space devoted to the battery itself. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that terraced placement seemingly obviates the long held standard of having a rectangular shape within any device for the purpose of housing a standard battery.

Devices of the past (and most at present) are designed by first deciding the size of the battery and then shaping the rest of the device around it, these new batteries are allowing Apple to work with previously impossible shapes and thicknesses for the amount of power their devices can deliver.

The new 12-inch MacBook’s main featured from a customer point of view is a stunning 2304×1440 retina display in a 13.1mm thin device that weighs only two pounds and has a battery capable of pumping out that many fully illuminated pixels for more than 9 hours on a single charge.

Long after the Apple Watch comes and goes, even after the $10,000 price tag is considered paltry by future generations, there is a very good chance some form of the micro thick terraced layers of Lithium Ion living on in devices that will power the way mobile computing continues to evolve.

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10
Mar
2015

IBM Spectrum Pours 1 Billion Dollars Into Dynamic Data Management Software

by Bill

Big DataAccording to a recent report from the International Data Group, unstructured data is growing at a break-neck pace of more than 62% per year. That massive amount of new data is also being filtered, sorted and sifted by waves of analytics experts with increasingly dynamic tools designed to author nearly-real-time reports to apply business intelligence and provide real world solutions. Of course all of this happening continuously is creating bottlenecks that affect new employee hiring, customer community engagement, UI / UX and product development. That’s why there is now a race to find even faster ways to manage data with a focus on storing data in smarter ways than were previously thought to be necessary.

Businesses are now shifting strategies toward a far more software based approach, because all the hard drives in the world won’t be useful without the proper platform in place to handle so many data requests. Cheaper, faster and better ways to store and retrieve data effectively will now be filling an important need in the modern data market rather than simply attempting to stay ahead of the curve. The new challenge for IT professionals is delivering data quicker in a live environment where it must be accessible when real-time tools and continuous up time are required. Storage hardware remains important and storage software is becoming even more important.  Hardware is merely a repository of data, but the software is what affects how data is stored, where it’s stored, and in which ways it can be immediately accessed.

IBM has now announced “software-defined storage” with the release of IBM Spectrum, a software-only suite of storage solutions, with a $1 billion commitment to move to a high-value storage software business model. “This change will not only accelerate the way that IBM provides the right solutions, but will move the storage industry forward into the next era” according to IBM.

The key element of this story is that the infrastructure underpinning the way data flow works is now evolving to become much more dynamic and adaptive because of the way people are using data. The metaphor of hard drives being like old file cabinets is now entirely broken, as most clients seek to see every part of every file in the entire cabinet simultaneously in real time, rather than working through one drawer or one folder and the on to the next.

NationalNet is always watching these data developments closely and will continue to provide our clients with the leading edge of hardware and software hosting solutions to give your company the competitive edge it needs to succeed online.

 

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27
Feb
2015

FCC Reclassifies Broadband As A Utility And Preserves Net Neutrality

by Bill

Net NeutralityThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday to approve very strong net neutrality rules in a landmark decision. The decision is particularly important because it comes as a final determination by the commission after month of powerful campaigning by opposition forces including big money Telecom and Cable interests along with wide support by Republican leaders in both houses of the Republican controlled Congress.

Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn (both Democrats) joined Chairman Tom Wheeler to approve the new rules, which include reclassification of all US consumer-broadband as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules,” Wheeler said prior to the vote. Clyburn pointed out that “absent the rules we adopt today” ISPs would be “free to block, throttle, favor or discriminate … for any user, for any reason, or for no reason at all.”

The reclassification is very important, as the FCC intends to use authority under Title II to ban all forms of “paid prioritization” that carriers had hoped to use as a way to generate additional revenue for premium data fast-lane access. Another important aspect of the ruling is the clear declaration that these new rules apply to mobile access as well.

The FCC will begin enforcing these Internet rules via “investigation and processing of formal and informal complaints”, and for the first time ever, the FCC will now have the internal authority to address specific complaints at interconnection points, between ISPs and Internet users on an individual basis.

The two Republican commissioners on the FCC were in stark opposition to the rest of the commission and the vast majority of Internet users. Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai called the decision an “about-face” and said “We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason only: President Obama told us to do so.”

According to the Huffington Post, reporters and others gathered in an FCC viewing room “gasped and burst into laughter upon hearing Pai’s remark.” President Obama did state his emphatic belief that Title II reclassification was a crucial step forward last November, and millions of comments from the general public in support of net neutrality gave the strong impression of widespread public support.

Many Tech Industry giants including Tumblr, Google, Facebook and others openly advocated for net neutrality protection. The big losers were bandwidth carriers like Verizon and Comcast. Verizon previously sued the FCC in 2011 over rules changes and there is a new specter of legal wrangling with this FCC decision likely headed to court. Verizon issued a press release issued saying the decision is “a radical step that presages a time of uncertainty for consumers, innovators and investors” and went on to claim that the FCC “chose to use this order as an excuse to adopt 300-plus pages of broad and open-ended regulatory arcana that will have unintended negative consequences for consumers and various parts of the Internet ecosystem for years to come.”

However, Ms. Barbara van Schewick, a Stanford University law professor and net neutrality expert, was optimistic that the new FCC rules would eventually prevail in court, if they were challenged. “The agency’s decision to reclassify Internet service as a common carrier under Title II … puts the rules on a solid legal foundation,” she said in a statement.

While the future is always uncertain, at least for now, you can take comfort in the fact that data will continue to pass through all internet pipes in a way that is completely agnostic as to the identity of the sender or receiver, and as to the character of the content being communicated – just the way the Internet has already been working so successfully since its earliest inception

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11
Feb
2015

ARM Expects Smartphones To Be Many People’s Only Computer Within Two Years

by Bill

Cell PhoneTechnologists have talked about the growing importance of mobile computing for years, and the leaps forward in handheld computational power have been staggering over the last few years. Now, some are predicting that we may be getting within 24 months of the tipping point, when many consumers are ready to ditch their desktops entirely in favor of new mobile phones that can do it all for them instead.

 

ARM’s new mobile phone CPU provides more than 50 times the performance of chips sold just five years ago, and it does it all with 75% less energy required than was needed by comparable chips from three years ago. ARM is not alone in these accomplishments. Apple’s new A8 chip in the iPhone 6 is also more than 50 times faster than the chip they released in the original iPhone, and the new Apple GPU is actually 84 times faster. Meanwhile Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 (used by LG, HTC, and other Android manufacturers) is set to handle 4K video streaming and 3D gaming tasks as well. Given these mobile phone specs and the rapid rate of advancement, there is little reason to expect people to continue using outdated desktop devices.

 

ARM is launching a new Cortex-A72 processor and a Mali-T880 GPU to empower mobile devices capable of bridging the gap and bringing desktop traditionalists across the divide to the freedom of a full time wireless lifestyle. Where people once considered the possibility of living in a world as an ‘always on’ participant, we are now at the dawn of what may soon be called the ‘always on the go’ era of modern computing.

 

Most of the remaining obstacles that need to be cleared away come down to ports or wireless porting of data to larger screens when they are available. A way to display the information from your device in real time to a television screen or other ‘dumb screen’ on your desk if you feel like using a full size set of peripherals. These are tiny challenges to overcome when compared to the CPU and GPU milestones that have been reached, and while 2 years may be on the optimistic side, it is clearly a matter of when not a question of whether or not mobile will soon be the primary way people connect online and do all of their digital tasks each day.

 

Do your digital products and web presence sufficiently scale for mobile users to use them in a fully mobile world? Contact us to discuss the connectivity requirements and the many ways you can allocate resources efficiently to address specific devices or the coming lifestyle shift toward handheld input portals now and in the future.

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04
Feb
2015

Net Neutrality Final Debate Needs Your Support To Articulate New Regulations

by Bill

net neutralityIn less than 21 days the fate of the Internet will be decided by a new FCC regulation proposed by FCC Chairman Wheeler to protect the sanctity of net neutrality. Chairman Wheeler has gone on the offensive to generate support for the open policy he is proposing, by authoring a very informative editorial which would use new regulatory authority from Congress to keep the Internet agnostic as to which content is being served by which website to which end user.

 

In his editorial, Mr. Wheeler recounts his own personal experience at the helm of an early Internet startup named NABU which failed to compete with the rapid growth of AOL, even though it was able to provide much better connectivity, simply because they playing field was already far from level. Now as cable companies and big bandwidth consortiums apply lobbying pressure to the people whose votes will be counted less than 3 weeks from today – it is imperative that the voice of end users everywhere be heard on this crucial issue.

 

Grass roots websites like Battle For The Internet are already online to make it a few simple clicks to identify and contact your local government representatives.  All it takes is a few minutes of your time to have your voice counted and to leverage the enormous public sentiment that bandwidth throughput, load times and other fundamental aspects of digital data transfer should remain entirely neutral – whether that website is a paying sponsor of any particular carrier or not at this time.

 

The idea of net neutrality has been a lynch-pin of the entire Internet since its inception and any move to create ‘express lanes’ or ‘slow lanes’ for data traffic would have a profound impact on competition, consumer prices and the kind of content available online… not only for your web browsing experiences but potentially for the ways data is used and priced in the lives of future generations as well.

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26
Jan
2015

NFL And Google Reach Landmark Deal For YouTube Channel Content

by Bill

The distribution methods of digital content continue to change and now Google has added another premium content maker to its growing list of official channels on the YouTube platform. Long considered the crown jewel of Television programming, the NFL has raked in billions of dollars in yearly contracts for the television rights to its games over recent decades. That led to the creation of its own NFL network on cable systems and to a slew of award winning documentary programming produced by their own in-house studio NFL Films. Now the NFL is leading the movement across the digital divide toward direct programming for Internet viewers as well.

“Located at YouTube.com/NFL, the NFL’s official channel on YouTube allows viewers to access a uniquely packaged, seven-day-a-week NFL content programming schedule” stated the NFL’s official website. “Content posted to the NFL’s official channel on YouTube will include game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice, and other select content from NFL Network and NFL.com”

A large part of the benefit for content providers pushing their products across YouTube is the ability to engage international consumers with a platform that is completely agnostic to regional cable deals and other nationalized interests of heavily regulated radio or television media. Much the way Netflix is quickly becoming the platform of choice of US based content providers to reach customers overseas, YouTube is now giving studios and networks a simplified way to reach across oceans and directly into the desktop or mobile devices of an audience that extends around the globe.

“Partnering with YouTube and Google provides the NFL unique access to millions of highly engaged fans through the global leader in video and search,” said Hans Schroeder, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy, Business Development, & Sales for the National Football League. “We continue to see an insatiable appetite for digital video content, and this partnership further expands fans’ ability to discover and access NFL content throughout the year.”

Backing this deal technologically is the most advanced video streaming system ever created, with a nearly limitless amount of available bandwidth and virtually zero cost for anyone seeking to upload content online. Along with the search traffic benefits integrated into Google, the high branding visibility afforded and the simplicity of displaying your own YouTube videos as embeds within your official website – this platform appears poised to grow even more as flagship producers like the NFL educate audiences and lead them away from traditional media outlets. If you aren’t harnessing these resources for your own brands, now is the time to get up to speed as content consumer tastes evolve in your direction.

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16
Jan
2015

Electronic Frontier Foundation Aims to Encrypt the Entire Internet

by Bill

SSL CertificateThe international non-profit digital rights organization, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), recently announced the fruition of a project that has ongoing since 2009, to switch all internet hypertext from insecure HTTP to the more secure HTTPS protocol.

Working with Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai, IdenTrust, and researchers at the University of Michigan, EFF has created a simple, one click solution to enable all webmasters to obtain a Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate with a “single click.”

Currently the difficulties in obtaining a TLS certificate and configuring it properly is the main reason that sites keep using HTTP instead of HTTPS, and as anyone who has used the internet in recent years knows getting it correct and is beyond the reach of many sites, as we’ve all seen errant warning popups indicating that the site you’re trying to visit has a a problem with its security certificate.

EFF has launched a new certificate authority project, called Let’s Encrypt, which will provide TLS certificates for free, and auto-install and configure on any website, and eliminates the complexity, bureaucracy, and cost of the certificates that up until now, running a site with HTTPS requires.

The HTTP SSL protocol has had a good run, but it is inherently insecure. Users and site owners alike face a myriad of perils, from account hijacking to malicious scripts, surreptitious surveillance to identify theft. In one fell swoop, Let’s Encrypt promises remove all barriers to implementation of HTTPS, theoretically making the internet a safer place, and will likely result in a measurable traffic penalty for those sites that lag in their implementation of this more secure encryption protocol.

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06
Jan
2015

The Newest Net Neutrality Squabble May Be Great For Consumers

by Bill

Good news for consumers?

As part of a recent change in public posture on the issue of Net Neutrality sparked by the White House, the FCC is now gathering public feedback about the idea of regulating all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II of the Communications Act. While cable companies are vehemently against this new framework of government regulation for obvious economic reasons, there is an even greater danger to their nearly unilateral grip on broadband dollars as Google and other new entrants may be able to turn this change in regulatory structure into a way to gain greater access to existing infrastructure.

 

Google filedpublic comment with the FCC emphasizing the fact that regulation under Title II must also confer the benefits of that Act along with the well-known responsibilities, and that includes full access to utility poles and other existing infrastructure that many industry pundits have long regarded as an artificial barrier of entry preventing new broadband providers from entering the ISP marketplace.

 

The FCC has already recognized that access to poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way owned or controlled by utilities is essential for broadband deployment according to Austin Schlick, Google’s director of communications law who stated “Forbearance from allowing [broadband Internet] providers access to available infrastructure under Section 224 would… maintain a substantial barrier to network deployment by new providers such as Google Fiber.”

ARS Technica also reported its findings after speaking with Cable Industry Lobbyists who pointed out many scenarios that would be catastrophic for monopolistic providers, but sound very intriguing to many consumers. Chief among those findings was the admission by Cable Industry insiders that a change to Title II regulation could also lead to “rate setting” requirements being imposed on ISPs, similar to the way other utilities are now managed by governmental standards and practices.

 

Whether this change is really going to happen or is simply a strong bargaining chip to be used as leverage in the battle to keep the Internet neutral remains to be seen, but everyone will be watching these maneuvers in 2015 and in the run up to the next national elections in 2016.

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