HI-TECH NEWS

by Scomputers
Comments: 0
Etisalat to sell SIM cards through Smart machines

Etisalat today announced the launch of the first interactive touch screen 'Smart Service' machine to sell new activated prepaid SIM cards for the first time in UAE.

The automated innovative machine will enable customers to buy SIM cards within minutes with an inbuilt ability to verify the Emirates ID. At the time of the launch, prepaid SIM cards will be available to customers. Etisalat plans to sell postpaid and introduce services such as SIM Swap (SIM replacement) and SIM re-registration via the machine in the near future.

Etisalat will be introducing the first machine at its office located at Al Kifaf in Dubai. Before the end of the year, there are plans to add 20 machines across UAE in Etisalat business centers, airports and malls.

by Scomputers
Comments: 0
Re-register UAE mobile phone to avoid disconnection: Who? Why?

Etisalat and Du customers who registered their mobile numbers as part of the My Number, My Identity programme may have to re-register the numbers before the expiry of their Emirates ID or visa to avoid facing immediate suspension of service.

A document prepared by the UAE’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) laying out the guidelines for registration requirements states that mobile SIM Card and mobile services may be suspended if the consumer does not submit the required and verifiable registration information prior to the date of expiry.

The initial registration process that was initiated three years ago required users to register their numbers by either producing a valid Emirates ID or passport with a valid visa.

However, guidelines issued by the TRA required that the number be re-registered upon the expiry of the document that was produced as proof for registration.

According to TRA's 'Registration Requirements for Mobile Consumers' issued in September 2011, the expiry date is deemed to be the expiry date of the individual’s visa or residence, or the expiry date of the passport, whichever comes sooner in case the individual is neither a UAE citizen nor a GCC citizen.

It also makes it mandatory for all operators to issue a notification or an advice no less than one calendar month prior to the registration expiry date.

“The licensee shall advise the mobile consumer that his or her registration will expire, and the date of that expiry; advise the mobile consumer that his or her mobile SIM card and mobile services will be suspended unless the mobile consumer submits the required and verifiable registration information for registration renewal prior to the date of expiry,” the note states.

“If the Mobile Consumer does not submit the required and verifiable Registration Information prior to the date of expiry, the Licensee shall Suspend the Mobile Consumer’s Mobile SIM Card and mobile services, and give the Mobile Consumer notice of the Suspension within twenty-four (24) hours,” the TRA document states.

The same procedures would be followed in case the customers use false registration information.

Once the service is suspended, the customer will be provided three months to issue the required documents or else the number could be permanently deactivated following which it can be issued to a third party.

“Every notice of suspension given to the mobile consumer shall state that unless the mobile consumer submits the required and verifiable registration information prior to the expiry of three (3) months from the date of the suspension, his or her mobile SIM card and mobile services will be deactivated.

“Once a SIM card and mobile services have been deactivated, the licensee (operator) is under no obligation to accept any additional registration information from that person… and is entitled to reuse the number,” the document adds.

Etisalat users can actually re-register their mobile numbers online.

by Scomputers
Comments: 0
Your Android smartphone hacked with simple text message

Cyber security firm Zimperium on Monday warned of a flaw in the world's most popular smartphone operating system that lets hackers take control with a text message.

"Attackers only need your mobile number, using which they can remotely execute code via a specially crafted media file delivered via MMS (text message)," Zimperium Mobile Security said in a blog post.

"A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification."

Android code dubbed ‘Stagefright’ was at the heart of the problem, according to Zimperium.

Stagefright automatically pre-loads video snippets attached to text messages to spare recipients from the annoyance of waiting to view clips.

Hackers can hide malicious code in video files and it will be unleashed even if the smartphone user never opens it or reads the message, according to research by Zimperium's Joshua Drake.

"The targets for this kind of attack can be anyone," the cyber security firm said, referring to Stagefright as the worst Android flaw discovered to date.

"These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited."

Malicious code executed by hackers could take control of smartphones and plunder contents without owners knowing.

Stagefright imperils some 95 percent, or an estimated 950 million, of Android phones, according to the security firm.

Zimperium said that it reported the problem to Google and provided the California Internet firm with patches to prevent breaches.

"Google acted promptly and applied the patches to internal code branches within 48 hours, but unfortunately that's only the beginning of what will be a very lengthy process of update deployment," Zimperium said.

It did not appear as though hackers had taken advantage of the Stagefright vulnerability, according to Zimperium.

Updating Android software powering mobile devices is controlled by hardware makers and sometimes telecommunication service carriers, not Google.

While Apple controls the hardware and software in iPhones, iPads, and iPods powered by its mobile operating system, Google makes Android available free to device makers who customize the code and update it as they see fit.

More about Drake's research was to be disclosed at a Black Hat computer security conference taking place in Las Vegas early in August.

by Scomputers
Comments: 0
Users say VoIP call platform IMO now blocked in UAE

UAE users say video and voice chat platform IMO messenger has stopped working in the UAE as of yesterday.

IMO messenger, which works on both the iOS and Android devices, allows users to send messages as well as make free Skype-like calls from mobile devices.

Several users in the country who had been able to make calls until Sunday night told this website that the messenger platform stopped working since Monday morning.

“I don’t even hear a ring tone now. Looks like it has been blocked,” says Sadiq who works with an Abu Dhabi-based bank.

“It was the only VoIP messenger that worked flawlessly from my phone, until yesterday,” says Mustafa Ahmad.

IMO can be used to make voice calls, as well as send messages apart from sharing pictures. The messenger however has a few flaws where an intended recipient is able to see the text even as you type them on your screen.

Also an incoming voice call from the telecom network will simultaneously get connected along with the VoIP call.

IMO messenger has been gaining traction in recent months, especially in the UAE, as it was one of the few working VoIP solutions.

Other similar services like WhatsApp calling, BBM voice, and Viber continue to remain blocked.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority has been insisting that all VoIP services, except for those provided by licensed operators in the UAE – Etisalat and Du – are illegal.

by menarate
Comments: 0
Road to Future is Paved with Solar Panels

Last year, the world was shaken by the ‘big news’ of a solar road built in the Netherlands in the small town of Krommenie, north of Amsterdam.

The road is actually a 70-metre bike path, made of solar panels embedded in between glass, silicon rubber and concrete layers. The panels are capable of sustaining the load of 12-tonne fire trucks. Their life span is claimed to be as long as 20 years. Each individual panel is connected to a smart meter designed to optimize their output and ensure straight supply of electricity into the grid or the street lighting system. Besides, if any of those is broken, in shadow, or covered with dirt, the system will only switch off that panel without affecting the rest.

In all, it took five years to make this installation durable enough to run the tests. Now, after a six-month testing period, the bike path seems to be functioning even better than expected. Its generating power totals 3,000 kWh, which is enough for a small household to go on for a year. So far, the only fault the testing team noticed was a small road section delaminated because of temperature fluctuations.

Engineers believe the potential of such roads is huge. In fact, SolaRoad, the group behind the project, is now negotiating with local councils to expand the project to other Dutch provinces and has signed a similar agreement with California. So, it’s a breath-taking perspective we are in for.

by menarate
Comments: 0
Another Customization Tool from Facebook

Facebook has always done its best to help users enjoy their social network experience. Thus, for instance, based on the information about users’ most frequently viewed posts and pages, it links them to similar posts and web-resources.

The new feature Facebook is about to launch is intended to enable users to customize their news feed to their own liking by prioritizing posts and people. Besides, Facebook representatives claim the new feature to be the answer to the so-called “FOMO” problem when people are afraid to miss out on something really important. All one needs to do to always keep up with the latest news of importance is to star a person or a page, and posts from those will, from then on, appear at the top of their news feed, no matter what. In addition, this new feature enables users to reconnect with certain people or pages they unfollowed some time before.

It is planned that the feature will first be introduced for the iPhone app, with support for Android and the web version to follow some time later.

by menarate
Comments: 0
Smartphone Boom in MEA

In 2015, smartphone shipments in the MEA region (Middle East and Africa) are expected to total 155 m units, already exhibiting growth of 66% as compared to the last year. The fastest growing markets include Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan, with Samsung, Apple, and Huawei taking up the three top supplier positions.

Overall, the region’s most popular operating systems are Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, jointly making up 95% of the smartphone market. In the Middle East, Android accounts for 80% of the market, and iOS –for 17%, while, in Africa, the figures are 89% and 7%, accordingly. Such an impressive market success of Android devices is probably due to their low cost. In general, the region’s consumers tend to be more willing to buy devices within the price range of $100 - $200. Preferred screen sizes range from 4 to 5.5 inches.

Meanwhile, feature phones have suffered a decline of 20%. By 2019, their share is expected to be as low as just some 27% of the total MEA handset market. BlackBerry, despite all the new models launched, has also performed way less successful, perhaps, because it has lost much of its corporate market.

by Scomputers
Comments: 0
How to care for your laptop's battery

Who doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with their laptop battery? It lets us be mobile, but it also chains us to that little battery life gauge and the dreaded decay of performance as time goes on. But with the right practices, you can move the relationship more firmly toward the “love” side: Here’s how.

Save cycles, save your battery

All laptop batteries are built to handle a certain number of usage cycles, usually somewhere around 500, and often more. Each cycle of use decreases the battery’s capacity, so the less you drain it, the longer it’ll last — all other things being equal.

So where do you start? Begin by visiting the Power Settings corner of your laptop. Many computers offer the ability to switch to an “eco mode” that automatically adjust the way power is used (such as dimming your screen brightness) to conserve battery energy.

2971280559_ba4e4320f1_b

 

William Hook / Flickr

Also pay attention to hibernation modes. Ideally, you want your laptop to enter into hibernation before the battery is totally drained – as well as during downtime when you won’t be use the laptop for a while.

To save even more power, take a tour of your apps and quit any background apps that are steadily eating into your battery energy. In Windows computers you can look at your System Tray, your Task Manager, and your Processes tab to see which of those little icons really isn’t necessary. In OS X you can see what’s running both in the taskbar to the upper right and the pop-up menu – cloud storage services or video players that you aren’t using can be safely shut down. Both Microsoft and Apple have guides explaining the process further.

Keeping your battery in zone

In ancient, less enlightened times, there was a problem called “battery memory” which caused batteries to “forget” their full charge capacity and start charging at lower and lower levels. This problem doesn’t exist anymore thanks to modern lithium-ion batteries, but it has led to a lot of poor advice and arguments about battery care based in information many years outdated. It’s time to clear the air.

You don’t need to totally discharge a battery and let it die to somehow reboot it – this is a dangerous practice that’s very hard on your battery. It is a smart idea, however, to do a healthier battery discharge a couple times a year. Let your battery energy grow low (without bottoming it — aim for around 5 percent) and then fully recharge it, all in one go. This maintenance helps calibrate the battery gauge.

While you can leave your battery plugged in for as long as you want (heating issues aside), there is a sweet spot for battery life that you can use to get the most cycles. You see, letting a battery charge to 100 percent all the time does tend to wear the battery out more quickly, while letting it fall too lower in the other direction too often can also be bad news – sort of like forcing yourself to run until your knees hurt. The happy middle ground is, according to Battery University funder and Cadex Electronics CEO Isidor Buchmann, is somewhere between 40 percent and 80 percent battery life.

So the best thing you can do for your battery is charge when it reaches 40 percent, and unplug it when it goes past 80 percent. Obviously this means applying a little OCD to when you plug and unplug your charger, but your battery will thank you in the long term by lasting longer.

laptopcharging

 

FrameAngel/Shutterstock

Environmental concerns: all about temperature

Today’s lithium-ion batteries are durable little guys, but they can only take so much heat. Anything above 95 degrees Fahrenheit can damage your laptop battery permanently.

This leads to some common sense suggestions. For example, if you are charging up your battery and it starts to get seriously hot, pop the battery out and give it a break so it can cool down or you can move to someplace with a lower temperature. Likewise, keep the laptop off your actual lap. If testicular damage and discomfort weren’t good enough reasons, you’re also making the problem worse and often block vents.

Cold temperatures usually aren’t a problem, and storing a battery in a cool place is recommended, but don’t leave your laptop in freezing temperatures, ever. Too much cold can kill the battery permanently.

If you want to watch temperature even more closely (say, you live in a particularly hot climate), there are a number of apps you can run that will monitor laptop heat. This includes CoreTemp and Real Temp, which you can download for free.

Giving your laptop some TLC

Most people just let their laptop battery sit, snug inside the laptop, doing its job. But it’s a good idea to take your battery out from time to time and show it a little love. Every few months, detach your battery and give it a careful wipe with a soft cloth – get rid of any dust, and make sure the contact points are especially clean.

Exploding laptop battery

 

J Aaron Farr / Flickr

Note that this only replies to models with removable batteries. The newer MacBooks in particular have infamously trapped batteries. But if your battery can’t be easily removed, you don’t need to worry about it getting dirty.

Things to avoid

Want the best battery? Here’s a quick list of bad practices.

  • Full discharges: As mentioned, when a laptop battery discharges fully – forcing a shutdown – the battery struggles to return to its full charge. If it happens frequently, the battered battery will eventually give up the ghost. Even when running a discharge cycle, don’t let the battery drop to zero percent. Instead, use hibernation modes that trigger around five percent battery life.
  • Reliance on hibernation modes: This is a similar point to the first. If you are constantly forcing your laptop to hibernate in order to save the battery, you aren’t keeping your battery at the ideal percentages. Rethink your laptop habits.
  • Long periods of inactivity: If you have to leave your battery unused for long periods of time, then make sure it has around a half charge. A depleted battery can die forever if not recharged soon enough. But generally, batteries need a fitness regimen to stay in peak condition. If possible, keep using and properly charging your battery as long as you have it.
  • Hot summer days: Obviously you can’t always avoid hot summers, but you know what this means: Keep your laptop cool. Store it indoors, avoid direct sunlight, and keep it out of hot cars during warm days.

Software and your battery

Finally, a note about your software: Update it. Companies, notably Apple, work on improving the way that programs use power via software patches. The same operating system on a later patch could well use less battery energy, giving you more battery life without changing anything. So review your OS and keep your battery on a healthy diet of updates.




by Scomputers
Comments: 0
APU, GPU, WTF? A guide to AMD’s desktop processor line-up

AMD’s line of desktop processors isn’t all that straightforward. There are five current product lines split across two categories, powering everything from tiny Mini-ITX small form factor PCs to high-end gaming machines. Naturally, different individual processors are separated by price and performance. Here’s a broad breakdown of the company’s main lines.

APU versus CPU

AMD’s acquisition of graphics card manufacturer ATI in 2006 boosted the company’s ability to produce and innovate in graphics hardware. As a result, AMD offers three unique lines of “APUs,” or Accelerated Processing Units. These designs combine a CPU and GPU onto the same chip, so motherboards with an APU design don’t need integrated graphics (like Intel’s soldered-on GPU options) or discrete graphics (via a conventional graphics card).

APUs tend to be the less expensive options in AMD’s lineup, often intended for smaller and more energy-efficient machines. The company still offers two lines of traditional CPUs, and these chips require external graphics solutions. AMD CPUs are a better option for system builders who intend to create a conventional workstation or dedicated gaming PC.

Related: What’s an APU, and should you buy one for your PC?

Sempron APUs

sempron apu

 

Amazon

The Sempron line of APUs is AMD’s cheapest option for desktop computers. At the time of writing only two Sempron APU models are sold, the 2650 and 3850. The 2650 is the low-end option, with a dual-core design clocked at 1.45GHz, a 400MHz integrated GPU, and 1MB of L2 cache. The quad-core 3850 runs at 1.3GHz, with a slightly boosted GPU of 450MHz and 2MB of cache. It also supports slightly faster 1600MHz RAM. Both chips use the AM1 socket design and 128-memory core GPU architecture, and can be purchased for less than $30.

You’ll find these chips a good option if you’re building a very basic, low-cost system, or a system that doesn’t require much direct user interaction (like a home file server).

Athlon APUs

athlon apu

 

AMD

AMD’s mid-range APU lineup gets the Athlon product line name. These chips use faster quad-core processors and zippier GPU clock speeds, but don’t offer a dramatic boost over the Sempron line. The Athlon 5150 runs at 1.6GHz, while the Athlon 5350 runs at 2.05GHz, but otherwise these AM1 socket chips are identical, with 2MB of L2 cache, 600MHz 128 GPU memory cores, and support for RAM at speeds of up to 1600MHz.  Athlon APUs retail for under $50.

Athlons are a solid choice for a cheap, general-purpose computer.

A-series APUs

a series

 

AMD

The top of the line of AMD’s integrated chips is the A-series. About two dozen variations of the A-series are currently sold, with CPU cores ranging from two to four and GPU cores from two to eight — the highest-end A-series APU is technically a 12-core monster with 4 dedicated CPU cores and 8 dedicated GPU cores. All of them run at significantly higher wattages than the 25W Sempron and Athlon line, ranging from 45-100 watts (making them much heavier hitters on your power bill). Clock speeds for the CPU cores go as high as 4.1GHz for the top model A10-7870K chip with a maximum of 4MB of L2 cache, and GPU clock speeds range from 433MHz to 866MHz. Maximum supported RAM speed varies from 1600MHz all the way to 2133MHz.

The line is broadly separated into A4, A6, A8, and A10 chips, increasing in CPU power, GPU features, and price as you go up. Prices for the slowest A4 chips can be below $50, while the top of the line A10 sells for more than $150. A-series APUs require a FM2 or FM2+ CPU socket.

An A-Series is a good choice if you want a reasonably powerful, yet affordable system, with modest gaming capability. These APUs can’t handle the latest games at high detail settings, but they can play most titles at low-to-medium detail and 1080p resolution.

Athlon CPUs

athlon cpu

 

AMD

Athlon CPUs (not to be confused with the APUs above) offer a good price to performance ratio for computer builders who want to create standard work or gaming machines, especially when compared to their more expensive counterparts from Intel. The Athlon series comes in dual-core and quad-core variations, labeled Athlon X2 (1MB of L2 cache) and Athlon X4 (4MB of L2 cache). CPU speeds range from 3.6GHz to 4.1GHz, and at the moment a a variety of architectures and wattages are represented. The cheapest Athlon X2 can be had for around $50, while the most expensive X4 costs about $75. Both use the FM2+ CPU socket, and some are backwards-compatible with the original FM2.

These chips are a good choice for mid-range systems and budget gaming systems if a discrete graphics card is already available. They’re not a good choice for high-end gaming, however, as they simply don’t offer the CPU performance the most demanding games require.

FX CPUs

fx8

 

AMD

AMD’s 8-core FX series are the fastest and most powerful offered by the company. All of the current chips run at high wattage (95-220 watts) on the AM3+ socket, with speeds ranging from 3.6GHz for the FX 4100 to a blistering 5GHz for the FX 9590. L2 cache ranges from 4MB to 8MB. At the time of writing all FX CPUs use the slightly older 32nm architecture and the maximum DDR3 speed is 1866MHz – DDR4 is not supported as of the FX-8 generation.