Gogo’s In-Flight Internet To Move at Jet Speed

Business professionals, along with regular fliers, love the ability to access the Internet while on a plane. However, the Wi-Fi data speeds on most planes is horrendous and prevents users from accessing videos and other larger files.

Gogo, which already equips some airlines with in-flight Internet access, has come out with a new technology capable of providing 60 Mbps data speeds. The technology behind this innovation is called Gogo GTO (Ground to Orbit) which can use satellites for downloads and cellular networks for uploads, thereby increasing data speeds.

Hybrid In-Flight Internet Service

To start, Gogo will work with Virgin America to launch the GTO service in 2014. Right now, Gogo's Internet service for airplanes only provides regular data speeds of 3-10 Mbps, about the same speed as 3G wireless. Gogo GTO should be able to reach speeds 20 times faster.

The company already has ground-based receivers that will still be used for uploads, but by providing a hybrid service, downloads will come significantly faster from satellites. Other companies are only able to provide a max of 10 Mbps, so the 60 Mbps is far superior to what any other company is offering for in-flight Internet service.

Gogo said it will use Ku microwave antennae to communicate with the satellites. Ku antennas are smaller than the ones used on airplanes which are partnered with other Internet service providers.

The Price of Internet

Gogo has yet to announce how much it will charge for the upgraded in-flight Internet service, but when the company upgraded its service last year to 10 Mbps the cost rose, and it likely will do the same this time.

Just like on-ground Internet service, it is not cheap to connect on an airplane. Gogo currently charges $45 a month for frequent fliers, which provides unlimited Internet access, and also offers a $14 day pass. Either way,...

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Cortana: Microsoft’s Answer to Siri and Google Now

When Apple launched iOS 6 with Siri, people thought that it would end up being the absolute standard in phones to have an intelligent voice assistant. Google took that expectation to heart and came out with what may have been an even better voice assistant, Google Now.

Microsoft is now entering the personal assistant market as well, with Cortana. Cortana has technically been rumored for a while after a leaked photo came out showing a phone with an app called zCortana. Since no one knew what zCortana was, few people paid attention to it. However, we now know that the application was an early version of Microsoft's new personal assistant, which will be on all Windows Phones moving forward.

Taken from Halo Video Game

The name Cortana actually comes from Microsoft's Halo series in which Cortana was an artificially intelligent character. Unlike Siri or Google Now, reports are suggesting that Microsoft wants to hard-wire Cortana into almost all of the core Windows Phone features.

Information provided by Cortana will be coming directly from the Satori knowledge base that currently powers Microsoft's Bing search engine. Not only will Cortana become an integral part of Windows Phone, it will also end up on the Windows OS and Xbox.

Early screenshots of Cortana are simplistic and only show off a basic screen with service and notifications options. However, Microsoft has stated that once Cortana goes live, it will adapt to its user, providing a unique experience and even predicting questions and answers.

It is likely that Microsoft will include the personal assistant in Windows 8.1, which is set to offer a notification center along with other UI changes. Coming Windows phones should also feature Cortana.

Battle of the Personal Assistants

Cortana is significantly different from Siri in that it does not rely on a user to input a full question...

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IDC Predicts Tablet Shipments Will Overtake PCs in Q4

Hold on to your laptops and desktops, because in the not-too-distant-future they may become collectors' items. A new report from IDC projects that shipments of tablets will exceed those of PCs in the fourth quarter of this year, for the first time.

This transition parallels smartphones' topping feature phones in the second quarter, which Gartner and others recently reported. Overall, the smart connected device market, which includes PCs, tablets and smart phones, is forecast by this IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker to grow 27.8 percent this year compared with 2012, while the PC growth rate drops by 10 percent.

For the entire year, PC shipments are still expected to be greater than tablet shipments in 2013, but the upward trend is projected to continue until tablets exceed PCs on an annual basis by the end of 2015. By that year, smartphones will account for almost three-quarters of all smart connected devices on the planet.

A Game Changer

PC shipments accounted for 28.7 percent of last year's smart connected device market, compared with 11.8 percent for tablets and 59.5 percent for smartphones. By 2017, PCs are projected to drop to 13 percent, tablets will rise to 16.5 percent and smartphones, 70.5 percent.

The overall growth rate for the worldwide smart connected device market is expected to be 10.6 percent this year, but the upward trend will not continue forever. IDC expects this market to slow down to a growth rate of 3.1 percent by 2017, as lower-cost smartphones and tablets begin to saturate the markets. For 2013, for instance, the research firm predicts that nearly 70 percent of the smart connected device market will be smartphones and tablets priced under $350.

IDC Research Analyst Megha Saini said in a statement that, "at a time when the smartphone and tablet markets are showing early signs of...

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Massive Hack on Vodafone Germany Affects 2 Million Users

The personal details of about 2 million Vodafone Germany customers have been exposed in a hack that's making international headlines. According to the company, hackers tapped into an information pool of addresses, bank account numbers and dates of birth.

"Vodafone Germany has world-class security systems that are constantly updated and upgraded to block new emerging threats. However, this attack was highly complex and conducted with inside knowledge of our most secure internal systems," the company said in a statement.

"As soon as we discovered the incident we took all necessary steps to stop the attack, minimize any adverse impact for our customers and notify all relevant German authorities," company officials said. "We are sending our sincere apologies to everyone affected for any disruption caused."

We're All in Danger

We caught up with Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos, to get his analysis on the latest breach. He told us whenever personally identifiable information is purloined by online criminals, it increases the risk to the victims, despite what the vendor might claim.

"This advice doesn't just apply to the two million who we know had their information stolen. It applies to everyone, all the time. Many criminals might try to use this information offline as well as online, so be cautious of any suspicious activity, like incoming phone calls claiming to be your bank," he added.

On-Premise Security Fails

We also asked Kevin O'Brien, an enterprise solution architect at CloudLock, for reaction to the Vodafone hack. He told us it reveals as...

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FTC Launches New Inquiry Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Facebook is no stranger to Federal Trade Commission inquiries. And that's a good thing, seeing as the social networking giant is facing another one.

The FTC is launching a new inquiry just days after key privacy groups asked the regulatory agency to block proposed changes to its privacy policy. Facebook in August said it would make changes to its privacy policies to bring more clarity on how it uses member data to target ads. The changes were set to go live on Sept. 5.

"Facebook never sought out a discussion with us beforehand about these proposed changes," Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the FTC, told the New York Times. "We're monitoring compliance with the order. Part of that involves interacting with Facebook."

Fast and Loose

Consumer Watchdog, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Center for Digital Democracy, Patient Privacy Rights, U.S. PIRG, and Privacy Rights Clearing House signed the letter to the FTC asking for intervention.

According to these groups, the changes will allow Facebook to routinely use the images and names of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent. They contend the changes violate Facebook's current policies and the 2011 Facebook settlement with the FTC.

"Facebook has long played fast and loose with users' data and relied on complex privacy settings to confuse its users, but these proposed changes go well beyond that," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy director. "Facebook's overreach violates the FTC Consent Order that was put in place after the last major privacy violation; if the Commission is to retain any of its credibility, it must act immediately to enforce that order."

Impact on Minors

The privacy groups' letter said that the proposed changes' "impact on minors is particularly pernicious." In the proposed policy Facebook asserts:

"If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable...

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Keeping Up with Apple: Samsung Galaxy To Sport 64-bit Chips

After Apple announced this week that the A7 chip in its iPhone 5s will be the first 64-bit smartphone processor on the market, Samsung revealed on Wednesday that future Galaxy handsets will also go 64-bit.

And once again the South Korean electronics giant is taking on rival Apple. The news comes from a Samsung executive speaking at his regular weekly meeting with chief executives of Samsung's key affiliates in Seoul, as reported in The Korean Times.

Samsung's co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun said upcoming Samsung Galaxy smartphones will have 64-bit processing capabilities. The Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 run 32-bit processors.

Not in the Shortest Time

So when is Samsung letting its 64-bit smartphone out of the gate? No specific date was given. When asked about timing, the Samsung executive said, "Not in the shortest time. But yes, our next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality."

Some market watchers guess a 64-bit smartphone from Samsung will be forthcoming some time next year. Consumers by then will have been exposed to a lot of marketing information about how 64-bit processors can translate into actions they can enjoy, namely that their smartphones will be more powerful and faster.

The iPhone 5s from Apple will be driven by an ARM-based A7 processor that will handle code for more demanding applications, including high-end games. Apple trumpeted its A7 chip as ushering in 64-bit "desktop-class architecture" to a smartphone for the first time.

"With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything you do on iPhone 5S is faster and better than ever, from launching apps and editing photos to playing graphic-intensive games -- all while delivering great battery life," according to Apple.

Wait, Just a Mobile Moment

Processors with a 64-bit address space have been seen in desktops and servers, not mobile devices, which typically use 32-bit chips....

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Battery Life Zooms on New Haswell-Based Chromebooks

Chromebooks have entered a new generation. This week, Google and Intel unveiled new Net-based laptops from four manufacturers, featuring the faster and more power-efficient Haswell processor from Intel.

The new models were presented at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday, and the companies said they run 15 percent faster and with 50 percent more battery life than current models. The new laptops are available from Acer, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Asus. These are Asus' and Toshiba's first Chromebooks, meaning that six of the top laptop manufacturers will now be selling models using this platform.

The new HP Chromebook 14 features a 14-inch display, offers 4G as an option, is available in a variety of colors and promises over nine hours of battery life. The HP 14 has a starting price of $300, and will be available for the holiday season. Other prices for the new models have not yet been announced.

Quarter of PCs Under $300

The Asus Chromebox desktop computer, a small desktop device being compared to a Mac Mini, is being promoted for kiosks or call centers, as well as for homes or businesses. The Acer model has an 11.6-inch screen and promises 8-1/2 hours of battery life.

The presentation was made by Doug Fisher, Intel's vice president of the Software and Services group. Fisher was joined by Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai, who said that, according to external analysts such as the NPD Group, about one-quarter of all PCs sales under $300 are now Chromebooks. He added that they were also being used in more than 5,000 U.S. schools.

With this foothold, Intel and Google are increasingly putting major resources behind the development of Chromebooks. Intel's Fisher pointed out that his company currently has more than 1,000 engineers working to develop and support Chromebooks.

'Nice Looking'

Charles King, an analyst...

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How Safe Is Apple’s Touch ID, Really?

Now that the reviewers are done talking about what was missing from the iPhone 5s, some are taking a closer look at what the smartphone has that none of its competitors can claim: full-blown biometrics.

iPhone 5s introduces Touch ID, a James Bond-like way to securely unlock the device with your finger -- or, more accurately, fingerprint. Touch ID is built into the smartphone's home button and uses a laser cut sapphire crystal, together with the capacitive touch sensor, to take a high-resolution image of your fingerprint. The technology analyzes the fingerprint and promises accurate readings from any angle.

The Touch ID sensor recognizes the touch of a finger so the sensor is only activated when you mean to activate it. That preserves battery life. Addressing privacy concerns, Apple said fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s. The data is never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud. Beyond unlocking the device, Touch ID can also be used as a secure way to approve purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store. Is this secure enough to be the future of smartphone security?

Reliability and Security

We caught up with Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, to get his take on Touch ID from a security perspective. He told us the fingerprint scanner has a potential to be a real game changer for personal device security -- if it's done right. As he sees it, there are two factors that will determine the real success of this new feature, which has undeniable potential: reliability and security.

"There's a lot riding on the reliability factor. Will it work if I go for a swim and try to use my phone with raisin hands? What if it's...

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Wading Through the Ultra-Competitive CRM Market

So you want to choose a platform for customer relationship management (CRM) -- one that will help automate repetitive sales tasks and ultimately boost sales and customer satisfaction. The question is, "Where do you begin?" Fortunately, Gartner's recently released 'Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation' (SFA) offers a wealth of comparative data that can help you narrow down your choices, especially with so many newcomers to the market.

First, let's understand Gartner's definition of Sales Force Automation. Gartner lumps into the SFA category applications that support the automation of sales activities, processes, and administrative responsibilities for business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals. As Gartner characterizes it, core functionalities of sales force automation include account management, as well as contact management and opportunity management.

Gartner also lists add-on capabilities that focus on improving the effectiveness of salespeople. These include sales configuration, guided selling, proposal generation, and content management, plus sales performance management support, including incentive compensation, quota management, sales coaching, and territory management.

With that understanding in mind, let's do a quick review of the top vendors, complete with a summary of what Gartner calls "strengths" and "concerns" about each of the products included in its Magic Quadrant analysis.

We'll begin with the leaders in the field, including Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics in the top spots, as well as SAP and Oracle. Gartner positions SugarCRM fairly high on the chart as a visionary, and NetSuite as a key challenger. Other, more niche players include Sage CRM, Swiftpage, Pivotal, CRMnext, and Zoho. Let's take a look.

Meet Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has many strengths, according to Gartner. For obvious starters, it integrates with Microsoft technology stack assets, including Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration and content management, Microsoft Lync for presence and IM, Microsoft Visual Studio for extended customization, and Microsoft Outlook for customer contacts and email, all to...

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‘Made in USA’ Comes Cheap for Moto X, Teardown Finds

The idea that putting together electronic devices in the U.S. is far too expensive has become a popular belief over the past decade, and while there are good reasons to believe in that sentiment, there are also reasons to think otherwise. A teardown of the Moto X has revealed that while the device costs $226 to build, only an extra $4 is added on to the price when assembling it in the U.S.

Since Motorola used its "Made in Texas" label as a way to attract patriotic customers, it received the benefit of more buyers without almost any price increase. Although the Moto X is cheaper than the iPhone, it retails for a hefty $579 without a contract.

Assembled in America

The customization options were marketed quite a bit by Motorola, but its "Made in America" credentials were marketed extensively in almost all of the Moto X advertisements. Since the Moto X is assembled in Fort Worth, Texas, Motorola was able to increase its customization options without adding a significant amount of time to the shipping process.

In total, the Moto X costs $226 to manufacture and has a $12 assembling cost, according to a teardown analysis by IHS researchers. Compared with most manufacturers in Asia, which other smartphone companies use, the assembling price only increases by $4 to $5.

The minimal price difference, combined with Motorola's ability to provide dozens of color customization options, has allowed the Moto X to gain attention so far. By assembling the units in Texas, a custom device ships within four days of ordering.

First Motorola/Google Phone

Despite retailing for a lower price than the iPhone 5, the Moto X actually costs $19 less to manufacture. The Samsung Galaxy S 4 on the other hand, costs $11 more than the Moto X. These price differences come from the agreement that Motorola...

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