Court Says Marvell Owes CMU $278 Million, not $1.54 Billion

A federal appeals court reduced a judgement against chipmaker Marvell Technology by more than $1.25 billion (roughly Rs. 7,976 crores), but still says the company owes Carnegie Mellon University $278 million (roughly Rs. 1,773 crores) for patent infringement.Judge Richard Taranto of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decision that awarded Carnegie Mellon $1.54 billion (roughly 9,826 crores). However Taranto agreed that Marvell infringed on patents held by Carnegie Mellon.

A previous decision awarded Carnegie Mellon a royalty payment of 50 cents for each chip Marvell sells. Taranto rejected most of Marvell’s challenges to that ruling, saying Marvell owes royalties on chips that were imported into the US even though they were made in other countries and were sold to customers outside the US. But he said a new trial is needed to decide whether Marvell owes royalties on chips that were never brought into the US.

(Also see:  Chipmaker Marvell told to pay $1.5 billion in patent case)

The law firm K&L Gates, which is representing Carnegie Mellon, says it’s pleased the court upheld the university’s patents, upheld the jury’s calculation based on domestic sales, and rejected most of Marvell’s defences.

K&L Gates and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. each said they are reviewing the decision to determine their next steps.

Carnegie Mellon says Marvell infringed on 1998 patents covering technology in chips made for computer hard drives. The patents came from the work of Professor Jose Moura and Alek Kavcic, then a Carnegie Mellon student. Marvell said it used its own technology to develop the chips and said it does not believe the patents are valid.

A federal jury ruled in December 2012 that Marvell willfully violated patents belonging to Carnegie Mellon, and awarded the university $1.17 billion (roughly Rs. 7,466 crores). A US district court raised that amount to $1.54 billion (roughly Rs. 9,827 crores) in April 2014.

Acer Unveils Windows 10-Based Chromebook Rivals With Cloudbook Lineup

Acer is reminding users that the Chromebooks aren’t the only cheap-priced laptops available on the market. The Taiwanese computer manufacturer, on Tuesday, launched three Windows 10-powered laptops in its Aspire One Cloudbook series that are priced between $169 (roughly Rs. 10,800) to $199 (roughly Rs. 12,700).

For what they cost, the laptops – the Cloudbook 11 AO1-131-C7DW, Cloudbook 11 AO1-121-C1G9, and Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C8G8 – don’t sport sluggish hardware. All the Aspire One Cloudbook models are powered by dual-core Celeron N3060 processors clocked at 1.6GHz with Turbo Boost Technology that can speed it up to 2.16GHz. On the memory side, all the models sport 2GB of RAM. The C7DW, the lower Cloudbook variant comes with 16GB internal storage, while others rock 32GB (presumably) SSDs. The Cloudbook 11 models sport a 11-inch display of the resolution 1366×768 pixels, whereas the Cloudbook 14 series model comes equipped with a 14-inch display but with the same resolution.

If the internal storage is bothering you, Microsoft is giving a 100GB OneDrive voucher with the Cloudbook 16GB-specced laptop, and 1TB with the other two. The cloud storage space is available for one year. You also get an Office 365 Personal subscription plan valid for one year.

On the connectivity front, the laptops support Wi-Fi 802.11a/c and Bluetooth 4.0, and come with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, and SD card slots. The company has obviously cut corners on some sides to make up for the cheap price. The webcam, for one, won’t please many with its 480p image shooting capabilities.

Acer claims that both the laptops in Cloudbook 11 series will offer up to 7-hour of battery life on a single charge, whereas the Cloud 14 series model will run for 6 hours.

The big picture here is the software. All the models run Windows 10 Home, which as you may realize, would alone cost you about $120 (in addition to hundreds of dollar for OneDrive and Office 365 plans). Sure, the hard drive isn’t voluminous to carry tons of data, the display isn’t the most pleasant to look at, but you’re getting a full-fledgedWindows desktop operating system.

If you’re interested, the Cloudbook 11 will begin to sell later this month in the US, while the Cloudbook 14 will find its way to the store next month. The company will hopefully release it in other part of the world soon enough.

OS X Zero-Day Exploit Lets Attackers Gain Root Access

A zero-day vulnerability has been revealed in Apple’s OS X 10.10 that can give attackers root access to the system. Once the root access has been gained, attackers can of course do pretty much anything on the system. The vulnerability has been reportedly been patched in the first beta versions of OS X 10.11 El Capitan but not in the current OS X 10.10.4 and 10.10.5 developer release.

The bug resides in the new error-logging feature which Apple introduced with OS X 10.10 Yosemite. The code lacks the OS X dynamic linker dyld, an integral part of an operating system that links and loads shared libraries needed by executable programs. Without it, attackers are able to open and create files without needing any password permission from the administrator. The first exploit method to take advantage of the vulnerability has been found.

On Monday, Malwarebytes researcher Adam Thomas reported the exploit after he found the sudoers – the files that decide which users are permitted to have the root access in a Unix shell – had been modified on his test system by an adware installer.

The vulnerability has piqued the interest of attackers. Malwarebytes reports that attackers are using a new malicious installer – called VSInstaller – to infect Macs with VSearch, Genieo and MacKeeper adwares. Once that is done, it is able to download and install more malicious codes from the Web.

VSInstaller can be spotted in a hidden directory of the adware image. TheDYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE vulnerability was first disclosed by security researcher Stefan Esser, and Thomas claims Esser did not inform Apple about the vulnerability first. He adds that Apple was informed by another researcher earlier. Esser has created a patchfixing the vulnerability, but until Apple releases an official patch for OS X 10.10.4 and 10.10.5 beta, most users don’t have any other choice but to wait.

Lame Massachusetts Chicken to Get 3D-Printed Prosthetic Leg

One Massachusetts chicken is about to get a costly leg up on life – a $2,500 (roughly Rs. 1,59,442) prosthetic limb made on a 3D printer.The chicken, named Cicely, is headed into surgery on Wednesday for the start of a first-of-its-kind procedure to fit her with an artificial limb, her owner, Andrea Martin of Black Thistle Farm, said on Monday.

Cicely, 3 months old, was born with a torn tendon in her right leg that limits her mobility. When Martin took her to Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to be examined last week she was given two choices – a prosthetic or euthanasia.

(Also see:  US FDA Clears First 3D-Printed Prescription Drug)

“It was a no-brainer,” Martin said in a phone interview. “She needs to be able to live a normal life.”

Martin’s farm, located in Clinton, about 45 miles (72 km) west of Boston, specialises in chicken rehabilitation and this isn’t the first time she has splurged on surgery. One of her hens had a hysterectomy last year that cost $3,000 (roughly Rs. 1,91,291).

“Anytime you do surgery on a bird, it’s a risk,” she said. “But I am optimistic. I think this will make her very happy. It’s worth it.”

When Cicely goes into surgery Wednesday, Dr. Emi Knafo will amputate her right leg. She will then run a CT-scan on Cicely’s left leg, to be used for a 3D-printed prosthetic. The chicken will be sent home to rest for two weeks, before returning to Tufts for her fitting.

Similar surgeries have been performed on other creatures, but Knafo said she believed it was the first time it has been attempted on a chicken.

Martin said she hopes to write a children’s book about the experience, once Cicely is healed.

3D-Printed ‘Bench-Top’ Brain a Reality Soon

In a step closer to creating a full-fledged “bench-top” brain, Australian researchers have developed a 3D-printed layered structure incorporating neural cells that mimics the structure of brain tissue.A “bench-top” brain that accurately reflects actual brain tissue would be significant for researching not only the effect of drugs but brain disorders like schizophrenia and degenerative brain disease.

“The breakthrough is significant in the quest to create a ‘bench-top’ brain that will enable important insights into brain function, in addition to providing an experimental test bed for new drugs and electroceuticals,” explained professor Gordon Wallace, director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at University of Wollongong in Australia.

We are still a long way from printing a brain but the ability to arrange cells so that they form neuronal networks is a significant step forward, Wallace added.

To create their six-layered structure, researchers developed a custom bio-ink containing naturally occurring carbohydrate materials.

The custom materials have properties that allow accurate cell dispersion throughout the structure, while providing a rare level of protection to the cells.

The bio-ink is then optimised for 3D-printing and developed for use in a standard cell culturing facility without the need for expensive bio-printing equipment.

The result is a layered structure like brain tissue, in which cells are accurately placed and remain in their designated layer.

“This study highlights the importance of integrating advances in 3D printing, with those in materials science, to realise a biological outcome,” Wallace noted.

The brain is amazingly complex, with around 86 billion nerve cells.

The challenge for researchers to create bench-top brain tissue from which they can learn about how the brain functions is an extremely difficult one.

Pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars testing therapeutic drugs on animals, only to discover in human trials that the drug has an altogether different level of effectiveness.

“This paves the way for the use of more sophisticated printers to create structures with much finer resolution,” the authors noted in a paper appeared in the Biomaterials journal.

Your Laptop, Mobile Batteries Leak Information That Can Reveal Your Identity

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If you think switching to Incognito mode in your Web-browser or using a proxy tool ensures complete anonymity, you’re seriously mistaken. A new study suggests that even a battery could reveal enough information about us.

A team of security researchers have published a paper titled “The Leaking Battery” in which they discuss the kind of information a battery is spilling about us. The researchers note that this apparent leakage isn’t because of malware, but a built-in specification of HTML5, a core technology markup language used for presenting the World Wide Web.

HTML5’s Battery API lets websites glean information such as the amount of battery left in a visitor’s device. The idea behind this feature is to let the Web publishers know that a visitor’s device, for instance, doesn’t have much battery left, so that they could offer them a toned down version (more energy efficient) version of their website.

But the way it happens, information such as the amount of remaining battery life, as well as the time it would take to fully discharge the device, and its current charge level are shared. As we browse between different websites and more websites get the data, it becomes possible to piece together all these information and pinpoint our identity.

“A third-party script that is present across multiple websites can link users’ visits in a short time interval by exploiting the battery information provided to Web scripts,” noted the researchers. “The readings will be consistent on each of the sites, because of the fact that the update intervals (and their times) are identical.”

“This could enable the third-party script to link these concurrent visits. Moreover, in case the user leaves these sites but then, shortly afterwards, visits another site with the same third-party script, the readings would likely be utilised to help in linking the current visit with the preceding ones.”

The researchers note that as of June 2015, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera were among the Web-browsers that supported Battery Status API. This affects both mobile devices and laptops. One could use Tor, a Firefox-based browser with advanced privacy and security features, to hide their identity, researchers noted.

Microsoft Buys Firm That Boosts Sales Through Games

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Microsoft announced on Monday that it has bought a startup with a winning way of using game play to boost the performance of sales teams.Microsoft did not disclose financial terms of the deal in which it acquired Texas-based Incent Games, developer of the online platform FantasySalesTeam.The platform allows managers to try to ramp up sales numbers through fantasy sports-style competitions among their representatives.

“They’ve disrupted the old sales incentive model with an original twist that combines gamification with fantasy sports and expertly applies it to a sales setting,” Microsoftcorporate vice president Bob Stutz said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

“Their platform is highly effective at increasing team collaboration, productivity and consequently driving greater results and business growth,” he said.

Employees “draft” peers onto teams whose combined results they believe will shine the brightest, in a spin on fantasy sports games in which people pick a pretend roster of players whose combined statistics they believe will be tops at the end of a season.

The strategy gets employees invested in each others’ success, leading to better sales team results, according to Stutz.

Windows 10: Users, Experts Raise Privacy Concerns

In less than a week since the global release of Windows 10, the latest desktop operating system from Microsoft is getting criticised by privacy advocates and users alike. Some are even saying that the real price of Windows 10 – which is being marketed as a free upgrade – is actually users’ privacy.

Windows 10 comes with a plethora of new features including the digital voice assistant Cortana among others. But the way many of these new tools work raises questions about users’ privacy.

First up is Wi-Fi Sense, a feature that lets your friends automatically connect to your Wi-Fi network. The tool, enabled by default, does so by sharing your Wi-Fi credentialswith your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts. The company notes that it does so over an encrypted network but many users are worried about the potential abuse of this feature. Not to forget, there could be people you don’t know so well in your Outlook, and Facebook accounts who too will be able to use your Wi-Fi network. Furthermore, there are security implication that if someone manages to connect to your Wi-Fi, technically, they could find their way to connect to other devices as well, though Microsoft notes that it is not possible.

Windows 10 also introduces an ad-riddled version of Solitaire. Unlike Windows 8 and other earlier versions of Microsoft’s desktop operating system (going back to Windows 3.0), Windows 10 doesn’t ship with an ad-free version of the popular game. Instead, the company is providing users with a freemium version which is riddled with unskippable video ads. If you want to avoid ads, you will have to pay Microsoft a sum of $10 every month.

The company is seemingly trying to bolster its advertising efforts with Windows 10. As pointed out by The Guardian, Microsoft has assigned a unique advertising ID to every registered email address. The company’s 45-page terms and conditions document is getting flak as well. The European digital rights organisations says that “Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.”

Windows 10 also sports Cortana, its digital voice assistant. As we noted in our review, it’s a very handy application that integrates with the system to take notes, give you reminders, and recognise songs among other things. But the secret sauce behind this is all kinds of data it retrieves from your email and text messages including “who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.”

In Windows 10, Microsoft also uses your data bandwidth to update others’ computer. Called Windows Update Delivery Optimisation, the feature uses your bandwidth to upload parts of update files that you’ve already downloaded with other users on your local network as well as strangers on the Internet. This sort of works like peer-to-peer network wherein instead of a centralised server, files are distributed among the connected computers. The only difference is that a centralised server exists in this case. This feature, which is also enabled by default, also has many users worried. Especially in countries like India where most broadband connections have data caps, Windows 10 could be eating into people’s quota without their knowledge.

Don’t Trust the ‘Windows 10 Free Update’ Email, Warns Cisco

Microsoft released Windows 10 in 190 countries earlier this week. The latest desktop operating system from the company has attracted millions of users already, including unfortunately, some fraudsters as well. A new ransomware has started to circulate in the wild which attempts to fool users into downloading and installing malware instead.

Cisco, best known for designing and manufacturing network equipment, is warningusers about a new phishing attack that tricks users into installing malware that then asks for ransom. The email comes disguised as an official release from Microsoft with subject ‘Windows 10 Free Update’.

The sophistication of the attack is worrisome too. The email states to be coming from update [at] microsoft.com and uses the same colour and font scheme as used by the company. This could trick many into believing that the email is legitimate.

But as Cisco points out, the origination of email as well as some minor inconsistencies in the wording and formatting of the text should make users suspicious.

The malware in question is CTB-Locker which is a ransomware. Once installed, the malware locks down all the files — including of all the devices connected to a computer, and demands for a payment in 96 hours if the victim wishes to have access to them again.

CTB_Locker_microsoft_cisco.jpgCisco warns that this ransomware is spreading and affecting computers at a rapid pace. The firm also notes that the vicious minds behind it are using tools like Tor to stay anonymous as well as change their IP addresses, making it harder for security firms to detect their origination and take any concrete recourse.

The best one can do right now is make sure to halt any downloads from any unofficial channels. One should also try updating their computer from the built-in Windows Update file. Here’s a list of ways one can download the new operating system from company’s official channels.