Why Cisco, Intel, and Qualcomm are funding IoT startups

Internet of Things startups have had little trouble finding seed money lately, with overall venture capital surpassing the $1 billion mark in 2013 alone, according to CB Insights.Much of the funding comes from the venture branches of established tech companies, such as Cisco Investments, Qualcomm Ventures, and Intel Capital. These three in particular have contributed a significant amount of funding for IoT startups in the past three years, according to CB Insights. The following graph shows how the reach of these three firms has grown throughout the Internet of Things startup world from December 2010 to May 2014.CB Insights
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Mobile phones and other electronic devices under higher scrutiny at airports

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has said it may ask air travelers headed to the U.S. on direct flights to power up some electronic devices, including cell phones, as part of enhanced security measures at certain airports abroad.Under the regulations announced Sunday, powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft and the traveler may also undergo additional screening, TSA said.The new measures come in the wake of reports that terrorists are working on using electronic devices as bombs. TSA did not provide specific reasons why the new measures were being introduced. “As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers,” it said in a statement.Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, said last week that the TSA had been directed to introduce enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S. “DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security,” Johnson said in a statement.The TSA did not disclose the airports abroad where the restriction on powerless electronic devices will come into force.This story, “Mobile phones and other electronic devices under higher scrutiny at airports” was originally published by IDG News Service .
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Superclass: 14 of the world’s best living programmers

It seems like there are lots of programmers out there these days, and lots of really good programmers. But which ones are the very best? Even though, there’s no way to really say who the best living programmer is, that hasn’t stopped developers from frequently kicking the topic around. ITworld has solicited input and scoured coder discussion forums to see if there was any consensus and, as it turned out, a handful of names did frequently get mentioned in these discussions. Based on that input, here are 14 people commonly cited as the world’s best living programmer.This slideshow originally appeared on ITworld.com.
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What’s next for Wi-Fi? A second wave of 802.11ac devices, and then: 802.11ax

Now that blazing-fast routers based on the IEEE 802.11ac standard are finally entering the mainstream, intrepid engineers are busily cooking up all-new hardware that will make that gear’s performance seem quaint by comparison.That’s not to say 802.11ac is about to fall by the wayside—after all, the IEEE didn’t officially ratify the standard until December 2013. It’s just that the chipsets capable of delivering all the features and performance in that standard are still in development.You see, most of the first wave of 802.11ac routers were based on draft versions of the 802.11ac standard. While some newer routers, such as Netgear’s six-antenna Nighthawk X6, are implementing cool tricks to squeeze more performance from that technology, a second wave of 802.11ac routers will hit the beach in early 2015.Wave 2 802.11ac routers will deliver maximum physical link rates in the range of 7- to 10Gbps.These devices support a number of optional features in that standard that will deliver even higher wireless performance. At the same time, new and complementary wireless technologies designed for specialized applications will also appear.But there’s no point in trying to cheat obsolescence by putting off your next router purchase: The industry is already hard at work developing the successor to 802.11ac. Let’s dive into what’s next for Wi-Fi.The two-party systemThe IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) defines Wi-Fi standards such as 802.11ac and the older 802.11n. The Wi-Fi Alliance (an association of companies that build wireless-networking devices) certifies that the hardware based on those standards will work together.Wi-Fi Alliance certification is not a requirement (manufacturers must pay for the designation), but it can be reassuring to consumers, especially in the early days. That’s because the IEEE can take several years to finalize its standards (it started working on 802.11ac in 2008 and finished in late 2013). Manufacturers often don’t want to wait, so they’ll bring new products to market as soon as the ink dries on an early draft. Buffalo shipped the first 802.11ac router in 2012, but the Wi-Fi Alliance didn’t launch its first 802.11ac certification program until mid 2013.SU-MIMO (single-user multiple input/multiple output) technology was one of the hallmarks of the older 802.11n standard. It allowed multiple spatial streams to be transmitted to a single client. This technology was carried over to the 802.11ac standard, which added a more-powerful modulation technique (among other things) to deliver a maximum physical link rate of 433Mbps per spatial stream.Since it can support up to three such streams simultaneously, a Wave 1 802.11ac router can send and receive data at a maximum physical link rate of 1.3Gbps. Compare that to 802.11n routers, which provide up to three spatial streams with maximum physical link rates of just 150Mbps each (for aggregate throughput of just 450Mbps).Wave 2 802.11ac routers will arrive sometime in 2015. These devices will also operate on the less-crowded 5GHz frequency band, but they’ll take advantage of several optional elements of the 802.11ac standard: First, they’ll support a feature called MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple input/multiple output), which allows them to transmit multiple spatial streams to multiple clients simultaneously.QualcommThis Qualcomm illustration compares single-user MIMO to multi-user MIMO with beamforming. (Qualcomm’s Vive product line supports MU-MIMO.)Second, they’ll bond multiple channels on the 5GHz frequency band to create a single channel that provides 160MHz of bandwidth (Wave 1 802.11ac routers can also bond 5GHz channels, but the bonded channel is only 80MHz wide). Third, where 802.11n and Wave 1 802.11ac routers support a maximum of three spatial streams, Wave 2 802.11ac routers will potentially support up to eight spatial streams.Using some combination of wider channels or additional spatial streams (there isn’t enough available bandwidth to do both), improved beamforming, and other techniques, Wave 2 802.11ac routers will deliver maximum physical link rates in the range of 7- to 10Gbps. Quantenna Communications announced its first Wave 2 802.11ac chipset last April.The next new Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11axIn a recent briefing, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s VP of Technology Greg Ennis said the IEEE anticipates the 802.11ac standard will be succeeded by 802.11ax. While the standards body doesn’t expect to ratify it before March 2019, products based on a draft of the standard could reach the market as early as 2016—just as we saw draft-802.11n and draft-802.11ac products before those standards were officially ratified.One of the top objectives of 802.11ax, according to Ennis, is to quadruple wireless speed to individual network clients—not just to increase the speed of the network overall. The Chinese manufacturer Huawei, which has engineers in the IEEE 802.11ax working group, has already reported Wi-Fi connection speeds up to 10.53Gbps on the 5GHz frequency band.Ennis said the 802.11ax standard will improve Wi-Fi performance in environments with high numbers of users, such as hotspots in public venues. This will be accomplished by using the available spectrum more efficiently, doing a better job of managing interference, and making enhancements to underlying protocols such as medium access control (MAC) data communication. This should make public Wi-Fi hotspots faster and more reliable.The 802.11ax standard will also use orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) to boost the amount of data the router can transmit. Like OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), OFDMA encodes data on multiple sub-carrier frequencies—essentially packing more data into the same amount of air space. The “multiple access” in OFDMA describes a means of assigning subsets of those sub-carrier frequencies to individual users.The complementary standardsWhile one segment of the IEEE works to define the successor to 802.11ac, other factions work on two complementary wireless-networking standards that address other needs. The IEEE 802.11ad standard uses unlicensed spectrum in the 60GHz band to build fast short-range wireless networks with peak transmission rates of around 7Gbps.There are two major drawbacks to transmitting data at 60GHz: One is that the extremely short waves have difficulty penetrating walls. Another is that oxygen molecules begin to absorb electromagnetic energy at 60GHz.ROBERT CARDINDell’s Wireless Dock D5000 operates a short-range network on the 60GHz frequency band to eliminate the need for display, mouse, keyboard, and audio cables.That explains why the relatively few 60GHz products to reach the market so far are designed to operate at very short range, or within a single room. Dell’s Wireless Dock 5000 is a good example of the former, and the DVDO Air—which streams HD audio and video from a Blu-ray player to a video projector without a cable—is a great example of the latter.The Wi-Fi Alliance announced its 802.11ad certification program late last year. The group will stamp interoperable 802.11ad products as “WiGig Certified.”The IEEE 802.11ah standard, meanwhile, literally resides at the opposite end of the spectrum. Operating in the unlicensed 900MHz frequency band, a wireless network based on this would easily penetrate walls, but it wouldn’t deliver a lot of bandwidth: anywhere from 100Kbps to 40Mbps. One use case might be for sensors and probes in connected home or commercial buildings, but the IEEE isn’t expected to ratify the standard until January, 2016. 802.11ah could be considered a competitor to the Z-Wave and ZigBee protocols in the Internet of Things space.What with 802.11ac, -ad, and -ax, the future of Wi-Fi looks a lot like alphabet soup. But it’s really the evolution of Wi-Fi into standards that fit the demands of new generations of wirelessly connected devices. When those new generations contain everything from enterprise printers to egg timers, you can bet there’ll be needs for all the flavors of Wi-Fi coming down the pike.This story, “What’s next for Wi-Fi? A second wave of 802.11ac devices, and then: 802.11ax” was originally published by PCWorld .
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IBM tries to forecast and control Beijing’s air pollution

China’s nagging pollution problems could start to abate with the help of an IBM project that seeks to predict and control the air quality in Beijing, using new computing technologies.On Monday, IBM announced it was partnering with the Chinese capital to address the city’s ongoing air pollution woes. Populated by over 21 million people, Beijing is one of the country’s largest municipalities. But it’s also among the Chinese cities with some of the worst air quality in the nation, with pollution levels often rising to hazardous levels.Causing the smog are the millions of cars in Beijing, the surrounding factories, fossil fuel burning power plants, and the pollution coming from other neighboring cities. Despite the complexities, IBM wants to accurately map the problem with computer modeling.“You could then take a lot of actions to improve your air quality,” said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China’s government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents.But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, explained Dong.IBM has 20 years of experience in weather modeling, he added, but forecasting the air quality will require new computer modeling to take into account all of Beijing’s different pollution sources. Along with the city, IBM is also partnering with academics and industry players to pull pollution-related data from local air quality monitoring stations, weather satellites, and the company’s own optical sensors.The pay-off could be big. By successfully forecasting Beijing’s pollution patterns, the system could also suggest preventive measures to keep the city’s air quality from approaching hazardous levels. The government would know when to reduce production at certain factories, or where to limit car traffic, said Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research in China.“You not only have to build a model that can predict. You have to provide a decision system so that people can take proper action,” Shen said.IBM’s partnership with Beijing is just part of the U.S. company’s larger effort, called Green Horizon, to work with China in solving its environmental and energy issues. The company has already been designing systems to better manage the country’s electric grid. One such solution is helping wind turbine and solar power operators accurately forecast their energy output, turning them into more reliable power generators.IBM will need not just technology to solve the problems, but also participation from the entire industry. The company hopes that the Green Horizon project can attract more partners, Shen said. “It really requires us to build an eco-system,” he said. “This is a very broad area. It requires a lot of innovation.”This story, “IBM tries to forecast and control Beijing’s air pollution” was originally published by IDG News Service .
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9 of 10 online accounts intercepted by NSA are not intended surveillance targets

Although NSA officials were not sure about what all documents Edward Snowden took with him, they’ve changed their tune a few times after some new leak proves their previous proclamations to be false…like when former NSA Chief Keith Alexander admitted to lying about phone surveillance stopping 54 terror plots. Despite a year of NSA officials claiming that Edward Snowden had access to reports about NSA surveillance, but no access to actual surveillance intercepts, that ends up being a lie too.Snowden gave the Washington Post a sampling of actual intercepted communications; after months of reviewing about 160,000 intercepted emails and instant messages and 7,900 documents taken from over 11,000 online accounts, the Post said nine out of 10 account holders in the large cache of intercepted communications were not even surveillance targets. In fact, the collateral damage is astounding. The Post reported:
Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, email addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents.
The intercepted communications were collected from 2009 to 2012, during President Obama’s first term; under the President, formerly a “constitutional law professor,” the Post noted that the NSA’s domestic collection program underwent a “period of exponential growth.” Interestingly, a research paper released last week explained how the government can exploit legal and technical loopholes in order to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans. One way is through Executive Order 12333, which would allow Americans’ communications to be sucked up when their network traffic is routed overseas or their data is stored abroad.So what might put Americans in the NSA’s collection crosshairs? People on the chat “buddy list” of a foreign national are considered foreigners, as well as people who write emails in a foreign language. Then there’s the use of a proxy, which might be an IP address from a different country.
If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply ‘lurked,’ reading passively what other people wrote.
One analyst reported wrote, “1 target, 38 others on there,” but she collected data on them all. Others made notes that the surveillance was not relevant, yet the NSA sometimes designates as “its target the Internet protocol, or IP, address of a computer server used by hundreds of people.”
The NSA treats all content intercepted incidentally from third parties as permissible to retain, store, search and distribute to its government customers.
Of these 160,000 intercepted messages, only 10% were official targets. The Post added:
Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.
According to the Post:
If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.
These revelations come on the heels of news that NSA “deep packet inspection” rules target people who search for articles about Tails and those who use Tor. The agency also allegedly considers the {{Linux}} Journal to be an “extremist forum;” its readers get flagged for extra surveillance. The government’s ever-changing “you might be a terrorist if” lists are part of the reason it’s so dangerous to have our communications collected and stored. Something that is not “suspicious” or illegal today might well be flagged as such in the future.
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Australian teen accepts police caution to avoid hacking charge

An Australian teenager has accepted a caution from police rather than face charges for discovering a vulnerability in the website of one of the country’s public transport authorities late last year.Joshua Rogers of Melbourne accepted the caution, he told IDG News Service via email on Monday. He will not face charges, and the caution — an acknowledgement that he broke the law — will be expunged from his record in five years if he does not commit the same offense in that period.Rogers’ case illustrates the fine line that computer security researchers tread when hunting for software vulnerabilities on public websites.Large technology companies such as {spintax{Google}} and {Facebook} encourage security researchers to probe their sites and pay rewards for supplying security information. The rewards are paid on the condition that researchers do not share the information publicly until the problem has been fixed.But without that kind of blessing, activities that may be research could easily be considered malicious and violate computer crime laws.Rogers found a SQL injection vulnerability on the website of Public Transport Victoria (PTV), which runs the state’s transport system. The type of vulnerability affects databases that do not filter certain kinds of input correctly.Rogers found he gained access to some 600,000 records, including partial credit card numbers, addresses, emails, passwords, birth dates, phone numbers and senior citizen card numbers. He maintained he downloaded two or three records from the database as part of his research, then deleted the data. He notified PTV of his findings via email on Dec. 26, a public holiday in Australia, copying 13 employees of the agency on the correspondence. After not receiving a response, he contacted Fairfax Media. Its Melbourne paper, The Age, covered the story.At the time, PTV decline to comment and said the incident was under investigation. Then in May, between six and eight police officers came to Rogers’ residence and seized various electronic equipment, including USB sticks, his Samsung phone, a laptop and a server, Rogers wrote on his blog.Rogers was interviewed at a police station the same day and told he may have violated a computer crime law that prohibits “unauthorized access, modification or impairment with intent to commit a serious offense.”According to Australia’s Cybercrime Act of 2001, the offense is punishable by between five years and life in prison. On July 2, police gave Rogers the option of admitting he broke the law by signing the caution.”The other option was to go through the whole process of being charged, and then going to court,” he wrote via email. “It’s not like I could have said ‘I didn’t do it!’, after all.”This story, “Australian teen accepts police caution to avoid hacking charge” was originally published by IDG News Service .
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Must-have tools for setting up a Wi-Fi net

In order to ensure proper Wi-Fi coverage and performance, RF site surveys should be performed before and after WLAN installations and modifications. Though you can walk around and do simple signal checks and throughput tests using free software on your laptop, using Wi-Fi surveying software provides much better testing and reporting.You load your floor plans (or maps for outdoors) into Wi-Fi surveying software and after walking around taking measurements you’ll have visualizations on many Wi-Fi aspects—basically weather maps of your Wi-Fi environment. Signal, noise, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and data rates are some of the most basic measurements you’ll see. The tools offer additional visualizations, like channel overlaps, capacity, VoWLAN or RLTS (real-time location system) details, and other Wi-Fi health attributes.Wi-Fi surveying software also allows you to create completely simulated Wi-Fi environments within the software. You place virtual access points on your floor plan or map, defining antenna and power specs, and then specify wall types and other RF attenuators so the signal propagation can be better predicted.
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