Monthly Archives November 2016

Auto companies to create high-speed charging network for electronic vehicles in Europe

car_logo_png1641In an effort to make the world a little bit greener, auto-companies BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford, and Volkswagen have partnered together to create a network of high-speed charging station for electronic vehicles across Europe. According to The Verge, these charges will dole out up to 350 kW of power, three times more than Tesla’s Supercharging stations. The manufacturers promise it will be the fastest charging network in Europe.

This coalition of car makers estimates that construction will begin in 2017 with approximately 400 sites. They promise there will be “thousands of high-powered charging points” by 2020. All four groups are equal partners, but welcome more manufacturers to join them.

Globally, there is a war of standards when it comes to EV technology, especially for charging networks. All these manufacturers have now agreed to use Combined Charging System (CCS) technology to create a common standard. If more of the holdout companies such as Nissan, Toyota, and Honda switch to CCS, charging would be more accessible and practical for all.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to be on a European vacation to experience this technology. BMW and Volkswagen have partnered in the United States to build a network of CCS charges along both coastlines. BMW is also in collaboration with EVgo, a leading charging network provider in the US, in order to expand charging networks in California.

Virgin Mobile brings home internet to Quebec

virginmobileThis July, CEO Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Mobile was launching home internet services in Ontario. According to MobileSyrup, only months later, the service is expanding eastward, into Quebec.

Similar to its Ontario services, Virgin Mobile will be offering Quebec residents a 300GB or unlimited internet plan, both of which run at up to 25Mbps download speed and 10Mbps upload speeds. The plans are offered at the same price in both provinces, which is atypical for Canadian carriers.

As of now, the 300GB plan is $45 a month, and the unlimited plan is $60. Both are offered on a monthly basis, with no additional installation fees.

Samsung making moves into the automotive industry

Samsung According to Reuters, South Korean tech-giant Samsung Electronics has made a milestone step into the auto industry by purchasing Harman International Industries for eight billion dollars.  This also marks the company’s largest ever overseas acquisition.

Harman International Industries is based out of Stamford, Connecticut and makes connected car and audio systems to meet the demand of an increasingly mobile and software-friendly focused industry. Some of these products include infotainment systems, telematics, connected safety and security services. You can find them today in 30 million vehicles made by companies like BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagen. This opens a new, exciting source of growth and revenue for Samsung, which was recently burned by the exploding Note 7 debacle.

“We have been studying the automotive market for some time. We conclude that organic growth will not get us where we want to go fast enough,” said Samsung’s President and Chief Strategy Officer, Young Sohn, on a conference call.

He also made it clear that Samsung “will not get into the business of manufacturing cars.”

Huawei ready to surpass Apple’s market shares

huaweiHere in North America, Huawei isn’t known for its smartphones the way manufacturers like Samsung or Apple are. It is more well known globally for being a builder of telecommunications networks. Surprisingly, according to Reuters, the Chinese-based company says it wants to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world within two years, surpassing the likes of Apple.

Even if you’re not overly familiar with Huawei, it does account for nine percent of the global smartphone industry, or about 33 million devices. Apple currently has twelve percent with 45.5 million devices, and Samsung leads the market with just over 20 percent and 75.3 million devices.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu told Reuters at a launch event in Munich that, “When we announced four years ago that we wanted to sell phones, people told us we were crazy. When we said we wanted to sell 100 million phones, they told us we were crazy.”

Yu believes that, with the company’s new artificial intelligence feature integrated into its phones, Huawei can overcome its competitors.

“We are going to take (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation,” Yu said. “There will be more opportunities. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality. It is like driving a car. At every curve or turn, there is an opportunity to overtake the competition.”

Huawei is working to break into European markets, particularly Germany, France, and the UK. It is already the top seller in Finland. In Canada, it has just launched the Nova Plus.

Google wants it faster!

Chrome_LogoGoogle wants to make Chrome faster for all. According to Tech Crunch, Google announced a project to reduce memory usage in early October. At the same time, it quietly began work on optimizations to make its browser run fifteen percent faster than before.

This will benefit Windows users, because Google has been using Microsoft’s so-called Profile Guided Optimization (PGO) technology. PGO is a feature of Microsoft’s Visual Studio developer tools used for measuring how users interact with a given application. This data can be used to optimize the most often used functions of a program. In this case, Chrome. Google hopes this will quicken start-up times by seventeen percent, new-tab load times by nearly fifteen percent, and overall page load times by six percent.

“Chrome is a huge software project with more than a million functions in its source code,” Google’s Sébastien Marchand explained in an announcement. “Not all functions are equal – some are called frequently, while others are rarely used.  PGO uses data from runtime execution that track which functions are most common to guide optimization.”

PGO has been around for a while, and it is a bit of a surprise that Google hasn’t employed it before now.. If it does manage to speed up Chrome functions, well, better late than never!

Pennsylvania woman hit with surprise bill from Verizon

verizonChristine Paparo of Upper Saucon, Pennsylvania is not a heavy data user, relying mainly on her WiFi for video and her home phone for communication. Needless to say, Paparo was shocked when Verizon sent her a bill for $2,385 for data – seven times her family of five’s usual monthly bill.

According to The Morning Call, August’s phone bill showed that Paparo’s phone had used 172 gigabytes, with nearly all usage happening within a span of five days. Paparo, naturally, decided to challenge the bill, and told The Morning Call that several customer service agents “acknowledged it wasn’t typical and said they would investigate.”

“Every time you call and talk to somebody and they look at the account and they look into the history, they tell you it’s very unusual for that telephone number,” Paparo told the paper. Despite this, Verizon concluded there was no billing mistake and network error, and that Paparo and her family were responsible for the charges. She was offered $400 off the bill and 2GB free per month for the life of her phone, but Paparo wasn’t satisfied with this solution.

Paparo is now suing Verizon Wireless, seeking damages of $2,948 to cover disputed charges and the cost of buying out two of the family’s phones. The Paparos will also be transferring to a new carrier. The hearing is scheduled for November 8th.

What’s in a GIF?

giphy_logo_square_social There are so many ways to communicate over social media, and one of the more recent popular methods is with GIFs. You can find one for every situation, emotion, or pop-culture reference. And one of the key makers of these GIFS, Giphy, has been catching the eyes of investors lately.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Giphy has recently raised $72 million in funding from investors like DFJ Venture Capital, Institutional Venture Partners, and China Media Capital. That brings the company’s total value to around $600 million. Pretty remarkable, considering the New York-based start up is only three years old!

Why is Giphy so successful? Over 100 million people per day see or use GIFs created by the company, and it serves over one billion GIFs per day through search engines, apps, and partnerships like Viacom, Disney, and Major League Baseball.

Adam Leibsohn, Giphy’s chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal that the funds will be used to continue expanding its technical capabilities and adding to its staff. “We want to be the YouTube of GIFs, where you’d come to create them, see them, share them,” he said.