Test drive: Google driverless car



The car stopped at stop signs. It glided around curves. It didn’t lurch or jolt. The most remarkable thing about the drive was that it was utterly unremarkable.

This isn’t damning with faint praise. It’s actually high praise for the car in question: Google’s driverless car.

Most automotive test drives (of which I’ve done dozens while covering the car industry for nearly 30 years) are altogether different.

There’s a high-horsepower car. A high-testosterone automotive engineer. And a high-speed race around a test track by a boy-racer journalist eager to prove that, with just a few more breaks, he really could have been, you know, a Nascar driver.

This test drive, in contrast, took place on the placid streets of Mountain View, the Silicon Valley town that houses Google’s headquarters.

The engineers on hand weren’t high-powered “car guys” but soft-spoken Alpha Geeks of the sort that have emerged as the Valley’s dominant species. And there wasn’t any speeding even though, ironically, Google’s engineers have determined that speeding actually is safer than going the speed limit in some circumstances.

“Thousands and thousands of people are killed in car accidents every year,” said Dmitri Dolgov, the project’s boyish Russian-born lead software engineer, who now is a US citizen, describing his sense of mission. “This could change that.”

Dolgov, who’s 36 years old, confesses that he drives a Subaru instead of a high-horsepower beast. Not once during an hour-long conversation did he utter the words “performance,” “horsepower,” or “zero-to-60,” which are mantras at every other new-car test drive. Instead Dolgov repeatedly invoked “autonomy,” the techie term for cars capable of driving themselves.

Google publicly disclosed its driverless car programme in 2010, though it began the previous year. It’s part of the company’s Google X division, overseen directly by co-founder Sergey Brin and devoted to “moon shot” projects by the Internet company, as Dolgov puts it, that might take years, if ever, to bear fruit.

So if there’s a business plan for the driverless car, Google isn’t disclosing it. Dolgov, who recently “drove” one of his autonomous creations the 450 miles (725 km) or so from Silicon Valley to Tahoe and back for a short holiday, simply says his mission is to perfect the technology, after which the business model will fall into place.


Judging from my non-eventful autonomous trek through Mountain View, the technology easily handles routine driving. The car was a Lexus RX 450h, a gas-electric hybrid crossover vehicle — with special modifications, of course.

There’s a front-mounted radar sensor for collision avoidance. And more conspicuously, a revolving cylinder perched above the car’s roof that’s loaded with lasers, cameras, sensors and other detection and guidance gear. The cylinder is affixed with ugly metal struts, signaling that stylistic grace, like the business plan, has yet to emerge.

But function precedes form here, and that rotating cylinder is a reasonable replacement for the human brain (at least some human brains) behind the wheel of a car.

During the 25-minute test ride the “driver’s seat” was occupied by Brian Torcellini, whose title, oddly, is Lead Test Driver for the driverless car project.

Before joining Google the 30-year-old Torcellini, who studied at San Diego State University, had hoped to become a “surf journalist.” Really. Now he’s riding a different kind of wave. He sat behind the test car’s steering wheel just in case something went awry and he had to revert to manual control. But that wasn’t necessary.

Dolgov, in the front passenger’s seat, entered the desired destination to a laptop computer that was wired into the car. The car mapped the route and headed off. The only excitement, such as it was, occurred when an oncoming car seemed about to turn left across our path. The driverless car hit the brakes, and the driver of the oncoming car quickly corrected course.

I sat in the back seat, not my usual test-driving position, right behind Torcellini. The ride was so smooth and uneventful that, except for seeing his hands, I wouldn’t known that the car was completely piloting itself — steering, stopping and starting — lock, stock and dipstick.

Google’s driverless car is programmed to stay within the speed limit, mostly. Research shows that sticking to the speed limit when other cars are going much faster actually can be dangerous, Dolgov says, so its autonomous car can go up to 10 mph (16 kph) above the speed limit when traffic conditions warrant.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 to have 4GB RAM?


With Samsung expected to launch the Galaxy Note 4 less than a month from now on September 3 it’s about time some detailed specs started leaking out, and that’s just what we’ve got today.

This latest specs leak was posted on Indonesian site Erafone and lists the model as having a 5.7-inch 1440x2560p Super AMOLED display, which matches earlier rumours and leads to a pixel density of an impressively crisp 515 pixels per inch.

Under the hood there are two different processors listed, a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 and an octa-core Exynos 5433 with four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.3GHz and four Cortex-A57 cores with no clock speed listed.

Obviously that suggests there are two different versions of the handset, which isn’t unusual for Samsung and also fits with some previous rumours.

Record RAM

The listing goes on to say that the Galaxy Note 4 will have 4GB of RAM, which would be an Android first and that it will have a 16MP camera with optical image stabilization and a dual-LED flash.

Storage comes in a choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, along with a microSD card slot that supports cards of up to 128GB.The Galaxy Note 4 apparently runs Android 4.4.3 KitKat.

What isn’t mentioned is the device’s dimensions or the size of its battery and while an image is included, it looks an awful lot like a photo of Samsung Galaxy Note 3, so there are still things we don’t know and as always you should take what has been revealed with a pinch of salt. One other little detail that is included is the price, which is listed at IDR 9,499,000 (or around 490 pounds, $810, AU$870).

Microsoft employees pour ice water on CEO Nadella



Microsoft’s India-born CEO Satya Nadella was doused with a bucket of ice water on his head as part of a challenge he took to raise awareness about a neurodegenerative disease and in turn challenged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Google co-founder Larry Page to do the same.

Nadella was challenged by former pro-football player Steve Gleason on Twitter to take the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

46-year-old Nadella accepted the challenge and willingly allowed a group of employees to dump the bucket of ice water on his head yesterday.

“The thing I’m really excited about is what Steve and the team have done to raise awareness for ALS,” Nadella said in a video posted on Microsoft’s website showing him standing with the group of employees who later poured the ice water on him.   “This is a great opportunity for all of us to contribute to not only raising awareness but to the research that can find cures” for the disease.

Nadella exclaimed “wow, that is cold” after being thoroughly soaked and then extended the challenge to Bezos and Page.

“Now, let me take this opportunity to challenge Jeff Bezos and Larry Page to take their own ice bucket challenge. And let me tell you again from personal experience, it’s better to have your head in the clouds than under a bucket of ice,” Nadella said as he was cheered on by his employees.

Gleason has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and his foundation aims to raise awareness about ALS, as well as to give others living with it the “leading edge technology, equipment and services” they need.

According to the ALS Association, an American dies of ALS every 90 minutes.

ALS strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70 and as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.

It is commonly called the Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the legendary American baseball player who succumbed to the disease.

The ALS ice bucket challenge has gone viral with people posting videos online of dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads.

Once soaked with cold water, they extend the challenge to others and ask them to either do the same or make a donation to an organization dedicated to fighting ALS.

ALS Association said the challenge has “literally soaked” the nation with everyone from 86-year old widow of Senator Robert Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy to singer Justin Timberlake pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenging others to do the same.

Source: Times Of India






Google celebrates India’s Independence Day with a doodle

Independance Day

Celebrating India’s 68th Independence Day, Google on Friday posted a doodle on its homepage featuring the independent India’s first stamp.

The blue colour stamp with the Indian tricolour is the doodle that comes up when you open the Google’s India homepage.

The stamp, which was issued on November 21, 1947 depicts the Indian flag with the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ on the top right hand corner. Priced at three and one-half annas, the stamp was meant for foreign correspondence.

Source: Times Of India

How to Back Up and Migrate Your Browser Bookmarks?

These days, more and more people are using computers to store memories, important documents, and various other bits of information that may need to be kept for long periods of time. Backing up a computer is essential for keeping long term documents around.

Method 1: Backup a PC (Windows 7, 8 and above)

1. Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
2. When you first plug it in, Windows will actually ask you if you want to use it as a backup. You can just go to the Start Menu, type “backup” in the search box, and hit Backup and Restore.
3. From there, click the “Set Up Backup” button. Pick the external drive you plugged in and hit next. Windows’ default settings are probably fine, so you can just hit Next and the next screen too.
4. On the last screen, hit “Save Settings and Run Backup”. Windows will make its first backup of your drive, during which you don’t want to turn off your computer. After that, it’ll make regular ones in the background as you work.

Method 2: Mac (OS X Leopard and above)

1. Get a drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
2. When you plug in your drive, your Mac will ask you if you want to use that drive as a backup disk. Hit “Use as Backup Disk”.
3. From Time Machine’s preferences, hit “Select Backup Disk” and choose your external drive.
4. That’s it! OS X will perform its first, and from then on it’ll back up in the background with no work required on your part.

Method 3: Linux

1. From the search bar, just type “backup” to bring up preinstalled options. I’ll be using Simple Backup Suite.
2. From the first tab (General), tell Linux how often you want to perform a complete back up and what format, if any, to use for compression.
3. Select the Include tab to add files and directories.
4. Make sure to select the Destination tab to pick your storage location. As with any other backup, you’ll want it to be as secure as possible.
5. Click the disk icon at the top to save your settings, and then click the drive icon to back up your files. The first one will take a while, most likely, as will future complete backups, so you may want to schedule them for downtimes.

Method 4: iPad

1. Connect the device to a computer with the most current version of iTunes. This will be the location where your data will be backed up so be sure that the computer can be used for this purpose.
2. Go to the File Menu.
3. Select the Devices submenu and click €Backup€.
4. Choose your location. To the left, you can choose whether to save to the cloud or to the computer.
5. Click €Back Up Now€. You’re done!

Method 5: Backup a Galaxy Tab

1. Navigate to the Settings app.
2. Select Accounts and Sync.
3. Ensure that all of the items you want backed up are selected. Be aware that you can only backup certain items this way.
4. Click the green sync button, located near your Google account name. This should sync the items. When you are done you can select €back€ to return to using your device.

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iPhone 6 to be cheaper than iPhone 5S?

i phone 6


Eyeing Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6? Here’s some good news for you, as latest news reports in Chinese media claim that iPhone 6 with 4.7 inch screen may be priced cheaper than the company’s current top model iPhone 5S.

According to technology website, the 32GB variant of iPhone 6 will cost CNY 5,300 (approximately $850), while the corresponding iPhone 5S model is officially priced at CNY 6,088. The 64GB iPhone 6 model is said to cost CNY 6,300 ($1,010), lesser than the CNY 6,888 price tag of the 64GB iPhone 5S.

Going by these prices, it is likely that the 16GB iPhone 6 will be cheaper than the 16GB iPhone 5S, which costs CNY 5,288. However, there are rumours that Apple would not launch a 16GB variant at all this year.

What’s more interesting is that buyers would get the 32GB iPhone 6 at the current price of 16GB iPhone 5S.

In India, the 16, 32 and 64GB variants of iPhone 5S cost Rs 53,500, Rs 62,500 and Rs 71,500, respectively.

What makes this pricing a possibility is an internal Apple slide that was made public as part of its trial against Samsung. The slide showed that customers want smartphones with bigger screens and cheaper price tags. With iPhone 6 widely expected to get a 0.7-inch larger display than the current top model, the cheaper price tag would make it a more appealing to customers.


Along with the 4.7-inch iPhone, Apple is also expected to venture into the phablet segment with a 5.5-inch handset. Chinese website has said that it will offer 128GB storage option, along with 32 and 64GB; there will be no 16GB variant in this model as well. So far Apple has only offered 128GB storage in iPads only.

According to earlier reports, iPhone 6 will hit the shelves on September 19 this year. The 4.7-inch model is said to run on the 64-bit A8 processor and pack 2GB RAM, 13MP camera, solar charging, better battery and faster Wi-Fi. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor is said to get more features in the next model, mainly focussing on health.

Source: Times Of India Tech News



Infosys head of C & C division, K Murali Krishna, quits


Infosys head of computers and communications division, K Murali Krishna, became the thirteenth senior leader to quit the company in a year, and the first one to exit after announcement of the new CEO Vishal Sikka.

A company veteran with nearly three decade stint at India’s second largest software company, Krishna played an important role over years in building internal IT systems, processes and even introduced newer computing models such as cloud.

An Infosys spokeswoman confirmed Krishna’s resignation, saying he had left the company to “pursue his aspirations”. When contacted, Krishna too confirmed that he had resigned, but did not elaborate his next plans.

Krishna was one of oldest senior vice presidents (SVPs), having joined the company in 1984, three years after the company was formed. Incidentally, Krishna was one of the half-dozen SVPs ywho was not promoted earlier this month, after Infosys elevated 12 senior vice presidents to the role of executive vice presidents.

This exit is the first since Sikka’s name was announced as the first non-founder CEO by the company on June 12.

Although on Thursday, news of Jeffrey Friedel, Global Head of Employment Law and vice president at Infosys was reported by ET, it is learnt that Friedel quit before Sikka’s appointment.

“Sikka won’t have time to rest. He needs to and I’m sure he will do to check this exodus,” said a California-based consultant, who advises many software services firms, including Dell and Cisco.

For his part, Infosys founder Murthy has maintained that none of the recent management exits will have any material impact on the company. “Anybody who had to be retained, has been retained,” he said.

“We are confident that we have enough budding leaders to handle any eventuality of some more people leaving us” he added at Infosys’ annual shareholders meeting held earlier this month.

Source: Times Of  India Tech News

China’s Tianhe-2 is world’s fastest computer



China’s Tianhe-2 has been named the world’s fastest computer for the third year in a row at the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany.

The Tianhe-2 was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology. Its predecessor, the Tianhe-1A, held the top spot on the supercomputer list in 2010, the Mashable reported.

Of the 500 systems on the list, 37 offer performances above the 1 peta flops range, nearly all of them use multicore processors, and 85 percent of them are running Intel processors. As for the systems themselves, 36 percent are built by HP and 33 percent by IBM. Cray builds 10 percent, the report said.

Overall, the United States has by far the most supercomputers out of the top 500 systems Overall, the United States has by far the most super computers out of the top 500 systems, with China in a distant second; the UK, France and Germany lag far behind.

Source: Zee Tech News

Google says it is not killing Nexus devices


Months after rumours that hinted Google would kill Nexus line of devices and replace them with new devices created as part of a different programme called Silver, a senior Google executive on Friday said the company remained committed to make Nexus phones and tablets.

Dave Burke, the head of Android engineering, has told Read Write that Google creates Nexus devices to showcase new versions of Android and this year too it will launch Nexus devices. Burke’s statement comes days after images of a HTC-made tablet, purportedly dubbed the next Nexus tablet, leaked on the web.

“People just get excited by concepts and forget why we do things,” said Burke in reference to speculation about the Silver programme. “We are still invested in Nexus,” he said.

“People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make,” he added.

His comments also possibly confirms the existence of Silver programme. Eldar Murtazin, a Russian blogger who has a history accurately leaking smartphones-related news, said in January this year that Google is killing Nexus programme and replacing it with Silver. The silver devices are supposed to run the stock version of Android and will be likely sold through Play store.

However, unlike Nexus devices that sell at a lower price-points, Silver devices are likely to be sold at the high-end of the market.

If Google indeed keeps the Nexus programme, it will probably have three different programmes for devices powered by stock version of Android. The company has already announced Android One, through which it aims to bring low-cost Android phones running stock version of Android to emerging markets like India. Silver, meanwhile, could be a programme similar to Android One but for premium Android phones.

Nexus devices, meanwhile, will continue to be the show pieces for the latest version of Android and will be targeted at developers.

Source: Times of India Tech News



Google planning to enter domain-registration market


It seems that the internet search giant Google is now interested in its own domain registration services. The Internet giant had launched its project dubbed as ‘Google Domains’ on Monday.

The service ‘Google Domains’ is still in the testing phase. It will offer services such as buying customised URLs, free private registration and email forwarding. The service will also provide support for up to 100 sub-domains. But, it is to be noted that Google will not provide the actual site hosting.

As per Google, the test version of the service can be availed by invitation only and the cost is just $12 a year.

Google’s entry into the domain-registration market is certainly a threat to GoDaddy, the world’s leading domain registration company.

Source: Zee Tech News