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Monday, September 30, 2013

Congress Fails to Prevent Shutdown

Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks at the White House on Monday evening.
WASHINGTON—After three years of ducking crises with last-minute deals, Congress finally ran out of ways to patch over its differences. Unable to meet a midnight Monday deadline for funding the government, lawmakers allowed it to shut down.
The White House ordered federal agencies to suspend a vast array of activities shortly before midnight, after a day of frantic legislative volleying left Senate Democrats and House Republicans at an impasse over government spending and the 2010 health-care law. The next steps to resolve the stalemate remained unclear.
Markets that have slipped recently face a test Tuesday, given that a larger deadline for Congress—over the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit—is less than a month away.
Many federal workers reporting to their agencies Tuesday morning will undertake a half-day of shutdown preparations before more than 800,000 employees in the government's workforce of about 2.9 million are sent home.While essential functions such as law enforcement and air-traffic control will continue, a large number of federal activities, among them Internal Revenue Service audits and surveillance for flu outbreaks, will be suspended.
"Unfortunately, Congress has not fulfilled its responsibility. It has failed to pass a budget and, as a result, much of our government must now shut down until Congress funds it again,'' President Barack Obama said in a video message to military and defense personnel around the world.
He added that personnel in uniform would remain on duty. "The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency,'' he said.
WSJ's Damian Paletta answers the burning questions about whether Congress is going to allow a government shutdown, including what the impact might be and how long it might last.
In response to an impending government shutdown, President Barack Obama said on Monday that it could be prevented if the house of representatives follows suit with the senate and funds the U.S. government without controversial demands.
Is there any way out of this mess? A government shutdown looks likely after a weekend of hardening positions and lack of negotiations. No matter how this ends, rolling fiscal crises will mark the rest of the year and hamper other legislation. Jerry Seib joins News Hub. (Photo: Getty)
On Capitol Hill, a day of rapid-fire legislative maneuvering between Senate Democrats and House Republicans over the terms of a short-term spending bill collapsed late Monday. House Republicans said they planned to appoint a set of negotiators to work out a budget resolution with a small group with senators.But the GOP move came with no concessions on the party's central demand—that Democrats agree to scale back the new federal health law—and it brought lawmakers no closer to reaching a budget deal.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) rejected the move, saying he wouldn't enter negotiations until the House agreed to reopen the government by extending its funding for several weeks. "We like to resolve issues, but we will not go to conference with a gun to our head," Mr. Reid said on the Senate floor.
Republicans denounced Senate Democrats for refusing to negotiate. "Our hope this evening is we will be able to put reasonable people in a room," said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R., Texas).
The first partial federal shutdown since 1996 came amid a fight that was less over spending levels than over the federal health-care law championed by Democrats, the Affordable Care Act. Driven by a set of combative Republican conservatives, the GOP-led House moved a series of bills to fund federal agencies for several weeks while delaying the start of the health law or stripping it of funding.
The Senate rejected each one, saying Democrats wouldn't negotiate changes to the health law as a condition of funding the government.
It was a clear indication that in an era of divided government, Congress is proving increasingly unable to fulfill its basic job of setting budget and spending priorities.
Markets in Asia on Tuesday morning sold off modestly as the deadline for a U.S. government shutdown passed, while the dollar declined slightly in Asia trading.Stocks sold off across the globe on Monday.
The coming days will likely be marked by intense political maneuvering, with both sides trying to seek political advantage. Polls suggest the GOP would bear the blame for any repercussions, but Republicans believe that Democrats will face political risk as well, because they are defending a health-care law that remains unpopular in many quarters.
In their final exchange, in the waning hours before Monday's deadline, the House passed by a 228-201 vote a short-term spending measure that would have funded agencies through mid-December while delaying for one year the law's requirement that most individuals carry health insurance or pay a penalty.It also would have limited government subsidies for lawmakers' own health-care premiums and those of their staffs. The Senate rejected it shortly afterward, 54-46.
After 1 a.m., with the shutdown of agencies already triggered, the House voted again to support the same proposal, returning it to the Senate with a measure that would set up a negotiating committee. The vote was 228-199.
To limit the impact of the shutdown on the Pentagon, Congress passed and Mr. Obama signed legislation just before midnight that would ensure that all members of the military be continued to be paid for the duration of the shutdown, even as hundreds of thousands of other government workers will be furloughed without pay.
Republican lawmakers on Monday had been faced with a choice. With the Senate rejecting changes to the health law, they could have pushed once again for the Senate to change its mind, or deferred their fight against the health law to another day and passed a funding measure shorn of health-law provisions.
After a 90-minute meeting of the House GOP on Monday afternoon, Republicans decided to press again with another attempt to curb the health law.
While Republicans rallied behind their hang-tough strategy, through the day there were clear signs of growing anxiety about political fallout to the party from a shutdown.
"It is moronic to shut down the government over this," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.).
Even before the new move was advanced, some Republicans were urging GOP leaders to drop the fight over the spending bill.
"We have tried robustly on the spending bill, and it hasn't borne fruit," said Rep. Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.). He said the GOP could use other tactics to fight the health law, but "for this week, we may have to give up."
Others said they were eager to press he fight against the health law. "Obamacare is slowing the economy down even more than a government shutdown would," said Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R., Ind.), before a closed-door GOP meeting on Monday. "It's creating chaos for the American people."
The tea party and other conservatives have for months pressured congressional Republicans to try to undercut the law before Tuesday, when a crucial milestone will be passed—the launch of a new system of health-insurance marketplaces for individuals to buy policies.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) led the unsuccessful fight in the Senate to pass the House's initial legislation to eliminate money for the health law while funding the rest of the government.

Can Intel's Bay Trail break in to tablets?

Intel finally has a serious solution for tablets. Bay Trail closes the gap with Arm-based competitors in terms of performance, power and price. Now it just needs some great tablets to go with it.
Can Intel Bay Trail break into tablets
Intel’s annual conference spanned everything from the tiny Quark chip to the latest generation of powerful Xeon processors . But it was obvious the real focus was on tablets. It isn’t hard to see why with market researchers now predicting that tablets will outsell PCs for this first time in the fourth quarter. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), which took place last week, Intel announced its answer to this challenge: the Bay Trail platform for tablets.
Bay Trail is based on Intel’s 22nm process technology with 3D tri-gate transistors and a new microarchitecture known as Silvermont. The Bay Trail-T platform, branded the Atom Z3000 series, is designed for tablets running Windows 8.1 and Android. It will replace the Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail) used in a handful of Windows 8 tablets and the Atom Z2560 (Clover Trail+) used in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, a 10-inch Android tablet.
Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG and Toshiba are all developing Bay Trail-based tablets and the first of these will be available in time for the holidays at prices starting around $200. Intel says these tablets will have displays from 7 to 11.6 inches, measure 8mm thick and weigh 680 grams or less, and deliver up to 10 hours of battery life (and three days of standby time).
Bay Trail is actually a family of products that will also include versions for low-cost laptops, desktops and all-in-ones (more on those below) branded as Celeron and Pentium. And the underlying Silvermont microarchitecture will be used in other platforms including Merrifield for smartphones in 2014; the Atom C2000 (Avoton) for microservers and Rangeley for storage; and at least one unannounced chip most likely for set-top boxes and smart TVs.

Bay Trail Tablets 

But the top priority is tablets. In a keynote on Tuesday morning, Hermann Eul, who heads up Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group, said that the Bay Trail platform will provide the “best mobile computing experience” with leading performance and outstanding battery life, Intel HD Graphics, and advanced imaging capabilities.
He highlighted two upcoming Bay Trail tablets: the Asus Transformer Book T100, a 10.1-inch convertible that will start at $349, and a Dell 8-inch Windows tablet , which will be part of a new family of Venue tablets that company plans to announce October 2. Toshiba has already announced an 8-inch Bay Trail Windows tablet , the Encore, which will cost $330.
The Silvermont microarchitecture  ;
Some of the improvements come from the 22nm process technology, but Belli Kuttana, the chief architect of Intel’s low-power Atom cores, estimated that fully two-thirds of the improvements come from Silvermont (first disclosed back in May ). It includes several microarchitectural enhancements that deliver better performance and longer battery life, and make access to memory faster and more efficient. The result, Kuttana said, is three times better peak performance or five times better power efficiency compared to the Saltwell core, which dates to Atom’s introduction in 2008.
The Silvermont core is packaged into modules, each of which contains two CPU cores, up to 1MB of shared L2 cache and a new interface that connects the clusters to the DRAM memory via a system agent. Processors based on Silvermont can have up to 8 CPU cores (four clusters). Even though Intel has abandoned multi-threading with Silvermont, the core is still yielding better performance on both single- and multi-threaded applications. Silvermont also includes several architectural changes borrowed from Core processors including new instructions, better virtualization support and increased security.
Kuttana also promised that Intel would be updating the Atom microarchitecture much more rapidly with 14nm Airmont in 2014 followed by a new 14nm microarchitecture in 2015. “It took us a while to refresh the Atom core microarchitecture, and that’s going to change,” he said. “We’ll be much more aggressive with our Atom microarchitectural improvements.” He later added that Atom doesn’t necessarily follow Core’s tick-tock model, suggesting that Intel will introduce microarchitectural changes more frequently.

The Bay Trail processor 

In a separate technical session, Shreekant (“Ticky”) Thakkar, chief architect of Bay Trail-T, talked about how Silvermont is put together with other components to build the Atom Z3000 series SoC. The platform includes the Z3700 quad-cores for both Windows and Android tablets and the Z3600 series dual-cores, which will be for lower-cost Android tablets. The Z3000 includes four cores (two clusters), a total of 2MB of L2 cache, up to 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics, and advanced image and display processors. Bay Trail supports up to 4GB of low-power DDR3 memory, in comparison to 2GB of LP-DDRR2 for Clover Trail, and has up to twice the memory bandwidth at 17GBps (dual channels).
The first chips available are both quad-cores: the 1.5GHz Atom Z3770, which can burst to 2.4GHz, and the 1.3GHz Z3740, which can reach a maximum frequency of 1.9GHz. Both have the same Intel HD graphics—four execution units running at 311MHz with a top speed of 667MHz (slightly higher with low-voltage DDR3L memory). The SoC can shift power between the CPU and graphics cores and other components depending on the workload. Intel also plans to release a dual-core 1.3GHz Z3680, which can burst up 2.0GHz, with only a single memory channel (8.5GBps) for up to 1GB of memory. This limits the display resolution to 1280x800, and the chip is clearly targeted at low-cost Android tablets
Clover Trail uses Imagination’s PowerVR graphics, so the shift to Intel HD Graphics is a big change. “The same technology you have on our Core platforms is now available on our tablet platform,” Thakkar said. In presentations, Intel described it as Gen 7 graphics—the same as Ivy Bridge Core processors, which also support DirectX 11 and OpenGL ES 3.0—but Bay Trail has fewer execution units and runs at slower speeds. In other sessions company executives said the performance was comparable to the Gen 6 graphics in Sandy Bridge. Either way it is a big boost. Bay Trail can support internal displays with resolutions up to 2,560x1,600 (though Windows 8 tops out at 2,560x1,440), drive external displays at up to 1920x1080 at 60 frames per second, and has hardware-accelerated video playback and H.264 encoding.
During IDF, Intel engineers showed lots of test results comparing the Z3770 to the current Atom Z2560, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Nvidia Tegra 4. Not surprisingly, Bay Trail looks very competitive on these tests, though Thakkar admitted that Intel is still playing catch-up on 3D graphics. “In gaming we are significantly better, but still not the best,” he said. “But we are getting there and we’re still fine-tuning the drivers.” Several reviews sites have also posted early test results—including Anandtech PCMag and Tech Report —all of which seem to confirm that Bay Trail is a serious competitor in terms of both performance and power.
Like previous Atom platforms, the current Bay Trail-T platform is 32-bit only, which makes sense given that version of Windows 8.1 with the Connected Standby features is currently 32-bit only, as is Android. In the first quarter of 2014, Intel plans to release a 64-bit version of Bay Trail-T; Microsoft is expected to deliver a 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 with Connected Standby around the same time. In his keynote, Doug Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Software and Services Group, said Intel would be adding 64-bit capabilities Android too.
The 64-bit Windows support, in particular, should be attractive to businesses.Organizations can use the same OS image for both Core-based laptops and Bay Trail tablets, and existing 32- and 64-bit applications will run fine on both platforms. In addition Intel has brought many of the security and management features in its Core processors over to Bay Trail-T for both Windows and Android tablets.

Bay Trail for PCs 

One of the biggest surprises is that Bay Trail will also be widely used in low-priced laptops, desktops and all-in-ones. The line includes four Bay Trail-M mobile processors (Pentium N3510, Celeron N2910, N2810 and N2805) and three Bay Trail-D desktop chips, though so far Intel has released only the quad-core desktop versions: the 3770D (Pentium J2850) and 3740D (Celeron J1850).As with the tablet platform, there will also be a dual-core version, the Z3680D, branded the Celeron J1750.
While these are very similar to Bay Trail-T, there are some differences. Bay Trail-M/D processors have SATA 2.0 and PCI-Express interfaces, which are important in PCs but use too much power for tablets. Based on one of the presentations, it also looks like the Bay Trail-D processors have a single memory channel (10.6GBps) and support up to 2GB of low-voltage DDR3L, which would limit them to 1920x1280 displays, though this doesn’t seem to be the case with Bay Trail-M.
Bay Trail-M will be used in both low-end laptops and convertibles. Standard laptops will start at $200, touchscreen laptops will be $250 and up, and 2-in-1 devices such as the Transformer Book T100 will start at $350. Bay Trail-D is designed for three different types of products: entry-level all-in-ones and “portable” all-in-ones ranging; entry-level desktops; and, in an interesting wrinkle, Smart Displays running Android. Intel says that Bay Trail-D desktops will start at around $200. Bay Trail-D could also do especially well in emerging markets where the desktop market is larger and PC penetration is still relatively low.

The bottom line on Bay Trail 

There’s no doubt that Bay Trail makes Intel more competitive in tablets. It closes the gap in terms of performance and power. Intel is now willing to compete at much lower prices. And the ability to run both Windows 8.1 and Android on the same platform--along with a host of business features--give Bay Trail real differentiation (eventually we may even see some low-cost convertibles that run Android as tablets and Windows 8.1 as laptops, which should be very attractive).
But it all comes down to great designs, and here the jury is still out. The Transformer Book T100 is a very nice 2-in-1, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of device that is going to really change the mobile landscape. We’ve yet to hear about a Bay Trail-based Samsung Galaxy or Google Nexus tablet, and of course there’s no Intel inside the iPad. Intel finally has a real platform; now it just needs some great gadgets to go with it.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

While your iPhone's new operating system comes with plenty of advantages, iOS 7's not without its drawbacks. Battery life just ain't quite what you'd want it to be , but we've got some tips to squeeze the most out of that sucker and stay juiced all day long.
Many of iOS 7's fancy new features are handy if you need/want them. If you don't, they're just eating away at that precious battery life behind the scenes, and give you exactly zero help for your trouble. So shut 'em down.

Turn off parallax 

Parallax is fun, but it's the definition of "extra." And maybe it even makes you dizzy. Who needs it? Not you. You can turn it off in accessibility settings, by going to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and setting Reduce Motion to on.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Turn off AirDrop/Bluetooth if you're not going to use it 

AirDrop is great when you are AirDropping. The rest of the time it's just fidgeting in its seat, looking for another device to play with. Turning it off is easy, just swipe up your Control Center, and hit the toggle.

Stop searching for Wi-Fi 

There's no need to have your phone searching for Wi-Fi when there's no trusted network in sight. You'll save yourself some trouble if you get in the habit of turning of Wi-Fi from the Control Center when you leave the house.Alternatively, you can go to Settings>>Wi-Fi and turn Ask to Join Networks to off. This way your phone will hop on Wi-Fi networks it knows, but won't look around for more without direct orders.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Disable location services (for apps that don't need it )

Google Maps needs to know where you are, yes. But Facebook? Hop over toSettings>>Privacy>>Location Services to get a full list of the apps that are asking about where you are. You can probably turn off about half, and cut down on a lot of GPS polling.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Turn off background app updates 

Immediate app updates are rarely a huge deal, but having enough battery always is. Go to Settings>>iTunes & App Store and then scroll down. You'll seeUpdates under Automatic Downloads. Turn it off. Just don't forget to stop by the App Store and update manually now and then.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Turn off background app refreshing 

The brutal downside of good multitasking is running things in the background (duh). But if you go to Settings>>General>>Background App Refresh, you can disable background-runnin' for the apps that aren't important. Or all of them if you want to go all the way.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Disable auto-brightness 

Chances are, auto-brightness keeps you more well-lit than you need to be. You can shut it off and get your mood-lighting on by going toSettings>>Wallpapers & Brightness and flipping the toggle. While you're there, crank that backlight alllll the way down, or as far down as you can handle. If you step outside, that's what the Control Center is for.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Go on a push notification diet 

Not every app needs to push its notifications; that stuff takes power. Go toSettings>>Notification Center and scroll down to the Include section. Then go on a toggling spree.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Don't push; fetch 

If your email isn't that important, or you have a couple of accounts, go turn the low-priority ones to Fetch instead of Push, which means your phone will go retrieve mail at set intervals instead of having it pushed to you every single time Uncle Harry or a spambot blasts you. This one is pretty dependent on how often you get emails and how crucial they are, so you'll have to feel it out, but you can set to fetch in Settings>>Mail, Contacts and Calendar>>Fetch New Data
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Turn off Siri's "Raise to Speak" feature 

If you want Siri to eat less of your precious battery, turn off his or her Raise to Speak feature in Settings>>General>>Siri>>Raise to Speak. Or, if you're really not fond of the dude/lady turn him/her off to go dream of electric sheep.
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

Turn off 4G (if times are tough )

Disabling 4G is going to hurt a little but, but desperate times can call for desperate measures and LTE is a battery-burner. You can choke off the data-hose by going to Settings>>Cellular>>Enable LTE/Enable 4G
11 Tips to Keep iOS 7 From Destroying Your Battery Life

And treat your battery right in general 

But even without all these tweaks, it pays to treat your lithium-ion battery right from the start, especially if you have a new gadget. Just keep on scrolling down for our tips and tricks that'll work for any phone.
Your smartphone is a minor miracle, a pocket-sized computer that can fulfill almost every whim. But none of its superpowers matter a bit if it runs out of juice. With removable batteries becoming more and more rare, you've got to take good care of the one you got. Fortunately, it's not to hard keep the lithium-ion powering your everything machine happy if you follow a few simple rules.
Obviously, the first rule for extending your battery life is not using up all your battery life playing candy crush and walking around with Wi-Fi and GPS enabled when you're not using either and really, really need your phone to last that extra hour. But aside from that, there are some basic rules for care and charging, and they're the simplest baseline for a healthy battery.

Top it off 

You may vaguely recall hearing something about rechargeable batteries and the "memory effect." You know, that if you don't "teach" your rechargeable batteries their full potential by taking them from totally full to totally empty, they'll "forget" part of their capacity. Well forget all that. Right now. It's wrong.
Battery memory is a real thing , but it applies to nickel-based batteries; your trusty sidekick (literal Sidekick or otherwise) doubtlessly has a lithium-ion battery, and it needs to be treated a little differently. Specifically, it should be topped off whenever you get the chance.
To get the most out of a lithium-ion battery, you should try to keep it north of 50 percent as much as possible. For the most part going from all the way full to all the way empty won't help; in fact, it'll do a little damage if you do it too often. That said, it's smart to do one full discharge about once a month for "calibration," but don't do it all the time. Running the whole gamut on a regular basis won't make your battery explode or anything, but it will shorten its lifespan.
But! You don't want to have it charging all the time either; lithium-ion batteries can get overheated. Luckily for you, your charger is smart enough to help with this , and will cut your phone off for a spell once it's full. And to complicate matters a little further your battery doesn't particularly like being allthe way full either. In fact, your battery will behave the best if you take it off the charge before it hits 100 percent, and leaving it plugged when it's already full is going to cause a little degradation.
So if you're really particular about optimizing your battery's life, you should try to go from around 40 percent to around 80 percent in one go, and then back down whenever possible. A bunch of tiny charges isn't as bad as going from 100 down to zero all the time, but it's not optimal either.

Keep it cool 

It's easy to worry about bad charging habits thanks to the training we've had from old rechargeable batteries, but lithium-ion batteries have a worse enemy: heat. Your smartphone's battery will degrade much much faster when it's hot , regardless of whether it's being used or just sitting around doing nothing.
At an average temperature of 32 degrees fahrenheit, a lithium-ion battery will lose six percent of its maximum capacity per year. At 77 degrees, that number jumps to 20 percent, and at 104 degrees it's a whopping 35. Sure, it's not exactly practical (or sane) to keep your phone in the fridge, but it's worth going out of your way to prevent long stays in hot cars and the like.

Avoid wireless charging 

Wireless charging is can be incredibly convenient if your phone can do it, but it's not without its disadvantages. The inductive, wireless chargers out there today have this nasty habit of generating a fair bit of waste heat. And while wasted energy is just a bummer in general, that heat will also toast your battery in the process. That's no bueno. It's a little less convenient, but standard plug-in charging is going to keep your battery in better shape, especially if you're some place warm to begin with.

Never go to zero 

Obviously, using your battery is going to make it degrade. But it's going to slowly die even if you just leave that iPad in the closet for a bit. There's a trick to minimizing that inevitable aging though: leave it a little bit of juice.
If you're going to be shelving any lithium-ion battery for a long time, try to leave it with at least 40 percent battery power to tide it over. Lithium-ion batteries don't hemmorage power at 30 percent a month like nickel-metal-hydride batteries do; they'll lose maybe five to ten percent of their charge each month.
And when lithium-ion batteries get too low—like, literally zero percent—they get seriously unstable, and dangerous to charge. To prevent explosion-type disasters if you do try to charge one, lithium-ion batteries have built-in self-destruct circuits that will disable (read: destroy) the battery for good, if it reaches rock bottom. And sure, that'll save you from a face full of battery-acid, but it'll also leave you short one battery.

Don't sweat it too much 

It's easy to get protective of your battery, but it's also easy to get lazy. And that's fine, because as long as you're not a complete idiot, you'll be OK. Typically, a lithium-ion battery lasts for three to five years, and chances are you're going to want to swap out your gadgets sometime in that window anyway. The slight damage of a technically bad idea like leaving your phone plugged in all night every night, or using wireless charging, might be worth the convenience.
Still, it's pretty easy to keep your battery reasonably healthy just by avoiding particularly egregious torture like letting your phone discharge from full to zero every single day, or leaving it in a hot car all the time. And the next time you make it back home with power to spare, you'll thank yourself for it.

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