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  1. BEIJING Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:03am EST Boxes containing Lenovo desktop computers are seen in an office in Kiev March 12, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Gleb Garanich (Reuters) - Lenovo Group Ltd, the world's largest PC maker, agreed to buy IBM Corp's low-end server business in a long-awaited deal valued at about $2.3 billion, the biggest-ever tech acquisition by a Chinese company. Lenovo will pay $2.07 billion in cash and the rest with stock of the Beijing-based PC maker, the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange on Thursday. The deal surpasses Baidu Inc's acquisition of 91 Wireless from NetDragon Websoft Inc for $1.85 billion last year, according to Thomson Reuters data, and underscores the growing clout of the country's technology firms as they look to expand overseas. The acquisition will allow Lenovo to diversify revenue away from the shrinking PC business and remodel itself as a growing force in mobile devices and data storage servers. Analysts said Lenovo will likely find it easier than International Business Machines (IBM) to sell the x86 servers to Chinese companies as Beijing tries to localize its IT purchases in the wake of revelations about U.S. surveillance. The sale allows IBM to dump its low-margin x86 business - which sells less powerful and slower servers than the company's higher-margin offerings - and focus on the firm's decade-long shift to more profitable software and services. The unit had reported seven straight quarters of declining revenue. "What the business is worth to IBM is no longer relevant. The only thing that matters is what it's worth to Lenovo," said Alberto Moel, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. "If Lenovo can improve the margins... that could offset any continued revenue shrinkage." Lenovo's purchase of IBM's ThinkPad PC business in 2005 for $1.75 billion became the springboard for its leap to the top of global PC maker rankings. The market is betting Lenovo will enjoy similar success with its latest acquisition, which is partly reflected in a 9.44 percent rise in its shares this year. Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs advised Lenovo, PC maker said in its statement. HIGHER VALUATIONS Talks between IBM and Lenovo fell apart last year due to differences on pricing, with media reports at the time suggesting IBM wanted as much as $6 billion for the unit. Analysts said the sale may have been accelerated by IBM's China woes and ongoing weakness in hardware sales, after the world's biggest technology services company reported a 23 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenue from China on Tuesday. Revenue from its hardware business, including servers, fell for the ninth consecutive quarter as more companies switched to the cloud from traditional infrastructure. IBM's server business was the world's second-largest, with a 22.9 percent share of the $12.3 billion market in the third quarter of 2013, according to technology research firm Gartner. Hewlett-Packard Co is the biggest player, while Lenovo does not appear in the top five. "The acquisition presents a unique opportunity for the company to gain immediate scale and credibility in this market," Lenovo said on Thursday. The x86 unit has annual revenues of roughly $4 billion, analysts estimate. (Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Denny Thomas, Stephen Coates and Ryan Woo) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/23/us-ibm-server-lenovo-idUSBREA0M01U20140123
  2. Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Today, marks the first day in class for Georgia Tech's new online Master’s degree in Computer Science program, which Georgia Tech, Udacity, and AT&T have jointly developed. This is a very big day for us. Udacity's mission is to democratize higher education. With this program, we are making a top-notch computer science education available to a much broader group of students. And we are doing this at a price point of less than 20% of an on-campus education. I believe this is a watershed moment for students around the world. We are very pleased with the application numbers for this new program. A total of 2,360 students applied within the 3-week application period. This is about 75% more than normally apply for the on-campus degree over the duration of an entire year. Of this pool, 375 have been accepted and start today and several others have deferred admission. Most striking were the demographic differences. Whereas the average age of the on-campus student is 24, it is 35 for this new program. This matches our experience at Udacity, in that many of our students are young working adults who seek to advance their careers in tech. Also, 88% of the applicants are US-based as compared to 10% for the on-campus degree. And the yield (students who accepted their admission) was more than 95%. This is unheard of for any top-notch computer science master's program. The five courses launched in this first round are Advanced Operating Systems, Computer Networks, Machine Learning, Software Development Process, and AI for Robotics, created with Georgia Tech professors. They build on our goal of partnering with academia and industry to create courses to fill the job skills gap. While today, these courses are only available to students admitted into the program, we will open up the same courses for everyone in the world on the Udacity platform this Spring. Udacity offers a range of additional courses built with leading tech companies, such as Cloudera, Salesforce and Google. All of these classes are bleeding edge, often way beyond the materials taught by universities. By making them available for everyone in the world, we are steadily changing the law of limited access to a world-class technical education. We are excited to start this visionary new program today, which underscores our commitment and dedication to set up our students for successful careers in tech. http://blog.udacity.com/2014/01/sebastian-thrun-worlds-first-massive.html?m=1
  3. Backing up the NSA's claim that it was caught by surprise by the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug, the White House has tried to explain the rules under which it allows agencies to hoard security vulnerabilities. In this White House blog post, cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel says leaving a huge number of vulnerabilities undisclosed would not be in America's national interest: “Building up a huge stockpile of undisclosed vulnerabilities while leaving the Internet vulnerable and the American people unprotected would not be in our national security interest,” he writes. If you take that as meaning the White House is going to tell the NSA to disclose vulnerabilities it finds, however, think again. The post pirouettes immediately to defending vulnerability-hoarding: “that is not the same as arguing that we should completely forgo this tool [exploiting vulnerabilities rather than disclosing them – The Register] as a way to conduct intelligence collection”.So the White House says it has established guidelines for when vulnerability-hoarding is okay: not “hard and fast” rules, Daniel writes, but considerations that apply if an agency asks to keep a vulnerability secret. These include how widespread a vuln might be in critical infrastructure systems; how much risk exists [without noting who bears the risk] if the vulnerability is unpatched; how much harm “an adversary” could do with knowledge of a vulnerability; whether “we” would know if someone else was exploiting the vulnerability; the value of the intelligence that might be obtained exploiting the vulnerability; whether US agencies might have the chance to exploit the bug before disclosing it; the likelihood that someone else might discover the same vulnerability; and whether or not a vulnerability could be patched or mitigated. In other words, the post seems to tell us that the White House will only hoard useful vulnerabilities that they can exploit without being caught, for as long as they think it won't be noticed by black-hats. Don't you feel better for knowing that? Source
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