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US gets first licensed Bitcoin exchange

In an interesting turn of events, New York’s Financial Services Department granted the first license to a Bitcoin exchange, making it the first legally authorized Bitcoin exchange to customers across the country. The exchange, called itBit, essentially gives the company the ability to operate broadly in the US.

In addition to this, itBit also announced on May 7 that it acquired $25 million in funding and that they also appointed three important board members: former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman Sheila C Bair, former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, and Morgan Stanley director Robert H Herz.

This basically gives itBit the ability to operate the same way a bank would but as for the confusion surrounding other Bitcoin businesses that operate without guidelines, there’s a bit more work to be done. Throughout last year, Bitcoin businesses have been working in tandem with regulators in New York, in order to develop a framework to regulate virtual currency businesses. It’s still a work in progress though.

The department then introduced the concept of Bitlicenses in July last year as an attempt for virtual currency businesses to comply with its mandatory rules. itBit’s license however, is not a Bitlicense per se, but rather is a license usually given to banks.

It will be really interesting if this concept can come to Sri Lanka as well.


http://www.nation.lk/edition/images/2015/05/16/Free/Tech%20News%20%20(4).jpgFoursquare’s Swarm App gets Stickers back Mayorships on the way

In the beginning, there was Foursquare. And it was good. Then came Swarm. And it was confusing. You basically had two apps doing the work of one. With the original Foursquare, you could check into places. This earned you badges and if you check into the same place on several occasions, and you’re lucky enough, you also got mayorships.

This all changed when Foursquare split into two apps, Foursquare and Swarm. This also reduced the amount of social features. Yes, you could still earn a mayorship, but it was limited to your friends rather than anyone who visited that location.

The reasoning behind the split according to the company was that they were focused on helping users locate their friends nearby easily for meetups and to hang out. Though this seemed logical at first, it later craved more features, mainly the mayorship and sticker feature.

Swarm, attempting to be the original Foursquare seemed to make sense at the time as it would provide a method of gamification. People had incentives to check into places and gain stickers. It worked, to a certain extent.

Now it appears that the comeback is indeed real. The company behind Foursquare has announced that users can now earn stickers, which are similar to badges, based on their check-ins. It also plans on reintroducing mayorships.

As such 100 new stickers, some based on the original Foursquare are being rolled out to users. Along with the stickers, come new challenges. So when you check in, you unlock stickers. From there, you can show off the unlocked stickers by adding them to check-ins, photos, or send them in messages.


http://www.nation.lk/edition/images/2015/05/16/Free/Tech%20News%20%20(2).jpgSingapore’s PM just one-upped his peers

Programming and national leaders are not a combination you hear of everyday. That is of course unless you happen to be the prime minister of Singapore and your name happens to be Lee Hsien Loong.

So what makes Lee so special? A few weeks ago, at a speech at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore Reception, Lee told the audience that he was somewhat of an avid programmer. In addition, he also let loose that the last program he wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++. Using what is known as a backtrack search, the program chooses the next cell to guess. This apparently reduces the fan-out.

To use the program, just enter in the values of each row. The program then will do its thing and print out the solution (or multiple solutions). The total number of steps taken by the program to search for the solution, and some search statistics thrown in there for good measure as well.

To make things more interesting, the prime minister also announced that the code for his program is available to download via a link to a Google Drive folder and provided a screenshot as well.
Lee has a first class honors degree in mathematics from Cambridge where he also held the title of Senior Wrangler. He has two children, both graduates of MIT. He also recalls one of his children handing him a book on Haskell programming language with the words, “Here, read this”.

“One day that will be my retirement reading”.

In conclusion, Lee tells those gathered that he hopes they have fun playing with the program and to let him know if there are any bugs.


AMD announces new Zen x86 architecture
It looks like AMD is aiming for the top spot once more. The chip manufacturer recently announced that they are developing a new high-performance x86 core, essentially replacing the current generation Steamroller, Piledriver and Bulldozer lineup.

Called Zen, the new 14nm x86 micro-architecture is expected to launch in 2016–2017. It will also do away with the existing architecture design and opt for what they call an SMT or Simultaneous Multi-Threading design. This is a technology similar to how hyper-threading works. Previously, AMD had their own version of a rival for Intel’s SMT called the CMT or Clustered Multi-Threading. Sadly, when released it was seen as an impractical idea by critics.

 There are no concrete details on the numbers or performance we can expect but at least we know that they haven’t abandoned the high-performance enthusiasts (yet). We can however, assume that the Zen architecture will be the equivalent of what the Phenom lineup was back in the day which means powerful energy-efficient processing.

Delving into the technical side a bit more, the Zen architecture is built on a GlobalFoundries 14 nanometer FinFET node fabrication. Supported processors can run both DR3 and DDR4 RAM. AMD claims that the new lineup will be true quad-core CPUs meaning that the four units are not clusters or modules with two cores per module but rather four cores that share no hardware components with each other, aside from the L3 cache. Each core gets a dedicated L2 cache of 512 KB and a shared L3 cache of 8MB L3 pool.

However, there’s still a lot of work to be done and the architecture still far from being perfect. With a launch date set for 2016-2017, the interesting question is whether or not a quad core is enough to compete with Intel, especially now that they launched their Haswell-E Octa-core (eight cores) design.

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