AI lifeline to help devs craft smartmobe apps that suck a whole lot less... battery capacity

Remember the days when you didn't have to charge your phone several times a day?

Artificial intelligence can help developers design mobile phone apps that drain less battery, according to new research.

The system, dubbed DiffProff, will be presented this week at the USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation conference in California, was developed by Charlie Hu and Abhilash Jindal, who have a startup devoted to better battery testing via software.

DiffProf rests on the assumption that apps that carry out the same function perform similar tasks in slightly different ways. For example, messaging apps like Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, or Skype, keep old conversations and bring up a keyboard so replies can be typed and sent. Despite this, Whatsapp is about three times more energy efficient than Skype.

"What if a feature of an app needs to consume 70 percent of the phone's battery? Is there room for improvement, or should that feature be left the way it is?" said Hu, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

The research paper describing DiffProf is pretty technical. Essentially, it describes a method that uses “differential energy profiling” to create energy profiles for different apps. First, the researchers carry out a series of automated tests on apps by performing identical tasks on each app to work out energy efficiency.

Next, the profile also considers the app’s “call tree” also known as a call graph. These describe the different computer programs that are executed in order to perform a broader given task.

A volt out of the blue: Phone batteries reveal what you typed and read


Apps that have the same function, like playing music or sending emails, should have similar call trees. Slight variances in the code, however, lead to different energy profiles. DiffProf uses an algorithm to compare the call trees and highlights what programs are causing an app to drain more energy.

Developers running the tool receive a list of Java packages, that describe the different software features, which appear in the both apps being compared. They can then work out which programs in the less energy efficient app suck up more juice and if it can be altered or deleted altogether. The tool is only useful if the source code for similar apps have significant overlap.

The researchers used an Android device to test eight different app groups that perform various tasks such as streaming music, scanning for viruses or sending emails. They found that Soundcloud saps more energy than Spotify or Pandora.

Google Hangouts was less energy efficient than Facebook’s Messenger or Whatsapp. DiffProf even managed to spot bugs wasting energy in Kaspersky antivirus mobile app and Pandora. Both bugs were confirmed and the Pandora one was fixed afterwards. ®

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UK and Ireland S/4HANA migrations accelerated during 2021 COVID-19 lockdowns, figures reveal

User group survey shows concerns linger about support skills for upgrade

UK SAP users stuck with their migrations to S/4HANA during COVID-19 lockdowns this year, according to fresh figures released today. But skills among partners and SAP technical resources are still a worry.

A survey by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG) showed 26 per cent of organisations are now using SAP S/4HANA compared with 16 per cent in the same survey last year.

An increase in 10 points on a survey of 352 SAP user organisations seems reasonably significant, given the nation entered a lockdown on 5 January that did not fully lift until July.

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UK Space Agency wants primary school kids to design a logo for first Brit launches

Submissions must create a 'sense of pride.' What could possibly go wrong?

Good news for those in the UK with primary school-aged kids and wondering what to do when the next bout of home-schooling hits: design a logo for the first UK satellite launches.

2022 could be a big year for launching satellites from Blighty's shores as the first launchers gear up for a historic blast-off. Assuming the facilities have been built and all the necessary consents given and boxes ticked.

There are currently seven possible spaceport sites across the UK, from Cornwall in England through Llanbedr in Wales and up to the Western Isles in Scotland. Cash has been lobbed Cornwall's way to support a horizontal launch by Virgin Orbit from Spaceport Cornwall and more toward Scotland for Orbex's ambitions to launch vertically from Sutherland.

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Threeshiba: Key Toshiba investor opposes firm's split

3D Investments said plan will result in 'three underperforming companies'

A fund that holds around 7 per cent of Toshiba stock – making it the company's second-largest shareholder – has opposed the Japanese industrial giant's proposed split into three companies, and called for a review of alternative strategies.

A scathing open letter from 3D Investments begins by declaring that the company's "failures of execution and misallocation of capital" are compounded by the board's lack of transparency and have collectively damaged the company's credibility.

The investment firm said Toshiba's strategic review committee (SRC) failed in its attempt to find a plan, with an 8 per cent stock price plunge evidence that the plan to split the company is not a good idea.

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Renting your IT hardware on a subscription basis is bad for your customers

We're back with another debate you can vote on as we argue back and forth – this time over cloud computing

Register Debate Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you the reader choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your vote on which side you support using the poll embedded below, choosing whether you're in favour or against the motion. The final score will be announced on Friday, revealing whether the for or against argument was most popular.

This week's motion is: Renting hardware on a subscription basis is bad for customers.

Call it leasing, equipment rental, or hardware as a service, the idea of NOT owning your computing devices has been around for years. However, many individuals and corporations have been distinctly ambivalent about the idea, feeling that the benefits tend to flow to the suppliers, and most of all, the financers.

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Project Union: Microsoft releases Windows App SDK 1.0, developers try to puzzle it out

Multiple Windows in WinUI 3? Next version. Open source? Maybe one day

Microsoft released the Windows App SDK 1.0 earlier this month, the first full release of "Project Reunion", but there is some confusion about what it is and whether developers need it.

The release of the Windows App SDK was associated with the arrival of .NET 6.0, a long-term release of Microsoft's application platform, but it is not exclusively a .NET API. What is it then?

Unfortunately the answer is complex which is why Microsoft has struggled to articulate it. The best effort is this GitHub post which describes it as a combination of new APIs with converged APIs that can wrap both Win32 and WinRT – where Win32 is the original and low-level Windows API, and WinRT the modern binary interface introduced for Windows 8.

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Smart things are so dumb because they take after their makers. Let's fix that

IoT still needs its lightbulb moment

Opinion Tech is a great leveller. You can drop £50k on a shiny Tesla and £1k+ on the latest iPhone 13 Max Grunt to unlock it. But if some netops drone located half the globe away misconfigured a server, you're walking home just like a peon with a scratched-up Android and a battered Peugeot who dropped their keys down a drain.

Now, we don't know what caused the outage that outraged owners out with their Musk oxen last week – Tesla doesn't care to communicate details with the press about this or anything else, really. But we do know that the best you could get if you were caught out using mankind's most advanced phone to access mankind's most advanced electric vehicle in the closing stages of 2021 was "Server Error 500."

Numeric error messages were just about OK with the Sinclair ZX81, which had the excuse of an 8 kilobyte ROM with no room for text that could be looked up in the ring-bound manual ... That was 40 years ago.

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When civilisation ends, a Xenix box will be running a long-forgotten job somewhere

'Keep it running a few weeks.' Fast-forward 5 years. 'Why'd it break, man!?'

Who, Me? We've all heard the phrase that "best is the enemy of good", but we've all also shoved in that "temporary" solution that ended up being a bit more permanent than we'd hoped. Welcome to the home of duct tape and prayers: Who, Me?

Today's confession comes from a reader we'll call "George" (not his name) and takes us back once more to the UK of the 1980s and his time working at a pathology company.

"They were switching from a proprietary ICL system to a new Unix-based solution which was still in the 'being developed' phase," he said.

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Looking to get complex machine learning models into production? Serverless might be the answer

Oh-em-gee, it's only another free web lecture from our MCubed team

Special series An old truism of machine learning states that the more complex and larger a model is, the more accurate the outcome of its predictions – up to a point.

If you’re looking into ML disciplines like natural language processing, it’s the massive BERT and GPT models that get practitioners swooning when it comes to precision.

Enthusiasm fades when it comes to running these models in production, however, as their sheer size turns deployments into quite a struggle. Not to mention the cost of setting up and maintaining the infrastructure needed to make the step from research to production happen.

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It's 2021 and someone's written a new Windows 3.x mouse driver. Why now?

For those of you who virtualise Microsoft’s finest and struggle with the pointer, this developer has an answer

Two thousand and twenty-one might not seem the obvious year – or century – to give the world a new mouse driver for Windows 3.1, but a developer named Calvin Buckley has written one nonetheless. His motivation apparently is to ensure rapid and reliable rodent operations when Microsoft's venerable OS runs as a virtual machine.

Buckley's day job is developing software for IBM's i platform. A bio states he once ported the .NET framework Mono to help IBM i developers run .NET programs on i.


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Warning: China planning to swipe a bunch of data soon, so quantum computers can decrypt it later

Meanwhile, the Middle Kingdom’s military plans an AI offensive – in the labs and on the field of combat

Tech consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton has warned that China will soon plan the theft of high value data, so it can decrypt it once quantum computers break classical encryption.

The firm offers that scenario in a recent report, Chinese Threats In The Quantum Era, that asserts the emerging superpower aspires to surpass US-derived quantum computing tech in the mid-2020s – but probably won’t get there. However, it "could plausibly lead in developing and deploying early quantum-computing use cases" by that timeframe.

One of the use cases China desires is decryption.

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Indian government warns locals not to use Starlink's internet services

If you are going to sell satellite internet subscriptions in India, you Musk get a license, says regulator

The government of India has advised locals not to subscribe to SpaceX’s Starlink Internet service, revealing that it does not have a valid license to operate on the subcontinent.

Starlink registered its business in India on November 1, actively engaged in advertising and even pre-sold subscriptions. But it has not secured a license to operate, prompting India's Department of Telecommunications to issue a warning tweet.

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