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Cisco slightly beats Q3 expectations

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Cisco: DNS attacks will undermine trust in the internet
Sophisticated hacking group taps wide set of vulnerabilities as part of their global hacking spree.

Cisco published its third quarter financial report on Wednesday, slightly beatig market expectations.

The company posted a non-GAAP earnings of 78 cents per share on revenue of $13 billion, a 6 percent year-over-year increase.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 77 cents per share on revenue of $12.89 billion.

Product revenue was up 7 percent to $9.72 billion, and service revenue was up 3 percent to $3.24 billion. Product revenue includes sales from infrastructure platforms, which grew 5 percent to $7.55 billion for the quarter. Sales of security products grew 21 percent to $707 million, and sales of applications grew 9 percent to $1.43 billion.

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By geographic segments, revenue in the Americas grew by 9 percent, in EMEA by 5 percent, and in APJC revenue was down 4 percent.

“Our strong performance in the quarter was across the business, reflecting our customers’ confidence in our strategy, business model and market-leading portfolio,” CEO Chuck Robbins said in a statement. “Technology is at the heart of our customers’ strategies and we are building the technology to help them achieve their business objectives.”

In Q3, Cisco closed the acquisitions of Luxtera, a privately held semiconductor company, and Singularity Networks, a privately held network infrastructure analytics company.

For the fourth quarter, the company is predicting non-GAAP earnings between 80 cents and 82 cents with year-over-year revenue growth between 4.5 percent and 6.5 percent. 

Within Infrastructure platforms, Robbins noted on a Wednesday conference call that Cisco has been integrating intent-based networking across its enterprise access portfolio “to help our customers manage more users, devices and things connecting to their networks.”

The company recently announced several new platforms expanding its Enterprise Networking portfolio with the launch of our subscription-based WiFi 6 access points and Catalyst 9600 Campus core switches, purpose-built for cloud scale networking.

“By combining our automation and analytics software with our broad portfolio of switches, access points and controllers, we are creating a seamless, end-to-end, wireless-first architecture for our customers,” Robbins said.

In an email to ZDNet, analyst Patrick Moorhead noted that Cisco doesn’t break out its 9K switch sales. However, he said, “I believe the company is seeing success here.” Cisco’s strong quarter and solid outlook is “a testament to the company’s refocus on security, software while at the same time succeeding with its core switching business,” Moorhead said. 

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The NHTSA is opening an investigation into the Tesla Model S and Model X

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The NHTSA announced this week that it was opening a preliminary investigation into potential safety concerns raised by owners of Tesla Model S and Model X cars. The agency has received 53 complaints alleging failures of the left or right front suspension fore links. Of those 43 complaints, 11 incidents occurred while driving.

In its statement issued about the investigation, the NHTSA says that the complaints appear to indicate an increasing trend with 34 complaints received in the last two years, with three of them occurring at highway speeds. The agency intends to assess the scope, frequency, and consequences of the alleged fault.

The investigation will cover Tesla Model S cars ranging from 2015 through 2017 model years and Tesla Model X SUVs made from 2016 through 2017. As these vehicles age, they could be prone to defects that didn’t surface when they were newer. As of now, there has been no official statement from Tesla on the investigation.

There is also no indication that a recall has to be issued at this time. Tesla vehicles have had their share of issues with fire potential from battery damage during accidents. Several fatal accidents have also been blamed on inattentive drivers and Tesla Autopilot driver assistance systems not recognizing hazards in the road.

On Wednesday of this week, Tesla announced that it was issuing a recall on over 9000 Model Y and Model X vehicles due to issues with bolts. The Model X also had an issue where roof trim could detach over time, leading to potential accidents or road hazards. Despite the recalls, Tesla shares are booming, having gained more than 600 percent in 2020 despite the pandemic.

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Ford Bronco Sport EPA fuel economy figures published

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One of the most anticipated vehicles that Ford has produced in a long time is the new 2021 Bronco and Bronco Sport. One of the key facts that many will use to decide whether or not to buy the Bronco Sport is its fuel economy ratings, and the EPA has published those. The 2021 Bronco Sport achieves a fuel economy of 25 MPG in the city, 28 MPG on the highway, and 26 MPG combined.

Those ratings are for the version of the Bronco Sport featuring the standard 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. Keep in mind that the Bronco Sport comes with an all-wheel-drive standard. Those fuel economy numbers put the Bronco Sport at a disadvantage compared to some vehicles in its segment. It’s at the most significant disadvantage compared to the Toyota RAV4 AWD, which gets 27/34/30 MPG.

The Bronco Sport also returns worse fuel economy than the Honda CR-V AWD and Subaru Forrester AWD. However, the Bronco is more fuel-efficient than the Jeep Compass all-wheel. Fuel economy gets worse for the Bronco Sport when fitted with the larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

With that larger engine under the hood, the Bronco Sport achieves 21 MPG in the city, 26 MPG on the highway, and 23 MPG combined. The upside is the 2.0-liter Bronco Sport is one of the most powerful vehicles in the segment, and its fuel economy isn’t that far off from the three-cylinder version.

However, the reduced fuel economy will certainly make the Bronco Sport with the larger engine one of the least fuel-efficient vehicles in that segment. It’s also one of the most off-road capable vehicles in the segment, so it has that going for it. Many buyers will pick up the Bronco Sport for its off-road capability and style and won’t feel bad at all about its fuel economy.

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C8 Convertible Review – Heritage only goes so far

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Heritage can be a lodestar or it can be a crippling anchor holding you back, and few cars illustrate that quite so well as the Corvette. America’s homegrown sports car star has the history, sure, but it’s fair to say that in its last few generations it’s felt more “quarterback gone to seed” than all-out contender. The 2020 Corvette Stingray changes that.

Chevrolet didn’t set itself a small challenge there, either. Mid-engined for the first time, more capable of directly competing with the Porsche 911 that Corvette fans always used to say their car rivaled, and to which the rest of us politely nodded and smiled and hoped they’d change the subject. It couldn’t just be a big engine and a comparatively small price any more.

The result is a performance car that feels shaped by both demands for speed and practicality; built to a price and with hints of racing game and “show it off in the parking lot” whiz-bang gimmickry. Cold, hard pragmatism butting up against that omnipresent recognition that a Corvette has to feel like a Corvette else, really, what’s the point?

That’s a lot of directions to be pulled in, and it could’ve left the Corvette C8 a deep disappointment. The fact that it isn’t, well, that’s something of a surprise.

Style-wise, it’s one of those cars which is far more successful in person than on the screen. Sure, it feels like Chevrolet’s designers have spread their inspiration net wide, and there are some angles where the C8 is a little ungainly. The rear decklid is particularly exaggerated – though in this convertible form it hides a trick folding metal roof as well as a fairly sizable trunk – while the vents just aft of the doors look more ungainly the longer you look at them and the rear is somewhat busy. I wouldn’t have chosen “Accelerate Yellow” paint, either; the Corvette doesn’t need to do quite so much work to stand out.

Pricing kicks off at $66,400 (plus $1,095 destination) for the drop-top, though it’s hard to imagine most C8 buyers stopping there. The standard car isn’t poorly equipped, but the $11,450 3LT package upgrades the infotainment, adds a Bose audio system, a head-up display, GT2 bucket seats with heating, ventilation, and power bolsters, the Performance Data Recorder that now captures both 1080p footage from the track and everyday video of your trip to Costco. It also throws in a front curb-view camera – its view summoned with a mercifully easy to locate button – and must-haves like blind spot warnings and rear cross traffic alerts.

I say “must haves” because rear visibility is fairly dire, and side visibility isn’t all that grand either. The rear spoiler that comes as part of the $5,000 Z51 Performance Package doesn’t help with sight-lines but it sure looks good. The rest of the package is more focused on speed, with special suspension, brakes, an electronic limited slip differential, high-performance tires, a special exhaust and rear axle ratio, and a heavy-duty cooling system.

$1,895 adds Magnetic Ride Control, and it’s an option every Corvette buyer should check off. Chevrolet’s trick dampers can adjust the viscosity of the fluid inside, crisping things up for coccyx-punishing firmness or mellowing out for long-distance cruising. It’s suspension witchcraft and more than worth the money, as is the $1,495 front lift system which can either be triggered manually or programmed to automatically raise the nose for the same tricky incline every time.

What every Corvette Stingray has at the moment is the same LT2 6.2-liter V8 engine, good for 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. The Z51 package nudges those up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft, and trims the 0-60 mph time to 2.9 seconds. There’s no manual option – that’s part of Chevy’s aforementioned pragmatism, blaming traditionally low sales of stick shifts even if purists say they’re non-negotiable – only an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters.

The engine’s in the middle, and it’s the rear wheels that are driven. There’s been plenty of chatter about AWD and hybrid options, but for the moment the C8 is keeping things simple. Simple and effective, mind.

It goes fast, of course. In a straight line, the Stingray leaps ahead like a beast scalded, monstrously quick and with a soundtrack to match. I’m not typically a convertible fan, but the drop-top C8 allows you to lower the rear glass window independently, letting in more of the V8 howl.

Six drive modes span inclement weather through to full-on track use, and there are all manner of traction settings to tinker with if you dig through the menus. The sluggish drive mode dial isn’t really set up for fast spinning through to take advantage of an unexpectedly rewarding road, mind; better to stab the “Z” button on the wheel, which you can preconfigure with your pick of the settings.

Speaking of the wheel, Chevrolet’s decision to fit a weirdly rectangular one with droopy-jowl spokes feels like another of those misguided gaming-inspired decisions. It’s thick-rimmed and – in 3LT form – heated, while $595 gives it a sueded microfiber wrap that’s going to one day be a time capsule of every greasy palm that gripped it. Does the shape help? Probably not.

The Corvette C8 does, at least, respond well to it. Indeed cornering is one of the Chevy’s key charms, even with some sensible understeer dialed in from the factory. There’s a predictable linearity to it, combined with a sharpness of turn-in that leaves things feeling just plain playful. Factor in ridiculous levels of grip and little in the way of body roll, and it becomes abundantly clear that this thing was tuned for fun.

The same can be said for the gearbox. Sure, it’s a little lacking in slush at low speeds, but I’ll stomach the jerkiness there in return for the snappy response to the paddles (or, if you’re feeling lazy, eager willingness to downshift when you push on in auto mode). Switch to Tour, meanwhile, and the engine/transmission/dampers combo is unexpectedly refined. This needn’t be just your weekend plaything.

There’s room for two inside, though things feel snug. Part of that is pure dimensions, and part of that is Chevrolet’s packaging. The high center console – particularly the long ski-slope of HVAC buttons cascading confusingly down between driver and passenger – could easily leave larger occupants feeling claustrophobic.

All C8’s get an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen within easy reach, and a 12-inch driver display with different gauge displays depending on which mode you’re in. It feels, frankly, light years ahead of the old Corvette, though you’ll need the 2021 model year car to get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rather than their wired counterparts.

What stands out, though, is just how much the C8 feels focused on the pleasure of actually driving. For all the new platform, and the fancier tech, and the slick hard-top convertible roof, that 6.2-liter V8 is the star here. When you’re cruising, it’s burbling happily; push harder, and it serenades you like only an eight-cylinder can, while still delivering the urgency that rivals have turned to smaller, turbocharged engines to deliver.

It’s fun that’s contagious, too. Few cars I’ve been in recently have turned so many heads, and prompted so many questions, as the Corvette C8. People love this car, and it feels like everyone has a ‘Vette story of their own to share in turn.

Factor in time for those conversations, then, and for being more watchful than you might expect in a modern vehicle. Chevy doesn’t offer adaptive cruise control, nor lane-keeping assistance, and there’s no automatic emergency braking. Rear cross-traffic alerts were added for the MY21 C8.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Verdict

Not having grown up in the US, sometimes the charms of Americana are lost on me. The old Corvette was a good example of that: I knew people loved it, I just could never quite figure out why. The good news is the Corvette C8 isn’t just playing to the home crowd.

Maybe it’s the personality it brings to the table, or the usability. Some sports cars leave you wary of their power or temperament, but like anything with a Chevrolet badge on the hood, the Corvette doesn’t demand blood sacrifice in order to get the job done.

Value is subjective, of course. No, this particular $93,660 Corvette isn’t cheap but, given the sort of cars it competes so strongly with, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t punch above its weight. I’d keep the Z51 package and the MagneRide, and maybe compromise on the 2LT trim to keep the overall sticker down, but even if you maxed it out and made the dealer’s day you’re still well under the 911 and even McLaren Sport Series I think the ‘Vette can spar with.

History, and heritage, can be great. At their best they set expectations, just as long as you avoid falling into the same old ruts as before. While what’s new about the Corvette C8 is special, then, it’s how Chevrolet maintains its old values like attainability and everyday usability that really makes this car shine.

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