Monday, November 30, 2009

Validate the warranty

Dell LogoImage via Wikipedia

Last year I purchased a used Dell XPS M170 laptop on eBay. I checked with Dell before bidding to ensure that the warranty was still valid and that the system had not been reported stolen. I was told the extended warranty was transferable to me. Soon after I received the laptop, Dell replaced the power brick for me. Today I requested replacement of the cooling fan, but the representative I spoke to said he couldn't help until a hold on the account was resolved. Dell had placed a hold on all computers handled by a service technician who had requested re­placements for laptops and then sold the laptops instead of returning them to Dell. My XPS was one of those, so Dell now refuses to honor my warranty. Can you help?

Joe Hightower, Burien, Washington

OYS responds: After we contacted Dell about Hightower's problem, the company got in touch with him directly. A couple of days later, a representative informed Hightower that Dell had decided to lift the hold on his PC-reactivating the rest of its warranty-and to reimburse him for the cooling fan he had bought.

Purchasing used equipment from an individual seller, whether on eBay, Craigs­list, or another online marketplace, is risky. To avoid a warranty dispute, we re­­commend doing as Hightower did: Get the product's serial number from the seller be­­fore buying or bidding, and check with the manufacturer to verify that the item was purchased legitimately and that the


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Android driving Adult

First issue of PlayboyImage via Wikipedia

However, because Android is an open system and allows the ability for 3rd-party app installation (a feature that currently you have to turn on in the system Settings to enable) there’s nothing to stop premium Adult content providers, such as Playboy, Penthouse and Vivid from working with companies like MiKandi to provide quality produced erotica for mobile.

It’s also entirely possible that these companies and others could also license Mikandi’s platform (or someone else’s) to launch app stores of their own so they can control the quality or flavor of what they produce. I can certainly see the emergence of gay and lesbian-oriented app stores, or even fetish-specialized, which are targeted towards specific audiences and tastes.

The freedoms of choice with Android would be unlimited. Want to see attractive Asian (or Russian) women (or men) dress up as nurses (or lumberjacks) and engaging in a specific act? Tagging features and “channels” will allow you to select from thousands of apps to find exactly what you want. The very same tagging technology could be used for purposes OTHER than pornography, but it will be porn that drives the technology and the apps to the maturity level needed to do everything else that every regular Android consumer needs.

What I see occurring with Android is not unlike how other technologies were advanced by the adult industry, such as VHS tapes, DVD video, and streaming Internet multimedia and content distribution. It can be argued that NONE of these technologies would have been so heavily adopted if it wasn’t for the Adult film and content industry embracing their openness, a quality that is shared by Android and its ability to run 3rd-party content without restriction. The YouTube clips and Vimeos that you enjoy of your pets and kids doing cute and completely innocent things? You’ve got porn to thank for it


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Investigations lead Retailers to drop Marketers

Orbitz Worldwide, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

A U.S. government investigation has prompted several well-known online retailers to sever ties with marketing firms after both were accused of working together to deceive customers out of $1.4 billion.

The retailers, including Priceline.com, Classmates.com, FTD.com, Shutterfly.com and Orbitz.com, were accused of working with marketers Affinion, Vertrue and Webloyalty to mislead consumers into unknowingly signing up for “affinity” or “loyalty” programs that would charge their credit card accounts.


The marketers are currently still in business. So are the retailers involved, some of which deny the extensive documentation (.pdf) aired by the U.S. Senate Commerce committee during a hearing last week that implies that the retailers willingly partnered with the marketers to allow access to their customers.


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Opera ships security fixes

Opera has shipped a new version of its browser to fix three security vulnerabilities, one rated “extremely severe.”

The most serious flaw could allow a malicious attacker to take complete control of a system, Opera said in an advisory.
The skinny:

Passing very long strings through the string to number conversion using JavaScript in Opera may result in heap buffer overflows. This also affects the dtoa routine, and was reported in CVE-2009-0689. In most cases Opera will just freeze or terminate, but in some cases this could lead to a crash which could be used to execute code. To inject code, additional techniques will have to be employed.

A second flaw, rated “highly severe,” could allow error messages to leak onto unrelated sites

Scripting error messages are normally available only to the page that caused the error. In some cases, the error messages could be passed to other sites as the contents of unrelated variables, and may contain sensitive information. If those sites write the content into the page markup, this could allow cross-site scripting, using code provided by the attacking site. This issue only affects installations that have enabled stacktraces for exceptions, these are disabled by default.

Opera also patched a third “moderately severe” flaw but details on this issue were not released.

Opera users should immediately upgrade to version 10.10 which includes the patches for these issues.


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USPS thinking of cutting Saturday deliveries

The US Postal Service is drowning in red ink to the tune of $3.8 billion, and now, there’s a proposal from Postmaster General John Potterto to cut Saturday deliveries. Is it in its long-term best interest to do so?
The USPS already made $5 billion in cuts, and it needs to take drastic measures. Mail volume has declined from 202.7 billion in 2008 pieces to 176 billion in 2009. With the increasing growth of electronic communications, it seems this volume will only continue to slide.

But in a 24×7 world, is this the right direction to go?

The experts who analyze postal economics are divided on the question. Seung-Hyun Hong, an economist at the University of Illinois, says projected savings from weekday-only delivery could wither “if the move chases away lucrative business customers who count on the mail to blanket homes with coupons, fliers and other advertisements.” He adds that “there needs to be more study to gauge the revenue impact if services become less frequent and less reliable,” he said. “Most residential customers probably won’t care, but some businesses might and could try switching to the Internet.”


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Online sales off to a good start

Online holiday spending got off to a good start with Black Friday sales up 11 percent from a year ago, according to comScore. The big question: Will these gains stick?

The question looms large on Cyber Monday, the day the U.S. comes back from a long Thanksgiving weekend and goes shopping online on corporate networks everywhere.

Last year, sales across retail got off to a decent start, but consumers were tapped out shortly after Black Friday. Will this year be different?

ComScore figures that the holiday season thus far has generated $10.57 billion in revenue, up 3 percent from a year ago (statement). Black Friday delivered $595 million in online sales, up 11 percent from a year ago. Black Friday was the second heaviest online spending day in 2009.


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Twitter ecommerce, media and gangs

How Twitter Is Pollinating Commerce, Media and Gangs

Twitter is a social medium that wears its tweets on its sleeve, publicly for all to see. This weekend, a perfect storm of events bubbled up to underscore what these are such heady times for our favorite microblogging service. Twitter took center stage for Black Friday shopping deals, helped break the news that Tiger Woods slammed his SUV into a fire hydrant and tree, and apparently serves as a nice communications vector for gangs in New York City. This real-time power is the reason Google and Facebook were so interested in Twitter and why Twitter's founders would be foolish to sell. There's a business model in all of this info. They just need to flesh it out and they'll be golden.

News Analysis: Of the dozen or so friends and family members in my social circle that have planted digital digs on Facebook, not one of them either gets or cares for Twitter. Those that grok it think it's stupid. This is astounding to me. As I write this, Twitter fanatics are questioning my choice of company.


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Vorex launches HCM ERP project management suite

JOH_3164Image by star5112 via Flickr

Vorex combines a Web-based suite of solutions aimed at streamlining the HR operations of budget-conscious businesses.

Vorex, a developer of on-demand and licensed enterprise resource planning and automated business workflow solutions, announced Nov. 30 the launch of its HCM ERP project management, comprehensive human resources, expense tracking and billing tools in an integrated Web-based suite, aimed at small to medium-size businesses.

The solution, backed by Vorex’s live support based in Dallas, includes hardware and software upgrades and maintenance and is available for a free trial via the company’s Website.

HCM ERP provides integrated HR and project management functions, including an employee database, benefits management, open enrollment, organizational charts, and assignment and task tracking functions. Additional features include a self-service portal that allows employees and HR administrators to manage benefits and open enrollment as well as update information on demand; time and attendance tracking that helps enable employers better manage absenteeism and also record employee time spent on specific projects for direct billing to clients; and an employee skills database that allows project managers to identify and assign team members to clients or projects based on documented skill sets.


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

20 million handsets get turned off tomorrow

New Delhi, Nov. 29

With just a day left for the Government-imposed ban on illegal handsets to come into effect, the mobile operators have sought a two-month extension of the deadline. The operators who have set up 1,600 outlets for implanting the IMEI number on handsets through a standardised software are nowhere near reaching out to the 20 million consumers suspected of owning a handset without the number.

The Department of Telecom, under the instruction of the Home Ministry, had directed operators to disconnect all subscribers with handsets without the IMEI number by November 30.

Seek more time

Therefore, starting Tuesday, operators will start pulling the plug off such subscribers. “While we have directed our technical team to disconnect all handsets without proper IMEI number from Tuesday as per the orders of the Home Ministry, we are also requesting the Government to give us two more months to implement the approved software scheme so that poorer subscribers are not affected by this move,” said a senior GSM industry executive.

IMEI is a unique 15-digit code that identifies a mobile. It prevents the use of stolen handsets for making calls and allows security agencies to track down a specific user. However, a majority of handsets sold in the grey market do not come with the IMEI, which has been of concern for security agencies.


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Asia market rebounds on UAE move to contain Dubai's crisis

HONG KONG—Asian stock markets rebounded Monday from their steep fall last week after the United Arab Emirates moved to contain the fallout from Dubai's debt crisis.

Major markets jumped by 2 percent or more after tumbling on Friday amid fears Dubai's debt problems could lead to more financial instability just as the global recession is easing.

The UAE's central bank helped soothe investor fears, at least for now, by pledging Sunday to make extra funding available to all banks in the country, including foreign institutions with local branches.

However, the bank's announcement, aimed at shoring up confidence and averting a bank run, did not mention any specific help for Dubai. The troubled emirate, which splurged on flashy developments and other investments during the credit boom, said last week it now needed at least a six-month reprieve from paying its roughly $60 billion debt.


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Cloud computing goes green in Finland

In the chill of a massive cave beneath an orthodox Christian cathedral, a city power firm is preparing what it thinks will be the greenest data center on the planet.

Excess heat from hundreds of computer servers to be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki's most popular tourist sites, will be captured and channelled into the district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes used to warm homes in the Finnish capital.

"It is perfectly feasible that a quite considerable proportion of the heating in the capital city could be produced from thermal energy generated by computer halls," said Juha Sipila, project manager at Helsingin Energia. Finland and other north European countries are using their water-powered networks as a conduit for renewable energy sources: capturing waste to heat the water that is pumped through the system.


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See more on home screen on a Windows phone

Windows Mobile 6.Image via Wikipedia

Locking your phone doesn’t have to mean slowing down. On a Windows® phone you can see if you have new missed calls, email, voicemail, or text messages—even while the phone is locked.

Thanks to the new Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, you can view key information about your emails, appointments, new text messages or missed calls right on your homescreen. And while you’re at it, check the status of your con¬tacts to see if they’re online, offline or maybe just in a meeting. That way you know the best way to get in touch with them. Basically, with Windows® phone you see more – more quickly.


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Windows 7 tops Mac OS X operating systems

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. Web measurement firm said Windows 7 surpassed a 5 percent market share, putting it ahead of the total market share of all Mac OS X operating systems.

The Internet metrics vendor Net Applications said the Windows 7 operating system was operating on 5 percent and 5.17 percent of all computers actively online last Saturday and Sunday respectively, PC World reported Saturday.

Last weekend's average market share of 5.07 percent for Windows 7 surpassed the 5 percent share that Apple's Mac OS X operating system averaged for the week of Nov. 15-21.

"It's safe to say that Windows 7's daily share did peak above Mac's weekly share," said Net Applications executive vice president Vince Vizzaccaro said in an e-mail to PC World.


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Pub owner fined for copyright material downloaded over hotspot

Wi-Fi logoImage via Wikipedia

A pub owner in the U.K. has been fined £8,000 (about $13,183) because someone unlawfully downloaded copyrighted material over its open Wi-Fi hotspot, according to the managing director of hotspot provider The Cloud.

Graham Cove told CNET sister site ZDNet UK on Friday he believes the case to be the first of its kind in the U.K. However, he would not identify the pub concerned, because its owner--a pub that is a client of The Cloud's--had not yet given their permission for the case to be publicized.

Cove would say only that the fine had been levied in a civil case, brought about by a rights holder, "sometime this summer." The Cloud's pubco clients include Fullers, Greene King, Marsdens, Scottish & Newcastle, Mitchell & Butlers, and Punch Taverns.

The law surrounding open Wi-Fi networks and the liability of those running them is a grey area...


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Optus partners with NEC to deliver communications

SingTel Optus Pty LimitedImage via Wikipedia

Optus has partnered with NEC to deliver unified communications (UC) solutions to small and medium businesses (SMBs) through a package combining fixed and mobile services.

The service, called Optus One Office is combined with the telco's 'yes' Business Totality PABX offering. It includes the supply and maintenance of NEC SP 8000, SP 8100 or SP 8100 SE range of telecommunications servers and NEC desktop handsets with Optus fixed and mobile services.

The Compelling Case for Video Telephony in UC: Download nowAccording to NEC AGM strategic business partners, Anthony Carilla, after 12 months of negotiations it was the company's pedigree and its UC capability which enabled it to seal the partnership with Optus.

"One of the reasons why our products were selected was because of their ability to integrate with Optus mobile devices into the One Office offering," Carilla said.

As the market becomes a lot more educated on the benefits of UC, they are starting to embrace its applications and also many of its productivity tools."

To coincide with the announcement, Optus released survey figures which revealed more than one-third of Australia's SMBs believe managing costs will be their biggest issue in 2010.

"In terms of articulating a value proposition on UC, the manufacturers or vendors that develop these technologies are providing stronger value propositions which are more easily understood and which are more relevant to customer requirements," Carilla said.

Analysts agree that the economic downturn has seen a rapid uptake of UC technologies, as companies attempt to achieve cost savings and cut down on work related travel.

Optus One Office is available to SMBs with ten or more employees who make intra-office calls in Australia via mobile or fixed line.


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Canexport Herbal Products and Supplements

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Netbook shipment expected to double

Netbook shipments for 2009 are expected to be double those of 2008, according to a new report. Going forward, however, netbook shipments are expected to slow while competition increases, thanks, in part, to Apple and Nokia.


Netbook shipments in 2009 are expected to fully double over 2008 shipment numbers, according to a Nov. 26 report from research firm Research and Markets.

Going forward, however, the firm anticipates that netbook PC growth momentum will slow. Additionally, as the prices of netbooks continue to fall, “netbook PC makers' profit margins are expected to be affected,” states the report.

The findings echo those of Gartner, which in a Nov. 23 report stated that while overall PC shipments rose in the fourth quarter—thanks to demand for mobile PCsmarket value fell, due to an unprecedented decline in PC average selling prices.



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Chrome OS running on a Dell

A Dell employee has gotten Chromium OS, the code behind Chrome OS that Google released to open source, to run on a Dell Mini 10v netbook. The fact that a Dell programmer tinkered with the code and passed on his findings to others is a sign of how liberating and rich open source can prove, as well as how Chrome OS is piquing curiosity. Still, some experts see Chrome OS as being five to 10 years away from mass adoption in consumers and enterprises, respectively. The world is, after all, still propelled by Windows. Read how to get Chrome OS running on a Dell Mini below...

Google Chrome Operating System might be officially a year away from appearing in netbooks as a polished platform, but that shouldn't stop some users itching to try it out in their machines today.

A Dell employee has gotten Chromium OS, the code behind Chrome OS that Google released to open source Nov. 21, to run on a Dell Mini 10v netbook.

Google Chrome OS is a Linux-based Web operating system Google is building to run on netbooks as an alternative to computers running traditional operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows and Apple's Mac. Those machines take several seconds to boot up, or even minutes if they are older models.

With boot speed a major calling card for Chrome OS, things bode well for the nascent software, according to Dell Technology Strategist Doug Anson.


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Friday, November 27, 2009

High Risk Credit Card Processing at Ecomtechnology

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Punjab ready to take lead in computer technology

Mansoor Ahmad

LAHORE: The Punjab is set to take a lead in computer technology, as the provincial government has vigorously started the process of establishing computer labs in its schools with an aim to make every student fully computer literate.

In the first phase it has established computer labs in 4286 of its schools each equipped with 15 seats comprising three desktops Personal Computers and 12NComputing virtual desktops that will impart training to over three million students annually.

Experts say that introduction of computer labs in the government schools will have a contagious impact. It will force the low-end private schools to establish at least similar if not superior computer labs. The Punjab government may even make it mandatory in the next few years for the registered private schools to have computer labs. The introduction of computer knowledge among the children will increase the internet use in the country and expose the unexplored talent of millions who have remained deprived of this modern technology.

The idea was conceived last year by the planners of the Punjab government, and the budgetary allocations were made in the provincial budget for 2009-10. The News found that the original idea was to procure 15 desktop PCs for each school. However, the government was able to save Rs1.8 billion from its budgeted allocation by adopting the NComputing technology.

The NComputing solution includes both the virtualisation software (vSpace) that creates the “virtual” sessions inside a PC or server, and the thin-client devices that connect the user’s monitor, keyboard and mouse to the shared computer. Thus one desktop PC can be connected with 4-10 virtual desktops. Thus instead of buying 64290 desktop PCs, the government procured 12858 PCs and supplemented the balance 51432 seats with NComputing devices.

Punjab Government’s IT Labs project can change the computing environment, especially in emerging economies like Pakistan. The decision to deploy this IT labs project establishes the Punjab government as an innovator in educational computing in Pakistan and a model for other governments, considering similar projects.

This project has been successful due to the key factor that the Punjab government is determined to provide maximum number of computer seats at a minimum cost. Through this IT Labs project the Punjab government will not only save nearly Rs1.8 billion in up-front and Rs10 million per month in ongoing costs which translates into more than 360 million over the project life of three years.


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Pay day, month or year at AT&T

AT&T Inc unveiled on Monday an offering that lets customers using its network for Web-surfing on laptop computers or netbooks avoid the obligation to sign a two-year contract with the operator.

Instead of having to commit to paying $60 a month for two years, customers will be able to pay by the day, by the week or by the month, AT&T said.

Under the new offer, users could pay $15 for daily access, $30 for weekly access or $50 for monthly access.

The catch is that these service plans offer less data downloads than a typical monthly plan and customers who sign up for them could also have to pay more for devices such as netbooks or wireless data cards for laptops.

AT&T and its rivals have been pushing wireless laptop connections for consumers that already have cell phones, a service that customers would pay extra for.

However, analysts have said that operators need to offer more payment options if they want to appeal to the mass market because most consumers would be unwilling to pay an extra $60 a month for mobile laptop web access.


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Apple suing another company for knockoffs

Apple Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Hot on the heels of its win against Mac clone-maker Psystar, Apple is suing another company that's making knockoffs of its products, but this time its power adapters.

(Credit: Apple) Apple filed the lawsuit against Media Solutions Holdings in the California Central District Court on Monday, according to InformationWeek. Apple claims the power adapters violate a patent the company holds on the design of its own adapters.

The power adapters in question come with Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro line of notebooks. Apple also sells the adapters separately for $79 from its online and retail stores.

While several of Media Solutions Holdings Web sites, including Laptopsforless.com, Laptopacadapter.com, and Ereplacements.com, have Apple replacement parts in stock, none currently has the power adapter in question when CNET checked on Friday.


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Latest Features from Digg and StumbleUpon

Image representing Digg as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Latest Features from Digg and StumbleUpon

Although news outlets continually bring reports about new features on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there is actually a lot happening with social aggregation sites as well. To catch us up to speed, Brent Csutoras gave WebProNews a rundown of the latest news from both Digg and StumbleUpon.

First of all, Digg has a new trending feature that allows users to be more involved in the actual voting process. Since people are always complaining about the items that reach the front page, Digg is incorporating this new feature to give users more of an opportunity to vote on a particular item.

On Digg’s homepage, the feature will display an item that is close to being moved to the front page and give users 10 minutes to vote to move it or not. After the 10 minutes are up, the feature will show whether or not the item was moved.

StumbleUpon has also seen some drastic changes over the last several months. Earlier this year, the company broke away from eBay and is currently being run by its original founders. Since becoming independent again, StumbleUpon revamped its design, added more content to its homepage, and essentially, tried to become more like the other social sites.

Most recently, the site has made an attempt to focus on the social profile. Csutoras however, does not welcome this change. For him, StumbleUpon was different from the other social sites. He relied on StumbleUpon for finding really unbiased and good content from anyone. But now, the content is heavily dependent upon the social group that recommended it, much like Facebook and Twitter.

“It does put an extra click or two between you and content,” he said.

All these changes are currently in beta and Csutoras is quick to point out that StumbleUpon is very good about listening to user feedback.

What are your thoughts on the new features from Digg and StumbleUpon?


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European Union Names New Leadership

José Manuel Durão BarrosoImage via Wikipedia

European Union Names New Leadership

Published: November 27, 2009
BRUSSELS — European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso unveiled the executive body’s new line-up on Friday, handing Olli Rehn of Finland a key role overseeing monetary affairs as part of efforts to revive the European Union economy.

The 27-person team, which represents almost 500 million people in the European Union, is likely to take office early next year, and will serve for five years but needs the European Parliament’s approval.

Mr. Rehn takes over from Joaquin Almunia of Spain, who was named competition commissioner of the 27-nation bloc. France’s Michel Barnier was appointed internal markets commissioner with responsibility for financial services.

The formation of the European Commission, a powerful regulatory body, is the latest stage in the EU’s efforts to maintain influence on the world stage after the economic crisis. The nominations follow the naming of a president and a new foreign policy chief and ratification of a treaty intended to make EU decision-making smoother.

Mr. Almunia, a 61-year-old Socialist, won a reputation for independence and fiscal prudence as economic and monetary affairs commissioner. Mr. Rehn, 47, has overseen the accession of Romania and Bulgaria as EU enlargement commissioner.

As competition commissioner, taking over from Neelie Kroes of the Netherlands, Mr. Almunia will be asked to enforce strict rules on state aid, prevent protectionism and uphold the EU’s single market.

Other appointments included:

- Dacian Ciolos (Romania): Agriculture

- John Dalli (Malta): Health and Consumer Policy

- Karel De Gucht (Belgium): Trade

- Stefan Fuele (Czech Republic): Enlargement

- Connie Hedegaard (Denmark): Climate Action

- Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (Ireland): Research and Innovation

- Janusz Lewandowski (Poland): Budget/Financial Programming

- Guenther Oettinger (Germany): Energy

- Janez Potocnik (Slovenia): Environment

- Neelie Kroes (Netherlands): Digital Agenda.



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Ireland brought to its knees

Check these reads:
FOR over a decade from the mid-1990s until 2007, Ireland’s economy grew more rapidly than any other in western Europe. Foreign investment poured in. Success at selling abroad made Ireland one of the world’s largest exporters per head. Opportunity attracted the enterprising. In less than a dozen years, a country long known for exporting its people welcomed immigrants in droves. From having few foreign residents a decade ago, by 2008 one in eight of the population was foreign-born—a far higher proportion than Britain and France where large-scale immigration has been taking place for decades.

As the boom continued, a certain sense of invulnerability seemed to take hold. The Irish took to buying property with such abandon that there was soon a credit-inflated bubble in property prices. Since that bubble burst in 2007, everything has changed. The economy has shrunk by a tenth—economists’ definition of a depression. The rate of joblessness has tripled. Banks are hobbling and Ireland’s public finances are in tatters.

The clearest account of this fall from grace comes from Shane Ross, a stockbroker-turned-business journalist and senator with a record of exposing corruption both in private business and public life. In “The Bankers” he documents a series of past banking scandals and regulatory failures and traces the connections between the financiers and property developers who were at the heart of Ireland’s mania. Few are spared. He is scathing about the country’s financial regulator, who was far too friendly with those he regulated and, reflecting the hubris of the times, was paid more than his counterpart at the US Securities and Exchange Commission. He castigates politicians, who have long relied on builders and developers to pay for election campaigns.

In “Follow the Money” David McWilliams covers the same ground, and more besides. A former investment-bank economist in the City of London, he returned to Ireland at the height of the boom to write and broadcast. Mr McWilliams quickly spotted an inflating bubble and warned repeatedly that it would end in tears.


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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Latest technology used to solve murders

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters Life!) - In hit TV crime drama show "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation," and its two spin-offs, the criminologists use the latest technology to solve grisly murders and other crimes.

Soon, real criminal investigation teams will be using videogame technology to help forensic scientists collaborate virtually to re-create what happened at the scene of the crime.

"The problem is that while there have been major advancements in the field of forensic science technology, how investigative teams come together to collaborate has not changed over the years," said Dr. Mitzi Montoya, Zelnak Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management at North Carolina State University (NC State).

NC State recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) program to help lay a foundation that promotes greater collaboration in the field of forensic science - a platform they call IC-CRIME (interdisciplinary, cyber-enabled crime reconstruction through innovative methodology and engagement).

The IC-CRIME platform will employ the latest in 3-D laser scanning technologies and run on the Unity game engine technology, which powers over 50 commercial games like "Fall Fusion" and "VooDude."


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Precautions for online shopping these holidays

Consumers and retailers are entering one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. The holidays bring more than shoppers, however—they also bring cyber-criminals. Here are some tips to think about when it comes to your business, or your approach to online shopping, for the season.


Consumers may have concerns about shopping online during the holidays, but that is not going to keep many of them away from their computers.

In a survey by Sunbelt Software, 90 percent of the more than 650 respondents said they plan to shop online, despite the fact that many (56 percent) were concerned about security. Sixty percent of the participants said they planned to do more shopping online this year than last.

But while the holidays may be a busy time of year for consumers and retailers, it is also a busy time for attackers. According to Consumer Reports, cyber-criminals have stolen about $8 billion from consumers in the past two years. In a survey by Tufin Technologies released at the Defcon conference held July 30 to Aug. 2 in Las Vegas, 81 percent of the hackers surveyed said they were "far more active" during the winter holidays than during the summer. Fifty-six percent named Christmas as the best time to engage in corporate hacking, while 25 percent named New Year's Eve.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of the busiest time of the year for consumers, retailers, and cyber-criminals," Sunbelt Software CEO Alex Eckelberry said in a statement. "Cyber-criminals feast on the fact that consumers are increasingly participating in e-commerce and online social networking with machines that are unprotected against the latest threats."

For businesses, that means being ready for an increase in activity. In an eWEEK Knowledge Center article here, Mark Sarbiewski, senior director of products at HP Software, advised businesses to test for security vulnerabilities and validate all user input to prevent common attacks such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting. He also recommended that businesses make sure credit card information and other private customer data is encrypted, and urged companies to analyze traffic patterns so they can prepare for an explosion of activity.

As for online shoppers, SonicWall in a Nov. 23 news release advised a number of precautions:


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Watchdog asked Sprint to stop calling itself number one

Verizon Wireless is questioning Sprint’s tag line as the “most reliable 3G network,” after recent Nielsen data showed that Verizon had fewer dropped calls, according to AP. Verizon is riding high after a recent victory over AT&T.

Fresh off a small victory over AT&T, Verizon Wireless is now taking on Sprint, according to reporting from the Associated Press.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, an advertising watchdog group, has asked Sprint to stop calling itself “America’s most dependable 3G network,” after a challenge from Verizon, which believes the title to be its own.

Recent tests from researcher Nielsen have showed that “Verizon had fewer calls blocked or dropped than Sprint. Sprint argued that reviewers should look at more than one set of tests to avoid one-time events like weather or bad cell towers,” AP reported.

Sprint says it is appealing the NAD decision.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Credit Card interest rates now have to legislated

Several congressional Democrats said on Wednesday they plan to introduce legislation next week to cap credit card interest rates.

With unemployment and Wall Street bonuses incongruously rising together, the chairman of the House Rules Committee said she will offer a bill to cap rates at 16 percent, a proposal that could catch a wave of Populist sentiment in the House.

"Things were a lot better for the average person in this country when we had usury caps," Representative Louise Slaughter, head of the rules panel, said in a statement.

"Watching how credit card companies have exploited people by increasing rates up to 30 percent and more is criminal and this bill will allow us to put an end to this," she said.

The bill will be co-sponsored by Representatives John Tierney and Michael Capuano, said Slaughter. Tierney and Capuano are Massachusetts Democrats. Slaughter's New York congressional district includes Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

The proposal will come in a week when the House Financial Services Committee is slated to complete its work on tightening bank and capital market regulation. The full U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote in mid-December on broad financial reforms


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Ontario won't stop double-ending

Ontario moves to tighten rules around real estate agents 'double-ending,' but won't ban the practice If legislation is pa...