Saturday, June 30, 2012

FDA to regularly inspect foreign drug manufacturing

English: Logo of the .
English: Logo of the . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Food and Drug Administration bill designed to increase inspections of foreign drug manufacturing sites, while also speeding up approvals of new drugs at home, is headed to the president's desk after an overwhelming approval in the Senate.
The Senate approved the must-pass piece of the legislation by a vote of 92-4, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law within days.
The core of the bill is critical to the FDA because it bolsters the agency's budget with billions of dollars in drug industry fees, which the government uses to hire additional scientists to review new medicines.
But lawmakers seized on the legislation to address recent concerns about the safety and quality of prescription medicines, especially those that are imported. The bill also gives the FDA new tools to combat drug counterfeiting and drug shortages, which have made headlines in the past year.
"This legislation will help bring critical drugs and medical devices to market faster, protect patients from drug shortages and manufacturing problems, and enhance the availability of low-cost generic drugs," said Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, who guided the bill through the Senate.
Public health experts said the most significant changes for consumers involve how FDA inspectors oversee foreign drug manufacturing facilities.
For more than 70 years, the agency has focused its inspections on U.S. factories. But most companies have moved their operations overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor and materials. Between 2001 and 2008 the number of U.S. drugs made outside of the country doubled, according FDA figures.
The bill passed by Congress would do away with a requirement that FDA inspect all U.S. factories every two years and give the agency more discretion to focus on foreign facilities. Currently, the FDA inspects the average foreign manufacturing facility every nine years. The new bill requires that FDA inspectors target the most problematic manufacturing sites, regardless of whether they're in the U.S. or overseas.
"This legislation will, for the first time, enable the FDA to regularly inspect foreign drug manufacturing facilities, which supply 80 percent of the ingredients in our medications," said Allan Coukell, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts' medical programs

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Two LulzSec plead guilty to hacking

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Ryan Cleary stands...
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Ryan Cleary stands outside Southwark Crown Court on June 27, 2011 in London, England. Mr Cleary is charged with hacking into the website of the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency as part of a Scotland Yard and FBI investigation into online hacking group LulzSec. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Two reputed members of the hacking group Lulz Security (LulzSec) pleaded guilty in the United Kingdom today to series charges related Web site attacks in the UK and overseas, according to reports.
Ryan Cleary, 20, and Jake Davis, 19, admitted to conspiring with other members of LulzSec to hack a number of websites in 2011, including Sony Pictures, HBGary, Britain's National Health Service and Nintendo. Cleary pleaded guilty to a total of six charges out of eight; Davis to two out of four.
Formed in May 2011, LulzSec has been tied by authorities in the United States and U.K. to attacks on a number of targets ranging from sites belonging to Irish political party Fine Gael to the Fox Broadcasting company.
As part of his plea, Cleary admitted involvement into hacking U.S. Air Force computers based at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. However according to the newspaper The Guardian, both Cleary and Davis denied allegations they posted "unlawfully obtained confidential computer data" to public websites including LulzSec, Pirate Bay, and PasteBin, in order to encourage offences contrary to the Serious Crime Act.
Earlier this month, a grand jury in California indicted Cleary on hacking charges as well, though it remains to be seen if he will be extradited. Cleary faces a U.S. federal indictment in relation to his cyber-attacks, but his attorney has said she would "fiercely contest" any moves to extradite her client to the U.S.. A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in the U.K. told a member of the media June 15 that the United States was not making an extradition request at this time. 

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Apple - Motorola legal battle over

The 20-month-old legal fight between Apple and Motorola over alleged patent-infringement claims is now over after the trial judge dismissed the case after lashing some of Apple's key legal arguments in his 38-page court decision.
In his written opinion in the case, which was released June 23, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Posner criticized the approach that Apple took in bringing the matter to court. The two companies have been fighting in court over the design of their competing mobile devices.
Instead of seeking damages for the alleged infringements, Apple sought an injunction to protect it in the future from what the company claimed was irreparable damage from continued infringements of its patents by Motorola, the judge wrote.
"By failing to present a minimally adequate damages case, Apple has disabled itself from arguing that damages would not provide a complete remedy … [Apple] harps on the loss of consumer goodwill and market share, as a ground for an injunction, but not only has no real evidence of such a loss, but given the nature of the patent claims, it is not a loss that an injunction would avert,” Posner wrote.
Posner added that "Apple's case for injunctive relief flunks the irreparable injury, balance of hardships, and public interest standards" that were set in the 2006 eBay vs. MercExchange case, which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Microsoft buys Yammer

Image representing Yammer as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Microsoft Corp agreed to buy online social network firm Yammer Inc for $1.2 billion in cash, which will allow the software company to offer a service like Facebook Inc's to corporate customers.
Talk of a deal had circulated earlier this month, but the two companies only confirmed an agreement on Monday.
Four-year-old Yammer, which has 5 million users of its private, in-company social networks, helps companies' internal communications and collaboration by allowing employees to form groups and interact with each other freely. Companies such as Ford Motor Co, Supervalu and Deloitte are customers.
The 400-employee firm will keep its headquarters in San Francisco but will become part of Microsoft's Office unit under Kurt DelBene in Seattle. Yammer will still be led by current CEO David Sacks, a former PayPal executive.
The service should fill a growing gap that Microsoft was struggling to fill with its SharePoint application for creating private websites for intra-company projects.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PayPal offering security bounty

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

PayPal is expanding its security-bug-reporting program to include a bounty for reported vulnerabilities, joining a growing list of vendors—including Google, Adobe, Mozilla and Facebook—with similar programs.
The online payment services company, like others with bounty programs, is hoping to convince people who find security flaws in its operations to report those vulnerabilities to them rather than selling them on the open market.
PayPal officials are looking for vulnerabilities in four particular areas—XSS (cross-site scripting), CSRF (cross-site request forgery), SQL injection or authentication bypass—and will determine the amount of bounty to be paid out on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity and priority of the problem. PayPal developers will fix the vulnerability, then issue the fix to PayPal’s production environment. Then the person who found the vulnerability will be paid—via PayPal.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Banking Trojans

Underground developers for the two major banking Trojans, Zeus and SpyEye, have honed their techniques for automated theft to the point that even two-factor authentication can be bypassed easily and automatically, according to a report released by Trend Micro this week.
The evolution of the banking Trojans heralds tough times ahead for financial institutions, the firm says. Banks have relied on additional factors of security, such as one-time password tokens, to hinder the efforts of online thieves, according to the report. While cyber-criminals have been able to get around the defensive measures, they had to monitor the attacks in real time. The evolving ability of the programs to steal money automatically through, what Trend calls, "automated transfer systems" means that banks stand to lose more money.
"A hacker had to be waiting around for the signal, and essentially be on point immediately when notified about a real two-factor authentication compromise by Zeus or SpyEye presence," said Tom Kellerman, vice president of cyber-security for Trend Micro. "This automates all of that from the perspective of two-factor authentication."
The capability is not a new feature, but functionality that is evolving over time. Cyber-criminals use Zeus and SpyEye to steal money from the accounts of victims whose computers had been infected with malware created by the toolkits. Initially, banks started using two-factor authentication to stop the banking Trojans from transferring money. Key fobs that create a new six-digit passcode every 30 seconds, or text messaging a secret code to a consumer's phone, stopped early thieves from transferring money.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Norway's Statoil to triple oil and gas production

Statoil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Norway's Statoil (STL.OL) aims to triple its North American oil and natural gas production by the end of the decade as it ramps up spending in oil-rich prospects, and it also plans to develop Australian shale gas, the company said on Wednesday.
Statoil expects to produce 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boepd) in North America by 2020, up from the 149,000 boepd produced in the first quarter of this year, as it moves away from barely profitable natural gas fields to concentrate on more lucrative liquids-based acreage.
Meanwhile, Statoil has entered into a partnership with Canada's PetroFrontier Corp (PFC.V) to explore for shale gas in Australia, it said on Wednesday.
The majority of the increases in North America will come from U.S. operations focused in the Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Bakken shale plays, said Bill Maloney, president of Statoil North America. Some 100,000 boepd will be produced from offshore assets in the deep water Gulf of Mexico, double today's output, the company said during a presentation to investors in New York.
"The resource base in North America has grown well above 6 billion boe, representing around 30 percent of Statoil's total resource base," Maloney said. To grow further, the company is also considering further acquisitions in the region.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Facebook launches London 2012 page

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Social media site Facebook launched its London 2012 page on Monday which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes will help simplify the event for fans.
The Explore London 2012 page, 18 months in the making, and the culmination of a partnership with the IOC and the London Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG) will enable users online access to their chosen athletes, sports and countries.
"I think that anything that simplifies, or makes it a little bit easier to understand or follow the people you like, has got to be a good thing," IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams said.
The IOC said the page was part of a non-commercial project with Facebook.
Facebook will be subject to the strict rules which govern Olympic sponsorship, marketing and videos, meaning they will not display advertising around its Explore London 2012 page and athletes will not be able to post videos of themselves in the Games venues.
Facebook's EMEA director of platform partnerships Christian Hernandez said the Olympics had previously been a "curated experience", with broadcasters dictating what viewers outside the stadium could see, but that was set to change as the social media age handed users the power to decide what they want to watch.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Global resources killing people

At least one person is being killed in an environmental dispute around the world each week as the battle for land, natural resources and forests becomes increasingly violent, a report said on Tuesday.
Global Witness, a human rights group focused on the exploitation of natural resources, said at least 106 people were killed in 2011 alone, nearly twice the death toll in 2009, in targeted attacks and clashes in resource-rich countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and Peru.
A total of 711 people were killed from 2002 to 2011 in such disputes, or more than one a week, it added, saying a culture of impunity pervaded which meant few convictions were made.
"It is a well-known paradox that many of the world's poorest countries are home to the resources that drive the global economy," the report said. "Now, as the race to secure access to these resources intensifies, it is poor people and activists who increasingly find themselves in the firing line."
Natural resources deals were often agreed in secret between officials, political elites and companies, the report said, leaving people who lived off the land or forests affected without any rights or say in the process.
Those who did try to speak out were often punished with violence, forced evictions or killings.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Olympic officials breaching rules

London Organising Committee of the Olympic Gam...
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IOC has launched an investigation in to allegations by The Sunday Times (£) that 27 Olympic officials and agents, representing 54 countries, were prepared to breach regulations on ticket sales.
Oswald, part of the IOC executive committee and the London organising committee, insisted: "These people should no longer belong to the Olympic movement."
Oswald, who participated in Sunday's emergency IOC meeting via conference call, suspects there will have been similar cases at every previous Olympic Games but never a scandal on this scale.
He claimed: "We will ask for the documents and the tapes, whatever is existing from The Sunday Times. If this is confirmed then sanctions must be taken.
"For me (banning them from distributing tickets in the future) would not be enough. These people should no longer belong to the Olympic movement.
"It is why it is very serious, especially people in situations where they have responsibilities for their own national sport and are prepared to break the rules.
"There are probably differences between the different cases and you cannot treat everybody the same.
"But, depending on the result of the inquiry, there could be a sanction that people are no longer accepted in the Olympic movement and therefore they should have no link with sport in their own country."
Oswald was voicing a personal opinion because the issue of sanctions had not been discussed by the IOC. The former Swiss Olympic rower, who won a bronze medal in 1968, stressed that any punishment should only affect the individual involved and not have an adverse impact on the athletes or the National Olympic Committees.
He continued: "If you know you are breaking the rules and still do it, it is unacceptable.
"It is an attitude which is not acceptable and which is why I am sure the IOC want to take this very seriously and take appropriate sanctions."
The IOC is investigating claims that the 27 officials and agents were "willing to break the rules by offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territory, sell tickets at inflated prices, or sell tickets to unauthorised resellers".
Oswald would not have been surprised if the newspaper's investigation had uncovered one or two questionable incidents because he suspects there have always been some rogue operators.
However, he believes the scale of the alleged scandal will force the IOC to overhaul their ticket distribution system ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016. 

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microphones in Canadian Airports

Friends of mine recently bumped into a member of the Canadian Secret Service. He said he spent most of his time gardening because Canada doesn't really have enemies.
Perhaps the northern sister of the U.S. has decided to give its security forces a little more to do, as Ottawa airport will now be graced with bugging microphones.
No, these aren't necessarily being strategically placed where suspicious people might gather -- wherever that might be. And yes, they will be capable of recording conversations between any travelers (or airport employees) who happen to fall within their range.
The Ottawa Citizen reports that the Canadian Border Services Agency quite happily admits that the audio technology is already in place.
Its representative told the Ottawa Citizen: "It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date."
I am sure that travelers to Canada's capital will feel reassured, especially as the CBSA will reportedly post notices warning people that they might be listening in to their chats about, say, future secret plans for BlackBerry or past torrid nights with a very nice boy called Pierre.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

another Zynga executive leaves

Image representing Zynga as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

A Zynga Inc executive overseeing one of the social gaming company's most successful games has left to join Identified, a startup social network for young professionals.
Brian Chu, formerly the lead project manager of Zynga's hit CityVille, said Friday he will be vice president of product at the San Francisco-based startup.
CityVille had been Zynga's biggest hit over the past year, only recently ceding its position as the most popular game on Facebook to another Zynga title, Texas HoldEm Poker.
In recent months, several notable mid-level executives have left Zynga, which went public in December but has suffered a steep fall in its stock price. In March Groupon Inc, which runs the daily deals website, poached Curtis Lee, a Zynga director of product management.
Chu said he left Zynga amicably and with "the door open."

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

high risk credit card processing

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Skout suspends under 17

Skout suspended its 17-and-under community following reports of men posing as teenagers to prey on minors on the mobile social network.
The creators of the popular location-based flirting app suspended the site at 1 p.m. PT to adjust safety and security measures, according to Skout's blog post on the suspension.
In the last two weeks, three cases of reported sexual assault against minors involved men who allegedly posed as teenagers in the Skout forum for 13 to 17-year-olds in order to meet or identify their victims, according to the New York Times.
In Escondido, Calif., a 24-year-old man was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. In another case, a 15-year-old girl said she had been raped by a 37-year-old man she met using Skout. In the third, a 21-year-old man in Waukesha, Wis.,
Image representing Skout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy, according to
Skout is partnering with a risk management advisory firm to ensure make the best technical safeguards are implemented, including age verification.
Related articles

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Internet trolls could be censored

Beware of trolls
Beware of trolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Website operators may soon be forced under planned new British laws to reveal the identity of those who post defamatory comments on their forums, a move that aims to protect victims by speeding up what is often a lengthy and expensive legal process.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the proposed approach would give greater protection to operators who complied with the procedure, ahead of Tuesday's second reading in Parliament of the Defamation Bill.
"As the law stands, individuals can be the subject of scurrilous rumor and allegation on the web with little meaningful remedy against the person responsible," said Clarke in a statement.
"The government wants a libel regime for the Internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can't be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators."
Both members of the public and companies have made angry threats to take legal action against Internet 'trolls', who circulate false rumors about them online.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Open Garden lets you piggyback WiFi

Wi-Fi Alliance logo
Wi-Fi Alliance logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traveling and looking for Internet access? A new smartphone app allows users to share mobile Web access for free with other people nearby who have the same app.
Called Open Garden, the app forms a mesh network that enables each person connected to it to relay it to other users.
"Every smartphone is a computer and a router, so we thought it was the right time to interconnect all of these devices together to make general access more ubiquitous," said Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company Open Garden.
"As long as the devices are in proximity they recognize themselves seamlessly. If one device in the mesh has access to the Internet, then the other device can benefit from it," Benoliel added.
If a smartphone user with Open Garden is in a cafe or hotel and does not have access to Wi-Fi, but someone else does, the user can piggyback on the other person's connection.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

bring your own device

With the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and free, cloud-based file-sharing changing the way businesses are operating, IT administrators are largely unable to police the use of these tools within their organizations, according to a SkyDox report that surveyed more than 4,000 employees who handle or distribute information in the United States and the United Kingdom.
While employees have embraced free file-sharing platforms—66 percent of those surveyed use free versions of these services to store or share documents-- IT administrators overwhelmingly haven’t been able to provide viable alternatives to free, unauthorized applications and prevent the adoption of unsecure applications Among those who do use file-sharing platforms, 55 percent do so without alerting their IT departments, which could pose a risk corporate assets, sensitive information and intellectual property being distributed, modified and stored without authorization, the report said.
The dilemma is likely to persist as BYOD solidifies its standing as workplace protocol. The survey found 77 percent of information workers use their personal mobile devices or tablets for work, with the professional services (92 percent), financial services (86 percent) and healthcare (84 percent) sectors the most likely to adopt BYOD policies. Those working in government (38 percent) report the lowest level of BYOD adoption. The results indicate that irrespective of market sector BYOD policies continue to gain tracktion, with all companies ranging from 200 to 2,000+ employees reporting BYOD use at over 50 percent.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LinkedIn breach

LinkedinAnswers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the wake of a massive security breach on the business networking site LinkedIn, which resulted in the leaking of roughly 6.5 million user passwords and their subsequently published on an unauthorized website, the company has issued a blog post to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the breach. The company has also enlisted the help of the FBI for an investigation into the breach.
“We want to be as transparent as possible while at the same time preserving the security of our members without jeopardizing the ongoing investigation,” wrote LinkedIn director Vicente Silveira. We take this criminal activity very seriously so we are working closely with the FBI as they aggressively pursue the perpetrators of this crime.”
Silveira noted the compromised passwords were not published with corresponding email logins, and that the majority of passwords were “hashed”, meaning they were still encoded, however he confessed a subset of the passwords were decoded. Silveira also stressed that the only information published was the list passwords. “We are not aware of any member information being published at any time in connection with the list of stolen passwords,” he wrote.
Also addressed was the speed of LinkedIn’s repose to the breach, reports of which first surfaced last Wednesday. Silveira said the company launched an investigation immediately after receiving confirmation of the breach, and by the end of Thursday, all passwords on the published list that were believed to have created risk for LinkedIn members had been disabled. “This is true, regardless of whether or not the passwords were decoded. After we disabled the passwords, we contacted members with instructions on how to reset their passwords,” he wrote. Once again, we truly apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you, our members.”

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Google's web browser to rival microsoft's operating system

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Google’s Web browser, Chrome, is headed to rival Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8 Metro—sort of. Google began work on a Metro-style enabled desktop browser, a version of Chrome that will run in both the Metro and desktop environments of Windows 8 on x86, back in March. The company didn’t offer a specific release date for Chrome, only noting users will be able to test it out in the next Chrome Dev channel release by setting it as the default browser.
The company also pointed out Chrome won’t run in WinRT (Windows 8 on ARM processors), as Microsoft is not allowing browsers other than Internet Explorer (IE) on the platform. “The initial releases of Chrome in Metro mode will include integration with the basic Windows 8 system functionality, such as charms and snap view,” Google software engineer Carlos Pizano wrote in a blog post. “Over the next few months, we’ll be smoothing out the UI on Metro and improving touch support, so please feel free to file bugs. We’re committed to bringing the speed, simplicity, and security of Chrome into Windows 8, and we look forward to working with you on it.”
Microsoft has a lot riding on the latest version of its Windows 8 Metro operating system, which is expected to launch sometime this fall. The design aesthetic, user interface, currently found on Windows Phone and the latest Xbox dashboard, has profound influence on Windows 8: In place of the “traditional” desktop that defined previous editions of Windows, the newest operating system will open with a Metro start screen of colorful, touchable tiles linked to applications. In theory, this will help port Windows 8 onto tablets and other touch-happy form factors; users will have the ability to download Metro apps to their machine via an online storefront. 

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Saturday, June 09, 2012

Dell creating a startup fund

English: Dell Logo
English: Dell Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dell is creating a $100 million fund to help startups get their companies up and running and—hopefully—to create relationships that will make some of them long-term Dell customers.
The Dell Innovators Credit Fund isn’t to invest in companies, according to Steve Felice, president and chief commercial officer at Dell. Most of these startups already have venture capital backing or angel investors funding the development of their products. A significant hurdle they’re facing is the difficult and time-consuming process of getting financing from banks for such needs as IT equipment.
“In this economy, we’re really trying to address a [problem] that these companies are still having—trouble getting credit,” Felice told eWEEK.
The goal is to get these startups the fast access to capital they need for technology solutions, he said. Via the fund, these companies and their backers can get up to 10 percent of their funded amount—or up to $150,000—wth accelerated and limited credit terms. Those companies needing more financing can get that with a few extra steps, according to Dell officials.
In addition, those companies selected for the Dell Innovators Credit Fund also get the assistance of a dedicated Dell sales team and ProSupport services, giving them access to trained experts and around-the-clock support for their technology needs.
More information about the fund can be found at Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Website. Startups can start applying for funding now.

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Summer Sailstice global holiday

Summer Solstice Sunset
Summer Solstice Sunset (Photo credit: erik9000)
Summer Sailstice is a global holiday that celebrates sailing.  Held on the weekend closest to the summer solstice, it is the longest day to be on the water! Last year more than 17,000 sailors participated, representing all 50 U.S. states, and more than 40 countries. Sign up to spend the longest day of the year on your favorite boat, and be eligible for prizes! You can also commit to protecting the ocean by pledging your support to Sailors for the Sea. 
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Thursday, June 07, 2012

more merchant guidelines for payment processing

eComTechnology worldwide payment solutionseComTechnology Merchants Rake In More Dollars
eComTechnology, a provider of alternative payment solutions, has made US-based merchants that use their European payment solutions more US dollars.
Despite the challenging economic times, the continued exchange rate of the Euro versus the US dollar has given merchants that use eComTechnology's EuroDebit and DirectPay solutions a fair advantage, as they bill their European clients in Euros and as such these merchants receive more dollars for each euro.
For those merchants that enjoy a currency advantage, eComTechnology will furthermore provide their non-European merchants the option to receive their funds in Euros.
Merchants that do not use European billing solutions should give these options some serious consideration, as there is no indication that the advantage that eComTechnology's merchants experience will let up anytime soon.

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Best Cuba City Guide – Interactive City Guide

Best Cuba City Guide – Interactive City Guide