Showing posts from January, 2014

Americans who read e-books is growing

Cover via Amazon Overall, half of Americans now have a dedicated handheld device-–either a tablet or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook–-for reading e-content. While the proportion of Americans who read e-books is growing, few have completely replaced print books for electronic versions, according to a survey of 1,005 American adults conducted by the Pew Research Center. However, the January 2014 survey, conducted just after the 2013 holiday gift-giving season, produced evidence that e-book reading devices are spreading through the population. Some 42 percent of adults now own tablet computers, up from 34 percent in September. Meanwhile, the number of adults who own an e-book reading device such as a Kindle or Nook reader jumped from 24 percent in September to nearly one-third (32 percent) after the holidays.

Overall, half of Americans now have a dedicated handheld device–either a tablet computer such as an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook–for reading e-content. That fi…

Solar City plans to sell debt

SolarCity wants to give investors more exposure to the sun. In a unique move, the solar panel company revealed a plan Wednesday to sell debt investments directly to individual investors. Previously, such bond-like products were only available to large institutional investors. Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) last year announced a deal to provide the firm with $500 million in financing for example.

"People want to support clean energy development," SolarCity (SCTY) CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement. "Customers are seeing the benefits of getting solar for their homes but they would like to participate in other ways as well."
SolarCity will launch a new online investment platform for investors to buy and sell the debt.
The clean energy firm, which operates in 14 states, said the products will be backed by a pool of solar assets, namely the 20-year solar panel leases it signs with its customers.
"Those contracts produce a long-term, predictable source of c…

NSA tactics

One such tactic is "method interdiction," or when the feds intercept packages when they are en route to the recipient for a few add-ons they didn't order. Malware or backdoor-enabling hardware is installed in workshops by agents and the item then continues on its way to the customer.
There are dozens of ANT programs, but here's a rundown of just a few.
This backdoor makes its home at work, hiding out in Proliant servers manufactured by Hewlett-Packard. Hardware is implanted by method interdiction. Even if the spyware is removed and a system wiped, IRONCHEF lives on.
Good fences might make good neighbors but if you have an ANGRYNEIGHBOR, watch out because they're inside your home. ANGRYNEIGHBOR can track objects in rooms, listen in, and check out what's displayed on computer monitors.
Being offline won't stop SURLYSPAWN from logging keystrokes. This tactic, which is part of ANGRYNEIGHBOR, does not require a software download…

Online gambling gets off to shaky start

Cover of Gambling on the Internet Six weeks into the era of legalized online gambling in New Jersey, the state has released the first data (PDF) about how much people are gambling on the Internet. Casinos brought in $8.4 million from Nov. 21, the day of online gaming’s soft launch, through the end of the year. This added $1.2 million the state’s coffers. But even with the addition of online gambling, the state’s casinos brought in less money in December than they did in December 2012.
New Jersey is one of three states to have legalized online gambling and it’s the biggest market for it in the U.S.. The launch got off to a shaky start, marred by some technical glitches and patchy marketing. Forecasts about the level of activity ranged widely; industry blog Online Poker Report estimated last week that the first six weeks would bring in $10.5 million. The consensus seems to be that the numbers were at least mildly disappointing.
The brick-and-mortar casinos hoping to shore up operations …

U.S. business travel spending is expected to climb

Panoram Cristo Redentor, Bahia de Guanabara, Pão de Açúcar e Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Optimistic the economy will continue to improve, U.S. business travel spending is expected to climb more than earlier forecasts, boosted by an increase in outbound international travel, mainly to Western Europe.
The new Global Business Travel Association quarterly report, released Wednesday, predicts travel spending will rise 6.6 percent to $289.8 billion in 2014, up from a 3.8 percent growth rate in 2013. Looking at just international travel spending, the increase is expected to hit 12.5 percent (to $36.7 billion), which followed a 1.8 percent growth rate in 2013 and a mere 0.8 percent rise in 2012.
Read more: As the mile gap widens, new flier loyalty tactics
"International outbound travel is the driver" of the increase, Mike McCormick, the executive director and chief operating officer of the association told CNBC in an interview Tuesday. And…

Wall Street banks in physical commodities markets

English: Wall Street sign on Wall Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday took a first formal step toward restricting the role of Wall Streetbanks in physical commoditiesmarkets, seeking feedback on ways to limit the "catastrophic" risks of dealing with oil tanks or power plants.
In a 6-0 vote, the Fed board agreed to publish a preliminary notice laying out its concerns and potential remedies, following months of growing public and political pressure to check banks' decade-long expansion into the raw materials supply chain.
Facing a clearly uneasy regulator, some banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) are already quitting the commodity trade, a once-lucrative business that has reaped billions of dollars of revenue for Wall Street over the years but is now facing diminished margins and stiffer capital rules.
In a 19-page document that included two dozen questions, the Fed offered a host of reasons for imposing new restrictions in the in…

IT leaders think demand from the business exceeds their capacity

CIOs are feeling swamped by the digital initiatives piling up on top of traditional IT duties and fear they lack the skills to cope with that dual burden.
Just over half of IT leaders think demand from the business exceeds their capacity to manage digital projects, with four in 10 saying they are not cut out to face this future, according to Gartner.
There's a cultural tension between IT's desire to do things clearly and in a predictable way and the way you need to operate with digital projects, Gartner Fellow and vice president Dave Aron said.
"Traditional IT people like certainly and clarity and there's not a lot of that in the digital world," he said.
"What's happening now is CIOs have to continue to provide that really professional, solid core infrastructure but they also have to deal with their company's need to succeed in an increasingly digital world."
Analyst firm Gartner's survey of business priorities and CIO strategies, which was …

GoDaddy and Microsoft announced a long-term strategic partnership

The partnership gives businesses access to professional email connected to their domain names, cloud storage and a suite of productivity solutions.Internet domain registrar and Web hosting company GoDaddy and software giant Microsoft announced a long-term strategic partnership to offer Office 365 as GoDaddy's exclusive core business-class email and productivity service to its small-business customers.

As part of the agreement, Microsoft created a unique offering of domain-based email and storage especially built with GoDaddy's very small businesses in mind.

The strategic agreement between the two companies provides small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) with access to professional email connected to their domain names, cloud storage and a full suite of Microsoft productivity solutions.

The platform offers business-class email, shared calendars, instant messaging, online conferencing and access to the most up-to-date documents. These capabilities are delivered as a cloud servi…

U.S. appeals court has struck down the government's latest effort

Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website and some publications since the early 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A U.S. appeals court has struck down the government's latest effort to require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally, meaning mobile carriers and other broadband providers may reach agreements for faster access to specific content crossing their networks.
The Federal Communications Commission's open Internet rules, passed in late 2010, require internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally and give consumers equal access to all lawful content, a principle known as net neutrality.
But the FCC lacked legal authority to enact the regulations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Tuesday, siding with Verizon Communications Inc that challenged the rules.
Verizon has argued the rules violated the company's right to free speech and stripped control of what its networks transm…

Open Source Storage

Open Source Storage, which 13 years ago pioneered the idea of networked storage that uses free and open source software to manage it, will announce three news items Jan. 14: that it has reformed and relaunched itself; that it has sold more than 50 million securities to private investors; and that it has refreshed its storage middleware operating system. San Jose, Calif.-based Open Source Storage, founded in 2001, first made traction in its business by signing then-unknown Facebook to handle its storage in 2004. It also counts companies and organizations such as Friendster, Shutterfly, NASA, KPMG, the U.S. Army, and Lockheed Martin among its former and current customers. CEO and founder Eren Niazi told eWEEK that the company reached a point in which it had to re-evaluate its entire business after a major investor pulled out in 2007 when the economy shifted. "We were doing about $26 million in business per year -- we were one of the first companies to commercialize open source,&quo…

Paypal is redesigning its online checkout system

Image via CrunchBase Paying for stuff with PayPal can sometimes be a pain. When users click to buy an item on third-party Web sites, they are usually redirected to PayPal's site, have to sign in there and then carry out the process. This is something the online payments company is now changing.
Paypal announced on Monday that it is redesigning its online checkout system so that those annoying redirects are no longer part of the payment process. Now, customers should be able to do the whole checkout within a merchant's Web site and in fewer steps.

PayPal's vice president of retail services Don Kingsborough said in a statement that the company's overarching goal is to "deliver shopping experiences that are more convenient, more personal, and more fun for consumers, and more profitable for merchants by making it easier to shop and pay from anywhere and at any time."

The redesign is rolling out to a few PayPal partners first and then will become available to l…

Check processing

Apply for Check 21 processing today! Process your customer's checks on a virtual terminal right over the internet, even by phone or Gateway.
Works just like credit card processing. Here are some of the businesses and others too worldwide.
Lower chargebacks and fees than credit card processing; boost your sales today!
Some acceptable business types:
Generics, Tobacco, ewallets, Auctions, Credit Repair Services - Domestic Only, Electronic Cigarette (e-Cig)
Extended Warranty/Protection, Infomercials, Internet Art Sales, Internet Collector Coins/Stamps, Internet Electronics
Internet Jewelry Sales, Loan Modification - Domestic Only, Multi-level Marketing (MLM) - Domestic Only, Nutraceuticals
Online Exercise Equipment, Online Herbal/Vitamin, Online Legal Forms, Online School/Education, PC/Tech Support & Software
Pharmaceuticals, Travel - Domestic Only.
eComTechnology check and credit card processing solutions. Fully supported installation!
For more info apply at eComTechnology or ema…

Accenture has been chosen to replace CGI Federal

Image via CrunchBaseAccenture has been chosen to replace CGI Federal as the lead contractor for the Obamacare enrollment website, which failed to work when it launched in October for millions of Americans shopping for health insurance, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said on Saturday.
CGI Federal, a subsidiary of CGI Group, built the website,, which was plagued by error messages and slow speeds for weeks after the launch. The glitches created a political crisis for President Barack Obama, threatening the roll-out of his signature healthcare law and emboldening Republican foes to call for its repeal.
"As CMS moves forward in our efforts to help consumers access quality, affordable health coverage, we have selected Accenture to become the lead contractor for the portal and to prepare for next year's open enrollment period," the agency said in a statement.
CGI Federal said on Friday that its contract, which was originally aw…

The hotel bar

Cover via Amazon
The hotel bar isn't what it used to be. Well, it's not what it used to be maybe a decade ago, but it is more likely to be what it was nearly a century ago. "Bars were previously a holding space," said Emily Wines, the master sommelier and senior director of beverage programs at Kimpton Hotels. "We've had a shift in how we look at our bars."
Boutique hotels and even many of the big chains have invested in their bars as a way to stand out and bring in more travelers as well as locals.
"Now that the economy is coming around, people are spending more on drinking as opposed to just drinking free wine at wine hour. They're coming and drinking, they're entertaining, they're coming in with a group," Wines said. "I would say it started to pick up about two years ago and within the last year we're seeing more momentum, spending more across the board at our hotels, restaurants, weddings."
While the trend has bee…

U.S. Supreme Court denies Newegg and Soverain

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would not take on an Internet technology patent case that pitted a company accused of aggressively enforcing weak patents against another with an equally tough reputation for fighting patent infringement claims.
The closely watched case involved the online shopping site Newegg Inc, which specializes in computer products, and software company Soverain Software LLC, which had accused Newegg of infringing three patents known as the "shopping cart patents," which describe a way to buy products online and pay for them.
Chicago-based Soverain had filed similar lawsuits against a long list of companies, including J. Crew Group, Macy's Inc and Williams-Sonoma.
Against Newegg, Soverain won in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas but lost at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled that the three online shopping patents were invalid because they were obvious.
In its filing to the Supreme Court, New…

Neiman Marcus confirmed hacked

Neiman Marcus (Photo credit: Wikipedia) U.S. retailer Target wasn't the only target of credit card thieves this past holiday season. Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus confirmed on Jan. 10 that it too was the victim of a data breach that saw customer credit card information stolen.

Neiman Marcus has not disclosed how many customer credit cards were stolen or how the breach occurred.

"The security of our customers' information is always a priority, and we sincerely regret any inconvenience," the official Neiman Marcus Twitter account stated on Jan. 11.

The retailer added in a follow-up tweet that it is taking steps to notify its customers whose credit cards were known be to be used fraudulently after purchasing goods at Neiman Marcus stores.

In a statement sent to media outlets, including blogger Brian Krebs, who broke the story, Neiman Marcus gives some guidance as to when the breach occurred.

"On January 1st, the forensics firm discovered evidence that the company …

Suntory Holdings Ltd to buy Beam Inc for $13.6 billion?

Jim Beam (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Suntory Holdings Ltd on Monday said it would buy Beam Inc for $13.6 billion in cash in a deal that would make the Japanese company the world's third-largest spirits maker.
Including the assumption of Beam's net debt, the deal is valued at $16 billion. It brings together Beam's Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila with Suntory's Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Kakubin Japanese whiskies, Bowmore Scotch whisky and Midori liqueur.
The deal is the latest example of how Japanese beverage companies are seeking to quench their thirst for overseas growth as the population in their home market shrinks.
"All Japanese beverage companies have been focused on getting growth outside Japan," said Bernstein Research analyst Trevor Stirling.
The proposed acquisition is also Japan's third-largest announced outbound deal of all time, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Last year, privately held Suntory fl…

European Commission are mulling over changes to 2030 energy targets

Representatives of the European Commission are mulling over changes to 2030 energy targets.
Due to be officially proposed later this month, the E.U.'s 2030 energy and climate targets aim to boost the use of renewable energy sources and lessen our reliance on traditional fossil fuels. However, the amount of energy utility firms should gather from renewable sources -- as it is a fledgling industry -- remains heavily disputed, and any rulings made by the European Commission will be binding on firms operating within the E.U.
Some countries, including the U.K., are increasing their use of nuclear power and fracking -- enticing local councils which allow the invasive mining of shale gas, touted to be environmentally damaging and potentially a risk to water sources, with financial incentives -- and so oppose binding terms. Others, such as Germany, are supporters of the 2030 proposal, thanks to increased use of renewables.
The current, binding proposal requires countries within the E…

Currency Traders

It’s 3:40 in the afternoon in London, and computers blink red and green as traders buy and sell billions of dollars of currency. The pace picks up with the approach of the “fix”—the one-minute period beginning 30 seconds before 4 p.m. Trades made during the fix help determine the WM/Reuters currency exchange rates used as benchmarks by multinational corporations, money managers, and investors around the world to value contracts and assets.
As they check prices and complete deals, some traders participate in as many as 50 online chat rooms. Messages from salespeople and clients appear on their monitors, get pushed up by new ones, and vanish from view. Now regulators from Bern, Switzerland, to Washington are examining evidence that a small group of senior traders at big banks had something else on their screens: details of each other’s client orders. Sharing that information may have helped dealers at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), UBS (UBS), Barclays (BCS), and others manipulate…