Showing posts from May, 2014

If DirecTV is unable to strike a deal with the National Football League AT&T could pull out

If DirecTV is unable to strike a deal with the National Football League to renew the satellite TV operator's contract to offer the popular NFL Sunday Ticket football package, AT&T Inc can pull out of the merger, according to a regulatory filing.
In a filing related to the merger, the companies said, "the parties also have agreed that in the unlikely event that the Company's agreement for the 'NFL Sunday Ticket' service is not renewed on substantially the terms discussed between the parties, AT&T may elect not to consummate the merger."
The current DirecTV offer allows subscribers to watch football games outside of their local markets on Sundays. The exclusive package, which costs subscribers up to $300 a year, is an important tool for DirecTV to attract subscribers and the company has said about 2 million people receive the service.
Investors have been watching closely to see whether DirecTV would renew the Sunday Ticket contract with the NFL, estimat…

Microsoft regarding Halo

English: 343 Industries Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Microsoft and 343 Industries have announced details regarding the next major instalment in its ever-popular Halo series. We already knew that the game was heading to Xbox One, but the news sheds light on the title and release window for new entry, as well as details regarding the Spielberg-helmed live-action series that will accompany the game.
The first part of the announcement confirms the somewhat unsurprising news that we won’t be seeing a brand new Halo title this year. Instead the next big franchise instalment will hit in fall 2015 with the title Halo 5: Guardians.
Beyond that, Microsoft has hinted at what to expect from the new game, stating that it runs on an all-new engine at a solid 60 fps. Given the ongoing battle of resolutions and frame-rates between Microsoft and Sony, it's not surprising that the company is keen to push the game's smooth frame rate. Though cynics will note that Microsoft didn't say a pee…

Telstra says it has demonstrated live network speeds of 450 Mbps

LTE or "Long Term Evolution" is the standard that most of the world takes for granted as 4G, but its reign at the top of the wireless tables is set to be eclipsed by its successor – LTE-A, with the A standing for "Advanced."
4G networks often deliver speeds several megabits faster than many ADSL2+ networks, some of which struggle to pump out even 6 Mbps speeds, even though they’re rated at a theoretical maximum of around 20 Mbps – something you’ll only see if you’re quite close to your local telephone exchange.
Meanwhile, an iPhone 5s I’m using on Telstra’s existing 4G network just pumped out speeds of 13.18 Mbps (after boosting straight past 20 Mbps before slowing back down), with an upload speed of 14.06 Mbps, after quick testing with the Ookla app.
But faster speeds, as always, are on the way.
Although Telstra announced that it had already trialed another LTE standard known as LTE-B (B for Broadcast) back in October 2013, which the company says all…

FCC and net neutrality

Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website prior to 2002 or 2003, and still used on some publications and areas of their website. The central part of the logo is also used on products which conform to FCC requirements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) By now you've heard the alarmist stories by various groups claiming that the FCC meeting on May 15 ended network neutrality forever.
You've likely heard the gnashing of teeth by groups with a point of view that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was somehow violating his trust as chairman and violating the trust placed in his boss, President Barack Obama, to maintain an open Internet. It should be no surprise by now that those stories and claims are wrong.
In reality the FCC's monthly open meeting adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that attempted a nearly impossible balancing act. The NPRM on one hand attempted to keep the Internet free and open to users, while also trying to satisfy a series of re…

OpenDNS announced a $35 million investment

English: Logo of OpenDNS (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Internet security and domain name server (DNS) services specialist OpenDNS announced a $35 million investment round led by existing investors Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures.

OpenDNS provides a cloud-delivered network security service that blocks advanced attacks, as well as malware, botnets and phishing threats regardless of port, protocol or application.

The proprietary software leverages machine learning to automate protection in real-time against unknown, emergent threats.

The company’s portfolio is centered on two technologies: a global delivery mechanism for security called Umbrella, and an advanced predictive threat intelligence platform called Security Graph.

Improving Engagement with Multi-Channel Service Download NowUmbrella allows users to block connections to malicious sites with the aim of preventing infections, and block multi-protocol callbacks from …

Google Glass Explorers now have three more travel apps

Google Science Fair (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Google Glass Explorers now have three more travel apps to use with their Glass devices while they explore and expand their horizons around the world.

The new Glassware apps, announced May 15 in a post by the Glass team on the product's Google+ page, are available through the special MyGlass portal, which can be accessed by Explorer users. The new travel software for Glass comes from TripIt, Foursquare and OpenTable.

"Some of the most exciting experiences that our Explorers have shared with us are from their travels with Glass," the post states. "Glass has become a favorite travel companion because it helps you enjoy your vacation without getting lost in your technology, and now we have new Glassware that will continue to help you discover and explore with ease."

The TripIt app allows Glass users to get a heads-up display of their travel plans using Glass, instead of having to pull their smartphone out and manually c…

Google facing pressure from SafeGov

Opponents of Google's recent practice of scanning Gmail messages to help target advertisements to Gmail users continue to pressure the search giant on the issue.

The latest salvo comes from Jeff Gould, the president of industry group, who launched an angry attack on Google in a May 15 blog post after Google described its Gmail-scanning activities in a recent blog post.

"In a surprise announcement on April 30, 2014, Google announced on its company blog that it would no longer 'collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes,'" Gould wrote in his post. "Google also noted that it would make similar changes to its Google Apps for Government products. This announcement suggests that Google has been scanning, storing and monetizing student, business and government emails for years, which raises concerns about Google's past privacy practices and their future policies."

Gould's contention is that Google…

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits hit a seven-year low last week while consumer prices recorded their largest increase in 10 months in April, pointing to a firming economy.
Factory activity in New York state expanded at its quickest pace in nearly four years in May, but the otherwise bright growth picture was dimmed by another report on Thursday showing a surprise slump in industrial output last month.
"It's still consistent with the view that the economy is going to show stronger growth in the second quarter. The underlying momentum is improving but it's not definitive," said Josh Feinman, chief global economist at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management in New York.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 last week, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest reading since May 2007 and suggested a recent pick-up in job growth could be sustained.
In a second report, the department said the Consume…

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) said it would acquire Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals SA

Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) said on Friday it would acquire Chile's CFR Pharmaceuticals SA CFR.SN in a $2.9 billion deal that will more than double its branded generic drugs business in the fast-growing Latin American market.
This is the first deal for Abbott since it split into two businesses and spun off its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug in a new company, AbbVie Inc (ABBV.N), last year and comes at a time when health mergers have surged.
Abbott plans to focus the branded generics business on about 14 or 15 fast-growing countries in emerging markets.
"Not all geographies are alike and some are not particular focuses for us," Chief Executive Officer Miles White said during a conference call with investors. White said the company was still looking at other transactions.
While the Latin American pharmaceuticals market has been attractive to big drugmakers, there are few other big opportunities like CFR because most companies are small, family-owned businesses.
The …

U.S. drugmaker Allergan Inc rejected Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's bid

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)U.S. drugmaker Allergan Inc (AGN.N) rejected Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's (VRX.TO)(VRX.N) $47 billion takeover offer, saying its proposed cost cuts were too steep.
Allergan, which makes the popular anti-wrinkle treatment Botox, said it believed Valeant's business model was unsustainable and that the offer was too risky because of uncertainty about the company's long-term growth.
"Valeant's model of cutting and slashing really doesn't work for more than a very short period of time," Allergan Chief Executive Officer David Pyott said during a conference call with investors to explain the rejection.
He said Valeant's plan for billions of dollars in cost cuts would prevent Allergan from delivering growth that it could produce on its own, and he set a target of a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in earnings per share in 2015.
Valeant and activist investor Bill Ackman, who has a stake of almost…

BNP Paribas is in talks with U.S. authorities to pay more than $3 billion

BNP Paribas is in talks with U.S. authorities to pay more than $3 billion to resolve probes into whether the French bank violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, Sudan and other countries, people familiar with the matter said.
The bank warned last month it faced fines in excess of $1.1 billion over the matter, but declined to provide a specific number.
The probes are being conducted by the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, the U.S. Treasury Department, the Manhattan District Attorney's office, and the New York Department of Financial Services.
BNP Paribas declined to comment on Tuesday on the size of any fine.
Prosecutors have also pushed the bank to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of a resolution, sources have said. The Justice Department has faced criticism that it has shied away from prosecuting financial companies accused of engaging in misconduct.
Last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said his department was working closely with regu…

Newport Charter Yacht Show Crew Competitions

Newport Charter Yacht Show Crew Competitions A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Luxury Chartering NEWPORT, R.I. (May 8, 2014) – No luxury charter yacht is complete without a five-star professional crew by its side, and the Newport Charter Yacht Show will play to this point with its Crew Competitions this summer. Throughout the four-day event (June 23-26) show attendees are invited to watch as crewmembers onboard participating yachts put their culinary and hospitality skills to the test in a series of contests.

On Monday, June 23rd, yacht chefs will compete whisk-to-whisk for the title of Best Charter Yacht Chef. Participants will be given a mystery basket of ingredients and charged with the task of creating four servings of an entrée that fit a specific diet request. A panel of culinary professionals will determine the winner. The competition is open to chefs onboard all participating yachts. On Tuesday, June 24th, crewmembers can compete either solo or with a team in the Tablescaping and Healt…

Washington Monument opens

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United States as viewed at twilight/dusk. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Español: El Monumento a Washington al atardecer Magyar: A Washington emlékmű Polski: Pomnik Waszyngtona o zmierzchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia) More than 150 cracks have been repaired, rainwater leaks have been sealed, and the 130-year-old Washington Monument is set to reopen Monday for the first time in nearly three years since an earthquake caused widespread damage.
The memorial honouring George Washington has been closed for about 33 months for engineers to conduct an extensive analysis and restoration of the 555-foot stone obelisk that was once the tallest structure in the world.
The monument's white marble and mortar were cracked and shaken loose during an unusual 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August 2011 that sent some of the worst vibrations to the top. Debris fell inside and outside the monument, and visitors scrambled to evacuate. Later, e…

Apple's next phone could be August

The back of the iPhone 3G (left) and iPhone 3G S. the latter has shiny text. Both iPhones shown are white 16 GB. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) For those of you eager to get a look at Apple's next iPhone, we have some potentially good news. The highly-anticipated handset could make its debut in August, one month earlier than expected.
According to a Friday report from Reuters citing Taiwan's Economic Daily News, Apple is gearing up to unveil the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (or whatever it may be called) a mere three months from now. Unidentified supply-chain sources reportedly told the Taiwanese media outlet that Apple is hoping to have its next iPhone on store shelves by August, while a rumored 5.5-inch or 5.6-inch iPhone model will purportedly go on sale in September.
In recent years, Apple has revealed its newest iPhones in the fall, so an August unveiling would be earlier than usual. Despite the report, PCMag's lead Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan cautioned users not to get their hopes…

High risk credit card processing for pharmacy

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In order to provide the most effective and efficient credit card payment processing solutions to our merchants, we operate various business units dedicated to industry segments while working closely with our providers to determine which of the varied services in the market are best suited to their business needs. Retailers moving slowly:
While Target is increasing support for chip-and-PIN payment cards to restore consumer confidence shaken by last year's massive data breach, many other retailers feel less of an urgency to adopt the more secure technology. Visa and MasterCard have…

Where Barclays (BARC.L) sees a "generational shift"

Where Barclays (BARC.L) sees a "generational shift", its investment bank rivals are smelling blood.
The British bank, which under former chief Bob Diamond poached top staff and customers from competitors in trouble after the financial crisis, now risks suffering the same fate as it radically shrinks its investment banking business.
Diamond's successor as Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, says he does not expect a further exodus of top talent after departures from Barclays' U.S. operation, but some trading staff at least are preparing for the exit as the bank pares back its ambitions to be a Wall Street powerhouse.
Barclays announced this week plans to shrink its debt trading business and axe a quarter of staff, focusing instead on U.S. and British clients and products where it ranks in the top five in business such as selling government bonds, stocks and currencies and advising on deals.
Tom King, who made his career advising telecoms firms on takeover battles, is tas…

Mexican drug cartels are getting into other businesses

Don't blame your bartender this Cinco de Mayo for tossing a lemon in your Corona. Blame shadowy groups like the Knights Templar Cartel. While the great lime shortage of 2014 was initially sparked by severe winter weather and drought conditions in Mexico, criminal organizations have used violence and extortion to exacerbate the situation. The price of a case of limes, a mainstay of margaritas, guacamole and summer beers, has more than quadrupled in recent months.
The lime shortage illustrates the close ties between the U.S. and Mexican economies and how violence south of the Rio Grande can have ripple effects on American consumers -- and not just the ones hitting the beaches in Cabo San Lucas and Cancún.
"Most people in the U.S. don't realize how highly dependent we are on Mexico for certain products. They don't understand how much our economies are intertwined. The bad things happening in Mexico do have an impact on U.S. consumers and U.S. exporters," said David…

U.S. Justice Department pursuing bank investigations

The U.S. Justice Department is pursuing criminal investigations of financial institutions that could result in action in the coming weeks and months, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video, adding that no company was "too big to jail."
The comments, made in a video posted on the Justice Department's website on Monday, came as federal prosecutors push two banks, BNP Paribas SA (BNPP.PA) and Credit Suisse AG (MLPN.P), to plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve separate investigations, according to people familiar with the probes.
While Holder did not name any banks, he said he is personally monitoring the ongoing investigations into financial institutions and is "resolved to seeing them through."
"I intend to reaffirm the principle that no individual or entity that does harm to our economy is ever above the law," Holder said in the video. "There is no such thing as 'too big to jail.'"
French bank BNP Paribas warned last …

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd must pay Apple Inc

English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A U.S. jury on Monday left the total damages Samsung Electronics Co Ltd must pay Apple Inc unchanged at $119.6 million, after additional deliberations in a trial where the South Korean smartphone maker was found to have infringed three Apple patents.
During the month-long trial in a San Jose, California federal court, Apple accused Samsung of violating patents on smartphone features including universal search, while Samsung denied wrongdoing.
On Friday, the jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $119.6 million for infringing the iPhone maker's patents. But Apple attorneys argued at the time that the jurors made a technical mistake in awarding Apple damages on a patent covering one of Samsung's phones. The jury was ordered back to court Monday to resolve that issue.
Juror Margarita Palmada, a 69-year-old retired high-school Spanish teacher, said she wished the two sides had been able to work out their issues witho…

Hotel Boycott Grows Over Owner's Ties to Sharia Law

The Dorchester Collection, which includes The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, The Dorchester and several other luxury-level properties around the word, is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a branch of the Ministry of Finance of Brunei. At issue is the decision of the oil-rich state to adopt a strict form of Sharia law that would call for the severing of limbs for theft, as well as stoning to death for adultery or homosexual acts, according to the BBC. Enforcement would be limited to within the borders of Brunei. The annual Global Women's Rights Awards, co-chaired by Jay and Mavis Leno, moved from the Beverly Hills Hotel as part of the boycott. The awards, scheduled for Monday, will instead by held at the Hammer Museum. The rights group said the former late-night talk show host Monday afternoon will take part in a "StopTheSultan Rally" in the park across from The Beverly Hills Hotel, along with United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and others. Representa…

iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers?

Apple's labor practices are under attack by two activist groups who contend the company makes its iPhones with a hazardous mix of chemicals that threaten the health of factory workers assembling the devices in China.
The campaign began Wednesday with an online petition put together by China Labor Watch, a longtime Apple critic, and Green America, an environmental protection group. If enough consumers sign the "Bad Apple" petition, the two groups hope to pressure the company into abandoning the use of two chemicals, benzene and n-hexane, in the production of the iPhone, Apple's top-selling product. Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause leukemia if not handled properly and n-hexane has been linked to nerve damage. In a statement, Apple pointed out that it has already stopped using many hazardous chemicals, including PVC plastic and brominated flame, during the past few years to the acclaim of environmental groups such as Greenpeace. The Cupertino, Calif. company also …