Monday, June 30, 2014

Google Inc's YouTube plans to launch a paid streaming music service

Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube
Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Google Inc's YouTube said on Tuesday that it plans to launch a paid streaming music service, amid criticism that its existing, free video website might block the music videos of labels that do not agree to its terms.
YouTube has partnered with "hundreds of major and independent" music labels for the new service, the company said in a statement, confirming long-running rumors that the world's most popular online video website will offer a paid music service.
The news comes as some music trade groups have criticized YouTube's plans to potentially block the content of certain labels from appearing on YouTube's free, ad-supported Website unless they sign deals to participate in the new, subscription streaming music service. The deals that YouTube is offering are on "highly unfavorable, and non-negotiable terms," according to a news release issued by the Worldwide Independent Music Industry Network last month.
YouTube declined to comment on the terms of the deals, but said in a statement that the new service would provide new revenue for the music industry.
"We’re adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind - to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year," YouTube said in a statement.
YouTube has already signed deals for the paid service with 95 percent of the music labels that it previously had deals with for its existing, ad-supported music video webiste, a person familiar with the matter said. Blocking certain music labels' videos from appearing on YouTube's free website might be necessary in order to provide a consistent user experience for the paid service, the person said.

The YouTube service is expected to launch at the end of the summer and will allow users to listen to music without any ads, according to a person familiar with the situation. Among the other features expected are the ability to listen to music offline and the ability to listen to an artist's entire album instead of just individual songs, as is currently the case on YouTube, the person said.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

European Union on Friday moved to close a tax loophole

The European Union on Friday moved to close a loophole that has allowed multinational companies to reduce their tax bills by exploiting differences in national tax rules, ending months of negotiations and potentially boosting EU states' tax revenues.
Corporate tax avoidance has become a hot issue in industrialized nations. Campaigners have drawn support from public anger at companies avoiding taxes at a time of austerity.
"The aim is to close a loophole that currently allows corporate groups to exploit mismatches between national tax rules so as to avoid paying taxes on some types of profits distributed within the group," finance ministers said in a statement.
The change in the so-called parent-subsidiary directive addresses "hybrid loan arrangements", a combination of equity and debt often used as a tax-planning tool.
Some member states classify profits from such tools as a tax-deductible debt; others do not. That has prompted some multinational companies to open subsidiaries in other member states so they pay little or no tax.
All EU tax law requires unanimity among member states, and getting all states on board has been an uphill struggle. Europe has been torn between the demands of small countries fiercely resisting change to low-tax regimes that attract foreign investment, and others wary of driving away big employers.
Earlier this month, the European Commission increased pressure on Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg over their corporate tax practices, saying it would investigate deals they cut with Apple(AAPL.O), Starbucks (SBUX.O) and Fiat(FIA.MI).
Member states will have until the end of 2015 to turn the change into national law.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blackberry a Canadian company reported a $23 million profit

English: Blackberry Curve 8530 Español: Blackb...
English: Blackberry Curve 8530 Español: Blackberry Curve 8530 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
BlackBerry may not be topping any financial lists soon, but the struggling company appears to at least be stabilizing.
Thanks to new boss John Chen's cost-cutting measures, the Canadian company reported a $23 million profit in the last quarter—a nice surprise compared to its $84 million loss during the same period in 2013.
Total revenue for the three months ending May 31 came to $966 million, split between hardware (39 percent), services (54 percent), and software (7 percent) - a 1 percent ($10 million) drop from the previous quarter.
Overall, about 2.6 million phones ended up consumers' hands.
"Our performance in fiscal Q1 demonstrates that we are firmly on track to achieve important milestones, including our financial objectives and delivering a strong product portfolio," Chen said in a statement.
That might be good for BlackBerry, considering its recent decline, but it still has a long way to go to catch up to rivals like Apple, which sold 43.7 million iPhones between January and March, down from the 51 million it sold in the fourth quarter.
Chen was named CEO after the ousting of former chief Thorsten Heins in November. In December, the new boss told CNBC that he isn't interested in what the company used to be, but rather, is focused "on what BlackBerry will be today and in the future."
With that in mind, Chen vowed to boost its software and services, and become less reliant on selling smartphones.
And the company is doing just that, last month introducing Project Ion, which will leverage its QNX software and enterprise security technology to create "end-to-end solutions" for the growing Internet of Things market.
This week, BlackBerry launched BBM Protected—the first in its eBBM Suite, which promises secure enterprise-class messaging. It also announced a deal with Amazon to bring more than 200,000 Android apps from the e-retail giant's Appstore to BlackBerry 10 owners.
"Over the past six months, we have focused on improving efficiency in all aspects of our operations to drive cost reductions and margin improvement," Chen said. "Looking forward, we are focusing on our growth plan to enable our return to profitability."

Friday, June 27, 2014

tough for small businesses supplying big companies

Question: I have contracts with very large companies and they are pushing payments out to the 120-day limit. Some of them offer shorter payment cycles but I have to accept a discount on the amount owed to me. How’s a small business supposed to survive with this kind of pressure on the bottom line? Should I take these discounts for the sake of my cash flow?
Answer: Your question illustrates one of the reasons it’s so tough for small businesses supplying big companies. While larger vendors probably have at least some negotiating muscle with clients such as big box retailers or giant manufacturers, small suppliers usually don’t—unless their products are absolutely unique in the market.
Your dilemma: You need the business the big guys are offering, but that means you have to accept it on their terms—even if they don’t want to pay you for four months.
“Imagine you run a restaurant. Patrons come in, eat dinner, drink wine, and walk away happy. Your restaurant then bills them. And gets a check four months later. Tough stuff,” says attorney Emily Chase Smith, author of The Financially Savvy Entrepreneur: Navigating the Money Maze of Running a Business.
The only way to survive when payments are dragged out over months is to be “abnormally, obsessively, ridiculously tuned into cash flow,” she says. “Until you have a fantastic cushion, you want to know your cash position each and every day, because biggies like payroll and inventory will crush you.”
You—or your accountant or chief financial officer—should determine your cash conversion cycle by doing a calculation that measures the time it takes your company to convert its products into cash through sales, says Bill Hettinger, principal at the Institute for Finance and Entrepreneurship, a consulting and research company, and the author of Finance Without Fear.
Once you know how long it takes your business to convert inventory into cash, you’ll need to find a source of capital to tide you over that time period. That may mean you get a working capital loan against your inventory from a traditional or alternative lender. For many business owners, it’s better to discount their invoices in order to get paid faster or to forgo a salary so they can keep extra cash in the business and fund their operations.
“It’s always going to come down to a math calculation,” Hettinger says. If discounting costs you 20 percent annually but you could get a working capital bank loan at 10 percent interest, you’re better off holding out for the full amount you’re due. If, on the other hand, you’re funding your operations with credit cards that charge you 25 percent interest, those discounts would be the better bet.
Before you take discounts, see if technology can help your company speed up collections on your other accounts receivable and give you more flexibility. For instance, if your billing is not automated, it should be. And you should enable your customers to pay you through direct deposit, rather than taking time to process paper checks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Solar City may build in New York

SolarCity, the rooftop solar system installer headed by Lyndon Rive and whose chairman is billionaire Elon Musk, is buying solar panel maker Silevo for up to $350 million.
As part of the announcement, SolarCity also said it's in talks with the state of New York to build a 1 gigawatt solar-panel module factory in New York within the next two years. Once built, it will be one of the largest solar panel production plants in the world, according to a company blog post authored by Musk and SolarCity co-founders Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive. The factory will be followed by one or more "significantly larger plants," according to the company.
Under the acquisition deal, SolarCity will pay $200 million in stock for Fremont, Calif-based Silevo and may pay another $150 million if the solar panel manufacturer meets certain production targets, according to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission filing.The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.
SolarCity is one of the nation's largest rooftop solar system installers. The company helped revolutionize the financing of solar projects when it started to sell millions of dollars worth of bonds backed by leases for solar arrays installed on residential rooftops to institutional investors like pension and hedge funds. Earlier this year, the company launched an online system that allows regular folks and organizations to buy asset-backed securities.
Now SolarCity is hoping to use massive economies of scale from the planned solar panel factory to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power. Musk and the Rive brothers acknowledge there are too many suppliers already. But they argue those suppliers are producing panels with relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at "uncompelling costs."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

High risk credit card processing at Precise Payment Solutions

Precise Payment Solutions - Virtual Terminals for ACH and Credit Card Processing
Credit card processing
Precise Payments has a very secure and reliable multi-currency platform for credit card processing and automated check handling (ACH); available with market leading fraud minimization systems and premium support services for small or large businesses with or without processing experience.
We deal with following business and others too.
ADULT, GAMING, PHARMACY, TRAVEL SERVICES, MULTI-CURRENCIES, HIGH AVERAGE TICKETS, CREDIT/DEBT COLLECTIONS, POOR CREDIT, ELECTRONICS, MAIL ORDER, TELEPHONE ORDER, HIGH RISK, HIGH VOLUME, TIMESHARES, REAL ESTATE, HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS, FINANCIAL CONSULTING, TELEMARKETING, DATING WEBSITES, EBOOK DOWNLOADS, SOFTWARE DOWNLOADS, SEO SERVICES, EVENT TICKETS, PREPAID DEBIT CARDS, CALLING CARDS, VOIP SERVICES, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, MLM MARKETING, DIRECT SELLING, BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES, FFL DEALERS, ANNUAL CONTRACTS, MAGAZINE SALES, VACATION RENTALS, GENERIC DRUGS.
Mobile technologies are dissolving the boundaries between industries (consider the partnerships-turned-rivalries between companies like AT&T, Netflix, Dish Networks and Google). Banking is no exception, and as consumers trust more of their information and lifestyles to a short list of mobile brands—T-Mobile, Apple and Amazon among them—banks risk being consigned to limited roles as utilities, Accenture said in a new report, "The Everyday Bank." Just being "more digital" isn't enough; banks needs to embrace an "Everyday Bank strategy," it advises. This involves playing a more meaningful role in the digital and commercial lives of customers, positioning themselves as trusted partners and embracing a "strategic vision"—rather than a singular business model—that places them within an ecosystem of benefits well beyond traditional banking. Consumers ages 18 to 34 are particularly open to nontraditional banking services. For example, 46 percent of this age group said they would be likely or very likely to bank with PayPal, 40 percent said the same about Google and 37 percent said the same of Amazon. The swiftness with which change can come should not be underestimated, said the report, and banks that don't make changes face "severe threats to profitability."
We take business based in United States, Canada, Asia or based in Europe inquire or apply below today and in most cases you can be processing in less than 7 days through your own virtual terminal or gateway. Apply to Precise Payment Solutions today.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Check payment processing

euCheck payment processing services allows you to target consumers in United States and Canada. With our check processing solutions your payment options increase your sales, it is that easy!

Alternative payment processing for credit card processing.

-a great solution for start-ups and a solution for established merchants to increase sales. Use of 50+ payment options in 40+ countries in 40 languages. We are the One-Stop Solution for all your Alternative Payment Processing needs.
-not uncommon for us to see our clients experience a 30% or more increase in their sales.
euChecks provide merchants with a payment network that supports a vast array of national credit cards and non-card based payment schemes - among them direct debits, bank transfers, real-time banking, cash based payments, ewallets, prepaid cards and checks.
Alternative Payment Solutions

For a Pre-application email:sales@euchecks.com



Monday, June 23, 2014

Morgan Stanley MS.N is selling its controlling stake in oil TransMontaigne

Morgan Stanley MS.N is selling its controlling stake in oil storage and transport company TransMontaigne Inc TMG.UL to NGL Energy Partners LP NGL.N for $200 million, essentially ending its long run as the biggest physical oil trader on Wall Street.
The long-awaited deal comes months after the bank announced its intent to sell most of its global physical oil trading operations to Russian state-run oil major Rosneft ROSN.MM, including its 49 percent stake in shipping company Heidmar.
It is the latest sign of how growing regulatory pressure is reshaping commodity markets.
NGL Energy Partners, an up-and-coming master limited partnership (MLP) that last year bought the oil trading division of privately held Gavilon, said an additional amount would be paid for inventory transferred at closing. The refined products held by TransMontaigne Inc could be valued at up to $550 million, a person familiar with the matter said.
The TransMontaigne MLP includes some 48 fuel terminals with nearly 24 million barrels of storage capacity on the U.S. Gulf Coast, in Florida, the Midwest and across the Southeast, including along the strategically important Colonial Pipeline, which ships gasoline and diesel from the Gulf to the East Coast.
The bank's power, gas and metals business is unaffected, and the bank will continue to trade physical oil for its clients, Morgan Stanley spokesman Mark Lake said.
One of the first banks to build up a major oil trading desk over two decades ago, Morgan Stanley has been trying to sell or spin off its physical commodity business for more than a year as it faces mounting regulatory scrutiny of the risks of owning and trading physical commodities, as well as higher capital requirements.
Building on major jet-fuel supply deals and strategic oil tank leases in the New York harbor, Morgan bought TransMontaigne in 2006, taking it deeper into the U.S. oil system years before the shale oil boom upended oil flows.
Even after they give up their independent investment bank status after the financial crisis, a 1999 law permitted Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to remain in commodity activities engaged in before 1997.
Political pressure has intensified in recent years due to fears of banks' exposure to potentially catastrophic losses in the physical business, as well as concerns about the extent of their influence over the commodity supply chain.

Morgan Stanley launched a formal effort in December to sell its controlling stake in TransMontaigne.
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Microsoft Office 365 privacy with Lockbox

English: M in blue square (similar to seen on )
English: M in blue square (similar to seen on ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the year since ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed the U.S. government's alleged cyber-spying capabilities, IT companies have been battling the perception that data residing on their clouds is easy pickings for anyone with the right credentials. That's not the case with Office 365, according to Microsoft.

Office 365 is Microsoft's cloud-enabled version of its venerable productivity software suite. In addition to PC, mobile and Web versions of applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Office 365 encompasses a set of file storage, syncing and collaboration features powered by Microsoft Azure.

Given the sensitive or private nature of the information that flows through Azure's servers and storage systems, businesses are understandably concerned that insiders can expose their data.

"The idea that somehow your data may be more accessible in Office 365 as a cloud service by the people administering and running the service, and therefore more vulnerable, is a common fear," said Vivek Sharma, Microsoft's director of program management in Office Server and Services, in a company blog post.

 
Big Data Will Compel Us to Rethink Information Management
The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant is battling that perception with a process it calls "lockbox."

In effect, the company's strict policies and practices prevent administrators from poking around a user's data, inadvertently or otherwise, according to Perry Clarke, corporate vice president in Office Server and Services. "There is literally zero standing access for human beings to your data if it's sitting in our cloud," he said in an accompanying YouTube video.

Lockbox is a "stringent time-based work flow" explained Clarke. Leveraging software, Lockbox allows only "preassigned two-factor-authenticated administrators to request escalation." Sharma likened the approach to "turning the two keys in order to do something dangerous."

The end result is a highly supervised, gated approach to data access on the Office 365 cloud. Clarke said that "all actions related to access to your data go through a formal escalation request and approval process that is highly supervised, logged, and audited," in the co-authored post.

Standing permissions—in essence, the keys to the kingdom—are also a thing of the past. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/enterprise-apps/microsoft-office-365-data-privacy-assured-by-lockbox.html#sthash.Ekoq4ham.dpuf
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Facebook Inc is acquiring Pryte

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...
Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Facebook Inc is acquiring Pryte, a Finnish company that aims to make it easier for mobile phone users in under-developed parts of the world to use wireless Internet apps.
Facebook did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which spokeswoman Vanessa Chan said is expected to close later this month.
Pryte's service, which has not publicly launched yet, seeks to make it easier for consumers without wireless data plans to use online services by selling short-term passes that would provide access to particular mobile apps, such as Facebook or Foursquare.
Facebook, the world's largest social network with 1.28 billion users, is primarily interested in the team behind Pryte, led by Chief Executive Markku Makelainen, Chan said.
The one-year old, Helsinki-based company has valuable experience and relationships working with wireless operators, particularly in emerging markets, she said.
The company has fewer than 30 employees, though it's not clear how many will join Facebook.

The deal marks Facebook’s latest effort to advance its mission of connecting people in under-developed parts of the world to the Internet. Facebook has partnered with wireless operators in certain countries to offer free access to its social network and the company is building drones and satellites that will beam Internet access to remote regions of the world.
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Friday, June 20, 2014

BMW will start delivering imported electric cars in China

BMW will start delivering imported electric cars in China in September, with pre-orders indicating short supplies in a market that could become the world's biggest for green vehicles, China president Karsten Engel said on Wednesday.
The German premium automaker will sell its all-electric powered BMW i3 sedan and plug-in hybrid i8 sports car in four Chinese cities initially, with a sales cap of 1,000 vehicles this year, Engel said. The i3 starts at 450,000 yuan ($72,000), cheaper than some had expected.
"There are many more customers than supply," Engel told reporters in Shanghai, where BMW launched a project to build charging facilities with State Grid Corp of China and Expo Shanghai Group.
Engel declined to say how many pre-orders the company has received in China for the i3 since the model was unveiled at the Beijing auto show last month, but said more than 28,000 people have requested a test drive in a sign of public interest.
Munich-based BMW competes with rivals including Tesla Motors Inc, Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG in selling electric cars in China's slowly developing market for environmentally friendly vehicles.

China has set an ambitious target of putting 5 million electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the country's roads by 2020, part of Beijing's efforts to fight pollution and reduce reliance on oil imports.
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beijing accused the United States of "unscrupulous" cyber surveillance

Beijing accused the United States on Monday of "unscrupulous" cyber surveillance that included large-scale computer attacks against the Chinese government and Chinese companies.
"America's spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of "anti-terrorism" and have exposed the ugly face of its pursuit of self-interest in complete disregard for moral integrity," concluded a report prepared by the China Academy of Cyber Space.
The report, titled "America's Global Surveillance Record," was published one week after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets.
The publication accused the United States of "waging large-scale cyber-attacks" against China. "Targets of American surveillance include the Chinese government and Chinese leaders, Chinese companies, scientific research institutes, ordinary netizens, and a large number of cell phone users," the report said.
Huawei Technologies Co, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Tencent Holdings Ltd's popular instant message service were among NSA targets, it said.
"U.S. spying operations penetrate every corner of China," the report said.
China last week summoned the U.S. Ambassador to China, Max Baucus, to protest against the U.S. indictment, saying it had seriously harmed relations.
The Cyber Space academy report cited foreign newspaper reports of U.S. cyber spying based on documents revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Zealand political party founded by Kim Dotcom

The New Zealand political party founded by alleged copyright pirate Kim Dotcom has formed an alliance with another small party in a bid to win a seat in the country's general election in September.
Dotcom's Internet Party and the leftist, indigenous Mana Party, which already has a member in the country's parliament, will form a new party - Internet Mana - and put up a combined list of candidates in the election.
Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, was said to have brokered deal but will not hold any position in the Internet Party. He has the right to vote in New Zealand but cannot stand for election until he becomes a citizen.
The ebullient internet mogul has been fighting a bid by U.S. authorities to extradite him from New Zealand to face online piracy charges over the now closed file-sharing site Megaupload.
Internet Party chief executive Vikram Kumar said the two parties would retain their separate policies, with the Internet Party aiming at young voters with policies of cheaper Internet, the creation of high-tech jobs, and the protection of privacy.
The Mana Party's current member of parliament holds one of seven seats reserved for the indigenous Maori people and has pursued policies to help the underprivileged, attracting support from some non-Maori left wing activists.
Under New Zealand's proportional voting system, a party must win either an electorate seat or at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote to get into the 120-seat parliament.

However, the 5 percent barrier would not apply if the current Mana Party member of parliament was re-elected, with further members being elected in his slipstream depending on the party's final share of the vote.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1 billion electronic prescriptions in 2013

Pharmacy Rx symbol
Pharmacy Rx symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Health information network Surescripts said it routed more than 1 billion electronic prescriptions in 2013, representing a majority (58 percent) of all eligible prescriptions in the United States, sent by 73 percent of all office-based physicians.

The Surescripts network connects to 566,000 prescribers, more than 400 hospitals and health systems and more than 40 of the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers.

The network also connects more than 600 electronic health record (HER) applications, 43 state immunization registries and 21 health information exchanges (HIEs) and health information service providers (HISPs).

Overall, the total volume of prescriptions routed electronically increased 32 percent, up from 788 million in 2012 and 570 million in 2011, and as of 2013, 40 percent of pharmacies have achieved Surescripts certification to enable the electronic prescribing of controlled substances.


 
Bloor Research: The Economics of Cloud-Managed Integration
Download Now"For more than a decade, Surescripts has operated a network and built the relationships to get the right information to the right place at the right time," Paul Uhrig, acting CEO of Surescripts, said in a statement. "We’re incredibly proud to report measurable progress connecting and coordinating care providers through our network, because we believe that people and organizations working together will make health care more efficient, more effective and easier to navigate."



Last year, Delaware led Surescripts’ Safe-Rx Rankings, with 81 percent of physicians routing a total of 3.8 million electronic prescriptions.

The Safe-Rx Rankings are a nationwide measure of each state’s progress in advancing health-care safety, efficiency and quality through the adoption and use of electronic prescribing.

The rankings recognize the full utilization of electronic prescribing based on volume of prescription benefit, medication history and routing transactions.

All states routed at least 45 percent of eligible prescriptions electronically last year, and electronic prescribing has increased to where the last place state in 2013 would have been the first place state in 2009, by a margin of 13 percentage points.

The report also found Wisconsin, North Dakota and Connecticut all moved into the top 10 for the first time in 2013.

Meanwhile, the adoption of electronic prescribing by independent pharmacies increased 11 percent between 2011 and 2013, while adoption among chain pharmacies remained constant at 98 percent. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/it-management/surescripts-routes-more-than-half-of-prescriptions-electronically.html#sthash.5TLZIYZ2.dpuf
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Microsoft is working on a real-time translation feature for Skype

12
12 (Photo credit: TR4NSLATOR)
Microsoft is working on a real-time translation feature for Skype, which is potentially a valuable resource for companies conducting business internationally.
On Tuesday, the company announced the update to Skype in a company blog post. Skype is a popular Web-based service which allows users to chat and conduct both voice and video calls for free. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated the upcoming software update during an interview at the Re/code Code Conference in Palos Verdes, California, where Nadella held a conversation with Skype chief executive Gurdeep Singh Pall, switching between German and English while Skype provided the translation in an automated voice.
The Redmond giant has dubbed the service Skype Translator. It's a combination of Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, as well as neural network-based speech recognition software. Skype Translator currently supports over 40 languages and will be available as a Windows 8 beta app before the end of 2014.
According to Nadella, the software will eventually be available to consumers using all types of devices.
"It is early days for this technology, but the Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator isn't a galaxy away, and its potential is every bit as exciting as those Star Trek examples," said Gurdeep Pall, Corporate Vice President of Skype and Lync at Microsoft. "Skype Translator opens up so many possibilities to make meaningful connections in ways you never could before in education, diplomacy, multilingual families and in business."
Microsoft says that over 300 million people use Skype each month, and over two billion minutes of conversation are held every day. The service could prove to be useful for businesses working on an international level, as real-time translation may not remove the awkwardness of muddling through communication, but could at least make the gist of what we want known. As business transforms from local to global, any tool that can be used to break down language barriers can only be of value.
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

General Electric boss Jeff Immelt faces a public French parliamentary grilling

General Electric boss Jeff Immelt faces a public French parliamentary grilling in person on Tuesday over his high-stakes plan to buy the power arm of engineering group Alstom, replacing a subordinate at the last minute.
A statement from the parliamentary economics committee late on Monday put Immelt on its agenda for Tuesday's hearing, which was scheduled originally last week with the head of GE France, Clara Gaymard, on the stand.
Immelt is scheduled to speak in defense of his 12.35 billion euro ($16.9 billion) bid for Alstom's power arm at 1630 GMT, an hour after Christophe de Maistre, chairman of Siemens France, is due to begin facing questions.
Maistre, representing the European alternative to the GE offer, will make the case for a tie-up with the German engineering firm. Sources have told Reuters that Siemens was readying a formal offer under which it would transfer its rail activities and less than 7 billion euros in cash to its French rival in exchange for its power assets.
GE's Immelt was due in Paris anyway this week for a meeting on Wednesday with President Francois Hollande and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.
"The committee asked the country chiefs to attend, but Jeff is our CEO and he is running things," said a GE spokesman. "He is in Paris anyway, so we decided he should attend. It's normal that he should come and defend the project."
The hearing takes place after GE agreed to extend its bid timetable by three weeks until June 23 following objections to the deal from the French government, a letter of intent from Siemens offering to pursue a rival proposal, and a French government decree giving itself an effective veto on any deal.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Canadian air travelers will be able to use devices

Good news for those traveling the friendly skies over Canada. Air travelers in the region will soon be able to use portable electronic devices — including cameras, game systems, tablets, and laptops — during all phases of flight, the country's Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt announced Monday.
This includes when the plane takes off, climbs, descends, and lands — as long as the devices are in airplane mode and the airline has met safety conditions set forth by the federal government. Previously, passengers were not allowed to use their devices during takeoff and landing.
"This is great news for air passengers, and an exciting day for the Canadian aviation industry," Raitt said in a statement. "By collaborating with our aviation partners, we are able to offer airlines the tools they need to safely enable passengers to use portable electronic devices on airplanes, while still maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety."
Connected Traveler
The change in Canada comes after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in October began allowing smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to be used during takeoff and landing after finding they will not interfere with a plane's functionality. The European Union followed suit in December. Here in the U.S., your gadgets also must be in airplane mode, but you can continue reading an e-book, playing Angry Birds, or watching a movie as the plane taxis, takes off, starts its initial descent, and arrives at your destination.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Main Street investors

As a $14.8 billion hedge fund with a reputation for savvy mortgage trades and a record of double-digit returns, Pine River Capital Management has long signed up multi-billion-dollar pension and sovereign wealth funds as investors.
Now the exclusive hedge fund is making some of its strategies available to Main Street investors who've been warned that bets on stocks and bonds may not see them through retirement. For as little as $1,000, they can include hedge funds in their nest eggs.
As one of seven firms managing money in Wells Fargo's new Alternative Strategies fund, Pine River is among the latest big-name funds to crack its doors to private clients with look-alike products known as liquid alternative funds after years of courting only the super-wealthy.
"Sub-advising portfolios in the (mutual fund) space is a new and diversified source of capital for a firm like ours," said Brian Taylor, who founded Pine River with $350,000 of his retirement money in 2002. "Like anything new, we are taking a measured approach, but we believe it could be a growing part of our business over time."
In the last two years, several big name hedge funds have signed on as sub advisers to liquid alternative funds, offering them through mutual funds to average investors: D.E. Shaw, York Capital Management, Jana Partners, Two Sigma Advisers, and HealthCor Management are managing pieces of the funds sold by mutual fund giant Fidelity. Brigade Capital Management and Graham Capital Management manage money for a Goldman Sachs fund while Passport Capital Management manages money for the Wells Fargo fund.

The trend provides private investors with fresh options beyond stocks and bonds and allows hedge funds to tap a vast new pool of capital. But it has also sparked fears that the original products - which demand high fees - could be cannibalized, drawing traditional investors to the cheaper ones.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The U.S. House of Representatives passed long-sought-after communications surveillance reform legislation on May 22, but last-minute changes to the bill had one-time supporters criticizing it as weak.

The bill (H.R. 3361), also known as the USA Freedom Act, amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, adding restrictions on the use of FISA by the National Security Agency to prevent the indiscriminate collection the phone records and other communications of U.S. citizens. Yet changes to the legislation earlier in the week caused many of the original supporters of the legislation to back away from supporting the bill.

Critics fear that changes to the definitions of what types of records can be targeted continue to leave open the possibility of mass surveillance.

"I am troubled by the changes that were made to the bill behind closed doors that stripped key protections and open the door to bulk collection," U.S. Representative Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found that the NSA's bulk collection of metadata is illegal and called for it to be stopped."

 
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Download NowCivil liberties groups, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), spoke out against the amendments to the bill. On May 20, the EFF released an analysis that took issue with the amended bill's modified definitions of what information could be targeted as well as the lack of reform to a second section of FISA, Section 702, which covers intelligence collection about foreign individuals outside the United States. Finally, the EFF and other groups had called for a special advocate to be present during FISA Court hearings that could represent the interests of the people of the United States.


The EFF's analysis took exception to the relaxing of the definition of the terms that limit the NSA's collection.

"The new version not only adds the undefined words 'address' and 'device,' but makes the list of potential selection terms open-ended by using the term 'such as,'" the analysis stated. "Congress has been clear that it wishes to end bulk collection, but given the government's history of twisted legal interpretations, this language can't be relied on to protect our freedoms."

"Earlier today, House Leadership reached an agreement to amend the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act in ways that severely weaken the bill, potentially allowing bulk surveillance of records to continue. The Electronic Frontier Foundation cannot support a bill that doesn't achieve the goal of ending mass spying.

The ACLU also criticized the changes, but welcomed legislation that moves the nation ahead with needed surveillance reforms. - See more at: http://www.eweek.com/security/nsa-surveillance-reform-bill-passes-house-to-mixed-reaction.html#sthash.SlBuQGi8.dpuf
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

China plans to take more than five million ageing vehicles

China plans to take more than five million ageing vehicles off the roads this year in a bid to improve air quality, with 330,000 cars set to be decommissioned in Beijing alone, the government said in a policy document published on Monday.
Pollution has emerged as an urgent priority for China's leaders as they try to reverse the damage done by decades of breakneck growth and head off public anger about the sorry state of the nation's air, water and soil.
In a wide-ranging action plan to cut emissions over the next two years, China's cabinet, the State Council, said the country had already fallen behind in its pollution targets over the 2011-2013 period and was now having to step up its efforts.
As many as 5.33 million "yellow label" vehicles that fail to meet Chinese fuel standards will be "eliminated" this year, the document said. As well as the 330,000 cars in Beijing, 660,000 will be withdrawn from the surrounding province of Hebei, home to seven of China's smoggiest cities in 2013.
According to Beijing's environmental watchdog, vehicle emissions in Beijing were responsible for about 31 percent of the hazardous airborne particles known as PM 2.5, with 22.4 percent originating from coal burning. [ID:nL3N0N8144]
Beijing plans to limit the total number of cars on the road to 5.6 million this year, with the number allowed to rise to 6 million by 2017. Last year it cut the number of new license plates by 37 percent to 150,000 a year and is also paying for another 200,000 ageing vehicles to be upgraded.
The State Council document did not say how the plan would be implemented, but Beijing's municipal government has previously offered subsidies of between 2,500-14,500 yuan ($400-2,300) to drivers who voluntarily hand in their ageing vehicles to be scrapped. However, the subsidy didn't cover "yellow label" cars that fail to meet even minimum gasoline standards.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

electronic cigarettes are moving their manufacturing to the United States

Some of the leading U.S. producers of electronic cigarettes are moving their manufacturing to the United States from China in response to growing concern about quality and the prospect of tighter federal regulations.
In recent weeks, some of the best-selling U.S. e-cigarette companies, including closely held Mistic and White Cloud, announced that they would move production to new, highly automated U.S. factories that would enable them to track ingredients and quality more closely. As a fringe benefit, they even expect costs to be lower than in China, the country that invented the battery-powered cartridges that produce a nicotine-laced inhalable vapor.
"People are concerned about quality," said Bonnie Herzog, a senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, who expects more manufacturing to shift to the United States.
"There is varying quality among all these different brands," she said. "I think regulation will standardize these products because they will be forced to improve."
The shift has gained momentum since April, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed rules that would require, among other things, manufacturers that want access to the U.S. market to register with the agency and list the ingredients in their products.
"As a general rule, the FDA regulation will require more control over the manufacturing process," said Bryan Haynes, an attorney at Troutman Sanders, a law firm in Richmond, Virginia, that represents e-cigarette companies. He said more companies plan to move production to the United States because it "could make compliance easier".

Many of these companies already produce the nicotine-laced liquid used in e-cigarettes in the United States and then ship it to China, where the battery-powered devices are assembled. Most batteries will continue to be made in China.
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Monday, June 09, 2014

Samsung will introduce smartwatch as standalone phone

English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo
English: Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Samsung, in the next few months, will introduce a smartwatch that can act as a standalone phone, The Wall Street Journal reported May 23, citing people familiar with the company's plans. This, of course, will be a game-changer. It may affect the saga of Samsung vs. Apple—though very likely Apple would soon enough offer the same thing—but more drastically it would move wearables from the category of "accessories we can take or leave" to "devices we don't want to live without." I still remember perfectly a 1998 phone call from my now-husband, who was on a business trip in Japan. "They have cameras in their phones," he told me. At the time, I didn't yet own a cell phone, and standing at my desk, picturing a heavy receiver like the one I was holding, I lamely answered, "Why would you need that?" Seeing Samsung's first Galaxy Gear in 2013, I wondered the same thing. So much of the technology of the last decade can be separated into stuff that was created to solve a problem and stuff that's kind of cool but addresses no obvious need. Or at least, not a pressing need. Google Glass can easily be assigned to the latter category when it comes to consumer use cases. I admit to being someone who feels an instant, reflex-like pang of loathing toward (possibly very nice) people I see walking around New York wearing Glass. I have to work myself away from thoughts like: "Really? You need that in the subway right now? You're going to sit there and pretend you're not thinking every single second about the very expensive and very exclusive technology attached to your head while we all know perfectly well how excited-to-your core you are to be wearing half-eyeglasses that let you read your email while seemingly staring at your right eyebrow?" At least people who drive bright-yellow Lamborghinis tend to grin in acknowledgement of the spectacle they are. It's the faux nonchalance of Glass wearers that gets me. But I digress. I also am beginning to come around to Glass because, in the enterprise arena, it finds real problems to solve. In verticals such as field service and warehousing, smartglasses offer a solution that no other devices can. They can enable a person picking items in a giant warehouse, for example, not only to see every new order, but view in 3D where the next item is located and keep his eyes up and his hands free. A technician, again with his hands free, can repair something while viewing additional needed instructions. It seems to me that maybe smartglasses needed to find the enterprise to make the transition from kind of neat to necessary, and smartwatches needed an integrated phone to do the same thing. New York real estate (my current apartment has one real closet) has turned me into a pragmatist; I only buy things I need. I walked away from both years' Galaxy Gear presentations with zero thought of buying such a watch. But a watch with a phone is different. Not only could it replace a smartphone—if not for good, at least during an evening out, or during a run—but I could do so more conveniently. Running out of the apartment on an errand, keys, a wallet and a phone always feels like one item too many. (Smartphone-hosted "wallets" are another conversation.) The question then becomes, what happens when Google and others put a phone in their smartglasses?
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Sunday, June 08, 2014

Panasonic expected to manufacture for Tesla's batteries

 Panasonic Corp said it expected to become the sole manufacturer in Tesla Motors Inc's planned multibillion-dollar U.S. battery factory, firming up its commitment to the electric car maker's project.
The Japanese electronics conglomerate had until this week made only cautious comments about Tesla's plans, for which the carmaker is seeking total investment of around $3 billion in addition to the $2 billion it has pledged to contribute directly.
Panasonic does not have a timeframe for a decision on its investment but any expenditure this year would be small, Yoshio Ito, senior managing executive officer and president of the Japanese firm's automotive and industrial division said on Friday.
"As we're not anticipating any sudden tenfold increases in demand or anything like that, we think it is right to break it up step-by-step and invest gradually," Ito told reporters at a briefing in Osaka.
Demand from the U.S. premium eco-car maker for lithium-ion batteries has been a boon for Panasonic as the Japanese firm seeks to expand its sales of industrial goods to other businesses and reduce its reliance on volatile consumer markets.
Ito said the two companies were discussing details of their investment in the new factory and would talk about construction plans.
He said Panasonic, which is already Tesla's prime supplier for lithium-ion cells but competes with Samsung SDI Co Ltd for auto batteries, did not expect any rival battery makers to put in a competing bid.
However, he said there was a possibility Panasonic would not contribute the majority of the remaining investment even if it became the sole manufacturer at the factory.
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk told analysts early this month he had expected Panasonic to become the main partner in the project from the outset and expected the two companies to reach an agreement late this year.
He said Tesla was talking to other potential investors and that other companies such as suppliers of raw materials would be involved in the project, which is planned to start production in 2017. Musk said Tesla would break ground on one of two planned locations in June.
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Saturday, June 07, 2014

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Friday, June 06, 2014

Visa and MasterCard to stay in Russia

The world's two largest credit and debit card companies Visa Inc (V.N) and Mastercard Inc (MA.N) pledged on Friday to stay in Russia after officials showed a willingness to relax laws that hinder their operations in the country.
Russia's parliament in April introduced legislation demanding the credit companies make a hefty security deposit to the central bank, a response to sanctions imposed on Moscow over its involvement in Ukraine.
The Russian finance ministry, the central bank and local bankers have described the law as excessive and on Friday a meeting between government officials and the companies' executives produced promises that both companies will stay.
"We are willing to work in Russia and after this meeting we hope that a compromise solution will be found," Andrew Torre, director of Visa in Russia, told reporters on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Ilya Ryaby, general director of Mastercard in Russia, said his company would stay in Russia but that "the decision (on whether to relax the rules) depends first of all on the agreement of the president of the Russian Federation."
Amendments to the law, relaxing the requirements, will be prepared next week, Kremlin's top economic aide Andrei Belousov told Russian news agencies.
"We will introduce changes to the legislation, we're looking at different options now," Belousov was cited as saying.

The rules, set to come into force on July 1, oblige foreign card companies to pay a security deposit of 25 percent of their average daily turnover in Russia to the central bank once a quarter.
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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...