Businesses

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-kind-of-them dept.
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.
Businesses

The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers 485

Posted by samzenpus
from the riddle-me-this dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The latest biography of Elon Musk, by technology journalist Ashlee Vance, provides an in-depth look into how the entrepreneur and tech titan built Tesla Motors and SpaceX from the ground up. For developers and engineers, getting a job at SpaceX is difficult, with a long interviewing/testing process... and for some candidates, there's a rather unique final step: an interview with Musk himself. During that interview, Musk reportedly likes to ask candidates a particular brainteaser: "You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?" If you can answer that riddle successfully, and pass all of SpaceX's other stringent tests, you may have a shot at launching rockets into orbit.
Education

AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch? 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the teaching-the-next-generation-of-voicemail-hackers dept.
theodp writes: Code.org's AP Computer Science offering won't be going mainstream until the 2016-2017 school year. In the meantime, NewsWorks' Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that Rupert Murdoch's Amplify MOOC just wrapped up its second year of offering AP Computer Science A. And unlike Microsoft TEALS, Google CS First, and Code.org — programs constrained by the number of volunteers, teacher and classroom availability, professional development requirements, and money — Murdoch's AP CS MOOC holds the promise of open-access, unlimited-enrollment, learn-anywhere-and-anytime classes, a la Coursera, Udacity and EdX. So, did Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their leaders place a $30 million bet on the wrong horse when it comes to AP Computer Science scalability? And, even if they've got a more scalable model, will Murdoch's Amplify and schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?
Books

Book Review: The Terrorists of Iraq 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes: The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting random typewriter keys for an infinite amount of time will eventually be able to create the complete works of Shakespeare. Various scientists such as Nobel laureate Arno Penzias have shown how the theorem is mathematically impossible. Using that metaphor, if you took every member of United States Congress and House of Representatives and wrote their collected wisdom on Iraq, it's unlikely they could equal the astuteness of even a single chapter of author Malcolm W. Nance in The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014. It's Nance's overwhelming real-world experiential knowledge of the subject, language, culture, tribal affiliations and more which make this the overwhelming definitive book on the subject. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Google

Report: Google To Add 'Buy' Buttons To Mobile Search Results 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the consume-consume-consume dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a (paywalled) report in the Wall Street Journal, Google is stepping up its efforts to take some of the online marketspace away from Amazon and eBay. Soon, the company will start showing "buy" buttons alongside sponsored search results on mobile devices. So, for example, if you search for a particular pair of pants, and one of the top sponsored results is from Macy's, then Macy's can pay Google to slap a big "buy" button right there that will take you directly to a product page where you can pick sizes and shipping options before checking out. Google won't be selling the products, but they will be hosting the product pages — "a major and potentially risky strategy shift that will turn the company into more of an online transactional business, rather than simply a provider of links to information elsewhere on the Internet." The report says Google will be trying to streamline the purchasing process by taking the payment from the customer and then passing it on to the retailer, so users only need to input their credit card details once.
Microsoft

In-Database R Coming To SQL Server 2016 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the r,-me-hearties dept.
theodp writes: Wondering what kind of things Microsoft might do with its purchase of Revolution Analytics? Over at the Revolutions blog, David Smith announces that in-database R is coming to SQL Server 2016. "With this update," Smith writes, "data scientists will no longer need to extract data from SQL server via ODBC to analyze it with R. Instead, you will be able to take your R code to the data, where it will be run inside a sandbox process within SQL Server itself. This eliminates the time and storage required to move the data, and gives you all the power of R and CRAN packages to apply to your database." It'll no doubt intrigue Data Scientist types, but the devil's in the final details, which Microsoft was still cagey about when it talked-the-not-exactly-glitch-free-talk (starts @57:00) earlier this month at Ignite. So, brush up your R, kids, and you can see how Microsoft walks the in-database-walk when SQL Server 2016 public preview rolls out this summer.
The Almighty Buck

The Solution To Argentina's Banking Problems Is To Go Cashless 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-would-you-carry-around-slips-of-paper-and-shards-of-metal-anyway dept.
dkatana writes: There is no way back for Argentinian people to trust their own currency. Several governments have used the "Peso/Dollar" exchange to dig into people's savings, reward their friends and limit the freedom of citizens to use other currencies.

Short of Dollarizing the economy again, the only solution for the country is going cashless. People are desperate, and they're looking for alternatives such as mobile payments, Amazon gift cards and Bitcoin to store their savings away from government control. A digital currency could help curb black market exchanges, fight corruption and restore the country's image.
Cloud

Anonymous Tor Cloud Project Closes Down 23

Posted by timothy
from the use-sneakernet-cloud dept.
Mark Wilson writes: The Tor browser is used by many to stay anonymous online — and it's something that has been embraced by the likes of WikiLeaks as a way to safely gather information whilst hopefully avoiding the surveillance of the NSA. One lesser known project from the same stables is the Tor Cloud service, and Tor has announced that it is closing down. From the linked article: Based on the Amazon EC2 cloud computing platform, Tor Cloud provided a way to share computing resources and allow faster uncensored access to the internet. However, the project is plagued with 'at least one major bug ... that makes it completely dysfunctional' and after failing to find anyone to undertake the work, the decision was taken to shutter Tor Cloud. This does not mean that Tor itself is dead — far from it — and developers are being encouraged to create their own forked versions of Tor Cloud.
The Almighty Buck

A Visual Walk Through Amazon's Impact On One Seattle Neighborhood 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-the-all-the-packages-sitting-at-people's-doors dept.
reifman writes: If you live in Seattle, it's easy to see Amazon.com's impact on downtown construction and growth but not everyone sees what's happening in neighborhoods like formerly sleepy Ballard. One by one, traditional Seattle homes are being razed and replaced by 3 1/2 story behemoths without regard for aesthetics of any kind. The new townhomes offer 12 foot wide living spaces for Amazon's brogrammer class. Take a walk with me down my friend's street to see what it's like to live amongst the returns of e-commerce success. Ballard is also home of the late octogenarian Edith Macefield, who refused to sell her house to developers as construction went up around her.
Businesses

Amazon's Delivery Drones Will Be Able To Track Your Location 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the wherever-you-go dept.
stowie writes: According to the filing with the USPTO, the e-commerce giant's delivery drones will be able to communicate with each other, find the best flight path available, and update the delivery location as a customer changes location. Package delivery locations will be updated as customers move around, so a package can come to you at work or home, depending on where you are when your shipment is ready — including pulling location data from a smartphone. There will also be relay locations, allowing drones to drop off packages for further transport, or to recharge or swap batteries. Amazon even supplies a mockup of what its delivery drone could look like, including eight propellers, two removable power modules and much more.
Government

FAA Program Tests Drones Flying Beyond Pilot's Line-of-Sight 37

Posted by timothy
from the direct-supervision dept.
itwbennett writes: FAA administrator Michael P. Huerta announced Wednesday a new Pathfinder Program under which the agency has partnered with three U.S. companies to explore three key types of unmanned operations, possibly paving the way for operations such as the aerial delivery of packages as proposed by companies like Amazon.com. One of the companies the FAA has partnered with is drone manufacturer PrecisionHawk, which will be surveying crops in rural areas using unmanned aircraft flying outside of the pilot's direct vision.
AI

AI Experts In High Demand 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-attempting-to-bootstrap-itself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The field of artificial intelligence is getting hotter by the moment as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies snap up experts and pour funding into university research. Commercial uses for AI are still limited. Predictive text and Siri, the iPhone's voice-recognition feature, are early manifestations. But AI's potential has exploded as the cost of computing power drops and as the ability to collect and process data soars. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google now vacuum up the huge amount of data that needs to be processed to help machines make "intelligent" decisions. The relationship between tech giants and academia can be difficult to navigate. Some faculty members complain tech companies aren't doing enough in the many collaborative efforts now under way. One big gripe: Companies aren't willing to share the vast data they are able to collect.
Books

Free Comic Book Day Event Features Neil Gaiman, the Simpsons 33

Posted by timothy
from the before-it's-too-late dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today comic book stores around the world celebrate "Free Comic Book Day", offering anyone who pays them a visit some free comic books. This year there's 50 different titles to choose from, including a reprint of Neil Gaiman's "Lady Justice" (not seen in print in nearly 25 years) and a new Fight Club story by Chuck Palahniuk. The Marvel and D.C. universes are represented, as well as Dr. Who, The Simpsons, Jim Henson's Labyrinth, and even something called Steampunk Goldilocks. Saturday many bookstores will also be recognizing "Independent Bookstores Day" with special events, though ironically, some fans may be tempted to visit Amazon.com instead to download some free Kindle editions of last year's free comic books.
Security

Once a Forgotten Child, OpenSSL's Future Now Looks Bright 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the shot-in-the-arm dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: Rarely does anything have a defined turning point in its history, a single day where people can point and say that was the day everything changed. For OpenSSL, that day was April 7, 2014, the day that Heartbleed became part of the security lexicon. Heartbleed was a critical vulnerability in the venerable crypto library. OpenSSL is everywhere, in tens of thousands of commercial and homespun software projects. And so too, as of last April, was Heartbleed, an Internet-wide bug that leaked enough memory that a determined hacker could piece together anything from credentials to encryption keys.

"Two years ago, it was a night-and-day difference. Two years ago, aside from our loyal user community, we were invisible. No one knew we existed," says Steve Marquess, cofounder, president and business manager of the OpenSSL Foundation, the corporate entity that handles commercial contracting for OpenSSL. "OpenSSL is used everywhere: hundreds, thousands of vendors use it; every smartphone uses it. Everyone took that for granted; most companies have no clue they even used it." To say OpenSSL has been flipped on its head—in a good way—is an understatement.

Heartbleed made the tech world realize that the status quo wasn't healthy to the security and privacy of ecommerce transactions and communication worldwide. Shortly after Heartbleed, the Core Infrastructure Initiative was created, uniting The Linux Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Dell, Google and other large technology companies in funding various open source projects. OpenSSL was the first beneficiary, getting enough money to hire Dr. Steve Henson and Andy Polyakov as its first full-timers. Henson, who did not return a request to be interviewed for this article, is universally known as the one steady hand that kept OpenSSL together, an unsung hero of the project who along with other volunteers handled bug reports, code reviews and changes.
Education

White House Outsources K-12 CS Education To Infosys Charity 88

Posted by timothy
from the perhaps-someone-besides-mama-cass-is-getting-fat dept.
theodp writes: In December, the White House praised the leadership of Code.org for their efforts to get more computer science into K-12 schools, which were bankrolled by $20 million in philanthropic contributions from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Mark Zuckerberg. On Monday, it was announced that Infosys Foundation USA will be partnering with Code.org to bring CS education to millions of U.S. students. Infosys Foundation USA Chair Vandana Sikka, who joins execs from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon execs on Code.org's Board, is the spouse of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka. The announcement from the tax-deductible charity comes as India-based Infosys finds itself scrutinized by U.S. Senators over allegations of H-1B visa program abuses.
Robotics

Fetch Robotics Unveils Warehouse Robots 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the lift-bots dept.
gthuang88 writes: Warehouse automation has become a big business, with Amazon's Kiva robots leading the way. Now a startup called Fetch Robotics is rolling out a pair of new robots that can pick boxes off of shelves, pass them to each other, and carry the goods to a shipping station. Fetch, led by Willow Garage veteran Melonee Wise, is competing with companies like Amazon's Kiva Systems, Rethink Robotics, and Harvest Automation to develop dexterous, mobile robots for retail, distribution, and manufacturing.
Cloud

Amazon's Profits Are Floating On a Cloud (Computing) 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-hoping-the-weather-holds dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that Amazon unveiled the financial performance of its powerful growth engine for the first time on Thursday, and the numbers looked good, energized primarily by renting processing power to start-ups and, increasingly, established businesses. Amazon said in its first-quarter earnings report that its cloud division, Amazon Web Services, had revenue of $1.57 billion during the first three months of the year. Even though the company often reports losses, the cloud business is generating substantial profits. The company said its operating income from AWS was $265 million.

Amazon helped popularize the field starting in 2006 and largely had commercial cloud computing to itself for years, an enormous advantage in an industry where rivals usually watch one another closely. At the moment, there is no contest: Amazon is dominant and might even be extending its lead. Microsoft ranks a distant No. 2 in cloud computing but hopes to pick up the slack with infrastructure-related services it sells through Azure, the name of its cloud service. Amazon executives have said they expect AWS to eventually rival the company's other businesses in size. The cloud business has been growing at about 40 percent a year, more than twice the rate of the overall company and many Wall Street analysts have been hoping for a spinoff.

As for Google, the cloud was barely mentioned in Google's earnings call. Nor did the search giant offer any cloud numbers, making it impossible to gauge how well it is doing. But the enthusiasm of Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, was manifest when he spoke at an event for cloud software developers this week. "The entire world will be defined by smartphones, Android or Apple, a very fast network, and cloud computing," said Schmidt. "The space is very large, very vast, and no one is covering all of it."
The Courts

DIA Polygraph Countermeasure Case Files Leaked 114

Posted by timothy
from the well-someone-is-fibbing dept.
George Maschke writes AntiPolygraph.org (of which I am a co-founder) has published a set of leaked Defense Intelligence Agency polygraph countermeasure case files along with a case-by-case analysis. The case files, which include polygraph charts and the exact questions used, suggest that the only people being "caught" trying to beat the polygraph are those using crude, unsophisticated methods that anyone who actually understood polygraph procedure and effective countermeasures (like, say, a real spy, saboteur, or terrorist) would ever use. AntiPolygraph.org has previously published polygraph community training materials on countermeasures that indicate they lack the ability to detect countermeasures like those described in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF) or in former police polygraph examiner Doug Williams' manual, How to Sting the Polygraph. Williams, who was indicted last year after teaching undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph, is scheduled to stand trial on May 12 in Oklahoma City.
Earth

Resistance To Antibiotics Found In Isolated Amazonian Tribe 53

Posted by timothy
from the strong-willed-organisms dept.
sciencehabit writes When scientists first made contact with an isolated village of Yanomami hunter-gatherers in the remote mountains of the Amazon jungle of Venezuela in 2009, they marveled at the chance to study the health of people who had never been exposed to Western medicine or diets. But much to their surprise, these Yanomami's gut bacteria have already evolved a diverse array of antibiotic-resistance genes, according to a new study, even though these mountain people had never ingested antibiotics or animals raised with drugs. The find suggests that microbes have long evolved the capability to fight toxins, including antibiotics, and that preventing drug resistance may be harder than scientists thought.
United Kingdom

UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the mole-mail dept.
Zothecula writes Drones flown by Amazon aren't the only way we could be getting our parcels delivered in the near future. UK firm Mole Solutions is exploring the possibility of using small robot trains running on underground tracks to manage deliveries, and it's just received funding from the British government to help test the viability of the proposal.