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Displays

Pebble Time Smartwatch Receives Overwhelming Support On Kickstarter 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-it-run-crysis? dept.
DJAdapt writes: Pebble Time, the successor to the Pebble & Pebble Steel smartwatches, has gone up on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, hitting its $500,000 goal in 17 minutes and hitting the $2M mark in less than an hour. The new wearable is touting a color e-paper display and microphone for responding to notifications. It also has features Pebble users are already familiar with, such as seven days of battery life, water resistance, and an extensive library of watch faces and apps. Will any of you be jumping on this? Holding out for the Apple Watch? Waiting for wearables to get more capable?
The Almighty Buck

Will Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Support Cryptocurrency In Greece? 253

Posted by timothy
from the for-health-points dept.
giulioprisco writes New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Economist-in-Residence at game developer Valve Corporation, sees something like Bitcoin — or, more likely, a state-controlled "Fedcoin" — possibly playing a role in the (necessarily creative) rescue of the Greek economy. "The technology of Bitcoin, if suitably adapted, can be employed profitably in the Eurozone," he said.
Businesses

No Tech Bubble Here, Says CNN: "This Time It's Different." 252

Posted by timothy
from the don't-forget-apple dept.
ErichTheRed writes I saw this on the Money page of CNN today. Apparently, various stock analysts have declared that this run-up in stock prices is different than the 1999 version. OK, we don't have the pets.com sock puppet, Webvan or theglobe.com anymore, but when Uber is given a valuation of $40 billion, can a crash be far behind?
Movies

Spider-Man Finally Joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-live-and-die-and-live-and-die-and-live-again dept.
New submitter Chas writes: After years of Marvel fans screaming for a more unified approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe between the property-holders (Sony, Marvel, Fox), Marvel has announced that they've reached a deal with Sony to bring Spider-Man into the MCU.

From the announcement: "Under the deal, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film from Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU). Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films. Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films."
Bitcoin

Another Bitcoin Exchange Fraud 53

Posted by timothy
from the whereas-governments-debase-the-money-instead dept.
Ellie K writes Bitcoin exchange MyCoin has vanished — leaving $387 million in investor funds unaccounted for. MyCoin is a Hong Kong-based virtual currency trading exchange. Bitcoin exchanges are no stranger to controversy. Mt. Gox closed in February 2014, filing for bankruptcy and leaving investors approximately $500 million out of pocket. Others were 'cyberattacked' including Flexcoin, Poloniex and Bitcurex.
The Almighty Buck

HSBC Banking Leak Shows Tax Avoidance, Dealings With Criminals 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Data in a massive cache of leaked secret bank account files lift the lid on questionable practices at a subsidiary of one of the world's biggest financial institutions. HSBC's Swiss banking arm did the following: Routinely allowed clients to withdraw bricks of cash, often in foreign currencies of little use in Switzerland; Aggressively marketed schemes likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes; Colluded with some clients to conceal undeclared "black" accounts from their domestic tax authorities; and provided accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals. For its part, HSBC admits that it is liable for past transgressions but claims its practices have changed.
Bitcoin

Alleged Bitcoin Scam Leaves Millions Missing 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-think-I've-heard-this-story dept.
First time accepted submitter OutOnARock writes Yahoo Finance is reporting on the latest Bitcoin scam, this time from Hong Kong. "Investors in a Hong Kong-based Bitcoin trading company fear they have fallen victim to a scam after it closed down, a lawmaker said Monday, adding losses could total HK$3 billion ($387 million). Leung Yiu-chung said his office recently received reports from dozens of investors in Hong Kong who paid a total of HK$40 million ($5.16 million) into the scheme run online by MyCoin, but the total loss may be vastly more. 'The number of cases is increasing. These two days I received calls about more than 30 cases. We estimate more than 3,000 people and HK$3 billion are involved,' he told AFP."
Wireless Networking

US Wireless Spectrum Auction Raises $44.9 Billion 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-wireless-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction closed on Thursday, and the agency has raked in far more money than anyone expected. Sales totaled $44.89 billion, demonstrating that demand for wireless spectrum is higher than ever. The winners have not yet been disclosed, but the FCC will soon make all bidding activity public. "The money will be used to fund FirstNet, the government agency tasked with creating the nation's first interoperable broadband network for first responders, to finance technological upgrades to our 911 emergency systems, and to contribute over $20 billion to deficit reduction. In addition, the auction brought 65 Megahertz of spectrum to market to fuel our nation's mobile broadband networks. The wireless industry estimates that for every 10 Megahertz of spectrum licensed for wireless broadband, 7,000 American jobs are created and U.S. gross domestic product increases by $1.7 billion."
Businesses

Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
hackingbear writes China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce on Wednesday issued a scathing report against one of the country's biggest stars, accusing e-commerce giant Alibaba of failing to do enough to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. SAIC said Alibaba allowed "illegal advertising" that misled consumers with false claims about low prices and other details. It claims some Alibaba employees took bribes and the company failed to deal effectively with fraud. Alibaba fired back with charges of bias and misconduct by accusing the SAIC official in charge of Internet monitoring, Liu Hongliang, of unspecified "procedural misconduct" and warned it will file a formal complaint. Such public defiance is almost unheard of in China. Apparently, Alibaba has long attained the too big to fail status.
Businesses

Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever 534

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
jmcbain writes: Yesterday, Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ending December 27, 2014. The company posted $18 billion in profit (on $74 billion in revenue), the largest quarterly profit by any company, ever. The previous record was $16 billion by Russia's Gazprom (the largest natural gas extractor in the world) in 2011. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, along with 5.5 million Macs and 21.4 million iPads.
The Almighty Buck

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister 328

Posted by timothy
from the finger-on-all-the-buttons dept.
eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
Security

Ed Felten: California Must Lead On Cybersecurity 80

Posted by timothy
from the so-goes-the-nation dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, (in)famous computer security researcher Ed Felten responds to the State of the Union cybersecurity proposal. He doesn't mince words: "The odds of clearing Congress: low. The odds of materially improving security: even lower. "What he suggests as an alternative, though, is a surprise. "California," he writes, "could blaze a trail for effective cybersecurity policy." He calls for the state government to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, relying on outside auditors and experts. It's an interesting idea. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, at least it's some fresh thinking in this area of backward policy. From Felten's essay: Critical infrastructure increasingly relies on industrial automation systems. And those systems are often vulnerable – they keep a default password, for instance, or are accessible from the public Internet. These are not subtle or sophisticated errors. Fixing them requires basic due diligence, not rocket science. Requiring the state’s critical infrastructure providers to undergo regular security audits would be straightforward and inexpensive – especially relative to the enormous risks. Areas of sensitive data are also low-hanging cyber fruit. In health care, education and finance, California already imposes security and privacy requirements that go beyond federal law. Those legal mandates, though, are mostly enforced through after-the-fact penalties. Much like critical infrastructure, sectors that rely upon sensitive data would benefit from periodic outside auditing. Of any state government's, California's policies also have the chance to help (or harm) the most people: nearly 39 million people, according to a 2014 U.S. Census estimate.
Bitcoin

Winklevoss Twins Plan Regulated Bitcoin Exchange 80

Posted by timothy
from the trust-us-there-are-two-of-us dept.
itwbennett writes They of the square jaws and famous dispute with Mark Zuckerberg over the origins of Facebook, are also believed to be among the largest holders of Bitcoin in the world. Now they want to launch a regulated Bitcoin exchange—named Gemini, of course. To bolster confidence, they said they have formed a relationship with a chartered bank in the state of New York. "This means that your money will never leave the country," the twins wrote in a blog post. "It also means that U.S. dollars on Gemini will be eligible for FDIC insurance and held by a U.S.-regulated bank.
Security

Made-In-Nigeria Smart Cards To Extend Financial Services To the Poor 40

Posted by timothy
from the all-you-need-is-this-card dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "A new factory producing smart cards opened in Lagos this week, promising to open up access to financial services to many poor Africans and other inhabitants of the Global South. The cards can be used by people without traditional bank accounts to access the worldwide credit card and smart phone infrastructure." From the article: Preliminary estimates indicate that there are currently about 150 million active SIM cards, 110 million biometric ID cards and 15 million credit and debit cards in Nigeria, [Nigerian president Goodluck] Jonathan said. As more financial-inclusion schemes, requiring more bank cards, are rolled out and different Nigerian states implement ID projects, the numbers of smart cards in use are expected to experience double-digit growth, he said.
Censorship

Cuba's Pending Tech Revolution 122

Posted by timothy
from the are-we-supposed-to-be-grateful? dept.
dcblogs writes The White House order last week lifting economic sanctions against Cuba specifically singles out technology, from telecommunication networks to consumer tech. There's much potential and many obstacles. Cuba has an educated population craving technology, but it has little income for new tech. The Cuban government wants to trade with the U.S., but is paranoid about the outside world and has limited Internet access to 5% to 10% of the population, at best. "The government has been very reluctant to have open Internet access," said Harley Shaiken, chairman of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. But "there is real hunger for technology," and with the easing of the embargo, the government "will be facing new pressures," he said. The country needs a complete technology upgrade, including to its electric grid, and the money to finance these improvements. "Markets like Cuba, which will require a wholesale construction of new infrastructure, don't come along often, if ever," said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, a tech industry trade group. "The flood of companies lining up to get in should be quite substantial," he said. Cuba has a population of about 11 million, about the same size as the Dominican Republic, which spends about $1 billion annually on technology and related services, according to IDC. But capital spending today on IT in Cuba may be no more than $200 million annually.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Volatility Puts Miners Under Pressure 290

Posted by timothy
from the coulda-shoulda-woulda dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The virtual currency Bitcoin lost 21 per cent of its value yesterday, equating to a total loss this year of 44 per cent. Reports have suggested that this rapid fall is squeezing computer supporting systems and is raising alarm about its future viability. Bitcoin's value fell to $179.37, 85 per cent lower than its record peak of $1,165 at the end of 2013. In total, nearly $11.3bn has been lost in Bitcoin's value since its 2013 high. The decline has raised concern for Bitcoin 'miners' who support the transactions made in the digital currency, and whose profits become squeezed as its price falls against traditional currencies." The Coindesk article in the linked story gives a blow-by-blow on yesterday's valuation drop; right now, Bitcoin has jumped back up and stands at just over $216.
Power

For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the renewed-interest-in-renewables dept.
Lucas123 writes: Driven largely by oil price weakness, 2015 could be the best year to date for investments in renewable energy technology, according to several new reports. According to Bloomberg Energy Finance, new funding for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon energy technologies grew 16% to $310 billion last year. It was the first growth since 2011 (PDF), erasing the impact of lower solar-panel prices and falling subsides in the U.S. and Europe that hurt the industry in previous years. Demand for solar power grew 16% year-over-year in 2014, representing 44 gigawatts of capacity purchased during the year. Worldwide solar demand in 2015 is projected to be 51.4GW, compared with 39GW in 2014. Government policies will continue to improve for renewables — solar, in particular — given that anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese modules by the U.S. last year are expected to be removed this year, Deutsche Bank said.
Bitcoin

Fraud, Not Hackers, Took Most of Mt. Gox's Missing Bitcoins 108

Posted by timothy
from the shocked-simply-shocked dept.
itwbennett writes Nearly all of the roughly $370 million in bitcoin that disappeared in the February 2014 collapse of Mt. Gox probably vanished due to fraudulent transactions, with only 1 percent taken by yet-to-be-identified hackers, according to a report in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing sources close to a Tokyo police probe. The disclosure follows months of investigations by police and others into the tangled mess surrounding the disappearance of the 650,000 bit coins.
United Kingdom

Apple Pay For the UK 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-coming-sometime-and-maybe dept.
An anonymous reader writes about when Apple Pay will be available in the UK. "A major UK bank's concern over data collected by Apple Pay is reportedly stalling negotiations to launch the mobile payments service in the country by 'the first half of 2015.' The Telegraph reports that 'at least one' of the UK's biggest banks is 'uncomfortable with the amount of personal and financial information Apple wants to collect about its customers.' Apple has been adamant about its approach to collecting users' data via Apple Pay. 'We are not in the business of collecting your data,' said Apple exec Eddy Cue when introducing the service in September. 'So when you go to a physical business and use Apple Pay, Apple doesn't know what you bought, where you bought it, or how much you paid for it. The transaction is between you, the merchant, and your bank.'"
China

Serious Economic Crisis Looms In Russia, China May Help 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-the-bears dept.
jones_supa writes: Russia is facing a "full-blown economic crisis," a former finance minister has warned, as the country is forced to take emergency financial measures. The economy has been battered by a wave of sanctions (set by other countries as a result of tensions over Ukraine), geopolitical uncertainty, and falling oil prices. Analysts have warned that the Russian economy will not improve in the long run until the aforementioned conditions have also improved. The Central Bank of Russia said that a plan to loan Trust bank an amount of up to 30bn rubles ($54m) had been approved. Trust bank has run a series of advertisements featuring actor Bruce Willis in Russia, along with the ironic quote: "When I need money, I just take it." Anna Stupnytska, an economist at Fidelity Solutions, said that "the risk of a sovereign default is low, it's the corporate sector where the main vulnerabilities lie, and banking in particular. Due to sanctions, companies cannot refinance their debt as access to international markets has been essentially cut off." Reader hackingbear adds: Two Chinese ministers offered support for Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to shore up the plummeting ruble without depleting foreign-exchange reserves. Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of the yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia. Western governments and experts have been criticizing China for restricting exchange and suppressing the value of its currency, even though anyone who lived in China during the 1990's knew that the value of the yuan was cut to align with the (vibrant) black market. But as grandma has warned us, we should be careful of what we wish for. China has greatly sped up the relaxation of currency exchange and is promoting the yuan as an alternative to the dollar for global trade and finance. They've signed currency-swap agreements with 28 other central banks to encourage this. Once accomplished, and backed by China's growing military might, Renminbi would be a formidable competitor to U.S. Dollar, which would hamper the U.S's ability to borrow almost freely with banks around the world.