Cellphones

Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone 131

Posted by timothy
from the hello-operator dept.
New submitter JoSch1337 writes: After a year and a half of development, the Neo900 project now opened its web shop for the down payments of binding pre-orders for either a full Neo900 phone or the bare circuit board to upgrade an existing Nokia N900. The up-front down payment is necessary to now secure expensive "risk parts" like the modem, 1GB RAM and N900 cases. Thus, without pre-ordering now, there might not be enough parts left after the first batch.

The Neo900 is the spritual successor of the Nokia N900. The new circuit board can be placed into an existing N900 for better specs (faster CPU, more RAM, LTE modem) than the original device while still maintaining fremantle (maemo 5) backwards compatibility. Alternatively, a fully assembled phone can be purchased as well. The Neo900 will be fully operational without any binary blob running on the main CPU. While the modem still requires a non-free firmware, it is completely decoupled from the rest of the device (think of a LTE usb stick you put in your laptop) and can reliably be monitored or switched off by the operating system.

You can follow the development of the project in the maemo forum, read about the specs of the device or consult the FAQ
The Almighty Buck

Stock Market Valuation Exceeds Its Components' Actual Value 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-wary-bulls dept.
An anonymous reader writes: James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, developed a concept called "Q-value" — it's the ratio between two numbers: 1) the sum of all publicly-traded companies' stock valuations and 2) the value of all these companies' actual assets, if they were sold. Bloomberg reports that the continued strength of the stock market has now caused that ratio to go over 1 — in other words, the market values companies about 10% higher than the sum of their actual assets. The Q value is now at its highest point since the Dot-com bubble. Similar peaks in the past hundred years have all been quickly followed by crashes.

Now, that's not to say a crash is imminent — experts disagree on the Q-value's reliability. One said, "the ratio's doubling since 2009 to 1.10 is a symptom of companies diverting money from their businesses to the stock market, choosing buybacks over capital spending. Six years of zero-percent interest rates have similarly driven investors into riskier things like equities, elevating the paper value of assets over their tangible worth." Others point out that as the digital economy grows, a greater portion of publicly traded companies lack the tangible assets that were the hallmark of the manufacturing boom.
Crime

SEC Charges ITT Educational Services With Fraud 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the reaping-what-you-sow dept.
mpicpp writes with news that ITT Educational Services, the company that operates for-profit college ITT Tech, has been charged with fraud over its student loan programs. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accuses the company of concealing poor financial performance from its investors. ITT formed both of these student loan programs, known as the "PEAKS" and "CUSO" programs, to provide off-balance sheet loans for ITT’s students following the collapse of the private student loan market. To induce others to finance these risky loans, ITT provided a guarantee that limited any risk of loss from the student loan pools.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the underlying loan pools had performed so abysmally by 2012 that ITT’s guarantee obligations were triggered and began to balloon. Rather than disclosing to its investors that it projected paying hundreds of millions of dollars on its guarantees, ITT and its management took a variety of actions to create the appearance that ITT’s exposure to these programs was much more limited.
The Almighty Buck

28-Year-Old Businessman Accused of Stealing $1 Billion From Moldova 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-have-been-an-EVE-online-player dept.
An anonymous reader writes: You could be excused for not knowing much about Moldova — the small, Eastern European country has a population of around 3 million and occupies about 13,000 square miles of territory. Its GDP is just over $6 billion — which makes accusations that 28-year-old Ilan Shor stole close to a billion dollars from the country's banks quite interesting. A recent report (PDF) says Shor led a group that bought controlling stakes in three Moldovan banks and then passed transactions between them to increase their liquidity. The banks then issued massive loans to companies owned or related to Shor. $767 million disappeared from the banks, and the country's central bank thinks that total will rise to $1 billion. It was forced to bail out the banks to keep the economy from crashing. Widespread corruption led to many records of Shor's actions being "lost" or outright deleted. He's now charged and placed under house arrest while the investigation continues.
Businesses

Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.
United States

Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-mail-your-taxes-next-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes that Doug Hughes, 61, a mailman from Ruskin, Florida was arrested for landing a gyro-copter on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. "A 61-year-old Florida mailman was arrested Wednesday after he landed a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol west lawn. The gyrocopter was carrying the pilot and 535 stamped letters for members of Congress urging 'real reform' to campaign finance laws. Doug Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times ahead of the afternoon stunt that he notified authorities 'well over an hour in advance of getting to the no-fly zone, so they know who I am and what I'm doing.' Capitol police sent dogs and a bomb squad to the scene. Nothing hazardous was found. A city block from the Capitol had been cordoned off."
Google

Google In Talks To Create International Roaming Network 25

Posted by timothy
from the hello-operator dept.
jones_supa writes Google is in talks towards a deal with Hutchison Whampoa, the owner of the mobile operator Three, that will allow United States customers to use their phones abroad at no extra cost. The two giants are discussing a wholesale access agreement that would become an important part of Google's planned attempt to shake up the US mobile market with its own network. It is understood that Google aims to create a global network that will cost the same to use for calls, texts and data no matter where a customer is located. By linking up with Hutchison, it could gain wholesale access to mobile service in the UK, Ireland, Italy and several more countries where the Hong Kong conglomerate owns mobile networks.
AI

Tesla's April Fool's Joke Spoofs Market Algorithms 163

Posted by timothy
from the be-prepared-for-next-year dept.
Okian Warrior writes Yesterday, Tesla's twitter feed and blog announced the new "W" Model. Meaning "Watch" (as in "wristwatch"), the announcement Included a photo of a watch spouting a cumbersome "Big Ben" glued to the face and including this text: "This incredible new device from Tesla doesn't just tell the time, it also tells the date. What's more, it is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on Earth. Japan, Timbuktu, California, anywhere! This will change your life. Reality as you know it will never be the same." Clearly, this was an April fool's joke as anyone who reads more than just the headline would immediately guess. The problem is that Bloomberg's fast response team did not. The algos, on massive volume, spiked TSLA stock higher by nearly 1%.
Businesses

Uber Rival Lyft Raises $530M, Will Beef Up IT 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money dept.
jfruh writes "Uber may seem like an unstoppable juggernaut, but its main carhailing service rival Lyft isn't giving up. The company just raised half a billion dollars in funding, much of it from Japanese investors. From the article: "Lyft has raised US$530 million in its latest funding round, and plans to use the money to beef up its IT staff, expand its footprint and boost existing services. Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten led the round. With the latest cash infusion, Lyft has raised a total of $862 million from investors. The ride-hailing company is now reportedly valued at $2.5 billion."
Transportation

Inside Bratislava's Low-Cost, Open Source Bike Share Solution 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the trusting-people-not-to-be-jerks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Bike Kitchen started WhiteBikes in Bratislava after a failed attempt by the city to finance a similar program. At first users shared donated bikes with the same lock code. They needed a system that would work somewhat automatically without the need for manual rentals (e.g. somebody giving out bicycles). From there, smsBikeShare was born. Users registered with a mobile phone number and could send basic SMS commands (RENT, RETURN, FREE, WHERE, etc.). The system used an inexpensive SMS gateway API and a local message-back number to receive and respond to messages. Shared bicycles have a coded U-lock with a four-digit number, and upon renting a bike, users receive a code to unlock the bicycle and another to reset it to once they are done. Send a message, receive the answer, unlock the bike, reset the lock, and you're off pedaling.
Businesses

French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles 384

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-times dept.
mdsolar writes with bad news for France and its nuclear industry. "France's nuclear industry is in turmoil after the country's main reactor manufacturer, Areva, reported a loss for 2014 of 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) — more than its entire market value. The government of France, the world's most nuclear dependent country, has a 29% stake in Areva, which is among the biggest global nuclear technology companies. The loss puts its future — and that of France as a leader in nuclear technology — at risk. Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal said Wednesday she asked Areva and utility giant Electricite de France to work together on finding solutions, amid reports of a possible merger or other link-up. The government said in a statement that it's working closely with Areva to restructure and secure financing, and would 'take its responsibility as a shareholder' in future decisions about its direction. Areva reported Wednesday 1 billion euros in losses on three major nuclear projects in Finland and France, among other hits. Areva has lost money for years, in part linked to delays on those projects and to a global pullback from nuclear energy since the 2011 Fukushima accident."
Software

How a Kickstarter Project Can Massively Exceed Its Funding Goals and Still Fail 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the optimism-to-a-fault dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In November, 2013, a Kickstarter project for a software-defined camera trigger scored £290,386 (~$450,000) in funding after asking for a mere £50,000. After almost a year of delays, they've now announced the project is dead. Their CEO has published a lengthy article about how such a successful funding round can still turn into a failed product. In short: budgeting. To get their software into a workable state, they ended up spending 940% of the amount they'd originally allocated to software development. Their protoyping went over budget, too, and they had to spend a fair bit in legal fees to fend off a major camera manufacturer complaining about their product's name.

Still, they had more funding than they expected, and would have been able to deal with these costs. Unfortunately, the bill of materials for their final product clocked in way higher than they expected. They would have had to sell the device at about $350 each, when they were originally targeting a $99 price point. (And that figure assumes good sales — with a smaller production run, price per unit goes even higher.) The company is now going to refund the remaining money left over from its Kickstarter campaign — about 20% of the total. They're also open sourcing the software and sharing the PCB designs and schematics.
Businesses

Under US Pressure, PayPal Stops Working With Mega 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-wouldn't-download-a-car dept.
New submitter seoras sends news that PayPal is now refusing to handle payments for Mega, Kim Dotcom's cloud storage service. A report (PDF) issued in September of last year claimed Mega and other "cyberlocker" sites made a great deal of illicit money off piracy. Mega disputes this, of course, and says the report caused U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to pressure credit card companies to stop working with Mega. Those companies then pressured PayPal to stop as well. The hosting company claims, "MEGA provided extensive statistics and other evidence showing that MEGA’s business is legitimate and legally compliant. After discussions that appeared to satisfy PayPal’s queries, MEGA authorised PayPal to share that material with Visa and MasterCard. Eventually PayPal made a non-negotiable decision to immediately terminate services to MEGA."
Displays

Pebble Time Smartwatch Receives Overwhelming Support On Kickstarter 141

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."