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+ - Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact. Like"

+ - Serious Fraud Office Drop Investigation into Autonomy Accounting

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The British Serious Fraud Office today dropped its investigation into accusations of accounting improprieties at Autonomy, citing insufficient evidence to continue the investigation, but it made clear that the US investigation would continue. “In respect of some aspects of the allegations, the SFO has concluded that, on the information available to it, there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction,” according to a statement released by the Serious Fraud Office. While it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Autonomy, it does end the British probe of the matter. The statement went onto say, however, that they have ceded the investigation to US authorities. The jurisdiction issues were probably tricky here because HP, a US-based company bought UK-based Autonomy in 2011 for $10B, a price that some considered quite high at the time. By the following year, with the deal long done, HP claimed serious accounting irregularities at Autonomy, and a war of words ensued between the two companies, as former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch vigorously denied the charges."

+ - State of the Union: Obama to seek tax raises on wealthy

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "President Obama is to use Tuesday's State of the Union speech to call for tax increases on the wealthy to help the middle class, officials say. The proposals would raise $320 billion (£211 billion) over a decade, to fund benefits such as tax credits. The speech is the centerpiece of the US political diary and may shape both Mr Obama's legacy and the 2016 election. But the president faces resistance to his proposals, with Republicans controlling both Houses of Congress. With the US economy growing, President Obama will stress that it is time for ordinary US families to feel the benefits. According to US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the plans include: Closing a loophole allowing the wealthiest Americans to pass on certain assets tax free, Raising capital gains tax on the richest earners from 23.8% to 28%, New fees on US financial firms with more than $50 billion (£33 billion) in assets. The revenues would raise more than enough to fund the proposed benefits for the middle class, according to the officials."

+ - PC Shipments Are Slowly Recovering

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Over the past two years, the growing popularity of mobile devices has eaten into PC sales. A new report by Gartner, however, shows that shipments may continue to enjoy a very slow but steady uptick this year as tablet sales hit a peak. The research firm found that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 grew one percent year-over-year, the first increase since 2012. In the U.S., PC shipments increased 13.1 percent year-over-year, the fastest increase in four years, thanks to holiday purchases. Inexpensive laptops (about $200 to $300), thin and light notebooks, and laptops with a detachable screen helped drive growth. Lenovo continued to be the number one PC maker in terms of shipment volume, with a 19.4 percent marketshare."

+ - Russia says drivers must not have 'sex disorders' 2

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences. Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving. The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents. "Pathological" gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move. The announcement follows international complaints about Russian harassment of gay-rights activists."

+ - Apple's Software Is In A 'Nosedive'

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Respected developer Marco Arment is worried about Apple's future. In a blog post, he writes, "Apple’s hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I’m deeply concerned for its future." Arment was CTO at Tumblr, before he left to start Instapaper. "Apple has completely lost the functional high ground," says Arment. "'It just works' was never completely true, but I don’t think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer." He blames Apple prioritizing marketing for the problems with Apple's software. Apple wants to have new software releases each year as a marketing hook, but the annual cycles of updating Apple's software are leading to too many bugs and problems, he says: I suspect the rapid decline of Apple’s software is a sign that marketing has a bit too much power at Apple today: the marketing priority of having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it’s an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality."

+ - Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The number of people going to the movies in 2014 in North America slipped to its lowest level in two decades. According to preliminary estimates, roughly 1.26 billion consumers purchased cinema tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. That's the lowest number since 1.21 billion in 1995. Year-over-year, attendance looks to be off 6 percent from 2013, when admissions clocked in at 1.34 billion. Admissions have fluctuated dramatically over the years, and particularly since the advent of modern-day 3D, which can skew the average ticket price. Movie going in North America hit an all-time high in 2002, when 1.57 billion consumers lined up, thanks in part to Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

+ - All your onions are belong to us...Lizard Squad Targets Tor

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "“Lizard Squad,” the notorious hacker collective is now reportedly after the anonymous communication service, the Tor Project. Tor's service keeps users anonymous by bouncing communications around a large network of computers known as "volunteer nodes." But as Gizmodo points out, if one group can control most of the nodes — which is exactly what Lizard Squad is attempting to do here — it may “be able to eavesdrop on a substantial number of vulnerable users.” Computer programmer Nadim Kobeissi says Lizard Squad has claimed nearly half of Tor’s ~8,000 relays. As for the Tor project, the group has not released any statements."

+ - Xbox Live and PlayStation Network both down due to an apparent attack

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network are down this morning, apparently due to a denial-of-service attack. The notorious hacking group Lizard Squad — which already carried out earlier attacks on Microsoft and Sony — has claimed responsibility on Twitter for these latest outages. While the group's role in all of this remains unconfirmed, it's worth noting that the group threatened last week to take down Xbox Live and PSN, according to Business Insider. And again, Lizard Squad has already proven it can successfully pull off such attacks, not to mention other malicious pranks.

Whatever the cause, the timing is obviously terrible: Plenty of people surely received one of the two consoles as Christmas presents today, while many more gamers would have happily spent the afternoon in front of the TV. In the meantime, both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledged the problem, with Sony issuing a tweet and Microsoft posting a message on its support website: "We're working to address this as quickly as we possibly can," reads its status website. "Thanks for your patience, Xbox members." In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment further or say when the company expects to restore service. We've also asked Sony to comment and will update this post if and when it does."

+ - Problem Solver Beer Tells How Much to Drink to Boost Your Creativity

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "When you've been stuck on a problem or that creative spark just won't come, the chances are you've turned to a cup of coffee to get things moving. A quick java infusion can certainly help, but studies also suggest that alcohol can also have a positive impact on your creative cognition. University of Illinois Professor Jennifer Wiley determined that a person's "creative peak" comes when their blood alcohol level reaches 0.075, lowering their ability to overthink during a task. Medical Daily reports that marketing agency CP+B Copenhagen and Danish brewery Rocket Brewing wanted to help drinkers reach their imaginative prime, so they decided to create their own beer to do just that. The result is he Problem Solver. It's a 7.1 percent craft IPA that its makers say offers a "refined bitterness with a refreshing finish." To ensure you reach the optimum creative level, the bottle includes a scale, which determines how much of the beer you need to drink based on your body weight. The agency does offer a word of warning though: "Enjoying the right amount will enhance your creative thinking. Drinking more will probably do exactly the opposite.""

+ - Bitcoin exec to spend two years behind bars for Silk Road transactions

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Charlie Shrem, former Bitcoin Foundation board member and CEO of the now-defunct exchange BitInstant, has been sentenced to two years in prison for helping Silk Road users anonymously swap cash for digital currency. Silk Road, as you know, was the online marketplace infamous for hosting anonymous drug and gun sales that was busted by the FBI back in 2013. A version 2.0 went up shortly after that, but it suffered the same fate as its predecessor this November. Based on evidence gathered during the crackdown, Shrem agreed to partner with Robert M. Faiella to trade over $1 million in cash from buyers. Faiella was the one with direct contact to buyers, hiding behind the name BTCKing to post ads promoting his dollar-to-Bitcoin business on the marketplace."

+ - Apple 'failing to protect Chinese factory workers'

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation. Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken. It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories. Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions. Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai. One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move. "Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress.""

+ - Google Proposes to Warn People About non-SSL web sites

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "The proposal was made by the Google developers working on the search firm's Chrome browser. The proposal to mark HTTP connections as non-secure was made in a message posted to the Chrome development website by Google engineers working on the firm's browser. If implemented, the developers wrote, the change would mean that a warning would pop-up when people visited a site that used only HTTP to notify them that such a connection "provides no data security". Currently only about 33% of websites use HTTPS, according to statistics gathered by the Trustworthy Internet Movement which monitors the way sites use more secure browsing technologies. In addition, since September Google has prioritised HTTPS sites in its search rankings."

+ - China officially became the world's largest economy, ahead of the United States

Submitted by mrspoonsi
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "For the first time in 150 years, the USA has lost its title of the largest economy in the world to China. China officially became the world’s largest economy, ahead of the United States, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to the latest figures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just released in December 8th, 2014, China has come ahead the United States as the world’s largest economy. China’s GDP will indeed reach 17600 billion in 2014 against 17400 billion for the United States. These data are calculated using the method known as “purchasing power parity”, which is economically significant. It measures the purchasing power of different currencies in a common unit as opposed to changes in exchange rates. Now China represents 16.5% of the global economy in terms of real purchasing power, ahead of the US, 16.3%. According to IMF estimates, the gap should continue to widen in the coming years. By 2019, China would reach more than 26,800 billion of national wealth, against just 22,000 billion for the United States. The United States had become the leading economic power in 1872 after overtaking Britain."

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