Presto Vivace writes in with this story of a European Commission investigation into a secret tax agreement between Amazon and Luxembourg. "Leaked tax documents from accounting firm PwC in Luxembourg show how Amazon sidesteps the 30 per cent tax rates local [Australian] players face. The Luxembourg documents, obtained in a review led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain some of the first hard numbers and details on how Amazon pays virtually no tax for its non-US earnings, including in Australia. Last month, the European Commission announced an investigation into the secret 2003 advance tax agreement Amazon struck with Luxembourg that is the key to its global tax strategy. The Luxembourg documents show not only the extent of the related-party transactions in Amazon's Luxembourg companies but how Amazon has changed its tax strategy after investigation by French tax authorities and the US Internal Revenue Service. The change is so dramatic it raises questions whether the European Commission is targeting the right transactions."
How does this idea sound? When you arrive at the voting place, a person checks your identification and makes sure you are at the correct voting place and you haven't already voted. For each contest on the ballot, there is a line of turnstiles you can pass through, one for each contestant (or yes/no/abstain for ballot measures). Once you make your first vote, there is another line of turnstiles for the next contest/ballot measure. This could be behind curtains to keep it almost 100% anonymous other than the person or people watching you to make sure you don't turn any turnstiles more than once. At the end of the day, the MECHANICAL turnstiles' counters are read.
Al writes "A company called Presto hopes to exploit the painful amount of time it takes for Windows computers to start up by offering a streamlined version of Linux that boots in just seconds. Presto's distro comes with Firefox, Skype and other goodies pre-installed and the company has also created an app store so that users can install only what they really need. The software was demonstrated at this year's Demo conference in Palm Desert, CA. Interestingly, the company barely mentions the name Linux on its website. Is this a clever stealth-marketing ploy for converting Windows users to Linux?"
Panzor writes "NASA is running a contest to name the new addition to the space station, Node 3. The polls are open until March 20. The selection that is getting the most votes is 'Suggest your own,' and the leading name besides the official four (Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity, and Venture) is 'Colbert.' Comedian Stephen Colbert suggested on the air that fans write in his name. On March 5th, his vote count passed that of Xenu and Colbert pronounced himself Scientology's 'Galactic Overlord.'"
Solarch writes "NASA is holding a contest to name ISS Node 3. Being a Browncoat myself, I should hope that the choice of names would be obvious. As of the 7:30 PM EST on 2/25, the name Serenity has over 80% of the vote. From the site: 'Node 3 will connect to the port side of the Unity Node and will provide room for many of the station's life support systems, in the form of eight refrigerator-sized racks. After Node 3 is installed, the station's crew will transfer over many of the Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) currently stored in various places around the station.'"
ChadDa3mon writes "I work for a large MSSP type operation and we deal with a plethora of vendors, versions, and .... skill sets. We're facing a critical problem as we grow when trying to deal with these varying degrees of technical competency. The end result is we're getting to the point where we have to document every procedure and process, no matter how mundane or 'common sense' it may seem." How, ChadDa3mon wants to know, can complex skills be documented to account for various users? Read on for more details of what he's seeking.
They don't even need your Google login... they can use their own.
nerdyH writes "Asus is taking pre-orders for a netbook based on Intel's second-generation platform, the secret-shrouded N280/GN40 chipset. Early product specs confirm that the second wave of netbooks are likely to offer faster graphics and lower power use, along with room for much, much larger batteries. The N280 apparently integrates the northbridge and CPU, meaning that the GPU moves to 45nm process technology, the FSB gets replaced by an on-chip interconnect, and overall board real-estate drops to a third of what it was previously — hence the ability to stuff an 8,700mAh battery into a 3-lb. device. The right shift key is slightly bigger, too, though still no trackpoint pointer (guess I'll keep waiting)."
fruey sends in a New Scientist analysis of the many second thoughts about the Long Tail theory. It summarizes four studies that show, in different markets, that the tail is both flatter and thinner than originally supposed, and that blockbusters are not going away in those markets — they are getting bigger. It's theorized that widely used collaborative filtering software is magnifying the winners' share of the various pies, and peer influence is a large contributor to consumer behavior.
GWMAW writes "A robotic submarine searched beneath the Mediterranean on Sunday for damaged communications cables, two days after Web and telephone access was knocked out for much of the Middle East. Telecommunication providers from Cairo to Dubai continued Sunday to scramble to reroute voice and data traffic through potentially costly detours in Asia and North America after the lines running under the Mediterranean Sea were damaged Friday." According to the article, "Once found, the cable ends will be pulled to the surface and repaired on deck — a process that could take several days."
Thelasko writes "Mark Shuttleworth is considering a controversial overhaul to the way Ubuntu manages notifications." I'm not thrilled with all of the changes proposed, which would mostly value simplicity over confusion at the expense of flexibility and permanence. But anything that would make more people read over and specifically approve the wording of error messages and other notifications is a good thing.
eldavojohn writes "We last left the story of Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China when the IOC had reached a deal with the Chinese government whereby some of the press restrictions were lifted. With the 2008 Olympics now but a memory, China has began censoring foreign news sources again. Maybe the West is making too big of a deal over this, as many Chinese citizens seem to like it that way."
mantex writes "The title of this book combines two coded terms — 'Web 2.0' and 'The Enterprise' — for which read 'social networking software' and 'Big Business.' And the purpose is to show how the techniques and concepts behind Web 2.0 applications (blogs, wikis, tagging, RSS, and social bookmarking) can be used to encourage collaboration efforts in what was previously thought of as secretive, competitive businesses." Read on for the rest of Roy's review.
phorm writes "BBC is carrying an article which states that 90% of visitors to Europe's 'video game addiction clinic' are not, in fact, addicted. The problem is a social one rather than a psychological issue. In other words, the patients have turned to heavy gaming because they felt they didn't fit in elsewhere, or that they fit in better 'in the game' than elsewhere in 'the real world.' This has been discussed before, with arguments ranging from gaming being a good way to socialize, the clinical definition of gaming addiction, and claims than males are wired for video-game addiction."
Mike writes "Recently San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland unveiled a massive concerted effort to become the electric vehicle capitol of the United States. The Bay Area will be partnering with Better Place to create an essential electric vehicle infrastructure, marking a huge step towards the acceptance of electric vehicles as a viable alternative to those that run on fossil fuels." Inhabitat.com has some conceptual illustrations and a map showing EV infrastructure, such as battery exchange stations, stretching from Sacramento to San Diego — though this is far more extensive than the Bay Area program actually announced, which alone is estimated to cost $1 billion.