PapayaSF writes: Nude celebrities, bitcoins, and Apple: it's a story seemingly designed to stir up the entire internet. Scores of private photos of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Kirsten Dunst, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead have been leaked (allegedly from Apple's iCloud), and posted on 4chan in exchange for bitcoins. A list of 100+ names has appeared, but pictures have not yet appeared for many names on the list (including Kate Bosworth, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Kaley Cuoco). Victoria Justice claims the photos of her are fake. Twitter accounts are being shut down. The story is still developing, so grab your popcorn.
PapayaSF writes: TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a "financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, 'provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program,' and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems." The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be "financial harm to the government" and "the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized." Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put "the entire health insurance industry at risk.” Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a “full and open competition process” before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?
PapayaSF writes: Proposed new rules require that funding portals register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Intermediary Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In addition, investors must have access to a business plan, use of proceeds, a valuation of the company, and financials, so CPAs may needed. The SEC estimates that for amounts under $100,000, the fees will be 12.9% to 39% of the money raised, though it may drop to under 8% for higher amounts. Is this needed regulation, or bureaucratic overreach?
PapayaSF writes: "Researchers have announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into "green gasoline." Rapidly heating cellulose with catalysts and then cooling it produces liquids like naphthalene and toluene that are a quarter of the components of gasoline, in under two minutes. The result can be further treated or used as part of a gasoline blend, and can be used in existing engines without the mileage penalty of ethanol-based fuel. The process requires less energy to make than ethanol, can use forest or agricultural waste, and (in principle) won't have a carbon footprint. They say it could be at the pump in five to 10 years."
PapayaSF writes: With Macworld San Francisco just days away, rumor sites are buzzing about a new sub-notebook, an AppleTV upgrade, and more. Cringely thinks Apple should buy Adobe. I think Apple should have a <$1K desktop minitower (think cut-down Mac Pro or souped-up Mac Mini) aimed at switchers and the enterprise market. But what do Slashdotters think Apple should announce?
PapayaSF writes: "Business Week is reporting on a plan by Universal Music, Sony BMG, and possibly Warner Music Group to create an industry-owned digital music service called Total Music. The business model: get hardware makers and cellphone carriers to pay them about about $90 per device and in exchange consumers get all-you-can-eat free music. They figure that hardware makers will go for it because they'll sell more units, and consumers will happily pay the extra money upfront to get free music. So will this be a real challenge to Apple, or another music industry flop?"