Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.
Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!
In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Nowadays, PayPal's yearly revenues exceed $7 billion, and investors are worried that eBay and PayPal together are too big to compete effectively. (They're also too big to be acquired, which is on their minds after the ludicrously successful Alibaba IPO.) To solve that problem, eBay today announced it will be spinning off PayPal in 2015, creating two separate publicly traded companies. eBay's current CEO is stepping down, and each of the companies will have a new CEO. "As part of the separation, eBay and PayPal will sign arm’s length commercial operating agreements to work together, with payments on both sides for various referrals and services. That’s no surprise since about 30 percent of PayPal’s business is still on eBay, although that is down from 50 percent only a few years ago."
49 comments | 4 hours ago
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.
63 comments | 12 hours ago
An anonymous reader writes Nokia must pay damages to consumers in Mexico who reported malfunctioning handsets, following a court ruling for a trial that has lasted four years. The case was brought to court by Mexican watchdog Profeco in 2010, before the Finnish manufacturer was acquired by Microsoft – that deal was only completed earlier this year. Profeco added that the court has ordered Nokia to either replace the faulty handsets and/or reimburse their cost. On top of that, Nokia must also pay compensation totaling at least 20 percent of the damages resulting from malfunctioning. Customers that had been affected by faulty Nokia equipment would be able to seek damages even if they had not yet presented complaints.
25 comments | yesterday
HughPickens.com writes Reuters reports that your medical information, including names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations. Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information. Plus "healthcare providers and hospitals are just some of the easiest networks to break into," says Jeff Horne. "When I've looked at hospitals, and when I've talked to other people inside of a breach, they are using very old legacy systems — Windows systems that are 10 plus years old that have not seen a patch."
76 comments | yesterday
An anonymous reader writes In its most direct challenge to Google yet, Facebook plans to sell ads targeted to its 1.3 billion users when they are elsewhere on the Web. The company is rolling out an updated version of Atlas that will direct ads to people on websites and mobile apps. From the article: "The company said Atlas has been rebuilt 'from the ground up' to cater for today's marketing needs, such as 'reaching people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.'"
89 comments | yesterday
First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.
120 comments | yesterday
HughPickens.com writes Jason Clenfield writes in Businessweek that tax returns show that a former video game champion and pachinko gambler who goes by the name CIS traded 1.7 trillion yen ($15 Billion) worth of Japanese equities in 2013 — about half of 1 percent of the value of all the share transactions done by individuals on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The 35-year-old day trader whose name means death in classical Japanese says he made 6 billion yen ($54 Million), after taxes, betting on Japanese stocks last year. The nickname is a holdover from his gaming days, when he used to crush foes in virtual wrestling rings and online fantasy worlds.
"Games taught me to think fast and stay calm." CIS says he barely got his degree in mechanical engineering, having devoted most of college to the fantasy role-playing game Ultima Online. Holed up in his bedroom, he spent days on end roaming the game's virtual universe, stockpiling weapons, treasure and food. He calls this an early exercise in building and protecting assets. Wicked keyboard skills were a must. He memorized more than 100 key-stroke shortcuts — control-A to guzzle a healing potion or shift-S to draw a sword, for example — and he could dance between them without taking his eyes off the screen. "Some people can do it, some can't," he says with a shrug. But the game taught a bigger lesson: when to cut and run. "I was a pretty confident player, but just like in the real world, the more opponents you have, the worse your chances are," he says. "You lose nothing by running." That's how he now plays the stock market. CIS says he bets wrong four out of 10 times. The trick is to sell the losers fast while letting the winners ride. "Self-control is so important. You have to conserve your assets. That's what insulates you from the downturns and gives you the ammunition to make money."
113 comments | 2 days ago
puddingebola writes: Conflict continues between state governments and Tesla. From the article: "Iowa joined a growing list of states tussling with Tesla Motors' business model when it told the company to cut short three days of test drives earlier this month in West Des Moines. The Iowa Department of Transportation said the test drives were illegal for two reasons: Tesla isn't licensed as an auto dealer in Iowa and state law prohibits carmakers from selling directly to the public." While the article touches on the legal restrictions on selling cars in Iowa, it seems that Tesla was only providing test drives.
331 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: The radio program "This American Life" has published an extraordinary investigative report on how the U.S. government regulators in charge of keeping an eye on the banks actually interact with powerful financial institutions (podcast here). Financial journalist Michael Lewis describes the report thus: "The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems. Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them. The report quotes Fed employees saying things like, 'until I know what my boss thinks I don't want to tell you,' and 'no one feels individually accountable for financial crisis mistakes because management is through consensus.'"
195 comments | 4 days ago
blottsie writes: The National Security Agency has been making money on the side by licensing its technology to private businesses for more than two decades. It's called the Technology Transfer Program, under which the NSA declassifies some of its technologies that it developed for previous operations, patents them, and, if they're swayed by an American company's business plan and nondisclosure agreements, rents them out. The products include tools to transcribe voice recordings in any language, a foolproof method to tell if someone's touched your phone's SIM card, or a version of email encryption that isn't available on the open market.
82 comments | 4 days ago
HughPickens.com writes: Markus Krajewski reports that today, with many countries phasing out incandescent lighting in favor of more-efficient and pricier LEDs, it's worth revisiting the history of the Phoebus cartel — not simply as a quirky anecdote from the annals of technology, but as a cautionary tale about the strange and unexpected pitfalls that can arise when a new technology vanquishes an old one. Prior to the Phoebus cartel's formation in 1924, household light bulbs typically burned for a total of 1,500 to 2,500 hours; cartel members agreed to shorten that life span to a standard 1,000 hours.
Each factory regularly sent lightbulb samples to the cartel's central laboratory in Switzerland for verification. If any factory submitted bulbs lasting longer or shorter than the regulated life span for its type, the factory was obliged to pay a fine. Though long gone, the Phoebus cartel still casts a shadow today because it reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Will history repeat itself as the lighting industry is now going through its most tumultuous period of technological change since the invention of the incandescent bulb?
"Consumers are expected to pay more money for bulbs that are up to 10 times as efficient and that are touted to last a fantastically long time—up to 50,000 hours in the case of LED lights. In normal usage, these lamps will last so long that their owners will probably sell the house they're in before having to change the bulbs," writes Krajewski. "Whether or not these pricier bulbs will actually last that long is still an open question, and not one that the average consumer is likely to investigate." There are already reports of CFLs and LED lamps burning out long before their rated lifetimes are reached. "Such incidents may well have resulted from nothing more sinister than careless manufacturing. But there is no denying that these far more technologically sophisticated products offer tempting opportunities for the inclusion of purposefully engineered life-shortening defects.""
594 comments | 4 days ago
aarondubrow writes "The National Science Foundation and the Semiconductor Research Corporation announced nine research awards to 10 universities totaling nearly $4 million under a joint program focused on secure, trustworthy, assured and resilient semiconductors and systems. The awards support the development of new strategies, methods and tools at the circuit, architecture and system levels, to decrease the likelihood of unintended behavior or access; increase resistance and resilience to tampering; and improve the ability to provide authentication throughout the supply chain and in the field. "The processes and tools used to design and manufacture semiconductors ensure that the resulting product does what it is supposed to do. However, a key question that must also be addressed is whether the product does anything else, such as behaving in ways that are unintended or malicious," said Keith Marzullo, division director of NSF's Computer and Network Systems Division.
48 comments | 4 days ago
Tailhook (98486) writes "The Argentine government has used drones to reveal 200 homes and 100 pools in an upper class area about ten miles south of Buenos Aires that had not been detailed on tax returns. Tax officials said the drones took pictures of luxury houses standing on lots registered as empty. The evasions found by the drones amounted to missing tax payments of more than $2 million and owners of the properties have been warned they now face large fines."
208 comments | 5 days ago
HughPickens.com writes Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years with roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year subprime, a volume of $145 billion in the first three months of this year. Now the NYT reports that before they can drive off the lot, many subprime borrowers must have their car outfitted with a so-called starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the ignition. By simply clicking a mouse or tapping a smartphone, lenders retain the ultimate control. Borrowers must stay current with their payments, or lose access to their vehicle and a leading device maker, PassTime of Littleton, Colo., says its technology has reduced late payments to roughly 7 percent from nearly 29 percent. "The devices are reshaping the dynamics of auto lending by making timely payments as vital to driving a car as gasoline."
Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender remotely activated a device in her car's dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March. "I felt absolutely helpless," said Bolender, a single mother who stopped working to care for her daughter. Some borrowers say their cars were disabled when they were only a few days behind on their payments, leaving them stranded in dangerous neighborhoods. Others said their cars were shut down while idling at stoplights. Some described how they could not take their children to school or to doctor's appointments. One woman in Nevada said her car was shut down while she was driving on the freeway. Attorney Robert Swearingen says there's an old common law principle that a lender can't "breach the peace" in a repossession. That means they can't put a person in harm's way. To Swearingen, that would mean "turning off a car in a bad neighborhood, or for a single female at night."
903 comments | 5 days ago
schwit1 (797399) writes "Alan Boyle has some interesting thoughts on why it cost India so little, less than the budget of the movie Gravity, to build and send its probe Mangalyaan to Mars: 'The $74 million Mars Orbiter Mission, also known by the acronym MOM or the Hindi word Mangalyaan ("Mars-Craft"), didn't just cost less than the $100 million Hollywood blockbuster starring Sandra Bullock. The price tag is a mere one-ninth of the cost of NASA's $671 million Maven mission, which also put its spacecraft into Mars orbit this week. The differential definitely hints at a new paradigm for space exploration — one that's taking hold not only in Bangalore, but around the world. At the same time, it hints at the dramatically different objectives for MOM and Maven, and the dramatically different environments in which those missions took shape.' Read it all. It gives us a hint at the future of space exploration.
200 comments | 5 days ago
HughPickens.com writes Jana Kasperkevic writes at The Guardian that it's not every day that you get to buy an iPhone from an ex-NSA officer. Yet Thomas Drake, former senior executive at National Security Agency, is well known in the national security circles for leaking information about the NSA's Trailblazer project to Baltimore Sun. In 2010, the government dropped all 10 felony charges against him and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unauthorized use of a computer and lost his livelihood. "You have to mortgage your house, you have to empty your bank account. I went from making well over $150,000 a year to a quarter of that," says Drake. "The cost alone, financially — never mind the personal cost — is approaching million dollars in terms of lost income, expenses and other costs I incurred."
John Kiriakou became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects in 2009. "I have applied for every job I can think of – everything from grocery stores to Toys R Us to Starbucks. You name it, I've applied there. Haven't gotten even an email or a call back," says Kiriakou. According to Kasperkevic, this is what most whistleblowers can expect. The potential threat of prosecution, the mounting legal bills and the lack of future job opportunities all contribute to a hesitation among many to rock the boat. "Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, declared a war on whistleblowers virtually as soon as they assumed office," says Kiriakou. "Washington has always needed an "ism" to fight against, an idea against which it could rally its citizens like lemmings. First, it was anarchism, then socialism, then communism. Now, it's terrorism. Any whistleblower who goes public in the name of protecting human rights or civil liberties is accused of helping the terrorists."
224 comments | 5 days ago
schwit1 writes The new rules would allow garbage collectors to inspect trash cans and ticket offending parties if food and compostable material makes up 10 percent or more of the trash. The fines will begin at $1 for residents and $50 for businesses and apartment buildings. "SPU doesn’t expect to collect many fines, says Tim Croll, the agency’s solid-waste director. The city outlawed recyclable items from the trash nine years ago, but SPU has collected less than $2,000 in fines since then, Croll says. 'The point isn’t to raise revenue,' he said. 'We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.'"
383 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes Stanford University has pledged not to use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society — a move that critics claim poses a threat to academic freedom. The center has long been generously funded by Google but its privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant as of late. Just two years ago, a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine. In 2011-2012, the center's privacy director helped lead a project to create a "Do Not Track" standard. The effort, not supported by Google, would have made it harder for advertisers to track what people do online, and likely would have cut into Google's ad revenue. Both Stanford and Google say the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research.
54 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader writes: PayPal today announced partnerships with three major Bitcoin payment processors: BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin. The eBay-owned company wants to help digital goods merchants accept Bitcoin payments, although it is starting with those located in the U.S. and Canada first ("We are considering expanding to other markets," a PayPal spokesperson told TNW. "Stay tuned.")
PayPal says it chose to integrate the third-party functionality directly in the PayPal Payments Hub because the aforementioned trio already offers its customers protections when dealing with the virtual currency. The company envisions anything that can be obtained digitally, such as video games and music, being sold in Bitcoin.
56 comments | about a week ago
mpicpp writes with news that UPS will be expanding their 3D printing services. UPS announced plans Monday to bring in-store 3-D-printing services to nearly 100 stores across the country, billing itself as the first national retailer to do so. With the UPS system, customers can submit their own designs for objects like product prototypes, engineering parts and architectural models that are then printed on a professional-quality 3-D printer made by Stratasys. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the object; an iPhone case would be about $60, while a replica femur bone would be around $325. UPS can also connect customers with outside professionals who charge an hourly rate to help produce a design file for the printer. It generally takes about four or five hours to print a simple object, with more complex items taking a day or more. The program started as a pilot at six locations last year, and UPS says those stores "saw demand for 3-D print continuing to increase across a broad spectrum of customers."
144 comments | about a week ago