Posts Tagged ‘Consumer

12
Aug
10

Recovery still distant as GM turns a corner

NEWS
Recovery still distant as GM turns a corner
General Motors profits move past $1 billion

Thursday, August 12, 2010

••• General Motors said on Thursday its profits hit $1.3 billion in the second quarter, as the car company prepared to break free of U.S. government ownership by relisting on the stock exchange.

‘I am pleased with our progress on achieving our business objectives,’ said chief financial officer Chris Liddell, announcing the second consecutive quarter of growth.

The company erased a loss of $13 billion in the same period last year, as sales and revenues increased.

The firm saw stronger sales in North America in the quarter, even as sales in Europe floundered and market share around the world sank.

GM captured 15.4 percent of the U.S. market for cars versus 17.5 percent in the second quarter of last year, but elsewhere faired poorly.

GM’s executives have said that a public offering will come soon, a process that will help the U.S. government unwind its majority stake in the firm.

The U.S. Treasury Department still owns 61 percent of GM, which received $50 billion of U.S. government financing for its bankruptcy restructuring that led to mass layoffs, plant closures and billions of dollars in debt wiped out.

GM’s drive for an IPO will be boosted by news that the firm’s revenues swelled to $33 billion in the second quarter, a third more than the same period last year.

GM as well as its U.S. competitors Ford and Chrysler were hard hit by the recession which struck the United States in December 2007, caused by a home mortgage meltdown.

Of the so-called Detroit Three car makers, Ford was the only one to avoid bankruptcy, managing to stay afloat thanks to massive loans it had obtained prior to the credit crunch and because it moved more quickly to revitalise its product portfolio.
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12
Aug
10

Fed Effort to Aid Recovery Fails to Calm Investors

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Fed Effort to Aid Recovery Fails to Calm Investors

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More worried about the recovery, the U.S. Federal Reserve has taken a small step to bolster the U.S. economy.

Wrapping up a one-day meeting, the Fed said it will use money from its investments in mortgage securities to buy government debt on a small scale. That could help nudge down long-term rates on mortgages and corporate debt, but wouldn’t have a dramatic impact on stimulating economic growth, economists say.

Perhaps more importantly, the largely symbolic action sends a signal that the Fed sees the recovery weakening and that it stands ready to take more aggressive action, if needed, to keep it on track.

Delivering a more downbeat assessment, the Fed now believes economic growth will be ‘more modest’ than it had anticipated at its late June meeting.

The Fed, citing ‘subdued’ inflation, said it would keep its target for a key interest rate at zero to 0.25 percent for an ‘extended period’.
Investors reacted positively to the statement. Stocks that were down sharply before the announcement made up some lost ground. The Dow Jones industrial average, down about 100 points just before the Fed decision, was down about 40 a short time later. However, the market was likely to fluctuate, as it usually does while investors pore over the Fed’s statement.

Treasury prices rose slightly as investors were pleased by the Fed’s plan to buy government debt, which would reduce the amount of Treasury securities in the market. The yield on the Treasury’s 10-year note, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, fell to 2.77 percent from 2.82 percent just before the announcement.

Economists doubt the Fed can turn around the economy on its own. Some believe additional help from Congress is needed. Others are sceptical that easier credit or even more government aid will persuade Americans to shop more and hire more. Yet others think some jobs – like in construction – will never return to pre-recession levels, as the economy makes a structural shift.
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11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

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Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
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05
Aug
10

Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad is a ‘game-changer’ for news media

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Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad is a ‘game-changer’ for news media

Thursday, August 05, 2010

••• Global media chief Rupert Murdoch says Apple’s iPad will be a ‘game changer’ for newspapers.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said the iPad would allow publishers to attract new readers to their mastheads.

‘It’s a real game changer in the presentation of news,’ Mr. Murdoch said on Thursday during a conference call for the company’s full year profit results.

‘We will have young people reading newspapers. We will have different looking types of newspapers.’

News Corp owns newspapers in the U.S., U.K., Australia and elsewhere.

Mr. Murdoch said he expected to see hundreds of millions of these devices around the world.

‘There will be all sorts of things we can do with them,’ Mr. Murdoch said.

‘As they develop technologically, we have got to to develop our methods of presentation of news.’

News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey said the iPad ‘really starts to deliver on the promise of multimedia’ for the first time.

In terms of charging for online content, The Times and Sunday Times newspapers in the U.K. started slugging users $1.59 (£1) a day, or $3.18 (£2) a week, to access their content online from the start of July.

Mr. Murdoch said there had been a positive response, but declined to say how many people had paid for subscriptions.

‘We have had a very encouraging number of people subscribing at a good price,’ he said.

‘But we think we are on the right strategy there and we think it’s going well.’

Mr. Murdoch also flagged changes to News Corp’s social networking portal MySpace, which he said was going through a major overhaul under a new management team.

‘It will look very, very different in a few months to what it’s looked for the last few years,’ Mr Murdoch said.

‘We are going to see it out for some time yet.’
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• Source(s): News Corporation
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04
Aug
10

News Corp. Posts $875 Million Profit as Ad Sales Rise

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News Corp. Posts $875 Million Profit as Ad Sales Rise

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

••• Media and entertainment giant News Corp. reported, Wednesday, that it has swung to profit in the fiscal fourth quarter on the back of strong performance from its television networks division which posted impressive ad sales.

News Corp. said its net profit in June quarter was $875 million or $0.33 per share as against loss of $203 million or $0.08 per share in the year ago period.

The company said its revenue moved up 5.7 percent to $8.11 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected News Corp. to report profit of $0.20 per share on revenue on $7.87 billion.

However, operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, slipped 1.7 percent year-on-year in June quarter to $932 million from $948 million.

The media conglomerate said its earnings were driven by strong performance put up by its television networks division, which accounted for more than half of its operating income.

Profits at domestic channels surged by 30 percent while international channels improved 40 percent. Overall, operating profit at cable television networks division, which include channels such as Fox News Channel and FX, surged 31 percent to $563 million on the back of advertising revenue which jumped 11 percent. The division also saw double-digit growth in revenue from fees paid by cable, satellite and fiber video providers.

Operating profit at News Corp.’s broadcast television division also surged 13 percent to $113 million on improved ad sales offsetting higher programming expenses at the company’s national broadcast network – Fox Broadcasting.

The group’s filmed entertainment division also did well but could not beat third quarter performance. Operating income in June quarter dropped 32 percent year-on-year to $137 million. In March quarter, profit stood at $497 million. At the time of announcing third quarter earnings, News Corp. had warned that one should not expect stellar performance from this division in the fourth quarter, largely due to an expected year-over-year decline in the film business due to the timing of releases.

The newspapers and information services division, which include the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch and Dow Jones, also reported 20 percent surge in profit to $115 million on higher ad revenue, though it was below Street estimates.

The company’s digital media division, which include social networking site MySpace, however, disappointed, reporting an operating loss of $174 million in the June quarter on lower search and advertising revenue. News Corp. said MySpace is set for a “major overhaul.”

News Corp.’s satellite TV division also disappointed, reporting a 37 percent slide in operating income to $97 million on the back of continued weakness at Sky Italia.

To reduce dependence on the economically sensitive advertisement-based revenue, News Corp. said it is beefing up its portfolio of subscription-based assets. In June, it said it has made a bid for the 61 percent stake of pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSkyB) it doesn’t already own.

“The opportunity for us to expand the scale of our franchises is significant, including through taking advantage of the continual technological advances that will broaden the reach of our core content and distribution businesses,” News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

The company’s full-year results were more impressive.

News Corp. said its net profit in fiscal year 2010 was $2.5 billion, helped primarily by blockbuster movie “Avatar.” DVD sales of other films like “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” also bumped up its profits. In the prior year, News Corp. incurred a net loss of $3.4 billion, which included a one-time pre-tax impairment and other charges of $9.2 billion.

“These results underscore just how well positioned we are – fiscally, operationally and strategically – for further growth across all of our markets,” Murdoch said.

Shares of News Corp., which owns Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, MySpace and 20th Century Fox among other things, closed up 1.61 percent at $13.85. Following the financial results announcement, the company’s shares were up 3.25 percent in the after-market hours.
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• Source(s): News Corporation
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29
Jul
10

Adult industry sees iPorn potential in new iPhone

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Adult industry sees iPorn potential in new iPhone

Porn just got interactive: Now Apple iPhone 4 users can make video calls to X-rated stars with Face Time

Thursday, July 29, 2010

••• The adult industry is moving on the new iPhone, seeking models specifically for video sex chat on FaceTime.

So when Apple launched the iPhone 4 and its FaceTime video conference feature, it didn’t take long for adult-entertainment companies to develop video-sex chat services and start hiring workers through Craigslist.

With more than 3 million of the phones sold, the adult industry stands to make big money on this new way to reach out and touch someone – even if it puts Apple, which has always taken pains to keep its iPhone apps squeaky clean, in an awkward spot.

In at least five cities, Craigslist ads seek models specifically for video sex chat on FaceTime. Many of the ads even offer to throw in a free iPhone 4 for the new employees.

FaceTime lets people call another iPhone 4 user and have live video conversations over a Wi-Fi connection using the front-facing camera on the new model. In one TV ad, a soldier uses it to get a look at his faraway wife’s ultrasound pictures.

The adult industry wants its customers to share moments of an entirely different kind with its stars. And while the technology may be new, the idea is not. Porn providers have always been early adopters.

In the 1970s, the demand for explicit videos at home helped VCRs become widespread, and the industry was the first to embrace DVDs, too. Internet porn peddlers were some of the first to make wide use of streaming video and online credit card payments.
‘The first time someone created a camera there was someone who said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good for someone to take off their clothes in front of this camera? said Michael Gartenberg, vice-president at Interpret, a media research company.

And for years, cameras mounted on computers have helped connect people for racy online video sessions. But the portability and privacy of a cell phone makes FaceTime a new frontier for the industry.

‘A phone is such an intimate thing, you usually don’t lend it out or have someone else use it,’ said Quentin Boyer, a spokesman for Pink Visual, an adult production company.

Boyer said his company began planning for iPhone 4 video services almost as soon as the device hit stores. They should be ready in a matter of weeks. Boyer said the company will offer FaceTime sessions with some of the same women who appear in its videos – likely charging $5 or $6 a minute, payable by credit card.

‘It has a very personal feel – your mobile phone to hers,’ he said.

Online exhibitionism is only growing. Take Chatroulette, which randomly connects strangers for video chats. While the service isn’t explicitly sexual, it’s common for users to stumble upon people looking for more than just conversation.

So far, most online video sex chat services have let the customer see the performer, but not the other way around. FaceTime may change that.

‘We are seeing more and more that customers want to be watched as much as they want to watch,’ said Dan Hogue, owner of an adult chat company called CamWorld, which is planning FaceTime services.
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23
Jul
10

Tablet War Hots Up With Microsoft iPad Rival

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Tablet War Hots Up With Microsoft iPad Rival

Friday, July 23, 2010

••• Microsoft is taking on the iPad in the battle of the tablets as it announced plans to launch it own version later this year.

It is working in partnership with Hewlett-Packard whose executive vice president Todd Bradley said: ‘Slates are going to be an enormous category.

‘Our focus is working with still our largest software partner, Microsoft, to create a tablet, a slate, for the enterprise business.’

‘This is just in its infancy.’

Apple has sold more than three million iPads since it went on sale in April and Microsoft has been seeking to develop products that will tap into the lucrative market.

When the Microsoft tablet arrives on the shelves it may benefit from one key advantage over its Apple rival.

The HP tablet computer will be able to run Flash, the popular video software from Adobe which Apple has barred from the iPad.
The news comes as Microsoft revealed a record $4.52 billion profit with a fourth quarter revenue of more than $16 billion dollars.

The American tech company credited the strong sales figures to the successful launch of its latest-generation Office 2010 software and to continued strong demand for its new Windows 7 operating system.

The popularity of its Xbox 360 videogame consoles and Bing’s improving share of the Internet search market also contributed to the successful final quarter of its fiscal year.

Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said: ‘We look forward to continuing our product momentum this fall with the upcoming launches of Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Kinect.’
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21
Jul
10

Obama signs historic finance reform bill

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Obama signs historic finance reform bill
Historic financial overhaul signed to law by Obama

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed into law the most sweeping reform of the U.S. finance industry since the 1930s, promising U.S. taxpayers would no longer get the bill for Wall Street excess.

The legislation, which some Republicans have pledged to repeal, introduces new consumer protections, checks the power of big banks and cracks down on deceptive practices by credit card firms.

“Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more tax-funded bailouts,” Obama promised.

Seeking to restore public confidence in his economic leadership as unemployment flirts with double digits, Obama said the bill would repair the fractures and abuses of which the financial meltdown was born.

“It was a crisis born of a failure of responsibility from certain corners of Wall Street to the halls of power in Washington,” said Obama, before adding the legacy-boosting law to his huge health care reform passed earlier this year.

“These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” Obama said, before signing the new law, passed by Congress last week.

“These protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people – not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses.”

The financial reform bill finally squeezed through Congress with just a handful of Republican votes, as the opposition party continued with its policy of trying to block Obama’s ambitious reform program at all costs.

Republican leaders on Wednesday condemned the new law, saying it would crimp growth, and handcuff the might of America’s financial titans.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele accused Obama of trying to convince “sceptical Americans that he is doing everything he can to lower unemployment.”

“President Obama has signed into law a 2300 page behemoth that will saddle the business community with innumerable unintended consequences, tighter credit, and countless job-killing regulations,” Steele said.

Obama, facing record low approval ratings in some polls, hopes the financial reforms will eventually become popular, but much of the bill, like the health care bill, is so complicated that it will not come into force for months.

For instance, it will be up to a year before a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set up to protect American consumers from hidden fees and deceptive lending practices when they get a new mortgage or credit card.

It could be 18 months before new regulations emerge to stop banks from engaging in impermissible proprietary trading and investment in hedge funds – under the Volcker rule, named after former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

In a bid to highlight the help the bill will grant to the middle classes, Obama was joined at the signing ceremony by several Americans who suffered unfair treatment at the hands of credit card firms and banks.

The legislation closes loopholes in regulations and requires greater transparency and accountability for hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders, as well as arcane financial instruments called derivatives.

The measure has drawn praise but also skepticism from economists and analysts.

The bill “addresses a number of key weaknesses in the U.S. financial regulatory structure that led to the financial meltdown in 2008 and early 2009,” said Brian Bethune at IHS Global Insight.

But Diane Swonk at Mesirow Financial warned that much of the impact is not known.

“We will have more regulators overseeing – but not necessarily averting – risk, and with a bill so large and undefined, we are likely to get more, in terms of unintended than intended consequences, going forward,” she said.

The law is likely to generate heated debate ahead of congressional elections in November as Republicans call for its reversal.

House Republican leader John Boehner said recently the law “ought to be repealed” and replaced with “common-sense things that we should do to plug the holes in the regulatory system.”
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• Source(s): The White House
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17
Jul
10

Apple in panic at iPhone 4 ‘antenna-gate’?

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Apple in panic at iPhone 4 ‘antenna-gate’?
Apple offers free iPhone 4 cases to appease users

Saturday, July 17, 2010

••• Apple Inc will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone to alleviate the so-called death grip problem.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced the giveaway on Friday during a news conference at its headquarters, even as the company denied the iPhone 4 has an antenna problem that needs fixing. The more than 3 million people who have bought the iPhone 4 and new buyers through September 30 will all be eligible.

People who purchased the $29 ‘Bumper’ cases will be refunded.

Jobs began the event by saying, ‘We’re not perfect,’ but was quick to point out no mobile phone is perfect. He played a video showing competing smartphones, including a BlackBerry from Research in Motion, losing signal strength when held in certain ways.

Phones usually have an antenna inside the body. In designing the iPhone 4, Apple took a gamble on a new design, using parts of the phone’s outer casing as the antenna. That saved space inside the tightly packed body, but means covering a spot on the lower left edge of the case blocks wireless signal.
Consumer Reports magazine said covering the spot with a case or even a piece of duct tape alleviates the problem. It refused to give the iPhone 4 its ‘recommended’ stamp of approval for this reason, and it had called on Apple on Monday to compensate buyers.

On Friday, in the company’s first remarks following the magazine’s report, Jobs said Apple was ‘stunned and upset and embarrassed’.

Jobs said the iPhone 4’s antenna issue isn’t widespread. He said just over five out of every thousand users have complained to Apple’s warranty service, and less than 2 percent have returned the device.

‘We’re not feeling right now that we have a giant problem we need to fix,’ Jobs said. ‘This has been blown so out of proportion that it’s incredible. I know it’s fun to have a story, but it’s less fun when you’re on the other end of it.’

Analysts have criticised Apple’s first responses to reports of reception problems as dismissive.

Jobs apologised to buyers who had less than perfect experiences. ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes to make them happy and if we can’t make them happy we’re going to give them a full refund and say we’re really sorry we inconvenienced you, and we’re going to do better next time.’

The refund applies even for those who have long-term contracts with AT&T Inc., the iPhone’s exclusive US wireless carrier.

Jobs, a cancer survivor, also addressed a question about his health on Friday.

‘I’m doing fine. I was even better earlier in the week (when) I was having a vacation in Hawaii, but I decided this was important enough to come back for,’ he said. ‘I’m doing great.’
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• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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12
Jul
10

Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

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Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

Monday, July 12, 2010

••• Young Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behavior with the launch of a new ‘panic button’ targeting sex offenders.

Children can use the button to report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The application will automatically appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

The launch follows months of negotiation between Facebook and CEOP, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders.

CEOP called for the panic button to be installed in November but Facebook has resisted the idea.

Bebo became the first network to add the button, followed by MySpace while Facebook maintained that its own reporting systems were adequate.

However pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, 17.

Ashleigh was killed by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing CEOP’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

Users will be able to bookmark the Click CEOP service or add it as an application to find information about online safety.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre said: ‘Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the Click CEOP button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

‘We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online.’

Facebook’s Joanna Shields added: ‘There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety.’

James Brokenshire, U.K. Minister for Crime Prevention said: ‘It’s a sad fact that we are now seeing more cases where sex offenders are using social networking sites to conceal their identities in order to contact children.’
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08
Jul
10

Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

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Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

Thursday, July 8, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday filed a recall of 138,874 luxury Lexus vehicles sold in the United States to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world’s No. 1 automaker. The move follows a recall of over 90,000 Lexus and other vehicles in Japan over the same problem, which was filed with the Japanese transport ministry on Monday.

The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion. Toyota confirmed in a statement it plans to file paperwork with the government on the recall next week.

The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006-2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5.0 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.

Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems. The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The company has received about 200 complaints in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues. Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan’s major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around $227 million. Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Subject to the recall in the United States, filed with the Department of Transportation, are 2006-2008 Lexus models, including the top-of-the-line LS460 sedan, IS350, GS460, GS450h and the LS600hL models. Toyota plans to recall 270,000 vehicles worldwide due to the defective engine valve springs.

Toyota said owners will be notified of the recall by mail and dealers will repair the engine’s valve springs at no charge. The company said owners can continue to drive their vehicles. If they notice vibration, unusual engine sounds or rough idling, they should bring the car to a dealer for service.

Lexus general manager Mark Templin told dealers in an e-mail that “we understand the frustration and embarrassment these recalls cause and appreciate your reassuring Lexus owners that there is nothing more important to us than their safety, satisfaction with our products and confidence in you and the brand.”

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company’s stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota’s vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact their local Lexus dealer or Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
• Customers who have any further questions are asked to visit www.lexus.ca or contact Lexus Canada at 1-800-265-3987.
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• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corporation
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07
Jul
10

Mozilla stokes Firefox 4 with first beta build

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Mozilla stokes Firefox 4 with first beta build

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Mozilla released its web explorer Firefox 4‘s beta version Wednesday, PC World reported.

Firefox explorer, considered to be the largest rival of Microsoft Windows’ Internet Explorer, has upgraded to its newest version with multiple technologies in line with future Internet developing trend.

The beta version imitated Google chrome and a few other browsers by putting the tabs on top and providing webpage crash protection features.

Mozilla provides its Firefox users with versions used in operation system including Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac and the Linux OS.

The newly released beta version of Firefox is expected to widely compete with IE as the most popular Internet browser in the scientific arena.
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• Source(s): Mozilla Corporation
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26
Jun
10

Apple iPhone 4 release plagued by signal issue: Quick Fix for iPhone 4 Antenna Problem

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Apple iPhone 4 release plagued by signal issue: Quick Fix for iPhone 4 Antenna Problem

Saturday, June 26, 2010

••• There is anger among new iPhone 4 owners after it emerged that the device loses signal when held in the user’s left hand.

Apple’s latest phone only went on sale on Thursday but already the company has been inundated with complaints from users who have found themselves unable to make calls.

One disgruntled customer emailed the company and received a response from the chief executive himself, Steve Jobs.

But Mr Jobs was not too sympathetic with his advice, he wrote: ‘Just avoid holding it in that way.’

The problem appears to occur when the phone is held in the left palm which then covers part of the stainless steel band that contains some of the antennae.

The loss of signal has been a hot topic on Twitter with many people tweeting on the issue.

‘Pretty amazing the way the signal degrades on the iPhone 4 when held in your left hand,’ wrote @StevenMatthews1.

‘So it sounds like the iphone 4 is rubbish for left handers with signal dropping. Will have to learn to be right-handed,’ @Lollipop26 said.

And @MattJWilliams39 has decided against investing in the phone altogether: ‘Style over substance – iPhone 4 has sensitive areas that when held cause signal strength to drop. Cancel my order…’

In a statement Apple said: ‘Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas.’

The American company now sells ‘bumpers’ that protect the stainless steel parts of the phone and stops the user’s skin from touching the sensitive antennae.

However, the good news is the problem is not affecting everyone and the majority of people who queued for hours to get their hands on the latest model are satisfied customers.

Ben Paton, 23, was first to buy the iPhone 4 from the flagship store on Regent Street on Thursday after queuing for 16 hours.

But a man who flew in from Dubai and had queued for double that amount of time thought he would be first through the store’s doors.

Alex Lee, 27, headed the 500-strong queue for 32 hours but had his hopes dashed when the store allowed internet pre-order customers ahead of him.

He said he will write to Steve Jobs to complain.

Here is The Video on how to do a Quick fix on your IPhone Antenna Reception Problem:

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• Source(s): Apple Inc. & Twitter
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25
Jun
10

Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

NEWS
Toyota recalls Lexus HS250h hybrid for fuel spills

Friday, June 25, 2010

••• Toyota said on Friday it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear end crash.

The Japanese automaker said tests conducted for the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration found that fuel leaked during a rear impact crash at 50 miles per hour on a 2010 HS250h sedan. The test, conducted by a NHTSA contractor, showed that fuel spilled as the vehicle spun around after impact. (NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 10V285000)

Toyota’s own testing has not shown any spillage, but a spokesman said the company plans to issue a voluntary recall as it continues to try to replicate the government’s results. It is notifying dealers to stop selling the car.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has attempted to rebound from a series of recalls tied to reports of unintended acceleration and other defects. The U.S. administration penalized Toyota with a record $16.4 million fine for acting too slowly on the recalls.

Dealers have repaired millions of vehicles, but the auto giant faces more than 200 lawsuits connected to accidents and the lower resale value of vehicles.

Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, apologized to shareholders for the trouble caused by the recalls. He said the company was doing its best to improve quality control.

Toyota said it has not identified a fix for the reported problems of fuel spillage.

Detailed information about this recall is available through Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
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22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

NEWS
U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

NEWS
U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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15
Jun
10

Microsoft Office 2010 goes on sale worldwide

NEWS
Microsoft Office 2010 goes on sale worldwide

Friday, June 11, 2010

••• Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced that the latest version of its Office software is now available for consumers worldwide.

Starting from Tuesday, consumers can purchase Microsoft Office 2010 at more than 35,000 retail stores across the globe, through online retailers or from Microsoft website.

Office 2010 can also be purchased with desktops and laptops from leading personal computer (PC) makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Sony, Microsoft said in a press release.

The software giant predicted that in the next year, more than 100 million PCs will ship with Office 2010 preloaded.

Microsoft said it has made considerable enhancements to Office 2010, a suite of applications including the popular Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint.

For example, improvements to Word 2010 can help users add extensive text effects and table formatting options.

Microsoft also announced that a free, Web-based version of the Office programs is becoming available to consumers.

The Office Web Apps, which includes Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that enable users to edit and share documents online, is seen as Microsoft’s answer to Google Inc.’s Web-based applications.
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• Source(s): Microsoft Corporation
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11
Jun
10

AT&T hacked, iPad 3G owners email addresses harvested

NEWS
AT&T hacked, iPad 3G owners email addresses harvested

Friday, June 11, 2010

••• Hackers have obtained the email addresses of more than 114,000 owners of Apple iPads.

Valleywag, a property of Gawker Media, said on Wednesday the hackers turned over the email list and it contained the email addresses of a number of high-profile iPad users including U.S. business leaders, politicians and military officials.

Valleywag published the names of some on the list but not their full email addresses.

They included New York Times Co chief executive Janet Robinson, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

The iPad owners whose email addresses were compromised were subscribers to AT&T’s 3G plan which provides connectivity to the touchscreen tablet computer from Apple.

In a statement, AT&T acknowledged there had been a data breach and issued an apology to customers who had been affected.

‘AT&T was informed by a business customer on Monday of the potential exposure of their iPad ICC IDS,’ AT&T said.

‘This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday; and we have essentially turned off the feature that provided the email addresses.’

Valleywag said the AT&T breach revealed the email addresses of iPad owners in companies such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley and staffers in the Pentagon, Senate, House of Representatives, Department of Justice, NASA and Department of Homeland Security.
» Related: F.B.I. to investigate AT&T iPad data breach
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11
Jun
10

F.B.I. to investigate AT&T iPad data breach

NEWS
F.B.I. to investigate AT&T iPad data breach

Friday, June 11, 2010

••• The F.B.I. is investigating a security breach of AT&T’s website that allowed hackers to obtain the email addresses of iPad owners.

‘The F.B.I. is aware of these possible computer intrusions and has opened an investigation to address this potential cyberthreat,’ said Lindsay Godwin, an FBI spokeswoman.

AT&T acknowledged on Wednesday there had been a data breach at the U.S. telecom giant that allowed hackers to obtain the email addresses of owners of the 3G model of the iPad.

AT&T’s 3G plan provides the mobile connectivity for the touchscreen tablet computer from Apple.

According to Silicon Valley website Valleywag, a shadowy hacking group called Goatse Security hacked into the AT&T website and obtained the email addresses of over 114,000 iPad owners including those of business leaders, politicians and military officials.

Valleywag published the names of some on the list but not their full email addresses.

They included New York Times Co. chief executive Janet Robinson, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

Earlier Thursday, retired rear admiral Jamie Barnett, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s public safety and homeland security bureau, expressed concern about the incident.

‘I am concerned about the report of a security breach to AT&T’s network that exposed the personal data of more than a hundred thousand iPad users,’ Barnett said in a statement.

‘This breach underscores the need for robust cyber security,’ he said. ‘The F.C.C. will continue to work with all stakeholders to prevent future security breaches that violate consumer privacy and undermine trust in America’s communications infrastructure.’

AT&T apologised for the disclosure and said it has ‘turned off the feature that provided the email addresses.’

Valleywag owner Gawker Media also runs the popular technology blog Gizmodo, which obtained a secret prototype of an Apple iPhone in April after it was lost in a California bar and published details and pictures of the device.
» Related: AT&T hacked, iPad 3G owners email addresses harvested
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