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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 15

New Zealand ISP gives subscribers access to US version of Netflix

Netflix doesn't offer the same programs to everyone; availability varies depending on the country where you live due to streaming agreements. One ISP in New Zealand is offering subscribers a way to get around that limitation with a new global mode. The ISP is Slingshot and global mode lets users access the US version of Netflix.

 

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Global mode is said to be at its core a VPN that reroutes traffic through servers in other countries so people in NZ look like they are in New York, for instance. VPN use for accessing country-restricted content is frowned on.

 

Slingshot suggests that this service is only aimed at New Zealand homes housing international visitors. Global mode likely violates the terms of service for most streaming video providers.

Samsung forecasts sales recovery for smartphones after earnings miss

Things were looking bleak for Samsung not long ago when it announced a profit for Q2 that fell short of what analysts were expecting. The reason for that shortfall was competition from Chinese smartphone makers and gains for the Korean won. Despite the weak profit that Samsung reported, the company is now forecasting an improvement in smartphone sales.

 

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Samsung has said that new products and demand for 4G devices will boost its sales in Q3. Samsung is counting on new products from competitors like Apple to increase the demand for devices overall. The company is also hoping that demand for 4G phones in China will increase in Q3.

 

In Q2, Samsung saw sales of its smartphones slide to 78 million units compared to 87.5 million units in Q1 marking the third straight quarter with sales decline. Several analysts agree with Samsung's expectation for improved sales.

Google Street View maps Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Cruise ships are massive machines that ply the seas like floating hotels packed with people. Some of the cruise ships have more to do on them than others and it can be hard to figure out exactly what the ship looks like before booking a trip. Google is fixing that issue with Street View mapping its very first cruise ship.

 

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Google Street View has mapped the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship. The mapping of the cruise ship was done as part of Google Maps Business View, a service where business pays to have its location imaged by a Google certified photographer and then features on Street View.

 

The imagery of the cruise ship was shot using a DSLR camera over eight days and then pieced together from 20,000 separate images. Passengers thinking of booking a trip on the ship can see the ships neighborhoods with a replica of Central Park, the Royal Promenade, and the outside sun deck. The ship's swimming pools and ice rink are also visible.

Home Depot expands its Wink smart home devices to nearly 60

Home Depot has been offering a few smart home products that run on the Wink platform and can be controlled using a Wink app on Android or iOS devices for a while. Home Depot has now expanded the number of Wink devices in its stores to almost 60 including things like smart light bulbs, sprinklers for the yard, and even water heaters.

 

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The new Wink devices will be available in almost all of its 2000 stores in the US as well as its website. Wink devices can be controlled by a Wink hub that sells for around $50 normally, but can be purchased for half that amount when bought with another Wink enabled device like a light bulb.

 

When the hub is bought with two Wink devices, it can be purchased for 99 cents. Wink apps also allow control of certain other smart home items from Chamberlain, Honeywell, and LED bulbs by Philips and GE.

Intel and others launch Open Interconnect Consortium

Some of the major tech firms in the US and abroad have banded together to start a new consortium that is focused on promoting standards for the Internet of Things. The new consortium is called the Open Interconnect Consortium and it boasts among its participants Intel, Samsung, Dell, Broadcom, and Amtel.

 

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The group wants to define a common communication framework that is based on industry standards that will allow wireless connectivity and intelligent management of data between devices. Connectivity under the plan will be possible regardless of form factor, OS, or service provider according to the group.

 

For now, the group is offering no details on how it plans to pull that goal off. The bad news for these firms is that there is another group called the Allseen Alliance trying to do the same thing and that group boasts 50 members including Microsoft, Cisco, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, and others.

$36 million worth of phones and tablets stolen from Samsung factory

Armed robbers have attacked one of Samsung's factories in Brazil, holding workers hostage while they took truckloads of smartphones, tablets and notebooks from a factory near Sao Paulo, Brazil. These goods were valued at $36 million.

 

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The thieves carjacked a shuttle used by factory employees, after which they took the place overnight during the four-hour heist in Campinas. Campinas is an industrial hub in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo. The thieves reportedly made off with an incredible seven trucks of goods, stealing over 40,000 products.

 

A Samsung spokesperson has said: "We have cooperated fully with the police investigation that is underway and will do our best to avoid any sort of repeat incident".

Gartner expects global PC sales to recover a little this year

Ever since Apple's iPad started causing a splash along with the simultaneous smartphone boom, various soothsayers have been screaming about the death of the PC. Regardless, it's not quite dead yet, and now analyst powerhouse Gartner has said traditional computing will still be clinging on for dear life this year.

 

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It's not a hugely optimistic forecast. Gartner expects shipments from the market to decline worldwide by 2.9 percent through 2014 - but this isn't quite as bad as it could have been. According to the company, this marks a "relative revival of the global PC market" - compared to a 9.5 percent decline in 2013. "Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in Western Europe," said Ranjit Atwal, research director. "This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets." Gartner includes desktops, notebooks, and ultramobile personal computers in its figures.

 

Mobile phone sales are set for a 3.1 percent increase over 2013, to reach 1.9 billion units this year. Gartner expects smartphone sales will make up 88 percent of global cell sales by 2018, a jump from 66 percent in 2014.

Google has $500 million set aside expand Shopping Express nationwide

Google has been trialing its Shopping Express service in a few select locations for a while now. Shopping Express is a service that works in some areas with local retail stores allowing users to buy things at a retail store and have them delivered on the same day or the next day to their home or office.

 

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A new report has surfaced that claims that Google has set aside $500 million that is earmarked to expand the Shopping Express service nationwide. Google has offered no official comments on the amount of money set aside for the project.

 

Some of the money will reportedly be used to market the service in each new city that it launched in, as well as to purchase delivery vehicles. Money will also be spent to hire new workers to pack the goods and deliver them.

YouTube showing messages on slow videos blaming ISPs

YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the internet for streaming video and as such, it consumes a lot of bandwidth on many IPS networks. Some ISPs are allegedly slowing the streaming of YouTube videos down and YouTube is calling the ISPs out on the practice. YouTube has begun putting little messages on videos that are having streaming issues.

 

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The message pops up over the title of the video and reads "Experiencing Interruptions?" and on the right side of the message, a button for users to click reads, "Find out Why." When the user clicks on that button, they are taken to a Video Quality Report that is localized for the person streaming the video. That report allows the user to compare video consumption times in their area and compare their ISP with the performance of other local ISPs in the area.

 

The best providers in the area receive a YouTube HD Verified tag with other carriers possibly having badges putting them in Standard Definition or lower tiers. The idea is to give the viewer an idea of why a video is slow rather than just assuming YouTube is having issues and to give the viewer options to change to other carriers that aren't putting limits on video streaming.

US Marshals bitcoin auction list targeted by spammers after leak

The email mistake from the US Marshals Service that led an email to be sent CC instead of BCC has resulted in at least a few people on the list receiving phishing emails. It's an unfortunate turn of events considering these type of basic email snafus shouldn't happen frequently, especially from a government agency.

 

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So far, the only victim appears to be Bitcoins Reserve, with CTO Jim Chen sending 100 bitcoins to someone he thought was company founder Sam Lee. Here is what Lee said in an email confirming the problem:

 

"As this attack vector was only successful due to an oversight in operations, the founders of Bitcoins Reserve will compensate the company by injecting an additional 100 bitcoins to ensure we're still effectively performing arbitrage for our investors."

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