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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 255

Google uses treated waste water to reduce environmental impact

Google is committed to being environmentally friendly with their data centers. They've been reducing power usage, and now they are using treated waste water instead of fresh water. By using water and evaporative cooling, Google has already reduced their power usage by half, according to Google. Google quickly realized they didn't need to use fresh, drinkable water to cool their servers, so they worked out a deal with the local water district to syphon 30% of the treated waste water that would otherwise flow into the local river.

 

 

Now, some of the water leaves the cooling towers as water vapor, and the rest gets sent to an on-site treatment plant where it is filtered and released into that same local river "clean, clear, and safe." The water is treated before going to Google, used to cool the servers and then processed once more before being released. They claim the water is cleaner than if they had never taken the water.

Kim Dotcom may get to reclaim assets after a paperwork error

Today may just be Kim Dotcom's lucky day. I'm sure most of us remember that fateful day 8 weeks ago when his mansion was raided by police. Well, apparently, his house was raided on a court order that should have never been granted. A judgment from Justice Judith Potter on Friday declared the restraining order "null and void" and having "no legal effect" which means that the government may be forced to return his assets and property back to him.

 

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Justice Potter has said that after the police found the mistake, they sought to correct the mistake after the raid by applying for the proper order, retrospectively listing assets already seized. This order has been granted temporarily, but Potter has said that she will rule on whether this means Mr. Dotcom should get his property back. The raid left him without any money or means to fight the charges that he was running the biggest criminal copyright operation in history.

 

Court papers show Akel stating Dotcom's belongings and fortune "must be released" because it was "unlawfully seized and restrained under the order". All of this does not guarantee Mr. Dotcom's property back, however. The law allows for mistakes, and for him to get his property back, his lawyers will need to show a "lack of good faith."

FAA to take new look at allowing electronic devices during takeoff, landing

At least something good regarding air travel is finally happening. The FAA has announced plans to re-evaluate the use of electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing. This will be the first time that this has happened since 2006. The unfortunate part of this is that they are only considering devices other than cellphones. So while you may not be making phone calls during takeoff, you may be able to get a few more pages done on the latest thriller novel you happen to be reading on your tablet or e-reader.

 

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Previously to this, testing was an expensive and arduous task. For a device to be approved, it had to be taken up on an empty flight, by itself, on every plane in an airline's fleet on every single airline that wanted to approve the device for use. Clearly, this is an expensive and time consuming process, so the airlines haven't been conducting the tests. The FAA has pledged to work with "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" to solve the problem of gaining device approval.

Pre-crime detection system being trialled in U.S., Tom Cruise is not involved

Minority Report fans, check in, please. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has started up a new initiative, Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), where it aims to use sensor technology to detect cues "indicative of mal-intent", as defined by the DHS, as intent or desire to cause real harm, "rapidly, reliably, and remotely". They would use it to, "fight terror".

 

 

What is the FAST system capable of? Well, it has the features to monitor physiological and behavioral cues without contact. This means it is capable of capturing data such as your heart rate and steadiness of gaze of passengers that are about to board a plane. With said cues, FAST can then run through algorithms in real-time to compute the probability than an individual is planning to commit a crime.

 

According to the science journal, Nature, the first round of field tests for the program was completed at an "undisclosed location" in the northeast several months ago, where in lab tests, FAST reported a 70-percent accuracy rate. Not too damn bad for what would be a first-gen attempt/device.

Continue reading 'Pre-crime detection system being trialled in U.S., Tom Cruise is not involved' (full post)

PayPal unveils 'PayPal Here' service, sports a free card processing app and card reader

PayPal have had the thirst for business for quite sometime now, and aren't just content with staying online, and so they should be. The company revealed their latest PayPal service: PayPal Here.

 

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With PayPal Here, the service includes a free card processing app, as well as a unique triangle-looking thingo that attaches to most Android and iOS-based devices. From here, you can swipe a credit card at literally any location in the world, as long as you have Internet access.

 

This isn't something new in itself, but PayPal's transaction fee is: just 2.7-percent with no monthly fees. The 2.7-percent is universal to boot, which means you could use any card you like, including American Express, and you'll be charged just 2.7-percent of the total. At the moment, mobile card processing pioneer, Square, charges a universal 2.75-percent transaction fee.

Continue reading 'PayPal unveils 'PayPal Here' service, sports a free card processing app and card reader' (full post)

Apple will explain how it will use its $100 billion in cash tomorrow

Apple have a very delicious kitty of nearly $100 billion in cash reserves right now, with $97.6 billion to be precise. Come 9AM Eastern on Monday, March 19, CEO Tim Cook as well as CFO Peter Oppenheimer will discuss the "outcome of the Company's discussions".

 

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Apple will offer this discussion as a phone call and as a live stream with replays available for two weeks afterwards. Apple have actively been discussing what they should do with their cash reserves, where other companies would spend it, or acquire other smaller companies, or start-ups, Apple have just been saving, saving, saving.

 

Investment analysts have complained more than once that Apple should offer a dividend payout to shareholders despite the stock being the largest in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing, too. Apple have always been careful of its spending, which is at least attributed to the late Steve Jobs. Most believed that Jobs had recognized what happened to Apple previously in his absence from the company, and used it as a sign to build a cash reserve in the event of an unforeseen circumstance such as a sharp market drop, economic crisis, or something along those lines.

Continue reading 'Apple will explain how it will use its $100 billion in cash tomorrow' (full post)

Google sued over app return policy and bogus apps

Here comes another blow to the search giant. Not only are they being investigated by both US and EU regulators, but they are now being sued. A lawsuit has been filed in California Superior Court that is seeking class-action status, damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. The lawsuit names California residents Dodd J. Harris and Stephen Sabatino. Harris is upset because he purchased the app "Learn Chinese Mandarin Pro" for $4.83 in December. He claims that the app did not work as advertised, but he was too late. It was already 20 minutes past his purchase. Google's return policy only allows 15 minutes.

 

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Sabatino, on the other hand, bought "aBTC", a BitTorrent client for Android, for $4.99 in January. The product didn't work, however, he tried tinkering with it for an hour before attempting to unsuccessfully return it. In December 2010, Google lowered the return policy on apps from 24 hours to 15 minutes. They stated this was because "most users who request a refund do so within minutes of purchase."

 

In addition to the refund policy, the suit is challenging Google's app approval process, or lack there of. Google, unlike Apple, has previously allowed any app to be posted to the market. This has led to many apps on the market which contain malware. In response to this, Google last month added a new layer of security, dubbed Bouncer, which will attempt to scan apps for evidence of malware and bounce them.

Continue reading 'Google sued over app return policy and bogus apps' (full post)

Google accused of bypassing Safari privacy settings, places cookies anyway

US and EU regulators have launched an investigation into Google and the allegations that they bypassed the privacy settings of Safari users on both desktop and mobile iOS users. Google spokeswoman contends that these actions were unintended. She said, "It's important to remember that we didn't anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers." Let's try to understand what happened in a little more detail.

 

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Google has discovered that when they created a temporary link between the user's Safari browser and Google's servers, it allowed other ad cookies to be placed on the browser. Google has since been removing these files, but the damage for Google has already been done. These investigations could have Google on the hook financially for quite a lot. If they are found to have broken a settlement agreement FTC, they could be fined $16,000 per violation, per day. In addition, state attorneys general can levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation. And all of this is only state side.

Continue reading 'Google accused of bypassing Safari privacy settings, places cookies anyway' (full post)

18 firms sued for using privacy-invading mobile apps

A lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas earlier this week by 13 individuals alleging that "the defendants -- several of the world's largest and most influential technology and social networking companies -- have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner's address book data without the owner's knowledge or consent." The defendants in question are Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Yelp and 14 other companies.

 

This claim, if true, is pretty worrisome for users of the apps, such as myself. Last month, one of the companies named in the suit was pressured into issuing a public apology after a Singapore-based programmer uncovered the fact in a blog post. An article, Mobile Apps Take Data Without Permission by the New York Times, was cited several times in the 152-page complaint. This lawsuit comes at a time privacy concerns over mobile applications appears to be steadily rising.

 

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According to our source:

 

Apple, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this week's lawsuit. A Twitter spokesman said the company did not comment on pending litigation.

Continue reading '18 firms sued for using privacy-invading mobile apps' (full post)

AU Optronics gets pwned, found guilty of US price fixing, appeals

AU Optronics, you naughty, naughty company. They've had their name thrown through courts before, where in a 2009 group suit they were targeted for LCD price fixing. But, it's not like LCD price fixing is anything new, but it seems that AUO will be getting slapped with the decision process in the US.

 

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A US court found the Taiwanese company guilt in a case, where the fine could be as large as $1 billion. Quite a lot of green, if you ask me. The company was charged as part of an alleged price-fixing group, that operated for quite a while it seems, between 1999 and 2006 to be exact, where they were the only Asian LCD maker in that lot to plead not guilty.

 

This ruling comes after LG coughing up a $400 million fine in 2008, where Samsung talked themselves into an early deal to sidestep prosecution. A duo of AUO executives were also found guilty, but its former CEO, L.J. Chen, was not. AUO are expected to appeal, which could take a year, but that hasn't stopped their stock price from dropping in the meantime.

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