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The bitcoin cryptocurrency has hit a few bumps in the road, but consumers now find it easier to make purchases and spend their bitcoins online. Silicon Valley startup companies are going beyond simply trying to mine and own bitcoins, and want to focus on apps and services for consumers to use.
The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently ruled that bitcoins are property, not a real currency, while other countries are struggling how to deal with the digital currency.
"It's all about to change over the next 12 to 24 months," said Marshall Hayner, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur hoping to bank on bitcoin with a QuickCoin app. "We are going to see all kinds of people adopt it. It's going to power transactions on the Internet."
Google is quite accustomed by this point to paying fines levied against it over its Street View service violating privacy laws both in the US and around the world. Today the Mountain View-based company was forced to pay a $1.4 million fine that the Italian government issued it over its Street View cars not being visible enough to warn citizens of its existence when driving down the road.
"Cars belonging to the giant of Mountain View roamed Italy's streets without being entirely recognizable as such, therefore not allowing the people present in those places to decide whether to be photographed or not," said Italian regulators on the subject. "The fine from the DPA relates to an old case that dates back to 2010. We complied with everything the (regulator) required of us at the time," a Google spokeswoman said. Google has since added more bright colors to the car's paint scheme, and clearly branded it as a Google vehicle.
The European parliament has voted on a very important step for the European Union, where it would see roaming fees completely wiped away between EU member states - something that is being bundled as telecom reforms.
The new package was originally proposed by EU lawmaker Neelie Kroes, where it would see Europe move toward being a single market for the mobile world. This news comes on the heels of 4G LTE roaming agreements between European carriers. If the law passes with ministers from member nations, citizens of the EU could see roaming charges being a distant memory.
We could see this pushed in as early as the end of next year. The EU telecom reform package includes stronger protection for net neutrality, which will make it illegal for network providers to block or impose speeds on data based on the sender, or recipient.
The former Creative Director of Naughty Dog, the studio behind the immensely popular Uncharted series, has joined Visceral Games. Amy Henning will work on a new Star Wars project over at EA.
Visceral's Vice President and General Manager, Steve Papooutsis, announced the news through EA's The Beat blog, where he said: "Amy has long been recognized as one of our industry's top visionaries, and is coming off an amazing run as the Writer and Creative Director of the Uncharted franchise. But her contributions go beyond the games she helped create at Naughty Dog and at Crystal Dynamics, where we worked together many years ago".
"As both a colleague and friend, I've always admired her approach to creative development - focusing on nailing down the soul of a game first, and then making sure the writing, the gameplay, the design and the art comes together to form a unified, interactive experience for the player. This fits in perfectly with what we're trying to do here at Visceral and Amy's going to help us continue in our pursuit to make the most thrilling, immersive games in the world".
Microsoft will move its San Francisco office to the Financial District's "crown jewel," located at 555 California St., renting the second and third floors. The San Francisco Microsoft office specializes in sales, marketing and engineering, and the employees won't have to move very far away.
The average price of office rentals in the area is about $58 per square foot, while Microsoft is expected to pay $62 per square foot. The 555 California Street building is the second tallest building in San Francisco, and is easily noticeable as it stands above the Financial District.
Microsoft also has a Silicon Valley location in Mountain View, California, where most of the company's regional employees work. Microsoft reportedly wants to expand into Sunnyvale in the near future, though an exact location hasn't been selected.
I've attended meetings and tech training sessions in the current Microsoft San Francisco office, and believe moving to a separate office building will be ideal. If visitors know to enter the Westfield mall and how to get on the elevator and find the appropriate floor, it's easy - but first-time visitors sometimes end up aimlessly wandering around in circles.
Angkor Wat is a monument in Cambodia that was built-in the 12th century. It is the largest religious monument in the world and has been in a number of movies over the years. If you have always wanted to explore the monument, but can't take off to Cambodia to check it out, Google has you covered.
Google has been working on a Streetview project since July of 2013 to let people virtually explore the monument using its 360-degree camera tech. Google has been adding lots of new monuments to the Streetview service over the last several months.
The Streetview exploration of Angkor Wat was cobbled together out of over 90,000 high-resolution images. The mass of images shows detail on over 100 of the temples in the complex. Google completed the project to put the temple project on Streetview with help from the Apsara Authority of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
There is continued tension between tech companies trying to shuttle employees to Silicon Valley and the protesters fighting against the buses, with protesters saying the company buses take up space and interfere with normal commuters, along with hurt the environment.
The Oakland Police Department and BART Police received calls reporting 15 to 20 protesters were becoming increasingly belligerent in their efforts to block a Yahoo shuttle bus.
Protesters block, vomit on Yahoo bus in Oakland. (BART police confirm blocking, at least. Happy lunchtime.) http://t.co/X4xxI5xDvW- Ellen Huet (@ellenhuet) April 2, 2014
Major Silicon Valley companies - such as Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Genentech - have had their commuter shuttle buses blocked in San Francisco and Oakland. The problem only seems to be intensifying, with the companies trying to determine the best way to pick up employees from local ferry and transit systems without impeding on normal traffic flow.
If you frequently order things from Amazon, you know that it can be a worrisome process if a package has to be left by the door of your house with no one there to get it. There are some products that you might not want to go to your house even if someone is there to receive them, gifts are a good example. Amazon started rolling out its Lockers delivery service a few years ago.
Early on, the lockers could be found in Staples and other locations. Staples has since cancelled the deal and no longer has Lockers in its locations. Originally, all you could do was pick up the items you ordered at the Lockers location, but Amazon is now taking returns at the same Lockers.
The lockers return service works much like the delivery service. Amazon will send the person making a return a code to unlock the locker. Boxes up to one square foot in size can be placed inside. By taking returns at the Lockers location, Amazon can presumably save money on shipping since the delivery driver will be there dropping off packages for delivery.
The Nest smart thermostat has been available for people to buy in the US for a longtime now. Not too long ago, Google purchased Nest and kept the people behind the product turning the team into the Google hardware group.
If you live in the UK and have been waiting to get your hands-on a Nest thermostat, it has now launched in your country. As of today, the Nest thermostat can be purchased in the UK starting at £179. That price includes free installation within about ten days of purchase.
If you want the Nest and need it installed faster, you can pay £249 and get the Nest with FAST installation within 3-4 days. The thermostat has the same features and style in the UK that it offers in the US. An accessory stand will be available for users who don't want to install it on the wall.
HP has taken a beating on its purchase of WebOS from Palm. The sell off of WebOS left many investors in the computer maker upset. They were angry enough that they filed a class action suit against HP. That suit now has a settlement offer on the table.
HP has agreed to a $57 million settlement that will be placed into an interest-earning escrow account. The money will sit there until the judge presiding over the case decides whether he feels that the deal is good enough. The suit was filed by some major investors of HP after the company talked up its major WebOS plans only to back out and sell the asset off later.
The plaintiffs are a number of institutional investors that are angry about what HP said publicly and planned privately to do. The suit that was filed lists information given from unnamed HP employees that claims while HP was saying it would flood the market with WebOS devices; it didn't plan to launch the first devices using the OS until 2013.