This is a subject quite close to my chest, our current financial system. Without getting into a personal post, I'll keep this as professional as I can and leave my opinion out of this and just post it as a pure news post to try to get this as viral as possible. I've noticed this post on Reddit about a $15,000,000,000,000 ($15 trillion) fraud case that was bought up to the UK House of Lords by Lord James of Blackheath.
He has noticed three separate transactions of $5 trillion each, starting with a $5 trillion transfer to HSBC in the UK, seven days later followed another $5 trillion to the HSBC, and three weeks later another $5 trillion. This is a total of $15 trillion, which has entered into the hands of the HSBC, and onward transit to the Royal Bank of Scotland. This is a serious, serious amount of money, and this story should be on every TV, Radio, Cable, Internet channel and everything in between.
Where did $15 trillion come from? Who has that sort of disposable money, without having to loan it? And if you did loan it, what kind of bank loans out $15 trillion? You have to have some very valuable assets in order to just borrow, or lend out, $15 trillion. Let's delve into this more. Lord James of Blackheath has done his research and claims that the money is the property of what some people have called "the richest man in the world", Yohannes Riyadi.
Owners of Samsung TVs filed a class-action lawsuit, which has finally reached settlement. Within the settlement, Samsung have promised to pay for the bills of owners repairs, reimburse for already-paid-for repairs, or hand out up to $300 to customers who no longer own their once-faulty TV, once they prove ownership.
The fault only affects the model numbers in the above picture, where it's possible that up to 7 million TVs were affected. The problem is related to an errant capacitor in the power circuit that stops the TV turning on, makes it slow to turn on, produces a "clicking sound" or makes it cycle on and off.
A Samsung spokesperson has said:
Approximately 1 percent of Samsung televisions sold in the U.S. from 2006 to 2008 have experienced some performance issues caused by a component called a capacitor. Since originally confirming this issue in early 2010, Samsung has voluntarily provided free repairs for U.S. customers with affected televisions. Recently, a nationwide class settlement covering all affected televisions in the U.S. was reached in Russell, et al. v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc., a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Oklahoma County in the U.S.
We've covered this story quite a bit since it broke, with an editorial, and multiple news pieces as things happened. Even when it was declared he was knocked from his No. 1 spot on COD: Modern Warfare 3. Today, marks a new direction in the case of Megaupload's founder Kim Dotcom. He has received bail, and now has some fairly strict conditions put upon him.
Within the North Shore District Court, we had Justice Dawson, Kim Dotcom, and a bunch of suits. Once it was all done and dusted, Kim Dotcom received the following conditions: he is completely banned from the Internet. Justice Dawson stated that he shouldn't have access to the Internet as he has "the ability to use it for wrong purposes".
Intel are expected to launch their Ivy Bridge processors for second-generation Ultrabooks sometime after May, and have demanded that data read/write speeds reach a certain level through adoption of SSDs or hybrid hard disk drives, according to a new report from Digitimes.
Most vendors are expected to adopt hybrid HDDs in order to cut costs, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers. Intel will reportedly promote Ivy Bridge in a different way, by slashing prices by US$60-70 on average, according to said sources. Storage devices within notebook production costs suck up around 10 to 15-percent, so vendors will obviously want to cut prices where they can.
Samsung Australia have just inked a deal with Blockbuster, where they'll allow thousands of Blockbuster movies to their new range of Smart TVs, as well as Galaxy-branded smartphones and tablets. Paul Uniacke, CEO of the Franchise Entertainment Group (who owns the rights to the Blockbuster brand in Australia) says that "the Samsung deal is a brilliant deal".
This will allow Australians to have access to thousands of movies that can be streamed directly to Samsung-branded products such as Blu-ray players, Smart TVs, tablets, smartphones and more. The new deal will also allow Samsung to push Blockbuster movies onto Samsung-branded notebooks and Ultrabooks.
According to "Samsung sources", the content deal struck with Blockbuster will not be announced until the second half of 2012, where global Samsung plans to launch their Blockbuster offering in the USA, UK, and Europe in the first half of 2012, with Australians getting access to the content as early as September.
The Windows Team Blog, and more specifically, Principal Director of User Experience for Windows, Sam Moreau, have unveiled the new redesigned logo for Windows 8. Before we get into it, check it out below:
First impressions? Personally? I love it. It looks much more professional and "now", and would look great on a new Windows 8-based device (such as the tablets, or Ultrabooks ready to hit this year). Microsoft put the call out to a few agencies to work with them on the project of redesigning their logo and ended up with Pentagram.
Pentagram were called into the conference room over at the Microsoft campus, where a meeting with Paula Scher, Michael Beirut and Daniel Weil of Pentagram attended, as well as a few designers and marketing leaders from Windows and across Microsoft. The team of people spent an entire day sharing some of the Metro style design philosophy; the Windows brand history and values as well as graphic design and technology industry trends.
Intel's upcoming 22nm-based Ivy Bridge processors are set to be delayed by a few months, because Sandy Bridge-based notebook inventories are not moving as fast as notebook makers, and Intel, want. Mass shipments of Ivy Bridge were expected in April, but may be pushed along until June, according to DigiTimes.
First-tier notebook vendors are having problems pushing their Sandy Bridge-based notebook inventories, and because of the weak global economy, this won't go away anytime soon. Intel is also troubled by it Sandy Bridge processor inventory, which means they have plans to delay the mass shipments of Ivy Bridge-based tech in order to minimize the impact.
Now that the launch schedule has changed, notebook vendors are shuffling plans for new Ivy Bridge-based products. These plans are still shaky, even with the delay, because of the impending release of Microsoft's next game-changing OS, Windows 8. The PC replacement trend won't catch on until Windows 8 is released, which is my opinion, and seems to be the opinion of notebook vendors, too.
Sony and Ericsson now split, Ericsson keeps the cars, Sony takes the house and renames it Sony Mobile Communications
Sony and Ericsson's split is now finalized, with Sony taking over Ericsson's 50-percent stake in the former joint venture. This move has reportedly cost $1.37 billion to complete and with it now being fully Sony-owned, Sony have renamed Sony Ericsson to "Sony Mobile Communications".
The agreement was completed today, and has Sony absorbing the broad IP cross-licensing agreement, among others, which now makes Sony Ericsson a "wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony". Not that this news is exciting, but it'll be interesting to see where Sony takes their Sony Mobile Communications to, from here.
Will they try to compete much harder against Apple, Samsung, and others? Will they choose to continue with their Android-based products, or will they diversify and move onto Windows Phone 7 in the future, or Windows 8 devices? Time will tell, I guess.
Apple awarded patent for the design of the MacBook Air, this could spell trouble for Ultrabook makers
Sigh. Apple have been quite active on the patent front this week, and were just now awarded another 19 patents, one of those for the design of the MacBook Air. Apple could, in theory, use this patent on the MBA to try and block manufacturers marketing their Ultrabook, or ultra-thin/light notebooks in the US.
The patent in question, No. D654,072, refers to an "ornamental design for an electronic device" and actually lists Steve Jobs as one of its creators. The term "MacBook Air" isn't used, but there are drawings of a laptop, where you can clearly see it's a MBA. The patent was awarded on Valentines's Day, and could see Apple use it for evil.
If Apple decide to use the patent as a weapon of mass destruction, they could stop most manufacturers from pushing their Ultrabook, or thin/light/portable notebooks. This could mean serious trouble for the entire consumer PC industry. Intel have a considerable amount of time, money and effort poured into Ultrabooks, and having to duke it out in court with Apple would spell more than one headache for most companies.
If I were Samsung, I'd be changing my design, now.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and that picture is Apple being patent trolls. Not only have the Cupertino-based company gone after Samsung multiple times, and even recently against their Galaxy Nexus, but they've gone after several other companies and now the bankrupt company Kodak.
Kodak only filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy a few weeks ago now, but now Apple are seeking approval to sue Kodak in a New York court based on an alleged patent infringement. Kodak are now awaiting a decision from a bankruptcy judge who might give Apple permission to file a patent complain over technologies used in printers, digital cameras and digital picture frames.
'Oh snapz!' is something our VGA editor, Shane Baxtor likes to say when something like this happens - so, it felt oh so appropriate to use it in this news. The Pirate Bay have just posted on their blog informing their loyal users that Magnet links are now default when wanting to download something, here's the quote:
Quite some time ago we decided to not host torrent files anymore. In following with that decision, we decided to make Magnet links the default option for the Download buttons!
We've just changed places on the links. Magnet is now default, Download torrent is now where the magnet links used to be. The reason is the same as always: Magnets are now good enough to use, and it's not as easy to block as .torrent files. Also it saves us a huge amount of bandwidth!
So go ahead, magnet away!
Do you know what this means? The current court proceedings against The Pirate Bay just got that much harder. This means that the 'illegal' files that are downloaded, are distributed amongst the downloaders. This makes the target turn away from The Pirate Bay and onto tens of millions of downloaders around the world.
So, unless the MPAA and RIAA want to start arresting millions of people around the world, they're kinda stuck. In shark infested waters, without a life jacket, or a flare gun, while a pirate ship sails around them, laughing manically.
If we look back to the beginning of 2011, Apple were worth in excess of $300 billion. Fast forward to the same time this year, and they posted record first-quarter results, with all-time record iPhone, iPad and Mac sales. Just 24 hours ago, Apple shares closed at $500, with a market capitalization of almost $470 billion.
As big as PayPal are, they can be much bigger. Vice President and General Manager of Retail and Prepaid, Don Kingsborough, has said that he's wanting to move PayPal into physical retail stores, and hopes that this retail push will give them some power against Visa and MasterCard.
PayPal's plan is to reach a public goal of 20 major retailers using the point-of-sales (POS) system by the end of this year. This POS system works when a customer checks out, and the POS card-swiping terminal offers a new orange button saying, "Pay with PayPal". From there, customers can select this option, confirm the total, and type in their cell phone number and a PIN number that was determined before going into the store.
Kingsborough has been quoted:
We are going to do it with the greatest brands in the world -- Home Depot and every other top 100 retailer. There isn't a major brand we haven't talked to.
The eBay-owned company is already testing out their POS system in Home Depot, with Office Depot the next step in this grand new plan. PayPal have refused to comment on the names of other planned retailers.
Talk about cashing in. Sony have officially apologised for hiking up the prices on two of Whitney Houston's albums on Apple's U.K. iTunes store, the day after the singer had died.
On Sunday, Sony had introduced new wholesale price changes that bumped the retail price of Whitney Houston's "The Ultimate Collection" from 4.99 pounds to 7.99. On top of this crazyness, Sony increased the price of "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" from 7.99 pounds up to 9.99.
Sony then moved the prices back to their original price later in the day. Of course, the Internet exploded with criticism, where Sony didn't bother to comment until later this afternoon. Sony's apology statement, as reported by AllThingsD:
Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the UK iTunes store on Sunday. When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused.
Team Red have just lost another player, after a few resignations and changes within the company throughout 2011 and even this year, news has hit the Internet that AMD's Corporate Vice President & CTO, Graphics Division, Eric Demers, is leaving the company. He has hung up his Team Red shirt for good.
AnandTech have reported that he isn't leaving for Intel, or Team Green (NVIDIA), but suspect that Eric's talents will continue to be seen within the industry. Considering AMD's current success within the GPU industry, it's hard to see Eric out of work for a long period of time.
Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola has not only been approved by the European Commission, but the United States Department of Justice. Google is now edging closer to the deal being completely approved, but they're still waiting on approval of China, Taiwan and Israel, before the transaction can officially be completed.
The DoJ's Anti-trust Division, who conducted the investigation, said the purchase was "not likely to significantly change existing market dynamics" or "substantially lessen competition". Of course, there are still concerns and they will have eyes on them to make sure they don't abuse patents, like other companies do. Reuters have reported that the DoJ "would not hesitate to take enforcement action", if Google were to manipulate the licensing of standard essential patents to their own advantage.
Google have whipped out their [Google] wallet and are paying more than $120 million for construction projects at their Mountain View HQ, including work on a series of new or previously secret hardware testing labs, that are hinting at Google expanding interest in making consumer objects to combat rivals Apple, Microsoft, and more.
Included in these new secret labs, is a reported new secret consumer product under the brand name "@home", that is said to wireless stream music or data to other household devices. Google are also said to be modifying a lab for their "Project X", which seems to involve precision optical technology and be part of the secret technology projects that Google co-founder, Sergey Brin is heading.
The biggest project in this expansion is said to be a "Google Experience Center", which is at the core of the Googleplex. The 120,000-square-foot center is said to be a kind of private museum for Google's most importan clients and partners, where they plan to "to share visionary ideas, and explore new ways of working" with up to 900 VIPs and other important guests.
I'd love to have a tour through these new facilities, it sounds super exciting. I really just want a pair of those Intersect glasses (Chuck fans, unite!). Well, not Intersect glasses, but Google's augmented reality glasses.
Apple shares closed above the $500 mark today, ending the day at $502.60. Impressive. Being the world's most valuable company must feel good, but being able to boast a market capitalization of almost $470 billion, must feel better.
This means they're up 9 points from yesterday's close, and up more than 80 from the day Apple released their numbers for their super-impressive quarter on January 24th. This $500 mark is said to be a 'psychological milestone', with the market cap the most important. $470 billion may sound like a lot, but during the 1990s boom, Microsoft, Cisco and GE also reached that height.
Considering Apple also hold close to $100 billion in cash, this goes to expand those numbers that little bit more. The question I have is, just like all companies, and empires, they fall. Will Apple continuously expand and hit $1000 per share? Or will they fall? What could do that? A true market crash? It seems nothing can stop this freight train that is Apple.
Microsoft opening new retail stores soon, will step over the border to Canada by the end of the year
Microsoft have laid down some plans where they will open up four new retail stores over the next few months, with the first international stores opening up later this year.
This is all according to at least one person familiar with Microsoft's plans, says The Verge. The plans would see the Redmond-based company open up a brand new store in Palo Alto, California, and another in Austin, Texas. The funny thing about two of these stores? They will be opening during April, and they'll be quite close to Apple retail store locations in popular malls.
The same plans are said to include two new stores in the state of New Jersey, the first in Bridgewater, the second in Freehold. The New Jersey stores are said to be located in malls that also have Apple stores, and are expected to open up shop before the end of June.
Microsoft's Kevin Turner said last July that Microsoft plan to open up 75 new stores over the next two years, but at the time didn't mention any non-domestic stores. Canada is on the list to receive a store, which should be located in Toronto and will open up just before the holidays. It's said to expect at least one international store at the same time as the Toronto-based store opening.
We reported last year about the Steam hack, but it has now been reported that the hack was actually quite a lot worse than previously thought. The server hacked did contain data such as usernames, hashed passwords, game purchases, e-mail addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card numbers, but Valve didn't find any evidence that led them to believe that any personal information was stolen, until now.
Valve have completed further investigation into the matter, and have stated that their preliminary conclusion was, incorrect. Newell has now said he believes the hackers obtained a copy of a backup file with data about Steam transactions made between 2004 and 2008. This backup file is said to contain usernames, e-mail addresses, encrypted billing addresses and encrypted credit card numbers. One of the good things to come from this news is that no passwords were included in this file.
Yozma Venture Capital is looking to sell their shares in Israel-based Conduit, a company who creates user engagement tools. Yozma could receive more than $200 million if they sold their shares, Globe reported yesterday.
The buyer is Silver Lake, a U.S. private equity firm, who is looking to pay between $200 and $250 million for the stake in Conduit. Globes describes the firm as a:
large foreign investment firm that has tens of billions of dollars in assets under management.
Yozma originally invested $1.5 million in the company back in 2006 for a 9-percent stake. If this deal continues, Yozma would see a very impressive 200-times its initial investment, or 20,000-percent. This is an insane deal for Yozma, and shows they invested their money very wisely.
What do Conduit offer? They offer three services, first, a community toolbar that boosts traffic and grows website communities, a mobile service that creates apps, and the Wibaya Bar, which promotes social engagement.