Amazon Centers in Germany Disrupted by Union’s Call For 3-Day Strike

The ver.di union has called for a three-day strike at Amazon Germany distribution centers, which could have a major impact on business operations.

It’s unknown how many employees will participate at five distribution centers – located in Bad Hersfeld, Graben, Rheinberg, Werne and Leipzig – while Amazon has 9,000 employees working in Germany.

The union wants Amazon employees to receive a higher salary, arguing they receive less than retail and mail-order positions in the country. Amazon countered by saying the German facilities are logistics centers and employees are paid accordingly.

This is absolutely terrible timing for Amazon, as its orders in Germany topped out on Dec. 15 in 2014, with customers making a purchase every 53 seconds.

However, Amazon officials reportedly assured German customers they can still expect swift shipments of their orders. The company prides itself in fulfilling orders quickly, even during an extremely busy holiday shopping season, and will continue to work through the strike.

Thank you to Tech Week Europe for providing us with this image

Sony Reportedly ‘Spooked’ It Could Be Victimized by Cyberattack Again

Sony Pictures Entertainment is still trying to recover from a major data breach that saw several movies leaked online, personal employee data stolen, and confidential emails published for the world to see.

It looks like the company is worried it could be victimized again after the scheduled Christmas release of “The Interview,” which features Seth Rogen and James Franco. Considering the FBI noted that 90 percent of companies would likely fall victim to the same type of attack, it will be curious to see if Sony is able to quickly improve its defenses.

“They are spooked,” according to an anonymous government source, when speaking of Sony’s recent experiences following the data breach. The Department of Justice’s National Security Division is investigating the breach, indicating the federal government wants to verify if a foreign state government could be involved.

The FBI hasn’t been able to determine what hacker group is behind the breach, while a group called the “Guardians of Peace” claimed credit. Alleged ties to North Korea, which haven’t been verified, continue to seem like a possible source involved in the attack.

(Image courtesy of The Huffington Post)

Leaked Email Indicates Google, Sony Invited to Anti-Piracy Meeting With US Homeland Security

It would seem Google and movie studios are trying to strengthen a relatively fragile relationship that continues to evolve.

A leaked email from a member of the Sony Pictures legal team to CEO Michael Lynton, sent on March 19, 2012, indicated Homeland Security official John Morton wanted Lynton to attend a meeting “to find a compromise to the Google issues.”

Here is part of the leaked email:

“Google apparently is willing to do more than its public (and not so public) positions; Google suggested you as the most balanced and reasonable person on the studio side and specifically requested your participation. No other studio would be involved.

You are his first phone call invitation to this small group. He plans on also inviting the Chairman , President and CEO of Eli Lilly , John C. Lechleiter, who is very involved in fighting counterfeit pharmaceuticals; additionally , he wants to invite Ernie Allen who is the President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. I have attached the resumes of each of these 2 gentlemen. Lastly, he is thinking of including someone from Rosetta Stone; I still have not confirmed who that would be. From what I understand, John does not want the group any larger.”

The president and CEO of biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was invited, as the company was able to clamp down on counterfeit pharmaceuticals that were sold online. Furthermore, representatives from Rosetta Stone and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were requested to contribute during the meeting.

It’s unknown if the meeting ever took place – and was supposed to be a “very confidential” meeting – but Google has recently been involved in several high-profile anti-piracy efforts. The tech company cracked down on a few different torrenting apps available in its Google Play store, along with again outlining its anti-piracy efforts in a new report.

In the past, movie studios accused Google of helping facilitate piracy, criticizing the No. 1 search engine for not doing more in its effort to prevent online piracy.

Image courtesy of The Next Web

Mark Zuckerberg Says Facebook Considering Adding ‘Dislike’ Button

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company is considering adding a “Dislike” button for members to utilize when interacting with posted content.

Here is what Zuckerberg said during the open question and answer session at Facebook headquarters: “A lot of times, people share things that are sad, or tough cultural or social things,” or suffer some type of personal loss, and pressing the “Like” button can be difficult.

Adding a standalone “Dislike” button could change the way Facebook members interact with the website – and that could hurt the company’s third-party advertisers. However, it’s something the company will continue to use a measured approach in considering later down the road.  This isn’t the first time Zuckerberg publicly said he has mulled over a “Dislike” button, so don’t hold your breath until it’s potentially one day seen.

Facebook added the ability to use emoticons in posts two years ago, and has opened up sexual identity abilities on the No. 1 social networking site.  It will be interesting to see if Facebook ultimately decides to add the “Dislike” button, which many members have long asked for.

(Image courtesy of Brunch News)

Royal Mail Embracing 3D Printing Technology, Wants to Custom Print Your Items

The Royal Mail has partnered with 3D printing specialist iMakr to install 3D printers at its New Cavendish Street delivery office, hoping to entice the public.

Customers can purchase custom designs or ready-to-print objects, and the pilot program could be rolled out nationwide based on demand.

Here is what Mike Newnham, Royal Mail chief customer officer, said in a statement:

“3D printing is an emerging technology that has many applications and offers an innovative way to create unique or personalized objects. It can be prohibitively expensive for consumers or small businesses to invest a 3D printer, so we are launching a pilot to gauge interest in 3D printing.”

Consumer 3D printers can be purchased in the UK, but prices typically top £1,000, not including required filaments. Analysts think it will take at least five years before the pricey custom printers become more commonplace among consumers, with price cuts necessary to increase interest.

The 3D printing market is growing as consumers become more aware of 3D-printed products – but high acquisition and start-up costs are delaying investments, according to the Gartner research group. In fact, 60 percent of organizations interested in 3D printing have delayed implementation because of such high start-up costs.

(Image courtesy of UK In The Press)

Smartphone Theft in London Still Frustrating Police, But Slow Progress Being Made

Metropolitan areas in the United States and United Kingdom have struggled to crack down on theft related to smartphones, leading to an increase in theft, robbery, and potential violent incidents. Most of the problems occur from street-level crime, with 300 reported smartphone thefts each day in 2013.

Not surprisingly, the Apple iPhone 5 proved to be the most stolen smartphone in the UK, with the iPhone 5C, 5S and 4S following behind, according to “The Mobile Phone Theft Ratio” report from Home Secretary Theresa May. The report was released before the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were announced, so a future report will likely indicate a change.

Here is what the Report of Technological Advisory Council (TAC) Subcommittee on Mobile Device Theft Prevention:

“Smartphones are a significant driver of thefts in London. Smartphone thefts from a person more than doubled between 2010 and 2013, increasing from 16,141 stolen smartphones in 2010 to 32,872 in 2013. In 2013, nearly half (49 percent) of London robberies involved a smartphone. Despite a successful 2012 crackdown on smartphone theft, London police still received over 100,000 reports of stolen smartphones in 2013.”

Despite the increase in smartphone thefts, London police authorities believe theft prevention have decreased 24 percent in the six months after Apple made its Activation Lock available. Authorities also have increased undercover patrols aimed at suturing hotspots where increased numbers of thefts have occurred.

Smartphone owners are urged to password/PIN-pin protect their devices, and run some type of anti-theft software – able to remotely wipe and brick a lost or stolen device – and report any stolen mobile devices to proper police authorities. Regardless of new technologies being developed, smartphone theft isn’t going to disappear overnight – and will take continued work between consumers, smartphone manufacturers, and wireless carriers.

(Image courtesy of the Huffington Post)

Microsoft Wants to Use Minecraft as a Development Tool For Next Generation of Users

Microsoft broke out the check book when it decided to pay $2.5 billion for Mojang, developer behind the extremely popular title Minecraft, but it left many people wondering why the studio would want to do that.

Beyond the potential of just creating video games, there is something more to Microsoft’s strategy: trying to inspire the next-generation of business users at a young age.

Here is what Jeff Teper, Microsoft Corporate VP of Corporate Strategy, recently said at the UBS Global Technology Conference:

“Minecraft is a development tool. People build worlds out of it. IF we can get eight-year-old girls and boys building worlds and getting inspired by creating content digitally, as they grow up they’ll want to create in PowerPoint, or Visual Studio. And in addition to being one of the few gaming franchises that doesn’t have to be freemium, Minecraft can actually charge money. It turns out it’s a great business with lots of upside.”

It would make sense – at a time when people enjoy buying the latest and greatest generation of electronics – trying to recruit people into some of these fields can be difficult. Even more complicated, trying to ensure newer generations of future business people want to use software – whether for work or play – to enjoy their software experience.

(Image courtesy of Independent)

Call of Duty Video Game Franchise Tops $10 Billion in Global Sales

The Call of Duty video game franchise has topped $10 billion in global sales, Activision proudly boasted, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the biggest game title, movie, or book launch of the entire year.

Advanced Warfare also is the highest-selling digital launch in game console history, according to Activision’s internal estimates. Considering the extremely high level of anticipation for the title, including months of marketing efforts, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the news is true.

Here is what Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said in a statement:

“We poured our hearts into making Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare an epic ride, and we are pleased with the performance. Sales and engagement are up through the first week compared to last year. Season Pass sales are up, as well. The game has been very positively reviewed and the response from fans has been tremendous. We believe Advanced Warfare will be the most successful game of the year and we thank our fans for making it the biggest entertainment launch of the year.”

Video games have evolved into a major business, raking in billions of dollars in sales, especially with the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4. However, PC gaming is far from dead, with PC gamers also enjoying hours of fun, forking over cash for the latest generation of video games.

Thank you to Activision for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of vg247

Next Steam Sale Reportedly Starts on Wednesday, Nov. 26

Everyone break out your credit cards and get ready to use those PayPal accounts! The next Steam sale is reportedly going to begin on Wednesday, November 26, though Valve still hasn’t publicly confirmed the date.

PayPal recently sent an email informing VG247 of the impending Steam sale, recommending it’s time to “stock up on Steam Wallet Codes from the PayPal Digital Gift Store.” PayPal wants customers to purchase PayPal gift cards, providing the opportunity to purchase discounted game titles easily. Video games can be purchased for family and friends using the gift cards, and account restrictions aren’t applicable.

It’s always possible PayPal is incorrect about the launch date, but with PayPal and Valve sharing a close working relationship, gamers should be able to assume the Wednesday launch date is correct – but confirmation could be coming soon.

Steam continually offers some games with varying discounts, but the Black Friday-timed event could yield even more deals. Are you excited – and ready – to bust open your wallets and purses during the Steam Sale? What do you hope to see on sale?

(Thank you to vg247 for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of Polygon)

American Gamer Who Flew to UK to Kill Woman Receives Life Sentence


Shane Coffey, a 20-year-old American gamer who attacked a British woman in a chaotic knife attack, has been sentenced to a life sentence. After pleading guilty for attempted murder and grievous bodily harm, the American will have to serve at least eight-and-half-years.

Coffey was from Boston, Massachusetts, and broke into the 19-year-old woman, Farha Dowlut’s, home in Epsom, Surrey, on April 18, and then attacked her with a hunting knife. The victim’s 23-year-old brother was able to intervene to stop the attack before local police arrived.

Coffey and the victim first began communicating online when she was 14-years-old, and the blossoming relationship began to fizzle out after Coffey reportedly hacked her computer. He had her address because they exchanged several Christmas gifts with one another, and began chatting again in November 2013.

However, in March 2014, Dowlut told Coffey to “get out of her life,” and that is when the online relationship took a sinister turn – Coffeey already had a ticket booked for the UK, and passed through customs with cable ties, tape, and a hunting knife. Shortly thereafter, the attack took place, and the victim sustained cuts to her arms, legs and chest, along with post-traumatic stress from the incident.

A Surrey Police spokesman noted:

“This case was extremely complex and involved a set of unusual circumstances which could never have been foreseen by the victims. Coffeey had previously been in contact with the two victims through online gaming. He persisted in harassing them even after they tried to break off communication and in April travelled to their address from America without their knowledge or invitation.”

(Thank you to Daily Mail for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of YourLocalGuardian)

UK National Crime Agency Arrests Five in Cybercrime Sweep, While Threats Continue

As part of an international operation targeting cybercriminals using remote access tools (RATs) to hijack computers, five people were arrested in the UK. There is an international effort to promote cybersecurity for both consumers and businesses, along with trying to crack down against cybercriminals.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested the five suspects on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, with a 20-year-old, one 30-year-old, two 33-year-olds, and a 40-year-old suspect detained in the national sweep.

Here is what Andy Archibald, director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said (via press statement):

“This operation demonstrates once again that all of UK law enforcement is working to respond effectively to cyber crime, and together we will continue to collaboratively target those who use technology to misuse other people’s devices, steal their money, or unlawfully access confidential information. Anyone who is tempted to get involved in this type of crime should understand that it can result in prison time, and substantial restrictions on your life afterwards.”

The first layer of protection against installing RAT software, and malware, is to be careful when clicking on links and attachments in emails – or while browsing the Internet. However, cyberattacks are increasing in sophistication, as the criminals behind these operations perfect their craft, with serious money available to them when successful.

Peter Goodman, from the East Midlands Deputy Chief Constable, had this to say:

“Cybercriminals are using very sophisticated technology to breach online security systems and to conceal their digital tracks. However, the police forces in the UK and overseas have the expertise to identify and disrupt those who are determined to access computers in order to steal data or to commit serious offences, wherever they are in the world.”

(Thank you to the NCA for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of NCA Twitter)

Taylor Swift’s YouTube Video Views Double After Artist Snubs Spotify

Popular music artist Taylor Swift snubbed Spotify by pulling her music from the online streaming music station – and her YouTube music video views have doubled since then.

Nielsen Music Connect informed the Swift Vevo channel on YouTube dramatically increased from 12.5 million views per day during the week ending on Nov. 3 – up to 24 million the following week – and it’s curious to see how much higher the channel can go. Overall, it seems foolhardy to just decide to pull music from an online service, especially when she ended a potential multi-million-dollar payday, along with angering her fans.

However, it appears music listeners are just turning to YouTube to help fill the void – and her album “1989,” which was never allowed on Spotify, sold 1.287 million copies during its first week. That’s the highest opening-week tally since “The Eminem Show” by Eminem in 2002. Only three weeks after the album’s release, it’s already the second-highest selling album of the year, and should only grow higher.

Swift was the highest-profile artist to abandon Spotify, and it would appear other musicians want to rely on the Internet to help music listeners. Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl recently said he doesn’t care how people listen to his music, as long as they are tuning in – enjoying – and prepared to attend concerts.

(Thank you to Today Money for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of Billboard.)

Workaround Provided For Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Unity Main Menu Problems

Gamers are reporting problems with Ubisoft’s Assassin Creed Unity, saying the game is crashing on the main menu screen.

Game crashes have hit PC gamers, Sony PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Xbox One console owners, keeping players from using the game title’s social features. It’s an absolutely atrocious problem gamers have endured, with Ubisoft trying to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

Here is what Ubisoft said in a statement:

“We have discovered one of the issues that may cause the game to crash at the main menu after pressing the CONTINUE button. The issue affects all platforms. The team is working hard on a fix for those players that have been affected by this. However, for players who haven’t experienced this issue, we highly recommend you take the following steps to prevent a crash.”

Ubisoft recommends not adding in-game recent players as a game contact, and if you already have, then remove them (My Brotherhood > My Contacts > Game Contacts (using RB/R1) > Focus on a Contact (LS) > More Actions (Y/Triangle) > Remove from contacts. Gamers still having problems can submit a support ticket on the Ubisoft website.

Ubisoft has endured a rough couple of weeks, with France upset at the game studio – as Ubisoft blames AMD for poor performance of Assassin’s Creed Unity.

(Thank you to IGN for providing us with this information. Image courtesy of Ubisoft.)

Microsoft Xbox One Console Tops 1 Million Units Sold in The UK


The Microsoft Xbox One game console has topped 1 million units sold in the UK, thanks in part to several major game releases and a stronger marketing campaign.

The release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive gave the Xbox One a sales bump, while also providing Microsoft a bit of relief. Here is what Harvey Eagle, Xbox UK Marketing Director has said:

“We’re seeing fantastic momentum with Xbox One having sold almost 10 million units to retailers worldwide. This momentum is reflected in the UK, particularly over the last three weeks, which is extremely encouraging as we approach the Christmas shopping period. People buy consoles to play the best games, and Xbox One is home to the best games. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is one of the highest rated next-gen console games released, Sunset Overdrive is the highest rated new franchise on any next-gen console, and Forza Horizon 2 is the highest rated driving game on any next-gen console.”

Xbox One gamers can look forward to Halo 5: Guardians, Fable Legends and Quantum Break in 2015, and Microsoft hopes those game titles will further entice consumers. Meanwhile, the Sony PlayStation 4 reached one million units sold in the UK at the end of the summer – but Microsoft is clawing its way back, giving consumers two major console choices in 2015.

(Image courtesy of TweakTown)

UK Banks Will Have Their Cyber Defenses Tested in Live Cyber War Games

Banks in the United Kingdom will have their network security tested over the next few months, as part of a live cyber war demonstration.

This will present banks and the UK government with better analysis of where the financial industry currently stands, with the threat of a major data breach frightening IT security experts. The Bank of England helped spearhead the project, while banks continue to have a close relationship with the GCHQ.

Here is what Stephen Bonner, KPMG cybersecurity team partner, recently noted:

“It’s the first time that banks are having their systems tested for security threats in a live environment as opposed to a simulated or isolated one.”

Global cybercrime ravages the economy, racking up £248 billion in costs each year, and the number is only climbing higher, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) claims.

Here is what Paul Docherty, Portcullis Computer Security technical director, recently said regarding the tests:

“A defender has to block every possible route of entry and the attacker only has to find one. That’s the position the banks are still in, the world is so connected now they have to look in every direction to protect themselves.”

Following the successful data breach of JPMorgan Chase in the United States, cybersecurity experts in the UK have become alarmed about a similar breach in the UK. Although financial institutions tend to have better security defenses against data breaches, stealing money – and compromising bank customers – remains a lucrative goal for criminals.

Image courtesy of Phoneworld.com.pk

Gartner Expects Smartclothes to Become More Prominent as Smart Technology Evolves

Hardware and software manufacturers will continue to create partnerships with companies in other verticals to develop new products for consumers. The smart clothing market is often overlooked for snazzy smartwatches and other wearables, but is a market segment that will see explosive growth in the coming years, according to the Gartner research firm.

The current generation of smart clothing is mainly embraced by professional athletes, as a new tool to help track biometrics. However, these types of technologies should be able to find a new home in the casual market, especially among athletes, trying to further improve their own performance.

Here is what Gartner research director Angela McIntyre told the Guardian:

“Because smartshirts and other smartgarments can hold more sensors closer to the skin, they can collect more information and produce better data, like the full wave of the heart beat rather than just the pulse. First-generation smartshirts have been available from companies like Adidas and Underarmor four a while now marketing them to professional athletes, but we’re starting to see interest from regular manufacturers of garments for a much larger audience.”

The industry is developing so fast, in fact, that smart clothing will overtake smart wristbands in 2016, with shipments reaching 26 million – 7 million more than smart wristbands – Gartner predicts.

Overall, consumers will have a wide selection of different smart technologies they will be able to choose from, including smartwatches, smart wristbands, smart clothing, smart eyewear, and other next-generation products.

Image courtesy of Apple Insider

Apple Pay and In-Store Deals Helping Drive Consumer Interest in Mobile Payments


The mobile payment market is still in its infancy, but will generate an estimated $52 billion in 2014 alone, according to the Forrester Research analyst group.

Consumers seem concerned about security and a growing number of payment options, some of them overly complex, which will take time for shoppers to overcome. The sheer number of data breaches that have impacted US consumers, with millions of people receiving new debit and credit cards – sometimes multiple times – has led to weary shoppers.

Here is what Denee Carrington, Forrester Research analyst recently said regarding the mobile apps market:

“The category is marked by tremendous investments and experimentations. In the coming year, we expect to see a much greater use of tokenization across a broader range of payment experiences and channels such as in-store, in-app, and even more widely with online payments.”

Apple Pay and CurrentC might be able to attract the most media attention in the United States, but there will be time for other competitors to show their wares. Apple Pay will roll out to hundreds of US grocery stores across the country, while CurrentC continues to solidify relationships with current partners.

(Image courtesy of NBC News)

Survey: 53% of UK Companies Willing to Hire Hackers, Experts With Criminal Records


A new survey conducted by the professional services company KPMG found that an overwhelming number of IT and HR managers of UK companies are more willing to keep their data secure.

It turns out 53 percent of IT and HR managers of companies with at least 500 employees would consider hiring a hacker – and 52 percent would overlook criminal convictions in an effort to hire the appropriate cybersecurity experts. The survey also found that 70 percent said their company didn’t have acceptable privacy and data protection knowledge, a frightening realization as sophisticated cyberattacks continue to increase.

Private sector companies continue to struggle in their efforts to keep corporate data secure, and customer data also is being compromised at a rising rate. It’s also becoming difficult to recruit and retain cybersecurity specialists, as these specialized workers have the ability to command high salaries from a growing number of companies. There is a new level of desperation among companies, universities, and government agencies trying to prevent cyberattacks, as the number of data breaches pile up. If recruiting hackers or candidates with criminal convictions help widen the candidate pool, then it could be worth the risk.

(Image courtesy of Huffington Post)

British Military Personnel Can Use Their Own Smartphones, Pilots Receive Apple iPads

British military personnel and Ministry of Defence employees are now allowed to use their own smartphones for work-related activity, recent reports indicate. The MoD has been careful to ensure all mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, meet strict top-level government encryption requirements.

The use of personal smartphones and tablets have been tested in the field by other military departments, with great success. In addition to military personnel being able to quickly and accurately use their own personal electronics, it helps reduce the amount of items that would need to be deployed and supported. Not too surprisingly, the government wants to ensure all devices that are used for military and government activities can be remotely bricked and wiped in case of loss or theft.

Here is what Craig Collins, former Royal Signals officer and head of Army HQ ICS Ops said (via FT):

“The way we are geared up [digitally] is the way we have been geared up for years. We are now using commercially available architecture, which means it doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg – previously we paid a lot to have things encrypted to CESG [communications electronic security group] standards.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Air Force will issue Apple iPads for some pilots, as 300 iPads have been ordered and Symantec will provide encryption and security for the devices. Each device will help replace kilograms of extra weight and clutter in the cockpit, while allowing staff to have immediate access to flight manuals and documents.

(Image courtesy of Rick Ingham Photography)

Dave Grohl Not Concerned About Spotify, Wants Fans to Listen to Music


Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl just wants people to listen to his band’s music and attend concerts, and isn’t too worried about Spotify or other online services. Money issues aside, the end goal is to have listeners enjoy music and serve as a reminder that new music is still being created, which is important ahead of public appearances, such as concerts and live performances on daytime TV or late night shows.

Taylor Swift decided to pull her music catalog from Spotify, an extremely popular online streaming music service, believing her music shouldn’t be given away for free. Spotify executives fired back by saying Swift – and other popular music artists – could make upwards of $6 million 2014 alone, with that figure estimated to double in 2015.

As the war of words only intensified, Scott Borchetta, CEO of Big Machine Records said Swift received less than $500,000 in the past 12 months, based on revenue sharing due to US Spotify listener habits. Borchetta seemed careful not to release figures from international users, but she could have pulled in upwards of $2 million from Spotify listeners alone.

Here is what Grohl recently said regarding the public war of words between Swift and Spotify:

“Me personally? I don’t f—king care. That’s just me, because I’m playing two nights at Wembley [in London] next summer. I want people to hear our music. I don’t care if you pay $1 or f—king $20 for it; just listen to the f—king song. But I can understand how other people would object to that.

You want people to f—king listen to your music? Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They’ll go see a show. To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way. Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it really doesn’t matter.”

It would seem telling that major record labels – which generate millions of dollars from Pandora, Spotify, and other online services – are willing to let music from their artists be played online. In addition to appeasing music fans and generating more interest, music listeners are more likely to engage with artists that allow their music online.

The music industry has been forced into a hellish revolution since the public launch of Napster 1999, helping propel an unprepared industry into the Internet age.

Image courtesy of LoudWire

Retailers Must Invest in New Security Procedures, or Major Breaches Could Accelerate

Companies struggle greatly to try to keep their networks safe, including ensuring employee and customer data remains secure.  Major retailers are suffering data breaches that often lead to stolen customer debit and credit card data taken by hackers.

Popular retailer Target was compromised late last year and 40 million customers were affected – and the company has reportedly spent more than $145 million in expenses stemming from the incident.  Target’s sales temporarily dropped, customers were weary to continue shopping there, and it has been an overall public relations nightmare.

Home Depot recently confirmed a breach with up to 56 million potentially affected customers, with some stolen data posted in online cybercriminal forums.  It’s too early to tell what type of financial damage the company will suffer, but Home Depot will deal with the same type of backlash Target did.

Here is what Joe Caruso, Global Digital Forensics CEO noted:

“Most people tend to focus on how many credit card numbers were stolen, almost like it’s a way to score a game… but the numbers that should really be seeing the spotlight more are the ones that put dollar signs to the costly aftermath of a successful breach.”

Companies sometimes fail to even install antivirus and anti-malware technology, and then forget to conduct vulnerability assessments.  GDF recommends that companies be aware of what threat vectors could cause them the most problems, along with identifying weak links in the security chain.

Thank you to Global Digital Forensics for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SoftPedia

Edward Snowden Can “Live” With Idea He Could Be Sent to Gitmo


Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden said he could live with himself if he returned to the United States and was sent to Guantanamo Bay.

Snowden said the comments during a recent interview with The Guardian, as the American security specialist becomes more vocal in media interviews and at conferences (via video).

The idea that Snowden believes in his action so much that he says it’d be worth Guantanamo Bay, supporters think he should be rewarded – and not punished – for his actions.

It seems unlikely Snowden could return back to the United States, which he wants to do one day, and receive a fair trial from the U.S. government.  Facing charges ranging from theft of government property to unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence to unauthorized personnel, there is serious jail time waiting if found guilty.

Snowden was only granted asylum in Russia after his plans to head to Central or South America became difficult when the U.S. suspended his passport.

U.S. and British lawmakers largely have expressed anger towards Snowden and his actions, but trying to prosecute him might be difficult.  Russia is reportedly set to extend his visa so he can continue to live near Moscow, while the U.S. wants him to face charges.

However, there have been rumblings for security experts in the United States and UK to develop anti-surveillance technologies to prevent snooping.

Thank you to Vice News for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of NBC News

BT Launches “One Phone” Mobile Service For Businesses


BT is returning to the mobile market for the first time in 10 years with its “One Phone” service that allows business users to make fixed-line and mobile phone calls using the same handset.

Designed specifically towards small and midsize-businesses (SMBs), One Phone lets users to transfer all home, office and mobile calls directly to a smartphone.  All that is required is a BT SIM card and a picocell in the office to help broadcast the 4G signal.

Once an employee leaves the office and enters the field, calls will be transferred to EE networks – and includes access to BT’s Wi-Fi hotspots, which number more than five million.

Here is what Graham Sutherland, BT business chief executive said:

“With an increasingly mobile and demanding workforce, businesses need communications technology that is as flexible as they are.  Missed calls mean missed business.”

Mobile is an “exciting area” for the company, as the communications market is largely leaving behind traditional land lines and transitioning towards mobile solutions.

BT One could also be a test platform for the company to jump into the consumer mobile market before the end of the year, though nothing has been confirmed just yet.  However, the consumer offering is expected to transfer between 4G in the office/home and use EE’s network or Wi-Fi.

Thank you to FT for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Manchester Evening News

International Astronomical Union (IAU) Planet-Naming Contest Opening Up

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will open up exoplanet naming contests starting next year, in an effort to cut off the complicated names following the once-strict naming guidelines.

Instead of having the next OGLE235-MOA53 b exoplanet, other suitable – and potentially amusing – names could be up for grabs.  It’s a difficult task for the IAU, as there are so many exoplanets being discovered, and trying to assign names too complicated is a major headache.

The IAU has teamed up with Zooniverse and created a list of 305 exoplanets in 206 solar systems – with astronomy organizations and researchers able to select planets to be named, which will begin in September.

Here is what an IAU representative said in a statement regarding the contest:

“People have been naming celestial objects for millennia, long before any scientific system of names ever existed.  Even today, almost every civilization and culture uses common names to describe the stars and planets visible to the naked eye, as well as their apparent distribution on the sky – constellations, asterisms [star patterns], etc.”

Several planet naming services have cropped up, allowing participants to pay a fee to vote, though the IAU quickly put a stop to those startups.  A public vote will open up in March 2015, with winning names unveiled to the public in August 2015.

Thank you to Space.com for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Space.com

SupraPed Humanoid Robot Uses Walking Sticks to Navigate Tough Terrain


Stanford University researchers revealed more information about its SupraPed humanoid robot, described as humanoid contact-supported locomotion that can be used for 3D unstructured environments.

SupraPed is being worked on by Shu-Yun Chung and Oussama Khatib, and can provide a great platform to provide additional stability for bipedal robots. In difficult terrain, wheeled and treaded robots can struggle to traverse the environment, and an upright humanoid with custom walking instruments will be better suited to move around.

A combination of the walking staffs with sensors, sophisticated planning software, and multi-contact control are able to provide real-time reaction to the environment – with the SupraPed platform controllable by human operators to issue high level commands.

Most robots designed to walk struggle to move around similar to humans, and instead with a certain level of uncertainty. Researchers are interested in improving stability and motion among humanoids, but it has been a difficult battle due to technological restraints.

There is great interest in developing robotic technology, which has a wide variety of uses in multiple industries, including consumer, business, manufacturing, and aerospace.

Thank you to IEEE Spectrum for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of IEEE

Mobile Bitcoin Mining Isn’t Worth The Effort, Unless You’re a Cybercriminal

Trying to mine for bitcoins using mobile devices won’t become an industry trend anytime soon, except for cybercriminals hijacking unsuspecting users.

Even if cybercriminals hijack smartphones and tablets, which has been noted in the past few months by security researchers, it still will be a slow, tedious process.  Devices hijacked with a mining Trojan tend to run hotter, battery levels drop significantly faster, and phone performance drags to a crawl, which is when users will likely notice the problem.

Using a single Samsung Galaxy SIII smartphone mining for 24 hours earns just .00000007 bitcoin – and it’d take more than 14 million devices to mine a single bitcoin each day, according to security firm Lookout.

Here is what Olaf Carlson-Wee, Operations at Coinbase, recently noted:

“To make mobile mining profitable, phones would need more powerful processors at a cheap cost.  Even if this were the case, mobile phones will never compete with hardware specifically designed to mine efficiently, like bitcoin ASICs (application specific integrated circuits).”

Mining for bitcoins effectively takes a mix of computer hardware, time and electricity to make it successful – and it will remain a difficult business model to adapt.

Criminals will continue hijacking PCs and mobile devices to steal banking information, conduct click fraud schemes, and compromise users to demand ransoms.  However, security experts still recommend users be aware of mining threats, and run anti-malware and anti-virus solutions on PCs and mobile devices.

Thank you to Lookout for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of New Bitcoin World

Japanese Researchers Want To Create Giant Moving Gundam Robot

Following success of creating a 60-foot life-size statue of a Gundam Robot in Japan five years ago, engineers want to take it a step further by creating an operable, moving version.

The life-size statute, based on “Mobile Suit Gundam” is currently located in Tokyo, but engineers want to make a moving Gundam robot in time for the 40th anniversary in 2019.

Engineers welcome input from the public for ideas on how to make the robot as realistic as possible.

Here is what Yoshiyuki Tomino, Gundam creator, told the media in Japan:

“When I created Gundam 35 years ago, I used my imagination freely because it wasn’t real.  That is what creativity is for – when you dream of something.  Four decades later, Gundam is growing into something new.”

It’s a unique dedication to one of the most recognizable Japanese animated characters, and could be a unique tourist attraction when Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The United States and Japan lead the world in modern robotics design, with companies and researchers in both countries trying to push the boundaries.  Japan uses robotics for a wide amount of roles, from production in factories to humanoids helping the aging population carry out routine chores and everyday tasks.

Thank you to AFP (via Yahoo) for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Panoramio