Congressman Investigated for Spending Campaign Money on Steam Games

We all love a new game, but it does raise questions when the money you spend on is marked to be used for something else. Congressman Duncan Hunter is being investigated for just the same thing, having spent campaign money on Steam games.

According to the San Diego-tribunes report, using campaign money a credit card was used to purchase not one but $1302 games on Steam. The tribune noted that they were a personal expense and had to be paid back. The problem being is that the funds have yet to be repaid.

According to Hunter, his son is responsible for the initial purchase and then “several unauthorized charges resulted after the father tried to close access to the website”. The requests have led to Hunter trying to get the charges reversed, something that may test the steam refund policy, especially if the games were played for several hours since (an almost certainty).

The Federal Election Commission has released a letter on the subject, containing a list of purchases made. The purchases range from the 13th of October to the 16th of December, totaling 68 different charges to Steam. The charges range from $5 to $96.30, a little more than just a “one-off expense” and a little bigger than your average purchase.

With so many expenses the story of one charge and then several new ones doesn’t really hold up given the cost of the games. Given the range of purchases, I doubt he will have much luck getting refunds (especially if they’ve been played) so this will be an interesting case to follow.

Police Dog Trained to Sniff Out SD Cards and Flash Drives

As part of the investigation into Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson, affectionately known as “Subway Guy”, under suspicion of trafficking child pornography, federal agents used a dog trained specifically to sniff out SD cards, flash drives, and other external storage devices was employed during an 11-hour search of his home.

During the search of Fogle’s home in Zionsville, Indiana, a black Labrador named Bear assisted law enforcement with his unique nose for detachable storage devices. As Todd Jordan, Bear’s chief handler with the Tactical Detection K9 Unit, puts it, “Bear is unique because he can sniff out SD cards, thumb drives, external hard drives, iPads and micro SD cards.” Bear is one of only three dogs in the US with the ability to smell electronics. “It’s something we probably can’t smell,” Jordan adds.

The role of K9s such as Bear is becoming vital to police investigations in a digital world, with Jordan saying, “You think about investigators going into a house and trying to find a micro SD card that is as big of a finger nail. It will take investigators hours, especially if someone is trying to hide it.”

Bear can thoroughly search a room in about five minutes. Once he has found a device, he sits on it or near it to show his handler where it is, and gets a treat for every successful find. Regarding Bear’s role in the Fogle investigation, Jordan said, “Everything is still under investigation, so I’m not really allowed to talk about it.”

Thank you Fox59 for providing us with this information.

Lenovo Still Expects to Close Purchase of IBM Server Unit By End of 2014

Despite the United States government currently investigating Lenovo’s attempted acquisition of IBM’s x86 low-end server unit, Lenovo executives believe the deal should be completed by the end of 2014.

Analysts expect the deal to finally be approved, but political tensions between Washington and Beijing have been strained due to cyberespionage accusations being lobbed by both sides.

Here is what Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing said during a recent news conference:

“There is no change to the plan.  We are still confident that we can complete the two transactions by the end of this year.  We are making very good progress in obtaining approvals for the deals.”

Yang didn’t discuss any potential security concerns, which is reportedly the biggest sticking point the U.S. legislators are worried about.  There were similar concerns when Lenovo and IBM struck a deal in 2005, but cyberespionage and security are more pressing issues today.

Lenovo, the No. 1 PC manufacturer in the world, has used acquisitions to boost its own technology portfolio, previously purchasing IBM’s PC unit.  Even though Lenovo is the largest PC manufacturer, the company is trying to catch up to Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and others in the server business – a lucrative market focused on small and midsize businesses up to corporations.

Thank you to Market Watch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of The Star

Google’s Drive, Docs and Sites Experiencing Issues, Should We Be Surprised?

Google has experienced a lot of problems with its services lately, from Gmail to Calendar, which affected a great deal of people. It appears that their flaws have not yet been fixed, since we can see that the Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Sites services still experience problems even now.

The corporate giant has posted the first investigation notes for the Drive, Docs and Sheets, adding its Sites services roughly 50 minutes later to the list. The situation is still under investigation, however the services have “already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change.”

There is still no official information about the cause of the issue, however most people have not been affected by this disruption. Those affected however consist mostly of students who opted to use Google’s Docs and Sheets services in order to prepare their assignments. Some might even miss their deadline on uploading their projects and assignments due to the developing issue.

A recommended action for future online workspace usage is to always make a backup copy of all online documents and files to your personal computer in order to avoid such situations.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information

Google Glass Seen As Piracy Gadget Inside Movie Theatres

Google Glass apparently is not seen as a great advancement in technology that should freely roam on everybody’s head by many people. There was a case where a woman has been pulled over and fined for wearing Google Glass while driving, though no regulation has been made for this, on top of the glasses being turned off while she was driving. The court even gave its consent in regard to Google Glass, since the gadget can be seen as a useful hands-free tool. But the more recent case involves a man going to the cinema with a pair of Google Glass, which ended badly for him and his wife.

The couple, for Columbus – Ohio, bought tickets for the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at a local AMC movie theatre and went in to watch it. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but the man was wearing his pair of Google Glass, and although the device was turned off during the movie, that did not stop the police from grabbing the man and his wife and escorting them outside, where they were greeted by other fellow mall cops and the FBI.

“About an hour into the movie, a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ‘follow me outside immediately’. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops,” the man said in an interview. “You see all these cops, you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and you have been caught illegally taping the movie,” he was told.

The man said that the feds asked him questions about everything from how much money he made, to how many computers he owned. The questioning got weirder when they began asking questions about Google itself. They wanted to know what information Google ask for in exchange for Glass, how much the company was paying him, and who his boss is that is making him record movies in theaters. The feds went as far as to tell the man who even though he was detained, the interview was voluntary and that if he refused to cooperate, bad things may happen to him.

If this is the kind of security and events we should expect to see in the future when Google Glass will finally launch, I don’t think many will have the courage of bringing them outdoors. And implicitly, such events will even have a big negative impact on the Google Glass marketing as well.

First PC Monitors, Now DRAM Manufacturers are Accused of Price Fixing

It wasn’t too long ago when a few of the companies behind computer monitors were being investigated and charged with price-fixing during 2012. It was noted that DRAM industry maybe doing the same.

Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) companies sold their product to consumers with a price that was at or below the cost of manufacturing during most part of 2012 in the hopes to boost prices, to cut down production by end of Q3 2013. Currently, the prices have shot up significantly, and because of this, PC users and enthusiasts are feeling the heat and accusing companies of artificial price manipulation.

An executive of a South Korea based electronics firm told Korea Times,“It is quite strange that the global memory chip market is seeing unexpected price rises amid less demand for conventional personal computers. It is highly possible that the chipmakers are engaged in price-fixing.”

Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology, which controls Elpida memory’s shipments till the time the acquisition process is complete, are the biggest DRAM suppliers. Since November, there has been a hike of about 35% in DRAM prices. As of now, all 3 of the suppliers have reduced the production of these chips to stabilize pricing.

It was revealed that Micron Technologies are the ones who are facing the highest criticism from their South Korean clients. On a condition of being anonymous, the person associated in this matter said,”“Among other firms, Micron Technology is apparently using its commanding position to manipulate computer chip prices. We are watching it closely.”

It is also being noted that memory chip makers have also started boosting the output of LPDDR2 and LPDDR3, the chips that are typically used in smartphones and tablets. As the global demand for PC is decreasing while the demand for mobile devices are increasing every fast. With the prices of memory increasing, LPDDR type memories will become a rather expensive commodity in your mobile devices very soon.

It is believed that there is a possibility that memory chip manufacturers are engaged in price fixing much like how display manufacturers did. There’s a strong pattern of anti-competitive acts and practices which will be reflection greatly on consumers.

Source: Xbit Labs