Sunday, December 30, 2012

11 worst predictions of 2012

The Mayans weren not the only ones who got it wrong in 2012. Here are a few of the worst predictions of 2012.

Apple TV's arrivalApple TV's arrival

Apple's fanboys spread product rumors faster than the speed of light, so Jefferies analyst Peter Misek must have known his 2011 notes predicting an Apple television launch in mid-2012 would send Apple fans into states of rapture. Bummer, then, that he turned out to be way too early.
Apple TV isn't hitting shelves anytime soon. Misek isn't the only one at fault -- everyone got caught up in the Apple guessing game.

Housing to slump, againHousing to slump again,

Gary Shilling, an economist in New Jersey, delights journalists with his dour forecasts. Fear makes good headlines, of course, and he's good at making them. Problem is, he's been wrong on his biggest short U.S. housing all year.

Shilling warned of a wave of foreclosures in 2012, predicting that some 3 million to 5 million homes would remain in a shadow inventory, flooding the market and hurting all U.S. home prices. But that just hasn't happened. Foreclosures are hitting markets at an orderly pace, in large part because so many foreclosures have occurred in states like Florida that require a judge to approve the process.

S&P 500 at 1,250S&P 500 at 1,250

Barron's convenes a panel of stock experts every year to guess where the S&P 500 will wind up next year. It's a fool's game, but sometimes they happen upon a close number. 2012 was such a year. The experts on average predicted the S&P will reach 1,360, a tidy 12% gain from the date in mid-December 2011. Lo and behold, the S&P is holding steady this week at 1,450, which amounts to an even bigger 16% gain.

 Tebow helping the Jets

Tebow helping the JetsThis one's a stretch, but Jets owner Woody Johnson is supposed to be a businessman, so we'll run with it. What was he thinking acquiring Tim Tebow? Imagining that Tebow was worth anything close to the $2.1 million that the Jets are paying him this year might be the worst forecast in professional sports. Tebow had the following stats with the Jets through week 15: six completions for 39 yards; 32 rushes for 102 yards; zero touchdowns. The Jets other backup QB, Greg McElroy, played one game to Tebow's 11, yet scored a touchdown and passed for nearly the same number of yards.

Facebook is a Buy

Facebook is a BuyRemember when Facebook was a $100 billion company? It was just seven months ago, but it must feel like an eternity for the brokers and retail investors who tripped over themselves to get a piece of this generation's biggest IPO.

Since going public in May at $38 a share, Facebook stock has traveled in one direction: down. The stock bottomed out around $17 before rising to a more respectable $27, which values the company at $60 billion, a far cry from its initial appraisal. There was talk of bankers bungling the offering, and similar indiscretions. But that only distracts from the truth that putting a mega-valuation on a company as young as Facebook usually has negative consequences.

 Romney Presidency

Romney PresidencyLarry Kudlow should stick to supply-side economics. The CNBC host was so swept up in his dreams of a Romney presidency that he turned in the worst political prediction of the entire punditocracy, according to, which singles out Kudlow for his embarrassingly bad prediction.

Treasuries rise

Treasuries riseWhat got bond guru Bill Gross into trouble last year was the prediction that investors would tire of puny Treasury yields and flee the ultra-safe securities. This year it was Bob Doll's turn to make the losing bet. The former BlackRock strategist always publishes his list of 10 predictions for the next year, so it's easy to pick on him. But his bet against Treasuries represents a notable mistake. 






 Nissan Leaf actually sells

Nissan Leaf actually sellsCar salesmen sell the sizzle, not the steak, so it's understandable why there are thousands of Nissan Leafs gathering dust across U.S. lots. The all-electric, bug-shaped car is the proud vision of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's, who predicted U.S. Leaf sales would double to 20,000 in 2012.
The sales target proved wildly optimistic. In fact, Leaf sales were actually down 16% from 2011 as of October, and even after the Leaf's recent glitzy ad campaign, there's no way Nissan gets even close to Ghosn's sales goal.


JC Penney comeback

JC Penney comebackExpectations ran high for JC Penney. New CEO Ron Johnson of Apple retail fame took over last November and was supposed to turn around the retailer through a mix of fair pricing and cleaner stores. Wall Street pushed the stock up to a four-year high early in 2012.
But it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Just six months after instituting new pricing, JC Penney retreated to its old ways, reintroducing "clearance" sales and scrapping "Month Long" deals after customers professed confusion. Bottom line, JC Penney changed because the strategy wasn't working. Sales have declined each quarter in 2012, and the stock has fallen by 43%.

Zynga is a Buy

Zynga is a BuyAs of New Year's Eve last year, it was the job of seven Wall Street analysts to rate Zynga's stock a sell or buy. Five of them recommended buying the social gaming company behind such timeless titles as FarmVille. Their average 12-month price target for the stock: $11.70. The price of Zynga shares as of Dec. 19, 2012: $2.40.
Where it all went wrong for Zynga is up for debate. After its rich IPO last December, which valued the company at $7 billion, there may not have been anywhere to go but down. The company was wholly reliant on Facebook for users, and its casual games meant that users left once they purchased all the FarmVille turnips they could bear. While it's been a rough year for Zynga, a comeback might be in order: the company recently said it was pursuing a Nevada gambling license to allow users to bet real money on games. Shares jumped 5% on the news. Zynga has hope after all.

John Carter will be a hitJohn Carter will be a hit 

Seriously, did anyone at Disney bother reading the script?



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Windows 8's coolest app - Fresh Paint

A handful of small gems, though, have emerged from Microsoft's Windows Store store, includuding one particular standout: Fresh Paint.

Source: CNN Money

On the surface, Fresh Paint is a straightforward finger-painting app that lets users "draw" on the screen with four different brushes and a color palette. Once you start to play around, though, it becomes clear that this is much more than an updated MS Paint. Fresh Paint actually makes your "brushstrokes" appear as though you're painting with oil on a textured canvas. That level of detail took some serious feats of science and engineering.
Fresh Paint's origins are in Microsoft Research, where five computer scientists worked several years ago on giving PCs the ability to simulate complex brushstrokes. Painting involves a significant amount of physics: just imagine how thousands of bristles, liquid paint and a rough-surfaced canvas interact. The team needed to create complex algorithms to match each touch and gesture on the screen to real-life paint.

3-D printer MakerBot cracks down on blueprints for gun parts

In the wake of the second-deadliest school shooting in American history, 3-D printer company MakerBot is cracking down on downloadable designs for printable gun parts.

3-D printer MakerBot cracks down on gun blueprints
Source : CNN Money
Like other 3D printers, a MakerBot is a machine that creates physical objects. The printer uses a design file as a blueprint, then fabricates the item from layers of plastic material like powder or liquid. The technology has moved from the manufacturing world to an early-adopter customer base of hobbyists, who use the printers to create anything they can design: figurines, iPhone docks, coffee cup holders.
MakerBot runs a website called Thingiverse, which is a database of downloadable design files for a variety of 3D printers on the market. The site's terms of service have long prohibited "the creation of weapons," but they were loosely enforced, and blueprints for gun parts were available until early this week just a few days after the shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. CNET was the first to spot MakerBot's crackdown.
MakerBot representative Jenifer Howard said no executives were available for an interview, but she provided a short statement saying that the company's "focus is to empower the creative process and make things for good." Beyond that, MakerBot pointed to Thingiverse's Terms of Service, which stipulate that users cannot "collect, upload, transmit, display, or distribute" any content that "promotes illegal activities or contributes to the creation of weapons, illegal materials or is otherwise objectionable."

Those service terms "have been the same for quite a while and have not changed," Howard said.
MakerBot's crackdown comes amid a growing debate around the potential for 3D printers to be used to create weapons. Plastic guns are currently illegal under the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, which prohibits guns that can't be picked up by metal detectors and X-ray machines. The law expires at the end of 2013, and earlier this month Rep. Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York, announced legislation to renew the ban.

"Congress passed a law banning plastic guns for two decades, when they were just a movie fantasy. With the advent of 3D printers these guns are suddenly a real possibility," Israel said in a statement at the time. Israel's legislation came just five days after a group called Defense Distributed posted a YouTube video of a AR-15 assault rifle that included some 3D printed parts. The group was able to shoot six rounds before the gun failed.
It's part of Defense Distributed's Wiki Weapon Project, which aims to "produce and publish a file for a completely printable gun or as near to completely printable as actually possible with current technologies," the group's website says.
Defense Distributed tried to raise funds for the project earlier this year on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site. Indiegogo suspended the campaign in August, citing "unusual account activity." Since then, Defense Distributed has been collecting donations through its website and posting results of tests using printed gun parts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Protect your Instagram photos

After Instagram changed its terms and condition which gives the company commercial rights to user accounts and images, the site's users revolted. And rightfully so, because in a worst-case scenario, the new rules would allow the company to sell your images to outside parties to use however they please.


Source : CNN Money

Instagram quickly backtracked, saying that's not what it meant and that it will "modify specific parts" of the new terms to make its intentions clearer. Its aim appears to be to incorporate your personal information into sponsored posts, along the lines of what Instagram's parent company, Facebook, already does with its Sponsored Stories ads. Those ads pull in users' profile photos for messages promoting brands that users have chosen to "like." (Instagram operates independently from Facebook for now and the two sites have their own, separate terms of service.)

The wording of its terms gives Instagram wriggle room to change its mind, but for now, launching into a full-scale panic seems unnecessary. But if you're concerned about corporate overlords getting their money-grubbing hands on your creations, there are some steps you can take.
Set your account to private: Instagram reiterated on Tuesday that private accounts will remain private. That means your photos can only be seen by the people to whom you've granted access. If you're bothered by strangers viewing your pics, a private account is the way to go. What a "private" account won't do, though, is entirely opt you out of Facebook's advertising. Instagram will still be able to use your data in targeted commercial messages shown to your friends and followers.
If you're bothered by the idea of someone making money off your creative work on Instagram, that a different issue. You're using a free service, and as Instagram said Tuesday in its blog post: "From the start, Instagram was created to become a business." If that's not a tradeoff you're willing to accept, the best move may be for you to stop using Instagram altogether.
Back up your data: OK, you've decided to ditch Instagram. That might be a bit extreme, but it's understandable. The first thing you should do before you wipe out your account is to copy all those snapshots documenting the last year or two of your life. Right now, you have two options: Instarchive and Instaport. Both services will have you log in using Instagram's API (a tool that gives other sites access to Instagram's data) and automatically download your photos as a compressed .

ZIP file. Instaport appears to be overloaded by the number of backup requests at the moment and isn't working, but it promises to let you export your images directly to another service in the future. Either way, once you've backed up your year's work, you can entirely erase your photo trail from Instagram's servers. That's the nuclear option. Your photos will be "removed permanently and will not be recoverable," Instagram says.

Use another photo service: Depending on your needs, there are plenty of choices. Just want a simple way to store your own photos? You can use Facebook (warning: it owns Instagram), or any of the other, myriad photo storage sites out there. On smartphones, Tumblr's Photoset app is a dead simple way to upload your images into easy-to-digest albums.
Wanna use some filters? Try Twitter. The infrastructure of Twitter isn't exactly ideal for sharing your images and viewing the work of others, but its just-launched filters are impressive. You could also just go back to using Hipstamatic. (Question: Is anyone really going back to using Hipstamatic?)
If you like the social aspect of Instagram, you can try and convince your circle of Instagram friends to set up shop on Mlkshk, which falls somewhere between Instagram and Pinterest. It has the social structure of Instagram, but users tend to post random images they find on the web. It does have solid mobile apps, though. Maybe if enough Instagram refugees embrace the site, they can help turn it into something else.
There's also Path. Path is a beautifully designed, mobile-facing social network that crafted itself around the idea of intimacy and privacy. Only your friends can view your feed, and there's a limit to how many friends you can have (currently 150). And yes, it's got snazzy photo filters!
But here's the catch: everything you do is tracked. It's impossible to view a photo or profile without someone knowing you've done so. It makes you feel creepy for social media stalking. (And don't act like you're above that. We all do it.)
Your best bet, ultimately, is probably to start using Flickr. It's made for photographers. It respects copyrights. It has a great mobile app -- upgraded just last week by parent company Yahoo plus powerful options for managing, viewing, and exporting images. It has some of the same social framework as Instagram, and it's got filters.
No, it isn't quite as simple. But it's a great mobile experience that will cause you the least overall grief.
How deep down the anti-Instagram rabbit hole you choose to go is up to you. For now, the policy change doesn't appear to be the end of the world, but even if the Instagram Apocalypse isn't really the Apocalypse (yet), it doesn't hurt to be prepared.
Source : CNN Money

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mark Zuckerberg gives $500M in Facebook stock to charity

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made his largest charitable donation to date.

Mark Zuckerberg gives $500M in Facebook stock to charity
Source : VB soical

A week before Christmas, Mark Zuckerberg announced he will be giving almost $500 million in Facebook stock to a Bay Area nonprofit that focuses on improving access to education and health. The beneficiary is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which rewards grant money to local projects and causes. The gift of 18 million Facebook shares is valued at $498.8 million, based on the company’s closing stock price today, when Zuckerberg made the donation. Tech entrepreneurs are increasingly popping up in lists of the top philanthropists in the nation. The Chronicle of Philanthropy publishes a definitive list each year; in 2010, Zuckerberg made the top 10 tied with’s Marc Benioff. in 2011, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar featured in the top 30.
Zuck’s willingness to donate funds to local causes is a departure from the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who kept a low profile in this regard. While Jobs was reluctant to join, Zuckerberg is a keen supporter of Giving Pledge, the effort spearheaded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, to get the country’s richest people to donate most of their wealth.

HTML5 - The future of the Web is finally here

The tool that promises to launch the next era of websites, smartphone apps and online video is finally finished.

Source: CNNMoney

HTML5, the long-in-the-works update to the language that powers the Web, is "feature complete," according to an announcement made Monday by the standards-setting Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). There's still some testing to be done, and it hasn't yet become an official Web standard that will come in 2014. But there won't be any new features added to HTML5, which means Web designers and app makers now have a "stable target" for implementing it, W3C said.

The HTML5 language lets developers deliver in-the-browser experiences that previously required standalone apps or additional software like Java, Adobe's Flash or Microsoft's Silverlight. It supports lightning-fast video and geolocation services, offline tools and touch, among other bells and whistles.
The W3C has been developing the spec for the better part of a decade.
"As of today, businesses know what they can rely on for HTML5 in the coming years," W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe said in a prepared statement. "Likewise, developers will know what skills to cultivate to reach smart phones, cars, televisions, e-books, digital signs, and devices not yet known."
Most of the top browser makers didn't wait for the language to be 100% finished before building support for some elements into their software. The latest versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are already compatible with most HTML5 elements.

How to trick Siri into using Google Maps

Tired of Apple Maps sending you on wild goose chases? Tell Siri you'd rather get directions from Google Maps no jailbreaking required.

Much has been made of the general suckyness of Apple Maps, but, hey, we're stuck with it, right? If you ask Siri for directions, that's gonna be her go-to app. Turns out it doesn't have to be. As discovered by JailbreakNation, there's a simple way to trick Siri into using Google Maps for directions. All you do ask for directions like you normally would, but tack on "via transit." So, for example, to find the nearest Starbucks, you'd say, "Take me to the nearest Starbucks via transit." What happens next is that

Siri pulls up a list of any installed "routing apps" including Google Maps, which, as you probably know, recently returned to the iPhone. (You'll also see a list of options available from the App Store.) From there you tap Route, and presto: you've got directions via Google Maps.
There's still that intermediate step of the Routing Apps list and having to tap Route. So it's not a fully voice-powered way to access Google Maps. On the other hand, there's no jailbreak required (as with replacing Siri with Google's Voice Search), and you get the satisfaction of bypassing Apple's limitations on what Siri can and cannot do.


Google Maps for iOS - Better!

Google Maps for iOS has a brilliant interface, turn-by-turn directions, and Street View. Location search is accurate, and the points-of-interest is extensive. Apart from the positive factors and user experiece there are some drawbacks too. There is no dedicated iPad app or contacts integration. The 3D satellite view requires switching to the Google Earth app, and some aspects of the interface aren't immediately obvious. With its iOS Maps app, Google sets the standard for what mobile navigation should be and more.

Instagram apologizes to users

Facebook breaks its silence, pledging to "remove" language that sparked a revolt among Instagram users concerned their photos would be sold for advertising or marketing purposes.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)
Instagram apologized to its users, saying it will "remove" language from its legal terms that would have let it sell users' photos or use them in advertisements. In a blog post, Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said it's "our mistake that this language is confusing" and that the company is "working on updated language. Since making these changes, we've heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean," he wrote.
Instagram's terms of use agreement announced sparked a user revolt unprecedented in its history and prompted competitors to tout their own services as more user-protective. It came three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing service, which has over 100 million users, and follows recent efforts by the social network to increase revenue.

No other photo-sharing service appears to have had a policy as broad as Instagram's now abandoned language, which claimed the perpetual right to license users' photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency. A hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could have written a check to Instagram to license photos taken at its resort and then use them for its own purposes.
Source : cnet

Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos

In its first big policy shift since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, Instagram claims the right to sell users' photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there's no way to opt out.

Instagram said that it has the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry. The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on 16 January 2013, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of Instagram. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.
Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."
"It's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos," says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal."
That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on -- without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo. The language would include not only photos of picturesque sunsets on Waikiki, but also images of young children frolicking on the beach, a result that parents might not expect, and which could trigger state privacy laws.

Another policy pitfall: If Instagram users continue to upload photos after 16 January 2013, and subsequently delete their account after the deadline, they may have granted Facebook an irrevocable right to sell those images in perpetuity. There's no obvious language that says deleting an account terminates Facebook's rights, EFF's Opsahl said.
Facebook's new rights to sell Instagram users' photos come from two additions to its terms of use policy. One section deletes the current phrase "limited license" and, by inserting the words "transferable" and "sub-licensable," allows Facebook to license users' photos to any other organization.
A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." That language does not exist in the current terms of use. Google's policy, by contrast, is far narrower and does not permit the company to sell photographs uploaded through Picasa or Google+. Its policy generally tracks the soon-to-be-replaced Instagram policy by saying: "The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our services." Yahoo's policies service for Flickr are similar, saying the company can use the images "solely for the purpose for which such content was submitted or made available."
Source : Cnet

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Apple could sell 13 million TV sets at $1,060 each

Survey finds Americans more keen to buy an "iTV" than they were the iPhone or iPad

Opinions about whether Apple is about to enter the TV set market are about as sharply divided as Fox News and MSNBC. You're either in the Gene Munster camp (It's coming, for sure, in 2013!) or in Jean-Louis Gassée's (It's a pipe dream!).
Whichever party you belong to, there's much to be gleaned from the note to clients Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty issued Tuesday about what she calls "iTV" (to distinguish it from the current Apple TV set-top box).
For starters, she's got the results of a proprietary survey of 1,568 U.S. heads of household that she's been sitting on since September. Key findings:
  • 18% of Americans own a smart TV (i.e. with Internet capability) but only 13% know they do, suggesting that there's a market for a smart TV that's as easy to use as an iPhone or iPad.
  • 11% of respondents said they would be "extremely interested" in buying an Apple-branded TV set, which translates into 13 million units in the U.S. alone.
  • 36% said they would be "somewhat interested," which could translate into another 43 million units.
  • The 47% who were either "extremely" or "somewhat" interested is more than twice the 23% who said they were interested in buying an iPhone and the 21% who were interested in an iPad before either of those products were released.
  • Respondents who owned at least one Apple device were nearly four times more interested in buying an iTV that those who did not.
  • 46% of respondents were willing to pay over $1,000 for an iTV and 10% were willing to pay over $2,000. On average, respondents were willing to pony up $1,060, a 20% premium over the the average $884 they paid for their current TV set.
  • Respondents aged 18 to 29 -- the largest consumers of video over the Internet -- were willing to pay the most for iTV: a 32% premium over their current set.
  • Bottom line: iTV represents a $13 billion opportunity that could add $4.50 to Apple's EPS.
Huberty's note also reviews some of the TV-related patents that Apple has filed in recent years -- everything from voice-controlled tuning to 3D screens.
Finally, she handicaps three different "go-to market" strategies -- the stumbling block Steve Jobs identified when asked two years ago if Apple was ever going to fix television's broken interface.
  • Apple could become a full-blown virtual cable service provider.
  • Apple could partner with existing pay-TV carriers and replace their set-top box with its own solution.
  • Apple could bundle the TV set with its existing Apple TV digital media receiver.
Because Apple's biggest media-device successes (iPod, iPhone, iPad) have been end-to-end solutions  including hardware, operating system and the packaging and distribution of content -- Huberty favors the third option.
Because of the "headwinds" Huberty lists -- including the 9-year life cycle of the average TV set and the 20% margins the TV market leaders (LG and Samsung) get on their sets -- I'm growing increasing fond of the second.
Source : CNN Money

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Survey: 53.3% of smartphone buyers plan to buy an iPhone 5

Android is No. 2 at 35.3%. Windows Phone trails at 6.5%

Click to enlarge.
Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster has been analyzing Twitter comments and polling a group of more than 800 consumers to try to gauge demand for Apple's iPhone 5. On Thursday he released his latest findings:
  • As summarized by the chart above, interest in buying an iPhone 5 in the next three months jumped from 47.7% to 54.9% after it was introduced and has remained above 53% even as the launch craze faded and the Maps app emerged as an issue.
  • Interest in Google Android phones fell in September (to 35.2% from 39%) but has since remained steady.
  • Interest in Microsoft's Windows Phone (currently at 6.5%) and Research in Motion's BlackBerry (4.9%) trail far behind.
The chart below compares buying trends of the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 4S in the 2.5 months after launch based on an analysis of Tweets that contain the keyword "iPhone" and such purchase-related keywords as "bought," "shipped," "purchased," etc. According to Munster, it shows the iPhone 5's "demand index" up 30-40% year over year.
"More specifically," he writes, "over the past two weeks, the demand index is up an average of 36% y/y  and we note that this is the iPhone 5 demand ahead of Christmas, when some may be waiting to be gifted the device, compared to the 4S, which would be in January given the 2.5 month comparison. Our 45 million unit estimate assumes 21% y/y growth in iPhone units, thus the demand survey gives us continued confidence in our 45 million unit estimate."
Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 11.21.26 AM
Source : CNN Money

IPad vs. Surface: Let the tablet war begin

Apple dominates tablet sales. Now Microsoft is going after the iPad head on.




40 CEOs call on countries to lift HIV travel bans

Deportation. Detention. Barred entry. These are just some of the scenarios that people with HIV have to deal with when it comes to international travel.

Now, CEOs from 40 well-known companies are calling for countries to get rid of their HIV-related travel restrictions. Corporate leaders say the travel restrictions are discriminatory and detrimental to the globalized economy, in which companies have to be free to send employees around the world.

Currently, 45 countries have laws or policies in place that deport, detain or deny entry to people who are HIV positive, according to UNAIDS, the United Nation's program on HIV/AIDS. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Five countries in the Middle East bar people living with HIV from entering. Another five, including Singapore, Egypt and the Turks and Caicos, require that people who want to stay in their countries for longer than five days have to show they do not have HIV.
Until recently, the U.S. too had regulations that barred HIV-infected foreign nationals from receiving a visa to enter the country. President Obama lifted them in January 2010.
The American restrictions were introduced in 1987, when Congress directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to add HIV to its list of diseases of public health significance. Foreign nationals were tested for the immunodeficiency virus during medical screening by U.S. immigration.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Security firm McAfee on Thursday released a report warning that a massive cyberattack on 30 U.S. banks has been planned, with the goal of stealing millions of dollars from consumers' bank accounts.

McAfee's research upheld an October report from RSA, the security wing of IT giant EMC.

RSA startled the security world with its announcement that a gang of cybercriminals had developed a sophisticated Trojan aimed at funneling money out of bank accounts from Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, eBay subsidiary PayPal and dozens of other large banks. Known as "Project Blitzkrieg," the plan has been successfully tested on at least 300 guinea pig bank accounts in the United States, and the crime ring had plans to launch its attack in full force in the spring of 2013, according to McAfee, a unit of Intel.
Project Blitzkrieg began with a massive cybercriminal recruiting campaign, promising each recruit of a share of the stolen funds in exchange for their hacking ability and busywork. With the backing of two Russian cybercriminals, including a prominent cyber mafia leader nicknamed "NSD," the recruits were tasked with infecting U.S. computers with a particular strain of malware, cloning the computers, entering stolen usernames and passwords, and transferring funds out of those users' accounts.
The scheme was fairly innovative. U.S. banks' alarm bells get tripped when customers try to access their accounts from unrecognized computers (particularly overseas), so banks typically require users to answer security questions. Cloning computers lets the cybercriminals appear to the banks as though they are the customers themselves, accessing their accounts from their home PCs thereby avoiding the security questions.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yahoo Mail finally gets a revamp and new apps

Yahoo on Tuesday rolled out an entire suite of email apps for every major relevant platform: all-new Apple iOS and Windows 8 apps, plus redesigned clients for Android and the Web.
Yes, Yahoo Mail still exists. The update is one of the first major product overhauls released by new CEO Marissa Mayer, who pledged to revamp Yahoo's languishing collection of Web sites and apps.

Yahoo once dominated search and email, and it was one of the earliest players in instant messaging and online news aggregation. Then, of course, it all went south. By the time Yahoo lured Mayer away from Google, it was barely even a shell of its former self. With her hiring came promises to restructure the sprawling company, remake the products, and transform Yahoo into an innovator that can compete with the Googles, Facebooks, Microsofts, Apples and Twitters of the world.
Yahoo Mail general manager Vivek Sharma says Mayer was actively involved in the email revamp.
"She's played an unbelievably pivotal role in product direction and design," Sharma said. "She has an unbelievably intuitive understanding of what users want and need."
The new suite of email apps aren't life changing, but they at least offer a good experience for dedicated Yahoo users and show that the company is aware of what it needs to do to not only hang around, but actually make people care.

Google's maps app back on iPhone

After a five year relationship, Apple had ditched Google's mapping data in favor of its own in September. The results were less than spectacular. Three months, an apology from Apple's CEO and an ousted high-ranking executive later, Google Maps made a triumphant return Wednesday night, and it is now available for download on the iTunes App Store. The app features turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic information, and public transportation directions all of which were missing or problematic on Apple's new maps app. Google took the opportunity to call attention to its superior mapping data.
Google's new app is actually the first maps application that the search giant has made for the iPhone. The company had previously provided the backend data for the iPhone app, but Apple had designed and controlled the actual software, which was preloaded onto its devices.
By making its own app, Google is no longer collecting licensing fees from Apple, but it has the opportunity to make money by displaying advertisements in the software. Similarly, Google had provided the content for Apple's YouTube app for the past five years but when Apple canceled that arrangement, Google released its own advertising-supported YouTube app in September.

Google's release of its maps app will come as a relief to many iPhone owners who had missed the older, much more thorough, application. Apple's new maps app is powered by significantly less data than its predecessor. In the latest version of the iPhone's software, iOS 6, Google's enormous database of geographical points has been replaced by Yelp's far less substantial list, as well as Apple's own compiled "places of interest" database.

All that means spelling mistakes or less-popular locations tend to trip up the app. Apple's maps app also lacked transportation directions, which were available in Google's app "a must-have for city"dwellers.

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