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An anonymous reader writes When you pay the tax on a road vehicle in the UK, you used to get a paper "tax disk" to affix to the inside of your car windshield. However the relevant records are documented electronically anyway, inspiring the government to replace the paper system with a purely online one. Unfortunately said system was still in beta when it launched today and predictably, it has broken under user demand. No alternative system is available. (The licensing agency actually ran out of the paper disks more than a month ago, and has been printing them out on normal office paper and asking vehicle owners to cut out the circle themselves.) The initiative is part of a larger "digital-first", restructuring of how the government provides services aimed at "meeting user needs".
82 comments | 5 hours ago
MetalliQaZ writes Verizon Wireless was scheduled to begin throttling certain LTE users today as part of an expanded "network optimization" program, but has decided not to follow through with the controversial plan after criticism from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. All major carriers throttle certain users when cell sites get too congested, but Wheeler and consumer advocates objected to how carriers choose which customers to throttle. The fact that Verizon was throttling only unlimited data users showed that it was trying to boost its profits rather than implementing a reasonable network management strategy, Wheeler said.
33 comments | 13 hours ago
jfruh writes Want a good way to sell someone a new technology? Prove to them that you believe in it enough to use it yourself. Intel has been trying to get customers to buy into the concept of the "Internet of Things," in which tiny distributed networked sensors would improve manufacturing processes. To prove its point, they implemented such a system in one of their Malaysian factories, and claimed $9 million in savings.
44 comments | yesterday
nbauman writes: Doctors with one medical records system can't exchange information with systems made by other vendors, including those at their own hospitals, according to the New York Times. One ophthalmologist spent half a million dollars on a system, but still needs to send faxes to get the information where it needs to go. The largest vendor is Epic Systems, Madison, WI, which holds almost half the medical records in the U.S. A report from RAND described Epic as a "closed" platform that made it "challenging and costly" for hospitals to interconnect.
The situation is bad for patients and costly for medical works: if doctors can't exchange records, they'll face a 1% Medicare penalty, and UC Davis alone has a staff of 22 dedicated to communication. On top of that, Epic charges a fee to send data to some non-Epic systems. Congress has held hearings on the matter, and Epic has hired a lobbyist. Epic's founder, billionaire computer science major Judith Faulkner, said that Epic was one of the first to establish code and standards for secure interchange, which included user authentication provisions and a legally binding contract. She said the federal government, which gave $24 billion in incentive payments to doctors for computerization, should have done that. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology said that it was a "top priority" and just recently wrote a 10-year vision statement and agenda for it.
225 comments | yesterday
An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever been pulled over for a traffic stop and wondered if your sporty car was what caught the officer's attention? Ever had an officer pass up your clunker to snag a flashier vehicle? Well, there's now some data showing which vehicles accumulate the most tickets. According to a study by Insurance.com, drivers of the Subaru WRX, Pontiac GTO, and Scion FR-S get a higher percentage of tickets than drivers of any other cars. At the bottom of the list, we see vehicles such as the Ford Ecosport, the Land Rover LR4, and Chevy Sportvan. They have a widget that will let you see data on your own make/model, if you're curious.
248 comments | yesterday
Andy Updegrove writes: The Linux Foundation this morning announced the latest addition to its family of major hosted open source initiatives: the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV). Its mission is to develop and maintain a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform for the telecom industry. Importantly, the thirty-eight founding members include not only cloud and service infrastructure vendors, but telecom service providers, developers and end users as well. The announcement of OPNFV highlights three of the most significant trends in IT: virtualization (the NFV part of the name refers to network function virtualization), moving software and services to the cloud, and collaboratively developing complex open source platforms in order to accelerate deployment of new business models while enabling interoperability across a wide range of products and services. The project is also significant for reflecting a growing recognition that open source projects need to incorporate open standards planning into their work programs from the beginning, rather than as an afterthought.
40 comments | 2 days ago
In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Nowadays, PayPal's yearly revenues exceed $7 billion, and investors are worried that eBay and PayPal together are too big to compete effectively. (They're also too big to be acquired, which is on their minds after the ludicrously successful Alibaba IPO.) To solve that problem, eBay today announced it will be spinning off PayPal in 2015, creating two separate publicly traded companies. eBay's current CEO is stepping down, and each of the companies will have a new CEO. "As part of the separation, eBay and PayPal will sign arm’s length commercial operating agreements to work together, with payments on both sides for various referrals and services. That’s no surprise since about 30 percent of PayPal’s business is still on eBay, although that is down from 50 percent only a few years ago."
74 comments | 2 days ago
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."
103 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.
68 comments | 2 days ago
First time accepted submitter Scroatzilla writes What makes someone rise to the top in music, games, sports, business, or science? This question is the subject of one of psychology's oldest debates. Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000 hours' rule probably isn't the answer. Recent research has demonstrated that deliberate practice, while undeniably important, is only one piece of the expertise puzzle—and not necessarily the biggest piece.
188 comments | 2 days ago
jfruh writes Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC, was an annual staple of the '90s and '00s: every year, execs from Redmond would tell OEMs what to expect when it came to Windows servers and PCs. The conference was wrapped with software into Build in 2009, but now it's being revived to deal with not just computers but also the tablets and cell phone Microsoft has found itself in the business of selling and even making. It's also being moved from the U.S. to China, as an acknowledgment of where the heart of the tech hardware business is now.
47 comments | 2 days ago
cartechboy writes There's been plenty of skepticism when it comes to Tesla. The Silicon Valley startup unveiled an all-electric car that stunned the world and had many other automakers rolling their eyes. Fast forward to 2014 and Tesla's preparing to launch its third model, the Model X. Production of the Model S sedan is humming along, and this new automaker continues to make headlines multiple times a week. Industry veteran Bob Lutz was the champion behind the Chevrolet Volt, and has been quite vocal about Tesla from the beginning. So what's his view on the company now? He said Tesla will remain a "fringe brand" until it launches its next generation of vehicles and the smaller, less expensive Model 3. Speaking Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" finance show he said that Tesla's stock price was "kinda high" at the moment.
267 comments | 2 days ago
schwit1 writes Google is looking to exert more pressure on device OEMs that wish to continue using the Android mobile operating system. Among the new requirements for many partners: increasing the number of Google apps that must be pre-installed on the device to as many as 20, placing more Google apps on the home screen or in a prominent icon folder and making Google Search more prominent. Earlier this year, Google laid its vision to reduce fragmentation by forcing OEMs to ship new devices with more recent version of Android. Those OEMs that choose not to comply lose access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) apps like Gmail, Google Play, and YouTube.
421 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes Writing on Opensource.com, Matt Micene shares his thoughts on getting started with an open source project. "I came back from OSCON this year with a new fire to contribute to an open source project. I've been involved in open source for years, but lately I've been more of an enthusiast-evangelist than a hands-on-contributor to an open source community. So, I started some thinking about what to do next. When I was involved in projects before, it was due to a clear progression from user to forum guru to contributor. It's a great path to take but what do you do if you just want to jump into something?" Matt goes on to lay out several steps to help new contributors get started.
57 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes Lenovo has announced that it will be closing the acquisition deal of IBM's x86 server business on October 1. The closing purchase price is lower than the $2.3 billion announced in January because of a change in the valuation of inventory and deferred revenue liability, Lenovo said. Roughly $1.8 billion will be paid in cash and the remainder in stock. Lenovo says it had "big plans" for the enterprise market. "We will compete vigorously across every sector, using our manufacturing scale, and operational excellence to repeat the success we have had with PCs," the company added.
48 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes In its most direct challenge to Google yet, Facebook plans to sell ads targeted to its 1.3 billion users when they are elsewhere on the Web. The company is rolling out an updated version of Atlas that will direct ads to people on websites and mobile apps. From the article: "The company said Atlas has been rebuilt 'from the ground up' to cater for today's marketing needs, such as 'reaching people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.'"
89 comments | 2 days ago
First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.
120 comments | 2 days ago
kyle11 writes I'm scratching my head at how to develop a decent wiki for a large organization I work in. We support multiple technologies, across multiple locations, and have ways of doing things that become exponentially convoluted. I give IT training to many of these users for a particular technology, and other people do for other stuff as well. Now, I hate wikis because everyone who did one before failed and gave them a bad name. If it starts wrong, it is doomed to failure and irrelevance.
What I'm looking for would be something like a Wiki with YouTube built in — make a playlist of videos with embedded links for certain job based tasks. And reuse and recycle those videos in other playlists of other tasks as they may be applicable. It would go beyond the actual IT we work with and would include things like, "Welcome to working in this department. Here are 20 videos detailing stupid procedures you need to go through to request access to customers' systems/networks/databases to even think about doing your job." I tried MediaWiki and Xwiki, and maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I can't seem to find a way to tweak them to YouTube-level simplicity for anyone to contribute to without giving up on the thing because its' a pain in the butt.
My only real requirement is that it not be cloud-based because it will contain certain sensitive information and I'd like it all to live on one virtual machine if at all possible. I can't be the only one with this problem of enabling many people to contribute and sort their knowledge without knowing how an HTML tag works, or copying files into something more complicated than a web browser. What approaches have any of you out there taken to trying to solve a similar problem?
97 comments | 3 days ago
drkim writes Kano Computing is a startup that plays in the learn-to-code space by adding a step-by-step, hand-holding layer atop the Raspberry Pi to make learning about computational thinking child's play. Kano has now shipped all the hardware kits in its first batch of crowdfunded orders and pre-orders. That's around 18,000 kits in all, co-founder Alex Klein confirmed to TechCrunch. The lion's share of the first batch of Kano kits — almost 13,000 kits — were ordered via its Kickstarter campaign last year, with a further 5,000 pre-orders taken via its website. The kits cost $99 (plus shipping) to crowdfunder backers, or around $160 (plus shipping) if pre-ordered on the Kano website. The company plans to focus on selling mainly via its own web channel from here on in, according to Alex.
51 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes "After a record 3.7 million public comments on net neutrality, the FCC is deciding if the company that supplies your internet access should be allowed to make deals with online services to move their content faster. The FCC's chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between providers and content sites might be OK if the agreement is "commercially reasonable" and companies say publicly how they prioritize traffic. Many disagree, saying this sets up an internet for the highest bidder. "If Comcast and Time Warner – who already have a virtual monopoly on Internet service – have the ability to manage and manipulate Internet speeds and access to benefit their own bottom line, they will be able to filter content and alter the user experience," said Barbara Ann Luttrell, 26, of Atlanta, in a recent submission to the FCC."
125 comments | 3 days ago