00_NOP writes "'Universal Credit' — the plan to consolidate all Britain's welfare payments into one — is the world's biggest 'agile' software development project. It is now close to collapse, the British government admitted yesterday. The failure, if and when it comes, could cost billions and have dire social consequences. 'Some steps have been taken to try to rescue the project. The back end – the benefits calculation – has reportedly been shifted to a "waterfall" development process – which offers some assurances that the government at least takes its fiduciary duties seriously as it should mean no code will be deployed that has not been finished. The front end – the bit used by humans – is still meant to be “agile” – which makes some sense, but where is the testing? Agile is supposed to be about openness between developer and client and we – the taxpayers – are the clients: why can’t we see what our money is paying for?'"
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An anonymous reader writes "Google has sent letters to app developers registered in Argentina saying they won't be able to accept payments on developers' behalf after June 27th. 'The change applies to both paid apps and apps that use in-app purchases. The move appears to be related to new, restrictive regulations the Argentine government has imposed on currency exchanges.' According to the Telegraph, 'The new regulations required anyone wanting to change Argentine pesos into another currency to submit an online request for permission to AFIP, the Argentine equivalent of HM Revenue & Customs. To submit the request, however, you first needed to get a PIN from AFIP, either online or in person. Having finally obtained your number, submitted your online request and printed out your permission slip, you could then present it at the bank or official cambio and buy your dollars. Well, that was the theory. In practice, the result was chaos. ... damming the flood has come at a huge cost to the economy, especially since the currency restrictions were coupled with another set of regulations that effectively imposed a near-total ban on any imported goods.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice president responsible for the digital economy, wants to use 5 billion euros of European Union tax payers' money, together with matching funds from the chip industry, to recreate European success in semiconductors similar to that of Airbus. Because of its strategic importance to wealth creation Kroes wants Europe to reverse its decline in chip manufacturing and move back up from 10 percent to 20 percent of global production."
An anonymous reader writes "When it comes to spotting malware, signature-based detection, heuristics and cloud-based recognition and information sharing used by many antivirus solutions today work well up a certain point, but the polymorphic malware still gives them a run for their money. At the annual AusCert conference held this week in Australia a doctorate candidate from Deakin University in Melbourne has presented the result of his research and work that just might be the solution to this problem. Security researcher Silvio Cesare had noticed that malware code consists of small "structures" that remain the same even after moderate changes to its code. He created Simseer, a free online service that performs automated analysis on submitted malware samples and tells and shows you just how similar they are to other submitted specimens. It scores the similarity between malware (any kind of software, really), and it charts the results and visualizes program relationships as an evolutionary tree."
Chewbacon writes "Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database." A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
guttentag writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Mobility, the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has added a new monthly administrative fee of 61 cents to the bills of all of its contract wireless lines as of May 1, a move that could bring in more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue to the telecom giant. An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance.' The increased cost to consumers comes even though AT&T's growth in wireless revenue last year outpaced the costs to operate and support its wireless business. The company has talked of continuing to improve wireless profitability. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins noted that the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year. He said the fee should add 0.30 of a percentage point to AT&T's 2013 revenue growth; he predicts total top-line growth of about 1.5%. Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere. AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge,' effectively forcing millions of people to either pay more money per month or pay the ETF."
Falc0n writes "Many of us don't have to look too far back to recall the impact of a natural disaster: Sandy, Chelyabinsk, Lushan, and now Oklahoma. When they occur there is typically no shortage of assistance available, but coordination is always a major challenge. In a very open source way, about 60 open source developers, designers, and sys admins came together to build a scalable tool to help those affected by the tornado. If you're interested in helping the effort, join us in irc.freenode.net #drupal4ok"
jfruh writes "Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have long hoped that the information they've gathered about you will help them create better targeted and more lucrative advertising, even though advertisers never see your personal data directly. But now Twitter is upping the ante, creating a new kind of card that encourages you to give your contact information directly to people who want to sell you things. For instance, Priceline has a new card with a 'sign up and save' button that saves you 10% on a hotel — and, though it isn't made explicit, adds your Twitter handle and contact information to a Priceline mailing list. There's nothing to stop Twitter from handing this info — including your phone number, if you've registered it with the service — to salesmen."
holy_calamity writes "Digital currency Bitcoin is gaining acceptance with mainstream venture capitalists, reports Technology Review, but at the price of its famed anonymity and ability to operate without central authority. Technology investors have now ploughed millions of dollars into a handful of Bitcoin-based payments and financial companies that are careful to follow financial regulations and don't offer anonymity. That's causing tensions in the community of Bitcoin enthusiasts, some of whom feel their currency's success has involved abandoning its most important features."
Nyder writes "Kim Dotcom posted via Twitter, with a link to Torrentfreak, that he owns a security patent US6078908, titled 'Method for authorizing in data transmission systems.'" Techdirt points out that Dotcom isn't just asking for financial help: Instead, he's asking companies which use two-factor authentication "to help fund his defense, in exchange for not getting sued for the patent. He points out that his actual funds are still frozen by the DOJ and (more importantly) that his case actually matters a great deal to Google, Facebook and Twitter, because the eventual ruling will likely set a precedent that may impact them -- especially around the DMCA." Update: 05/23 14:23 GMT by T : Why is this relevant to Twitter? If you're not an active Twitter user, you might not realize that (after some well publicized twitter-account hijackings), the company is trying to regain some ground on security. Nerval's Lobster writes "Twitter is now offering two-factor authentication, a feature that could help prevent embarrassing security breaches. Twitter users interested in activating two-factor authentication will need to head over to their account settings page and click the checkbox beside 'Require a verification code when I sign in.'"
Tesla Motors announced today it has completely repaid the $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy the company received in 2010. The funds were generated by Tesla through a recent sale of their stock, worth close to a billion dollars. The stock price had risen sharply after the company reported its first profitable quarter (and the stock still sits roughly 50% higher than before their earnings release). Today's payment of $451.8 million finished off both the loan's principal and its interest, nine years before the final payment was due. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, 'I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.'
An anonymous reader writes "I run a small software consulting company who outsources most of its work to contractors. I market myself as being able to handle any technical project, but only really take the fun ones, then shop it around to developers who are interested. I write excellent product specs, provide bug tracking & source control and in general am a programming project manager with empathy for developers. I don't ask them to work weekends and I provide detailed, reproducible bug reports and I pay on time. The only 'rule' (if you can call it that) is: I do not pay for bugs. Developers can make more work for themselves by causing bugs, and with the specifications I write there is no excuse for not testing their code. Developers are always fine with it until we get toward the end of a project and the customer is complaining about bugs. Then all of a sudden I am asking my contractors to work for 'free' and they can make more money elsewhere. Ugh. Every project ends up being a battle, so, I think the solution is to finally hire someone full-time and pay for everything (bugs or not) and just keep them busy. But how can I make that transition? The guy I'd need to hire would have to know a lot of languages and be proficient in all of them. Plus, I can't afford to pay someone $100k/year right now. Ideas?"
mspohr writes with news that Apple might be in a bit of hot water over its policy of offshoring revenues to favorable tax jurisdictions. Only they take it a step further, from the article: "Apple relied on a 'complex web of offshore entities' and U.S. tax loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. taxes on $44 billion in offshore income over the past four years ... The maker of iPhones and iPads used at least three foreign subsidiaries that it claims are not 'tax resident in any nation' to help it avoid paying billions in 'otherwise taxable offshore income,' the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a statement yesterday."
hypnosec writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started accepting donations in the form of Bitcoins again after a two year hiatus, stating that the legal uncertainty hovering over the digital currency has all but disappeared. On their blog the EFF noted that a report from U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in addition to their own findings, 'have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Location is everything when choosing the site of a data center. Firms such as Microsoft and Google and Facebook spend a lot of time looking into the costs of land, power, regulation and taxes before placing their respective data centers in a particular place. Sometimes, that local tax bill comes into play in a big way. Just ask the National Security Agency which learned it faces a multimillion-dollar annual state tax on the power consumed by its new data center in Camp Williams, south of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a series of email exchanges between the feds and the state, with the NSA protesting a $2.4 million tax on its annual power expenditure, pegged at about $40 million. Harvey Davis, director of installations and logistics for the NSA, sent a letter (subsequently quoted by the newspaper) to state officials that made the logistics argument: 'Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5bn construction at Camp Williams. HP325 [the new law] runs counter to what we expected.'" This would be the data center William Binney et al claim is logging almost all domestic communication.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Yahoo has agreed to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion. As you know, Yahoo is a major corporation with a need to monetize its assets in a way that makes its shareholders happy, leaving open the question of whether it'll alter Tumblr's DNA in order to make the latter more of a significant cash generator. But at least for the moment, Yahoo seems content to leave its new property alone. 'Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,' read the company's press release. 'The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.' Tumblr CEO David Karp, who has been known to make some very anti-advertising comments in the past, will remain in place. Even so, anyone who likes Tumblr may have some cause for concern, because Yahoo has a history of making high-profile acquisitions that subsequently implode. Back in 1999, for example, it paid over $3 billion for GeoCities, another blogging network that it eventually shut down after years of failing the update the property. In 2005, it acquired popular photo-sharing Website Flickr, which it likewise allowed to languish and die. That same year it bought Delicious, a popular Webpage-bookmarking site, and did exactly nothing with it. So when Yahoo starts off its Tumblr press release with a promise not to screw things up, it's a self-deprecating nod toward all that history. New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been on a bit of a buying spree of late, snatching up startups such as Summly in an attempt to make her company 'cool' and relevant."
TechCrunch reports that Yahoo's string of acquisitions may soon include Tumblr: "The Wall Street Journal is now reporting via Twitter that the rumored $1.1 billion cash acquisition deal for social blogging site Tumblr has been approved by Yahoo’s board of directors. The Tumblr acquisition was rumored last week, with a price tag reportedly north of $1 billion, which appears to be accurate if the WSJ’s sources are correct." The article notes, too, that "Yahoo had only $1.2 billion cash on hand as of its most recent quarterly earnings, which makes an all-cash offer for Tumblr a lot more of a stretch than it would be for someone like Apple, or even Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in a mix of both cash and stock."
First time accepted submitter russotto points out the claim of industry group TechAmerican Foundation (reported by Computerworld) that "wages for the software industry are falling, not rising. Wages fell 2% to $99,000 in 2012." Averages are one thing; the article points out though that wages vary vastly within the industry, and that some jobs are harder to fill (thus, better paid) than others. An excerpt: "Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, a research firm that also analyzes IT wage and employment trends, cited a number of reason for the decline in wages for software professionals. First, technology is becoming easier to implement without having an IT professional, he said. Also, the option of turning to outsourcing creates less pressure to increase wages. As the recession continues, companies continue 'to look at productivity and will often look to hire individuals who are lower cost employees,' said Janulaitis. That could include displaced baby boomer workers who have been out of work for some time and 'will take a lower paying job just to get back into the workforce.'"
girlmad writes "Despite moves by government to get Google, Amazon and Apple to admit they make sales in the UK and US, and therefore should pay tax on these earnings, this article argues these are empty threats and that any taxes paid will get returned to the tech giants in government grants and subsidies. Tough luck to the small firms out there."