eComTechnology payment processing solutions Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 California requires that "kill switches" be built into smartphones Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:22:49 +0000 In the face of industry opposition, California on Monday became the first state requiring that “kill switches” be built into smartphones to counter theft.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring that the antitheft technology be built into smartphones sold in the state and also outlining how consumers will be able to activate their phone’s kill switch upon purchasing it, according to SFGate.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” SFGate quoted state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, as saying. “Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities.”

Leno authored the bill signed by Brown on Monday. The new law is now set to go into effect in July 2015.

The law mandates that all devices sold in the state after that date must include a “theft-deterrent solution” —or kill switch that is turned on by default.

That solution, according to the bill text, can consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, as long as it renders a phone inoperable if the owner misplaces it or has it stolen. The device should “be able to withstand a hard reset [to] prevent reactivation of the smartphone on a wireless network except by an authorized user,” the bill says.

Phones that were introduced prior to Jan. 1, 2015 and cannot reasonably support kill switch tech are exempt. And users can opt-out of having kill switch tech enabled on their device once they buy it.

Those who violate the law could face fines of $500 to $2,500.

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declines in mobile subscriber base Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:37:34 +0000 Sprint Corp (S.N) unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry’s cheapest unlimited data offering as the carrier attempts to reverse the decline in its subscriber base.

Wireless carriers have been going after each others’ subscribers as they try to increase revenue in a nearly saturated market.

Sprint’s new offerings are $20 cheaper than T-Mobile’s unlimited plan and are available to new and existing customers who bring in their own cellphone or pay full price for a new one.

The announcement comes just hours after rival T-Mobile US (TMUS.N) launched a campaign to lure subscribers away from other carriers. If an existing customer is able to persuade a subscriber of another carrier to switch to T-Mobile, both will get upgraded to an unlimited data plan for free for one year.

Earlier this week, Sprint doubled data offerings for customers in family plans, while industry leader Verizon Communications (VZ.N) slashed prices for its unlimited talk and text plan.

Price cuts are a top priority for Sprint’s new chief executive, Marcelo Claure, as he attempts to turn around a company plagued by customer defections due to a network overhaul that has caused gaps in coverage.

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Windows phone and U.S. Government Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:41:33 +0000 Microsoft’s love-hate relationship with the U.S. government is turning a bit more amicable, at least when it comes to Windows Phone.

The U.S. governent is a big technology buyer. The 2014 federal IT budget weighs in at over $81 billion. For fiscal 2015, federal IT spending will to dip somewhat to $79 billion, according to the White House’s budget (PDF).

Microsoft is hoping that Windows Phone 8.1′s built-in capabilities will help the Redmond, Wash.-based software company’s newest mobile operating system catch the eye of the U.S. government and its security-minded agencies, which are under pressure to adopt mobile-enabled work styles. Stymieing those efforts are concerns that smartphones are the IT equivalent of leaky faucets.

Rick Engle, Microsoft’s principal Windows technology specialist, combats the notion that increased mobility means increased risk in a blog post detailing the measures his company has taken to help Windows Phone 8.1 safeguard data. Having collaborated with “Microsoft field personnel and customers in many verticals,” the company baked enterprise-grade security into the OS, he said.

“The result is a security-enhanced OS and an architecture designed to help prevent malware attacks—and even prevent rooting and jail breaking,” stated Engle.

Included with Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones is native virtual private networking (VPN) support. “Connections can be provisioned by an MDM [mobile device management] and provide Single-Sign-On (SSO) security-hardened access through certificate authentication, and also reconnect automatically, providing a flexible and reliable connection,” informed Engle.

Other features include a built-in MDM client that hooks into an organization’s MDM platform of choice. “Device enrollment has been dramatically simplified,” reported Engle, “lowering support costs and helping ease enrollment in both a Bring Your Own Device and a Corporate Liable scenario.”

Granular MDM policies enable “full control of onboard hardware capabilities such as camera, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC,” he added. The Assigned Access option provides a “tightly controlled, curated experience” while app whitelisting and blacklisting controls keep unapproved apps at bay. S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) support simplifies email encryption.

Windows Phone 8.1 is also a solution for weak or pilfered passwords. “One of the biggest breakthroughs is support for two-factor authentication,” said Engle. “Certified devices include a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), an encrypted hardware container [that] can be used to store and help protect certificates, including PIN-protected certificates stored within a Virtual Smartcard container.” – See more at:

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CME Group delayed the start of trade on its electronic platform Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:48:01 +0000 CME Group delayed the start of trade on its electronic platform by four hours on Monday due to technical problems, the latest glitch to hit the world’s largest futures market operator.

But traders in Asia said the delay would have only a limited impact, with volumes likely thin on Monday morning in the absence of major market-moving news over the weekend.

The start of trade in all contracts on the Globex Markets platform, apart from Bursa Malaysia derivatives, was halted because of an unspecified technical glitch, the top U.S. exchange operator said on its website.

Trade eventually began at 2200 EST, but a spokesman for CME in Singapore declined further comment.

Among contracts traded on CME include the benchmarks for U.S. crude and agricultural markets such as wheat, corn and soybeans. U.S. gold and silver futures are also traded on the system.

The delay marks another headache for CME, which shut electronic trade for leading agricultural contracts on April 8 in the worst-ever trading outage for those markets.

CME Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy has said that outage was triggered when sophisticated technology tripped over a trading halt in a single market.

CME, which owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange, said in July that it would slash costs by reducing hiring and employee travel amid weak trading volumes that led to a 15 percent drop in second-quarter net profit.

All day and session orders, including so-called good-through-date orders with an Aug. 24 trade date would be canceled, CME said on Monday.

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world’s first OLED TV with 4K resolution Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:32:49 +0000 LG 77-Inch Curved OLED 4K TV

Ahead of next week’s IFA trade show in Berlin, LG today announced pre-sales of what it calls the world’s first OLED TV with 4K resolution.

Available in 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, the TV sets promise the very best in display technology, boasting a 3,840-by-2,160 curved screen projecting Ultra HD quality.

“LG 4K OLED TV is the pinnacle of technological achievement and a new paradigm that will change the dynamics of the next generation TV market,” LG CEO Hyun-hwoi Ha said in a statement. “As the next evolutionary step in display technology, OLED will play a major role in reshaping our industry.”

Aside from its brighter colors, deeper blacks, and more natural hues, the TVs also come with LG’s multi-channel Ultra Surround sound system for a heightened sense of immersion.

The sets will run WebOS, the platform LG acquired from HP last year. It comes with a leaf-shaped stand, but can be wall-mounted.

“OLED TVs are expected to overtake LCD in sales within a few years and no company is better prepared for this than LG,” Ha boasted, adding that OLED’s benefits “are obvious.”

With no deterioration in picture quality or issues like image blurring, distortion, or color leakage, curved OLED TVs are superior to their LCD counterparts, the company president said.

LG initially unveiled its 77-inch 4K OLED TV during last year’s IFA (pictured), alongside a 55-inch curved OLED TV, and showed it off again at CES.

While there is no official word on how much the sets will cost, the Associated Press reported that the smaller TV will set you back 12 million won ($11,765).

But Ha promised that the 4K OLED TV represents “superb value” in terms of color reproduction, contrast ratio, detail, and viewing angles. “I feel confident when I say that 4K OLED is a bona fide game changer,” Ha said.

LG is taking pre-orders this week for the 65- and 77-inch 4K OLED TVs, but only in Korea. Availability in North America and Europe will follow shortly.

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America’s Cup Teams Officially Announced Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:53:13 +0000 America’s Cup Teams Officially Announced

By · On August 21, 2014

AC Teams

Six teams have officially entered the race for the 35th America’s Cup: ORACLE TEAM USA (USA), the defending champion, Artemis Racing (SWE), Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA) and Team France (FRA).

“It’s exciting to look at the roster of teams who are lining up against us,” said Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of ORACLE TEAM USA, the winner of the last two America’s Cup matches. “We’re facing five strong challengers who have a lot of resources, talent and experience.

“But our team is very competitive. We love challenges – the bigger, the better. It’s very easy to get motivated when you see what we’re going to be facing.”

The 35th America’s Cup begins in 2015 and 2016 with the America’s Cup World Series, raced in venues around the world. This feeds into the main events in 2017, which will narrow the field to just two: the top challenger and the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, who will then face each other in the America’s Cup Match.

Teams will be given the opportunity to host America’s Cup World Series events at a venue of their choosing, while the final venue for the 35th America’s Cup will be either Bermuda or San Diego, with the selection to be made before the end of the year.

Under the rules of the event, late entries may be accepted at the discretion of the America’s Cup organizers.

Quotes from the challenging teams:

Iain Percy, Artemis Racing: “We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade. I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is about more than simply winning; it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way.”

Ben Ainslie, Ben Ainslie Racing: “We are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing’s challenge for the 35th America’s Cup has been officially accepted. The America’s Cup originates from the Squadron and it is our goal to return the Cup to where it belongs.”

Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand: “New Zealand has a long and proud history in the America’s Cup. We see some formidable opposition taking shape in the 35th America’s Cup and we have no illusions about the job ahead. We have been working quietly behind the scenes towards this day almost since the last day of the 34th America’s Cup. Now the real work begins.”

Max Sirena, Luna Rossa Challenge: “This is Luna Rossa’s fifth challenge to the America’s Cup, an historic record. Not only does it underline the attachment of our team to the America’s Cup, but it also shows our determination to bring the Cup to Italy. This edition will be very competitive and our team has already been preparing for several months now in view of a challenge that promises to be spectacular and exciting right from its preliminary events, the America’s Cup World Series, that will take place next year.”

Franck Cammas, Team France: “Team France is very proud to be a challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. We are taking the first step of a journey that we know will be very difficult. With Olivier de Kersauson, Michel Desjoyeaux and our team, we are determined to represent France at the highest level from a sporting and technological point of view. I thank all of our partners and supporters, as without you, we would not even see the beginning of our journey, much less the road ahead.”

The teams for the 35th America’s Cup will be introduced at a press conference in London, England on September 9.


The skippers for the 35th America’s Cup.
Top row (L-R) – Jimmy Spithill, Iain Percy, Ben Ainslie;
Second row (L-R) – Dean Barker, Max Sirena, Franck Cammas

Courtesy of

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Bank of America Corp settles with U.S. regulators for billions Sun, 24 Aug 2014 09:44:22 +0000 Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with U.S. regulators to settle charges that it misled investors into buying troubled mortgage-backed securities.

The settlement announced on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice calls for the second-largest U.S. bank to pay a $9.65 billion cash penalty, and provide $7 billion of consumer relief to struggling homeowners and communities.

It is expected to resolve the vast majority of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank’s remaining liabilities tied to its purchases of Countrywide Financial Corp, once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch & Co.

“This historic resolution – the largest such settlement on record – goes far beyond ‘the cost of doing business,’” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Bank of America said the accord is expected to reduce third-quarter earnings by about $5.3 billion before taxes, or about 43 cents per share after taxes.

Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has spent more than four years trying to rid Bank of America of liabilities from the purchases of Countrywide and Merrill, which were made by his predecessor, Kenneth Lewis. In a statement, Moynihan said the accord is in shareholders’ best interests.

Shares of Bank of America rose 11 cents to $15.63 in early morning trading. The settlement’s outlines had surfaced earlier in the month, and the formal announcement may increase the chance that many of the bank’s mortgage problems are behind it.

Bank of America admitted having sold billions of dollars of risky mortgage-backed securities while concealing key facts about the quality of the underlying loans.

It also admitted to having made misrepresentations to Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) about the quality of loans sold to those government-controlled mortgage companies.

The settlement resolves pending and potential future cases by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the Federal Housing Administration and several U.S. states, including over activity since Countrywide and Merrill were bought.

It does not cover the $1.27 billion fraud penalty imposed last month by a federal judge over a fraudulent Countrywide mortgage scheme known as “High Speed Swim Lane,” or “Hustle,” which Bank of America is appealing. The accord also does not cover potential criminal claims or claims against individuals.

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$100 million fund launched on Tuesday-Global Resilience Partnership-Rockefeller Foundation Sat, 23 Aug 2014 09:02:34 +0000 A $100 million fund launched on Tuesday aims to make people in disaster-prone regions of Asia and Africa better able to cope with natural disasters and crises, so that they can get their lives and economies back on track more quickly and effectively.

The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Rockefeller Foundation will focus on South and Southeast Asia, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, where typhoons, floods, earthquakes and drought destroy lives and jobs and hamper development.

Scientists say climate change could bring more frequent and more intense weather-related disasters. If communities become more resilient, disaster recovery and relief efforts will cost less, and people will be able to reduce the disruption to lives and jobs and avoid falling into destitution.

“Both USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation see resilience as a vital framework to help alleviate poverty, promote more sustainable development and lessen the impacts of disasters,” said Michael Yates, director of the USAID regional mission in Asia.

The GRP’s first project is the Global Resilience Design Challenge, a multi-phase competition to be launched in September at the USAID Frontiers in Development Forum in Washington, D.C.

Multi-sector teams and organizations need to submit proposals by November on how to make communities in the three focus regions more resilient to disasters, food insecurity and the effects of climate change. Teams going through to the next round will be announced in January.

It is not yet clear how many winners there will be, but USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation say the best teams will receive funding to put their ideas into action.

“It’s going to be a competitive process and we’re very anxious to bring in ideas that are innovative and creative and have strong likelihood for scale-up,” said Yates.



The two organizations say $100 million is just an initial investment and they are talking to groups from both private and development sectors who may put in more funds or provide technical support.

In addition to the Resilience Challenge, the GRP will look at developing flexible financing, predictive analytics and technologies such as crowd-sourced data collection, vulnerability and crisis mapping, and early warning systems.

“In Bangladesh, rising sea levels threaten to drown one-fifth of the country’s land mass where 18 million people now reside. In Nepal, over 2 million people live on potentially hazardous fault lines,” said Yates.

“According to the World Bank, $1 out of every $3 in development funding is lost as a result of recurring crises, and over the last 30 years that has added up to a total of $3.8 trillion,” he added.

Ashvin Dayal, the Rockefeller Foundation’s associate vice president and managing director in Asia, said the Fund hoped to better integrate humanitarian and development approaches, encourage cross-sector collaboration, and involve new partners such as the private sector in efforts to make communities more resilient.

“We face a new reality where disasters and shocks are coming faster and harder, throwing vulnerable populations into crisis year after year,” he said.

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Iceland’s Met Office on Monday raised its risk level to the aviation industry Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:38:03 +0000 Iceland’s Met Office on Monday raised its risk level to the aviation industry for an eruption at its Bardarbunga volcano to orange, which is the fourth level on a five-grade scale.

Ash from the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe’s airspace for six days, affecting more than 10 million people and costing $1.7 billion.

There has been intense seismic activity at Bardarbunga since Aug. 16, although there are no signs of eruption yet.

Met Office seismologist Martin Hensch said the risk of any disruptive ash cloud similar to the one in 2010 would depend on how high any ash would be thrown, how much there would be and how fine-grained it would be.

Bardarbunga is Iceland’s largest volcanic system, located under the ice cap of the Vatnajokull glacier in the southwest of Iceland. It is in a different range to Eyjafjallajokull.

The Met Office said in a statement it measured the strongest earthquake in the region since 1996 early on Monday and it had now strong indications of ongoing magma movement.

“As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bardarbunga aviation colour code has been changed to orange,” it said.

“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission.”

The colour codes, which are in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation procedures, are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano’s status.

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former executive at Aeropostale Inc was sentenced to eight years Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:50:59 +0000 A former merchandising executive at teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday after being convicted of defrauding the company and taking more than $25 million in kickbacks from a key vendor.

Christopher Finazzo, a former executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Aeropostale, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Roslynn Mauskopf in Brooklyn, New York, to forfeit more than $25 million and pay the company $13.7 million in restitution.

Following a three-week trial, Finazzo, 57, was found guilty in April 2013 of 14 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.

Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who announced the sentencing Wednesday in a statement, said Finazzo “abused his position of power at Aeropostale and betrayed the trust placed in him by the company, its investors, and its employees by lining his own pockets at his employer’s expense.”

Prosecutors at trial said Finazzo entered into an illegal deal with Douglas Dey, a movie producer and the owner of South Bay Apparel Inc, a firm that was once a major clothing supplier for Aeropostale.

Under the deal, prosecutors said Finazzo from 1996 to 2006 caused the company to buy more than $350 million in T-shirt and fleece items from South Bay on behalf of Aeropostale in exchange for about 50 percent of the vendor’s profits, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the scheme enabled Finazzo to collect more than $25 million in kickbacks from South Bay. The executive hid the transactions from Aeropostale and its investors, prosecutors said, and prevented the retailer from seeking lower prices or better quality merchandise from another vendor.

Dey, who in 2012 pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Travel Act, acted as an executive producer for several movies including “Blue Valentine,” a 2010 drama starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Dey, 57, was sentenced Aug. 6 to 3-1/2 years in prison.

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