Australians Set To Pay 50% More For Apps After Apple Price Spike ( 93

SlappingOysters writes: Within 36-hours the price of Apple apps is set to increase in Australia, Sweden and Indonesia. It will bring the price of buying an app out of alignment with the value of the Australian dollar, and leave the country's Apple fans paying 50% more for their iOS software than their American counterparts. It's unfortunate timing, with the recent launch of the iPhone 6s and the upcoming fourth generation of Apple TV.

Why NASA Rejected Lockheed Martin's Jupiter For Commercial Resupply Services 2 ( 30

MarkWhittington writes: Recently, NASA rejected Lockheed Martin's bid for a contract for the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program as being too expensive. CRS-2 is the follow-on to the current CRS program that has SpaceX and Orbital Systems sending supplies to the International Space Station. Motley Fool explained why the aerospace giant was left behind and denied a share of what might be $14 billion between 2018 and 2024. In essence, Lockheed Martin tried to get the space agency to pay for a spacecraft that would do far more than just take cargo to and from the International Space Station.
The Almighty Buck

Author Joris Luyendijk: Economics Is Not a Science ( 354

The Real Dr John writes: A Nobel prize in economics, awarded this year to Angus Deaton, implies that the human world operates much like the physical world: that it can be described and understood in neutral terms, and that it lends itself to modeling, like chemical reactions or the movement of the stars. It creates the impression that economists are not in the business of constructing inherently imperfect theories, but of discovering timeless truths. In 1994 economists Myron Scholes and Robert Merton, with their work on derivatives, seemed to have hit on a formula that yielded a safe but lucrative trading strategy. In 1997 they were awarded the Nobel prize in economics. A year later, Long-Term Capital Management lost $4.6bn (£3bn) in less than four months; a bailout was required to avert the threat to the global financial system.

Facebook UK Paid £35m In Staff Bonuses, But Only £4,327 In Corporation Tax ( 244

New submitter Phil Ronan writes: After getting away with paying £0 corporate tax in 2013, Facebook UK has announced that its corporate tax payment for 2014 (total revenue: £105 million) is going to be £4,327. This is a tiny fraction of the £35 million pounds given away by the company in staff bonuses over the same period. "The share scheme was worth an average of more than £96,000 for each member of staff. Once salaries were taken into account, a British employee of Facebook received more than £210,000 on average. ... A spokesperson for Facebook said: 'We are compliant with UK tax law, and in fact in all countries where we have operations and offices. We continue to grow our business activities in the UK.' She added that all the firm’s employees paid UK income tax on their payouts."
Social Networks

The Payments World Really Wants To Know Who You Are ( 71

jhigh writes: The generation that brought us the obsession with snapping photos of their faces, uploading to social media channels, and terming it "selfies" has unknowingly encouraged the launch a new cybersecurity platform for the world. You can sum it up thus: "pay with your face." Quoting: "Socure’s Social Biometrics Platform, which is already in use by financial institutions in more than 175 countries, provides analytics, assessing information about you from other public online sources, producing a social biometric profile, matching to your photo, and generating a score to determine the authenticity of your identity. ... Whether you have an established credit history or not, the one thing most of us have, especially millennials, is an online social platform presence. Biometrics data mining for payments security also reaches the unbanked crowd, those who have healthy online histories but might not necessarily use financial institutions or carry proper government-issued credentials." This is a fitting legacy for millennials, who impart knowledge one click at a time.

Dell To Buy EMC For $67 Billion ( 113

im_thatoneguy writes: After days of rumors, the NY Times is reporting that Dell will in fact be acquiring storage company (and VMWare parent) EMC in a record $67B deal being financed by a consortium of banks. Dell has confirmed the deal on their website.

Under the deal, Dell will pay $33.15 a share, which represents a premium even on top of EMC's current value, which had already jumped on initials rumors of a $50B acquisition last week. However, insiders say the deal won't be a straight forward cash buy-out of stock holders. Instead, EMC investors will receive about 70% in cash and the remainder in what's called a Tracking Stock, which will track the performance of just the VMWare Division within the new organization.


Can Star Trek's World With No Money Work In Real life? ( 537

The economics of the Star Trek universe were discussed at New York Comic Con on Sunday. Paul Krugman was among the panelists who debated whether a world without money could actually work. CNN reports: "Star Trek has dared to 'boldly go where no man has gone before' — including a world without money. 'One of the things that's interesting about Star Trek is that it does try to imagine a post-scarcity economy where there's no money. People don't work for it. People don't work because they have to but because they want to,' said Annalee Newitz, the editor of Gawker's io9 blog. Newitz -- along with Nobel Prize winner and economist Paul Krugman, 'Treknomics' author Manu Saadia, economics professor Brad DeLong, Fusion's Felix Salmon and Star Trek writer Chris Black -- discussed economics through the lens of the Star Trek world at a New York Comic Con panel Sunday."
The Almighty Buck

The World of Luxury Bomb Shelters ( 274

An anonymous reader writes with this Vice profile of Robert Vicino, founder and CEO of survival prep company The Vivos Group. For a prepaid $35,000 entry fee, you may take shelter in one of his luxury bomb shelters when civilization collapses. "Those who make it their business to equip themselves for a civilization-ending mega-disaster—a.k.a. 'preppers'—are sometimes stereotyped as wild-eyed tinfoil hat wearers who live outside of society, but Robert Vicino caters to survivalists whose fears are backed up by money. The San Diego businessman is gunning to be the vanguard of a multibillion-dollar industry. If we're to follow the entrepreneur's logic, the rich don't live on the same scale as ordinary people in today's society—why should that change after the end of the world?"
United States

2016 Election Cycle Led By Billionaire Donors 363

Nicola Hahn writes: The pluralist stance of American politics contends that true power in the United States has been constitutionally vested in "the people" through mechanisms like the electoral process, freedom of speech, and the ability to establish political parties. The traditional view is that these aspects of our political system result in a broad distribution of power that prevents any one faction from gaining an inordinate amount of influence. And today the New York Times has revealed the shortcomings of this narrative by publishing the names of the 158 wealthy families that have donated almost half of the money spent towards the 2016 presidential race. This group of donors is primarily Republican and is dominated by interests in the banking industry. These facts lend credence to the idea that national policy making is influenced heavily by a relatively small group of people. That the American body politic is largely controlled by a deep state.

NASA Releases 'Journey To Mars' Plan -- But Not a Budget ( 167

MarkWhittington writes: NASA released a document describing the steps involved in its Journey to Mars program (PDF). But, as the Wall Street Journal suggests, the "plan" has a conspicuous lack of specifics. It doesn't go into how much the program will cost or what intermediate steps have to be taken before human beings set foot on Mars in the 2030s. This is likely because of the upcoming and subsequent changes of governing administrations — the space agency's deep space exploration goals are likely to get a reevaluation. The plan serves as a public relations document more than anything else.

Microsoft's Mission To Reignite the PC Sector ( 266 writes: Sales of personal computers have been declining for so long — 14 consecutive quarters — that it's hard remember a time when PCs ruled the tech world. Now Nick Wingfield writes in the NY Times that Microsoft is leading the way on a mission to re-ignite the PC market by taking the once-unthinkable step of competing with its hardware partners. This week, Microsoft dived even further into the business with a laptop device, the Surface Book. The stated reason that Microsoft got into the PC hardware business three years ago, with the original Surface, was not to put PC companies out of business — but to better illustrate the capabilities of its software, providing devices that would inspire PC makers to be more innovative.

One of the most remarkable things about Microsoft's growing presence in the hardware business is that it has not led to open revolt among its partners. Initially, many of them were not happy about Microsoft's moves, complaining in private. "It's positioned as a laptop, very squarely against the MacBook Pro as an example. But that could also be extended to a Dell XPS 13, or an HP x360," says Patrick Moorhead. One reason there hasn't been more pushback from OEMs is that Microsoft's Surface business is still relatively small. Another is that the money Microsoft has poured into marketing Surface has raised the broader profile of Windows PCs. While Microsoft obviously risks alienating its partners, it's doing so with a much bigger fight in mind. "Right now Microsoft really believes that it has to have a combined hardware, software, and services play to go up against the likes of Apple," says Moorhead. "That's why it's doing this. That's why it's taking such an aggressive stance now, moving to laptops."


Verizon Boosts Price of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans By $20 ( 175

nicholasjay writes: In November, Verizon Wireless is going to start charging its customers with the grandfathered "unlimited data" plans an extra $20 for the data. This is obviously an attempt to get people off of the old unlimited data plans. Even though a Verizon spokesperson confirmed the change, I'm hoping they won't go through with this plan — but right now I'm weighing all my options.
The Almighty Buck

Researchers Unable To Replicate Findings of Published Economics Studies ( 210

An anonymous reader writes: Federal Reserve economists Andrew Chang and Phillip Li looked at 67 papers in 13 reputable academic journals. Their findings were shocking. Without the help of the authors, only a third of the results could be independently replicated. Even with the author's help, only about half, or 49%, could. Business Insider reports: "It's a pretty massive issue for economics, especially given the impact that the subject has on public policy. Li and Chang use a well-known paper by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff as an example. The study showed a significant growth drop-off once a country's national debts reached 90% of gross domestic product, but three years after being published the study was found to contain a significant Microsoft Excel error that changed the magnitude of the effect." With cancer studies and most recently psychology studies all having replication trouble, these economics papers have some company.

Privately Funded Lunar Mission Set a Launch Date For 2017 50

merbs writes: If all goes according to plan, the world's first private lunar mission will be launched just two years from now. SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, has secured a launch contract with Spaceflight Industries, and will aim to land a rover on the moon in the second half of 2017. It's the first such launch contract to be verified by the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize competition. Another group called Moon Express has signed a deal with New Zealand-based company, Rocket Lab, to launch and put a lander on the lunar surface 2017.

Danish Bank Leaves Server In Debug Mode, Exposes Sensitive Data In JS Comments 41

An anonymous reader writes: Dutch IT security expert Sijmen Ruwhof has found a pretty big blunder on the part of Danske Bank, Denmark's biggest bank, which exposed sensitive user session information in the form of an encoded data dump, in their banking portal's JavaScript files. The data contained client IP addresses, user agent strings, cookie information, details about the bank's internal IT network, and more. He contacted the bank, who fixed the issue, but later denied it ever happened.
The Almighty Buck

NY Times Passes 1M Digital Subscribers 92 writes: Many news organizations, facing competition from digital outlets, have sharply reduced the size of their newsrooms and their investment in news gathering but less than four-and-a-half years after launching its pay model the NY Times has increased coverage as it announced that the Times has passed one million digital-only subscribers, giving them far more than any other news organization in the world. The Times still employs as many reporters as it did 15 years ago — and its ranks now include graphics editors, developers, video journalists and other digital innovators. "It's a tribute to the hard work and innovation of our marketing, product and technology teams and the continued excellence of our journalism," says CEO Mark Thompson.

According to Ken Doctor the takeaway from the Times success is that readers reward elite global journalism. The Wall Street Journal is close behind the Times, at 900,000, while the FT's digital subscription number stands at 520,000. "These solid numbers form bedrock for the future. For news companies, being national now means being global, and being global means enjoying unprecedented reach," says Doctor. "These audiences of a half-million and more portend more reader revenue to come."

Space Travel For the 1%: Virgin Galactic's $250,000 Tickets Haunt New Mexico Town 239

The Real Dr John writes: The Guardian has an article about Virgin Galactic's proposed launch site, Spaceport America, which broke ground in southern New Mexico's high desert in 2009 with almost a quarter of a billion dollars from taxpayers, $76m of which came from the two local counties. Truth or Consequences, population 6,000 and home to the Spaceport America Visitor Center, is one of the poorest places in the state. The increased taxes, adopted across impoverished Sierra County, contributed to about $5m as of 2014. Since 2009, state school budgets have been cut and an estimated $26m in necessary repairs to the town's water system has been put on hold. There's no more money to pay for it. The average annual income of residents is just $15,000 per year, one third of residents live below the poverty line, and just 20% over the age of 25 have obtained a bachelor's degree.
The Almighty Buck

When Fraud Detection Shuts Down Credit Cards Inappropriately 345

reifman writes: On Sunday, Capital One declined a $280 travel reservation I charged at India-based and immediately shut off my card for all transactions until I contacted them by phone. It wasn't the first time that CapitalOne had shut off my card after a single suspect transaction. But, I'd actually purchased from using my CapitalOne card on two prior occasions. It was an example of very poor fraud detection and led me on a tour of their pathetic customer service. The banks want to cut their losses regardless of how it impacts their customers. Having had my own credit card suspended out of an abundance of caution on a different credit card issuer's part (for legitimate charges), but having recently had some widely known scam charges get accepted, the fraud protection algorithms that the credit companies use certainly seem inscrutable sometimes, and so do the surrounding practices about communicating with customers. How would you like it to work instead?

Sprint To Begin Layoffs, Cut $2.5 Billion In Expenses 55

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint's struggles to remain a major carrier continue. Just a few days after announcing that it is dropping out of a major low-band spectrum auction, the company now says it must cut between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in costs over the next six months. The cuts will need to be aggressive — according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled), Sprint "had $7.5 billion in operating expenses during the three months ended June 30," even as it cut $1.5 billion over the past year. The only good news for Sprint is that its subscriber base is still slowly growing, though not quickly enough to keep pace with T-Mobile, let alone Verizon or AT&T.

EPA Gave Volkswagen a Free Pass On Emissions Ten Years Ago Due To Lack of Budget 203

An anonymous reader writes: A new report suggests that continuing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget contributed to Volkswagen being able to cheat on its emissions tests. When the test scripts were developed the department — which can still only conduct 'spot tests' on 20% of all qualifying vehicles — was forced to concentrate on heavy machinery and truck manufacturers, which at the time had a far higher incidence of attempting to cheat on vehicle standards tests. Discounting inflation the EPA's 2015 budget is on a par with its 2002 budget (PDF), and has been cut by 21% since 2010.