McGruber writes "Possibly the wierdest tax-writeoff of the year happened when Meg Whitman claimed that her US-based multinational corporation HP had been defrauded by British-software firm Autonomy; Ms. Whitman and HP claimed an 8.8 billion dollar write-down. As the Los Angeles Times explains, 'HP acquired Autonomy in 2011 for $11 billion, a move it hoped would turn it away from its dependence on sales of computer hardware with its low profit margins, and into the more profitable business of software. However, the price HP paid was widely criticized for being too high, and in part led to the subsequent ouster of Chief Executive Leo Apotheker.' The wierdness continues — in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, HP claims that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into HP's allegations that HP has uncovered widespread accounting fraud at Autonomy. However, The Guardian points out that former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch claims that HP 'is watering down the accusations it had levelled against him over the accounts filed by his old software company.' Mr. Lynch also says that he has not been contacted by the U.S. Department of Justice, which HP claims is investigating the alleged fraud. Perhaps Slashdot's users can help make sense of this mess and help explain it to me?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter theideabulb writes "Just as stock investors have portfolios of all different sorts of stocks, Lego investors hold massive collections of Lego sets and can make annual profits that beat stocks. This article is a looking into the world of the little plastic brick that makes money for LEGO fans and a website that helps track peoples' collections to help them track their profits."
Earth-like exoplanets have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years; it's exciting to think that there's life — or even just life-sustaining conditions — on planets other than Earth, whether near by (on Mars) or much farther away (orbiting Vega). Projects like NASA's Kepler, and the ground-based HARPS, attempt to spot planets outside our solar system of all kinds. These exoplanet discoveries have been ramping up lately, and so has sorting of the discovered planets by size and other characteristics; the odds are looking good, say astronomers quoted by Space.com, that an Earth-like planet will be found this year. Abel Mendez runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and UC Berkeley astromer Geoff Marcy looks for planets as part of the Kepler team; they explain in the article why they think 2013 is an auspicious one for planet hunters.
ndverdo writes "Cree just announced production power LEDs reaching 200 lumen/watt. Approximately doubling the previous peak LED light efficiency, the new LEDs will require less cooling. This should enable the MK-R series to finally provide direct no-hassle replacements to popular form-factors such as MR-16 spots and incandescent lighting in general. The LEDs are sampling and it is stated that 'production quantities are available with standard lead times.'"
Lasrick writes "Alex Knapp has an excellent article pointing out that NOAA satellites enabled NOAA to predict the 'left hook' of Hurricane Sandy into the Eastern Seaboard, which in turn enabled local governments to prepare. Those satellites are at risk and there will be a gap of about a year between 2017 and 2018, when the old ones fail and the new ones are scheduled to launch. There's no alternative to getting that data, and the so-called 'fiscal cliff' will drive an 8% cut to NOAA's satellite program, so that those replacement satellites may go up even later than 2018."
Hugh Pickens writes "Adam Nagourney reports that after a yearlong investigation a team of climate scientists announced that it is throwing out a reading of 136.4 degrees claimed by the city of Al Aziziyah, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922 making the 134-degree reading registered on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley the official world record as the hottest place on earth. 'It's about time for science, but I think we all knew it was coming,' says Randy Banis. 'You don't underestimate Death Valley. Most of us enthusiasts are proud that the extremes that we have known about at Death Valley are indeed the most harsh on earth.' The final report by 13 climatologists appointed by the World Meteorological Organization, the climate agency of the United Nations, found five reasons to disqualify the Libya claim, including questionable instruments, an inexperienced observer who made the reading, and the fact that the reading was anomalous for that region and in the context of other temperatures reported in Libya that day. 'The more we looked at it, the more obvious it appeared to be an error,' says Christopher C. Burt, a meteorologist with Weather Underground who started the debate in a blog post in 2010."
An anonymous reader writes "First, some quick background: I am 26 years old and I have been working for a large software development company with more than 50,000 employees for about 5 years now. My actual title is Senior Software Engineer, and I am paid well considering I have no degrees and all of the programming languages I have learned (C, C++, C#, Java) are completely self taught. The only real reason I was able to get this job is because I spent a year or so in a support position and I was able to impress the R&D Lead Developer with a handful of my projects. My job is secure for the time being, but what really concerns me is the ability to find another job in the field without 95% of companies discarding me for lack of formal education. I started looking into local community colleges and universities, and much to my dismay, they offer neither nighttime or online courses for computer science. Quitting the job to pursue a degree is not an option, especially considering they will compensate me up to $10,000/yr for going back to school. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Does anyone know of any accredited colleges and universities that offer a CS degree through online courses? Obviously excluding the scam 'colleges' such as Univ. of Phoenix and DeVry."
Rambo Tribble writes "England has awarded Raymond Roberts, one of the nine cryptanalysts responsible for breaking the Nazi Tunny code machine, (also known by the German designation Lorenz cipher machine) the MBE. Roberts is the last surviving member of the team which cracked the German army's cipher machine functionality, much like others at Bletchley broke the better-known Enigma machine."
An anonymous reader writes "Prenda Law — one of the most notorious copyright trolls — has sued hundreds of thousands of John Doe defendants, often receiving settlements of thousands of dollars from each. Prenda Law principal John Steele has reportedly made a few million dollars suing BitTorrent file-sharers. Prenda Law has been accused in federal court of creating sham offshore corporations using the identity of his gardener. In other words, it is alleged that the law firm and their client are the same entity, and that Prenda law has committed identity theft and fraud. Now, a judge in California has granted a John Doe defendant's motion to further explore the connection between the offshore entity and the law firm."
mbadolato writes "On December 9, 2012, Slashdot reported that the FreeBSD Foundation was falling short of their 2012 goal of $500,000 by nearly 50%. For all of those that continued to echo about how FreeBSD is dying, it's less than three weeks later and the total is presently nearing $200,000 OVER the goal. Netcraft continues to be wrong." And reader hypnosec adds another crowdfunding success story: "The Wikimedia Foundation has announced at the conclusion of its ninth annual fund-raiser that it has managed to raise a whopping $25 million from 1.2 million donors in just over a week's time. ... As compared to last year's fund-raiser, which got completed in 46 days, this year's was completed in just nine days."
An anonymous reader points out just how thick a skin it takes to be a kernel developer sometimes, linking to a chain of emails on the Linux Kernel Mailing List in which Linus lets loose on a kernel developer for introducing a change that breaks userspace apps (in this case, PulseAudio). "Shut up, Mauro. And I don't _ever_ want to hear that kind of obvious garbage and idiocy from a kernel maintainer again. Seriously. I'd wait for Rafael's patch to go through you, but I have another error report in my mailbox of all KDE media applications being broken by v3.8-rc1, and I bet it's the same kernel bug. And you've shown yourself to not be competent in this issue, so I'll apply it directly and immediately myself. WE DO NOT BREAK USERSPACE! Seriously. How hard is this rule to understand? We particularly don't break user space with TOTAL CRAP. I'm angry, because your whole email was so _horribly_ wrong, and the patch that broke things was so obviously crap. ... The fact that you then try to make *excuses* for breaking user space, and blaming some external program that *used* to work, is just shameful. It's not how we work," writes Linus, and that's just the part we can print. Maybe it's a good thing, but there's certainly no handholding when it comes to changes to the heart of Linux.
In January of this year, we posted news of a major pollution site in Texas that was the subject of some anonymous amateur sleuths with drones, who used their UAVs to document the release of a "river of blood" (pig blood, that is) into the Trinity River as it flows through Dallas. Now, garymortimer writes, that documentation has resulted in legal action in the form of an indictment from a Dallas grand jury. "The story went viral and continues to receive hits nearly a year later. I believe this is the first environmental crime to be prosecuted on the basis of UA evidence. Authorities had to act because of the attention the story was receiving."
theodp writes "Facebook is unlikely to make many new (non-investor) friends with reports that it paid Irish taxes of about $4.64 million on its entire non-U.S. profits of $1.344 billion for 2011. 'Facebook operates a second subsidiary that is incorporated in Ireland but controlled in the Cayman Islands,' Kenneth Thomas explains. 'This subsidiary owns Facebook Ireland, but the setup allows the two companies to be considered as one for U.S. tax purposes, but separate for Irish tax purposes. The Caymans-operated subsidiary owns the rights to use Facebook's intellectual property outside the U.S., for which Facebook Ireland pays hefty royalties to use. This lets Facebook Ireland transfer the profits from low-tax Ireland to no-tax Cayman Islands.' In 2008, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg cited 'local world-class talent' as the motivation behind Facebook's choice of tax-haven Dublin for its international HQ. Similar tax moves by Google, Microsoft, and others who have sought the luck-of-the-Double-Irish present quite a dilemma for tax revenue-seeking governments. Invoking Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous common sense definition of ethics ('Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do') is unlikely to sway corporations whose top execs send the message that tax avoidance is the right thing to do and something to be proud of."
Mark Westlake is the Chief Revenue Office for TechMediaNetwork. Slashdot has often taken a mediawatch role, especially when it comes to technology coverage -- which is what TechMediaNetork does for a living. As Chief Revenue Office, Mark is in charge of making sure enough money comes in to pay writers and editors, pay for bandwidth and servers, and hopefully have enough revenue over and above expenses to show a profit. We've interviewed editors and writers, and plenty of writers' work gets linked from Slashdot, but we pay little or no (mostly no) attention to the business side of the publishing business. Like it or not, if we are going to have online news someone has to sell the ads and make decisions about whether to set up a paywall or not. That's Mark's job. Like him or not, he does a job somebody has to do, and has been doing it for 30 years. He knows he's talking to a potentially hostile audience here, but he accepts that. As he says, near the end of the video, "...you can't please everybody, right?"