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 202

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.

Oculus Founder Explains Why the Rift VR Headset Will Cost "More Than $350" 169

An anonymous reader writes: When Oculus took to Kickstarter in 2012, the company sought to create the 'DK1', a development kit of the Rift which the company wanted to eventually become an affordable VR headset that they would eventually take to market as a consumer product. At the time, the company was aiming for a target price around $350, but since then the company, and the scope of the Rift headset, has grown considerably. That's one reason why Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey says that the consumer Rift headset, launching in Q1 2016, will cost more than $350. '...the reason for that is that we've added a lot of technology to this thing beyond what existed in the DK1 and DK2 days,' says Luckey.

UK Gamers Can Now Get Their Money Back For Publishers' Broken Promises 72

An anonymous reader writes: An amendment to the UK Consumer Rights Act regarding digital-only purchases seems to give British videogamers redress towards publishing houses which deliver buggy code or inveigle consumers to pre-order games based on trailers or betas that demonstrate features, characters or quality not delivered in the RTM release. But the legislation is so loosely worded as to be an invitation to litigation and interpretation, and does not address mis-delivery issues for consumer models such as cloud subscriptions.

The Real Cost of Mobile Ads 117

New submitter cvdwl writes: A New York Times (mildly paywalled) article and associated analysis discuss the consumer cost of mobile ads, assuming a US$0.01/MB data plan. The article provides one of the only estimates I've seen of the the real cost in time and money (and time is money) of mobile advertising. Ethics of ad-blockers aside, this highlights the hidden costs of data-heavy (often lazy and poorly developed) web-design. In a nutshell, the worst sites took 10-30s load 10-20MB, costing $0.15-0.40, over 4G due to a blizzard of video, heavy images, and occasionally just massive scripts. The best sites had high content to ad ratios, typically loading 1-3MB of content and >500kB of advertising.

Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization' 464

An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.

Apple, Microsoft Tout Their Privacy Policies To Get Positive PR 101

jfruh writes: Apple hasn't changed its privacy policy in more than a year — but that didn't stop the company from putting up a glossy website explaining it in layman's terms. Microsoft too has been touting its respect for its users's privacy. This doesn't represent any high-minded altruism on those companies' parts, of course; it's part of their battle against Google, their archrival that offers almost all of its services for free and makes its money mining user data.

$20 Million XPRIZE Takes On Carbon Emissions 46

An anonymous reader writes: XPRIZE has announced a new, $20 million competition that aims to tackle carbon emissions. They're not looking to reduce emissions, but rather to convert them into something useful. They provide examples: "products like new and sustainable building materials; low-emission transportation fuels; and alternative chemical products that can be used to make everything from clothing and running shoes, to safer, stronger automobiles and breakthrough medicines." Awards will be given for making use of emissions from two different sources: coal power plants and natural gas power plants. "The winning team will convert the most CO2 emissions into the highest value products. To be competitive, teams will have to make the business case for their approach as well as minimize their use of energy, water, land, and other inputs that have consequences for the environment."

Targeting Tools Help Personalize TV Advertising 59

schwit1 writes: Surgical marketing messages are taken for granted on the Internet. Yet, they are just now finding their way onto television, where the audience is big though harder to target. As brands shift more of their spending to the Web where ads are more precise, the TV industry is pushing back. Using data from cable set-top boxes that track TV viewing, credit cards and other sources, media companies including Comcast's NBCUniversal, Time Warner's Turner, and Viacom are trying to compete with Web giants like Google and Facebook and help marketers target their messages to the right audience. Where can I get adblock for my FiOS?

iOS 9 'Wi-Fi Assist' Could Lead To Huge Wireless Bills 182

Dave Knott writes: One of the new features introduced in iOS9 is "Wi-Fi Assist." This enables your phone to automatically switch from Wi-Fi to a cellular connection when the Wi-Fi signal is poor. That's helpful if you're in the middle of watching a video or some other task on the internet that you don't want interrupted by spotty Wi-Fi service. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi Assist is enabled by default, which means that users may exceed their data cap without knowing it because their phone is silently switching their data connection from Wi-Fi to cellular.
The Almighty Buck

Video Why Kickstarter Became a Public Benefit Corporation (Video) 40

Meet Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler. Timothy Lord asked Yancey about Kickstarter's recent move to become a Public Benefit Corporation, which is, according to Wikipedia, "a specific type of corporation that allows for public benefit to be a charter purpose in addition to the traditional corporate goal of maximizing profit for shareholders."

This corporate restructuring has no tax advantages, and creates a slight increase in paperwork, Yancey says. So why did they do it? Please view the video (or read the transcript, which has more info than the video) to find out.
The Almighty Buck

Study: $1.8 Billion In Reshipping Fraud With Stolen Cards Each Year 139

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and others studied the economy of how criminals monetize stolen credit cards by operating reshipping scams as means to cash out, KrebsOnSecurity reports: "A time-honored method of extracting cash from stolen credit cards involves "reshipping" scams, which manage the purchase, reshipment and resale of carded consumer goods from America to Eastern Europe — primarily Russia. A new study suggests that some 1.6 million credit and debit cards are used to commit at least $1.8 billion in reshipping fraud each year, and identifies some choke points for disrupting this lucrative money laundering activity. [...] disrupting the reshipping chains of these scams has the potential to cripple the underground economy by affecting a major income stream of cybercriminals. By way of example, the team found that a single criminal-operated reshipping service can earn a yearly revenue of over 7.3 million US dollars, most of which is profit."
The Almighty Buck

Samsung Pay Launches In the United States 105

An anonymous reader writes: Ready to take on Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung Pay is now live in the United States. The service has already launched in South Korea, where it saw over $30 million in transactions its first month. The Verge reports: "Samsung Pay may be more capable than other competing services, but its availability has some limits. First, it's only built into Samsung's newest devices: the Galaxy S6, the S6 Edge and Edge+, and the Note 5. You also need a credit or debit card from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card, and it has to be issued by one of just a few banks: Bank of America, Citi, American Express, and US Bank are available at launch. (Samsung Pay also works with customer loyalty cards.)"

How Can NASA's Road To Mars Be Made More Affordable? 211

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger published a piece that touched on one of the most vexing issues surrounding NASA's "road to Mars," that being that of cost. How does one design a deep space exploration program that "the nation can afford," to coin a phrase uttered by the old NASA hand interviewed for the article? The phrase is somewhat misleading since one of the truisms of federal budgeting is that the nation can afford quite a bit. A more accurate phrase might be, "that the nation is willing to spend."

The Case Against Non-technical Managers 152

Kelerei writes: Lorraine Steyn, owner of a small software development company in Cape Town, has published an opinion piece that may hit too close to home for some: making a case against non-technical managers. She writes about the all too common disconnect between IT staff and the boardroom table and states that 'one of the ways to solve this, is to bring managers closer to the coal face. Technical training programs are critical for your development team to keep apace with change, and investing the time for IT management to do the training too can pay dividends... [if a manager feels he doesn't] have enough time to get that close to the detail of what your department does, think about whether you would appoint a non-financial manager to handle your money'.
The Military

Don't Worry, That Blimp Isn't Watching You Much 43

According to the Baltimore Sun, and despite claims by its maker Raytheon that the system is "performing well right now," the expensive tethered-blimp observatory called JLENS (for "Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System") seems to be mostly a boondoggle. The report focuses on the JLENS installation that was launched in Maryland last year. The Sun makes much of the flight taken by disaffected postal worker Douglas Hughes last April to the White House lawn, directly in the JLENS observation area -- the success of which (to be charitable) casts doubt on the effectiveness of the flying observatory system. Beyond its evidently low utility in doing its job, JLENS seems to be a brittle system, amplying its potential costs as well as its military vulnerability with grand, expensive failures as well as everyday difficulties: in 2010, "a civilian balloon broke loose from its mooring, destroying a grounded JLENS blimp that had cost about $182 million." The article lays out some political shenanigans, too: politicians in a wide range of states have supported the project, which has a nationwide footprint of contractors and possible deployment locations. From the article: Within the Pentagon, Marine Corps Gen. James E. "Hoss" Cartwright, then vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came to JLENS' defense, arguing that it held promise for enhancing the nation's air defenses. At Cartwright's urging, money was found in 2011 for a trial run of the technology in the skies above Washington. Cartwright retired the same year — and joined Raytheon's board of directors five months later. By the end of 2014, Raytheon had paid him more than $828,000 in cash and stock for serving as a director, Securities and Exchange Commission records show.
The Internet

Saudi Arabia Almost Bought Hacking Team 26

itwbennett writes: If hacked emails posted by WikiLeaks are to be believed, the Saudi Arabian government came close to buying control of Italian surveillance software company Hacking Team, Philip Wilan reports. 'The negotiations were handled by Wafic Said, a Syrian-born businessman based in the U.K. who is a close friend of the Saudi royal family, and also involved Ronald Spogli, a former U.S. ambassador to Italy, who had an indirect investment in Hacking Team,' writes Wilan. The deal collapsed in early 2014.

Curbing the For-Profit Cybercrime Food Chain 19

msm1267 writes: A new report coauthored by Google researchers and a host of academics explains that firewalls, two-factor authentication and other traditional defensive capabilities put security teams in a constant dogfight against cybercrime. Instead, the focus, they says, should be on attacking the criminal infrastructure. The report outs a number of soft spots and inter-dependencies in the criminal underground that could be leveraged to cut into the efficacy of cybercrime. "Commoditization directly influences the kinds of business structures and labor agreements that drive recent cybercrime," the researchers write. While shutting down the black market is easier said than done, the paper notes a few ways to deter the behavior of attackers, if not fully break the chain.

Why All Boards Need a Technology Expert 67

New submitter ebonyygraham writes with an article at the Harvard Business Review about the dearth of IT savvy professionals in the boardroom. A few months ago I decided to look into the professional experience of non-executive directors at the major banks listed in Britain. Like almost every other major industry today, banking relies on hugely complex, enormously expensive technology. So I was curious as to whether the individuals charged with corporate governance would have any more than a layman's knowledge of IT. I discovered that only one bank had a board member with some direct experience in technology and in that case it was as a sales executive. I'm afraid this is typical not just in banking but across most major industries. Technology is the most important agent of change today; hardly any industry is immune to both its value-creating and disruptive potential. Yet I perceive a large gap between the direct experience of non-executive directors and the experience required to challenge and support chairmen and CEOs in their quest to bring the best technology to their business.

iOS Ad Blocker "Crystal" Will Let Companies Pay To Show You Ads 229

pdclarry writes: Apple's iOS 9 now supports ad blockers. The most popular of these, Peace, was withdrawn after only a couple of days because the developer thought "it just doesn't feel good." Crystal then quickly rose to the top of the heap. But the developer of Crystal has announced that it will allow "acceptable ads" — for a fee from the advertiser. Crystal is a paid app; so you can now pay for the privilege of seeing ads.