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17 Apr 00:43

Infants Are Unable To Play With Building Blocks Because They're Too Addicted To iPads

by Karyne Levy

children Steve Jobs netherlands classroom

According to the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers, children who are 3 and 4 don't have dexterity in their fingers because they're too addicted to swiping tablet screens. 

The children know how to use the devices, but they barely know how to play with actual toys.

"I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialise with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone," said teacher Colin Kinney at the association's annual conference, according to The Telegraph.

The Telegraph reports that in addition to this, the memory of some older children is deteriorating because of over-exposure to computers. According to one teacher, these children couldn't finish traditional tests using pen and paper. 

Pew Research shows that one-third of Americans owned a tablet in 2013. And "among parents with minor children living at home, tablet ownership rose from 26% in April 2012 to 50% in May 2013."

The National Association for the Education of Young Children says that "when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development." But it also warns that exposure to interactive media should be limited, especially for young children.

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12 Apr 20:45

A Dutchman's fight to change how America keeps its cities above water

by Dante D'Orazio

Many see Hurricane Sandy as merely a taste of what's to come for coastal regions like the New York tri-state area as sea levels rise, and it's led to a call for action. But there are two approaches to tackling the water: either try to forcefully block it with walls and similar devices, or work around the water and give it a place to go. The latter approach has recently been championed in the Netherlands (which is no stranger to water), and last year one of the top minds in charge of keeping the Dutch dry came to work for the Obama administration. His name is Henk Ovink, and a New York Times profile looks into some of the work he's doing in the States. According to Ovink, the challenge is changing how we deal with water: it's not a matter...

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10 Apr 11:43

Thank XP: Desktop PC sales take off again in Western Europe

by Mikael Ricknäs
PC sales in Western Europe have risen after 13 consecutive quarters of decline, according to market research company Gartner. The market research company said government spending and the replacement of machines running Windows XP contributed to the growth.






10 Apr 11:44

'Gospel of Jesus's Wife' likely isn't a modern forgery, scientists claim

by Amar Toor

A controversial document that suggests that Jesus of Nazareth had a wife is most likely ancient and not a modern forgery, according to a paper published today in the Harvard Theological Review. The papyrus fragment, known as the "Gospel of Jesus's Wife," has been the subject of widespread debate since it was discovered in 2012 because it includes the phrase "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'." It also mentions that "she will be able to be my disciple," which led some to question whether women should be allowed to become Catholic priests.

The Vatican has previously said that the document is most likely a modern forgery, but scientists from Columbia University, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say their analysis...

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09 Apr 18:44

Whitehat hacker goes too far, gets raided by FBI, tells all

by Sean Gallagher

A whitehat hacker from the Baltimore suburbs went too far in his effort to drive home a point about a security vulnerability he reported to a client. Now he’s unemployed and telling all on reddit.

David Helkowski was working for Canton Group, a Baltimore-based software consulting firm on a project for the University of Maryland (UMD), when he claims he found malware on the university’s servers that could be used to gain access to personal data of students and faculty. But he says his employer and the university failed to take action on the report, and the vulnerability remained in place even after a data breach exposed more than 300,000 students’ and former students’ Social Security numbers.

As Helkowski said to a co-worker in Steam chat, “I got tired of being ignored, so I forced their hand.” He penetrated the university’s network from home, working over multiple VPNs, and downloaded the personal data of members of the university’s security task force. He then posted the data to Pastebin and e-mailed the members of the task force anonymously on March 15.

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09 Apr 00:49

Dear readers, please change your Ars account passwords ASAP

by Dan Goodin

For more than two years, the Internet's most popular implementation of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol has contained a critical defect that allowed attackers to pluck passwords, authentication cookies, and other sensitive data out of the private server memory of websites. Ars was among the millions of sites using the OpenSSL library, and that means we too were bitten by this extraordinarily nasty bug.

By mid-morning Tuesday, Ars engineers already updated OpenSSL and revoked and replaced our site's old TLS certificate. That effectively plugged the hole created by the vulnerability. By installing the OpenSSL update, attackers could no longer siphon sensitive data out of our server memory. And although there's no evidence the private encryption key for Ars' previous TLS certificate was compromised, the replacement ensured no one could impersonate the site in the event hackers obtained the key.

With Ars servers fully updated, it's time to turn our attention to the next phase of recovery. In the hours immediately following the public disclosure of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, several readers reported their Ars accounts were hijacked by people who exploited the bug and obtained other readers' account passwords. There's no way of knowing if compromises happened earlier than that. Ars has no evidence such hacks did occur, but two years is a long time. There's simply no way of ruling out the possibility.

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06 Apr 23:31

St. Louis Fed Vice President: Bitcoin Could Be A Good Threat To Central Banks

by Rob Wile

Screen Shot 2014 04 06 at 7.33.50 PM

Last week, St. Louis Fed Vice President and Director of Research David Andolfatto released a presentation on Bitcoin, becoming one of the most prominent central bank officials to study the cryptocurrency.

We caught up with Andolfatto to ask him about why he put this deck together, where he thinks Bitcoin is going, and whether he personally has anything invested in it.

Business Insider: What was the genesis for this presentation?

David Andolfatto: Its genesis was a blog post I'd started, addressing arguments that gold bugs frequently put forth, that gold is superior money. Of course, Bitcoin was in the news — I read about the algorithm that fixes the supply of bitcoins at least at some limit. It struck me that despite their tremendous disparity in physical properties, they share the quality that they have a relatively fixed supply — which is why gold and bitcoin make lousy money.

I blogged some more on Bitcoin, and I brought to bear conventional theories of money and whether or not, just because it was virtual currency, whether it was good or bad.

Then Marcela Williams (the St. Louis Fed's [assistant vice president of strategic communications] for the Bank) came and asked whether I'd be interested in presenting a talk on Bitcoin.

BI: How have your opinions on Bitcoin evolved since that first post?

DA: Early on, I thought, 'This was kind of silly,' and I kind of questioned the role of the miners, these miners who are mining bitcoin. And it led to the analogy of people mining for gold. I recall reading a blog post by Paul Krugman, who criticized Bitcoin. He was saying exactly what I was thinking: that this intensive effort to mine for gold ...We don't need more physical commodities. All that has to happen is the price level has to adjust. Economic theory says that kind of mining is inefficient.

I shared in that opinion, but I continued to read about it, and it struck me that that analogy was incorrect — that in fact what these miners were, was mislabeled. They were performing a communal service, a record-keeping service which is critical to any money system. Mining was a red herring, it's just one way to reward record keepers for their service, and that protocol could function even with constant supply.

BI: What were the main things you wanted readers to come away with from your presentation?

DA: I was trying to describe how things function today. When you think about Bitcoin as a potential rival to the U.S. dollar, it might have some trouble competing, because despite the fact that a computer algorithm governs its supply, like nature determines the supply of gold, that benefit of a theoretically stabilized price level is not necessarily something you want when there’s demand volatility. So takeaway No. 1 is that Bitcoin suffers from the same defect as gold — the standard volatility was very much like gold.

One thing that people have not thought too much, in this new world of competing cryptocurrencies, is that we’ve got a lot of experience in history of multiple competing currencies, and there's a nominal exchange-rate problem. Economic theory says there's nothing fundamental to pin down the exchange rate between two intrinsically useless objects. If history is any guide, we're going to see multiple currencies circulating with extreme exchange-rate volatility. So I asked, How do we think things are going to work out? Do we think merchants are going to accept several different virtual currencies? The relative prices remain stable? Really? What makes you think that? History shows these things are going to fluctuate like crazy.

So what does this mean? I just don't see bitcoin replacing the U.S. dollar. The traditional way of controlling for [exchange rate] risk is to impose fixed exchange rates. The $5 bill trades at a 5:1 ratio to the $1 because we say so. But that goes counter to the whole spirit of these cryptocurrencies.

The U.S. dollar has already passed the market test. Some responded to me by saying, 'Yeah because, it's a monopoly.' But there are several competing currencies out there in the world. The U.S. dollar is still the go-to currency, but there's nothing domestically that prevents us from getting paid in pesos — Americans do have an opportunity to get paid in any currency they want.

But because the Fed has been manging the supply of dollars — which hasn't always been perfect — these bugs have been patched, which the Bitcoin protocol is still working through. Inflation (of the dollar) has been low and stable for the past 30 years; most people are happy.

BI: You said Bitcoin could pose a threat to central banks. What did you mean?

DA: I do think its existence as a threat is very good: It will discipline the Fed and other central banks to continue to run responsible policies — if they don’t, people could switch to something else.

The idea of currency competition: Many countries impose currency controls. In Albania, you would suffer severe consequences if you were caught with U.S. dollars in your pocket. The purpose of currency controls is to stimulate demand for domestic currency, because the central bank and the central government want to exploit the people by inflating excessively, so the threat of currency competition — if a central bank, a government, knew people could stop using domestic currency and flock to an alternative, that would force the government to behave more responsibly.

In the past, because of paper notes, a ban on foreign currencies was much easier. But now everybody's got a cellphone, a PC — how do you enforce those currency controls? There's no central authority — people are just trading these things using their telephones, so a government would have to take draconian measures to prevent that from happening.

So that’s not gonna happen in the U.S., but to the extent there are other technologies looming out there, that threat might discipline central banks.

Business Insider: How is Bitcoin viewed within the Fed community?

DA: We support each other in our research, but much of the Fed is concerned with the size of our balance sheet — our efforts are more focused on that. But I haven’t had any pushback. There are some people within the system keeping an eye out — Francois Velde in Chicago also had a note on it.

BI: What about Bitcoin's underlying technology?

DA: I made a distinction between Bitcon and Ripple. Bitcoin lives on its idea as a currency provider, but there are other protocols that employ the same cryptology that cryptocurrencies employ to concentrate on the payment side. Bitcoin does two things: It creates and manages a money supply, and works as a payment processor.

Ripple is currency agnostic: It's currently happy to let the U.S. Fed manage the U.S. dollar — with Ripple you'll be able to send money across the globe with Federal Reserve-backed money.

I'm not entirely sure what units [mobile banking service] M-Pesa uses, but these people are quite sophisticated, so what’s to stop them from downloading Ripple or Bitcoin, and start using them? They seem very receptive to this kind of thing. Especially in Africa and the undeveloped world — that’s where you see excessive inflation.

I don't see the same demand in the U.S., despite the criticisms of the Fed and the U.S. dollar.

Business Insider: Do you own any bitcoin? Should people be buying it?

DA: No. It’s highly speculative — I don't think the average person wants to get in there. If you want to put $10 in to experiment ... but I would not want to put in my life savings. It's usually volatile. You could get lucky, but you'd have to be careful. Let’s see how it evolves.

SEE ALSO: Check Out Andolfatto's Full Presentation

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03 Apr 23:28

Microsoft's New Plan To Make People Love Windows 8 Is Starting To Work (MSFT)

by Julie Bort

Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO

When it comes to Windows 8 and Windows Phone, Microsoft has been caught in a Catch-22. People buy devices for the apps. Developers only want to write apps for devices that already have a lot of users.

Microsoft has to convince app developers to write for Windows, not just iOS and Android, in order to sell more devices.

This week during its developer conference, the company unveiled a grand strategy to break the stalemate. It announced a plan to deliver what's known as the "Holy Grail" of app development: write the app once and it runs on everything, Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone 8, Xbox, iOS and Android.

Microsoft's plan consisted of lots of new development software, updates to existing software and new features in its app-hosting cloud Azure. Plus, Microsoft also launched a new software foundation that will bring even more "Holy Grail" tools to app developers, for free.

Many people who attended the conference liked what they heard. A lot. Business Insider talked to a handful of developer attendees at the show who shared these thoughts with us:

  • Thanks to the new tools, a programmer who only writes iOS apps is "going to look at" writing Windows Phone 8 apps.
  • Another told us, "This was a very strategic move. Microsoft is offering a lot of support, making it easy to work with them."
  • One enterprise software developer said that his company is still in the process of upgrading 25,000 people to new PCs running Windows 7. He'll be exploring a new feature in Windows 8.1 that will let him easily add the Windows 8 Modern interface to older, non-touch Windows apps. If it works, his company will buy Windows 8 PCs. "We'll definitely be heading that route when it makes sense."
  • Some developers were hopeful about Cortana, Microsoft's voice-command feature for Windows Phone 8.1, a competitor to Siri. Their apps will be able to tap into Cortana. They will start exploring that when Microsoft releases it to them on April 14.

Only one developer we talked to was feeling cautious, unsure if the Holy Grail was even possible. He told us, "If you are designing an iOS app, you want it to feel like an iOS app, not a Windows app that was converted."

Still, there's no question that Microsoft has piqued the interest of the developer community, and that's the first crucial step toward getting consumers and businesses to want Windows devices.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft's new CEO faces a critical test: Winning over Microsoft's most powerful allies

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03 Apr 22:51

Microsoft's XBox Has A Secret Weapon In Its Battle Against The Playstation (MSFT)

by Kyle Russell

build 2014 titanfall

In its war to control tech in the living room, Microsoft's Xbox One is fighting on multiple fronts.

From the low end of the market, it's fighting against Apple, Amazon and Roku, which stream video content from the Internet to your TV through inexpensive set-stop boxes, ranging from $99, a far cry from the Xbox One's $449 price tag.

Then there's the PlayStation 4, Sony's flagship game console that offers similar gaming and video-streaming capabilities for $399.

Since most blockbuster games come to both the PS4 and the Xbox One, the key to a console's success this generation is differentiating the experience and offering exclusive games that you can't get anywhere else.

The most obvious way Microsoft made the Xbox One's user experience unique was the inclusion of the Kinect, which lets you control your console with voice and gestures alone. If you plug a cable box into the Xbox One, you can even use those same commands to control your television set as well.

Getting exclusive games is a bit trickier than introducing a new interface. While Microsoft Games Studios makes a number of very successful game series for the Xbox platform, people don't just want "Halo." They want big, new games, too.

Developers and publishers of those games invest years and tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to bring blockbuster games to the market. That means that they want to release their games to as many potential customers as they can — which is why most games now target the PlayStation, Xbox and PC platforms.

To get exclusive games, Microsoft has to either pay publishers to bring their games only to the Xbox, or offer services for developers that you can't get anywhere else.

The original Xbox, for instance, was the best console for online gaming until the Xbox 360's release in 2005. With Xbox Live, it was the first console to make online gaming easily accessible. Neither Sony nor Nintendo offered anything comparable, so if you wanted your customers to have fun playing online, you built for Microsoft's console.

Sony pretty much caught up to Microsoft with its PlayStation Network on the PS3, so Microsoft had to come up with something new for the Xbox One. From today's keynote at the company's developer conference, Build, in San Francisco, it's clear that Microsoft thinks its Azure cloud can be that differentiator.

One of the first points brought up today at the conference was that "Titanfall," the single biggest exclusive released for the Xbox One so far, is built on top of its cloud infrastructure.

build 2014 titanfallHosting multiplayer video games on massive servers is nothing new. What is new is the fact that Microsoft's infrastructure can massively scale up and down based on a developer's needs, all while doing far more complex operations than what was previously available.

Microsoft has invested far more into its cloud architecture than either Sony or Nintendo have for their platforms — after all, it's trying to compete with Amazon and Google in the space.

That means it can do more with its servers than anyone else, including advanced simulations that make graphics and in-game AI better. Last month, Respawn Entertainment — the company behind "Titanfall" — co-founder Vince Campella told Business Insider that "all the AI and physics [in "Titanfall"] are done on the cloud."

In "Titanfall," you aren't just fighting against other people: there are also a number of AI combatants to deal with throughout the game's matches. You can't run those AI simulations on an individual's console because lag on their end could affect everyone. That means for every match, there has to be a new AI simulation being performed. Azure let Respawn do that without having to buy its own expensive server infrastructure.

Physics simulation is another huge computer-power hog that can be handled on the cloud. After the "Titanfall" presentation, Microsoft showed off a demo comparing a game running on a high-end PC and one running with assistance from Azure.

In the demo, the player could fire rockets at buildings and watch them realistically crumble. On the PC, the game slowed to a crawl as soon as the first rocket hit, becoming unplayable. The version with Cloud Assist didn't slow down once, even with multiple structures collapsing and the player wandering through the environment.

build 2014 cloud assist game demo azure

It'll be interesting to see whether Microsoft can convince game developers to take advantage of its cloud to make for more physics- and AI-intensive games. While the PlayStation 4 is technically a bit more powerful than the Xbox One, Sony doesn't offer anything like Microsoft's Cloud Assist. That could be enough to win over developers looking to provide high-quality, blockbuster experiences.

SEE ALSO: How Microsoft is positioning the Xbox to take on Amazon, Roku and the Apple TV

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03 Apr 22:35

Microsoft open sources a big chunk of .NET

by Peter Bright

SAN FRANCISCO—At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that it was open sourcing a wide array of its .NET libraries and related technologies and creating a group, the .NET Foundation, to oversee the development and stewardship of the open source components.

Perhaps the highlight of the announcement today was that the company will be releasing its Roslyn compiler stack as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. Roslyn includes a C# and Visual Basic.NET compiler, offering what Microsoft calls a "compiler as a service."

Many—though not all—compilers operate essentially as black boxes. They slurp in source code at the front, and spew out executable code at the back. With Roslyn, Microsoft is taking a different approach. The Roslyn compiler can be used as a library. When it reads a piece of source code, it produces an internal representation that third-party code can then manipulate and examine.

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03 Apr 20:44

GameSpy Technology shutting down May 31

by Samit Sarkar

GameSpy Technology, the Glu Mobile-owned service that provides multiplayer functionality for dozens of games on consoles, computers and mobile devices, will shut down as of May 31, according to the company's website.

"Effective May 31, 2014, GameSpy will cease providing all hosting services for all games still using GameSpy," the statement reads. "Thanks for a great ride!" The company had already stopped licensing out its services to publishers as of Jan. 1, 2013.

GameSpy Technology has existed in some form since 1997, when it debuted as a listing service for Quake server IP addresses. It is a separate entity from the gaming site GameSpy, which was shut down by parent company Ziff Davis in February 2013.

The service offers features...

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02 Apr 16:00

How Grey Goo hopes to revolutionize real-time strategy

by Brian Crecente

It's all about the goo.

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01 Apr 19:25

These Are The Only 3 Interview Questions You Need To Prepare For

by Jacquelyn Smith

job interview resume career talking

Because job interviews are so nerve-wracking, we often spend days or weeks preparing. But it's almost impossible to predict which questions you'll be asked or how things will go.  

Bernard Marr, a global enterprise performance expert and a best-selling business author, says in a recent LinkedIn post that preparing for an interview is difficult. “In most cases we practice the answers to a long list of possible questions. The problem is that this can leave you over-prepared, and as a consequence your pre-conceived answers can come across a bit robotic.”

Luckily, there are only three interview questions that really matter, Marr says. Preparing for these queries will allow you to answer almost any question more naturally because “you can link most interview questions back to these.”

“The interviewer might use many different questions and angles to get to the answers,” he adds. But these are the three questions they ultimately want answered:

1. Have you got the skills, expertise, and experience to perform the job?

Marr says to answer this one, you need to think about the key skills you might need for the job, and assess your own level of expertise and experience in that context. “It makes sense to identify the more specific or technical skills that your potential employer might expect as well as some more generic skills such as being a good communicator, having good IT skills, being a team player, etc.”

He says preparing for this question will help you answer many other interview questions (without getting “sidetracked into talking about things that are not relevant”), such as:

Tell me about yourself?

What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?

What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?

Why do you think you are right for this job?

What do you think the main challenges will be?

2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?

All hiring managers want to know that you are interested in the company and excited about the prospect of working there, Marr explains. “You therefore want to demonstrate that you have researched the company, understand its strategy, current performance, structure, market position, and products and that you can’t wait to join them.” Show the potential employer you’ve done your homework, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and company.

Here are other ways they’ll ask this question:

What do you know about our company?

What do you think our company is aiming to achieve?

What do you know about our products and services?

Why do you want to work for this company?

Why do you think this job is right for you?

What motivates you?

3. Will you fit into the team, culture, and company?

“This final key question is about your personality and your style and how you as a person fit into the team and culture of the company,” Marr says. Every company has its own unique culture, and it’s important to both you and the employer that you fit in.

Other questions that are essentially asking the same thing:

How would you describe your work style?

How would you describe yourself?

How would your colleagues describe you?

What makes you fit into our company?

What makes you a good team member?

If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

Read the full LinkedIn post here.

Want your business advice featured in Instant MBA? Submit your tips to tipoftheday@businessinsider.com. Be sure to include your name, your job title, and a photo of yourself in your email. 

SEE ALSO: Here’s How To Explain An Employment Gap On Your Resume

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30 Mar 21:09

An ancient virus may be the reason human stem cells can transform

by Casey Newton

The embryonic stem cells responsible for producing every other type of cell in the human body gained their power from an ancient virus that copied itself into our DNA millions of years ago, according to new research. National Geographic reports that the discovery could lead to more effective stem-cell treatments for diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease, among other ailments.

The new research, published today in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, offers new insights on pluripotency, the ability of stem cells to transform into other types of cell. The study's authors say their research demonstrates that an ancient virus known as human endogenous retrovirus subfamily H, or HERV-H, plays a key role in pluripotency.

H...

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27 Mar 10:51

Piloot bewusteloos, passagier neemt over

SYDNEY - De passagier van een Australische Piper PA-28 Cherokee moest onlangs de stuurknuppel zelf ter hand nemen toen de piloot tien minuten na vertrek het bewustzijn verloor. Dit staat in een donderdag gepubliceerd rapport van het Australische Bureau voor Verkeersveiligheid.

21 Mar 21:00

Apple Might Launch iTunes For Android Because Music Downloads Are Down

by Megan Rose Dickey

tim cook eddy cue

Apple is thinking about launching an iTunes app for Android, as well as an on-demand streaming service similar to Spotify, Billboard reports

This is likely because downloads of music from iTunes are in decline as more and more people transitioning to streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify, Beats Music, and Rdio.

Thanks to those streaming services, the music industry was able to sustain revenues of $7 billion, nearly the same as it has been since 2009, the RIAA says. It's neither growing nor shrinking at this point.

Digital downloads still brought in the most revenue to the music industry, but a 1% decline to $2.4 billion suggests that people are moving away from purchasing music and moving toward streaming services.

That's why it's no wonder Apple launched iTunes Radio, a streaming version of iTunes that competes directly with Pandora. Apple is reportedly working on a standalone app for iTunes Radio so that it can better target Pandora.

With an iTunes app for Android, Apple could even further compete with Pandora, and also potentially increase music downloads. 

SEE ALSO: It Looks Like Pandora Has Actually Stolen Business From iTunes

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20 Mar 21:16

The First Publicly Traded Company In History Used To Control All This Territory

by Rob Wile

On this date in 1602, the Dutch East India Company, known around the world as the VOC (for Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, United East-India Company referring to the country's union after driving out the Spanish) was formed. It was the first public company to issue negotiable shares, and by some measures is considered the most successful company of all time. 

The company lived for nearly 200 years, before being quasi-nationalized by Napoleon Bonaparte's client state in what became known as the Batavian Republic.  

Wikipedia user Red4Tribe has uploaded a map showing the extent of the VOC's holdings, in light green, over its lifetime. This is as if Apple or GE owned entire countries. We've previously documented how the British East India Company, born two years earlier, likewise ended up holding large amounts of land in India, not to mention paying their own armies. The map also shows the holdings of the Dutch West India Company, created 19 years later, in dark green. In yellow are territories held later, during the 19th century. 

Dutch Empire

 

SEE ALSO: The American Colonies Began As Private Plantations

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18 Mar 13:55

A Guy Who Owns A Bitcoin-Only Electronics Store Is Revealing Everything On Reddit

by Dylan Love

Reddit user "Leeburg" has written a post on his nine months and counting of experience in running a Bitcoin-only storefront online. The site is called CoinsForTech, and it deals in smartphones, computers, and all order of electronic gadgets wanted by people all over the world.

Leeburg is able to serve these people because Bitcoin is a geographically agnostic digital currency. Rather than get a bank involved in converting obscure currencies, CoinsForTech simply waits for confirmation that a customer's payment has arrived at the appropriate Bitcoin wallet. At that point, it can convert to U.S. dollars or do whatever else it would like with the Bitcoins — the payment's arrived and the irreversible nature of Bitcoin transactions means it's here to stay.

Here's a visual for just how international the site's reach is, which nine months' worth of orders denoted by Bitcoin logos over their destinations (you can view an interactive version here):

Screen Shot 2014 03 18 at 9.25.21 AM

Other relevant details from Leeburg's post:

  • Since launching nine months ago, CoinsForTech has sold $300,000 worth of merchandise to "nearly 40" countries, and if business remains steady, it will clear $500,000 before the end of its first year.
  • Bitcoin enables the site to serve many countries that would normally be deemed high-risk markets. Leeburg writes that "customers in areas such as India, Israel, and Pakistan are some of our best. We could never ship to these countries using a system other than Bitcoin."
  • The fact that Bitcoin transactions are irreversible means that the business has been defrauded "a total of zero times." Just as Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne recently told Business Insider, Bitcoin effectively makes customer fraud a thing of the past.

"If you are an international merchant you should be accepting Bitcoin. I cannot stress this enough," Leeburg writes. "Incredibly low start-up and ongoing costs, clear market from Bitcoiners wanting to spend, irreversible and instant payments worldwide — what have you got to lose?"

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19 Mar 22:00

Why the death of a game should be part of the planning process

by Megan Farokhmanesh

Games that run as services will inevitably shut down — and developers need to have a plan ready to go well before that point, according to a talk given by Microsoft executive producer Kevin Perry at Game Developers Conference 2014.

"I have bad news for you," Perry said. "Whatever game you're currently working on or dreaming up, it's going to pass at some point."

Titled "The Inevitable Sunset," the talk brought up the financial, legal and community-related questions developers need to ask themselves while considering their game's end. It starts with the trigger point, or the cause that will ultimately force the game to end.

"Death is different for games," Perry said. "Your players live on, hopefully. Your company hopefully lives on...

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15 Mar 16:52

See Chernobyl's legacy up close with this haunting photo book

by Carl Franzen

Gerd Ludwig, a National Geographic photojournalist, has spent the past 20 years capturing images of the desolate, dangerously radioactive "exclusion zone" surrounding the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine. His work captures apocalyptic abandoned structures and local residents still suffering health effects from the 1986 nuclear plant meltdown. Ludwig says he's even risked his own health by entering deeper into the plant than any Western journalist, into areas of such high radiation, he had only seconds to take a picture. Although he's already shared many of the resulting images with the public through his website, exhibits, and an iPad app, he's now seeking to compile over 100 of them into a gorgeous hardcover book, and he's...

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14 Mar 09:33

Would Sanctions Against Russia Even Work?

by Sam Ro

Russia trade

Tensions remain escalated on the Russia-Ukraine border. On Sunday, Crimean voters will be asked whether they want to join Russia.

Meanwhile, western leaders are considering policy actions like sanctions against Russia if the country ends up annexing Crimea post-referendum.

"We are cautious about the effectiveness of sanctions on Russia," say Morgan Stanley's Russia economics and strategy team. "Russia is a large country, with extensive resources, accounting in 2012 for 2.8% of global GDP, 4.7% of international merchandise trade and 13% of internationally traded oil. Typically, sanctions have been applied against much smaller countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea, with significantly fewer resources."

The analysts point to Russia's diversified trade partners. From Morgan Stanley:

"Russian trade and investment are spread across multiple jurisdictions, which points to a lack of dependence on any one country. Moreover, commodities – for which it is generally easy to find an alternative buyer – dominate exports: energy exports alone account for 66% of the total. Moreover, most Russian investment abroad ($406bn USD, end 2012) and foreign investment in Russia ($496bn USD, end 2012) is structured through offshore financial centers, which may make imposition of sanctions more challenging, although we suspect that most of the assets owned by Russian foreign investors, and most of the ultimate beneficiaries of foreign investment in Russia, are in OECD countries."

That being said, sanctions won't be ineffective.

"We see two main reasons [why sanctions might have some impact]," they add. "First, Russian economic performance has weakened in recent years, with growth slowing from 4.3% in 2011 to 1.3% in 2013, and is set to weaken further in 2014, partly as a result of the higher rates and higher risk premia driven by the security crisis. Against this background, the authorities will want to minimize any negative impact on the economy. Second, measures targeted at influential Russians, such as visa bans and asset freezes, may be effective in increasing pressure on the authorities for a negotiated settlement."

Economists seem to agree that Russia has done itself more harm than good with its aggression in the region. The ruble and stock market have been tumbling and GDP forecasts have been slashed.

SEE ALSO: Russia's Stock Market Is Getting Smoked

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13 Mar 22:13

Hollywood-stem Douglas overleden

Miljoenen mensen kenden zijn werk, maar Hal Douglas kon ongestoord over straat lopen. Met zijn sonore stemgeluid sprak hij duizenden filmtrailers in, wat hem legendarisch maakte in Hollywood. Douglas overleed vorige week vrijdag, maakte zijn familie vandaag bekend.

Douglas was bijzonder veelzijdig. Zijn stem was te horen onder de trailer van het aids-drama Philadelphia, maar werd ook gebruikt voor de komedies Forrest Gump en Meet the Parents. Bovendien deed hij de voice-over van Kevin Costners scienceficiton-flop Waterworld.

Acteren

Na de Tweede Wereldoorlog deed Douglas de toneelschool, "omdat daar de meiden zaten". Daarna werkte hij in eerste instantie als televisiepresentator, maar hij stapte over naar de reclamewereld. Vanwege zijn acteerlessen mocht hij de trailers inspreken.

Douglas groeide zo, samen met Don LaFontaine, uit tot een van de belangrijkste stemmen in de Amerikaanse showbusiness. Voor een filmclipje van 15 minuten werk kon hij 2000 dollar vragen. Hoewel hij beroemd was in LA, bleef Douglas zijn hele carrière het liefst werken vanuit zijn studio in New York.

Zelf was hij niet onder de indruk van zijn stemgeluid. "Ik vond het zelf nooit zo'n geweldige stem. Het klinkt een beetje alsof ik mijn keel moet schrapen."

Voor de camera

In 2002 kwam Douglas voor het eerst vóór de camera te staan, voor de trailer van Jerry Seinfelds film Comedian. Daarin nam hij zijn eigen werk op de hak, door constant in filmtrailerclichés te spreken, zoals "In een wereld waarin..." en "Als alles wat je weet verkeerd is...".

Douglas leed de afgelopen jaren aan schildklierkanker. Oktober vorig jaar kreeg hij bovendien een beroerte, waardoor hij opnieuw moest leren spreken. Hij werd 89 jaar oud.

12 Mar 23:33

This Is The Massive Rocket Elon Musk Wants To Send To Mars

by Jim Edwards

Falcon Heavy SpaceX

Later this year, Elon Musk's private rocket company, SpaceX, will launch a test flight of what it claims is the most massive rocket in existence: the Falcon Heavy. It looks a little like SpaceX's standard rocket, the Falcon 9, with two other Falcons strapped to its sides.

Put another way, this one ship has the liftoff thrust equivalent of 15 Boeing 747s tied together and running at full power.

Read more here.

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11 Mar 14:53

Interpol: verdwijning vlucht MH370 geen terrorisme

BANGKOK - Interpol denkt niet dat terroristen de verdwijning van de Boeing 777 van Malaysia Airlines op hun geweten hebben. “Hoe meer informatie we krijgen, hoe meer we geneigd zijn te concluderen dat het geen terroristische daad was'', zei Ronald Noble van de internationale politieorganisatie dinsdag. Eerder werd gesuggereerd dat passagiers die met gestolen paspoorten reisden terroristen zouden zijn.  

09 Mar 08:19

'Vermist vliegtuig keerde mogelijk terug'

KUALA LUMPUR - Voordat de Boeing 777-200ER van Malaysia Airlines zaterdag van de radarschermen verdween, heeft het vliegtuig mogelijk rechtsomkeert gemaakt. Radargegevens geven daar aanwijzingen voor, meldde de Maleisische luchtmacht zondag. "We hebben de radargegevens teruggekeken en beseften dat er een mogelijkheid bestaat dat het toestel op de route is teruggekeerd", zei generaal Rodzali Daud van de Maleisische luchtmacht.

08 Mar 10:54

Vliegtuig mogelijk in zee gestort

In de wateren tussen Maleisië en Vietnam is nog geen spoor gevonden van het vermiste vliegtuig van Malaysia Airlines dat gisteravond van de radar verdween. Aan boord van het toestel zijn 12 bemanningsleden en 227 passagiers, de meeste uit China maar ook uit andere landen in Azië, Europa en Noord-Amerika.
07 Mar 20:38

Witnesses Say Russians Just Seized A Ukrainian Military Post Without Firing A Shot

by Reuters

Russian Soldiers in Crimea

SEVASTOPOL Ukraine (Reuters) - Armed men thought to be Russians drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in the Crimea region on Friday and took control without a shot being fired, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.

Initial reports said the truck had smashed through the gates and that post in the city of Sevastopol was being stormed but the reporter could not see any signs of the gates being damaged.

A Ukrainian military official, Vladislav Seleznyov, said by telephone that the armed men took over the base without any shooting and that no one was hurt.

Another Ukrainian official told Reuters at the post that he was now mediating between the Ukrainian forces and the armed group inside, and that no arms had been seized.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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07 Mar 20:51

The Crisis In Ukraine Has Much Deeper And Darker Roots Than Many Realize

by Christina Sterbenz

Holodomor

Growing up in a Ukrainian family, I always wondered where my Baba's frantic need to feed everyone originated.

My grandparents didn't talk about how they suffered during the Holodomor — a forced famine in Ukraine perpetuated by the Soviets in the 1930s. I have seen pictures though, of them waiting in line for bread at a relocation camp. They finally fled Ukraine in 1943. My uncle was born during the journey somewhere in Poland.

With mounting pressure from the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to defend his invasion of the Crimea section of Ukraine. Putin claims Russia has a right to protect the former government headed by President Viktor Yanukovych in a "lawless" country like Ukraine.

But many people forget the history of oppression against Ukraine goes much further back than Putin's recent invasion. During Soviet rule in the 1930s, when my grandparents lived there, Stalin lead a genocide of Ukrainians.

“The Ukrainians have a lingering memory of a previous union with the Russians that nearly broke the back of their nation,” Walter Zaryckyj, executive director for the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSUR) told the National Review.

In 1932, Joseph Stalin and his forces perpetuated a famine in Ukraine known as "Holodomor," meaning "death by hunger."As a communist leader, Stalin wanted to curtail the country's growing independence (declared for the first time in 1918). He considered wealthy farmers, known as "kulaks,"capitalist and, therefore, anti-socialist. Consequently, Stalin instituted "dekulakization," seizing families' estates and imposing heavy grain taxes.He hoped not only to feed his growing forces but also to force Ukraine to abandon their national pride and adopt Soviet ideals.

No one knows how many Ukrainians perished, but historians estimate anywhere from 3 million to 10 million people starved to death. Some eyewitness accounts describe people eating their dogs and, horrifingly, their own children.

But history often ignores Stalin's reign of terror. Currently, Russia doesn't recognize the Holodomor as a genocide, nor does Ukraine's ousted, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych.While Kremlin-supporters fail to acknowledge the genocide, many countries, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, recognize the event as exactly that. Even Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term "genocide," used the Holodomor as an example. While we can never call one tragedy "worse" than another, some historians claim Stalin killed just as many Ukrainians as Hitler killed Jews — possibly more.

Although Ukraine declared independence 1918, that government soon collapsed, and the country wouldn't gain true independence until after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Decades later, Yanukovych has maintained a close relationship with Russia and Putin, a leader who makes no secret of his pro-Stalin ideology. Recently, he dedicated the Sochi Olympics to his favorite communist leader. On top of that, Yanukovych has refused to allow Ukraine to join the European Union and cut troubled ties to Russia.

"For Ukrainians, E.U. membership means more than economic opportunities and mobility. It is about distancing themselves from Putin, who is said to revere Stalin, the very dictator who tried to erase Ukraine and managed to partition it, at least politically,"Andrea Chalupa, who studied at the Harvard Ukrainian Institute, wrote for Time.

Although fewer than one-fifth of Americans feel the U.S. has any obligation to protect Ukraine from Russian invasion, according to a YouGov poll, history reminds us of the need to watch closely. Putin's affiliation with Stalin looks all too clear. And Hillary Clinton, among others, already compared the Kremlin's actions to those of Adolf Hitler.

For Ukraine, this invasion just signifies another notch in a long line of abuses.

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07 Mar 20:57

Flying the world's fastest plane: behind the stick of the SR-71

by SB Nation Staff

Spencer Hall interviews former SR-71 Blackbird pilot Rick McCrary about what it's like to fly the world's fastest plane. Spoiler: It's terrifying.

Continue reading…

07 Mar 13:22

Ukraine Says Russian Troops In Crimea Have Doubled To 30,000

by Reuters

russian troopsKIEV (Reuters) - Russia now has 30,000 troops in Ukraine's Crimea region, Ukrainian border guards said on Friday, nearly twice the previous figure given by the government in Kiev.

Serhiy Astakhov, aide to the head of border guards service, told Reuters the figure was an estimate and included both troops that had arrived since last week and Russia's Black Sea Fleet, permanently based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

Russia, whose forces occupied the isolated peninsula last week, says the only troops it has there are those based in Sevastopol. The Russian troops that have occupied positions across Crimea wear no insignia on their uniforms but drive vehicles with Russian military plates.

Ukraine says thousands of extra troops have arrived and have fanned out across the occupied peninsula in violation of the treaty governing the base. Earlier this week Ukraine said there were a total of 16,000 Russian troops in Crimea.

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

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