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  • DHL Goes Live With 'Parcelcopter' Drone Delivery Service

    jones_supa writes: In December, Amazon announced it intends to deliver packages to customers using drones. But its initiative was widely ridiculed for being an over-hyped announcement with little to show for it. This summer, Google demonstrated its own drone-based delivery service, using a fixed-wing aircraft to deliver little packages to farmers in the Australian outback. But now, German delivery firm DHL has beaten the tech firms to the punch, announcing a regular drone delivery service for the first time, nine months after it launched its "parcelcopter" research project in December 2013. The service will use an quadcopter to deliver small parcels to the German island of Juist, a sandbar island 12km into the North Sea from the German coast, inhabited by 2,000 people. Deliveries will include medication and other urgently needed goods. Flying below 50 meters to avoid entering regulated air traffic corridors, the drone takes a fully automated route, carrying a special air-transport container that is extremely lightweight as well as weatherproof.

    92 comments | 5 days ago

  • Amazon Forced To Reboot EC2 To Patch Bug In Xen

    Bismillah writes AWS is currently emailing EC2 customers that it will need to reboot their instances for maintenance over the next few days. The email doesn't explain why the reboots are being done, but it is most likely to patch for the embargoed XSA-108 bug in Xen. ZDNet takes this as a spur to remind everyone that the cloud is not magical. Also at The Register.

    94 comments | about a week ago

  • Facebook To Start Testing Internet-Beaming Drones In 2015

    Zothecula writes There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.

    42 comments | about a week ago

  • Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

    An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."

    191 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon Purchases .buy TLD For $4.6 Million

    onproton writes: Amazon outbid Google at the ICANN auction this week for the top-level domain .buy , to which it now has exclusive rights, paying around $4.6 million for the privilege. Google was also reportedly outbid for the .tech domain, which went for around $6.7 million. No word yet on Amazon's plans for the new domain suffix, but it's probably safe to say amazonsucks.buy will be added to Amazon's collection of reserved anti-Amazon URLs.

    67 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Dremel Releases 3D Printer

    Lucas123 writes Power tool maker Dremel today announced it's now selling a desktop 3D printer that it said is targeted at "the masses" with a $1,000 price tag and intuitive software. Dremel's 3D Idea Builder is a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine that can use only one type of polymer filament, polylactide (PLA) and that comes in 10 colors. The new 3D printer has a 9-in. x 5.9-in. x 5.5-in. build area housed in a self-contained box with a detachable lid and side panels. Dremel's currently selling its machine on Amazon and The Home Depot's website, but it plans brick and mortar store sales this November.

    105 comments | about two weeks ago

  • New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

    HughPickens.com writes: Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD's work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits (and thereby hampering trade and limit global growth). But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channeled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally.

    For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. "We are putting an end to double non-taxation," says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.For the recommendations to actually become binding, countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. Even if they do pass, these changes are likely 5-10 years away from going into effect.
    Speaking of international corporate business: U.K. mainframe company Micro Focus announced it will buy Attachmate, which includes Novell and SUSE.

    324 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google's Android One Initiative Launches In India With Three $100 Phones

    An anonymous reader writes Google has unveiled its first set of Android One low-cost smartphones in the Indian market, partnering with Indian hardware vendors Spice, Micromax and Karbonn. The three phones will be available online on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal and via Reliance Digital, Croma and The Mobile Store, offline. The phones provide a minimum set of features determined by Google, which has sourced several of the components to help cut manufacturing costs. The company has also teamed up with a local network to make it cheaper to download Android updates and new apps.

    50 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Amazon Is Killing Off Its Free P2P Money-Transfer Service WebPay On October 13

    An anonymous reader writes: Amazon WebPay, a free online money-transfer service, is shutting down October 13, 2014. This means you'll no longer be able to send, receive, or request money using just your email address and the Amazon Payments webpage. There were hints back in June that the service would be going away soon. Amazon sent out an email this week to active Amazon Payments account users notifying them it is pulling the plug.

    34 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

    briancox2 writes Amazon has avoided releasing the Amazon Instant Video app that is on Fire and Kindle to the general Android market, even though the app has been available for some time on iOS. Now, after a workaround had allowed some users to install the app on Android by fiddling with permissions, Amazon has released the app to many devices calling it "Amazon Instant Video for Google TV". It's not clear yet which devices can run this app. Currently it is not available for older Samsung Galaxy lines, however the Nexus, a major competitor of Amazon's devices, can run the new app.

    77 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Under the Apple Hype Machine, Amazon Drops Fire Phone Price To 99 Cents

    Whatever it is that Apple's going to announce a few hours from now, it seems Amazon has decided it's probably not going to send people rushing to buy its Fire phone. Amazon's cut the price of the phone from $199 to 99 cents. At that price, the Fire phone comes with free Amazon Prime membership, too -- but also a 2-year contract with (exclusive carrier) AT&T. Writes ExtremeTech: Whether that’s going to be enough to stimulate sales is an open question — $450 unlocked is still a tough sell for a device that is overmatched by products like the cheaper Nexus 5, or the recently unveiled $500 second-gen Moto X. In August, adoption data from advertising agency Chitika claimed that total Amazon Fire Phone sales were paltry, representing just 0.015-0.02% of phones in use, or fewer than 30,000 phones. That number will have doubtlessly ticked up slightly since then, and it’s true that Amazon’s partners, like AT&T, have aggressively pushed the phone in online stores.

    134 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Book Review: Architecting the Cloud

    benrothke writes Most books about cloud computing are either extremely high-level quasi-marketing tomes about the myriad benefits of the cloud without any understanding of how to practically implement the technology under discussion. The other type of cloud books are highly technical references guides, that provide technical details, but for a limited audience. In Architecting the Cloud: Design Decisions for Cloud Computing Service Models, author Michael Kavis has written perhaps the most honest book about the cloud. Make no doubt about it; Kavis is a huge fan of the cloud. But more importantly, he knows what the limits of the cloud are, and how cloud computing is not a panacea. That type of candor makes this book an invaluable guide to anyone looking to understand how to effective deploy cloud technologies. Keep reading below for the rest of Ben's review.

    75 comments | about three weeks ago

  • CenturyLink Looks At Buying Rackspace

    Rambo Tribble writes Telecom player CenturyLink is reported to be considering the acquisition of server and cloud provider Rackspace. From the article: "The deal would add more Internet and cloud services to CenturyLink's roster of phone and data communications packages, helping it better compete against Amazon.com in Web-based services. Microsoft Corp. and Google are also vying for business as companies transition from owning and operating servers to renting space in the cloud."

    44 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Amazon's Plan To Storm the Cable Industry's Castle

    Randy Davis sends analysis of Amazon's acquisition of Twitch.tv, a move that indicates higher ambitions than simply another avenue for putting products in front of consumers. The Daily Herald think this is a sign Amazon is bulking up for a fight with cable companies, strengthening is bargaining position for getting (and maintaining) access to subscribers. "There are very few places in the U.S. where these four giant carriers allow independent networks carrying traffic from the data centers run by Amazon (and future Twitch.tv successors) to put that data on the carriers' controlled networks."

    A related article at the NY Times argues Amazon is "betting on content," not wanting to fall behind the surge of new media productions from companies like Netflix. "There is a huge land grab for nontraditional models of programming. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV, a popular YouTube channel, last year, and in March, Disney snatched up Maker Studios, a video supplier for YouTube, while Peter Chernin, formerly president of News Corporation, has invested in Crunchyroll, a streaming hub of anime. All of these deals are about content, but they are also a hedge, a way of exploring other production protocols that don’t involve prominent stars, agents and expensive producers." A different piece at The Motley Fool takes the acquisition as confirmation Amazon is developing its own ad network.

    85 comments | about a month ago

  • Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

    An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago we talked over some of the difficulties faced by makers of autonomous car software, like dealing with weather, construction, and parking garages. Today, the NY Times has a similar article about delivery drones, examining the safety and regulatory problems that must be solved in addition to getting the basic technology ready. "[R]researchers at NASA are working on ways to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft. At NASA's Moffett Field, about four miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones. Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes." Beyond that, the sheer scale of infrastructure necessary to get drone delivery up and running in cities across the U.S. is staggering. Commercial drones aren't going to have much range, particularly when carrying something heavy. They'll be noisy, and the products they're transporting will still need to be relatively close by. What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?

    215 comments | about a month ago

  • XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Remains a Best-Seller For 5 Months

    destinyland writes Tuesday is the official release date for the newest book from the geeky cartoonist behind XKCD — yet it's already become one of Amazon's best-selling books. Thanks to a hefty pre-order discount, one blogger notes that it's appeared on Amazon's list of hardcover best-sellers since the book was first announced in March, and this weekend it remains in the top 10. Randall Munroe recently announced personal appearances beginning this week throughout the U.S. (including Cambridge, New York, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay Area) — as well as a Google Hangout on Friday, September 12. Just two weeks ago he was also awarded the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story — and now many of his appearances are already sold out.

    169 comments | about 1 month ago

  • The Apache Software Foundation Now Accepting BitCoin For Donations

    rbowen writes The Apache Software Foundation is the latest not-for-profit organization to accept bitcoin donations, as pointed out by a user on the Bitcoin subreddit. The organization is well known for their catalog of open-source software, including the ubiquitous Apache web server, Hadoop, Tomcat, Cassandra, and about 150 other projects. Users in the community have been eager to support their efforts using digital currency for quite a while. The Foundation accepts donations in many different forms: Amazon, PayPal, and they'll even accept donated cars. On their contribution page the Apache Software Foundation has published a bitcoin address and QR code.

    67 comments | about a month ago

  • Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

    Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before?

    The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?

    113 comments | about a month ago

  • Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million

    Dave Knott (2917251) writes Amazon has agreed to acquire the live game-streaming service Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash, a move that could help Amazon bolster its position in the fast-growing business of online gaming and give it technology to compete with video-streaming rivals Netflix and YouTube. The acquisition, which has been approved by Twitch's shareholders, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Google had for some time been reported to have interest in acquiring Twitch, but those talks cooled in recent weeks. Google was unable to close the deal, said sources familiar with the talks, because it was concerned about potential antitrust issues that could have come with the acquisition.

    61 comments | about a month ago

  • Dropbox Caught Between Warring Giants Amazon and Google

    An anonymous reader writes: Google and Amazon are both aggressively pursuing the cloud storage market, constantly increasing available storage space and constantly dropping prices. On its face, this looks great for the consumer — competition is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, many smaller companies like Box, Dropbox, and Hightail simply aren't able to run their services at a loss like the giants can. Dropbox's Aaron Levie said, "These guys will drive prices to zero. You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. 'Free' is not a business model."

    The result is that the smaller companies are pivoting to win market share, relying on specific submarkets or stronger feature sets rather than available space or price. "Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide." It's going to be tough for them to hold out, and even tougher for new storage startups to break in. But that might be the only thing keeping us from choosing between the Wal-Mart-A and Wal-Mart-B of online storage.

    275 comments | about a month ago

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