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  • Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website

    SpzToid (869795) writes The state of Oregon sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives Friday, accusing the software giant of fraud for failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program. The 126-page lawsuit claims Oracle has committed fraud, lies, and "a pattern of activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars". "Not only were Oracle's claims lies, Oracle's work was abysmal", the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said. "Today's lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies", said Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum in a written statement. "Over the course of our investigation, it became abundantly clear that Oracle repeatedly lied and defrauded the state. Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag."

    Oregon's suit alleges that Oracle, the largest tech contractor working on the website, falsely convinced officials to buy "hundreds of millions of dollars of Oracle products and services that failed to perform as promised." It is seeking $200 million in damages. Oracle issued a statement saying the suit "is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project."

    210 comments | about a week ago

  • What's After Big Data?

    gthuang88 writes: As the marketing hype around "big data" subsides, a recent wave of startups is solving a new class of data-related problems and showing where the field is headed. Niche analytics companies like RStudio, Vast, and FarmLink are trying to provide insights for specific industries such as finance, real estate, and agriculture. Data-wrangling software from startups like Tamr and Trifacta is targeting enterprises looking to find and prep corporate data. And heavily funded startups such as Actifio and DataGravity are trying to make data-storage systems smarter. Together, these efforts highlight where emerging data technologies might actually be used in the business world.

    87 comments | about a week ago

  • Dramatic Shifts In Manufacturing Costs Are Driving Companies To US, Mexico

    hackingbear writes: According to a new Cost-Competitiveness Index, the nations often perceived as having low manufacturing costs — such as China, Brazil, Russia, and the Czech Republic — are no longer much cheaper than the U.S. In some cases, they are estimated to be even more expensive. Chinese manufacturing wages have nearly quintupled since 2004, while Mexican wages have risen by less than 50 percent in U.S. dollar terms, contrary to our long-standing misconception that their labors were being slaved. In the same period, the U.S. wage is essentially flat, whereas Mexican wages have risen only 67%. Not all countries are taking full advantage of their low-cost advantages, however. The report found that global competiveness in manufacturing is undermined in nations such as India and Indonesia by several factors, including logistics, the overall ease of doing business, and inflexible labor markets.

    233 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

    mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press: Expensive delays are piling up for the companies building new nuclear power plants, raising fresh questions about whether they can control the construction costs that crippled the industry years ago. The latest announcement came this week from executives at SCANA Corp., which has been warned by its builders the startup of the first of two new reactors in South Carolina could be delayed two years or more. ... That announcement may well foreshadow more delays for a sister project in eastern Georgia, and they have caught the attention of regulators and Wall Street. 'Delays generally cause cost increases, and the question becomes who's going to bear the costs?' said C. Dukes Scott, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, a watchdog agency that monitors SCANA Corp.'s spending.

    None of this is helpful for the nuclear power industry, which had hoped its newest generation of plants in Georgia and South Carolina would prove it could build without the delays and cost overruns so endemic years ago. When construction slows down, it costs more money to employ the thousands of workers needed to build a nuclear plant. Meanwhile, interest charges add up on the money borrowed to finance construction. A single day of delay in Georgia could cost $2 million, according to an analysis by utility regulators.

    142 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut

    Ars Technica reports that "J. Michael Straczynski will shortly begin work on a rebooted big-screen version of his 1990s sci-fi TV series [ Babylon 5]." From the article: According to JMS's latest announcement, the new script will be targeted at a 2016 theatrical release and will be a reboot of the series rather than a continuation. This is necessary for both dramatic and practical purposes—the series was in regular production from 1994-1998, and the cast has simply aged too far to credibly play themselves again during the series’ main timeline. Additionally, several of the foundational cast members — Michael O'Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Richard Biggs, and Jeff Conaway — have passed away. ... The movie rights to the Babylon 5 property remain in JMS's hands, but the creator is hopeful that this time around, Warner Bros. will choose to finance the film instead of passing on it. Nonetheless (at least according to TV Wise), JMS is prepared to fund the movie through his own production company if necessary — something that wasn't a possibility ten years ago — suggesting that B5 will in fact come to the big screen at last.

    252 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Switching From Microsoft Office To LibreOffice Saves Toulouse 1 Million Euros

    jrepin sends this EU report: The French city of Toulouse saved 1 million euro by migrating all its desktops from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice. This project was rooted in a global digital policy which positions free software as a driver of local economic development and employment. Former IT policy-maker Erwane Monthubert said, "Software licenses for productivity suites cost Toulouse 1.8 million euro every three years. Migration cost us about 800,000 euro, due partly to some developments. One million euro has actually been saved in the first three years. It is a compelling proof in the actual context of local public finance. ... France has a high value in free software at the international level. Every decision-maker should know this."

    296 comments | about a month ago

  • For Half, Degrees In Computing, Math, Or Stats Lead To Other Jobs

    dcblogs (1096431) writes The Census Bureau reports that only 26% of people with any type of four-year STEM degree are working in a STEM field. For those with a degree specifically in computer, math or statistics, the figure is 49%, nearly the same for engineering degrees. What happens to the other STEM trained workers? The largest numbers are managers at non-STEM businesses (22.5%), or having careers in education (17.7%), business/finance (13.2%) and office support (11.5%). Some other data points: Among those with college degrees in computer-related occupations, men are paid more than women ($90,354 vs. $78,859 on average), and African American workers are more likely to be unemployed than white or Asian workers.

    174 comments | about a month ago

  • Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

    An anonymous reader writes The Economist reports, "'UNDER capitalism', ran the old Soviet-era joke, 'man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.' In fact new research suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated moral laxity. Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an experiment last year to test Germans' willingness to lie for personal gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game where they could win up to €6 ($8). ... The authors found that, on average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers ... when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."

    619 comments | about a month ago

  • Chinese Hackers Infiltrate Firms Using Malware-Laden Handheld Scanners

    wiredmikey (1824622) writes China-based threat actors are using sophisticated malware installed on handheld scanners to target shipping and logistics organizations from all over the world. According to security firm TrapX, the attack begins at a Chinese company that provides hardware and software for handheld scanners used by shipping and logistics firms worldwide to inventory the items they're handling. The Chinese manufacturer installs the malware on the Windows XP operating systems embedded in the devices.

    Experts determined that the threat group targets servers storing corporate financial data, customer data and other sensitive information. A second payload downloaded by the malware then establishes a sophisticated C&C on the company's finance servers, enabling the attackers to exfiltrate the information they're after. The malware used by the Zombie Zero attackers is highly sophisticated and polymorphic, the researchers said. In one attack they observed, 16 of the 48 scanners used by the victim were infected, and the malware managed to penetrate the targeted organization's defenses and gain access to servers on the corporate network. Interestingly, the C&C is located at the Lanxiang Vocational School, an educational institution said to be involved in the Operation Aurora attacks against Google, and which is physically located only one block away from the scanner manufacturer, TrapX said.

    93 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Free Wi-Fi Supplier, Gowex, Files For Bankruptcy

    PuceBaboon writes "The BBC is reporting that a Spanish firm, Gowex, which provides free Wi-Fi services in major cities world-wide, has filed for bankruptcy, following revelations that financial accounts filed over the past four years were "false". The company supplies services in London, Shanghai, New York and Buenos Aires, as well as Madrid. Other sources report that up to 90% of the company's reported revenue came from "undisclosed related parties" (in other words, from Gowex itself) and that the value of the company's share price was now effectively zero.

    39 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet

    WIth an interesting followup to the recent news that Germany's power production by at least some measures was briefly dominated by solar production, AmiMoJo (196126) writes Germany is headed for its biggest electricity glut since 2011 as new coal-fired plants start and generation of wind and solar energy increases, weighing on power prices that have already dropped for three years. From December capacity will be at 117% of peak demand. The benchmark German electricity contract has slumped 36% since the end of 2010. "The new plants will run at current prices, but they won't cover their costs" said Ricardo Klimaschka, a power trader at Energieunion GmbH. Lower prices "leave a trail of blood in our balance sheet" according to Bernhard Guenther, CFO at RWE, Germany's biggest power producer. Wind and solar's share of installed German power capacity will rise to 42% by next year from 30% in 2010. The share of hard coal and lignite plant capacity will drop to 28% from 32%.

    365 comments | about 2 months ago

  • China Starts Outsourcing From ... the US

    hackingbear writes: Burdened with Alabama's highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County, Alabama, desperately needs jobs. And the jobs are coming from China. Henan's Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant here last month, employing 300 locals. Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans, up from virtually none a decade ago. Powerful forces — narrowing wage gaps (Chinese wages have been doubling every few years), tumbling U.S. energy prices, the rising Yuan — up 30% over the decade — are pulling Chinese companies across the Pacific. Perhaps very soon, Chinese workers will start protesting their jobs being outsourced to the cheap labor in the U.S."

    274 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

    samzenpus (5) writes "Lawrence Lessig's list of achievements and areas of influence is not small. He's co-founder of the Creative Commons, but it is his Mayday PAC however that has garnered the most attention recently. The crowdfunded "Super PAC to end all Super PACs" was launched in May with the goal of raising money to elect candidates who would pass campaign finance reform. It raised over $1 million in the first 13 days and has the support of some influential people. With the help of matching contributions, Mayday hopes to raise $12 million by the end of June. Lessig has agreed to answer any questions about the PAC that you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."

    308 comments | about 2 months ago

  • IRS Recycled Lerner Hard Drive

    phrackthat (2602661) writes The Senate Finance Committee has been informed that the IRS recycled the hard drive of Lois Lerner, which will deprive investigators of the ability to forensically retrieve emails which were supposedly deleted or lost in a "crash." This news comes after the IRS revealed that it had lost the emails of Lois Lerner and six other employees who were being investigated regarding the targeting of conservative groups and donors.

    682 comments | about 2 months ago

  • US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road

    ClownP writes with news that the U.S. Marshals Service is selling off 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins that were seized when the Silk Road website was shut down. At current exchange rates, they're worth around $17-18 million. The coins will be auctioned off in nine blocks of 3,000 coins, plus one block with the remainder. The USMS said that the first deadline for bidders will be 9am Eastern Time on June 16, 2014. All bidders must complete the government's Bidder Registration Form, which requires that you provide a copy of a government-issued ID as well as a $200,000 deposit sent by wire transfer from an American bank. The government added that the highest bidder will win, and he or she cannot finance its payment in installments — the winner must pay the full amount in cash. The USMS added one final stipulation. "The USMS will not sell to any person who is acting on behalf of or in concert with the Silk Road and/or Ross William Ulbricht, and bidders will be required to so certify," the USMS stated.

    232 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Bloomberg Testing Productivity App For Oculus Rift

    Nerval's Lobster writes: So far, the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset has found its most widespread use in gaming. But as the device rises in prominence, more companies are testing its capabilities as a work tool. Bloomberg is one of those companies, having designed software that allows Oculus-equipped traders and financial pros to view dozens of virtual "screens," each one packed with data. The platform is clearly aimed at those Masters of the Universe who stack their real-world desks with four, six or eight screens—the better to take the pulse of the markets. Think of it as a traditional Bloomberg terminal on steroids. "This is a mockup of how virtual reality can be applied in the workplace," Nick Peck, a Bloomberg employee responsible for creating the software, told Quartz. "I really wanted to explore how virtual reality could solve one of the most basic problems we hear about: limited screen real estate." A virtual-reality Bloomberg terminal isn't the only practical application proposed by Oculus Rift users: earlier this year, the Norwegian Armed Services began testing whether the hardware could be used to drive tanks, on the supposition that off-the-shelf cameras and a headset built for virtual gaming could prove cheaper than custom-built military equipment.

    38 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Updating the Integrated Space Plan

    garyebickford writes 'Space Finance Group (in which I'm a partner) has launched a Kickstarter to fund updating the "famous Integrated Space Plan", created by Ron Jones at Rockwell International in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and can be found on walls in the industry even today. The new Plan will be a poster, but also will provide the initial core data for a new website. The permanent link will be thespaceplan.com. As additional resources become available the website will be able to contain much more information, with (eventually) advanced data management (possibly including sources like Linked Data) and visualization tools to become a resource for education, research, entertainment, and business analytics. The group also hopes to support curated crowdsourcing of some data, and is talking to Space Development companies about providing data about themselves. They hope to be able to construct new timelines and show the relations between events and entities — companies, agencies, people, etc.'

    65 comments | about 3 months ago

  • High Frequency Trading and Finance's Race To Irrelevance

    hype7 (239530) writes 'The Harvard Business Review is running a fascinating article on how finance is increasingly abstracting itself — and the gains it makes — away from the creation of value in the real world, and how High Frequency Trading is the most extreme version of this phenomenon yet. From the article: "High frequency trading is a different phenomenon from the increasing focus on short term returns by human investors. But they're borne from a similar mindset: one in which financial returns are the priority, independent of whether they're associated with something innovative or useful in the real world. What Lewis's book demonstrated to me isn't just how "bad" HFTs are per se, but rather, what happens when finance keeps walking down the path it seems to be set on — a path that involves abstracting itself from the creation of real-world value. The final destination? It will enter a world entirely of its own — a world in which it is fighting to capture value that is completely independent of whether any is created in the first place."'

    382 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Interviews: Jennifer Granick Answers Your Questions

    samzenpus (5) writes "Recently you had a chance to ask Jennifer Granick, the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, about surveillance, data protection, copyright, and number of other internet privacy issues. Below you'll find her answers to those questions."

    35 comments | about 3 months ago

  • New Federal Database Will Track Americans' Credit Ratings, Other Financial Info

    schwit1 (797399) writes "As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy. The FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions. FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress."

    294 comments | about 3 months ago

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