nedjelja, 31. srpnja 2011.

U.S. looks into the abyss of bankruptcy to achieve its debt limit

The Treasury is asking Congress to raise the contribution limit and paralyzes the two pension funds

The level of indebtedness of the U.S. federal government reached the legal limit yesterday, 14.2 billion dollars (about 10 billion euros), so that the country should be declared immediately in bankruptcy, as reported in a letter to Congress Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, letter in which he also claims to increase that limit.

To get by, the Treasury will stop investing in two pension funds. The situation is critical, but Geithner also said in its letter to Congress has decided to establish a period of suspension of debt issuance would be extended from Monday, May 16 until August 2. At that time, the Treasury would have to resort to the default of its obligations. During this period, the Treasury Department will suspend additional investment and redeem a portion of investment in a fund, measures that would give Washington eleven weeks of extra time. Then it should have reached a political agreement between Democrats and Republicans that expand the level of indebtedness.

catastrophic consequences Therefore, the Treasury secretary recalled “the importance of taking timely action to increase the debt ceiling, to protect the credibility of the United States and to avoid catastrophic consequences economic “for citizens.

However, it will be easy. The agreement between Republicans and Democrats in Congress still seems remote, since members of both parties have conditioned the approval of debt ceiling increase to concrete plans to tackle the country’s growing budget deficit.

The White House hoped that approving the extension, as occurred in 1995 and 1996 under President Bill Clinton, when a Republican majority in the House of Representatives finally agreed to avoid bankruptcy. On 18 April, the financial rating agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded to ‘negative’ outlook on the rating of U.S. debt, though he kept the notes ‘AAA’ sovereign bonds on the world’s largest economy .


srijeda, 8. lipnja 2011.

Espionage or spying :P

BRUSSELS— European Union data protection regulators said on Wednesday that they would investigate Facebook over a feature that uses face-recognition software to suggest people’s names to tag in pictures without their permission, and a privacy group in the United States said that it planned to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over the feature.

A group of privacy watchdogs drawn from the European bloc’s 27 nations will study the measure for possible rule violations, said Gérard Lommel, a Luxembourg member of the so-called Article 29 Data Protection Working Party. Authorities in Britain and Ireland said they are also looking into the photo-tagging function on the world’s most popular social networking service.

“Tags of people on pictures should only happen based on people’s prior consent and it can’t be activated by default,” said Mr. Lommel. Such automatic tagging suggestions “can bear a lot of risks for users” and the European data protection officials will “clarify to Facebook that this can’t happen like this.”

Facebook said on its blog on Tuesday that “Tag Suggestions” was available in most countries after being phased in over several months. When Facebook users add photos to their pages, the feature uses facial-recognition software to suggest names of people in the photos to tag based on pictures in which they have already been identified. Before the feature was introduced, users could tag pictures manually without permission from their friends.

The feature is active by default on existing users’ accounts, and Facebook explains on its blog how people can disable the function if they don’t want their names to be automatically suggested for other people’s pictures.

“We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos; something that’s currently done more than 100 million times a day,” Facebook, which is based in Palo Alto., Calif., said in an e-mailed statement. “Tag suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested.”

In Europe, where personal privacy is protected by law more often than in the United States, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have also been pushed by data protection officials to limit the amount of time they store online users’ search records.

The Information Commissioner’s Office of Britain is “speaking to Facebook” about the privacy aspects of the technology, said Greg Jones, a spokesman for the group.

“We would expect Facebook to be upfront about how people’s personal information is being used,” Mr. Jones said. “The privacy issues that this new software might raise are obvious.”

The Irish data protection authority is also looking into the issue, said a spokeswoman, Ciara O’Sullivan.

The Article 29 group guides the work of national data protection agencies, which have the power to punish companies that break privacy rules.

Meanwhile, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, based in Washington, is working on its complaint and expected to file it with the F.T.C. Wednesday or Thursday, Marc Rotenberg, the group’s executive director, said in an interview. He said other privacy and consumer groups that he declined to identify planned to join the complaint.

A spokesman for Facebook, Andrew Noyes, declined to comment on the center’s plans for the F.T.C. complaint.

srijeda, 13. travnja 2011.

Must have apps

There's no doubt about it: traveling - especially in a foreign country - can be stressful, fraught with confusion and miscommunication along the way. But several new IPhone apps are changing all that. From relaxing in-flight to ciphering a menu in a foreign language, here are seven iPhone applications guaranteed to streamline your trip and ensure every leg of the journey is hassle free:

Before your flight:

  • SeatAuthority: The newly-released SeatAuthority app "reinvents" the age-old process of selecting the best seat on any given flight. Look up features critical to safety and comfort with over 125 airline seat maps, with details including exit rows, bulkhead, bassinet seats and restrooms easily available with each. Of special interest to tall travelers: users who fire up the app can compare seat pitch, width and recline, as well as the amount of leg room for each seat on a flight. ($2.99)

In the air:

  • FlightTrack: Get real-time information about departures, delays and gate numbers at over 5000 airports with the FlighTrack application, one of the most advanced flight tracking apps on the market today. This app has full international coverage -- at must for the busy jetsetter -- and features zoomable maps and flight tracking. ($4.99)
  • Sleep Pillow Ambiance: "The App that helps you sleep like a baby," claims this white noise-making application, which has been widely featured as the most advanced sleep and relaxation application the market. In addition to the classic white noise, this app also includes other relaxing sound effects, including water, forest, fire, weather, nature, modern, melodic, and atmosphere. ($1.99)

On the ground:

  • HotelTonight: This newly-released app allows travelers to find last-minute rooms at over 130 hotel parteners for rock-bottom rates rarely seen in other capacities. With luxury accomodations including New York's Ace Hotel, LA Thompson Beverly Hills, and the Amalfi Hotel in Chicago, there's hardly a bad hotel to be found in HotelTonights bunch. Travelers can book a room all the way up until 2am every night, far past the closing time for most travel companies. And, if that weren't enough, everyone who downloads the app gets a $25 credit towards their first booking. (Free)
  • Convertbot: This amazingly high-powered utility application takes the guesswork out of any imaginable conversion. Spin Convertbots wheel to select one of 22 categories - including obscure ones including fuel, data rate, illuminance, radioactivity, and typography - and type in the amount you wish to convert. The app instantly does the work for you. ($1.99)
  • AroundMe: Save yourself the time spent aimlessly wandering a foreign neighborhood with ArounMe. This app, which is handy even in unfamiliar neighborhoods, pinpoints the closest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, resaturant, superarket, theater, and even taxis. For each category the user is presented with a list of each with the accompanying distance from the GPS-enabled phone. From there, it's easy to view directions to your destination, add the information to your contact list, and email information about any specific location to a friend.
  • WordLens: File this under the "futuristic" category of travel-friendly apps. With WordLens, you can point your phone at anything - a monument, a menu, a placard - and it will replace the words with English. For now, the app is only available in Spanish -- point it at anything else and the program will give you incoherent phrases. But in Barcelona, Madrid and everywhere else Spanish is spoken, you no longer need an English-Spanish dictionary to 'Habla espanol.' (Free)

nedjelja, 3. travnja 2011.

Dance to create!!!

Adidas is getting into the tap shoe business.

The athletic shoe company paired up with French designer Didier Brun to create a combination of shoes and digital music maker that lets dancers create their own moves when they move their feet.

In the commercial, the shoes sound a bit like electronic keyboards and people tap their heels and toes, which creates the sound.

The project was designed to promote the release of another sneaker line, reported.

On Brun's blog he said he used tiny sensors placed under the internal sole of the shoe and faced many challenges before getting a successful model.

"Generating live music requires very low latency, and creating a shoe-wearable wireless system was a real challenge," he wrote.

But the shoes, once put on trained dancers, ended up making what sounds like a cool beat, even if slightly simplistic.

"The dancers that operated on the video clip did train a lot to succeed in synchronizing to play the actual song," he said.

While the shoe isn't available in the U.S. yet, Brun said there were interactive installations across France where people could test the shoes.

utorak, 29. ožujka 2011.

Spending Money :)

EBay would gain expertise in helping major retailers fill online orders and build relationships with big toy, electronics and book sellers which have helped Amazon grow.

EBay said on Monday it had offered GSI shareholders $29.25 per share in cash, a premium of 50.9 percent from the stock's closing price on Friday.

The deal would be eBay's largest acquisition since it bought Internet phone company Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005, and comes as growth in its main auctions business is slowing.

"It's one of the few fulfillment operations that could rival Amazon," BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said. "Amazon is fulfilling its third-party sellers more and more. eBay is all third-party sellers."

On Nasdaq, GSI soared 50.7 percent to close at $29.20, while eBay fell 4.3 percent to $30.34 on concerns it may be paying too much and might eventually need to invest more money on GSI's technology. Both stocks held steady in extended trading.

Amazon shares edged down 1 percent to end at $169.35.

Among GSI's clients are Aeropostale Inc, Toys R Us, and TJX Cos Inc's Marshalls chain.

GSI, which owns Web businesses such as Rue La La and ShopRunner, also provides retailers with technology, payment processing and customer care services for their e-commerce operations.

Online shopping accounts for about 8 percent of total U.S. retail spending, rising 11 percent during the most recent holiday season, according to data firm comScore, almost twice the pace of bricks-and-mortar sales.

EBay estimated in February that its online marketplaces unit is set to grow into a $7-8 billion business by 2013, from $5.7 billion in 2010. In contrast, Amazon pulls in annual sales of more than $30 billion.

While PayPal has been a growth driver for eBay, the company has struggled with other deals, such as its purchase of 28.4 percent of classifieds site Craigslist, which led to a court fight after eBay launched its own classifieds business.

Still, Fred Moran, an analyst with Benchmark Capital, called the price "reasonable," saying it comes out to 13 times this year's expected earnings before certain expenses, which he said "is right in line with the e-commerce peer group."


As part of the deal, eBay would sell off GSI's licensed sports merchandise business, as well as 70 percent of Rue La La, which offers one-day-only Web deals to its members, and ShopRunner, a members-only online shopping service that offers free shipping.

EBay said those business were not important to its long-term growth strategy.

Those holdings would become part of a new company run by GSI founder and Chief Executive Michael Rubin. EBay said it would lend Rubin's new company $467 million, bringing the deal's value to $2.4 billion.

EBay said the acquisition, expected to close in the third quarter, would have little effect on its fiscal 2011 adjusted earnings forecast, and boost 2012 earnings. The deal would hurt 2011 net income by 30 cents to 34 cents per share, the company said.

GSI has until May 6 to solicit bids from other parties during the so-called "go shop" period.

While PayPal has been driving eBay's growth for years, the company is also trying to lift its more familiar marketplaces unit -- a high-margin but mature business that connects online buyers and sellers -- especially as Amazon has enjoyed double-digit revenue growth.

The GSI deal follows a number of other e-commerce deals in recent months. Amazon expects to close its purchase of Quidsi, operator of, around April 1. In November, Oracle Corp said it would buy e-commerce software company Art Technology Group Inc for $1 billion.

Goldman Sachs & Co, and Peter J. Solomon Company are acting as financial advisers to eBay, while Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP is its legal adviser. Morgan Stanley is advising GSI and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is advising a special committee of GSI's board. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is acting as GSI's legal advisor.

ponedjeljak, 28. ožujka 2011.

Think About!!!

Teens who frequently use Facebook have more to worry about than lost homework time.

A new condition dubbed "Facebook depression" may affect teenagers who spend a significant amount of time on the social-networking site, researchers warned in the latest issue of Pediatrics Journal.

The problem, researchers found, was that the popular website's constant feed of status, picture and message updates gave users a skewed view of reality, which could make vulnerable kids feel like they aren't good enough.

Facebook, according to the study, can create a false reality because people normally post the best sides of themselves, or at least not the full story.

Users like 16-year-old Abby Abolt agreed.

"If you really didn't have that many friends and weren't really doing much with your life, and saw other peoples' status updates and pictures and what they were doing with friends, I could see how that would make them upset," Abolt told The Associated Press . "It's like a big popularity contest – who can get the most friend requests or get the most pictures tagged."

But cutting off the site might not be so easy. A 2010 Pew survey found that 72% of American teens have social network profiles.

A similar study led by Dr. Joanne Davilla at Stony Brook University found that texting, email and time spent on social networking sites can worsen teens’ moods and make them obsess over issues instead of moving past them.

"One of the things we are finding is that there are people who are at a greater risk to the negative interactions in social networking and consequently feeling depressed or sad afterwards," Dr. Davila told CBS Miami .

nedjelja, 27. ožujka 2011.

Taxes and paying them

The tax deadline is nearing and you don't have enough cash to pay up.

It would be easy to pull out your credit card - heck even the IRS promotes using plastic as "convenient" and "safe and secure."

But that doesn't mean it's a smart move.

In fact, using credit cards to pay your taxes is often the wrong way to go.

The reason: Credit card payments to the IRS are processed by third-party companies. These service providers charge fees randing from 1.9% to 2.35% or your tax bill, saddling you with additional costs that you may not have known about.

"That outweighs almost every reason to use a credit card," said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of

If your tax bill is relativey small, paying a nominal fee won't mater much. But the cost could add up. If you owe $6,000 in taxes and have a fee of 2.35%, it will add $141 to your bill.

"And unless you pay off that bill within your credit card issuer's grace period, you'll start getting charged interest at usually around 12% or probably more annually," said Vincent Cervone, a certified public accountant with VRC & Associates in lower Manhattan.

"Find a better way to dig up the money to pay your tax bill."

While charging taxes on your credit card might boost your rewards, those perks are unlikely to be big enough to justify the costs.

"The average reward is 1% of purchase, or 1 cent per dollar spent," Hardekopf said.

"This is much less than the 2.35% processing fee."

Using plastic to pay taxes could also hurt your credit score, noted John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at

"The downside is if the new debt causes your credit card balance to become too close to the credit limit," he said. "In that case your credit scores will likely go down. Credit scoring systems can't tell the difference between credit card debt caused by a tax payment versus debt caused by a flat panel television or furniture."

Avoiding tax payments on credit cards is an especially good idea for impulsive spenders who would be better off writing a check.

"If the funds aren't available, they won't be spent," said Pamela Diamond, a CPA with Creative Wealth Builders in West Hempstead, L.I.

If you don't have enough money at tax time, look into alternatives to credit cards.

Paying with a debit card will probably cost you far less: a flat fee of around $4. The card must be a Visa Debit Card, or NYCE, Pulse or Star Debit Card.

You should also see if you qualify for an IRS installment payment plan. "If so, this may be the cheapest way to go," Cervone said.