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More Research Needed to Determine Effectiveness of PCS Support Programs RAND Study

first_imgThe need to relocate to a different installation every several years is one of the most stressful aspects of military life, a requirement that hinders the ability of spouses to maintain careers and frequently interferes with children’s progression in school. A new RAND Corp. study found that the multitude of programs, policies and services DOD has implemented to help military families cope with the disruptions caused by permanent change of station (PCS) moves is comprehensive, and it did find evidence of a need for new programs.On the other hand, the researchers were unable to demonstrate that those efforts work. “We don’t have good evidence of the efficacy of the current policy and services,” RAND researcher Patricia Tong told Military.com. “In terms of whether we found that there were gaps in existing policy and services to cover this broad list of disruptions — we didn’t find any,” Tong said.The results, however, indicated there is room to improve the PCS move process to further alleviate family disruptions, particularly by increasing the lead time before a move is scheduled so that service members and their families have more time to plan their relocation. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William Farrow Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

New Earthlike planets in our cosmic neighborhood could be habitable

first_img Space,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. Amazon $60 at Best Buy Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Boost Mobile Turo: Save $30 on any car rental CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Angela Lang/CNET Sarah Tew/CNET Sci-Tech Cosmic dead ringers: 27 super strange-looking space objects What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. See it Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. Sarah Tew/CNET Tags $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express $210 at Best Buy 27 Photos 7 See at Amazon Share your voice Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. Read DJI Osmo Action preview Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) Share your voice Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) Apple iPhone XS DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) Read the AirPods review See It $59 at eBay $999 Read Google Home Hub review Rylo The Cheapskate $999 Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Comments $155 at Google Expresscenter_img Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). $299 at Amazon Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) 1 Read the Rylo camera preview Comment Sprint Sarah Tew/CNET See at Turo Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. See It Turo TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays Best Buy Read Lenovo Smart Clock review $999 DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. See It $999 HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) $520 at HP JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) Chris Monroe/CNET $6 at Tidal Sarah Tew/CNET The exoplanets are located in the star’s habitable zone. University of Göttingen, Institute for Astrophysics As far as the universe goes, Teegarden’s star, a faint red-dwarf, is located pretty much next door. Astronomers have discovered two intriguing planets located in the star’s habitable zone where they could possibly host liquid water.A research team led by the University of Gottingen in Germany announced the Earth-like exoplanet discovery on Tuesday. Teegarden’s star sits just 12.5 light-years away from us, but it’s very different from our own sun. It’s much cooler and dimmer  and wasn’t even discovered until 2003.teegardensplanets2Enlarge ImageThis illustration imagines the view from the Teegarden’s star exoplanets back toward our solar system and Earth. University of Göttingen, Institute for Astrophysics “The two planets resemble the inner planets of our solar system,” said Mathias Zechmeister, lead author of a study on the exoplanets in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. They are both slightly heavier than Earth and might be part of a larger system with more planets.Before we get too excited, it’s important to remember that “Earth like” is no guarantee of a planet hosting life.  The discovery came about through the Carmenes project, which is focused on finding exoplanets around small, cool stars. Carmenes had already located nine other exoplanets.One fun feature of the planets around Teegarden’s star involves the star’s particular location. Possible alien occupants could conceivably look toward our solar system and spot Earth transiting the sun. This creates a faint dimming of our own star as our planet passes in front of it.Perhaps at the same time we’re looking toward Teegarden’s star, extraterrestrials are looking back at us, wondering if Earth could sustain life as they know it. In this wide, wonderful universe, it’s a possibility. Tags Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90)last_img read more

Byjus on a roll Raises funds from Tencent after acquiring TutorVista and

first_imgTencentReutersEducation technology startup Byju’s is clearly on a roll. The online tutoring firm has hit headlines several times in the last few weeks and now has landed a fundraising deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited. The firm already has a list of renowned investors such as the Chan Zuckerberg initiative and Sequoia Capital.While the exact value of the investment has not been revealed, a source told TechCrunch that the amount could be in the range of Rs 5,000 crore ($800 million). Tencent, which already invests in Indian firms such as Flipkart, Practo and Hike, seems impressed with the way Byju has been growing and functioning to emerge as a market leader.”BYJU’S has emerged as the clear leader in the Indian education-tech sector. We share BYJU’S mission of transforming education by creating personalized learning experiences for students,” Hongwei Chen, executive director of investment and M&A at Tencent, said, according to TC.Tencent’s funding is set to help Byju in product development for existing as well as new markets. “This makes our strong investor portfolio even more diverse. At Byju’s, we have been fortunate to have investors who have always played a crucial role as partners in our growth story. With increased brand awareness and strong adoption amongst students, this year we expect the revenue to double again and we will be profitable on a full year basis,” the Economic Times quoted Byju Raveendran, founder of Byju’s as saying.The firm, which started operations in 2011, has witnessed a funding of over $200 million before Tencent’s investment. While Sequoia invested $75 million last March, the Chan Zuckerberg initiative put in $50 million in the company. Later, the World Bank’s IFC fund invested about $15 million in December.Apart from the fundraising spree, Byju’s has also been in the news for its acquisitions. Earlier this month, the online tutoring firm acquired TutorVista and Edurite from global education brand Pearson Plc. While the acquisition is said to be big, the deal value is yet to be disclosed.”This partnership will enhance our product offerings and give us access in some of the new markets when we launch our international products. We are excited to work with the talented and experienced team who will come on-board as a part of this acquisition,” Live Mint quoted Raveendran as saying. 80 Strand Shell Mex House in London, the headquarters of PearsonWikiCommons/DavidJones”We strongly believe that a product like ours can change the way students learn all across the world. Today, with a wider bandwidth, we have started creating similar products for the international markets that further boost our reach as well as product portfolio.”While Bangalore-based TutorVista acquired Edurite in 2007, Pearson acquired a stake in TutorVista in 2009 and bought the entire stake in February 2013.last_img read more

Do it like the Koreans do

first_imgKorean Cultural Centre presents 2nd Pan India K-POP Contest, the festival invites all the K- POP lovers around India to join the global competition and celebration of Korean popular song and dance. K-POP is a part of celebrations of Indo-Korean 40th Diplomatic year. Finalists from the 13 countries will be invited to Korea to perform in the Grand Finale, which will be held in Gangwon, South Korea on 28 September. The event is going to be held on 17 August from 6 pm to 8:30 pm.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’K-POP Contest provides a platform for all to prove their mettle in Korean singing and dancing. K-POP is a musical genre originally from South Korea that is characterised by a wide variety of audiovisual elements, the term is more often used in a narrower sense to describe a modern form of South Korean pop music covering mostly dance-pop, pop ballad, electronic, rock, hip-hop, R&B and the like.The jury members of the 2013 festivals are Kim Kum Pyoung, the Director of Korean Cultural Centre India; Sanjeev Bhargava, Aleksandra Michelska Singh, Dancer, Natya Nectar Dance Academy and Sangwon Donald Kwag, Marketing Head, Star CJ. Last year Paul 5 from Timarpur slums, a 7 member team were announced winners from India.  Winning team from the semi-finals at New Delhi will get an all expenses paid trip to Korea to participate at the finals in Wonju. Wonju is the most populous city in Gangwon province, South Korea with rich historical and cultural significance.  The festival has a lot more to offer to its audiences as well.last_img read more

DMK postpones fast over Jallikattu

first_imgIn an expression of faith in the assertion of Union Minister Pon Radhakrihnan that permission will be secured to hold bull taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ in Tamil Nadu, DMK on Friday postponed its proposed hunger strike over the issue.“I feel that the proposed hunger strike (to seek nod for Jallikattu) at Alanganallur (Madurai) on December 28 to be led by party treasurer M K Stalin can be postponed considering the letter of Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan (that permission would be obtained to hold the event),” Karunanidhi said in a release here. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeRadhakrishnan had said on Thursday, replying to Karunanidhi’s letter to him over the issue, “I am confident that we will be getting permission to hold Jallikattu on Pongal day based on the talks held for the past one month… Our efforts have the support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” Citing the assurance, the DMK chief also appealed to pro-Jallikattu groups who had sought his party’s support, “to accept the postponement of the protest by accepting the confidence expressed by Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan.” An annual affair in southern parts of rural Tamil Nadu, it has socio-economic and cultural dimensions to it.last_img read more

SES has announced that it will launch its satellit

first_imgSES has announced that it will launch its satellite broadband service, SES Broadband, in Ka-band in November.The new service will offer download speeds of up to 20Mbps and upload speeds of up to 2Mbps. It will be marketed via SES’ partners NordNet, Vivéole and Wibox to end-consumers in France.SES Broadband in Ka-band will be available pending the launch and beginning of operations of SES’ Astra 2F satellite. The satellite is currently scheduled for launch on September 21 and will be located at the orbital position 28.2 degrees East.”We are very pleased that the Ka-band ground infrastructure is now fully operational, with a new generation of end-user terminals from Gilat Satellite Technologies and Newtec soon to be available to our customers,” said Patrick Biewer, managing director of SES Broadband Services. “With Astra 2F and the subsequent launches of Astra 2E, Astra 5B and Astra 2G in 2013 and 2014, we will be able to further expand our satellite broadband service in Europe with the additional Ka-band capacity on our fleet.”last_img read more

The effects of the economic crisis and the maturin

first_imgThe effects of the economic crisis and the maturing of some markets is making life challenging for pay TV operators in central and eastern Europe, but there is still significant opportunity for growth. Stuart Thomson & Graham Pomphrey report.The pay TV market in central and eastern Europe is beginning to mature. While there remains significant room for growth by comparison with western Europe, the rate of growth achieved by operators in the region is beginning to flatten out, with competing providers being forced to search harder for new subscribers.There remains a huge amount of variation within the region. While the pay TV industry in Poland enjoys western European levels of penetration, pay TV in a number of markets remains significantly underdeveloped. Levels of ARPU, though generally lower than in western Europe, differ significantly between the various countries in the region.Higher-end subscribersIn Poland, the region’s most advanced pay TV market, a significant opportunity exists for premium services and HD content. Poland is notably strong in HD. TVN-backed DTH  operator ‘n’ has been notably successful in capturing higher-end subscribers. Despite the relative maturity of the pay TV market in the country, ‘n’’s chief operating officer Christian Anting believes there is still room for growth. “We still expect subscriber growth over the next few years,” says Anting. He says that about three million Polish households will be affected by the country’s terrestrial switchover, scheduled for 2013, and that about a third of these could be attracted to DTH pay TV. “We think a big part of our growth could come from that,” he says. Another factor that could encourage take-up, he says, is the European Championship football tournament, set to take place in Poland and Ukraine next May.This event, he says, “traditionally triggers sales of TV screens”. With this in mind ‘n’ has teamed up with TV manufacturer Sony to launch a CI Plus CAM. The CI Plus offering, the nCAM, will support a pre-paid pay TV service. Sony will offer the nCAM as part of a package with the sale of flat-screen TVs in the country. Anting said that Sony was the first TV manufacturer to make such a commitment to CI Plus in Poland, but that deals with other manufacturers would follow. As the likely buyers of the screens will be consumers with significant disposable income, Anting believes that the CI Plus offering could attract a new class of high-end subscribers to the platform in the future. He says that the CI Plus pre-paid offering, which will include access to a package of 12 HD channels and about 50 thematic channels, will attract higher-end customers who could contribute to higher ARPU for the operator going forwards. The offering is ‘n’-branded, unlike ‘n’’s existing pre-paid offering, marketed under the TNK brand. ‘n’ launched an HD version of the TNK service at the end of last year.The launch of the nCAM is part of a wider drive by ‘n’ to attract new subscribers to its platform ahead of digital switchover. “We are satisfied with how sales of that have developed,” says Anting, who says that the new HD offering should have the longer-term effect of encouraging customers to migrate to the subscription offering. “We will definitely see migration from prepaid into post-paid. That’s one reason we launched TNK HD – because it runs on the same technology platform – the same set-top – as the postpaid offering,” he says. Because the device is a hybrid box that includes a digital-terrestrial tuner, customers will also be assured that they will be able to receive any future services on the terrestrial platform in addition to ‘n’’s service.  Anting says that ‘n’’s big advantage over the terrestrial offering itself will be its focus on HD services (it has also begun offering 3D events).On the post-paid subscription side, another major initiative by ‘n’ is its launch of multi-play offerings in partnership with national telco TP in June. The pair have already collaborated in co-marketing broadband from TP with the TNK service, following their agreement at the end of last year. The next phase will see them launch full combined TV and broadband subscription offerings.  According to Anting, the bundling of products with Poland’s leading telecom service provider will reduce churn and encourage customer loyalty.Anting believes that ‘n’ is well-placed to prosper in the crowded Polish pay TV market. “‘n’ clearly targets the upper segment of the market with premium positioning,” he says, complementing Polsat’s mass-market appeal. While Cyfra Plus also targets high-end consumers, he believes ‘n’ is in a stronger position. ‘n’’s recent growth profile has been impressive – the operator signed up 25,000 new customers in the first quarter. Cyfra Plus has also effectively lost its exclusive grip on Polish Elektralasa premier league football, with matches now also being available on Polsat and (through Eurosport) on ‘n’.Smaller operatorsDTH players in Poland have to a large extent focused on HD and premium services (with significant differences between ‘n’ and Cyfra Plus on side, which have targeted higher end subscribers, and Cyfrowy Polsat on the other, which has positioned itself as appealing to the mid-market segment). Fixed-line operators, on the other hand, are looking to on-demand services to differentiate their digital offerings and attract new subscribers or encourage analogue customers to upgrade to digital tiers.While on-demand services may seem an obvious way for fixed operators with two-way networks to offer something different, smaller players often have their work cut out to persuade content providers to supply content in order to enable them to launch VOD services to increase ARPU and attract subscribers. This can be particularly hard for operators with relatively small subscriber bases. Polish cable operator INEA launched a VOD service in December and has gained “a few thousand customers” according to Janusz Kosi´nski, president of the management board. While the operator currently offers over 350 movies on the platform, Kosi´nski admits adding content “is hard for small and medium operators because of the price of this content”. However, launching additional services is imperative, he says, in order at least to keep ARPU at a steady level. “But we hope these services could also increase it,” he adds.In terms of on-demand, INEA is also planning to launch a catch-up TV service. And Kosi´nski said it is exploring other value-adds like antivirus programmes, online back-up or additional telephony minutes. Kosi´nski hopes that this type of add-on service will enable the operator to increase RGUs and grow its digital penetration, rather than growing by acquiring smaller networks. “In Poland the consolidation of the industry is happening right now. But there are other options than overtaking smaller operators and competitors’ customers,” he says. “There are our own customers who can buy new services. For example INEA’s subscribers could choose new services thanks to our development last year, as we implemented a mobile internet service and VOD service. The growth will come from convincing the customers to buy new and value added services.” Another key area of development for INEA is the bundling of products with the aim of getting subscribers to take three, or even four services (it recently launched mobile internet). According to Kosi´nski, INEA’s customers are already showing a keen interest in multiple-services. “Customers more and more frequently decide to choose triple-play services for financial and practical reasons – they receive only one bill and one technical support,” he says “Almost 20% of our customers decided to choose triple-play and we wish to increase this segment also with mobile phones and internet.” “Other operators don’t have the premium content that we have. We still see growth from exclusive premium content such as sports.”Richard Breskovi´c, T-Hrvatski TelekomHigh-speed broadbandMulti-play is at the heart of Russian cable operator Akado’s strategy. This year the company plans to test DOCSIS 3.0 services in the Moscow market, according to Akado president Denis Lobanov. “By establishing DOCSIS 3.0 technology and upgrading the virtual network topologies we could provide ultra high-speed broadband services – up to 400Mbps – to our customers,” he says. “The DOCSIS 3.0 test zones will roll out in several Moscow districts, and then after getting results it will spread out thoughout the city at the end of the year.” The rollout of DOCSIS 3.0 will also, says Lubanov, enable Akado to develop its HDTV tier (and 3D services) without having an impact on internet services.In addition to high-speed broadband, Akado is investing in interactivity and in HD services. “We are investing in developing interactive TV services, which are the future of Russian broadcasting. Today the payback might seem small and risky but the interactive TV services have great potential for profitability in future,” says Lubanov. “We are rolling out digital TV using a platform that supports interactive services. Forecasting demand for interactive TV services in Russia in the next three years, we’re implementing it now for the future, developing and maintaining our leading market position.” On the HD side, the company saw a significant boost in viewing from its HD broadcasts of the 2010 Winter Olympics and World Cup.Lubanov says that the economic downturn has had relatively little impact on the company’s business, with a 19% growth in overall revenues in 2010 to RUB3.66 billion (€90 million) and growth in its EBITDA margin from 25.2% to 34.7%. “Today Akado keeps on developing its services through its successful marketing strategy, strong financial discipline and professional cost management and reduction. I believe we make the most attractive offer for clients focused mainly on the quality of customer care rather than technological superiority,” he says. “Broadband and digital TV services were still in high demand, while internet access has become a basic commodity these days and TV viewing is one of the Russians’ favourite pastimes.”Lubanov says that Akado aims to offer as much choice as possible to customers, presenting them with optional packages and pay-per-view services and allowing them to choose between analogue and digital reception. “To keep our leading position and create marketable products and services Akado focuses on meeting customer requirements. We transmit in both analogue and digital. But we try to enlighten and educate our audience about the advantages of digital TV and HDTV,” he says. “We developed a special programme for testing digital TV services and free viewing of digital channels for all our subscribers to motivate people to switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.” In order to support this, Akado offers a 13-strong package of HD channels, including National Geographic HD, Mezzo Live HD and Fashion TV HD as well as film and sports channels. Lubanov believes Akado is well-placed to hold its leading position in Moscow (where he says it has a 52% share in the digital TV market).Room for growthWhile DTH players are strong in Poland and Romania, and cable (in various shapes and sizes) is ubiquitous through much of the region, IPTV remains relatively underdeveloped with the exception of a few key markets. One of these is Croatia, where Deutsche Telekom-backed T-Hrvatski Telekom is the leading IPTV player on the market. Despite the company’s existing high penetration, Richard Breskovi´c, director of proposition management and strategy fixed department at T-Hrvatski Telekom, believes there is room for growth both in broadband and pay TV.Exclusive content rights are the key to maintaining the appeal of the TV service in Croatia, according to Breskovi´c. “MAXtv offers premium content and we still see growth from exclusive premium content such as sports,” he says, citing examples including the Spanish football league and Formula 1 motor-racing, where the content is distributed exclusively via T-Hrvatski Telekom’s platform. The operator’s current plans include the re-launch of its HD package with the addition of new content, and further differentiation will come from T-Hrvatski Telekom’s emphasis on interactivity, taking advantage of the capabilities of the Microsoft-based TV platform and its own network investment to deliver, for example, multiple streams to users’ homes. The operator has less room for manoeuvre when it comes to bundlinginternet and TV services. “We are regulated on the broadband and voice side and bundling has been a challenge,” says Breskovi´c. However, T-Hrvatski Telekom has managed to market dual and triple-play services, despite these restrictions. “The regulations are a challenge but we have managed to adapt,” he says.Breskovi´c also believes that the digitization of the Croatian terrestrial network could also encourage new subscribers to sign up to MAXtv (particularly in view of terrestrial reception problems in Istria and the Dalmatian coast, with interference from Italy affecting the country’s B and C multiplexes). The MAXtv set-tops for satellite reception are hybrid with DVB-T tuners to ensure that customers can receive any future services to be launched in the terrestrial network as well as T-Hrvatski Telekom’s own services.In order to further maximize its reach in a relatively small market, T-Hrvatski Telekom has launched a version of MAXtv via satellite, with the prime goal to provide TV service to the customers that already take services from the operator but are unable to access the IPTV service. “We want to reach customers in rural areas of Croatia and provide a service that’s got premium content. These are loyal customers for other services,” says Breskovi´c. For similar reasons, T-Hrvatski Telekom provides a separate, somewhat more stripped down IPTV service via its Iskon subsidiary. “The Iskon feature set is quite substantially different,” he says. “Iskon is one of the oldest internet providers in Croatia, with quite a loyal subscriber base.” The Iskon TV service was launched to provide a complete portfolio of services to this base, in order to secure its loyalty to the brand and prevent Iskon customers from being tempted by alternative TV offerings.A second goal of the MAXtv satellite platform, however, is to build a business that could be exported to markets outside Croatia. “The Croatian market is not the only one where we can exploit our platform,” says Breskovi´c. The plan would be to build a ‘white label’ offering where T-Hrvatski Telekom could provide the technical infrastructure (including encryption) that could then be used by content partners to reach adjacent markets in the region.Other future strategic priorities for T-Hrvatski Telekom include the build-out of a fibre infrastructure (progress towards which has been slowed down somewhat by regulatory restrictions), which would, among other things, enable it more easily to deliver multiple simultaneous video streams to each household. Breskovi´c also believes that there will be some consolidation to reduce fragmentation in the TV distribution market, with smaller players that may lack watertight rights to redistribute content being squeezed out.Pan-regional distributorConsolidation within individual territories has long been anticipated, but is only now beginning to happen in Romania (where Romtelecom has acquired rivals Boom TV and Akta) and has yet to occur in Poland. However mergers and acquisitions across national boundaries have also occurred. Liberty Global, with operations in five countries attracting a total of 4.1 million subscribers, has long been the premier pan-regional distributor in central and eastern Europe. Its strength in the region is likely to increase with the acquisition of Polish cable operator Aster from investment group Mid Europa Partners (itself a significant international player through its ownership of the SBB/Total TV and Telemach operations in the western Balkans and Invitel and Fibernet in Hungary). Once it passes regulatory hurdles, the Aster deal will be worth ?600 million, representing one of the biggest CEE equity exits of the past 12 months.Poland is one the most developed, and therefore competitive pay TV markets in central and eastern Europe, and the deal indicates that Liberty Global, which already operates under the UPC brand in Poland wants to take it on. For Mid Europa Partners partner Robert Knorr, the decision to sell Aster was down to normal investment cycles, rather than a response to pay TV market conditions. “On the contrary, we are solely committed to the region and are actively looking for investments including in the pay TV space,” he says. “We get into investments and stay with them for three-to-five years. Aster we were hitting the fifth year and it was the right time to exit.”Mid Europa itself is continuing to build a noticeable presence in the former Yugoslavian countries, where it operates under the SBB cable brand in Serbia (which in turn operates the Total TV DTH platform) and Telemach in Slovenia. Most recently, Mid Europa acquired three regional players in Bosnia, BH cable Net, Elob and KT Global, which it will combine with Telemach and SBB into a new Telemach-branded entity. It also has a presence in the Hungarian pay TV market where its fixed line telco Invitel recently acquired cable and pay TV operator Fibernet.According to Knorr, the economic crisis, which he said had a much greater affect on some markets than others, has in fact led to a slowing down of mergers and acquisitions in the region. Growth for Mid Europa has in any case tended to be organic rather than through major acquisitions: “The last 12 months have been more dynamic than the year before, but aside from Aster the rest of our deals have been about add-on acquisitions and boosting our existing presence to expand our footprint in the region.”From an investment point of view, there are some markets best avoided in the short- to mid-term, says Knorr pointing to Romania as a particularly difficult market to crack. “It has lots of operators and an incumbent that is very active in the market. Competition is very high,” he explains. Hungary is tough too. “There are some markets that seem easier than others,” says Knorr. In the next 18 months he predicts that some existing investors will decide to abandon some territories. “It will either provoke consolidation, which will create a more stable situation in those markets, or may prompt new investors to that market to attempt to drive different business models,” he says.Investing in DTH operators has proved riskier than for cable. According to Knorr, CEE DTH operators have in general been hit harder by recent economic conditions: “We have been doing very well with DTH but there have been some sad stories. Some people started DTH platforms, invested heavily in them and when the crisis hit they were left over-exposed. They were paying a lot of money for quality content but their ARPU or subscriber base went down. We would not shy away from looking at DTH but it’s a riskier business model than cable.” Knorr says that consumers are starting to show a preference for taking multiple services from operators, which means bundling DTH with fixed line services is a safer bet than offering TV services alone. “You are better off entering commercial agreements with people who own fixed line services with whom you can offer DTH as a video service to prevent them from putting video over their network,” he says.last_img read more

By Vedran Vuk Casey Research Recently my paren

first_imgBy Vedran Vuk, Casey Research Recently, my parents were considering purchasing some real estate. As the financial professional in the family, they asked me, “What do you think? Will it go up in value? You know… not now, but eventually?” I’ve heard the same thing over and over again. In response, I shared my opinion: “Would you pay the current market price to live there even if its value never increased?” If the answer is yes, buy the property.” Essentially, is the house worth it as a home, not as an investment? In the past few decades, the concept of home ownership has been completely turned on its head. Previously, homes were considered a very long-term consumption good. Do you think anyone in the 18th, 19th, and prior centuries ever considered tripling the value of their homes by retirement time and selling them to move beachside? In the vast majority of cases, such ideas never crossed their minds. Yet, somehow along the way, this became a reasonable investment expectation. Even today, home buyers still make their purchases with the hopes of escalating prices. But are homes really wise investments? Consider the difference between your house and an investment such as Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock. At a major company, the opportunities can be truly limitless. Apple can produce cashflows from computers, iPods, iPads, and future innovations that are just dreams and concepts today. If the local market is oversaturated, Apple has the option of spreading out all across the world. As a result, Apple’s stock price has gone from $17 in 2005 to $540 today. Can your house do the same? Unless there’s a hyperinflation ahead or your house is located in the New York City or London of the 21st century, the answer is no. Why? Because your house is ultimately a product – and products have an upper bound to their prices. To understand this difference, there’s no need to drag out the Case-Shiller Index or analyze complex statistics. Suppose one bought a single-family house over a decade ago for $200K. At the peak of the housing bubble, the price reached $500K; to his joy, the owner sold it and moved thereafter to retire in Florida. Can the house’s price go higher from here? With Apple, the stock price can just keep climbing with greater profits and innovations. But is that true with real estate? For the sake of argument, let’s say that prices do keep rising. Eventually, the second owner sells to another buyer for $1 million a decade later. Guy number two also peacefully retires in bounty. Well, where does that leave the third guy? Unless real salaries make an incredible jump in the same time period, no one will be able to afford the home next. The median US worker earning $51K won’t be selling such a house for retirement; instead, it will take him until retirement to afford it. In many ways, this “investment” more closely resembles a Ponzi scheme. (Yes, Ponzi schemes work: for those who get in early and get out – as the recent real-estate bubble demonstrated.) Ultimately, there’s an upper bound to housing prices – they can’t continue rising perpetually with no end. The same is true of any product. At $300 for the newest iPod Touch, Apple might be doing well, but at $10,000 per unit, there likely would be very few buyers. As a homeowner, you’re not holding a company that can innovate, cut costs, and enter new markets. You’re ultimately holding a product which must be either sold to the next user or leased to the next renter. Houses are a good created for a specific use – to put a roof over one’s head. They are not magical money machines. Previous generations understood this very simple concept. One built a home as a place to live and escape the elements – and worse yet, the squalor of tenement housing. Homes were not retirement tools, but rather long-term goods. Unfortunately, policy makers still view homes as investments and are always worried about low prices. But is it really healthy to play another round of the same Ponzi scheme? Suppose the Fed manages to inflate housing prices again. There will be another boom in which some folks will make a tremendous amount of money. Eventually, housing prices will hit an unrealistic upper bound. Again, home prices will violently drop, resulting in homeowners deeper underwater than now. Of course, the banks will again take a hit as the mortgage holders. As long as real incomes trail the rise in housing prices, there will ultimately be a correction of some sort. So, do I think the current real estate market is just fine? No, of course not; but I don’t think shocking houses prices back into a bubbly stratosphere is the solution. Ideally, I’d like to see increasing housing prices, but only at the pace of real growth in society’s wealth. Over the last few decades, houses grew in value for good reasons and bad. On the good side, the economy had been expanding. On the bad side, the Fed’s low-interest-rate bubble artificially inflated housing prices beyond what made sense for our economy to sustain. If US companies such as Apple are creating greater abundance in society, it makes sense for housing prices to grow with greater wealth. But, bringing those prices higher on a wave of printed cash does not make us wise investors, but rather willing participants in a Ponzi scheme where someone else will be left holding the bag. Though that might be an attractive solution for those underwater on their mortgages, it’s no solution for the economy as a whole – nor for the next buyer. [Treating houses as investment vehicles – a strategy pushed by federal government policy – is one part of the complex conditions that have created the current American debt crisis. Start learning about it, so that you can be among those who not just survive, but thrive during the challenging times ahead.]last_img read more

The Medicaid expansion promoted by the Affordable

first_imgThe Medicaid expansion promoted by the Affordable Care Act was a boon for St. Mary’s Medical Center, the largest hospital in western Colorado. Since 2014, the number of uninsured patients it serves has dropped by more than half, saving the nonprofit hospital in Grand Junction more than $3 million a year.But the prices the hospital charges most insured patients have not gone down.”St. Mary’s is still way too costly,” says Mike Stahl, CEO of Hilltop Community Resources, which provides insurance to about half its nearly 600 employees and their families in western Colorado.”We are not seeing the decreases in our overall health bills that I believe the community overall should be feeling,” Stahl says.He and other employers in Colorado hoped that, as hospitals saved millions of dollars in charity care from the Medicaid expansion, the institutions would pass along some of those savings, reducing the prices consumers pay as well as the overall health costs paid by employers.A recent state report finds that didn’t happen.While hospitals are financially better off since the expansion, they have begun shifting even more of their costs to commercial health plans, according to the report.The state researchers note the average hospital profit per each patient discharged rose to $1,359 in 2017 — twice the amount in 2009. For patients covered by commercial and employer-based health plans, the hospitals’ profit margins per discharge rose above $11,000 in 2017, compared with $6,800 in 2009.Julie Lonborg, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association, says the state agency that did the study was biased against hospitals and had a “predetermined conclusion.” Hospitals in the state are not doing as well as the report suggests, Lonborg says, noting that a third of them face operating losses.And some insurers, she says, have not passed along to their customers the savings hospitals give the insurers.Hundreds of thousands of state residents gained coverage under the Medicaid expansion, lowering Colorado’s uninsured rate by half to 7 percent. In addition, hospitals’ uncompensated care costs dropped by more than 60 percent, or more than $400 million statewide.Kim Bimestefer, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, says that hospitals have used their expanded revenues to focus on adding services that provide high profits or expanding operations in wealthier areas of the state that often duplicate what is already available.”They used those dollars to build free-standing [emergency departments], acquire physician practices [and] build new facilities where there was already sufficient capacity,” she says. “Hospitals had a fork in the road to either use the money coming in to lower the cost-shift to employers and consumers or use the money to fuel a health care arms race. With few exceptions, they chose the latter.”Hospital’s profit margin doublesIn written testimony to the state legislature last year, Colorado officials pointed to St. Mary’s as an example of a hospital with high overhead and operating costs — factors they said can lead to higher insurance premiums.The facility’s profit margin was above 14 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to the latest available tax returns. Those figures are nearly double St. Mary’s margin before expansion and twice the margin of the average U.S. hospital in 2017, according to American Hospital Association data.Colorado is the first state to analyze whether hospital cost-shifting — often referred to as a “hidden tax” on health plans — dropped after Medicaid expansion.But a conservative think tank in Arizona says hospitals there did not cut prices following that state’s Medicaid expansion.”Not only did [it] fail to deliver on the promises of alleviating the hidden health care tax, it allowed urban hospitals to increase charges on private payers dramatically,” says a report from the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute.Some critics point out that hospitals are also benefiting because Congress has repeatedly delayed a key ACA provision that would have cut federal funding to hospitals that have large numbers of uninsured patients and patients on Medicaid.The continuation of the program — called Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments — has provided Colorado hospitals a total of $108 million.How outside costs may factor inThe hospital industry disputes reports that it has merely pocketed profits from Medicaid expansion. Hospitals say many factors influence how much they charge employers and private insurers, including the need to upgrade technology and meet rising costs of health care and drugs.Lonborg of the state hospital association says hospitals need to shift costs to private employers to make up for lower prices paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and to make up for care hospitals continue to give free of cost to the uninsured.But, she adds, other factors, including the need to keep up with rapid population growth, have kept costs from dropping.Janie Wade, chief financial officer for SCL Health, the Broomfield, Colo., hospital chain that owns St. Mary’s and seven other facilities, says its costs are higher because it has sicker and older patients than most.She says looking at just the hospital profit margins on St. Mary’s IRS-990 form is not a fair assessment, because it doesn’t take into account costs that are outside the hospital, such as its 93 physician practices. The hospital lost nearly $12 million on those doctor practices in 2017, she says.Across all operations, the hospital’s operating margin fell from 9.5 percent in 2015 to 4.5 percent in 2018, she adds.Wade says the hospital used some of its new revenue to purchase 14 physician practices in recent years. That was designed, she says, not to ensure they send their patients to St. Mary’s but to help keep those doctors in the city so they can staff important services such as trauma and maternity care.”Medicaid expansion was a good thing and, of course, we supported it,” Wade says.But she points out that the hospital loses money on Medicaid and Medicare, which together cover more than three-quarters of its patients.St. Mary’s has sought to keep price increases for commercial insurers and employers to no more than the general inflation rate and has made rate even lower for some, according to Wade. If employers’ rates have been rising more than that, she says, it’s likely because insurers have been adding price increases.Officials from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, one of Grand Junction’s largest insurers and recently acquired by UnitedHealthcare, would not comment.David Roper, who used to oversee employee benefits for the city of Grand Junction and now heads a local employer coalition, says the state report confirms what local businesses leaders have long known. “St. Mary’s has no incentive to reduce its costs,” he says.Edmond Toy, a senior adviser for the nonprofit Colorado Health Institute, says the argument that pursuing the ACA policy would help lower insurance premiums “broadened the appeal of Medicaid expansion … and conceptually it makes total sense.”But, he notes, health care analysts have long debated whether the higher prices hospitals charge people with private insurance are designed to make up for the losses they take on with Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients.The state report shows how hospitals in heavily consolidated markets don’t have to cut prices as their bottom line improves, Toy says. “They can charge whatever the market will bear.”Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Health and Research Transformation at the University of Michigan, says hospitals have considerable bargaining power in many places because of health system consolidations and their purchases of many physician practices.”It does appear Colorado hospitals have a strong negotiating position with payers, or payers there are not negotiating very effectively,” Udow-Phillips says. “Hospitals are not going to give it away.”Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service and editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Copyright 2019 Kaiser Health News. To see more, visit Kaiser Health News.last_img read more

A disabled university lecturer was forced to live

first_imgA disabled university lecturer was forced to live in a residential home for older people for seven months because of a crisis in accessible housing that is “spiralling out of control”, according to a new report.Dr Chetna Patel was moving from Scotland to Sheffield for a new university job, but was unable to find any suitable homes for her access needs as a wheelchair-user.Dr Patel said: “I was desperate and needed to move and take up my post; a social worker came up with the solution of my staying in a residential home for the elderly. “I had no other option and so accepted it. The home did its best but it was a battle to keep my motivation up as I lost much of my independent life whilst in there.”Her case is just one of many collected by the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK while compiling its Breaking Point report on housing for disabled people in England.It says the crisis in accessible housing is “spiralling out of control”, and has called for central government and local authorities to lead a “revolution in the building of accessible homes”.In another case, John Harrison, from Winsford, Cheshire, has had to reply on his wife to wash him for more than a year, because their bath and shower are completely unsuitable for him.   He has already paid £16,000 to have his kitchen adapted, but cannot afford another £8,000, which the council says he has to contribute towards installing a wet-room.He said: “I have quite simply exhausted my funds in adapting my home, and I cannot afford to put up a further £8,000 to change the bathroom.“This is really taking its toll but without support from the council and without sufficient personal finance, I’m unable to make the adaptations that I need.”In some parts of the country, there are more than 100 disabled people and their families waiting for accessible accommodation, according to councils that responded to freedom of information requests submitted this summer by the charity.One council, Croydon, had 176 people on its waiting list for wheelchair-accessible housing at the time it responded, but not a single wheelchair-accessible property available.Another, Harlow, had 166 people on the waiting-list, and again not a single suitable property available, while Blackpool had 258 people waiting and only five homes available.Muscular Dystrophy UK told MPs and housing leaders this week at a meeting in parliament of the all-party parliamentary group for muscular dystrophy that the lack of wheelchair-accessible housing was having a “devastating” impact on disabled people and their families, with some racking up huge debts and being forced to spend their life savings to adapt their homes.Others were having to struggle to live in properties in which they could not use bathrooms and kitchens.Some councils will not even allow a resident to join the housing waiting-list until they have lived in the area for five years.More than a third of individuals and families surveyed said they had found themselves in serious debt because of having to fund adaptations to their homes themselves, while 70 per cent of those questioned said they were in properties that did not meet their mobility needs.Fleur Perry (pictured), who herself waited for two years before she was offered a suitable property by her local authority, says in the report: “Though housing providers have legal obligations to consider the needs of local people with disabilities, there seems to be no consistently used method to accurately assess the number of accessible homes the community needs.“There are also no figures showing just how much it costs the NHS to treat people injured by accidents due to inaccessible housing, nor the short or long-term social care costs that result from this.“I consider myself lucky to have found my little bungalow in just over two years; I have heard of people waiting several times this long.”Muscular Dystrophy UK has called on the government to increase the maximum amount paid out under the disabled facilities grants (DFG) scheme – the current maximum of £30,000, which is means-tested for adults, has not risen since 2008 – and ensure that this continues to rise in line with inflation.It also wants to see all local authorities consider discretionary top-up payments – which they are legally allowed to make – for disabled people who cannot fund all of their adaptations through a DFG.The freedom of information responses showed more than a third of councils had made no discretionary payments.And the charity says that local authorities should ensure that at least 10 per cent of all new homes within property developments are wheelchair-accessible, and that all new homes are built using the Lifetime Homes standard.The charity says it is also concerned that some local authorities do not have their own accessible housing register.A Department for Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “The government is committed to helping disabled people live as comfortably and independently as possible in their own homes.“We have invested just over £1 billon through the DFGs since 2010 to fund adaptations to homes.“This has helped thousands of disabled people live safely at home, funding around 170,000 adaptations, but we are always listening to the sector to see how we can best provide for those most in need.“We are also getting Britain building again with more than 570,000 new homes built since April 2010.”last_img read more

Google Amazon Expand Into OnDemand Home Services

first_img October 2, 2015 This story originally appeared on CNBC –shares 4 min read Tech Reporter Home Improvement Add to Queue Next Article Image credit: Startup Stock Photos | Stocksnap.io Amazon and Google are vying to become the Uber for handymen and capitalize on the growth of the on-demand services industry. A recent Intuit survey estimates 7.6 million Americans will be working in the so-called “gig” economy by 2020, more than double the current total of 3.2 million people.”This is a multibillion-dollar market, and clearly the incumbents have not done an effective job in providing a seamless, safe and positive experience for users,” said Mizuho Securities analyst Neil Doshi. “Just looking at stock prices of Angi and Yelp, there seems to be an opportunity for larger players or new start-ups to disrupt this space.” Amazon is diving head-on into delivering on-demand services. The e-commerce giant launched Amazon Flex on Tuesday, enabling delivery drivers in Seattle to sign up for shifts through an app. In March, it rolled out Amazon Home Services, powered by service marketplace start-up TaskRabbit.”In less than 60 seconds, customers can browse, purchase and schedule tons of professional services from wall mounting a new TV to installing a new garbage disposal to house cleaning, directly on Amazon.com,” said an Amazon spokesperson.Amazon also recently expanded Home Services, which offers more than 900 professional services, to 15 cities in the US. The company guarantees all purchases, so if customers are not satisfied, they get their money back. “People are always afraid that a plumber or contractor might rip them off, so the platform that can provide transparency in price and recourse for quality will be the winner. We like Amazon’s approach this far. And Amazon has deep pockets and a lot of patience,” said Doshi.In contrast to Amazon, Google is dipping its toes into the space, quietly beta-testing a new AdWords Express product in the Bay Area over the past several weeks. Home Service Ads invites plumbers, cleaners, locksmiths and other providers to advertise and manage customer inquiries, correspondence and appointments, all through Google. Home Service Ads are displayed as sponsored search results above organic search results. Homeowners can browse profiles, reviews and ratings, and contact up to three people at once to compare quotes. The company declined to comment.The search giant is touting the new ad product on its website: “Google will show your ads on our platform, and we’ll help customers find you and set up appointments. The rest is up to you.” Google screens businesses and requires background checks, proof of insurance and licenses, but does handle transactions. The search giant also warns contractors: “Serious or repeatedly negative customer feedback may result in lower ad rankings (including your ad not showing at all).”First Analysis Securities Corp. analyst Todd Van Fleet is bullish on the opportunity: “I think Google and Amazon are both well positioned to address the home-services market. The question is whether there’s a multitude of players. The obvious answer is yes. It’s a huge marketplace.”But Doshi is skeptical about Google’s ability to win this battle: “Google has always had issues on the local side, and Amazon is coming at this market with a unique value proposition (high quality and guaranteed price).”Both Google and Amazon are entering a crowded marketplace, competing with well-funded and established start-ups: “We think Home Advisor, Thumbtack, TalkLocal or some of the other unique start-ups could be in a position to take share,” said Doshi.Six-year-old Thumbtack is building a war chest to fight the rising competition, and CEO Marco Zappacosta says growth is strong. His biggest challenge is keeping up with demand: “We’re actually supply constrained; we have more demand than we can fulfill.” The company announced on Tuesday that it had raised $125 million at a valuation of $1.3 billion from investors that included Baillie Gifford, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and Google Capital. 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Harriet Taylor Google, Amazon Expand Into On-Demand Home Services The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Apply Now »last_img read more

Malware Warning Puts Retailers on Lookout for New Cyber Breaches

first_img Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Register Now » Image credit: Shutterstock –shares Add to Queue Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. U.S. retailers are hunting for evidence of new breaches leading into the holiday shopping season after a cyber intelligence firm privately warned them about payment-card-stealing malware that it said evades almost all security software.”This is by far the most sophisticated point-of-sale malware seen to date,” said Maria Noboa, lead technical analyst for privately held iSight Partners, which uncovered the malware and was due to release a technical report about it on Tuesday.The firm had shared information about the malware, dubbed ModPOS, with clients in October, and briefed dozens of companies, including retailers, hospitality companies and payment-card processors, about its dangers.Retailers began hunting for the malware in the approach to this week’s unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season, the busiest time of the year for most merchants, according to the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center (R-CISC), an industry group set up this year to fight hackers.Retailers have been fending off increasingly sophisticated payment-card theft schemes for more than a decade. The biggest breaches to date include a notorious 2013 holiday-shopping-season attack on Target Corp and a major breach at Home Depot Inc, each of which compromised tens of millions of payment card numbers.ISight declined to say how it uncovered the ModPOS threat or name any targeted retailers.Some retailers have found digital evidence that linked threat indicators they had previously seen to ModPOS, though that does not necessarily mean they were victims of breaches, said Wendy Nather, director of research for R-CISC.”I couldn’t tell you who is most likely to be compromised by this,” Nather said. “But if it were harmless, we wouldn’t even be talking about it.”Her group, which was set up this year, has approximately 50 members including Gap Inc, J.C. Penney Co, Lowe’s Co and Walgreens.ISight said it first identified the malware late last year, but only came to understand its sophistication in recent months after breaking encryption that hid how the malware works.ModPOS includes modules for “scraping” payment-card numbers from the memory of point-of-sale systems, logging keystrokes of computer users and transmitting stolen data, according to iSight.(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler) Malwarecenter_img 2 min read Next Article Reuters November 24, 2015 This story originally appeared on Reuters Malware Warning Puts Retailers on Lookout for New Cyber Breacheslast_img read more

Dells Cybersecurity Unit SecureWorks Plans IPO

first_img Dell’s cybersecurity business unit SecureWorks is planning an initial public offering.The Atlanta, GA.-based company said it would trade on NASDAQ under the stock ticker SCWX, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. SecureWorks did not disclose the price of its shares or the number available.It said it plans to raise $100 million from the stock sale, but that amount was likely just a placeholder.Denali Holding Inc., the parent company of Dell, will maintain a large stake in SecureWorks, thus making it a “controlled company” under NASDAQ marketplace rules, the filing said. Dell’s Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, and Silver Lake managing partner Egon Durban will serve on the company’s board of directors.Dell acquired SecureWorks in 2011 for $612 million. In July, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Dell was looking to spin out the security company from its portfolio.The IPO filing follows Dell’s recently announced plans to acquire business technology giant EMC for nearly $67 billion. The deal is intended to make Dell more competitive in corporate technology against giants like Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Oracle as well as specialists in cloud computing like Amazon and Microsoft.EMC controls six independent businesses under a so-called federation model, including data storage company EMC II and data center software company VMware (VMW -1.50 percent). It also owns the security company, RSA Security, which competes with SecureWorks.SecureWorks brought in $88 million in sales in a three-month period in the company’s third quarter, which is a 32 percent increase from the $67 million it brought in the previous year during the same period.The company had a net loss of $18.5 million for the three-month period in the third quarter, which was a 111 percent increase from the $8.8 million in recorded in the previous year.Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Barclays Capital and Citigroup Global Markets are among the several underwriters for SecureWorks’s IPO. Bank of America is SecureWorks biggest customer, accounting for 12 percent of the company’s revenue in 2015, according to the filing. Dell’s Cybersecurity Unit SecureWorks Plans IPO Dell –shares Image credit: Sergiy Palamarchuk / Shutterstock Register Now » This story originally appeared on Fortune Magazine 2 min readcenter_img December 18, 2015 Next Article Jonathan Vanian Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Add to Queuelast_img read more

DAA Announces Enforcement Deadline for Political Ad Guidelines and Transparency Icon

first_img Advertising Self-Regulatory CouncilBob LiodiceDigital Advertising AllianceFederal Election CommissionMarketing TechnologyNewsPoliticalAds Previous ArticleIf First-Party Data Is the High Ground, Customer Experience Is the EscalatorNext ArticleCrimson Agility Receives Two Nominations from Magento Guidelines Take Effect November 1st; Enforcement Starts January 1, 2020 by Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and Association of National Advertisers (ANA)The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced the timeline for enforcement of its new transparency guidelines for political advertisers, including use of the “Political Ad” icon. The new guidelines will become effective on November 1, 2019, and enforcement of compliance will begin on January 1, 2020. The independent enforcement program will be run by the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which also are responsible for enforcement of the DAA’s YourAdChoices program.Appearing in or around digital express advocacy political ads, the DAA’s Political Ad icon will offer an easy, interactive, and clearly-identifiable tool for voters to get information on the advertiser paying for the ad. Information available through the Political Ad icon will include the political advertiser’s name, contact information, contribution or expenditure records (when applicable), individual contacts, and other required disclosures.“Transparency and accountability are two of the foundational principles of our democracy, and the advertising industry is committed to giving voters simple access to the information they need about express advocacy political ads,” said DAA Executive Director Lou Mastria. “The responsible digital advertising industry has a vested interest in making digital advertising more transparent, and the Political Ad Icon program redoubles our commitment to this critical goal.”Marketing Technology News: Liferay Announces New Content, Commerce and Headless Capabilities to Drive Personalization at Scaleprn“The DAA took an important step to streamline the reporting requirements for political advertisers by creating a national transparency standard for disclosing information about political advertising.  With the backing of the major ad trade associations, this new guidance can be quickly implemented across the ecosystem,” said Mike Signorelli, partner at Venable LLP and counsel to the DAA. “Having rolled out the tech specs for the Political Ad program less than a year ago, we are ready to move toward enforcement.  Over the coming months, we will continue to educate the marketplace about the steps they need to take to license the icon and comply with the program guidelines and disclosure notice requirements.”Under the DAA’s guidance for political advertising, the Political Ad icon and/or wording should be used to provide clear, meaningful, and prominent notice for ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office and in certain state-wide elections. The icon/wording should link to disclosures that include:Name of the political advertiser;Phone number, address, website, or alternative and reliable contact information for the advertiser;Other information required by applicable federal or state law for such notices;Link to a government database of contributions and expenditures for the advertiser, if applicable;Any disclaimers required by state or federal law, if the ad itself is too small to display them (as permitted by applicable law); andName(s) of the advertiser’s CEO, member of the executive committee or board of directors, or treasurer.The DAA’s political advertising transparency initiative is modeled on the DAA’s YourAdChoices program, which offers consumers a gateway to information and control over Interest Based Advertising (IBA) through the ubiquitous blue YourAdChoices icon, globally served more than a trillion times a month.Marketing Technology News: E-discovery and Information Governance Expert Rena Verma Joins FTI Consulting“Recent investigative reports about media and social media have dramatically underscored the need for the public to know the sponsor of the political ads they see,” said Marla Kaplowitz, President & CEO, 4A’s. “Fortunately, the advertising industry has in place the Ad Choices tool, now expanded to provide that much-needed transparency to political advertising. A simple click-through the DAA’s Political Ad icon reveals the name and contact information of the advertiser.”“The ANA is a proud founding member of the DAA program,” said Bob Liodice, CEO, ANA. “Transparency and consumer control have always been a major foundation of the DAA program.  DAA’s added accountability will now foster greater trust and transparency in the political advertising realm.”“There is no speech more central to American democracy than political speech, and that requires it to be free of corruption, taint, or illegal interference,” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO, Interactive Advertising Bureau. “The Digital Advertising Alliance’s PoliticalAds initiative demonstrates once again that industry experts from media, advertising, and technology can quickly build mechanisms that can help solve seemingly intractable public problems. In less than a single election cycle, the DAA constructed a window into digital political advertising, giving American voters a clear view into who’s paying for the electioneering ads they see. We urge the Federal Election Commission and all 50 states to make PoliticalAds the foundation of digital political ad disclosure, and protect our democracy from the threats it faces.”“These guidelines will provide much-needed transparency to protect and enhance the integrity of online political advertising, establishing uniform standards that are even higher and more transparent than advertising on traditional media,” said Leigh Freund, President and CEO, Network Advertising Initiative. DAA Announces Enforcement Deadline for ‘Political Ad’ Guidelines and Transparency Icon MTS Staff WriterJune 7, 2019, 8:16 pmJune 7, 2019 center_img Marketing Technology News: Report: Native Email Security Systems Open Doors to Vulnerabilitieslast_img read more

Research groups investigate how to achieve healthier use of digital technologies

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 3 2019With its permanent accessibility, increasing flood of information and constantly changing technologies that humans have to familiarize themselves with, digitization is fundamentally changing society and individual lives. These changes come with both opportunities and risks for health. The risks of using digital technologies and media include stress, burnout, depression and other health impairments.However, stress can also have positive, stimulating effects that need to be promoted. Technological design is well advanced, so digital technologies and media can also preserve and promote human health by including artificial intelligence, adaptivity and interactivity.In a joint project, research groups from the universities of Augsburg, Bamberg, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Munich and Würzburg are now investigating how a healthier use of digital technologies and media can be achieved. The Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts is funding the ForDigitHealth research network with around 3.35 million euros. The project is scheduled to run for four years.The Würzburg subprojectThe Department of Developmental Psychology (Prof. Dr. Gerhild Nieding and Dr. Wienke Wannagat) at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg is involved in this project. The two scientists’ research deals with extended media literacy in children and adolescents, which includes so-called metacognitive and cognitive self-regulatory abilities that are assumed to protect against digital stress. These abilities include, for example, the knowledge that a smartphone present on the desk can distract from homework and the ability to regulate one’s own behavior based on this knowledge.The long-term goal is to develop and evaluate training approaches that will enable children and adolescents to use digital media and technologies in a healthy way.In previous work, the JMU scientists have shown that media literacy in pre-school children, adolescents and adults is related to academic and health-related variables: the greater the media literacy, the better the skills in areas such as reading and mathematics—and the lower the risk of developing an internet or video-gaming addiction.Since the beginning of 2019, the department has also been developing a computer-based training program aimed at promoting media sign literacy skills in kindergarten children. The children learn about the typical characteristics of films, comics and other media. This is important because media sign literacy is a prerequisite for later media literacy, as the researchers explain. The German Research Foundation is funding this project.The aims of the ForDigitHealth networkRelated StoriesPerinatal depression screenings may overlook women having suicidal ideationNew network for children and youth with special health care needs seeks to improve systems of careDogs and cats relieve academic stress and lift students’ mood, according to a new studyAccording to Professor Henner Gimpel of the University of Augsburg, spokesman for ForDigitHealth, “in their everyday lives, many people experience for themselves that digital technologies not only offer support but also sometimes seem to have taken complete control over their lives. They notice this, for example, when they are overwhelmed with all the e-mails at work, or when they find themselves constantly checking their phone for new messages or comments on a previously posted picture.”The aim of the network is to scientifically evaluate how the increasing presence and use of digital technologies and media affect our health — especially with regard to the development of positive and negative stress. In addition, prevention and intervention approaches are to be developed and evaluated. In this way, the research network aims to contribute to an appropriate, conscious and health-promoting use of digital technologies and media.Experts from the fields of medicine, psychology, computer science, business informatics and communication science are working on these questions. The eleven individual projects deal with theories of stress, methods of stress assessment, and fundamental ethical and legal aspects. They also evaluate how digital technologies and media differentially affect specific social groups, including children, adolescents and employees. In addition, different areas and contexts of life are taken into account, such as the family and the workplace.The aim is to explore how digital technologies and media are used and experienced in different everyday contexts and, in particular, how this affects the mental and physical health of various groups of people.Bavaria’s Science Minister Bernd Sibler commented: Public events and blogThrough public events, a scientific blog and research exchange among the network of cooperating partners and interested parties, the research association aims to contribute to social debates through its findings. Source:Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, JMUcenter_img Health research is futurology! The research network ForDigitHealth investigates crucial questions that are highly relevant for a healthy life with digital media. In the age of digitization, it is very important that we use digital media confidently and autonomously. It is also crucial to be aware of how digital media influence our daily lives and our health.”last_img read more

France passes law taxing digital giants in defiance of US anger

first_img Explore further Dubbed the GAFA tax, an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the law will levy a 3% tax on total annual revenues of the largest tech firms providing services to French consumers US launches probe of France’s planned tech giants tax Citation: France passes law taxing digital giants in defiance of US anger (2019, July 11) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-france-law-taxing-digital-giants.html “France is a sovereign state and it alone decides on its taxation mechanisms and it will continue to do so,” he said. Le Maire said he was warned about the investigation during a “long conversation” with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday, saying it was the first time such a step had been taken in the history of French-US relations.Last month, top G20 finance chiefs meeting in Japan agreed there was an urgent need to find a global system to tax internet giants like Google and Facebook but clashed over how to do it.The issue now risks overshadowing a meeting of G7 finance minister outside Paris next week which is supposed to prepare the summit of leaders hosted by President Emmanuel Macron in August.’Protectionist taxes’Washington has been pushing through the G20 for an overarching agreement on taxation.Such a move is supported by Google which believes it would mean Silicon Valley tech giants would pay less tax in the US and more in other jurisdictions, in a departure from the longstanding practice of paying most taxes in a company’s home country.The Section 301 probe will hold hearings to allow for public comment on the French tax issue for several weeks before issuing a final report.The move was applauded by the Computer & Communications Industry Association which said the French law would retroactively require US internet giants to turn over a percentage of their revenues from the start of 2019. “This is a critical step toward preventing protectionist taxes on global trade,” CCIA official Matt Schruers said in a statement, calling on France “to lead the effort toward more ambitious global tax reform, instead of the discriminatory national tax measures that harm global trade.”A finance ministry spokesman for Ireland indicated Dublin remained opposed to unilateral arrangements, saying the challenges were best addressed within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).There was no immediate comment from the GAFA companies. France’s parliament on Thursday passed a law making it the first major economy to impose a tax on digital giants, defying a probe ordered by an angry US President Donald Trump that could trigger reprisal tariffs. © 2019 AFP The new law aims at plugging a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits as their legal base is in smaller EU states.The legislation—dubbed the GAFA tax in an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon—was passed by a simple show of hands in the Senate upper house after it was agreed by the National Assembly lower chamber earlier this month.But the French move drew an angry response from the White House even before the legislation was passed, with Trump ordering an investigation unprecedented in the history of French-US relations. The law will levy a 3.0 percent tax on revenues generated from services to French consumers by the largest tech firms.The adoption of the law came as Britain unveiled draft legislation for a tax on digital giants, that would amount to 2.0 percent and reflect “the value derived from their UK users”, the British government said.Google, Apple and Facebook have their European headquarters in Ireland, where they pay some of the EU’s lowest corporate tax rates despite earning the bulk of their European revenues in Britain, France and Germany.Amazon’s European base is Luxembourg, another low-tax jurisdiction. Ireland, Luxembourg and other small EU members have been active in thwarting efforts to impose an EU-wide digital tax, hastening go-it-alone efforts by France, Britain and others.’Not though threats’The so-called Section 301 investigation is the primary tool the Trump administration has used in the trade war with China to justify tariffs against what the United States says are unfair trade practices.US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement ahead of the adoption of the French law that Washington was “very concerned” it would “unfairly” target American companies.But French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire France rejected the US reaction, saying “threats” were not the way to resolve such disputes.”Between allies, I believe we can and must resolve our differences in another way than through threats,” he told the French Senate ahead of the vote. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Seen dancing with guns Uttarakhand MLAs expulsion from BJP recommended

first_imgSeen dancing with guns, Uttarakhand MLA’s expulsion from BJP recommendedThe notice served to the MLA on Thursday seeks an explanation from him explaining why he should not be expelled from the party.advertisement Press Trust of India DehradunJuly 12, 2019UPDATED: July 12, 2019 23:50 IST Video of MLA Champion showing him dancing with guns went viral on social mediaHIGHLIGHTSState BJP in-charge made the recommendation to the central leadershipA notice served earlier to the MLA gave him 10 days’ time to explain his conductThe notice seeks an explanation from him why he should not be expelled from the partyState Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in-charge Shyam Jaju has recommended Pranav Singh Champion’s expulsion from the party even before the suspended Khanpur MLA could respond to a notice seeking an explanation from him on a viral video in which he was seen dancing with guns in his hands.Jaju, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Uttarakhand, has made the recommendation to the central leadership, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) media in-charge Devendra Bhasin told reporters in Dehradun on Friday.On a notice served earlier to the MLA which gave him 10 days’ time to explain his conduct, Bhasin said the state BJP will wait for the legislator’s response before making its recommendation to the party’s central leadership.The notice served to the MLA on Thursday seeks an explanation from him why he should not be expelled from the party.The party had also extended his three-month suspension for an indefinite period as a penal action.Champion landed himself in fresh trouble on Wednesday when a video showing him dancing with guns to a popular Bollywood number in front of cheering supporters went viral, leaving the party red faced.Also Read | Uttarakhand BJP MLA does Tamanche Pe Disco, stirs rowAlso Read | Pandey-monium in pink pants: Cops hunt for BSP leader’s son after 5-star brawlAlso Watch | Watch: Drunk BJP MLA Pranav Singh Champion brandishes guns while dancingFor the latest World Cup news, live scores and fixtures for World Cup 2019, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for World Cup news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byMohak Gupta Tags :Follow DehradunFollow UttarakhandFollow BJP Nextlast_img read more