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    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Reuter site - Financial Times pulls its apps from Apple store

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    Financial Times pulls its apps from Apple store

    Wed, Aug 31 16:18 PM EDT

    LONDON (Reuters) - The Financial Times has pulled its iPad and iPhone apps from Apple's App Store after losing a battle to keep control of customer data obtained through subscriptions.

    Apple has recently begun to insist that subscriptions to apps that it hosts must go through its own store, giving Apple ownership of valuable data about customers from those transactions, as well as a 30 percent cut of revenues.

    The Pearson-owned FT and Apple had been in negotiations for months but ultimately failed to reach a compromise, an FT spokesman said Wednesday.

    Apple launched its own subscription service for magazines, newspapers, videos and music earlier this year but has won little support from major publishers.

    The iPad tablet computer, launched a year and a half ago, created a new market popular with affluent professionals and has been a major driver of new subscriptions to, which now accounts for about a quarter of the FT's total sales.

    The FT's digital subscriptions rose 34 percent to 230,000 in the first half of this year, with mobile devices accounting for 22 percent of traffic and more than 15 percent of new subscriptions.

    In a move to reduce its dependence on Apple and develop apps more quickly for rival tablet computers, the FT in June launched a Web-based version of its mobile app, the first of its kind by a major publisher.

    This allows readers to sign up on an FT website and then sign on any device, including the iPad and iPhone through Apple's Safari browser.

    A shortcut can be installed on the device, giving an experience similar to using a native app custom-built for the smartphone or tablet being used.

    A version for Google's latest Android platform, which is widely used for smartphones and tablet computers including Samsung's Galaxy Tab, is expected in September or October.

    An FT spokesman said the company was encouraging subscribers to migrate to the Web-based app, which uses the open HTML5 standard that can be read by any browser, and is already being used by most mobile subscribers.

    The spokesman described the disagreement with Apple as "amicable" and said the FT still planned future apps for the Apple App Store including one for the FT's luxury weekend magazine 'How To Spend It' as early as September.

    This would be funded by advertising, however, not subscriptions, so there would be no conflict with Apple over who owns the subscriber data.

    (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Image of Daniel Domsheit-Berg, (formerly of wikileaks, now with openleaks)

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    Reuter site - Some of WikiLeaks' Bank of America data destroyed

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    Some of WikiLeaks' Bank of America data destroyed

    Mon, Aug 22 13:53 PM EDT

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some internal Bank of America files obtained by WikiLeaks have been destroyed, according to a former close collaborator of Julian Assange, the whistleblowing website's founder.

    In an email to Reuters, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who last year was fired by Assange as WikiLeaks' co-spokesman, confirmed that he had destroyed "roundabout" 3,000 submissions WikiLeaks received related to Bank of America.

    Domscheit-Berg said that he had decided to destroy the material "in the interest of the security of sources." In the past he had alleged that the source-protection system used by WikiLeaks under Assange's stewardship was inadequate.

    Domscheit-Berg, who has been working on the creation of a rival to WikiLeaks called OpenLeaks, said that the Bank of America material which he destroyed was sent to WikiLeaks between January 2010 and September 2010. In September 2010 Assange ousted Domscheit-Berg, who then used the pseudonym "Daniel Schmitt", as one of WikiLeaks' principal frontmen.

    Domscheit-Berg said that the 3,000 Bank of America submissions that he destroyed consisted of "about 10-15% documents and the rest random junk people sent in." He did not characterize the destroyed material's content further.

    But Domscheit-Berg also said that he did not destroy Bank of America material obtained by WikiLeaks before last year. He said that Assange first claimed to have obtained leaks from inside Bank of America in October 2009. Domscheit-Berg said he never had control over such files and did not destroy them.

    Larry Di Rita, a Bank of America spokesman, said: "We don't know what they claim to have had, and we have no comment on what they allegedly may have destroyed."

    The destruction of the documents could provide a small amount of relief to Bank of America investors. The bank's stock dropped 3 percent in November amid fears the bank could be the target of WikiLeaks' next document release. In recent weeks investors have pummeled Bank of America's stock on fears it may need to raise outside capital to absorb losses.

    Assange did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. However, in a flurry of messages posted on its Twitter feed over the weekend, WikiLeaks said that it could confirm that the data Domscheit-Berg claimed to have destroyed "included five gigabytes from the Bank of America."

    The WikiLeaks Twitter feed, which Assange is believed to control personally, also said that Domscheit-Berg had destroyed a copy of "the entire US no-fly list," "US intercept arrangements for over a hundred internet companies," and leaks from inside "around 20 neo-Nazi organizations."

    It is unclear from the statements by WikiLeaks and Domscheit-Berg whether WikiLeaks and Assange still have any Bank of America files under their control.

    In an October 2009 interview with the Computerworld website, Assange said that he was "sitting on 5GB from Bank of America, one of the executive's hard drives." Five gigabytes is precisely the size of the data cache that the WikiLeaks Twitter feed now claims that Domscheit-Berg destroyed.

    However, Domscheit-Berg told Reuters he only destroyed material which WikiLeaks received months after Assange gave the interview to Computerworld. But he also said that when he and Assange were still collaborators, Assange once accused him of stealing the pre-October 2009 Bank of America material.

    Domscheit-Berg said that because WikiLeaks' pre-2010 system for receiving data was poorly built, it was, in his view, possible that Assange no longer had any Bank of America material under his control.

    Assange at one point claimed publicly that WikiLeaks had material which could "take down a bank or two".

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon strike to end but talks to continue

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    Verizon strike to end but talks to continue

    Sat, Aug 20 15:36 PM EDT

    By Sinead Carew

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - About 45,000 Verizon Communications employees are set end a two-week strike and return to work by Tuesday after the telephone company and unions said they reached an agreement to resume bargaining.

    Almost half of the workers in Verizon's wireline business went on strike on August 7 after talks for a new labor pact failed when their contract expired.

    Under the latest agreement, reached early on Saturday morning, Verizon promised to extend the terms of the old contract indefinitely while it continues bargaining for a new one with unions representing technicians and customer service workers.

    Workers will start to head back to work for late shifts on Monday night and the rest of the striking workers will show up to their jobs on Tuesday, one of the unions said.

    Neither side would provide details about how the agreement was reached, but both sides continued to nip at each other.

    Tens of thousands of Verizon managers were asked to work 12 hours a day for six days a week and many worked more than that to cover for the strikers, said Verizon spokesman Richard Young. Verizon said its management team's work helped "convince the unions to begin bargaining with us in good faith."

    "The fortitude and efforts of our managers have proven to be our strongest point of leverage in bargaining," Marc Reed, Verizon's executive vice president of human resources, said in a statement.

    The Communications Workers of America said it was "outraged" by the company's comments, and demanded a retraction.

    "It is both inaccurate and insulting," the CWA said in a statement. "We agreed with management not to claim victory in changing the process, reinstituting the contract or shaping our goals. We will be prepared to fight and fight hard whenever necessary if Verizon believes it can resume negotiations on that basis."

    The agreement to continue talks follows an announcement by the company last week that healthcare benefits would expire on August 31 for workers who were still on strike at the time.

    This would have affected 35,000 workers represented by the Communications Workers of America, and another 10,000 members of The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in nine states and the District of Columbia.


    The decision to end the strike came after the unions and the company were able to agree on a structure and focus for bargaining on key issues such as jobs, employment security and financial issues such as healthcare contributions and pensions, according to CWA President Larry Cohen.

    Cohen told Reuters that the issues on the table are complicated and will "take some time" to work out but he said the union was looking forward to the joint process.

    "We would both say that this focus is much better than it was two weeks ago," Cohen said.

    The striking workers are in Verizon's wireline business which provides telephone, Internet and television services.

    Verizon is looking to cut costs in this business, which has been declining for years as consumers have been hanging up home phones in favor of cellphones and Internet services.

    But the unions had argued that Verizon was looking for too many concessions in areas such as healthcare contributions, pensions and work rules.

    Verizon said it had made headway with negotiating a "number of local and regional" issues with the unions.

    The dispute quickly turned bitter as Verizon complained of network sabotage on the second day of the strike while the unions said picketers were injured by vehicles driven by Verizon managers covering for the strikers.

    Both sides also swapped complaints at the National Labor Relations Board.

    Cohen said the problems facing the strikers went beyond Verizon and its workers. He argued that there should be some kind of national framework for workers healthcare and bargaining rights.

    "I don't really blame Verizon leadership for this problem," he said. "It's the nation."

    (Additional reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago; editing by Vicki Allen and Sandra Maler)

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Reuter site - Autonomy/HP deal spotlights data deluge

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    Autonomy/HP deal spotlights data deluge

    Fri, Aug 19 09:11 AM EDT

    LONDON (Reuters) - Hopes Hewlett-Packard's $11.7 billion bid for Autonomy will be the first of many in the European software industry could be misplaced because Autonomy has an appeal that others cannot match.

    Shares in European software makers jumped in a falling market on Friday after news of the deal.

    But analysts said Autonomy has a one-off appeal through its enterprise search software, which helps companies unravel and connect vast quantities of complex and varied data like video, pictures and emails.

    Investigators use it to track people it suspects of terrorism and to probe complex white-collar fraud, and information companies put it to work connecting news and data.

    Other European market leaders such as SAP or Nokia offer more traditional products in slower-growing markets.

    "Traditionally structured data, such as that in rows and columns generated by industry through products such as those offered by SAP and Oracle, is becoming less of a focus," said Tim Daniels of brokerage Olivetree Securities.

    "Traditional search software isn't intelligent enough to sort through unstructured data in a speedy fashion -- it is unable to understand the contents of a video or a music track," added technology, media and telecoms strategist Daniels.


    The amount of data in the world is doubling every two years and is expected to reach 1.8 zettabytes this year, equivalent to every global citizen having 215 million high-resolution MRI scans every day, according to IT research firm IDC.

    This has created a market for so-called "big data" and high demand for hardware and especially software that can store, process and make sense of it.

    HP has agreed to buy Autonomy in a strategy change that will also see it spin off its personal computer business, the world's largest, beginning a reinvention of itself as a higher-margin, software-focused business.

    Shares in companies unrelated to "big data" rose on the back of the news. Germany's Software AG rose 1.5 percent, Swiss computer-mouse maker Logitech rose 2.9 percent and Finnish cellphone maker Nokia rose 1.9 percent.

    Rajeev Bhal, software analyst at British financial services firm Matrix Group, said he saw British IT company Micro Focus and Swiss banking software maker Temenos as likely targets for specific reasons.

    Micro Focus shares rose 2.4 percent on Friday, while Temenos rose 4.7 percent

    "We continue to see Micro Focus (BUY, 420p TP) as a likely bid candidate given multiple approaches already in place and the attractive valuation," Bhal wrote.

    "Temenos has a strong product and routinely tops industry league tables for new customer wins, and has demonstrated in the past its ability to recover from setbacks."

    Bhal said he saw Software AG and British accounting software maker Sage, as "red herrings."

    British financial software maker Misys has also been the object of bid interest, and its shares rose 5.1 percent on Friday.

    Shares in British chip designer ARM, which like Autonomy is part of a technology cluster in the English university town of Cambridge, also rose 2.9 percent.

    One London-based technology banker who asked not to be named said he did not expect more multi-billion-pound technology deals to emerge in Europe on the back of the Autonomy-HP deal because of a "dearth of targets."

    "For the few potential larger deals, eyes will be on SAP and maybe ARM. Think IBM and Oracle," he said.

    But the banker added: "SAP has been more of a consolidator, however, and ARM is expensive and independently minded.

    (Reporting by Victoria Howley and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Andrew Callus)

    Reuter site - Instant view: HP plans PC exit, Autonomy buy; cuts outlook

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    Instant view: HP plans PC exit, Autonomy buy; cuts outlook

    Fri, Aug 19 04:49 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard said on Thursday it is considering a sale or spinoff of its personal computer unit, will halt production of its webOS devices such as the TouchPad, and agreed to buy British software firm Autonomy Corp for $10.2 billion.

    At the same time, it reported fiscal third-quarter earnings earlier than expected, and lowered its full-year financial forecasts. The following is immediate reaction from investors and analysts.


    "It's not sustainable what was going on. We think they had to act. They're going to get leaner and meaner to get faster."

    "It makes a ton of sense for them to exit as much as possible the consumer business. The consumer has become massively competitive, commoditized, and frankly Apple is the only one that's shown it can make money in the space."


    "(WebOS) was a great operating system. Everybody was pulling for it but a lot of people weren't buying it."

    "It's hard to compete against not just Apple but the ecosystem Apple has built which includes apps content and services. There were also a lot of missteps such as launching it (the TouchPad) a month before it was ready and pricing it the same as the iPad 2."

    "HP is really following the IBM model of becoming a services business and selling off your PC."

    "If they spin (WebOS) out with the IP it could be very interesting for a company like HTC."

    "If Google keeps Motorola and gives it a competitive advantage over other Android licenses, one of those licensees may want to hedge their bets by buying WebOS."


    "It was inevitable that one of the big guys would come in and buy Autonomy, the question was timing. It's a large bite in the current market environment for anyone."

    "Autonomy is an inevitable acquisition target because of its unique position in unstructured data -- there's not an obvious rival and there's strong growth in the unstructured data market."

    "The challenge for HP would be to deliver a knock-out blow. $10 billion is 25 times 2012 predicted earnings, which is a good price after recent falls in Autonomy's shares, but it would not be deemed an excessive valuation."

    "There's no reason why any of the big four or five names should not be interested."


    "Without saying so, (HP) is saying 'I want to be more like IBM'. What did IBM do many years ago? They divested their PC business and they got more involved in software."

    "The PC industry is a very challenged one because of the slow growth in that sector. For those companies like HP which don't' have a strong tablet offering, they are victims of the encroachment of Apple's iPads and tablets on their notebook business. So they're vulnerable to losing share."

    "Leo was brought over partly because they wanted HP to get more involved in software. So what he's doing is basically considering spinning off a hardware related business and getting more involved in software. Therefore this Autonomy acquisition is part of that strategy. Analytics is a hotter segment in the software area."

    "This webOS discontinuing is sad but necessary. They were fighting a losing battle. The winners were already decided before they even launched their TouchPad in the marketplace, and the winners are android and (Apple's) iOS."


    "Although results are in-line with our estimates, the company's fourth-quarter outlook is well below our projections and the Street."

    "Despite weakness in the stock on this announcement, we still advise investors to stay on the sidelines as we believe more bad things could be lurking around the corner."


    On potential bids for Autonomy:

    "Would expect both IBM and Oracle to take a good look at Autonomy. For HP it seems a less natural move given their lack of a database or enterprise content platform."

    "For IBM, Autonomy fits well as a piece of their infrastructure offering alongside Cognos and DB2, for Oracle (an existing Autonomy OEM) it expands their market reach significantly into the unstructured data world."

    "Autonomy's SPE product (which extends Autonomy's unstructured data capabilities into structured data) would be a hook for both companies."


    "None of this should be surprising, in light of what's happening to the consumer with respect to the amount and the type of PCs they're buying and also the fact that even before Leo (Apotheker, the new CEO) took over, the company had been moving more into software and services, specifically targeted at businesses."

    "You know that consumer PCs is the thing that's dragging that segment down. Because people aren't willing to pay up. They want the sexy iPad. And they may need a cheap PC, but they're not willing to pay up. All consumers seem to have eyes for is the iPad."

    On Autonomy: "I think it's a move for the future, but I don't think it's going to be a boost to the bottom line immediately."

    (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, Sinead Carew in New York, Paul Sandle in London)

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Reuter site - RIM near BlackBerry music service launch: sources

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    RIM near BlackBerry music service launch: sources

    Thu, Aug 18 20:51 PM EDT

    By Yinka Adegoke and Alastair Sharp

    NEW YORK/TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is close to rolling out its own music streaming service that will work across its mobile devices, according to four people familiar with the plans.

    The new service is likely part of an attempt by RIM to improve its BlackBerry Messenger service as it competes with the mobile media platform strengths of rival Apple Inc and Google Inc's Android.

    RIM is in late-stage negotiations with major labels, including Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Sony Corp's Sony Music, Warner Music Group and EMI Group. The new service is expected to be announced by Labor Day in the United States, September 5.

    RIM has been enhancing its BlackBerry Messenger offering, popularly known as BBM, since announcing its "social platform" at last September's DevCon event where it unveiled the PlayBook tablet computer.

    A RIM spokeswoman declined comment on the report but said BBM is one of the largest mobile social networks in the world.

    RIM's BlackBerry smartphones have been hit by a sharply declining market share in the United States, even as the company has expanded sales in other parts of the world, partly because of BBM's popularity.

    Analyst Matthew Thornton at Avian Securities said he doubted the music service would attract new users but might help the company keep its existing BlackBerry customers interested.

    "I just don't think trying to replicate Apple is really going to change their situation near term," he said.

    "For RIM it's going to be the new OS 7 product first and foremost ... and then it's about QNX and making that transition."

    RIM has just launched an updated operating system on three new touchscreen devices intended to catch up with the technical specifications of Android and other rivals. The company plans to launch the first BlackBerrys using the QNX software, used on its PlayBook tablet, early next year.

    The PlayBook comes loaded with the music store of 7digital, half-owned by HMV. 7digital's store includes some 13 million tracks, and purchases made via a PlayBook can be moved to other devices.

    BlackBerry smartphones do not offer a RIM-enabled way to buy music, although audio and other files can be loaded onto the devices from a computer.

    BlackBerry users can also download music apps from RIM's store, including Slacker, Rhapsody and Pandora.

    The Waterloo, Ontario-based company says some 45 million people use BBM, which allows BlackBerry users with data plans to pass text messages, pictures and other files to each other without incurring charges from their network carrier -- 70 percent of them use it daily.

    Its latest version allows independent developers to incorporate BBM into their applications, meaning users can stay in a news, sports or games app while sharing it with their BBM contacts.

    BBM is touted as a major attraction for younger BlackBerry users and customers in emerging markets because of its lower cost and immediacy. The service runs over RIM's proprietary network and tells a sender when a message has been received at the other end.

    RIM's shares closed 3.8 percent lower on Thursday at $25.76 on Nasdaq and down 3 percent at C$25.49 in Toronto. The stock has lost more than half its value since the start of the year.

    ($1=$0.99 Canadian)

    (Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Robert MacMillan and Rob Wilson)

    Reuter site - HP may drop PCs, to buy Autonomy for $11.7 billion

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    HP may drop PCs, to buy Autonomy for $11.7 billion

    Thu, Aug 18 21:47 PM EDT

    By Poornima Gupta and Paritosh Pansal

    SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co may spin off the world's largest PC business, part of a wrenching series of moves away from the consumer market, including killing its new tablet and buying British software company Autonomy Corp for as much as $11.7 billion.

    The moves underscore the problems plaguing personal computers and devices, HP's core business, and a decade-long search for direction by the original Silicon Valley garage startup, whose "HP Way" was once a model for businesses.

    The iconic company associated with the birth of Silicon Valley also plans to kill WebOS-based phones and the TouchPad tablet, which was launched in June but has failed to excite consumers.

    HP's third-largest acquisition ever and its potential departure from the PC arena sets in motion a transformation that recalls International Business Machine Corp's overhaul of the last decade.

    The barrage of news, which forced HP to announce third-quarter earnings an hour early on Thursday, masked a sharp reduction in HP's estimates for full-year revenue and earnings that sent its shares down 6.1 percent to a 52-week low. They slid another 10 percent to $26.61 in after-hours trading.

    HP Chief Executive Leo Apotheker is responding to mounting pressure to fire up growth just as global economic and tech-spending outlooks darken. Like other PC makers, it is struggling to come up with an answer to Apple Inc's iPhones and iPads, which are gobbling up PC market share.

    "HP is at a critical point in its existence and these changes are fundamental to the success we all want," Apotheker told analysts on a conference call.

    The announcement is the second this week to show how quickly technology companies are transforming as they jockey for position to cope with radical changes in consumer demand. Google Inc announced on Monday it was buying mobile handset maker Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, launching the Internet search and mobile software company into manufacturing for the first time.

    HP "is saying 'I want to be more like IBM.' They divested their PC business and they got more involved in software," said FBN Securities analyst Shelby Seyrafi.

    "The PC industry is a very challenged one because of the slow growth in that sector. For those companies like HP which don't have a strong tablet offering, they are victims of the encroachment of Apple's iPads and tablets on their notebook business. So they're vulnerable to losing share."

    The acquisition of cloud search-software specialist Autonomy, which analysts say may draw rival bids, marks its boldest foray into the software and technology services after Apotheker came on board with a mandate to drive innovation.

    A PC spinoff marks a historic shift for a company that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built into a sprawling $120 billion empire from a $538 garage operation in 1939.

    "HP is recognizing what the world has recognized, which is hardware in terms of consumers is not a huge growth business anymore," said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of YCMNET Advisors, a minor shareholder in HP. "It's not where the money is. It's in keeping with the new CEO's perspective that they want to be more in services and more business oriented."


    Speculation has swirled for months that HP was no longer keen on keeping a PC business struggling with low growth and single-digit margins.

    Sources told Reuters in June that private equity firms from Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts to TPG Capital would like HP to break up and sell them some of its units, arguing that the world's No. 1 PC maker and tech powerhouse is stretched too thin.

    Spinning off the PC division, run by personal systems group chief Todd Bradley, would mark one of the biggest makeovers for the company since 1999, when it spun off its measurement and components businesses to form Agilent Technologies.

    The moves would turn a company that in some ways tried to mimic Apple into a devout follower of IBM, dropping a tablet with innovative software, checking out of the PC business and embracing the software and services Big Blue today embraces.

    HP has twisted and turned before, including controversial former CEO Carly Fiorina's acquisition of PC maker Compaq in 2001, which a spinoff would undo.

    "If HP spins off their PC business ..., maybe they will call it Compaq?" Dell Inc CEO tweeted after the news emerged.

    Some alternatives HP is exploring include hiving off its PC business into a separate company through a spin-off or other transaction that would likely be tax-free to U.S. shareholders. HP expects the process to be completed within 12-18 months.

    Apotheker, however, made it clear that its printing unit -- also the target of spinoff speculation -- was very strategic to the company.

    Apotheker, a former chief of European software giant SAP AG, had been expected to drive an expansion of the company's relatively small but very profitable software division -- including through major acquisitions.

    Cambridge, England-based Autonomy counts Procter & Gamble Co among a long list of major corporate customers that use its software to search and organize unstructured data like emails. It said the offer values its fully diluted share capital at as much as 7.09 billion pounds ($11.7 billion), were a clutch of convertible bonds to be exercised. Under the agreement, Barclays Capital will provide debt financing to help bankroll HP's acquisition.

    The British firm's CFO, Sushovan Hussain, is on a visit to California, a source told Reuters.

    "HP would be buying this as part of a refocus of the business on software," said Tim Daniels, technology, media and telecoms strategist at Olivetree Securities. "Clients now don't have a problem accumulating data, the problem is the structuring of it. Eighty percent of the data on the Web now is unstructured: video, pictures, emails, etc."


    HP's Personal Systems Group also includes smartphones, tablets and the WebOS operating system, pulling in about $41 billion in revenue but only about 13 percent of profit.

    HP's decision to discontinue the TouchPad -- which hit the store shelves in July with much costly fanfare -- follows poor demand. It was discounted by $100 a month after it was launched in a market dominated by the iPad. WebOS came with the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm last year.

    "There were also a lot of missteps, such as launching it a month before it was ready and pricing it the same as the iPad 2," said Current Analysis' Avi Greengart. "It was a great operating system. Everybody was pulling for it but a lot of people weren't buying it."

    Going forward, HP expects further pressure on its revenue and cut its full-year forecast for the third straight quarter.

    HP now expects full-year revenue of $127.2 billion to $127.6 billion, down from a previous estimate of $129 billion to $130 billion. It also cut its earnings per share estimate to a range of $3.59 to $3.70, down from its previous estimate of at least $4.27 per share.

    Barclays Capital and Perella Weinberg are advising HP, while Qatalyst Partners, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and JPMorgan Chase are advising Autonomy.

    HP also named John Visentin as executive vice president of its services group. Ann Livermore, former HP Enterprise unit chief who was managing the services unit on an interim basis, will move over to the company's board.

    (Additional reporting by Megan Davies and Sinead Carew in New York, Bill Rigby in Seattle, Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco, Victoria Rowley, Georgina Prodhan and Paul Sandle in London; Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric)

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Reuter site - Bharti group firm launches $220 tablet computer in India

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    Bharti group firm launches $220 tablet computer in India

    Wed, Aug 17 09:17 AM EDT

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Beetel Teletech, part of India's Bharti Enterprises that controls top mobile carrier Bharti Airtel <BRTI.NS>, launched a tablet computer priced at 9,999 rupees ($220) on Wednesday.

    The 7-inch tablet, branded Beetel Magiq, runs on Google's <GOOG.O> Android operating system and supports both 3G and Wi-Fi networks, Beetel said in a statement.

    Beetel is one of the largest makers of fixed-line phones in India. A company spokesman said China's Huawei <HWT.UL> was their manufacturing partner for the tablet.

    India is the world's second-biggest and the fastest-growing market for mobile phones, although computer penetration is still low.

    Apple Inc <AAPL.O> began iPad sales in India in January this year, while Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> launched its Galaxy Tab in India in November last year.

    Bharti Airtel's closest rival, Reliance Communications <RLCM.NS> this month launched a tablet computer priced at 12,999 rupees.

    (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Aradhana Aravindan)

    Reuter site - Zynga sued for patent infringement

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    Zynga sued for patent infringement

    Wed, Aug 17 10:10 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A games company is accusing Zynga of infringing its patents and asking that it shut down its most popular games for the Facebook social network, including FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

    In a complaint filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Delaware, Agincourt Gaming, which has a Facebook game called Pantheon, claims Zynga infringed two of its patents dating back to 1996 that relate to redeeming virtual prizes in games.

    The Texas-company is seeking damages and asking that Zynga shut down 12 games that it says infringe its patents.

    Zynga was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. It filed for an initial public offering of up to $1 billion on July 1.

    Zynga is currently in a legal battle with Vostu, a Brazilian games maker. In June, it sued the Brazilian company for allegedly copying its games.

    The case is Agincourt Gaming LLC v Zynga Inc, U.S. District Court, Delaware, No. 11-0072O

    (Reporting by Liana B. Baker, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Reuter site - Insight: China's microbloggers rattle the censor's cage

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    Insight: China's microbloggers rattle the censor's cage

    Fri, Aug 12 11:07 AM EDT

    By Chris Buckley and Melanie Lee

    BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - When Chinese journalist Wang Keqin found himself cornered in the countryside two years ago by police who were trying to stop him looking into a rape case involving local officials, he looked online for help.

    Wang, one of China's most dogged investigative journalists, and his colleagues called a friend who posted constant updates about their stand-off with encroaching police to a Twitter-like microblog site. Authorities in Badong County, central China, were soon flooded with phone calls from citizens warning them not to detain or hurt him.

    "The county public security bureau was overwhelmed by all the calls. It was like a wave of pressure. Weibo saved me that time, and I've also used it to save people being chased by officials," he said, using the Chinese term, "Weibo," for the microblogging services that have bloomed as platforms for sharing news, views, gossip and public outrage.

    "For Chinese people, Weibo is creating an arena that is much more free than traditional media," said Wang, who is well known for his painstaking reports on corruption and official misdeeds.

    "It's also turning more Chinese people into citizen journalists," he said. "Weibo is already a massive force. It can't be shut down, although they might try to shut down VIP users," he added, referring to online activists.

    China's microblog sites, which claim 195 million users and allow people to shoot out short bursts of often strongly worded opinion, have put China's Communist rulers in a difficult spot. Fearing an uproar if they block the sites outright, the censors struggle to keep ahead of the rapid-fire messages that often spread news and opinion the government would like to contain.

    Chinese officials, Internet operators, media and citizens are all players in an online contest over how far microblogs will be allowed to challenge the censorship demanded by the Communist Party.

    Twitter itself is blocked in China, along with Facebook and other websites that are popular abroad.

    "Microblogs have pushed more of the traditional media to become more liberal and challenging," said Wang Junxiu, a Beijing Internet entrepreneur and commentator who closely follows the microblogging world.

    "They've also seen the role that social media played in the Middle East," he added, referring to the popular uprisings across the Arab world that rattled Chinese leaders.

    "But under current conditions the government could not shut down microblogging. There are 200 million users, remember."


    China's microbloggers have shown their collective potency in a string of recent official scandals, particularly the online uproar in the wake of a high-speed bullet train crash last month in which 40 people died.

    These scandals have followed the same arc -- of official censorship, spin and stonewalling buckling under the weight of rowdy microblog users impatient with the slowness and fetters of traditional media.

    "People online seize on anything about officials and corruption, and they don't let up," said Liu Zhengrong, an official at the State Council Information Office who oversees Internet controls said, according to a Chinese newspaper, the Xi'an Daily.

    "On the Internet, the public can send out something from multiple points and then to other multiple points," Liu added, referring to microblogs. "Very quickly, the whole world knows."

    "Leading officials must not underestimate the intelligence of the public," he added.

    State-controlled media coverage of the train crash at first followed a familiar script, faulting nature and foreign technology, and throwing a spotlight on heroic rescue efforts.

    Within days, however, that script began to collapse as skepticism and outrage spread quickly in microblog traffic, fanning public ire and emboldening journalists. Newspapers and magazines were soon spurning censors' directives to stick to positive news and began excoriating the railway ministry.

    "Especially in times of disaster, such as the high-speed railway disaster, microblogs spread news to journalists who can be on the scene even before the central Propaganda Department sends out a ban," said the editor of one popular Chinese newspaper. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing possible punishment for discussing government policies.

    "Microblogs provide some additional protection, because it means that once a story breaks, everyone pitches in with information, not just official journalists, so enforcing a ban on news becomes much harder," he said.

    "It magnifies the impact of media reports, but it also means that no one newspaper or reporter stands out as a target."

    Nobody expects China's censorship to crumble. Indeed, by late July China's propaganda machinery had reasserted itself, forcing newspapers to cancel critical stories and magazines to pull issues off the newsstands. But shutting down microblogs does not appear to be an option.

    "We see the tensions between the government officials and the public in China acting out on a daily basis on Sina Weibo, and there's just an assumption that whatever the government says it can't be true," said David Bandurski of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, who studies Chinese news media and censorship.

    "Social media are going to be an issue, particularly after what we've seen this year. The question is how exactly they're going to tackle it," he said of the government's response.


    That question looms over Sina, the operator of China's most popular Weibo site by far with 140 million registered users.

    Microblogging, the hottest social networking product to hit China's Internet scene in years, is the reason for Sina's record high stock price this year and the "buy" rating 13 analysts have on the company.

    By the end of June this year, the number of Chinese using microblogs had shot up by 209 percent on late 2010 levels, according to China's official Internet information agency.

    But with Internet users able to use that platform to spread news of problems such as lead poisoning outbreaks before local officials can react, operators such as Sina struggle to balance the expectations of both citizens and state censors.

    "The trick for Sina will always be keeping the platform lively enough and genuine enough so that it remains relevant, while also keeping it tame enough to satisfy any government concerns," said Michael Clendenin, managing director of tech consultancy RedTech Advisors.

    "You have to remember that the majority of Weibo users are young and highly educated -- not the types to be easily duped by ham-handed propaganda," Clendenin said.

    This week, Weibo users were complaining that their messages about the July 23 train crash were being "harmonized," a euphemism netizens use to describe censorship and removal of their postings.

    Sina's chief executive Charles Chao is a U.S.-educated former journalist. In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Chao admitted that censorship was a part of daily operations on Weibo but defended the platform, saying it has enabled greater freedom of expression.

    "Weibo actually brings that freedom to the next level so not only can they express, they can also distribute their content and opinions with their Weibo account," Chao said, according to a transcript of the interview.

    Some of the self-censorship measures taken by Sina's Weibo and other Chinese microblogging sites include taking down politically sensitive posts, blocking the search of certain keywords and preventing posts that contain those keywords.

    Those steps have drawn catcalls from users, as have recent comments on state television scolding microbloggers for spreading "rumors." But even supporters of tightened controls on microblogs said shutting down the sites would risk sparking much worse public outrage.

    "Now everyone -- users, the government, site operators -- are wondering about how to manage the microblogging sphere that's developed so quickly," said Dou Hanzhang, a Beijing-based researcher who has helped form a "Rumor Quashing Alliance" on Sina's Weibo site.

    "If the government shut down Weibo, that would trigger outrage and show that the government lacks the competence to manage it," he said.

    (Additional reporting by Don Durfee; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and John Chalmers)

    Reuter site - Nokia jumps as Motorola Mobility bid rekindles M&A hopes

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    Nokia jumps as Motorola Mobility bid rekindles M&A hopes

    Mon, Aug 15 09:31 AM EDT

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia Oyj shares jumped over 10 percent on Monday as Google Inc's offer for Motorola Mobility Holdings rekindled speculation of a bid for the Finnish mobile phone company.

    Nokia's shares have fallen around 45 percent since the start of the year, prompting some speculation the stock could be getting cheap enough to tempt a bidder. The company, once the leader in smartphones, has been losing market share in both high-end devices and cheaper phones.

    Google said it was paying around $12.5 billion in cash, or $40 per share, a 63 percent premium to Motorola Mobility's closing price on Friday.

    "This price should ring bells on how low Nokia shares currently are. And if you think of patents, now Nokia is the one with a really strong patent portfolio," said Swedbank analyst Jari Honko. "I'd expect this will boost the speculation whether Nokia would be a takeover target too."

    Nokia shares were up 8.7 percent at 4.07 euros by 1302 GMT, having risen as high as 4.28 euros.

    One Swiss-based trader said the Google deal gave Nokia shares a "huge sentiment boost."

    Both Microsoft Corp, which is partnering with Nokia for its new phones, and Samsung Electronics, have been mentioned as possible buyers.

    Nokia officials were not immediately available for comment.

    (Reporting by Helsinki Newsroom; Editing by David Holmes)

    Reuter site - Electronic Arts upbeat about holiday season sales

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    Electronic Arts upbeat about holiday season sales

    Mon, Aug 15 01:02 AM EDT

    By Michelle Martin

    FRANKFURT, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Video games publisher Electronic Arts (EA) is upbeat about Christmas holiday sales as it expects to release top titles and prepares its most high profile launch ever: "Star Wars: The Old Republic".

    "We think it should be a very attractive season for Electronic Arts as we have quite a few blockbusters in the pipeline," Jens Uwe Intat, the head of sales and distribution for Europe, told Reuters ahead of Gamescom, Europe's biggest video games trade fair.

    The company, which develops games for the consoles of Sony Corp, Nintendo and Microsoft, also said it was optimistic about the launch of the widely anticipated online game "Star Wars: The Old Republic,"

    The launch date for the new game has not yet been named, but Intat said he hoped it would be announced before the holiday season.

    "We have lots of people who have been subscribing to newsletters and webpages so we are actually feeling very bullish about the game," Intat said.

    He added that the company was "still in the process of fine-tuning" services for the game.

    EA hopes the online game will rival Activision Blizzard "World of Warcraft", which has more than 12 million subscribers. EA is said to be spending more than $100 million to develop "Star Wars".

    Other big games in EA's Christmas line-up include the shooter game "Battlefield 3", racing game "Need for Speed" and "Sims Pet".

    The company's soccer game, "FIFA", which is due to launch at the end of September, has already taken record-breaking pre-orders, Intat said.


    Another strand of EA's strategy is to focus on Facebook games, which are free to play.

    The games make money from players who buy so-called microtransactions in games such as costumes or tools which enhance game experience, Intat said.

    This business model, which is a departure from how video games have traditionally made money, is in the spotlight as social gamemaker Zynga has filed with US regulators for an initial public offering on the stock market worth up to $1 billion.

    Advertising in the free-to-play games has the potential to be a revenue-driver in the future, Intat said, adding that "more and more consumer goods companies understand that and embrace that type of advertising opportunity".

    The company is striving to improve on its current position in the social gaming space by introducing some of its franchises like "The Sims Social" on Facebook.

    EA acquired Playfish, a leading maker of social network games, in November 2009 in a bid to make headway with its diversification strategy and in August it closed the acquisition of PopCap games, the maker of "Bejeweled." [nN1E76B1O4]

    (Additional reporting by Liana B. Baker; editing by Patrick Graham)

    Skynet, Skynet, Skynet, Skynet.

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    Reuter site - Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion

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    Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion

    Mon, Aug 15 09:42 AM EDT

    By Franklin Paul

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc will buy phone hardware maker Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc for $12.5 billion to bolster adoption of its Android mobile software and compete with smartphone rival Apple Inc.

    In its biggest deal to date, Google said it would pay $40 per share in cash, a 63 percent premium to Motorola Mobility's Friday closing price on the New York Stock Exchange.

    "What it says is that Google wants to provide a total experience that's hardware and software (like Apple)," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.

    Shares of Motorola Mobility, which focuses on smartphone and TV set-top boxes, jumped 59 percent on Monday.

    Google, maker of the Android mobile phone operating system software, has been forging ahead in the smartphone market but has been hampered by a lack of intellectual property in wireless telephony.

    Earlier this month, fresh from losing a bid to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond blasted Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and "other companies," accusing them of colluding to hamper the increasingly popular Android software by buying up patents.

    A source close to the deal said Google swooped in to buy Motorola Mobility after losing out on Nortel's patents.

    "It is much more than just a patent sale. It is obviously more than a strategy shift for Google that is very significant," the source said.

    The Motorola Mobility deal may represent a victory for activist investor Carl Icahn, Motorola's biggest shareholder. He has urged Motorola to consider splitting off its patent portfolio to cash in on surging interest in wireless technology. As of July, Icahn held an 11.36 percent stake in the company.

    In a statement, Icahn said the deal is "a great outcome for all shareholders of Motorola Mobility."

    Google, which plans to run Motorola Mobility as a separate business, said the deal will close by the end of 2011 or early in 2012, and requires regulatory approvals in the U.S., European Union and other areas, as well as the blessing of Motorola Mobility's shareholders.

    Lazard advised Google on the deal, while Motorola used Centerview Partners and Frank Quattrone's Qatalyst Partners, sources told Reuters.

    (Reporting by Franklin Paul in New York and Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; additional reporting by Nadia Damouni and Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman)

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Reuter site - Sprint ditches 4G model of RIM PlayBook

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    Sprint ditches 4G model of RIM PlayBook

    Fri, Aug 12 18:57 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel Corp has scrapped plans to sell a high-speed version of Research In Motion Ltd's PlayBook tablet because of slack demand, delivering another blow to BlackBerry phone maker.

    Eight months after being announced as the first operator to partner with RIM on tablets, Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service, said on Friday it canceled a version of PlayBook for its fourth generation (4G) WiMax service.

    PlayBook is struggling to compete with the hugely popular Apple Inc iPad tablet, while RIM's BlackBerry is fighting an uphill battle against Apple's iPhone.

    Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service, said the cancellation of the cellular product was a "mutual decision."

    But Paget Alves, Sprint's head of business services, said tablets with short-range Wi-Fi Internet connections are far more popular today than tablets for wide range networks such as WiMax.

    "Right now the majority of tablets are Wi-Fi only," Alves told Reuters earlier this week. "People use tablets in fixed locations."

    For its part, RIM said that, instead of WiMax, it would prioritize product development around devices running Long Term Evolution (LTE), a rival to WiMax. RIM said it is already testing LTE PlayBook models and plans to enter operator test labs in the United States and international markets this fall.

    The top two U.S. wireless providers, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc, are building networks based on LTE. AT&T declined to comment on whether it would sell an LTE PlayBook.

    Before the PlayBook's launch in April, RIM said Verizon would sell the device, but after the launch Verizon Wireless said it was reconsidering. Spokeswoman Brenda Raney said on Friday the company is still looking into the matter.

    Some analysts frowned at Canada-based RIM's choice of WiMax as its initial technology because it was already well-known in January that the top two operators were embracing a rival technology.

    Even Sprint, which currently depends on the WiMax network of Clearwire Corp for its high-speed offerings, is expected to announce LTE upgrade plans for its own network in October.

    Sprint, which has itself been working for years to stem customer losses, still sells a Wi-Fi version of Playbook.

    The idea of connecting a tablet to a cellular network such as Sprint's WiMax service would be to allow for greater mobility than Wi-Fi can provide. But operators have been criticized for charging too much for tablet data downloads.

    Still Charter Equity Research analyst Ed Snyder said RIM's problem related more to PlayBook's inability to stand out beside iPad than its wireless technology deal with Sprint.

    "There's two groups with tablets: Apple and everybody else. RIM's in the second group, definitely, " Snyder added.

    RIM's U.S. shares closed up 38 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $24.56 on Nasdaq.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Alastair Sharp in Toronto ; editing by Richard Chang and Andre Grenon)

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Reuter site - Google and Facebook face-off in social games

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    Google and Facebook face-off in social games

    Thu, Aug 11 20:36 PM EDT

    By Alexei Oreskovic

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook is not the only game in town anymore.

    The world's largest Internet social network moved on Thursday to shore up support with game developers such as Zynga, who provide one of Facebook's biggest draws, on the same day that Google Inc introduced games on its recently-launched social network.

    With the two Web giants competing to attract users to their respective online services, the dueling social gaming announcements underscored what could emerge as a key battleground between the two companies.

    "It turns out that people like to play games, and it's core to the social networking use case," said Jeremy Liew, a partner at venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners. Liew, who has invested in social game companies including Playdom, which was acquired by the Walt Disney Co last year, was commenting on Google's games announcement.

    On Thursday, Google said it would offer 16 games from third party developers on Google+, including Zynga Poker and the popular Angry Birds game. Google, which previously made an unspecified investment in Zynga, said it will roll out games gradually on Google+, and will make the game feature available to everyone "soon."

    Facebook, which is hosting 100 game developers at an event at its Palo Alto. California headquarters on Thursday evening, announced a handful of new features to improve the gaming experience on its website, as well as a new policy loosening restrictions on how developers can market their games on the social network.

    The changes will expand the types of notifications that Facebook users see when their friends are playing games on the website, rolling back restrictions made last year that provoked grumbles among some game developers.

    Social games, such as Zynga's Farmville, are some of the most popular activities on Facebook. More than 200 million users play games on Facebook every month, and the company takes a 30 percent cut of the sale of virtual goods that are bought by users as part of the game experience.

    "Our games ecosystem has continued to grow. But there's no question that we want to grow it faster in a more high quality way for our users and developers," Facebook head of games Sean Ryan told Reuters in an interview.

    Google launched its social networking site in June, signing up more than 10 million users in the first two weeks.

    Google's move to offer games on its social network provides game developers with a compelling alternative to Facebook, said Lightspeed's Liew.

    But he said the most important consideration for game makers is which social network has the most users.

    "Right now no one is going to be willing to give up Facebook because it's where the users are Today. Google+ got a terrific start but it's got a ways to go," he said.

    Among the new gaming features introduced by Facebook on Thursday are the ability to expand the size of the window in which games are played on Facebook's site, new ways for users to create bookmarks for their favorite games and a scrolling "ticker" that highlights the games a person's friends are playing, their recent scores and achievements.

    In loosening restrictions on game updates within Facebook's general newsfeed, the company must walk a fine line between helping developers promote their games on the network and irking users that are not avid gamers.

    Facebook's newsfeed - which displays a rolling stream of messages, photos and updates from friends - is a vital distribution channel for gamemakers, allowing companies like Zynga, Electronic Arts Inc's Playfish and Playdom to reach vast numbers of users. But is has caused some backlash among Facebook's non-gaming users, who found the constant notifications about their friends progress within various games to be irrelevant and annoying.

    Last year, Facebook clamped down on the practice, so that Facebook users would receive notifications only about games which they had also installed. Under the new policy, Facebook users will see notifications about any game their friends are playing.

    But Ryan said the company had developed special algorithms that will only display updates if Facebook has a reason to believe they are relevant to the person. If the person shows no interest in certain types of games, Facebook won't serve them updates in the newsfeed.

    "No one wants to go back to the bad old days of people being very unhappy about gaming because they feel like they're being spammed all the time," said Ryan.

    "That's the key which we really spent months and months working on, is that tricky balance of trying to expose a lot more games to people, but only to the people who we think want to play those games."

    (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic. Editing by Andre Grenon, Robert MacMillan and Carol Bishopric)

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

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    Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

    Thu, Aug 11 21:17 PM EDT

    * Obtains New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania injunctions

    * Seeks New Jersey, Mass. injunctions

    * Legal moves may foretell long strike-lawyer

    NEW YORK, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications <VZ.N>
    won court injunctions in three states to prevent strikers from
    blocking facilities and it was seeking similar legal protection
    in two more states on the fifth day of a strike involving
    almost half the workers in its wireline business.

    Two unions representing 45,000 workers had called a strike
    Sunday after a labor contract expired and several weeks of
    talks for a new contract failed.

    By Thursday afternoon Verizon said it had been granted
    injunctions in New York and Delaware as well as Pennsylvania
    after it accused picketers of illegally blocking garages and
    work entrances. It also went to court on Thursday to seek
    injunctions for Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    The injunctions limit the number of people who can picket
    at each location and how close they can stand to building
    entrances to reduce the chances of them blocking managers from
    going into the buildings to cover for the strikers.

    While both sides continue to hold talks, the strike turned
    into a nasty public fight almost immediately after it started.

    Verizon complained about network sabotage and strikers
    blocking workers while the unions accused Verizon managers of
    injuring picketers with their work vehicles on day two.

    But the company's move to secure injunctions so soon into
    the strike could mean it is expecting the strike to drag on for
    some time, according to one lawyer who has helped companies
    with labor negotiations in the past.

    "If they thought it was going to be over soon (or) if it
    wasn't putting economic pressure on them, why go for the
    injunction?" said John Hancock a Detroit-based lawyer for
    Butzel Long. "I think they're preparing for the long term and
    it may be having some impact on them."

    The Communications Workers of America, which represents
    about 35,000 of the strikers, said the injunctions would not
    make much difference to their ability to picket effectively.

    "We will continue to be able to conduct a militant strike,"
    said CWA spokesman Robert Master.

    Meanwhile, at least one rival Towerstream Corp <TWER.O>, a
    small wireless broadband provider, is hoping to take advantage
    of Verizon's woes. It put out a statement on Thursday offering
    to waive certain fees for Verizon business customers looking to
    switch to its service to avoid installation delays.
    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Bernard Orr)

    Reuter site - Plan laid out for texting 9-1-1 messages

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    Plan laid out for texting 9-1-1 messages

    Thu, Aug 11 15:27 PM EDT

    By Jasmin Melvin

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers will be able to text and send multimedia messages to 9-1-1 emergency call centers under a new plan from the top communications regulator.

    The Federal Communications Commission said next-generation 9-1-1 services will allow first responders to better assess emergencies with the ability to see photos and videos of an accident while still enroute. The IP-based infrastructure will also bring more reliability to the 9-1-1 network compared with the current circuit-switched system.

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled a plan Wednesday to help emergency response communications catch up to the technically advanced mobile devices people use every day.

    The FCC is expected to propose rules in September that will address the technical issues behind enabling text, photo and video transmissions to 9-1-1.

    Of particular concern to the agency will be ensuring that the country's broadband infrastructure can handle the bandwidth that new public safety answering points will need.

    An FCC official said widespread next-generation 9-1-1 services could be available in the next five to 10 years if the FCC acts and adequate funding is made available for equipment upgrades.

    The FCC is also looking at ways to more quickly get the texting component operational.

    "It's hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can't send a text message to 9-1-1 in an emergency," Genachowski said.

    Reuter site - Verizon sees FiOS less profitable than copper

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    Verizon sees FiOS less profitable than copper

    Wed, Aug 10 16:33 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications' new high-speed fiber optic network will never make as much money as its old copper network, an executive said on Wednesday.

    The company has spent roughly $23 billion on building FiOS, a high-speed Internet and television service that runs on this new network. But Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said that returns from the new service will be limited.

    "Let's face it, the FiOS cost structure will never be as profitable as the legacy wireline structure," Shammo said during the Webcast of an analyst meeting on Wednesday.

    Shammo cited fierce competition in the TV market as well as high-fees for digital content as reasons why FiOS will not be as profitable as its legacy service.

    Last summer, the company shut off its copper-based service for about 300 customers in Texas and replaced it with FiOS, a company spokesman said.

    Shammo said the company will continue to cut off its copper-based service in smaller markets that have high rates of FiOS subscribers.

    Verizon is looking into doing this in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a rural town outside Tampa Bay, a spokesman said.

    Shammo said the dynamics of the TV market means its wireline business needs a "fundamental cost change."

    The company's attempts to lower costs have crystallized as a strike by almost half of its wireline workforce.

    On Sunday, 45,000 workers from the U.S. Northeast went on strike, saying that Verizon's proposed contract asked for too many concessions in healthcare contributions, pensions, sick days and other work rules.

    Shammo said the cable market that Verizon is now competing in doesn't give its employees similar benefits, putting Verizon at a disadvantage.


    Shammo also said that Verizon might be moving its trial of a prepaid unlimited data plan for $50 per month from its two trial markets.

    "The trial has gone very, very well for us," he said. "You may see us take that in a few other markets."

    Shammo said the prepaid plan had not taken service from its customers under contract. The company did not want its prepaid plans competing with its "crown jewel" contract plans, Shammo said.

    Michael Nelson, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, said the prepaid plan, which typically sells to a lower-income market, should not impact Verizon's contract business.

    "Verizon Wireless really does have premium pricing for their post-paid service," Nelson said. "Arguably, prepaid is a segment outside of their existing subscriber base."

    Shares of Verizon closed down 1.8 percent at $33.66.

    (Reporting by Roy Strom; Editing by Richard Chang and Gunna Dickson)

    Come get some.

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    Reuter site - UK may disrupt social networks during unrest

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    UK may disrupt social networks during unrest

    Thu, Aug 11 09:57 AM EDT

    By Mohammed Abbas

    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is considering disrupting online social networking such as Blackberry Messenger and Twitter during civil unrest, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday, a move widely condemned as repressive when used by other countries.

    Egyptian authorities shut down mobile and Internet services in January during mass protests against then-President Hosni Mubarak, while China is quick to shut down online communication it sees as subversive.

    Police and politicians have said online social networks, in particular Research in Motion's popular Blackberry Messager (BBM), were used by rioters and looters to coordinate during four days of disorder across England this week.

    "We are working with police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," Cameron told parliament during an emergency session prompted by the riots.

    Many of the rioters favored Canadian firm RIM's BBM over Twitter and other social media because its messages are encrypted and private.

    The company said Monday that it cooperates with all telecommunications, law enforcement and regulatory authorities, but it declined to say whether it would hand over chat logs or user details to police.

    RIM's encrypted services have been blamed for aiding militant attacks in India and for allowing unrelated men and women to communicate in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    In August last year, a source close to talks between RIM and Saudi authorities said the company had agreed to hand over information that would allow monitoring of BBM.

    Online social media was also widely used by members of the British public in recent days to help others avoid troublespots and to coordinate a clean up after the rioting had ended.

    BBM has more than 45 million active users worldwide, 70 percent of whom use it daily, sending billions of messages, pictures and other files in total every month.

    Authorities grappling with violent unrest should avoid heavy-handed clampdowns on social media and instead try to enlist the help of the public against the rioters, said John Bassett, a former senior official at British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

    "The use of social media in the unrest looks like a game-changer. But any attempt to exert state control over social media looks likely to fail," he told Reuters.

    "A much better approach would be to encourage and support individuals and community groups in identifying alarming developments on social media and even speaking out on the internet against extremists and criminals, and ensuring that the police have the skills and technical support to get pre-emptive and operational intelligence from social media when necessary."

    (Additional reporting by Peter Apps; editing by Matt Falloon and Gareth Jones)

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Reuter site - Asia stocks bounce after Fed move stems rout

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    Asia stocks bounce after Fed move stems rout

    Tue, Aug 09 20:48 PM EDT

    By Alex Richardson

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian stocks rebounded on Wednesday, following a jump in U.S. shares, after the Federal Reserve made an unprecedented pledge to keep interest rates near zero for at least two years, stemming a global equity rout for the time being.

    But investors remained wary about implication of the central bank's move -- that it expects the U.S. economy to remain weak far longer than previously forecast -- supporting demand for safe havens such as gold and the Swiss franc.

    "Volatility is calming down from an extreme level. Clearly there's going to be considerable concerns still, but the market had got seriously carried away and gone to an extreme of fear," said Greg Gibbs, strategist at RBS in Sydney.

    World stock markets had been tumbling since the start of August on fears of a slide back into recession for the United States, reinforced by a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating on Friday, and the ever-expanding euro zone debt crisis.

    MSCI's all-country world stock index <.MIWD00000PUS> remained about 17 percent below its May peak on Wednesday, after slipping as far as 20 percent, the generally accepted definition of a bear market, on Tuesday.

    Tokyo's Nikkei <.N225> rose 1.6 percent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose about 1.7 percent <.MIAPJ0000PUS>, led by the materials sector, which jumped more than 3 percent <.MIAPJMT00PUS>. <.T>

    Wall Street shares posted their biggest one-day gain in more than two years on Tuesday, when the S&P 500 index <.SPX> leapt 4.7 percent. <.N>

    Against the Swiss franc, the dollar bought around 0.7220 francs, having plunged 6 percent at one stage on Tuesday to a record low around 0.7067.

    The dollar dipped to around 77.00 yen, not far from the all-time trough of 76.15 reached in mid-March.

    The euro also touched a record low against the Swiss franc at around 1.0075, before recovering some ground to 1.0384 francs. But the single currency jumped on the dollar to $1.4350, putting more distance from last week's trough around $1.4054.

    Continued strength in the Swiss franc and yen keeps alive the prospect of further intervention by the Swiss and Japanese authorities, after both took steps to weaken their currencies last week.

    Gold firmed from late New York levels to around $1,755 an ounce, after striking the latest in a string of records around $1,778 on Tuesday.

    U.S. crude oil climbed back above $80 a barrel, rising more than 2 percent to trade around $81.05.

    (Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)


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    Reuter site - Wall Street roars back in wild trade after Fed meet

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    Wall Street roars back in wild trade after Fed meet

    Tue, Aug 09 19:04 PM EDT

    By Rodrigo Campos

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rallied on Tuesday in a volatile session as investors struggled to decipher the Fed's signals on the economy after a dizzying two-week slide.

    Buying accelerated into the close and the S&P 500 posted its best day in more than two years, following a drop of nearly 17 percent over the past weeks.

    The market reversed direction six times after a Fed statement that pledged two more years of near-zero interest rates.

    Bank shares roared back from recent losses with the KBW capital markets index up 6.7 percent.

    "The last three or four weeks, the stock market has really discounted a mild recession," said Mohannad Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management LLC in New York.

    "Now after the Fed announcement, the market has to start factoring in what the response from the Fed and the government will be. There is still a small chance for a fiscal stimulus aimed at job creation. The FOMC statement today was positive for equities."

    The Dow Jones industrial average gained 429.92 points, or 3.98 percent, to end at 11,239.77. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 53.07 points, or 4.74 percent, to 1,172.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 124.83 points, or 5.29 percent, to 2,482.52.

    About 16.4 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq -- more than twice the daily average so far this year of 7.75 billion.

    Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of almost 12 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, almost five stocks rose for every one that fell.

    The three major U.S. stock indexes, though, are still in negative territory for the year, in spite of Tuesday's strong rally.

    At its session low after the Fed statement, the S&P 500 came within a few points of entering a bear market -- or a 20 percent decline from its recent closing high set on April 29.

    According to a Reuters poll, the United States faces one-in-four odds of slipping back into recession, though the economic outlook was seen as raising the likelihood of new Fed action.

    Even some investors hoping for action from the Fed acknowledged the central bank's options appear to be limited because the current crisis is not liquidity-driven, as it was in 2008.

    Equities suffered a massive drop on Monday, the first session since the United States lost its top-tier triple-A credit rating from Standard & Poor's. As a result of Monday's huge sell-off, the S&P 500 posted its worst one-day percentage loss since December 2008.

    (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Think it's a game? (Kevin Hart voice)

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    Don't step into the tenement yard...

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    I'm from a city brainwashed by London

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    Reuter site - British riots spread on third night of violence

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    British riots spread on third night of violence

    Mon, Aug 08 22:07 PM EDT

    By Stefano Ambrogi and Mohammad Abbas

    LONDON (Reuters) - Rioting and looting spread across London on Monday as hooded youths set buildings and cars ablaze, smashed shop windows and hurled bottles and stones at police in a third night of violence in Britain's worst unrest in decades.

    Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday to fly home to tackle the violence, which appeared to be led by youths alienated by years of underemployment which left them feeling marginalized even before the economic downturn.

    "It's been building up for years. All it needed was a spark," said E. Nan, a young man in a baseball cap surrounded by other youths in Hackney in east London. "We ain't got no jobs, no money ... We heard that other people were getting things for free, so why not us?"

    The violence erupted late on Saturday in London's northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police shooting of a suspect two days earlier turned violent.

    By Monday, the violence had spread to parts of the south of the city, including Clapham Junction, one of London's busiest railway junctions, Woolwich in the capital's southeast and the Ealing area of west London.

    Attackers also smashed shops and looted property in the city of Birmingham in central England, police said, in the first sign of the riots spreading beyond the capital.

    In Hackney, a multi-ethnic area in east London close to the site of next year's Olympic Games, hooded youths set fire to rubbish bins and pushed them down a street toward police, while hurling bottles and bricks.

    Many laughed as they ran back when police charged them.

    In a street thick with smoke, looters smashed their way into a local shop, stealing whisky and beer. One man grabbed a packet of cereal, another ran off laughing with four bottles of whisky.

    "I am from South Africa and it reminds me of the riots there, except the police here are not so rough," said one middle-aged local resident, who declined to give his name.

    "But the kids don't have any respect for the police or for property. It's sad for the people who live round here."

    In Peckham, a poor area of south London, flames leapt into the air from a torched building and rubble was strewn across the street.

    A Reuters witness saw two people breaking into a shop and ripping a 50-inch plasma television off the wall. A youth in a balaclava carried the screen away and received a round of applause from the watching crowd.

    Cameron's office said he would cut short his holiday in Italy to chair a crisis meeting, amid growing calls from the public for officials to take control of the situation.

    Even before Monday night's violence, police had arrested 215 people, according to Home Secretary Theresa May.

    "The violence we've seen, the looting we've seen, the thuggery we've seen, this is sheer criminality ... these people will be brought to justice, they will be made to face the consequences of their actions," she said.


    Despite a heavy presence on some streets, police appeared unable to contain the violence as rioters who had initially coordinated through mobile phones and Twitter became increasingly confident.

    Monday's looting began long before nightfall when workers were returning home, many of them forced to walk as buses to areas hit by rioting were canceled.

    In Hackney, youths in brown hoods posed for pictures in front of a burning car on a street corner. Others swarmed around a skip full of bricks and gathered them up.

    "I don't know why they are doing this," said a middle-aged woman who lived nearby. "It's senseless ... they are just cacking on their own doorstep."

    The BBC said the Hackney clashes broke out after police stopped and searched a man.

    In Clapham, another Reuters witness saw dozens of youths walking in all directions with looted television sets and other electrical goods. He heard two of them discussing the number of Playstation 3s they had stolen, and shouting at another young man to return and get more.

    Looters hid their stolen goods in bins and behind the low walls of the Victorian terraced houses typical of Clapham. A large pile of boxed Blackberry phones rested by one wall.

    Government officials branded rioters as opportunistic criminals and said the violence would not affect preparations for next summer's Olympic Games.

    But the television pictures of rioting and blazing buildings, combined with disarray in the transport network, were likely to dent the capital's image as Britain struggles to avoid an economic recession.

    Youths appeared to have used a free message service on Blackberry mobile phones to coordinate attacks on shops and police.

    Research In Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of Blackberry smartphones, said it would work with British authorities, but gave no details on what information, if any, it would give the police.

    Some have described the disturbances as a cry for help from poor areas reeling from the government's harsh austerity cuts to tackle a big budget deficit, with youth services and other facilities cut back sharply.

    "It's very sad to see ... But kids have got no work, no future and the cuts have made it worse. These kids are from another generation to us and they just don't care," said Anthony Burns, 39, an electrician from Hackney. "You watch. It's only just begun."

    Officials said there was no excuse.

    "It was needless, opportunistic theft and violence, nothing more, nothing less. It is completely unacceptable," said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

    (Additional reporting by Adrian Croft, Mohammed Abbas, Matt Falloon, Avril Ormsby and Jon Hemming; Writing by Myra MacDonald, editing by Tim Pearce)

    Banquet of Consequences.

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    Reuter site - Wall Street dives after S&P downgrade

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    Wall Street dives after S&P downgrade

    Mon, Aug 08 09:54 AM EDT

    By Edward Krudy

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks tumbled on Monday, tracking a sharp drop in global equity markets after rating agency Standard & Poor's cut the top-tier AAA credit rating of the United States, rattling already-jittery investors.

    The technology heavy Nasdaq fell more than 3 percent at the open.

    Market sectors most sensitive to the economy, such as the banking and natural-resource sectors, took the brunt of selling. United States Steel Corp fell 6.2 percent to $31.18, while Citigroup Inc dropped 5 percent to $31.83.

    S&P cut the U.S. long-term credit rating by a notch to AA-plus late Friday on concerns about debt in the world's largest economy. The downgrade could eventually raise borrowing costs for the U.S. government, companies, as well as consumers.

    The move came after a wild week for Wall Street -- its worst in more than two years -- as lingering concerns about sluggish economic growth and fears of a financial meltdown in the euro zone hit sentiment.

    Even the European Central Bank's dramatic intervention in bond markets, which pushed down yields on Spanish and Italian bonds, was not enough to stem selling.

    "What's concerning us and holding us back from buying what we think is value is that the ferocity of the momentum of the downside is still quite strong," said Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING in New York

    The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 215.55 points, or 1.88 percent, to 11,229.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 27.71 points, or 2.31 percent, to 1,171.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 58.30 points, or 2.30 percent, to 2,474.11.

    The New York Stock Exchange invoked a special regulation known as Rule 48 to smooth trading at the market open.

    MSCI's all-country world stock index dropped 2.5 percent and hit its lowest since September 2010.

    Safe-haven assets were in demand. Gold vaulted above $1,700 an ounce for the first time on Monday and hit a record $1,715.01.

    Last week's steep drop in equities wiped about $2.5 trillion off global market valuations. The S&P 500 has fallen over 12 percent since the end of April, with much of that selling coming on heavy volume last week. Prior to Monday, the index had retreated 11 percent in the last 11 sessions.

    Analysts said the S&P 500 index could test Friday's intraday low of 1,168.09. Some traders are looking for a pullback to the 32.8 percent retracement of the rally from the index's bear market low on March 2009. That level is around 1,100.

    ING's Zemsky said he was looking for support at 1,130, the level of a stock market breakout in September 2010, but warned that fast moving markets can quickly fall through support points.

    (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Reuter site - Hackers don't need movie magic to wreak havoc

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    Hackers don't need movie magic to wreak havoc

    Sat, Aug 06 20:10 PM EDT

    By Jim Finkle

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Evil hackers with state-of-the-art computers gain remote control of a power plant and blow it up, killing many people and threatening more mayhem if a huge ransom is not paid.

    It's a storyline straight out of a Hollywood action movie but those attending two of the world's biggest hacking conferences this week learned that such a scenario is not as outlandish as one might think.

    Some of the most alarming research released at the Black Hat and Defcon conferences in Las Vegas reveal vulnerabilities in aging computer systems that run power plants, chemical factories, water distribution systems and other industrial facilities around the globe.

    Boutique research firm NSS Labs uncovered a "back door" in industrial control systems from Germany's Siemens AG that could allow hackers to wreak havoc on nuclear power plants, oil and gas pipelines, water treatment systems, pharmaceuticals factories and other critical infrastructure.

    The "back door" is an undocumented access point that lets someone remotely break into the system using widely available "telnet" communications software and a six-character password that is the same on all Siemens systems and cannot be changed.

    "You get full control," said NSS Labs Chief Executive Rick Moy. "Things could go boom. Pipelines could explode if the pressure isn't monitored properly. Hazardous chemicals and fluids could leak out."

    Siemens spokesman Alexander Machowetz said the company was looking into the matter. "We are not aware of any real case of a hacker taking influence on a controller in one of our customer's facilities," he said.

    The new research from NSS comes after the firm disclosed another security flaw to Siemens in May, which the German company said it addressed with a software update.

    Last summer, researchers discovered the Stuxnet virus, a computer worm designed to attack the Siemens' industrial control systems that operate complicated factory machinery, known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.

    Stuxnet was used to attack a nuclear enrichment facility in Iran in a blow to the country's nuclear program. Some experts have described Stuxnet as a "guided cyber missile" aimed at Iran's atomic program.


    Many industrial plants were built decades ago and then later hooked up to the Internet to make them more efficient. In the rush to embrace the Web, engineers left holes in their systems that hackers have started to exploit.

    "They stayed away from the security community. They wanted to do it themselves. Now they are wide open," said Rick Howard, general manager of VeriSign Inc's iDefense division and one of the researchers speaking at Defcon on securing critical infrastructure.

    Security experts from government agencies and big corporations attend the Black Hat and Defcon conferences every year, crowding into sessions alongside hackers, many of whom use their skills to promote security and fight cyber crime.

    At meetings that run through Sunday, they talked about headline-grabbing attacks, such as the massive cyber espionage campaign disclosed by Intel's McAfee security software unit, in which 72 organizations around the world were infiltrated.

    Howard gave a presentation on Saturday on Stuxnet, the first piece of malicious software to surface that was designed to attack an industrial control system.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned Congress last month that hackers likely are adapting the code in Stuxnet to build new weapons that could launch attacks on industrial control systems anywhere in the world.

    Jerome Radcliffe, an expert on Stuxnet, said many of the passwords in such systems are hard-coded into the devices, meaning they cannot be changed. That makes makes them easy prey.

    A diabetic, Radcliffe relies on a computer to measure his blood-sugar levels and dose him with insulin as needed. He hacked into that system and figured out a way to send it erroneous dosing instructions or order it to shut down.

    He said hackers could use a similar approach to attack machines used to distribute water to millions of home.

    "My insulin pump is a good human story," Radcliffe said. "It's a one-person deal. But if I could shut off the water for an entire city, that's a disaster."


    Three other hackers say they worked out how to remotely open and close prison-cell doors. These systems are controlled by the same type of computers as many industrial control systems, known as PLCs, or programmable logic controllers.

    The independent hackers conducted their research after spending just $500 to buy a used PLC on eBay and $2,000 for software from its manufacturer, Siemens. They identified security holes and discovered how to take advantage of them to launch an attack.

    So far the hackers -- a father-daughter pair and their friend -- have not tested their theories on a real prison but toured one facility, which they declined to identify.

    They said they saw a prison guard using the computer that controls the PLC to check his Google email, which could potentially give hackers a path to launch an attack.

    "This is a real threat. It's not something theoretical," said one of the hackers, Tiffany Rad.

    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Bill Trott)

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