Category: Business

Online dating site caters to adulterers

When it comes to online dating, one company wants to offer punters a little something extra. A little something extra-marital, that is.

The Ashley Madison dating service – founded in 2001 – is currently running a series of both television and printed ads to convince those stuck with the old ball and chain that their balls don’t necessarily have to remain enchained, so to speak.

Indeed, it would appear the view of Ashley Madison’s 37-year-old married father of two, Noel Biderman, is ‘why restrict revenue stream to lonely hearts when you can make tonnes of cash from married tarts?’

Might pay your alimony

Having been both a lawyer and a sports agent in a previous life, Biderman certainly can’t be a stranger to sleaze, but when it comes to making money, the man certainly doesn’t need a cheat sheet, with his site already counting some 3.2 million adulterers, er, members.

Now that’s something other dating sites might well covet.

You can check out some of Ashley Madison’s provocative YouTube ads below:

UK government wastes £26.3 billion on computer botch up

The UK Government has wasted more than £26.3 billion of taxpayers’ cash on computer projects systems that were delayed, over budget, or canned.

According to the Independent, the top 10 notorious IT failures account for the  equivalent of over half of the budget for Britain’s schools. 

Parliament’s spending watchdog has slammed the projects as “fundamentally flawed” and pointed the finger at ministers for “stupendous incompetence” in managing them.

The top waste of cash was Labour’s £12.7 billion IT scheme to revolutionise the NHS. Only 160 health organisations out of about 9,000 are using electronic patient records delivered under the scheme.

Few of these are hospitals and most are small GP practices. Apparently the few get any benefit from the project have been lawyers who have been paid £39.2 million for “legal and commercial support” for the National Programme for IT.

Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, said in 2001 that everyone would have access to their health records online by 2005, but it is understood that the Department for Health is still “years away” from doing that despite all the wasted cash.

Alistair Darling: UK gov picThere have been all sorts of other daft projects. One project that was meant to save the Department for Transport (DfT) about £57 million eventually cost £81 million. Another project at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) was given a completed project that only used German.

In 2004, the Department for Justice gave the go-ahead for the National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis) which was supposed to make sharing information about crims easier. The plug was pulled on the project when it was estimated that it would cost more than £600 million. More than £155 million was wasted before the project was shut down.

Deep throats inside the government claim that ministers are too easily wooed by smooth talking suppliers with large drinks budgets. Apparently some ministers actually believe what sales people tell them.

More projects are now under renewed threat of being cut back or abandoned altogether as Alistair Darling, the Chancellor tries to tackle Britain’s record £175bn deficit.

Here is the Indi’s list of botched projects

  • £12.7 billion National Programme for IT (NHS)
  • £7.1 billion Defence Information Infrastructure (DII)
  • £5 billionNational Identity Scheme
  • £400 millionLibra system (for magistrates’ courts)
  • £350 million Single Payment Scheme system (SPS)
  • £300 million GCHQ “box move” of technology
  • £155 million National Offender Management Information System (C-Nomis)
  • £106 million Benefit Processing Replacement Programme
  • £88.5 million Prism IT project
  • £81 million Shared Services Centre
  • Total: £26.3 billion

Graphics guru turns to social not-working

Things must be looking a bit dire in the discrete graphics market, because even graphics guru Jon Peddie seems to be turning to social not-working to pay the rent.

Releasing a report entitled “The Social Web and its Implications,” Peddie peddles his ponderings on online media as an “attention economy,” whilst deploring the utter lack of web user attention.

Yes, yes, we know, Mr. Peddie, in your day, youth used to sit down and read whole books while working a vegetable stall and showing respect to their elders – nowadays they just poke each other, fertilize virtual fields and bump each other off on Mafia Wars. It has all gone so badly wrong.

Even disease isn’t what it used to be, complains Peddie, noting that “the word “viral” hardly existed in our vocabulary before social media… Now it’s in constant use without the slightest reference to illness.”

Even Google, Peddie laments, has come under threat from that young whipper snapper of an upstart, Facebook, with its 300M+ user base tantalizingly outside of the search engine’s clutches.

And for those who foolishly believe all this shallow status updating and narcissistic nonsense is just a phase, be warned, says Peddie, for “the Social Web is not just a fad; it is a fundamental shift in how humans communicate, interact, collaborate, create, inform themselves, prioritise, organise, buy, sell, and play.”

“It is your customers, your friends, your family, your employees, your constituents, your shareholders, and, like it or not, you.”

Indeed, Peddie even goes as far as predicting that “social media is to the Web what electric motors were to electricity, the quantum leap in utility that took a magical new technology and transformed society.”

Of course, if you’re interested to know more of Peddie’s predictions and insights on the subject, you’ll have to shell out the princely sum of $500.

Or just send Peddie the equivalent in virtual cows, sheep, and fertiliser on Farmville.

Google searches for fifth columnists

Google has activated its own version of MI6 in a desperate bid to track down internal spies who may have taken part in the mid-December cyber attack.

Counter-intelligence agents have been looking for Chinese spies after the attack, which targeted people who have access to specific parts of Google networks.

According to Reuters, Google fears that the attack might have been given a leg up by sleepers in Google China’s office waking up.

A spokesgoogle commented that she was not commenting on rumour and speculation. This is an ongoing investigation, and we simply cannot comment on the details, she commented.

Some Google China employees were denied access to internal networks after January 13, while some staff were put on leave and others transferred to different offices in Google’s Asia Pacific operations. Rumours that staff were being made to go for walks in the forests near Berlin with ‘minders’ have been neither confirmed or denied. Reuters reports that Google will not comment on its business operations.

Google, has denied also denied rumours that it has already decided to shut down its China offices, and it actually talking to the government to see if they are able to stay open.

Google is also still in the process of scanning its internal networks since the cyber attack in mid-December.

* Meanwhile, Google has postponed the introduction of two Android phones in China because of its beef with the hack.


US celebrates Martin Luther King day

Here in the US, it’s Martin Luther King Day. A day most lucky Yanks have off work so they can go to the mall, or a movie, or watch a re-run of Oprah. What can I say, it’s a meaningful day.

Meaningful especially this year, the year when Martin Luther King’s great dream finally seems to have come to fruition, with the US’ first African-American president – a Commander in Chief currently doing so badly in the opinion polls that only Dwight Eisenhower was ever hated more.

A dream, some would say, turned to nightmare.

A nightmare of a president who has fumbled healthcare reform to the dismay of both Democrats – for whom he hasn’t gone far enough – and Republicans – for whom he has already gone far too far. A president who has bailed-out corrupt banks and the failing automobile industry.

A president who won a Nobel peace prize despite his continuation of a war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And worst of all – and a cardinal sin to most Americans – a president who has raised taxes.

Barack Obama has seen his country’s unemployment rate skyrocket to almost 10 per cent since taking the oath of presidency, while house prices continue to sink into the ground.

This has, of course, been the perfect excuse for those with a racial axe to grind. At a recent demonstration, images of protestors carrying signs declaring “The zoo has an African lion and the White House has a lyin’ African” and “‘Cap’ Congress and ‘trade’ Obama back to Kenya,” set the tone.

“Lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification,” indeed.

According to the Times, in the week Obama was elected, gun sales across the US shot up by 50 per cent.

Hardly the “oasis of freedom and justice,” of which Martin Luther King dreamed. And the “vicious racists” are not confined to Alabama anymore either, but are beamed into every American home courtesy of Fox news.

As racism and bigotry continues to rear its ugly head, even amidst a stagnating swamp of political correctness and affirmative action, calls for the US president to ‘go back where he came from’ shouldn’t really shock or surprise anyone.

After all, long before the Nazis and Fascists of Europe thought up their ‘relocation’ plans for undesirables, Southern slave owners faced with abolition came up with their own solution to send freed slaves to the African nation of Liberia, rather than have to suffer their uppity free-ness at home.

This resulted in some 13,000 freed slaves being shipped over to Liberia, where they faced decimation at the hands of hostile local tribes and deadly diseases.

So much for the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners all sitting down together at the table of brotherhood.

So much, also for this nation rising up and living out the true meaning of its creed, for that old “truth” to become “self-evident”: that all men are created equal.

Or maybe MLK nailed that one right on the head, because even in a time when a still profoundly racist society can elect an African American president, it still can’t bring itself to elect a woman.

Dr. King was indeed a visionary, and a great man, who had a dream for America in which race didn’t matter.

Although Obama is the first black president, it seems more doubtful than ever that the racial divide has been healed, or ever will heal. Because, for a start, true equality will only really have arrived when someone is elected or unelected because of their policies and not skin colour.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” declared Martin Luther King that fateful day in Washington.

Character. Now there’s a thought. Does Obama have the character to fulfill the historic role of the most admirable François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture of Haiti? Can he cast off the shackles of inhuman dignity and poverty? Right the historic wrongs? No, he probably can’t and he probably won’t.

So perhaps MLK was right about that one, and maybe Obama has indeed done his bit for equality – showing the world and America that failure isn’t limited to just one colour.

US distributor sues Samsung, AU, Chi Mei, over LCD conspiracy

A New York based distributorship has filed a case in a Brooklyn district court alleging that a large number of Asian companies conspired to fix prices on LCD displays.

Electrograph Systems Inc named the defendants in the case as Epson, Hitachi, Sharp, Toshiba, Toshiba Matsushita, Sanyo, LG Display, Samsung, AU Optronics, Chi Mei Optoelectronics, CMO Japan, Nexgen Mediatech, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Tatung, Hannstar Display and Mitsui & Co.

The filing claims that “the defendants and their co-conspirators formed an international cartel which conducted a long running conspiracy extending at a minimum from at leasy January 1996 through at least December 11, 2006.”

It continues: “The purpose and effect of the conspiracy was to fix, raise, stabilise and maintain prices for Thin Film Transistor Liqid Crystal Display panels.

The effect of the alleged conspiracy ran into billions of dollars, according to Electrograph. The conspirators, the filing alleges, met or talked to agree on product prices and as new producers entered the market, the new producers also agreed to fix prices and to control supply.

“Defendants’ conspiracy included agreements on the prices at which defendants would sell TFT-LCD products to their own corporate subsidiaries and affiliates, as well as their co-conspirators.”

The filing pointed out that five of the defendants – LG, Sharp, Chunghwa, Hitachi and Epson have pleaded guilty to a fixed price conspiracy.

Electrograph said it bought TFT LCD products and so suffered damages and is bringing the action to recover overcharges it believes it paid during the relevant period. Electrograph Systems is a value added wholesale distributor of display technology.

Psystar appeals against Apple ruling

Psytar has filed a case in a Northern California district court appealing against a previous court’s verdict that it breached Apple’s copyright.

Last December the 16th, a judge slapped a permanent injunction on Psystar to permanently halt sales of unathorised Mac clones and from copying, selling, distributing or creating derivative works of Mac OS X without Apple’s authorisation.

But Psystar obviously isn’t taking this lying down. The judge in the case said that until Psystar appealed against his ruling, it risked further action for distributing the $50 Rebel EFI Hackingtosh patch.

Whatever happens, it’s not going to happen particularly fast.

• Three more class acts started against Apple and AT&T. The number is legion.

Yahoo branded reckless over China crisis stance

Siding with Google over the Chinese government’s censorship plans has left Yahoo’s number one business partner behind the bamboo curtain with a red face.

Last week Yahoo said it was “aligned” with Google’s position that the violation of internet privacy was deeply disturbing and something that had to be opposed.
But a spokesman for Yahoo’s business partner in China,  the Alibaba Group, said over the weekend that it did not think this was a good idea.

Beijing has tried to play down Google’s threat to pull out of China because of attacks by hackers and censorship.

Yahoo pulled out of China several years ago when it sold much of its business there to the Alibaba Group, in which owns 39 per cent. Alibaba runs Taobao, China’s largest online retailer, as well as the country’s largest e-commerce site,

John Spelich, Alibaba Group said Yahoo was reckless when it made such statements and “communicated to Yahoo that Yahoo’s statement that it is ‘aligned’ with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence”.

Yahoo has not said if it is considering flogging its Alibaba shares.

Apple turns legal screws on Nokia

The spat between Apple and Nokia over phone technology ratched up a knot on Friday when the Cupertino company filed a further complaint with US body the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The fed agency probes unfair trade practices and Nokia had already complained to the ITC in December, claiming Apple breached seven patents it owns, and wanting the body to ban imports of rather important products such as the MacBook, the iPhone, and the iPod.

Although Apple is an Apple pie American company, it uses various ODMs (original design manufacturers) in the Far East to make equipment for it.

Nokia and Apple are already in a bitter and twisted fight in US courts over patents. Nokia claims Apple has infringed a number of patents it owns and wants damages. Apple claims Nokia infringes its patents.

Yet, back at the Etre conference in early October, Oli-Pekka Kallasvuo shrugged off competition from Apple and the iPhone. According to TG Daily, Kallasvuo said that Nokia needed to compete with “new people” like Apple as well.

Nokia, according to the Bloomberg wire, will have a close look at the complaint and alleged Apple was riding on the Finnish firm’s coat tails.