Computer Insider for March 20, 2014: Online Shopping vs Bedroom FUn

A survey suggests that many of us are beginning to use online shopping as an expression of not being, you know, side stepping our matrimonial responsibilities in the bedroom, and the surprise here… men use the excuse more than women.

Despite the best efforts of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who insisted that the government had not place in the bedroom, it seems that your smartphone may.

New research suggests that the latest “Not tonight honey, I have a headache”, is to say they’re busy online shopping.

The new study sponsored by EBates looked at 1,000 adults with some fascinating conclusions.

Some 10 percent of women say they use their mobile devices — and the excuse of shopping on them — to deter their lovers from getting amorous.

But here’s the nugget that might astound even more: 13 percent of men admitted to doing the same thing.

Personally, I’m not sure how I would feel telling a partner that I wasn’t feeling “frisky” because I was trying to decide which pair of wireless headphone to buy.

The original purpose of this survey was merely to examine mobile shopping habits. It seems that 45 percent of Americans use their mobile devices to shop — and 10 percent claim they do it daily.

49 percent of the respondents confessed that shopping on their mobile device cures boredom while they’re waiting in line. And 24 percent somehow couple mobile shopping with watching reality TV.

The conclusions? Clearly the difference between sex and online shopping is that it’s much harder to haggle while online shopping.


BusinessWise March 20, 2014

Asian stocks fell this morning after comments from the new head of the Federal Reserve suggested U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets were anticipating.

Janet Yellen’s comments after the Fed’s first policy meeting since she replaced Ben Bernanke sent Wall Street lower and the American dollar higher on Wednesday.

The Nikkei 225, the benchmark for the Tokyo stock market, fell 1.7 percent to 14,224.23 and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.9 percent to 1,919.52.

Local analysts speculated that higher U.S. interest rates were expected to come eventually, but there was “a surprise element” when Yellen implied that the Fed’s time frame for raising interest rates was closer to the first half of 2015, sooner than many had expected. The Fed also voted to cut its monthly bond purchases from $65 billion to $55 billion as part of its ongoing winding down of the extraordinary monetary stimulus.

The US dollar had its biggest one-day gain yesterday since August because of the higher interest rate talk.

The next market-moving factor players are watching in Japan is a consumption tax hike effective April 1. Opinion is divided on whether some stocks will drop as a result of the tax, while others may rise. Many believe the effects will be small.

The TSX closed down almost 35 points at 14,334; The Dow Jones industrial average lost 114.02 points, to close at 16,222. The Dow fell as much as 209 points before erasing some of its loss. The Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 11 points, to 1,860 and the Nasdaq composite lost 25.71 points, to 4,307.60.

Benchmark crude for April delivery was up 13 cents at $100.50 a barrel at in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 67 cents to $100.37 on Wednesday. Most trading has shifted to the May contract as the April contract expired today. Oil for May delivery was up 20 cents to $99.37 a barrel.

The euro rose to $1.3841 from $1.3825 late Wednesday. The dollar fell to 102.30 yen from 102.46 yen.

Computer Insider March 19: New USB Wireless Technology

Just when you thought that technology was stabilizing of the desktop front, along comes an idea whose time may be just right. There are two factors pushing this concept, the first being the wide use of smartphones, and the second is the increasing use of computers as the primary device in your home theater, rapidly displacing cable TV boxes and DVD players.

The new technology is in fact a shift in the USB sector, as the standards body behind that sector is launching media Agnostic USB (MA-USB). It uses the USB protocol, which governs how devices connect and transfer data, but runs it atop a range of wireless communication technologies and radio frequencies.

This is an upgraded approach from a 2007 wireless version that used ultra wideband only — and that technology never caught on widely. In contrast, this broader wireless approach should help the new version.


It’s designed to connect things like external hard drives, phones, tablets, cameras, and PCs. As long as a device supports Wi-Fi, MA-USB should work as long as the operating system is updated with a driver. That means that although your phone doesn’t support it today, it could in the future with a software update, since no new hardware is required.

Don’t expect to throw away all your Universal Serial Bus cables, though. The standards group is working on a USB power delivery technology that could let people charge their phones and tablets faster and possibly even get rid of laptop power cables, too.

And the USB-IF is working to sweep away USB cable confusion with a single cable that will work for mobile and larger devices. You’ll be able to plug it into the jack either side up, unlike current USB cables, and will be reversible end-to-end, too, so you don’t need to worry about matching ports at both sides.


BusinessWise March 19: Price of Oil Down Slightly

The price of oil was down slightly Wednesday as energy markets waited for the latest figures on U.S. crude and fuel stockpiles.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 20 cents at $99.50 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.62 to $99.70 on Tuesday after strong U.S. factory data and an apparent easing in tensions over Ukraine.

Thursday is the last day of trading for the April contract.

Investors are awaiting fresh information on U.S. stockpiles of crude and refined products, which give a weekly indication about the strength of demand in the world’s biggest economy.

Statistics for the week ended March 14 are expected to show a rise of 2.6 million barrels in crude oil stocks and a decline of 1.6 million barrels in gasoline stocks, according to a survey of analysts by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, fell 2 cents to $106.77 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.89 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 0.4 cent to $2.901 a gallon.

— Natural gas shed 0.7 cent to $4.449 per 1,000 cubic feet.



Business Report for March 18, 2014

The price of oil edged up today as strong U.S. factory output boosted the outlook for the world’s biggest economy.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 15 cents to $98.23 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 81 cents to $98.08 on Monday. Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, gained 46 cents to $106.70 on the ICE exchange in London.

Data from the US Federal Reserve showed that U.S. factory output in February rose at its fastest clip in six months after disruptions from severe winter weather.

Oil prices were also impacted by the narrow scope of U.S and European Union sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Crimea.

The initial penalties, freezing the assets of Russian and Ukrainian officials linked to the unrest in Crimea or who support the region’s vote to secede from Ukraine, were accompanied by the warnings from President Barack Obama that more will follow if Russia does not stop interfering in Ukraine.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline inched up 0.8 cent to $2.881 a gallon.

— Heating oil gained 1.2 cents to $2.891 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 3.1 cents to $4.505 per 1,000 cubic feet.



Computer Insider March 18, 2014: Hackers Capitalize on Missing Boeing 777

The ongoing saga of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370 is proving to be quite the boom to the hacker community as those who strive to pollute the computers of the innocent have started building malware into various messages that claim to be offering videos, information and other tidbits of information on  the still missing Boeing 777 and its hundreds of passengers.

The big message here is don’t click on any link that says it has shocking video of plane.

Videos with titles like “Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH370 found in Sea — 50 people alive saved” have spread through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Malware intelligence reports that that links being spread through Twitter originally appeared on Facebook.

The blog warned of a fake news link claiming that the Malaysian plane has been found in the Bermuda Triangle. The photos used to promote the video are from an April 2013 Lion Air plane crash near Bali.

Facebook users lured by shocking videos typically find that they must complete a survey before continuing. Christensen says the links are designed to look like a Facebook survey, requesting permission to gain access to your profile.

Giving permission to your profile could give hackers personal information, like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Scam artists seek a payday from affiliate marketing schemes that pay money when a user participates in a survey.


Computer Insider March 17, 2014: Want to buy a Boeing 777?

One thing you can always count on in this technology based era, is that some nut ball is going to step forward and try and turn a buck out of anything, and so it is today as someone has taken the bold step of posting an ad on Craigslist for an airplane, and not just any airplane, but the still missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a Boeing 777 airliner which has been missing for some time now.

The ad, which was posted on the Vietnam Craigslist for $15 million, says that the plane is for sale “as is, where is”, apparently is low on fuel, but does include all the snacks and nibbles still on board. There are a few anomalies with the ad: First of all, it posts a second price in the local currency of 1.5 million Dong, which converts to about $70, so either there’s not much call for a personal 777 in rural Vietnam, or the poster didn’t do too well at math.

The really sad part about this that there is probably somebody somewhere who is seriously considering buying the plane, although there is no contact information listed, so actually making a deal could prove to be somewhat awkward.

Anyway, got to run now, I just have to reply to a message I received from an ex Crimean official who wants me to hole 2-hundred million dollars for him as soon as I pay the wire setup costs to $30,000.



Business Report March 17, 2014

Oil prices were slightly lower Monday after Crimea’s vote to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was down 9 cents to $98.80 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 69 cents to close at $98.89 on Friday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 21 cents to $108 on the ICE exchange in London.

Residents in Crimea voted Sunday overwhelmingly in favor of the split in a referendum that the United States, European Union and others say violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law.

The U.S. and its allies in Europe are expected to announce sanctions against Russia, including visa bans and potential asset freezes, on Monday. Russia is a major oil and gas producer.

The tensions that are helping boost prices are being countered in recent weeks by worries about slowing demand from China, one of the world’s top energy consumers.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.5 cent to $2.945 a gallon.

— Heating oil dropped 1.1 cent to $2.918 a gallon.

— Natural gas added 8.6 cents to $4.515 per 1,000 cubic feet.


Computer Insider March 14/14: New App Targets Israeli Business

It this day and age of an app for everything, you have to really wonder where some people are coming from.

A fringe group, known as the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as BDS, is coming out with a “boycott Israel” smartphone app.

This is the same group that went after actress Scarlett Johansson for being a spokesperson for the Israeli company SodaStream, and is now expanding it’s horizons.

The BDS app is reportedly designed to let people carry out boycotts against Israel, and is just entering the beta testing phase.

It will ship with a barcode scanner, allowing users to scan products with their smartphones to see if the manufacturer has ties to Israel. The idea is to give potential boycotters all of the information they need on specific companies before buying a product. The data about the companies has been compiled by BDS, whose mission is to further Palestine rights.

The group recently made news when it pressured Johansson to step down from her post as Oxfam global ambassador after she became SodaStream’s official spokesperson. SodaStream was targeted by pro-Palestinian activists for opening a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank

While several prominent people and organizations — such as Stephen Hawking and the American Studies Association — have recently spoke in favor of Israel boycotts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the boycotts anti-Semitic.

I personally have an issue with any organization steps forward with anything that promotes hatred and un rest, but I have to admit that I find the app concept quite titillating because it offers ordinary people chance to voice their opinion on a variety of topics. Just think of how popular it would be if you could protest political issues like legalizing marijuana, the price of gas, where Mayor Rod Ford picks up his party supplies, and have the app co-ordinate the key players on the topic and send each of them a personal comment note.

Who knows, maybe if we had a tool like this in the 70’s, we could have convinced Trick Dick to get out of Nam that much sooner.

Business Report March 14: Oil prices edged slightly higher

Oil prices edged slightly higher this morning but remained under $100 a barrel as traders weighed whether an apparent pickup in the U.S. economy could spur enough demand to offset a slowdown in China and tension in the Ukraine.

Benchmark U.S. crude for April delivery was up 2 cents to $98.22 a barrel in overnight electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 21 cents to close at $98.20 on Thursday.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was up 5 cents to $106.97 on the ICE exchange in London.

Global markets from stocks to commodities have been roiled this week by signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and tensions in Ukraine.

China is one of the top consumers of energy, so an economic slowdown there could dial back demand for oil. At the same time, Russia is one of the top producers of oil worldwide, meaning that any Western sanctions against Moscow for its military incursion into the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula could affect global supplies.

Still, recent good news about the U.S. economy helped underpin prices on Friday. American retail sales bounced back in February after suffering a steep decline during a bitterly cold January. Shoppers spent more on autos, clothing and furniture. And the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in three months.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

— Wholesale gasoline shed 0.2 cent to $2.906 a gallon.

— Heating oil was up 0.7 cent to $2.911 a gallon.

— Natural gas lost 3.1 cents to $4.352 per 1,000 cubic feet