The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Confirmed: Windows 9 to be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users

Yahoo - BGR.com, Chris Smith, September 28, 2014

Confirmed: Windows 9 to be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users

Multiple Windows 9 reports have suggested that Microsoft is considering releasing the upcoming platform as a free download to certain existing Windows users. Some said that Windows 8 will get Windows 9 free of charge, while others claimed the company is also considering some sort of special offers for existing Windows XP users. A report from Indonesian online publication Detik said earlier this week that President of Microsoft Indonesia Andreas Diantoro has confirmed this particular Windows 9 feature.


According to Diantoro, the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it’s released. Apparently, users will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from Microsoft, which is how Apple’s OS X updates have been rolled out to Macs for a few years now. For what it’s worth, some of the recent Windows 9 leaks did say that Microsoft already has a tool in place that will allow users to easily perform software updates.

It’s not clear whether other Windows users who are on older versions of the OS will get any other special offers, and actual prices for Windows 9 have yet to be revealed. Microsoft is reportedly interested in moving many people from the older, and no longer supported, Windows XP and offering Windows 9 as a free download might be a great incentive for some.

Microsoft is going to soon unveil Windows 9 and release a technical preview of it. Recent leaks, including many videos, have revealed some of the major features coming to Windows 9, including the return of the Start menu, the Cortana voice-based search assistant that’s currently available only on Windows Phone, the Notification Center, support for multiple desktops, and several other UI enhancements

Related Article:


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Whistleblower phone app seeks to outsmart corruption

Yahoo – AFP, Amy Fallon, 28 Sep 2014

Gerald Businge, the project co-ordinator of Action for Transparency (A4T),
 demonstrating how his anti-corruption app works, in Kampala, Uganda, September 19,
2014 (AFP Photo/Isaac Kasamani)

Kampala (AFP) - Douglas Buule, a teacher at Kiwenda primary, a government school outside Uganda's capital Kampala, has a recurring problem.

"The money used to access the chalk comes late, even towards the end of term," explains Buule. "It is a big burden to keep on writing on a chalk board. So sometimes the head teacher buys chalk on credit or even uses her own money."

Funds arriving late or going missing altogether also mean the school's 529 students usually only take exams twice a term instead of monthly, said the teacher.

Gerald Businge, the project co-ordinator of 
Action for Transparency, demonstrating how
 his anti-corruption app works, September 19, 
2014 (AFP Photo/Isaac Kasamani)
"There is lack of transparency in many government institutions on the funds that are supplied and used," said Buule, complaining of the country's endemic corruption. "That lack of transparency is affecting day-to-day learning."

But now, a new project is shifting the balance of power.

Through the Action for Transparency (A4T) Smartphone app, being piloted in three Ugandan districts, communities are being armed with information allowing them to report anonymously when budget allocations for health centres and schools fail to match public expenditure.

Using the GPS-enabled A4T app, a user can receive the location of a school or health centre, the number of staff allocated to them by both the government and the institution, and the amount of money approved and dispersed.

If they suspect money is being misused -- for example if the government provides funds for an ambulance which then is nowhere to be seen -- the user can simply click on the app's whistle icon to send an instant report to the A4T website and their Facebook page.

"If it is a police case we'll report it to the police," said Moses Karatunga, the programme officer for Transparency International (TI) Uganda. "If it's an advocacy issue we can take it up with the ministry."

Keeping tabs on the cash flow

In the past year, Uganda's corruption rating has deteriorated, according to TI. They are introducing the app along with the Fojo Media Institute, part of Linnaeus University in Sweden, the Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) and the African Center for Media Excellence (ACME).

Gerald Businge, the A4T project coordinator, said Ugandans feared blowing the whistle on corruption.

"They think they could get sacked, they could get victimised," he said. "There is also that worry 'I report and nothing is done.' So we're saying 'take this to the public court'."

President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni address
 the United Nations General Assembly on
 September 24, 2014 in New York. An app is
 helping to tackle corruption in Uganda (AFP
Photo/Andrew Burton)
But it's hoped that through A4T, which has been funded by SIDA, the Swedish International Development Agency, mismanagement of money can be prevented.

"When people know they're being monitored they're less likely to squander or misuse money," said Businge.

Community monitors such as Twahah Musoke visit schools and health facilities in their area a minimum of two times in a quarter. The institutions and facilities can also access the app from the TI representatives.

Already Musoke has been to five schools, including Kiwenda primary, and three health centres in the Busukuma area, home to about 16,000 people, in Wakiso district.

Challenges related to monitoring money include financial committees not knowing how much government money is being sent, and information and money staying with one person, for instance a school headmistress, instead of a team, he said.

"We need to empower people to realise it's their responsibility to access this information," said Musoke.

"If they go and seek the information the administrators of these facilities will be in a position to account for and utilise (the money) the way it's meant to be utilised."

Businge said phones were chosen for the project as "very many Ugandans have mobile phones and at least every family has a mobile phone".

"We're telling people that phones can do much more than what you're already doing," he said.

Inventor of World Wide Web warns of threat to internet

Yahoo – AFP, 28 Sep 2014

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the
 World Wide Web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France (AFP
Photo/Philippe Desmazes)

London (AFP) - The British inventor of the World Wide Web warned on Saturday that the freedom of the internet is under threat by governments and corporations interested in controlling the web.

Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist who invented the web 25 years ago, called for a bill of rights that would guarantee the independence of the internet and ensure users' privacy.

"If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life," Berners-Lee said at the London "Web We Want" festival on the future of the internet.

"If a Government can block you going to, for example, the opposition's political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power."

"Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies."

Berners-Lee, 59, is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a body which develops guidelines for the development of the internet.

He called for an internet version of the "Magna Carta", the 13th century English charter credited with guaranteeing basic rights and freedoms.

Concerns over privacy and freedom on the internet have increased in the wake of the revelation of mass government monitoring of online activity following leaks by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

A ruling by the European Union to allow individuals to ask search engines such as Google to remove links to information about them, called the "right to be forgotten", has also raised concerns over the potential for censorship.

"There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying...I want a web where I'm not spied on, where there's no censorship," Berners-Lee said.

The scientist added that in order to be a "neutral medium", the internet had to reflect all of humanity, including "some ghastly stuff".

"Now some things are of course just illegal, child pornography, fraud, telling someone how to rob a bank, that's illegal before the web and it's illegal after the web," Berners-Lee added.

Tech Sector Sizzles as Myanmar Embraces Internet for the Masses

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Sep 28, 2014


Big brand names like Facebook, Google, Viber and Instagram have rapidly
 expanded their presence in Myanmar, lured by the growing market.(Bloomberg Photo)

Yangon. From navigating gridlocked city roads to playing a favorite national sport, new homegrown apps are blossoming in Myanmar as cheap mobile technology ignites an Internet revolution in the once-isolated nation.

Myanmar web surfers were once paradigms of patience and ingenuity as they dodged and weaved through the former military regime’s communications blocks in decrepit backstreet Internet cafes.

But commuters in Myanmar’s biggest cities can now be seen tapping away on smartphones as an online awakening sweeps the country, fueled by the loosening of junta-era restrictions and foreign telecoms firms unleashing a flood of affordable SIM cards.

Big brand names like Facebook, Google, Viber and Instagram have rapidly expanded their presence in the country, lured by the growing market. Web-savvy local entrepreneurs are also seizing the chance to create Internet ventures in Myanmar style.

“There are so many things I want to do — I think about it not as business but as a way to find solutions to problems I face,” said Ei Maung as he demonstrated his prototype traffic app in a car inching through the congested streets of the commercial hub Yangon.

“Yangon commuting is worse than bad. It’s terrible. You waste countless hours queuing in traffic every day,” he told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

His Cyantra: Crazy Yangon Traffic app went live in June and allows smartphone users to share traffic problems and view potential snarl-ups on their driving routes.

Internet boom

Internet access has already increased exponentially since the country began to throw off the shackles of military rule.

Just one percent of the population was thought to be online three years ago, as the democratic transition began, but the loosening of web controls and greater access to affordable phone cards has opened the Internet up to millions.

On Saturday Norway’s Telenor launched SIM cards costing just 1,500 kyat ($1.5) in Mandalay — a far cry from the $3,000 a card could cost under military rule — ahead of a wider roll-out in Yangon and Naypyidaw.

The move comes after Qatari firm Ooredoo began selling its SIM cards at the same price last month, throwing open the mobile Internet floodgates.

An estimated 25 percent of people are already online and the Myanmar Computer Federation expects around half of the population, over 25 million people, to be surfing the net in the next three years.

David Madden, whose Yangon-based Code for Change group seeks to promote and support budding techies, said that unlike in the West where web design began with a focus on computers and laptops, Myanmar Internet consumers will be primarily using cheap smartphones.

“People are going to be able to afford one thing and they are going to want it to do a lot,” he said. “It’s the thing you want in your pocket, it’s the thing you want when you are sitting in a bus stuck in traffic.”

Local twists

Social media giant Facebook has dominated the Myanmar web to such an extent that it is the first — sometimes only — port of call for web users.

But Google’s Myanmar-language search engine has struggled to attract users because it uses a standardized font — unicode — whereas many Myanmar websites are written in a locally-produced zawgyi font, meaning they are unreadable on the international search engine.

A local firm Bindez, led by former Google employee Rahul Batra, is taking on the web Goliath as it tries to create a zawgyi-compatible search engine.

The booming tech scene has also given the country a chance to showcase local passions, from checking personalized horoscopes, to a game that allows armchair sportsmen to play virtual “Chinlone” ± a beloved traditional cane ball game — with a quirky owl avatar.

And while connections often remain glacially slow, online entrepreneurs are now grappling with the dilemma that has tormented web-based firms the world over — how to turn clicks into cash.

Mobile money — using the credit bought to top-up mobile phones to make payments for other goods and services — helped by the flood of affordable SIMs now entering circulation, could help.

It is seen as a vital potential tool for the vast swathes of Myanmar’s largely unbanked and rural population to access anything from loans to retail payments.

One popular Myanmar comic, Putet, has already begun using this style of payment system — 495 kyats a month (50 US cents) is skimmed from users’ mobile phone charges, giving them unlimited access to hundreds of colorful cartoon strips.

“It is important to make money — we have to buy cartoons, pay our staff. Advertisements do not make enough money,” editor Aung Chit Khin told AFP.

Readership of Putet’s paper version had plummeted from 10,000 to just 4,000 in the eight years before the app was launched, as it vied for attention with foreign comics, television and games.

While the comic still is not turning a profit, there are now 8,000 app users, attracting more buyers of the paper edition, which has seen its circulation swell to 6,000.

“The app has saved it in a way,” he said.

Agence France-Presse

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Right Livelihood Award to Snowden

Moscow-exiled US whistleblower Edward Snowden and British Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger are to receive the Right Livelihood Award. They're among five persons awarded Sweden's "alternative Nobel prize."

Deutsche Welle, 24 Sep 2014


The Stockholm-based Right Livelihood Award Foundation on Wednesday praised Snowden, a former US intelligence agent, for "revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance."

Rusbridger was forced to destroy data
It said Rusbridger, the editor in chief of Britain's The Guardian newspaper, also won the award for "responsible journalism in the public interest.

"None of them could have done what they did without the other, " said foundation director Ole von Uexkull.

The announcement, originally set for Thursday, was brought forward, after a leak by Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Foundation denied access

Von Uexkull, the nephew of Jacob von Uexkull who founded the prize in 1980, said all winners had been invited to a December 1 award ceremony in Stockholm.

Discussions on "potential" travel arrangements for Snowden, who remains exiled in Russia, would be held with the Swedish government, von Uexkull said.

He added that the foundation had been denied access to the Swedish foreign ministry's media room, where award ceremonies have been held since 1995.

Three other winners

Snowden, who is wanted by the US for exposing mass data collection by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Rusbridger are honorary winners, meaning they will not receive the award's customary 500,000 kronor (54,500 euros).

The other three prize winners, named to receive the monetary award, are Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahanger, Sri Lankan rights activist Basil Fernando and US environmentalist Bill McKibbben.

Jahanger is a human rights lawyer who has defended women, children, religious minorities and the poor in Pakistan, the award citation said.

Fernando, originally from Sri Lanka, led the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission for nearly two decades and now serves as its director of policy and programs.

McKibben is founder of 350.org, a grass-roots environmental movement aimed at spurring action to fight climate change.

lpj/kms (dpa, AFP, AP)


Von Uexkull, the nephew of Jacob von Uexkull who founded the prize in 1980, said all winners had been invited to a December 1 award ceremony in Stockholm.

Discussions on "potential" travel arrangements for Snowden, who remains exiled in Russia, would be held with the Swedish government, von Uexkull said.

He added that the foundation had been denied access to the Swedish foreign ministry's media room, where award ceremonies have been held since 1995.

Three other winners

Snowden, who is wanted by the US for exposing mass data collection by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and Rusbridger are honorary winners, meaning they will not receive the award's customary 500,000 kronor (54,500 euros).

The other three prize winners, named to receive the monetary award, are Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahanger, Sri Lankan rights activist Basil Fernando and US environmentalist Bill McKibbben.

Jahanger is a human rights lawyer who has defended women, children, religious minorities and the poor in Pakistan, the award citation said.

Fernando, originally from Sri Lanka, led the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission for nearly two decades and now serves as its director of policy and programs.

McKibben is founder of 350.org, a grass-roots environmental movement aimed at spurring action to fight climate change.

lpj/kms (dpa, AFP, AP)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Google invests €600m in massive Groningen data centre

DutchNews.nl, Tuesday 23 September 2014

Minister Kamp (2nd from right) (NOS/ANP)
Search engine giant Google is to invest €600m in a huge data centre in the Eemshaven in Groningen province.

The investment will bring hundreds of new jobs to the province and put the Netherlands on the world map as a technological country, economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said.

Google has had a smaller server farm in Eemshaven for several years.

The new centre will host tens of thousands of servers and be as big as 40 football fields, according to Dutch media reports.

Eemshaven is close to a major internet junction, where 11 of the 15 internet cables linking the US and Europe come ashore. The location is also a few metres above sea level.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

E-commerce to reinvent Asian cross-border trade

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-09-21

Two students discuss the design of their online store on Taobao. (File photo/Xinhua)

Every day, peddlers throng in a bustling wet market on a remote section of the China-Vietnam border. Their daily lives may soon be changed by a new age of cross-border trade centered on e-commerce.

Before the four-day China-ASEAN Expo closed in south China's Nanning on Friday, a slew of deals on e-commerce were inked between companies from China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

They include agreements over online sales programs for agricultural products from Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. These schemes will provide more convenient cross-border transaction for both local sellers and Chinese consumers.

IRRESISTIBLE TREND

China and its neighbors to the southwest have a long history of cross-border trade. In ancient times, border residents bartered goods without using a medium of exchange like money.

When money was invented, cross-border trade became more frequent. But the biggest challenge offline transactions encounter lies in trade settlement.

At the Puzhai Border Zone in Guangxi's Pingxiang, three Vietnamese women place a table besides an ATM to provide currency exchange services for merchants and tourists.

In several minutes, they close a deal with two tourists from northeast China, who exchange 3,000 yuan (US$488) for 9.9 million Vietnamese dong (VND).

"Over 100 Vietnamese fruit vendors do business in the zone, and nearly all of them have directly exchanged currencies via this private currency trading emerging since the early 1990s," said Vietnamese fruit peddler Do Thi Ngan.

She said that doing business with Chinese is a good choice, but trading the Chinese currency Renminbi, or yuan, for the VND is not easy. Since exchanges have until recently had to be conducted via the US dollar in local banks, the procedure was very complicated and extra fees were involved.

Good news is an Agricultural Bank of China branch in Dongxing established a currency trading center in April, which allows direct convertibility of the yuan and the VND.

But the border merchants may need more than that. They need a safer and more convenient way to do business. E-commerce may lead them to the dream.

China has been accelerating e-commerce cooperation with the ASEAN by encouraging cross-border transaction settlement in yuan and establishing online payment platforms.

Yao Songtao, deputy head of the financial office in the Guangxi government, said local authorities plan to start approving renminbi settlement accounts set by foreign institutions in the region.

Gao Hongbing, senior vice president of Alibaba Group, the largest e-commerce player in China, said the company has already prepared payment platforms for cross-border transactions.

The United Overseas Bank (China) has also developed a suite of cross-border renminbi solutions, said Eric Lian Voon Fui, the bank's president.

The combination of renminbi cross-border settlement and e-commerce will shorten the distance between China and other countries, prompting fast transactions and saving costs, Yao said.

E-COMMERCE IN THE AIR

E-commerce has gained great popularity in China among enterprises and individuals. Young Chinese are increasingly inclined to shop by clicking their computer mice rather than by selecting in shops.

The combined transaction volume of e-commerce in the Chinese mainland jumped 29.8% from a year ago to 5.9 trillion yuan in the first half of 2014, data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed.

Hutama Sugadhi, president of Indonesia-based Pt Aneka Coffee Industry, came to the China-ASEAN Expo to seek an e-commerce partner to explore the Chinese market. "The market will be broader and e-commerce will inject new vitality," he said.

Like Sugadhi, Chinese e-commerce enterprises are likewise eager to take a share of the emerging ASEAN market after great success domestically. The ASEAN shows huge potential, with around 200 million Internet users in the region, a third of its total population.

Alibaba has turned its attention to ASEAN e-commerce by investing US$249 million in the Singapore Post in May to jointly establish a platform for international e-commerce logistics.

Lee Chee Leong, Malaysia deputy minister of international trade and industry, said there is a clear emerging trend for China-ASEAN trade evolving into electronic cooperation.

China is aiming to elevate bilateral trade with the ASEAN to US$500 billion by 2015.

Related Articles:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Newly listed Alibaba to apply to run internet bank

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-09-20

The front desk of Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, Sept. 15. (Photo/Xinhua)

Chinese internet company Alibaba, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday and saw its market value rise to US$231 billion on its first day of trading, will soon file an application to set up a micro-savings and micro-loans private bank, similar to its ongoing plan to set up a purely internet-based bank, the Beijing-based Economic Information Daily reports, citing an executive from the company.

China's top banking regulator, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) announced on July 25 that it had approved the establishment of three private banks, though Alibaba's name did not figure among the approvals this time around.

During a company meeting in late August, Yu Shengfa, vice president of Alibaba's Microfinance Service Group, said this is because Alibaba has been proceeding with its bank building plan at its own pace and because the bank will offer some special services compared with the three other banks, requiring the company to devote more effort to improving and optimizing the plan.

Yu also said Alibaba has completed its plan for setting up the private bank and will soon submit its application to the CBRC, which is expected to make a final decision as to whether the application gains approval in late September.

Internet banking provides a comprehensive range of online transactions conducted entirely in online mode and without the need to establish offline physical banks.

China currently has no such banks and has no regulations governing this sector. The existing banking regulations require that banks should set up physical outlets, where customers can go to resolve any banking related issues.

Industry insiders are of the view that if Alibaba's internet bank is approved, relevant regulations will have to be amended and the regulator will need to consider how internet banks and traditional banks can be linked.

Related Article:


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Apple a decade behind Japan mobile payment curve

Yahoo – AFP, Karyn Poupee, 14 Sep 2014

Sony's prototype model of a smart card with a NFC chip (R) which has a LCD display
 enabling users to check the account balance, electronic coupon and other electronic
 information and a wrist watch shaped device, seen in Tokyo, on July 17, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Tokyo (AFP) - Apple's proud announcement that its new iPhone could be used to buy goods in a single swipe left customers non-plussed in Japan, where mobile contactless payments have been normal fare for a decade.

A type of Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, known in Japan as FeliCa, was introduced to the Japanese mobile market in June 2004 and has been been implanted in almost all phones sold in the country since.

The iPhone has been one of the few chip-less exceptions -- something that will change when the new models hit Japanese shelves on September 19.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new
 iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch at the Flint 
Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino,
 California, on September 9, 2014 (AFP
Photo/Justin Sullivan)
Ten years ago the charismatic Takeshi Natsuno, who was then multimedia services director of Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo, extolled the benefits of swapping cash for cell phones.

"When I leave my house in the morning all I take with me is my phone, which lets me do everything -- pay, take public transport -- simply by swiping a special reader in shops, stations or airports," he said at the time.

FeliCa was conceived by Sony way back in 1989 and first used in the Hong Kong underground railway system in 1997 -- in a card known as Octopus -- inspiring cities around the world to use similar technology in their own contactless transport cards.

Japan adopted an electronic payment system for trains in 2001, starting with the JR East network, which serves the Tokyo region.

The transport cards' success led to the integration of contactless chips into Japanese mobile phones and lifestyles with the creation of a group of apps known as the "mobile wallet" by NTT Docomo in 2004.

Thousands of readers are now installed in convenience stores, on vending machines, in office buildings and at stations and airports in Japan.

Contactless payments are a normal part of everyday life for many Japanese people, said Michael Au, president of the South Asia and Japan branch of digital security firm Gemalto.

"Japan has the most developed contactless infrastructure in the world and customers are already familiar with using their mobiles for contactless services," he said.

Sony, which said it has delivered more than 530 million FeliCa chips for cards and 245 million for mobile phones, is now responsible for making around a hundred various services based on the technology compatible with each other.

'Galapagos syndrome'

NFC was approved as a standard in 2003, as the fruit of cooperation between Sony and Dutch company Philips Semiconductors (now known as NXP Semiconductors).

"NFC has not reached the level of popularity or integration into current systems that FeliCa has in Japan. FeliCa paints a picture of NFC's goal and how to get there," says a site providing information about NFC.

The huge success at home that has not translated into sales abroad is a common theme in Japan, where companies have tended to focus on the large home market and its particularly fussy consumers.

This has led to a phenomenon dubbed the "Galapagos Syndrome". Like the distinct evolution Charles Darwin catalogued on the remote Galapagos Islands, technology in Japan has a tendency to develop without reference to other parts of the planet and is then incompatible with foreign market standards.

The most well-known example of this is the mobile phone, where Japan was initially streets ahead and had polyphonal, full-colour flip-top mobile phones in the late 1990s.

These units were Internet-capable as far back as 1999.

But the technology ossified and Japan was a relative late-comer to the smartphone market.

This "Galapagos-ization" has also been remarked in the video game, car and audio markets, with products such as the MiniDisc, compact cars and manga-inspired games all failing to make the same headway overseas as in Japan.

Natsuno, who is now a professor at Keio University in Tokyo, says Japan should have looked into overseas expansion of its cutting edge contactless payments system much sooner.

The fact that "we didn't extend this concept to the rest of the world" means that now Japan "can't do anything" about Apple's bragging over their innovative iPhone 6 with an NFC chip, he said.

China's internet regulator warns foreign firms

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-09-14

Chairman and CEO of Qualcomm, Paul Jacobs, speaks at a conference in
Las Vegas. (File photo/Xinhua)

A senior official with China's internet regulator Wednesday warned that foreign firms should not harm the country's interests and security while making big money from this market.

The bottom line of the Chinese government concerning the management of internet is national interest and the interests of Chinese consumers, said Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office, at 2014 Summer Davos in the north Chinese city of Tianjin.

"We welcome all foreign companies to do business in China if they stick to this bottom line," Lu said at a sub-forum about the future of internet business.

"What we can not allow is that you undermine the country's interests while doing business in this market and profiting from it."

When responding to a question about China's ongoing anti-trust probes, Lu said the probes do not target any specific company and China is always open to foreign firms.

"But we also would like all foreign companies to understand that they should abide by Chinese laws," he said.

Lu stressed that the fast development of internet businesses in China proved that the country's industrial policy is open, and domestic IT firms are also open to cooperation with foreign counterparts.

The creativity of Chinese IT firms and high-quality regulation of the Internet also contributed to the development, he added.

China is conducting anti-monopoly investigations against Microsoft, Jaguar Land Rover, and Qualcomm. Paul E. Jacobs, executive chairman of Qualcomm, attended the forum with Lu.

The National Development and Reform Commission confirmed in February that it is conducting an antitrust investigation into the US mobile chip maker.

Jacobs refused to comment about the anti-trust probe but stressed that the company's cooperation with Chinese firms is important, mutually beneficial and has great potential.

Friday, September 12, 2014

US judge fines HP $59 mn for bribing Russian officials

Yahoo – AFP, 12 Sep 2014

According to a negotiated plea bargain, executives in an HP Russia subsidiary
 created a multi-million-dollar slush fund, from which money was used to bribe Russian
officials who awarded the company a $45 million contract (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

San Francisco (AFP) - A judge on Thursday ordered US computer giant Hewlett-Packard to pay $58.8 million for bribing Moscow government officials to win a big-money contract with Russia's prosecutor general's office.

Northern California US District Judge Lowell Jensen hit HP with the fine after the company pleaded guilty to violating anti-bribery and accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the US Department of Justice said in a release.

According to a negotiated plea bargain, executives in an HP Russia subsidiary created a multi-million-dollar slush fund, from which money was used to bribe Russian officials who awarded the company a $45 million (35 million euro) contract with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russia.

A judge orders US computer giant Hewlett-
Packard to pay $58.8 million for bribing
Russian government officials to win a big-
money contract with the prosecutor
general's office in that nation (AFP Photo/
Hector Mata)
"Hewlett Packard's Russia subsidiary used millions of dollars in bribes from a secret slush fund to secure a lucrative government contract," principal deputy assistant attorney general Marshall Miller of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a release.

"Even more troubling was that the government contract up for sale was with Russia's top prosecutor's office," he said.

Bribes in Russia, Poland, Mexico

The plea deal came as part of an agreement by HP in April to pay a total of $108 million to settle investigations that it paid bribes to win public contracts in Russia, Poland and Mexico.

The settlement covers criminal and civil investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a statement from the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to authorities, the California company's subsidiary in Russia paid more than $2 million in bribes through agents and various shell companies, using two sets of books and secret spreadsheets to keep track of affairs.

"For more than a decade HP Russia business executives participated in an elaborate scheme that involved paying bribes to government officials in exchange for large contracts," FBI Washington field office assistant director-in-charge Andrew McCabe said in a release.

In Poland, gifts and cash bribes worth more than $600,000 were paid to a Polish government official to obtain contracts with the national police agency.

And in Mexico, HP paid more than $1 million in commissions to a consultant to win a software sale to Mexico's state-owned petroleum company Pemex, and some of that money was funneled to a company official.

SEC investigators in April said HP lacked internal controls and allowed the bribes to be recorded "as legitimate commissions and expenses."

According to US officials, the bribes in Mexico were paid from 2008 to 2009, in Poland from 2006 to 2010 and in Russia from 2000 to 2007.

HP acknowledged the settlement in a separate statement in April and noted that it calls for "certain compliance, reporting and cooperation obligations."

"The misconduct described in the settlement was limited to a small number of people who are no longer employed by the company," said John Schultz, executive vice president and general counsel for the company.

US threatened Yahoo with huge fine over surveillance

Yahoo – AFP, 11 Sep 2014

Civil liberties activists hold a rally against surveillance of US citizens at the
Justice Department in Washington on January 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Washington (AFP) - US authorities threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to comply with a secret surveillance program requiring it to hand over user data in the name of national security, court documents showed Thursday.

The documents, made public in a rare unsealing by a secretive court panel, "underscore how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the US government's surveillance efforts," Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said in a blog post.

The documents shed new light on the PRISM program revealed in leaked files from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The program allowed US intelligence services to sweep up massive amounts of data from major Internet firms including Yahoo and Google.

Bell said 1,500 pages of documents were ordered released by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the case dating from 2007. He said that in 2007, the government "amended a key law to demand user information from online services."

"We refused to comply with what we viewed as unconstitutional and overbroad surveillance and challenged the US government's authority," he said.

Yahoo's court challenge failed and it was forced to hand over the data. The court records were kept sealed.

"At one point, the US government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply," Bell said.

Since the Snowden leaks, Yahoo and others have been seeking to make public these court documents to show they were forced to comply with government requests and made numerous attempts to fight these efforts.

The opening of these court dockers to the public "is extremely rare," Bell said, adding that the company was in the process of making the 1,500 pages publicly available online.

"We consider this an important win for transparency, and hope that these records help promote informed discussion about the relationship between privacy, due process, and intelligence gathering," Bell added.

But he said that "despite the declassification and release, portions of the documents remain sealed and classified to this day, unknown even to our team."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Schiphol airport tests cameras which can pick out unusual behaviour

DutchNews.nl, Thursday 11 September 2014

An emergency room of the military
police at Schiphol (NOS/ANP)
The police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport are to test out intelligent cameras which can pick up on unusual behaviour in travellers, the NRC reports on Thursday.

The cameras can not only identity obvious gestures such as wild arm movements or people who run through a departure lounge but more subtle behaviours such as ‘spending too long in the toilet, a group of people which divides up or someone who leaves a suitcase unattended,’ the NRC said.

This, the police hope, will allow them to trace criminals and prevent attacks.

The cameras are being installed by The Hague company Qubit Visual Intelligence using research carried out by the Dutch TNO institute.

US defence department

The NRC says TNO has been researching intelligent cameras for years on behalf of the US defence department. Neither company would comment on the reports.

Publically available information gives some insight into how the cameras work. ‘We know that pickpockets often hover at the back of the same queue at a ticket machine several times without ever buying a ticket,’ TNO has said in a paper.

TNO is also researching techniques to identify if people are nervous using heat sensitive cameras and radar – such as a raised heartbeat or cold nose. It is not clear if this technology will be used at Schiphol, a spokesman said.

The justice ministry would only state: ‘we are continually involved in improving monitoring and security together with Schiphol. We are trying to do this more intelligently so that staff can do their jobs better’.

A similar project is to start at another location in the Netherlands soon but the location is being kept secret, the NRC said.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What makes Internet giant Alibaba so successful?

As Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba prepares for what is likely to be the biggest IPO of a technology firm in the US on record, analyst Yan Anthea Zhang speaks to DW about the secrets behind the company's success.

Deutsche Welle, 9 Sep 2014


Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is planning a record initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. The company, a rival of Amazon.com and eBay, plans to offer more than 320 million shares sometime this month at a price between 60 and 66 USD. This would give the company - which could raise as much as 21 billion USD in its IPO - a total market value of 163 billion USD. In comparison, Facebook raised 16 billion USD in 2012, the most for a technology IPO so far.

Founded by former English schoolteacher Jack Ma, Alibaba accounts for about 80 percent of all online retail sales in China, where Internet usage is expanding. Yan Anthea Zhang, professor of strategic management at Rice University in the United States, says in a DW interview the secret to the company's success lies in a mixture of factors she sums up as AHIS - availability, habit, infrastructure and scale.

Zhang adds that once Alibaba is listed in New York Stock Exchange, transparency will be improved as the firm will need to disclose more information to the regulators and investors.

DW: What makes Alibaba so successful?

Yan Anthea Zhang: The company's successes can be summarized with the letters AHIS. "A" stands for "availability." With two flagship websites - Taobao for consumer-to-consumer and later Tmall (or "Tianmao" in Chinese) for business-to-consumer, Alibaba makes e-commerce very accessible to consumers in China.

Zhang: 'As Alibaba gets bigger, it becomes
 harder for other firms - online or offline - to
compete with it'
For instance, many private store owners at Taobao offer their merchandise part-time - or at least they started as part-time before their businesses took off. The reason for this is that sellers don't need to pay Taobao to set up an Internet store there. However, if store owners want to stand out among the millions of Taobao sellers, they have to pay the website for advertisements.

So given the low set-up cost, Taobao attracts many people willing to give it a try and sell a vast array of products there. The fact that there are millions of people selling a variety of products at Taobao increases the "availability" of merchandise and generates traffic to the website. This large traffic then allowed Alibaba to successfully launch Tmall for businesses to set up stores at the Alibaba website.

What do the other letters stand for?

"H" stands for "habit." The wide "availability" of products at Taobao and Tmall attracts buyers to these websites. To many consumers, when they want to buy something, they - especially the young generations - search on Taobao and Tmall, instead of going to bricks and mortar stores.

In this sense, Alibaba has not only the functions of Ebay or Amazon, but also takes the (product) search function of Google in China. This variety of functions builds consumers' "habits" of searching and shopping at Alibaba websites.

"I" stands for infrastructure. The huge amount of product transactions at Taobao and Tmall calls for the support of infrastructure. Two types of infrastructure are particularly important: online payment system and fast delivery system.

Alibaba Group owns China's largest online payment system - Alipay (or "Zhifubao" in Chinese). Indeed, Alipay has become one of the most important assets in the Alibaba Group, which is hard for other competitors to match or imitate. Alibaba also works closely with the major fast delivery companies throughout China to make sure that logistics will be carried out smoothly, particularly during holidays.

"A", "H" and "I" together contribute to "S", which stands for "scale". A large scale in transactions at Taobao and Tmall further attracts more sellers and buyers to these websites, leading to a positive reinforcing effect on "A," "H" and "I." As a result, the industry becomes a situation where the "winner" takes all. As Alibaba gets bigger, it becomes harder for other firms - online or offline - to compete with it.

Once Alibaba is publically listed, transparency will improve as the firm will
need to disclose more information, says Zhang

How transparent is Alibaba in the way it conducts business as compared to, say, Amazon, eBay or PayPal?

Once Alibaba is listed in New York Stock Exchange, transparency will be improved as the firm will need to disclose more information to the regulators and investors. Nevertheless, Alibaba's business is more complex than Amazon or Ebay, partially due to its recent acquisitions. It would be hard for analysts and investors to understand its businesses and find an appropriate comparison group.

What is your long-term outlook for the company?

Jack Ma is the visionary leader, the image,
and the ambassador for Alibaba, says Zhang
With such a high valuation, investors would expect Alibaba to continue to grow. However, e-commerce in China and the US is hyper competitive. The company would need to find new paths for growth. Some of the recent acquisitions can allow Alibaba to experiment in new businesses and new geographic markets.

As for company founder Jack Ma, I believe he will continue to play an important role. Although Alibaba has successfully groomed a team of leaders, nobody at this stage seems to be able to replace him. Jack Ma is the visionary leader, the image, and the ambassador for Alibaba.

Yan Anthea Zhang is a professor of strategic management at the US-based Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University. Dr. Zhang's areas of specialization include CEO succession and dismissal, and foreign direct investment and technology entrepreneurship in emerging