Microsoft, Google find fresh flaw in chips, but risk is low

(Reuters) – Cyber security researchers have found a new security flaw that affects a broad swath of modern computing chips and is related to the Spectre and Meltdown chip flaws that emerged in January.

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The newest chip problem, known as Speculative Store Bypass or “Variant 4” because it’s in the same family as the original group of flaws, was disclosed by security researchers at Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday. Though the flaw affects many chips from Intel Corp, Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Softbank Group’s ARM Holdings, researchers described the risks as low, partly because of web browser patches already issued earlier this year to address Spectre.

The Meltdown and Spectre flaws, which emerged in January, can allow passwords and other sensitive data on chips to be read. The flaws result from the way computers try to guess what users are likely to do next, a process called speculative execution.

When the flaws emerged in January, researchers warned that they were likely to find new variants of Spectre in the future. Earlier this month, German computer science magazine c’t reported that a “next generation” of flaws had been found in Intel’s chips and was likely to be disclosed this month. Intel declined to comment on whether Monday’s announcement was related to the German magazine’s story.

FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured atop an office building in Irvine, California, U.S., August 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

In its research findings, Microsoft said that patches issued for common web browsers earlier this year greatly increased the difficulty of carrying out an attack with the newly discovered flaw.

Chips from Intel, AMD and ARM all have patches available, either directly from the makers or through software suppliers such as Microsoft. Intel said it expects a performance slowdown of between 2 percent and 8 percent from the patches, and ARM said it expects a slowdown of between 1 percent and 2 percent.

However, Intel said that because of the low risk of a real-world attack, it would ship its patches turned off by default, giving users the choice whether to turn them on. AMD also advised leaving the patches turned off due to the difficulty of carrying out an attack.

The security problems do not appear to have impacted chipmakers’ stock prices. Intel shares are up nearly 16 percent to since the start of the year to $54.32, and AMD shares are up 18.3 percent to $12.99 since the start of the year.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Microsoft, Google find fresh flaw in chips, but risk is low

Bottom Fishing Again For A 9% Yield On Qualified Dividends

We’re returning to a very different theme for us – unlike most of our other articles, this is an article about a stock with no common dividends.

“Historically, we’ve chosen to use our cash to de-lever and to grow the business rather than pay dividends. One of the terms of our refinancing in the fall of last year is that we are unable to pay dividends on common stock until January 2021 unless we raise equity capital.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

But don’t despair; Global Ship Lease (GSL) has a preferred series with a very attractive 9.13% dividend.


Global Ship Lease is a containership lessor publicly traded since 15th August 2008 on the New York Stock Exchange. GSL is a Marshall Islands Corporation with administrative offices in London. It owns a fleet of high-quality, well-maintained containerships that are leased out under fixed-rate time charters.

GSL was created through a $1 billion spin-off from CMA CGM, the third-largest liner operator in the world, effected by a merger in August 2008 between the CMA CGM-owned entity and Marathon Acquisition Corp. (Marathon), a listed special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC). Marathon was established by Michael Gross, chairman and CEO of investment firms Solar Capital (SLRC) and Solar Senior Capital (SUNS) and a founder and former senior partner of Apollo Management L.P, a leading private equity firm. Mr. Gross is GSL’s chairman of the board. (Source: GLS site)

(Source: GSL site)

CMA is one of the world’s largest shipping lines, with well over 2.5M TEU.

(Source: GSL site)


It’s sounding sort of good so far, right? But take a look at GSL’s earnings trailing growth stats – not too inspiring. Q3 ’17 had some positive numbers, but that’s about it:

GSL’s revenue, operating and net income and EBITDA have trended down since Q3 ’17, but the big black eye is that -$99.82 in negative net income in Q4 ’17:

This stems from GSL’s yearly review of its vessels from which it has taken large, non-cash impairments over the past three years:

(Source: GSL 2018 20-F)

Preferred Dividends:

We took a look at how this affects GSL’s preferred dividend coverage over the past three years. We adjusted net income by adding back the non-cash impairments and deducting preferred distributions. The preferred coverage averaged 5.68X over the past three fiscal years.

We also looked at preferred coverage from a cash flow perspective, via deducting vessel improvement and drydocking costs. This method shows a very robust coverage factor of 18.89x for 2017 and a three-year average coverage factor of 20.94X:

In addition, net cash provided by operating activities was $20.4 million in Q1 ’18, vs. just $8.2 million in Q1 ’17.

GSL’s preferred B series shares, GSL.PB, are cumulative, meaning that GSL must pay you for any skipped dividends. They should go ex-dividend again ~6/22/18. They have no maturity date, but the call date is on 8/20/19, leaving time for five more quarterly payouts:

Another plus is that, at $23.95, they’re $1.05/share below their $25.00 call value. Even though these shares have no maturity date, the table below details a scenario in which GSL redeems these shares on their 8/20/19 call date. Since they’re selling at a discount, their annualized yield to call date yield of 12.54% is much higher than their current yield.

You can track GSL’s preferred shares in our High Dividend Stocks By Sector Tables, in the Services section.

(Source: Quantumonline)

Industry Tailwinds:

Management gave numerous comments on the Q1 ’18 earnings call about the uptick in vessel rates, caused by a very low excess supply. The orderbook-to-fleet ratio has fallen from 60% in 2007 to just 12.6% in 2017.

“In the midsize of smaller categories vessel demand growth outpacing supply growth aren’t the same and multiyear basis exemplified by a significant reduction in the idle fleet, which is now fallen to below 1.5% on a capacity basis. This supply demand tension is driving upward pressure on short-term market rates and on asset values. Net fleet growth in most mid-size and smaller fleet segments was either negative or neutral in 2017, continuing a trend established in 2016.”

The Q1 ’18 spot market index was up 41% vs. Q1 ’17, but still near cyclical lows:

(Source: GSL site)

Here’s why this matters. Much of GSL’s fleet is chartered on lower rate contracts which are due to expire in 2018-2020.

“All but one of the vessels, which we expect to renew in the short-term market over the next 18 months or so, already is in that markets at relatively low rates, reflecting the state of the market at the time. The current rate for such a vessel is in excess of $20,000 per day, up significantly over the last 15 months.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

(Source: GSL site)

Management signed a charter extension for the OOCL Qingdao in February at $14,000 per day, “up significantly from the $11,900 per day rate achieved by her sister ship just one month earlier, and well up on the approximately $8,000 per day market rate from a year ago. I’m pleased to say that this upward trend has continued and has in fact accelerated with the current prevailing rate for comparable vessel, an 8000 TEU ship in excess of $20,000 per day.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

As rates are rising, vessel expenses are remaining stable – GSL’s average operating cost per ownership day was just under $6,500 per day, which is broadly in line with the prior year period.


Vessel Impairments/Recontracting – We’ve shown how GSL’s non-cash impairment charges have hurt its net income in Q4 ’16 and in the past. If its market flips back to another downturn, it could hurt future recontracting rates and trigger more vessel impairments.


These valuations relate to GSL’s common units, which have risen ~20%, since we first wrote about them in January 2018. At $1.46, GSL has very low valuations for price/book, price/sales, and EV/EBITDA, but no common dividends.


Those negative numbers for ROA, ROE, and operating margin are caused by GSL’s big non-cash vessel impairments. GSL’s Debt/Equity ratio is roughly in line with industry averages, whereas its net debt/EBITDA of 2.91X looks generally lower than other leverage valuations we’ve seen in the shipping industry.

Debt and Liquidity:

As of 3/31/18, GSL had $91.3M in cash and total assets of $689.1M, of which $592M were vessels. Its debt was $414.8M, with $360M of senior secured notes, plus $54M under its super senior secured credit facility.

Here’s a breakdown of liabilities, as of 3/31/18 (left column), and 12/31/18 (right column):

(Source: GSL site)


GSL has options available, but there are no bids on the call options, and the lowest put strikes are deep in the money, at $2.50 and $5.00.

However, if you’re interested in selling covered calls, we maintain daily a table of over 30 other trades in our Covered Calls Table.

We also have a similar size table of Cash Secured Puts, which is updated throughout each trading day.


We rate the GSL.PB preferred shares a buy based upon their discount to call value, cumulative status, attractive yield, and very strong coverage.

All tables furnished by, unless otherwise noted.

Disclaimer: This article was written for informational purposes only, and is not intended as personal investment advice. Please practice due diligence before investing in any investment vehicle mentioned in this article.

We publish exclusive articles each week with investing ideas for the HDS+ site that you won’t see anywhere else.

Our strategy is working in 2018 – the HDS+ portfolio is outperforming the market handily, and has an average dividend yield of over 8%.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GSL.PB.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Bottom Fishing Again For A 9% Yield On Qualified Dividends

Using Tinder Doesn’t Lead to More Casual Sex, a New Study Says

A new study has found that Tinder and other picture-based dating apps don’t increase users’ success in pursuing casual romantic connections. That’s not because the app doesn’t work, but because people inclined to have casual sex do so at similar rates whether they’re using an app, or more old-fashioned methods.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and highlighted by, was based on a survey of over 600 young Norwegian students—so its findings can’t necessarily be globally generalized.

But they make intuitive sense. According to the researchers, rates of casual sexual activity are determined by an individual’s level of “sociosexual orientation,” or openness to sex outside of a serious relationship. That personality trait was far more determining of their level of sexual activity than whether or not they used dating apps. In other words, those looking for flings will find them online just as easily as at the grocery store or park.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Tinder got its reputation as a “hookup app” quickly after its 2012 release. That was largely thanks to its focus on user portraits in place of the detailed personal profiles used on sites like or OkCupid, and the decisive “swipe” mechanism that let users rapidly filter dozens or hundreds of prospective dates. One writer notoriously slammed the app as a sign of a “dating apocalypse” and the end of romance.

If Tinder really were about nothing but detached sex with almost-strangers, the new study would be a turnoff for the entire userbase—they might as well go outside. But it was already increasingly clear that no-strings sex isn’t what all—or even most—Tinder users are looking for.

For some—particularly women—Tinder has long been at least as much a source of entertainment as a serious way to look for romantic partners. The new study affirmed that women spent more time on dating apps, but were more discerning about swiping right. Women also used the app to boost their own self-esteem. Men were, not too surprisingly, more focused on pursuing (short-term) connections.

Which, if it doesn’t make easier, Tinder does at least make more convenient.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Using Tinder Doesn’t Lead to More Casual Sex, a New Study Says

Tesla: Tsunami Of Sales And Profits In Q3

Bullish expectations for Q3

This article explores the bullish projection that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is about to become profitable in Q3.

Among the expectations discussed below are that Tesla Model 3 sales in Q2 will be 20,000 cars fewer than production due to federal tax credit rules. This will appear to be poor sales, but in reality will be due to stockpiling cars for sale in Q3 due to the way the tax rules are written.

While this means Q2 revenue will be reduced, it also means Q3 revenue will be increased. As a result, Model 3 should become a top 20 selling vehicle in the US in Q3 with a potential of 80,000 units sold into the US.

This is an average per month sales of about 27,000 Model 3 cars, making it the 12th best selling vehicle in the US ahead of the Nissan Altima (see list below).

Tesla Q3 sales will match the total number of cars sold by Tesla in all of 2017.

Elon Musk has adopted “profits” as his current goal. This replaces his previous goal of fast expansion of the product lineup. The former goal required capital input to fund rapid expansion. The new goal will flip the losses upside down and generate profits now that the bottlenecks are being eliminated one after another.

Most authors write that Tesla is shutting the production line down to “fix problems”. I suggest that Tesla is shutting the production line down to install new machinery that will increase the production speed. Increased production speed means increased gross margin, and if the increase is large enough, net profits.

Showing profits will potentially increase stock price and eliminate the potential for bankruptcy. This in turn will eliminate the bear thesis that Tesla is about to go under and is therefore a good stock to short.

With the short thesis proven wrong, I expect the stock to increase to a new plateau above $400 per share. This was my expectation a year ago, but the bottlenecks delayed the realization until now.

However, sales will likely remain low for May and June. I don’t expect this share price increase to be realized until after a barrage of sales in July make what I’m suggesting here obvious.

Let’s now explore why I’ve come to the above conclusions.

Model 3 may enter top 20 selling US cars in Q3

This week, Tesla has reached 500 cars per day, or, 3,500 cars per week. Bloomberg just increased their production estimate to 3,523/wk.

According to Electrek, Tesla is well on its way to reaching 5,000 cars per week by the start of Q3 in July.

If Tesla reaches this target for next quarter, the Model 3 will enter the top 20 list of US vehicles sold. A rate of 5,000 cars per week means an annual rate of 250,000 cars and a monthly rate around 20,000 cars. I expect Tesla will sell 80,000 Model 3 cars in Q3 so look for 27,000 or so cars per month on the list below.

That rate is between the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Toyota Tacoma. If realized, the Model 3 will become a top 20 selling car in the US, next quarter.

This data was published by Focus2move here:

Today, the Model 3 is the best selling EV, but it isn’t on the top 100 list. Neither is any other EV. Every one of the top 100 selling cars in the US have an internal combustion engine. And while Tesla is now projected to be building more than 3,000 cars per week, which is to say over 12,000 cars per month (which would place the Model 3 around the #40 position of vehicles sold in the US), I expect this will not happen in May or June.

The reason? The federal tax credit.

It is beneficial for any company to cross the 200,000th car sold into the US threshold, early in a new quarter. Doing so wins that company an extra quarter of sales where customers receive the full tax credit.

Tesla would likely cross that mark this quarter if it sold all the cars it builds, as soon as they are built. To avoid this, Tesla is likely already stockpiling vehicles for a blow out delivery rush starting in July.

Several authors have noticed that the production figures are higher than reported sales figures. Tesla should have built over 6,500 cars in April, but sold fewer than 4,000. That’s a 2,500 or so discrepancy.

There are articles projecting that the discrepancy results from poor build quality and cars piling up for re-work and being stored in parking lots until Tesla can get around to fixing them.

I contend that thesis is wrong, and instead, Tesla is piling up a tsunami of cars for sale in Q3. Here’s why.

How the Federal Tax Credit works

The federal tax credit phases out over a 4-quarter (1-year) period beginning the second quarter after a company sells their 200,000th car.

If Tesla actually sold the cars produced, I expect the company would cross the threshold this quarter. By delaying the 200,000th US sale until after July 1, Tesla adds nearly an entire extra quarter of sales to the program, benefiting their customers. Tesla will sell nearly 60,000 more cars under full tax credit.

For this reason, I think one should expect sales to be flat this month and next (in Q2), while a 20,000 car stockpile ready for Q3 sales is accumulated.

Musk’s Increased Confidence

Elon Musk has stated several times that Tesla will not need to raise money this year. During the recent earnings call, he explicitly stated Tesla will not raise money this year.

Much was written about Musk’s behavior on that call. Most articles in one fashion or another, assert that Musk is cracking under the pressure. If so, Tesla may be headed for a crash near term.

So many people bought into that notion that 400,000 new shares sold short overnight after the earnings call. The stock price dropped 10% in one day.

Since then, however, the stock price has fully recovered and the divide between the bullish and bearish theses has widened.

Listening to the call, it made perfect sense to me that Elon was annoyed by the callers who had read the release and yet asked questions about things specifically stated in that paper. It was as if the callers were saying they knew the paper said they would be profitable, but they don’t believe it and so are trying to figure out what Elon is lying about. Feeling like he was being called a liar, I believe, is why he lost his cool.

But that isn’t what’s interesting. What’s interesting is that he is so confident that he will not need to raise funds that he didn’t bite his tongue.

What this means is that for the first time, Musk is placing profits ahead of expansion and rapid growth. And what’s more, he fully expects to reach profitability.

Bloomberg’s Model 3 Tracker diverging from reality

Bloomberg’s Model 3 Tracker website has been excellent at following the ramp up in Model 3, until April. The analysis has a flaw that doesn’t account for the federal tax credit deviation from business as usual.

The Tracker assumes that when a car is built and ready for sale, that Tesla will sell it as quickly as possible. This has been true, until this past month. Now, and until the end of June, Tesla can benefit its customers best by holding back about 20,000 (total) cars built in Q2 and then selling them in Q3.

Here’s the VIN data from the wild, plotted as yellow dots. Notice the gap in the numbers from about 23,000 to 25,500 representing about 2,500 cars that are absent from the public. Where did they go? Were they built?

Tesla should have built around 6,500 Model 3 cars in April. This is based on Tesla statements that they built 2,000+ cars per week for 3 weeks in a row (2 in April), and then shut down the line to add improvements and further speed the line production. April production should have been ~6,500 cars.

Instead of 6,500 Model 3 cars sold in April, Tesla only sold 3,875 M3 cars according to InsideEVs here.

We know Tesla built over 4,000 Model 3 cars in the first 2 weeks of April and would have needed to shut the line down for the rest of the month if cars produced were the same as cars sold. That makes no sense.

One logical explanation is that Tesla “sold” fewer cars than it “produced” by around 2,500. If these cars are being stockpiled, then in May and June this discrepancy should get much worse.

Tesla should build around 10,000 Model 3 cars in May and around 18,000 cars in June. But Tesla will likely sell just 5,000 per month for those two months to remain below 200,000 cars sold into the US. That means Tesla may accumulate 2,500 + 5,000 + 13,000 = 20,500 cars more than it sells in Q2.

Bloomberg’s model averages the estimates of cars produced with cars sold. But that’s averaging apples and oranges, it doesn’t work.

Last week the production estimate was 1,752 and this week it is 3,523.

Bloomberg needs to separate the sales and production projections into two different values. Otherwise they are trying to average apples and oranges. This would be fine any other time except now, where unusual strategy makes sense to benefit customers who desire to receive the federal tax credit.

Potential Q3 Sales

This brings us to estimate potential Q3 sales based on these optimistic expectations.

First, if Tesla succeeds at ramping to 5k/wk by the beginning of Q3, then it should have produced about 30,000 M3 cars in May and June. If it sells 10k of those to hold #1 BEV position for those months, there would remain 20,000 cars in stock.

Second, Tesla should pass 5k/wk build rate and increase to higher than that during the middle of Q3. That means Tesla should build more than 60,000 cars in Q3. VIN filings must significantly increase to meet that pace, and those filings will be public information.

For the past month, VIN filings are about 3,800 cars per week. This is well on its way to 5,000 per week by the end of the quarter. Tesla should also build about 25,000 of Models S and X in Q3.

Tesla will be coming out with the dual motor and possibly also ludicrous mode variants of the Model 3 in Q3. Tesla is taking orders for the higher cost variants of Model 3 first, so I expect the average price to remain high and will use $50k for these estimates.

The total M3 cars sold in Q2 should be around (20k + 60k) * $50k = $4B.

The total MS and MX sold should be around 25k * $100k = $2.5B.

The total revenue from cars should be in the range of $6.5B with a gross profit of $1.3B if they make the 20% margin figure claimed. I’ll ignore the energy side for this treatise as small by comparison.

Given that Musk has firmly asserted the company will not need cash, and also that it will be profitable and cash flow positive, I suspect that Musk is thinking Tesla will manage something like the above.

Model 3 is about to enter the US Top 20 list

The Model 3 is about to climb the ranks of other vehicles, and if the above figures are met, it will pass Toyota Corolla and Honda Accord, landing in a tie with the Jeep Grand Cherokee for top selling vehicles in the US for Q3.

I admit that this comparison is, and isn’t, fair. The Model 3 is an EV whereas all of the top 100 cars sold in the US today have internal combustion engines, ICE.

The Model 3 is the best selling EV and the only mass produced EV. In this regard, the comparison is NOT fair since it is different from all of the rest of the cars on that top 100 list.

However, any other car company could have launched an EV instead of their ICE models. And, they could have built their own equivalent of the Supercharger Network instead of relying on other businesses to do so for them. So in this regard, the comparison IS fair and demonstrates that people want electric cars with good range and a fast charging system that is already deployed.

That this is so is confirmed by a recent Consumer Reports article about a AAA survey showing that 20% of Americans expect their next vehicle purchase to be an EV. US car sales dropped by 2% in 2017 according to JDPowers. That marked the end of a 7-year run of steady sales growth. Given the AAA survey of intentions combined with blooming sales of Model 3, I expect we will see US sales of internal combustion engine cars drop by a larger figure in 2018.

There are not enough good EVs to replace the drop in ICE vehicle sales.

Jaguar I-Pace, for example, claims 350kW charging capability. But the claim is a farce. Today, no 350kW chargers exist out on the open road and it will likely be several years (if ever) before a network of charging stations is built. It isn’t clear yet that the 350kW charging standard will even work.

Upon introduction this summer, anyone that purchases an I-Pace will be forced to use the only chargers actually deployed… the same ones used by the Bolt and Leaf that only charge at 50kW instead of Tesla’s 120kW. Charging an I-Pace will take more than double the time to charge a Tesla.

What this means is that counter to claims that Tesla is about to face a swarm of new contenders, the fact is that none of them can hold a candle to the charging speed of the Supercharger Network. Ironically, all of the contenders should increase Tesla sales, as once anyone reviews charging infrastructure, Tesla is the only logical brand choice.

Introduction of the competition should further increase Model 3 sales until such time as a new charging infrastructure is actually in place, and, assuming Tesla is unable to use that new infrastructure. If Tesla CAN use that new infrastructure, then Tesla remains the best EV choice bar none, simply for its enhanced number of charging stations.


Tesla is building more cars than it is selling. This may indicate that Tesla is accumulating cars to be sold in Q3 due to tax phase out rules.

If Tesla makes the production targets it has disclosed, it would generate approximately $6.5B in Q3 gross sales with around $1.3B in gross margin. Even without cutting back on spending, that much extra gross margin should yield net profits.

The Model 3 may rise from below rank #100 for sales into the US now, to above position #20 next quarter. That is, the Model 3 appears poised to jump 80 positions in the US top 100 vehicle sales list, beginning in July.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Tesla: Tsunami Of Sales And Profits In Q3

Spotlight On Gambling Reset And Banking Bill

Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Stocks to Watch – a preview of key events scheduled for the next week. Follow this account and turn the e-mail alert on to receive this article in your inbox every Saturday morning.

While investors will surely have their eyes on trade talks, developments in the oil market and rising interest rates in the week ahead — a sideline show will continue to be the complete reset in the gambling industry following the Supreme Court decision that opens up legalized sports betting. Notable movers since the SCOTUS decision came down include Dover Downs (NYSE:DDE) +46%, Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) +13%, Churchill Downs (NASDAQ:CHDN) +11%, Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) +8%, The Stars Group (NASDAQ:TSG) +8% and Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) +8%. Across the pond, bookmaker stocks William Hill (OTCPK:WIMHY), Paddy Power (OTC:PDYPF), GVC Holdings (OTCPK:GMVHF) and 888 Holdings (OTCPK:EIHDF) also jetted higher. Expect even more price swings with new names as the ramifications become clearer. Nomura Instinet analyst Harry Curtis reminds that the upside potential from the Supreme Court decision down the road includes higher traffic and customer engagement at land-based casinos, as well as digital offerings and tech/financial partnership opportunities. On that last point, there’s a sense major players such as Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Visa (NYSE:V), Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and Google (GOOG, [GOOGL]]) aren’t going to completely ignore the developments. On the economic calendar this week, data on new and existing home sales will capture some attention.

Notable earnings reports: Monro (NASDAQ:MNRO) on May 21; International (NASDAQ:CTRP), Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN), The Container Store (NYSE:TCS) and TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) on May 22; Target (NYSE:TGT), Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE), Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) and Lion’s Gate (NYSE:LGF.A) on May 23; GameStop (NYSE:GME), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Gap (NYSE:GPS) and Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) on May 24; Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) on May 25. See Seeking Alpha’s Earnings Calendar for the complete list.

IPOs expected to price: Evo Payments (EVOP) on May 22; CLPS (CLPS), Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals (KNSA), Scholar Rock (SRRK) and GreenSky (GSKY) on May 23; Iterum Therapeutics (ITRM) on May 24.

Analyst quiet period expirations: Ceridian HCM (NYSE:CDAY) and Nlight (NASDAQ:LASR) on May 21; DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU), Goosehead Insurance (NASDAQ:GSHD) and Smartsheet (NYSE:SMAR) on May 22.

Upcoming stock splits: DDR (NYSE:DDR) 1-for-2 on May 21, China Lodging (NASDAQ:HTHT) ADS-to-ordinary share ratio to change on May 24 from one ADS per four ordinary shares to one ADS per one ordinary.

Banking bill: The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a banking reform bill next week. The bill would raise the threshold at which banks are considered risks to the system to $250B from $50B. The legislation also exempts banks with less than $10B in assets from some proprietary trading rules. Zions Bank (NASDAQ:ZION), BB&T (NYSE:BBT), Bank of New York (NYSE:BK), State Street (NYSE:STT) and SunTrust (NYSE:STI) are just a few of the banks to keep an eye on with the new rules. On a broader scale, John Hancock Regional Bank Fund’s Lisa Welch observed that the S&P 500 bank index trades at 11.34X earnings estimates for the next 12 months compared with the historical mean of 12.56X. “It’s a sector that benefits from rising rates, a growing economy and a more favorable regulatory environment that’s trading at attractive valuations,” she noted.

Projected dividend hike announcements: Donaldson (NYSE:DCI) to $0.185 from $0.180, DXC Technology (NYSE:DXC) to $0.21 from $0.18, Flower Foods (NYSE:FLO) to $0.18 from $0.17, National Storage to $0.30 from $0.28, Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) to $0.55 from $0.50.

Notable Analyst/investor meetings: Micron (NASDAQ:MU), Monro (MNRO) and (NASDAQ:GLAD) on May 21; Walgreen Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), Brooks Automation (NASDAQ:BRKS), National Instruments (NASDAQ:NATI), Sanmina (NASDAQ:SANM), Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX), Atlas Financial (NASDAQ:AFH) on May 22; Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN), Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO), Phototronics (NASDAQ:PLAB), Pure Storage (NYSE:PSTG), Qorvo (NASDAQ:QRVO) and Huntsman (NYSE:HUN) on May 23; Cabot (NYSE:CBT) on May 24.

FDA watch: Loxo Oncology (NASDAQ:LOXO) and Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY) are expected to hear on a FDA review for larotrectinib NDA, while Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LXRX) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) should find out whether sotagliflozin NDA for type 1 diabetes has been accepted for FDA review.

Wolfe Research 11th Annual Global Transportation Conference: Companies due to talk at the transportation industry get-together include Genesee & Wyoming (NYSE:GWR), American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL), United Continental (NYSE:UAL), Alaska Air (NYSE:ALK), USA Truck (NASDAQ:USAK), J.B. Hunt Transport (NASDAQ:JBHT), Werner Enterprises (NASDAQ:WERN), ArcBest (NASDAQ:ARCB) and Daimler Trucks (OTCPK:DDAIF). The high cost of freight transportation has been a common topic on the Q1 earnings conference calls of retailers.

Crypto watch: The big blockchain event in New York last week didn’t light a fire under cryptocurrencies as regulatory concerns still linger. Over the last seven days, Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is down 2.3%, Ethereum (ETH-USD) is up 4.6%, Litecoin (LTC-USD) fell 2.5% and Ripple (XRP-USD) dropped 1%. ZCash (ZEC-USD) was one of the cryptos that did break significantly higher, with a 50% pop during the week,

Eyes on crude oil: Saudi Energy Ministry Khalid al-Falih will meet with Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak at a St. Petersburg economic summit next week. An election in Venezuela on Sunday could also impact oil prices if President Nicolas Maduro is re-elected to a six-year term. WTI crude oil trades at $71.28 per barrel, while Brent crude is at $78.51.

M&A watch: Shareholders with Bravo Brio Restaurant Group (NASDAQ:BBRG) will hold a special shareholder meeting on May 22 to approve the merger transaction with Spice Private Equity. The deadline for the start of the tender offer by Lilly (NYSE:LLY) for Armo BioSciences (NASDAQ:ARMO) hits on May 23. The go-shop period on the acquisition of VeriFone Systems (NYSE:PAY) by Francisco Partners expires on May 24.

60 Minutes: Alphabet will be featured in a story on the Sunday night news show. Critics are expected to take aim at the tech company over some of its anti-competitive practices.

Box Office: Fox’s (NASDAQ:FOXA) Deadpool 2 is expected to dominate the weekend box office. The Marvel comic book mashup is expected to take in $138M in a wide release of 4,439 theaters. Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) Avengers: Infinity War is predicted to come in second place with $29M to add to its eye-popping $1.69B global box haul through this week. Next Friday, Disney’s Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in a highly-anticipated holiday weekend debut. The U.S. box office is up 4.4% YTD.

Barron’s mentions: Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) are lined up as attractive high-dividend stocks at knockdown prices. All three trade with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of lower than 20 and below their historic norms. Chinasoft International (OTC:CFTLF) and Baozun (NASDAQ:BZUN) are mentioned as two other ways for investors to play the digital explosion in China beyond first-movers Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY). Lowe’s is seen as having limited downside into its earnings report.

Sources: EDGAR, Bloomberg, CNBC and Reuters.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Spotlight On Gambling Reset And Banking Bill

Uber files appeal against licence loss in UK city of Brighton

LONDON (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] submitted an appeal on Friday against the decision by the southern coastal English city of Brighton to strip the taxi app of its licence for not being “fit and proper” over data concerns and the use of drivers from outside the area.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Uber is pictured during the presentation of their new security measures in Mexico City, Mexico April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme/File Photo

“We have today filed our appeal at Brighton Magistrates’ Court,” an Uber spokesman said. “We want to continue providing more choice and competition for both private hire drivers and passengers in the city.” 

The Silicon Valley firm is also battling to keep its cars on the streets of London after losing its licence in the British capital, its most important European market.

Uber drivers licensed in Brighton can continue to operate in the city until the appeals process is exhausted.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Uber files appeal against licence loss in UK city of Brighton

Fed Up With Apple's Policies, App Developers Form a 'Union' Ahead of WWDC

Nearly two years ago, Apple revealed its plans for a revamped App Store. It introduced ads within search results in the iOS portion of the store, rolled out more ways for developers to offer subscriptions, and sweetened the revenue deal for app makers who did offer subscriptions. The changes marked the most significant update to the App Store since it had opened for business, and it was part of an effort by Apple to show that the company was attuned to developers’ needs, even as the company raked in billions of dollars from their apps each year.

But as the iOS App Store approaches its tenth anniversary, some app developers are still arguing for better App Store policies, ones that they say will allow them to make a better living as independent app makers. Now a small group of developers, including one who recently made a feature-length film about the App Store and app culture, are forming a union to lobby for just that.

In an open letter to Apple that published this morning, a group identifying themselves as The Developers Union wrote that “it’s been difficult for developers to earn a living by writing software” built on Apple’s existing values. The group then asked Apple to allow free trials for apps, which would give customers “the chance to experience our work for themselves, before they have to commit to making a purchase.”

The grassroots effort is being lead by Jake Schumacher, the director of App: The Human Story; software developer Roger Ogden and product designer Loren Morris, who both worked for a timesheet app that was acquired last year; and Brent Simmons, a veteran developer who has made apps like NetNewsWire, MarsEdit, and Vesper, which he co-created with respected Apple blogger John Gruber. (“Brent’s been developing for Apple products since before any of us were born,” Schumacher quipped.)

The union, so far, is loosely-formed. There’s no official strategy in place for collective bargaining and no membership requirements (like dues). The union has goals of reaching a thousand members this week and hitting a mass of 20,000 signees by early June, when Apple will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. But at launch, the four representatives will be the only names attached to the letter. Non-developers are welcome to join as well, they said.

“It’s a non-union union in a way,” Morris, the product designer, said when reached by phone. “I’m not super interested in creating a traditional union; I’m more interested in bringing the voice of indies back into the spotlight and this is a step in that direction.”

“We might eventually incorporate voting on certain things, but right now it’s really about the unification of developers,” Ogden added.

Free app trials have been a sticking point over the past several years for some iOS app developers, who believe that mobile apps–especially premium ones that cost more than a few bucks and aren’t games–should mimic the experience that people have had for years with desktop apps. It’s a particularly thorny issue for app makers who don’t make subscription apps, but who still want to give potential customers a free trial of their apps.

Apple has given developers some ability to offer free app trials, for time periods ranging from three days up to a whole year. But a free trial can only accompany a subscription app. This means that when opting to get the free trial, the customer has to authorize Apple to automatically charge them when a trial ends, developers say. The ideal situation, they say, would allow them to offer free trials for all apps, at lengths they determine, and without barriers that might make people shy away from trying their apps.

Apple has not responded to a request for comment on this story.

Another topic The Developers Union says it will attempt to tackle is revenue sharing. Apple’s longstanding policy gives App Store developers 70 percent of the money made from most apps, while Apple takes 30 percent. Back in 2016, Apple changed this split to 85/15 percent for developers who are able to maintain long-term subscription customers. Google soon followed suit, offering the same revenue split for subscription apps sold through the Google Play Store. But Microsoft is taking it a step further: later this year it will give 85 percent of any non-gaming app revenue to Windows developers if the app was purchased through the Microsoft Store; while 95 percent of the money will go to developers if the customer discovers the app through an external web page or app.

While the open letter says that the union plans to “advocate for a more reasonable revenue cut,” the members have not yet shared specifics beyond that.

Slice of the Pie

Making a living off of making apps is something that’s felt increasingly out of reach for independent developers. Some have described a kind of divergence that’s happening: Apple’s services business is booming, while some developers’ own businesses are floundering.

Apple, in recent years, has started sharing how much it pays out to developers. In January, it said that iOS developers were paid a total of $26.5 billion in 2017, a 30 percent jump from the year before. Since the inception of the App Store, developers have earned more than $86 billion dollars.

But that revenue is credited largely to in-app purchases and currencies–essentially, games. Ben Thompson, who writes the Stratechery blog and who has extensively analyzed the business of app stores, has identified these as “games with repetitive mechanics that can monetize existing users through in-app purchases,” and wrote back in 2013 that other apps, like premium productivity apps, are “a terrible match for app store economics.” Schumacher, Ogden, and Morris call the biggest money-making apps “the guys with the angry faces”–referring to the app icons for games that feature, well, men with angry faces.

Not all developers are thrilled by the union. Schumacher told me that one notable developer he reached out to said that, while he hopes the grassroots effort makes progress, he wasn’t inclined to join. “He said, ‘I make all my income from Apple. I don’t know if I should be throwing rocks,'” Schumacher told me.

And despite the issues they have with the App Store, even the union organizers themselves–with the exception of Simmons, who wasn’t available for an interview–acknowledged that developing for the App Store carries a kind of cache that other software stores don’t.

“Apple is getting a lot right, especially around security,” Schumacher said. This new group is just looking for a few more breadcrumbs, he said. And not the kind you buy in mobile games.

More Great WIRED Stories

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Fed Up With Apple's Policies, App Developers Form a 'Union' Ahead of WWDC

China approves sale of $18 billion Toshiba chip unit to Bain-led consortium: NHK

TOKYO (Reuters) – China regulatory authorities have approved the $18 billion sale of Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) chip unit to a consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, without citing sources.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Toshiba Corp is seen outside an electronics retail store in Tokyo, Japan, February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

The antimonopoly review has been the biggest and last hurdle to the sale of the troubled Japanese conglomerate’s most prized asset.

Slideshow (2 Images)

A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company had not confirmed whether there had been any approval by Chinese regulators.

A representative for China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said he was not aware of the situation and did not comment further. A representative for Bain was not immediately available for comment.

The prolonged review has fueled speculation that Toshiba might abandon the deal and pursue alternative plans such an IPO for the unit.

At its earnings briefing on Tuesday, Toshiba CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani said “we haven’t heard anything negative from Chinese regulators.”

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Taiga Uranaka in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on China approves sale of $18 billion Toshiba chip unit to Bain-led consortium: NHK

British gaming firm enlists army of players to create Worlds Adrift

LONDON (Reuters) – British game maker Bossa Studios will release Worlds Adrift on Thursday, an ambitious adventure game designed to appeal to the Minecraft generation that has taken three years and 50,000 gamers to create.

Twenty gamers play “Worlds Adrift”, whilst suspended in a life size “Sky Ship” based on the game, above Chelsea College of Arts during the launch in London, Britain May 16, 2018. Luke MacGregor/Handout Bossa Studios UK via REUTERS

The London-based independent games designer is pushing technical, logistical and financial boundaries by counting on gamers to build floating islands for their characters to inhabit, which other players can visit via airborne, pirate-like ships.

“Worlds Adrift allows you to go into the game and set your own objectives and go about the game however you choose,” said Henrique Olifiers, one of the company’s three co-founders.

Bossa was set up in 2010 by veteran game designers who first focused on making social games played on Facebook before switching to PC-based online games. It is best known for “Surgeon Simulator” and “I Am Bread”, which have drawn in millions of users with their physics-based, realistic movements.

Its new multiplayer online game is the first to run on the computational platform of Improbable, a second London firm which enables enormous cloud-based simulations to be created, without which Worlds Adrift’s complex, user-generated landscape would be impossible. It is far more sophisticated than prior Bossa games.

Bossa aims to create the next big European games franchise, following in the footsteps of household names such as Microsoft-owned (MSFT.O) Minecraft, Clash of Clans from Tencent-controlled (0700.HK) Supercell, Candy Crush by Activision Blizzard’s (ATVI.O) King, and Angry Birds creator Rovio (ROVIO.HE).

Slideshow (3 Images)

Typically only established gaming companies with hundreds of engineers and hundreds of millions of dollars could develop games of the complexity of World’s Adrift which have massive creative potential and are not limited to scripted tasks.

Eight months ago, Bossa Studios raised $10 million in funding in a round led by European venture firm Atomico. It has 82 employees but is expanding rapidly with the recent funding, Olifiers said.

Improbable, whose system can be used to digitally simulate real-world locations not just for games but in product design and corporate planning, received a $502 million investment from the Softbank (9984.T) Vision Fund a year ago.

“Unlike any other massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, your actions actually impact the virtual world – and matter,” says Improbable co-founder Herman Narula.

Gamers will build and develop increasingly complex islands which players can visit and interact with other game participants however they wish.

It is a massive fantasy universe designed to appeal to a younger generation of players looking to build games themselves.

The title is aimed at gamers reared on open-ended Minecraft, the second best-selling game of all time, which provides players with building materials to construct buildings and villages. It has attracted a sizeable number of players under the age of 15, although the majority of them are over 28 so far, Olifiers said.

During development those gamers have created 10,000 islands, 450 of which will feature as the game launches in “early access” mode, meaning that it is still under construction and subject to changes. General release is expected within a year, said Olifiers, a Brazilian games journalist-turned-entrepreneur.

Policing the game is left to players, by design, Olifiers said. Creative contributions will be quickly mimicked by others and collaboration will be beneficial. Bad behavior could prompt users to abandon islands where incidents take place, turning them into Robinson Crusoe outposts no one else visits.

The game goes on sale later on Thursday at a fixed price of 19.49 pounds, or $24.99, with no in-game purchases that can pile up costs for committed players.

Reporting by Eric Auchard in London; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on British gaming firm enlists army of players to create Worlds Adrift

Didi's Hitch scrubs social features as passenger murder dents image

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s biggest ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing, will disable features such as profile pictures, ratings and public tags from its carpooling service, as it looks to win back trust after the killing of a female passenger sparked questions about safety.

A man is seen in front of a Didi sign before a promotional event of its Hitch service for the Spring festival travel rush, in Beijing, China January 24, 2018. Picture taken January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.

The 21-year-old flight attendant’s murder, allegedly by her driver, and revelations that Didi drivers have been reviewing female passengers based on their appearance, has marred the ride-hailing giant’s image at a time when it is preparing to take on rivals such as Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] overseas.

In a bid to make prompt amends, Didi has apologized for the “tragedy” and suspended the carpooling service for a week. The company on Wednesday said it will temporarily offer “Didi Hitch” between 6 am and 10 pm, instead of 24×7, and make daily facial recognition checks mandatory for all drivers.

Didi will extend facial recognition requirements to other services and redesign its emergency help function. The company, whose backers include Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, has also proposed to record audio for every trip as an added security measure.

Didi has previously acknowledged its facial recognition tool was defective and as a result the male suspect who allegedly killed the female passenger was able to use a driver account belonging to his father without being detected.


In the wake of the killing earlier this month, Didi has come under heavy criticism online, with many calling out the company for its efforts to market Hitch as a social networking service.

Adverts for Hitch dating back to 2015 on Didi’s official social media accounts present the carpooling service as a way to meet new people, including romantic encounters. Hitch allows users to hail a car via their smartphone and share a ride with someone else headed in the same direction.

One advert for the service, still visible on the verified Didi Hitch Weibo account on Monday morning, featured a male driver holding a sign reading “you have a short skirt, I have warm air … give her a free ride, I’m willing!”

Other official social media posts asked users to share their experiences of carpooling with a stranger of the opposite sex and joked about the chemistry between older women and young male drivers, described as “young fresh meat”.

A Shanghai-based driver who formerly drove for Didi Hitch, Silla Wang, said he has seen drivers give passengers tags like “long legs”, “adorable girl” or “beautiful woman”.

“In my understanding the app is used as one would use Momo,” he said, referring to a Chinese Tinder-like dating app.


Didi has said profile pictures on the carpooling service will be replaced with generic images to bring an end to such rating and tagging of passengers.

Many users, however, said they had already removed their photos with some even leading calls to boycott the app.

Xu Yanan, a student at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, said that since the murder she had decided not to use a selfie on the app and had changed her photo to an image of a soldier.

“I want to protect myself. After the tragedy, I’m scared.”

Since acquiring Uber’s China business in 2016, Didi controls over 90 percent of the country’s ride-hailing market, giving users few alternative options, although new players have begun edging their way into the market.

Didi, valued at $50 billion, says its main carpooling services ExpressPool and Hitch had the equivalent of nearly 3 million rides a day last year. The overall Didi platform has near 25 million daily rides.

Reporting by Cate Cadell and Pei Li; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Himani Sarkar

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Didi's Hitch scrubs social features as passenger murder dents image

Two Chinese bitcoin mining equipment makers plan $1 billion Hong Kong listings: IFR

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Two Chinese bitcoin mining equipment makers plan to raise up to $1 billion each from Hong Kong listings this year, riding on strong global interest in cryptocurrencies, IFR reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the plans.

FILE PHOTO: A token of the virtual currency Bitcoin is seen placed on a monitor that displays binary digits in this illustration picture, December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

Canaan Creative filed a listing application to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong on Monday, IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication, reported.

Zhejiang Ebang Communication has also started working with advisers on a proposed Hong Kong float of up to $1 billon, reported IFR.

Ebang listed on China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations, also known as the New Third Board, in 2015 and was

delisted from the over-the-counter market in March after announcing in January that it would seek a Hong Kong listing.

Chinese bitcoin mining equipment makers are hungry for capital to fund their growth as the heightened interest in cryptocurrencies has led to a surge in demand for their machines.

Canaan, which sells “Avalon” mining machines with customised super-fast ASIC chips, made revenue of more than 1 billion yuan in 2017. Although cryptocurrencies can be mined using regular computer equipment, specialised processing devices dedicated to mining are more effective and can generate more income.

The company’s co-chairman Jianping Kong told Reuters in April that he expected China’s push to promote the domestic chip industry to help drive growth for the company.

Credit Suisse, CMB International, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley are joint sponsors for Canaan’s float, according to IFR.

Canaan Creative declined to comment. Ebang could not be immediately reached for comment. All the banks didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canaan’s IPO valuation has yet to be set as there is no listed comparable and the prices of cryptocurrencies have

fluctuated a lot, reported IFR. It was valued at $500 million in mid-2017, IFR said, attributing it to one of the people.

Reporting by Fiona Lau at IFR; Additional reporting by Sijia Jiang; Writing by Julie Zhu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Two Chinese bitcoin mining equipment makers plan $1 billion Hong Kong listings: IFR

Bank Of America: Don't Let $30 Slip Away

The financials including Bank of America (BAC) have recently paused after a strong rally in the prior 18 months. A consolidation for the stock can be healthy and offers another opportunity to own the large financial as the regulatory environment continues to improve.

Source: Bank of America website

Operating Leverage Is Key

The market likes to stress out over the interest rate impact on financials and whether the economic activity will drive loan growth, but the goal of an established business should be on simple financial math: Revenues growing faster than expenses.

Over the last few years, BoA has done an exceptional job of generating leverage in the system. Watching sales fall, but pushing expenses down lower or generating revenue growth while still barely cutting expenses. The resulting impact is that the large financial generates leverage each and every quarter due to the current ability of the bank to control costs regardless of the revenue landscape. BoA has achieved at least 5% operating leverage in all but three quarters over the three years.

Source: Bank of America Q1’18 presentation

In a lot of ways, this scenario is better than growing at any cost while expenses soar just as fast. Clearly though, it doesn’t hurt that BoA is positioned for the rising rate environment. A forecast of a $3 billion benefit over the next year on a 100 basis point shift up in rates is nice, but the bank is still getting higher net interest income from higher deposits and not a higher yield.

Source: Bank of America Q1’18 presentation

The bigger key remains a management group able to manage the rate environment and mirror that with the cost structure to improve leverage in the system.

Decent Valuation

This discussion leads to why not own a financial with those impressive results trading at a meager 10x EPS estimates. The trend remains one’s friend in this scenario with the stock near $30.

The combination of a cheap stock and billions of cash flow generation on a quarterly basis allows for a compelling capital return program that will help boost the EPS in the future on top of the operating leverage boost. The large financial has closed the gap with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) in the last year. The net payout yield that combines the dividend yield and net stock buyback yield is now virtually equal to that of the other large financials.


BAC Net Common Payout Yield (TTM) data by YCharts

The bank continues to ramp up capital returns, having returned $6.1 billion to shareholders in Q1 alone, a rate that would offer a 7.8% annualized net payout yield. A prime reason to close this gap is that BoA still trades at a discount to Wells Fargo that remains on the radar of regulators due to fraud issues.


BAC Price to Tangible Book Value data by YCharts

The general financial sector should get a boost from the Attorney General of New York stepping down. AG Eric Schneiderman led the charge on pushing for tougher fraud settlements with large banks over illegal foreclosure practices stemming from the financial crisis after taking over the position in 2010.

A replacement has to be more friendly to large financials based in New York now that the financial crisis is a decade old and the narrative has changed.


The key investor takeaway is that BoA remains a bargain despite the large rally since mid-2016. The large financial has sold off from the recent highs near $35 providing an opportunity to own the stock following consolidation and still trading at reasonable valuations and a discount to peers.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as a solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Before buying or selling any stock, you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion or consult a financial advisor. Investing includes risks, including loss of principal.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Bank Of America: Don't Let $30 Slip Away

Acura's RDX Comes With an Easy-to-Use Infotainment System

The modern car has a problem. Over the past decade, automakers have raced to offer their smartphone-addled customers a bonanza of features: navigation, texting, phone calls, satellite radio, Bluetooth, ways to check tire pressure and oil temperature, suspension settings, charging status, and more. Then they try to stick all those things into an interface whose users are usually pretty busy—driving the 2-ton metal boxes that kill nearly 40,000 people in the US every year.

And the solutions are non-obvious. Touchscreens are easy to use but take drivers’ eyes off the road. Knob-based systems can land you in a warren of menus that get frustrating and distracting. No wonder then, that in a 2017 study, Consumer Reports found just 44 percent of respondents were “very satisfied” with their car’s infotainment system. Among the systems CR deemed the most distracting was Acura’s, which it panned for a “frustrating dual-screen setup, convoluted display logic, and finicky voice-command system.”

Now, after four years of work, Acura has a solution that finds that elusive territory between usefulness and distraction. Starting later this year with the 2019 RDX SUV, Acura will offer the True Touchpad.

Engineer Ross Miller, who led the project, began by talking to people about their washing machines and television remotes. “People get really passionate about things that annoy them.” At the top of that list of annoyances is complexity. Too many buttons, too many options, too many menus.

Miller frames this as a resource management problem. When you’re driving, you can only spare so much of your cortex to figuring out how to turn on that podcast or punch in Auntie’s address. To minimize the time and effort required by the driver, Acura’s team stripped down the main interface to eight tiles, which you can configure however you like. This way, the home screen doesn’t just offer you categories, like “Audio” and “Phone Book,” but shows whatever you tend to look for most often. People being creatures of habit, that usually means a couple of radio stations and one or two contacts. In Acura’s new system, your home screen can offer you “John” and “Jane,” “90s on 9” and “Hair Nation.” All your faves, just a tap away.

The screen sits up high, and is controlled by a touchpad that uses absolute positioning. Want to tap the icon on the bottom left? Hit the bottom left of the pad.


That tap is where Acura’s real innovation comes in. Miller says touchscreens draw too much attention away from the road, and knob- and button-based systems can be clunky and hard to use. To control the 10.2-inch screen, his team made a new sort of touchpad. Say you want to hear some sweet Mötley Crüe, and Hair Nation is the tile in the upper right of the screen. Just put your finger on the upper right of the touchpad, which sits a few inches forward of the right armrest. If you landed a bit to the left, drag your finger over, see the flash of orange highlight the icon you’re going for, and press down. (Then crank the volume using one of the few knobs.)

Other cars with touchpads use them in the conventional way, to control a cursor on the screen. The problem there is that, just like on your computer, before doing anything you have to find the cursor, then move it to where you need it. In a situation where every instant with your eyes off the road can prove deadly, that kind of timesuck is not ideal.

Meanwhile, touchscreens come with their own problem: The fact that you need to reach them means they’re usually low down, where the radio in an old-timey car would be. And because competently using one requires looking at it, that’s even more time looking away from where you’re going.

Acura’s system is a hybrid of the two. The touchpad allows for a screen up high on the dash, so you can see it with just a flick of the eyes. But instead of letting you control a cursor, it acts like a voodoo doll for the screen: Whatever part of the screen you would tap, you tap that part of the pad.

After a lifetime using a mouse and a decade with touchscreen smartphones and tablets, it took me a bit of getting used to. But within half an hour it felt totally intuitive. A spot to rest the heel of your hand and the raised ridge outlining the pad help with orientation. Real buttons for Home and Back, which Miller calls “centering points,” make sure you never get too lost. (Abandoned concepts: a cursor-like “ghost finger” on the screen representing where the driver’s finger was in real life, and gesture controls. “That didn’t test so well,” Miller says. “It was too complicated; it was really hard to learn.”)

Eventually, the team built the system into a driving simulator and put 30 people behind the wheel. While each performed a series of tasks (call so and so, switch the radio, etc.), Acura’s engineers measured how well they stayed in their lane and away from other cars, to gauge their level of distraction. They compared the results to how those same people drove when performing a simple task, like turning a knob to tune the radio, and found no significant difference.

To go with its new interface, Acura added an improved, more natural voice recognition system and an optional head-up display that’s more capable than most on the market. Where most just show information like speed and navigation directions, this one lets you change where you’re going and make phone calls, using a knurled click wheel on the steering wheel.

Now, Acura drivers get to try it for real. And if they like it as much as the focus groups did, you can expect to see it in the rest of the Acura lineup before long—then maybe the rest of the auto industry.

More Great WIRED Stories

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Acura's RDX Comes With an Easy-to-Use Infotainment System

Joseph To Pharaoh: Save Surplus Grain For Inevitable Droughts And Famine

Photo source

We all know the story learned in childhood in bible studies, or the movies that portrayed it. As an advisor to the Pharaoh, Joseph counseled him to set aside surplus grain from bumper harvests so that the country’s people would not go hungry or starve when the next drought came and farmers would not be able to grow grain. This advice, that avoided a famine, was much appreciated and admired by Pharaoh as it saved Egypt from destruction.

Sadly, in modern times, central bankers no longer heed this well-worn advice. Though budget surpluses have been achieved occasionally, the rule today is quite different. Rather than aspiring to achieve surplus, today’s central bankers simply print more money electronically. Magically, they expand the money supply to pay for spending and create ever-larger deficits and expand the national debt.

In order to pay for the administration’s huge tax cut for corporations, some of the burden will fall to middle class taxpayers to make up some of the shortfall. The balance will be paid for by additional debt creation by the Fed.

Nationally, the annual deficit has reached $1 trillion. We’ve been there before, but never with a national debt burden of over $21 trillion where we find ourselves today.

Private Lives, Private Finances

In our own private lives, we never get the luxury to print money like central banks to pay our bills. Anyone nurturing such a fantasy should jettison it now.

The only way we can reliably sail through life with a modicum of financial safety and comfort is to follow Joseph’s advice. Save our own personal surplus and store it for the next drought or famine.

Spend Less, Save More

In practical terms, this simply boils down to saving on a regular basis, and never spending more than you earn. If you always spend less than you earn, mathematically, you’ll never run out of money.

However, this mathematical formula breaks down somewhat, when we must finally retire from the active work environment. Some of us will have to do this due to sickness, physical disability or even an accident that renders us unable to work.

Others, more fortunate, will face retirement on a more proactive basis, choosing to retire at a time of our own choosing. Whatever the situation, while in retirement mode, earnings from active work will no longer flow into our coffers.

This is precisely when Joseph’s brilliant advice will pay off for those of us who have taken his message to heart and prepared accordingly.

And Then There Was Inflation

In Genesis, when the Creator deemed it, “Then there was light.” For the retirement cohort, then there was inflation.

Perhaps we scrimped and saved all of our working lives, diligently preparing for the day the paycheck would no longer show up in the mailbox. But even some of those good Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, always prepared in all things, did not prepare their financial future for one where the prices of goods and services always rise.

Failing to take account of this one small detail can easily derail even the best saver’s retirement savings plan.

Bonds Can’t, CDs Won’t

Photo source

Bonds can’t do it. CDs won’t do it. Each of these investment vehicles pay a fixed rate of interest. No matter what inflation does in the economy, your bond or CD couldn’t care less. You can beg or plead, but the bank that issued your CD won’t raise your interest income. It will stay the same amount, from the day you bought it, till the day it matures.

Bonds are no different. When you buy a bond, whether a corporate or treasury issue, whatever the coupon rate is, that’s the rate you’ll receive for the length of time you hold it.

If you buy the bond at par when first issued, and the yield is fixed at 3%, you’ll receive $3.00 of interest annually for each $100 of face value you purchase. But if inflation is running at a 2% annual run rate, your return looks like this:

3%-2%= 1%

When taxes on that ordinary interest is figured in at the state and federal level, your return is diminished once again by your combined tax rate. Assuming a combined rate of 25%, this might bring your interest return down to something closer to .25%.

3% X.75= 2.25%

2.25%-2% inflation= .25%

Once inflation breaches the 2% mark, the interest you receive will go negative. The only party to gain from the transaction will be Uncle Sam who will happily collect taxes from your interest payments. Inflation was reported recently at a rate .5% higher than the previous month.

Try and take this case to the bond issuer and ask for more interest on your bond investment. You won’t get very far. The interest payment on your bond is fixed. The semi-annual or annual interest payment you receive will be the same in the tenth year as it as in the first year you bought it. Plead as you might that inflation is ravaging the purchasing power of those interest payments, the issuer will have only deaf ears for you.

Photo source

Dividend Growth Stocks To The Rescue

There is an investment class that won’t send you home begging every year. In fact, dividend growth stocks are named as such because they actually increase your income each year. They do this by growing their dividend, year in and year out.

No Guarantees, But…

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. But if the investor is willing to do some research on high quality companies with long, enviable histories of increasing the dividend on a regular basis, if good stocks are chosen, they can battle inflation. And since these types of stocks have established records, the investor never has to go begging, hat in hand, for a raise.

Photo source

The inflation-beating quality is basically understood and built into this type of investment.

Dividend Kings, those stocks that have 50 years or more of dividend raises under their belt, or Dividend Aristocrats, companies that are part of the S&P 500 Index and have raised their dividend for at least 25 years, are always a good place to start prospecting for these type of reliable dividend payers and growers.

Photo source

Strategy Session: Here’s One That Makes The Argument

Photo source

AT&T (NYSE:T) is a company familiar to most consumers and investors. If you watch TV, it is hard to miss this company’s deluge of constant advertising.

If they’re not trying to sell you their phone, internet and TV packages, they’re offering you a free phone to sign on to one service or another. Other ads are aimed at persuading businesses to sign on to their specialized business services.

If you haven’t been hiding in a cave for the last year, you’re also familiar with their bid to acquire more content to sell through their many services by acquiring Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).

The drama is nearing the end game as the Justice Department has challenged this combination as anti-competitive. In a November 20, 2017 Justice Release, Justice believes that concentrating too much media content in one company will adversely affect AT&T’s customer base, causing them to pay higher prices for the content they consume.

The first round in court began in early March, when the company and T sketched out their early arguments. The judge is scheduled to render judgment in the beginning of June.

T believes that the Justice Department is doing the president’s bidding, trying to block the merger due to the president’s antagonism towards CNN, which he refers to as “fake news” purveyors.

A group of former top Department of Justice lawyers are arguing the Trump administration’s attempt to challenge the AT&T-Time Warner merger violates the Constitution if the action is punishment for CNN’s news coverage.


Media reports have suggested that the DOJ’s recent threats against AT&T are politically motivated, noting Trump openly pledged to block the merger when it was announced last year, just weeks before he was elected president.

Source: New York Post

I am among the analysts that believe that T will prevail in this battle, and that it will acquire a very valuable asset that will help to expand AT&T’s footprint and add large revenue and profit to the bottom line. Though the merger will cost AT&T $85 billion to effect this transaction, the eventual accretion of revenue and profit will be sufficient to pay the additional interest that will accrue from the new debt.

Joseph Counsels Us

Again, remember what Joseph counseled Pharaoh? Save surpluses for when we’ll need them come the next drought or famine.

For those of us planning for retirement, our big drought or famine will come once we leave the work force. No regular paycheck from work equals the biggest drought and famine we’ll ever face.

So, we need to get our affairs in order, preparing for this eventuality all our working lives. Always spending less than we earn is just the beginning. It is the foundation that allows our surplus to accumulate.

Then, it is what we do with those surpluses that determine if our grain will last a lifetime.

Buying a stock like AT&T will serve all of our purposes. Investing our surplus in a company like this will see our grain grow inexorably as it sits in the storehouse, waiting to be used. We will see our surplus grow by the regular dividends they pay as well as the regular increases in the dividend. If we choose to reinvest those dividend payments into additional shares, our surplus will grow from this double compounding effect.

And when we finally reach the day we earn our gold watches and punch the clock for the very last time, we can count on AT&T to continue raising our income like clockwork. AT&T will help to keep our heads above the inflation waves and preserve our purchasing power.

Here’s a compelling illustration of the length and reliability and growth of AT&T’s dividend.


You can see that AT&T has been nothing if not consistent in raising the dividend by a penny per quarter for years on end. It is true that raising the dividend the same amount each year, as the previous year’s divisor grows bigger, the next year’s percentage increase grows smaller. However, one penny divided by last year’s 49 cent quarterly dividend is still trending above inflation that the Fed continues, but fails, to get up to the 2% level.

$.01/$.49 = 2.04% increase

Gather Grain Opportunistically

Photo source

If you’re willing to take a more activist approach to your investing, as we do for our subscribers, it is always possible to buy one stock or another when it goes on sale.

AT&T is a company whose dividend yield has trended in the 5% range for quite some time. Whenever it drifts one way or the other, it eventually returns to that well-defined trend line.

As investors fretted that the Time Warner deal would necessitate too much debt that would sink AT&T’s ship, they sold off their shares. As they did so, shares moved from weak hands to strong hands and fell into our buy zone. Our limit order at $32.60 was executed and we received a very healthy 6.01% yield. Weeks later T raised the dividend to $2.00 per share, giving us a yield on cost of 6.13%.

6.13%- 5.0% usual yield = 1.13%

1.13% / 5.0% = 22.6%

When’s the last time you got a 22.6% raise at work?

When’s the last time your wheat field yielded 22.6% more grain than the previous year?

Photo source

AT&T’s Prospects Going Forward

In light of the amount of cord-cutting we’re witnessing in the cable ecosystem, AT&T is looking to aggregate large amounts of TV and movie content, which it can sell through its various streaming services. Time Warner embodies such content in its enormous library of TV and movie properties. In turn, the large recurring revenue streams that this content represents will be available to investors in the form of growing revenue and profits, which fund the dividend.

In order for a dividend to be sustainable, free cash flow derived from revenues and earnings must be sufficient to cover it. Because I believe the merger with TWX will ultimately be approved, AT&T will have additional resources at its disposal to pay for the dividend.

TWX’s free cash flow of $4.2 billion, added to T’s $17.2 billion will make for a formidable trove of cash to cover the dividend going forward.

Time Warner’s dividend of $1.61 translates to a payout ratio of just 24.3% as compared to AT&T’s much higher payout ratio of 41.3%. TWX’s very low ratio means that when the merger is completed, the combined companies will have enormous resources to not only sustain but grow the dividend.

Time Warner Profit Drivers Going Forward

Since Time Warner is an integral part of this thesis, the future profit drivers of each of its entertainment segments take on added significance. The company, in its April 26th release, is giving guidance of single digit to double-digit growth in subscription and operating income.



For the full year 2018, the Company continues to expect Turner’s subscription revenues to increase in the mid single-digits compared to the prior year. Additionally, for the full year 2018, the Company continues to expect growth in Turner’s programming costs and total expenses to moderate compared to 2017. The Company expects subscription revenues in the second quarter of 2018 to grow at a similar rate as for the full year. Scatter pricing for advertising sales at Turner’s domestic entertainment networks has increased high single- to low double-digits in the second quarter to date compared to the prior year’s upfront. The Company anticipates flat to low single-digit growth for Turner’s total advertising revenues in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the prior year quarter. For the second quarter, the Company expects Turner’s total expense growth to be in the low double-digits compared to the prior year quarter, primarily due to higher sports costs, including costs related to Turner’s rights to air NBA playoff games, and increased original programming expenses. As a result, Turner’s Operating Income in the second quarter of 2018 is expected to decline modestly compared to the prior year quarter.

Home Box Office

The Company anticipates Home Box Office’s subscription revenue growth rate in the second quarter of 2018 will be in the low double-digits relative to the prior year quarter. In addition, the Company expects Home Box Office’s programming costs to increase in the high teens in the second quarter of 2018 relative to the prior year quarter, primarily reflecting the timing and mix of programming. The Company anticipates Home Box Office’s revenue growth will more than offset expense growth and, as a result, expects its Operating Income to increase slightly in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the prior year quarter.

Warner Bros.

The Company expects Operating Income at Warner Bros. to increase at a rate well into the double-digits in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the prior year quarter primarily due to higher television licensing of both television and theatrical product.

Source: Time Warner Business Outlook Release

The Fill-The-Gap Portfolio

The FTG Portfolio contains a good helping of dividend growth stocks, like AT&T. It was built with the express purpose of benefiting from this and other strategies.

Three years ago, I began writing a series of articles on December 24, 2014, to demonstrate the real-life construction and management of a portfolio dedicated to growing income to close a yawning gap that so many millions of seniors and near-retirees face today between their Social Security benefit and retirement expenses.

The beginning article was entitled, “This Is Not Your Father’s Retirement Plan.” This project began with $411,600 in capital that was deployed in such a way that each of the portfolio constituents yielded approximately equal amounts of yearly income.

The FTG Portfolio Constituents

Constructed beginning on 12/24/14, this portfolio now consists of 23 companies, including AT&T Inc (T)., Altria Group, Inc. (MO), Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ED), Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE:CTL), Main Street Capital (MAIN), Ares Capital (ARCC), British American Tobacco (BTI), Vector Group Ltd. (VGR), EPR Properties (EPR), Realty Income Corporation (O), Sun Communities, Inc. (SUI), Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI), W.P. Carey, Inc. (WPC), Government Properties Income Trust (GOV), The GEO Group (GEO), The RMR Group (RMR), Southern Company (SO), Chatham Lodging Trust (CLDT),Iron Mountain, Inc. (IRM), Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU), Helios and Matheson (NASDAQ:HMNY) and LTC Properties (NYSE:LTC).

Because we bought most of these equities at cheaper prices since the inception of the portfolio and because most of our stocks have increased their dividends regularly, the yield on cost that we have achieved is 8.28% since launch on December 24, 2014. Current portfolio income, including recent dividend raises by AT&T and Realty Income, and our newest addition of AT&T shares, and LTC Property now totals $34,098.78, which is $1162.92 more annual income than the previous month. This represents a 3.53% annual income increase for the portfolio.

When added to the average couple’s Social Security benefit of $32,848.08, this $34,098.78 of additional supplemental income brings this couple annual income of $66,946.86. This far surpasses the original goal set to achieve a total of $50,000.00, which is accepted as a fairly comfortable retirement income in many parts of the country. That being said, this average couple now has the means to splurge now and then on vacation travel, dinners out, travel to see the kids and grandkids and whatever else they deem interesting.

Taken all together, this is how the FTG Portfolio generates its annual income.

FTG Annual Dividend Income

Chart source: the author

Your Takeaway

As discussed in “Even A Cloudy Crystal Ball Comes Into Focus Twice A Year,” paying too much attention to the everyday price swings, even with stodgy stalwarts like AT&T can drive investors totally batty.

We used a biblical story to illustrate the brilliance of saving for a rainy day. Joseph saved a nation. You can save your retirement.

It can’t be repeated often enough, especially in a nation that constantly spends more than it earns. This applies to the nation as a whole as well as a majority of individuals who live within it. Spend less than you earn and you’ll have taken the first step towards financial independence.

The next step on your retirement journey is to invest your newfound surplus in companies like AT&T and other Dividend Aristocrats. A dividend a day will keep the droughts and famines away.

photo source

When AT&T’s yield shot up from its usual 5% range to 6.01% we could not stand by passively and look that gift horse in the mouth. We acted, for ourselves, our readers who follow me, and subscribers.

It is my aim to share a lifetime of investing lessons I’ve learned with you.

Your Engagement Is Appreciated

As always, I look forward to your comments, discussion, and questions. Have you been able to draw any interesting lessons from childhood into your investing? Please share those in the comment section along with how you approach these situations in your own portfolio and how you arrive at your decisions.

Author’s note: Should you be interested in reading any of my other articles detailing various strategies to enhance your returns on a dividend growth portfolio, you will find them here.

If you’d like to receive immediate notification as soon as I write new content, simply click the “follow” button at the top of this article next to my picture or at the bottom of the article, then click “Real time alerts.”

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide information to interested parties. As I have no knowledge of individual investor circumstances, goals, and/or portfolio concentration or diversification, readers are expected to complete their own due diligence before purchasing any stocks mentioned or recommended.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ALL FILL-THE-GAP PORTFOLIO STOCKS.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Joseph To Pharaoh: Save Surplus Grain For Inevitable Droughts And Famine

Cyber Saturday—As Blockchain Week Kicks Off, Remember The DAO

Good afternoon, Cyber Saturday readers.

In honor of “blockchain week,” which is kicking off in New York City, I’ve been thinking about the security of smart contracts, self-executing computer programs designed to encode business relationships. A smart contract might codify, for example, an agreement like this: If Justify, a racehorse, wins the Kentucky Derby, pay $10 in Bitcoin to some lucky fellow’s digital wallet. The code eliminates the need for a bookie.

Now imagine a future in which such contracts automate tasks once relegated to lawyers, pencil-pushers, and other intermediary parties. Blockchain boosters dream of a day when they can route around middlemen with these sorts of self-driving computer programs, thereby making markets more efficient, so the thinking goes. There’s a snag though: Smart contracts are software applications, and software applications have bugs.

Sometimes, as with The DAO, an ill-fated, decentralized venture capital fund built on Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency network, those bugs can be ruinous. Hackers stole $50 million in cryptocurrency from the project in 2016 thanks to a simple “reentrancy” flaw. The bug allowed an attacker, or group of attackers, to continually withdraw money from the smart contract-powered organization until its coffers had been thoroughly pilfered.

Similar flubs abound in the field of cryptocurrency. Chris Wysopal, cofounder and chief technologist at Veracode, an application security shop bought by CA Technologies for $614 million in cash last year, gave a keynote talk at Collision conference in New Orleans earlier this month in which he provided an overview of the security challenges posed by smart contracts. “The blockchain is really secure, but the things that have to interact with it, those things aren’t secure,” Wysopal told the audience. “It’s probably one of the toughest problems right now” in security, he said.

Although I did not catch Wysopal’s talk in person (you can watch it here), I chatted with him afterward at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill and in between jazz sets at various bars along Frenchman Street. He said that if he were a thief, smart contracts are where he would focus the majority of his attention and energy today. Target the youngest projects with the worst quality assurance processes, the highest valuations, and the weakest defenses. It’s a recipe for success; in this world, baddies no longer have to worry about monetizing the data they steal. They can steal (virtual) money itself.

If you happen to be in New York for blockchain week, temper your enthusiasm with that alarum. It’s what the smartest folks will do.

Have a great weekend.

Robert Hackett


[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’sdaily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Cyber Saturday—As Blockchain Week Kicks Off, Remember The DAO

Gadget Lab Podcast: Why Google’s Duplex Demo Didn’t Have Everyone at Hello


Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, is clearly no longer just about the newest version of Android. This year Google used the keynote stage to show off some of its advancements in artificial intelligence, including a demo of an eerily-human-like robot caller that can call the hair salon or a restaurant and make appointments on your behalf. We also learned more about Google’s vision for the future of visual search, saw glimpses of its new Material Design theme, and, as expected, learned more about Android P. But really, the bot-calling demo was the one that blew everyone away, and also happens to be the thing that is still the most fraught with unanswered questions.

Some notes: You can find all of our I/O coverage here, including this exclusive look at the new Google Lens, the questions Google still needs to answer about its Duplex technology, and the history of JOMO (AKA the Joy of Missing Out), as well as the research behind Google’s new features that encourage you to take breaks from technology.

Recommendations this week: Arielle recommends the Netflix series “Wild Wild Country,” Lauren suggests the new “Caliphate” podcast from The New York Times, and Mike is all about bike-sharing services this week.

Send the hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric, Lauren Goode is @laurengoode, and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re also on Soundcloud, and every episode gets posted to as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Gadget Lab Podcast: Why Google’s Duplex Demo Didn’t Have Everyone at Hello

Report: Apple and Pandora Join Spotify in Ending Promotion of R. Kelly Music

Apple Music and Pandora have removed certain songs by R. Kelly from promoted playlists, according to music news sites Pitchfork and The Blast, adding to the list of streaming music services that have made the hit artist’s music more difficult to find after allegations of sexual misconduct.

R. Kelly’s music no longer shows up in Apple Music’s ‘Best Slow Jams of the 90s, Vol. 1‘ and Vol. 2 playlists, Pitchfork reported. However, playlists titled ‘R. Kelly Essentials,’ ‘R. Kelly: Influences,’ and ‘Inspired by R. Kelly’ are still available.

Pandora did not confirm or deny that it was removing R. Kelly from playlists, however, the company said it will no longer “actively promote artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues,” according to a statement. The music-streaming company has been working on updating its policies, including handling artist misconduct.

“We approach each of these scenarios on a case–by–case basis to ensure we address components true to Pandora’s principles while not overreaching and avoiding censorship,” Pandora said in the statement.

On Thursday, Spotify announced that it would no longer include Kelly’s music on its curated playlists, as part of a new policy.

“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify told Billboard. “His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it.

“We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful, it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.”

Apple Music’s removal of R. Kelly from playlists reportedly “pre-dates” Spotify’s recent similar decision, according to Pitchfork. Fortune contacted Apple for further information and will update as necessary.

R. Kelly has been accused of multiple counts of sexual misconduct dating back to the 1990s. He settled multiple lawsuits with women, and was acquitted by a jury on charges of possessing child pornography. Recently BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone have published pieces alleging abusive and controlling behavior.

Last month, members of the Time’s Up Women of Color committee joined the #MuteRKelly movement, and women including director Ava DuVernay and showrunner Shonda Rhimes called on women of color and companies—including Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora—to boycott R. Kelly.

R. Kelly has denied the allegations made against him, providing the following statement to BuzzFeed following the Time’s Up call to #MuteRKelly:

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Report: Apple and Pandora Join Spotify in Ending Promotion of R. Kelly Music

UK parliamentary committee summons former Cambridge Analytica boss

LONDON (Reuters) – A British parliamentary committee said on Thursday it had summoned the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica and a director of the official Brexit campaign group to appear before lawmakers.

FILE PHOTO: Window cleaners work outside the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

The media committee is investigating fake news, and is increasingly focused on the role of Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, and Facebook in the 2016 Brexit vote and in the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The committee said it had asked former CEO Alexander Nix to appear in parliament on Wednesday, June 6. It has asked Dominic Cummings, a former director of the Vote Leave campaign, to appear on Tuesday, May 22.

Cambridge Analytica has denied doing paid work on the campaign for Brexit, and says its work on the Trump campaign did not use data at the center of a Facebook scandal, where the details of millions of users were allegedly improperly obtained.

Nix was CEO of Cambridge Analytica and was suspended after the scandal broke. The company shut down last week.

He has previously appeared before the committee, but it has requested he returns to give further evidence. He has declined, saying he is unwilling to appear while an investigation by the Information Commissioner is ongoing. The committee says there is no legal reason that Nix cannot appear.

“There are serious inconsistencies between Mr Nix’s original testimony of Feb. 27, and evidence received under the inquiry since,” committee chair Damian Collins said in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica says it had pitched to Leave.EU, a Brexit campaign group, but did not do any work for the group after it missed out on the official campaign designation.

Leave.EU chiefs Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore will appear in front of the inquiry on June 12, the committee said on Thursday.

Instead of Leave.EU, Vote Leave was designated as the official campaign for Brexit.

But questions have been raised over whether Vote Leave broke campaign spending rules, with whistleblowers alleging it has illegally co-ordinated spending with a smaller campaign group.

Vote Leave and Cummings have denied wrongdoing.

Reporting by Kate Holton and Alistair Smout; Editing by William Schomberg

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on UK parliamentary committee summons former Cambridge Analytica boss

U.S. 'net neutrality' rules will end on June 11 -FCC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission said in a notice on Thursday that landmark 2015 U.S. open-internet rules will cease on June 11, and new rules handing providers power over what content consumers can access will take effect.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

The FCC in December repealed the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, allowing internet providers to block or slow websites as long as they disclose the practice. The FCC said the new rules will take effect on June 11.

A group of states and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect. The revised rules were a win for internet service providers like AT&T Inc (T.N) and Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) but are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O).

“The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said Thursday. “The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.”

The U.S. Senate is set to vote as early as next week on whether to reject the FCC repeal of the net neutrality rules – but that effort faces an uphill battle.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Proponents currently have the backing of 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, as well as Republican Senator Susan Collins. With the prolonged absence of Republican Senator John McCain due to illness, proponents believe they will win on a 50-49 vote.

Senator Ed Markey said it was “likely” the vote will take place in the middle of next week. On Wednesday, senators officially filed a petition to force a net neutrality vote and 10 hours of floor debate under the Congressional Review Act.

Following the FCC announcement, Markey wrote on Twitter, “the Senate must act NOW and pass my resolution to save the internet as we know it.”

The FCC voted 3-2 to reverse Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain online content.

Once they take effect, the new FCC rules would give internet service providers sweeping powers to change how consumers access the internet but include new transparency requirements that require them to disclose any changes to consumers.

If the Senate approves the measure, it would not likely pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. If the legislation were to pass the House, President Donald Trump would be expected to veto it.

In February, a coalition of 22 state attorneys general refiled legal challenges intended to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has often said he is confident the agency’s order will be upheld.

Democrats have said they believe the issue would be key in November’s midterm congressional elections, especially among younger internet-savvy voters.

Republicans have said the FCC repeal would eliminate heavy-handed government regulations, encourage investment and return the internet to pre-2015 rules.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on U.S. 'net neutrality' rules will end on June 11 -FCC

Walmart to pay $16 billion for control of India's Flipkart, shares slide

MUMBAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said on Wednesday it will pay $16 billion for a roughly 77 percent stake in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, and shares of the U.S. retailer tumbled 4 percent on news of its largest-ever deal, an effort to compete with rival Inc (AMZN.O) in an important growth market.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of India’s e-commerce firm Flipkart is seen on the company’s office in Bengaluru, India April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

Shares of Walmart fell 4 percent in afternoon trade after opening at a seven-month low as the company warned it expects the deal to shave fiscal 2019 earnings by 25-30 cents per share if it closes before the end of the second quarter. It also expects Indian investments to shave 60 cents per share from earnings in fiscal 2020.

For Walmart, the acquisition opens a new front in its battle with Amazon, which had expressed interest in making a competing offer for a stake. Amazon now holds about 27 percent of India’s burgeoning e-commerce market, according to Euromonitor, where Walmart only operates 21 cash-and-carry wholesale stores in the country that sell to businesses. (GRAPHIC-Walmart’s top 5 acquisitions:

“We will not know for five to 10 years whether this transaction is successful strategically or financially,” said Steven Roorda, portfolio manager with Minnesota-based Stonebridge Capital Advisors. “Walmart has a very poor track record operating outside North America,” he said.

Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at the Roosevelt Investment Group, said the deal probably will not do much to change market share between Flipkart and Amazon in India.

Sources had told Reuters they thought Amazon’s approach to Flipkart was likely a ploy to complicate Walmart’s bid.

“It would have been out of character for Amazon to write a check of that size to consolidate its market share in India, where it is already growing at a fast clip,” Roosevelt’s Benowitz said.(GRAPHIC-Top five M&A deals targeting Indian companies:

Flipkart sells consumer goods ranging from soaps to smartphones and clothes, and gives Walmart access to an e-commerce market that could be worth $200 billion a year within a decade, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Walmart logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Walmart expects the deal will play a part in “setting the company up for growth and profits in the future,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said on a call with investors. McMillon has led Walmart’s efforts to boost international business.

Walmart said Flipkart’s logistics, payments and apparel businesses offer new areas of growth.


Walmart has renewed its focus on catching up with rivals in key international markets.

The company retreated from Britain, selling a controlling stake in its British arm ASDA to J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY.L). Walmart is also trying to offload a majority stake in its Brazilian operations to private equity firm Advent International.

S&P Global downgraded its credit rating for Walmart to “negative” from “stable”, citing risk from the large investments the retailer is making to fix its global operations and its ongoing technology investments in the United States.

Walmart said it plans to fund the India deal through a combination of newly-issued debt and cash on hand. The investment will include $2 billion of new equity funding and Walmart said it remains in talks with other potential investors to join the funding round.

A new investor could lower Walmart’s stake, but the company plans to retain majority control of Flipkart. Reuters previously reported Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) may buy a roughly 15-percent stake in Flipkart for $3 billion.

The remainder will be held by existing shareholders, including Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal, China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), Tiger Global Management and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), the company said.

The Walmart statement made no reference to the exit of Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal or SoftBank Group (9984.T), which was one of the largest investors in Flipkart through its Vision Fund.

Reuters had previously reported that Bansal and SoftBank would sell their entire stakes in Flipkart.

Other investors like Naspers and eBay said they sold their holdings in Flipkart.

“The deal reaffirms that there is big opportunity in Indian retail,” said Arvind Singhal, Managing Director of retail consultancy Technopak, adding it would attract more global investment into the sector.

Additional reporting by Harry Brumpton and Melissa Fares in New York, Siddharth Cavale, Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru, Swati Bhat and Devidutta Tripathy in Mumbai and Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Editing by Euan Rocha, Bernard Orr and Nick Zieminski

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Walmart to pay $16 billion for control of India's Flipkart, shares slide

U.S. sends rules on drone regulation to White House for review

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department has sent two proposed rules to the White House to regulate the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the agency said on Tuesday as it prepared to unveil the winners of new drone pilot projects.

One of the new rules would allow drones to fly over people while the other would allow for remote identification and tracking of unmanned aircraft in flight. After both are formally proposed, it would take months or even more than a year before they are finalized.

Current rules prohibit nighttime drone flights or operations over people without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has no requirements or voluntary standards for electrically broadcasting information to identify an unmanned aircraft.

The FAA has said regulations are necessary to protect the public and the National Airspace System from bad actors or errant hobbyists. Several incidents around major airports have involved drones getting close to aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in December a September collision between a small civilian drone and a U.S. Army helicopter was caused by the drone operator’s failure to see the helicopter because he was intentionally flying the drone out of visual range.

The helicopter landed safely but a 1-1/2 inch (3.8 cm) dent was found on the leading edge of one of its four main rotor blades and parts of the drone were found lodged in its engine oil cooler fan.

Later on Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil the winners for 10 drone projects involving cities, universities, an Indian tribe, counties and states. Reuters reported Tuesday that major technology and aerospace companies including Inc, Apple Inc, Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc and Airbus SE are vying to take part in the new slate of drone tests.

The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for purposes ranging from package delivery to crop inspection.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on U.S. sends rules on drone regulation to White House for review

Celgene Just Caught A Major Break From The FDA For Multiple Sclerosis Drug

Recently, Celgene (CELG) gave an update for its multiple sclerosis drug ozanimod. It stated that it likely would be able to file early next year. That may seem like a negative, but the management pointed to the fact that another study may not be required. In my opinion, that means a filing could take place by Q1 2019 if everything remains on track. For that reason, I’m bullish on Celgene.

Slight Move

With the new announcement by Celgene on its MS drug ozanimod, it means that a regulatory filing could take place sometime in early 2019. This is not bad when you think about it. The original filing date expected by Celgene for ozanimod was Q3 2018. So in essence, it was pushed up two quarters. I understand why investors would not be happy about this, but the recent news of not needing another study should be seen as a major positive. As much as many would have loved to see ozanimod approved a lot quicker, it is better that the company takes its time to make sure all safety issues are accounted for. The big reason for the delay is due to ozanimod’s chemical structure in which it has a long half-life of 10 to 13 days. When it is metabolized in humans it forms as one major active metabolite and a few other minor active metabolites. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for a biological substance to be degraded in the body by half. The rate of removal during the breakdown process is exponential. In my opinion, the FDA is being cautious.

When The Problem Started

The issue started when the FDA gave Celgene a refusal-to-file letter back in February of 2018. The FDA refused to file Celgene’s application, because of insufficient information for ozanimod. More specifically, the FDA was not clear on both the non-clinical and clinical material in the application. The worst case scenario back then was stated as being that it could take up to 2 to 3 years to run another study. Instead, Celgene will be able to analyze non-clinical studies of the drug that researchers were working on. That data, plus additional PK/PD results as well can work well for approval. Both of these could be used in place of having to run another long study. That’s a big positive for Celgene. Another piece of good news is that a filing for European approval for ozanimod in MS is also expected to take place in Q1 2019 as well. That means both filings could potentially take place during the same quarter.

Hematology Franchise In Place

No doubt the setback for ozanimod is downright disappointing. The bright side is that Q1 2019 is not that far away. It could have been worse, where the FDA could have required another study that could have taken 2 to 3 years to complete. When you think about it though, Celgene will do just fine without ozanimod. Plus, if and when it does receive FDA approval the drug could bring in between $4 to $6 billion in sales. The good news is that the hematology franchise is holding up well. In the recent earnings report for Q1, Celgene noted that Revlimid sales increased by 19% year over year. Sales of Pomalyst (another blood cancer drug) increased by 24% year over year. The fact that both of these blood cancer drugs are still generating double digit gains year over year should be enough to sustain operations until ozanimod is ultimately approved.


Celgene lucked out big time, because if things got really bad the FDA could have required another long study. Instead, it seems that the company is getting away a lot easier than expected. That’s why I’m highly confident that it will receive FDA approval sometime during Q1 2019. I believe that Celgene’s management handled this situation well. The issue with the half-life metabolite of ozanimod was unfortunate, but it’s best to fix things first before seeking approval. The risk involved here would be that Novartis (NVS) has its own multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya which is currently approved by the FDA. Even then, Gilenya is coming off patent protection sometime towards the end of 2019. The good news is that Celgene’s ozanimod will still have the upper hand in terms of safety. That’s because both drugs match just about the same on efficacy, but ozanimod’s safety is better. Based on the better than expected recovery after the refusal-to-file letter, I believe that Celgene is a good buy.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Celgene Just Caught A Major Break From The FDA For Multiple Sclerosis Drug

European regulators: We're not ready for new privacy law

FRANKFURT/BRUSSELS/PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been billed as the biggest shake-up of data privacy laws since the birth of the web.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Google logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

There’s one problem: many of the regulators who will police it say they aren’t ready yet.

The pan-EU law comes into effect this month and will cover companies that collect large amounts of customer data including Facebook (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O). It won’t be overseen by a single authority but instead by a patchwork of national and regional watchdogs across the 28-nation bloc.

Seventeen of 24 authorities who responded to a Reuters survey said they did not yet have the necessary funding, or would initially lack the powers, to fulfill their GDPR duties.

“We’ve realized that our resources were insufficient to cope with the new missions given by the GDPR,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, president of France’s CNIL data privacy watchdog, said in an interview.

She, like some other regulators, was pressing her government for a substantial increase in resources and staff.

Many watchdogs lack powers because their governments have yet to update their laws to include the Europe-wide rules, a process that could take several months after GDPR takes effect on May 25.

Most respondents said they would react to complaints and investigate them on merit. A minority said they would proactively investigate whether companies were complying and sanction the most glaring violations.

Their responses suggest the GDPR enforcement regime will be weaker than the bloc’s anti-trust authority run directly by the European Commission, the EU executive, which hit Google here with a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9 billion) fine last year.

The launch of GDPR comes as data privacy is making headlines, with Facebook facing intense scrutiny over the leak of 87 million users’ personal data to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy that advised U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.


The law aims to give EU citizens more rights to control over their online information. It has a slew of technically demanding requirements, and threatens fines of up to 4 percent of a company’s annual revenue for serious infringements.

Companies, for example, must be able to provide European customers with a copy of their personal data, and under some circumstances delete it at their behest. They should also report serious data breaches within 72 hours.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The industries most affected will be those that collect large amounts of customer data, including technology companies, retailers, healthcare providers, insurers and banks.

Reuters sent all the regulators a four-question survey about how they would handle their responsibilities. Eighteen national authorities replied, plus data protection officers in six of the 16 German federal states who are responsible for enforcement.

Only five in total said the necessary data protection laws and funding in their jurisdiction were in place. Of the 17 who said they did not have the necessary funding and legislation, 11 expected both to be provided in future.

The new law calls for national watchdogs to assume the lead role in overseeing companies headquartered within their borders.

It does however create a central body, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), in an attempt to ensure the law is applied consistently across the bloc. The panel would serve both as a forum for regulators and issue binding rulings in disputes.

In the recent Facebook breach case, most regulators have not taken an active role because the firm’s EU headquarters is in Ireland, falling under the country’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC). Cambridge Analytica is being investigated by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The DPC of Ireland, which is also home to Google, Apple and Twitter, was among those who declined to take part in the survey, citing the complexity of the issues, as did the UK ICO.

The Irish authority did, however, say its budget and staffing had been ramped up in preparation for GDPR. Yet its funding this year, at 11.7 million euros, works out at less than one-thousandth of Facebook’s annual net income of $15.9 billion.

Johannes Caspar, the data protection commissioner in the German city-state of Hamburg, told Reuters he had had many differences of opinion with the Irish regulator in the past over its handling of Facebook, without giving details.

He also did not see the data protection board as an adequate forum to address issues, calling it “a cumbersome – and for outsiders certainly opaque – exercise”.


Italy’s data protection chief Antonello Soro welcomed the pan-European rules as a “guarantee against companies opening ‘convenience’ establishments in countries”. But its 2018 budget of just under 25 million euros and 122 active staff were inadequate to fulfill its responsibilities, and it would require double the funding and 300 staff.

Regulators largely did not specify what duties might be affected by a lack of resources. Experts expect oversight to be inconsistent at first, with regulators facing tough choices on whether to prioritize outreach work to encourage compliance, or enforcement actions against violators. Working smoothly as a group in the EDPB could also be a challenge.

“I think it will work but it will take time for companies and data protection authorities,” said Joerg Hladjk, counsel for cybersecurity, privacy and data protection at law firm Jones Day. “They need to try this out in practice.”

Estonia, known as a pioneer of e-governance, had backed a stronger regime enforced by the Commission.

Viljar Peep, head of the Estonian Data Protection Inspectorate, said the quality of enforcement under the chosen local system risked being inconsistent and would depend on the “administrative culture” of officials, which varied widely.

Some countries, like Estonia, took a broad view of data privacy, engaging with business and society to ensure the new rules are understood and respected, whereas others took a far narrower view, he added.

“Are we supposed to be proactive?” he asked.

($1 = 0.8386 euros)

Additional reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Pravin Char

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on European regulators: We're not ready for new privacy law

A 66-Year-Old Woman’s Brain Implant Was Shut Off By a Lightning Strike

A doctor in Slovenia has reported on a case with a lesson you might want to remember. If you wind up with a brain implant at some point down the road—including the kind that might someday allow you to control computers with your mind—be sure you don’t try and charge it during a thunderstorm.

According to the report, published earlier this month and spotted by Ars Technica, a 66-year-old patient with a brain implant was in her apartment when it was struck by lightning. The strike was strong enough to “burn and destroy” electrical appliances in the apartment, including a television and air conditioner.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

It was also strong enough to trigger a failsafe that shut off the woman’s brain implant, even though it wasn’t connected to the home’s wiring. The patient was being treated for involuntary neck spasms using a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS. It’s a well-established therapy that has been used for Parkinson’s disease for more than two decades, and was approved to treat severe obsessive-compulsive disorder in 2009. DBS treatment relies on an implant called a neurostimulator, in this case a unit from Medtronic, that sends electrical impulses to electrodes implanted in the brain.

The patient didn’t notice anything was wrong until an hour after the storm, when her spasms returned. She was able to get her implant reactivated and her tremors back under control quickly, and no damage to the implant was found.

But that outcome, according to the reporting doctor, could have been much worse if the implant had been plugged in to recharge during the lightning strike. Though the report doesn’t speculate on just how badly the patient could have been harmed, it does refer to “serious brain injury” in cases where patients with implants were exposed to strong electromagnetic fields. Electrical implants can be shut off or damaged when they get too close to generators, arc welders, or even medical equipment like MRI machines.

A medical neurostimulator isn’t precisely analogous to the kind of brain implants that entrepreneurs including Elon Musk want to develop. In fact, simple brain-computer interfaces have already been shown to work without any implant at all. But more sensitive versions of the technology probably will involve implants, so if you ever decide to literally hack your brain, be careful when you plug it in.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on A 66-Year-Old Woman’s Brain Implant Was Shut Off By a Lightning Strike

Chinese-American Elites Lament a Brewing Trade War

It’s not easy to promote closer US-China ties these days. The countries are moving toward a trade war; a US delegation left Beijing Friday reporting little progress on resolving disputes. US executives accuse China of stealing their intellectual property. The US government is imposing ever tighter restrictions on Chinese telecommunications firms.

That made an uncomfortable backdrop for the annual conference of the Committee of 100, a group of influential Chinese-Americans, in Silicon Valley over the weekend. The group billed the event as a “Bridge Between the US and China.” But speakers and attendees lamented deteriorating relations, heaped scorn on the Trump administration, and expressed concern that nativism could lead to discrimination against Chinese-Americans.

“It does not take a very stable genius to understand that the US relationship with China is now under severe stress,” Chas Freeman, a senior fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute, told several hundred guests. In 1972, Freeman was an interpreter for President Nixon during his first visit to China. More than four decades later, Freeman noted the growing hostility between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, even as their nations remain interdependent. “The US and China are each too globalized, too successful, and entangled to divorce,” he said.

Freeman and others said Trump administration policies risk weakening the US or exacerbating tensions between the countries. The tax cut approved by Congress last year will lead the government to issue more debt, much of which will be bought by the Chinese, he said. Blocking Chinese telecom company ZTE from buying US-made components could backfire by encouraging China to buttress its domestic suppliers; those firms could eventually displace US components in other products.

Not all the blame went toward Washington. Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego, said China is engaged in a “massive government-organized and lavishly funded drive to acquire foreign technology to make itself into a high-tech superpower.” After decades of movement toward a market-based economy, Shirk said the Chinese government is increasing its involvement in the economy, and re-emphasizing its socialist ideology. “What’s happening in China is not your normal industrial policy,” Shirk said. “These are efforts to reduce integration with the rest of the global economy.”

Shirk said executives and political leaders in other developed economies share concerns about China’s path. “This is a much broader and deeper concern than just Trump,” she said. Gary Locke, a former US ambassador to China, echoed that sentiment, saying China limits foreign ownership of Chinese businesses, prodding many US firms into uncomfortable joint ventures with Chinese companies that are, or could be, rivals.

Technology executives find the growing tensions unsettling. “As a tech person, I love to think that technology has no boundaries,” said Paul Yeh, who runs a Palo Alto, California venture capital fund that invests in both the US and China. But Yeh said he’s not naive, and thinks the tech industry ultimately will suffer from the hostility. One potential warning sign: Three-fourths of respondents to a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China said foreign businesses are less welcome in China than previously.

Beneath the rhetoric, China has emerged as a legitimate tech power. Locke, the former ambassador, noted that Chinese inventors filed more patents than those from any other nation last year, and the country is home to the world’s fastest supercomputer. China has been particularly aggressive in artificial intelligence, with a national goal to catch the US by 2020. China’s SenseTime, which makes image-analysis software, is now the world’s most valuable AI startup.

Fei-Fei Li, Google’s chief scientist for artificial intelligence and machine learning, offered a more personal perspective on the rivalry between the two countries. Li was born in China and came to the US during high school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics before moving into computer science and ultimately, AI. She noted that the discoveries that revolutionized physics in the early 20th century came from scientists in several countries. “No company or country owned modern physics,” she said, drawing a parallel to artificial intelligence. “We all benefit.”

In some areas, the two countries are so interconnected that it’s hard to distinguish what is American and what is Chinese. Several startups pursuing self-driving technology include people from both countries and technology from both countries, said Jonathan Woetzel, the Asia-based director of the McKinsey Global Institute. “Business is what happens while politicians are talking,” he said.

Rising Tension

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Chinese-American Elites Lament a Brewing Trade War

Why Elon Musk and Warren Buffett Are Suddenly Trolling Each Other Over See’s Candies

During the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting Saturday, CEO Warren Buffett offered some advice to Tesla’s Elon Musk: Stay away from See’s Candies.

What the renowned investor probably didn’t anticipate was that Musk, a fellow multi-billionaire, would interpret his message as a dare.

Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns See’s Candies, was responding to a shareholder’s question about whether he agreed with Musk’s views about so-called economic “moats,” a term Buffett coined in a 1999 Fortune article referring to a company’s wide competitive advantages.

While Buffett has long extolled the benefits of moats—which are a key component of his stock-picking process—Musk spurned the concept entirely during a Tesla earnings call this week.

“I think moats are lame,” Musk told analysts on Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday. “They are like nice in a sort of quaint, vestigial way. If your only defense against invading armies is a moat, you will not last long. What matters is the pace of innovation, that is the fundamental determinant of competitiveness.”

Presented with Musk’s comment, Buffett acknowledged that the acceleration of technological advancement in recent years has made more moats vulnerable and “susceptible to invasion.” But he still believes the concept is crucially important, and that some companies’ moats are more impenetrable now than they’ve ever been.

“Certainly you should be working on improving your own moat and defending your own moat all the time. And Elon may turn things upside down in some areas,” Buffett said during the Berkshire meeting in Omaha. “I don’t think he’d want to take us on in candy.”

Buffett often cites See’s Candies as a company with a wide moat, because of the company’s loyal, entrenched customer base, particularly on the West Coast—making it difficult for any rival chocolate chains to steal any business from See’s.

Berkshire Hathaway acquired See’s Candies in 1972, and Buffett is famously fond of its peanut brittle— which he and his business partner Charlie Munger continuously munch on while answering questions for six hours at their shareholder meeting each year. Some of Berkshire Hathaway’s other businesses also have moats wide enough to stave off competition from an innovative tech upstart, such as Garanimals, a line of children’s clothing it owns, Buffett added.

Munger also scoffed at Musk’s perspective on moats. “Elon says a conventional moat is quaint, and that’s true of a puddle of water. And he says that the best moat would be to have a big competitive position, and that is also right,” Munger said. “It’s ridiculous. Warren does not intend to build an actual moat. Even though they’re quaint.”

Musk, who did not attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, caught wind of Buffett and Munger’s comments, and apparently felt he was being trolled. Responding to the Berkshire Hathaway executives in a series of tweets, Musk first posted a musical YouTube clip from the movie Trolls.

Then Musk announced on Twitter, “I’m starting a candy company and it’s going to be amazing.”

Although the Tesla CEO insisted he was “super super serious,” the tone of his Twitter thread — in which he also noted that “the plot of Willy Wonka is really messed up” — suggested otherwise. Still, Musk added, “Ok ok, just for sake of argument, what do you wish for in candy?” He followed that up with a single-word tweet: “Cryptocandy.”

Both Buffett and Munger loathe cryptocurrencies, which the Berkshire CEO on Saturday predicted “will come to bad endings.”

Later in the evening, Musk referenced Buffett directly, tweeting that he was “going to build a moat and fill it with candy” in order to lure Berkshire Hathaway into investing in his confectionery venture.

As for whether the investing duo will respond to Musk, it’s unlikely they even took notice of his tweets: While Buffett has a Twitter account, he has tweeted exactly nine times, and not since the 2016 Berkshire Hathaway meeting two years ago.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Why Elon Musk and Warren Buffett Are Suddenly Trolling Each Other Over See’s Candies

Why Warren Buffett Thinks Buying Microsoft Stock ‘Would Be a Mistake’

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have known each other 27 years, enjoy playing bridge together and rallying in ping pong at the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting.

But the billionaires’ friendship has its boundaries: Buffett will never buy Microsoft stock.

“It just would be a mistake for Berkshire to buy Microsoft,” the famous stock picker said at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting Saturday.

Buffett has been notoriously averse to tech stocks for most of his investing career, though in 2016 he stunned shareholders by buying Apple stock, which is now by far Berkshire Hathaway’s largest holding.

Yet Buffett’s resistance to Microsoft (msft) has nothing to do with its business model or industry. Rather, the problem lies with Gates, who joined the Berkshire Hathaway board in 2004, and retired as chairman of Microsoft in 2014.

“If something happened a week later, a month later, in terms of [Microsoft] having better earnings than expected or making an acquisition—anything—both Bill and I would, incorrectly, but would be a target of suggestions and accusations, perhaps even, that somehow he had told me something, or vice versa,” Buffett said at the Berkshire meeting in Omaha.

In other words, Buffett is concerned with avoiding even the slightest perception of insider trading—however false—or anything that could invite such suspicions.

“I try to stay away from a few things just totally because the inference would be drawn that we might have talked, I might have talked to somebody about something,” Buffett added. “There’d be a lot of people who wouldn’t believe us if something good immediately happened after we bought it.”

Of course, Buffett had plenty of opportunities to buy Microsoft stock without any remote appearance of insider trading. Microsoft went public in 1986—more than five years before Buffett even met Gates. So why didn’t the Oracle of Omaha invest back then?

“In the earlier years, it’s very clear—the answer is stupidity,” Buffett admitted.

Now, Microsoft is just one of “a few [companies] that are off the list” of what Berkshire Hathaway (brk-a) is willing to invest in because of ethical conflicts, Buffett said. (He did not name the others in this group.)

“But both that and my stupidity have cost us a lot of money,” he added.

At least it doesn’t seem to be getting in the way of his friendship with Gates.

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Why Warren Buffett Thinks Buying Microsoft Stock ‘Would Be a Mistake’

10 Quotes From The 2 Best Entrepreneurial Minds Alive

Having spent the past 10 years relentlessly studying psychology, self-improvement, and entrepreneurship, there are many people who have inspired and influenced my thinking.

However, over the past 3 years, I’ve come across two thinkers who stick out. Not just in their thinking, but their overall approach to life and business.

Naturally, both of these entrepreneurs are highly aligned, synergistic, and yet very different.

These two entrepreneurs are Dan Sullivan and Joe Polish. Dan is the founder of Strategic Coach, which is considered by many to be the #1 entrepreneurial coaching program in the world. Joe is the founder of Genius Network, GeniusX, and Genius Recovery. Genius Network is considered the #1 entrepreneurial mastermind group in the world. 


“Always make your future bigger than your past.”―Dan Sullivan

“Who, not how.”―Dan Sullivan

“As an entrepreneur, you’ve removed yourself from the restrictions and limitations of other people’s systems. Still, it’s amazing how many of us strive to meet others’ expectations and demands – or set up rigid, impossible ideals for ourselves.”―Dan Sullivan

“Over scheduled entrepreneurs can’t transform.”―Dan Sullivan

“For a company to achieve 10x, it doesn’t need you managing – it needs self-managing.”―Dan Sullivan


“Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.”―Joe Polish

“Wherever there is anxiety, there is opportunity. Transform bad news into good news, and leverage that with marketing.”―Joe Polish

“Any problem in the world can be solved with the right Genius Network.”―Joe Polish

“Opposite of addiction is connection.”―Joe Polish

“Be willing to destroy anything that isn’t excellent.”―Joe Polish

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on 10 Quotes From The 2 Best Entrepreneurial Minds Alive

How to Change Your Twitter Password Right Now

On Thursday, Twitter chief technology officer Parag Agrawal disclosed in a blog post that the company had inadvertently recorded user passwords, in plaintext, in an internal system. This is not how things are supposed to go! And while Twitter has fixed the bug, and doesn’t think any of the exposed passwords were accessed in any way, you should still change your Twitter password right now to make sure your account is secure.

“It’s a bad thing and Twitter should be held to the fire for it,” says David Kennedy, CEO of the penetration testing firm TrustedSec. “But they are taking the right steps by requesting everyone change their password and making the bug public versus hiding it.”

Twitter has begun notifying both mobile and desktop users to change their passwords, but several people have reported errors and lags, presumably because everyone is trying to make account changes at once (which is good!).

Companies generally protect user passwords by scrambling them in a cryptographic process known as hashing. As Agrawal explained, Twitter does this, too, using a well-regarded hash function called bcrypt. But a bug caused Twitter to accidentally store passwords unprotected in some type of internal log before its password management system finished hashing them. The system would then complete the hash, and everything would look fine, even though the passwords were readable in the log. While it’s great that Twitter eventually realized the situation and is taking steps to ensure that it never happens again, it’s disconcerting that such a fundamental flaw in a crucial user protection existed in the first place.

“I’m sorry that this happened,” Agrawal wrote on Twitter after posting the announcement. “We are sharing this information to help people make an informed decision about their account security. We didn’t have to, but believe it’s the right thing to do.” The disclosure came on World Password Day.

It’s true that Twitter could have simply implemented remediations and hoped for the best, but its users deserve to know if and when their passwords have been exposed—especially because it’s always possible that the data actually was improperly accessed. And the company could have gone even farther with its disclosure. “We ask that you consider changing your password on all services where you’ve used this password,” Agrawal wrote in the statement. Instead of making it optional, Twitter could have forced all of its users to change their passwords to guarantee their security.

To do just that for your own account, navigate to Settings and privacy > Password. Enter your current password and then pick a new one. And if you used your old Twitter password for any other accounts, you should change those, too.

While you’re at it, set up two-factor authentication for Twitter if you don’t have it enabled already. Go to Settings and privacy > Account. In the Security subsection, click on Review your login verification methods. After entering your (newly revised) password to confirm that you want to make changes, you’ll land on a Login verification screen. Here you can set things up so you receive second factor codes via SMS or, preferably, using a code-generating app like Google Authenticator or Authy. The problem Twitter announced today is exactly the type of situation where two-factor is helpful—even if your Twitter password was compromised while it was exposed in the internal log, two-factor would keep a bad actor from using that information alone to access your account.

Twitter declined to comment on how long the plaintext passwords were exposed, or why the company decided not to reset all user passwords, but it seems to have acted in good faith to resolve the issue. For a platform with 336 million users, though, it’s a pretty major gaffe.

Past Passwords

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on How to Change Your Twitter Password Right Now

Facebook Dating Looks a Lot Like Hinge

When Facebook announced a new dating feature at its annual developer conference this week, it drew quick comparisons to existing apps like Tinder and Bumble. But the social network’s matchmaking service, simply called Dating, most closely resembles another, lesser known dating app: Hinge.

Facebook hasn’t yet begun to test Dating, but the demo version touted on stage by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief product officer Chris Cox looks nearly identical to Hinge. This isn’t the first time Facebook has ripped off a competitor; Instagram famously lifted Stories from Snapchat in 2016. And as in previous cases, Hinge probably doesn’t have much recourse to stop them.

Based on the demo shown at the F8 developer conference, Facebook Dating doesn’t have a Tinder-like “hot or not” swiping feature for quickly sorting through potential matches. Instead, it works like Hinge, which has users scroll through detailed profiles. Both Hinge and Facebook Dating also allow users to post answers to questions on their profiles, like whether they prefer dogs or cats. And in the biggest similarity, singles on both services can start conversations not by merely saying hello but by commenting on a specific profile item. For example, you can click on a picture of a crush’s trip to Morocco and mention that you’ve been there too. You can also simply “like” an image, video, or question response to signify your interest.

Hinge and Facebook Dating also share the same ethos. On stage, Zuckerberg stressed that Dating focuses on finding meaningful relationships rather than hookups. Hinge advertises itself the same way. In 2016, the app added a paid service; for $7 a month, users can interact with an unlimited number of potential matches and gain access to other exclusive features. The assumption is that people willing to pay to find a relationship are looking for something more substantial than casual dating. Facebook wants to do the same, just without the price tag.

Like most popular dating apps, Hinge also largely relies on Facebook data to operate; you even need a Facebook account to sign up, though the company says it’s developing a workaround. Hinge uses info from the social network to show you potential matches that have friends in common with you. You can also automatically pull in your Facebook photos and other information.

Again, Facebook Dating has yet to launch, so it’s impossible to know exactly how much it has in common with Hinge. But at first glance, they seem nearly identical, not just because they have the same features but also in the way they’re designed. Facebook didn’t respond to requests for comment about the similarities. Hinge, meanwhile, is playing it off as a compliment.

“When the Hinge team saw the similarity between our designs, particularly the profile and liking interaction, we congratulated each other. It’s gratifying to have one of the world’s biggest technology companies enter the dating space and draw so much inspiration from Hinge,” Tim MacGougan, Hinge’s vice president of product, said in an email. “We’re interested to see how their product evolves as they find their footing, and we’ll keep our focus on innovating at the forefront of the anti-swipe, pro-dating movement.”



Besides, it’s not like Hinge can really do anything about it. The reality is tech companies have ripped off each other’s interfaces for years, even if Facebook has a few recent, brazen examples. And legally, they’re entitled to.

“I don’t think any claim that Hinge could plausibly raise would stand much of a chance of being successful,” says Evan Brown, a partner at the firm Much Shelist who specializes in technology and intellectual property law. Brown explains that copyright laws are designed to protect creative expression, rather than methods of doing something, like crafting a successful dating app. “When you look at the similarities between how Hinge looks and Facebook looks, those similarities—as I see it—are purely factual or methodological,” he says.

Brown points to a 1996 Supreme Court case, Lotus Development Corp v. Borland International, in which a software company tried to assert that a drop-down menu it created was protected by copyright. The high court was split, but a lower court held that copyright doesn’t extend to the user interface of a computer. Brown says many of the same issues would come into play with Hinge. “No one would think they have exclusivity under copyright, it’s the very same thing here,” he says. “These are just stock elements of how interfaces look and operate.”

That hasn’t stopped other dating apps from suing each other, though. In March, Match Group, which owns Tinder, sued competing dating app Bumble for violating its patents and trademarks, as well as misusing trade secrets. Bumble quickly countered with a lawsuit of its own—accusing Match of coaxing it into revealing confidential information under the impression that it might purchase it. Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble, was previously one of the earliest employees at Tinder.

Daniel Nazer, a staff attorney on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s intellectual property team, thinks Tinder’s case faces many of the same pitfalls. “I think most utility patents in this space face the same problems,” he says. (Utility patents protect new machines, processes, and other inventions). He specifically cites Alice Corp v CLS Bank International, a landmark Supreme Court case from 2014 that found an abstract idea doesn’t become eligible for a patent just because it’s implemented on a computer. The decision is largely seen as having been crucial in helping software companies fight back against patent trolls. He thinks the case decision makes Tinder’s patents invalid. IAC, Match’s parent company, declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Facebook’s copycat moves can still feel unfair, especially for a company of its size. But bringing already successful features to new products mostly stands to benefit users. If Stories are any indication, people won’t mind that Facebook Dating’s look originated elsewhere. The social network announced earlier this week that a whopping 450 million people use WhatsApp Status every day, the Facebook-owned app’s version of Stories. Snapchat, by comparison, has less than 200 million users total. For now though, all Hinge can do is keep talking to Facebook, and hope the social network doesn’t kill its business.

“Since the announcement, our team has been in touch with Facebook about what our relationship will look like moving forward,” says Hinge’s MacGougan.

Internet Dating Diaries

Posted in Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Web Hosting Comparison Review, Web Hosting News | Comments Off on Facebook Dating Looks a Lot Like Hinge