19 March

News briefs:June 10, 2010

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18 March

USPTO partially confirms validity of Amazon “1-click patent”

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued an office action, which confirmed the patentability of claims 6 to 10 of the Amazon 1-Click patent, US 5,960,411. The patent examiner, however, rejected claims 1 to 5 and 11 to 15. Amazon now has up to six months to amend the rejected claims to overcome the examiner’s rejection, provide arguments to demonstrate that the examiner is in error and/or provide evidence to demonstrate the patentability of their claims. During this period, the entire patent is still considered valid under US patent law.

The USPTO is reconsidering the patentability of the claims due to a request for reexamination filed by New Zealander Peter Calveley. Mr. Calveley used internet archives to show that defunct company Digi Cash used a similar technique prior to Amazon. Despite costing a substantial sum of cash and requiring donations to prepare and file the request for reexamination, Calveley said he did it as a game and hopes that his success inspires others to play the same game.

“One Click” shopping is an ecommerce technique, which allows a customer to purchase products via the Internet without repeatedly entering personal information such as name and address. At the time it was introduced it eased the frustration of on-line shopping.

Amazon filed the patent application for 1-click shopping in early 1997 and was granted the patent in September 1999. 23 days later Amazon sued rival Barnes & Noble for alleged infringement by its “Express Lane” ordering which was introduced in 1998. In December 1999 Amazon won an interim injunction against Barnes & Noble but the USA Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit lifted this injunction in February 2001. The parties then settled their dispute for undisclosed terms. Amazon has since successfully licensed the technique to other e-sellers such as Apple.

18 March

17 million accounts’ hashed passwords, emails stolen, Zomato says

Friday, May 19, 2017

Yesterday, Zomato, a food ordering and restaurant finding company, announced security breach of more than 17 million accounts, via their official blog. A hacker operating under the alias nclay uploaded evidence to prove they had the stolen data — hashed passwords and emails — for sale, Hackread.com reported. Zomato later announced they contacted the hacker, who asked Zomato to organise a bug bounty programme.

The food ordering company, with 120 million monthly users, said the payment information of the users was not located with this data and was not leaked. Zomato said it uses PCI Data Security Standards.

As a security measure, all the passwords of the involved Zomato accounts were reset and all of the accounts were forcibly logged out from the application and website. The company said only hashed passwords were compromised.

Hashed passwords are encrypted and, per Zomato, every password had a different “salt”, for cryptographic salting was performed before hashing the original password. A “salt” is a random set of characters added before encryption to make decryption to obtain the original passkey more difficult.

The hashed password itself can not be used to access the account. In the blog post before contacting the hacker, saying “internal (human) security breach”, Zomato suggested this could have happened after a worker’s development account was hijacked. After contacting the hacker, and promising a bug bounty programme on Hackerone, they said, the hacker agreed and removed the stolen data which was put on sale on the dark web. Zomato said they are looking forward to working closely with the ethical hacker community on security vulnerabilities.

18 March

The Basics Of Apartment Building Investing

By Tony Seruga, Yolanda Seruga And Yolanda Bishop

If you are considering getting involved in commercial real estate investing, then there are a variety of individual markets that you may want to consider. Some of the different markets to consider include raw land, industrial warehouses, apartment buildings, office complexes, and many more. However, one excellent type of investing that you may want to give some consideration is apartment building investing. No doubt you will want to know a bit more about apartment building investing before you get started, so let’s take a closer look at the basics of real estate investment in apartment buildings. Why Choose to Invest in Apartment Buildings?

More than likely you are wondering why apartment building investing is such a great idea. Well, one of the main reasons to consider a real estate investment in this particular market is because they usually carry fairly low risk and they also help to keep up with inflation because they only deal in short term leases. So, as the market begins to rise, you can increase your income as well. Also, when you get involved in investing in apartments, you’ll find that you can enjoy equity appreciation as well as good cash flow. Many investors have found that investing in apartment buildings is a great choice because of the huge demand and the low risk. In fact, many statistics are showing a rise in demand for apartments, since so many people cannot afford to own their own home.

How Much Will I Need to Get Started?

Now that you understand why apartment building investing is such a great idea, you need to take a look at how you can get started when it comes to this type of real estate investment. Well, first of all, you are going to have the down payment available, which usually is about 30% of the total purchase amount of the apartment building. However, the amount of equity that you invest in an apartment can actually affect the investment returns and the risk that is associated with the apartments. So, for this reason, usually a larger down payment is a safer risk.

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How Can I Qualify for a Loan for the Entire Purchase Amount?

Actually, it is the building that must qualify for the loan; however, you do have to provide the security to your lender as well. You will find that almost all lenders for apartment buildings will require that you guarantee the loan personally. However, usually they will not give you the loan unless they think the building will provide plenty of cash flow to cover the loan payments. So, when you are involved in apartment building investing, you’ll find that your lender actually has quite a bit to say about the amount of cash that you will need to invest in an apartment offering.

How Can I Manage My Investment

When it comes to managing your real estate investment, there are a variety of different ways that you can approach this. There are some investors involved in apartment building investing that take the time to manage their property on their own; however, others decide to hire managers for their property so they can concentrate on other things. If you have a building that has at least 20 units or more, usually it will actually support the cost of having a professional live in manager. However, if you have a building that has less than 10 units in it, it will be more cost effective to manage it yourself. So, if you go for larger buildings you’ll be more likely to be able to afford management. There are many professionals available out there to help you manage your apartments when you are involved in apartment building investing.

How Can I Analyze Possible Investments?

If you are planning on purchasing an apartment building as a real estate investment, then you first should take the time to look closely at the past couple of years’ history. Look at the expenses and the income for the past couple of years and also take the time to inspect the entire building as well. Even looking at the tenant files is a great idea as well when analyzing possible investments. This will help you see what you can expect to make in the next few years and also should help you determine the price that the property is really worth.

The Importance of Finding a Broker that is Qualified

If you plan on getting involved in apartment building investing, one of the best things that you can do is to find a broker that is qualified to help you out. Having a good broker that is qualified in the area of real estate investments that you are interested in can be a huge help. They can help you find properties that may be right for you and can also help you make sure that you are aware of the laws in your area as well. So, if you are serious about apartment building investing, having an experienced broker on your side is a great plus.

As you can see, there are many great benefits to getting involved in apartment building investing. However, you will have to do your part to make sure that you truly make money off of these investments. So, take advantage of these basics and use them to your advantage to maximize your profits.

About the Author: Tony Seruga, Yolanda Seruga and Yolanda Bishop of


specialize in commercial and investment real estate. As of May, 2006, they and their partners are managing over $600 million dollars worth of new projects.



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18 March

Eurozone offers Greece 30 billion euro in loans

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Member states of the eurozone have offered to give Greece thirty billion euro in emergency loans for the debt-stricken country, should the latter want it.

The loans’ price will be determined using formulas by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and will be set at around five percent.

The Luxembourgish prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking on behalf of eurozone finance ministers, commented that “[t]he total amount put up by the eurozone member states for the first year will reach 30bn euros.” He added that “[t]his is certainly no subsidy” to Greece.

The prime minister also noted that financing would be “completed and co-financed” by the IMF. European Union monetary affairs chief Olli Rehn remarked that the IMF would make a “substantial contribution” to the loan package as well, perhaps around ten billion euros.

The Greek economy has spent more than it has earned for several years now, and currently faces a budget deficit equal to 12.9% of its economic output, or a total debt of 300 billion euros. The country intends to try and reduce the deficit to 8.7% this year.

17 March

HIV-positive man receives 35 years for spitting on Dallas police officer

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An HIV-positive man was sentenced to 35 years in prison Wednesday, one day after being convicted of harassment of a public servant for spitting into the eye and open mouth of a Dallas, Texas police officer in May 2006. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that no one has ever contracted HIV from saliva, and a gay-rights and AIDS advocacy group called the sentence excessive.

A Dallas County jury concluded that Willie Campbell’s act of spitting on policeman Dan Waller in 2006 constituted the use of his saliva as a deadly weapon. The incident occurred while Campbell, 42, was resisting arrest while being taken into custody for public intoxication.

“He turns and spits. He hits me in the eye and mouth. Then he told me he has AIDS. I immediately began looking for something to flush my eyes with,” said Waller to The Dallas Morning News.

Officer Waller responded after a bystander reported seeing an unconscious male lying outside a building. Dallas County prosecutors stated that Campbell attempted to fight paramedics and kicked the police officer who arrested him for public intoxication.

It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears.

Prosecutors said that Campbell yelled that he was innocent during the trial, and claimed a police officer was lying. Campbell’s lawyer Russell Heinrichs said that because he had a history of convictions including similarly attacking two other police officers, biting inmates, and other offenses, he was indicted under a habitual offender statute. The statute increased his minimum sentence to 25 years in prison. Because the jury ruled that Campbell’s saliva was used as a deadly weapon, he will not be eligible for parole until completing at least half his sentence.

If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.

The organization Lambda Legal (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund), which advocates for individuals living with HIV, says that saliva should not be considered a deadly weapon. Bebe Anderson, the HIV projects director at Lambda Legal, spoke with The Dallas Morning News about the sentence. “It’s been 25 years since the virus was identified, but there are still lots of fears,” said Anderson.

The Dallas County prosecutor who handled the trial, Jenni Morse, said that the deadly weapon finding was justified. “No matter how minuscule, there is some risk. That means there is the possibility of causing serious bodily injury or death,” said Morse. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins stated: “If you look at the facts of this case, it was clear that the defendant intended to cause serious bodily injury.”

Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.

A page at the CDC’s website, HIV and Its Transmission, states: “HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from some AIDS patients.” The subsection “Saliva, Tears, and Sweat” concludes that: “Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.” On Friday the Dallas County Health Department released a statement explaining that HIV is most commonly spread through sexual contact, sharing needles, or transfusion from an infected blood product.

17 March

Demonstrations planned to protest internet censorship in Finland

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On March 4, 2008 a demonstration against censorship is planned to be held at the Finnish Parliament, part of the continuing controversy over the Finnish Internet child porn filter. The organizers of the demonstration expect at least two-hundred participants, with representatives of the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) and several political parties will also present.

The controversy arose after the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) blacklisted censorship critic Matti Nikki’s site. Matti Nikki himself is now under criminal investigation for aiding in the distribution of child pornography, as he published a large portion of the filtering blacklist on his still-censored website. MP Jyrki Kasvi has made an official inquiry in the Finnish Parliament on the matter, and Effi has filed an official complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman.

The Finnish Minister of Communication, Suvi Lindén, and the NBI have been severely criticized over the filtering system, which has been under heavy scrutiny by the media. After stating that she will not tolerate discussion criticizing the filtering system, as the situation is not a matter of freedom of speech, a petition was signed by over 12,000 people demanding her resignation. This was accompanied by a Thai civil rights group questioning the blocking as child porn of a memorial site dedicated to a member of the Thai royal family. Eventually the NBI removed the memorial site from the blacklist, explaining that the DNS based system blocks only whole sites, and that there was child pornography site under the same domain; this raised questions about the efficiency of the filtering system.

Lindén later admitted that she did not know the details of the filtering system, as it had been established by her predecessors, before the change of government in early 2007. She has nevertheless defended the system, citing the protection of children, but admitted that there are problems with the Finnish system, and in other countries with similar systems.

The NBI have published a statement explaining their actions, at the request of Lindén. In it the NBI stated that there are filtered sites that do not contain any child pornography, but claimed that it was not their fault, rather a side effect of the system. They also noted that they are planning to address this issue by switching from a DNS based filter to a URL based system.

According to a prominent Finnish expert of filtering technology, the planned URL filtering would cost least two million euros. This estimate comes at the same time that the government cut back funds for work against child abuse, causing further uproar.

The NBI’s official position is that they block pornographic sites where the actors look too young, and sites which link to these sites. The argument for the filtering is that there is a large amount of child pornography on the Internet, most of it based on servers in countries where the authorities are indifferent to the issue.

The general opinion after analysis by multiple people is that the list of at least 1,700 sites contains a handful of actual child pornographic sites, most of which are not located in Western countries. However, some sites in the list are located in countries like the United States, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany, and very few of those contain even questionable or borderline material. Dutch journalist Karin Spaink reviewed 40 sites on the list which were physically located in the Netherlands. She concluded that some of the sites have illegal child pornography, and that four of those are also blocked in the Netherlands by their equivalent filtering system. She estimated that about half of the 40 did not contain any illegal material.

Effi’s response to the NBI’s statement was that the issue with censorship is not technical but that it has no place in an open, democratic society.

17 March

Crossrail set to only compensate £50 for land rights, London, UK

Friday, July 22, 2005

The British Parliament approved the first stage of the new Crossrail underground railroad through London as a £15 billion construction project earlier this month. Crossrail is the first major new train line to be built in London in decades.

The rail line being implemented as a hybrid bill in Parliament. After a second reading in Parliament, it was voted upon and decided that the government will commit to the project so that the line will be built.

The next issue before Parliament of to ensure that the implementation of the bill so it is consistent with private interests of neighborhoods to be affected by Crossrail. This is when residents can petition Parliament to change the way the line is constructed.

As a result of construction of the Crossrail line, hundreds of homes will have new tunnels excavated beneath them.

On contacting Crossrail, they have indicated approximately £50 will be offered to each landowner to buy all the land rights-of-way to build the train tunnel more than 9 meters below the residential buildings. The average value for properties in the affected areas is £350,000.

Under UK compulsory purchase laws to be used in this bill, the residents are entitled to the difference in the value of the whole property with and without a tunnel under it. If the offer given by Crossrail is not accepted by any of the residents, the residents can take the case to the Land Tribunal, where the fair value will be established.

This however, could be cost prohibitive. Crossrail does not indicate that it will attempt to assign a fair value in the original offer and instead is only going to offer around £50 per property in the hope that not many people take the matter to the Land Tribunal.

14 March

Amazon to buy smart doorbell startup Ring

Friday, March 2, 2018

On Tuesday representatives from US-based online retailer Amazon.com and smart doorbell company Ring announced the startup company will be acquired by Amazon. Ring builds WiFi-connected video doorbells that allow homeowners to view and talk to people at their door from their smartphone. Ring also sells security cameras.

The deal was not officially announced to have happened, although an Amazon spokesperson told about the acquisition to US television channel CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel).

Analysts suggested the deal could aid the Amazon Key service, which allows Amazon grocery, and other, deliveries to be dropped off inside Amazon Prime members’ homes. Use of Ring WiFi-connected cameras would complement the indoor Cloud Cam Amazon provides to members.

Previously, Ring’s CEO, Jamie Siminoff, remarked the company started when his doorbell wasn’t audible from his shop in his garage. He built a WiFi door bell, he said. Siminoff said sales boosted after his 2013 appearance in a Shark Tank episode where the show panel declined funding the startup. In late 2017, Siminoff appeared on shopping television channel QVC. Ring also settled a lawsuit with competing security company, the ADT Corporation.

Amazon’s Echo smart home speaker product had already been integrated with Ring, by taking voice commands to show the image from a Ring front door camera on an Echo Show device. Amazon had also purchased Blink, a manufacturer of internet-connected security cameras and doorbells, in late 2017.

13 March

Report urges Kenya to ban plastic bags

Wednesday, March 9, 2005File:Plastic bag stock sized.jpg

They are cheap, useful, and very plentiful, and that is exactly the problem, according to researchers. A report issued on Feb. 23 by a cadre of environment and economics researchers suggested that Kenya should ban the common plastic bag that one gets at the checkout counter of grocery stores, and place a levy on other plastic bags, all to combat the country’s environmental problems stemming from the bags’ popularity.

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