Terminal Madness started out as a Computer Bulletin Board, ( BBS ) back around 1993. Fascinated that one could get all the information they ever wanted "on line", for FREE, the "BBS" was named Terminal Madness. I have been hooked on tech ever since. I took my "username" BrainStorm as I love the concept of getting a group of people together to solve... a problem, "Brainstorming". More

Amazon Kindle for Kids Review: Kid Tested, Mother Approved

Amazon Kindle for Kids Review: Kid Tested, Mother Approved

Like most parents, I try to limit my kid’s screen time. But screens are so ubiquitous that it’s sometimes hard for me to grasp how thoroughly they’ve infiltrated my kids’ lives.

My almost 5-year-old now uses a Portal to call her grandparents. She watches Wishenpoof! on a Fire tablet for kids at the doctor’s office and asks me to look up what sloths eat on my phone. We order Halloween costumes on my laptop. Even our local library has tablets available for children in the lobby.

So it was less surprising than it might have been to find that the Kindle Kids Edition helped her get into reading longer books. After all, my kids see me reading on my Kindle much more than they see me toting giant hardcovers around the house. They know exactly what it is, and are excited to read, too.

When I opened it, she willingly set down the picture books, scrolled through the selections, and listened to me read aloud 10 chapters of Ariel’s Birthday Surprise before bed. Now she carries it around with her, much like I do, and I’ve white-listed a few other selections into her FreeTime profile.

It's not quite what I thought teaching my kid to read would look like—she isn't lying on her bedroom floor, flipping through my vintage 1970s editions of The Chronicles of Narnia. But if it gets her interested in reading longer books, I’ll take it.

Basket Case

Amazon has a habit of taking its devices for grown-ups, slapping a case on them, and upcharging you $20. But like its Fire tablets for kids, I think it's worth it.

The Kindle Kids is basically a 10th-generation Kindle. It's Wi-Fi-enabled and has the same 6-inch display—and at around 10 ounces, it’s small enough that my daughter has no problem holding it with one hand. It comes in a special printed case with a magnetic cover, and it's so stinking cute that my kid keeps sneaking it into bed with her.

Photograph: Amazon

The display uses the same black and white E Ink display, with 167 ppi, with the same adjustable lighted screen. And it’s still in grayscale, so the pictures aren’t in color. I did miss color in picture books like The Brilliant Deep, but I was surprised to find that in many books, it didn’t matter. For example, Hugh Lofting’s line drawings in Dr. Doolittle looked fine in monochrome.

It comes with a year’s subscription to FreeTime Unlimited ($3 a month after that), as well as a two-year unlimited warranty. If your child drops it in the toilet just once, you recoup that extra $20, and it will still be cheaper than buying your child the Paperwhite—an important note, since the Kindle Kids Edition isn’t waterproof.

On a side-by-side comparison, Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited platform does not look all that different from the home page on any Kindle—familiar, if still a little wonky and hard to navigate. FreeTime Unlimited suggests age-appropriate characters, themes, popular books, books in Spanish, and books you might like. In our case, that category was mainly books about princesses.

It has Bluetooth for Audible books, which are forthcoming (as of publication, Amazon has not clarified the release date). And at 8 GB, it actually has twice as much storage than the standard Kindle—it can hold almost a thousand books. As always, battery life is excellent, too. After two weeks of reading for a half-hour or more every night, the battery is still at 54 percent.

The Sky's The Limit

At almost 5, my kid is younger than the recommended age for the Kindle Kids, which is 7. At her age, I’ve found FreeTime Unlimited to be a valuable service. It limits her exposure to terrible ads for squishy garbage balls on YouTube Kids, and I like the quality of Amazon’s kid shows, like Pete the Cat and Tumble Leaf.

With FreeTime Unlimited, you pay for peace of mind. I feel fine letting my child watch videos on our Fire tablet for a half-hour without watching over her shoulder. Monitoring your child’s content might be less of an issue when they get to age 7. My parents definitely didn’t feel the need to read every Harry Potter book along with me. If you do want to tailor your kid's FreeTime experience on the Kindle Kids Edition, you might run into a few problems. For example, you can pause, block, or set time limits on Fire tablets and devices, but you cannot pause them on the Kindle Kids Edition.

Even for younger kids, FreeTime's selection can be a little limited. For example, last night my kid requested princess books. When I searched for them, nine pages of Disney content showed up.

However, much like it is with my grown-up Kindle, we’re not confined to the Amazon universe when it comes to books. You can't add music or Prime Videos into your kid's profile, but it is ridiculously easy to add ebooks. Once I’ve checked out an ebook from my local library, I can access my Amazon parent dashboard and click “Add Content” to add the book to my child’s profile. It usually showed up in 10-15 minutes.

If you turn off parental controls entirely, it's just a regular Kindle. But you will still need the parent PIN number, which I hope your child doesn’t have.

A Kid's Kindle Makes Sense

Of all the devices that Amazon has chosen to child-proof, I think the Kindle makes the most sense. It's one of Amazon’s best, and simplest, devices. It doesn’t let hackers open your garage or melt your kid’s brain with inane games, like painting a leopard’s toenails. It doesn’t send transcripts of you cooing to your toddler to contractors in the Ukraine, or let alt-right Nazis DM your son.

In fact, it’s one of the few devices that can actually save you money, if you're an avid reader with a library card.

You could also buy a regular Kindle and monitor your child’s reading lists through their online library account. But if you have trouble thinking of a book to check out, or if you think there's a chance your child may crack or damage it within two years, then the price of the kid-specific version is worth it.

Original author: Adrienne So
Continue reading
  7 Hits
7 Hits

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party's web services ahead of election

LONDON (Reuters) - Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,

image

FILE PHOTO: The Labour party campaign bus is seen in Liverpool, Britain November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.

The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.

Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.

Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack - a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.

“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.

The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.

‘VERY NERVOUS’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defence systems when the digital assault began on Monday.

“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”

A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.

The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.

Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.

A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.

The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.

Reporting by Costas Pitas, Elizabeth Piper and Jack Stubbs; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

Google signs healthcare data and cloud computing deal with Ascension

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google has signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare to date, in a deal giving it access to datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

image

FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Google and Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across the United States, said the healthcare provider would move some data and analytics tools in its facilities to Google’s servers.

The deal was mentioned in Google's July earnings call, but drew scrutiny on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported on.wsj.com/2q3WCer that Google would gain personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states.

The Journal reported that the data involved in the project includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, along with patient names and dates of birth.

Google said in a blog post on Monday that patient data “cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data.”

Ascension “are the stewards of the data, and we provide services on their behalf,” wrote Tariq Shaukat, president for industry products and solutions at Google Cloud.

In a press release, Ascension said the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which safeguards medical information.

Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian has made it a priority in his first year on the job to aggressively chase business from leaders in six industries, including healthcare.

The company previously touted smaller healthcare clients, such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine.

Though cloud storage is a business with thinning profit margins, Google Cloud has said it hopes to separate itself from larger rivals Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services with a superior slate of high-margin AI tools.

Ascension said it aims to use AI to help improve clinical effectiveness as well as patient safety.

Google’s blog post did not mention AI, but said the companies were in “early testing” on how to make better use of Ascension’s data.

Google has spent several years developing artificial intelligence to automatically analyze MRI scans and other patient data to identify diseases and make predictions aimed at improving outcomes and reducing cost.

The news follows an earlier announcement from Google that it would buy Fitbit Inc (FIT.N) for $2.1 billion, aiming to enter the wearables segment and invest in digital health.

Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco and Ambhini Aishwarya in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

WeWork begins search for a new CEO: sources

(Reuters) - WeWork has started a search for a new chief executive following the departure of co-founder Adam Neumann, people familiar with the matter said on Monday, as the U.S. office-sharing start-up seeks to reverse its widening losses.

WeWork’s current co-CEOs, Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham, have only been in place since September, but talks indicated SoftBank Group (9984.T), WeWork’s majority owner, is eager for a fresh change after a botched effort to go public this year.

WeWork has been in talks with a number of potential CEO candidates, including U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) CEO John Legere, the sources said. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Legere’s talks with WeWork about the CEO job.

WeWork and T-Mobile declined to comment.

Legere is not a leading candidate for the WeWork CEO role, one of the sources said. Ongoing talks with WeWork could represent a conflict, given that Legere is seeking to renegotiate with SoftBank the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint Corp (S.N).

The deal is currently awaiting regulatory approval, and Legere said last week talks were ongoing with Sprint to extend their merger agreement. He declined to rule out requesting that the $26 billion price be reduced.

SoftBank last month spent around $10 billion to take control of WeWork, rescuing the company from potential bankruptcy after it failed to complete an initial public offering, which also led to Neumann’s departure.

Neumann, who attracted criticism for his erratic management style, was replaced as CEO by Minson and Gunningham, but speculation has been rife that the pair are only a stopgap solution.

Since taking control of WeWork, SoftBank has already installed its chief operating officer, Marcelo Claure, as the executive chairman of WeWork parent The We Company.

image
Slideshow (2 Images)

SoftBank has talked about the need to return to WeWork’s core business of renting out trendy office space to freelancers and enterprises. That would pull the company back from the fringe activities Neumann had forayed into, such as education.

In a presentation published last week, WeWork said it also plans to divest seven non-core businesses - Conductor, the Wing, Managed by Q, Meetup, SpaceIQ, Teem and Wave Garden. The units organize meetings, provide facilities and workplace management and marketing.

Legere, who frequently wears clothes in T-Mobile’s magenta brand color, is an outspoken CEO well known for calling out larger competitors Verizon and AT&T.

Reporting by Sheila Dang and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by C Nivedita in Bengaluru and Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  7 Hits
7 Hits

Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hit record $38 billion; growth slows

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s sales for its 24-hour Singles’ Day shopping blitz hit a record $38.4 billion, more than U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc’s haul last quarter from online store sales.

But sales growth for the annual shopping festival eased to 26%, the weakest since the event started in 2009, held back by a slowing e-commerce industry in China as the country’s economic expansion heads toward a historic low.

The event tmsnrt.rs/2WTFm7V, a gauge of Chinese consumer sentiment, has also become a shop window this year for Alibaba as it plans to sell $15 billion worth of shares in Hong Kong this month. The U.S.-listed firm has spent big to diversify its business yet still earns over four-fifths of revenue from e-commerce.

Alibaba turned China’s informal Singles’ Day into a shopping event in 2009 and built it into the world’s biggest online sales fest, dwarfing Cyber Monday in the United States which took in $7.9 billion last year. The name is a play on the date, Nov. 11, rendered 11/11 - or Double Eleven, as the event is also known.

The event has since been replicated at home and abroad, with Singles’ Day promotions found at rivals such as China’s JD.com Inc and Pinduoduo Inc as well as South Korea’s 11thStreet and Singapore’s Qoo10.

Alibaba said on Monday its gross merchandise volume or GMV for the whole event came in at 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion), up 26% from last year but below Citic Securities’ forecasts for a 20-25% expansion.

In 2018, it posted a 27% sales increase.

CELEBRITY START

The Chinese retail juggernaut, with a market value of $486 billion, kicked off this year’s 24-hour shopping bonanza with a live performance by U.S. pop star Taylor Swift followed by live-streamed marketing of over 1,000 brands.

The firm said 84 brands including those of Apple Inc, L’Oreal SA and Fast Retailing Co Ltd’s Uniqlo each made over 100 million yuan in sales in the first hour.

Over half of merchants on its Tmall marketplace used live streaming to sell products during the event, and sales generated through the medium surpassed 10 billion yuan at 8.55 a.m. (0055 GMT), Alibaba said.

“Nearly all our brands have opted for livestreaming promotions some time this year,” says Josh Gardner, who helps overseas companies sell products on Tmall as CEO of Kung Fu Data.

image
A screen shows the value of goods being transacted during Alibaba Group's Singles' Day global shopping festival at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

“It’s more entertaining than browsing through a product detail page. Traffic from livestreaming is easy to convert into transactions, and Tmall has supported stores that run livestreaming activities with resources.”

One vendor, New Zealand-based nutritional supplement maker Clinicians, broadcast livestreams from a booth set up on Alibaba’s campus. According to Carlos Zhao, China market manager, the company has seen a 40% jump in sales after it started livestreaming in China six months ago.

“This is a product form from new Zealand, everything is in English, and so many people are selling similar products, so customers wonder, ‘Which one do I choose from?’” he told Reuters. “Having a livestreamer can help to break those barriers.”

Tmall has said it expects over 500 million users to make purchases this year, about 100 million more than last year. It has also put more emphasis this year on promotions targeting areas outside of China’s massive first- and second-tier cities.

“The younger generation is buying more, and the customer from rural areas, the customers from lower-tier cities, they are buying imported products,” Tmall General Manager Alvin Liu told reporters.

Singles’ Day is known to be a stressful time for Alibaba employees with workers sleeping at the office to keep up with orders.

This year, at Alibaba’s campus in Hangzhou, workers bustle around in red t-shirts with the slogan ‘Make 11 happen’.

image
Slideshow (14 Images)

Percussion echoes through halls as departments bang large drums each time a sales record is broken. Pink rice cakes – dingshenggao, or ‘victory cakes’ eaten by Yue Army soldiers during the Song Dynasty - fill the office snack bars.

This is the first time Alibaba’s Singles’ Day is being held since its flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma resigned as chairman in September to “start a new life”.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Hangzhou; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Cheng Leng in Beijing; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Himani Sarkar

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

Taiwan's Yageo to buy rival Kemet in $1.8 billion deal

(Reuters) - Taiwanese electronic component company Yageo Corp plans to acquire U.S. rival Kemet Corp in a $1.8 billion deal aimed at expanding its global footprint, the two companies said.

Yageo will offer $27.20 per Kemet share, representing an 18% premium to Monday’s closing share price.

“The integration will enhance our ability to serve customers in consumer electronics as well as in the high-end automotive, industrial, aerospace, telecom and medical sectors”, Yageo Chief Executive Officer Pierre Chen said.

Yageo’s global footprint would increase with additional operations in North America, Europe and Asia, the companies said in a joint statement.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2020 and would result in combined annual revenues of about $3 billion, the companies said.

It has been approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Yageo said it intends to fund the transaction with a combination of cash on hand and committed financing.

Citi served as financial adviser to Yageo and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Tsar & Tsai Law Firm in Taiwan acted as legal advisors.

Goldman Sachs & Co LLC acted as financial adviser to Kemet and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acted as legal advisers.

Reporting by Dominic Roshan K.L. and Abhishek Manikandan in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

European tech investor Balderton launches $400 million start-up fund

LONDON (Reuters) - European venture capital firm Balderton Capital is launching a $400 million fund to invest in technology start-ups, bringing its total funds under management to $3 billion, it said on Tuesday.

Total venture capital funding in European start-ups hit a record high of 24.6 billion euros ($27.11 billion) in 2018, Balderton said in a statement.

“Europe has the potential to build the next generation of technology giants...we are seeing more and more exceptional founders,” said Bernaud Liautaud, managing partner at Balderton.

Balderton’s current portfolio includes Healx, which uses artificial intelligence to accelerate treatments for rare diseases, and digital account provider Revolut.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Louise Heavens

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

Disney+ faces glitches on launch day

(Reuters) - Consumers complained about glitches in Walt Disney Co’s streaming service on Twitter, just hours after its highly anticipated launch.

image

An error message for Disney’s streaming service is seen on a TV in New York, U.S. November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ken Li

While trying to access the service, users were greeted by an image of “Mickey Mouse” on a blue screen, with a message asking them to exit the app and try again.

Disney did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. It was not immediately known how many users were affected by the outage.

“Not too surprised but @disneyplus looks like it’s already falling over. On FireTV Stick can’t load main page (Unable to connect to Disney+) and couldn’t play The Mandalorian (some account issue),” user @pmhesse tweeted.

“Hopefully it’s worked out by tomorrow’s treadmill time.”

“The Mandalorian,” next adventure in the “Star Wars” movie and TV franchise, is an eight-episode live-action series which stars “Game of Thrones” actor Pedro Pascal as a helmeted bounty hunter.

Users who were able to access the service, however, gave rave reviews.

“Today is the perfect day to just stay home all day on my couch in my PJ’s binging all of my favorite Disney movies on #DisneyPlus,” tweeted @JulieDwoskin.

Disney’s streaming service will offer a slate of new and classic TV shows and movies and feature programming from the Marvel superhero universe, the “Star Wars” galaxy, “Toy Story” creator Pixar Animation and the National Geographic.

The service is a direct challenge to market leader Netflix Inc as well as Apple Inc’s newly launched Apple TV+.

Shares of Disney were up nearly 1 percent before the bell.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

In streaming wars, Disney reaches beyond kids and families

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - During commercial breaks in a broadcast of World Wrestling Entertainment’s WWE SmackDown, fans were shown ads for Walt Disney Co’s (DIS.N) new streaming service, Disney+. So were “Monday Night Football” viewers and video gamers watching Twitch.

image

FILE PHOTO: A screen shows the logo and a ticker symbol for The Walt Disney Company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“Try to keep up,” said Captain Marvel in one ad after a series of fast-paced clips from “Star Wars,” “The Simpsons,” “The Avengers” and other Disney-owned hits from outside of its deep catalogue of children’s classics.

Disney’s marketing force is reaching beyond its traditional family audience to send a message that its $7-a-month subscription service Disney+ offers something for all ages. The service debuted on Tuesday in the United States, Canada and The Netherlands.

“It’s incumbent upon us to market it the right way to emphasize the fact that it’s not just for kids,” Disney executive Kevin Mayer said during a briefing at the company’s Burbank, California, headquarters. “It’s all family friendly, but everyone can enjoy this product.”

Disney has told investors it can hook 60 million to 90 million customers within about five years as it competes for customers in a crowded streaming market dominated by Netflix Inc (NFLX.O).

Signing up adults who do not have children at home is part of that plan.

Consumers may not realize that after a series of acquisitions Disney is much more than classics like “Cinderella” and “Mary Poppins” that charmed generations of families. The company now owns the celebrated “Star Wars” movie franchise; Iron Man, the Hulk and dozens of other Marvel superheroes; “Toy Story” animation house Pixar, and nature programming channel National Geographic.

Previously released movies and TV series from all of those brands, plus 30 seasons of “The Simpsons,” are available on Disney+ alongside decades of Disney’s family-centric offerings.

Disney+ also offers new programming from those brands.

To raise awareness, the company is promoting Disney+ during sports and primetime TV telecasts to get in front of what Hollywood calls the four quadrants of viewers: male, female, young and old.

“We’re unmatched in quality and appeal across our four-quadrant audience spanning a variety of genres, formats and arenas, and will continue to build on that year after year,” said Ricky Strauss, president of content and marketing for Disney+.

In addition to the wrestling, football and gaming contests, ads ran during the World Series and the ABC News late-night program “Nightline,” and on social media networks.

Early testing in The Netherlands, where Disney offered a free two-month trial of Disney+, attracted a “very large and diverse audience,” said Mayer, who runs Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit.

“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” a series aimed at 18- to 49-year olds, ranked as the most-watched piece of content, Mayer said. Next was tween-oriented show “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” followed by “Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” a cartoon for young children.

“Our hypothesis was we will have a lot of different types of viewership, that it’s not going to be centered among any one of our brands,” Mayer said. “It’s quite a nice confirmation of what we want accomplished.”

The initial response in The Netherlands has cheered industry analysts.

“They have some surprising and encouraging signs about this potential that Disney+ is not just kids and family,” Forrester analyst Jim Nail said.

But unlike Netflix, Disney+ limits how far its programming will go to attract older viewers. To keep it family friendly, the service will not have any R-rated movies or TV shows designated TV-MA for mature audiences.

Programming considered too adult for Disney+ may stream on Hulu, which Disney also owns. That will include FX series such as “American Horror Story” and “Fargo” and possibly movies starring Deadpool, a Marvel character known for foul-mouthed humor, when rights become available.

“There are boundaries to what we’ll put on Disney+,” Mayer said. “‘Deadpool’ is definitely not for Disney+.”

Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Neha Malara in Bangalore; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

EU clears Telia's $957 million Swedish TV deal with Bonnier

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Telia won conditional EU antitrust approval on Tuesday for its $957 million bid for Bonnier Broadcasting, a deal the Swedish telecoms firm hopes will help it better compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

image

FILE PHOTO: Telia sign is seen on a building in Vilnius, Lithuania March 30, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

The European Commission said Telia had offered a series of concessions to address its concerns, including media plurality in Sweden and Finland, confirming a Reuters story on Sept. 2.

“This acquisition creates a strong Nordic player who can compete with international corporations who are very active in the Nordics,” Telia chairman Marie Ehrling said in a statement.

Telia pledged to offer rivals fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access to its free-to-air and basic pay TV channels, as well as to premium pay TV sports channels in Sweden and Finland, the EU competition enforcer said.

The company also agreed not to discriminate against rival telecom providers and TV distributors in the sale of TV advertising space on the merged entity’s channels.

In addition, users will get access to the merged company’s streaming services over the internet, namely its AVOD and SVOD services. The pledges are valid for 10 years.

Citi analysts said Bonnier’s traditional linear viewing model - where programs are viewed at set times - was under pressure from the rise of video-on-demand services.

“Telia, itself, is in need to return the business to underlying growth. Given the investments required, dividend risk remains to the downside in our view,” they said in a research note.

Telia, which expects the transaction to close on Dec. 2, said it still expected synergies from the deal from 2020, with a full run-rate of 600 million Swedish crowns ($61.8 million) in 2022.

It also expects integration costs of 400 million crowns in 2020-2021, and an impact on operational free cash flow in 2020 of around 500 million.

The deal is politically sensitive since the Swedish government - owner of 38.35% of Telia’s shares - already controls Sweden’s public service television network SVT.

Bonnier’s brands include Sweden’s biggest commercial broadcaster TV4, streaming service C More and Finland’s MTV.

Telia last month appointed Allison Kirkby, the head of Danish telecoms company TDC, as its new chief executive to lead its continuing expansion in television.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

L'Oreal, Nestle score big at Alibaba's Singles' Day shopping fest

SHANGHAI/HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Chinese shoppers snapped up food supplements, facial masks and baby milk powder at the world’s largest shopping festival, with brands such as L’Oreal (OREP.PA) and Nestle NESN.N among the biggest winners, Alibaba (BABA.N) data showed.

The Chinese e-commerce giant’s annual Singles’ Day shopping blitz on Monday brought in a record 268.4 billion yuan ($38.38 billion) in sales, more than six times the amount of online sales made in the United States on Black Friday last year.

It kicked off this year’s 24-hour shopping bonanza with a live performance by U.S. pop star Taylor Swift followed by the live-streamed marketing of over 1,000 brands.

Alibaba said on Tuesday that 299 brands surpassed 100 million yuan in gross merchandise value, including LVMH’s (LVMH.PA) Givenchy, home appliance manufacturers Dyson and Philips (PHG.AS) and sportswear maker Under Armour (UAA.N).

Fifteen brands made over 1 billion yuan in sales, it said. These included Huawei Technologies, Apple (AAPL.O), Nike (NKE.N), Xiaomi Corp (1810.HK) and Fast Retailing’s (9983.T) Uniqlo.

Food supplements were the most popular import product, while sales of makeup, diapers and face wash were also strong.

Sales growth for the annual shopping festival this year eased to 26%, the weakest since the event started in 2009, in a reflection of how e-commerce sales in China have been slowing.

image
FILE PHOTO: Staff members are seen at the booth of Nestle promoting its baby food and NAN infant formula products at a maternity and baby industry fair in Beijing, China July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Analysts, however, said the growth rate had slightly beaten their expectations, saying that more aggressive promotions, a focus on attracting more customers from rural cities, and even the overall slowing economy might have helped as people sought to buy goods at discounted prices.

Citic Securities had predicted a 20-25% expansion, while Daiwa Capital Markets had an estimate of 23%.

“What’s happened is that you’ve had a lot of consumers this year being a little bit more careful about their purchasing because the economy’s slowing down,” said Ben Cavender, managing director of consultancy China Market Research Group.

“I think this year especially, people were kind of waiting for Singles’ Day and kind of waiting to make some of those medium-sized purchases that they didn’t want to pay full price for.”

The event has been replicated at home and abroad, with Singles’ Day promotions found at rivals such as China’s JD.com (JD.O) and Pinduoduo (PDD.O) as well as South Korea’s 11thStreet and Singapore’s Qoo10.

JD.com, which started its sales campaign on Nov. 1, said transaction volume exceeded 204.4 billion yuan over the eleven days.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing said the online event also boosted visits to its physical stores, of which it has 700 across China, adding that its Heattech thermal underwear and Ultra Light Down jackets were among its most popular items.

image
Slideshow (2 Images)

(GRAPHIC: A look at Alibaba's Singles' Day shopping event - here)

(GRAPHIC: Alibaba's Singles' Day sales - here)

Reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Josh Horwitz in Hangzhou; Additional reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing and Ritsuko Ando in Tokyo; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  5 Hits
5 Hits

UK Labour Party hit by cyber attack ahead of election

LONDON (Reuters) - Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,

image

FILE PHOTO: The Labour party campaign bus is seen in Liverpool, Britain November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.

The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.

Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.

Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack - a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.

“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.

The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.

‘VERY NERVOUS’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defence systems when the digital assault began on Monday.

“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”

A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.

The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.

Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.

A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.

The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.

Reporting by Costas Pitas, Elizabeth Piper and Jack Stubbs; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

UK's Corbyn "very nervous" about election after cyber attack

image

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures during an election campaign event in Blackpool, Britain November 12, 2019. RUETERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - British opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Tuesday a large-scale cyber attack on his party’s digital platforms just weeks before a national election had made him nervous about the rest of the campaign.

“If this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all because a cyber attack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about,” he said when asked by a reporter about the attack during a campaign event.

Corbyn said the party was looking into who might have been behind the attack.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  5 Hits
5 Hits

Situation critical: Vodafone's future in India in doubt after court ruling

LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone said its future in India could be in doubt unless the government stopped hitting operators with higher taxes and charges, after a court judgment over license fees resulted in a 1.9 billion euro group loss in its first half.

Chief Executive Nick Read said India, where Vodafone formed a joint venture with Idea Cellular in 2018, had been “a very challenging situation for a long time”, but Vodafone Idea still had 300 million customers, equating to a 30% share of the sizable market.

“Financially there’s been a heavy burden through unsupportive regulation, excessive taxes and on top of that we got the negative supreme court decision,” he said on Tuesday.

Vodafone had asked the government for a relief package comprising a two-year moratorium on spectrum payments, lower license fees and taxes and the waiving of interest and penalties on the Supreme Court case, which centered on regulatory fees.

Asked if it made sense for Vodafone to remain in India without such a relief package, he said: “It’s fair to say it’s a very critical situation.”

India’s top court upheld a demand from the country’s telecoms department for $13 billion in overdue levies and interest last month, hitting the shares of both Vodafone Idea and rival Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone has clashed with Indian authorities over tax and regulatory issues ever since it entered the country with a $11 billion deal to buy 67% of Hutchison Essar in 2007.

The arrival of new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm in 2016 added to Vodafone’s problems by sparking a brutal price war.

image
FILE PHOTO: A man speaks on his mobile phone as he walks past logos of Vodafone painted on a roadside wall in Kolkata May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

It responded by combining its operations with Idea Cellular, a deal that closed in 2018.

Read said Vodafone was not committing any more equity to India and the country effectively contributed zero value to the company’s share price. As a result of the ruling, it has written down the value of its stake in the joint venture to zero.

It also owns a stake in Indian tower operator Indus Towers, along with Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone’s shares were up 1.7% at 163 pence at 1040 GMT as investors focused on an upgrade to its earnings forecast rather than India.

UPGRADED FORECAST

The world’s second largest mobile operator reported improving organic revenue growth with signs of improvement in Spain and Italy and as it integrates a German cable acquisition.

It said organic service revenue rose 0.3% in the first half, as it returned to growth in the second quarter, while organic core earnings rose 1.4%.

It increased its forecast for adjusted core earnings to 14.8-15.0 billion euros from its previous forecast of 13.8-14.2 billion euros, but said India and lower cash flows following the sale of assets in New Zealand meant free cash flow would be “around” 5.4 billion euros, rather than the “at least” 5.4 billion euros previously forecast.

FILE PHOTO: Different types of 4G, 5G and data radio relay antennas for mobile phone networks are pictured on a relay mast operated by Vodafone in Berlin, Germany April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

Apart from India, Read said he was pleased with progress.

“This is reflected in our return to top-line growth in the second quarter, which we expect to build upon in the second half of the year in both Europe and Africa,” he said.

Read cut Vodafone’s dividend for the first time in May after tough market conditions and a need to invest in its networks and airwaves caused him to backtrack on his pledge not to reduce the payout.

Editing by Kate Holton and Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  5 Hits
5 Hits

Cyber attack on UK Labour was short-lived attempt to take down websites: source

LONDON (Reuters) - A cyber attack on Britain’s opposition Labour Party was a short-lived and unsuccessful attempt to take the party’s websites offline, a security official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

An initial investigation indicated the attack was not particularly sophisticated, the official said. “It was really very everyday, nothing more than what you would expect to see on a regular basis.”

Labour said earlier on Tuesday it was subject to a large-scale cyber attack on its digital platforms but that it was confident no data breach occurred just weeks before a national election.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  7 Hits
7 Hits

Iliad founder ready to pour 1.4 billion euros into the telecom firm

PARIS (Reuters) - French billionaire Xavier Niel said on Tuesday he was ready to pour 1.4 billion euros into Iliad (ILD.PA) to show his commitment to the telecoms group he founded and majority owns, despite several tough quarters and a share price plunge.

image

FILE PHOTO: Xavier Niel, founder of French broadband Internet provider Iliad arrives at the "Tech for Good" Summit in Paris, France May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Iliad, whose cut-price phone deals shook up France’s mobile market, was beaten at its own game in recent quarters as a price war dented its market share, undermined its profitability and more than halved the value of shares in the past two years.

Niel, who owns a little more than 52% of Iliad, said in a call with analysts that he heard the frustration of some of the group’s shareholders but that he still believed in its strategy.

He said he would fully underwrite a 1.4 billion euro capital increase to finance a share buyback equivalent to nearly 20% of shares, offering disgruntled shareholders a way out.

“I have been disappointed as the first shareholder of the group by the stock price performance over the last few months,” Niel said.

“But I believe in the group, its management, its prospects in France and of course in Italy. I’m keen to increase my exposure in the group,” he said.

The share buyback program will be carried out at the price of 120 euros per share, a premium of 38% on the basis of the volume-weighted average price over the last three months. The stock closed at 95.06 euros on Monday and rose 17% on Tuesday.

The offer will concern about 11.7 million shares, or 19.7% of the group’s capital, which Chief Executive Thomas Reynaud said could mean Niel’s stake would rise to 72%, in the absence of any offer from new shareholders.

The group, which competes against Orange (ORAN.PA), Altice Europe’s SFR (ATCA.AS) and Bouygues Telecom (BOUY.PA) in France, said in a separate statement that third-quarter revenue rose 8% to 1.34 billion euros.

The growth stemmed from the addition of 32,000 new customers who subscribed to its high-speed broadband offers and 150,000 new mobile customers for its 4G mobile offers.

Iliad also indicated it would pay 2.6 euros per share in dividend. It confirmed its full-year targets, including a return to revenue growth in France and an acceleration of its core operating profit growth in the second-half of the year.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Edmund Blair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  7 Hits
7 Hits

Huawei to give staff $286 million bonus for helping it ride out U.S. curbs

image

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is pictured at the Shenzhen International Airport in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

SHENZHEN, China (Reuters) - Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies said on Tuesday it will hand out 2 billion yuan ($286 million) in cash rewards to staff working to help it weather a U.S. trade blacklisting.

The world’s largest telecoms equipment provider has said it has been trying to find alternatives to U.S. hardware after the United States all but banned it in May from doing business with American firms, disrupting its ability to source key parts.

The cash is a mark of recognition for work in the face of U.S. pressure, Huawei’s human resources department said in a notice to staff seen by Reuters. It will also double pay this month for almost all its 190,000 workers, a company spokesman said.

The cash rewards will likely go to research and development teams and those working to shift the company’s supply chains away from the United States, the spokesman said.

Details of Huawei’s plan were first reported by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

Many in the U.S. government believe that Huawei’s equipment, particularly its 5G networks, pose a security risk, because of the company’s allegedly close ties to the Chinese government. Huawei has denied the Chinese government plays any role in its operations.

Although granted reprieves from much of the U.S. exclusion, Huawei had been working to find alternatives after it witnessed the crippling effect of U.S. sanctions on its smaller Chinese rival ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) in early 2017.

The company is also the world’s second largest maker of smartphones and a surge in shipments of devices helped it to report a 27% rise in third-quarter revenue last month.

Reporting by David Kirton in Shenzhen, Editing by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  7 Hits
7 Hits

China's digital currency not seeking 'full control' of individuals' details: central bank official

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China’s proposed digitized domestic currency is not a bid to gain full control of information belonging to the general

image

FILE PHOTO: A China yuan banknote featuring late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong and a computer keyboard are seen reflected on an image of Chinese flag in this illustration picture taken November 1, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

public, a senior central bank official said on Tuesday, adding that the goal was to balance privacy concerns and the

authorities’ need for information.

China is preparing to be the first country to roll out a digitized domestic currency, a development that is being closely

watched by the world’s financial services industries, though few details are currently available.

Akin to Facebook’s proposed Libra digital currency and other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, the officially-named Digital Currency Electronic Payment will be powered partially by blockchain technology and dispersed through digital wallets.

What sets it somewhat apart, however, is that the digital currency’s design seemingly provides Beijing with unprecedented

oversight over money flows, giving Chinese authorities a degree of control over their economy that most central banks do not have.

“We know the demand from the general public is to keep anonymity by using paper money and coins ... we will give those

people who demand it anonymity in their transactions,” Mu Changchun, head of the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency research institute, told a conference in Singapore.

“But at the same time we will keep the balance between the ‘controllable anonymity’ and anti-money laundering, CTF (counter terrorist financing), and also tax issues, online gambling and any electronic criminal activities,” he added.

“That is a balance we have to keep, and that is our goal. We are not seeking full control of the information of the general public.”

It is not clear when the new digital currency will be launched.

Mu told a public forum in August that it was “almost ready”. However, in September, Chinese central bank chief Yi

Gang said there was no timetable for its roll out and that it still needed to meet requirements, and again referenced

anti-money laundering.

Mu said on Tuesday that the goal of the project was to create a new system in case of problems with China’s existing

financial infrastructure, where electronic payments are currently dominated by just two players, and to boost financial

inclusion in rural areas.

Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

Tencent Music's quarterly revenue beats on subscriber growth

(Reuters) - China’s Tencent Music Entertainment Group reported better-than-expected third-quarter revenue on Monday, as the streaming company added more paying users.

image

FILE PHOTO: Tencent Music Entertainment celebrate the company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith/File Photo

However, it recorded the slowest rise in a widely watched metric for its biggest business, social entertainment services, which executives attributed to growing competition.

Tencent Music’s U.S.-listed shares rose as much as 2% before trading down about 1% in volatile extended trade.

The company’s monthly average revenue per paying user from its social entertainment services unit rose 7.4% to 127.3 yuan ($18.20), the slowest growth since it went public in December.

“We recognize that it may be slightly below where we previously thought it would be,” Tony Yip, chief strategy officer, said on a conference call. “That’s primarily because of increasing competition that we are facing with the short video platforms.”

Tencent Music competes with Alibaba-backed NetEase Cloud Music in streaming services, and with short video sites such as Bytedance’s Douyin and Tencent-backed Kuaishou in social entertainment.

Although its music streaming unit has more users, the company’s biggest revenue drivers are social entertainment services, including karaoke platforms, where users can live stream concerts and shows.

The social entertainment business reported 12.2 million paying users during the quarter, up 23.2% from a year earlier.

Yip said the firm will step up investment aimed at user growth, with a view to reach a younger demographic with content more appealing to them as well as initiatives such as offline singing competitions and partnerships with game studios.

The company also said it is exploring opportunities to take services outside China and hopes to introduce monetization methods such as virtual gifts to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Although Tencent Music’s user base is nearly three times that of world’s largest music streaming service, Spotify - a peer and stakeholder - its paying users are comparatively fewer.

As of the third quarter, Spotify Technology SA had over 100 million paid subscribers, whereas Tencent Music had about 35 million.

Tencent Music, which has a user base of over 900 million, has been shifting more content behind a paywall since May.

The company, controlled by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, said paid users of its online music service jumped about 42% in the quarter ended September.

Net income rose to 1.02 billion yuan from 964 million yuan a year earlier.

Revenue rose about 31% to 6.51 billion yuan, above estimates of 6.45 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding items, the company earned 0.74 yuan per American depositary share, above estimates of 0.66 yuan.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru and Pei Li in Beijing; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  8 Hits
8 Hits

Ransomware attack at Mexico's Pemex halts work, threatens to cripple computers

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A ransomware attack hit computer servers and halted administrative work on Monday at Mexican state oil firm Pemex, according to employees and internal emails, in hackers’ latest bid to wring ransom from a major company.

image

FILE PHOTO: A Pemex gas station is seen in Mexico City, Mexico September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Hackers have increasingly targeted companies with malicious programs that can cripple systems overseeing everything from supply chains to payments to manufacturing, removing them only after receiving substantial payments.

An internal email seen by Reuters said Pemex was targeted by “Ryuk,” a strain of ransomware that experts say typically targets companies with annual revenue between $500 million and $1 billion.

“We are taking measures at the national level to fight RYUK ransomware, which is affecting various Pemex servers in the country,” a company official said in an email on Sunday.

The attack is the latest challenge for embattled Pemex, already struggling to pay down massive debt, reverse years of declining oil production and fend off potential downgrades of its credit ratings.

Pemex said in a statement late on Monday that attempted cyber attacks the day before were “neutralized” in a timely matter and affected less than 5% of its computers.

Operations were normal, and oil production and storage were unaffected, Pemex added, noting that it often received cyber attacks and threats but none had yet been successful.

The company had said on Sunday its computer center in the state of Mexico had detected an attack by ransomware that could “block a computer screen or encode important, predetermined files with a password.”

Pemex added it hoped for a solution in 48 hours and warned users nationwide to not turn on their computers.

In a separate internal e-mail also seen by Reuters, Pemex told employees to disconnect from its network and back up critical information from hard drives.

Three Pemex employees said work ground to a halt on Monday because staff could not access a range of computer systems, such as those dealing with payments.

“The servers crashed. People aren’t working,” said one, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Additional reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Christopher Cushing

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Continue reading
  6 Hits
6 Hits

About Terminal Madness

Terminal Madness started out as a Computer Bulletin Board, ( BBS ) back in the early 90's. Fascinated that one could get all the information they ever wanted "on line", for FREE, the "BBS" was named Terminal Madness.

Now, about 22 years later, that fascination with computers and information continues.

From the USA, to the Dominican Republic, to Curacao and back to the USA.

© 2016 Terminal Madness. All Rights Reserved. Designed By Terminal Madness

Search