Skype apologises after service goes down for hours

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Skype, an Internet phone service, has apologised after millions of people around the globe found the program had gone down. The outage, which occurred on Wednesday, reportedly affected the United States, Europe and Japan, and lasted several hours. The company wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning that, more than twelve hours after the outage, some users were still experiencing problems.

The chief executive of Skype, Tony Bates, said his company took the technical issues “really seriously,” and apologised to users. “Right now it looks like clients are coming on and offline and sometimes they are crashing in the middle of calls. We are deep in the middle of investigating the cause of the problem and have teams working hard to remedy the situation,” he said.

In a blog post, Skype stated that, “we’re sincerely sorry for this disruption – like you, all of us at Skype rely on Skype every day. We understand just how important Skype is to your friendships, family, and work, and so are particularly aware of the impact of rare problems like this.”

Industry expert Om Malik said the outage would be of concern for Skype. “Skype is one of the key applications of the modern web,” he said. “It is already a hit with consumers, and over the past few years it has become part of the economic fabric for start-ups and small businesses around the world. I am not sure we can comprehend the productivity cost of this outage. The outage comes at a time when Skype is starting to ask larger corporations for their business.” Malik added: “If I am a big business, I would be extremely cautious about adopting Skype for business, especially in light of this current outage.”

Bates said he did not know what had caused the outage, but, speaking to the BBC, he said “all avenues” would be investigated. Reports suggest the program did not work on any system, including computers and mobile devices. “Some of you may have problems signing in to Skype – we’re investigating, and we’re sorry for the disruption to your conversations,” the company wrote on Twitter when the outage began. 20 million people use the service every day.

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Obama’s transition website ‘frees the content’

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In a move to open up government and embrace modern thinking on copyright, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team website, Change.gov, has adopted the Creative Commons licenses for all content and user contributions. This will allow anyone to take material from the site and reuse it, without any concern that they may be violating copyright.

“This is great news and a encouraging sign that the new administration has a clear sense of the importance of openness in government and on the web. The embrace of Creative Commons licensing on Change.gov is consistent with earlier support by both Obama and John McCain for the idea of ‘open debates’,” said Creative Commons in a statement posted on their website.

Those making reuse of the site’s content are only obliged to attribute it, per the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence. The ‘right to remix’ the new license extends is not restricted to text; videos are included and the site now provides links to download copies of clips for this purpose.

In addition to the new license, Change.gov has introduced open forums for the discussion of items that concern the electorate. According to Computerworld, unlike the blogs used by some government departments, posts appear unfiltered and a scoring and ranking system is employed. One of the high-traffic early discussion threads is soliciting public input on healthcare worries.

Official works of federal government employees are all in the public domain. Despite the “.gov” web address, the site is run by the “Obama-Biden Transition Project” charity.

Creative Commons licenses are encouraged on popular photo sharing website Flickr, and are the only applicable licenses on Wikinews.

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO apologies for financial planning scandal

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ian Narev, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, this morning “unreservedly” apologised to clients who lost money in a scandal involving the bank’s financial planning services arm.

Last week, a Senate enquiry found financial advisers from the Commonwealth Bank had made high-risk investments of clients’ money without the clients’ permission, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars lost. The Senate enquiry called for a Royal Commission into the bank, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Mr Narev stated the bank’s performance in providing financial advice was “unacceptable”, and the bank was launching a scheme to compensate clients who lost money due to the planners’ actions.

In a statement Mr Narev said, “Poor advice provided by some of our advisers between 2003 and 2012 caused financial loss and distress and I am truly sorry for that. […] There have been changes in management, structure and culture. We have also invested in new systems, implemented new processes, enhanced adviser supervision and improved training.”

An investigation by Fairfax Media instigated the Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning division and ASIC.

Whistleblower Jeff Morris, who reported the misconduct of the bank to ASIC six years ago, said in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald that neither the bank nor ASIC should be in control of the compensation program.

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Taliban in Pakistan captures convoy bound for NATO troops

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Monday, the Pakistan branch of the Taliban captured a supply convoy of thirteen trucks and two armored Humvees bound for NATO troops, without incurring a single fatality. They made off with millions of dollars worth of sophisticated military equipment, according to The Washington Post.

Approximately 60 masked militants belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban blocked off part of a roadway in the Khyber Pass. The Taliban forces overran the Pakistani security forces, who were moving the shipment to an American military base, and briefly took the truck drivers prisoner. Although gunfire was exchanged, there were no casualties on either side. After releasing the drivers, the militants opened several captured cargo containers of wheat, distributing most of it to local residents.

The attack, which took place in the North-West Frontier Province, occurred several miles outside the border town of Jamrud. It was celebrated by the victorious fighters who photographed themselves with the captured equipment.

Pakistan’s federal government, which has recently stepped up efforts to contain the lawless tribal province, dispatched helicopters and 500 troops to try and track the hijacked convoy. One local child was killed, and four civilians wounded, by the gunships. The Taliban fighters were reported to have abandoned an American Jeep and one of the Humvees along the road, which were subsequently taken back into possession by Pakistani troops.

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn published a scathing editorial attacking the army’s incompetence and heavy-handed response to the embarrassing loss, referring to the attack as disturbing “both for its audacity and possible implications.”

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

US House of Representatives rejects bail out bill in vote

Monday, September 29, 2008

The US House of Representatives rejected a bill on the USD 700 billion bail out of US banks. The voting on the bill has completed.

If passed, the bailout plan would have allowed for the United States government to purchase devalued mortgage backed securities, resulting from the subprime mortgage crisis from troubled financial institutions. The US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said that the plan could cost up to $700 billion.

There has been considerable debate over several parts of the plan, which failed with 228 votes opposing, 205 supporting, and 1 not voting. The bill had much more support by the Democratic Party (with 60% of Democrats voting “aye”) than the Republican Party (of which only 33% voted for the bill).

George W. Bush described the bill before the vote was made. “This legislation deals with complex issues, and negotiators were asked to address them in a very short period of time. I appreciate the leadership of members on both sides of the aisle, who came together when our nation was counting on them. Negotiations are sometimes difficult, but their hard work and cooperation paid off,” he said, in a speech in which Bush begged politicians to support the bill.

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Bush continued describing the bill. “The bipartisan economic rescue plan addresses the root cause of the financial crisis — the assets related to home mortgages that have lost value during the housing decline. Under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the federal government will be authorized to purchase these assets from banks and other financial institutions, which will help free them to resume lending to businesses and consumers.”

According to BBC News, congressmen opposed the bill after receiving 50 times as many letters against the bill as for the bill. George Bush attempted to respond to the criticisms of the bill by US citizens. “I know many Americans are worried about the cost of the bill, and I understand their concern. This bill commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars, because a large amount of money is necessary to have an impact on our financial system. However, both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget expect that the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will be far less than that”.

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

December 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Automobile manufacturer Toyota triples annual loss prediction

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Japanese car making company Toyota has announced that their predicted profit loss for 2008 has tripled from their previous estimate. The company reports the loss after demand for its vehicles dropped. In December 2008, Toyota estimated its full year operating loss to be 150 billion yen (US$1.65 billion). Now the company has tripled that number, forecasting a 450 billion yen (US$4.95 billion) loss. This would be the first yearly loss at Toyota in 70 years.

The firm also said that it predicts its global sales to fall by 17.87% to 7.32 million vehicles sold, compared to last year’s 8.91 million vehicles sold. Overall for 2008, Toyota’s car sales in the United States were down 15.4%, but that number was down from 2007 in which sales dropped 18%. For the month of January alone, Toyota’s sales fell 31.7% compared to the overall U.S. sales loss of 37.1%.

As a result of the loss, 17 of the company’s 75 production lines worldwide, will be reduced to only a single shift of workers. The company also announced a full closure of all their Japanese plants for a total of 14 days between January and March 2009.

Toyota’s boss Katsuaki Watanabe described the loss as happening only “once in a hundred years”.

In January, the Japanese Nikkei newspaper said that Toyota was thinking of firing 1,000 Northern American and British workers, all of whom hold full-time positions in the company. The paper quoted Toyota’s Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita as saying that “outside of Japan, we intend to make every possible effort to protect the jobs of our employees.”

December 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Yahoo closes user-created chat rooms over sexual conduct

Friday, June 24, 2005

Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) closed all of its user-created chat rooms due to controversy over sexually explicit channels aimed at minors. After a Houston, Texas television station KPRC reported on chat room names such as “Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys” and “Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Men” that were aimed at sex with children, the publicly held business Yahoo! was compelled to act by shutting down all chat rooms created by users and stopped the ability to create new user chat rooms. Online chat rooms created by the company itself are still in service and use.

Major brand name advertisers such as PepsiCo Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp., State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Countrywide Mortgage and T-Mobile withdrew ads placed on Yahoo! web pages that may have come under association with the offensive chat rooms. The company is also faced with a lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages that was filed by watchdog groups of internet portals on behalf of the parents and a 12-year-old victim of molestation. A man, who once operated a Yahoo Groups site where members traded child pornography, is also involved in the suit.

Other internet portals, such as AOL and MSN, also allow users to create their own chat rooms. These internet portals are different from Yahoo! in that they are subscription based, and only allow access to the rooms if the user is a subscriber to the service. MSN in its earliest versions of chat had monitors watch activity on its servers, but it was abandoned. Efforts to monitor chat for any effect appear to be futile. Geoff Sutton, the European general manager of Microsoft MSN, told Wired News at the time it cut free chat service in 28 countries that, “The straightforward truth of the matter is free, unmediated chat isn’t safe.”

According to a Reuters news story by Duncan Martell, an investigation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation that was targeted at Yahoo Groups users resulted in the arrest of more than 100 people in the United States. The lawsuit now brought against Yahoo! was filed on May 9 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. It charges that Yahoo! breached its duties in internet providership by allowing co-defendant Mark Bates and others to share child pornography on a chat room site called ‘Candyman’.

Yahoo!’s terms of use requires persons who create chat rooms to agree not to make available content that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous or otherwise objectionable.” Legal rulings to date imply that if internet service provider’s do monitor the activity in chat rooms, they incur some responsibility for its content, similarly to a publisher’s responsibility for the content found in one of its books.

The result is software providers who take a “hands-off” approach grant internet users the ability to add and create content to the World Wide Web that opens the door to contributions that range from great to sometimes objectionable, to out-right illegal, and often enlightening.

December 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

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December 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Wikinews interviews Steve Burke, U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate

Sunday, December 13, 2015

This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.

Macomb, New York Councilman Steve Burke took some time to speak with Wikinews about his campaign for the U.S. Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Burke, an insurance adjuster and farmer, was elected councilman in Brookhaven, New York in 1979. He left the town after being accused and found not guilty of bribery in the 1980s. Since 1987 he has served as Macomb councilman off-and-on and currently holds the post. From 1993 to 1996 and 1999 to 2002 he worked as chairman of the Democratic Party of St. Lawrence County, New York. Among his many political campaigns, Burke unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1992 and recently attempted to run for U.S. Congress in 2014 but too many of his ballot petition signatures were found invalid. Burke filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in the 2016 election on September 18, 2015 and has qualified for the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire Primary.

With Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn?, Burke discusses his political background, his 2016 presidential campaign, and his policy proposals.

December 9, 2018 in Uncategorized