An anonymous reader writes "An article at the NY Times explains the how the most profitable tech company in the world becomes even more profitable by finding ways to avoid or minimize taxes. Quoting: 'Apple's headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company's profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains. California's corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada's? Zero. ... As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world. ... Without such tactics, Apple's federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study (PDF) by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent."
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An anonymous reader writes "In what may win awards for the silliest-sounding lawsuit of the year, a case about whether Facebook 'likes' qualify for free speech protection under the First Amendment has ended in a decisive 'no.' In the run-up to an election for Sheriff, some of the incumbent's employees made their support for the challenger known by 'liking' his page on Facebook. After the incumbent won re-election, the employees were terminated, supposedly because of budget concerns. The employees had taken a few other actions as well — bumper stickers and cookouts — but they couldn't prove the Sheriff was aware of them. The judge thus ruled that 'merely "liking" a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection. In cases where courts have found that constitutional speech protections extended to Facebook posts, actual statements existed within the record.'"
techfun89 writes "There is a BOLD new plan for detecting signs of microbial life on Mars. The nickname is BOLD, which stands for Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Initiative, would be a follow-up to the 1976 Mars Viking life-detection experiments. 'We have much better technology that we could use,' says BOLD lead scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch, with Washington State University. He elaborates, 'Our idea is to make a relatively cheap mission and go more directly to characterize and solve the big question about the soil properties on Mars and life detection.' To help figure out the life-detection mystery, Schulze-Makuch and his colleagues would fly a set of six pyramid-shaped probes that would crash land, pointy end down, so they embed themselves four to eight inches into the soil. One of the instruments includes a sensor that can detect a single molecule of DNA or other nucleotide."
First time accepted submitter cos(0) writes "Between O'Reilly, Wrox, Addison-Wesley, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and many others, software developers have a wide variety of literature about languages, patterns, practices, and tools. Many publishers even offer subscriptions to online reading of the whole collection, exposing you to things you didn't even know you don't know — and many of us learn more from these publishers than from a Comp Sci curriculum. But what about publishers and books specializing in tech underneath software — like VHDL, Verilog, design tools, and wire protocols? In particular, best practices, modeling techniques, and other skills that separate a novice from an expert?"
nicholast writes "The New Yorker has a story by Ken Auletta about the connections between Stanford and Silicon Valley. The piece explains how important the university is to tech companies and venture capital firms, but it also questions whether Stanford has become too focused on wealth. 'It's an atmosphere that can be toxic to the mission of the university as a place of refuge, contemplation, and investigation for its own sake,' says one professor. The piece also explains Stanford's conflicted thoughts about distance education, which could transform the university or prove to be a threat to it."
Matching widespread predictions, The Bad Astronomer writes with word that "The private company Planetary Resources has announced that it plans to mine asteroids for water, air, and even precious metals in the next few years. Your initial reaction may be to snicker a bit, but it's headed by Peter Diamandis — who established the X Prize — has several ex-NASA personnel running the engineering, and also has the backing of a half-dozen or so billionaires. So this is no joke — their plan looks solid, and may very well be the first step in establishing a permanent human presence in space."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an opinion piece at Bloomberg: "Many programmers find that their employability starts to decline at about age 35. Employers dismiss them as either lacking in up-to-date technical skills — such as the latest programming-language fad — or 'not suitable for entry level.' In other words, either underqualified or overqualified. That doesn’t leave much, does it? Statistics show that most software developers are out of the field by age 40. Employers have admitted this in unguarded moments. Craig Barrett, a former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., famously remarked that 'the half-life of an engineer, software or hardware, is only a few years,' while Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has blurted out that young programmers are superior."
eldavojohn writes "Not two weeks after Microsoft purchased 925 patents and patent applications plus licenses to AOL's portfolio for $1 billion, Facebook has now acquired 650 of said patents and patent applications for $550 million to which Microsoft retains a license. So, was Microsoft's $450 million worth it? According to their press release: 'Upon closing of this transaction with Facebook, Microsoft will retain ownership of approximately 275 AOL patents and applications; a license to the approximately 650 AOL patents and applications that will now be owned by Facebook; and a license to approximately 300 patents that AOL did not sell in its auction.' Will the patent-go-round continue, or has Facebook loaded up for a good old-fashion Mexican standoff?"
vivIsel writes "This morning, President Obama is set to unveil a new executive order that will allow the U.S. to specifically target sanctions against individuals, companies or countries who use technology to enable human rights abuse. Especially as repressive regimes more effectively monitor their dissidents online (rather than simply blocking access), the sanctions focus on companies that help them do that."
DustyShadow writes "The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments. Students at UF have already organized protests, and have created a website dedicated to saving the CS department. Several distinguished computer scientists have written to the president of UF to express their concerns, in very blunt terms. Prof. Zvi Galil, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech, is 'amazed, shocked, and angered.' Prof. S.N. Maheshwari, former Dean of Engineering at IIT Delhi, calls this move 'outrageously wrong.' Computer scientist Carl de Boor, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2003 National Medal of Science, asked the UF president 'What were you thinking?'"
New submitter seb42 writes "Pixel Qi announces new screens that can match or exceed the image quality of the screen in the iPad3, with a very low power mode that runs at a full 100X power reduction from the peak power consumed by the iPad3 screen. Hope the Google tablet has this tech." The claims are pretty bold, and specific: "We have a new architecture that matches the resolution of the ipad3 screen, and its full image quality including matching or exceeding contrast, color saturation, the viewing angle and so forth with massive power savings."
sweetpea86 writes with a snippet from this story at TechWorld:"The UK government's proposal to separate communications data from content, as part of new plans to allow intelligence services to monitor all internet activity, is infeasible according to a panel of technology experts. Speaking at the 'Scrambling for Safety' conference in London, Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said that the distinction between traffic data as being harmless and content as being sensitive is becoming less and less relevant. 'Now that people are living more and more of their lives online, the pattern of who you communicate with and in what order gives away pretty well everything,' he said. 'This means that, in data protection terms, traffic data is now very often going to be specially sensitive data.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "Those who continue to inflate the tech bubble will be quick to remind us all of how they've learned from the past. That this time, it's simply different. They do have a point. Silicon Valley (and Alley) have matured. Startups these days are focused, driven, and efficient, creating products that people actually use. In a period of less than a year after its launch, Instagram was used by 5 million users, who by August of 2011 had uploaded 150 million photos. But even with these impressive results, it's impossible to ignore the fact that many of the fundamental economic factors that led the first bubble remain." A couple other readers contributed similar articles — Instagram's sale seems to have solidified the idea for many that we're in the midst of another tech bubble, though some are more certain about it than others.
An anonymous reader writes "NASA just unveiled its new Sustainability Base — an exceptionally efficient building that harnesses technology developed for the International Space Station. The high-tech complex produces more energy than it consumes and it was just awarded LEED Platinum certification, making it the greenest federal building in the nation. The project features an extensive network of wireless sensors that allow the building to automatically react to changes in weather and occupancy and NASA's forward-osmosis water recycling system, which cuts water use by 90% compared to a traditional building."