Archive for March, 2012

‘Massive’ breach threatens MasterCard, Visa cardholders

MasterCard and Visa are alerting law enforcement agencies and card issuers such as banks and retailers that a major third-party card processor’s system has been breached and cardholders’ account information may be at risk of being compromised.

The Wall Street Journal identified the credit and debit card processor as Global Payments Inc.

According to the blog, which first reported the data thefts, the breach is “massive” and could expose the account information of 10 million MasterCard and Visa customers.

Neither company would say how many cardholders, financial institutions or retailers are potentially affected by the breach. said the breach occurred between Jan. 21 and Feb. 25 and that the customer information obtained could be used to create counterfeit new credit cards.

[A]ffected banks are now starting to analyze transaction data on the compromised cards, in hopes of finding a common point of purchase. Sources at two …

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Now you can post your tweets on your TP

Millions and millions of Tweets are posted every day worldwide, and even the most ardent advocates of Twitter acknowledge that many are pretty much worthless to them.

So there’s some cheeky logic to one company’s idea: print your Twitter feed  (or any one else’s) on rolls of toilet paper.

According to the Daily Mail, “The site S***ter charges $35 for four rolls of paper printed with 140-(character) Tweets. The Tweets appear printed on sheets with about four Tweets per sheet.”

(Note: Figuring out which letters fill in the blanks of the site’s name shouldn’t be too difficult).

Company founder David Gillespie said, “Obviously this is fairly tongue in cheek, but we’re reasonably pleased we monetized Twitter in a way that avoided advertising.”

The site’s slogan: “Social media has never been so disposable.”

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iPhone factories vow better treatment of employees

A major Apple Inc. supplier in China has agreed to improve working conditions after an independent U.S.-based labor practices group said it found excessive overtime and workers who weren’t being compensated fairly, among other things.

The agreement Wednesday by Foxconn Technology Group of Taiwan, China’s biggest private-sector employer, came as Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook visited one of several of Foxconn’s factories, which assemble most of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

According to ABC News, Foxconn has promised to lower overtime hours without lowering pay. The result, however, could mean higher costs for not only Apple products but many other electronics.

The Fair Labor Association spent a month interviewing 35,000 Foxconn workers at factories and off campus as it investigated allegations of poor working conditions. The group said it visually observed working conditions and reviewed payroll and employee records.

According to ABC:

Workers’ hours and …

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Pain at the pump: Expect to pay $4 a gallon by next week

If prices at the pump make you want to holla’ and throw up your hands,  unfortunately it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

“Motorists can expect prices to increase well into spring, ” said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady. “If the trending continues like last year, we could see pump prices peak in May and then start to retreat.”

Since Jan. 1, retail gas prices have risen steadily in metro Atlanta from an average of $3.27 a gallon to $3.79 a gallon this week. The national average is $3.89 and could hit $4 by the first week of April – for the first time in history, according to Brady.

Georgia’s average of $3.79 and Tennessee’s average price of $3.71 both increased 7 cents from last week while Florida’s average of $3.90 increased 8 cents.

While motorists are feeling the pain, so are retailers, Brady said.

Retailer profit margins in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee average 10 cents to the gallon, meaning the retailer will make less than $1.50 from the …

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Hey, Starbucks fans: How about some ground beetles in that Frappuccino?

And you thought that pink slime in your burger was a 10 on the “ick” factor.

Now hear this: The Strawberry Frappuccino you’ve been getting  at Starbucks for a sweet pick-me-up contains ground-up beetles.

No, not artificial beetles. Real crawly, creepy buggy beetles. Imported from Mexico and South America. Dead and dried up, of course.

Starbucks has been using the little critters to color its strawberry frapps, and quite intentionally. The caffeine colossus says it turned to beetles (which are natural, naturally) instead of using artificial food coloring agents.

While going green might be an admirable intent, some customers might turn green at the thought of downing this beetle juice.

Vegans have registered their protest. One suggestion has been to use vegetable juice to color the coffee instead.

Gross as it may sound, though, there’s nothing illegal, or unusual about all this, according to USA Today which says, “it’s a common, government-approved food coloring used widely …

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Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate drops to 9 percent in February

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell to 9 percent in February, from a revised 9.1 percent in January, the state labor department said Thursday.

A year ago, metro Atlanta’s jobless rate was 9.9 percent.

The rate declined because there were fewer layoffs in manufacturing, construction, trade and administrative and support services, the labor department said.

Among the core metro counties, Gwinnett had the lowest rate at 8 percent. Cobb was next with 8.4 percent, followed by DeKalb (9.4 percent), Fulton (9.8 percent) and Clayton (11.4 percent).

The city of Atlanta’s jobless rate was 11.3 percent in February, down from 11.7 percent in January and 12.3 percent a year ago.

Last week, the labor department reported that Georgia’s unemployment rate fell for the seventh straight month to 9.1 percent. It matched the lowest rate since March 2009.

Still, both the local and state unemployment rates remain considerably higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent.

Statewide, the rate went …

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Tweeting on school computers risky

Here’s something for both students and parents to consider when it comes to using school computers to engage in a little personal social networking.

An Indiana high school student was expelled after he tweeted a string of obscenities on his personal Twitter account while using a school computer, according to a Digital Trends report.

Austin Carroll, a senior at Garrett High School in Garrett, Ind., was in the privacy of his home when he sent the tweets at 2:30 a.m.

Carroll criticized the expulsion, essentially arguing that what he does on his own account is his business. “I don’t think the school or anybody should be looking at it,” he told the Indiana’s News Center.

Garrett High, however, didn’t see it that way, according to Digital Trends. The principal said all tweets can be tracked once a student logs into a school computer, and Carroll’s were no exception.

Carroll left the high school and finished at another school.

At least one observer, Mike Masnick at TechDirt, …

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MPG: Smallest isn’t always better

Is smallest always better when it comes to car size and fuel efficiency? Maybe not, according to a CNN Money report.

The report looked at the miles per gallon for subcompacts and larger compact cars by the same maker and found in several cases the mpg is the same as it is for the larger vehicle.

Both the subcompact Hyundai Accent and the larger compact Hyundai Elantra, for example, get 33 mph combined in city and highway driving, CNN reported. Same is true for the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic and larger Chevy Cruz, both at 33 mph.

Among hybrids, the Prius C, which gets a combined mph of 50 mph, gets the same mileage as the larger Prius.

The report credits aerodynamics for most of the comparable fuel efficiency. Because the compacts are larger, automakers have more room to make them less wind resistant. Subcompacts, and especially mini-compacts, tend to be taller and boxier, making them less aerodynamic.

The biggest selling point for the subcompact, however, isn’t …

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What will you do if you win the $363M jackpot tonight?

So, you’ve bought one ticket for tonight’s $363 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing. Or if you’re like me, you’ve bought numerous tickets from various locations. I’ve even asked my cousin in another state to buy me some tickets. I’ve got to get those odds up as high as possible right?

A ticket cost $1. A single winning ticket would mean a payment of $13 million a year for the next 26 years, or a single $259 million lump sum payment.

The drawing is at 11 p.m. tonight.

What will you do if/when you win?

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Most say higher gas prices will cause cutbacks in summer travel plans

Will higher gas prices cause you to curtail your summer travel plans?

According to a new survey from the U.S. Travel Association, reported in USA Today, 54 percent of travelers who planned to drive for their summer vacation say the rising price at the pump will have an impact.

Even business travelers say they would be affected, with nearly 27 percent saying they would reconsider their plans.

Among leisure travelers who said they’d still travel, about 44 percent said they would shop less and about 37 percent would spend less on restaurant meals. More than one-third said they would drive shorter distances.

Business travelers, while less  likely than leisure travelers to take fewer trips because of gas prices, also said they would cut back on restaurant and hotel spending and on shopping.

“The destinations and places where vacationers are going to be traveling to this year are going to see less economic activity,” said David Huether of the travel association.

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