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Affiliated Computer
31 января, 17:22

Квартальная прибыль Xerox снизилась на 29% г/г

Американский производитель принтеров Xeroxзафиксировал снижение квартальной прибыли. Так, в четвертом квартале чистая прибыль от продолжающихся операций снизилась на 29% г/г с $256 млн до $181 млн, при этом скорректированная прибыль на акцию составила 25 центов, совпав со средними прогнозами аналитиков. Выручка в рассматриваемом периоде уменьшилась на 7% г/г до $2,73 млрд, в то время как аналитики в среднем ожидали $2,77 млрд. Компания ожидает, что в 2017 г. скорректированная прибыль окажется в диапазоне от 80 до 88 центов на бумагу, тогда как аналитики в среднем прогнозируют 88 центов на одну бумагу. Стоит отметить, что в четвертом квартале компания Xeroxосуществила разделение бизнеса на две части: основное направление деятельности по производству принтеров и направление услуг, в 2010 г. приобретенное у Affiliated Computer Services за $6 млрд.

31 января, 16:30

Квартальная прибыль Xerox снизилась на 29% г/г

Американский производитель принтеров Xeroxзафиксировал снижение квартальной прибыли. Так, в четвертом квартале чистая прибыль от продолжающихся операций снизилась на 29% г/г с $256 млн до $181 млн, при этом скорректированная прибыль на акцию составила 25 центов, совпав со средними прогнозами аналитиков. Выручка в рассматриваемом периоде уменьшилась на 7% г/г до $2,73 млрд, в то время как аналитики в среднем ожидали $2,77 млрд. Компания ожидает, что в 2017 г. скорректированная прибыль окажется в диапазоне от 80 до 88 центов на бумагу, тогда как аналитики в среднем прогнозируют 88 центов на одну бумагу. Стоит отметить, что в четвертом квартале компания Xeroxосуществила разделение бизнеса на две части: основное направление деятельности по производству принтеров и направление услуг, в 2010 г. приобретенное у Affiliated Computer Services за $6 млрд.

16 октября 2016, 19:11

Крупнейший акционер Xerox пытается запретить разделение компании

Миллиардер Дарвин Дисон (Darwin Deason; см. фото ниже), которого издание The Wall Street Journal называет крупнейшим акционером Xerox, через суд потребовал не допустить разделения компании, поскольку реорганизация нарушает условия договора, заключённого с бизнесменом в 2009 году. Тогда Дарвин Дисон договорился с Xerox о продаже основанной им аутсорсинговой компании Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) примерно за $6 млрд. В рамках той сделки предприниматель получил привилегированные конвертируемые акции Xerox на сумму $300 млн, которые, как утверждает Дисон, позволяют ему рассчитывать на доли в обеих публичных компаниях, появляющихся вместо Xerox.

08 сентября 2016, 15:46

5 Women Business Leaders Are Paving The Future At These Fortune 500s

While men still enjoy a bigger piece of the corporate pie, things are starting to shift. Twenty-three women now head Fortune 500 companies and hundreds more are in CXO positions, a definite sign of progress. But despite this achievement, 34% of the population still believes that men are better at assessing risk than women are. Is one gender truly superior to the other in the boardroom? Or are company culture and regulation still holding women back from reaching their true potential? Let's take a look at five of the most compelling female CxOs from high-profile companies: 1. Pepsi-Cola - Indra Nooyi Indra Nooyi is the leader of Pepsi-Cola, a company currently valued at $19 billion. Much like its rival, Coca-Cola, Pepsi has been forced to make some tough decisions in recent years thanks to a more health-conscious America. Nooyi chose to embrace this, producing healthier alternatives alongside the classics. This caused a rift in the company; Nelson Peltz attempted to tear the company in half and people thought Nooyi's days as CEO were numbered. But they weren't. In fact, the last 9 years she's been CEO, Pepsi's stock has risen. What's her secret? Innovative design and user experience. A great example is how Nooyi revamped vending machines to not only be healthier, but keep user-friendly design in mind. Interactive screens, the ability to mix products and save a user profile has turned the archaic vending machine an addictive, modern innovation. This shouldn't be surprising -research has shown that female executives may drive more innovation and growth than their male peers because they have better empathy, which helps them hone in on customer pain points. 2. Facebook - Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl Sandberg became a billionaire in 2014, making her one of the highest-paid COOs in the nation. Given her incredibly impressive history, this isn't too surprising. After working for the World Bank, the Clinton Administration, and Google, she became Facebook's COO in 2008. Since joining, she's helped the company of "college kids" stay organized and growth-oriented. Facebook had $777 million in revenue in 2009 and $1.79 billion in 2015. Sandberg, a single mother, reveals the secrets to her success in Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has sold over 1 million copies. One of the keys to her success? Her willingness to take on any role, as long as it's mission critical. "If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat." But another secret to her success lies in her COO role: research has shown that women may be better at meeting employee's essential workplace requirements. 3. GM - Mary Barra Mary Barra came into GM right before one of the largest crises in its history. Her first task as CEO was to recall 2.5 million vehicles and pay $900 million to settle criminal charges, due to a fault that could stop the car's airbags from deploying. This was one of those make-or-break-decisions that could define the CEO (and the company) going forward. Rather than take it out on middle management, Barra took full responsibility. And she was praised for it. "We're going to do the right thing, even if it's hard," she said in a recent interview. By handling the situation with leadership and grace, Barra is now moving the company forward on a far less bumpy road, recently investing $500 million in Lyft and beginning research into self-driving cars. This year, she helped usher in the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, which put GM ahead of Tesla in the race to engineer the first affordable electric car with a range of 200 miles. The secret to Barra's success may lie in her savvy internal networking at GM. A lifer, she started working for GM at the age of 18 and has been in just about every role at least once. And it's paid off. Her $16.2 million pay package in 2015 was 80% higher than that of her predecessor, Dan Akerson. 4. Xerox - Ursula M. Burns Ursula M. Burns has the distinction of being the first black woman in America to run an S&P 500 company, which is even more impressive because she started with Xerox over three decades prior as an intern. Burns may have single-handedly saved the company with her acquisition of CEO Affiliated Computer Services. This $6.4 billion purchase-derided by her critics-now produces more revenue than all of Xerox's original copier services combined. This move was the most recent headliner in Burns' attempt to rebrand Xerox as a services company, and it's working. In 2015, she helped generate $18 billion in revenue. After six years in the CEO seat, Burns will be forced to step down when Xerox splits into two different companies (at the prodding of activist investor and board member Carl C. Icahn). However, there is a possibility that she will retain her CEO seat in the larger of the two resulting companies (an $11 billion document technology company) if she doesn't retire in 2017. According to Burns, her success in the face of overwhelming odds ("I was black. I was a girl. And I was poor.") can be attributed to following the same mantra that Sandberg did at Facebook: the courage to lean in and sit at the table. 5. Kraft / Mondelez - Irene Rosenfeld If women CEOs are unicorns, Irene Rosenfeld may well be a Pegasus. Not only has her tenure at Kraft resulted in a centuries-old company spinning off into two entities (Modelez International and Kraft Foods), Rosenfeld masterminded the split. And she did so while weathering criticism from Warren Buffett, one of Kraft's biggest investors. The bold move paid off. Kraft Foods was eventually acquired by Kraft Heinz, which has a market cap of $75 billion. Meanwhile, Rosenfeld's baby, Mondelez International, enjoyed $33.2 billion in revenue in 2014. Compare that to Kraft's last fiscal year before the spit: $18.22 billion in 2012. Somehow, Rosenfeld managed to nearly double the revenue of Kraft's spiritual successor in only two years. Rosenfeld's aggressive barnstorming at Kraft ruffled a lot of feathers, but it also paved the way for massive, unprecedented success at a company that hadn't done much to change the status quo in many years. A new generation of leadership Not only are women leaders just as capable of deciding between stressful, risky choices, they're much more likely to be altruistic and empathetic than men. As we've seen, many female CxOs make fantastic leadership decisions, even in the face of overwhelming criticism. In 2016, only 5% of the nation's top CEO roles belong to women. Hopefully, with the success of trendsetting leaders like Nooyi, Sandberg, Barra, Burns, and Rosenfeld, we will see more women "lean in" to executive roles by 2040, when a third of all CEO seats may be occupied by women. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

02 июня 2015, 15:00

Customer-Centric Org Charts Aren’t Right for Every Company

The new conventional wisdom on corporate structure is that companies can do better by organizing themselves around customer groups. The logic sounds compelling: A customer-centric structure, as the approach is known, can help a company understand its customers better, develop deeper relationships with them, and improve customer satisfaction. Some 30% of Fortune 500 firms, including Intel, Dell, IBM, and American Express, are already on board, and the numbers are growing all the time. But customer alignment doesn’t work for everyone. Cisco and Xerox, for example, have seen poor results. And even when it does work, a company can go through years of poor performance before the benefits kick in. Is there a flaw in the logic? Our analysis of Fortune 500 firms shows that the strengths of the strategy are real: Customer-centricity does allow divisions to focus on specific customer segments, and this narrower focus increases their knowledge of those groups. But it introduces greater complexity into communication and decision making and leads to duplication of certain functions across divisions. Details of the competition and of customer segments determine whether the positives outweigh the negatives, and years can pass before customer-centricity bears fruit. We’ll show how companies can use our findings to estimate whether — and when — a customer-centric structure is likely to work. But first a little background. The idea that companies should adopt customer-centric structures has been around in both academia and practice for a while, but it was George S. Day of Wharton who reignited interest in the concept. In his 2006 survey of U.S. managers, he said the proportion of U.S. firms with structures organized around customers would grow from 32% to 52% as firms raced to build customer-centric organizations, and he interviewed companies including IBM and Systems Group that had announced customer-centric restructurings. He also emphasized in a 1999 book that “the wrong structure can doom all other market-driven initiatives in the organization to failure.” A good example of customer-centricity is Tumi, the innovative U.S.-based maker of suitcases, which has been customer-centric since its founding in 1975. Each division focuses on one customer group — premium customers or young adults, for example — and, through research, designs products for that segment. Surveys commissioned by the company show that it does a good job of satisfying customers by matching their needs. Intel, whose top-level divisions had been organized around product groups or functional areas, adopted customer-centricity in 2005, and its improved knowledge of and commitment to customers has resulted in greater customer satisfaction. Dell, which adopted customer-centricity in 2009, has seen positive results too: After aligning its corporate business units around customer groups, such as large enterprises and consumers, the company learned to operate seamlessly in the new structure and improved its financial performance. Examples like these, as well as the seemingly bulletproof logic of making customers’ needs central, have helped sell customer-centricity to many corporate leaders. And there’s no doubt that a customer-centric structure helps organizations amass rich depositories of customer knowledge and expertise and thereby uncover unmet needs. But our research, conducted with Conor M. Henderson of the University of Oregon and Irina V. Kozlenkova of Michigan State University, tells us that there are situations in which discovering and acting on unmet customer needs either amounts to mere table stakes or contributes little to profitability: Prevalence of customer-centricity and high competitive intensity. When competitors already have customer-centric structures or otherwise do a very good job of meeting customer needs, any one company’s customer-centric structure is less valuable. Customer-centric firms with many customer-centric competitors exhibited 11% lower performance than peer firms with product-centric structures. Moreover, customer-centric firms that operated in highly competitive markets had 69% lower performance, compared with product-centric peers. Low industry profitability. When few customers value greater customization or responsiveness, the headaches of restructuring around customer segments aren’t worth the trouble. Customer-centric firms in less-profitable industries performed 20% lower than firms whose structures were not aligned with customers. Take, for example, two exponents of the customer-alignment philosophy: the for-profit health-care company Anthem and software and services firm SunGard. Anthem implemented a customer-centric structure in 2008 when it was known as WellPoint and when few of its competitors had adopted the approach. It was able to use its new organizational structure to discover and meet new customer needs such as better quality of care, enhanced transparency, and lower health-care costs. Its adoption of customer-centricity yielded a 36% increase in return on assets over the four-year period after the restructuring. The company has maintained and still benefits from its structure, even though some of its competitors have adopted customer-centricity. SunGard’s competitive environment was different. Its competitors, such as Affiliated Computer Services and Leidos Holdings, were already doing a good job of discovering and addressing unmet customer needs. Its 2002 restructuring offered little incremental benefit while adding cost and complexity. Its ROA dropped 81% over the four years after the restructuring. There’s also a gray area in which customer-centricity provides significant advantages while simultaneously dragging down results. Tumi, for example, has recently struggled with the drawbacks of customer-centricity. With each division focusing on only its own customer segment, the structure appears to be poorly suited for generating widespread corporate brand awareness. Customer-centricity appears to be a reason for the company’s high marketing and coordinating costs: Its customer-focused structure has entailed a division of resources, capabilities, and people; raised organizational barriers to sharing and communicating; and led to greater complexity-related costs and losses of economies of scale. These high marketing and coordinating costs may be the cause of its problems today. In cases where customer-centricity is an appropriate structure, we found that it takes more than two years after a restructuring, on average, for companies’ performance to exceed prior levels. During that period, performance typically deteriorates significantly as the firm incurs coordinating costs due to internal conflicts and confusions. Among 37 Fortune 500 firms that went through customer-centric restructurings, the performance drop averaged 39% from companies’ pre-restructuring levels; it was only after 10 quarters that performance exceeded those levels — at which point it exceeded them by 11%, on average.   Before initiating adoption of a customer-centric structure, companies should look carefully at the extent to which this approach has permeated the competition. Firms should also gauge the industry’s competitive intensity and take a close look at their industries’ profitability. There are no simple rules of thumb for these assessments — every industry is different — but a predominance of customer-centricity, high competitive intensity, and high commoditization and a prevalence of low margins all suggest that restructuring around customer segments may not pay off. And if executives determine that a customer-oriented restructuring is a good gamble, they should enter into the process with eyes wide open, establishing clear expectations that performance will sag before it rises. In addition, CEOs and functional heads need to talk to each other about proposed changes in organizational structure. Top executives should get guidance from marketing, sales, and R&D before making structural-design decisions, and managers from those functions should weigh in on the harm that could be done by the greater complexity and duplication that are so often a consequence of customer-centricity.

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12 ноября 2013, 19:09

Fitch Affirms Xerox's IDR at 'BBB'; Outlook Stable

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) NEW YORK, November 12 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed the following ratings for Xerox Corp. (Xerox) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS): Xerox --Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB'; --Short-term IDR at 'F2'; --Revolving credit facility (RCF) at 'BBB'; --Senior unsecured debt at 'BBB'; --Commercial paper (CP) at 'F2'. ACS --IDR at 'BBB'; --Senior notes at 'BBB'. The Rating Outlook is

28 октября 2013, 20:31

Прогнозы Xerox обрушили акции компании

Американская Xerox отчиталась по итогам III квартала 2013 г. Согласно предоставленным данным прибыль и выручка компании практически не изменились в сравнении с прошлым годом. По итогам III квартала 2013 г. Xerox показала завидную стабильность, однако прогнозы на будущее не обрадовали рынок. Говоря подробнее, по итогам июля-сентября чистая прибыль компании выросла за год всего на 1% до отметки в $286 млн. Продажи остались на уровне $5,3 млрд. Скорректированная прибыль выросла на один цент, с 25 до 26 центов на акцию. Рынок ожидал от Xerox доход в размере 25 центов на акцию при выручке в $5,26 млрд. Сервисная выручка Xerox, куда входят доходы от аутсорсинга бизнес-процессов (Business Process Outsourcing, BPO) и документооборота, в прошлой четверти поднялась на 3% до $2,9 млрд. Продажи оборудования увеличилась на 1%. По итогам IV квартала Xerox прогнозирует скорректированную прибыль в диапазоне 28-30 центов на акцию. Аналитики рассчитывают на 33 цента. После расхождения оценок акции компании упали на 10% до $9,61, что стало самым крупным снижением с сентября 2009 г. Напомним, что ранее в этом месяце Xerox сообщила о том, что американская Комиссия по ценным бумагам и биржам начала расследование в отношении дочерней компании Affiliated Computer Services (ACS). В предоставленных акционерам компании документах говорится, что расследование сосредоточено вокруг выручки ACS от продажи оборудования, а также операций по перепродаже сервисов и аппаратных решений. При этом в документах сказано, что расследование в основном сосредоточено на тех периодах деятельности компании, когда ACS еще не принадлежала Xerox.

10 октября 2013, 15:08

Xerox: дочерняя ACS под следствием

По сообщению корпорации Xerox, американская Комиссия по ценным бумагам и биржам начала расследование в отношении дочерней компании Affiliated Computer Services (ACS).   В предоставленных акционерам компании документах говорится, что расследование сосредоточено вокруг выручки ACS от продажи оборудования, а также операций по перепродаже сервисов и аппаратных решений. При этом в документах сказано, что расследование в основном сосредоточено на тех периодах деятельности компании, когда ACS еще не принадлежала Xerox. В рамках следствия исполнительный вице-президент Xerox Линн Блоджетт и двое других топ-менеджеров, имена которых не разглашаются, получили уведомление о возможном начале расследования в отношении их деятельности. Напомним, что генеральный директор Xerox рассматривает поглощение ACS как один из своих основных управленческих шагов по развитию Xerox. Независимая аутсорсинговая компания Affiliated Computer Services была куплена Xerox в 2010 г. На фоне падения продаж на рынке новых копиров и принтеров Xerox сделала ставку на комплексный бизнес-аутсорсинг и автоматизацию бизнес-процессов в компаниях. Именно в этом направлении позиции ACS были особенно сильны. Сейчас до 80% выручки Xerox - это результат деятельности ACS.

10 октября 2013, 15:08

Xerox: дочерняя ACS под следствием

По сообщению корпорации Xerox, американская Комиссия по ценным бумагам и биржам начала расследование в отношении дочерней компании Affiliated Computer Services (ACS).

10 октября 2013, 15:08

Xerox: дочерняя ACS под следствием

По сообщению корпорации Xerox, американская Комиссия по ценным бумагам и биржам начала расследование в отношении дочерней компании Affiliated Computer Services (ACS).

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08 октября 2013, 18:56

UPDATE 1-Xerox says SEC probing accounting practices at ACS unit

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Xerox Corp said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating some accounting practices at Affiliated Computer Services, an IT outsourcing firm it bought in 2010 for $5.5 billion.

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08 октября 2013, 16:36

Xerox unit under investigation by SEC

Xerox (XRX) discloses that the SEC is investigating accounting practices at its Affiliated Computer Services unit. The company says a number of employees have received Wells notices from the SEC in connection to the matter. SEC Form 8-K Post your comment!

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08 октября 2013, 15:37

Xerox says SEC investigating accounting practices at ACS

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Xerox Corp said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating certain accounting practices at Affiliated Computer Services, which it bought in 2010 for $5.5 billion.

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18 сентября 2013, 21:58

Mexico could be hit by more storms, warn weather forecasters

Frustrations grow as thousands of tourists remain stranded in Acapulco while rich families take off in private jetsWith much of Mexico still reeling from the death, destruction and chaos caused by the impact of two tropical weather systems two days ago, forecasters are warning of more storms ahead.Tens of thousands of holidaymakers remain trapped in the resort city of Acapulco, so far the most visible victims of tropical storm Manuel that came in from the west on Monday, their frustration increasingly obvious in the long queues to get on the waiting lists for flights out of the city organised by the army and commercial airlines.Reports of rich families skipping the queues to take off in private jets threatened to further blacken the mood, as authorities urged tourists not to attempt to leave the city by land, with roads out expected to remain blocked by landslides until at least.Both in Acapulco and across the country, many thousands more have been forced out of their homes by both Manuel and hurricane Ingrid, which hit Mexico from the east almost simultaneously.The army and emergency services have been distributing food and water in shelters and the most devastated neighbourhoods, although reports are increasing of scarcity as well as panic buying and rapidly rising prices.The chaos has been accompanied by looting. Hundreds of people waded waste-deep through flood waters to ransack everything from toilet paper to personal computers from one Costco store in Acapulco.Meanwhile, the government raised the death toll to 57, with officials warning that it could increase further once communication is re-established. Many towns and villages are currently cut off by landslides and overflowing rivers. Adverse conditions continued to impede even information-gathering flights over some of these areas, giving rise to rumours that later faded such as 300 dead in one town.With emergency services stretched and desperation mounting, the remnants of Manuel regrouped into a tropical storm forecast to hit Mexico's north-west coaston Thursday . While this region was not badly affected by the earlier storms, the rainfall from the new storm is expected to spread into regions that were.A new tropical system has also formed in the south-east, although forecasters do not yet know if it is likely to roll into Mexico along a similar path to Ingrid, or perhaps head north to Texas or Louisiana in the US.MexicoAcapulcoHurricane IreneNatural disasters and extreme weatherJo Tuckman theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

18 сентября 2013, 11:45

Mexico floods leave thousands trapped in Acapulco

Storms leave 40,000 holidaymakers cut off and locals in shelters, with supplies running short and airports waterloggedThousands of tourists are still trapped in Acapulco after roads to Mexico's most famous beach resort were blocked by flash floods and landslides set off by some of the worst storms in decades.Across the country at least 55 people have been killed in floods after a three-day downpour, spawned by two major storms that converged on Mexico from the Pacific and the Gulf.Some 40,000 tourists remain stranded in Acapulco after several roads into the city were blocked by mud, while its international airport terminal was still waist-deep in water. Two of Mexico's largest airlines were running flights from the airport, and a nearby military airbase was also used to evacuate stranded tourists.Families waited for as long as eight hours before jostling to gain a seat on commercial flights, helicopters and seven cargo planes pressed into duty."It's probably one of the worst holidays I've ever been on," said David Jefferson Gled, a 28-year-old Briton from Bristol, who teaches English at a private school in Mexico City. "It wasn't really a holiday, more of an incarceration."Adding insult to injury, a few immaculately dressed families skipped the line and were escorted to private jets by soldiers, to the incredulous stares of the sweltering masses.Officials said it could take at least another two days to open the main highway to Acapulco, which was hit by more than 13 landslides from surrounding hills, and to bring food and relief supplies into the city of more than 800,000 people.The flooding has disrupted deliveries of supplies, piling fresh misery on a city heavily dependent on tourist spending. City officials said about 23,000 homes, mostly on Acapulco's outskirts, were without electricity and water. Stores were nearly emptied by residents who rushed to stock up on basic goods.Much of Acapulco's upscale Diamante district was flooded, and tourists were unable to take cash out of bank machines due to lack of power. Some large hotels offered stranded guests a free night of accommodation. But conditions were tough."They've started to ration food here," said Pedro de la Torre, a 53-year-old graphic designer from Mexico City who was stranded in a hotel. "People are starting to get annoyed." Outside the hotel, guests waded to their waterlogged vehicles in the hope of recovering whatever they could."The panorama is one of devastation," said Alejandro Hernandez, a 40-year-old landscape gardener from Mexico City, holed up in a hotel with his wife and three-year-old daughter. "The hotel is no longer functioning as a business. The staff are starting to leave. They have closed the front desk, switched off the computers," he said.Hundreds of people lined up outside supermarkets waiting to buy food. Shelves were empty in some other areas of Guerrero state as residents stocked up and town mayors called on the government to send emergency supplies.The chaos began late last week when tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel converged from the Atlantic and the Pacific, drenching Mexico in intense rainfall that has hit around two thirds of the country, according to the interior ministry.Though both of the storms have dissipated, rain is still falling in much of country and more than 1 million people have so far been affected by flooding. The US National Hurricane Centre said rain caused by the remnants of Ingrid could still produce life-threatening floods and mud slides in a large part of eastern Mexico.MexicoAmericas theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds 

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17 сентября 2013, 22:33

Briton jailed in US for plotting to kidnap, kill and eat children

Massachusetts resident Geoffrey Portway sentenced to serve 27 years in prison before he is deported to UKA Briton living in the US who plotted to kidnap, rape, kill and eat children has been sentenced to serve 27 years in prison before he is deported back to the UK.Authorities last year found a dungeon, homemade child-sized coffin, butchering kit and torture tools at the Massachusetts home of Geoffrey Portway, who had engaged in online discussions with others about a mutual interest in abducting and murdering children.The 40-year-old, who pleaded guilty in May to solicitation to kidnap a child and distribution and possession of child pornography, was jailed for 26 years and eight months. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the US district court in Worcester had to sentence him to a term between 216 and 327 months in prison, before he is deported to the UK.Many of the conversations which Portway engaged in online involved the trading of child pornography, including images of injured, mutilated and dead children. There were discussions of the desire to sexually abuse, murder and cannibalise children in the pictures.Portway, worked in the IT department at a US wholesaler, solicited several people for their help in abducting a child, predominantly Michael Arnett, of Kansas, and used Skype to communicate with him. Over a period of months, he repeatedly solicited Arnett to kidnap a child for him, with the intent that Portway would ultimately rape, kill and eat the child. These solicitations included discussing real children, by name and photo, whom Arnett claimed to know and have access to.Portway and Arnett discussed different ways to kidnap children and the age range that Portway preferred, the court was told. Portway was told that Arnett had experience with the abduction and sexual abuse of children, it was said in evidence.Portway's defence team attempted to claim during Tuesday's hearing that he had immersed himself in a fantasy world on the internet. However, prosecutor Carmen Ortiz described him as "the real deal" and said that the evidence was there that he was going to kill a child. "He can only claim fantasy here because he hadn't done it yet," said another member of the prosecution team, Dawson Belf.On 27 July last year, federal agents along with state and local police executed a search warrant at Portway's home. Computers and digital devices containing his child pornography collection were seized, as well as the computer he used to trade child photography and attempts to plan the abduction of a child.Agents also discovered a locked door in the basement. Inside a second door was a dungeon lined with sound-deadening material. It contained a chair, a television and what appeared to be cable access to the internet. The room also contained a child-sized homemade coffin with exterior locking devices, a steel cage approximately 3ft wide, 2ft high and 4ft long, with multiple locking devices, and a steel table top with steel rings at six points, presumably for restraints. Outside these rooms were a cabinet freezer, an upright freezer, disposable scalpels, butchering kits and castration tools.The dungeon was described in detail by Portway in recovered chats as a place he intended to use to keep kidnapped children while he sexually abused them and as a place to eventually murder and cannibalise them.US crimeCrimeUnited StatesBen Quinn theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds 

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17 сентября 2013, 17:38

Ten tips to make bedtime reading fun

Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon says there's no greater pleasure than 20 minutes a day spent reading to your child – so fetch a book and snuggle downAll children need and love stories. Yet a recent poll of 2,000 mothers with children aged 0-7 (What? No fathers?!) found that only 64% of respondents said they read their children bedtime stories. Reasons for not reading to their kids included being too stressed or too tired, while nearly half said they couldn't lure their kids away from computer games and TV.Well, try harder. Reading to your kids is the absolute best time parents and children have together. I say this not only as a writer but as the parent of a now grown-up son. You snuggle up; it's calm and cosy. There is nothing that reduces stress more than 20 minutes of reading together. My husband and I enjoyed it so much we did double shifts: he read to our son in the mornings, and I read in the evenings.We continued bedtime stories until he was 11, when he literally pushed us out of his room. I'd still be reading to him today – he's 24 – if he'd let me. And it's not because I'm Supermum. It's because reading to him and with him were some of the best times we had together.Here are my 10 top tips for making reading to your children a joy.1. Start earlyI began looking at board books with Josh when my son was four months old. We both loved Helen Oxenbury's enchanting stories Friends, Dressing and Playing. I would offer him the choice of two, and he would drop the one he didn't want. Peepo, The Baby's Catalogue and Dear Zoo were also big favourites. Babies have opinions, and don't get enough opportunities to make choices. And they adore looking at books.2. You are not too busy to read to your childThat's like saying you don't have time to feed them. Work late? Too tired? Too much on at night? There's no law that says you can only read to kids at bedtime. Get up a bit earlier and read together in the morning. My husband often worked late and that's what he did.3. Get your child a library cardThey can take home 10 lovely books a week. Then go back for 10 more. It's a great outing, and again, it's their choice. My son brought home some bizarre books – he was obsessed with a dreary book called Tiddles – but so what? We soon moved on to Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as Michael Rosen's We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Cat in the Hat, John Burningham's Mr Gumpy's Outing and the Ahlbergs' Burglar Bill.4. Think of all those great books you missed as a childNow's your chance. I read my son The Hobbit and all of Swallows and Amazons. And The Wind in the Willows.5. Children are not frightened of words they don't knowSwallows and Amazons is filled with arcane language – I had no idea what many of the sailing terms meant. After reading half a page of gibberish, I told my son I hadn't understood many of the words. "Neither did I, but I liked hearing them," he said.6. Let them chooseWhen they're older, get five books you'd also enjoy reading. Read the first few paragraphs of each aloud and then let your child decide. This isn't homework: this is fun.7. Don't punish your child for learning to read by not reading to them any moreKids can enjoy books that are much too hard for them to read on their own. My son really loved Harry Potter, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Norse Myths and Little House on the Prairie well before he could have tackled them alone.8. Alternate chaptersMy son and his father read all of CS Lewis's Narnia books and Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials together. To speed things up, they alternated reading chapters out loud to each other, as the stories were so exciting it was hard to read only one chapter a day. This also encouraged my son to become a better reader, but in a relaxed way.9. Get off their caseReading by himself, my son much preferred non-fiction like the Horrible Histories to all the books I really wanted him to read. So I read him all of Roald Dahl and The Magic Faraway Tree and lots of myths and fairytales. I was happy. He was happy.10. Try not to sobTo this day, I can't read Tom's Midnight Garden without crying at the end. My son, understandably, did not enjoy being read to by a weeping parent. We summoned his dad to take over. Within a few pages, he too was sobbing. I'm not sure our son ever heard the end.Children and teenagersFrancesca SimonChildrenFrancesca Simon theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds 

17 сентября 2013, 16:05

Laptops: a buyer's guide

The portable computer market now takes in netbooks and tablets as well as laptops. We look at things to consider before you make your purchaseA corner of a room dedicated to the computer has become a thing of the past in many households, and according to market researchers Mintel the trend is set to continue, with laptops set to outsell desktops by more than four to one this year.And if they work for families, small compact computers are a god send for students who need something they carry back and forth to university for researching and writing assignments, producing presentations and, time permitting of course, keeping up-to-date on social networks.Third-year student Adam Higgs, a blogger for the Student Room, has advice for students looking for the right machine: "Before buying, consider the course you're doing. Find out from your faculty if there is any specific software that is required, or certain work you need to do that could affect your purchasing decision."Is the software you require downloadable from the internet, or do you need a disc drive to install it? Does the machine have a powerful enough processor for your needs? Would you benefit from a larger screen for detailed work, or a lighter more portable machine for lectures? Does it have enough RAM to run smoothly all the programs you want?"If you want the device to last for the duration of your course, consider what may be useful over the next three or four years," Higgs says. Even if you think you might buy online, take the opportunity to go into a store, trying out one or two on your shortlist before purchasing.The choicesThere are many types of portable computer, but we will focus on these five types:Laptop Probably closest to the traditional desktop computer, but can run unplugged for a few hours. Screens vary in size but can go up to about 18". Typically, the machine has an internal CD/DVD drive with many laptops able to "burn" discs. The Apple equivalent is the MacBook Pro, which works on a different operating system (OS X Mountain Lion) to Windows-based laptops.Convertible laptop These are laptops that convert into a tablet by letting you either detach the keyboard or use a swivel hinge to move it out of the way, at which point touch screen technology takes over.Netbooks A small portable laptop. These have a keyboard but do not have internal disc drives, although you can normally add an external one. Battery life is generally longer than for a laptop. Selection is limited as the rise of tablets has stopped them taking off.Subnotebooks/Ultrabooks These are thinner, lighter and quicker to start up than a typical laptop. Processors tend to be powerful and often use solid state drives (SSDs), which have faster speeds than hard drives but are more expensive. Most lack an internal disc drive, but have ports for you to add external products. The MacBook Air would fit into this category.Chromebook Using Chrome's own operating system, the Chromebook has a battery life typically in excess of six hours. You can buy 3G or Wi-Fi Chromebooks with a start up time normally of less than 10 seconds. They do have a small hard drive, but are almost totally internet-dependent with the "cloud" storing all files and documents. Apps are accessed via the Chrome webstore with some available in offline mode. If you need specialist software for your course that is not available via an app you will need an alternative computer.Other considerationsIt's important to have enough storage space for all your software, documents, files, photos and videos, so make sure you have a large enough drive. It may also be useful to use a cloud-based service for back-up.Manufacturers advertise battery life, but Higgs says "it is typically based on the least intensive usage scenarios possible, so it's best not to get too invested in it".Bear in mind the cost of replacing your machine if it is stolen or damaged. Before you go for an expensive model, check how much it will cost to insure. You might decide to go for something inexpensive that is cheaper to cover or replace if something does go wrong.The machinesBelow are the best prices for some popular models, but be aware retailers often sell varieties of the same machine with some differences in specification. For example, one shop may offer a faster processor or larger hard drive than another, all of which affects price. Prices can change rapidly so please put any better deals you spot in the comments section below.LaptopsThe 15.6" Acer Aspire E1-571 weighs 2.45kg, has a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, a 750GB hard drive, webcam and a DVD drive and is £399.99 at Currys.The 15.6" HP Compaq CQ58-253SA weighs 2.5kg, has a 2.2GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 500GB hard drive and a DVD drive. It is priced at £332.95 including postage with Laptops Direct, and you can reduce this by £15 by signing up to a one-month subscription to Which? magazine for £1. But if you don't want to continue the subscription beyond that, remember to cancel it.Convertible laptopsThe Acer Iconia W510 has a detachable keyboard and a 10.1" touchscreen, which can be used on its own as a tablet. It has a 64GB hard drive, 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor and weighs only 0.58kg. Priced as high as £649 elsewhere, this is currently £499.99 with Currys online. NetbookThe purple Asus Eee PC X101CH weighs less than a kilo and has a 10.1" screen, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and a 320GB hard drive. IT Trade Station sells it via Amazon for £219.95.UltrabookThe Samsung Series 5 NP540U3C is a 13.3" touchscreen ultrabook with an Intel Core i3 processor with up to 6.5 hours battery life and a 500GB hard drive coupled with 24GB of fast storage on a SSD. You can spend more than £700 on this model, but it is available for £599.99 at Currys. The MacBook Air 11" with 128GB flash storage and an Intel Core i5 processor is just 1.7cm thick, weighs 1.08kg and starts at £849. However, if you are a student you may be eligible for a discount of up to 15% from the Apple Store. If that discount isn't good enough, PC World is offering £100 cashback on MacBooks until Wednesday. ChromebookThe HP Pavilion 14-c001sa has a 14" screen and a 16GB SSD drive. Best price for this model is via the PC World website; if you enter the code CHROME5 at the online checkout you will get it for £189.99.Refurbished models sometimes offer good value. Make sure you buy from a reputable company, that the computer has been checked and the warranty offered is the same length as if you bought a new one.Do you have a favourite machine or tips on the best places to buy? Please add your thoughts below.Consumer affairsSaving moneyComputingStudentsHigher educationMarc Lockley theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds 

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17 сентября 2013, 10:21

Google buys smartphone file-swapping app Bump as sharing grows

Impending launch of Apple's AirDrop on iOS 7 could make Bump unnecessary on its own platform, while Google beefs up file-transfer capabilities for AndroidGoogle is buying Bump, an app which allows smartphone users to send pictures, contacts or other files to each other by bumping them together.Bump was initially made available on Apple's iPhone as a substitute for NFC - Near Field Communications - technology which enables the same functionality on Android and other NFC-equipped smartphones. The decision to buy Bump seems to have been partly driven by the impending release of Apple's iOS 7, the latest version of its iPhone software. That introduces a technology called AirDrop which could be used to transfer similar data types - including photos or web addresses - using a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to multiple devices at once without requiring the phones to touch. "There's no bumping your phone," said Apple's iOS software chief Craig Federighi when he showed the feature off to developers in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. Apple already implements AirDrop on its desktop and laptop computers.For Bump, that could mean that its biggest platform, iOS, would become less useful if people begin using AirDrop instead of its app.Google also has its own NFC project, called Beam, announced in October 2011. And Samsung has implemented its own "bump" technology using NFC to move files between devices.The price of the sale hasn't been disclosed, though AllThingsDigital reported sources putting the price at between $30m and $60m, compared to venture capital investment of $20m.Bump was founded in 2008 and first released its app on Apple's App Store in March 2009. It has had a total of more than 125m downloads for both iPhone and Android, and been used to send more than 1bn photos. The company had 25 staff in March. The app was seeing fast growth among users, and had recently implemented a system which let users "bump" files to desktop or laptop computers.Writing on the Bump blog, its chief executive and cofounder David Lieb said that Our mission at Bump has always been to build the simplest tools for sharing the information you care about with other people and devices. We strive to create experiences that feel like magic, enabled behind the scene with innovations in math, data processing, and algorithms. So we couldn't be more thrilled to join Google, a company that shares our belief that the application of computing to difficult problems can fundamentally change the way that we interact with one another and the world.He said that Bump and the Flock app, which allows people to create shared photo albums, "will continue to work as they always have for now".Bump uses a combination of apps running on the devices which "bump", and the company's own servers. In an FAQ, the company explains that "The app on your phone uses the phone's sensors to literally "feel" the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair." The app uses location information and sensor detail to determine which two devices which have sent a "bump" are in direct contact. By contrast, Apple's Airdrop is an ad-hoc peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network with encrypted file transfers, which does not route through outside servers, and so doesn't need an internet connection.GoogleSmartphonesMobile phonesiPhoneWi-FiAppsAndroidCharles Arthur theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds     

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13 сентября 2013, 13:25

Cybergang foiled after allegedly hacking into London bank

Twelve men arrested after police say gang remotely took control of computers at Santander branch in south-east LondonPolice have foiled a plot to steal millions of pounds after a gang allegedly took control of a bank's computer remotely.Scotland Yard described the cyber-attack on a Santander branch in Surrey Quays shopping centre, south-east London, as the most sophisticated case of its kind that police had encountered.A man posing as a maintenance engineer is said to have fitted a keyboard video mouse device (KVM) to a computer in the branch, allowing transmission of the complete desktop contents of the bank computer over the network.Police said the men were about to be in a position to execute their operation when the plot was foiled and multimillion-pound losses were prevented. The bank said no money was ever at risk.Twelve men were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to steal from Santander after a long-term, intelligence-led operation by Scotland Yard's central e-crime unit (PCeU), working with the banking industry. Detective Inspector Mark Raymond, of PCeU, said: "This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank, and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across."A 34-year-old man was arrested in Vauxhall, south London, and 11 men aged 23 to 50 were arrested in Hounslow, west London. Addresses were searched in Westminster, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Brent and Richmond, and in Slough where property was seized.A Santander spokesman said none of its staff was involved in the plot. "Santander was aware of the possibility of the attack connected to the arrests," he said. "The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays branch was allegedly undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party."It failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud. We are pleased that we have been able, through the robustness of our systems, to prevent the fraud and help the police gather the evidence they needed to make the arrests."Dr Eerke Boiten, fromsenior lecturer at the University of Kent's interdisciplinary centre for cyber security research, said an iKVM, which would need to be fitted inside the computer, would have been able to send information over the internet. "It captures all the information that goes to the screen, keyboard and mouse. If you manage to get it installed inside the computer, it gives you a way of contacting the device through a remote computer," Boiten said."This is what people use for controlling a big server remotely. You basically can control a computer inside that bank branch. With one such device you can do as much damage as an individual teller can, within the bank."He said that because of the potential for fraud, bank branches would typically limit access to the internet and have a very strong firewall to prevent computers being remotely accessed. The number of people arrested suggested a sophisticated operation bent on getting around this."This is not just one guy trying to install this thing and see if he can get through to the internet," said Boiten.CrimeBanco SantanderLondonCybercrimeHaroon Siddique theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds