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George Galloway's finest moments - now available on iTunes
(Fri, 24 May 2013 13:50:24 GMT)
Download a selection of some of the combative MP's greatest political speeches – including the classic Galloway v Paxman and Galloway v the US Senate
If you have a long car journey or plane trip coming up and you like the sound of people being harangued in a hoarse Dundee accent then, boy, has iTunes got a treat for you. Download The Best of George Galloway, Vol 1, sit back and enjoy four hours of the Respect bruiser's finest moments, including 2005's smash hit Galloway v Paxman and the epic Galloway v Hitchens, while mouthing along to such vintage lines as: "If you ask that question again, I'm going."
Galloway is the only serving MP with the rhetorical chops to inspire such an odd enterprise. John F Kennedy's assassination prompted the vinyl release of The Presidential Years 1960-1963. Motown's Black Forum imprint released classic speeches by Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael. Hardcore Potus buffs can even buy an album of William Howard Taft's 1908 campaign speeches. But I can't imagine there would be many takers for What I Say Is: The Very Best of Ed Miliband. Only Galloway has enough ripe phrasemaking, righteous indignation and old-school showmanship to make anyone even think of charging £7.99 for his performances.
Needless to say, it's still a record of somewhat selective appeal. The compiler's bias is clear from the titles, which include Galloway Savages Fox News and Galloway Tares [sic] Senator a New Arse Senate Hearing. And the whole thing has the slipshod sincerity of a piece of fan art. There is one deeply weird attempt to make music out of Galloway's defence of his expenses on a radio phone-in. It worked for Malcolm X on 1983's hip hop mashup No Sell Out, but then Malcolm didn't open with the words: "Let's go to Kevin in Sale."
With little from the post-Celebrity Big Brother years (hold tight for Vol 2: The Cream of George Galloway), the emphasis is on Galloway's firebreathing anti-war period. His clash with Christopher Hitchens at New York's Baruch University in 2005 is both an intriguing period piece and a study in contrasting polemical styles, if that's your bag.
But despite the light relief of Galloway's spat with Paxman, and one unexpectedly soaring moment when a moon-landing conspiracy theorist inspires him to wax lyrical about the human spirit, the MP's default mode of florid hectoring makes this hard work for all but the most fervent Georgistas. If you can make it through the whole thing in one go then I salute your indefatigability.
The future of media measurement should be people-based | David Gosen
(Fri, 24 May 2013 13:48:41 GMT)
Nielsen executive David Gosen responds to Frédéric Filloux's blog backing a site-centric approach using server logs
When it comes to the development and distribution of content, the pace of innovation has been breathtaking. Today, people consume media on multiple platforms and devices and, with the rise of mobile technologies, they do it any time and in any place. So, how should this proliferating and diverse consumption be measured?
Some, such as Frédéric Filloux in his Monday Note post on 20 May, argue that a site-centric approach using server logs is required. At Nielsen, though, we believe this overlooks some of the essential aspects of media measurement in today's world.
Currently, each publisher can only measure its own data. They can understand volume but, while some collect extensive user data through registration, in many cases they know little about their visitors. That's why Nielsen measures people.
Online audiences don't just visit websites in a vacuum – they are real people with real lives and real families and they no longer consume media in a linear way. When Nielsen recruits people for a panel, we do so with their explicit permission, and that allows us to get to know them. We construct panels that statistically represent the census of the region, and this gives us (and our clients) unique context about consumer behaviour across a wide variety of devices – computers, yes, but also televisions, smartphones, tablets, and more.
This measurement of people provides us with a full-market view – something which is missing from site-centric analytics. Data from a single publisher will only ever be one slice of the pie. What Nielsen does is measure all the players in a market, apply a common set of rules, and report the data such that comparisons can be made across sectors and industries. Our clients can feel confident that the whole universe is being reported, both the winners and losers.
And while panel-based sampling is a core methodology, it's not all we do. Depending on the region, we measure online advertising campaigns, smartphone app usage, digital programming, consumer tablet behaviour and, of course, television programme viewing. Right now, we use multiple forms of hybrid methodology that combine panel and census-based measurement to provide insight into all the "hows" and "whys" of a person's media diet. What's more, we continue to develop advanced technologies that deliver innovative capabilities into the marketplace.
Importantly, too, Nielsen is an objective third party. We provide data and insights across many devices and platforms. And, significantly, independent third parties such as the Media Rating Council audit our methodologies.
Gathering, measuring, aggregating and analysing consumer data so that it provides thoughtful and meaningful insights is not easy. It's complex, and becomes more so every day. Doing it well requires significant investment in people, methodology and technology, and it takes experience.
The consumption of media is moving into ever-expanding and evolving technologies. That's why we believe independent, people-based measurement is more indispensable now than ever before.
David Gosen is managing director of digital, Europe, Nielsen
Internet users' privacy concerns may mean cookies start to crumble
(Fri, 24 May 2013 13:48:20 GMT)
Firefox is about to follow Safari's lead by disabling third-party cookies, but the web simply would not work without them
When the Cookie Directive, officially known as the EU e-Privacy Directive, was first drafted two years ago, tablets hadn't been adopted in their millions, and smartphones had nothing like their present-day ubiquity.
Their rise in popularity raises a number of difficult issues for publishers and other website owners when it comes to the directive, which has now been in place for 12 months, not least because of the way mobile devices deal with cookies, those small bits of code left by web browsers on your computer or mobile devices that personalise your online experience.
To complicate matters, not all cookies are the same. There are session-based cookies, or temporary cookie files which are erased when you close your browser, and persistent cookies, that stay in one of your browser's subfolders until you delete them manually or until your browser deletes them based on the duration period contained within the persistent cookie's file.
These persistent cookies can stay in your browser for anything from 18 months to 18 years. Of all the cookies written onto users' browsers, roughly half are first party and belong to the site you are visiting, and half are third party, and belong to partners, services or advertisers working with the site.
Nearly a third of all page views in the UK now occur on a smartphone or tablet, according to ComScore, with one in five UK users using their smartphone to buy online during the three months ending January 2013. But users are more aware than ever of the potential threat to their privacy.
According to a survey by online privacy management services provider TRUSTe at the start of this year, 66% of smartphone users are now more concerned about their privacy on the devices than a year ago, while 79% say they avoid using apps they don't believe protect their privacy online.
The mobile landscape is still developing and the way that mobiles and tablets deal with cookies is inconsistent. It's a complicated and changing environment which merits some attention from the information commissioner.
With first-party cookies, there are not really significant issues, as they improve the user online experience, enabling you to stay logged on, remember passwords, items in your shopping basket and so on. The difficulty arises with third-party cookies, which are used to track activity and recognise frequent and returning visitors, to optimise advertising, or improve the user experience by tailoring content or offers, based on that cookie's history.
Apple's Safari, for instance, blocks third-party cookies such as those from advertisers, so it's impossible to track a highly significant portion of the mobile audience, the iPhone users, when they're online. Mozilla is joining Apple in the latest version of its Firefox browser and intends to disable third-party cookies.
Why is any of this important? In short, the current web environment requires user movements to be tracked, and cookies are needed to achieve this. And it's right that the placing of cookies on computers and mobile devices should be monitored and users protected from unscrupulous elements. But the internet simply would not work without cookies – they are a fundamental currency of the internet, enabling web analytics as well as tailoring the online experience, compiling a browsing history and the rest.
In particular, third-party cookies are critical for the automated trading that has come to dominate digital media since the Cookie Directive was introduced. It's no exaggeration to say that there has been a sea change in the volume and usage of third-party cookies over the last year because of the rise of automated trading methods like real-time bidding. The marketplace for exchange-traded media has doubled in the past quarter and has grown 184% over the past year, according to a recent report from Accordant Media.
The internet runs on an advertising model, and payback for it being free to users is that their movements and behaviour online can be tracked by advertisers. In fact, 23% of UK users are "OK with companies tracking me in exchange for free services or content" according to TRUSTe's research, accepting that such an exchange keeps the services free or low priced.
The move from Firefox is of concern for AOP members because it raises the possibility that other browser makers could follow suit, which may mean that even publishers' first-party cookies would be seen as third-party cookies by a browser and disabled, denying the user the benefits and convenience they provide.
Twelve months on, this stance has yet to be proven, and in the meanwhile, the mrket has developed to become much more complex. The UK has the slackest regulation of all EU members; other member states are much more stringent in their approach. In the UK, no one knows how far they can go and there is a real risk that the desktop internet could become over-legislated while mobile internet becomes under-legislated.
It's an issue for all websites, whether they are well-resourced businesses like the premium publishers represented by the AOP, or smaller businesses which may fall foul of the regulations more easily. For the benefit of both users and web site providers we need more guidance on best practice and more clarity from the information commissioner.
John Barnes is chairman of the AOP and managing director digital & tech, Incisive Media
YouTube Comedy Week, day five: David Brent's guitar hit a rare high note
(Fri, 24 May 2013 13:21:20 GMT)
Too many in-jokes, too much ephemera, and an overdose of online sterility – it's fair to say YCW hasn't been a huge success
Judging by your comments on our daily roundups of YouTube Comedy Week, the event has not been a huge success. "I don't really understand the thinking behind a 'comedy week'," wrote CGB1991, "on a website where comedy is uploaded every day anyway."
"This is a classic case of organised fun," added Dd2704, "they're all trying really hard to be funny, and it's gone tits up."
That's a bit strong, but, as the days have passed, it's been harder to see what Comedy Week is really trying to achieve. Much of the content has seemed in-jokey, or dependent on a prior familiarity with the acts involved. Most of it has been throwaway and lacking in satirical purpose, although Friday's video by The Onion website – a spoof TV medical show that administers plastic surgery to four reluctant women, arguing that they'd otherwise be unemployable – is a decent exception to that rule.
Most of the content has come from American acts little-known in the UK, or from web-based comics. It's been interesting to encounter the latter, whose talents and production standards can be as high as those of their TV counterparts. The Tea Chronicles, Friday's stylish if inconsequential short film by the UK writer/directors Khyan Mansley and Charlie McDonnell, is a case in point.
The fact that nothing's been as funny as David Brent's online guitar lesson may simply reflect the credit that Ricky Gervais already has in the bank. I find that character funny almost before he opens his mouth.
Most disappointing, given the supposedly pioneering, wild west (compare Sarah Silverman's comments on day one) character of the internet, is that Comedy Week has more often seemed tired than innovative. (Witness the video in which Jamie Oliver guests stars in an episode of the old hat Annoying Orange web series.) In fairness, it may not have helped that I'm not used to consuming comedy in short bursts, on my laptop, using the internet – which I've found a fairly sterile process.
As James May points out in his rudimentary anthropology of humour, we laugh most when we're in company. YouTube Comedy Week has raised the odd smile, but I'll be glad to get back to comedy clubs, theatres, and the sound of other people's laughter.
Photographer documents a year in the life of a tree on his iPhone
(Fri, 24 May 2013 12:26:00 GMT)
Mark Hirsch publishes images taken using his smartphone through the changing seasons in a book called That Tree
• That Tree: an iPhone photo journal – in pictures
It was a sight so familiar it was almost beyond noticing: a bur oak – though an old and particularly gorgeous specimen – towering above the corn fields that Mark Hirsch drove past daily on the road into town.
Then Hirsch, a photographer with a studio in Dubuque, Iowa, got his first iPhone. A friend challenged him to use the camera feature, and Hirsch decided to spend the next year photographing the bur oak that was such a feature of his daily commute.
The result is That Tree, a year-long photo diary of the life of the tree.
As far as the tree was concerned, it was a year of dramatic occurrences: 2012 saw a historic drought across the mid-west as well as a punishing winter. At the height of summer, after a string of 38C-plus days, the leaves on the tree curled up and crumbled away into the dried-out corn fields.
In the depths of winter, after a terrible blizzard, the tree was surrounded by snow, nine or 10 inches deep, and broken only by the tracks of a deer.
It was a year of transformation for Hirsch as well.
Before taking on the tree, he had never really worked as a landscape photographer. And while he describes himself as a "quiet environmentalist" and a keen hunter, hiker, and outdoorsman, who lives on 200 acres on the other side of the Mississippi river from his studio in the state of Wisconsin, he had never looked that closely at the natural world.
After about two weeks, he feared he had run out of ways to photograph the tree. He had exhausted all the angles that immediately came to mind. "I thought: oh my gosh? How am I going to do this for a year?" he said.
The iPhone imposed additional limitations. The time of day prized by photographers, the pre-dawn early morning hours or those minutes when day turns to dusk, were often too dark for the iPhone's camera.
Hirsch would take some pictures, drive home to view the images on his computer and be forced to return and try again because the light was not good enough.
In time, he learned to look out for the smaller changes, to watch the leaves grow on the branches or the acorns accumulate on the ground beneath the tree. He grew fascinated by the tracery made by Japanese beetles devouring the leaves.
Those small biological changes – none of which he would have much noticed in the past – formed a large body of the work in the book.
"It made me a way better photographer," Hirsch said. "As a photojournalist you run into a situation and document a specific topic and an inanimate object that just sits on a landscape is a passive subject. I just really had to change my way of thinking, and my way of looking at the world and it has really had an incredible impact on me."
That Tree: an iPhone photo journal – in pictures
(Fri, 24 May 2013 12:00:00 GMT)
Using his iPhone 4S, Mark Hirsch photographed a tree in Platteville, Wisconsin, every day for a year
The secret life of internet climate trolls: part three - video
(Fri, 24 May 2013 12:00:00 GMT)
Watch what happened when Climate Desk introduced the troll slayer Rosi Reed to the climate denier Hoyt Connell
Twitter users should learn lessons from Sally Bercow's libellous tweet
(Fri, 24 May 2013 11:52:00 GMT)
Golly gosh fellow tweeters… following the Sally Bercow libel verdict you should beware letting your fingers and thumbs run away with themselves.
The high court ruling, though specifically dealing with Bercow's tweet about Lord McAlpine, will surely have wider ramifications.
It is not the first example of a Twitter user being sued for libel, but it is such a high-profile case it should concentrate the minds of those who think they can say anything about anyone and remain safe from prosecution.
Bercow, in her response to the judge's decision, was sensible enough to see it as "a warning to all social media users."
She said she realised now that "things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intend them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation."
Well, I fear Bercow may be a little disingenuous there. Let's recall the circumstances. BBC2's Newsnight ran a report in November last year about a "senior Conservative" having been involved in a child abuse scandal.
According to several Twitter posters, the man was Lord McAlpine. But, as The Guardian soon revealed, those accusations were the result of mistaken identity.
Everyone then accepted the error. The Newsnight accuser realised he had made an error. The BBC apologised and paid McAlpine £185,000 in damages. He was also awarded £125,000 in damages from ITV. Other legal actions followed against users of Twitter.
He eventually dropped defamation claims against users with fewer than 500 followers in return for a £25 donation to charity but pledged to pursue 20 "high profile" tweeters who had reported the rumours or, most tellingly, alluded to them.
That was relevant to Bercow's tweet, which said: "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*". It was, of course, more like that famous Monty Python sketch where Eric Idle persistently says: "Nudge-nudge, nod's as good as a wink, know what I mean?"
Bercow, wife of the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, refused to see it in such terms, maintaining that it was not libellous. Mr Justice Tugendhat disagreed, remarking that it amounted to a defamatory innuendo.
This ruling may give heart to people who feel that tweeters who mention them are not observing the law as strictly as mainstream media. Just 140 characters can cost the unwary an awful lot of loot.
For the avoidance of doubt, the libel law applies to everyone, whatever "platform" they use to make their statements – newspapers, TV, radio, blogs, social media and even the proverbial garden fence.
Russian social network site banned 'by mistake'
(Fri, 24 May 2013 11:29:40 GMT)
VKontakte, which has 210 million users, was briefly put on 'blacklist' of sites barred from distributing content inside Russia
Russia's leading online social network was banned briefly on Friday in a move dismissed as a "mistake" but which follows intensifying official pressure on the company as President Vladimir Putin consolidates his power.
VKontakte, Europe's largest homegrown social network with 210 million registered users, overnight was put on a "blacklist" of sites barred from distributing content inside Russia. Hours later the ban was lifted.
The company's founder, Pavel Durov, has clashed with the authorities in the past for providing a forum for opposition activists to organise protests against Putin.
"This happened by mistake," said Vladimir Pikov, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, the state communications regulator. "In this case, someone checked a box against the address of the social network. The site has been removed from the list and restrictions on access to it have been lifted."
Durov, 28, founded VKontakte in his native St Petersburg in 2006 and his success in building the network – which attracts 47 million users daily – has drawn comparisons with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
Durov refused to comply with an order by the Federal Security Service, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, to close groups used by activists to organise protests over the December 2011 parliamentary election, which handed victory to Putin's ruling United Russia party.
Last month he was implicated in a traffic incident in the city of St Petersburg in which a policeman was slightly injured. Durov has denied being involved in the accident but, instead of agreeing to testify as a witness, he left the country, say sources close to him. He has not been seen in public or posted on his VKontakte page since 24 April.
The executive's difficulties coincided with a change of ownership at the company, in which a private equity fund with Kremlin connections bought a 48% stake from the founding partners who backed Durov. The day before the deal closed on 17 April, VK's office and Durov's home were searched by investigators.
The buyer, United Capital Partners, controls assets worth some $3.5bn (£2.3bn) and is run by the financier Ilya Sherbovich, who sits on the board of three large state firms including Rosneft, the oil firm run by Putin's former chief of staff, Igor Sechin.
"It's a meticulous and methodical effort to bring the network under the control of the Kremlin," the science fiction writer and blogger Dmitry Glukhovsky, creator of the Metro 2033 video game, told Reuters this week of the pressure on VK.
"It's too important a resource to stand independently from the 'siloviki'," he added, referring to Putin's allies that share the Russian leader's security-service background and are now in the political ascendant.
Sherbovich, in an interview, has denied fronting for the Kremlin and said he wanted Durov to stay on as chief executive of VKontakte.
A source close to the company said it held a board meeting in Switzerland this week that was attended by Durov.
Durov owns 12% of VK, but under a shareholder pact he also votes on behalf of the 40% holding owned by Mail.ru, the London-listed internet group backed by the Uzbek-born tycoon Alisher Usmanov, Russia's richest man.
No comment was available from representatives of VK, United Capital Partners or Usmanov.
At issue, say internet watchers, is control over user-generated content frowned on by the authorities. Friday's ban, despite being quickly lifted, could be a shot across VKontakte's bows to ensure it tightens its monitoring.
The network has also been accused by Russia's ombudsman for children's rights of hosting images of child abuse. At least one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects had a page on VKontakte.
After Putin rose to power in 2000, the Kremlin reined in Russia's print and broadcast media, encouraging trusted business oligarchs to buy strategic stakes. A similar scenario, in which loyal investors ensure internet content is screened, may now be unfolding, say some commentators.
"All big media have been brought under the control of the Kremlin, and VK is the last medium that is free," the journalist Nickolay Kononov, author of the biography The Durov Code, said in a recent interview.
Zach Braff: 'I introduced Woody Allen to Kickstarter'
(Fri, 24 May 2013 11:08:02 GMT)
The Garden State star has explained how he instructed the veteran director in the ways of the crowd-funding platform – to reportedly great effect
Woody Allen may be jumping onto the Kickstarter bandwagon after Zach Braff gave him a masterclass on crowd-funding when they met to discuss a potential future project.
In an email to Braff, Allen's assistant reportedly revealed that the 77-year-old film-maker "won't stop talking" about the fundraising platform and was "riveted" by Braff's explanation. Braff recounted details of the meeting in an interview on the SiriusXM show Unmasked.
Braff turned to Kickstarter to bankroll his latest project, Wish I Was Here, which he will direct and will star himself, Kate Hudson and Anna Kendrick. The film will go into production later this year after the $3m required was raised, but Braff met with criticism from some who felt that established stars should steer clear of the platform.
The concept appears to have been a revelation to seasoned director Allen, whose most recent films have been shot in Europe partly for financial reasons.
One of Braff's earliest big-screen roles was playing Allen's college-age son in the 1994 film Manhattan Murder Mystery.
New website displays celebrities of Jane Austen's youth
(Fri, 24 May 2013 10:41:54 GMT)
The What Jane Saw website, launching on Saturday, will allow the public to experience the 1813 exhibition of Joshua Reynold's paintings, as seen by Austen
Some still think of Jane Austen as a modest country mouse, wedded to the quiet sameness of village life. In fact, she loved going to London and went there often. When she was in town she went to the theatre, sampled the shops and attended fashionable gatherings. One of these latter events is replicated in virtual fashion by a website that launches on Saturday by conscientious American Janeites, called What Jane Saw.
In May 1813, a few months after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Austen was in London, staying with her brother Henry. The event of the season was the exhibition of Sir Joshua Reynolds's paintings at the British Institution in Pall Mall. Lord Byron and the Prince Regent attended the opening. This was the first modern museum blockbuster, and the first retrospective exhibition in Britain dedicated to the work of a single artist (Reynolds died in 1792). Exactly 200 years ago, Austen herself went to see the exhibition, describing it enthusiastically in a letter to her sister, Cassandra.
Now this new website, designed by Austen expert Janine Barchas at the University of Texas, allows anyone to make their own virtual visit to the show. What Jane Saw has been reconstructed from the detailed visitors' guide that has survived, effusive accounts in newspapers, and architectural measurements of the British Institution's rooms (the building was demolished in the 1860s). The 141 paintings would have interested Austen not only for their artistic qualities, but because they included portraits of the celebrities of her youth, including Samuel Johnson; Omai, the South Sea prince; and the actor Sarah Siddons. Siddons herself attended to see the grand portrait of her younger self "as the Tragic Muse". Today's virtual visitors will see that she hung next to a huge oil of the King George III. Austen would surely have been amused to see that both sitters have been given thrones. Monarchs of culture were monarchs, too.
How to take a serious bite out of corporate tax avoidance | Prem Sikka
(Fri, 24 May 2013 10:23:33 GMT)
A new system of unitary taxation must be debated at the next G8 meeting. It isn't perfect, but it would be a huge step forward
Apple is the latest company under the spotlight for organised tax avoidance. In common with Starbucks, Google, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft and others it routes transactions through low- or no-tax jurisdictions to reduce its tax bill. Indignant ministers gnash their teeth and the corporate merry-go-round continues.
It is time to completely revamp the global corporate tax system and I've got an alternative: unitary taxation.
The current corporate taxation system is the outcome of international treaties crafted nearly a century ago. Three aspects stand out. First, at a time when western nations ruled vast tracts of the globe, it was agreed that companies would be taxed at the place of their residence rather than where the economic activity took place. The companies' headquarters were mostly in the western world.
Second, even though companies may be under common ownership, control and strategic direction, they were to be taxed as separate entities. Thus a company with 100 subsidiaries will be treated as 100 separate entities for tax purposes.
Third, there was an issue about how intragroup transactions were to be assessed for tax purposes, as it was envisaged that corporations would set up operations and subsidiaries in other countries and transfer goods and services to each other. The solution was to agree on what is known as transfer pricing and intragroup transactions were to be valued at what the OECD calls "arm's length" principle, or free-market market prices.
This system is now broken and needs to be redesigned. In the era of monopoly capitalism, arm's length transfer prices are hard to find. For example, just 10 corporations control 55% of the global trade in pharmaceuticals; 67% of the trade in seeds and fertilisers and 66% of the global biotechnology industry. So companies are playing creative games to dodge taxes and many developing countries are substituting their own norms. Resolving transfer pricing disputes is costly for both companies and tax authorities.
The idea of taxing companies at their place of residence rather than where the economic activity takes place gave them a licence to create artificial entities. The folly of allowing a group of companies under common control to be treated as hundreds of separate taxpaying entities means companies play one country off against another and large proportions of corporate profits escape taxes altogether.
These faultlines need to be addressed. Apple is Apple, no matter where it trades and all its profits accrue to the same entity. We need to know a company's global profit. This can only be made when a company transacts with the outside world. This means that all intragroup transactions should be ignored for tax purposes because they add little or no value. Such a principle is already enshrined in the law of most countries. Multinational companies are required to publish what accountants call consolidated accounts. These treat the entire group of companies as a single economic unit and show its global profits. Company directors and auditors sign the accounts to publicly confirm that intragroup transactions added little or no economic value and have been eliminated from the accounts. The above provides the tax base or taxable profit.
The second step is to allocate the global profit to each country of a company's operations. This can be done using a formula that takes account of key drivers of profit generation. These may be the number of employees and payroll costs in each country, and assets and sales activity. Fortunately, some working models of this allocation formula have already been applied in the internal economy of the US. The US has its own tax havens in places such as Delaware and Nevada, and companies can be resident there but trade in California. On the basis that a company should pay its taxes where it is resident, corporations can deprive other states of much-needed revenues. So profits are allocated to each state. Increasingly, profits are apportioned on the basis of sales.
Unitary taxation is not a magical solution to the deep-seated problems of capitalism, but it has a number of strong points. Corporate taxation is still based on profits. As intergroup transfers are eliminated in calculation of profits, all profits shifted to tax havens are ignored. Thus no part of corporate profits escapes taxation. Each state is free to tax the profits accruing in its jurisdiction at any rate it wishes. The model does not impair the mobility of capital. For example, if a company thinks it can gain economic advantage by exploiting factors of production in an emerging economy, it can do so. There will be no point in tax arbitrage through tax havens because those activities will not have any material effect on its global profits.
The unitary taxation model should be debated at the next G8 meeting. It can easily be applied to EU member states and beyond. There is plenty of room for negotiations around the apportionment formula and related factors, but the ultimate prize of making a serious dent on organised corporate tax avoidance is worth pursuing.
Inspire magazine: the self-help manual for al-Qaida terrorists
(Fri, 24 May 2013 10:20:07 GMT)
Al-Qaida's slick and sinister magazine for jihadis, Inspire, suggests using a vehicle to mow down a target – which is apparently what happened in Woolwich
In the murky world of terrorism-watchers, the first port of call is often an unusual magazine called Inspire, a "self-help manual" for jihadis that is crammed full of dangerous advice, attractively presented.
So it comes as no surprise, in the wake of the Woolwich killing of an off-duty soldier, that the online publication's recommendations have included the use of a vehicle to mow down a target – apparently what happened outside the Royal Artillery barracks on Wednesday.
This 21st-century version of The Anarchists' Cookbook has a habit of turning up in unpleasant circumstances. In the wake of the Boston bombings in April, FBI investigators found that the explosive pressure cooker devices made by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were strikingly similar to a "recipe" in the first issue of Inspire, memorably entitled "How to build a bomb in your Mom's kitchen."
Its latest issue, number 10, proclaims on the home page: "Crusaders, you will never enjoy tranquility. Your nations will never enjoy security as long as we have pulsing veins and pumping hearts. We are coming by the will of Allah!"
In the "open-source jihad" section – "a resource manual for those who loathe the tyrants" – it offers useful practical tips: "Following simple instructions you can carry out a lethal ambush. There is no retaliation to face. Just place and vanish." (The illustration shows a masked man with a spike device to puncture car tyres.)
Inspire's USP is its chirpy, colloquial English style, apparently courtesy of its founder, Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist American-Yemeni preacher who was raised in New Mexico but met his end, controversially, in a drone strike in September 2011. By coincidence, the US government formally admitted for the first time on Wednesday that it had killed him, even though he was a citizen who had never been charged with a crime.
Al-Qaida's famously slick and sinister mag first appeared in 2010 when the focus of the global "war on terror" was shifting from the Afghan-Pakistan border to faraway Yemen – the poorest country in the Arab world and a magnet for wannabe jihadis after their defeat in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Appearing in English rather than Arabic – a difficult language even for non-native speakers who are Muslims – made it widely accessible. There is also an Urdu version.
Dubbed "the Vanity Fair of terrorism", Inspire features prominently in professional literature on the "self-radicalisation" of extremists who find their way to al-Qaida or like-minded groups via computer screens in their bedrooms, rather than fighting kuffar ("infidels") in Afghanistan or Iraq. But the magazine has offered guidance to novices on what to expect at jihadist training camps and the rules recruits have to live by.
In addition to advice on bomb-making, encryption, manufacturing poisons or conducting surveillance, Inspire offers Quranic commentary and crude al-Qaida propaganda. Possession of it has led to prosecutions in the UK and Australia. But it has also been targeted by anonymous hackers seeking to curtail its influence: a suitable case, if ever there was one, for government cyber-warfare treatment.
Sally Bercow tweet libelled Lord McAlpine, high court rules
(Fri, 24 May 2013 10:15:52 GMT)
Commons Speaker's wife agrees to settle with Tory peer after falsely linking him with allegation of child sexual abuse
Sally Bercow has lost her libel battle with Lord McAlpine over a tweet that falsely linked him with an allegation of child sexual abuse.
The high court ruled on Friday that her tweet – "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*" – after BBC2 Newsnight allegations about a high-profile Tory politician – would have been understood to mean the former Tory chairman was a paedophile.
Bercow, who was not in court for the ruling, always denied her tweet was defamatory of McAlpine but on Friday said: "I very much regret my tweet." She has agreed to settle with McAlpine, six months after her tweet at the height of the mass Twitter libel. Bercow's husband, John, is Commons Speaker.
Britain's most senior libel judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, said in his judgment that her tweet meant "in its natural and ordinary defamatory meaning that the claimant was a paedophile who was guilty of sexually abusing boys living in care.
"If I were wrong about that, I would find that the tweet bore an innuendo meaning to the same effect."
The ruling ends a six-month legal saga that caused McAlpine "considerable unnecessary pain and suffering", his lawyer, Andrew Reid, said outside court.
Bercow said: "To say I'm surprised and disappointed by this is an understatement. However, I will accept the ruling as the end of the matter. I remain sorry for the distress I have caused Lord McAlpine and I repeat my apologies. I have accepted an earlier offer his lawyers made to settle this matter.
"Today's ruling should be seen as a warning to all social media users. Things can be held to be seriously defamatory, even when you do not intent them to be defamatory and do not make any express accusation. On this, I have learned my own lesson the hard way."
In his judgment, Tugendhat said there was no sensible reason for Bercow to include the words "*innocent face*" in her tweet, which sensible readers among her 56,000 followers would have understood to be "insincere and ironical".
He decided that her tweet "provided the last piece in the jigsaw" and allowed readers to wrongly link McAlpine with the allegation of child sexual abuse. "It is an allegation of guilt. I see no room on these facts for any less serious meaning," Tugendhat added.
Bercow described the legal wrangle with McAlpine as a "nightmare" and added: "I am sure he has found it as stressful as I have."
The undisclosed financial settlement will be made to a charity of McAlpine's choice, Reid said outside court. Bercow will also have to make a statement of apology in open court at a later date.
20 best Android apps this week
(Fri, 24 May 2013 10:02:30 GMT)
Tetris Blitz, Amazon Local, Blip Blup, Clueful, AppGratis, GPS Navigation & Maps, Epic and more
It's time for our weekly roundup of brand new and notable apps for Android smartphones and tablets.
It covers apps and games, with the prices referring to the initial download: so (Free) may mean (Freemium) in some cases. The equivalent iOS roundup will be published later in the day.
For now, read on for this week's Android selection (and when you've finished, check out previous Best Android apps posts).
Huge popularity of the Bejeweled Blitz game has persuaded EA to try the free-to-play blitz-gaming model for the most famous puzzle game in the world: Tetris. Blitz meaning two-minute sessions to score as many points as possible, boosted by power-ups, and compete against Facebook friends' performances. The game is free-to-play, so in-app purchases are involved.
Available already in the US, Amazon Local is now accessible in the UK too. It aggregates deals and discounts from local and national businesses, from shops to spas and hotels, aiming to show you the offers closest to your current location, with digital vouchers to redeem them.
Blip Blup is a hypnotically-addictive puzzle game from UK studio ustwo, which sees you tapping to fill a screen-full of tiles with colour. The complication being walls and obstacles that get in the way of your colour-pulse's path. There are more than 120 levels to work through, with an in-app purchased used to remove the game's in-app ads.
Concerned about privacy and apps? Clueful is trying to capitalise on uncertainty around the attitudes of some developers and startups with its "personal Privacy Consultant". Released by Bitdefender, it monitors how apps on your device are accessing your personal information, providing a score for each on how nice (or nasty) they are.
Cloudee is the work of set-top box maker Boxee: a service for storing and sharing videos, as well as organising them into collections. "If YouTube is for everyone on the Internet, and Facebook is for everyone you know, then Cloudee is for those who matter to you the most," suggests the company. Once uploaded, vids can be watched on smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs.
Famously booted off the App Store by Apple, app discovery service AppGratis has now turned its attention to Android instead. Its app promises daily offers for free and discounted apps, with recommendations from the AppGratis team and a daily push notification with a new offer.
Skobbler is making a big push for its new navigation app, pricing it at £1 with a combination of turn-by-turn navigation and a single map of the world that can be used online or offline. The business model is that you buy access to country maps offline as in-app purchases, although one country is included in the initial download.
Ahead of the release of animated movie Epic, Gameloft has published the official mobile game. It's a freemium title that sees you building a kingdom then battling against enemies, with a choice of single-player and online multiplayer modes in the latter case. Facebook provides the social connections, while in-app purchases fund the action.
Mensa has teamed up with Square Enix for an official brain-training game on Android, promising more than 1,000 questions to test your grey cells in numeracy, language, logic, memory and visual. The male character looks like a professor, while the female character looks like Lara Croft. No stereotypes there, then.
There's a trend in 2013 for startups trying to provide personal-assistant apps for smartphones, aiming to out-Siri Siri. EasilyDo is the latest on Android, promising that it "tells you when to leave to arrive on time, monitors for important emails and friends' news, warns you of bad weather, tracks packages, files receipts, and even helps you celebrate birthdays".
There's a long history of Fast & Furious games on mobile devices, but social publisher Kabam is the latest licence-holder, aiming to do for the cars'n'guns movie franchise what it's already doen for The Hobbit. Which is? A lucrative freemium game, of course. Here, you'll be racing, customising cars and trying to work your way up the global leaderboards.
If you prefer your racing to be less furious (but still fast), Pocket Rally may be worth a look. Taking its cues from console games like the Colin McRae series, it sees you belting through circuits (tarmac, gravel and grass included) racing up to three other cars at once, with a choice of Challenge and Single Race modes.
"Would you rather write about going to the beach or show yourself at the beach? Exactly," suggests Glide's Google Play listing, pushing the idea that video messages are better than texts (and blithely unaware of the general quality of 3G reception on many British beaches, by the sounds of it). Still, this is one of the apps aiming to help people ping video to their Facebook friends, even if they're not available at the time.
Irish startup StoryToys has turned a number of the Grimm Brothers' fairytales into pop-up storybooks for Android. Now it's got a single Bookshelf app to promote them all, with free samples and the ability to launch any of the apps you already own from within it.
Can anyone outdo the Google Calendar service on Android? Week Calendar is trying with an impressively-slick calendar app that ties into Google Calendar, Exchange and other services. Intuitive drag'n'drop controls make creating and moving appointments easy, with good use of colour to sort everything.
PC strategy-game series Arma has spawned this mobile game, initially for Tegra-powered devices. It sees you controlling a four-person special forces team through a series of military missions, with slick graphics and freedom to try different tactics to succeed.
Mr Chips! This is an officially-licensed game of British TV game-show Catch Phrase, which has recently been revived by ITV. You'll be guessing 48 catch phrases for free, with more available as an in-app purchase, and a Facebook-powered high-score table to compare your skills with friends.
Developer The Game Bakers made the popular Squids games, but now it's turning its attention to a new beat 'em up game called Combo Crew. "Inspired by classics like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Street Fighter" it sees you punching and kicking your way through a giant tower to beat the suitably-named Mr Boss – complete with asynchronous social features that see you rescuing friends as you go.
Okay, who had May 2013 in the "When will there be a mobile line-drawing game based on being the manager of a men's toilet?" sweepstakes? Congratulations. Yes, this loo-based game is the work of developer Ripstone, and has you "directing patrons, keeping everywhere sparkling clean and steering patrons away from trouble".
One more Android game – it's a busy week – and another one with a military theme. Total Recoil sees you waging war with a variety of weapons, with an emphasis on action. Or, as the developer puts it: "If you can see it, you can blow it up..."
That's this week's selection, but what do you think? Make your own recommendations, or give your views on the apps above, by posting a comment.
How to … use maps to raise awareness
(Fri, 24 May 2013 09:58:00 GMT)
How can maps be used to present a compelling and effective visualisation of an issue? Here are six practical tips, which use the Girls Discovered project as an example
With so many issues competing for the public eye, raising public awareness is a constant challenge. Hard data is often the most compelling means of making your case, but it needs to be presented in a user-friendly manner if an audience is to really sit up and pay attention. Maps provide a highly effective and instantaneous means of telling a story – global or local – and achieving that visual WOW factor.
Over 10 years, Maplecroft has developed a portfolio of global data sets and interactive maps covering 170 plus issues, including terrorism, child labour, climate change vulnerability, human rights and natural hazards. These maps are used by companies, NGOs, international organisations and governments to pinpoint risks to operations, investments and vulnerable populations, as well as by the media, who use them as a tool to connect with audiences.
A prime example of Maplecroft's work in this area is our partnership on the Girls Discovered project with the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Girls Discovered is a comprehensive online mapping and data resource, which has been developed to raise awareness of the myriad of issues affecting adolescent girls worldwide. By identifying, quantifying and visualising the key challenges facing girls the website aims to help private and public sector organisations to target their funding and campaigns to protect and invest in the future of the world's most vulnerable girls.
The maps cover over 200 issues such as: child marriage, age-specific fertility, literacy, HIV prevalence and female genital mutilation. Through powerful and effective mapping, these issues and the data quantifying them are brought to life, allowing Girls Discovered to raise awareness both of the considerable risks faced by girls living in today's societies, but so too of the crucial gaps in data and research on adolescent girls.
This experience has taught us that, used well, maps can provide a compelling and effective visualisation to raise awareness. Used badly however, and they can present a confusing, misrepresentative interpretation of an issue. With this in mind, what are the best ways of using maps to raise awareness?
Data sourcing is key
The backbone of any map is the data that is used to build it. Select data carefully, and make sure you understand its source, collection methodology and limitations. This will ensure your map portrays the message you want, and that the visualisation created does not misrepresent the facts on the ground.
Identify and understand your audience
For a map to be effective at raising awareness, it has to be both visually appealing and coherent to the target audience. Complex and detailed sub-national maps for example, illustrating a number of different indicators on one visualisation, may be useful in raising awareness in a development professional's environment. However, this level of detail may well fail to spark the imagination of the general public. To communicate with non-specialists, it may be more appropriate to focus on simpler images with catchy graphics and thematic colouring.
Think about the graphics, style and design
As with any visualisation tool, colour schemes, graphics and presentation styles are vital to ensure that maps have the greatest impact on their viewers. Tailoring your map fit to your organisation's theme, as well as the style of the report, webpage or presentation you are using it in, will add value and increase viewer receptiveness to the message.
Overlapping two indicators, using icons or varying sized dots on top of the background mapping colours, can add a significant dimension to the message portrayed. Be careful not to make the map too complicated though, or key messages may be lost.
Highlight key messages
It's often helpful to highlight some of the key messages you are trying to raise awareness of through the map you are using. This can be done by labelling specific countries of interest, particularly high or low risk environments, or countries in which data is not available but where this is vitally needed to improve understanding of an issue. This can also be done through the addition of text, photographs or graphics to attract the viewer's attention to key information.
Zoom in on focal areas and regions
Don't feel constrained by the need to show whole continents or countries. For many issues, sub-national or regional variations may be far more compelling, allowing a more detailed and nuanced picture to be displayed. Zooming in can provide a more specific focus, and enhance targeted awareness-raising within countries.
Make sure a map is the best way to present your data
Maps are, of course, just one of many different tools for data visualisation. For some indicators, for example measuring changes over time, maps are not the most effective tool and it's important to recognise their limitations. Using maps only when they are able to present a clear, compelling and informative visualisation will ensure they remain valuable and high-impact instruments for raising awareness of issues on both the global and national scale.
By Guy Bailey, head of atlases at global risk analytics company, Maplecroft, @maplecroftrisk
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The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot: Archer trailer - video
(Fri, 24 May 2013 09:52:50 GMT)
This trailer shows off the Archer character and gives another glimpse into a charming game world
Media Talk podcast: Woolwich attack coverage and Boris ban lifted
(Fri, 24 May 2013 09:22:18 GMT)
On this week's programme, John Plunkett and Roy Greenslade discuss the graphic front pages of the national press in the aftermath of the Woolwich killings – were they justified in printing the photo? Did ITV handle their exclusive footage in the right way?
Also in the podcast, Helen Zaltzman and Paul Robinson discuss the Competition Commission's disastrous ruling for Global Radio –- should heads roll?
Former – and founder – editor of Loaded magazine James Brown discusses how the Sabotage Times is run (more also available in this video).
Press Start: next-gen consoles "ahead" of high-end PCs, Xbox One specs and more
(Fri, 24 May 2013 09:20:00 GMT)
Plus, EA supporting current gen until 2017, why Microsoft is wrong about indies, and why the games industry hates sharing
A selection of links, hand-picked by the Guardian games writers.
Rajat Taneja, the executive VP and CTO of EA, from an article on LinkedIn:
"These architectures are a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market and their unique design of the hardware, the underlying operating system and the live service layer create one of the most compelling platforms to reimagine game mechanics. Our benchmarks on just the video and audio performance are 8-10 times superior to the current gen."
And as a counter to the Rajat Taneja overview, here is Richard Leadbetter dissecting the Xbox One specs and targeting a key difference between this machine and PS4:
Very early on it was established that ESRAM is indeed incorporated into the Xbox One design - essentially a large, very fast cache of embedded memory attached to the GPU and CPU that helps to make up the bandwidth deficit inherent in using slower memory. So even without direct confirmation, we now knew that the 8GB of memory in Xbox One is indeed DDR3 as opposed to the bandwidth-rich GDDR5 found in the PlayStation 4 (and Wired's internal photography of the One confirms 2133MHz DDR3 Micron modules). Xbox One may well have a latency advantage over PS4 and power consumption will probably be lower, but GPU bandwidth - a key element in graphics performance - is indeed more limited on the Microsoft hardware.
CFO of EA, Blake Jorgensen, has said that the publisher plans to release games on the current generation of consoles at least through to 2017.
He made the comments earlier this week at the Stifel 2013 Technology Conference in New York. Courtesy of Joystiq.
No more details were given although Jorgensen did also mention EA's exclusive Star Wars deal saying, "The opportunity to do a new Battlefront, for example is very exciting." He noted that while some of the games may coincide with the upcoming movies, none of them will be film adaptations
Need for Speed Rivals brings cops and racers to an open world, launches this year on current and next-gen | Polygon
Need for Speed Rivals, the next installment in the nearly two-decade-old series in development at EA's new studio Ghost Games, will launch on current generation platforms Nov. 19, and Xbox One and PS4 sometime this year, EA announced today.
Those current-gen platforms include Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs. The title is not planned to launch on Nintendo's Wii U, an EA representative confirmed to Polygon.
It's cops and robbers in an open world, plus drop in/out multiplayer. And it's not Criterion, which means the Guildford developer may be working away from Need For Speed for its project, as hinted by the studio recently.
Microsoft's seemingly decision not to allow indie devs to self-publish on Xbox One is a mistake says Rob Fahey:
In short, while Sony is making efforts to step back from its role as gatekeeper and knock down the walls around its garden (although it will no doubt still wish to maintain a quality control role), Microsoft is hiring new bouncers and re-grouting the brickwork. It's an approach that runs contrary to the general trend in the industry, where strict curation is very much out of fashion; even Nintendo, usually the slowest of the platform holders to acknowledge wider cultural change in the industry, is now paying lip service to the notion of letting developers have more freedom on its platforms.
Typically impassioned and incendiary piece by Rock Paper Shotgun editor John Walker on industry attempts to outlaw our ability to share games:
Steam, and so many other digital distribution platforms, are abhorrent when it comes to notions of sharing. Our willing allowing of the PC gaming market to become unshareable makes us all complicit in this erosion of freedom. We went from plastic circles with idiotic impositions of limited installs, to pure data and not even the option for those few installs. And we thanked them for the convenience.
What do Braid developer Jonathan Blow, a former NASA Engineer, and a veteran Bioware developer all have in common? All three were in town this week showing off awesome indie games for Indie Press Day. We had 11 of these developers come in to the IGN office and explain what it is that makes their game rad.
Some interesting new indie titles, besmirched slightly by the unnecessary use of the word 'rad' in the intro copy there.
You can follow Press Start at Pinboard.
Why is Anonymous helping teenage lesbians? | James Ball
(Fri, 24 May 2013 08:00:05 GMT)
Anonymous may not be known for its gay rights credentials, but this loose collective of libertarians loves an underdog
Any experienced internet denizen might feel wary on seeing the words "teenage lesbians" and "hacker collective Anonymous" in close proximity. And, quite probably, with good reason, especially if they're using a work computer.
But the situation isn't what they might fear: members of Anonymous have vowed to take action in the case of Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old women from the US who is facing prosecution over her relationship with her 15-year-old girlfriend.
Shortly after her 18th birthday, the parents of Hunt's girlfriend secretly recorded the duo discussing a make-out session in the school bathroom – and used this to go to the police. She is facing charges of "lewd and lascivious battery" on a minor.
Generously, prosecutors are offering her a deal in which she'll face a mere two years in prison for having a younger girlfriend. Naturally, prosecutors and the girlfriend's parents alike claim the case is nothing to do with Hunt's sexual orientation.
For many members of Anonymous – Anons – lesbianism has, for now, begun and ended with what we might politely refer to as, ah, "adult entertainment" videos.
The collective is not traditionally known for having fantastic gender politics or gay rights credentials. The word "fag" as a jest, an insult and virtually punctuation across the group's chats.
But this case has all the right ingredients to provoke Anonymous's ire. Young people facing criminal prosecution for typical teenage acts. Parents apparently allowed to surveil the conversations of teenage girls (creepy, no?) with impunity. And sentences which, as seems so common in the US, seem to bear no proportion to the "crime" concerned.
So their pledge to step in should really come as no surprise. The reason that it does, for some, is that Anonymous seems entirely inconsistent on alleged sex offences, treatment of women and attitude towards gay people.
Anonymous is often, but not always, among the core defenders of Julian Assange against the accusations of sex crimes he faces in Sweden. And shamefully, many Anons have played a large part in the demonisation of his accusers, chronicled in Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets" WikiLeaks biopic, out in the US this week.
But Anons have also been at the forefront of trying to seek justice for alleged rapists of women elsewhere – to the point of bordering on vigilantism.
Viewed in isolation, the three separate operations seem entirely contradictory. But they're partly explained by Anonymous's underlying politics and attitudes: Anons are libertarian. They mistrust the state, and don't like interference. And they will pick the underdog every day of the week.
Anons will join whichever side of the fight seems to be losing, or seems to be facing an injustice (real or imagined). They're not about to start discussing intersectionality at length.
This also accounts for a lot of Anons' perceived homophobia to outsiders: they are not, and will never be, delicate with language. Anonymous grew out of 4chan, one of the bluntest, rudest, trolls' nests on the internet. Just because the language is homophobic doesn't mean their intentions are – or at least, not always.
Anonymous is widely misunderstood. It's thought of as a group, or a membership organisation, maybe the online version of a political party. Even members of political parties can have widely divergent groups – just ask David Cameron – but Anonymous is far less coherent even than that.
Want to be a member of Anonymous? Say you're a member of Anonymous. And you're done. The unifying idea, if there is one, is a sense of injustice, belief in free speech bordering on the fundamentalist, and a libertarian streak. Everything else is optional. So, when it comes to gender and LGBT politics, Anonymous can be a crowd of misogynistic asshats with bigoted opinions. Or they can be progressives who either couldn't care less about sexuality, or actively support LGBT rights, and fight against injustices. Or anywhere in between.
In other words, there are as many attitudes towards LGBT within Anonymous as there are Anons. Just like everyone else, really.
Guardian Viral Video Chart: Jimmy Kimmel, Eurovision and sad cats
(Fri, 24 May 2013 07:19:23 GMT)
Breakfast by Morecambe and Wise, clothes by Abercrombie & Fitch and a sob story from the mayor of Toronto
This week's Viral Video Chart is guaranteed to give you a good cry – but we can offer you tears of laughter, as well as tears of sadness. We defy you to watch the last days of Zach Sobiech without grabbing a box of tissues. Zach's inspirational story - and his song, Clouds – have taken the internet by storm.
The comedy world mourned a great writer last week with the death of Eddie Braben, who wrote sketches for Morecambe and Wise. We celebrate his work with one of the funniest Morecambe and Wise sketches ever - Breakfast. Or do you have another favourite?
There is more laughter in store as two hapless gaming fans join Burnie Burns and his crew of scientists in Immersion! Gavin and Michael are thrown behind the wheel to figure out if a video game car can beat its real life equivalent with a professional race car driver. Pass the sick bag …
If that's not exciting enough for you, we join surfers at Teahupoo in Tahititi as they tackle the heaviest wave in the world and there's a surf-eit of liquid chocolate in our clip from a chocolate factory in Melbourne, Australia. How do they do that?
Chocolate is great for cheering people up – and our sad cats seem as if they need a Kit Kat or two to buck them up. Jimmy Kimmel often has a smile on his face – and he's up to mischief with his spoof interview of Toronto mayor Rob Ford who is accused of taking drugs.
Finally, Eurovision may have reduced you to tears of laughter – or tears of boredom – but we leave you with a smile on your face as you watch our misheard lyrics clip. Sadly it doesn't improve the quality of the songs!
Guardian Viral Video Chart. Compiled by Unruly Media and emoted by Janette
1. My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech
Brave lad's legacy
2. Classic Comedy Morecambe and Wise
Makes today's comics look like toast
3. Surfing the Heaviest Wave in the World - Teahupoo
4. Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment #FitchTheHomeless
A dressing down
5. Sad Cat Diary
Paws for thought
6. Jimmy Kimmel Interviews Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
7. Eurovision 2013 Misheard lyrics
Possibly better than the real lyrics
8. Wait for it...
9. Immersion: Simulation Racer
This is sick
Source: Viral Video Chart. Compiled from data gathered at 14:00 on 23 May 2013. The Viral Video Chart is currently based on a count of the embedded videos and links on approximately 2m blogs, as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Guardian to launch new platform to streamline access to web content
(Fri, 24 May 2013 07:08:41 GMT)
Theguardian.com will provide one destination for UK, mobile, US and Australian sites as monthly digital browsers hits 80m
The Guardian is to launch a new global web presence, theguardian.com, in recognition of the newspaper's increasingly international digital appeal.
The move will streamline access to Guardian content – amalgamating the main entry point Guardian.co.uk, mobile site m.guardian.co.uk, US homepage guardiannews.com and the soon-to-launch Australian digital edition – into one core web destination.
In the last five years, the number of monthly Guardian digital browsers has grown from 20 million to more than 80 million, with much of that growth coming from international markets.
"Every month, our online content is accessed from almost every country around the world," said Tanya Cordrey, chief digital officer at Guardian News & Media, in a blog post called Going global on our digitaljourney. "In fact, UK users now represent just a third of our total audience."
The home of the newspaper's content has been guardian.co.uk, which is the only non-"dot com" domain suffix in the top 10 Google News list of digital news outlets.
"This may be a small URL change, but it marks a big step for the Guardian and reflects our evolution from a much-respected national print newspaper based only in the UK … to a leading global news and media brand … and an ever-growing worldwide audience accessing Guardian journalism every minute of every day," said Cordrey.
Cordrey added that the move to theguardian.com will make for a simplified user experience, but will also be more appealing to major advertisers in international markets, who are perhaps not drawn to the idea of running campaigns on a UK-specific website, despite the reality of the Guardian's global digital readership.
The move, which will take place later this year, will involve the transition of millions of URLs attached to the Guardian's websites and about 15 years of archived content.
• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".
Boot up: Glass views, Surface v iPad, Bitcoin flourishes, SGS4 hits 10m and more
(Fri, 24 May 2013 06:30:00 GMT)
Plus broadband for Staffordshire, price elasticity in the smartphone business, how Chrome will dominate, and more
A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team
Tim Bray on Google Glass:
Do They Meet a Need? · Seems pretty obvious to me; I'm damn sick of hauling out my mobile to find out what time it is, or to check on my next meeting, or to glance at a map, or to snap a quick photo of an interesting streetlight or whatever.
Will They Succeed? · I haven't got the vaguest. They need work on power consumption and software fit/finish and syncing and lots of other things, and the manufacturing cost needs to come way, way down.
A lot of the things Glass does could maybe work just fine on a smart watch or some such. So in a couple years it might be ubiquitous, maybe it'll just catch on for certain professional uses, or maybe it just falls flat.
But people, and there are a lot of them, who are saying "Glass is doomed because it's dorky-looking/privacy-invasive/anti-social" are pretty well wrong; it's more complex than that.
Can't we all just get along? (Thanks @slimbowski for the link.)
Bitpay recently received $3m from Founders Fund, led by Facebook's first major investor, Peter Thiel.
BitPay CEO Tony Gallippi told me that Thiel invested because he saw how the company could help ease online commerce across borders; the company already handles $5m in transactions each month and says the figure is growing. "Traditional payments such as credit cards don't even work in half the world, so companies just choose to not service international customers," Gallippi said. "That leaves a big opportunity." He plans to take further investment later this year but told me it will be more for reasons of making strategic contacts than a need for cash, since he and his cofounders have significant Bitcoin holdings.
One reason Bitcoin is interesting, says Jeremy Liew, a partner with Lightspeed Venture Partners, is that it could displace the practice of wiring money across borders, which underpins much international trade today and can be onerous. "If I'm trying to wire a supplier in China it's a three- or four-day process with heavy fees," he says. "Bitcoin transactions can be instant and free."
Bitcoin will work in places where credit cards won't, seems to be the suggestion.
BT has won yet another superfast broadband deal, this time in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, in which the vast majority of the region will be hooked to speeds of at least 24Mbps.
The £27.35m deal will see 472,000 premises – around 97% of the region – receive the high-speed service. The councils involved are investing £7.44m, while £7.44m will come from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework and £12.47m from BT.
A Staffordshire county council member described the fibre infrastructure as being "as important as road or rail in providing the accessibility and opportunities for our residents and businesses."
And this apparently means we're just past the halfway stage in the national fibre broadband rolling.
Samsung Electronics announced that global channel sales of its GALAXY S4, a life companion for a richer, fuller, simpler life, has surpassed 10 million units sold in less than one month after its commercial debut. Launched globally on April 27 in 60 countries, the phone is estimated to be selling at a rate of four units per second.
Android accounts for approximately 70% of global smartphone shipments and 29% of global profits. This means that the average Android manufacturer creates just 0.41% of profit for each point of market share (0.29/0.70 = 0.414). In other words, the average Android manufacturer needs to capture 2.4 points of market share just to increase their [share of] market profit by 1 percentage point.
Such a low fair share profit index may indicate that Android manufacturers are:
– Having difficulty differentiating their product;
– Sacrificing profits in order to buy market share (the "race to the bottom");
– Unable to reach economies of scale in the manufacturing process.
Kirk's point is that people who talk about low-cost iPhones are overlooking price elasticity. Although might he be overlooking the fact that the sector of the market which is price inelastic has been almost exhausted?
if you're a Chrome user today, you'll be more immersed in the Chrome ecosystem a year from now, even if you don't have an "official" Chromebook. This all depends on how well Google pulls off its strategy to upend the desktop computing world, but so far, it seems to be on track.
Bear in mind the apps in this vision will be truly cross-platform as they'll run on any Windows, Mac or Linux computer with Chrome installed. If it can get developers on board — and those I spoke with at Google I/O are ready to embrace the effort — Google will have a thriving desktop platform built on top of the platforms created by others. But it will be a desktop that's far more agile, with new features added within days or weeks, not months or years.
Welcome to Chrome, my desktop today and your desktop of the future.
It depends more on how much people want web apps that might or might not run offline, and might or might not have a better UI than a native app, on their desktop. Other than that, solid.
Troy Newman, an IT specialist who oversees app development for Mayo, adds that the clinic was accustomed to running on a single platform - Windows - and wanted its mobile initiative to be similarly standardized.
"All our developers know how to do Windows development, so we made the same kind of same decision for iOS. We wanted a platform where we could get developers up to speed and train them to develop apps."
Finding that expertise hasn't always been easy.
"Our team's pretty small," says Newman. "As we've grown, it has been difficult to find people with the right skills who want to work in Rochester, Minnesota."
15,000 devices using those apps. Meanwhile, the 25,000 PCs that it also uses might be scaled back. Unless Surface Pro has come along in the nick of time.
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Mail Online scoops biggest ever digital day with Boston marathon bombing
(Fri, 24 May 2013 06:09:23 GMT)
'Abby Clancy poses in nothing but heels' story provides joint highest website traffic day for the Sun
The Boston marathon bombing on 16 April provided Mail Online with its biggest ever digital day, attracting more than 9.5 million unique users.
However, the bombing proved the 12th and 16th most popular web days in April for the Independent and Mirror websites respectively – while the Sun website network's joint highest traffic day last month coincided with a story headlined "Abby Clancy poses in nothing but heels".
Coverage of the terrorist attack on 16 April underlined Mail Online's seemingly inexorable global growth, particularly in North America, with just 39.8% of the 9,558,256 global unique browsers that day coming from the UK.
This was the lowest proportion of UK visitors in any day in April, according to the Mail Online's officially audited Audit Bureau of Circulations certificate published on Thursday.
A week later, Dzokhar Tsarnaev being charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in relation to the Boston marathon bombing provided Mail Online with its second biggest day on record, with 9,226,255 daily unique browsers.
While total digital records were being broken this was not the case on mobile devices – Mail Online's iPhone or Android apps barely registered an uplift in average usage on either of the Boston bombing news days.
April also highlighted the biggest online traffic drivers for the Sun, the biggest selling UK newspaper in print, which has failed to capture an equivalent digital audience.
The Sun's biggest online story in April was "Michelle Keegan in topless pic riddle", which included a picture of breasts posted on her Instagram page, on 5 April, and "Abby Clancy poses in nothing but heels" five days later.
The two days were almost neck-and-neck in terms of traffic, with Keegan narrowly shading it, at just over 2 million daily browsers. The Sun's daily average is just under 1.7 million.
Mirror Group Digital's barnstorming April, with total web traffic surging 30% month on month, was driven by a range of factors.
While the Boston bombing failed to register as a major traffic day, ranking 16th for the month as a whole, the charging of Tsarnaev proved the biggest traffic driver with 2,067,955 daily users across all devices.
It was also its biggest day of mobile browsers across Mirror Group Digital's website network, which includes Mirror.co.uk, 3am.co.uk and MirrorFootball.co.uk.
However, the other major events that fuelled Mirror Group Digital's traffic growth was an exclusive video from inside North Korea, which provided its second biggest day in April with 1,912,588 daily browsers.
The next biggest day of traffic was related to the Grand National, at about 1.6 million, while Margaret Thatcher's death drew 1.55 million.
The Boston bombing also provided the biggest traffic day in April for Telegraph.co.uk and guardian.co.uk (5.8 million and 4.55 million respectively). For Independent.co.uk, it only ranked 16th in April, with Thatcher's death coverage on 8 April the biggest at 1.55 million.
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(Fri, 24 May 2013 06:00:01 GMT)
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