Ireland closing a tax loophole that saved billions for Apple, Google, and Facebook

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Over the last decade many of the biggest tech companies in the world have opened headquarters in Ireland. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and many more were no doubt drawn by the smart programming talent and availability of awesome pubs. But another big factor was a tax loophole known as the “double Irish” that allowed company with a headquarters in Ireland to make royalty payments to a separate subsidiary registered in Ireland but officially housed anywhere on the globe with a favorable tax rate. So Google, for example, has a Dublin office with around 2,500 employees, but most of the revenue booked in Ireland is then paid as royalties to a separate subsidiary, headquartered for tax purposes in Bermuda.

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Meet Chelsea Manning’s official portrait artist

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Ever since Bradley Manning announced her transition to identifying as Chelsea Manning, nearly every outlet has used the same photo to illustrate the incarcerated private: a grainy black-and-white selfie in which Manning sits in a driver’s seat, her face framed by a platinum wig, her expression frozen somewhere between an uncomfortable smile and a steely glare.

That image was never meant for the masses — it was attached to a private email Manning sent to her therapist and her commanding…

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Is this Google’s Nexus 6?

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What looks to be an official product render of the Nexus 6 has leaked today, and it basically confirms everything we’ve heard to this point: Google had Motorola build a really big Moto X. The image was published by @evleaks and unsurprisingly shows Google’s latest handset running Android L. The device’s metal band appears to have a slate or blueish color, which could help differentiate it ever so slightly from Motorola’s regular flagship.

But really, just looking at it will be enough to do that; a rumored 5.92-inch display means this phone is downright huge. Motorola has apparently moved down both the power button and volume rocker to make reaching them a bit easier, but it remains to be seen what software customizations — if any —…

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Robert Downey Jr. reportedly playing Iron Man in ‘Captain America 3’

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It looks like Robert Downey Jr. will be putting the Iron Man suit back on again for some big roles in the Marvel universe. According to Variety, Downey is close to signing on to play Iron Man in Captain America 3, taking up a significant role in the film that will help it introduce a new phase of Marvel movies.

The film will reportedly find Iron Man and Captain America feuding over a law called the Superhero Registration Act, which requires heroes to register with the US government to do its bidding. Iron Man is in favor of the legislation, while Captain America says it’s a threat to civil liberties. In that sense, Downey may actually be playing one of the film’s villains. The storyline comes directly out of Marvel’s “Civil War” series…

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New York Comic Con: cosplay prison planet

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If you’ve never been to New York Comic Con, you may not know that it’s held in a totalitarian future prison. I’m talking, of course, about the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which once a year is transformed from a depressing, glass-and-gunmetal superstructure to a depressing, glass-and-gunmetal superstructure covered in Constantine and Walking Dead banners. Add the cosplay-fueled surrealism of your average comics convention, and demons and zombies feel prosaic compared to your weekend in…

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Private mailmen are mapping Brazil’s slums by hand because Google Maps can’t

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Over 11 million people in Brazil, about 6 percent of the country’s total population, live in slums of cities called favelas, according to the latest census figures. Among the myriad challenges that arise in these dense, impoverished urban areas, getting mail may seem to be a surprising one. Yet due to the unique, improvised architecture of favelas — the fact that structures are often created and destroyed rapidly, using a variety of available materials, such as concrete, that are impenetrable to mapping satellites — many buildings don’t have addresses. Further complicating matters is the fact that many streets are called different names by residents in different areas. As a consequence, postal workers haven’t been required to deliver…

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The August Smart Lock is now available for $249.99

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If you’re ready to put away your house keys for good, the August Smart Lock can now be purchased for $249.99. The Bluetooth LE lock will be available at Apple Stores nationwide beginning this week — though it’s not appearing in Apple’s search results just yet — and also from August’s web store. If you’ve already pre-ordered, August will of course honor the original introductory $199.99 price point.

In a blog post today, the company said a retail partnership with Apple makes sense because most consumers will want to see the lock in person before spending so much on it. August is also acknowledging that some early customers will be upset to see the product launching at retail before their pre-orders have shipped. August says going this…

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Can cutting down trees make Oregon rivers more fish friendly? Detours episode 8 debuts tomorrow

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Come along with The Verge for the second season of Detours. We’ve traveled across the country to find the people, groups, and companies that are solving America’s problems in new and unconventional ways. Check in for new dispatches every Wednesday.

After a catastrophic flood in 1964, Oregon authorities cleared the Sandy River of detritus in an effort to mitigate the damage of future floods. But the barren waterway led to a severe drop in salmon and steelhead trout populations. Now, a group of scientists is creating a more rugged landscape to bring them back.

Tune in Wednesday for the full episode.

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Google Express reveals subscription shopping plans, adds even more cities

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Google is trying to take on rival Amazon in the delivery service market. To accomplish this, the company has broadened the reach of Google Shopping Express, adding more service areas, details about its membership program, new retail options, and an even catchier title.

Previously only available in certain parts of California and New York City, the newly minted Google Express is expanding to Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Those interested in maximizing use of the service will have the option of trying it out for three months first, or just subscribing for the express membership which provides a number of benefits for $95 a year, or $10 a month. Alternatively, it’s also possible to simply pay $4.99 for one-off deliveries. 16 new…

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Google’s new Android ads appear days before rumored Nexus launch

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Google has launched three new Android ads with what looks like a new slogan for the mobile operating system. “Be together. Not the same,” appears at the end of each ad, complete with animated characters and a playful take on the message of Android for everyone. As Google prepares to launch Android L, its latest release of Android, the ads clearly enforce the idea that there’s multiple Google-powered handsets out there from the likes of Samsung, LG, and others, but they all run Android.

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Colin Kaepernick tapes over Beats logo to appease #brands

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See that? No, not the #brands so conspicuously splattered across the press conference backdrop. Look closer, at the headphones… the Beats headphones draped around San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The logo has been taped off after the QB received a $10,000 fine for brandishing the Beats logo just last week.

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Colin Kaepernick is wearing the pink Beats by Dre with tape covering the logo. He was fined $10K last week. He is appealing.

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Bose, as you’ll recall, is the official headphone sponsor for the NFL, taking over the role from perennial sponsors Motorola. Kaepernick, meanwhile, has an endorsement deal with Beats. Proof that NFL sponsorship or not, playas gonna play…

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Alleged Bitcoin ‘creator’ is crowdfunding his lawsuit against Newsweek using Bitcoin

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Newsweek may soon be sued for alleging Dorian Nakamoto is the creator of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Money is being raised through the Dorian Nakamoto Legal Defense Fund in order to file a lawsuit against Newsweek, which has not retracted its initial article about the 65-year-old man. The fund is taking contributions through credit or debit card, as well as Bitcoin.

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Stan Lee is working on his first Bollywood superhero movie

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Stan Lee is going to Bollywood. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the legendary creator is in the process of developing a live-action superhero movie based on Chakra the Invincible, the Indian superhero he created in 2011. While details are currently scare, Lee is already meeting with top Bollywood directors and actors for the eventual adaptation.

Chakra the Invincible follows the adventures of Raju Rai, a tech genius living in Mumbai. Using a power suit designed to convert his body’s chakras into superpowers, he defends the city from threats like his arch-enemy Boss Yama. The property has already seen success in India, with an animated series launching on Cartoon Network India last year. The film, tentatively scheduled to start…

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America’s biggest police departments are getting spy gear through private charities

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Many Americans have recently expressed concerns with the increasing use of military gear by police departments in this country, especially in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Missouri (protests that were themselves sparked by a lethal police shooting). While it is very easy to focus on militarization after seeing jarring pictures of police pointing automatic rifles at demonstrators, a separate but no less questionable practice has been quietly taking root at some of America’s biggest police departments in the past decade. As ProPublica reports, the police departments of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Oakland have all turned to private police foundations in recent years to acquire new crime fighting and…

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Anki Drive’s AI-powered racing game arrives on Android

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As it promised last month, Anki is making its artificial intelligence-powered racing game available on Android. Owners of the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, Note 2, 4, or 10.1 (2014 edition) can download the app and use it to control the game’s race cars for the first time. The game will also work on the Nexus 5, and Anki says they will support more devices over time.

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Apple might fine its sapphire supplier $50 million for every secret it leaks

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It’s well known that Apple takes secrecy quite seriously, but we’re now learning just how seriously that is: it apparently may fine a partner that reveal its secrets up to $50 million for every slip up. That figure comes from a court document filed by Apple’s sapphire glass supplier, GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), which is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings that are, in part, related to what it calls “oppressive and burdensome” agreements with Apple.

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Federal lawsuit alleges highway guardrails can kill people

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The guardrails that line US highways are meant to protect drivers in the event of a crash, but many that have been installed over the past decade may also present a danger. The manufacturer of those guardrails, Trinity Highway Products, is heading to court this week facing allegations that it changed its guardrail design without informing the Federal Highway Administration and has been improperly accepting federal money ever since, according to The New York Times. Separate lawsuits reportedly allege that those changes have led to five deaths and many other injuries in at least 14 accidents across the US.

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Making the best out of bad CGI

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The ‘90s were an excellent time for special effects, unless you were trying to work with water. Huge budgets and major advances in rendering technology brought us realistic dinosaurs, an exploding white house, horrific natural disasters, and better aliens, but digitally rendered H20 from the era of JNCO jeans looks more like something you would slap onto a nasty wound than, like, drink. Think the laughable mud-tsunami in Deep Impact or the taunt silver goop into which both Alex Mack and TLC (see right) morphed. 

CGI water was also, somehow, the most futuristic effect imaginable circa 1998. I actually have no idea if Hype Williams was thinking about how forward-thinking CGI goop was when he directed the sci-fi masterpiece that is…

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1 million people are helping Microsoft test Windows 10

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Microsoft released its first Windows 10 Technical Preview at the beginning of October, and the company is now revealing that 1 million people are helping test the upcoming operating system through the Windows Insider Program. “That equates to a lot of people using the Windows 10 Technical Preview and sending us feedback,” says Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore. The software maker has received over 200,000 pieces of feedback on the early version of Windows 10, with top requests that include options to remove the new search and task view buttons, as well as requests for a Start Menu animation or transition.

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