Google Revamps Wallet Service with Acquisition of Softcard Patents and Technology
Feb27

Google Revamps Wallet Service with Acquisition of Softcard Patents and Technology

To keep up with competitors like Apple and PayPal, Google is revamping its Wallet app. The company has also worked out a deal involving an acquisition of patents and technology from Softcard, which formerly carried the unfortunate name of Isis Mobile Wallet and was owned by wireless carriers. Parts of Softcard will be incorporated into Google Wallet. Google also plans to begin offering its app pre-loaded on all ATandT, Verizon, and T-Mobile Android devices. Currently, users must download the service if they want to use it. Having the app pre-installed on devices would put Google on par with Apple, which added its Apple Pay app to its iPhone 6 line last year. With its Wallet app, Google is hoping to make the service more convenient after offering it for nearly four years. Google Wallet, combined with the infrastructure of Softcard, will be able to compete better in the emerging mobile payments market in the United States. Mobile payment terminals in the U.S. range from devices that accept smartphone payments to tablets used in place of traditional cash registers. All must be 100% compliant with payment card industry (PCI) standards in order to keep custom data secure. In the United Kingdom, however, contactless cards, which are tapped on PIN machines, are the main method of payment. They have yet to fully hit the United States. Also in the mobile payments arena is Samsung, which just acquired LoopPay in mid-February. The company has plans to develop its own branded mobile payment service. The LoopPay service on Samsung devices will require users to wave their phones in order to make a payment. Samsung plans to launch the app sometime in the first half of 2015. So far Apple Pay has received the most support from banks and credit card companies in the U.S. Several banks announced their support for Apple Pay over the past two...

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Controversial New Austrian Reform Amends Country’s 1912 Law on Islam
Feb26

Controversial New Austrian Reform Amends Country’s 1912 Law on Islam

In order to promote what Austria’s conservative Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz calls an “Islam of European character,” the country’s new parliament has amended historical laws with a new bill that requires imams, the officiating priests of Islam, to be able to speak German, and also bans foreign sources of financing, thusly mitigating the influence of foreign Muslim nations. Although the new law gives Austrian Muslims more legal security, Mehmet Gormez, one of the leading Muslim figures in Turkey, has decried Austria’s new law as a “100-year regression,” arguing that there have been no complaints lodged about the fact that Turkey funds many of Austria’s imams. Austria’s current “law on Islam” was first made back in 1912, after the Austro-Hungarian empire annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. The law, which recognized Islam an official religion in Austria, has been widely used as a model for other European nations. The law’s legal history, which is the study of how law has evolved and why it changed, has now taken a dramatic new turn. Finally being passed after two years, Kurz said the new amendment is to “clearly combat” the growing influence of radical Islam. The timing of the new law is also interesting. Though it’s been in the works long before the recent shootings in France, its passage comes amid estimates that some 200 Austrians have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Additionally, an OGM Institute poll recently found that more than half (58%) of Austrians feel that the “radicalization” of their nation’s Muslims is already underway. Once the law takes effect, Islamic cultural organizations and imams in Austria will no longer be able to receive funding form abroad, and imams will be obliged to be speak German. In order to get licensing, the new law will also require the near 450 Islamic organizations in Austria to demonstrate a “positive approach towards society and the state.” As Kurz explained, “We want a future in which increasing numbers of imams have grown up in Austria speaking German, and can in that way serve as positive examples for young Muslims.” These restrictions have not been placed on any other religion in...

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Two NJ Men Arrested for Attempting To Cover Up DWI Crash By Icing Road
Feb26

Two NJ Men Arrested for Attempting To Cover Up DWI Crash By Icing Road

While the majority of the East Coast is complaining about the current arctic temperatures and constant snowstorms, one New Jersey driver saw the silver lining in such freezing temperatures– unfortunately, it happened to be an illegal silver lining, and he happened to be driving while intoxicated, and the police saw saw right through his plan. According to CBS Local News, Brian Byers of Sparta, NJ, was driving drunk in the early morning hours on Saturday, February 14th, when he “[blew] through a stop sign and [hit] a guard rail at the intersection of Sawmill Road and Woodport Road.” The 20-year-old driver clearly realized that he had made a huge mistake, and his friend Alexander Zambenedetti realized it too — so when Byers fled from the scene of the accident, Zambenedetti drove him back to the 2001 BMW with two five-gallon buckets of water. The pair proceeded to pour the water across the intersection, making it look as though Byers’s car had simply slipped on a patch of black ice. According to the Huffington Post, Sparta Police officer C.J. Grauerholz came upon the scene by accident and saw Byers walking toward Zambenedetti’s idling car. When the officer approached the car, Zambenedetti was sitting in the driver’s seat without a shirt on, even though the current temperature at the time was one degree, and the wind chill was -15 degrees. Officer Grauerholz also happened to notice that the two buckets in the car, which still contained some water. Zambenedetti told the officer that his shirt was soaked with water after he had slipped, but by that point, the scene looked too suspicious, and Byers reportedly ended up confessing to Sparta Police officers later on. CBS News states that both men were arrested. Byers received several charges, including driving while intoxicated (underage), reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident (i.e., hit-and-run), and disorderly conduct “for creating a dangerous condition [for other drivers] by purposely icing the intersection.” Zambenedetti denied involvement in the plan, but reportedly failed multiple sobriety tests and was charged with underage DWI, reckless driving, and driving without wearing a seatbelt. Both Byers and Zambenedetti appeared in Sparta Municipal Court on Thursday, February 19, and pleaded not guilty to the charges. The New Jersey Herald notes that if the men are found guilty, they could each face “fines, loss of driver’s license, and jail...

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Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Back Pain Treatment Depends on Patient Attitude, Study Suggests
Feb25

Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Back Pain Treatment Depends on Patient Attitude, Study Suggests

Patients’ view on acupuncture prior to starting a treatment course for back pain heavily influences how effective that treatment will be, a new study from the University of Southampton suggests. “People who started out with very low expectations of acupuncture — who thought it probably would not help them — were more likely to report less benefit as treatment went on,” lead researcher Dr. Felicity Bishop explained in a statement released earlier this month. Back pain is a major problem across the world — experts estimate it affects about 80% of the population in some way — and is a leading cause of disability. In order to gauge the impact of psychology on the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment, Bishop recruited 485 people who were planning on undergoing treatment for back pain. The patients filled out questionnaires designed to capture psychological factors, demographic characteristics, clinical information and data on back-related disability prior to their treatment, as well as two weeks later, three months later and six months later. Starting attitudes toward acupuncture strongly correlated with pain outcomes, the researchers found. Moreover, patients who felt more positive about their back pain treatment were less likely to experience back-related disability. “In particular, they experienced less disability over the course of treatment when they came to see their back pain as more controllable, when they felt they had better understanding of their back pain, when they felt better able to cope with it, were less emotional about it, and when they felt their back pain was going to have less of an impact on their lives,” Bishop said. She suggested this means acupuncturists should focus building relationships and on managing patients’ emotions during treatment courses. Dr. Stephen Simpson, director of research at Arthritis Research UK, said in the same statement that the study gives new insight into the perception of pain in general and the impact of the placebo effect. The study was funded by Arthritis Research UK and has been published in the Journal of Clinical...

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How This Guy Saved Himself Over Four Grand on a Hybrid Battery Fix
Feb19

How This Guy Saved Himself Over Four Grand on a Hybrid Battery Fix

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with do-it-yourself projects and repairs, but most of them don’t save anyone upward of four grand. One man took to Reddit over the weekend to spread the word about how he was able to save $4,440 on a hybrid car repair. Hybrid cars are notorious for battery issues — and the expense of replacing those batteries. A hybrid car battery costs an average of between $3,000 and $4,000 in the U.S. — and that’s not counting the labor costs to replace it. After a warning light came on, signaling that the used Toyota Camry hybrid he had just bought needed repairs, the Redditor took the car to his local Toyota dealer like anyone else would do. According to Gas2.com, the Toyota dealer informed the man that the hybrid battery in his car, which had no warranty, was failing and needed replacement, which would cost around $4,450. After doing some research, the man found that he could get a $500 repair credit since technically the battery was still under warranty in years, but not in mileage. Rather than accepting this, he went home and repaired the car himself. How did he do it? He had heard before of single cells failing in batteries, which would cause the entire battery to seem like it’s failing. The replacement cost for a single cell is around $50. When he dismantled the battery to check the cells, he found that the copper connectors on the battery were corroded. With a little vinegar, elbow grease, and a baking soda and water mixture — all of which cost around $7 — he fixed the corrosion and got his Camry back in working order. This fix isn’t for everyone though. Carbuzz.com reminds readers that though this guy was able to fix his hybrid battery, it can be very dangerous to dismantle or handle batteries of this type and...

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