Facebook new branch in Hyderabad

fb

Hyderabad (PTI): Social networking site Facebook announced on Monday that it will set up its office in Hyderabad to support the growing number of users, advertisers and developers in India and globally.

Facebook has seen exponential growth in recent months and has more than eight million active users in India, it said in a statement.

The rising popularity of Facebook has also come as a threat to various other social networking sites like Orkut, MySpace and Flickr.

It has more than 400 million active users worldwide.

The centre will house online advertising and developer support teams and provide round-the-clock, multi-lingual support to its users and advertisers globally, it further said.

The new centre in Hyderabad will supplement operations out of California, Dublin, Ireland and a recently announced location in Austin, Texas.

It has already started its hiring procedure for the Hyderabad centre.

“We expect our new office in Hyderabad to tap into the region’s strong pool of talented people who understand operations and technology, and help us more effectively serve the needs of our users, advertisers, and developers around the world,” Facebook Director (Global Online Operations) Don Faul said.

British universities cool to India campus plans

Buffeted by major funding cuts, major British universities have noted the Indian Cabinet’s approval this week of a bill allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India, but have no immediate plans to do so.

The Manmohan Singh government approved Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, that is expected to raise the quality and quantity of higher education to meet India’s growing demands for skilled manpower.

Forced by a gnawing budget deficit amidst recession, the Gordon Brown government recently announced major funding cuts to British universities, forcing the closure of several subject departments and job losses in the near future.

The universities have become increasingly reliant on the income generated by high fee-paying of international students from India and other countries outside the European Union. It is not yet clear if setting up campuses in India will hit this major income stream.

Spokespersons of the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College, London, told PTI that they did not have immediate plans to set up campuses in India, but would continue to build on their existing collaboration and others links with Indian institutions.

British universities have a large number of agents in India and have long standing research and teaching links with Indian institutions. However, the initial reaction to the Bill’s approval has been cautious.

The University of Nottingham is one of the few British universities with campuses in China and Malaysia.

Many other universities offer degrees abroad through collaborative links with local institutions, but are reluctant to open full campuses abroad to avoid risk to reputation and lack of quality control.

An Oxford spokesman said: “Oxford University has no plans in the foreseeable future to offer full degree courses anywhere other than Oxford itself and so has no plans to establish an overseas campus. However, Oxford conducts research and some non-degree teaching in many countries of the world, and India is a very important country for us. We have many links with India already and are keen to continue to develop our involvement in the country.”

There are 300 Indian students currently enrolled at Imperial College, London, which has several ‘fruitful’ collaboration links with Indian institutions. Some reports suggested that Imperial College would be one of the first foreign institutions to set up a campus in India, but spokeswoman Abigail Smith said: “In January we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, in the presence of Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resources Development, and Lord Mandelson.”

“Imperial is keen to explore opportunities for further research and teaching links with India in the future,” Ms. Smith said.

A Cambridge university spokesman said: “The Government of India is developing and implementing a major strategy dramatically to increase the scope, depth and capacity of Indian higher education. It is thus timely for the university to take stock and to consider how to build on these foundations to develop new ways in which we work with Indian counterparts in academia, industry and government to develop and strengthen the country’s higher education provision, research capacity and impact.”

He added: “The pattern of India’s development, its demography, its industrial structure, its projections for economic growth and its agenda for community development place a spotlight on the pivotal position of higher education.

“While there are no immediate plans to open up a Cambridge University campus in India, we note the alignment between Cambridge’s multi-disciplinary strengths and Indian academia and we are exploring appropriate ways to scale up our collaborations and partnership, for that will be the basis of anything we do.”

When tweets can make you a jailbird

In this file photo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville displays part of the Facebook page, and an enlarged profile photo, of fugitive Maxi Sopo in Seattle

 Maxi Sopo was having so much fun “living in paradise” in Mexico that he posted about it on Facebook so all his friends could follow his adventures. Others were watching, too: A federal prosecutor in Seattle, where Sopo was wanted on bank fraud charges.

Tracking Sopo through his public “friends” list, the prosecutor found his address and had Mexican authorities arrest him. Instead of sipping pina coladas, Sopo is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Sopo learned the hard way: The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

Law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, even going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that surfaced in a lawsuit.

The document shows that U.S. agents are logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target’s friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among the purposes: Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree – people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars – can link suspects or their friends to crime.

The Justice document also reminds government attorneys taking cases to trial that the public sections of social networks are a “valuable source” of information on defense witnesses. “Knowledge is power,” says the paper. “Research all witnesses on social networking sites.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the 33-page document when it sued the Justice Department and five other agencies in federal court.

A decade ago, agents kept watch over AOL and MSN chat rooms to nab sexual predators. But those text-only chat services are old-school compared with today’s social media, which contain a potential treasure trove of evidence.

The document, part of a presentation given in August by cybercrime officials, describes the value of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other services to investigators. It does not describe in detail the boundaries for using them.

“It doesn’t really discuss any mechanisms for accountability or ensuring that government agents use those tools responsibly,” said Marcia Hoffman, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which sued to force the government to disclose its policies for using social networking.

The foundation also obtained an Internal Revenue Service document that states IRS employees cannot use deception or create fake accounts to get information.

Sopo’s case did not require undercover work; his carelessness provided the clues. But covert investigations on social-networking services are legal and governed by internal rules, according to Justice Officials. They would not, however, say what those rules are.

The document addresses a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace account – effectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.

The woman, Lori Drew, posed as a teen boy and flirted with a 13-year-old neighborhood girl. The girl hanged herself in October 2006, in a St. Louis suburb, after she received a message saying the world would be better without her. Drew was convicted of three misdemeanours for violating MySpace’s rules against creating fake accounts. But last year a judge overturned the verdicts, citing the vagueness of the law.

“If agents violate terms of service, is that ‘otherwise illegal activity’?” the document asks. It doesn’t provide an answer.

Facebook’s rules, for example, specify that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.” Twitter’s rules prohibit users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be “truthful and accurate.”

A former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, Marc Zwillinger, said investigators should be able to go undercover in the online world the same way they do in the real world, even if such conduct is barred by a company’s rules. But there have to be limits, he said.

“This new situation presents a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to intrude on some of our most personal relationships,” said Zwillinger, whose firm does legal work for Yahoo and MySpace.

The Justice document describes how Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have interacted with federal investigators: Facebook is “often cooperative with emergency requests,” the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. But Twitter’s lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information, the document says.

“Will not preserve data without legal process,” the document says under the heading, “Getting Info From Twitter … the bad news.”

The chief security officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, said MySpace doesn’t want to stand in the way of an investigation. “That said, we also want to make sure that our users’ privacy is protected and any data that’s disclosed is done under proper legal process,” Nigam said.

MySpace requires a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company has put together a handbook to help law enforcement officials understand “the proper ways to request information from Facebook to aid investigations.”

Recession left ‘walking wounded’ workers

 Many workers around the world have given up hopes of advancing in their jobs, but the bad economy is keeping them from finding new ones.

 Such “walking wounded” workers are increasingly exchanging ambition for job stability, which now even trumps pay as a consideration, according to a biennial survey by the human resources consultancy Towers Watson Co.

 People are becoming “nesters,” who prefer to stay in one career or with one employer for their entire career.

 The report highlights a disconnect between what such “nesters” want and the growing trends that are shaping the global workforce: an increasing emphasis on flexible staff and short-term employment, more offshoring and part-time work.

 “People are increasingly wanting things that are harder to get,” said Max Caldwell, a leader of Towers Watson’s talent and reward business. “They’d like to settle into one or two companies for life. What people want is security, stability and a long-term employment relationship, (which are) increasingly out of reach.”

 Globally, a third of workers prefer to work for one organization their whole life, according to the study, while another third want to work for just two or three employers.

 That preference for “nesting” reflects anxiety about jobs prospects and about factors like healthcare costs and retirement planning, expenses that are increasingly being shifted onto workers rather than carried by employers.

 In the United States, almost twice as many workers expect continued deterioration in the jobs picture as those who expect improvement. A majority — 51 per cent — say there are no career advancement opportunities at their jobs, but nonetheless 81 per cent are not actively looking for a new position.

 Among the study’s other findings:

 * 30 per cent of US workers plan to work past age 70.

 * About half of US workers feel unprepared for planning or managing their retirement.

 * 56 per cent of US workers expect little change in the job market this year.

 * Workers in developing economies like India and China are far more willing to jump from job to job than their counterparts in countries like Germany and the United States.

 The study adds to recent data that indicates a high level of uncertainty about the shape and duration of the economic recovery. Global staffing services firm Manpower Inc said last week its quarterly measure of hiring intentions dipped slightly, suggesting US employees are less willing to hire in the second quarter than in the first.

 ‘WALKING WOUNDED’

 Workers are more risk-averse because the recession has shown them how quickly jobs can disappear, and have become discouraged since a tentative economic recovery has not yet produced significant jobs gains.

 “This notion of a jobless recovery is a very relevant trend, creating an environment with greater risk of disengagement. In some organizations, you have a walking wounded syndrome,” Caldwell said.

 Employers are still focused on managing compensation costs and they are cautious about staffing back up as demand increases, he said.

 That may leave more room for companies to hold down compensation costs. The study, based on a survey of 20,000 workers in 22 countries, hints wage growth for the next few years may be flat or at least less robust than in previous recoveries.

 For employers, the key challenges of managing through the next year or two include motivating workers, by creating an appealing work environment with room to advance or develop new skills, according to the study. Employees, meanwhile, may need to reset expectations lower.

 Still, the recession’s effect on workers was not as profound as that of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Caldwell said. But it was the first deep downturn for an entire generation and is likely to leave a lasting impression, likely making people take on less risk and become less ambitious about their careers.

Ways to avoid getting duped at a petrol station

 Fuel prices are getting dearer by the day but are we getting every drop of fuel paid for? Well, if the outpouring of woes online is any indicator, then no, we have a long way to go to prevent being cheated at fuel stations.

 These are some who have realized the bluff, though may not have taken the outlet to task – but there are many others who aren’t aware of such nefarious deeds. Hence the possibility of them getting duped is even more likely, and often repeatedly.

 So as customers, how can we ensure we aren’t at the receiving end of this trickery? What are the precautions that need to be taken and how do we get our grievances addressed? Here’s more-

 Precautions

 *Keep a keen eye on YOUR fuel pump – especially in the beginning and just before the end of the fill. Avoid all distractions – it’s indeed a blessing that cell phones aren’t allowed in fuel stations. Other distractions like your car stereo or balancing your 2-wheeher can be avoided too.

*Make sure the fuel attendant has heard the amount right. To be doubly sure, ask the attendant to repeat, just as you in restaurants, though this should be a lot easier for him.

*Pay the amount ONLY AFTER the filling is complete. In most cases, either due to our overzealousness or simply being told by the attendant, we often end-up fiddling our pockets or wallets, in the process neglecting the fill.

*Keep track of your fuel indicator during every refill, for this reading can be good source of verification. If your 2-wheeler fuel indicator takes that little longer to reflect, do wait by the side until it shows up. You really wouldn’t want to find out being duped in the middle of traffic.

*Also, it’s a misplaced notion that meters in fuel pumps are tamper-proof. While meter tampering is a grave issue, it can only be checked by specialists. However, this can be checked by informing the concerned fuel company.

In spite of these precautions, if you still get duped, it’s best to file a complaint. Take my word, the process isn’t as cumbersome as one may imagine, in fact it is a lot more effective than creating a ruckus at the petrol station.

You can share your complaint at the ‘Indian Consumer Complaints Forum’ or even better – register it directly with the respective fuel company. Their websites have contact details of various regional offices that you can directly walk-in to as well as an online complaint form and even a toll-free number.

And if you’re wondering if they do ever respond, well, in our case the field-officer from one of the regional offices promptly called to enquire, and ensured that the grievance was addressed. Nevertheless, we could have avoided all this, had we practiced what we just preached 🙂

 –Y! India News

Thai protesters to pour own blood at PM’s house

Thai police officers stand next to a sea of blood after protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, poured it on the ground at the ruling Democrat Party building on Tuesday in Bangkok

Thai protesters seeking a change of government planned more shock tactics on Wednesday, saying they would pour containers of their own blood at the prime minister’s house in the capital.

Police in riot gear, however, blocked all approaches to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s residence in the Sukhumvit Road area, home to many wealthy Thais and expatriates.

The standoff followed similar “blood sacrifices” on Tuesday at Mr. Abhisit’s office and the headquarters of his Democrat Party. The dramatic acts grabbed attention but put the “Red Shirt” protest movement no closer to its goal of forcing new elections.

The protesters’ march and police cordons halted traffic in one direction on Sukhumvit Road, a major thoroughfare, paralyzing parts of the neighbourhood. Restaurants closed their doors and residents of luxury condos were prevented from driving out of the area of Mr. Abhisit’s house.

Mr. Abhisit himself has been sleeping at an army headquarters and taking trips out of the city since the demonstrations began.

“We heard they were coming so I stayed in. Sure enough we’re blocked in now,” said John Bujnosh, a Texas oil driller who lives on the same street as Mr. Abhisit.

More than 100,000 demonstrators from all over the country gathered in Bangkok on Sunday, vowing to continue their protest until victory. But Mr. Abhisit has rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament, saying only that he will listen to the protesters’ point of view and leaving the situation in a stalemate.

Reporters asked one of the protest leaders, Veera Musikapong, what their next move would be, and he replied, “I want to know that myself.” He said the group maps strategy on a day—by—day basis.

The protesters consist of supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption, and pro—democracy activists who opposed the army takeover. They believe Mr. Abhisit came to power illegitimately with the connivance of the military and other parts of the traditional ruling class who were alarmed by Mr. Thaksin’s popularity, particularly among the poor.

Thailand has been in political turmoil since early 2006, when anti—Thaksin demonstrations began. In 2008, when Mr. Thaksin’s political allies came back to power for a year, his “Yellow Shirt” opponents occupied the prime minister’s office compound for three months and seized Bangkok’s two airports for a week.

On Tuesday, thousands of Red Shirts formed long lines to have their blood drawn by nurses to spill at Government House, the prime minister’s office. Leaders claimed to have collected 300,000 cubic centimeters (80 gallons).

A few teaspoons of blood were drawn from each volunteer and then transferred into dozens of large plastic water jugs that were passed overhead through the crowd of cheering protesters before being delivered to Government House.

The Red Shirts say that if the people are willing to sacrifice their blood, Mr. Abhisit should show similar spirit by relinquishing power.

Riot police allowed protest leaders to approach the front gate and pour out the blood, which oozed under the gate as national television broadcast the images live. A purported Brahmin priest in ceremonial robes performed an unorthodox black magic ritual on the Red Shirts’ behalf.

“The blood of the common people is mixing together to fight for democracy,” another Red Shirt leader, Natthawut Saikua, told cheering supporters. “When Abhisit works in his office, he will be reminded that he is sitting on the people’s blood.” Mr. Abhisit has not entered his office at Government House since preliminary protests started on Friday.

Minutes afterward, a government medical cleanup team in white coats, face masks and rubber gloves hosed down the site. Health authorities had warned that the protest risked spreading disease if infected blood splashed bystanders.

Hundreds of protesters then marched and rode pickup trucks and motorcycles to the nearby ruling Democrat Party headquarters and splashed several more jugs of blood on the pavement outside.

Police Gen. Wichai Sangprapai, said the number of demonstrators had dropped from about 100,000 Sunday to about 90,000.

Surat Horachaikul, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said he believed the protest organizers lacked plans for their next step and that the protests might end in a few days.

“If nothing comes out of this rally, the government is likely going to become more stable,” he said. “Their movement will continue to put some pressure on the government, but Mr. Abhisit’s administration will be able to stay in power in the next 8—12 months.”

Despite continued anxiety over possible violence, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Thai baht currency have remained stable.

Many Bangkok residents, even those sympathetic to the Red Shirt cause, say they are simply tired of the years of turmoil that have hurt the economy.

“I’m not fed up with Thai politics. I still read the newspaper every day, but I want the protest to stop as soon as possible. My business would be better, I hope,” said Suwan Pana—ngham, a downtown food vendor.

Dozens killed in bus accident in Afghan mountains

At least 30 people are dead after a bus plunged off a road near the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan.

Dr. Sanim Rasouli, health director in Baghlan province, says the bus picked up speed, struck other vehicles and then plunged off the road about 70 miles (115 kilometers) north of the capital, Kabul.

He says dozens of people – some of them children – burned to death when the bus caught fire.

The Afghan Interior Ministry reports that 35 people died in the accident just north of the 12,700—foot (3,800—meter) —high Salang Pass, the site of an avalanche earlier this year that killed more than 170 people.