Scots vote on freedom, UK’s fate on knife edge

Scotland voted on Thursday in an independence referendum that could break up the centuries-old United Kingdom and create Europe’s newest state since the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Some 97 per cent of eligible Scots -nearly 4.3 million people – have registered to vote, underscoring the passions that the historic decision has ignited across the nation.

In queues snaking outside polling stations, voters spoke emotionally about the momentous choice they were faced with. “It’s an important day. This is a decision which lasts forever, which will impact my children,” said Charlotte Farish, 34, who turned out early in Edinburgh with her two children before taking them to school and heading into work.

In Glasgow, 23-year-old Aidan Ford said: “I felt different today than in most of the previous votes. I might be making a difference and my vote counts.”

Close outcome

After months when it looked like the independence camp could not win, a surge in support in the final two weeks has left pollsters warning the outcome is too close to call.

One of Scotland’s most famous sportsmen, tennis star Andy Murray, appeared to lend his support to separation in a last-minute tweet accusing the “No” campaign of negativity.

“Let’s do this,” wrote Murray, who no longer lives in Scotland, echoing a slogan raised by pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond in a final fiery campaign speech.

“We can take our future into our own hands,” Salmond told AFP after voting in the village of Strichen in a farming region in northeast Scotland where he is the local lawmaker.

“We’ve got the chance to build a more prosperous economy but also a fairer society,” the Scottish National Party leader said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has pleaded with Scots to vote in favour of keeping “our home” and has warned the break-up will be a “painful divorce” full of economic risks.

If Scots vote “Yes”, it would end a union dating back to 1707, could force Cameron to resign and might raise serious questions about Britain’s status on the international stage.

Financial markets have been volatile for days on uncertainty over the outcome, which is being watched closely around the world.

The force of the “Yes” campaign has encouraged separatist movements, such as Catalans in Spain, while a number of Britain’s allies have urged the Scots not to leave. “I hope it remains strong, robust and united,” US President Barack Obama said in a tweet.

The question for voters at Scotland’s more than 5,000 polling stations is “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and they are asked to mark either “Yes” or “No”.

Polls close at 21:00 GMT (02:00 IST Friday) and the result is expected in the early hours of tomorrow (Friday) morning.

DH

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Google testing drones that could provide Internet access to remote lands

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A model of the Solara 50, Titan Aerospace’s commercial “atmospheric satellite,” hangs above the company’s booth at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in 2013.

Sean Gallagher

Google has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to conduct tests on drones that could eventually be used to deliver Internet access to remote areas.

“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems (‘UAS’) for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google wrote Friday in a request that the FCC keep most testing details confidential. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation. The STA [Special Temporary Authority] is needed for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

Google bought Titan in April, with plans to integrate the company into Project Loon, Google’s initiative to deliver Internet access from balloons to parts of the world with limited connectivity. Google is also reportedly planning to deploy low-orbit satellites to provide Internet access. Titan’s drones are powered by solar energy and can stay aloft for up to five years, as we reported in a profile on the company last year.

Google wants permission to carry out its drone tests for 180 days beginning Oct. 6, 2014. The coordinates point to a test site “in a square east of Albuquerque and south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, centered roughly on the unincorporated community of Stanley,” consulting engineer Steven Crowley noted in a blog post on Google’s application.

Google would transmit at frequencies from 910MHz to 927MHz and from 2.4GHz to 2.414 GHz. Exactly what Google will be transmitting was redacted from the public version of the document. Google declined to comment on its application.

Google told the FCC that it will be able to avoid interfering with other known users of the spectrum. The 2.4GHz spectrum “overlap[s] the lower channels of Wi-Fi,” Crowley wrote.

The 900MHz spectrum is used by wireless Internet service providers, smart meters, toll readers, baby monitors, and other devices. There are plans to use the 900MHz spectrum for enhanced 911 location service, but Google’s application noted that this has not started yet.

“Google understands that there may be some federal operations in the 900 MHz band in the vicinity of the test site,” Google wrote. “Google is prepared to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to avoid harmful interference to any federal operations.”

Unmanned flight is all the rage at Google. In what is apparently a separate project, the company is also reportedly developing a drone-based product delivery service.

Google has asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to conduct tests on drones that could eventually be used to deliver Internet access to remote areas.

Google’s plans for Android, gaming, smart homes, healthcare, robots, and much, much more.

“Google recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems (‘UAS’) for high altitude, long endurance flights,” Google wrote Friday in a request that the FCC keep most testing details confidential. “These systems may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation. The STA [Special Temporary Authority] is needed for demonstration and testing of [REDACTED] in a carefully controlled environment.”

Google bought Titan in April, with plans to integrate the company into Project Loon, Google’s initiative to deliver Internet access from balloons to parts of the world with limited connectivity. Google is also reportedly planning to deploy low-orbit satellites to provide Internet access. Titan’s drones are powered by solar energy and can stay aloft for up to five years, as we reported in a profile on the company last year.

Titan’s Solara, first commercial solar drone, can fly five years without landing.

Google wants permission to carry out its drone tests for 180 days beginning Oct. 6, 2014. The coordinates point to a test site “in a square east of Albuquerque and south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, centered roughly on the unincorporated community of Stanley,” consulting engineer Steven Crowley noted in a blog post on Google’s application.

Google would transmit at frequencies from 910MHz to 927MHz and from 2.4GHz to 2.414 GHz. Exactly what Google will be transmitting was redacted from the public version of the document. Google declined to comment on its application.

Google told the FCC that it will be able to avoid interfering with other known users of the spectrum. The 2.4GHz spectrum “overlap[s] the lower channels of Wi-Fi,” Crowley wrote.

The 900MHz spectrum is used by wireless Internet service providers, smart meters, toll readers, baby monitors, and other devices. There are plans to use the 900MHz spectrum for enhanced 911 location service, but Google’s application noted that this has not started yet.

“Google understands that there may be some federal operations in the 900 MHz band in the vicinity of the test site,” Google wrote. “Google is prepared to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to avoid harmful interference to any federal operations.”

Unmanned flight is all the rage at Google. In what is apparently a separate project, the company is also reportedly developing a drone-based product delivery service.

TG

Posted from WordPress for Android

Microsoft unveils keyboard for iOS, Android, Windows tablets

WASHINGTON: Microsoft has developed a keyboard designed for iOS, Android and Windows tablets in its latest move to underline the company’s focus on providing software services.

The new Universal Mobile Keyboard is a lot like Logitech’s K480 keyboard, reported The Verge. Microsoft’s version includes a key to switch between iOS, Android, and Windows Bluetooth modes.

The keyboard is unique in Microsoft’s range of wired and wireless keyboards without the conventional Windows key. It requires only 10 minutes of charging for a full day’s use.

The company plans to release the Universal Mobile Keyboard next month for $79.95.

TG

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Fortune ranks Indra Nooyi 3rd most powerful women in business

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PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi has been ranked third most powerful businesswoman by Fortune, the only Indian-origin woman on the 2014 list topped by IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

Fortune said nearly half the women on ‘The Most Powerful Women in Business 2014′ list run huge companies, which is a record and “all are working hard to transform their businesses.”

Nooyi, 58, dropped from the second position she held last year to third. Fortune said her innovation push is paying off at PepsiCo, which has increased research and development spending by 25 per cent since 2011.

In 2013, of 50 bestselling new food and beverage products in the US, nine came from PepsiCo — Starbucks Iced Coffee, Muller Quaker Yogurt, and Mountain Dew Kickstart.

“In July the company raised its profit growth forecast for the year, which should help Nooyi counter calls by activist investor Nelson Peltz to break up the food and beverage giant,” the publication said.

Topping the list for the third time is Rometty, whose strategy of investing in new technologies is showing results.

Even though IBM’s revenue declined for the second consecutive year, falling nearly 5 per cent to USD 99.8 billion in fiscal 2013, its revenue rose 69 per cent for each division last year.

Rometty has also signed strategic partnerships, such as a deal with Apple to provide IBM’s services on the iOS platform.

Rometty has also pledged to invest USD 1 billion in the development and commercialisation of the cognitive computing system, another future growth area for the company.

Making a huge jump in the rankings is General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who is ranked second this year up from the 29th position last year.

Barra became the auto industry’s first female CEO in January and promptly faced GM’s largest vehicle recall ever, 29 million so far from a faulty ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths since 2005.

The list also includes aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin’s Chairman, CEO, and President Marillyn Hewson at number 4, bioscience firm DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman at rank 5 and Hewlett-Packard Chairman and CEO Meg Whitman on the 6th position.

Facebook’s Sandberg slipped in the rankings from fifth postion to 10th. Fortune said last year was all about Sandberg as her bestselling book ‘Lean In’ helped her become the face of corporate gender equality.

“This year is all about Facebook. Its 2013 profits jumped an astounding 2,730 per cent, mainly because of increased revenue from mobile ads, and it announced huge deals in early 2014 to acquire virtual-reality company Oculus VR for over USD 2 billion and buzzy messaging platform WhatsApp for USD 19 billion,” Fortune said.

As CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s number two, Sandberg remains “crucial to the company’s long-term strategy”.

She’s also the best-paid woman on the list, making USD 38 million last year.

The list also includes aerospace & defence company General Dynamics’s CEO Phebe Novakovic on rank 11, Oracle Co-president Safra Catz (14), Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns (17), Procter & Gamble Group President, North America Melanie Healey (18), YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (19), Intel President Renée James (21), Avon CEO Sheri McCoy (27), Apple Senior Vice President, Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts (29) and CEO, Asset Management at JP Morgan Chase Mary Erdoes (32).

DH

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Scotland’s independence hinges on 170,000 ‘don’t know’ votes

The future of UK hangs in balance as Scotland votes in a referendum to decide the fate of its 307-year-old union with England.

Some 52 per cent of Scots are expected to vote to stay in the union while 48 per cent favouring independence, according to pre-poll surveys.

But some 170,000 voters, however, are still undecided, and will play a key role in the final outcome.

So far, the poll, which began at 7 am, left the No camp with just a two-point lead.

The turnout for the referendum was expected to be extremely high, with 95 per cent claiming that they are certain to vote, Daily Mail reported.

Facing the biggest internal threat to the UK since Ireland broke away nearly a century ago, Britain’s who’s who from Prime Minister David Cameron to corporate bigwigs and the princes of pop-culture have come together in a last-ditch effort to convince Scots that UK is “better together.”

IT

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