Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Largest Medicare Fraud Scheme in 2015: Three Miami residents sentenced

Southern District of Florida
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

Friday, July 29, 2016

Three Miami Residents Sentenced in Largest Medicare Fraud Scheme Loss in 2015

Three Miami residents were sentenced for their role in the largest Medicare fraud scheme loss prosecuted in the Southern District of Florida in 2015.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Shimon R. Richmond, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Regional Office, made the announcement.  
Jorge Lorenzo, 36, Yahima Pardo, 33 and Roberto De Jesus Alonso, 48, all of Miami, Florida were sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas to 188 months, 41 months, and 37 months in prison, respectively.  The defendants were also ordered to pay $40,388,943.00 in restitution to the Medicare program.  In addition, forfeiture money judgments were entered against each defendant and the government has seized assets and cash in excess of $2 million.  On May 10, 2016, Lorenzo and Pardo pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, and Alonso pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. 
According to the court record Lorenzo, Pardo, and De Jesus Alonso participated in massive health care fraud, money laundering and kickback schemes, that over the course of approximately four years, resulted in more than $40 million in losses to the Medicare program.  During the course of the criminal conduct, Lorenzo owned and/or controlled eight home health agencies across Miami-Dade County that collectively received more than $40 million in fraudulent claim payments from Medicare.  Lorenzo installed shell owners at his home health agencies whose primary role was to authorize millions of dollars in Medicare claim payments through corporate checks made out to fictitious companies staffed by other co-conspirators.  The co-conspirators then laundered the fraudulently obtained money to Lorenzo.   More than $40 million in Medicare payments were made in response to fraudulent claims for services that were not medically necessary, never rendered and in some instances were linked to prescriptions that Lorenzo counterfeited.  Collectively, these eight home health agencies were operational for an average of only 8 months before being closed at Lorenzo’s direction at the first hint of a Medicare fraud investigation.  Conspirators Pardo and Alonso, were shell owners of two of the eight home health agencies and laundered millions of dollars in Medicare claim payments to Lorenzo.  
Lorenzo also directed co-conspirators to incorporate more than fifteen fictitious shell companies.  The shell companies were used to disguise the flow of more than $25 million in fraudulently-obtained Medicare proceeds for Lorenzo’s personal benefit, including the purchase of real estate, luxury vehicles, artwork and jewelry.  Coconspirator Alonso incorporated at least two of the fictitious companies to launder proceeds which were intended to benefit elderly, blind and disabled patients.
An additional co-conspirator, Sonmy Rodriguez, 45, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced on July 27, 2016 to 22 months in prison.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin J. Larsen and Evelyn B. Sheehan.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

U.S. Fracker Produces Oil At $2 A Barrel — Saudis Running Scared

An oil drilling company operating in the Permian Basin shale formation can extract crude for as little as $2 a barrel, meaning it can compete with Saudi Arabia in terms of production costs.
“Definitely we can compete with anything that Saudi Arabia has,” Scott Sheffield, the CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources told Reuters.
“My firm belief is the Permian is going to be the only driver of long-term oil growth in this country,” he said. “And it’s going to grow on up to about 5 million barrels a day from 2 million barrels,” even with oil at $55 per barrel, according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia has been able to drive dozens of smaller shale oil companies out of business by keeping the price of oil low, but if more companies can do what Pioneer is able to do, the Saudis may be in big trouble.
Pioeneer reported on its second-quarter results that its production costs fell to $2.25 in West Texas. That’s about even with Saudi Arabia’s low cost oil production. It’s a signal that drillers, at least in the Permian Basin, are adapting to a low-price environment.
“The Bakken and the Eagle Ford I think there’s no way they can recover to the levels that they’ve already had,” Sheffield said, skeptical that other shale plays would see such low costs.
American shale drillers have had to weather oil prices hovering at $50 a barrel or less for the past couple of years. When the shale boom took off, oil prices peaked at more than $100 a barrel by summer 2014.
Some North Dakota drillers can afford to drill at oil prices as low as $40 a barrel, but even so, the oil industry was forced to lay off about 170,000 workers since the price plunge in 2014 —though some economists say oil jobs may return soon.
Pioneer seems to be a step ahead of the game. The company has been able to cut costs by “doing much of its oilfield services work in-house,” according to Reuters, and it “has its own sand mine, and uses effluent water from the city of Odessa for frack jobs using pressurized sand, water and chemicals to unlock oil from rock.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Made in China: Four horsemen of the iPhone apocalypse

Today it's the $100 value handset. Tomorrow it will be the $200 premium smartphone. There's nothing left for the traditional device OEMs with those kind of margins. Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi and Lenovo are coming, and Apple and Samsung can't stop them.

This week, Apple posted its Q3 earnings results, with $7.2 billion in profit on $42.4 billion in revenue, or $1.42 a share beating Wall Street estimates of $1.39 on $42.1 billion in revenue.
Impressive, right? Well yes, but iPhone revenue is down 21 percent from a year previous.
Part of this is due to the introduction of the lower-cost iPhone SE, which is effectively the guts of a much more expensive iPhone 6S in the smaller body of the older iPhone 5.
By all accounts, the iPhone SE was a successful product launch. However, that means lower profit margins even if unit sales/volume was high.
The cheaper iPhone SE can't be blamed for all of this, though. While the $400 or $500 iPhone SE is still cheaper than the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, it still is considerably more expensive than Android phones being made in China serving its domestic market, which can go for half the price of an iPhone SE, or even less.
You see, China is increasingly important to Apple because it is one of the few smartphone markets that is not entirely saturated and has potential for additional growth. It is a nation of 1.37 billion people, which is roughly seven times that of Western Europe (191 million), or over four times that of the United States (324 million).
In China, the iPhone is a highly coveted luxury that most people cannot afford, In fact, the country is rife with look-alike products that run on Android, many of them actually fairly well-engineered, such as the Meizu Pro 6, which looks like an iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S6 had a tryst and produced a love child.
But Meizu is not the industry leader in China. Far from it. Huawei, ZTE, and Xiaomi -- and now Lenovo, which owns Motorola's mobile brand -- are the four titans controlling that country's smartphone output and the lion's share of their domestic mobile industry.
Or as I like to call these guys, the generals of the Army of the Freakin' Ice Zombies.
And make no mistake about it -- the phones these companies make at the high-end are almost as good as what Samsung or Apple makes from a component perspective and are on par when it comes to manufacturing quality. And they can do it for half the price.
For example ZTE's Axon 7, which launches globally this month, is a lot of smartphone for $399. It sports a QHD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with microSD, a 20MP camera with dual LED flash, a fingerprint scanner, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
ZTE Axon 7 too rich for your blood? OnePlus, a relatively small boutique manufacturer in China, has produced something almost as good for $300, and our resident mobile maven, Matt Miller, is now questioning why he should spend more money than that on an Android handset, ever.
A comparable unlocked GSM Samsung Galaxy S7 costs over $150 more. An international iPhone 6S 64GB unlocked is about $800.
Eighty percent as good for half the price? If I was Apple, I would be extremely concerned about my prospects in China. And if I was Samsung, LG, or HTC I would be thinking about the longevity of their smartphone business in China overall.
This has Samsung so wound up that they are now at litigation loggerheads with Huawei over patent violations.
Yeah. Good luck with that in China, Samsung.
But, here is the thing -- it doesn't end in China. China's domestic market is just the start of Apple's and Samsung's problems, not to mention those of the also-ran like HTC and LG.
Taiwan-based HTC has recently had to undergo severe price cuts for its flagship device presumably due to pressure from its mainland Chinese competitors.
If the idea of a $400 super-premium smartphone is cause for worry for Apple's investors, then what about a $300 one? Or a $200 one?
Sounds crazy? It isn't.
It starts with the low-end handsets in export markets like the United States, Europe, South America, Africa, and India. A few months ago I was singing the praises of Huawei's Honor 5X, which is a sleek-looking Android handset with entry-level specifications. It costs $200.
Nobody who is used to playing with an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy is going to fawn over the thing. But that's not the point -- first the low end of the market erodes, and then it eats away at the high-end.
The Honor 5X was selling for as low as $120 on Amazon on Prime Day -- I thought that was a shocking deal, until ZTE announced that it was bringing to market an almost identical Qualcomm Snapdragon 6xx-based phone for $99.
$99 for a 2GB RAM, 32GB storage Android smartphone with a fingerprint scanner.
You think Huawei and Lenovo are just going to sit still? And the third largest smartphone company in the world, Xiaomi, hasn't even broken into the US market yet.
If these guys can make an entry-level smartphone for $99, you can bet they can make a high-end device for $199, especially if they use SoCs with domestic designs, like the Mediatek processors and the Kirin 955 that is used in the Huawei P9.
And we haven't even seen what kind of display technology Hon Hai (FoxConn) can produce as a result of their purchase of SHARP yet.
The component and supply chain integration that these Chinese firms can attain by all-domestic sourcing hasn't been fully realized. And yet we are already seeing what they are capable of doing.
Huawei, for example, is already taking lessons learned with their P9 and making a handset, the Honor 8, using similar but somewhat lower-spec components that is almost as good for almost half the price.
The Honor 8 hasn't landed yet in the US -- it's for China's domestic market. But you can bet that we will see something that looks a heck of a lot like the P9 at a $300 price point soon. Very soon.
If it doesn't come from Huawei, ZTE will respond with something similar. Or Lenovo will. Or Xiaomi will when it makes landfall in the US.
The Chinese titans will battle it out, each one-upping each other until there are no margins to be had for the likes of Apple and Samsung.
There will be a $200 premium smartphone. Bet on it. It might not happen for two or three years, but it will definitely happen.
Apple will retain their extremely loyal customer base that will continue to buy their products because of the status it entails. But it won't be able to expand its market, and eventually it will start to shrink. And that's fine, because Apple always ends up moving on to do something else.
Samsung, unfortunately, will be in much worse shape. While you can make a unique value proposition for Apple and iOS and their UX, you can't say so for Samsung, who uses Android.
Yes, the company will always have a big component manufacturing business, but it's unlikely they can stay on top when it comes to worldwide smartphone market share.
The smartphone apocalypse is coming. The four Chinese horsemen are bringing it, and nobody can stop them. I'm looking forward to it, actually.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

La decisión 4-4 de la Corte Suprema en el caso United States v. Texas del 23 de junio de 2016, no afecta la política existente del 2012 respecto a la Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, por sus siglas en inglés). Las personas que cumplieron con las guías de DACA de 2012 pueden continuar presentando una petición inicial o de renovación de DACA bajo esas guías. 

Para más información, vea  

La Corte Suprema significa, sin embargo, que el interdicto que prohíbe la implementación de DAPA (Acción Diferida para Padres de Ciudadanos estadounidenses y residentes Permanentes Legales) y la expansión de DACA permanece en efecto.   

USCIS recuerda al público acerca de los riesgos de las estafas de inmigración, en caso de que estafadores traten de sacar provecho de la situación. Obtenga consejos para que puede protegerse y a sus seres queridos en o en español en

USCIS Español


USCIS su Twitter USCIS su Facebook USCIS Blog USCIS su YouTube

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The World Is Warming But the Antarctic Is Getting Colder (BW)

A seal rests on an ice floe in the western Antarctic peninsula, on March 5, 2016

  • Trend toward warmer temperatures in the region paused in 1990s
  • Changes may be in step with natural variation, researchers say

One of the most rapidly warming places on Earth in the past half century actually cooled in the past 20 years, according to research that may be seized on by those who have doubts about global warming.

Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula have reversed course, dropping by an average of about 0.5 degree Celsius per decade since the late 1990s while the rest of the world experienced record heat, 10 researchers from the British Antarctic Survey concluded in an article published in the journal “Nature” on Wednesday.

The report’s authors didn’t make a conclusion about what their findings mean for the debate about global warming, saying the changes they noticed could fit at the extreme end of natural climate variations. That suggests it may take years and further research to determine the direction of temperatures in the Antarctic and what they mean for the world. Climate scientists said the report should be treated with caution.

“That a very small part of the planet shows a short-term cooling is not in any way a surprise,” said Ed Hawkins of the National Center for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading in England. “It’s what we expect from natural variation in the atmospheric circulation interacting with a long-term warming trend.”

The findings will feed the debate about the significance of a slowdown in the pace of global warming seen since 1998. 

The authors noted their study covered 1 percent of the Antarctic continent, a region that has warmed in the spring in the 1970s because of a hole in the atmosphere’s Ozone layer of the atmosphere. That gap now is starting to close, with an uncertain impact.

Not Paused

“This study certainly does not suggest that global warming has been halted,” said Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

The authors neglected to mention the role of warmer oceans in melting the peninsula’s glaciers, which would have put the findings into a broader context, said University College London Professor of Climate Science Chris Rapley. This, he said, could give fuel to skeptics who say climate change is overstated. A separate paper also by the British Antarctic Survey published earlier this month in “Science” showed ocean warming is the primary cause of glacier retreat on the western Antarctic Peninsula.

“It is important not to interpret the cooling of this small area of Antarctica as evidence that the climate is not warming,” said Martyn Tranter at the University of Bristol. “The cooling here has very little influence on global climate change. The overwhelming evidence is that the global climate is warming.”

Andrew Shepherd, director of the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at the University of Leeds in England, said scientists should turn their attention to the warming of the oceans, which “has triggered widespread loss of ice just around the corner in West Antarctica.”

“We should not lose sight of that because there are early signs in the satellite record of similar effects at the Peninsula too,” he said.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Anthem, Aetna Sued by U.S. Seeking to Block Insurer Mergers

  • U.S. Sues to Block Anthem, Aetna Insurance Mergers
  • Cigna, Humana takeovers would harm consumers by raising costs
  • Pair of tie-ups would reduce top insurers to three from five
U.S. antitrust enforcers roundly rejected a pair of proposed deals that would consolidate the nation’s five biggest health insurers into three.

The Justice Department on Thursday sued to block two separate tie-ups -- Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion takeover of rival health insurer Cigna Corp. and Aetna Inc.’s $37 billion bid for Humana Inc. -- saying the deals would raise health-care costs and reduce choice for consumers.

"For most Americans, health insurance is not luxury but a necessity," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in Washington. "Health insurance can mean the difference between life and death. If the big five were to become the big three, not only would the bank accounts of American people suffer, but the American people themselves."

Fight Lawsuits

Three of the companies said they would fight the lawsuits, which could tie them up in months of litigation, dragging out deals that were announced about a year ago. Cigna said it was reviewing its options under the merger agreement, which contains language that may require it to defend a government challenge. The insurers could also agree to abandon the transactions, potentially sparking a round of new deals. 

The lawsuits continue a string of merger challenges by antitrust enforcers looking to stop industry consolidation, dealing a blow to Anthem and Aetna’s bids to gain scale by snapping up rivals. The actions underpin wider sentiment within President Barack Obama’s administration about the importance of protecting competition among health insurers. By challenging the deals, the administration has seized another opportunity to shape the future of health care -- an effort to safeguard choice and affordable options for consumers -- after passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this month, Obama himself wrote an essay for The Journal of the American Medical Association in which he emphasized the need for competition to keep health care affordable for consumers. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whose department is closely watching the deals because of their potential impact on the delivery of medical plans under the health care law, also highlighted the importance of competition in insurance markets in an interview with Bloomberg News on July 15.

‘Vigorously Fight’

Aetna and Humana said in a statement that they will “vigorously” fight to complete their deal. Cigna, meanwhile, cast doubt on whether its deal can be completed. Anthem said it’s ready for a court fight, but is also open to a settlement with the Justice Department.

“The DOJ’s action is based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the dynamic, competitive and highly regulated health care landscape and is inconsistent with the way that the DOJ has reviewed past health care transactions,” Anthem said.

Shares of all four companies rose after the lawsuits were filed in federal court in Washington. Humana, which also raised its 2016 financial forecasts Thursday, rose 7.8 percent to $170.81 at 2:15 p.m. in New York, while Aetna was up 2.4 percent to $119.23. Anthem rose 2.9 percent to $139.43, and Cigna climbed 3.7 percent to $138.09.

If Anthem’s bid for Cigna falls apart under antitrust scrutiny, Cigna is owed $1.85 billion, according to the terms of their agreement. Aetna would owe Humana $1 billion should its takeover fail under a U.S. challenge.

Divestiture Proposals

Aetna did present two divestiture plans to the Justice Department in an effort to resolve the government’s concerns and allow the Humana deal to go forward, a person familiar with the matter has told Bloomberg News. Health insurers including WellCare and Centene offered to buy the policies up for sale, which cover about 350,000 people, the person said.

Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said in an interview that the company was willing to offer more divestitures in an effort to resolve the government’s complaint.

Bill Baer, the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, said at a press conference the proposals offered by companies in both deals fell far short of restoring the competition that would be lost from the mergers, and he signaled it was unlikely any remedy would work for either deal.

"The standard we apply is: Will the status quo be preserved? Will consumers after a divestiture benefit from the same degree of competition that exists today?" he said. "We have zero confidence that the proposals that have been made to us come close to meeting that standard."

The government said in its complaint that Anthem’s deal for Cigna would hurt competition for millions of consumers who receive commercial insurance from national employers as well as large-group employers in at least 35 metropolitan areas, including New York and Los Angeles. Aetna’s planned takeover of Humana would undermine competition in 21 states for Medicare Advantage plans, the government insurance program for the elderly, affecting more than 1.5 million customers, the Justice Department said. Both deals also hurt competition on the health-insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, it said.

After the lawsuits were filed, Humana said it expects to record significant losses in its business selling health insurance to individuals who aren’t covered by Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled, and would exit eight of 19 states where it sells individual plans under Obamacare.

If the Anthem-Cigna merger ultimately fails, smaller insurers could become targets for Cigna, including WellCare Health Plans Inc., Centene Corp. and Molina Healthcare Inc. Anthem, meanwhile, has said it would be interested in buying assets from Aetna and Humana if they win approval for their deal conditioned on divestitures. The Justice Department can decide to settle the lawsuits if it finds asset sales by the companies resolve its concerns about the tie-ups.

The Justice Department signaled its opposition to the deals early on. In March, Baer, who is the former head of the antitrust division and the person who decided to bring the lawsuits, told lawmakers the two takeovers are a “game changer” for the industry. He also said a year ago he would assess the industry as a whole, given the surge of deals, to make sure competition is preserved and the mergers don’t lead to higher costs for consumers.

The combinations also faced criticism from the start from consumer groups worried about higher premiums as well as from hospitals and doctors, who risk seeing lower payments from insurers that have more bargaining power. In June, a group of Democratic senators called for the Justice Department to stop the transactions.

If Anthem and Cigna can overcome the government’s challenge, their combination would create the biggest U.S. health insurer by membership, topping UnitedHealth Group Inc., with total revenue of about $115 billion. The bulk of the company’s revenue -- about 66 percent -- would come from administrative services sold to self-insured employers. The combined company would have about 29 percent of that market, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Medicare Advantage

If Aetna ultimately is allowed to buy Humana, it would become the biggest provider of Medicare Advantage plans. The combined company would have about 25 percent of that market, according to Bloomberg, with about half its $115 billion in revenue coming from Medicare plans, Aetna has said.

Eight states including Florida and Illinois, plus the District of Columbia, are joining the suit to block the Aetna-Humana deal. Nine states and the District of Columbia joined the U.S. action against the Anthem-Cigna deal, including California, New York and Connecticut, with two more -- Colorado and Tennessee -- later added to the docket.

The cases are U.S. v. Anthem Inc., 16-cv-1493, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington) and U.S. v. Aetna Inc., 16-cv-1494, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

French authorities serve notice to Microsoft for Windows 10 privacy failings

Strict online privacy laws in the EU continue to bedevil American tech companies. The latest to catch flak is Microsoft, over a handful of objections from a French data protection agency.

Image result for privacy windows 10

The French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice against Microsoft on Wednesday, ordering that the company "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent".

The complaint also demands that "Microsoft take satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data".

CNIL based its complaint on seven investigations it conducted between April and June of this year, as well as interviews with Microsoft representatives to ensure that the company was following the French Data Protection Act.

The CNIL notice accuses Microsoft of the following violations:

Irrelevant or excessive data collected - The CNIL found that "collecting diagnostic and usage data via its telemetry service" was acceptable, but it also found that the default Windows 10 settings, which collect additional information, go too far. The complaint says collecting "information ... on all the apps downloaded and installed on the system by a user and the time spent on each one" is "excessive".

A lack of security - This complaint says the option to secure a PC with a four-digit PIN is insecure because it does not limit the number of attempts to enter the PIN.
Lack of individual consent - According to this allegation, Microsoft's advertising ID enables Windows apps and other parties' apps to monitor browsing and offer targeted ads without proper consent.

Cookies - The agency complains that Microsoft "puts advertising cookies on users' terminals" without sufficient notice or consent.

Data transfer outside the EU - CNIL says data from French Windows users is being transferred to the US on a "safe harbor" basis, a practice that should have stopped after a decision issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on October 6, 2015.

This isn't the first big American tech company to land in CNIL's crosshairs. Facebook faced a similar complaint in February of this year, and Google received its own complaint in 2013, with another "compliance package" proposed in 2014.

The CNIL public notice stresses "formal notices are not sanctions and no further action will be taken if the company complies with the Act within the specified timescale, in which case the notice proceedings will be closed and this decision will also be made public".

The complaint gives Microsoft three months to comply.

David Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel, Microsoft, sent this response via email:

Earlier today Microsoft received a notice from the French data protection authority, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés or CNIL, raising concerns about certain aspects of Windows 10. The notice gives Microsoft three months to address the issues.

We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL over the next few months to understand the agency's concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable.

The CNIL noted that the Safe Harbor framework is no longer valid for transferring data from European Union to the United States. We fully understand the importance of establishing a sound legal framework for trans-Atlantic data transfers, and that is why Microsoft has been very supportive of the efforts on both side of the Atlantic that led to last week's adoption of the Privacy Shield.

As the European Commission observed, Microsoft's January 2016 Privacy Statement states that the company adheres to the principles of the Safe Harbor Framework. Microsoft has in fact continued to live up to all of its commitments under the Safe Harbor Framework, even as the European and U.S. representatives worked toward the new Privacy Shield. As we state in our privacy statement, in addition to the Safe Harbor Framework we rely on a variety of legal mechanisms as the basis for transferring data from Europe, including standard contractual clauses, a data transfer mechanism established by the European Commission and approved by European data protection authorities, to cover data flows from the European Union to the United States. "Microsoft will release an updated privacy statement next month, and that will say Microsoft intends to adopt the Privacy Shield. We are working now toward meeting the requirements of the Privacy Shield.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

This tiny storage breakthrough could hold 10 terabytes of data in one square centimetre

The system is based on chlorine atoms at -198 degrees -- but it could have a future in the cloud.
Copper and chlorine are the basis of a new type of atomic storage.

A team of physicists in the Netherlands have developed a storage device composed of chlorine atoms on a tiny metal surface that could one day be scaled up to hold about 10 terabytes of data on a 1cm square space.

Delft University of Technology (DUT) physicist Sander Otte and his team developed a 1-kilobyte storage device by arranging chlorine atoms in a series of terrace-like square grids on a copper surface.

The key to the device is the ability to move atoms around a surface. Researchers demonstrated in the 1990s that an instrument called a scanning tunnelling microscope could be used to move xenon atoms from its tip to a single-crystal nickel surface.

According to Nature, on the Delft-built device, each grid contains a few empty slots into which the researchers can push chlorine atoms, which allows them to switch between ones and zeroes on the line. One chlorine atom and one vacancy make one bit, and each line on the grid encodes one byte.

The device is currently a proof-of-principle, and needs to be kept at -198 degrees Celsius to operate, however the researchers believe it does have potential for data storage in the cloud. If the researchers could make a three-dimensional structure, a chlorine atom system like theirs could hold hundreds of terabytes of data on a cube the size of a grain of salt.

Otte told Nature their copper and chorine atom device is "by far the largest assembly on an atomic scale that's ever been created".

Atomic scale storage might be in its infancy, but researchers at Microsoft believe there is a need for higher capacity data storage technologies like it.

Microsoft is exploring synthetic DNA for long-term data storage as it believes that disk-based and optical media can't keep up with growing demand for data storage.

Researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington announced earlier this month they'd stored a record 200MB of data on the molecular strands. They believe the DNA strands can deliver longevity of 2,000 years and support zettabyte-scale storage requirements.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Where to Download Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 ISOs Legally


You can reinstall Windows from scratch using the product key that came with your PC, but you’ll have to find installation media yourself. Microsoft offers free ISO files for downloading; you just have to know where to look.
There area  few ways to do this, but they’re all on the straight and narrow–you won’t have to visit a shady BitTorrent site to download ISOs that may be filled with malware. Instead, you get official installation media straight from Microsoft
NOTE: depending on the OEM version of Windows that you are running, you might run into an issue using the OEM key with a retail version of Windows. If it won’t activate, you can always install and then call Microsoft to get them to straighten it out and allow your copy to activate. The most important thing is that you have a valid license key.
Download the Windows 10 or 8.1 ISO Using the Media Creation Tool
If you’ve got access to a Windows machine, the official method for downloading ISOs for Windows 8.1 and 10 is the Media Creation Tool. The process for using the tool is largely the same for both versions of Windows, so we’ll be using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool for our example. We’ll just note where anything differs.
How to Find Your Lost Windows or Office Product Keys
If you’re planning on doing a reinstall of Windows but can’t find your product key, you’re in luck because it’s... [Read Article]
One caveat you should be aware of up front is that you can no longer download an ISO for Windows 8–just 8.1. And the product keys are different for Windows 8 and 8.1, so if you have a Windows 8 product key, you can’t just use it to install Windows 8.1.  Instead, you’ll have to install Windows 8, then do a free upgrade to 8.1. After you do the upgrade, Windows will assign the new product key to the installation. You can find that product key in a number of different ways and save it for the future. After that, you should be able to do a clean installation of Windows 8.1 using the new product key and won’t have to worry about installing Windows 8 first and going the upgrade route.
Start by downloading either the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool or the Windows 8.1 Media Creation Tool. Once the file has downloaded, just double-click it to start the tool and then click “Yes” to give it permission to make changes to your PC. When the tool starts, click “Accept” to accept the license terms. Note that the Windows 8.1 version of the tool does not ask you to accept license terms.
When the tool asks what you want to do, select “Create installation media for another PC” and then click “Next.” The Windows 8.1 version of the tool also does not provide this option; it just defaults to creating installation media for another PC (which is what we want).
The tool will suggest a language, edition, and architecture for Windows based on information about the PC on which the tool is running. If you’re going to use the installation media on that PC, go ahead and just click “Next.” If you’re planning to install it on a different PC, clear the “Use recommended options for this PC” check box, select options that are more appropriate for the license you have, and then click “Next.” Note that if you’re using the 8.1 version of the tool, you actually start with this screen. The tool also won’t recommend options; you have to select them yourself.
Remember, your license will only work with the correct version of Windows–if your license is for 64-bit Windows 10 Pro, you can’t install 32-bit Windows 10 Home with it, so ensure your selections here match what’s listed on your product key.
Next, select whether you want the tool to create a bootable USB flash drive with the installation media, or just create an ISO file that you can use or burn to a DVD later. We’re going with the ISO file in this example, but the process is much the same either way. If you go with the USB option, you’ll need to provide a USB drive with at least 3 GB of space. Also, the USB drive will be formatted during the process, so make sure there’s nothing on it you need. Select the option you want and then click “Next.”
Choose a place to save the finished ISO file (or point the tool toward the right USB drive if that’s the option you chose).
At this point, the Media Creation Tool will begin downloading the files and assembling your ISO, which can take a fair bit of time depending on your internet connection. When it’s finished, you can click “Open DVD Burner” if you want to go ahead and create a disc or just click Finish if you don’t want to make a disc right now.
How to do a Clean Install of Windows 10, the Easy Way
The Windows 10 upgrade process drags old files, settings, and programs from your previous Windows system to your new one.... [Read Article]
You Don’t Need a Product Key to Install and Use Windows 10
Microsoft allows anyone to download Windows 10 for free and install it without a product key. It’ll keep working for... [Read Article]
Now that you have your new ISO saved, you’re ready to make use of it however you see fit. You could go ahead and perform a clean installation of Windows (which technically you don’t even need a product key to do), use the ISO to create a virtual machine, or just save it for when you need it down the road.

Download the Windows 7 SP1 ISO Directly From Microsoft’s Website

Microsoft makes the Windows 7 SP1 ISO available for direct download through their site. The only catch is that you’ll need a valid product key in order to download the file–and OEM keys (like the one that came on a sticker under your laptop) won’t work. If that’s you, proceed to the next section.
If you do have a valid retail key, head to the Windows 7 download page, enter your product key, and click “Verify” to start the download process.
After your product key is verified, select the product language you want to download and then click “Confirm.”
Next, choose whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7. When you click whichever version you want, the download will begin. Note that download links generated by the site are only valid for 24 hours. Of course, you could always come back and walk through the verification and selection process again to generate new links.
After downloading the ISO file, you can burn it to a DVD by right-clicking it in Windows Explorer and selecting “Burn disc image” to burn it to a disc. If you want to install Windows 7 from a USB drive, the best way is to use the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to put that ISO file onto a USB drive.
How to Update Windows 7 All at Once with Microsoft’s Convenience Rollup
When you install Windows 7 on a new system, you traditionally have to go through a long process of downloading... [Read Article]
The Last Windows 7 ISO You’ll Ever Need: How to Slipstream the Convenience Rollup
Microsoft has finally released a “Convenience Rollup” for Windows 7 that combines updates from the past few years into one... [Read Article]
The downloaded ISO you’ll get from Microsoft includes Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. When you install Windows 7, you can avoid the hassle of downloading and installing the hundreds of updates that came out after SP1 by installing the Windows 7 SP1 Convenience Rollup. Even better, why not take a little extra time and slipstream the Convenience Rollup right into your Windows 7 ISO? That way, whenever you install Windows 7 in the future, you’ll have one ISO with all the updates (at least up through May 2016) already included.

Download Any Windows or Office ISO Using a Free Third-Party Tool

Microsoft used to make all these ISOs available through a site called Digital River, but it doesn’t anymore. Instead, they’re stored on its TechBench site. The ISOs can be hard to find, though, and for versions of Windows other than the most current, the site tries really hard to push you into using the Media Creation Tool instead. Enter the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool. This free utility provides a simple interface that lets you select the version of Windows you want, then downloads an ISO for that version straight from Microsoft’s download servers. This includes various builds of the Windows 10 Insider Preview. You can also use the tool to download ISOs for certain versions of Microsoft Office.
First, head over to and grab the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool. It’s free and it’s a portable tool, so there’s no installation. Just launch the executable file. In the main window, choose the version of Windows or Office you’d like to download.
Click the “Select Edition” drop-down menu and then choose the edition you want. Note that in addition to the regular editions of the product (such as Home or Professional), you can also download regions specific editions such as Windows N (which is sold to the European market and does not include multimedia apps like Media Player and DVD Maker) and Windows K (which is sold to the Korean market).
After you select the edition you want to download, click “Confirm.”
Next, use the drop-down menu that appears to choose the product language you want to download and then click the “Confirm” button under the language drop-down menu.
Finally, choose whether to download the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the product. Clicking either download button will initiate the download using the ISO download tool, so you’ll need to keep it open until the download finishes. Alternatively, you can use the “Copy Link” buttons to the right to copy the direct download link to your clipboard and then download the file using your browser. Either way, note that most links generated by the tool are only valid for 24 hours, though you can always come back and generate new links.
And that’s all there is to using the Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool. Yes, you could accomplish some of this by digging around the TechBench site, but using this clever little utility is quicker and saves a lot of hassle. Plus, for some products, like Windows 8.1, finding the direct download on the site is next to impossible.

Microsoft also provides other software via the TechNet Evaluation Center. For example, you could download a trial version of Windows Server 2012 R2 and enter a legitimate product key to get the full version. Just click the “Evaluate Now” header on the site to see what trial versions of software are on offer. You will need to sign in with a Microsoft account before downloading.