E-Commerce Sites Should Be Treated as Retailers for FDI

The Delhi High Court has observed that if the central and state governments were not treating e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon as retailers for foreign direct investment (FDI), they cannot be treated as retailers for taxation purposes.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw was of the “prima facie” view that if governments were treating transactions by e-commerce sites as retail sale for tax purposes, then how can they say these firms are not retailers for receiving FDI.

“Prima facie, the Union of India/State Governments cannot, on the one hand, for the purpose of tax, treat such sales as retail and on the other hand, for the purposes of investment, not treat the same as retail sale,” the court said.

The observation by the court came while hearing a plea alleging that e-commerce sites are violating FDI policy by retailing goods through Internet.

The court has also issued notices to the Centre, Delhi Government, RBI and the Enforcement Directorate, seeking their replies on the plea by an association of footwear makers and retailers which has contended that though FDI is prohibited in retail “but entities retailing goods through the Internet are not being restrained from accepting foreign investment”.

It contended that Internet-based entities are in this way violating the FDI policy and thus, prejudice was being caused to them.

The association told the court that the e-commerce sites are being treated as retailers for the purpose of tax, but the Centre sought time to inform the judge about their stand. The court listed the matter for hearing on October 14.

Inbox by Gmail for Web Now Lets You Drop and Paste Images in Emails

Google has added a new feature to Inbox by Gmail, bringing it over from Gmail. Users can now drag & drop, as well as copy & paste images into email bodies.

Inbox for Web would now let users drag & drop images from their desktop or any folder onto the email compose section to attach them. Users can copy & paste method to paste selected files onto the email compose box. Google announced this feature in its Inbox by Gmail Google+ post.

While these minor yet important additions are always welcomed, Google’s Inbox by Gmail is yet to completely catch up with Gmail, featuring all the useful functions. The email management service still misses out on some of the important features such as the ability to delete a particular email from a conversation, or a Google Drive file attachment option while composing a mail. Recent updates included the ability to format text in reply mails on the Web, and the ability to empty Trash and Spam.

The company in July added the feature to start suggesting for Inbox Reminders when the application detects users mailing something to themselves. As a part of the feature, a pop-up would show as soon as the users choose their own name in the mail recipient section.

The search giant also made it easier for users to compose an email and set a reminder by adding shortcuts for both the functions.

On the other hand, Google introduced a new ‘Block’ sender feature and easy ‘Unsubscribe’ feature in Gmail. The ‘Block’ feature has already reached the Gmail Web version and would be hitting the Android app soon, while the easy ‘Unsubscribe’ feature is only for the Gmail app. Both these features are also yet to reach Inbox.

Delhi’s Dilli Haat Becomes Free Public Wi-Fi Zone

Delhiites visiting Dilli Haat in INA can now avail Wi-Fi services which will be free for the first 20 minutes.

Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra launched the service on Sunday on the occasion of ‘World Tourism Day’.

“Free Wi-Fi service will be available for the first 20 minutes at Dilli Haat, INA and thereafter, people will have to pay for data usage. Rs. 20 will be charged for the next 30 minutes and then Rs. 30 for 60 minutes and Rs. 50 for 120 minutes,” said a senior official.

Under the theme – ‘One Billion Tourists One Billion Opportunities’, the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) hosted a number of events to mark the occasion which included a cycling tour.

The tour, flagged off by Mishra and participated by several heritage enthusiasts, covered monuments of Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Period in and around Mehrauli area.

Covering more than seven kilometres, the cyclists rode for about two hours with the Tourism Minister leading them.

“Dotted with historical monuments and ruins, there is a lot that Delhi can boast about. We are constantly striving to tap Delhi’s utmost potential and come up with innovative activities like the cycle tour to promote tourism in the capital,” Mishra said.

DTTDC’s MD and CEO Z.U Siddiqui said that in order to keep the spirit of heritage tourism alive, the cycle tour will be made a weekly activity. “Activities like these rejuvenate both the body and the mind,” he said.

The Delhi Tourism also facilitated free entry at all the three Dilli Haats in the city as well as the Garden of Five Senses. Special discounts were offered to the walk-in tourists availing local tours.

A street food festival was also organised at the Delhi Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology in Lajpat Nagar. The street food was prepared by the students of the institute to cater to the visitors.

Other activities like musical performances by bands of police and paramilitary forces at Dilli Haats in INA and Janakpuri and traditional welcome of tourists at Delhi Tourism information counters were also the highlight of the day.

Delhi Tourism also organised complimentary tours for the visually-impaired and differently-abled students.

To promote an atmosphere of joy and fervour, all the information offices of DTTDC were decorated with flowers and balloons.

Facebook Adds 360-Degree Video to News Feed

Facebook on Wednesday began rolling out 360-degree viewing at the leading social network, letting people change their perspectives in specially created videos.

“We’ve seen that people enjoy more immersive content in their News Feeds,” video engineering director Maher Saba said in a blog post.

“We’re excited to take it a step further with 360-degree video.”

Synched rings cameras are used to capture video in a way that lets viewers virtually look around as if they are in the middle of a scene.

In desktop computer browsers, changing angles can be done using on-screen cursors. On mobile devices, shifting perspectives can be done by dragging fingers or just turning handsets, according to Saba.

“You’ll be able to hold up your phone and the 360-degree video will follow you as you turn, looking around, to experience things from all over the world like never before,” Saba said.

Publishers sharing 360-degree video at launch included GoPro, Discovery, and Saturday Night Live, according to Facebook.

Disney and Lucasfilm will debut a 360-degree video focused on its upcoming film “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Saba said.

The immersive new feature being added to News Feed was being rolled out to Web browser and mobile devices powered by Google-backed Android operating systems. Facebook planned to get it onto hardware powered by Apple iOS software “in the coming months.”

Chennai Police to Share Information on Unclaimed Bikes via Facebook

Chennai Police has taken to Facebook to share information on unclaimed two-wheelers retrieved from Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CBT) in the city.

About 65 vehicles were found abandoned at the parking lot of CMBT, where about 4000 two-wheelers are parked daily, police said in a release in Chennai on Thursday.

A special team of police personnel found that many of the owners were not staying in residential addresses which was provided by the Transport Department, it said.

Therefore, details such as names of owners of the vehicles, their addresses provided at the time of purchasing the motorbikes and registration numbers have been uploaded on Facebook under ‘Missing Two Wheelers’ title, it said. After verifying the details online, the owners of such vehicles could approach the Koyembdu Police station with original documents to claim them, it added.

Google Voice Search Gets Faster

Google

Google has announced that they have made a number of improvements to their Google Voice Search, this includes improved accuracy and also faster responses.

The latest version of Google Voice Search is also designed to pick out your voice from background noise, for example if you were in a busy public place with lots of noise, the Voice Search can block out background noise and focus on your voice.

IN A TRADITIONAL SPEECH RECOGNIZER, THE WAVEFORM SPOKEN BY A USER IS SPLIT INTO SMALL CONSECUTIVE SLICES OR “FRAMES” OF 10 MILLISECONDS OF AUDIO. EACH FRAME IS ANALYZED FOR ITS FREQUENCY CONTENT, AND THE RESULTING FEATURE VECTOR IS PASSED THROUGH AN ACOUSTIC MODEL SUCH AS A DNN THAT OUTPUTS A PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTION OVER ALL THE PHONEMES (SOUNDS) IN THE MODEL. A HIDDEN MARKOV MODEL (HMM) HELPS TO IMPOSE SOME TEMPORAL STRUCTURE ON THIS SEQUENCE OF PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTIONS. THIS IS THEN COMBINED WITH OTHER KNOWLEDGE SOURCES SUCH AS A PRONUNCIATION MODEL THAT LINKS SEQUENCES OF SOUNDS TO VALID WORDS IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE AND A LANGUAGE MODEL THAT EXPRESSES HOW LIKELY GIVEN WORD SEQUENCES ARE IN THAT LANGUAGE. THE RECOGNIZER THEN RECONCILES ALL THIS INFORMATION TO DETERMINE THE SENTENCE THE USER IS SPEAKING. IF THE USER SPEAKS THE WORD “MUSEUM” FOR EXAMPLE – /M J U Z I @ M/ IN PHONETIC NOTATION – IT MAY BE HARD TO TELL WHERE THE /J/ SOUND ENDS AND WHERE THE /U/ STARTS, BUT IN TRUTH THE RECOGNIZER DOESN’T CARE WHERE EXACTLY THAT TRANSITION HAPPENS: ALL IT CARES ABOUT IS THAT THESE SOUNDS WERE SPOKEN.

OUR IMPROVED ACOUSTIC MODELS RELY ON RECURRENT NEURAL NETWORKS (RNN). RNNS HAVE FEEDBACK LOOPS IN THEIR TOPOLOGY, ALLOWING THEM TO MODEL TEMPORAL DEPENDENCIES: WHEN THE USER SPEAKS /U/ IN THE PREVIOUS EXAMPLE, THEIR ARTICULATORY APPARATUS IS COMING FROM A /J/ SOUND AND FROM AN /M/ SOUND BEFORE. TRY SAYING IT OUT LOUD – “MUSEUM” – IT FLOWS VERY NATURALLY IN ONE BREATH, AND RNNS CAN CAPTURE THAT. THE TYPE OF RNN USED HERE IS A LONG SHORT-TERM MEMORY (LSTM) RNN WHICH, THROUGH MEMORY CELLS AND A SOPHISTICATED GATING MECHANISM, MEMORIZES INFORMATION BETTER THAN OTHER RNNS. ADOPTING SUCH MODELS ALREADY IMPROVED THE QUALITY OF OUR RECOGNIZER SIGNIFICANTLY.

Obama Announces ‘Understanding’ With China’s Xi on Cyber Espionage

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he had reached a “common understanding” with Chinese President Xi Jinping on curbing economic cyber espionage, but threatened to impose US sanctions on Chinese hackers who persist with cyber crimes.

The two leaders also unveiled a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year, outlining new steps they will take to deliver on pledges they made then to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking after White House talks during Xi’s first US state visit, Obama quickly homed in on the thorniest dispute between the world’s two biggest economies – growing US complaints about Chinese hacking of government and corporate databases, and the suspicion in Washington that Beijing is sometimes behind it.

“It has to stop,” Obama told reporters at a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden, with Xi standing beside him. Obama said he and Xi made “significant progress” on cyber-security.

But he added warily: “The question now is, are words followed by actions?” and made clear he is prepared to levy sanctions against cyber criminals.

The two leaders said they agreed that neither government would knowingly support cyber theft of corporate secrets or business information.

But the agreement stopped short of any promise to refrain from traditional government-to-government cyber spying for intelligence purposes. That could include the massive hack of the federal government’s personnel office this year that compromised the data of more than 20 million people. US officials have traced that back to China but have not said whether they believe the government was responsible.

Xi reiterated China’s denial of any government role in the hacking of US corporate secrets and said the best way to address the problem was through bilateral cooperation and not to “politicize this issue.”

“Confrontation and friction are not the right choice for both sides,” he said. China has routinely insisted that it too is a victim of cyber hacking.

Analysts said the agreement was significant. James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the leaked plan for sanctions helped push the Chinese toward a better-than-expected agreement, but noted that Beijing also got Washington to consider some Chinese concepts for norms of behaviour.

Pomp and tech
Obama hosted a lavish black-tie state dinner for Xi on Friday night, featuring Maine lobster and Colorado lamb for about 200 guests, with technology executives featured among them.

Seated with Obama and Xi at the head table were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Satya Nadella of Microsoft,Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff.

In their dinner toasts, both leaders focused on the theme of friendship. But Obama also referenced the tensions. “There will be times when there are differences between our two countries. It’s inevitable,” Obama said, also gently urging China to accept diverse views and “uphold the rights” of all people.

Earlier in the day, the two men struck a serious, businesslike tone when they appeared before reporters, showing little sign of close personal rapport as Obama laid out concerns with Beijing’s economic policies, territorial disputes with its neighbours and its human rights record.

As the two leaders spoke, dozens of pro- and anti-Xi protesters gathered near the White House grounds, waving flags, beating drums and shouting slogans.

US and Chinese officials sought to cast their talks in a favourable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation – the global fight against climate change.

As part of their agreement, Xi announced that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country’s emissions.

For Obama, the deal with China strengthens his hand ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris in December.

But disagreements on other issues loomed.

Obama told Xi after a 21-gun salute at a morning welcoming ceremony that the United States would continue to speak out over its differences with China, but he reiterated that the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is “stable, prosperous and peaceful.”

Xi, who faces rising nationalism at home as well as pressure to get China’s economic house in order, called for “mutual respect.”

In their talks, Obama also pressed Xi to follow through on economic reforms and not discriminate against US companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China’s slowing economic growth, which has destabilised global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbours.

Xi defended his government’s “right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty” and denied any plan to use its island-building efforts to create military strongholds.

In a reminder of potential flashpoints, the United States and China also finalised a plan aimed at reducing the risk of aerial collisions between warplanes in areas such as the South China Sea through adoption of common rules of behaviour.

Twitter Testing New Way to Poll Users on Desktop and Mobile

Twitter is currently testing a new feature for tweets which will help users embed a poll, not relying on Cards. The new poll feature is already being rolled out to select users and it can be seen in multipletweets.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the feature to The Next Web, “We’re experimenting with a new way to poll users on Twitter.” The company however did not specify how the feature will work.

The official Twitter account of NBC Sports has tweeted with an embedded poll. Mike Isaac of New York Times has also tweeted a sample tweet with poll feature. One of the possibilities may be that the new native poll feature is being only tested by verified account holders, or publishers.

nbc_tweet_poll_feature.jpgTwitter earlier this month was testing new photo and video editing tools with limited users, which were mostly verified accounts. The new photo and video editing tools were tipped by several celebrities, including Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams, with their tweets during MTV’s Video Music Awards. There was no word what are the exact tools that Twitter was currently testing but by looking at the shared images by celebrities, it looked like soon users will be able to add stickers, doodles, text, and more in images and videos before sharing them on Twitter.

Twitter last week started rolling out an update for its iOS app that added support for split-screen multitasking, which was introduced with iOS 9 for the iPad. Additionally, Twitter’s Highlights feature was available in over 35 languages, including Hindi.

Facebook CEO Invites Questions for PM Narendra Modi’s Townhall Session

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is inviting people to post questions for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a townhall meeting that he will be hosting on Sunday at the company headquarters.

In a post on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said: “Prime Minister Modi and I will discuss how communities can work together to address social and economic challenges.”

Zuckerberg asked for questions to be posted in the comments section of his post and said he will have as many as possible asked at the meeting.

The question-answer townhall meeting is set for 9.30am local time or 10pm Indian Standard Time and will be carried live on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.

As of Thursday, the townhall post was shared more than 40,000 times and it was being promoted through advertisements on many sites.

Many questions posted so far by Facebook users are on the reservation controversy. Others are about development issues, universal Internet access, censorship, net neutrality and women’s rights.

Predictably, there were also comments about “genocide”, lifting ban on beef and pornography and caste.

New System Can Check for Malware in Twitter URLs

Computer scientists from Cardiff University have created an intelligent system to identify malicious links disguised in shortened URLs on Twitter.

The system could identify potential cyber-attacks with up to 83 percent accuracy within five seconds and with up to 98 percent accuracy within 30 seconds when a user clicked on a URL posted on Twitterand malware began to infect the device.

“We are trying to build systems that can help law enforcement authorities make decisions in a changingcyber-security landscape,” said principal investigator on the project, professor Omer Rana.

As people are increasingly using social networks such as Twitter to find information about events, the high volume of traffic around large-scale events creates a perfect environment for cybercriminals to launch surreptitious attacks.

The scientists collected tweets containing URLs during the 2015 Superbowl and cricket world cup finals, and monitored interactions between a website and a user’s device to recognise the features of a malicious attack.

“Attackers can hide links to malicious servers in a post masquerading as an attractive or informative piece of information about the event,” said lead scientist Pete Burnap.

URLs are always shortened on Twitter due to character limitations in posts, so it is incredibly difficult to know which are legitimate, Burnap said.

Once infected the malware can turn your computer into a zombie computer and become part of a global network of machines used to hide information or route further attacks.

“In a 2013 report from Microsoft these ‘drive-by downloads’ were identified as one of the most active and commercial risks to cyber-security,” Burnap said.