Breakfast Briefing: Olympic-sized online tax dodge, ghostly Retina screen, inside the Raspberry Pi factory

4 Dec 2012
Breakfast briefing

In today's tech news round-up: the scale of the UK's online tax losses, faulty Retina screens and more

Morning. Today we have an angry Retina display user that's seeing ghosts on his new MacBook, more on life on the run with AV pioneer John McAfee, and a guided tour of the Raspberry Pi factory.

Olympic scale of UK's online VAT losses

The Guardian reports how online stores are avoiding £1.6bn in VAT every year. With tech companies facing increasingly taxing question on their use of legal loopholes to reduce liabilities, the paper reports how sites offering goods and digital services in the UK will avoid £10bn in VAT costs between 2008 and 2014, more than the £9bn cost to the taxpayer for the London Games.

Ghostly Retina screen

Apple's MacBook Retina display is no doubt a thing of beauty, but it's not without fault, according to Matthew Cleevely's The n Bells blog. In a post from late last week that's surfaced via the webvine, Cleevely documents how his laptop was affected by annoying ghosting on the display using photos of Apple executives (no, not Steve Jobs). Suffice to say, he's not a happy camper, claiming Apple created a "spurious" test for potentially faulty screens, a move that forced him to pay for a replacement screen.

Pics of the day – the making of Raspberry Pi

Tech Republic has paid a visit to the factory where the Raspberry Pi is baked. In a turnaround for UK tech manufacturing, the organisation behind the project brought production to this country earlier this year and the pictures from inside the factory provide a glimpse into the production process.

We also like that, in wave upon wave of high-tech machinery, the factory still has a Pi-like element of homebrew hackery, with image 7 showing a reflow oven that appears to be patched up with tin foil.

New twists in bizarre case of the missing McAfee

The on-the-run case of antivirus pioneer John McAfee grows increasingly bizarre, with reports of the wanted technologist being tracked down to Guatemala dismissed as a red herring. The Next Web reports how another online publication – Vice - had boasted about being with McAfee, who is wanted by police in Belize. However, the photo metadata on the Vice images gave away McAfee's location, although the man himself is now claiming he planted the information to throw authorities off the scent.

"I, for my own safety, manipulated the xif data on the image taken from my cellphone, and created a fake emergency so that the urgency of movement led, as I knew it would, to the hasty posting on their website," McAfee said. Hmmm...

Dropbox opens Dublin office - but not for tax reasons

Dropbox is opening its first international office, and it’s chosen Dublin - which raises an obvious question. But don’t go jumping to conclusions: the company's business development manager, Mitra Lohrasbpour, told The Guardian tax had nothing to do with the decision.

"We took a look at cities in Europe with strong technical people - Dublin had a passionate pool of talent. There are many cities were technical company can be successful, but Dublin had a strong user base and they also had multilingual skills that weren't available elsewhere. There are other considerations, such as the timezone, as they had to coordinate with the headquarters in San Francisco, and the expansibility of the office."

The Guardian says "he declined to say how important tax considerations had been in the choice of venue". Dropbox will hire 30-40 people in Dublin by the end of 2013.

Tumblr back on track after hack

Gizmodo reports how a Tumblr worm spread through the blogging platform before being squashed by the company's technicians. The worm that spread through video sharing script has been claimed by anti-blogging group the GNAA.

The Daily closes, the internet says "I told you so"

The idea of an iPad-only daily newspaper seemed bold even at its launch in February 2011. Not even two years later and The Daily is closing down, with some of its technology and 100-plus staff being incorporated into the New York Post.

Was it ever going to work? Can you create a daily newspaper - complete with small amounts of through-the-day live content - on a platform that, at least at the time, was seen as the threat to the whole idea of a newspaper?

According to The Guardian, "The Daily was losing $30m a year and amassed about 100,000 subscriptions," a long way short of the 500,000 it needed to break even. "Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term," said Rupert Murdoch in a statement.

By sheer coincidence, on the same day that The Daily died, the Daily Mirror launched its iPad version - and made it totally free. Editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley sums up the difference in approach by saying the app will "extend the reach of our journalism to new and wider audiences". Translation: no one can compete with free.

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