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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Steps Down

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison Steps Down

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(REDWOOD SHORES, Calif.) — Oracle founder Larry Ellison announced Thursday that he will step down as the software company’s CEO.

The tech guru, 70, and prominent public figure will turn over the reins to his two co-presidents, Safra Catz and former Hewlett-Packard executive Mark Hurd.

Ellison founded the Oracle in 1977. It is valued at $185 billion.

Ellison follows other influential founders to turn over the chief executive office, including Bill Gates in 2000 and Steve Jobs in 2011.

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McDonald’s Customers Dish About Free Coffee on Social Media

McDonald’s Customers Dish About Free Coffee on Social Media

McDonald’s(NEW YORK) — McDonald’s latest free coffee promotion is in full swing, and excited fans are talking about it on social media.

Customers can stop by participating locations in the United States until Sept. 29 for a free small McCafe during breakfast hours.

The fast-food chain says it knows how much people need their coffee, and is calling on people who come in to “sip and tell” by sharing embarrassing moments that happened before they got their caffeine fix, on social media using the hashtag #SipandTell.

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First iPhone 6s in Moscow Cost Up to 90,000 Rubles or $2,300

First iPhone 6s in Moscow Cost Up to 90,000 Rubles or $2,300

Mario Tama/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — As hundreds line up around the world for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, gray market importers in Russia are starting to fly them in and re-sell them at a massive profit.In Moscow, home to three Bentley showrooms but zer…

Home Is Where the Heart Is — and Also Most of the Expenses

Home Is Where the Heart Is — and Also Most of the Expenses

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For American homeowners, their house is probably the biggest asset they have. However, it is often the biggest expense in their budget.

A survey released this week by the non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute shows home and home-related costs are the biggest expense for folks over the age of 50, accounting for 40 percent to 45 percent of their household budgets.

A 2011 analysis of some 5,000 households shows people ages 65 to 74 spent an average of $18,720 on home and home-related expenses, while those 75 to 84 spent $14,732.

Home-related expenses include mortgages, property taxes, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, rent, utilities, home repairs, home furnishings, housecleaning supplies, housekeeping and laundry services, gardening, yard supplies and yard services.

Sudipto Banerjee, a research associate for the institute and author of the new report, tells USA Today the dollar amount people spend on home expenses decreases with age, but the share of the household budget remains about the same because their overall spending tends to decline, too.

And it’s no surprise that health expenses take up a larger percentage of a household budget as people age.  The survey found households with one member between the ages of 50 to 64 spent eight percent of their total budget on out-of-pocket medical expenses, an average of $4,176 in 2011. Those 85 and older spent 19 percent of their budget, an average of $6,603 that year.
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Texas-Based Insurance Company Investigating Possible Breach of Personal Information

Texas-Based Insurance Company Investigating Possible Breach of Personal Information

scyther5/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An unknown number of insurance applications containing personal information held by a Texas-based life insurance holding company may have been compromised in an apparent breach.

Torchmark Corporation told ABC News on Thursday that it was working with the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service on a criminal investigation. The company also intends to notify potentially affected customers.

The company declined to note when the breach began, whether it is contained and whether they have determined the source of the breach. A company spokesman said that the breach was “limited in scope,” but declined to provide figures of more detailed information.

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Home Depot Says 56 Million Cards Affected in Data Breach

Home Depot Says 56 Million Cards Affected in Data Breach

Romanista/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than two weeks after Home Depot’s cyber-attack was first discovered, the retailer said Thursday that the payment data breach exposed 56 million credit and debit cards.

The company said the breach has been contained and the malware responsible has been eliminated. The malware was custom-built to evade detection and, contrary to earlier reports, had not been seen in other breaches, the company said.

The breach eclipsed that of Target last year, which affected about 40 million credit and debit cards.

Like Target, Home Depot is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who used a payment card at a Home Depot store beginning in April 2014.

Home Depot promised “significant new protection for customers” in a statement released Thursday, pledging $62 million. The company confirmed that the attack lasted from April to September.

The company has 2,266 retail stores globally, including the U.S., Guam, Canada and Mexico.

Home Depot claims there’s “no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised” or that the breach affected customers who shopped online.

The investigation into the breach began on Sept. 2 after the company received reports from law enforcement and banks.

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More Gains on Wall Street After Positive Unemployment Numbers

More Gains on Wall Street After Positive Unemployment Numbers

JaysonPhotography/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thursday marked a third consecutive day of gains for Wall Street, partially bolstered by a positive weekly unemployment report from the Department of Labor.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 109.14 to a record close of 17,265.99.

The Nasdaq jumped 31.24 to 4,593, while the S&P 500 climbed 9.79, ending the day at an all-time high close of 2,011.36.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that 36,000 fewer Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week. The report also noted the lowest level for insured unemployment since May 2007.

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Three Key Differences Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Three Key Differences Between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple(NEW YORK) — Having trouble choosing between Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus?

Both devices will be available in stores on Friday. Apple CEO Tim Cook called them the best iPhones Apple has ever produced.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the features of the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, including how they differ:

Screen Size

The most obvious physical difference between previous iPhones and the latest devices is the screen size. The iPhone 5S screen was 4 inches.

The iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus measures 5.5 inches diagonally — giving Samsung, which has dominated the giant phone market, some competition.

Price

The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16 GB configuration, $299 for 64 GB and $399 for a whopping 128 GB configuration, with a two-year contract.

The iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB) and $499 (128 GB). Both phones come in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

Battery Life

While both phones meet or exceed the battery life of previous iPhones in all metrics, there is a clear winner.

The iPhone 6 has up to 14 hours of talk time on 3G, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasts up to 24 hours, according to information posted on Apple’s website.

When it comes to surfing the Internet on Wi-Fi through the devices, the iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours while the iPhone 6 Plus can handle an additional hour.

The iPhone 6 has up to 11 hours of video playback, while the iPhone 6 Plus has up to 14 hours.

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Alibaba: How Did the Chinese Company Gets Its Name?

Alibaba: How Did the Chinese Company Gets Its Name?

Hong Wu/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Alibaba, which is expected to go public Thursday in the biggest initial public offering ever, is a giant tech firm that remains a giant mystery to many Americans. The e-commerce company has a number of businesses all under the name Alibaba Group.

For one, why did founder and executive chairman Jack Ma choose to call his company Alibaba?

Though the origin has a colorful story, the company offers the short version on its website, explaining it’s a “well-known” name and easily pronounced. In the story “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” from the collection One Thousand and One Nights, a chamber of treasures is opened with the words, “Open sesame.”

“E-commerce is global so we needed a name that was globally recognized,” the website states. “Alibaba brings to mind ‘open sesame,’ representing that our platforms open a doorway to fortune for small businesses.”

But back in 2006, the former English teacher explained in detail how he chose the name in a San Francisco coffee shop.

“And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Alibaba? And she said yes,” Ma told CNN’s Talk Asia show in 2006. “I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Open Sesame.’ And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alibaba’? People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China…They all knew about Alibaba.”

“Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba — 40 thieves,” Ma said. “Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So…easy to spell, and global know. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!” 

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Production of Lincoln Logs Returning to US

Production of Lincoln Logs Returning to US

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Lincoln Logs is returning to the U.S.

Production of the classic toy, which was created in 1916, had been outsourced in China. But soon, most of the toy’s manufacturing — 80 percent — will take place at Pride Manufacturing’s Burnham, Maine plant.

The company says its deal to build Lincoln Logs will add up to 10 jobs.

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How to Wipe Your Old iPhone Before You Give It Away

How to Wipe Your Old iPhone Before You Give It Away

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus might have made you eager to part with your old iPhone — but there’s one important step you need to take before making the switch.

If you’re planning on giving away, selling or trading in your current iPhone, it’s recommended that you make sure your device is wiped clean. This will make sure your personal information and digital memories aren’t given to someone else.

First, it’s important to make sure your phone is backed up. There are two easy ways to do this.

iCloud

Chances are you’re already using the iCloud, but here’s how to make sure you’ve recently backed up everything.

Tap Settings, then go to iCloud, choose Storage & Backup.

Make sure the iCloud switch is toggled to “on” and then choose “Back Up Now.”

iTunes

Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes. Then, choose file, devices and then backup.

If you’re using a version of iTunes 10.7 or earlier, right click the device from the list and then choose “backup now.”

Double check that the backup worked by going to preferences and then clicking devices. The latest backup and the device should be listed on the screen.

Wiping the Phone

Once you’re satisfied everything is backed up to the iCloud or iTunes, you’re ready to restore the phone back to its factory settings. Go to settings, general, reset and then choose “Erase All Content and Settings.”

Now you’re ready to sell, trade-in or give away your iPhone.

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Free Bread at Restaurants Hitting Endangered Status

Free Bread at Restaurants Hitting Endangered Status

Olive Garden(NEW YORK) — It’s a familiar ritual: sit down at a restaurant, get bread, order and continue with your typical dining out experience. Except lately, restaurants are removing one part of that scenario: the free bread.

It has been a slow rise, starting with the occasional restaurant only offering bread upon request, leading up to this week when one of Olive Garden’s investors tried to nix the national Italian chain’s unlimited breadsticks.

“Endless salad and breadsticks are another contributor to food waste,” Starboard said in a report on how Olive Garden can improve.

The Italian mainstay fired back that is has no intention of heeding such advice, writing, “Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks have been an icon of brand equity since 1982. It conveys Italian generosity…”

The restaurant “will continue to serve breadsticks with each meal,” Olive Garden spokesman Justin Sikora also confirmed to ABC News.

So rest easy, your unlimited breadsticks are safe. But are your other bread baskets?

“It makes sense as more and more people are avoiding carbohydrates, because they’re on the Paleo diet or going gluten-free,” Bret Thorn, senior food editor at Nation’s Restaurant News, told ABC News. “So why should a restaurant spend money to give you something you’re not going to eat?”

Restaurants like Roberta’s in New York City, Barnyard in Los Angeles and Roost in Houston go one step further than not serving free bread; they charge for it.

“Some restaurants are really going out of their way to make really excellent bread or source really excellent bread,” Thorn said. “So you can get a really great basket of delicious bread, often not just with butter, but with lardo [pork] or some other awesome topping.”

Other restaurants, such as Fire & Oak in Montvale, New Jersey, only offer free bread to customers who request it.

“The menu that we designed has burgers and sandwiches on the dinner menu and the trend when we opened was in general a lot of people having burgers for dinner, so at the same time with wasting food and people going more green and all those things coming together, we decided to only make it available on request, and it’s stated on the menu,” owner Joshua Dorras told ABC News. “We didn’t know what the reaction would be when we first opened, but it’s always been fine.”

Dorras has owned several restaurants over the years, and estimates thousands of dollars wasted on untouched bread.

“It was always a shame even when we used to do it automatically. You just keep throwing bread away, and it always seemed sad to throw that food away,” he said. “I’m sure if you added it up over the year and counted every piece of bead that you threw away, it would be thousands of dollars. It’s kind of like garnishing a plate with something you’re going to throw away every time. What’s the point?”

The trend has gotten so large that New York Times food critic Pete Wells penned an entire opinion editorial on the topic.

“When restaurants withhold bread, they can make us feel like children who can’t be trusted or guests who have overstayed their welcome,” he wrote. “It’s one of those times when we can see the sharp teeth of profit hiding behind the smile of hospitality. Never mind that a slice or two of bread can smooth out the restless, angry edge of hunger; the restaurant industry has decided that giving us bread when we first sit down means a lower check total. We know that’s what they’re thinking, too, just as we know that when they charge for bread they’ve stopped seeing this simple civility as a way to make us happy and started seeing it as a line item.”

It’s a fine line that Thorn acknowledges can be tricky to toe.

“I think restaurants have to be careful when they’re doing it, because if customers feel they are being nickel and dimed, they’ll really resent that. They’ll take it out on the server when they decide how much to tip and they also aren’t going to come back to their restaurant,” he cautioned. “You need to do the math to see if the amount of money you make is worth alienating customers. And customers have to decide if they really want to eat the bread.”

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So Long Overage Fees? New Suitcase Weighs Itself as It’s Packed

So Long Overage Fees? New Suitcase Weighs Itself as It’s Packed

TUL Thustrelie/Kickstarter(NEW YORK) — A Kickstarter campaign for a suitcase with a built-in scale is hoping to raise 95,000 Australian dollars over the next two weeks to make this luggage dream a reality.

No more overage fees at the airport. No more frantic unpacking and repacking as the people behind you on the check-in line glare and the clocks ticks closer to take off.

That’s the goal of the TUL, a suitcase prototype that’s raised almost $14,000 so far. The built-in scale means no need to lift the bag onto the bathroom scale.

“Simply close the lid of the designated suitcase, and without having to entirely enclose the zips, the press of a single button will let you know the weight of your luggage,” the Kickstarter page reads.

“By simply pressing an ‘ON’ button, the weight of your luggage will be displayed on the LCD screen. The scale will be automatically turned off after 1 minute to preserve battery life,” according to the Kickstarter campaign.

TUL also comes with an external suitcase protection jacket and a luggage lock that satisfies Transportation Security Administration requirements.

One design flaw that may deter U.S. travelers: in this prototype, kilograms can not be switched to pounds, though that feature may be added at a later date.

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Jobless Claims Plunge Lower to 280K

Jobless Claims Plunge Lower to 280K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims took a dive last week, decreasing by 36,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Sept. 13, the number of people filing for benefits fell to 280,000. The previous week claims stood at 316,000.

The Labor Department said there were no “special factors” impacting that week’s figures.

The four-week moving average slumped as well, falling by 4,750 to 299,500.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Pens Open Letter Reassuring Users of Commitment to Privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook Pens Open Letter Reassuring Users of Commitment to Privacy

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Apple CEO Tim Cook reaffirmed the company’s respect for customers’ privacy in an open letter on Wednesday, stating that the company does not sell customers’ data or provide a backdoor for government agencies to invade users’ privacy.

“Our business model is very straightforward,” Cook writes. “We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you,” the letter reads.

Simply put, Cook says, “our software and services are designed to make our devices better.”

Cook acknowledged that the only part of the Apple brand that serves advertisers is iAd, a network that functions with the iTunes Radio service to help support advertisers. However, Cook notes, iAd “doesn’t get data from health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail.” In fact, users can completely opt out of iAd if they choose.

“Finally,” Cook wrote, “I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

Apple, Cook says, is committed to protecting the privacy of its customers. This commitment is borne our of a “deep respect” for users.

“We know your trust doesn’t come easy,” Cook admitted, “that’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.”

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Replace Your Device Battery with Chewing Power?

Replace Your Device Battery with Chewing Power?

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — A pair of mechanical engineers in Canada says they are developing a wearable device that could one day take the place of batteries in Bluetooth headsets, earpieces and hearing aids.  All a person has to do to make it work is chew.

According to a report by the BBC, Dr. Aidin Delnavaz and Dr. Jeremie Voix at the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal have built a chin strap that harnesses energy from chewing and turns it into electricity.

The strap is made from a “smart” material that becomes electrically charged when stretched through the simple act of chewing.

When Dr. Delnavaz chewed gum for 60 seconds, they measured up to 18 microwatts of generated power. That’s not a lot of juice, but the duo believes that adding layers of the material will make it efficient enough to generate useful amounts of power.  Twenty layers of the material would have a total thickness of just six mm.

The pair acknowledges the device would never be able to recharge a smartphone, but they do envision it being used in situations where people are already wearing a strap, such as individuals who work with heavy machinery and wear helmets and earpieces, and soldiers who wear head protection and communicate using earpieces.

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High-Tech Device Being Developed to Catch Motorists Who Text and Drive

High-Tech Device Being Developed to Catch Motorists Who Text and Drive

iStock/Thinkstock(HARRISONBURG, Va.) — Just when you were getting used to the idea of being caught speeding by a remote video camera comes news that a device similar to a radar gun is being developed to catch motorists who text while driving.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is working on a device that detects radio frequencies in a vehicle when someone is using a cellphone.

Company rep Malcolm McIntyre says the device is similar to what cable repairmen use to find a frequency leak in a damaged cable line.

McIntyre acknowledged there are privacy concerns, but said the device would not be able to decrypt the information being texted.

McIntyre says the device is “close to production” but it still must be approved by local and state authorities and adopted by law enforcement.

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Join Uber

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Join Uber

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) — Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will join a fellow former member of the Obama administration in the coming months as he takes on a voluntary role at Uber.

According to a post to the Uber website, Gates will join the ride-sharing company as chairman of Uber Military, a new program aimed at hiring service members, veterans and family of military members. “Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging, but at Uber we understand that veterans are some of our nation’s most talented and skilled leaders,” the post says.

“Over the next 18 months,” the post reads, “we will on-board 50,000 members of the military community to the Uber platform.”

The post quotes Gates as saying he is, “proud to be a part of this unprecedented effort by a single company to ensure that tens of thousands of our nation’s military members, veterans and spouses have access to a unique entrepreneurial opportunity.”

Earlier this summer, former Obama Adviser David Plouffe announced that he would join Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy.

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Federal Reserve: Interest Rates to Remain at Record Lows

Federal Reserve: Interest Rates to Remain at Record Lows

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates near zero again — at least until the economy gathers more steam.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said Wednesday the continued sluggish job market is the reason the nation’s central bank won’t raise interest rates this month.

“Still too many people who want jobs, but cannot find them. Too many who are working part-time, but would prefer full-time work,” she said.

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE ]

The Fed has kept lending rates to banks near zero since the Great Recession began.

It also plans to continue shrinking the number of assets it buys to prop up the economy, hoping the low rates alone help put more people back to work.

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Wall Street Gains on Positive Economic Reports

Wall Street Gains on Positive Economic Reports

JaysonPhotography/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A pair of positive economic reports boosted Wall Street to another day of gains on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 24.95 to a 17156.92 finish.

The Nasdaq jumped 9.43 to 4562.19, while the S&P 500 closed back above 2000, gaining 2.59 to a close of 2001.57.

The Federal Reserve announced in a statement on Wednesday that its stimulus program will end next month, as planned, and short term interest rates will increase sometime next year.

In a separate report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that consumer prices dropped by 0.2 percent in August, the first drop in 16 months.

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