New map shows how the Internet will travel underwater in 2013

TeleGeography released a 2013 version of its Submarine Cable Map on Thursday showing the 232 cables that ferry telecommunications under water between countries. The mapmakers note the rendering serves as a rough estimator for overall demand for connectivity between places, and that cables to a location mean bandwidth there is generally faster and cheaper than places that must communicate via satellite.

In addition to mapping the locations of the cables, the map shows a chart detailing the names and connectivity of all the cables installed between 1992 and 2012. For instance, the Challenger-Bermuda 1, built by Alcatel-Lucent in 2008, connects the US to Bermuda and had an initial capacity of 20 Gigabits per second, scalable to 320 Gigabits per second. The Unity/EAC-Pacific cable, lit in 2010 and funded in part by Google, connects the US and Japan (and cost around $300 million to build, according to Wired).

In addition to the two larger charts, the map also includes insets that show network latency between countries over their undersea cables. Worst connections: Japan to the UK, the US to South Africa, Brazil to almost everywhere. A second inset shows rough estimations of how heavy transmissions are between countries with the thickness of lines: transatlantic communications are unsurprisingly heavy, but India to Africa and Alaska to Australia are also pretty chatty.

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Egypt opposition to protest after deadly week

CAIRO (Reuters) – Opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi have called mass demonstrations on Friday, raising the prospect of more bloodshed despite a pledge by politicians to back off after the deadliest week of his seven months in office.

Obama might back territorial tax system: business chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief of a group of more than 200 CEOs said on Thursday that President Barack Obama had told the business community last month he might back a territorial tax system, a regime that would exempt offshore corporate profits from U.S. taxation.

Best Buy, Sears Canada slash jobs as pressure builds ahead of Target arrival

TORONTO — Two of Canada’s biggest retailers, Best Buy Canada and Sears Canada Inc., announced layoffs Thursday in what is shaping up to be a turbulent and competitive year for the country’s retail sector.

I think there is going to be a restructuring and a right-sizing in retail

Best Buy Co., the biggest seller of home electronics in the country, laid off an estimated 900 employees and announced the closure of 15 big-box stores, representing about 10% of its square footage in this country. The move comes as Best Buy faces pressure from online electronics retailers such as Amazon and Apple and as it follows in the step of its U.S. parent with plans to open multiple smaller stores that are less expensive to operate.

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Sears Canada, trying to staunch years of falling sales and profits, laid off 700 employees, about 360 at its department stores, 300 from distribution centres, and the remainder at head office and support areas.

“The retail landscape continues to change and our success is dependent upon our ability to evolve along with it,” Mike Pratt, president of Best Buy Canada, said in an exclusive statement to the Financial Post. “By taking a proactive approach in transforming our operations now, I have no doubt we will be in the best position to continue innovating our store experience for consumers and grow into the next decade.”

The news comes just weeks before mass merchant Target is set to open the first of its 124 stores in Canada, a move creating a ripple effect at retailers across the country, from Walmart to Canadian Tire.

More vast strategic changes are ahead as Canadian consumers increasingly shop online or seek out the more tailored service from small stores, said retailing consultant Wendy Evans, president of Toronto-based Evans and Co. Consultants Inc., who has tracked the steady migration of U.S. retailers into Canada over the past three decades.

“I think there is going to be a restructuring and a right-sizing in retail,” she said. “Electronics and books are on the forefront of that, with specific names and brands that you can compare anywhere and buy online. I think that fashion is next.”

Before the rise of online merchandising, with its low overhead and endless array of colour and size options, big-box stores were known as “category killers,” with the best available selection and the lowest prices.

“It has been quite a profligate use of space,” Ms. Evans said. As the country emerged from recession, traditional enclosed shopping malls have been fighting back by remodelling and leasing increasingly large spaces to their tenants. Traditional department store Sears “also has too much space to be competitively productive, and there are other issues there,” she said.

Best Buy will close eight Future Shop and seven Best Buy locations in B.C., Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario. It said over the next three years it will begin to open a substantial but unspecified number of smaller Future Shop web stores and Best Buy Mobile locations across Canada.

The move comes almost a year after the company’s embattled U.S. parent announced it would close 50 outlets and open 100 smaller mobile stores with a greater emphasis on smart phones, tablets, and e-readers. Sales at stores open for more than a year were flat over the nine weeks ended Jan. 5 in the U.S., higher than analysts expected them to be.

But the company said same-store sales fell 6.4% internationally because of declines in Canada and China — two markets called out by the U.S. parent for sales declines in the first three quarters of 2012. Year-end and fourth-quarter results are due out Feb. 28.

At Sears, the layoffs come amid a tough winter for the Canadian department store chain and as the company approaches its fiscal year-end. They are “part of our initiative to right-size the organization which is working in concert with other initiatives to make Sears successful,” spokesman Vincent Power said in an email.

On Christmas Eve, Sears Canada’s chief financial officer Sharon Driscoll abruptly left the organization. Two weeks later, Sears Canada confirmed a statement from majority owner Sears Holdings that its fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization would be about half the level of last year’s fourth quarter of US$97-million. Same-store sales, a critical retailing bellwether, slid 5.8% in the nine weeks ended Dec. 29. Fourth-quarter and year-end results will be made public on Feb. 27.

Last winter, the retailer laid off 470 employees. Sears, which has seen its annual sales and profits fall since 2006, now has a Canadian workforce of 29,300.

Company CEO Calvin McDonald has been striving to freshen up the chain’s stores and merchandise since joining the retailer in mid-2011, with a plan to get the company in better shape by the end of fiscal 2014. Sears has also exited underperforming locations, closing three stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa last year and selling the leases back to landlord Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. for $170-million. It sold its stake in a Medicine Hat, Alta. mall last month for $43-million.

Defiant Iran plans to speed up nuclear fuel work

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has announced plans to install and operate advanced uranium enrichment machines, in what would be a technological leap allowing it to significantly speed up activity the West fears could be put to developing a nuclear weapon.

“Six strikes” boss insists new system won’t harm public Wi-Fi

The so-called “six strikes” copyright alert system is supposed to launch sometime soon, although the exact date isn’t clear. As it draws closer, the group in charge of the effort, the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), has responded to press reports, including a report from Ars, noting that the six-strikes system could hurt small businesses by throttling the speed of their Wi-Fi connections.

In a post arguing that the new alert system “will not harm public Wi-Fi,” CCI director Jill Lesser writes that public Wi-Fi access such as that found in “a major coffee or restaurant chain, or at a public location like a park or transportation terminal, or even the public library” won’t be included in the “six strikes” system.

However, the exemption being offered to these public spaces is premised on an assumption: that they’re using more expensive, business-class Internet service. Businesses “like Starbucks that provide legitimate open Wi-Fi connections, will have an Internet that is tailored to a business operation,” and thus won’t be roped in to the copyright alert system.

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DIY R2-D2 Heels Are Perfect For Your Next Black Tie-Fighter Event

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Fans of Star Wars can take their love of droids and kitten heels to the streets with this DIY Instructables project. Created by Mike Warren, an editor at the site, these are the droid shoes you’re looking for.

DIYers take note: this isn’t easy stuff. Note the tools list, for example:

MIG welder
soldering iron
propane torch
rotary tool
elecric drill
rubber cement
foam glue
2-part epoxy (extra strength – not “quick setting”)
white spray paint

Seriously. A MIG welder. For shoes.

You’ll also need a pair of shoes, some R2-D2 toys, and a little thinger that will light up like R2′s weird eye thinger. More important, the shoes Warren used came from outside his house because someone threw them away. In short, they were almost free!

So whether you’re trying to please your own Princess Leia or need to stab one of Jabba’s Daleks with your stiletto, now you have the perfect tool.