Some users reported losing their email access as Apple formally launched iCloud, an online communications, media storage and backup service, on Wednesday.Apple’s new operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — iOS 5 — also annoyed many users who encountered hours-long delays in downloading and installation.Investors have high hopes for iCloud, which replaces MobileMe, a collection of Web-based products that have failed to impress critics or generate substantial revenues for a company that has had success in most other ventures over the past decade.”It failed in a very nasty way in that mail sometimes vanished, sometimes appeared then vanished, and often there was a user and/or password-incorrect message plus some rather obscure additional error messages,” said David Farber, a professor of engineering and public policy with Carnegie Mellon University.”The behavior suggests program problems,” added Farber, a well-known computer scientist.But the iCloud problems are especially embarrassing for Apple, as the company introduced the new online service with much fanfare in June at its annual developer forum.Co-founder Steve Jobs, who died last Wednesday, said “it just works” when he introduced the service in June. The software is key to the new iPhone 4S, which will be launched on Friday in seven countries.The problems also come as rival Research in Motion deals with an international outage of its email and messaging services.”Some users were experiencing intermittent authentication errors when trying to use mail,” Apple said in a status update on its webpage for iCloud support. “Normal service has been restored. We apologize for any inconvenience.”Other problems Apple reported as having resolved included: intermittent slowness when signing in to iCloud, users unable to back up their data, and delays receiving verification emails from Apple.Apple spokespersons did not immediately return calls seeking comment.Users took to Twitter to complain about the problems during the roll-out.”iCloud would be great if the email would freaking recognize my password,” wrote Leanna Lofte, or “@llofte”, on Twitter.”Apple Mail’s still offline, everything’s out of sync here between my devices, and what a mess,” Matt Peckham, or “@mattpeckham”, wrote on Twitter.
* Must include more new measures to meet fiscal targets-analystsBy Sergio GoncalvesLISBON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Portugal’s centre-right government will need to go further in 2012 than the budget austerity set out in its international bailout if it wants to meet tough fiscal goals, analysts said as the government prepared to approve next year’s budget.The 2012 draft budget, which should be approved by the cabinet on Thursday and presented to parliament on Monday, is likely to include tougher austerity than originally planned because of shortfalls this year which the government is set to plug with one-off measures.The government does not plan to immediately release any budget details.The coalition government took over in June backed by a solid parliament majority, which can easily pass the budget even if no other party supports it. The vote is scheduled for Nov. 29.But shortly after taking office in June, the government identified a shortfall of 2 billion euros, or 1.5 percent of GDP, due to lower-than-expected cuts in public sector jobs and the island of Madeira’s failure earlier to report the full scale of its debt.Under Portugal’s 78-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and IMF, the country needs to cut next year’s budget deficit to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product from 5.9 percent this year. In 2010 the deficit reached 9.8 percent.”This (2012) budget is key because if Portugal does not meet the goals set by the ‘troika’, it is just a question of time before falling into a similar situation to Greece, with a second bailout and eventual default,” said Filipe Garcia, head of Informacao de Mercados Financeiros consultancy in Porto.”But cutting the 2012 deficit to 4.5 percent requires tougher measures, both on the revenue and spending side, than what was agreed with the troika,” he said.The steps under the bailout include cutting the number of public servants by 2 percent by 2014, freezing civil servants’ wages following this year’s 5 percent cut, cutting subsidies and fiscal benefits and raising value-added tax on some products to the maximum 23 percent rate from previously lower rates.The government has already slapped a one-off 50 percent tax on year-end salary bonuses and brought forward a tax hike on electricity and natural gas. It is also set to transfer the pension funds run for some banks’ employees to state coffers to cover the shortfall.PRIMARY CUTSWhile the banks’ pension funds have enough cash to guarantee that this year’s budget gap goal is met even if the slippage turns out to be bigger, such transfers are not the structural measures the “troika” of the EU, IMF and European Central Bank are looking for.Rui Bernardes Serra, chief economist at Montepio bank, also said the tax burden was already too high in Portugal, threatening to send the economy into a recessive tailspin, and the government had to focus its efforts on spending cuts.”The government has to, at least, meet the target of cutting its primary current spending by 10 percent, which implies a 15 percent cut in non-salary spending, and this cut has to be across the board,” he said.Analysts say there will have to be drastic cuts in healthcare — in terms of medicine costs, excessive use of services and overtime payments to staff — as well as education and social security benefits. Unemployment is already at a 3-decade high of 12 percent.”Tax hikes would have to be surgical, aimed at certain types of fairly inflexible consumption, but they cannot be excessive as they create growing incentives for tax evasion,” Bernardes Serra said, adding that such tax hikes could involve tobacco and municipal real estate levies.
What do gold and wine have in common? Price. Well, too high of a high price, according to Jeffrey Rubin, director of research at Birinyi Associates, the stock market research and money management firm. Rubin told the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit on Tuesday that he thought gold prices were “certainly a little frothy” at current levels and that he would rather be a buyer of the gold miners such as Newmont Mining Corp, Barrick Gold Corp, or Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. Gold hit an all-time high above $1,250 an ounce on Tuesday as investors piled in due to fears that European credit contagion could lead to a double-dip recession. Rubin isn’t expecting a double-dip U.S. recession, saying the chances are slim. He also felt stock prices were likely near a bottom. Not so for the price of a wine? A good year is already priced in, so to speak. In the spirit of austerity, we asked Rubin what personal spending he might curtail. For a wine collector with a 1,500 bottle collection, the answer was bitter. “Some of my high-priced wines. I’m big wine collector,” he said, adding that he keeps some at his home but most in a special storage facility. “There are some wine purchases that I won’t be doing, and also eating out as much. Part of that is because we like to cook a lot,” he said. “Originally when I started collecting wine, it was one, because I liked to consume wine,” Rubin said. As his interest deepened he found what he was buying was appreciating in value, “significantly.” “I thought of it almost as part of a second asset class, another asset class, understanding the risks, the liquidity and storage costs,” he said. “I built up a pretty significant database tracking some of these wines over a long period of time. Some of the wines now-a-days are so expensive and it is priced into it already. If you look at some of the 2005 Bordeaux that were selling at $3,000 a bottle, and the ’82 Chateau Margaux, I actually did buy it for my mother when it first came out in futures at $56 a bottle. Now it is worth $1900 a bottle, and she drank it a couple of years ago, and there goes my inheritance,” he said. “I find now that the wines will not appreciate as much because they are already starting at such an obscenely high price.” Salut.