Smells Like Trouble for Dell; & 4 More Things You'll Want to Know Today

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Here's a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you'll just want to know.

• Here's the last thing you want as a feature on your slick new new laptop: the scent of a litter box. Seems a number of Dell (DELL) customers have been complaining that their Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks smell strongly of cat urine. Dell is assuring everyone that the odor is unrelated to pee of any kind, nor was there a biological contaminant involved. Just a problem in the manufacturing process, which it has sorted out.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%• Speaking of smells, among expats, China now ranks No. 1 for providing the best overseas experience -- its smog and other pollution issues notwithstanding -- according to HSBC's annual Expat Explorer Survey. Countries were ranked based on a variety of categories related to economics, experience and raising children abroad. China jumped from No. 7 last year to knock off 2012 top dog Singapore, which slipped to No. 3.

• Thanks to a class-action settlement between video game titan Electronic Arts (EA) and a group of former college football players, we can now put a price tag on our high-caliber college athletes: Somewhere in the neighborhood of $133 to $200 apiece. Based on the $40 million its setting aside to cover the cost of the deal, that's about what EA will be paying each of the 200,000 to 300,000 past and current student-athletes whose likenesses were used without their consent in NCAA Football games by EA Sports. (And yes, after this year, EA will stop making new games in the franchise.)

• It's good news, bad news out of Washington. Good news: The federal deficit for 2013 will be the smallest it's been since 2008, according to the Treasury. The $680 billion deficit is less than half of the record high hit in 2009 of $1.4 trillion. Bad news: While about 4/5 of the decline was due to higher revenues from taxes (yay, improving economy!), the rest came from the painful sequester (those across-the-board spending cuts that were designed to be so horrible that they'd force Congress to find a better solution.) And come January, a whole new round of sequester cuts is due to kick in, even more painful than the first batch.

• And finally, during Facebook's (FB) earnings call Wednesday afternoon, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed two fascinating new projects under way at the social media giant: Artificial Intelligence, and a better speech-recognition product. No word for Zuckerberg about plans to combine the two, but if Facebook learns how to talk to us, and how to think, ... well, let's just hope this version of SkyNet will "friend" us before it conquers the world.
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