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    Friday, January 30, 2009

    Portfolio Mobile - First Bytes: AT&T, Obama, Filttr, Skype

    First Bytes: AT&T, Obama, Filttr, Skype

    AT&T's profit fell in the fourth quarter on high subsidies to support the iPhone. [Reuters]

    Jeffrey Sachs believes Obama can turn the crushing economic crisis into the launch of a new age of sustainable development. [Guardian]

    If there's just too much information on Twitter, Filttr is here to advise you on what's worth reading, and what's a
    waste by automatically filtering content from your followers. [Techcrunch]

    Om Malik thinks that it's time for eBay to let suitors like Yahoo and Microsoft court Skype. [Gigaom]

    by Joan R. Magee

    Related Links
    The Plot to Kill Google
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    Hello, Ma Google

    (c) 2007 Portfolio. Powered by mLogic Media, Crisp Wireless, Inc.

    Reuters - RIM's Storm costlier to make than iPhone: report

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    RIM's Storm costlier to make than iPhone: report

    Thursday, Jan 29, 2009 11:21PM UTC

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion's touchscreen BlackBerry Storm costs almost $30 more to produce than rival Apple Inc's iPhone 3G, according to an analysis by technology research firm iSuppli Corp.

    In its report, iSuppli said the Storm, which RIM launched late last year to compete with the popular iPhone, has a materials and manufacturing cost of $202.89.

    That compares with $174.33 for the initial production costs of an 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G, iSuppli said.

    It said the Storm's total component count stands at 1,177, while the iPhone's is 1,116.

    RIM has pushed aggressively into the broader consumer market to diversify its subscriber base beyond the executives, politicians and other professionals who have been its mainstay.

    Models like the Storm, as well as the earlier BlackBerry Pearl and a flip version of the smartphone, are all laden with multimedia features to attract non-business users.

    On Wednesday, Verizon Wireless said it had sold 1 million units of the Storm in the United States since its November launch.

    (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson)

    Thursday, January 29, 2009 YouTube Said to Be Near Hollywood Deal

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    BUSINESS   | January 29, 2009
    YouTube Said to Be Near Hollywood Deal
    The deal between YouTube and the William Morris Agency would place the company's clients in made-for-the-Web productions.

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    Distant planet has extreme global warming

    In just six hours, this planet four times the size of Jupiter heats up by more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

    "It's the first observation of changing weather" on a planet outside our solar system, said study author Gregory Laughlin, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to study the planet.

    Change is a mild way to put it for the lifeless world, called HD80606b, where the word "mild" would never enter a weather forecast.

    Normally, the planet is a toasty 980 degrees or so. But in the few hours it whips around its sun the planet gets zapped with mega-heat, pushing the thermometer closer to 2,240 degrees.

    During its brief pass close to its sun, the planet is 10 times nearer its star than Mercury is to our sun. When it comes closest to its star, it becomes one giant "brewing storm" complete with shock waves, Laughlin said. The radiation bombarding the planet is 800 times stronger than when it is farthest away.

    Then just as quickly, the planet slingshots away and radiates the heat to the cool vacuum of space. It glows cherry red and the temperature plummets, Laughlin said.

    "Utterly bizarre," he said. "It is thoroughly completely uninhabitable. In a galaxy of uninhabitable planets, this one stands out as being completely inhospitable to life."

    The planet circles its star the larger of two stars in a binary system in a comet-like orbit in just 111 days.

    The star is visible from Earth near the Big Dipper. On Feb. 14, HD80606b will travel between the Earth and its star. There's a 15% chance that amateur astronomers using small telescopes could see it swing by, obscuring a tiny part of the star, Laughlin said.

    "This is indeed an oddball planet, where the temperature range of the season changes from hellish to super-hellish," said Carnegie Institution astronomer Alan Boss. "This place makes Venus look like a nice place to live, and that is saying something."

    Reuters - Nokia unveils three new phone models

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    Nokia unveils three new phone models

    Thursday, Jan 29, 2009 8:37AM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - Nokia unveiled on Thursday three new cellphone models, including the successor to its slim hit model Nokia 6300, as the world's top handset vendor pushes to win a larger share of a shrinking market.

    Cellphone sales will dive this year, hit by consumers' reluctance to spend on new gadgets in the midst of the economic recession and large inventories built up by phone sellers at the end of last year.

    Nokia's 6700 classic -- the follow-up to the Nokia 6300, which was among Nokia's top sellers for many quarters -- will sell for 235 euros ($307.4) starting in the second quarter, when excluding subsidies and taxes.

    The model will have a 5-megapixel camera and GPS navigation with Nokia Maps.

    "Our new arrival shares the same 'DNA' as its predecessor and we believe that it will be one of our best selling devices in 2009," Soren Petersen, Senior Vice President at Nokia, said in a statement.

    Nokia also unveiled the 6303 and 2700 models, which are expected to sell for 135 euros and 65 euros respectively, excluding subsidies and taxes. (Reporting by Tarmo Virki)

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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    IBM quietly cuts thousands of jobs

    The Armonk, N.Y.-based company has cut thousands of jobs over the past week, including positions in sales and the software and hardware divisions. IBM says the cuts are simply part of its ongoing efforts to watch costs, and the company won't release specific numbers, even as reports of firings stream in from IBM facilities across the country.

    Workers have reported layoffs in Tucson; San Jose, Calif.; Rochester, Minn.; Research Triangle Park, N.C.; East Fishkill, N.Y.; Austin, Texas; and Burlington, Vt.

    Meanwhile, other tech companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Sprint Nextel and Google have all publicly revealed job cuts as part of their strategies for riding out the economic crisis. More than 20,000 jobs will be lost from those companies alone.

    One of IBM's biggest rivals Hewlett-Packard is also laying people off. HP is shedding 24,600 jobs, nearly 8% of its 320,000-employee work force, as it digests the acquisition of Electronic Data Systems.

    IBM says it doesn't have to reveal the number of jobs it is cutting, since the Securities and Exchange Commission requires companies to disclose only "material" events. And IBM considers its job cuts a regular part of the company's business model, since thousands of jobs are cut every year but are usually added back in other places.

    Because of that, IBM contends it doesn't have to break out its layoffs in regulatory filings unless it suddenly changes course and makes substantially more or fewer job cuts.

    That's why while IBM's head count keeps growing, topping 400,000 at the end of 2008, laid-off IBM workers have flooded online job boards with complaints about the company's stealth cuts.

    One estimate of IBM's recent cuts put the number at more than 4,000 jobs lost since IBM's fourth-quarter earnings announcement last week. Those earnings contained an unexpected surprise: IBM forecast at least $9.20 per share in profit in 2009. IBM shares are up more than 10% since then.

    To get the cost savings that will help spur the higher profits, IBM appears to have acted quickly. The estimate of at least 4,000 jobs cut comes from AllianceAtIBM, a union that is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America and represents a small number of IBM workers.

    The Associated Press reviewed one document sent to laid-off workers that identified some of the positions that were cut. Employees weren't identified by name, but positions and the workers' ages were listed. The document listed nearly 3,000 jobs.

    In Vermont, IBM remained tightlipped about layoffs at its Essex Junction facility, but state Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden said the total number would be less than 500.

    IBM recently employed 5,300 workers at the Essex Junction plant, down from 8,500 in 2001.

    Jim Gallo, 48, who said he worked in IBM software support for 27 years, was among those let go from that facility. Gallo, drinking a Grey Goose and ginger ale at nearby Lincoln Inn on Tuesday, said he hadn't told his four children yet.

    He said he has until Feb. 26 to find another job in IBM, but he put his chances at "slim to none." Gallo said he gets six months' pay as part of a severance package.

    "It's too bad they're not doing what they were doing before. They offered some sweet packages for people to jump out," he said.

    IBM's ongoing labor adjustments have led the company to add bodies in cheaper and higher-growth parts of the world, like India.

    In 2007, the last full year for which detailed employment numbers are available, 121,000 of IBM's 387,000 workers were in the U.S., down slightly from the year before. Meanwhile, staffing in India has jumped from just 9,000 workers in 2003 to 74,000 workers in 2007.


    Associated Press writer Dave Gram contributed to this story from Essex Junction, Vt.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    CNN - Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions

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    Dead athletes' brains show damage from concussions

    For years after his NFL career ended, Ted Johnson could barely muster the energy to leave his house.

    "I'd [leave to] go see my kids for maybe 15 minutes," said Johnson. "Then I would go back home and close the curtains, turn the lights off and I'd stay in bed. That was my routine for two years.

    "Those were bad days."

    These days, the former linebacker is less likely to recount the hundreds of tackles, scores of quarterback sacks or the three Super Bowl rings he earned as a linebacker for the New England Patriots. He is more likely to talk about suffering more than 100 concussions.

    "I can definitely point to 2002 when I got back-to-back concussions. That's where the problems started," said Johnson, who retired after those two concussions. "The depression, the sleep disorders and the mental fatigue."

    Until recently, the best medical definition for concussion was a jarring blow to the head that temporarily stunned the senses, occasionally leading to unconsciousness. It has been considered an invisible injury, impossible to test -- no MRI, no CT scan can detect it.

    But today, using tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage. That damage has a name: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    CTE has thus far been found in the brains of five out of five former NFL players. On Tuesday afternoon, researchers at the CSTE will release study results from the sixth NFL player exhibiting the same kind of damage.

    "What's been surprising is that it's so extensive," said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, and co-director of the CSTE. "It's throughout the brain, not just on the superficial aspects of the brain, but it's deep inside."

    CSTE studies reveal brown tangles flecked throughout the brain tissue of former NFL players who died young -- some as early as their 30s or 40s.

    McKee, who also studies Alzheimer's disease, says the tangles closely resemble what might be found in the brain of an 80-year-old with dementia.

    "I knew what traumatic brain disease looked like in the very end stages, in the most severe cases," said McKee. "To see the kind of changes we're seeing in 45-year-olds is basically unheard of."

    The damage affects the parts of the brain that control emotion, rage, hypersexuality, even breathing, and recent studies find that CTE is a progressive disease that eventually kills brain cells.

    Chris Nowinski knows well the impact of concussions. He was a football star at Harvard before wrestling professionally with World Wrestling Entertainment.

    In one moment, his dreams of a long career wrestling were dashed by a kick to his chin. That kick, which caused Nowinski to black out and effectively ended his career, capped a career riddled with concussions.

    "My world changed," said Nowinski. "I had depression. I had memory problems. My head hurt for five years."

    Nowinski began searching for studies, and what he found startled him.

    "I realized when I was visiting a lot of doctors, they weren't giving me very good answers about what was wrong with my head," said Nowinski. "I read [every study I could find] and I realized there was a ton of evidence showing concussions lead to depression, and multiple concussion can lead to Alzheimer's."

    Nowinski decided further study was needed, so he founded the Sports Legacy Institute along with Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon and co-director of the Neurologic Sports Injury Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The project solicits for study the brains of ex-athletes who suffered multiple concussions.

    Once a family agrees to donate the brain, it is delivered to scientists at the CSTE to look for signs of damage.

    So far, the evidence of CTE is compelling.

    The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, along with other research institutions, identified traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of late NFL football players John Grimsley, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long.

    Grimsley died of an accidental gunshot wound to the chest. Webster, Long and Strzelczyk all died after long bouts of depression, while Waters committed suicide in 2006 at age 44.

    "Guys were dying," said Nowinski. "The fact of the matter was guys were dying because they played sports 10 or 20 years before."

    So far, around 100 athletes have consented to have their brains studied after they die.

    Ted Johnson was one of the first to sign up. He said he believes that concussions he suffered while playing football explain the anger, depression and throbbing headaches that occasionally still plague him.

    Johnson said he played through concussions because he, like many other NFL athletes, did not understand the consequences. He has publicly criticized the NFL for not protecting players like him.

    "They don't want you to know," said Johnson. "It's not like when you get into the NFL there's a handout that says 'These are the effects of multiple concussions so beware.' "

    In a statement, the NFL indicated that their staffs take a cautious, conservative approach to managing concussions.

    While they support research into the impact of concussions, they maintain that, "Hundreds of thousands of people have played football and other sports without experiencing any problem of this type and there continues to be considerable debate within the medical community on the precise long-term effects of concussions and how they relate to other risk factors."

    The NFL is planning its own independent medical study of retired NFL players on the long-term effects of concussion.

    "Really my main reason even for talking about this is to help the guys who are already retired," said Johnson. "[They] are getting divorced, going bankrupt, can't work, are depressed, and don't know what's wrong with them. [It is] to give them a name for it so they can go get help."

    "The idea that you can whack your head hundreds of times in your life and knock yourself out and get up and be fine is gone," said Nowinski. "We know we can't do that anymore. This causes long-term damage."

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Portfolio Mobile - Last Bytes: Ballmer's Still Sweet on Yahoo

    Last Bytes: Ballmer's Still Sweet on Yahoo

    Google logged a whopping 68 percent profit loss, but an 18 percent revenue gain. Ouch? Yay?  [WSJ]

    The Obama administration is busy dusting the cobwebs off the Bush White House's tech infrastructure. [Valleywag]

    Believe it or not, Ballmer's crush on Yahoo persists. [Bits]

    Broadband isn't for everyone; two-thirds of those who don't have it say they don't miss it. [Ars Technica]
    Related Links
    First Bytes: Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel, Obama
    Last Bytes: Steve Jobs' Health, Yahoo, and Google
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    (c) 2007 Portfolio. Powered by mLogic Media, Crisp Wireless, Inc.

    Reuters - Pfizer to buy Wyeth for $68 billion, cuts dividend

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    Pfizer to buy Wyeth for $68 billion, cuts dividend

    Monday, Jan 26, 2009 12:25PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc, the No. 1 drugmaker, said on Monday that it would acquire U.S. rival Wyeth for about $68 billion in a move to diversify its revenue base.

    The world's largest drugmaker, which raised $22.5 billion in debt from a consortium of banks to finance the deal, also cut its dividend.

    The deal helps Pfizer cope with a major gap in revenue in 2011, when its blockbuster Lipitor cholesterol treatment will begin to face U.S. generic competition. Next year, Wyeth loses patent protection on its own top drug, the anti-depressant Effexor XR.

    Still, the deal would help Pfizer diversify into vaccines and injectable biologic medicines by adding Wyeth's big-selling Prevnar vaccine for childhood infections and Enbrel rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Pfizer would also realize major cost savings by streamlining areas that overlap.

    For each share of Wyeth, Pfizer will pay roughly $50.19 -- $33 in cash and 0.985 of a share of its stock.

    Based on Wyeth's 1.33 billion shares outstanding as of October 31, the deal would be valued at about $66.8 billion. Including Wyeth's stock options, the deal would be worth $68 billion, sources said.

    At $50.19 per share, the deal would mark a 15 percent premium over Wyeth's closing stock price of $43.74 on Friday. Wyeth's stock had surged 12.6 percent on Friday on news of the possible deal.

    The deal is expected to add to Pfizer's adjusted diluted earnings per share in the second full year after closing and to result in cost savings of $4 billion by the third year.


    Pfizer typifies many large drugmakers, which have struggled to produce new blockbusters to replace those on which they lose exclusivity.

    A merger of Pfizer and Wyeth could trigger a wave of consolidation in the cash-rich pharmaceutical sector as drugmakers look to diversify revenues in the face of competition from generic-drug rivals, analysts said.

    "The outlook for the industry has steadily waned, (with) industry P/E multiples declining under the combined onslaught of price pressure, aggressive generic competition and low R&D productivity," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

    "The result is that many leading companies face a decline in revenues and earnings next decade, as profitable products reach the end of their patented lives and are not replaced by new drugs," the analysts said.

    They said AstraZeneca could be a target, although there were also reasons a deal might not happen.

    In sealing the Pfizer deal, Wyeth went ahead and ended talks to buy Dutch vaccine firm Crucell. Crucell shares plummeted 21.1 percent to 12.23 euros.

    The deal is subject to Pfizer's financing sources not backing out due to a material adverse change in Pfizer's financial health or due to the company's failure to maintain a certain credit rating. Pfizer and Wyeth expect the transaction to close at the end of the third quarter or during the fourth quarter 2009.

    Pfizer shares fell to $16.70 in trading before the market opened from Friday's close of $17.45, while Wyeth rose to $45.90 from $43.74.

    (Reporting by Edward Tobin and Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Jessica Hall in Philadelphia; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

    Sunday, January 25, 2009


    Friday, January 23, 2009

    CNN - 'Hillside Burglar' suspect held; L.A.'s rich relieved

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    'Hillside Burglar' suspect held; L.A.'s rich relieved

    For three years, the thieves crept into some of the poshest homes in the most exclusive enclaves in the nation.

    Police said they finally have a break in the case, and wealthy residents of Los Angeles, California, are breathing a sigh of relief.

    "These guys were real good," said L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss, who oversees Bel Air where some of the burglaries were committed. "They were professionals."

    The thieves hauled away more than $10 million worth of valuables and cash from 150 homes in upscale neighborhoods such as Bel Air, Pacific Palisades and Beverly Hills, police said.

    Homes of Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and multimillionaires were hit. According to CNN affiliate KABC, country music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and former Paramount Pictures CEO Sherry Lansing were among the victims.

    DNA evidence led the LAPD to suspected ringleader Troy Corsby Thomas, 45, of Los Angeles. He was arrested near L.A. International Airport last weekend.

    Police say Thomas led a gang dubbed the "Hillside Burglars" that targeted the neighborhoods overlooking Sunset Boulevard.

    "It's a very euphoric, satisfying feeling that we got this person," said the police Lt. David McGill. "It's a very frustrating feeling to tell the victims, 'I'm sorry I don't have any news for you.' Finally when we got some good detective work and breaks, things started lining up."

    Police are looking for more suspects linked to the three-year spree but are not naming them.

    Thomas is being held on $2 million bail, according to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office. He is likely to stay in custody because he must reveal the origin of any funds used to pay the bail, authorities said.

    At a court appearance Tuesday, Thomas pleaded not guilty to two charges of residential burglary, one in January 2006 and another in March 2008. The preliminary court date for Thomas will be set on January 29 and additional charges are expected to be filed, according to CNN affiliates KABC and KTLA.

    Police will not comment on Thomas' background. The Los Angeles Times reported that Thomas told police he had been working as an auto broker.

    The Hillside Burglars have not struck since Thomas' arrest, police said.

    "Hallelujah!" said L.A. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes Brentwood and Pacific Palisades. "Even a crafty crook does make his mistake and that's what happened to this one."

    Some residents are cautiously optimistic.

    "We're delighted," said Robert René, president of Brentwood Homeowners Association, which represents about 800 homes. "We are very fortunate to have the due diligence of the Westside LAPD."

    Harvey I. Saferstein, president of the Bel Air Association, agreed, "We are all obviously thankful and relieved."

    The financially strapped LAPD created a Hillside Burglars task force. People donated cameras and other equipment and police stepped up patrols. The outlay amounted to "millions of dollars," Rosendahl said.

    Neighborhood watch groups formed. One in Bel Air donated $8,000 for infrared cameras that can spot burglars in the dark.

    Robert Ringler, president of the Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, hosted a community meeting with the LAPD at the five-star Bel Air Hotel a year and a half ago. As swans swam in ponds in the background, about 150 Westside residents sipped Perrier and vented their fears.

    "It had gotten to be such an epidemic," Ringler said.

    The impressive mansions -- usually gated and hidden by walls and hedges -- dot the lush hillsides and canyons between the coast and the mountains. The qualities that make them so desirable also make them vulnerable.

    The seclusion that appeals to upscale homeowners also appeals to thieves. Because many of the homes are tucked into the sides of mountains and canyons, behind gates, it's easy for a thief to escape unseen and hard for police to get there quickly.

    "It's the perfect target," Ringler said. "You can access the property and nobody would ever see you."

    Frequently, maids, pool workers and gardeners have access to the property, which allows burglars to pass as the help and slip in unchallenged.

    According to police and media reports, the methods were sophisticated.

    Burglars waited till homeowners went on vacation or out for the night. They used lawn furniture and ladders to creep into the second floor, which often lacked alarms. They quickly went in, looked for jewelry, safes and cash, and ducked out with the goods.

    They never attacked any of the homeowners, preferring stealth to confrontation.

    Residents say they learned to keep jewelry and other valuables in safety deposit boxes and out of sight. Many added alarm systems and insured their belongings.

    "It's not just about money," said Robin Stevens, who lives with her husband and son in Brentwood. "A lot of people lost things of sentimental value."

    Stevens, whose neighbors have been burglarized, said she feels safer knowing that police arrested Thomas, but will continue hiding her mother's antique jewelry and locking the windows.

    During a two-week trip to the South Pacific last fall, Stevens made sure to e-mail her neighbors, notifying them that she would be gone so they could look out for strangers.

    Other residents remain skeptical.

    Pacific Palisades Community Council Chairman Richard G. Cohen said he feels relief but is waiting for a conviction. "The arrest doesn't mark the end of our concern," he said.

    With the economy in a tailspin, Steve Twining, who serves on the West Los Angeles Police advisory board, believes thefts will continue.

    "In these dire economic times, I don't think it's going to dissuade others from trying to do the same thing," he said. "The burglary situation will probably get worse before it gets better."

    former senator clinton's replacement

    CNN - Sources: Congresswoman to replace Clinton in Senate

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    Sources: Congresswoman to replace Clinton in Senate

    New York Gov. David Paterson has chosen Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. Senator from New York, multiple Democratic sources told CNN Friday.

    Gillibrand, 42, represents New York's traditionally Republican 20th district.

    She is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of congressional Democrats who hold more conservative views than their liberal Democratic counterparts.

    She is an outspoken advocate for gun rights, and she supports an extension of the Bush tax cuts. She has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

    She also has a 100 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Paterson must appoint a replacement for Clinton, who was sworn in as President Obama's secretary of state Wednesday. A special election will be held in 2010 for the remaining two years of Clinton's term. Paterson will formally announce his decision at a noon press conference in Albany, New York.

    The final decision was made around 2 a.m. It came down to Gillibrand and Randi Weingarten, the dark horse candidate who is president of the United Federation of Teachers.

    Among the considerations Paterson used in selecting Gillibrand were that she is a woman and she is from upstate New York, sources said. Both those factors could help Paterson when he runs for election as governor next year.

    A Paterson spokeswoman, Erin Duggan, would not comment on the reports.

    "The governor is making his announcement at noon today, and that is the only comment we are making at this time," Duggan said early Friday.

    Caroline Kennedy, seen as a favorite to fill the vacant seat, withdrew her name from consideration Wednesday, citing personal reasons.

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Steve Israel also have been mentioned as possible appointees.

    Gillibrand was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, unseating Republican John Sweeney. In the 1990s, she worked as a lawyer for the Department of Housing and Urban Development during Cuomo's tenure as housing secretary in the Clinton administration.

    She was one of dozens of Democrats who joined House Republicans in voting against the Bush administration's $700 billion bailout of the financial industry in October, arguing the plan lacked proper oversight.

    Kennedy, 51, cited personal reasons for her decision not to continue pursuing the Senate seat, but Paterson had no intention of appointing her, a source close to the governor told CNN.

    Paterson did not think Kennedy was "ready for prime time," citing her efforts, at times awkward, to try to win the appointment, the source told CNN.

    "She clearly has no policy experience and couldn't handle the pressure," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. "Why would he pick her given how badly she handled herself in recent weeks?"

    A Kennedy ally, though, denied Kennedy had any indication Paterson was leaning against choosing her to fill out Clinton's term.

    Kennedy had been very public in expressing her interest in the seat by meeting with state and community leaders throughout New York.

    "The governor considers Caroline a friend and knows she will continue to serve New York well inside or outside of government," a statement from the governor's office read. "We wish her well in all her future endeavors."

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    The Blackness of The Night.

    Entombed, encased and enclosed. Bask in the the throes of encapsulated tombs. Blackness envelops the cold and damp air, the temperature is wraught with contemp and fear. Tensions are taught with terrors of night, names become claims to envy and blight.

    Reuters - Microsoft stuns with profit miss, to cut 5,000 jobs

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    Microsoft stuns with profit miss, to cut 5,000 jobs

    Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 7:0PM UTC

    By Franklin Paul and Bill Rigby

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp stunned Wall Street with disappointing results that included plans to slash up to 5,000 jobs and a warning that profit and revenue will almost certainly drop over the next two quarters.

    The news from the world's largest software maker, which had not been expected to report results until after the close of trading on Thursday, sent shock waves across financial markets, pulling down the Nasdaq and the dollar, and sending Treasury debt prices higher as investors sought safer assets.

    Microsoft's shares dropped as much as 11 percent to its lowest level since January 1998, adding to a 40 percent decline in the past year. It blamed the miss on the weakness of the PC market and the popularity of low-cost netbook computers, which have combined to badly undercut sales of its dominant Windows operating system.

    The market has become so volatile, Microsoft cautioned, that it will not issue earnings or revenue forecasts for the rest of its fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 -- other than to predict both will very likely be lower.

    "It is pretty bad when things are deteriorating so fast that even the largest companies in the world don't know how rapidly it is happening," said Jefferies analyst Katherine Egbert.

    Microsoft posted a profit of $4.17 billion, or 47 cents per share, in its fiscal second quarter ended December 31, versus a profit of $4.71 billion, or 50 cents, a year earlier. Analysts were looking for earnings per share of 49 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

    Revenue rose 2 percent to $16.63 billion, missing the average analyst forecast of $17.1 billion.

    Microsoft's elimination of 5,000 jobs -- 1,400 of which on Thursday -- amounts to about 5 percent of its estimated 96,000 work force, the biggest reduction ever by the software maker.

    "Clearly business conditions are worse than people were expecting," said Richard Williams, analyst at Cross Research. "This is a substantial amount of jobs cuts. Microsoft has never had a layoff like this in my knowledge and it's sending a signal that the times are definitely changing."

    The job cuts follow similar moves by other technology firms, including AT&T Inc, Dell Inc, Motorola Inc and Advance Micro Devices Inc, all of which are suffering from the global economic slowdown.


    Microsoft faces a shift by PC buyers to cheaper netbooks, which are small, stripped-down laptops. Netbooks can run Windows, but Microsoft makes more on each sale of Windows for a PC than it does for a netbook. Some netbooks also use the rival open-source Linux software.

    Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Microsoft also lost market share to Apple Inc, which on Wednesday posted surprisingly strong results.

    "We are certainly in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime set of economic conditions," Ballmer said on a conference call. "The economy is resetting to a lower level" of spending, he said, adding that he did not expect a quick economic rebound.

    However, Ballmer noted that Microsoft will be adding "thousands of jobs" in strategic areas like Internet search, where it has been lagging behind Google Inc, and that he still desires a search partnership with Yahoo Inc.

    But Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said he does not expect significant acquisitions this year, despite hopes from some Yahoo shareholders for a buyout.

    Shares of Microsoft were down $2.01 to $17.37, after touching an intraday low of $17.19, the lowest level since January 1998. It was the biggest single-day drop in the stock since an 11.38 percent fall on April 28, 2006.

    (Additional reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston and Robert MacMillan and Sinead Carew in New York; Writing by Tiffany Wu and Paul Thomasch; Editing by Derek Caney)

    CNN - Crowley: Balance of power trying to find balance

    Sent from's mobile device from

    Crowley: Balance of power trying to find balance

    Democrats hold a strong majority in Congress, but with power comes a power struggle, and a potential headache for President Obama.

    Just two days into his term, the president is already facing pushback from leaders of his own party.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have made it clear -- it's not their job to answer to Obama.

    To a certain degree, the president-Congress tension is simply politics at play -- something that happens every time a new president comes in.

    But this time, the Democrats have even more power than they did before the election, meaning Pelosi and Reid both have huge majorities in their respective houses.

    Pelosi's biggest problem with the president's agenda is the silence she's hearing when President Obama is asked about former President Bush's tax cuts.

    During the campaign season, Obama proposed repealing the Bush tax cuts on those making at least $250,000, but now it's more likely that the president will delay any tax increases on the wealthy until 2011, when the tax cuts expire.

    The Obama team says that in the middle of a recession you don't, in effect, raise people's taxes.

    Pelosi, however, doesn't buy that argument. She wants to see them rolled back now.

    "We had campaigned in saying what the Republican Congressional Budget Office told us: Nothing contributed more to the budget deficit than the tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America," Pelosi said in an interview Sunday with Fox News.

    A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Pelosi's statement "false," and cited a recent fact check by the St. Petersburg Times disputing the House Speaker's claim that tax cuts for the wealthy are the biggest contributor to the budget deficit.

    Pelosi said she would not seek to block the president's proposed stimulus plan over its lack of tax hikes for the rich, but she urged Obama not to simply let the tax cuts expire in two years.

    "[Tax cuts on the wealthy] have to prove their worth to me as to how they grow the economy, how they create jobs," she said.

    Pelosi is also pushing for an investigation into the Bush administration's handling of the Justice Department, while Obama and his aides say there are other priorities besides focusing on the administration they are succeeding.

    "I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of, for example, the Justice Department, go unreviewed," Pelosi said last weekend. "Past is prologue."

    Before becoming president, Obama made it clear that investigating the Bush administration wasn't a priority.

    Over in the Senate, Reid has taken a similar stance to Pelosi's. In an interview with The Hill earlier this month, the Democrat said, "I don't believe in the executive power trumping everything. ... I believe in our Constitution, three separate but equal branches of government."

    "If Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him. ... I do not work for Barack Obama. I work with him," he said.

    Obama, however, has made clear he's not letting any pushback slow him down. Even before his inauguration, he threatened to veto any attempts to block his access to the remaining bailout funds.

    As the Obama administration gets settled in, one can expect the tug and pull between the White House and Congress to continue: It's that balance of power getting into balance under new circumstances.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    USA TODAY - Application developers see iPhone as way to get noticed

    This story has been sent from the mobile device of For real-time mobile news, go to

    By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

    Phanfare co-founder and CEO Andrew Erlichson has seen his future, and it's on the iPhone.

    The Internet photo-sharing service recently informed 300,000 registered users of the new strategy, which ties in its website with a new Phanfare Photon application for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and iPod Touch.

    "The iPhone represents the beginning of what we believe will be a convergence between smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras," Erlichson told customers in an e-mail that also encouraged them to buy an iPhone.

    Savvy software developers such as Erlichson are trying to stake a claim for early prominence in the mobile economy, where it's still a bit easier to get noticed than on the Web. The size of the market (about 1 billion phones sold annually) and the cool factor of the iPhone, makes it a desirable place to make a splash.

    "The iPhone has the largest install base with the highest level of functionality," says Steven Echtman, CEO of HearPlanet, a free travel audio tour service that launched in early January. Other platforms have larger numbers of subscribers, such as Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, but users aren't as likely to add lots of new applications, he says, because Apple makes it easier via its App Store.

    HearPlanet has been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

    Where the action is

    The iPhone is "the platform of the moment," says Mike McGuire, an analyst at Gartner. "Apple has sucked all the oxygen out of the room, and developers want to be where the action is."

    Google's Android was envisioned as a similar platform with thousands of potential applications, but it hasn't yet caught on, says McGuire, and Palm is looking for a comeback with its new Pre phone and operating system in late spring. "For now, it's the iPhone," he says.

    Apple's App Store has about 15,000 applications available up from just over 500 when it launched in July. Apps are available for a fee, or free. Downloads have surpassed 500 million.

    The best-selling applications have been games. Also in the mix are utilities (dictionaries, restaurant guides) and time-wasters (games that simulate the sounds of bodily functions or drinking beer).

    While most are from up-and-coming entrepreneurs, many established players are there as well, including MySpace, Facebook, eBay and USA TODAY.

    The online radio service Pandora is iPhone's most popular music application. About 40% of new Pandora subscribers come from the iPhone daily, and they are listening to as much as 100 minutes of music at a pop, says Pandora founder Tim Westergren.

    New listeners

    In just six months, Pandora has picked up 3 million new listeners from the iPhone. "This whole thing has been a huge shock to us," he says. "Much bigger than we expected."

    Pandora owes much of its success to being on the App Store from day one.

    "It's getting really crowded out there," Westergren says. The challenge for newcomers is "how to get attention and light up grass-roots interest so you can show up on the charts."

    Most iPhone owners find new applications by scrolling lists at the App Store, where Apple publishes rankings of top sellers in various categories.

    "People fight really hard to make the list," says British developer Mark Terry, whose Band music application has been at the top of the charts since its July debut. "If you're No. 102, you don't exist."

    When the App Store launched, many applications sold for $4.99 to $9.99.

    But in an effort to make the charts, developers began cutting prices, Terry says: "Anything to get ahead. One hundred apps are released daily. That's like 100 albums by no-name bands."

    Terry's $3.99 Band program down from $9.99 originally lets you play virtual piano, guitar, drum and bass on the iPhone.

    i.TV, based in Palo Alto, Calif., made the chart easily when it launched its free app in late October. The "what's on" guide to TV, movies, your Netflix queue and more has been downloaded 2 million times. It made Apple's top five chart "because there was nothing like it," CEO Brad Pelo says.

    "You have to deliver an app that gets buzz in the blogosphere," he says. "This is what my phone does that yours doesn't. This is why you need my app."

    Pelo sees the iPhone as the new living room remote control, an essential device to be in your lap as you watch TV, answer e-mail and try to decide what to watch or where to go.

    To Erlichson, mix his Phanfare with the Photon application and the iPhone becomes a "connected camera."

    Sure, it's a way to entice folks to spend $54.95 a year for Phanfare's Web-based service, but he believes more folks will enjoy the ability to access their photo collection from anywhere.

    "It's the beginning of a new era, where computers give way to more purposeful devices that are easier to use," he says. "This is clearly a seminal event. Apple has raised the bar, and everybody is racing to catch up."

    Website address:

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Reuters - Steve Jobs's cancer may have recurred: doctors

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    Steve Jobs's cancer may have recurred: doctors

    Friday, Jan 16, 2009 10:57PM UTC

    By Anupreeta Das

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Pancreatic cancer experts say they are puzzled by what is ailing Apple Inc Chief Executive Steve Jobs, because it is not clear how serious his health problems are or how directly they relate to his bout with cancer.

    Last week, Jobs said he had an easily treatable "hormonal imbalance" that was robbing his body of the proteins it needs. Then, on Wednesday, the 53-year-old CEO said his problems were "more complex" than originally thought, and he would take a medical leave of absence for six months.

    Doctors who have not treated Jobs say they can only speculate without hard information, but they said the tumor he was treated for in 2004 could have spread to another organ or resurfaced in the pancreas, requiring surgery or other treatment.

    Jobs could also be coping with side effects of that surgery that can be treated easily, they said.

    In 2004, Jobs was treated for a rare type of pancreatic cancer called an islet-cell, or neuroendocrine, tumor. Such tumors can be benign or malignant, but they usually grow slowly and are far less deadly than most pancreatic tumors.

    The American Cancer Society estimates that 37,680 Americans get pancreatic cancer each year, but few get islet-cell tumors of the kind Jobs had. The tumors are easily removed surgically but recur in roughly half of patients, said Dr. Roderich Schwarz, a cancer surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

    Dr. Clay Semenkovich, an endocrinologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview, "(Jobs) may have a new mass that's substantially altering his physiology and causing him to lose weight."


    The pancreas -- a spongy organ the size of a large banana -- produces enzymes used in digestion.

    Islet-cell tumors can cause over-secretion of hormones including insulin into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on digestion and leading to drastic weight loss.

    Semenkovich said that could explain Jobs' "hormonal imbalance," but added that the limited information made it hard to say for sure.

    Apple's cryptic missives on Jobs' health have not deterred speculation -- sparked by his gaunt appearance at an Apple event in June 2008 -- that his cancer has returned.

    But his drastic weight loss could have other, less ominous explanations, doctors said.

    Jobs' surgery in 2004 is likely to have been the so-called Whipple procedure -- an extensive and complicated operation that involves several organs besides the pancreas, doctors agree.

    Weight loss is a common side effect, since a partial pancreas may not be able to effectively aid in the digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

    "If an operation removes 30 to 50 percent of the pancreas, you're missing cell mass that produces juices that aid digestion. It could lead to weight loss and fatigue," Schwarz said in an interview at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference on gastrointestinal cancers in San Francisco.


    Jobs may also have insulin deficiency, which would result in diabetes, doctors said. They added that treatments for these side effects are indeed "simple and straightforward," as Jobs has said.

    Schwarz said patients who lack digestive enzymes can take enzyme capsules to aid digestion, and they are effective fairly quickly.

    That would not explain why Jobs would need six months of medical leave.

    Joseph Kim, a cancer specialist and surgeon at the City of Hope medical center near Los Angeles, said patients whose cancers recur in nearby organs, usually the liver, can be treated using less-invasive procedures than surgery. Cancers can be cut out or burned, and the recovery takes only a few days, he said.

    In Jobs' case, "we're probably talking about something more complicated, like surgery," that would take longer, Kim said. Surgery on patients with recurrent islet-cell tumors can be "extremely difficult, if not risky," he added.

    Semenkovich said Jobs may need new surgery, and that six months is a reasonable time for preparation, surgery and recovery, given his weight loss. "Surgery in somebody who has lost a lot of weight is a risk," and recovery could take longer, he said.

    (Editing by John Wallace)

    Friday, January 16, 2009 Can Apple Fill the Void?

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    TECHNOLOGY   | January 16, 2009
    Can Apple Fill the Void?
    Many point to the talent available at Apple as reassurance as Steve Jobs takes a medical leave of absence from the company. But others are looking at the company's history with worry.

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    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Reuters - Cloaking device may make cell phone static vanish

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    Cloaking device may make cell phone static vanish

    Thursday, Jan 15, 2009 7:34PM UTC

    By Julie Steenhuysen

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new light-bending material has brought scientists one step closer to creating a cloaking device that could hide objects from sight.

    Beyond possible military applications, it also might have a very practical use by making mobile communications clearer, they said on Thursday.

    "Cloaking technology could be used to make obstacles that impede communications signals 'disappear,'" said David Smith of Duke University in North Carolina, who worked on the study published in the journal Science.

    Smith was part of the same research team that in 2006 proved such a device was possible.

    He said the new material is easier to make and has a far greater bandwidth. It is made from a so-called metamaterial -- an engineered, exotic substance with properties not seen in nature.

    Metamaterials can be used to form a variety of "cloaking" structures that can bend electromagnetic waves such as light around an object, making it appear invisible.

    In this case, the material is made from more than 10,000 individual pieces of fiberglass material arranged in parallel rows on a circuit board.

    The team, which included Ruopeng Liu of Duke University and T.J. Cui of Southeast University in Nanjing, China, in lab experiments aimed microwaves through the new cloaking material at a bump on a flat mirror surface. That prevented the microwave beams from being scattered and made the surface appear flat.

    Smith said the goal was not to make something visible disappear. Cloaking, he said, can occur anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum.

    "Humans 'see' using visible light, which has wavelengths just under a micron (a millionth of a meter). But cell phones and other wireless devices 'see' using light that has a wavelength on the order of many centimeters," Smith said in an e-mail.

    He said objects can block the "view" of these devices, making mobile phone communications more difficult.

    "You might have two or more antennas trying to 'see' or receive signals, one being blocked by the other," he said. "You could imagine adding cloaks that would make one antenna invisible to the next, so that they no longer interfered."

    Smith said the notion of a device that makes objects invisible to people is still a distant concept, but not impossible.

    "This latest structure does show clearly there is a potential for cloaking -- in the science fiction sense -- to become science fact at some point," he said.

    While the study's funders included Raytheon Missile Systems and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Smith said the technology is not intended to replace "stealth" technology.

    "Just about all technologies that have any application, naturally have potential in military applications," he said.

    "If this has an impact on communications applications, even commercial, those same applications presumably exist in defense contexts."

    (Editing by Maggie Fox and Vicki Allen)

    Reuters - Shortwave radio still packs an audible thrill

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    Shortwave radio still packs an audible thrill

    Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 8:29PM UTC

    By Robert MacMillan

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Somewhere on a lonely mountaintop on a starry night, or maybe in an apartment on a bustling city block, someone is channeling the whole world onto a mobile device. It's not a phone; it's a shortwave radio.

    A staple form of broadcasting in many parts of the world since the 1920s and 1930s -- shortwave in North America has been mostly a hobby for decades.

    Now that the Internet is a fixture in many homes in the United States and Canada, there are few practical reasons to buy a shortwave radio. Thousands of stations that once were available only on the shortwave band are online.

    Shortwave also is distinctly old fashioned, cast against the shadow of the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which was held in Las Vegas earlier this month. The mother of gargantuan gadget fests featured shortwave radio makers, but the action these days revolves around digital audio devices.

    The contrast is stark: iPods and satellite radios are slim and pocket-sized, while shortwaves are throwbacks, typically as square as a textbook and just as serious looking.

    So why bother with shortwave?

    It's easy and cheap -- and fun. You can hear and learn things that you would never find even if you work your search engine like a mule. From Swaziland to Paris to Havana, shortwave broadcasters can surprise an adventurous listener more than any MP3 playlist.

    "You tune carefully, twist the radio from side to side, and there's still a bit of a 'Hey, I made this happen!' sort of thing," said Harold Cones, retired chairman of the biology and chemistry department at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.

    It's also magic. Shortwave radio enthusiasts acknowledge the thrill -- the romance, in a way -- of going out at night and snaring news, music, odd bleeps, religious zealots and other broadcasts from the wild sea of frequencies in the sky.

    In aural terms, the Internet wins. Shortwave by nature sounds dirty: Its signals whoosh from clouds of static and are subject to the whims of sunspots and atmospheric disturbances.

    But when you hear voices over the noise and squeal, and realize you are hearing Mongolia, live, there is a warmth and a human connection that are hard to find on the Web.

    Shortwave also can deliver news faster than you might find it online, and in places where your other devices don't work, said Ian McFarland, a former host and writer at Radio Canada International.

    "It's more portable than a computer, especially if you ... don't have a laptop and you don't happen to have a hot spot on your favorite beach," he said. Batteries also keep them going a long time when the power goes out.

    On a serious note, shortwave stations often resist many government attempts to jam them.

    "Shortwave is unfettered by intermediaries so it's pretty much always there," said Lawrence Magne, publisher of the Passport to World Band Radio (


    You can find shortwave radios at a variety of Web retail and auction shops like Amazon, Universal Radio, The Shortwave Store, Grove Enterprises or even National Public Radio.

    Bob Grove, at Grove Enterprises in Brasstown, North Carolina, also offers a handy beginner's guide (

    You could drop thousands of dollars on a radio, but units such as the Eton E100 ( generally range from $50 to $250. A perfectly serviceable radio sells for as little as $30, but more expensive models are better at pulling in fainter signals.

    Listening is best an hour before and after sunrise and sunset -- and away from urban areas -- because of atmospheric conditions and because many broadcasters in distant lands are gearing up their broadcasts.

    Try searching for distant shortwave signals, identify the station, write to them and get a "QSL Card," the broadcaster's acknowledgment that you made contact.

    For die hards, listening to shortwave can make hours go by in a dream. For others, its an acquired taste -- Bob Grove said his wife is "partially tolerant."

    "I've had radio equipment in my car in the past, and I have learned not to turn it all on when we were going on a date somewhere."

    (To find a partial English-language list of what's on shortwave, try RadioShack ( or C.Crane (

    (Reporting by Robert MacMillan; editing by Richard Chang)

    Inauguration Day. Watch it live on

    click here for more news and cool stuff
    The Black Rider

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Portfolio Mobile - Just Might Be a Contender Just Might Be a Contender

    Ars Technica reports: A month after launching a major site redesign, announced on Monday new content partnerships with studios like
    Sony Pictures Television, MGM, PBS, and Endemol USA. The move adds more
    than 1,000 new TV episodes from shows like Californication and Dead Like Me to's established community, making it a more powerful force to reckon with for the likes of Hulu and even YouTube.'s catalog now tops out at around 38,000 videos from over 19,000 shows, ranging from current, popular series like Dexter and Brotherhood to classics like Bewitched, The Addams Family, and even Ken's old favorite, T.J. Hooker.
    "With the layering of this content, continues its mission to be
    a place for entertainment, information and community," Senior Vice
    President and General Manager of CBS Interactive Entertainment and
    Lifestyle Anthony Soohoo said in a press release.

    Indeed,'s established community is what gives it a leg up on new
    challengers to the throne, such as Hulu, the NBC and FOX joint venture
    which Ars Technica dubbed 2008's best piracy-reduction program.

    Before CBS redesigned, it enjoyed 16 million monthly unique visitors who stopped by to check TV schedules, post in forums, read industry news, and participate in polls. In contrast, Hulu saw 24 million uniques last October. But after launching a cleaner, more mature site design last month that introduced full-length content while maintaining a high emphasis on community, says it saw an 18 percent increase in unique visitor traffic and a 17 percent increase in time spent on the site.

    The new design takes an unapologetic page (or three) from Hulu's design book, but features things like a shoutbox on the front page, polls and ratings for each episode, and a wealth of information and trivia about each show and its stars.

    "It's not enough today to just rebroadcast television shows online," Soohoo continues in the press release, firing a shot across the bows of Hulu and the many competitors in the mainstream online video space. "People go online for the community interaction and no one is better at building thriving online communities around content than"

    It is a bit early to tell, but Soohoo may have a point. If everyone from, to Hulu, and even are drawing from virtually the same catalog of mainstream content, the battle for eyeballs will be fought with weapons like great forums and content integration. already had an established community with lots of extra information and media to keep visitors engaged. With CBS actively bulking up's content catalog, it is likely to turn into a serious player in a rapidly evolving market.

    Also on Ars Technica:Sony CES 3D Tech Already OutdatedObama's FCC Pick Hailed by ReformersChina Online Porn Crackdown

    Related Links
    Hulu Closes In on YouTube -- Fast
    First Bytes: Hulu, YouTube,,, EMI, Intel
    How Hulu Stole the Momentum from Joost

    (c) 2007 Portfolio. Powered by mLogic Media, Crisp Wireless, Inc.

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Reuters - Kazakh PM tells ministers "get blogging"

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    Kazakh PM tells ministers "get blogging"

    Monday, Jan 12, 2009 3:10PM UTC

    ASTANA (Reuters) - Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov Monday told his ministers to start personal blogs to get them closer to the people of the former Soviet state.

    "I have opened a blog on the government website," Masimov told a government meeting. "So I order all ministers... to start personal blogs where people will be able to ask you questions that you must answer."

    Masimov started his own blog last week with an introductory post that has already received 152 comments, some of which were complaints about the quality of tap water in villages. He has since ordered the cabinet to investigate the criticisms.

    About 14 percent of the steppe nation's 16 million people have Internet access, according to official data. Many users complain of growing censorship and domestic media rarely question state policies.

    Kazakhstan, which has been singled out by Western rights activists for its lack of press freedom, has vowed to step up the pace of liberal reforms before it takes over the chairmanship in 2010 of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Europe's top democracy watchdog.

    President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a former communist party boss, has ruled Kazakhstan with an iron fist since 1989. He has never been elected in a vote judged free and fair by OSCE monitors.

    (Reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Nick Vinocur)

    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    CNN - Report: U.S. rejected Israeli plea to attack Iran

    Sent from's mobile device from

    Report: U.S. rejected Israeli plea to attack Iran

    President Bush rejected several Israeli requests last year for weapons and permission for a potential airstrike inside Iran, the author of an investigative report told CNN.

    Israel approached the White House in early 2008 with three requests for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex, said New York Times reporter David Sanger. His article appears in the newspaper on Sunday.

    According to Sanger, Israel wanted specialized bunker-busting bombs, equipment to help refuel planes making flights into Iran and permission to fly over Iraq to reach the major nuclear complex at Natanz, the site of Iran's only known uranium enrichment plant.

    The White House "deflected" the first two requests and denied the last, Sanger said.

    "They feared that if it appeared that the United States had helped Israel strike Iran, using Iraqi airspace, that the result in Iraq could be the expulsion of the American troops (from Iraq)," he said.

    Bush, instead, persuaded Israeli officials to not proceed with the attack by sharing with them some details of covert U.S. operations aimed at sabotaging Iran's nuclear ambitions, Sanger said.

    The ongoing operations are designed to undermine Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade fuel and designs it needs to produce a workable nuclear weapon, the newspaper said.

    "We know that the U.S. has been trying to conduct covert industrial espionage, if you will, against Iran's nuclear program for many years," said CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. "[They have been] going to the suppliers, going other places; trying to make sure that things get messed up, if you will; that parts may not be what they should be; that certain processes may not work right. Anything that they can do to jam the work to delay the program."

    Sanger said he based his report on conversations with intelligence officials, none of whom would speak on the record because of the topic's sensitivity.

    "I suspect the Bush administration probably isn't going to comment very much on the details of this story, given the nature of this kind of intelligence operation and the sensitivity of the relationship with Israel," he said.

    Sanger said President-elect Barack Obama, who said during the campaign he wants to engage in dialogue with Iran, now inherits the operation.

    "He has got to figure out how to square the circle of having direct talks with the country while these are going on, or he could elect, I imagine, to modify this program or suspend it," Sanger said.

    In his first post-election news conference, Obama said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "unacceptable." He also said he would help mount an international effort to prevent it from happening.

    Iran maintains its nuclear program is for energy purposes only. It has been engaged in an escalating war of words with Israel, whom it accuses of trying to destabilize the republic.

    Israel has said it will not rule out military action to halt Iran's nuclear aspirations.

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    Reuters - Nokia stops production of only WiMax device

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    Nokia stops production of only WiMax device

    Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 4:18PM UTC

    HELSINKI (Reuters) - The world's top mobile phone maker Nokia said on Thursday it had ended production of its only mobile device using the U.S.-centered WiMax technology, another blow for the struggling wireless technology.

    WiMax has been competing for the status of next generation mobile technology, but has largely lost the battle to Long-Term Evolution (LTE).

    "We have ramped down the N810 WiMax Edition tablet. It has reached the end of its lifecycle," said a Nokia spokesman. Nokia unveiled the model only nine months ago, while usually even the most trendy models have a shelf life of well over a year.

    Canada's Nortel Networks Corp has said LTE will be the most likely upgrade path for about 80 percent of the world's existing mobile phone providers, with others going for WiMax.

    Nokia did not rule out introducing further WiMax phones in the future.

    "We will continue to follow the technology and its evolution," the spokesman said.

    (Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

    USA TODAY - Obama, Spider-Man on the same comic-book page

    This story has been sent from the mobile device of For real-time mobile news, go to

    By David Colton, USA TODAY

    In a growing world of Barack Obama collectibles, one item soon may be swinging above the rest.

    On Jan. 14, Marvel Comics is releasing a special issue of Amazing Spider-Man #583 with Obama depicted on the cover. Inside are five pages of the two teaming up and even a fist-bump between Spidey and the new president.

    FIRST LOOK: Check out some panels from 'Amazing Spider-Man #583'

    "It was a natural after we learned the new president is a Spider-Man fan," says Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada about reports that Obama once collected Spider-Man comics. "We thought, 'Fantastic! We have a comic-book geek in the White House.' "

    The White House transition team did not respond to a question about the extent of Obama's comic-book geekiness, but Obama did mention Spider-Man during the campaign, primarily at children-oriented events. And during an Entertainment Weekly pop culture survey, Obama said Batman and Spider-Man were his top superheroes because of their "inner turmoil." (John McCain picked Batman.)

    In the story by Zeb Wells, Todd Nauck and Frank D'Armata, Spider-Man stops the Chameleon from spoiling Obama's swearing-in. At one point, Spider-Man says he mistook Vice President-elect Joe Biden for the Vulture (a vintage Spider-Man villain).

    The issue, selling for $3.99 at comic-book specialty shops (find one at, is expected to be an instant sellout, especially because the Obama cover, by Phil Jimenez, is limited to half the run.

    "This issue will have a lot of heat and go for premium prices. I already have people calling about it," says Alan Giroux, owner of All About Books and Comics in Phoenix. "I expect this will be on the collectors' market for $20 by the first day."

    Presidents have been supporting characters in comics before: During World War II, superheroes fought Hitler as FranklinD. Roosevelt cheered them on. John F. Kennedy appeared in Action Comics #309 in 1963, when he helped protect Clark Kent's secret identity.

    "If I can't trust the president of the United States, who can I trust?" Superman tells Kennedy.

    That issue appeared a week after Kennedy was assassinated. DC Comics had to explain later that it was too late to recall the book.

    Presidents have appeared as more shadowy figures in recent years.

    "We do our best to be completely non-partisan and treat presidents with respect," Quesada says.

    "This is not so much a pro-Obama statement but a tip of the hat to having a Spider-Man fan in the White House."

    Would McCain have gotten a special issue had he won?

    Says Quesada: "If McCain was a Spider-Man fan, I'm sure he would."

    Website address:

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    CNN - CES preview: Touting tech in a brutal economy

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    CES preview: Touting tech in a brutal economy

    As 130,000 techies converge on Las Vegas this week for the 42nd annual International Consumer Electronics Show, they're encountering an industry that's anxious about marketing high-tech gadgets in a tightwad economy.

    With many Americans struggling to pay bills, find jobs and even avoid foreclosure, it may seem like an extravagance to spend hundreds of dollars on a laptop or a digital camera.

    But financial fears also are causing consumers to spend more time at home, where they still want to be entertained. Industry observers believe this nesting trend could sustain demand for products -- Blu-ray players, stereos, video games, cheap computers -- that brighten the family room while easing the sting of canceling that Disney World vacation.

    "We're about to experience a renaissance in in-home entertainment," said Scott Steinberg, publisher of "History proves that even during times of recession, people are willing to invest heavily in great escapes, and products that take their mind off the concerns and vagaries of everyday life.

    "That being said, consumers are becoming smarter about how they spend their money," he added. "This year's mindset will be less about luxury than convenience, and a specific gadget or technology's pure ability at the end of the day to get the job done."

    With an uneasy eye on the economy, tech companies seem to be scaling back expectations for CES, which kicks off officially on Thursday. Attendance will likely be down about 8 percent, and few blockbuster announcements are expected. Industry heavyweights also are downsizing the usual slate of lavish corporate parties that in 2006 saw the Foo Fighters gigging for Motorola and Intel hosting The Black Eyed Peas.

    "The pre-buzz has really been a lot quieter than it's been in recent years," said Kent German, a senior editor at, who is attending his fifth CES. German believes more tech companies are choosing to launch products at other times of the year when they don't have to compete for attention.

    "At CES there's just so much noise," he said. "I can see companies saying, 'Let's do it [another time] on our own terms.' "

    Even so, as the biggest annual showcase of new tech products, CES will always make headlines. After all, past shows have introduced the world to the CD player and the plasma TV. This year's trade show, which wraps Sunday, features 2,700 exhibitors, including the CES debuts of such marquee companies as Blockbuster, Electronic Arts, Mattel and Verizon Wireless.

    Tech observers also are curious to see Internet giant Cisco Systems launch its first-ever line of consumer-electronics products, Palm unveil its long-delayed Nova operating system, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offer an early preview of Windows 7.

    "It's not going to be exactly the same. Attendance is going to be down," PC Magazine editor Dan Costa told CNN. "But it's still a massive show. And there's going to be a lot of news there." Are you excited about CES?

    So what trends and products will be making news most often at CES? Based on a scouring of tech blogs and interviews with industry observers, here's a brief roundup of what will be hot in Vegas this week:

    Netbooks. In a weak economy, these small and cheap laptops will continue to be popular. Already loaded with Wi-fi, webcams and other features, these ultra-portable computers will soon come with GPS and touch screens as well -- all for prices under $500. Look for a new wave of them at CES.

    Thin OLED TVs. You've heard of LCD and LED -- now meet OLED, which stands for organic light-emitting diode and creates a gorgeous picture. For now, they're also way too expensive -- Sony's XEL-1, the world's first OLED TV, costs $2,500 for an 11-inch screen -- but they're cool to look at. The screen panel on the Sony model is only 3 millimeters thick.

    "Sony has showcased its OLED TVs at CES before, but expect to see larger-size prototypes from them and from Samsung, who's said it plans to show its version of the technology as well," said CNET news reporter Erica Ogg.

    Mobile devices. Touch screens, once limited to high-end smartphones such as Apple's iPhone, are filtering down to mid-range devices as well. Cell phone manufacturers also are increasingly building phones that shoot sharper photos and better video.

    The biggest buzz might be building around Palm (remember the Palm Pilot?), which is looking to regain relevance with the launch of an overhauled -- and much-hyped -- Nova operating system for its mobile phones.

    "I'm very interested to see what Palm has to say," said CNET's Ogg. "The company really needs a hit -- it has fallen so far behind its competitors like RIM and Apple in terms of smartphone innovation that Palm really has to hit this one out of the park."

    Wireless home electronics. Will this mark the year we can finally say goodbye to that cumbersome tangle of wires behind our TVs and stereos? Probably not, but we're getting there.

    "Interconnected smartphones, PCs, laptops, media extenders, video game consoles and digital music players are quickly infiltrating the mainstream consciousness, and modern home," said Steinberg of

    "I wouldn't go so far as to say that the wireless revolution is completely in full swing, but it's definitely patiently waiting its turn at bat," he added. "All the market lacks at the moment is standardization, and a core catalyst -- a single, unifying code of conduct that enables media of all sorts to play well together on devices of all sorts."

    More "green" products. Motorola is rumored to be launching a phone made from recycled tech waste. And at least several manufacturers are promising to unveil pioneering, environmentally safe batteries -- including one made without lithium or lithium ion.

    Downloadable video players. "We're going to see a lot of devices that offer downloadable video, be they Blu-Ray players [or video game consoles]," said Costa of PC magazine, who believes prices of Blu-ray players will keep dropping. "All these devices can download video over the Internet, some of it in HD quality. That's the type of device we're going to see a lot more of, and it makes perfect sense when people are looking to nest [at home]."

    Reuters - Private sector cut 693,000 jobs in December

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    Private sector cut 693,000 jobs in December

    Wednesday, Jan 07, 2009 2:42PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private-sector employers shed 693,000 jobs in December, a private employment service said on Wednesday in a report that was far worse than expected and pointed to more ugly news from the government's jobs data due later this week.

    The drop, much bigger than the revised 476,000 private sector jobs lost in November, is consistent with about a 670,000 fall in December non-farm payrolls, said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, which jointly develops the private sector employment report with ADP Employer Services.

    On Friday the government will release its non-farm payrolls report, considered the most authoritative gauge of the U.S. labor market.

    After the ADP report, U.S. Treasury bonds regained some lost ground, the dollar extended its losses against the euro and the yen and U.S. stock futures slid.

    The median of estimates from 20 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report was for a loss of 473,000 private-sector jobs in December.

    The report for December was the first month the data was issued using a new methodology, which ADP said was designed to more closely predict the outcome of the government's non-farm payrolls report.

    "It's obviously a terrible number, though everyone was expecting a terrible number," said Steven Butler, director of FX trading at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

    "The initial shock is a big one...and should keep the dollar under pressure for the rest of the session," he said.

    (Reporting by John Parry and Burton Frierson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    From the 'Rider's Desk'

    Good morning folks. Another day to fight the recession. today most of us will wake up and go to work, clock in, perform and clock out. If you love what you do, you will relish your performance, and try your best everyday to make it the performance of a lifetime. If you are apathetic about your gainful occupation, your performance today will have no import to your existence. If you detest your job, your performance will reflect that in turn, and reward you and your audience in kind.

    For those of us that fall in the latter two categories, if we have any ego or sense of our self, then we desire an escape to fulfill our dreams. That of being gainfully rewarded doing that which we 'love'.

    The question today is, how do we, while clocking in and clocking out daily, accomplish fulfilling our dreams, whilst we occupy most of our waking hours, fighting against it?

    click here for more news and cool stuff
    The Black Rider

    CNN - Sources: CNN's Gupta approached for surgeon general

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    Sources: CNN's Gupta approached for surgeon general

    The Obama transition team approached Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, about becoming U.S. surgeon general, according to sources inside the transition and at CNN.

    Gupta was in Chicago, Illinois, in November to meet with President-elect Barack Obama on the matter, sources said.

    Gupta has declined comment.

    The transition team is impressed with the combination of Gupta's past government experience, as a White House fellow in 1997 and a special adviser to then-first lady Hillary Clinton, along with his medical career as a neurosurgeon and his communication skills, the transition source said.

    Gupta is a member of the staff and faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He regularly performs surgery at Emory University Hospital and at Grady Memorial Hospital, where he serves as associate chief of neurosurgery.

    CNN released a statement saying, "Since first learning that Dr. Gupta was under consideration for the surgeon general position, CNN has made sure that his on-air reporting has been on health and wellness matters and not on health-care policy or any matters involving the new administration."

    Gupta joined CNN in 2001. As chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit, he is a lead reporter on breaking medical news, provides regular health and medical updates for "American Morning," anchors the half-hour weekend medical affairs program "House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta" and reports for CNN documentaries. Based in Atlanta, Gupta also contributes health stories to, co-hosts "Accent Health" for Turner Private Networks, provides medical segments for the syndicated version of "ER" on TNT and writes a column for Time magazine. He also anchors the global health program "Vital Signs" for CNN International and is featured in a weekly podcast on health issues called "Paging Dr. Gupta."

    Just after joining CNN, Gupta became part of the team covering the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Later that year, he led breaking news reporting on a series of anthrax attacks.

    In 2003, Gupta reported from Iraq and Kuwait as an embedded correspondent with the U.S. Navy's medical unit -- and worked alongside them, performing brain surgery five times.

    In addition, Gupta reported from Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami that swept the region in December 2004. He also helped cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2005.

    He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical Center.

    About Me

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    If you know me then you know my name. I am The Black Rider and the world is my Flame. The rider writes, observes, creates, produces, and learns the world around him. Ride on. Ride on!

    The Remnants