Archive for March 26th, 2009

Google Voice — One number for all your phones

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Computer World:

March 12, 2009 (Computerworld) Tired of having colleagues and friends miss you when they call your office while you’re in the car with another phone? Or of having to call into three or four different voice mail systems to get all of your messages?

If you are, well, that’s good news for Google Inc.

The company today announced that it’s previewing a new offering called Google Voice, which is a hosted suite of applications designed to offer a variety of phone-related services. For example, Google voice is designed to provide a single number for your home and office land line phones and various cell phones. It also offers a single message repository for all of the voice mail systems associated with those phones, and it creates transcripts of messages and has the ability to record calls and store them online.

Obama and education: Money for Nothing

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

City Journal:

With two wars to fight and a reeling economy, the Obama administration wasn’t supposed to be about education policy at all. The stimulus bill, and now the omnibus spending bill before Congress, change that, however. The vast new resources that they shovel into public schools are sure to have an enormous and lasting impact on education. Unfortunately, though he keeps issuing encouraging sound bites, President Obama’s actions so far mostly continue the Democratic Party’s tired practices of subsidizing ineffective education policies and killing effective, cost-saving ones whenever they might threaten the adults who run the public schools.

Ericsson signs U.S. deal worth over $2 billion

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Telecom equipment maker Ericsson has signed a service contract with U.S. operator Sprint Nextel Corp, a Swedish business weekly reported on Friday, citing sources.

Citing sources, weekly Affarsvarlden said the order had an estimated value of just over $2 billion.

Ericsson and Sprint both declined to comment on the report.

Verizon Launches Service for the Visually Impaired

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

PC Mag:

Verizon has unveiled TALKS for Verizon Wireless, a new service that gives blind and visually impaired customers audio feedback for messaging, dialing, and other tasks. Initially, it will be available for the MOTO Q9c smartphone beginning on March 15th.The service essentially offers voice-to-text translation powered by Nuance, the company that owns Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but with an increased emphasis on audio clarity for cell phones. In addition to sending and receiving text and e-mail messages, TALKS also aids with caller ID, dialing contacts, adding and editing contact entries, writing documents in the mobile versions of Word and Excel, composing multimedia (MMS) messages, and browsing the Internet with Internet Explorer Mobile.

IBM develops privacy application for Facebook

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Computer World:

IBM unveiled an application on Thursday that guides users toward strong privacy settings in Facebook’s online marketplace and could be developed into a management tool for companies or across Web sites for users. The application, called Privacy-aware MarketPlace, shows users in Facebook’s buying and selling forum how their privacy settings rate compared to a recommended level and lets them make suggested changes. It shows two scales that compare the user’s privacy rating with the recommended score. The version in Facebook Marketplace is the application’s first and will be used to collect data about user privacy preferences.

Microsoft on Thursday said it will discontinue its adCenter Analytics service at the end of the year, and it appears that the company does not plan to replace it. AdCenter Analytics had been in beta and is based on Web analytics tools for online marketers and publishers developed by DeepMatrix, a company Microsoft bought in 2006. Existing customers can keep using the service through the end of the year, at which time technical support will end and the service will be shut down. Customers will need to export their data before the Dec. 31 cut-off date to avoid losing it.

Researchers sniff PC keyboard strokes from thin air

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Computer World:

March 12, 2009 (IDG News Service) That PC keyboard you’re using may be giving away your passwords. Researchers say they’ve discovered new ways to read what you’re typing by aiming special wireless or laser equipment at the keyboard or by simply plugging into a nearby electrical socket.

Two separate research teams, from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and security consultancy Inverse Path, have taken a close look at the electromagnetic radiation that is generated every time a computer keyboard is tapped. It turns out that this keystroke radiation is actually pretty easy to capture and decode — if you’re a computer hacker-type, that is.

Wal-Mart, CVS: Consumer tech meets medicine

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Computer World:

One of President Obama’s big initiatives is the get the cost of health care under control. His administration is spending billions to, among other tasks, digitize medical records. Controlling health care costs is a noble goal, but consumer tech may beat him to it.

Wal-Mart has announced they will start selling health care record systems to doctors. CVS has found great success in opening mini-medical clinics in its stores.

You can tie in your vacation to India with required medical treatment.

Technology advances allow doctors to remotely monitor your health.

It all adds up to healthcare becoming virtualized.

Kansas gun amendment advances

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Fort Mills Times:

TOPEKA, Kan. — Voters may get to decide next November whether Kansas should amend its constitution to clarify that the right to bear arms is an individual right, not a collective right.

A measure placing the issue on the 2010 general election ballot cleared the Senate by a 40-0 vote Tuesday. A similar resolution is awaiting action in the House.

Economy leads 21 couples to share wedding

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters) – Twenty-one couples have shared a joint wedding in Somalia, where the traditional lavish celebrations are increasingly unaffordable at a time of economic slump.

The function was held on Tuesday at a hotel in Hargeisa, capital of Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, and was arranged by Telsom, a telecoms company that employs all the bridegrooms.

The Horn of Africa region is staunchly Muslim, so the men and women celebrated separately.

The expense of a traditional wedding, especially when economic times are hard, is driving some young Somalis to leave their homeland.

Review: Apple’s new 17-in. MacBook Pro rocks

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Computer World:

March 6, 2009 (Computerworld) It took Apple Inc. a while to finally get around to updating the 17-in. MacBook Pro, but the wait was more than worth it.

Apple started rolling out its carved-from-solid-aluminum laptops a year ago, with the incredibly thin MacBook Air. Then, in October, it revamped its MacBooks and the 15-in. MacBook Pro, moving them to the “unibody” manufacturing process (and moving the MacBooks decidedly upscale).

Now, finally, comes the Big Daddy of all Apple laptops, the top-of-the-line 17-incher that has been made truly drool-worthy for professionals who need every bit of computing power and speed while on the go. Of course, speed, size and innovation don’t come cheap.

Cities selling stimulus money at discount

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

California news source:

A few area cities have found an alternate way to use their federal stimulus money: selling it to other cities for cash.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority has allocated a minimum of $500,000 in federal stimulus funds to each of the 88 cities in the county for transportation-related projects. Unincorporated areas will benefit, too.

Several smaller cities, some without shovel-ready projects, are making deals with others to sell or swap such funds and replenish their general funds.

“The best way to see this is as a huge windfall for us because we do have the flexibility of using the general fund money now,” city manager Shauna Clark of La Habra Heights said.

The city of Bradbury, with a population of roughly 1,000, is working on a deal to sell its $500,000 share of federal funding doled out by the MTA to the city of Torrance for $315,000 in cash for its general fund, according to Torrance officials.

Torrance, which was allocated $2.9 million by the MTA, plans to use the extra funds for a variety of street improvement projects, including a major reconstruction and expansion of Crenshaw Boulevard, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, said city manager LeRoy Jackson.

Weekly jobless claims numbers lower than 1980

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Mark Perry:

I’ve posted about this before, the fact that the reported weekly jobless claims numbers are not adjusted for the size of the labor force. For the month of February, weekly initial unemployment claims averaged 627,875. As a percent of the civilian labor force, those jobless claims represent 0.4071% of the 154.214 million labor force.

The chart above shows the “initial jobless claims as a percent of the labor force” back to January 1980. To reach the same level as the peak in 1982 of 0.6067%, today’s jobless claims would have to be almost 936,000, or almost 50% higher than the current 628,000.

WSJ: Everyone Hates Ethanol

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Wall Street Journal:

These days, it’s routine for businesses to fail, get rescued by the government, and then continue to fail. But ethanol, which survives only because of its iron lung of subsidies and mandates, is a special case. Naturally, the industry is demanding even more government life support.

Corn ethanol producers — led by Wesley Clark, the retired general turned chairman of a new biofuels lobbying outfit called Growth Energy — want the Obama Administration to make their guaranteed market even larger. Recall that the 2007 energy bill requires refiners to mix 36 billion gallons into the gasoline supply by 2022. The quotas, which ratchet up each year, are arbitrary, but evidently no one in Congress wondered what might happen if the economy didn’t cooperate.

Now the recession is hammering demand for gas. The Energy Information Administration notes that U.S. consumption fell nearly 7% in 2008 and expects another 2.2% drop this year. That comes as great news for President Obama, who is achieving his carbon-reduction goals even without a new carbon tax, but the irony is that the ethanol industry is part of the wider collateral damage.

Americans are unlikely to use enough gas next year to absorb the 13 billion gallons of ethanol that Congress mandated, because current regulations limit the ethanol content in each gallon of gas at 10%. The industry is asking that this cap be lifted to 15% or even 20%. That way, more ethanol can be mixed with less gas, and producers won’t end up with a glut that the government does not require anyone to buy.

NJ govt says NO waxing

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Ben Cunningham:


The painful Brazilian wax and its intimate derivatives are in danger of being stripped from salon and spa menus if a recent proposal to ban genital waxing is passed by the state’s Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling.

Cherry Hill salon owner Linda Orsuto said that women would “go ballistic” if the proposal passed. She said that some women would resort to waxing themselves, visiting unlicensed salons or traveling to other states, including Pennsylvania, in a quest to remain bare down there.

“The clients are going to freak,” said Orsuto, who owns 800 West Salon & Spa, on Route 70. “It’s a hot issue, and we’re going to have to do something.”

JPMorgan CEO’s Pay Fell 43% in 2008 to $19.7 Million

Thursday, March 26th, 2009


March 18 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon’s compensation fell 43 percent to $19.7 million last year as the firm took $27.8 billion in writedowns, losses and loan provisions.

Dimon, 53, was paid $1 million in salary and had stock and options valued at $18.3 million for the year, in addition to “other compensation,” based on Securities and Exchange Commission requirements for disclosing pay, a regulatory filing today showed. He didn’t take a cash bonus and wasn’t awarded stock or options for 2008, the filing showed. In 2007, Dimon’s compensation was $34 million by the SEC rules.

Primary Poll: Specter gets crushed by Toomey

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

The Scorecard:

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) would get crushed in a Republican primary against Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, trailing his conservative challenger by double digits, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released today.

The poll shows Specter trailing Toomey by 14 points, 41 to 27 percent, with 28 percent of Republicans undecided.

Specter is much more popular among Democrats and independents than he is with his own party. A near-majority (47 percent) of Republican voters view him unfavorably, with only 29 percent viewing him favorably. But he receives favorable ratings from 60 percent of Democrats, and a 41 percent plurality of independents.

Ironically, his overall approval rating is a healthy 52 percent – the same as Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and higher than Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.).

Andrew Breitbart: Dreaming of President Petraeus

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Column by Andrew Breitbart:

Signs of our collective weakness emerged after 9/11 when only part of the American population took seriously that we were at war with an evil and motivated enemy determined to destroy our way of life. Since then, al Qaeda has refused to quit despite debilitating losses.

Clearly, our national will is wilting away.

Following the tragic lead of Europe, too many Americans no longer want to engage our external threats head-on. And on the domestic front, we are confronting the economic crisis of our lifetime with the same full-steam-ahead spending-spree mind-set that got us into the mess to begin with.

We say: Let’s create more government dependency, reward the incompetent and print more money.

That’s doubling down on stupidity.

How Jon Stewart Went Bad: Tucker Carlson

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Tucker Carlson at The Daily Beast:

There is a virtual ban on criticism of him in the press. Uncritical praise corrupts absolutely.

Jon Stewart’s recent attack on CNBC’s Jim Cramer was so brilliantly performed, so smoothly produced and cruelly compelling, almost nobody noticed that it didn’t make sense. The climax came as Stewart put up a number of grainy clips of Cramer describing how to artificially (and unethically) depress a company’s stock price. The video was damning. Cramer looked sweaty.

Video, Campbell Brown: Obama Not Keeping Promise Of ‘Transparency’

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Video: Karl Rove on Obama’s address

Thursday, March 26th, 2009