Monday, February 28, 2011

business magnate and philanthropist Warren Buffett invested a whopping $26 billion in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad

Trains have some solid advantages over other forms of transportation: they're fast and they're much more environmentally friendly. But the current railway infrastructure in North America renders them nowhere near as efficient. In an attempt to remedy this, business magnate and philanthropist Warren Buffett invested a whopping $26 billion in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
And according to Buffet, while the move was profitable, there were other reasons for his decision to invest such a large sum of money.
"Railroads have major cost and environmental advantages over trucking, their main competitor," he told the New York Times. "Our country gains because of reduced greenhouse emissions and a much smaller need for imported oil. When traffic travels by rail, society benefits."
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BizBuySell.com, the Internet marketplace for buying or selling a small business,

Clipart of bills and coinsImage via WikipediaA survey of small business owners by BizBuySell.com, the Internet marketplace for buying or selling a small business, found 76 percent of responding brokers nationwide anticipate that 2011 will be a good year to sell. A generally positive feeling about economic recovery seems to be the driving factor for the encouraging reports about the business-for-sale market this year, the report noted.
More than two thirds of the brokers – 69 percent – who anticipate that this year will be a good year to sell a business cite “the economy in general is starting to recover” as driving their bullish outlook. Other top reasons for optimism cited by brokers include “more businesses coming on the market” and “better financing becoming available for business buyers”.
According to the survey, a lack of available financing is still the most common factor preventing business transactions from closing, a trend that is continuing from two previous BizBuySell.com broker surveys conducted in July and November of 2010. Nearly half of the brokers surveyed, 48 percent, report financing as the biggest issue hindering business for sale transactions. Seller unwillingness to lower their asking price is an additional issue, with 26 percent of the brokers surveyed reporting it as a primary factor preventing sales from closing.
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

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iPad 2 could slow Xoom in March


Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun... Image via CrunchBase
Executives from Verizon Wireless, Motorola and Google wowed the crowd at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 6 when they demonstrated the 3D and other graphical user interface capabilities of the Xoom, which runs Google's Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system.
Dubbed by the press as the Apple iPad "killer," the Xoom saw some bumps along the way as rumors swirled that Motorola and Verizon would price the tablet at $800.
Apple erased nearly two months of excitement surrounding Motorola's Xoom tablet Feb. 23 when it announced an iPad-related media event scheduled for March 2, one day before Verizon launched the Xoom Feb. 24 for $599 with a two-year deal, $799 for an unlocked LTE (Long-Term Evolution) version.
The announcement of the event, expected to be the coming out party for the iPad 2, will likely freeze consumers from buying the Xoom. The iPad 2, some believe, may match the Xoom most in functionality and in price.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

U.S. officials on Friday could not offer a firm date when deepwater permits to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued

U.S. officials on Friday could not offer a firm date when deepwater permits to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico will be issued, as crude posted its highest weekly close in more than two years.
"We are carefully and rigorously reviewing drilling plans," Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the offshore drilling regulator, said at a news conference. "I am quite confident we will again get to the point where we can begin issuing deepwater permits."
A drilling ban put in place after BP Plc's disastrous Macondo well blowout last year in the Gulf was lifted in October, but no new deepwater drilling permits have been approved yet.
U.S. crude oil futures posted their highest weekly settlement in almost 2-1/2 years on Friday on supply disruptions due to the revolt in Libya.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told reporters the situation in Libya was "not changing at all what we are doing here" and the government felt no pressure to hurry its permitting process.
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algorithm change that pushes down low-quality Websites in its search engine



Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
Google Feb. 24 said it had flipped the switch on an algorithm change that pushes down low-quality Websites in its search engine, the latest in a series of moves to combat the rise of content farms and other Websites that infest the Web.
The ranking change, targeted at Websites that copy content from other Websites and those that provide little value for searchers, will impact 12 percent of the company's search results, said Google Fellow Amit Singhal and his lieutenant, Google principal engineer Matt Cutts.
Google didn't mention content farms by name, but Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan posited the search engine could well be targeting sites such as Demand Media's eHow, which produces both solid content and low-quality content.
Demand Media responded to Google's change rather diplomatically in a blog post, noting that it hadn't seen any material net impact to its content business.
While the weak Websites will see their rankings drop, Singhal and Cutts said high-quality sites, or those with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports and analysis, should see better rankings.
The algorithm change currently impacts Google results shown only in the U.S., though the company will eventually push it out in Google search in other countries.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

death toll of dolphins rises to 60


Gulf Shores, Alabama. Beach.
Image via Wikipedia

The death toll of dolphins found washed ashore along the U.S. Gulf Coast since last month climbed to nearly 60 on Thursday, as puzzled scientists clamored to determine what was killing the marine mammals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the alarming cluster of recent dolphin deaths "an unusual mortality event," agency spokeswoman Blair Mase told Reuters.
"Because of this declaration, many resources are expected to be allocated to investigating this phenomenon," she said.
Although none of the carcasses bore outward signs of oil contamination, all were being examined as possible casualties of petrochemicals that fouled the Gulf of Mexico after a BP drilling platform exploded in April 2010, rupturing a wellhead on the sea floor, officials said.
Eleven workers were killed in the blast, and an estimated 5 million barrels (205.8 million gallons) of crude oil spilled into the Gulf over more than three months.
As of Thursday, the remains of 59 dolphins, roughly half of them newly born or stillborn calves, have been discovered since January 15, on islands, in marshes and on beaches along 200 miles of coastline from Louisiana east across Mississippi to Gulf Shores, Alabama, officials said.
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Samsung's Captivate smartphone is now available for an upgrade to Google's Android 2.2 "Froyo"


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Image via CrunchBase
Samsung's Captivate smartphone is now available for an upgrade to Google's Android 2.2 "Froyo" operating system, but it won't come from its carrier AT&T through the traditional over-the-air channel.
Rather, Samsung and AT&T have created an "optional upgrade" Captivate users must download from the Samsung Website to a desktop or laptop computer running Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, or XP.
Users also need a USB cable to connect their phone to their computer to complete the upgrade. See detailed instructions here.
AT&T began selling the 4-inch, Super Amoled screen Samsung Captivate last July for $199 with a two-year contract. The handset is one of a handful of phones from the Samsung Galaxy S line that sold more than 10 million units in 2010.
Android version upgrades have come fairly rapidly on Motorola and HTC handsets, but Android 2.2 has posed a significant technical challenge for Samsung and its carrier partners.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

South Africa will spend an estimated 1.2 billion rand ($168.1 million) to clean up acidic water

South Africa will spend an estimated 1.2 billion rand ($168.1 million) to clean up acidic water threatening to spill out from abandoned gold mines under Johannesburg and adjacent areas, a report said Thursday.
The dangerous cocktail of chemicals has been building up in mine shafts dug more than a century ago to tap one of the world's largest gold deposits and stretches scores of kilometers under Johannesburg.
"The problems posed by acid mine drainage will have implications far into the future, with impacts likely to continue for many years," said a report by a team of experts released by the water ministry Thursday.
The report recommends building a series of pumping, treatment and monitoring stations starting immediately with pumps in place under Johannesburg by March 2012, just months before the acid water is expected to reach environmentally critical levels.
The budget is estimated at 441.7 million rand for capital expenditure, 121.2 million for annual operating cost and 626.3 million for long-term costs related to preventing water from flowing into the cavities, the water ministry said.
Acid mine water has plagued derelict mines globally for decades but most of the damage has been in remote areas.
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Apple's rules regarding its subscription service for its iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone


Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Apple's rules regarding its subscription service for its iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone have boomeranged across the tech publishing industry, with publishers alleging the company is being greedy, among other not-so-pleasant things.
Apple Feb. 15 launched its content subscription service to provide a way for publishers of digital magazines, newspapers, music and other applications to make money from their work.
Publishers who bring an existing subscriber or lure a new one to an application keep 100 percent of subscription sales. When customers subscribe to an application via Apple's iTunes App Store, Apple collects 30 percent of the fee.
Here's another kicker that has publishers gulping in angst: Publishers who opt to use Apple's platform must also make content available for sale through applications at the App Store for the same price.
Subscribing to content through Apple's App Store requires just a few clicks, so publishers are upset because they claim Apple is attempting to funnel users toward buying content through its App Store.
Complaints have flooded in from several publishing fronts. Music subscription providers who already must pay music content owners, labels and artists to license music, find this additional fee untenable. Rhapsody, for example, told eWEEK in a statement:
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cisco Systems pulled the plug on Cisco Mail

Cisco Systems LogoImage via WikipediaCisco Systems pulled the plug on Cisco Mail, the hosted e-mail service it launched a mere 13 months ago.
While Cisco Mail was “well received,” Cisco found that customers were not interested in hosted e-mail as much as they cared about “social software and video,” Cisco said in a Feb. 22 blog post announcing the decision. Cisco declined to provide further details.
“We’ve since learned that customers have come to view e-mail as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy,” wrote Debra Chrapaty on the blog.
Cisco originally launched Cisco Mail in November 2009 because customers said they were interested in “divesting responsibility” for managing e-mail in the same way they switched to using WebEx for Web conferencing, according to Chrapaty. The service was rolled out via controlled release.
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Google Feb. 22 made its full Android 3.0 software development kit (SDK) available


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Image via CrunchBase

Google Feb. 22 made its full Android 3.0 software development kit (SDK) available to developers, more than three weeks after shipping a rough preview version to give developers a taste of the "Honeycomb" build.
The APIs are final, which means developers can write apps for the platform and publish them to Google's Android Market store for free or sale.
Unlike previous iterations of Android developed for powering smartphones, the Honeycomb build is specifically for helping developers write apps for the larger screen size form factor of tablets.
With a 10.1-inch screen, Motorola's Xoom will launch Feb. 24 as the first Honeycomb tablet. The tablet will cost $799 unsubsidized for a 3G/WiFi version from Verizon Wireless and Best Buy, or $599.99 with a two-year contract from Verizon.
Android SDK Tech Lead Xavier Ducrohet said there have been several improvements to the SDK since its initial run-through.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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Acer on Feb. 21 unveiled a lineup of server and storage offerings powered by x86 processors

Category:Acer IncorporatedImage via WikipediaAcer, which over the past couple of years has muscled its way into becoming one of the top PC manufacturers in the world, is now looking to reclaim a part of the highly competitive U.S. server market.
Acer on Feb. 21 unveiled a lineup of server and storage offerings powered by x86 processors from both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and aimed at a number of areas of the market, from SMBs to cloud computing environments.
The product rollout comes about a year after Acer reinvigorated its data center offerings with new servers and storage products in the European market, and several years after it made its last efforts to establish a toehold in the United States.
"Acer has steadily built one of the broadest lines of server and storage solutions in the world, and now we are bringing this offering to the U.S. to meet customer demands for cost-effective performance, simplified management, flexible scalability and return on storage investments over time," Gianluca Degliesposti, vice president of worldwide business development for Acer's Servers and Storage business unit, said in a statement. "Our initial family of 16 server solutions also leverages our deep expertise in virtualization, multi-node architectures and HPC to meet increasingly challenging needs in cloud computing and other complex computing applications."
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Moneris Solutions, the country’s largest payment processor, is being investigated by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Moneris Solutions, the country’s largest payment processor, is being investigated by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada over a possible violation of Ottawa’s new code of conduct for the payments industry.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has instructed the FCAC to expedite its probe and is again raising the prospect that he will bring down tougher, binding regulations if industry players do not voluntarily comply with the code.

Moneris, like other payment companies, acts as a middleman between retailers and credit- and debit-card networks like Visa, MasterCard and Interac, providing services and products such as the card terminals found near the cash registers of most stores and restaurants.

The FCAC’s investigation stems from a complaint by a business group over how Moneris is notifying thousands of merchants about upcoming changes to the fees it charges for processing credit cards. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business accuses Moneris of leaving retailers in the dark about whether the changes, which come into effect in April, will amount to an increase in their total fees.
Moneris is owned by Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada and handles payments for more than 350,000 stores in North America, according to its website.
The dispute is the latest flashpoint in the growing political storm over the fees that merchants must pay to accept plastic. Ottawa created the code of conduct last year, partly to ensure that merchants are fully aware of the costs associated with taking credit cards and other payments. Separately, the Competition Bureau has launched a case against Visa Canada Corp. and MasterCard International Inc., arguing that the rules the two companies impose on store owners are anti-competitive and overly restrictive, to the detriment of consumers.
The Moneris probe marks at least the second time the FCAC has looked into a possible breach of the code since its voluntary measures took effect about six months ago. Industry sources say the agency’s investigation of Moneris represents an important test of the code’s efficacy.
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Google and Apple meet on several battlefields in the mobile computing war

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseGoogle and Apple meet on several battlefields in the mobile computing war, but there is one big front where the rivals have yet to show their weapons: mobile augmented reality.
Mobile augmented reality (AR), which comprises the overlay of information on real-world views seen through a mobile phone's camera viewfinder, is the window to the Internet of Things, where real-world objects have data associated with them.
For example, one AR application could allow users to point their phone's camera at a building, click on an information label associated with the building and see information about the building's history.
ABI Research analyst Mark Beccue has been studying mobile AR, which to date has largely been a niche market covered by startups such as Layar and Wikitude, which have built AR browsers for smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform.
Beccue said the 2010 revenue total associated with AR amounted to only $21 million, but added that the total could explode to $3 billion by 2016.
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NASA announced the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to begin an 11-day mission


Space shuttle Discovery and its modified 747 c...
Image via Wikipedia

NASA announced the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to begin an 11-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with a launch at 4:50 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 24, from the space agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mission STS-133 is currently scheduled as Discovery's final flight.
Discovery's launch date was announced Friday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

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    New beta Chrome


    Google Chrome logo.
    Image via Wikipedia
    Google Feb. 17 released a new beta for its Chrome Web browser, including a new version of its V8 JavaScript engine, better security and other perks just two weeks after its last version went stable.
    Chrome 10 runs Crankshaft, a speedier version of the V8 engine that provides a 66 percent improvement on the company's V8 benchmark suite over the current stable release, Chrome 9. Google shows the benchmark numbers here.
    In another performance bump, Chrome 10 includes an early implementation of GPU-accelerated video, which means users with the right graphics hardware should see a CPU usage decrease up to 80 percent in full-screen mode, according to Chrome Product Manager Jeff Chan.
    This results in increased battery life, always a plus for travelers and corporate road warriors computing on the go.
    Chrome 10 sports upgrades in the settings panel. Instead of opening in a separate window, the settings now open in a tab. Also, Google added a search capability to let users search for a configuration setting from the search box.
    Users may also navigate to most settings pages using their own dedicated URLs, without needing to navigate through a sequence of windows.
    The Chrome team also added the capability for users to encrypt their Chrome Sync passwords, which allow users to sync passwords across multiple computers, with a secret sync passphrase.
    Chrome 10 is available in the beta channel for Windows, Mac, and Linux machines, but don't expect to wait long for this iteration to go stable.
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    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Chevron has called the charges false

    A gas station in Chevron Corporation's new tra...Image via WikipediaA U.S. judge asked lawyers in the long-running Chevron Corp pollution dispute in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest to do more work on Ecuadorean law before he decides whether any judgment against the oil company can be enforced.
    At a hearing in U.S. District Court in New York on Friday, Judge Lewis Kaplan did not convert his February 8 temporary restraining order halting the enforcement of any damages award against Chevron into an injunction. Kaplan's order lasts until March 8.
    The issue is part of a hard-fought 18 year-long legal battle in which rain forest residents have sought as much as $27 billion in damages over accusations that the second-largest U.S. oil company is responsible for oil dumped on their land in the 1970s and 1980s that causes death and illness.
    The litigation is considered a test case widely watched by international oil companies wary of damages claims.
    Chevron has called the charges false. As part of its broad attack on the allegations, Chevron filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in New York on February 1 against some Ecuadoreans, their Amazon Defense Fund supporters, and their main American lawyer, Steven Donziger.
    Oil company lawyer Randy Mastro said in court that the plaintiffs wanted to "wreak havoc" on Chevron, including "seizing boats, seizing ships, seizing tankers and disrupting the distribution stream around the world."
    He said Chevron was facing a "nightmare" of "irreparable harm."
    But an attorney for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs, Steven Hyman, asked: "How are the Ecuadorian plaintiffs who live in the bush ... going to seize up a 164 billion dollar company?"
    Chevron, which had anticipated a judgment in the South American country in favor of Ecuadorean farmers, had asked Kaplan to step in. On February 14, a court in Ecuador announced an $8.6 billion award, but the farmers appealed, claiming more money was needed for cleanup efforts.
    Kaplan told the parties to submit expert affidavits by February 24 on issues of Ecuadorean law and the appeals process there.
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    Friday, February 18, 2011

    President Barack Obama, his entourage fighting through a driving rain and wind storm, visited the tiny hamlet of Woodside

    WOODSIDE, Calif.--President Barack Obama, his entourage fighting through a driving rain and wind storm, visited the tiny hamlet of Woodside Feb. 17 for a dinner with the captains of the IT industry to talk mostly about job creation and education. It was Obama's eighth visit to the Bay Area and the first that didn't involve political fund raising. It was a private meeting at the home of Kleiner Perkins venture capitalist John Doerr that allowed no interaction with members of the press.
    The invited group of Silicon Valley executives included Doerr; Cisco Systems' CEO John Chambers; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Stanford University President John Hennessy; Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; Oracle CEO Larry Ellison; Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz; Apple Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs; Genentech Chairman and former CEO Art Levinson; and venture capitalist Steve Westly.
    Intel CEO Paul Otellini was also on the guest list. The White House said on Feb. 18 that Otellini will be named to a panel of experts advising the president about jobs creation.
    Otellini will join the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, created in January to focus on lifting hiring and promoting growth, Reuters reported.
    Following his overnight stay in the Bay Area, the president was to join Otellini in a tour of the Intel chip-making plant in Hillsboro, Ore.
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