Microsoft and Yahoo try to double team Google

Microsoft appears to have finally locked up rival Yahoo in a long-awaited Internet search partnership aimed at narrowing Google’s commanding lead in the most lucrative piece of the online advertising market.
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A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the details of the Microsoft-Yahoo alliance are expected to be announced Wednesday. This person spoke Tuesday night on condition on anonymity, confirming earlier reports, because the deal was not yet final.

Both Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo declined to comment late Tuesday.
The deal does not appear to be as far-reaching as many investors envisioned.

For instance, Yahoo would not get cash payments in advance from Microsoft. That development could disappoint investors. Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz had pledged she would join forces with Microsoft only for “boatloads of money.”

The Old City of Jerusalem has a Twitter page!

For centuries, people have written prayers on scraps of paper and stuffed them into the ancient cracks in the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. In recent years they could fax or e-mail their prayers — and now they can tweet them, too.
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The Western Wall now has its own address on Twitter allowing believers around the globe to have their prayers placed between its 2,000-year-old stones without leaving their armchairs.

The service’s founder, Alon Nil, 25, says petitioners can tweet their short prayers — limited to 140 characters — to http://twitter.com/theKotel, or send them in a direct message for privacy, and they will be printed out and taken to the wall.

The young economist started the Twitter page three weeks ago and has already received hundreds of prayers.
“It all started awhile after the riots in Iran, and I realized the potential of Twitter,” Nil said. “There are an infinite number of uses for Twitter, and I thought, ‘What can I do that is new and creative and might benefit the people of Israel?’ “

Nil monitors Twitter and runs a companion website, tweetyourprayers.info, as a hobby, but he hopes his small operation can help unite people worldwide.

“You name the country, I’ve gotten prayers from them,” he said. “I hope in some way that by tweeting their prayers, these people are helping themselves somehow. Once you figure out what you want, in 140 characters or less, you can start to take action.”

Nil wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming interest in his venture. On Thursday night, he had more than 1,000 unread messages.

“I’m swamped. I can’t keep up with all the tweets,” he said. “I can’t keep maintaining it by myself. But I’m determined to not lose even one prayer.”

Phone Booths Nearly Extinct in NYC!

Remember phone booths? Not pay phones, but the actual booths you got into in order to access that phone. Well there are only four left in all of Manhattan! Hey who needs privacy anymore? Maybe Clark Kent?
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When movie companies film now they often have to recreate their phone booth scenes with props.

The cell phone used to be a luxury now it is now something that you can’t leave your home without and the proof is the disappearance of the pay phone. ATT has even reported a 20% drop in home phones. Why have a phone at home when you can bring your “home phone” with you?

In Japan even the office phones are “mobile”…each employee has a “PHS” phone that is linked to his or her extension so that when they leave their desk for any reason they can be reached.

In China very few people have so called fixed lines…the phone companies are years away form connecting everyone anyway so with wireless why even try?

New stats show China now has more mobile phones than it has landlines. According to the data from the Ministry of Information Industry subscriber numbers were up by more than 36% in 2008 to 290 million.

If you want to see a rare booth the remaining ones are at 101st, 100th, 90th and 66th streets in Manhattan. Better visit them now, soon they will only be in museums.

Socialism In One Lesson

Many of you may have heard this tale. With all the talk these days about the USA becoming socilaist it is worth repeating.

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism/communism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.”

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes away the reward for great efforts, no one will make them.

It could not be any simpler than that.
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2200 Year Old Computer.

More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera.

It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it an astronomical clock? Or was it something else? For decades, scientific investigation failed to yield much light and relied more on imagination than the facts.
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However research over the last half century has begun to reveal its secrets. Scientists used imaging and high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the Antikythera Mechanism.

It dates from around the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world.

The device contains a complicated arrangement of at least 30 precision, hand-cut bronze gears housed inside a wooden case covered in inscriptions. But the device is fragmented, so its specific functions have remained controversial. The team was able to reconstruct the gear function and double the number of deciphered inscriptions on the computer’s casing. The device, they say, is technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards.

The Antikythera Mechanism is now understood to be dedicated to astronomical phenomena and operates as a complex mechanical “computer” which tracks the cycles of the Solar System.

A new paper from the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project (AMRP) is published in the prestige science journal Nature on July 31st 2008. It reveals surprising results on the back dials of the Antikythera Mechanism including a dial dedicated to the four-year Olympiad Cycle of the games of ancient Greece.

The research team has also deciphered all the months on the Mechanism’s 19-year calendar, revealing month names that are of Corinthian origin, probably from a Corinthian colony of the western Hellenic world overturning the previous idea that the Mechanism was from the eastern part of the Mediterranean. For the first time we have direct evidence of its cultural origin.
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Additional research has also transformed our understanding of the Mechanism’s sophisticated eclipse prediction dials. These results have extended the work about the complex structure of the Mechanism’s gears and dials and have added new and intriguing cultural and social dimensions.

Where did this device come from? Aliens? What are your thoughts?

Small Business Owners Imitate Ferris Bueller!

Rhonda Abrams of USA Today wrote an article about small businesses being fun. I think it is worth reminding ourselves during the recession why we went into business by ourselves.

There’s a dirty little secret most of us in small business rarely admit: we are enjoying ourselves. Sure, we had long hours and uneven income. But we scoffed at our friends, sitting in rush hour traffic or stuffed into buses, commuting to jobs with demanding bosses, endless meetings and ridiculous reports. Meanwhile, we had work we actually liked, spent our hours productively, then slipped off to the gym in the middle of the afternoon if we felt like it.

But with the recession, those of us who own our businesses have hunkered down. We’ve kept our nose to the grindstone, bogged down with administrative tasks, juggling expenses, stretching income, demoralized when we’ve had to lay employees off.

None of that’s any fun.

Well, it’s time to get serious about having fun in your business again. By fun, I don’t mean going to the movies instead of making sales calls or exchanging your conference table for a ping-pong table (though that might be a good idea…), I mean finding ways to get greater enjoyment from your day-to-day work life.

Yes, I know these are tough times. All the more reason to find ways — inexpensively — to get greater non-financial satisfaction from your small business. Heck, if you’re not making as much money, you should at least make the most of the other benefits you can get by being self-employed or running your own company.

People often use the term “lifestyle business” to derisively describe a small business. But why not, in these challenging times, embrace it? Why not create a lifestyle of your own with your business and forge your own path?

Throw out the rule book and find a way to do business your way:

• Stop watching the clock: Why not take that Zumba class at 11 am or leave at 3 pm to hang out with the kids? If necessary, go back to work at night. Structure your work day to maximize the things you like to do.

• Imitate Ferris Bueller: Take a day off (even once a week) if work is really slow. Go hiking, biking, golfing, to a bargain matinee. Connect with your inner child and your actual children.
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• Put up a “gone fishin'” sign: I knew a very successful tortilla factory owner who left his business whenever the fish were biting. If you have a business trip, add a half day or more for sightseeing. If you haven’t had a vacation in a while, take some time off and recharge your batteries.

• Rah! Rah! — Give yourself an incentive program, just like you would with a salesperson. Write up the rules: “If I land three new customers, I get a nice meal out.” “If I finish this project, I get a trip to the baseball game.” Enjoy it — it’s on the boss.

• Use your talents: Face it, for many of us, the most fun is doing the work we love, the work that drove us to open our own business in the first place — especially if we’re in a creative field. Over time, it’s typical to get bogged down in administrative tasks. Decide to spend more of your time doing the work you love and delegate boring tasks to employees, outsourcing, or better use of technology.

Remember, one of the reasons we started our own business was to have more control over our life: our work hours, vacation schedule and job description. So let’s take that control, shake things up, and run our business in our own way.

Don’t Ignore Mobile Media

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The new generation of Blackberries and the iPhone are important steps on the evolutionary path toward a single multi-purpose device that combines, integrates, synchronizes and aggregates computers, the Internet, telephony, credit and debit cards, digital photography, and who knows what could be next. And while it might take a few years for the number of daily users to reach hundreds of millions, this phenomenon will be upon us before you know what hit you.

That means NOW is the time to get familiar with mobile media. Begin thinking about the idea of constant access to the Net and constant consumer motion and communication.

This development will forever change they way we stimulate brand awareness, preference and purchase and change shopping expectations and behavior in ways we can’t yet predict..

“He lives vicariously through himself.”

“The police often question him just because they find him interesting.”

And he can drive an expensive imported beer brand to double-digit sales gains during a recession that’s forced many of its competitors into steep declines.

He is the “Most Interesting Man in the World,” the 60-something Connery-meets-Castro-meets-Hemingway character created by ad agency Euro RSCG to sell Heineken USA’s Dos Equis brand.

Through mid-June, a period when imported beer sales dropped 11%, sales of Dos Equis rose more than 17%, moving the brand into eighth place among imports (in a tie with Stella Artois), when shipments rose 13%.

That success prompted Heineken executives, who had been running the ads since 2007 in a few stronghold markets for the brand, to take the message national this spring.

“There’s never really been an import brand that’s been built so clearly through advertising,” said Benj Steinman, publisher of Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Equally unprecedented is the campaign’s reliance on two things rarely seen — actively shunned, even — in beer ads: a gray-haired protagonist, played in the Dos Equis ads by veteran TV actor Jonathan Goldsmith, who in every ad acknowledges that he doesn’t always drink beer.

But to hear the people behind the campaign tell it, there was really no other way to effectively attack the 2006 brief, which challenged the agency to “establish a distinctive, desirable and premium identity as evidenced by significant growth of key brand-tracking measures,” which would, in turn, be “different from other brands,” a “cool brand” and be “worth paying more for.”

They came up with a character who has spent his life, according to the grainy images in the spots, engaging in swordplay, leading mysterious expeditions, reeling in large sailfish and arm wrestling soldiers. The images are provided without context or explanation, which is the point.

“Drinkers want to be seen by their friends, and by ladies, as interesting.”

That’s seldom clearer than it is online, where the Most Interesting Man hosts a Most Interesting Academy, in which he delivers various life lessons and opines for an avid Facebook following of about 58,000 fans (the brand has an additional 114,000 fans on its own page) who seem to hang on his every word.

Consider that, on July 8, he advised his Facebook followers: “Every now and then, bite off more than you can chew.” Within an hour, 965 people had blessed the comment with an approving “likes this,” and 110 more had taken the time to write out their own responses, many of which were attempts at similar pearls of wisdom. Likewise, on the Dos Equis’ website, which he dominates, visitors spend an average of 7.42 minutes per visit, according to Google Analytics.