Friday, July 30, 2004
  NY Times : Commercial Real Estate: Discount Variety Stores Work on Image to Upgrade Retail Locations

  The New York Times > Business > Market Place: Did Someone Say Doughnuts? Yes. The S.E.C.

Another Panet Hollywood/Boston Market about to happen.

"Unlike other companies with franchise operations that they occasionally reacquire, Krispy Kreme does not reduce the value of these assets on its books over time, known in accounting parlance as amortization. By not amortizing these assets, Krispy Kreme's earnings per share are higher than they would be if the assets were reduced over time.

Krispy Kreme says that its accounting reflects its belief that reacquired franchise rights have 'indefinite lives.' But Donn W. Vickrey, a founder of Camelback Research Alliance, an independent research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., that scrutinizes companies' financial statements, called it aggressive accounting.

'We surveyed 18 publicly traded companies with franchise operations, four of which had reacquired franchises, and they had amortized them,' Mr. Vickrey said. 'That clearly seems like the right thing to do.'

In addition, Mr. Vickrey said, evidence suggests that Krispy Kreme had paid inflated prices to buy back some franchises from related parties. In 2003, for example, Krispy Kreme paid $67.5 million to buy franchises in Dallas and Shreveport, La., that had been owned by two of its former directors. The sale included five stores and one commissary, a production facility used by the company to serve off-premises customers.

That figure looks especially high when compared with a 22-store franchise in Southern California on the block for a reported $80 million but which Krispy Kreme has declined to buy back. 'Are these stores really that inferior?' Mr. Vickrey asked. "

Thursday, July 29, 2004
  Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP: Thong-wearing men arrested at Wal-Mart

Two men who were arrested for walking through a Wal-Mart while wearing women's thong underwear blamed the stunt on a "triple-dog dare," authorities said.

  The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Microsoft outsourcing high-level work, labor group says

The Slashdot idiots/lapdogs have jumped on this article like Scooby jumps for a Scooby snack. The lame Washtech union wonks must be loving this. Too bad it's a really lame example of outsourcing. It's not like MS is outsourcing Office development.

"Much of the work involves testing, preparing user guides and building specialized tools. One of the Infosys projects is a guide for customers switching from an Oracle database to a Microsoft database.

Yet a Microsoft spokeswoman said none of the company's core intellectual property is being developed outside the company.

Of the $6.9 billion spent on researching and developing new products in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 4 percent was done by outside companies and 1 percent was done by outside companies based overseas, spokeswoman Stacy Drake said.

'These accusations don't reflect an understanding of our global business,' she said. 'As a global company with operations in more than 80 countries now, we absolutely work with partner companies around the world, but both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have clearly stated the majority of our core development work will remain in the U.S.'

Microsoft's telecommunications group hired Wipro for testing of Longhorn and update kits for Windows XP and Server 2003. Infosys is working on a guide that would help customers upgrading to the Longhorn system. "

  VA Drops $472 Million Computer System (

It seems BearingPoint doesn't understand the words "customer satisfaction" or perhaps they should learn to say "no" once in awhile. Gee, all these IT consultants handling these projects badly- doesn't anyone get punished for a bad project???

"Congressional investigators discovered that the company awarded the contract for the system, BearingPoint, was paid more than $200,000 as an incentive bonus for keeping the Bay Pines computer project on schedule even though employees were not properly trained to use it. BearingPoint officials declined to comment Tuesday."

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
  MSNBC - Are there too many ATMs?
It's simple economics. Running an ATM machine can cost roughly $1,000 to $1,500 per month. Even if fees are at the high end, $2 per withdrawal, that's still quite a steady stream of cash-seekers required for the machine to reach break-even. And if there's four other ATMs at the block, not to mention a grocery store that accepts debit cards and offers cash back, well, the ATM machine can be left pretty lonely.
Consumers who don't have much sympathy for greedy, fee-charging ATM machines -- known to a New York consumer group as 'Always Taking Money' machines -- may be even more frustrated to learn the profit squeeze hurts them, too. As the business struggles, costs to consumers go up. Average ATM withdrawal fees at non-bank ATMs crept upward last year, from $1.48 to $1.65. And -- no surprise -- two thirds of non-bank ATM operators plan to hike fees again this year.
While the total amount of transactions for all ATMs continues to slowly rise, the critical transaction-per-machine average fell last year, from an average of 2,509 in 2002 to 2,432 in 2003. Transactions per machine have been in steady declines since the gold rush began in 1996, and are off 60 percent since then, according to Dove."

Monday, July 26, 2004 Millar comes clean over his dirty deceit
In August 2003, having in 2001 been introduced to EPO by an Italian team-mate, he asked a Spanish doctor, Jesus Losa, for more. "I put my life and my career in his hands, and paid him 12,000 a year."

From some quarters there will be a predictable reaction to this. Highly paid athletes - and Millar confirmed to the judge that his salary as world champion this season was 800,000 - don’t tend to elicit much sympathy when they complain of mental stress.

Sunday, July 25, 2004
  NY Times: The Quest for the Nonkiller App

Although presidential election years are typically good ones for the stock market, in years when the incumbent president is heading for defeat in November, the stock market almost always starts to turn precipitously lower around the time of the national party conventions.

Conversely, if it begins to look like the incumbent will keep the White House, stocks typically stage a late-summer rally that continues through election day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004
  The New York Times: Correcting the Record on Sept. 11, in Great Detail

  Fortune: The Money Machines

What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers—at a rate of about $250 a month per machine. They are, ironically, loss leaders, since banks don't generally charge their own customers if they use the banks' machines. At Bank of America, for example, whose collection of some 16,000 machines is the largest among the nation's financial institutions, 85% of all ATM transactions are conducted by BofA's customers—about half of whom keep their business with the bank, they say, for just that reason. Wells Fargo has come to much the same conclusion. "If you're looking at it from a pure accounting perspective, it looks like you're losing money," says Jonathan Velline, who heads up ATM banking for the San Francisco-based bank. "But the truth is, if I didn't have ATMs, I wouldn't have customers."

  Washington Post: An Answering Machine on Hold

After eight weeks, 38 episodes, 76 opponents and more than 1,300 questions in more than 450 categories, just how long is Ken Jennings's record winning streak going to last?

The one-man geekathon by the boyish software engineer from Salt Lake City has sent ratings for the staid quiz show skyward and created a cult following for someone who easily pinpoints the most remote rivers in the world but can't find his car in a parking garage.

Leaving the air now for summer hiatus, "Jeopardy!" will return in September.

So will Ken Jennings.

Over the course of Jennings's run, "Jeopardy!" ratings have steadily climbed from 9.6 million to 12.3 million viewers, giving even the wildly popular "Wheel of Fortune" a run for its vowels.

Down they went, two by two. Lawyers, copywriters, homemakers, retirees, a guy who once drove a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and another who used to be a telephone psychic. Like all "Jeopardy!" contestants, they had to pay their own expenses and, even with $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third, many ended up in the hole, returning home with nothing but a "Jeopardy!" travel cup, a tote bag and a bittersweet place in television history.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
  HardOCP: id Software's Official DOOM3 Benchmarks
Looking at the cream of the crop in video cards, it is painfully obvious that ATI is going to have to make some changes in their product line to stay competitive, at least with DOOM 3 gamers. There is no way for a $500 X800XT-PE to compete with a $400 6800GT when the GT is simply going to outperform the more expensive card by a good margin. I am sure ATI is trying their best to figure out their next move and it will certainly be interesting to see if their driver teams pull a rabbit out of their hat or not.


Asinine German cycling fans harassed five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong during yesterday’s grueling ride though the French Alps — two of the “idiots” spat on him, and another spectator chased him while wearing a “F - - - Bush” T-shirt. By the end of the day, of course, the spit on Armstrong was exchanged for a bath of champagne, thanks to the Texan's time-trial victory.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - Now it's divorce, same-sex style

"On June 17, Mesbur also imposed a sweeping publication ban on the identities of M.M. and J.H., ordering no reference be made to their names, ages, occupations, addresses or other identifying characteristics.

M.M. has 'serious concerns about embarrassment and emotional distress as a result of the publication of her identity and does not wish for her personal life to become known to her professional colleagues,' McCarthy said in court documents.

'There is a certain stigma associated with being ... the first gay or lesbian couple to divorce,' the documents said, noting the case 'will likely fuel further public debate.'"

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 RSS Traffic Burdens Publisher's Servers

An unintended side-effect of the load-balancing algorithm for RSS feeds. It's kind of like the effect of many people walking across a bridge in unison.

  Globe and Mail: Why a $180-million computer can't deliver a welfare hike

  Toronto Star: How costly computer sparked 'nightmare'

"From the outset there have been problems with it," she said, adding it causes "needless frustration for both clients and staff."

Indeed, sources from the previous Tory government acknowledge that the original January, 1997, deal overwhelmed political and bureaucratic staff, which ensured the then Andersen officials had the upper hand in the arrangement.

"The government did not have the in-house expertise in process, technology or delivery," said one former senior official.

It was not until Tory social services minister John Baird renegotiated it in 2000 that runaway costs started to come down.

Despite the problems with Accenture, the province signed another $32 million deal in 2002 for maintenance of the troubled system. Sources say that contract was struck because only Accenture could operate the program.

But in British Columbia it takes as little as an hour to make a rate change, said Tara Schauerte of the ministry of human resources; Alberta has a similar system takes a week to 10 days to make rate adjustments, suggesting the Ontario computer may not be up to snuff.

Stu Butts, chair and CEO of Xenos, a Toronto-based computer company with major clients around the world, was appalled at the costs of fixing the problem. "I do not believe there can be that level of problems for the solutions they are trying to achieve."

Robert Bernecky, president of Snake Island Research, who has been working with computers since 1962, said the $500 million price tag is "100 times too expensive" and the system could have been built for $5 million.

"Somebody's got their face in the trough."

  Toronto Star: $20M to fix welfare pay delay

Someone is lying. There's no way it should cost $20M to change a number by 3 percent and check the results for all the different cases. I'm sure you could get a competent group of programmers to do it for $1M. That's assuming that the system has been coherently and sanely designed. From the comments about the ease of use of the system, one can say that the designers of the system screwed up. Let's see: overbudget by almost 100%, hard and expensive to modify, and hard to use for common cases. Yes, this is a design win that Accenture should be touing with every client.

And the company that built the system, Accenture Canada, said in a statement it was understood by the former government "that there would be new rate calculations such as these with an additional cost associated for testing them."

"This is a complex and large system — used by over 7,500 caseworkers, processing approximately 2 million transactions per day with an average response time of under 0.1 seconds, delivering benefits to 670,000 Ontarians."

The company said making a rate change will require additional testing against the more than 800 eligibility rules, such as residence type, disability status and legal status in Canada, special needs and income amount.

Pupatello said the government doesn't have a legal leg to stand on in terms of going after Accenture Canada, the contractor formerly known as Andersen Consulting, which has been paid $284 million. Additional staffing and training costs ballooned the price tag to about $500 million.

"The government was more than happy to sign off (on certain capabilities) ... a rate change for example. Rate change wasn't even on the radar, it wasn't even considered," she said.

The government suggests that fixing the welfare side of the problem would cost about $10 million, and the disability side would be about as much.

John Baird, who was minister from June, 1999, to April, 2002, said it was "laughable" that the previous administration was being blamed for the problem.

"At no time was it ever brought to my attention that we didn't want the capacity to raise welfare rates," said Baird, the Nepean-Carleton Conservative MPP.

People who have to work with the system have said it is confusing and takes hours to make even the smallest adjustments.

"In creating this massive system (they) that made it so damn convoluted that it takes hours to make even the most minor change," said a former caseworker, who added that it is so difficult to retrieve information that fraud cases have been dropped because necessary evidence can't be found in the computer.

Another government insider confided that the system is so time consuming that caseworkers are prevented from spending precious minutes with welfare and disability recipients.

Despite the controversy, Accenture's Web site has a two-page write-up about the Ministry of Community and Social Services contract, which the company says has saved the government $692 million by upgrading a 30-year-old system whose costs had jumped to $6.8 billion in 1995 from $1.3 billion in 1985.

Monday, July 19, 2004
  NY Times: A Drive-Through Lane to the Next Time Zone

Mr. Bigari said he had cut order time in his dual-lane drive-throughs by slightly more than 30 seconds, to about 1 minute, 5 seconds, on average. That's less than half the average of 2 minutes, 36 seconds, for all McDonald's, and among the fastest of any franchise in the country, according to, which tracks such things. His drive-throughs now handle 260 cars an hour, Mr. Bigari said, 30 more than they did before he started the call center.

Tests conducted by outside companies found that his drive-throughs now make mistakes on fewer than 2 percent of all orders, down from about 4 percent before he started using the call centers, he said.

Mr. Bigari is so enthusiastic about the call-center idea that he has expanded it beyond the drive-through window at his seven restaurants that use the system. While he still offers counter service at those restaurants, most customers now order through the call center, using phones with credit card readers on tables in the seating area. Play areas at the restaurants have them, too, so a parent can place an order over the phone, pay with a credit card and have the food delivered.

The next step, Mr. Bigari said, is to use his call centers to take cellphone orders, something the futurist Paul Saffo said would become commonplace in the next two years. Mr. Bigari plans to test cellphone ordering this summer.

Friday, July 16, 2004
  BBC: Films 'fuel online file-sharing'

Films and other files larger than 100MB are becoming the most requested downloads on networks around the world, said UK net analysts CacheLogic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 July 2004 Security Patches

Six vulnerabilities, one of them is NT4 only. Only a couple look really bad.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
  SJ Mercury News: Doping done by few, U.S. track chief says

But some are not so optimistic. They see the affair illustrating how far out of touch drug testers have been. With Kelli White, the 100- and 200-meter world champion, admitting that she used the blood-boosting drug EPO and the human growth hormone, with documents showing that others took testosterone and insulin, the scandal has opened a window into how easily athletes cheated.

Nonetheless, the only way drug testers discovered THG was through track coach Trevor Graham, who turned in a syringe with the substance to get back at Conte, the Mercury News reported this week.

Graham, who once trained Jones and Tim Montgomery, wanted to ruin Conte after parting ways with the nutritionist in a project involving Montgomery. That project, according to sources and documents, involved turning Montgomery into the world's fastest sprinter with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

  NY Times: The Ultimate Luxury Item Is Now Made in China

Now the Chinese are building huge yachts and competing on price!

Kingship is trying to sell on price, undercutting the Italian, Dutch and American shipbuilders that dominate the luxury boat trade.

"What would normally be a $10 million boat is $7 million," said Dean Leigh-Smith, executive manager of the Gold Coast City Marina near Brisbane, Australia. The saving, he said, is "a lot of money in anyone's language."

"We've had our small dramas with them, quality control," Mr. Leigh-Smith said. But, he added, "Every time we've gone to the factory and said 'we're not happy with this,' they've rectified it."

As is often the case with manufacturing in China, Kingship is entering the yacht market with a lot of help from abroad.

Mr. Liang is financing and directing the project from Hong Kong. He brought in Mr. Yong from Singapore. Prominent American and Dutch designers drew up the blueprints for Kingship's yachts.

  NY Times: Peirsol Sets World Record in 200-Meter Backstroke

The butterfly is Phelps's last event and one that could also trip him up because Crocker is the current world record holder. Coincidentally or not, Peirsol and Crocker are college teammates at Texas and neither of them will step aside easily for Phelps.

"Aaron had a real telling quote recently," said Eddie Reese, his coach at Texas and also the Olympic men's team coach. "He said, 'I don't want to lose my event.' He was talking about the 200 back. Eighty percent of swimmers like to win, 20 percent hate to lose and 95 percent of the Olympic team comes from the hate-to-lose group. When you beat one of those people, you've done a great job. They don't give in."

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
  The Globe and Mail: Mutant syphilis strain resistant to antibiotic pills

But now researchers at University of Washington in Seattle have found at least 10 per cent of syphilis samples from patients at sexually transmitted disease clinics in four cities had a strain resistant to azithromycin.

  Indiana Gazette: STDs On Rise Among Nation's Teenagers

"So why are STD rates on the increase? The answer might be oral sex.

Although not much data has been collected as to youths' opinions on oral sex, a few small studies, as reported by SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States), show that teenagers may be using oral sex as an alternative to vaginal sex to prevent pregnancy. "

  Cincinnati Enquirer: STD scourge an epidemic among teens

"But far more kids have STDs than babies, he said. 'STDs are going up at the same time teen pregnancy is going down.

Here's another reason STDs are out of control: Teens have been taught by our culture that oral sex is not sex - although it transmits STDs. They are seduced with a relentless background music of sex in media and entertainment. And when they think of STDs at all, they think of the disease that gets all the attention, AIDS.

But all HIV cases in Ohio (854) don't equal one-fourth the Hamilton County cases of gonorrhea. For every case of AIDS in Ohio this year, there were 21 cases of chlamydia in Hamilton County in 2002 (latest reports).
'When you and I were in high school, one out of every 50 people we knew had an STD,' said Phelps. 'It's now one in every three.

Syphilis was the STD of the 1960s, and it was curable. Today, it's almost unheard of, replaced by more than 30 new STDs - and nearly a third are incurable. "

  Tom's Hardware: Lite-On, LG and BenQ Bring 8.5-GB Recordable DVDs to the Party - Dual-Layer Recordable DVD's Place In History

But when will the media appear at a reasonable price??? I'd be surprised if they can get anything decent by Xmas.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
  MBM R.I.P.

January 21st 1998 the Internet saw the 1st version of MBM v. 1.0

Juli 6th 2004, about 7.5 years later the MBM development comes to a stop

Yes you read it right, after thinking about it for several weeks I have decided to stop development on MBM. Over the years many (if not all) clones appeared that tried to do what MBM did. Some succeeded others did not. Some I feel where technically and user wise better then MBM but with an average of 6000 hits a day and coverage on almost every PC magazine in the world it still seems to be the most popular monitoring tool around. And it is better to stop at your peak :)

Main reasons for stopping development seem to be: mobo makers making it tough to get info, time answering email (many of them FAQs), GFX cards now support sensors - so he'd have to support those too, and burn-out.

Saturday, July 03, 2004
  NY Times: Engineering More Sons Than Daughters

In China, the researchers estimate that 120 boys are born for every 100 girls. The official birth sex ratio in India is about 113 boys for every 100 girls, the authors write, but they claim that spot checks in some places show ratios up to 156 boys for every 100 girls.

The birth sex ratio worldwide is about 105 boys for every 100 girls, according to United States Bureau of the Census information used by the authors. By age 5, the ratio ends up being about even, because boys have a higher mortality rate.

It's not just a question of numbers, although Ms. Hudson and Ms. den Boer declare that societies with young adult sex ratios of about 120 men to 100 women are inherently unstable. They also draw on studies showing that countries with few marriageable women tend to develop authoritarian political systems and be more violent toward women. And they examine historical evidence. In China, they argue, the Nien Rebellion in 1851 and the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 are some examples of gangs of bare branches using force to get what they wanted. They also looked at case histories in Taiwan, India and Portugal.

Mr. Fish of Berkeley, in his own research into why democracy is so rare in Muslim countries, has examined 150 countries with populations over 500,000 and has concluded that the status of women, more than anything else, explained the strength or weakness of democracy. And the two biggest indicators of female status, he said, were sex ratios and the gap in literacy between men and women.

On average, he found that Muslim countries had sex ratios of 102 men for every 100 women, although it can go as high as 125 men for every 100 women in Saudi Arabia, for example.

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