Saturday, November 27, 2004
1 2 3
Friday, November 12, 2004
  Testing ATOM API #4


  Testing ATOM API #3

  Testing ATOM API #2

  Testing ATOM API

  Wooo hoooo!!!!

  EA: The Human Story

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Globe and Mail: No split for Google

Mr. Page and Mr. Brin outlined their unorthodox philosophy in a pre-IPO manifesto that they called an “owner's manual” for shareholders. The letter underscored the co-founders' deep admiration of fellow billionaire, Warren Buffett.

The Buffett-run Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has never split its stock, an anomaly that contributed to the company's eye-popping share price of $83,400 during Friday's trading.

Mr. Buffett frowns on stock splits because he believes it paves the way for more short-term speculators to buy and sell shares — a phenomenon that Google also wants to discourage.

“We would request our shareholders take the long-term view,” Mr. Page and Mr. Brin wrote in their IPO letter. “... A management team distracted by a series of short-term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour.”

Some analysts think Google's stock is bound to drop without a split, partially because nearly 90 million shares owed by company insiders will become eligible to be traded for the first time between mid-November and mid-January.

The looming expirations of these so-called “lock-up” periods is one of the reasons UBS analyst Benjamin Schachter set a $160 price target for Google's shares in a report issued Thursday. Mr. Schachter's bearish outlook caused Google's shares to plunge $14.41, or nearly eight per cent, during Friday's trading.

Software giant Microsoft Corp. has split its stock nine times since its 1986 IPO. If not for those splits, Microsoft's shares would be valued at about $8,386.56 per share instead of Friday's trading price of $29.12.

Yahoo Inc., perhaps Google's biggest rival, has split its stock four times, including three times within its first four years of going public. If not for the splits, Yahoo's shares would be valued at $866.16 instead of their Friday trading price of $36.09.


Globe and Mail: The best way to buy dividends

A stock with a growing dividend is the investment of a lifetime.

Own the shares of a company that regularly increases its dividends and you put yourself in a position to receive an ever-growing flow of income and benefit from a rising share price. The total return possibilities over a long period of time are just amazing.

Dividend growth is one of those tried-and-true investing strategies that get highlighted every now and again. This week, strategists at Lehman Brothers issued a note advising investors to seek companies with rising dividend payouts as opposed to stocks with a high dividend yield.

George Vasic, strategist at UBS Canada, recommended much the same approach in a report last year, while Tom Connolly of Kingston, Ont., has since 1981 published a newsletter based on the strategy of dividend growth.

As the Lehman people emphasized, the key here is dividend growth and not a high dividend yield. One reason is that a high dividend yield is a sign of investor concern that a company may not be able to sustain its high payout. Spammer Sentenced to 9 Years In First Felony Conviction

A North Carolina man was sentenced Wednesday to a nine-year jail term for spamming millions of America Online users, the country's first felony conviction for spewing junk mail.

Jeremy D. Jaynes, 30, of Raleigh, N.C., and his sister, Jessica DeGroot, 28, were convicted under a Virginia state law that limits the number of e-mails mass marketers can send, and like the federal CAN-SPAM Act, forbids them from using fake e-mail addresses. Each was found guilty on three felony charges.

When he was arrested last December, Jaynes was listed as the eighth most prolific spammer by Spamhaus, an anti-spam organization and clearing house.

According to Kilgore, Jaynes and DeGroot used spam to advertise a variety of products and services, including penny stocks, low mortgage rates, and work-at-home schemes. Prosecutors in the case alleged that Jaynes sent or tried to send 7.7 million messages to AOL subscribers in just one day, and reportedly raked in as much as $400,000 a month in orders for just one of their products.

During the trial, Jaynes was said to have accumulated a fortune of some $24 million by selling via spam.



NY Times: Hedge Funds' Glitter Fades (but Not for Investors)

Investors in Traxis are not the only ones to experience disappointment this year. These days, lots of funds are failing to meet expectations. Some smaller hedge fund managers are quitting the business. More established managers are generally hanging on, but their reputations have taken big hits.

Despite this weak performance, record sums are pouring into hedge funds and many on Wall Street see managing a hedge fund as the most promising route to real riches.

"Investment management has become the glamour profession of our age," said Michael Steinhardt, who got out of the business nine years ago after forging a reputation as one of the most successful hedge fund managers. "People make more managing money than in entertainment, sports or other areas."

It is easy to see why so many Wall Street stars are tempted to give the hedge fund business a try.

Hedge fund managers typically receive a flat fee of 1 percent of assets, whether or not they make money. For a $2 billion fund, that means the starting point in earnings is $20 million. Some of that goes to pay expenses. But the real money comes from the managers' share of any profits. Most receive 20 percent of any gains they achieve.

"The whole idea of running a hedge fund is like a lottery ticket," said Andrew Kaplan, 39, a former Fidelity mutual fund manager who shut down his $400 million hedge fund, Grange Park Technology, in September after two years of weak returns. "It's a great-paying job that could become a windfall."

Last year, George Soros, the best-paid and perhaps best-known hedge fund manager in the world, earned $750 million, according to Institutional Investor magazine's ranking of the top 25 earners in the industry. The average manager on the list took home $207 million, nearly twice as much as the year before.

But the bank accounts of most hedge fund managers are bound to be a little lighter this year. On average, hedge funds are up a mere 3.6 percent through September, according to an index kept by Hedge Fund Research.

"The spectacular growth of the hedge fund industry in recent years,'' said a report on hedge funds published last month by J. P. Morgan, "raises the question whether they have become so large that they have eliminated the opportunities they are seeking to exploit."

A more likely outcome, they said, is that even as more new hedge funds emerge, lesser performers will ultimately shut down, particularly those under $500 million in assets that fail to chalk up spectacular returns.

Barry Newburger, who started his $270 million hedge fund eight years ago, decided to close the fund last summer after too many other fund managers adopted his strategy of investing in takeover stocks.

"When I started the fund, I aspired to 15 percent annualized returns,'' he said. "Now, I'd be lucky to make 6 percent.''


Saturday, November 06, 2004
  Hot shot GCC coders at work again...

So people keep mentioning about how slow GCC has gotten, especially projects that depend on it, like Apple's OS group, and the Linux and BSD people. The GCC devs keep spouting about how they've changed their ways and they are trying to make sure that GCC gets faster. This thread keeps popping up every month or so. So where's the proof?

From GCC mailing list: Some numbers on gcc compiling itself:

The total compile time for all 643 .i files:

3.3.3 (hammer) cvs-20041030 slowdown %
TOTAL 417.38 484.75 16.14

The total compile time for all 643 .i files, *excluding* the top 10
slowdowns shown above:

3.3.3 (hammer) cvs-20041030 slowdown %
TOTAL 316.14 349.44 10.53

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Game makers hit with graphics patent violation suit

The patent, number 4,734,690 is owned one-time printing and graphics specialist Tektronix and covers the display in 2D of a 3D image. It was filed in April 1987 and granted almost a year later.

The technique described is used by almost every game that uses 3D modelling, from the latest titles right back to the likes of Quake and possibly right back to Doom and even Wolfenstein - all products of the 1990s. It covers the use of a 3D space - the UAC HQ on Mars, say - to encompass one or more 3D objects - half a dozen Cacodeamons, say. The patent details how panning across the scene - sidestepping past a plasma bolt, say - can be realistically depicted on a 2D display, such as a computer monitor.

Given its ubiquity, the firm behind the suit, Dallas, Texas-based McKool Smith, has named all the big guns in the gaming industry, including Electronic Arts, Activision, Take Two, Ubisoft, Atari, THQ, Vivendi Universal, Sega, Square Enix, Tecmo, Lucasarts and Namco. Some smaller firms are also in line for action, apparently.


NZ News: Five-a-day cancer benefit shaken

American researchers who analysed results from two large United States studies involving 100,000 people found those who ate the most fruit and vegetables had lower rates of heart disease but their "healthy" diets had no effect on the incidence of cancer.

The finding undermines one of the basic tenets of the healthy lifestyle. Governments worldwide have promoted the five-a-day strategy for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as a key defence against cancer and other chronic diseases.

Britain's Department of Health said in the NHS Plan published in 2000 that eating more fruit and vegetables was the second most effective way of preventing cancer, after not smoking.

The World Health Organisation, the Europe Against Cancer organisation and the US National Cancer Institute back the five-a-day strategy.

The World Cancer Research Fund, based in Britain, claims "30 to 40 per cent of cancer cases could be prevented by making healthier food and lifestyle choices".

That claim is now in doubt following a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health. Combining results from 71,000 women participants in the Nurses Health Study established in 1976 and 37,000 men in the Health Professionals study launched in 1986, the researchers compared consumption of fruit and vegetables with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Overall, those who ate at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily had a 12 per cent lower risk of a heart attack or stroke compared with those who ate fewer than 1.5 portions a day. But there was no effect on overall cancer incidence, and the researchers felt the protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake "may have been overstated".


  Woo hoo!!! I should've bet some money back in April

The 'incumbent-President-defeats-sitting-senator' indicator worked!!!

Better than the "Washington Redskins" or "stock market performance during term of office" indicator.

Dang. Should've put some money on this.

I am surprised about the number of votes that Bush got.

I think Bush's platform targeted a lower level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs than Kerry's platform. Just my guess.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

SJ Mercury: That's incredible

It took Pixar four years to realize writer/screenwriter Brad Bird's vision for his story about one of the world's top crime fighters, now married with kids and adjusting to life in the suburbs. The film opens in theaters Friday.

Bird unwittingly demanded some of the toughest stuff to digitally animate: hair, fabric, dozens of scene changes and, most difficult of all, people. And not just one person, but a family of five and a group of supporting characters -- all of whom get close-ups.

``With the movie we took the 10 hardest things to do in (computer-generated animation) and did all of them in generous amounts,'' said Bird, slouching low in a conference room chair at Pixar's Emeryville campus last week. ``A lot of people have thought we were nuts. We were, actually. But somehow, we got through it and we're still alive and functioning.''

Bird already has a considerable reputation within the animation community. He brought his artistic talents and eye for family dysfunction to a pair of irreverent television series, ``The Simpsons'' and ``King of the Hill.'' And his first animated feature, ``The Iron Giant,'' won broad critical acclaim.

For ``The Incredibles,'' animators started by creating a computer-generated skeleton for Bob -- later replicated -- for the other main characters -- that could move in realistic, human ways. The animators focused on accurately capturing the rotation and articulation of major joints, like the shoulder, knowing that would be key to maintaining the illusion of reality.

``If all the motion is localized in the shoulder joint, it looks stiff. You look at it and say, `He looks like a reincarnated zombie,' '' said Sayre, who demonstrates proper shoulder movement and starts slinging anatomical expressions like a first-year med student.

Next, computer animators built muscles that would bulge and flex in all the right places. Like gym rats, they focused their work on major muscle groups that would convey Bob's super strength: the pectorals, the deltoids, the trapezius and the laterals of the upper body and back.

The muscles attach to the digital skeleton and reacted authentically. The deltoid muscle would properly ball up at the shoulder, say, when Bob raises his Barry Bonds-like arms.

``We didn't have all that,'' said Sayre. ``We had to invent it.''

Atop its pioneering design for computer-generated skeleton and muscle, Pixar developed a technology called ``goo,'' that simulates how the skin glides over the muscles and pinches like our own flesh. Whenever Bob raises an arm, an algorithm automatically creates a cavity under the armpit and draws the skin tightly against his rib cage.

Another challenge is capturing the way light is absorbed and reflected through the skin. Pixar's technicians devoted several months developing software to emulate the skin's opacity, so that when a character is back-lit his or her ears will be reddish-opaque.

The first time animators lighted a character, it sprang to life.

``It kicked things up a lot. It was like, `Oh. That looks alive,' '' recalled Bill Wise, the film's character supervisor.



NY Times: Japan Issues New Currency to Foil Forgers

Ostensibly, the newly designed notes that will flood into A.T.M.'s this week were introduced to foil counterfeiters. In 1998, only 800 cases of forged yen notes were detected. But with home computers, printers and copiers becoming increasingly sophisticated, 14,000 fake bills were found in the first half of this year, the National Police Agency said.

"This must make counterfeits difficult," he said after inspecting the new bills, which have holograms, watermarks and special inks.

Counterfeiting probably costs Japan only $1 million a year in direct losses. Most fake bills, generally 1,000-yen notes, are swallowed by vending machines, Japan's ubiquitous mechanical purveyors of drinks and cigarettes. Introducing the new currency will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, partly to issue 10 billion new bank notes, and partly to modify the 1.8 million vending machines in Japan.

The high cost suggests another agenda, which appears to be flushing out hidden money. The currency shift is an attempt to bring into the economy trillions of yen that Japan's elderly keep stashed at home.

"The trick in Japan is to unlock the mattress money, the futon money," Jesper Koll, chief economist for Merrill Lynch Japan, said. "In Japan, coins and notes account for about 15 percent of national income, which compares to 6 percent in Germany and 3 to 3.5 percent in America."

Until Japan's banking crisis hit a decade ago, 7 percent of the national income was held in cash. Now, with the banks increasingly stable, the government hopes to lure some of the $700 billion in mattress money into banks, or better yet into consumer spending and investments.



NY Times: India Taps China's Reserve of Technological Talent

Infosys, the Bangalore-based software services company, and other top Indian outsourcing rivals, including Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro Technologies, are doing application development and maintenance work in China as they grow rapidly to keep up with booming demand from the West for their services.

And they are quickly concluding that only China has a worker base equal to India's in terms of cost, quality and scale. Expansion there also offers the ability to cater to - and possibly garner more of - the local and regional markets, including Japan.

"We need a deep reservoir of talent as well as an alternative low-cost center like India as we continue to grow," said Nandan Nilekani, chief executive of Infosys, who has talked of his company's scaling up to become the Wal-Mart of outsourcing. "And only China can match up."

China has some 200,000 information technology workers - compared with India's 850,000 - in 6,000 local companies, according to some estimates. More than 50,000 Chinese software programmers are being added to this pool annually.

Some important ingredients that have made India a formidable global software services exporter are in place in China as well, like the high value put on education and a focus on engineering in higher education.

China also offers Indian outsourcing concerns a low employee turnover rate. For instance, Tata Consultancy's staff turnover in China is less than 6 percent a year, compared with 15 percent in its Indian operations. The company says it may double the number of employees in China in the next 18 months from its current 180.

For now, however, even with wages rising in India, China's information technology workers are more expensive "because a combination of English-language and technical skills is at a premium," Mr. Nilekani of Infosys said.

According to Mr. Pande of Tata, the wage differential is about 12 to 15 percent. So while an entry-level programmer in India might earn $125 a month, a Chinese equivalent might earn $142 to $147. The managerial talent differential is even bigger.

And scalability - the ability to grow quickly when circumstances warrant - is posing a challenge because of the scarcity of good English speakers and experienced managers in China. While even second-tier Indian software companies have 12,000 to 15,000 employees, only a handful of Chinese software companies have more than 3,000.


test 1 2 3

Powered by Blogger