On NPR’s Planet Money site, a “multimedia team of reporters tracks down the economists, investors and regular folks who are trying to make sense of the rapidly changing global economy,” there is an interesting series from Alex Blumberg. He explained on All Things Considered (October 31, 2008) How Credit Default Swaps Spread Financial Rot (as well as Unregulated Credit Default Swaps Led to Weakness) and how these instruments contributed to our tanking economy.
“It’s a fair guess that a couple of months ago, few people outside the financial world had even heard the words “credit default swaps.” But now the obscure and unregulated financial instruments are shouldering much of the blame for destabilizing the global financial system.
“Here’s how it works. Let’s say there’s a guy named Frank and he has a life insurance policy. When he dies, the beneficiary gets a million dollars. Now imagine a whole bunch of other people saying, “I want a million dollars if he dies, too.” And so they take out life insurance policies on Frank.
Now imagine Frank dies, and all those people bought their policies from the same company. That company, more or less, was AIG.”
Top 50 Women to Watch 2008” Wall Street Journal on WSJ.com – “According to a survey by Catalyst, a New York research group, women hold 15.4% of Fortune 500 corporate-officer jobs — positions of vice president or higher that require board approval. That number has inched down from 16.4% in 2005. One bright spot: More women are in charge of powerful board committees, such as nominating and governance committee chairs. That in turn could mean more women being appointed to key positions down the road.” (Merissa Marr)
Seven things you may not know about Windows 7 | Beyond Binary – A blog by Ina Fried – CNET News (November 10, 2008). “While Windows 7 has gotten plenty of attention over the past two weeks, there are some features in there that haven’t gotten as much attention. I wrote on Friday about a new programming interface for location-based services. Here are seven more features that caught my eye.
- Standard approach to mobile broadband
- Help with public Wi-Fi spots.
- Windows Troubleshooting
- New sensor support
- Improved battery life and playback of DVDs
- Windows Biometric Framework
- Enhancements to Windows Media Center
AmEx Gets Access to Bailout Fund – WSJ.com By ROBIN SIDEL and JON HILSENRATH “American Express Co. won fast approval to become a bank-holding company, helping the credit-card giant gain access to a chunk of the $700 billion in federal funds being pumped into financial firms. The move shows how quickly financial-services firms that have long relied on the capital markets are racing to shore up their funding sources as the credit crisis drags on and economic turmoil spreads around the world.”
Did You Get the “Don’t Be A Bandwidth Pig” Letter From Comcast Yet? – Security Watch — Larry Seltzer wites (Nov 6, 2008) that “In their attempts to manage network congestion Comcast has gotten into trouble with the FCC in the past. They tried to pick only on the programs that were the main source of abuse, but that didn’t fly, so they have a new approach and it’s “net neutral:” All users will be limited to a particular (very high) amount of traffic (250 GB) per month. They don’t actively monitor that number, but they look for users who are using very high levels over a period of time. If you hit a particular level, your traffic may be “deprioritized,” meaning it will slow down until your traffic and traffic on the network in general slow down. See a column I wrote a while ago for more details. Comcast has begun sending out letters to users announcing this policy. It comes with a subject line of “Improving Your Online Experience Through Congestion Management”…
News Flash: Google Was Never Yahoo’s Friend – GigaOM — Om Malik reports (November 5, 2008 at 8:59 AM PT) that “Perhaps the managerial bankruptcy at Yahoo was what led the beleaguered Internet company to believe that its biggest competitor, Google, would be its savior. Apparently it bought into Google’s spin about “doing no evil.” Well, today Yahoo is learning a lesson that everyone in the technology world needs to learn fast: Google is nobody’s friend. Just like Microsoft wasn’t a charity, Google, too, is capitalistic venture whose first and only goal is to stuff its coffers with cash — never mind what its leaders say publicly. In a blog post, David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, announced today that the company is withdrawing from the so-called Yahoo-Google advertising partnership, mostly because it was getting too much scrutiny from the federal government.”
Sue Decker’s Memo to the Yahoo Troops – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com (November 5, 2008, 12:53 pm) by Miguel Helft — “Google decided to end its advertising partnership with Yahoo on Wednesday rather than fight a suit from the Justice Department. Google explained its decision in a blog post penned by David Drummond, its chief legal officer. Meanwhile, Yahoo said it was disappointed with Google’s decision not fight and said it was well positioned to succeed in search and advertising. In a memo to the troops that seeks to put the best face on the unraveling of the deal, President Sue Decker expanded on that idea.The deal with Google, she said, was just one of many efforts to speed up its turnaround strategy.”
Microsoft shows Windows 7 on Eee PC – TechFlash: Seattle’s Technology News Source — “But today at Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, the company made a point of demonstrating Windows 7 running on an Eee PC, as a result of the improvements made under the hood of the next operating system. The demonstration model had 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of SSD flash storage, and a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom dual-core microprocessor. During the demo, Windows chief Steven Sinofsky and Microsoft’s Mike Angiulo took a picture with a digital camera and plugged it into the machine, bringing up Windows 7’s centralized “Device Stage” device management area.
Microsoft: Windows 7 kicks Vista’s butt – TechFlash: Seattle’s Technology News Source — Todd Bishop covered WinHEC week and wrote of how “Most companies talk about how much better they are than their competitors. Microsoft this morning kicked off its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference by detailing how much better it believes Windows 7 will be than Windows Vista in areas including boot time, battery life, graphics rendering, reliability and performance. “It was an implicit acknowledgement of Windows Vista’s problems. But the company is walking a fine line as it makes the case. On the one hand, it wants to convince PC and device makers that it has its act together this time around. However, with Windows 7 not expected until early 2010, the company also risks hurting Windows Vista’s sales in the meantime if it talks about how much better the successor will be.”
Incremental Blogger » Blog Archive » Ray Ozzie and the myth of the Tablet PC — Loren Heiny covered in his blog the TechFlash interview with Ray Ozzie last week during PDC, where “Ozzie talks about some of the great things he sees in Windows 7 including the forthcoming multi-touch features” “Despite the fact that I agree with much of what he’s saying here–in particular, that the iPhone has convinced people of the value of multi-touch and that its value spreads far beyond one platform, I think Ray Ozzie has been drinking the “Tablet PCs are niche koolaid.” I wish Microsoft executives wouldn’t speak this way by using terms like “niche” to describe the Tablet PC market. Talk about trying to put a ceiling on their own products.”
Apple fanboys vs. Microsofties: A scientist’s verdict | Technically Incorrect – CNET News from October 30, 2008 10:25 PM PDT posted by Chris Matyszczyk — “Since embracing Incorrectness, I have noticed that the passion of those who love either Microsoft or Apple seems even to exceed a Goth’s passion for black eyeshadow. The more I have come to know the two sides, the more their mutual stand-off resembles the kind of love-hate continuum embraced nightly by those two remarkably large-headed souls, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Now, research led by Professor Semir Zeki of University College London may help to illustrate and explain the inflamed emotions that surround two mere technology brands. It appears that, although love and hate seem to be rather opposing feelings, some of the same nervous circuits in the brain are responsible for both emotions.”
Windows 7 details galore: interface tweaks, netbook builds, Media Center enhancements – Engadget — Microsoft’s Windows 7 announcement earlier today was followed up by an extensive demo of the new features during the PDC keynote, and since then even more info about the new OS has flooded out, so we thought we’d try to wrap up some of the more important bits here for you. Microsoft seems to have done an impressive job at this early pre-beta stage, folding in next-gen interface ideas like multitouch into the same OS that apparently runs fine on a 1GHz netbook with 1GB of RAM, but we’ll see how development goes — there’s still a ways to go.
HP’s new Mini 1000 and MIE Linux make netbooks fun again – Engadget — “We’ve been struggling to keep awake for the large majority of this year, as netbook after netbook lands in our laps with identical specs, form factors and general shoddiness. No longer. HP is giving the market a shot in the arm with its new “clutch-style” skinny form factors, polished Linux OS and aggressive price points — even if the specs are about as boring as the Mini-Note 2133. As rumored, HP’s new Mini 1000 netbook is ditching VIA and going the Atom route (1.6GHz N270, in case you hadn’t guessed). Also new is an option for a 10.2-inch display, though it’s a mere 1024 x 600 instead of the 1280 x 768 display on the 2133…”
Samsung NC10 reviewed, trumps competition with 7 hour battery life – Engadget — “Thus far word on the street about Samsung’s NC10 has been good, but not exactly enough to distance it from the crowd. Laptop Magazine’s full review of a Korean unit, however, found it to be exemplary, calling it “the most well-rounded 10-inch netbook on the market.” The netbook earned high marks thanks to a bright screen, comfortable keyboard, and amazing battery life of 7:34 with WiFi turned on. (That’s a bit suspect, though, as on a repeated test with screen brightness raised to 100 percent only 4:48 passed before it all went dark — another re-test at 50 percent is promised.) The only real complaints were a somewhat dainty touchpad and mediocre disk performance…”