Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Congrats to Vans team riders ...

Congrats to Vans team riders Omar Hassan who took 1st and Tony Trujillo who took 3rd at the 2005 Quiksilver Bowlriders this past weekend in Marseille, France


Google Unveils Video Viewing Software

NEW YORK - Google Inc. unveiled a video-viewing channel on its Internet-leading search engine Monday, creating another media outlet that may open new moneymaking opportunities for a company already so profitable its stock has tripled to above $300 in 10 months.

Watching the amateur and professional videos in Google's index requires free software available at http://video.google.com. The software, consisting of about 1 megabyte, won't do anything except stream Google's videos through the Internet Explorer or Firefox Web browsers.

The limited scope of Google's viewer means it won't be competing — for now at least — with the popular multimedia players made by Microsoft Corp. and RealNetworks Inc.

The Mountain View-based company announced the video viewer just a few hours before its red-hot stock reached a new closing high. Google's shares ended Monday's trading session up $6.85, or 2.3 percent, to $304.10 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The stock went public last August at $85 a share.

Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), which runs the Internet's second most popular search engine behind Google, also indexes videos that can be streamed through the multimedia players made by other companies, including Microsoft and RealNetworks. Some of Yahoo's videos include programming licensed from major television networks such as CBS and MTV.

Google isn't streaming television content, although its index includes the transcripts and still images from a wide range of shows.

The Google viewer will give Web surfers their first chance to sample the material that the search engine has been stockpiling since April when it initially invited people to submit videos. While all the currently available videos are free, Google hopes to eventually charge for some of material in partnership with the content providers.

Google hasn't set a timetable for introducing the paid videos, said Peter Chane, a senior product manager for the company. Chane wouldn't reveal how many free videos are available through the search engine.

The videos available Monday covered eclectic topics, including breakdancing moves, gardening tips, sarong tying, the 2003 fall of Baghdad and even a guide to advertising on Google.

If it charges for some video, Google could lessen its financial dependence on advertising, which has been a source of concern for some analysts. Online advertising, mostly through text-based links, accounted for virtually all of its $369 million profit during the first quarter.

Google has acknowledged it is working on a new online payment product that many industry observers expect to be linked to paid videos. Company officials have declined to discuss the details of its payment product.

The video viewer also could drive even more advertising to Google, said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li. She believes Google's new viewing software is designed to build an audience ripe for video advertising.

Neither Google nor Yahoo are currently showing ads next to the videos found through their search engines.

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Flowerstore.com attracts over 100,000 visitors per month, and is a leading retail Web site that provides flowers, gift baskets, food baskets and unique gift ideas for any occasion. The site boasts a distinctive collection of beautifully decorated gifts, ranging from Corporate, Gourmet Delicacies, New Baby, Birthdays to Housewarming, Holidays, Sports and more.

Wal-Mart Heir John Walton Dies in Crash

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - John Walton, the billionaire son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company's board, died Monday in a plane crash in Wyoming.

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Walton, 58, of Jackson, Wyo., was piloting an ultralight that crashed shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park, the company said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause of the afternoon crash was not known, officials said.

The plane was an experimental ultralight aircraft with a small, gasoline-powered engine and wings wrapped in fabric similar to heavy-duty sail cloth, officials said.

In March, Forbes Magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world's richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his brother Jim, one spot behind his bother Rob, and just ahead of his sister Alice and his mother Helen.


Walton joined the board of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1992, but did not work for the company.

"We're sad that John Walton, who was well-known and much-loved in this valley, died doing something that he loved to do, which was fly aircraft," said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park.

"I saw parts of it," she said of the plane. "I didn't realize what I was seeing at first. It was so lightweight it looked like a giant model airplane."


Anzelmo said officials notified the
Federal Aviation Administration and
National Transportation Safety Board.

"Because this is a homemade, non-registered, experimental aircraft, at least today they told us there was not going to be an investigation," she said. Grand Teton rangers will conduct their own probe, as is done with any major accident in the park, she said.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the company notified its employees worldwide of Walton's death.

Walton was an Army veteran who served with the Green Berets as a medic during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of several members of his unit while under enemy fire, according to the company. He attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and served as a board member of the Walton Family Foundation.

The company said Walton pursued a variety of business interests including working as a crop duster in the 1970s and building boats in the 1980s. More recently, he had formed a holding company, True North, to oversee various business interests.

Walton is survived by his wife, Christy, and son, Luke; his mother, Helen; two brothers, Rob and Jim; and a sister, Alice.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Friday, June 24, 2005

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

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* Founded in 1998 by Alex St. John, the principal creator of Microsoft's DirectX multimedia platform.

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Palace: British Royals 'A Good Value'

LONDON - British taxpayers paid the equivalent of $1.12 each last year to support
Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, a "good value" as far as monarchies go, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

The palace, which has been under political pressure to control costs in recent years, said in its annual summary that the senior royals' expenses totaled the equivalent of $67.1 million in the fiscal year ending March 31.

That is down 0.3 percent from the previous year. Considering inflation, spending was down 2.3 percent, the palace said.

"We believe this represents a value-for-money monarchy. We're not looking to provide the cheapest monarchy. We're looking at one of good value and good quality," said Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, the official responsible for royal finances.

Significant savings had been made on insurance and through a property tax rebate on Buckingham Palace, Reid said. The royals were refunded the equivalent of more than $1.83 million from a local council for taxes paid on the central London property after successfully winning an appeal against a large tax increase in 2000.


The royal family spent more money in the past year on employing staff, hosting receptions for visiting heads of state, ceremonial occasions and overseas tours.

The queen visited France and Germany and hosted visits from the presidents of Poland, France and
South Korea.

Buckingham Palace spent $4 million throughout the year on catering and hospitality, $914,600 of which went to hosting six garden parties attended by about 39,000 people.

Royal travel expenses amounted to $9.15 million compared to $7.05 million in the 2003-2004 financial year.

Prince Charles' chartered plane trip to Sri Lanka, Australia and Fiji in February cost nearly $548,760, while $1.3 million was spent on the royal train, on which the queen and her family took 19 journeys.

Ian Davidson, a governing Labour Party lawmaker from Scotland, said spending on the royal train, made up of nine coaches including sleeping and office quarters, was a "gross extravagance."

"It costs far, far more to travel by royal train than by any other method. There is no justification as far as I can see for the extravagance of the royal train," Davidson told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The Sunday Times Rich List of 2004 estimated the Queen's worth at $457 million. The estimate only covers the queen's residences at Balmoral and Sandringham which are actually held in her name, her stamp collection, private jewelry collection and a portfolio of private investments. It does not include castles, palaces, art collections or the crown jewels which are held by her in trust to be passed on to successors.

File-Swapping May Be Here to Stay

LOS ANGELES - Four years after it shuttered the original
Napster with a legal assault, the recording industry is taking a different approach to online file-swapping: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Recording companies have begun taking steps to legitimize the peer-to-peer technology that lets computer users share songs, video and other files with one another online.

However the
U.S. Supreme Court rules in a file-swapping decision expected as early as Thursday, the technology appears irrepressible.

In the last few months, major record labels have signed licensing deals with companies working to field file-swapping services that would block unauthorized files from being traded online.

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"There's only two options here," said Michael Goodman, an analyst at The Yankee Group market research firm. "You either license it — and you find a way to license it and monetize it — or you don't license it and it gets traded anyway."

Some 330 million tracks were purchased online last year from online stores such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes. But around 5 billion were downloaded from free file-sharing networks, he said.

Meanwhile, recording companies have sued 11,700 computer users for file-swapping. Of those, 2,500 cases have been settled, typically for about $3,000 each.

The Supreme Court is considering whether companies behind unrestricted file-sharing services —
Grokster and Morpheus — should be liable for copyright infringement. The case's outcome could speed the way for licensed peer-to-peer services.

Even so, it remains to be seen whether those industry-endorsed alternatives can attract people who now tap open file-swapping networks using such programs as eDonkey, BitTorrent and Kazaa.

"When it comes down to it, why is somebody going to pay for something they can get for free?" said Mac Padilla, 21, a student who lives in Los Angeles.

The industry may know the answer at least in part as early as next month, when Peer Impact, one of the licensed file-swapping services, is slated to launch.

Its software can be used to find and purchase tracks from an initial catalog of a half-million songs from all the major labels, said Gregory Kerber, head of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Wurld Media Inc., the firm behind the service.

After a user buys a song from Peer Impact, future buyers get it from that member — or others who have gotten it in the meantime — instead of from a central server. Users have to pay for each track they download, but sharing songs they've purchased from Peer Impact earns them credits they can spend on the service.

At launch, at least, Peer Impact will not let users share songs from their own collections.

Another company to sign licensing deals with major and independent record labels is Snocap Inc., which was founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning.

The company's software is designed to track songs being swapped online and notify record labels when someone tries to share a song that hasn't been licensed for free distribution. Snocap also has a deal with file-sharing software maker Mashboxx to facilitate authorized content distribution through its network.

Mashboxx is set to launch a beta test version next month, said Wayne Rosso, chief executive for the Virginia Beach, Va.-based company. Rosso, who once headed the company behind the Grokster file-swapping software, says Mashboxx users will be able to search for tracks across peer-to-peer networks, upload them and share those that are not restricted by record labels using Snocap's software.

Through Snocap, the labels will be able to assign usage rules for each track, deciding whether users on Mashboxx or other peer-to-peer networks can listen to a track a few times before they must purchase it, or what sort of copy restrictions each file will have, for example.

Rosso claims Mashboxx users will be able to swap millions of tracks — such as concert bootlegs and other recordings — on which record labels have not applied restrictions.

That would help unsigned bands that use peer-to-peer networks to build their audience and established acts like Wilco that encourage their audiences to record their concerts and share bootlegs.

"If the content is not identified and registered in the database, then we can't be held responsible for it," Rosso said. "It's highly unlikely that any Mashboxx user is going to be sued."

Still, Rosso adds, once a record label finds that a bootleg recording or other track is being swapped, it can move to restrict it from being shared — or set up limited listens before purchase.

Privately, record label executives say they remain circumspect over how a licensed peer-to-peer service would actually fare in the marketplace.

Mashboxx has yet to announce licensing deals with the major labels, though it's been reported that Sony BMG Entertainment has agreed in principle to license its music.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. is testing file-sharing technology of its own that one day could be integrated in the company's dominant Windows PC operating system.

The project, dubbed Avalanche, is supposed to improve on the speed of other file-sharing distribution systems, such as BitTorrent, while also preventing unlicensed content from being traded. For now, the company says it has no plans to release Avalanche or include it in future products.

If Microsoft develops its own peer-to-peer software, it could help boost the number of music fans using licensed file-sharing services, said Goodman, the Yankee Group analyst.

"They have the opportunity to integrate it into the operating system ... so you get large-scale adoption," Goodman said. "That would make it attractive to content companies."

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

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Cisco networks to work closer with applications

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO - news) on Tuesday launched technology to make computer networks smarter, faster and more secure by making the equipment that directs data link better with the software applications that use it.
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Called Application Oriented Networking, or AON, the new technology lets networks speak the language of software applications that run on top of them.

"What Cisco is proposing to do is (integrate) functions that today are performed by various middleware (software) products and put those functions directly into the network," said John Rymer, an analyst at Forrester Research.

San Jose, California-based Cisco said International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM - news), the No. 1 computer maker, and SAP AG (SAPG.DE), the world's biggest enterprise resource planning software maker, would integrate products with AON.

"Applications speak lots of different languages," said Taf Anthias, head of Cisco's application-oriented networking group, in a telephone interview. "If we can really understand the traffic on the network, we can be that much more valuable to businesses."

In recent decades, companies have amassed all sorts of data, from customer lists to financial records and myriad other types of information, and to support all that data, software programs have proliferated that don't necessarily speak the same language.

AON aims to solve that problem by being able to read entire messages as they pass across a network and take action where necessary.

For example, the network could increase security by determining whether a particular purchase order is indeed a valid order from a true customer.

Research firm Gartner estimates the overall advanced application market -- which includes messaging, integration, application acceleration, Web services, security and other fields -- could be worth as much as $7 billion in four years time.

"It's a little bit early to say but our hope is that this is a billion dollar market" in annual revenue, Charlie Giancarlo, Cisco's chief technology officer, told Reuters. "But can we see our way clear to several hundred million dollars in a few years? Yes, we can."

Cisco has identified a number of what it calls "advanced technologies" that it expects will generate $1 billion or more in annual revenue, but Giancarlo said Cisco isn't adding AON to the list just yet. Advanced technologies that have already reached the $1 billion mark are network security and Internet telephony.

Cisco said its slice of that market -- messaging and integration -- will be 10 percent with new products introduced later in 2005, climbing to 20 percent and more as it introduces more products and as AON evolves and is adopted by the industry.

"There is a growing need for this from a technology point of view," said Sandra Rogers, an analyst at market research firm IDC, noting, however, that these so-called service-oriented architectures will take years to develop fully.

The actual AON products are thin devices, known as blades, that stack like books in a shelf, and will be available later in the year, Cisco said. It did not disclose pricing for the devices.

Common virus kills cancer, study finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A common virus that is harmless to people can destroy cancerous cells in the body and might be developed into a new cancer therapy, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The virus, called adeno-associated virus type 2, or AAV-2, infects an estimated 80 percent of the population.

"Our results suggest that adeno-associated virus type 2, which infects the majority of the population but has no known ill effects, kills multiple types of cancer cells yet has no effect on healthy cells," said Craig Meyers, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania.

"We believe that AAV-2 recognizes that the cancer cells are abnormal and destroys them. This suggests that AAV-2 has great potential to be developed as an anti-cancer agent," Meyers said in a statement.

He said at a meeting of the American Society for Virology that studies have shown women infected with AAV-2 who are also infected with a cancer-causing wart virus called HPV develop cervical cancer less frequently than uninfected women do.

AAV-2 is a small virus that cannot replicate itself without the help of another virus. But with the help of a second virus it kills cells.

For their study, Meyers and colleagues first infected a batch of human cells with HPV, some strains of which cause cervical cancer.

They then infected these cells and normal cells with AAV-2.

After six days, all the HPV-infected cells died.

The same thing happened with cervical, breast, prostate and squamous cell tumor cells.

All are cancers of the epithelial cells, which include skin cells and other cells that line the insides and outsides of organs.

"One of the most compelling findings is that AAV-2 appears to have no pathologic effects on healthy cells," Meyers said.

"So many cancer therapies are as poisonous to healthy cells as they are to cancer cells. A therapy that is able to distinguish between healthy and cancer cells could be less difficult to endure for those with cancer."

AAV-2 is being studied intensively as a gene therapy vector -- a virus modified to carry disease-correcting genes into the body. Gene therapy researchers favor it because it does not seem to cause disease or immune system reaction on its own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

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