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Magazine removed for insulting Royal Family July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in The Royals.
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A Spanish satirical magazine will be removed from newspaper stands for insulting the Royal Family.

A Spanish satirical magazine will be removed from newspaper stands for insulting the Royal Family after it depicted the heir to the throne having sex on its front cover, court officials said on Friday.

Acting on a complaint from the state prosecution office, Judge Juan del Olmo told police to collect copies of El Jueves and ordered the magazine to identify the author of a cartoon showing Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife, Letizia. In the cartoon, Felipe is talking about the Spanish government’s decision to pay 2,500 euros to the parents of every child born in the country in order to increase the birth rate.

“Just imagine if you end up pregnant,” Felipe says. “This will be the closest thing to work I’ve ever done in my life.”

Under Spanish law, those found guilty of insulting the Royal Family face up to two years in prison.

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We read the new “Harry Potter” July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books.
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The last book about the saga of the little wizard is characterised by its easily readable style, and well planned plot.

We have finally come to the end. After ten long years, we finally know how the story, about the little wizard, Harry Potter, a boy who survives, ends.

With the solution to the great mystery about the last sequel of J.K. Rawling’s novels, comes the end of a great literary journey, and the biggest question, will the last novel give the saga a worthy ending, or will it leave a bad taste in your mouth, is finally answered.

J.K. Rawling created a rich and complex world in her works, which has attracted millions of fans throughout the world. The secret to the convincingness of that world lies in the fact that Rawling never underestimated her readers, and offered them two levels in reading the text. Young fans chose their favourite of the three main characters and enjoyed the story full of magical creations, humour and magic. Adults were drawn to the deeper message of the story, the lack of a clear distinction between good and evil, the functionality of her imaginary world, and the fact that wizards, like us, must go to work in the morning.

However, all were drawn to the simple but not shallow style of writing, and the talent which easily connected the complex plot of the novel into a well planned entity.

In the end, it turns out, the unit which connects all the novels until now, and this in not only about the main character, but small details whose relevance is only seen in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. The characters, magic and artefacts which have been played with in the previous books, conditionally said, the role of the deus ex machine, now show their full importance in the plot and give meaning to their appearance in previous books.

The idea is the main characteristic of the last book about Harry Potter, because we finally understand why some things occurred which have been haunting the little wizard for seven years in a row. We finally get an insight into the reason why some characters act the way they do, answers to questions, the whole package.

The only drawback to the seventh Harry Potter lies in its connection to the previous novels. If the reader is not at least vaguely familiar with the plot of the previous six books, they will be totally lost in “Deathly Hallows” and its connection to events that are up to five years old.

The thing which impresses the most in the books by J.K. Rawling is the absence of cheap tricks which attract the attention of the reader. The plot moves along slowly but surely, and the start and end are over 600 pages apart, which connects into a believable and concise story.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is not a book without imperfections, because it requires a great of “Rawling’s world” in order to understand the context of the rich plot. If you do not remember the plot of the previous books, reach for an “Encyclopaedia Potterica” or you will feel totally lost.

On the other hand, people that do not even know the general storyline have probably not read the first six novels, and we can be envious because they are getting to know the world of the wizards and muggles for the first time. A honest recommendation.

Microsoft eyes deal to buy Yahoo July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, Microsoft, Yahoo.
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Microsoft Corp. has stepped up its pursuit of a deal to buy Yahoo Inc.

The two companies re-enter talks to strike a deal and fend off a common competitor in Web search leader Google Inc. Yahoo shares jumped 17.96 percent to $33.24 in Nasdaq trading on Friday, while Microsoft shares fell 1.26 percent to $30.58. The two companies have held informal talks over the years, but the latest approach comes as Microsoft seeks a deal to counter Google’s rapid growth.

“It’s been talked about for a long time, ever since Google came into the picture. I can’t imagine a more perfect deal,” said Peter Lobravico, vice president of risk arbitrage sales/trading at brokerage Wall Street Access. “You can’t find a stronger buyer than Microsoft and while it would spur a lot of political and regulatory noise, everyone knows in the end that the deal would go through.”

Analysts often dismiss a takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft since the two companies have such different cultures and Microsoft usually prefers to buy small companies with interesting technology.

The New York Post reported early on Friday that Microsoft made an offer to buy Yahoo a few months ago, but Yahoo spurned the advances. The paper, putting a price tag of $50 billion on a Yahoo takeover, said that discussions continue between the two companies. Microsoft and Yahoo declined to comment on the reports.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is advising on the process, the paper said. The bank declined to comment. One banking source said that investment banks had been pitching Microsoft on the idea of buying Yahoo for months.

The Wall Street Journal followed with its own story, saying that the two companies are in early-stage talks about a merger or some kind of link-up.

The renewed talks are a sign of Google’s power, the Journal said, and are also an indicator of problems with in-house efforts at Yahoo and Microsoft. A deal could help Microsoft attract advertisers to its online businesses.

“We’ve been a significant believer in a Yahoo-Microsoft combination because both Yahoo and Microsoft both need to create a bigger presence in advertising to compete with Google,” said Marianne Wolk, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.

Google agreed to buy DoubleClick Inc. last month for $3.1 billion, accelerating a push into the graphic ad market. Google beat out Microsoft and Yahoo to win the deal, sources said.

StatCounter rakes in the clicks July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google, Internet, Internet Software.
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The booming Irish Web analytics startup was launched by the top vote-getter in BusinessWeek’s young entrepreneur contest when he was just 16

Aodhan Cullen got off to an early start. The top vote-getter in the Business Week’s annual contest to find Europe’s most promising young entrepreneurs started his first business, a resumé-typing service, when he was just 12 years old. Then, as a teenager, he began designing Web pages for paying clients, who often wanted to know how many people were visiting their sites.

Lightbulb moment. In 1999, at the age of 16, Cullen launched Dublin-based StatCounter, an online service that lets clients measure the number of hits they get on their Web sites, plus the geographical location of visitors, the pages people view, and the keywords they use to find a site.

That turned out to be a smart move for the young Irishman, now 24. Web analytics, a field which grew rapidly doing the dot-com boom and then fell out of favor, is “exploding again,” says Bill Gassman, a research director specializing in Web analytics at tech consultancy Gartner. It’s already a $400 million market, and analysts expect it to more than double in size by next year. Big players in the field, such as Omniture, in Orem, Utah, are growing at more than 50% year over year.

The Votes Are In > Latching onto such a hot growth market may have been what gave Cullen the edge among voters in our second annual contest to identify the most promising young entrepreneurs in Europe. Out of a field of 16 companies run by 19 Europeans age 25 or younger, StatCounter rose to the top. But not far behind were equally promising startups such as communications firm JT International of Sofia, Bulgaria, and software social-networking site Wakoopa of Amsterdam.

These and other winners were likely helped by a strong show of support from friends and colleagues. Thanks to a new screening system, this year’s poll was free of the manipulation that dominated the contest in 2006, later eliminated by filtering. And not being ranked in the top five takes nothing away from the promise and achievement of startups such as BytePlay, Moneytrackin, and Friend Media Technology Systems. (For the original list of nominees, see BusinessWeek.com, 6/1/07, Slide Show: “They Set Their Minds on Success.”)

Ahead of Household Names Like Dell > Still, Cullen’s company stood out for its strong growth. StatCounter currently has more than 1.5 million users and tracks more than 9 billion page views per month across its network of 2.2 million Web sites. Cullen won’t discuss revenues for the privately held company, but says he’s signing up 1,500 new members per day.

That helps explains why Alexa Internet Web Search, which ranks sites by traffic, currently lists StatCounter as the 34th-most-visited site in the U.S., ahead of household names like Adobe, Dell, and Wal-Mart, as well as Internet fixtures such as CNET Networks, Ask.com, and Expedia. To keep up, Cullen has opened an office in Dublin’s Guinness Enterprise Center, hired six employees, and added 80 powerful servers.

StatCounter doesn’t really compete with Omniture or other players such as WebTrends that target multinationals and big corporations. Rather, it’s going after small and midsize firms that don’t need highly sophisticated analytical tools, and can’t afford to spend $10,000 and up to buy them. The StatCounter service is mostly free, supported by ads, and works remotely over the Internet rather than by being installed on client PCs. High-volume customers with more than 250,000 monthly pageloads pay anywhere from $9 to $29 a month for StatCounter.

Google Has Taken Notice > Cullen does face one rather formidable competitor in the entry-level market: Search giant Google, which bought a Web analytics company called Urchin Software in 2005 and now offers a free, advertising-supported traffic tracking tool called Google Analytics.

Cullen doesn’t dismiss the competition, but argues there are key differences. Google Analytics, for instance, is tightly integrated with the company’s AdWords advertising service, and users are limited to tracking 5 million hits per month unless they are AdWords customers. “Google Analytics’ goal is to increase their advertising business,” he says. “StatCounter’s goal is to provide the best tracking possible.”

Alan Boydell, Goodle Analytics associate for Google France, disputes Cullen’s claim about Google’s motivations and says its goal likewise is to provide “the best possible free tracking service.” He acknowledges the 5-million-page-view limit for noncustomers, but notes that AdWords clients can track unlimited page views.

StatCounter, Cullen adds, also offers live tracking, which lets customers monitor and spot problems on their Websites as soon they happen, a feature Google Analytics lacks. And it also displays live visitor path reports to show how each visitor is navigating a Web site and what paths are leading to customer conversions. Google’s services are similar, but only display what happened about three or four hours ago. “There is room in this market for new players,” says Gartner’s Gassman. Though Google has far broader brand recognition, he says, StatCounter “appears to be very good at listening to users and it is growing very fast.”

Saying No to VC, for Now > Among its paying customers is Mathaba, an online, international news agency based in Hong Kong, London, and Washington, D.C., that gets 2 million page views a month. The company’s Web master, Adam King, says Mathaba uses StatCounter several times a day to check for problems on its site, to see where visitors are coming from, and to measure the popularity of the site’s toolbar. He also uses the StatCounter tool to verify which news items are doing well, how long people spend on the site, and how many come back regularly.

So what’s next for Cullen? Venture capitalists have been beating a path to his door but so far the young entrepreneur says he isn’t interested in being bought out. He says he wants to continue growing the company, which has been profitable from the start, on his own, by improving the services he can offer his customers. That’s the spirit!

Google poised to bid billions in US wireless auction July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google.
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Google said Friday it would bid as much as $4.6 billion to buy US wireless licenses in an upcoming government auction if rules include keeping the frequencies open to anyone.

The US Internet giant told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it will bid the money if the agency ensures the winner allows all companies access. While Google refuses to discuss rumors it is working on a mobile telephone, it has clear interest in expanding into wireless service markets.

Google says its offer to meet the minimum bid in the federal government’s auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz band is intended to promote greater competition and choice in Internet and mobile phone arenas.

“It strikes us as unfair that some people should enjoy such abundant access to this rich resource while billions of others are not so lucky,” Google’s head of special initiatives, Chris Sacca, wrote on the US Internet giant’s Web site. “Though the technology exists today to provide access on a global scale, often we have learned technology is not the problem.”

In a July 9 letter, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt endorsed FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s suggestions that open access be among the rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction.

Google will be a bidder if the FCC insists the frequencies remain open to any Internet companies or resellers of wireless services and that customers are free to choose among them, according to Schmidt.

“We are putting consumers’ interests first, and putting our money where our principles are, to the tune of $4.6 billion,” Sacca wrote. Sacca said the FCC auction was a rare chance to break the stranglehold of a small group of companies on the US wireless spectrum for mobile telephones and data.

Opponents of allowing open access contend the move would devalue the spectrum and result in the government making less money. Google stands to benefit from opening the spectrum, an idea which has been opposed by the administration of US President George Bush.

“This is one of the best opportunities we will have to bring the Internet to all Americans,” Sacca wrote. “Let us seize that opportunity.”