Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where's Your Money Going?

Walt Mossberg of the WSJ recommended this site today.... automatically grabs financial info....

Wanna Sell A/V to the Government?

Brad Grimes has an interesting blog today on that very subject...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Logical Disconnect?

Anybody here take Econ 101? Methinks speculative fever...

Opec says oil could hit $200

By Carola Hoyos in London FT
Published: April 28 2008 13:56 Last updated: April 28 2008 20:03

Opec’s president on Monday warned oil prices could hit $200 a barrel and there would be little the cartel could do to help.

The comments made by Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s energy minister, came as oil prices hit a historic peak close to $120 a barrel, putting further pressure on global economies.

His remarks suggest Algeria wants Opec to continue to resist calls by US and European leaders for the cartel to pump more oil to help ease prices. But Mr Khelil blamed record oil prices on the weak dollar and global political insecurity.

He told El Moudjahid, Algeria’s government newspaper: “I don’t think that an increase in production would help lower prices, because there is a balance between supply and demand and the stocks of gasoline in the United States have recorded a surplus and are at their highest level for five years.”

He added: “The prices are high due to the recession in the United States and the economic crisis, which has touched several countries, a situation that has an effect on the value of the dollar. Each time the dollar falls 1 per cent, the price of the barrel rises by $4 and of course vice versa.”

Some US senators have pinned the blame for high oil prices directly on Opec and Saudi Arabia, its largest and most powerful member.

In a letter to President George W. Bush last week, they said Riyadh had cut its oil production by about 2m barrels a day over the past three years, even though oil prices had continued to rise.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Microsoft Deadline for Yahoo Passes Uneventfully

by Mark Walsh

Microsoft's deadline for Yahoo to conclude a merger agreement came and went Saturday without any apparent breakthrough in negotiations between the companies.

With no progress made toward a deal in Microsoft's unsolicited takeover bid, a proxy fight appears to be the next step in the software giant's protracted effort to acquire Yahoo.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had warned that the company would go hostile if a deal wasn't reached by Saturday, while lowering its offer in the process.

The offer price has been the main obstacle to an agreement, according to a report Sunday in The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft's Jan. 31 cash-and-stock offer of $31 a share (valued at $29.68 as of Friday's market close) has been repeatedly rejected by Yahoo as undervaluing the company.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Aviation Fans Only

Imagine if someone put together a website with most every plane ever built...

Fritz Sennheiser Inducted into Hall of Fame

Apr 24, 2008 4:28 PM

The Consumer Electronics Association(r) (CEA) has announced that audio pioneer professor Dr. Fritz Sennheiser is to be inducted into its CE Hall of Fame. The 95-year-old founder of Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG is one of twelve honorees to be inducted in 2008, and has been chosen by the expert jury in the category "Founders and Inventors."

"We are as excited about this announcement as is Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser himself," says Volker Bartels, speaker of the Sennheiser executive team. "Fritz Sennheiser still takes a keen interest in the company he founded, and feels very honored by this recognition from the American consumer electronics industry."

Under the management of Fritz Sennheiser, who also taught RF wireless technology and electro-acoustics at Hanover University in Germany, the family-owned company designed many important innovations. These included the shotgun microphone in the 1950s, open-back headphones in the 1960s, infrared transmission technology in the 1970s and revolutionary developments in multi-channel wireless technology in the early 1980s.

Volker Bartels: "Prof. Dr. Fritz Sennheiser's motto was to allow his developers to give free rein to their creative ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem. And his staff translated this freedom and trust into innovative audio solutions." Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of CEA, praised the 2008 inductees: "I am proud to honor the accomplishments of these twelve leaders in the consumer technology industry, which provides the products and services that inform, educate, entertain and keep consumers connected. They inspire all of us." The twelve honorees will be officially inducted into the CE Hall of Fame during an awards dinner in October.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

OK, it's not real...

But funny anyway. From a Heineken ad...

TBW Airlines is named after the ad company that made it.


Disneyland's new monorail glass changes color in sunlight

The Associated Press
Article Launched: 04/23/2008 09:16:21 AM PDT

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Disneyland has updated its classic monorail train meandering through the amusement park, adding a better seating arrangement and glass that changes color in the sunlight.

The new Monorail Red, or Mark VII, train debuts Friday.

Monorail lead designer says Disneyland is "always looking for ways to update and refresh classic attractions."

The first electric monorail cars have blue glass and red stripes that change color in the sunlight.

The next two cars are blue with purple glass and orange with blue glass.

Visitors will now have a better view from bench seats facing the windows.

The Disneyland monorail started in 1959.

Disneyland in Baghdad?

Well, not exactly.... Ride and Show is involved though...

Codec Problems on Your PC?

If you have Vista, you probably have them already...

Download the appropriate program from here, run it, and it'll tell you what problem you have...

Is Nothing Sacred?

Capitol says recording quality at its Hollywood building is at risk

The music firm says a proposed high-rise next door would damage its unique underground echo chambers.

By Bob Pool, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 23, 2008

No! No-o-o-o! No-o-o-o-o-o! That plea from Hollywood is reverberating through Los Angeles City Hall as officials try to decide whether a 16-story tower should be built next to the landmark Capitol Records building.

A Marina del Rey developer hopes to construct 93 condominiums, 13,442 square feet of commercial and office space and a 242-space underground parking lot next to the landmark, 13-floor, record-shaped building.

But Capitol executives are trying to stop the multimillion-dollar project because of fears that pile-driving and excavation for the three-level underground garage will damage one-of-a-kind, below-ground echo chambers that are used for high-end recordings.The developer has denied that the project would harm the reverberation equipment and has pledged to try to limit noise and vibration during construction.

The famed echo chambers were designed by guitarist Les Paul and have been used by recording artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Chris Botti, Natalie Cole -- who just finished an album there -- and Brian Wilson, who used them last week.

EMI Music North America, which operates Capitol Records, has appealed the city's preliminary approval of the high-rise, which is proposed for the southwest corner of Yucca Street and Argyle Avenue. Until 2005 that was the site of the KFWB-AM (980) radio station."

As a major employer in the Hollywood area, Capitol Records is extremely concerned about the viability of us being able to continue to run Capitol Studios in the face of the admittedly significant adverse impacts that will be caused by construction," said Maureen B. Schultz, a senior vice president at the recording company.

In a letter to City Council members, Schultz explained that the echo chambers are on the east side of the record company headquarters at the corner of Vine and Yucca streets. They are buried 18 feet from the proposed excavation site."We are not anti-development, and understand and support that Hollywood is changing and new development is part of that change," she said in the letter.

But "the sound in the studios is one that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. The echo chambers are as much a part of the Hollywood history as the Capitol Tower and the Hollywood sign.

"The eight concrete chambers, built 30 feet underground, vary in shape to give different sounds. A speaker pipes music into one end of each chamber and a microphone picks up the reverberation at the other end.

Capitol employees say their three recording studios are booked by artists who know the Vine Street echo effect is something that cannot be duplicated electronically or at any other studio.

Although it is not part of EMI's appeal, record company workers and others in Hollywood also oppose the 16-floor tower because it would overshadow Capitol's iconic building by three stories and block views of the landmark from the nearby Hollywood Freeway.

The Capitol tower was designed by architect Welton Becket and finished in 1956. It was the world's first circular office building. Music fans immediately embraced its look, which resembled a stack of vinyl 45s on a record turntable. Its spire is said to blink out the name "Hollywood" in Morse code at night.

EMI's appeal of the project is one of two that have been filed. A separate objection has been lodged by Hollywood resident Jim McQuiston, who has lived for 48 years across the street from the tower site. He objects to it on seismic grounds."It would affect me when it falls over on me," McQuiston, a Caltech-trained engineer, said Tuesday. In papers filed with the city, he asserted that "the so-called Yucca strand of the Hollywood Fault poses an extreme hazard" to the condominium tower.

Developer David Jordan could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, a lawyer representing the project dismissed McQuiston's concerns."That seems, quite frankly, like an implausible scenario," Dale Goldsmith said of the tower toppling in an earthquake. "His apartment building would collapse before this one would. It would be built in accordance of latest earthquake standards."

As far as Capitol Records' echo chambers are concerned, Goldsmith pledged that they will be safe during construction.

"We're confident there won't be any long-term damage," he said. "We're prepared to indemnify them. They have a right to be concerned, but their concerns are exaggerated."Steps will be taken to limit vibration and noise, he said. "There are a series of mitigation measures to be taken during construction. Muffling devices, dewatering techniques, taking noise-generating equipment as far away as possible from Capitol," Goldsmith said.

An acoustical study done for Jordan by an Oakland firm acknowledged that "without the mitigation . . . ground-borne noise from construction activities may temporarily impact operation of the echo chambers.

"But it suggested that "digital signal processing and other digital audio recording techniques can simulate almost every echo chamber effect."

Capitol officials plan to refute that when the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee reviews their appeal May 13. The entire council is expected to take up the issue May 27, committee Chairman Ed Reyes said Tuesday.

Digital reverberation can't compare with a real echo chamber, Capitol recording experts say. That's a claim they've shot down over and over and over again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Project Canoe Heating Up

Cable operators seek a way to be competitive with Internet video delivery systems...

Project Canoe Seeks to Smooth Waters for VOD

Cable Operators Will Tackle Lack of Consistent Metrics, Long Lead Time for Ads as Medium Takes on Broadband

By Daisy Whitney Published: April 14, 2008

Video on demand could finally get some help with the two major problems that have plagued this ad medium since its inception more than six years ago. Project Canoe, a joint effort of several top cable operators, plans to grapple with issues created by advanced advertising -- in the case of VOD, a lack of consistent metrics and the long lead time required for providing ad content. VOD has been successful as a subscriber-retention tool for cable operators in the battle against satellite. However, some marketers have shied away from VOD because of the inability to measure its effectiveness and the fact that advertisers often must provide ads five to six weeks before they begin their run on VOD.


WHAT IT IS: A joint effort including many of the top cable systems, with the goal of developing uniform standards for advanced advertising such as VOD, interactive TV and addressable TV. HOW IT COULD HELP VOD: By creating metrics that will give advertisers a more detailed look at viewing habits across cable systems.

WHAT'S WITH THAT NAME? Just like when two people are paddling a canoe, you need to work together or you go nowhere. Most cable operators and VOD networks can provide only basic information on unique views and total views to advertisers. That pales in comparison to broadband video, a fast-moving, highly measurable medium in which advertisers can swap out ads on the fly.

Leveling the playing field for cableProject Canoe could help level the playing field for VOD. The joint effort among several top multiple-system operators is striving to develop standards that will let MSOs speak the same language when reporting on ads and views for VOD. That would give networks and marketers a more detailed look at VOD viewing habits.

"Progress has admittedly been slow, and Canoe has the potential to bring metrics in step. We see metrics as the most important additional improvement to turbocharge VOD advertising," says Comcast's Warren Schlichting, a spokesman for Project Canoe. Mr. Schlichting is senior VP-new-business development at Comcast Spotlight, the ad-sales arm for Comcast Corp. Participants in Canoe's first VOD effort, a voter-education channel, include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Insight Communications Co., Bright House Networks and Bresnan Communications.

Metrics are important because advertisers need to know how VOD affects their bottom lines, says Jen Soch, VP-activation director at MediaVest, New York. In fact, some advertisers and agencies see Project Canoe as a make-or-break proposition. "It is a must that Project Canoe work together to create these standards; otherwise ITV, VOD and addressable don't scale," says Tracey Scheppach, senior VP-video innovation director at Starcom USA, Chicago. It's not too late for the platform to take hold. After all, VOD is opt-in, because viewers actively choose to watch a program there. No room for complacency But proponents of VOD can't afford to be complacent, because broadband video is taking off as an ad medium. Ad spending in online video should soar nearly 81% this year to $1.4 billion.

What's more, broadband comes with a host of metrics from sources such as Hitwise, ComScore, Omniture, Nielsen and DoubleClick. "Broadband is taking dollars away that would have been spent on VOD," Ms. Scheppach says. "I have a lot more clients in broadband, and the content is broader." For now, VOD advertisers are stuck with "lowest common denominator" metrics, such as unique views and total views, since they have to roll up data from across cable systems, some with detailed information, some without. Cablevision has focused on building branded virtual channels in VOD for its advertisers and can provide average time viewed for videos, where consumers were before they came to the channel and whether he clicked on a banner, among other data.

Advertisers can also measure return on investment. With Cablevision's branded channel for Disney vacations, the cable operator found that of the consumers who click on a button to "talk to an agent," about one-quarter go on to book a trip, says Barry Frey, senior VP-advanced platforms sales at Cablevision. Music-themed VOD purveyor Music Choice provides detailed metrics and stipulates a one-week lead times for most ads in its operator deals.

The service also has partnered with Nielsen to test an effort to marry Music Choice's VOD measurement information from Rentrak with Nielsen's national people-meter ratings to provide marketers with improved viewer data.

Nice Disney Story

Disney Workers Find Rings Mistakenly Thrown Away
Group Waded Through Bags Of Garbage To Find Rings

POSTED: 5:18 am EDT April 22, 2008
UPDATED: 8:08 am EDT April 22, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Walt Disney World seems to have worked its magic on a Massachusetts couple who accidentally threw away three platinum and diamond wedding rings.
While tidying up their villa as they prepared to leave the park late last week, Paul Campanale dumped a cardboard bowl, not knowing the container inside it held his wife Karen's engagement, wedding and five-year-anniversary rings.

Park employees warned the couple from Worcester, Mass., that recovering the jewelry was all but impossible. So on Friday, the Campanales and their two young children loaded onto a Magical Express bus and headed to the airport.

Back at the Wilderness Lodge resort, executive housekeeper Drew Weaver realized that trash from the Campanales' villa hadn't reached the industrial-size compactor yet. He and seven other volunteers donned protective clothing, emptied a parking lot bin and waded through bag after bag of rubbish to find the rings. And they did.

Paul Campanale, 37, a chemist, received the good news on his cell phone and Weaver met the family at the bus' next stop to deliver the rings. Karen Campanale, 35, a teacher, said she was shocked by the find.

"That's not the first time we've gone through trash - oh, no," Weaver later said. "We don't always find things. Many times we come up empty. But we didn't this time."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Corporate IT Green Initiatives

Not going so well after the results of a recent surve came in...

  • Three-quarters of respondents gave their organizations a "C" grade or worse in ability to control IT energy consumption.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents have no specific green plans in place.
  • Nearly 20 percent spend more than $1 million per year on IT energy consumption, and 8 percent spend more than $10 million.
  • Two-thirds had set modest goals of 25 percent reduction or much less.
  • Almost half of those polled said IT energy consumption increased in their organization last year, even as the cost of energy rose.
  • Forty-six percent reported that they had run out of space, power or cooling capacity.
  • 20 percent estimate annual savings of hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars are achievable through efficiencies in server-based and network storage.

Liverpool Girls

Too good not to share...

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties to perform.

Terry had married a woman from America, and bragged that he had told his new wife to do the dishes and all the cleaning in the house. He said it took a couple of days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and all the dishes were washed and put away.

James had married a woman from Australia and he bragged that he had given his new wife orders to do all the cleaning, the dishes and the cooking. He told them the first day he didn't see any results, but the next day it was better and by the third day his house was clean, the dishes done and there was a huge meal on the table.

The third man said the he had married a girl from Liverpool. He boasted that the duties he had ordered her to do were to keep the house cleaned, the dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table every day. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little bit out of his left eye. Enough to make himself a bite to eat, load the dishwasher and call a gardener.

Can Blockbuster Afford Circuit City?

Haven't we learned anything about Wall Street financing lately?

Buyout Target Says Show Us the Cash; Suitor Explores How

April 21, 2008; Page B2

Circuit City Stores Inc. is demanding that Blockbuster Inc. prove it can finance an all-cash offer before proceeding with takeover negotiations. The big question is how Blockbuster will do that.

Blockbuster is exploring several avenues, including using Circuit City's own balance sheet to finance its more than $1 billion offer, according to people familiar with the situation. The Dallas video-rental company is also considering using its existing debt facility, possible asset sales and cost savings, those people said.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Pope on Freedom

John Paul II really knew how to communicate to a crowd. Benedict doesn't have that gift, but his writing is extraordinary. This was too good to pass up, and it's actually fairly difficult to find the complete text elsewhere...

Mr. President, Thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country's first Diocese – Baltimore – to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans.

I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society. America's Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens. From the dawn of the Republic, America's quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator.

The framers of this nation's founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the "self-evident truth" that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature's God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America's Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard.

As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society. Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility.

Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one's deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate.

In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation", and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46).

Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity.

The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society.

Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation. For well over a century, the United States of America has played an important role in the international community.

On Friday, God willing, I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization, where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations of all the world's peoples.

On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity – as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God's bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the greater human family will continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and promote progress.

In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish – a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.

Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dark Matter Really Exists?

If true, this would be one of the biggest discoveries since.... no, it would be the biggest discovery of all time. Some estimate 70% of all the matter in the universe is dark matter- something we've never seen or detected before today.

Dark matter is proved, Italian physicists say

Their team repeats an earlier experiment and finds consistent results, but critics say its claims are still questionable.

By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 19, 2008

An Italian team on Wednesday renewed its claim to have discovered evidence for the existence of dark matter, the invisible material that makes up the bulk of the universe.

Critics say the University of Rome team has answered some of the objections to their earlier findings but not all of them, leaving their claims still a subject of great controversy.

"This is a Nobel Prize-winning result if it is proved," said physicist Richard Gaitskell of Brown University, who was not involved in the research. "

But it needs to be confirmed, and the experiment really has to demonstrate a total mastery of the data. Neither of those criteria have been achieved, and therefore you have to bring a healthy skepticism to the result as it stands.",0,7762233.story

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Forget the Hybrid's Batteries?

Capacitors to the Rescue!

Hybrid innovations

Connaught Engineering will show off its new hybrid drive system this week, which the company hopes to implement in a sports car.

Connaught Motor Company will be debuting their newest automotive technological development at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham on April 15-17. Why would a sports car company have a stand at a commercial vehicle show? The reason is Connaught Engineering’s new HYBRID+ system.

The HYBRID+ system is a unique retrofit diesel hybrid technology that reduces fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for vehicles up to 3.5 tons of gross vehicle weight. The system dispenses with heavy battery packs and high voltage, instead using compact super capacitors running at just 48 volts, and still offering regenerative braking at a weight less than 50 kilograms and with no changes required to the vehicle or its load space. It can be retrofitted to existing vehicles, and prices start at from 2,750 British pounds, or $5,441.

The first vehicles to use this system will be seven Ford Transit delivery vans belonging to TESCO.COM. Connaught is planning to utilize this hybrid technology for a gas/electric version of their 2.0-liter V-10-powered Type-D sports car, one they say will reach 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of around 150, while returning 42 mpg on the highway. For more information,

visit - By Mark J. McCourt

AVI-SPL Merger Finalized

Reader Jeff forwarded this along...

We are pleased to announce the merger between Audio Visual Innovations and Signal Perfection Ltd. (SPL) is now official. Welcome to AVI-SPL - the largest global audio video systems integration and services firm.

The merger between AVI and SPL unites two companies with strong reputations for delivering unsurpassed presentation and collaboration solutions. Collectively, AVI and SPL have completed more than 20,000 projects for an array of clients. For more than 40 years AVI and SPL have focused on excellence by highlighting the importance of positive customer relationships, highly trained sales and marketing, technical, and operations teams, and a diverse offering of the industry's leading product lines.

This union will bring stability for employees and the company as a whole. This opportunity will fuel our growth, enabling us to build on our national and international presence. Clients are looking for a company with brand recognition and a valuable reputation that can provide for all their audio video needs. With the only comprehensive national footprint in the industry, and largest array of products, services and advanced skill sets, we are the number one provider of audio video systems integration and services.

Over the next six months, our transition into AVI-SPL will involve the integration of more than 1,200 employees. Since both companies have proven strengths, we intend to embrace the best practices from each other. We also will be receiving support from our new partner, Silver Lake Sumeru. Silver Lake is the world's leading technology focused investment firm, and Silver Lake Sumeru is their team devoted to working with enterprises at the scope and scale of AVI-SPL.

Their investment is an important vote of confidence and we look forward to the valuable experience and network of relationships they will bring to our combined company as we continue to grow our business.

For your convenience, we have attached a copy of the press release that has been distributed to the media. Please stay tuned for further updates on the company intranet site as well as additional e-mail communications. If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to contact your immediate supervisor or refer to the enclosed key contacts sheet.

When it comes to the future of the audio video industry, AVI-SPL holds the key. On behalf of the executive management team, welcome to the AVI-SPL family.


Marty Schaffel, Executive Chairman
Chad Gillenwater, Vice Chairman

To view the press release, please click here:

Another Scream Queen Leaves Us

Another passing...

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Hazel Court, an English actress who co-starred with the likes of Boris Karloff and Vincent Price in popular horror movies of the 1950s and '60s, has died. She was 82.

Hazel Court appeared in films such as "The Raven" and "The Masque of the Red Death."

Court died early Tuesday of a heart attack at her home near Lake Tahoe, daughter Sally Walsh said Wednesday.

While she had a substantial acting career both in England and on American TV, Court was perhaps best known for her work in such films as 1963's "The Raven." She co-starred with Price, Karloff and Peter Lorre in director Roger Corman's take on the classic Edgar Allan Poe poem.

Corman directed her in five movies. Like other "scream queens" of the era, Court often relied on her cleavage and her ability to shriek in fear and die horrible deaths for her roles.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Metric Reference Changes (Again)

The international kilogram crisis

A copy of the international prototype kilogram under its protective casing. The real prototype, known as Le Grand K, is rarely removed from its temperature- and humidity-controlled vault to avoid damage.

In the 120 years since several dozen cylinders were crafted in France to serve as the world's standards of the kilogram, they have been mysteriously drifting apart. The result is a race to redefine the measure.,0,1071730.story

JVC to Drop Out of Television Business?

Japan's Victor to reshape TV operations
By YURI KAGEYAMA 04.16.08, 4:40 AM ET


Victor Co. of Japan has decided to reshape its money-losing TV business, with details to be announced later this month, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Victor spokesman Toshiya Ogata declined to comment on a report Wednesday in The Nikkei that said Victor will stop making and selling its flat-panel, liquid-crystal-display TVs in Japan. He acknowledged such steps are under consideration.

Did Google "Game" the FCC Auction?


Google `Gamed' Airwave Sale, Republican Lawmakers Say (Update1)
By Molly Peterson

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc. manipulated a U.S. government spectrum auction by bidding just enough to trigger rules that will open a nationwide set of airwaves to any device and then walking away, Republican lawmakers said.

The so-called open-access requirements, also backed by consumer groups, may have shortchanged taxpayers by discouraging more companies from bidding, Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, said today at a hearing.

``Google was successful in gaming the system,'' Upton said. The rules were a ``social engineering'' experiment by the Federal Communications Commission that prevented the spectrum swath, known as the C-block, from raising billions of dollars more, he said.
Google offered $4.71 billion for the C-block, surpassing a $4.6 billion threshold that activated the rules. Verizon Wireless later won the airwaves with a $4.74 billion offer. Google, the most-used search engine, said that while it was prepared to win the airwaves, its main goal was to ensure the open-access rules took effect.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

XP Users Petition Microsoft to Keep it Alive

I have two machines on my desk, an old XP Pro and a Vista Ultimate. Even in Solitare the XP machine is far faster...

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- Microsoft Corp.'s operating systems run most personal computers around the globe and are a cash cow for the world's largest software maker. But you'd never confuse a Windows user with the passionate fans of Mac OS X or even the free Linux operating system.

Seagate Trying to Buy Time

Hard disk manufacturer trying to catch up to solid state drive maker...


Hard-disk drive industry leader Seagate Technologies filed a suit on Monday against a competitor, STEC, a maker of solid-state drives, alleging patent violations. The move could set an important precedent and stall the solid-state storage industry.

Monday, April 14, 2008

AES 60th Anniversary Video

Got to watch this one- 16 minutes long...

Blockbuster Bids for Circuit City

Strange bedfellows...

April 14, 2008 9:42 a.m.

Blockbuster Inc., attempting to reinvent its outdated video rental business, has offered more than $1 billion in cash for struggling electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc.
Blockbuster said it made the offer of $6 to $8 a share in a February letter to Circuit City Chief Executive Philip Schoonover, but decided to go public with it after the electronics retailer refused to provide access to its books. (Read the letter.)

The acquisition is a bold move: Blockbuster would take on a troubled and loss-making company with a greater market value than its own. Blockbuster had a market capitalization of around $630 million, based on Friday's closing price.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Economics 101

Luxury cars and yachts are now taking the hit...

Recession Hits the Bentley Crowd

The Mercedes crowd (i.e. mass affluent) has been getting squeezed by the economic slowdown for months. Now it appears the really rich are also slowing down their car purchases.

According to the March sales report from Autodata, sales of luxury cars fell 14% over the previous year. Yet sales in the super luxury segment (Bentley, Rolls and Maybach) fell an even larger 39%. Bentley posted the biggest drop of the three, with sales falling 42%.

Of all the luxury-car segments, the top of the market suffered most in March. The “Lower Luxury” market — cars like the BMW 1 and 3 series, and the Mercedes “C” Class — suffered a 13% drop. The “Middle Luxury” segment — BMW 5-Series, Jaguar S-Type, Infinity M35 — fell 20%. “Upper Luxury” — Mercedes E-Class, BMW 6- and 7-Series, Maserati Quattroporte — fell 24%. Luxury sports cars were down 31%.

What gives? I called Richard Kovacs, a straight-shooting sales exec at Bentley Fort Lauderdale, who told me that there were two factors at work. First, Bentley released its coveted GTC last year, and there were so many back orders that sales went through the roof. Now that the pent-up demand has been met, orders have leveled off.

Second, Mr. Kovacs says the wealthy are reacting to the economy. They may not be hurting financially, he says, but they’re becoming more conservative. Traffic in his showroom has slowed, although he says he’s closing deals with a higher percentage of customers. Overall, he says sales are off “a little bit.”

In 2000, Mr. Kovacs said his phone went quiet due to lack of business. What’s his phone telling him now?

“My phone is telling me it’s going to be a tough summer,” he says

Internet Advertising

Internet advertising is still has a way to go and hilarious ironies crop up often.
Here's an article about a female US Navy officer moonlighting as a DC prostitute. Check out the accompanying ad...
Computers and databases don't always get it right!

Job Site Delays at Orlando Airport

Reader Jeff forwarded these two photos from Florida Light and Power. The gator was 18' 2". There were 87 rattlesnakes...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Comcast and Cable Boxes

Lots of FCC stuff going on today, but the Comcast got gonged by the FCC. They need to allow cable users to use their own boxes and they don't like it....

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Real High Definition Video over IP

Lest youtube viewers think it impossible, I'd like you all to try this link and comment.
A colleague and friend has linked his recent trip video to Taiwan. It's available in glorious 720p, and with a good connection shows you just how good online video is going to be! (just in case you were planning on investing in a broadcasting company anytime soon).
We have a 6 MB connection here, and there is no stuttering, stammering, or glitching to be seen.

Great Article on Departing Employees

Whether they're relocating, terminated, or laid off, employee churn is something we all have to deal with.... great article...

Where's Florence Henderson When We Need Her?

OK, this one's a bit tough to swallow- improving audio by reducing the Schumann Resonance. Fortunately, there's a $450 cure for your ailment.

What is the Schumann Resonance?

The "Schumann Resonance" is a resonance frequency that exists in the Earth's "electromagnetic" cavity; i.e. it exists between terrestrial surface and ionosphere. German physicist W.O.Schumann first detected the resonant properties of this terrestrial cavity in 1954.

It may be said that the Schumann Resonance is a breathing phenomenon of the Earth that is lasting from old time. The lowest-frequency and highest-intensity mode of the Schumann Resonance is at a frequency of approximately 7.83Hz.

Human and all animals and plants have been guarded by this frequency of 7.83Hz and lived for long time. But recently, many unnatural radio waves and electromagnetic waves disturb this frequency of 7.83Hz, it have caused wrong influence on our human bodies.We substantiate that there are many effects when the frequency of 7.83Hz is generated artificially.

Monday, April 7, 2008

9 Cents for Nothing

California Democrat wants to tax your downloads...

Bill would add tax to music downloads

By Edwin Garcia, Sacramento Bureau
Article Launched: 04/06/2008 10:50:40 PM PDT

Don't get too used to those 99-cent downloads from iTunes.

A Los Angeles-area lawmaker trying to help raise money to delete the state government's $8 billion shortfall thinks consumers should pay sales tax when buying from online music stores.
Some avid iTunes users - not to mention other state legislators and tax regulators - disagree.

"I think he's wrong - he should go find money somewhere else," said Fabiola Rojas, a 27-year-old graphic designer in Mountain View. "What iTunes charges now is enough."

The proposal by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Industry, doesn't seek directly to tax music tracks, but instead would require the Board of Equalization to update a 75-year-old law that authorizes sales tax collections on tangible personal property.

Music, books and videos downloaded off the Internet aren't now considered tangible goods.

"The notion of taxing tangible, physical property is really an industrial-era construct when we made widgets and sold widgets," Calderon said Friday. "Now it's not about widgets, it's about information, and selling information and moving information."

If Calderon prevails, the 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent sales-tax rates in effect in most of the Bay Area would raise the cost of that 99-cent download to $1.07 or $1.08.

But his measure is being soundly criticized by Republicans who are opposed to any kind of tax increases to solve the deficit problem.

"One of the growing parts of our economy, tech online and Internet, is something we should encourage without having these types of taxes," said Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-Livermore.
It's unclear how much money the download tax would generate.

The Board of Equalization believes state and local revenues would increase by about $114 million a year, but Calderon's estimate, which he said includes pornography downloads, is about $500 million.

His bill, AB1956, comes at a time when Apple reports that its iTunes store has leap-frogged over Wal-Mart to become the top music retailer in the U.S. with more than 4 billion downloads sold.
Apple has not taken a position on the legislation, a spokesman said.

The measure moves to a tax and revenue committee hearing April 14, but already some members of the Board of Equalization, the regional commission that administers the state's tax programs, have denounced it.

By seeking to make the board to redefine downloads as tangible property, said member Michelle Steel, transactions would be subjected to an automatic tax not authorized by the Legislature, which could invite a legal challenge. Under current law, taxes proposed in the Legislature can be raised only with a two-thirds vote of the Senate and Assembly, which is nearly impossible because of Republican resistance.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Digital Video Quality

Another in the interesting series from Broadcast Engineering...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

LA Times Anti-Disney Editorial

Amazing to see a home town paper take on Disney; something we've never seen before this one!

(Emmaco project managed the Audio/Video/Show Control/Ride Control system installation for Soarin' Over California while subcontracted to Audiotek.)

Disney, we are not amused

California Adventure has fizzled, proving that consumers don't like to be taken for a ride.
April 5, 2008

The first question about Disney’s California Adventure was so obvious that it seemed downright stupid: Why would anyone pay Disneyland prices to go there?

When the park opened seven years ago, its deficits were clear even to the children who visited. One fabulous ride -- "Soarin' Over California" -- was buttressed by a small array of standard county-fair attractions, albeit given a Disney gloss: the ubiquitous flume ride, a Wild Mouse coaster, centrifugal-force swings, a giant Ferris wheel. Compared with Disneyland, where delights are tucked into every corner, California Adventure seemed barren, low on rides and big on restaurants and souvenir shops.

Mainly, it seemed as if the Imagineers had taken the day off to go to Knott’s Berry Farm.

Somehow, Disney's marketing gurus and sales mavens failed to notice what so many others did: California Adventure didn't give the customer his money's worth. Maybe they missed the value issue because they didn't have to pay the admission price -- which has reached $66 per person, even for kids as young as 10. Maybe they figured working stiffs were too dumb to know when they'd been had.

Over the years, though, the park gave off periodic distress signals. Two restaurant operators pulled out because of low attendance. California Adventure installed a "Twilight Zone"-themed ride to draw thrill-seekers. It opened kiddie rides to draw families. It yanked Disneyland's old Electrical Parade back from retirement, and it lowered prices temporarily.

Finally, late last year, Disney announced a $1.1-billion overhaul -- more than it had invested in California Adventure in the first place.

Even on a recent sunny Sunday, though Disneyland was so crammed that the regular parking lot was full, California Adventure was relatively empty. The only line -- a mere 15 minutes -- was, predictably, for "Soarin' Over California."

Visitors wandered back and forth among the attractions, riding each several times. Many said they were annual pass holders for the two parks and would come to California Adventure when they got tired of the lines at Disneyland. Sad commentary, when an amusement park's best attribute is that it's something of a dud.

But the fizzle of California Adventure is encouraging in its way. Too often, consumers have been snookered into killer mortgages or expensive cholesterol medicines that are no more effective than dirt-cheap generics. It's nice to know there are times when the law of giving people their money's worth prevails, and when the stupid question is, in fact, the right one.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Workplace 2009

Let's hope this is only a joke!