Ford pins hopes on line of compact cars

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest US automaker, aims to win new customers in its home market with the introduction of a line of small cars from Europe, North American chief Mark Fields said. “While none of us would have planned for the sharp downturn in the industry or the dramatically accelerated segment shifts, we are seizing the opportunity.”

It is hoped that the 2010 introduction of a Europe-designed Focus and other models based on a new small-car platform will boost profit from that program by at least 10 percent compared with the current North American version.

The company also aims to cut costs by selling models worldwide. Ford begins production of a new version of the subcompact Fiesta in Europe and Asia this year and in North America in 2010.

Some companies are smart enough to sell models worldwide. I have friends in the U.K. driving compact diesel-powered Toyota pickups – built in Thailand.

The current US Focus only shares 20 percent of its parts in common with the European version. That will rise to 90 percent, Fields said.

The infuriating thing about these Dumbos is that these all are Fords that have been in production for years. The Euro standards for emissions ain’t far off from the U.S. flavor – and crash test tech isn’t rocket science.

Ford pulled the Fiesta a number of years back rather than upgrade its looks and handling – and then went on to do the upgrades in the Euro versions. As for building a U.S. version of the Focus with only 20% of shared Euro parts? Which is it? Stupidity or aiming for more fuel consumption as the target?

Google comic book announces Chrome browser

A few bloggers report that they’ve received comic books from Google announcing its new open source browser, called Google Chrome. The browser will be based on WebKit, the same open source engine that Apple’s Safari is based on.

Taking a queue from modern operating systems, Google’s comic says that it constructed Chrome so that each tab’s processes sit in their own protected silos. So if a page crashes one tab, it doesn’t take the rest down with it. That means more memory usage up front, Google says, but less bloat overall.

Also, the comic says the browser will beat the competition (Mozilla Firefox and its variants, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera) with faster JavaScript performance and better security features such as an “incognito” mode.

You can read the 38-page comic here, thanks to Google Blogoscoped.

UPDATE: Downloads of the Chrome Browser – for Windows PC – are now available.

Microsoft plans [yawn] app store

The guy in the photo quit to go to work for Vodaphone

Following in the footsteps of US mobile provider T-Mobile and Google’s own Android smartphone platform, Microsoft is now plotting its own effort to create an online store for mobile software in the model of Apple’s iPhone App Store.

The project, tentatively called “Skymarket,” was revealed in a job listing Microsoft posted at for a Senior Product Manager to oversee a marketplace service for Windows Mobile.

According to the job listing, Microsoft doesn’t plan to commercially launch Skymarket until the release of Windows Mobile 7, slated for late 2009. However, the company does hope to find someone who can handle “driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall.”

The posting also indicates Microsoft hasn’t made much progress so far about its conceptual goals for the store. It calls for an applicant who can assume responsibilities for “definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace ‘the place to be’ for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications.”

Whoop-de-doo! The App Store concept finally has proven itself. Microsoft will try to copy it.

There was a time when I was part of, supported, and had high hopes for independent Microsoft developers. A long, long time ago.

Christian geeks copy Guitar Hero

Following on the heels of the Christian Dance Dance Revolution knock-off Dance Praise comes Guitar Praise: Solid Rock, also from the company Digital Praise, whose motto is “glorifying god through interactive media.”

The game comes with a wireless guitar controller and a CD-ROM to let Christian shredders rock along to 50 religious tracks including dc Talk’s “Jesus Freak,” Bride’s “Same Ol’ Sinner” and Spur 58’s “Sleepwalkers.”

According to the game’s description, “onscreen lyrics reflect Christian values (so that) vocalists can sing their hearts out as their friends play the guitar.” As with Guitar Hero, players unlock new guitars and sounds as they progress through the game.

Guitar Praise ($100), slated for a mid-September release, will be playable on Macs or PCs, and two guitars (additional one costs $70) can be connected simultaneously for tandem jams on guitar and bass.

If your parents won’t let you have Guitar Hero on religious grounds, one assumes this could be the answer.

Imitation is still the most sincere form of flattery. Also defines opportunism and greed, pretty well.

Sarah Palin Wikipedia entry gets glowing make-over

The Wikipedia entry for Sarah Palin was overhauled substantially for the better in the 24 hours before the surprise announcement of her selection as Republican vice-presidential nominee. A mystery Wikipedia user — under the name Young Trigg — put in about 30 edits to the biographical article on the website.

Young Trigg also notes how the Governor had high approval ratings and kept her campaign pledges. A profile in the conservative Weekly Standard magazine was used as a source of details about how Mrs Palin was willing to “take on oil companies” and that she had “eye-popping integrity”.

All this took place before the Republican candidate John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate in the presidential elections.

Since the announcement the Sarah Palin page has been edited many hundreds of times more and Wikipedia has now put in place a partial block so that only established editors can change the entry. Some of Young Trigg’s entries have been amended or toned down.

Young Trigg made his or her last edits hours before the announcement and the unusual activity was noted first by National Public Radio. Arguments raged among Wikipedia editors about the alleged bias of Young Trigg’s entries and whether he or she was a “sock puppet”, an alternative anonymous account name taken on the by user to deceive.

“Young Trigg” has retired from being an active user.

Sock puppets hardly need commentary. American politics – business as usual.

Laurentide icesheet research boosts concern for Greenland ice

Scientists now say they could no longer rule out a fast-track melting of the Greenland icesheet — a prospect, once the preserve of doomsayers, that would see much of the world’s coastline drowned by rising seas. The researchers found that the great Laurentide icesheet which smothered much of North America during the last Ice Age melted far swifter than realised, dumping billions of tonnes of water into the ocean.

The discovery raises worrying questions about the future stability of Greenland’s icesheet, for the Laurentide melt occurred thanks to a spurt of warming that could be mirrored once more by the end of this century.

“The word ‘glacial’ used to imply that something was very slow,” said climate researcher Allegra LeGrande of New York’s Columbia University. “This new evidence from the past, paired with our model for predicting future climate, indicates that ‘glacial’ is anything but slow. Past icesheets responded quickly to a changing climate, hinting at the potential for a similar response in the future…”
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Nigerian ordered to divorce 82 of his wives. He can keep 4.

A Nigerian religious leader with 86 wives has accepted an Islamic decree ordering him to divorce all but four of them, local authorities say. A spokesman for the emir of Bida told the BBC that Mohammadu Bello Abubakar, 84, has agreed to comply with the decree.

Earlier, Mr Abubakar had challenged Islamic scholars, saying there was no punishment stated in the Koran for having more than four wives. “I have not contravened any established law that would warrant my being banished from the land… There is no law that says one must one must not marry more than four wives.”

All my wives are with children and some of these are people I have married and stayed with for over 30 years, how can they expect me to leave them within two days,” he reportedly told local newspapers.

The former teacher and Islamic preacher lives in Niger State with his wives and at least 170 children.

Cripes! 84 and all his wives are pregnant?

Kate Moss “Siren” will be largest gold statue since ancient Egypt

The British Museum plans to display a statue of supermodel Kate Moss that it bills as the largest gold statue built since ancient Egypt.

The statue of Kate Moss will be displayed in the British Museum in a gallery holding ancient Greek sculpture. Called “Siren,” the statue will be part of a group of major sculptures by leading British artists to go on display at the museum in October.

The Kate Moss statue, weighing 50kg, will be displayed in a gallery of the museum that houses ancient Greek sculpture. The museum calls it a “fitting setting” for the statue of Moss, “interacting with the great Greek beauties that surround it.”

OK. Wonder who fronted the sculptor the bucks for the gold? Should be over a million dollars.