Nokia’s open site, Mosh, is successful – and about to close

To spearhead its push into Internet services, Nokia put users in charge when it opened in 2007 the networking site Mosh, which lets people post anything they want.

Less than two years later the world’s top cellphone maker has decided to put an end to “people power”, killing a site that attracted a wide audience around the globe, unlike most of Nokia’s new fledgling services.

Mosh is a simple website customized for access from any feature phone or smartphone, but it can also be used from a personal computer.

It has been compared by users to the origins of the Internet, where people can access content and share it with others for free.

“We don’t know where it exactly goes and we are not entirely in control,” one of the founders of the site, George Linardos, told Reuters shortly after it was opened…

Like the Internet, Mosh attracted loads of pornographic content, and it also stoked tension between Nokia and record labels, with whom Nokia is in close cooperation for its music offerings.

It was never going to last for ever, I’m surprised that it lasted this long,” says artist Derrick Welsh, who goes by the name “moshing” on the site.

Nokia has been pretty mellow about experimentation. I can’t see too many American tech firms of comparable size being that free and easy. I’ll have to drop by their new sites to see what they’re like – after they’re up and running.

“Slumdog Millionaire” Indian author expects Chinese readers to explore “common destiny”

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Vikas Swarup, the author of the novel “Q and A” on whose story the Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” is based, said he hopes Chinese readers will relate to his story and explore a “common destiny”.

Indian writer Vikas Swarup says, “The book was a success even before the film came out, but suddenly the tremendous success of the film which won 8 Oscar awards including the Best Picture, has taken the book to a different level. Because even though the story is set in India, the theme indeed is universal — the theme of love and loss, the friendship, the betrayal, and above them all, the theme of underdog, trying things over the odds and winning. I think that’s the theme that people all over the world love to celebrate.”

“Not only ‘Q and A”, but also “Six Suspects”, will appear before the Chinese mainland’s readers and I am really excited about it. Because I know Chinese readers are great readers, and I hope they will feel a lot related to the book because we are both developing nations, and I think we can find a lot of common things in these stories.”

“Basically I think India and China are the two great civilizations of the world, and both of us can explore our common destiny together.”

Increasing shared experiences, shared struggle for a proper place on the world’s stage – is a natural for the people of India and China.

Congress to reintroduce cash-for-clunkers bill

Ohio Congresswoman Betty Sutton has introduced a new bill to provide a voucher of up to $5,000 in exchange for your clunker. To be eligible for the voucher, car buyers would have to purchase a new vehicle that is more fuel efficient than the car or truck it replaces. The trade-in also needs to be at least eight years old, while the replacement vehicle needs to sticker for less than $35,000.

The bill will include purchases of both foreign and domestic autos, but there is an incentive to buy vehicles assembled in North America. If the bill passes, foreign-made vehicles will receive a voucher of $4,000, while North American-made vehicles will be eligible for the entire $5,000.

Sutton is hailing her bill as a win for all, saying the legislation will “help consumers, stimulate our economy, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help our domestic auto and related industries.”

Of course, what I’d like to buy isn’t offered in the United States. Maybe in Mexico or Canada? But, someone would be bound to fink on me if I crossed back over the border with one.

I’d consider a mid-size pickup to replace Ruff Boy. But, only if I could get one with a nice little turbo-diesel.

Who really gave away the AIG bonuses?

Senator Ron Wyden says that the furor surrounding AIG’s bonus payments could have been avoided had the Obama White House and members of Congress simply backed legislation that he and Sen. Olympia Snowe introduced more than a month ago.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the Oregon Democrat noted that during the crafting of the stimulus package, he and his Republican colleague from Maine introduced a provision that would have forced bailout recipients to cap their bonuses at $100,000. Any amount paid above that would have been taxed at 35 percent. The language made it through the Senate, but during conference committee with the House, it was inexplicably removed.

“The reality is, had that legislation been passed it would have been a very strong disincentive to anybody paying out bonuses in the future,” said Wyden. “Earlier, the President had denounced those bonuses that came at the end of the year. And when Senator Snowe and I said it is not enough for those in elected office to say it was wrong, that they have got to have a plan to have them pay it back, we were able to get legislation through the United States Senate. Not a single United States Senator was willing in broad daylight to stand up and oppose our bipartisan amendment… but it died in conference.”

Looking back, Wyden still laments the missed opportunity, saying that it remains unclear who got the language stripped — “it didn’t die by osmosis…”

“I will say that I talked to most of the key members of the Obama team and I was not able to convince them of the value of the amendment that I authored with Senator Snowe,” he recalled. “I think it is unfortunate. I think it was an opportunity to send a careful, well-targeted message, which would have communicated how strongly the administration felt about blocking these excessive bonuses. I wasn’t able to convince them.”

So, anyone see proof in print, yet – who removed the amendment?

Is IBM making a $6.5 billion bid for Sun Microsystems?

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The technology industry is abuzz following a report by the Wall Street Journal saying that IBM, the computer industry behemoth often known as “Big Blue”, is in talks to buy the struggling Sun Microsystems for more than $6.5bn in cash.

Both companies have officially declined to comment on the suggestion, which analysts think would be a powerful boost for IBM in the finance and telecommunications markets, where Sun is especially strong but which have seen dramatic falls in capital expenditure due to the credit crunch.

Even if the deal is all-cash, it would represent a 100% premium on Sun’s market capitalisation at the market close on Tuesday, when the share price was at the same level as it was in 1996.

Sun’s value peaked with the dotcom boom in 2001, but has been sliding since and fell sharply with the rest of the Nasdaq technology-oriented stocks last autumn. IBM’s has remained steady as the company has in the past few years focussed increasingly on selling services rather than hardware; it sold off its PC-making division to the Chinese company Lenovo in December 2004, perceiving that the loss-making division was unlikely to move back into profit in the long term.

IBM and Sun have a common cause in pushing “open source” software based on the Linux operating system and similar products. Sun last year bought the Swedish open source database maker MySQL for roughly $1bn, but has found it difficult to make the spending pay off. Last December it announced a $209m loss for its second quarter, and announced last November that it was cutting its staff by up to 6,000 people – about 15% of its workforce.

Let the waffling begin.

A plunge in most consumer goods – but, not in books…

Bookbarn International stocks 5 million titles in 2nd-hand books
Daylife/Getty Images

Some people are seeking explanations for the global economic crisis. Others want to escape into the fanciful world of vampires. Still others are just looking for a nice plate of comfort food.

Whether they are picking up “La Crise, et Après?” by the French economist Jacques Attali, one of umpteen translations of the American author Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, or “Jamie’s Ministry of Food,” by the British television chef Jamie Oliver, they are buying books. As the recession leaves other media industries in tatters, the oldest mass medium of all is holding up surprisingly well.

“It’s a happy message,” said André Breedt, research and development analyst at Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks book sales. “People have been reading and they will keep reading, no matter what happens…”

Publishers and analysts offer a variety of reasons why books have done better, at least so far, than many had feared. Compared with a new television or video game console, books are inexpensive. With unemployment on the rise and working hours in decline, people may simply have more time on their hands. After the excesses of recent years, reading is an activity well suited to a more contemplative era.

“Books are a very cheap treat,” said Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin Books in London. “When you are reading all this dreadful news in the paper, a lovely 500-page novel by Marian Keyes or a classic by Charles Dickens takes you right away from all that.”

But downturns have also created opportunities for publishers. Penguin was founded in 1935, during the Great Depression, by the publisher Allen Lane, who wanted to sell quality books for roughly the price of a pack of cigarettes.

First thing I did after acquiring more spare time when I retired – beside adding a commitment to a second blog – was reserving one day a week as my reading day. It makes nothing but good sense to me.

Legally blind man saves woman from attacker

A legally blind man was credited with saving a woman after authorities said a 45-year-old man broke into her apartment on Saturday night. Authorities said the man, a convicted rapist, was waiting for the woman to return home from work.

A neighbor who asked to be identified only as Jerry heard noises coming from the apartment. Jerry is blind in his left eye and has about 25 percent vision in his right eye.

Jerry told KTVI-TV that he went to the apartment and kicked open the door, surprising the would-be attacker, who locked the door. The woman came home and confirmed she didn’t know the man in her apartment, and police took the suspect away.

We’d all like to think that, similarly afflicted, we would go kick that door in.

Crooked financier owes at least $226 million, says the IRS

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American financier R. Allen Stanford and his wife owe back taxes, penalties and interest of at least $226.5 million, the IRS said in court documents filed in Dallas, Texas.

The final total could be even higher because the Stanfords have not filed their income tax return for 2007. The IRS says they owe $110 million in back taxes, $55.8 million in penalties and $60.7 million in interest for the 1999 through 2003 tax years.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has said that Stanford was behind “a fraud of shocking magnitude.” FBI agents served Stanford with SEC papers accusing him and three of his companies of orchestrating a $9.2 billion investment fraud scheme.

With the filing, the IRS joins thousands of other creditors in the case who are seeking a crack at Stanford’s remaining assets. The documents were filed in U.S. District Court on Friday, but weren’t released until Monday.

In September, Forbes magazine named Stanford No. 205 in its 400 Richest Americans article, saying he was worth more than $2 billion.

Which goes to prove that biz rags like Forbes are guilty of the same “mark to market” crap accounting that evoked most of the economic crash.