Microsoft kills off their Kin


Is this how you sell smartphones?
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

At the D8 conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer questioned Google’s dual strategy of building Android and Chrome OS. Two operating systems doesn’t make sense, he said.

Microsoft is apparently listening to Ballmer’s advice, killing off its two-month old Kin line of social networking phones. The company confirmed to CNET that it is not going forward with a European launch of Kin and is instead folding the Kin team into its Windows Phone 7 unit.

The phones, Kin One and Two, were developed as more social phones able to connect users to their friends and allow them to easily broadcast their lives. But the devices sold through Verizon Wireless were criticized early for lacking some features and for its data plans, which were priced the same as other more full-featured smart phones.

Even so, big box retailers like Best Buy sold the critters as part of their – obviously unquestioning – commitment to Microsoft.

Verizon over the weekend slashed prices on the Kin One and Two, even as commercials continued to run on the new devices. Microsoft said it will continue to sell current Kin phones with Verizon.

Microsoft has got a lot to prove and killing off Kin just means even more rests on Windows Phone 7 getting off to a successful launch.

If you believe.

Former F1 engineer unveils new city car


Yup – same guy designed both cars!

His most famous car has a top speed of 240 miles per hour.

With a top speed of 80 mph, Gordon Murray’s latest design isn’t likely to trouble too many speed cameras, but it shouldn’t worry environmentalists either.

The former Formula One engineer who created the iconic McLaren F1 supercar has officially unveiled the T.25 — his idea for a new class of city car.

Murray and his team based in Shalford, south east England, have been working on the design for the past three years and, until now, have kept the exact details of the car firmly under wraps. The car made its first public appearance on Monday at the UK’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford.

At less than eight feet long and a little over four feet wide, the T.25 is smaller than Daimler AG’s popular Smart car, and a petrol engine model will retail for around $9,000.

The price tag isn’t exactly Formula One, but the technology and thinking employed to create the T.25 certainly is.

RTFA. Entertain the concept of a car with citywide capacity and Lilliputian price from a world class designer.

Walmart sued for medical-marijuana firing

Joseph Casias…the Michigan father of two sued Walmart this week for firing him after he tested positive for marijuana — which he was using to alleviate pain from a brain tumor and sinus cancer…

According to the complaint, Casias tested positive for marijuana in a drug test administered after he injured his knee at work, under a Walmart policy that requires employees injured on the job to take the test.

Casias, who won an associate of the year award at the store in 2008, has been using marijuana on his oncologist’s advice after Michigan voters passed a law approving the drug’s medical use in 2008.

“Joseph is an example of a patient for whom marijuana has had a life-changing positive effect,” the complaint states.

A Walmart spokesman said he sympathized with Casias, but defended the dismissal.

“Like other companies, we have to consider the overall safety of our customers and our associates, including Mr. Casias, when making a difficult decision like this,” said Greg Rossiter.

The American Civil Liberties Union also has filed a lawsuit against the nation’s largest retailer.

“No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment,” Scott Michelman, a staff attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project told CNN. “And no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors.”

Changes in Walmart management – and management style – in the past few years have brought them as far as the 20th Century. Stiff-necked rules in place to satisfy the American Cult of Litigation and lawyerdom should be dumped onto the rubbish heap of bourgeois business practices.

Times change. Lifestyles change. Kindness and understanding still look to be in short supply at the world’s biggest retailer.

Does money buy happiness?


You better believe I’m happy – or I’ll exterminate you!

The United States may be the richest nation on Earth, a new study indicates, but it’s not the happiest…

There are two major categories of happiness: overall life satisfaction; and more moment-to-moment enjoyment of life. And while overall satisfaction of life is strongly tied to income, meaning richer nations and individuals have more of this overall bliss, how much one enjoys life (by measures such as laughing and smiling) depends more on social and psychological needs being met. These include having social support and using one’s abilities, as opposed to sitting at a mind-numbing job.

The United States, which had the highest gross domestic product per capita, came in at No. 16 for overall well-being and No. 26 for enjoyment, referred to as positive feelings. The No. 1 spot for overall well-being went to Denmark, and New Zealand landed the No. 1 slot for positive feelings.

Everybody has been looking at just life satisfaction and income,” said study researcher Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and the Gallup Organization. “And while it is true that getting richer will make you more satisfied with your life, it may not have the big impact we thought on enjoying life…”

Overall satisfaction with life went up with both personal and national income, suggesting societal circumstances play an important role in happiness. But positive feelings, which were slightly higher in relation to higher income, were much more strongly tied to feeling respected, having autonomy and social support and working at a fulfilling job…

Some economists think money increases happiness at the low end of the pay scale as it helps people meet their basic needs, but doesn’t do much once a person is lifted out of poverty. This new study suggests the link between money and happiness goes beyond basic needs. While the steepest rise in overall well-being with money occurred in the poorer individuals and nations, there was still a bump in overall happiness at the higher socioeconomic status regions.

Of course, our politicians are happy enough just buying elections.

OK. More seriously, I have to come down on the side of lifestyle decisions which reflect satisfaction, choice, accomplishments measured by personal standards – not just the business scorecard of earnings.

I’ve lived my whole life that way and I’m a happier man for it.

Inventor of holy water makers charged with fraud after customers complain devices don’t work

A South Korean professor who claimed he could make tap water into holy water will face fraud charges, police say.

The man, named as Prof Kim, claimed he could digitally capture the elements of holy water from Lourdes, France, that believers say has healing powers.

He had sold devices to more than 5,000 people, making almost 1.7bn won ($1.3m, £870,000).

Eight people, including Prof Kim’s wife and brother-in-law, will also be charged.

The famous shrine to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes offers water which some believe has healing powers.

Mr Kim had claimed his ceramic and paper filters, and plastic cards used in water purifiers, had captured those powers for onward transmission…

The police also said that the people who had bought the devices had complained when they did not work.

Write your own punchline (if you can come up with anything better than the final line).

Let me finish…

[When he reaches the end, click the pause button, otherwise it rolls back to earlier segments]

Regulars know I’m not a big fan of Chris Matthews, though not for a lot of good reasons. This was the sign-off from his show, last night – referencing President Obama’s address on the question of Immigration Reform.

That’s over here if you wish to watch the whole speech.

The civil libertarian side of the street has always been truly strong in this argument for me. But, when push comes to shove, when working people want a serious and legal method of dealing with the critical side of illegal migrant labor – I’m beginning to agree with Chris Matthews.

I admit it. Everyone else in my extended family says they’re more conservative than me – they’ve already switched to Matthews’ position.

Republican Senator says the Tea Party will die out


The Three Amigos
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has earned the ire of Tea Party groups for his penchant for negotiating with Democrats, predicted this week the movement will “die out.”

Graham, who has partnered with Democrats on immigration reform and energy and climate legislation, made the observation in a New York Times Magazine profile titled “Lindsey Graham, This Year’s Maverick” to be published this Sunday:

“Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,” Graham said as Cato drove him to the city of Greenwood, where he was to give a commencement address at Lander University later that morning. On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious,” he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: “ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.”

In a previous conversation, Graham told me: “The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” Now he said, in a tone of casual lament: “We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.” Chortling, he added, “Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today…”

Teabaggers are a fundamentalist religion just like their precursors in the John Birch Society and White Citizens Councils. It seems to be part of the definition that they have no clue or willingness to manage any political institution – much less a nation.