Monday, 31 May 2010

Bilingual brain effects.

'Bilingual brain' effects:
A project at Bangor University aims to explore the benefit of being bilingual.

Researchers will be recruiting 700 people aged between two and 80 to take part in the £750,000 programme.
Prof Virginia Gathercole said the obvious benefits included being able to converse and to participate in two cultures.
But she said there was also evidence of non-language benefits, such as the ability to protect the brain from ageing.
"The very act of being able to speak, listen, and think in two languages and of using two languages on a daily basis appears to sharpen people's abilities to pay close attention to a aspects of tasks relevant to good performance," she added.
“ Running two parallel language systems throughout life has had positive benefits in a number of ways ” Prof Virginia Gathercole, Bangor University
Research carried out already had also shown having two languages helped protect against the decline in the brain's abilities when ageing," she added.
"We already know that language processing is one of the most complex activities that our brains carry out.
"Running two parallel language systems throughout life has had positive benefits in a number of ways," she added.
One multilingualist, Phillip Hughes, 62, travelled widely with his work as a teacher before his retirement. He said he found having two languages handy, especially when he had to learn another one, German while living in Swizerland.
Case study - Phillip Hughes, 62 I think being able to speak two languages has been of benefit, especially when I had to learn German when I worked in Switzerland.
I learned it quickly and they said my pronunciation was good.
At home I spoke English as my mother spoke English, but outside I would speak Welsh (and I also spoke Welsh in my sleep apparently).
I want my children to grow up speaking more than one language, and to understand that it is important to speak more than English .
He grew up in an English-speaking household, but spoke Welsh to his friends and in the wider community, and was determined that his children should also have language skills.
Dr Enlli Thomas, who is collaborating on the project, said there was evidence from Canada that being bilingual "may provide some protection against age-related memory loss".

Story from BBC NEWS: 2010/01/12 12:03:18 GMT© BBC MMX

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Music Trade: Good or bad?

Pop internationalism: Has half a century of world music trade displaced local culture?
By Joel Waldfogel

29 May 2010

Is pop music leading to cultural globalisation with the US at its center?

This column examines data from over a million chart entries in 22 countries covering 98% of the world music market. It finds no evidence that the rise of music trade has eroded interest in local music production or consumption. In fact some smaller countries actually benefit.

Over the past half century the music world has become smaller. Advances in communication technologies have made the cultural products of one country more readily available to consumers in another. While lower trade costs are generally good news for consumers, trade in cultural goods encounters less enthusiasm, largely because of fear of US cultural hegemony.
Much of the dread of trade in cultural services concerns Hollywood, which accounts for nearly two thirds of EU movie revenue. The recorded music industry is half as large as the film industry, and fears of American dominance in music are not entirely unfounded. From 2001 through 2009, 31 artists have appeared simultaneously on at least 18 countries’ charts in at least one year. Twenty eight of these superstar artists are American.

The cultural trade debate matters for contemporary public policy. Despite a general trend toward free trade negotiated under successive international agreements, cultural goods have had exceptions. Most European countries subsidise their domestic audiovisual sectors, and some regulate music as well. Many countries, including France, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, impose domestic radio airplay quotas to promote domestic musical artists. But fear of large-country dominance may be wrong; trade may actually promote instead of displacing cultural services from small countries. While it has become easier for the world’s consumers to get access to US music, at the same time, it may also have become easier for the world’s music producers to get access to the US – and other – markets. It is entirely possible that in a connected world, small-country artists could find new export audiences.

Consumption of domestic music is high everywhere. The past half century has brought enormous change in the technologies for making music from one place available to consumers elsewhere, raising the question of whether trade has become more common.

Perhaps even more surprising, interest in domestic repertoire has increased over the past 10-15 years all over the world. Domestic share of world music consumption has increased since 1990. We explore three possible factors relevant to the change in home shares over time, the appearance of locally-tailored MTV channels, the growth of the internet, and domestic airplay quotas.

While MTV emerged in the early 1980s as a single channel across the globe, since 1987 MTV has spread regionally, creating region or country-specific channels carrying some local programming. Viewers seem to bond more emotionally when they understand the lyrics, although many of those viewers claim they understand English well enough. Today MTV operates a country-specific outlet in 20 of the 22 countries we study. Because the internet makes music of each country available to consumers both at home and abroad, the web could promote or displace domestic music. At the same time, the web may reinforce local distribution, for example by complementing the local promotion of concerts. Finally, domestic airplay quotas might be expected to promote domestic music consumption.

All of these factors – the presence of a local or a regional MTV station, the domestic adoption of the internet, and the presence of domestic radio quotas – have positive relationships with the domestic shares in each country.
Some smaller countries actually benefit substantially in this global market, as they are able to achieve market shares that are sometimes two or three times larger than the relative sizes of their own economies.


What is Redbox?

Weak Euro.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Explaining Europe's Debt Crisis

Sugar supplies.

By Robert Plummer Business reporter, BBC News

Not so long ago, the prospect of a global sugar shortage gave food manufacturers a panic attack. India and Brazil are both expecting better sugar harvests this year
Poor weather conditions hitting crops in the world's two biggest sugar-producing nations, Brazil and India, sent the price of the sweet stuff soaring on international markets.
In August last year, US firms such as Kraft Food, General Mills and chocolate-maker Hershey were so worried that they wrote a joint letter to the country's government, calling in vain for the right to import more sugar tariff-free.

The sugar price is clearly a worry for the industry, which needs to invest in planting new canes and upgrading its mills. But for now, there is some relief.
"We in Brazil have had two challenging harvests in a row," says Emmanuel Desplechin of the country's Unica sugar-cane industry association.
"It's very seasonal. We always depend on weather conditions at the moment of the harvest."

While India was struggling with a lack of rain, Brazil had the opposite problem. Its crops were waterlogged by heavier-than-expected downpours in the Centre-South region of the country, the biggest sugar-cane growing area in the world.
But now Brazil expects the region's forthcoming 2010-11 harvest to be its biggest on record, with a projected 33.5 million tonnes of sugar.
Of course, once crushed, Brazil's sugar-cane is more likely to end up in fuel than in food.
In recent years, 60% of the country's sucrose has been turned into ethanol instead of sugar, as Brazilian roads have seen a big increase in the number of "flex-fuel" cars running on a mix of petrol and alcohol.
More than 90% of new cars in Brazil can handle ethanol as a fuel, thanks to a biofuel programme that began in the mid-1970s, as a way for the military government of the day to reduce its dependence on oil imports.
So far, this model has not been widely copied in other countries.
However, Mr Desplechin, who represents Brazil's sugar-cane industry in Brussels, is confident that this will change in line with EU legislation requiring 10% of transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020.
"Legislation will drive the need for biofuels," he says, adding that unlike electric cars, ethanol is already available at reasonable cost.
In fact, he maintains, it is cheaper than petrol and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions.
"In Europe, the flex-fuel vehicle is not that developed, but you can still achieve some savings by blending ethanol with regular petrol." Sparking innovation
As it happens, Brazil's sugar-cane is now producing not only biofuel, but bio-electricity as well.
The residue from the crushed cane, known as "bagasse", is burned to power the cane mills themselves, which are self-sufficient in energy as a result. Brazil is the largest producer of sugar in the world .

About 3% of the country's electricity now comes from this source. Unica predicts that this will increase to 14% by 2020.
"The beauty is that we are using everything in the cane," says Mr Desplechin.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 outpaces Apple in music sales. Outpaces Apple, Ties With Wal-Mart in Music Sales .
By Joseph Galante.

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, grew at a faster pace than leader Apple Inc. in song downloads in the U.S. last quarter and tied Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for second place in overall music sales.
During the period, had 12 percent of the market for digital songs and physical CDs, the same as
Wal-Mart, according to NPD Group Inc., a research firm in Port Washington, New York. In downloaded music, added 4 percentage points of share, compared with 1 percent for Apple, NPD said.
Wal-Mart and intend to close a gap with Apple, which according to NPD has 28 of the retail music market. Apple’s iTunes and let consumers download individual songs, typically for about a dollar. Unlike Apple, also sells CDs.
“Amazon’s growth reflects a stronger position in both the CD and digital formats,”
Russ Crupnick, an analyst for NPD, said in a statement. “This dual approach of selling both digital music and CDs helps attract the most valuable and committed music buyer who prefers access to both formats.”
Sales of digital tracks grew 5 percentage points, accounting for 40 percent of music sold in the quarter, NPD said.

Facebook and the privacy issue.

Facebook reveals new privacy controls following intense criticism from users
Mark Zuckerberg admits settings had become too complicated but denies company is trying to force people to share their data, Wednesday 26 May 2010

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a simplified method for controlling
privacy on the giant social network tonight, acknowledging it had become too complicated but insisting his company was not trying to force people to share their data.
However, Zuckerberg insisted privacy was still important and dismissed suggestions that Facebook relies on selling personal data to advertisers to grow.
"People think that we don't care about privacy, but that's not true," Zuckerberg said. "There's a balance. More and more people want to share information, and as long as they have good controls over that, I think that's where the world is going."
He insisted that Facebook does not use data from users' pages to sell to advertisers – and that that means it does not matter what privacy settings are applied for Facebook to be able to sell adverts.
"The principle is that we don't give any information to advertisers. We target the ads to people ourselves. Advertisers come to us with adverts that they want shown to particular [demographic groups of] people, and we take the ad and show it to the person that we think will be interested in that information. So it doesn't matter who you're showing your data to. It doesn't matter whether you share it at all."
Zuckerberg acknowledged the intense criticism of the site's privacy settings had meant it was "an intense few weeks".
He also admitted that online criticism of the complexity of altering Facebook's privacy settings had hit home and that it had been changed as a result.
He acknowledged the discomfort that has been expressed but said it has not had any noticeable effect on user numbers.
"We track what's called the promoters – the people who would recommend others join Facebook. They're a good indicator of whether we're going to grow. We find that whenever we change something – anything – for the whole network, the level of promoters goes down. But then over time it slowly comes back up until it goes above the level it was before," he said.

Ambulances inspired Twitter.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, says working as a programmer for an ambulance dispatcher led him to the idea for the social network.

Apple News.

The tech giant dominates music, phones and mobile computing and it now faces antitrust scrutiny from the Justice Department.

Apple topples Microsoft's throne.

Apple topples Microsoft's throne.
By Blake Ellis, staff reporter.
May 26, 2010.

Apple has overtaken Microsoft to become the largest technology company by market value, crowning an astonishing corporate comeback.
After more than three decades of rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the founder of the iPad maker saw his company take the lead on Nasdaq.

When the New York markets closed on Wednesday, Apple was worth $222bn – short only of ExxonMobil. Microsoft was valued at $219bn.

Microsoft's dominance as the tech industry's most valuable player has ended. In Tuesday trading, Apple's market capitalization overtook its longtime rival's as investors made official what consumers have long suggested: Microsoft isn't the industry's alpha dog any longer.
While just last month, Microsoft's market cap exceeded that of Apple by about $25 billion, the companies are now neck and neck, with Apple in the lead by a mere $3.6 million.
Microsoft's computers and software business is struggling to compete as Apple's hot new items like iPad and iPhone capture the attention of customers.

"What this really means is that Wall Street has more confidence in Apple's growth prospects than it does in Microsoft's growth prospects," said Matt Rosoff, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an independent firm. "Apple is showing high growth, with the launch of its iPad and its new iPhone coming out, and while Windows is a great competitor versus the Mac, Microsoft just hasn't come up with new areas of growth."
Microsoft's reputation as a market leader took another hit Tuesday when the company announced that it plans to shake up its management structure.
Part of Microsoft's problem is that, instead of finding its own audience, it has fallen into a game of catch-up and is focusing too much energy on finding products to directly rival Apple's, said Kay.
"I don't know if they have to compete," he said. "What seems to be working for Microsoft is its serious applications for businesses, education institutions and other enterprises, and if they stay focused on their commercial business that gives them a lot."
While Microsoft's first quarter earnings were boosted by the success of its new operating system, Windows 7, Apple's record profit and revenue in the first quarter was driven by iPhone sales.

And many of Microsoft's efforts to branch out have been met with little success. For example, the company's Zune music player, meant to rival the iPod, has failed to create the same buzz as Apple's device, with sales dropping significantly in 2009.
Microsoft even looked into creating a tablet computer that would have competed directly with the iPad, which Apple introduced at the beginning of April, selling more than 1 million in the first 28 days of release. But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ended up pulling the plug on the project before the tablet ever made it to market.
"Zune hasn't gone anywhere, their tablet is dead, their phones are having trouble establishing a market position -- but consumers still use Office and Windows," said Kay.
Other experts say that Microsoft shouldn't stop at its core business, and that it simply needs to innovate more -- and faster -- in order to stay competitive.
"They have to continue to try to find other businesses, otherwise growth is always going to be bound by the PC market," said Rosoff. Until Microsoft develops a clear direction and finds new ways to innovate, Apple will continue to push ahead, he said.


Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Brazil and the vehicle market.

Financial Times

Brazil set to become fourth-largest vehicle market

By John Reed in São Paulo
Published: May 24 2010

Brazil is on track to overtake Germany as the world’s fourth-largest vehicle market this year as demand for cars in the country continues to surge past developed countries, carmakers and industry analysts say.
The country’s resource-fuelled economic expansion has spurred strong growth in car buying over the past year that has outlasted the expiration of tax incentives introduced after the financial crisis in late 2008, which lapsed in March.
Brazil was the world’s fifth-largest vehicle market last year after China, the US, Japan and Germany, with 3.1m cars and light trucks sold last year.
Volkswagen, the second-biggest carmaker in the country after Italy’s Fiat, expects the market to grow 7 per cent this year, and says that it could surpass Germany on total vehicle sales.
,” Thomas Schmall, president of VW do Brasil, said: “This year depends on how the market in Europe goes.
“It might be the same, but Brazil might overtake Germany.”
General Motors, the third-largest carmaker in Brazil, is forecasting total industry sales of about 3.3m vehicles this year, a 5 per cent increase on a year ago.
Jaime Ardile, head of GM’s Brazilian operation, said: “We believe 5 per cent annual growth is sustainable for Brazil over the next five years, with some upside given by the soccer world cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016.
“This could make Brazil the fourth-largest auto industry in the world after China, the US and Japan.”
The rise of Brazil in the industry reflects the migration of production capacity and investment from saturated developed countries to faster-growing emerging ones.
PwC expects Germany’s light vehicle market to decline by about 20 per cent this year to 3.18m from just under 4m last year, and Brazil’s to grow by about 8 per cent to 3.3m.
Michael Gartside, senior analyst with PwC Autofacts, said: “If you take the light vehicle market, we expect Brazil to overtake Germany this year”.
But on car sales alone – excluding light commercial vehicles – Germany would still be a larger market than Brazil, he said.
Global carmakers are reporting that some of their biggest profits come from Brazil amid strong economic growth, expanding credit, and growing demand for entry-level cars from people new to the middle class.
However, Brazil’s four big incumbent carmakers – Fiat, VW, GM and
Ford Motor – face increasing competition from Asian producers. South Korea’s Hyundai and China’s Chery Automobile both plan to build plants in Brazil. The strong Brazilian currency is fuelling expanding sales of imported cars.
Mr Schmall said that VW aimed to outsell Fiat – which sells one in four light vehicles in Brazil – as the market leader by 2011, depending on how fast the market grew.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Most competitive economies 2010.

Most competitive economies 2010.

Click here, please.

No. 38 Brazil
Change Since 2009 Ranking: +2
Real GDP Growth, 2009: –0.2 percent
Per Capita GDP, 2009: $10,302

World Competitiveness Rankings:

Economic Performance: 37
Government Efficiency: 52
Business Efficiency: 24
Infrastructure: 49

Brazil has climbed 11 rungs in the IMD rankings since 2007 on the back of GDP growth, a solid domestic economy, strong employment, and excellent attitudes and values. But the South American giant still scores well behind major Western European and Asian economies due to a number of weaknesses, including poor technology infrastructure, education, business legislation, and trade practices.

Brazil's booming economy flying too high for safety.

Brazil's booming economy flying too high for safety.

May 20th 2010 SÃO PAULO From The Economist print edition.

A burst of Chinese-level growth cannot be sustained. But it hints at Brazil’s new-found strength, and is perfectly timed for the presidential election.
New skyscrapers are going up along Avenida Faria Lima in the business district of São Paulo. Sales of computers and cars are booming, while a crowd of passengers has clogged the main airports. Brazil created 962,000 new formal-sector jobs between January and April—the highest figure for these months since records began in 1992. Everything indicates that over the past six months the economy has grown at an annualised pace of over 10%. Many analysts forecast that growth in 2010 will be 7%—the highest rate since 1986.

The problem is that while it may be growing at Chinese speeds, Brazil is not China.

Because it still saves and invests too little, most economists think it is restricted to a speed limit of 5% at the most, if it is not to crash. The growth is partly the result of the stimulus measures taken by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government when the world financial crisis briefly tipped the country into recession late in 2008. The trouble, say critics, is that much of the extra government spending is turning out to be permanent—and so the economy is starting to resemble a Toyota with the accelerator stuck to the floor.
The strain is showing. Businesses are chasing after scarce skilled labour. Inflation for the 12 months to April reached 5.3%, above the Central Bank’s target of 4.5%. Imports are set to top exports this year, for the first time since 2000, and the current-account deficit should widen to 3% of GDP.
The authorities are starting to worry. Last month the Central Bank raised its benchmark Selic interest rate by 0.75%, the first rise in nearly two years. Many economists in São Paulo believe that this one will be followed by others, taking the rate from its low of 8.75% to 13% by next year.

Certainly many Europeans would love to have Brazil’s problems. Its economy has acquired underlying strength. Companies are scurrying to satisfy the demand for consumer goods of a rapidly expanding lower-middle class, while China continues to suck in Brazil’s exports of raw materials.
Productivity is rising. Costs per unit of labour are increasing at only about half the rate of real wages, reckons José Roberto Mendonça de Barros, a consultant and former finance official.
But commodity prices are starting to weaken. Faster growth would be more assured if the government made room for lower interest rates and installed better infrastructure. The next president, elected in October, will have to tackle this. The economy’s red-hot start to the election year has increased the chance that it will be Lula’s candidate, Dilma Rousseff, who gets the chance to try.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Google TV.

Google TV is a new experience made for television that combines the TV you know and love with the freedom and power of the Internet. Learn more at

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Telecoms in emerging markets

Telecoms in emerging markets.

Mobile phones not only connect the developing world, they also make it richer .

The future of radio.

Notes From The Future Of Radio

By Martin H.
May 10, 2010

As the audience for AM and FM radio declines, start-up entrepreneurs and giant media companies alike search for the "next radio" -- a way to make money by helping listeners discover new music. Online music providers such as Pandora, Imeem and provide an early glance at that next chapter in radio history.
Let's face it -- radio stinks. It's 40 minutes of commercials, 10 minutes of annoying DJs looking to offend, and maybe 10 minutes of music.
And in those 10 minutes, you're bound to hear the same five artists multiple times. DJs are corrupted by payola and stations are driven by the profit motive to turn as much time over to advertising as possible.
This sorry state of affairs comes just as listeners have a wide range of new options -- satellite broadcasting, the iPod-driven culture of user-created playlists, and Internet radio stations like Pandora and Last.FM, raising real doubts about whether broadcast radio will be able to pull out of its decline and find its creative moment again.
Many expect it to go the way of Betamax videotapes, cassette players, and laser discs.

That was pretty much the consensus at a recent Washington, D.C., panel discussion chaired by Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher, who recently published a book detailing the evolution of modern radio from the 50's to today.
Fisher joked that as a newspaper columnist who had published a book about the current state of radio, he found himself "grounded in three declining industries." He set the tone of the panel by playing a bit of legendary radio DJ Alan Freed, saying that modern broadcast radio no longer provides "the thrill of discovering something new."
Joining Fisher on the Washington Jewish Music Festival panel were FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Harold Feld of the Media Access Project, and Lee Abrams, longtime radio programmer and current program director of Washington-based XM Radio.
Abrams castigated conglomerates like Clear Channel for creating monopolies of content and closing local broadcasters.

"The industry is condemned by terrible conditions creatively," Abrams said. "The whole model now is 'revenue comes first', and they're making the same mistakes AM radio made years ago."
Feld agreed, saying that the lack of availability of new music and artists was driving away listeners and killing the industry's business model.
"No one is listening to what [they're] playing," he said.
Feld said that the possibility of private equity firms buying out portions of the Clear Channel Empire might offer potential to diversify the content on the airwaves.
The FCC's Adelstein said he thinks terrestrial radio is far from dead, with a great deal of space for radio station bandwith as broadcast signals switch from analog to digital.

"There's a very vibrant market out there for radio stations still," he said. But Adelstein concurred that the lack of local programming and the centralized pattern of "excessive consolidation" was depriving markets of "local content that meets community needs."
The panel showed the continuing problem of
payola, in which record labels bribe stations and DJs to promote particular artists and play their music.
Adelstein noted that the FCC's own investigation of payola found that the majority of payoffs were actually done in favor of "established, big-name artists, who were guaranteed to deliver hits and sales," instead of promoting new and underground musicians.
Abrams and Adelstein sidestepped the proposed merger of XM Radio with Sirius Communications, a combination that would produce the world's largest satellite radio broadcaster. Members of Congress have already discussedat the merger, and it's doubtful the FCC will give the deal a green light.

The panel also ignored the proposed
new royalty system for Internet radio stations. The royalty rates are scheduled to take effect July 15, although Congress is considering legislation that would block the new rates and return to the old system.
In comments after the panel, both Feld and Fisher expressed concern about the new royalty system, saying it would effectively shut down Internet radio.
Of course, there's more to radio than music, as Feld noted when he said the Internet was the "only game in town" for those wishing to pursue careers in radio journalism, thanks to technologies such as podcasting.
"There's not much room for typical radio journalism" on the airwaves anymore, he said. "The real creative work is on the Web."
What's needed, the panelists agreed, is a way to diversify radio markets and strengthen local community broadcasters.

"People want vibrant local discussion of the issues that affect them, in a way that only terrestrial radio can provide," Adelstein said. "The future of radio is in localism."


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Why can't we sleep?

May. 17, 2010

Why Can't We Sleep?
By Laura Fitzpatrick

Journalist Patricia Morrisroe traveled from Las Vegas to north of the Arctic Circle and chronicled what she found in a new book, Wide Awake. Morrisroe talked to TIME about how sleep became a problem, how ancient Greeks went to sleep and why we need our zzz's.

So what happens to the body when it doesn't get enough sleep?

It depends on the amount of sleep you're getting. Researchers talk about poor concentration and memory.

You point out that 40 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder and another 30 million have intermittent sleep problems. How long have sleep disorders been on our radar?

Probably from the very beginning of time. There were drugs like opium back from the Greeks. You had various theories about fatigue toxins that built up in the brain. So sleep has always been on people's minds. Some doctors have told me it's hard for them to understand whether their patients really do have insomnia. A lot of people tend to wake up during the night. Every 90 minutes or so you'll wake up as you go into another cycle. Insomnia patients may remember that they're waking up a lot longer. Or somebody may just feel unrefreshed. I went to a medical-education course in Las Vegas where a woman was complaining she didn't sleep. A sleep study showed that she slept something like seven hours. But when she wrote down how she slept, she said, "I didn't sleep a wink." So I think for some people, they remember their awakenings so vividly, they just think they're awake a lot longer than they actually are.

Do you think technology and the demands it places on modern society have changed the way we sleep?

I went back and took a look at the newspaper accounts over the years of how people treated sleep. Increased industrialization had an impact on our sleep. So did the invention of the car, radio and television. There is no question that people were talking about the ill effects of modern life on sleep going back 100 years. The fact is that as people get excited about what they are browsing, who they are talking to on skype, messages they are reading on Facebook, more is the excitement to stay awake and do more interesting things than simply sleeping. But I repeat, it leads to poor concentration and as a consequence, poor memory.

Find this article at:,8599,1989451,00.html
Copyright © 2010 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Technology leads to happiness.

New research shows a link between happiness and access to technology. CNN's Felicia Taylor explains.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Used to, Be used to and Get used to.

Do a follow-up exercise here, please.

Nike goes green.

CNN's Colleen McEdwards reports on how Nike has gone green.

Adidas and the World Cup.

CNN's Richard Quest interviews the CEO of Adidas on how the World Cup will affect the company's profits.

Browser share.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer losing browser share.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010 .

Internet Explorer still dominates the market .
Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) web browser, now accounts for less than 60% of the market, down from 95% at its peak in 2003, according to new figures.
Latest statistics, from measurement firm NetApplications, show that IE has 59.9% of the market, with Firefox gaining on it, with 24.5%.
While third-place Google Chrome's 6.7% share of the market looks tiny by comparison it is rising sharply, up from just 1.7% this time last year.
A new version of IE is imminent.
Microsoft has gradually been losing market share, largely due to concerns over security, experts said. Viable alternatives
Measurement firms tend to agree that IE is losing market share although the percentage share of rival browsers is more hotly contested.
In the UK, research firm Nielsen suggests that IE still commands 70% of the market, with Mozilla's Firefox on 18%. It does not include figures for Apple's Safari.
It still shows a downwards trend for IE, losing 6% of market share since last year.
This could be due to more awareness of rivals, thinks Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann.
"There are more viable alternatives now. Google has been advertising and there are more people using Macs and Apple's Safari. There is just a great awareness that there are alternatives," he said.
Recently people using version 6 of the browser were advised to find an alternative due to large security holes.
It may shift loyalty away from Microsoft, thinks Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann.
"There were a lot of people using IE6 and some will have said that if they are going to change, they may as well look at some alternatives," he said.
Microsoft introduced browser choice to European Windows users in March.

Internet Explorer - 59.9%
Firefox - 24.5%
Chrome - 6.7%
Safari - 4.7%
Opera - 2.3%
Opera Mini - 0.7%
Netscape - 0.46%
Mozilla - 0.16%
Flock - 0.06%
Lunascape - 0.04%
Source: Net Applications

This was the result of a ten-year dispute with the European Union over the fairness of IE being installed as the default browser on billions of computers using the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Now customer get the choice of 12 browsers.
But this is unlikely to have affected current market-share figures thinks Mr Mann.
"That is only just beginning to kick in and is likely to have a minor affect overall. It will see some really small browsers getting a lot of prominence," he said.
For rivals to IE it is going to be a "long, slow rise", thinks Mr Mann, as Microsoft remains dominant.
And with the release of version 9 of Internet Explorer, the battle could really hot up.
IE9 promises to support HTML5, the next-generation standard for coding web pages, which aims to reduce the need for software plug-ins, such as Flash.
Apple remains a key rival for Microsoft in the browser market and it has seen its Safari browser gain market share but the two rivals are united when it comes to supporting the HTML5 web standards.
Apple sees HTML5 - along with other technologies such as the h.264 standard for video - as a replacement for Flash and has been involved in a high-profile fight with Flash owners Adobe.
Apple has banned the video standard Flash on many of its products.

Apple sells 1m iPads in first month.

Financial Times

Apple sells 1m iPads in first month.

By David Gelles in San Francisco .

Published: May 3 2010 .

Apple has sold 1m units of the iPad in the four weeks since it went on sale in the US, suggesting that demand for the touchscreen tablet computer is higher than anticipated.
However, the company faced criticism from users who complained that the
3G iPad, released at the weekend, was delivering poor video performance over AT&T’s network.
By hitting the 1m sales mark in 28 days, Apple can point to the iPad as one of its most successful product launches.
When the iPhone was released in 2007, it took 74 days for Apple to move 1m units. It sold 300,000 iPads on the first day the device went on sale, April 3.
Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive, said “demand continues to exceed supply’’ and that the company was working to catch up.
Apple said last month it would delay the international sale of the iPad as it struggled to keep up with demand. International pre-orders will begin next week.
Before the launch, critics wondered whether users would have room for a third device between a smartphone and a personal computer.
“It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s off to a good start,” said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. “It looks like this is a category that is going to be around.”
Since its launch, iPad users have downloaded more than 12m apps from the App Store. Developers have created at least 5,000 apps unique to the iPad.
Apple also said customers have downloaded 1.5m eBooks from Apple’s new iBookstore, suggesting that many early users were using their iPads as an e-reader.
The company is positioning the iPad as a direct challenger to
Amazon’s Kindle device, the market leader in e-readers. Amazon does not release sales figures, but analysts estimate there are about 3m Kindles in use.
The debut of the iPad has been damaged by complaints from users who say the 3G service, which is provided by AT&T, compromises the quality of video and does not allow some apps to work.
In particular, users have complained that when YouTube is played over the 3G network, the quality is reduced from high definition to a lower-resolution version, and that the ABC Player does not work unless it is connected to Wi-Fi.
Netflix app, however, was reported to be working on the 3G network.
“It’s annoying for people who went out and bought an iPad and thought they would watch video on the bus ride home,” Mr Munster said.
Apple shares rose $5.36, or 2 per cent, to $266.45 in late New York trade on Monday.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2010.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The most influential people, according to Time.

Time Magazine's list of Most Influential People is out. The list, which is broken down into four categories — artists, leaders, heroes, and thinkers — consists of people from 23 different countries.

Sky News gives an overview of who made it to the top.

"U.S. President Barack Obama was a surprise fourth in the leaders section which was headed by the Brazilian president. Pop star Lady Gaga topped the most influential artist group in front of TV host Conan O'Brien, Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigalow and Oprah Winfrey. And former U.S. President Bill Clinton was No. 1 in the heroes section."

USA Today points out this years list includes a twist.

"The interesting thing about the feature is that essays about each influential person are penned by other notables. For instance, Cyndi Lauper writes about Lady Gaga's influence."

Leaders, heroes, and thinkers are all well and good, but what the media really cares about are the artists…and Newsopi says Lady Gaga is No. 1!

"It seems that Time Magazine has declared Lady Gaga as the world’s most influential artist and for good reason. While her music has been extremely controversial ... she still has evolved into a rather successful figure in the music industry."

But it seems some people are proving to be a more controversial pick. The Hollywood Scoop questions Sarah Palin’s place in the leader category.

“We have no idea how Sarah Palin ended up in the number-nine slot as a 'Leader.' What does she lead, exactly? Whatever organization pays her the most money to speak at its event?”
The Today Show says there are always predictable people on the list like President Obama and Nancy Pelosi...but what about those people you didn't expect? Like, Anne Curry suggests, Sandra Bullock.

CURRY: "One of the first timers on your list is Sandra Bullock, who of course has been talked about a lot recently because of the turmoil in her personal life, but why is she one of the world's most influential people?"

JONES: "Her box office draw in 2009 was the biggest of the year. She literally brings people to the movies and if you can do that, you're reaching a lot of people."

For a complete list of influential people check out Time Magazine.

Why genius isn't in the genes.

Why genius isn't in the genes.

The belief that a genius is the product of genetics is wrong, according to David Shenk.

The Observer, Sunday 2 May 2010.

David Shenk: anyone can be a genius.
Talent is like the marksman who hits the target others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others cannot even see.
So Arthur Schopenhauer defined the concept of genius – as a gift displayed by semi-mystic beings whose qualities sets them apart from other mortals. Mozart, Einstein, Newton, George Best: all were blessed by their genes and achieved a greatness that the rest of us cannot hope to possess.
And that would seem to be that. Writer
David Shenk, a contributor to the New Yorker and other US publications, begs to differ, however. Every human has the potential to be an Einstein, claims this 43-year-old in his latest book The Genius in All of Us. There is nothing that special about being exceptionally gifted. It is a comforting statement. But is it justified?

You claim that everything that we have been told about genetics, talent and intelligence is wrong. Why?
My interest started when I found a body of research called expertise studies.
Anders Ericsson [of Florida State University] and other psychologists have examined what processes make certain people so good at some activities. They are trying to determine the ingredients of greatness, in other words.
For example, they looked at how [professional] violists practise. To the untrained eye and ear, it seems obvious: they all do a great deal of practising – hours, hours and hours. But if you look very carefully at those who end up being the best, you discover – by doing intensive tracking of them – that they do practise more, and better, than those in the class below them.
That is a theme that extends to all achievements. There is a quantitative and qualitative difference in the practice undertaken by the super-greats – say in basketball – and the mere greats. They work hard.

Most people look at child geniuses like Mozart and conclude that his gifts had to be the result of fortuitous genes. Presumably you disagree?
Every piece of evidence we have about how genes work, how brains work, where musicality actually comes from, are consistent with the idea that there is nothing that mysterious about Mozart. I am not trying to diminish his achievements, of course. But the more you look at his life, or the life of any other genius, you realise that this was a process. He reacted to an environment that was almost uniquely perfect for moulding him into a child star.
The myth of Mozart's innate talent persists because people conflate different things in his life. We know he was interested in composing early on and we know he was a prodigy as a performer. The untrained mind reacts by concluding he was born that way. And that kind of reaction has been going for a century. Every time we are confronted with prodigious talent, we say it must be genes because we cannot think of any other explanation. In fact, in the case of Mozart, it is clear his upbringing was also remarkable in terms of stimulating his abilities.
The trouble is that this problem is getting worse. The more we read about new genes being discovered for human conditions, the more our belief in genetic determinism gets stronger. Yet the vast majority of geneticists would not want that to happen.
You say Mozart's greatness was not innate but due to his drive. He practised at playing and composing better than anyone else. But who is to say that drive was not inherited? The source of his greatness would still lie in genes in that case.
I think there are genes that influence drive. But I do not think that it is a completely innate characteristic. It becomes part of our personality and psychology and all of that is developed. Resilience and motivation can appear at different stages in people's lives and often appear in response to adversity, although I accept it will be more difficult for some people to develop intense drive than others. But, fundamentally, it is a developed feature.

Do you think genetics research is going to provide us with more data that suggests that genius is acquired instead of inherited?
Modern studies are only just beginning to show issues about gene expression and epigenetics, the study of how the environment modifies the ways genes are expressed. Genes are constantly activated and deactivated by environmental stimuli: nutrition, hormones, nerve impulses and other genes. There is no golden genetic windfall bestowed at birth, but constant interaction between the outside world and our DNA.

In other words, your genes do not place a limit on your potential in any way?
Yes. That is right. Our genes influence our lives, but equally our lives influence our genes. And I think that that has important implications. Certainly, in the US, we tend to quietly give in to the suspicion that some people are not as capable of being educated as others.
The thing is that if we decide that we need to do a lot more to exploit human talent, then we will all benefit. These things take resources, of course. But the overall message is clear. Our problem is not that we possess inadequate genetic assets but that we are suffering from an inability, so far, to channel to what we already have. If we channel, or better, if we work hard, we can do anything. The difference is, and this is very important, some people will succeed marvelously but others will go until a certain point. They can learn how to play piano but will never be more than 'good piano players'. Each one of us has our limits. A Mozart isn't born every day.

UBS plans to buy Link Investimentos.

UBS Plans to Buy Brazilian Brokerage for $112 Million.

By Elena Logutenkova.

April 29 (Bloomberg) --

UBS AG said it agreed to buy the Brazilian brokerage firm Link Investimentos for about $112 million after selling its Pactual unit in the country last year.
The brokerage, with offices in Sao Paulo and Curitiba, is a private partnership with 279 employees, including 73 partners, the Zurich-based bank said in an e-mailed statement today. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter.
UBS sold its Brazilian Pactual operations to
Andre Esteves, the former head of the business, for $2.5 billion in 2009, less than three years after buying the unit. After cutting risks and raising capital, UBS is expanding its investment bank again to help the company reach an annual pretax profit of 15 billion francs ($14 billion) in the next three to five years.
“Brazil represents two-thirds of the Latin American economy and is expected to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2015,”
Carsten Kengeter, co-head of the investment bank, said in the statement. “It is crucial that we have onshore capabilities to serve our clients in globally important markets such as Brazil.”
Link Investimentos, founded in 1998, posted net income of 3.2 million reais ($1.85 million) last year, compared with 11.8 million reais in 2008, according to the company’s filing to Brazil’s central bank.
The company, one of the largest independent broker-dealers in Brazil, has been the leader in exchange-traded fixed-income and commodities in the country since 2002, UBS said. The Swiss bank won’t buy Link’s retail online brokerage business, and upon closing the purchased unit will be re-branded as UBS, it said.
UBS has built “retention incentives” into the acquisition agreement that are part of the total price,
Doug Morris, a New York-based spokesman for UBS, said by telephone. He declined to disclose details of the retention plans.

The most valuable luxury labels.

Louis Vuitton Tops Hermes, Gucci as Most Valuable Luxury Brand.

By Andrew Roberts
April 29 (Bloomberg) --

Louis Vuitton, the French fashion brand known for its monogrammed luggage, topped Millward Brown Optimor’s 2010 BrandZ ranking of the most valuable luxury labels for the fifth straight year.
The brand, owned by Paris-based
LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, has a value of $19.8 billion, up 2 percent on 2009, ranking it 29th worldwide across all industries, according to the study released today. That’s more than the combined value of rival labels Hermes and Gucci, which placed second and third in the luxury standings and ranked 86th and 97th overall.
Hermes’s brand value increased 8 percent to $8.46 billion, while the worth of the Gucci name, which is owned by Paris-based
PPR SA, rose 2 percent to $7.58 billion, the study said. Tiffany & Co., the New York-based jewelry label, was placed 10th in the luxury ranking, its highest position, with an estimated value of $2.38 billion, up 6 percent. Milan-based Prada dropped out.
Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Tiffany bucked a 3 percent decline in the value of the luxury sector by emphasizing their craftsmanship and heritage and maintaining prices, Millward Brown said.
“As the economy recovers, luxury brands are likely to concentrate most intensely on their core customers,” it said. “Without retreating completely from the lower end of their lines, the brands will be less likely to offer extremely inexpensive merchandise that serves simply as entry-level goods.”
Chanel, Hennessy, Rolex, Moet & Chandon, Cartier and Fendi rounded out the top 10 in the luxury ranking.
Google Inc., operator of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, is the world’s most valuable brand, with an estimated value of $114.3 billion, Millward Brown said.
The study is based on interviews with consumers as well as analysis of company performance.

Luxury Goods - Videographics.

With middle-class consumers cutting back, luxury-goods companies look set to return to their super-rich base.

In praise of television.

In praise of television

The great survivor

Apr 29th 2010
From The Economist print edition

TV has coped well with technological change. Other media can learn from it

NEWSPAPERS are dying; the music industry is still yelping about iTunes; book publishers think they are next. Yet one bit of old media seems to be doing rather well. In the final quarter of 2009 the average American spent almost 37 hours a week watching television. Earlier this year 116m of them saw the Super Bowl—a record for a single programme. Far from being cowed by new media, TV is colonising it. Shows like “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent” draw huge audiences partly because people are constantly messaging and tweeting about them, and discussing them on Facebook.

Advertising wobbled during the recession, shaking the free-to-air broadcasters that depend on it. But cable and satellite TV breezed through. Pay-television subscriptions grew by more than 2m in America last year. The explosive growth of cable and satellite TV in India explains how that country has gone from two channels in the early 1990s to more than 600 today. Pay-TV bosses scarcely acknowledge the existence of viewers who do not subscribe to multichannel TV, talking only of people who have “yet to choose” a provider. This is not merely bluster. As our special report this week explains, once people start paying for greater television choice, they rarely stop.

It helps that TV is an inherently lazy form of entertainment. The much-repeated prediction that people will cancel their pay-TV subscriptions and piece together an evening’s worth of entertainment from free broadcasts and the internet “assumes that people are willing to work three times harder to get the same thing”, observes Mike Fries of Liberty Global, a cable giant. Laziness also mitigates the threat from piracy. Although many programmes are no more than three or four mouse clicks away, that still sounds too much like work for most of us. And television-watching is a more sociable activity than it may appear. People like to watch programmes when everybody else is watching them. Give them devices that allow them to record and play back programmes easily, and they will still watch live TV at least four-fifths of the time.

Yet these natural advantages alone are not enough to ensure television’s survival. The internet threatens TV just as much as it does other media businesses, and for similar reasons. It competes for advertising, offering firms a more measurable and precise way of reaching consumers. Technology also threatens to fracture television into individual programmes, just as it has ruinously broken music albums into individual tracks. TV has endured because it has responded better to such threats than other media businesses.

One of the lessons from TV is to accept change and get ahead of it. Broadcasters’ initial response to the appearance of programmes online was similar to the music industry’s reaction to file-sharing: call in the lawyers. But television firms soon banded together to develop alternatives to piracy. Websites like Hulu, a joint venture of the American broadcasters ABC, Fox and NBC, have drawn eyeballs away from illicit sources. Gradually it has become clear that these websites pose a threat to the TV business in themselves, and that they are not bringing in as much advertising money as might be expected (which is similar to the problem faced by the newspaper business). So television is changing tack again.

With impressive speed, TV firms are now building online subscription-video services. The trendiest model is authentication: prove that you subscribe to pay-television and you can watch all the channels that you have paid for on any device. Such “TV Everywhere” services are beginning to appear in America and Canada. It is likely that Hulu will become a “freemium” service—mostly free, but with some shows hidden behind a paywall. The move from an ad-supported model to a mixture of subscriptions and advertising is tricky, but logical. It shows that it is not enough to embrace technological change. Businesses must also work out how to build digital offerings that do not cause their analogue ones to collapse.

Television has domesticated other disruptive technologies. Ten years ago digital video recorders like TiVo promised to transform the way people watched TV. The devices made it easy to record programmes and play them back, zooming through ads. The TV networks responded by running advertisements that work at high speed. Cable and satellite companies built cheap digital video recorders into set-top boxes and charged viewers extra for them. In effect, money flowed back to the television business. In Britain those boxes will soon be deployed to deliver targeted advertising, enabling the living-room television to compete with the internet.

Other outfits are learning from TV. Record labels sound terribly innovative when they talk about bundling music together with broadband subscriptions. Yet this model comes from television. For the past few years ESPN, a sports giant, has been showing games on its website. The cost is buried in monthly broadband bills. Hulu-style joint ventures are all the rage in media, too. Magazine publishers have set up Next Issue Media, which is trying to shape the evolution of digital devices to suit their needs. The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem aims to do the same for films.

That box might appear to be sitting in the corner of the living room, not doing much. In fact, it is constantly evolving. If there is one media business with a chance of completing the perilous journey to the digital future looking as healthy as it did when it set off, it is television.

Copyright © 2010 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.


It is more dominant than ever. But the competition within television is brutal.

Green exercise boosts health.

'Green' exercise 'boosts health' .

Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.
In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.
The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal suggested the strongest impact was on young people.
The research looked at many different outdoor activities like walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail.
The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes.
With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found.
Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes - physical and mental - were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.
A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water - for instance, a lake or river.
Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from "green exercise".
“ We would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate ” Paul Farmer said.
"Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health."
He also said exercise programmes outdoors could benefit youth offenders.
"A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely."
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental wellbeing.
"It's important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate."

Story from BBC NEWS: 2010/05/01 23:01:15 GMT© BBC MMX
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