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Comment Odd to use a King Air (Score 1) 110

Slightly odd to hear that they used a King Air as the chase ship as Scaled previously used a Rutan-designed Beechcraft Starship which always looked the part with it's futuristic/unusual canard pusher configuration.

I suppose with so few Starships remaining and the maintenance issues that implies; it may now be easier for Scaled to just borrow or lease King Airs for the job.

Still, it would be a shame to hear there are no Starships left flying.

Feed Techdirt: eBay Evaporates $1.43 Billion In Supposed Skype Synergies (techdirt.com)

eBay made a few announcements this morning concerning Skype, and while the press seems focused on Skype founder/CEO Niklas Zennstrom leaving the company, that's hardly the interesting part of the announcement. Instead, the important news is in the fine print, concerning how much eBay is paying Skype as an earnout. Back when eBay bought Skype, there was an initial payment, and then an earnout based on how many new users and how much revenue Skype brought in. At the time, we noted that Skype really didn't have that many users and while it was a good product, we didn't see the synergies with eBay. Two years in, and it seems that this view was correct, as the supposed synergies never showed up. And, while Skype has continued to grow, the pace has certainly slowed. Back when the company was bought, at peak times there were usually around 5 to 7 million users online. These days, it seems like it's usually 8 to 10 million. That's not bad, but it's hardly astounding growth.

And, in fact, this slow growth is clearly seen in the earnout. eBay only had to pay an additional $530 million -- well short of the $1.7 billion maximum payout, clearly suggesting that Skype's growth has been a lot weaker than the company had hoped. To underscore how poorly Skype seems to be doing compared to eBay's plans, the company is also taking a $900 million impairment charge to write down the "goodwill" associated with the Skype acquisition. Ouch. That hurts. It's also leading to calls from all over about how eBay should sell off Skype, admitting defeat in an acquisition that never made sense in the first place. The funny thing is, a big part of the reason why eBay ended up paying so much for Skype in the first place, was due to a ridiculous and misleading hype frenzy (in part, based on a typo). You would think that eBay, of all companies, would recognize the buying frenzy created by an auction situation -- but apparently not. As for Zennstrom, it hadn't really seemed like he was all that engaged at Skype anyway, and the timing of his departure coincides with the launch of his new product, Joost.
IT

First Thing IT Managers Do In the Morning? 584

An anonymous reader writes "When I was a wee-little IT Manager, I interviewed for a position at an online CRM provider in San Francisco, a job I certainly was qualified for, at least on paper. One of the interviewer's questions was 'What is the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?' I thought saying 'Read Slashdot' wouldn't be what he was looking for — so I made up something, I'm sure, equally lame. I didn't get the job. But the question has stuck with me over the years. What do real IT and MIS managers do when they walk in to the office in the morning? What Web sites or tools do they look at or use the first thing? Remember, this is for posterity, so please be honest."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Word of the Year - "Truthiness" 254

KingSkippus writes "Stephen Colbert calls it 'truth that comes from the gut, not books.' Merriam-Webster calls it their 2006 Word of the Year. The word, first introduced [Windows media] on 'The Word' segment of The Colbert Report, won by a five-to-one margin. In spite of Colbert's ironic dismissal of dictionaries and other reference books, will Colbert's coined word actually be added to those books? With media outlets like CNN and MSNBC covering it, the idea may very well have truthiness."

Machine Gun Sentry Robot Unveiled 845

mpthompson writes "Samsung has partnered with a Korean university to develop a robotic sentry equipped with a 5.5mm machine gun. Meant for deployment along the DMZ between North and South Korea, the $200,000 robot employs sophisticated pattern recognition software for targeting humans. No three laws here, but the robot does include a speaker that can be used to politely issue a warning before taking the target out. The promotional video is both scary and funny at the same time."

US Citizens To Require ''Clearance'' To Leave? 987

jo7hs2 writes "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has proposed a system which will in essence make it mandatory for you to have permission before leaving or entering the country, effectively putting everyone on a no-fly list unless the government says otherwise. Interestingly, the proposal does not seem to cover personal travel, only that on some sort of carrier like an airline or cruise vessel. While this certainly is concerning, it isn't exactly new, as a passport is already required for circumstances covered under the proposal."

Forgent Settles JPEG Patent Cases 167

eldavojohn writes "As many of you know, the JPEG image compression is actually proprietary. This has resulted in many lawsuits between its owner, Forgent Networks, and other companies that have used it. Yesterday Microsoft and about 60 other defendants settled with Forgent to the tune of $8 million. For a company with annual revenues of $15 million, that's nothing to sneeze at. You haven't heard the last of Forgent yet, as the article states, 'It is currently pursuing claims against cable companies over a patent that it says covers technology inside digital video recorders.' Sounds like that one could be worth a little bit of cash, wouldn't you think?"

Firefly Fans Fight Back Against Universal 294

Gossi writes "What happens when a film studio and a fanbase get into bed? Fans of Joss Whedon's Firefly, and the movie by Universal Studios — Serenity — are not amused. After being encouraged to viral market Serenity, the studio has started legal action against fans (demanding $9000 in retroactive licensing fees in one case and demanding fan promotion stop), and going after Cafepress. The fans response? Retroactively invoice Universal for their services."

EMI Exec Says 'The Music CD is Dead' 528

Anonycat writes "Alain Levy, the chairman of EMI Music, made a speech at the London Business School declaring 'the end of the music CD as it is.' He went on to say that most CDs are simply used for ripping onto digital audio players. Levy adds that by the beginning of 2007, all EMI CDs will come with additional material to make them more attractive to the consumer. Revenue from CDs still outranks revenue from downloads by better than 6 to 1. Would it take 'additional material' to get you to keep buying CDs? What material would you like to see?"

2006 Election Maps Mashups 105

John Fitzpatrick writes, "Search Engine Watch has an article on the launch this week of map-based search tools to follow the 2006 Congressional elections, from both Google Earth and the map-based real estate site HotPads.com. The Google Earth Blog notes the release of two election-oriented layers outlining the borders of the congressional districts and linking to Google News articles related to the different races. And HotPads is offering the 2006 Election Edition. From their blog: 'The 435 congressional districts are outlined on HotPads Maps, with red and blue designating the party affiliation of the districts' current Representatives. By clicking on the districts' "I" buttons..., users can view quick facts about the districts including the current Representatives and the candidates in November's contests. By clicking on the quick facts bubble, users can get more detailed information [from] Wikipedia articles with detailed information about the candidates and the close races.'"

Fox And Universal Say Goodbye To Halo Movie 310

Master_of_Tumbleweeds writes "20th Century and Universal Pictures, the two studios that agreed to co-finance the film adaptation of Microsoft's Halo video game, have abruptly pulled out of the project. This leaves executive producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh without financing or distribution. A ballooning budget (rumored to have been closing in on the $200 Mil mark) and apparent lack of confidence in rookie feature film director Neill Blomkamp are being named the major culprits for Fox and Universal's decision."

How Warcraft Really Does Wreck Lives 617

An anonymous reader writes "There's a great blog post about how World of Warcraft can ruin lives, it's written by a person that was for a long time a member of the largest council on what is now one of the oldest guilds in the world." This is a story that is very familiar to a lot of folks. I know people who are actively wrecking their lives and risking their jobs by playing too much of a video game.

911 Call Tracking Site Stirs Concern 239

Frosty Piss writes, "This story comes from the Seattle Post-Intellegencer. For the past year, John Eberly has operated Seattle911.com, a site that until this week took real-time feeds of 911 calls from the Seattle Fire Department and plotted them on Google Maps. But on learning of Eberly's site, officials cited 'security concerns' and altered the way they display 911 calls on their Web site, changing the format from text to graphical, preventing Eberly from acquiring the raw data. (Several programmers are quoted musing how trivial it would be to work around this evasion.) Fire officials worry that allowing others to display where fire crews are on an Internet map could make things easier if terrorists were planning an attack. That logic left Eberly and others scratching their heads, as the information continues to be publicly available on the Fire Department's site. 'We're not obligated to provide this information. It's something that we did for customer service in the first place,' a Fire Department spokesperson said. So is this public information? Should the data be available to the public in real time?" The Seattle P-I story ends with a quote from Bruce Schneier: "The government is not saying, 'Hey, this data needs to be secret,' they are saying, 'This data needs to be inconvenient to get to.'"

Longhorn Server's "Improved" Security 151

An anonymous reader writes, "The 'most secure Windows ever' may be very secure from hackers and malware — but what do you do when Longhorn Server lets you install the OS, set up Active Directory, and initialize the domain without once asking you even to create an administrator password? From the article: 'What happened to Windows Server? Where did all of the stringent security checks and ultra-protection of Windows Server 2003 go? Windows Server 2000 was quite insecure, and Windows Server 2003 turned over a new leaf... But it seems Microsoft is more than willing to flip that page back — even Windows Server 2000 required an Administrator password at the very least.'" Inevitably, Dave Barry's years-old quote comes to mind: "Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the 'most reliable Windows ever.' To me, this is like saying that asparagus is 'the most articulate vegetable ever.'"

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