Thursday, June 30, 2011

Straight Sets: Kvitova Advances to Finals

Kvitova Beats Azarenka to Reach Women?s Final

Petra Kvitova lost only one game in winning the first set.Kerim Okten/European Pressphoto AgencyPetra Kvitova lost only one game in winning the first set.

WIMBLEDON, England ? Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic won a tough three-set victory over Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, to advance to the Wimbledon women?s final.

?I can?t, I can?t say anything,? she told an interviewer as she came off the court, but managed to add: ?I can?t believe I?m in the final.?

She was, with a gritty display of all-court control, momentarily weakened in the second set, when the shrieking Azarenka steadied her nerves and stroked her way back to contention.

Kvitova was serving notice she could be a formidable presence in the final. She beat three of the world?s six top-ranked players earlier in the year, including Azarenka in the finals at Madrid. Now she has returned to a Wimbledon seeding list that is in disarray.

She will face the winner of the match between Maria Sharapova of Russia and wild card Sabine Lisicki of Germany.

The sun peeks out for a moment. Feels good to see it. Kvitova takes heart, it seems, jamming a forehand service return at Azarenka?s feet, denying her a game point. Azarenka sails a forehand long and wide and hands the match point to the Czech. Then it?s over.

Interesting. Kvitova keeps her breath controlled, Azarenka controls it in a different way. If Azarenka is hitting her shots successfully, her sound trails along with the ball, still audible as her opponent addresses it. If she misses, if the ball slams into the net, her sound halts abruptly, as if the net has cut off her breathing. Funny. Metaphors fail me.

Interesting. Kvitova keeps her breath controlled, Azarenka controls it in a different way. If Azarenka is hitting her shots successfully, her sound trails along with the ball, still audible as her opponent addresses it. If she misses, if the ball slams into the net, her sound halts abruptly, as if the net has cut off her breathing. Funny. Metaphors fail me.

Azarenka calms down. A gorgeous point. Both players slam the ball cross court, then into the corners, then Kvitova jams a forehand to the baseline and Azarenka lofts it high and deep over her head, winning the point and a glimmer of a chance to break serve. Then she passes Kvitova at net. The break point at hand doesn?t go her way and they?re back to deuce. Kvitova steadies herself, Azarenka hits a jittery forehand, then Kvitova pulls an ace out of her quiver and jumps ahead. Time is running out for the Belarus belter.

Oddball statistics. The match was tied at a set apiece. Kvitova had hit 8 aces to none for Azarena, and a lopsided 27 winners to Azarenka?s 5. This suggests that statistics can confuse things if you?re relying on them for an explanation.
Kvitova steadies herself at the start of the third set and allows Azarenka to start missing. Her forehand sails long to put her down 15-40. Azarenka saves one by wrong-footing Kvitova, who gets to the ball in time but slaps a backhand long. Azarenka can?t pull off a comeback here and loses her serve. The train could be leaving the station. That?s another metaphor for locomotion is beginning to show in one player?s game to the detriment of the other. Azarenka doesn?t have much time left to recover that lost service game. Kvitova ices the lead by winning her serve.

It seems impossible, but Azarenka manages to get four syllables out of each shriek while running up a 40-love lead. Kvitova halts the landslide with a forehand up the line that catches Azarenka running the wrong way at net. Then Azarenka, who has just squandered a set point, bats a backhand into the net. But the Gods of tennis are smiling on Azarenka, even if they are holding their ears. She bulldozes Kvitova with deep forehands, finally forcing her Czech opponent to slap a forehand long. The match is tied. This could mean it?s not a blowout. Let me know what you think in the comments section at the bottom. Thanks.

If you?re sitting far back on Centre Court, or maybe 6,000 miles away in your pajamas, both players look pretty much the same. Odd, both wear white headbands from a certain sportswear manufacturer, with the knot tied and wispy white bands trailing. Just below that, you see mostly dirty blondish hair knotted in a braid. So who?s who? If it helps, their racket grips are different colors, Azarenka?s a faded blue, Kvitova?s Wimbledon white.
Kvitova has reached a danger zone. She?s back on her heels and Azarenka is leaning forward in anticipation of taking this set. Suddenly, she steadies and goes up 40-love on her serve with a staggering forehand off her shoetops that passes Azarenaka incautious rush to the net. Then she aces her Belarusian foe. If she can break Azarenka now, she?s back in the match. Tall order.

Victoria Azarenka ran down a shot from Petra Kvitova.Pool photo by Alastair GrantVictoria Azarenka ran down a shot from Petra Kvitova.

Azarenka begins to flutter a bit, slinging backhands long, displaying a tremulo quality to her voice. Okay, I?m grandstanding here, but it means a shaky, trembling quality. Kvitova steadies a bit, winning a game by taking a bit more time on her serve, which can help if your opponent is a bit tremulo, giving him or her more time to think about the awful fate that awaits if they lose.
That said, Azarenka wouldn?t be denied, winning her serve to edge closer to winning the second set by the same score she lost the first.

Did I say a rout? What a difference 90 seconds makes. After the changeover, Azarenka came out swinging, won her serve easily, broke Kvitova?s serve easily, and then jammed Kvitova at the baseline to collect still another game. As they might say in the cosmetic business, the complexion of this match has changed. Not sure who will come out swinging now.

Did I say don?t expect a blowout? Shame on me. Kvitova has gone wild, slamming aces right and left. She takes a 40-love lead, and wins the set by deftly lofting a lob over Azarenka?s head, driving her back to the baseline, then jamming Azarenka into blocking a backhand volley somewhere near Manchester. Now, my thought, and I have one, is that it could be a rout. Azarenka?s shrieks begin to make her sound genuinely alarmed.

Kvitova draws first blood, to use a messy metaphor, breaking Azarenka?s serve and then jamming an insult down her throat (stop me before I sin again) by ramming two aces and winning her own serve at 40-15.
It?s modestly quiet here. The Centre Court crowd isn?t into this match just yet, applauding politely. Kvitova holds a couple of points to go way up in the set. Each time, the crowd hushes. Which makes Azarenka?s shriek seem louder when she erases the advantage with a screaming backhand down the line, pardon the expression.
Soon, there could be crying. Kvitova has begun pulling away.

|First Set Kvitova 2, Azarenka 1

Kvitova, seeded eighth, starts like she?s a bit overwhelmed by the Centre Court stage, flicking a backhand long, dumping a volley into the net, then a forehand long. Chances are she?ll settle down. She?s a lefty, by the way, always considered more difficult to play. It also gives her a lovely wide angle on her serves to the backhand. That?s where she hit an ace to win the first game.

Close your eyes and you can hear Maria Sharapova shrieking. At least that?s the duration of Azarenka?s shrieks. Don?t be fooled, it?s Azarenka, seeded fourth, whose decibel level drew All England Club scrutiny as the tournament unfolded.

Both win their serves first time out, which is a good sign that the nerves have been put aside, at least for now.

Waiting 75 Hours to See Britain?s Big Hope

To procure Centre Court seats for Andy Murray?s 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory, British fans camped out for three days in the ticket line.

Wimbledon: Men's Quarterfinals: Tsonga Stuns Federer at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic defeated the Australian teenager Bernard Tomic to reach the Wimbledon semifinals, where he will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after Tsonga upset Roger Federer.

A Fan, a Fianc�, a Fellow Athlete

Maria Sharapova is engaged to Sasha Vujacic, an N.B.A. guard who understands the sporting life.

About the Bloggers

John Martin

John MartinJohn Martin teaches national reporting at Columbia University?s Graduate School of Journalism and is a photographer and editor for World Tennis Gazette, an email-only newsletter. He was a national correspondent for ABC News (1975-2002). Martin also played tennis at San Diego State and claims his rating level is 4.5 but admits it was so long ago that the ink has vanished from his certificate. You can contact Martin at

Geoff Macdonald

MacdonaldGeoff Macdonald is the head coach of women?s tennis at Vanderbilt University. He played college tennis at the University of Virginia and played on the ATP Tour from 1981 to 1984, mainly on the satellite circuit, although he did enjoy a cup of coffee at the 1982 United States Open.

Thomas Lin

Thomas LinThomas Lin, a senior producer at The Times, is a 4.5-level tennis player who now hits mostly on weekends in Riverside Park.

Colette Lewis

Colette LewisColette Lewis lives in Kalamazoo, Mich., the home of the U.S.T.A. Boys 16s and 18s National Championships. She remembers seeing Jimmy Connors use his Wilson T2000 to win the 16s championship. Lewis worked on the tournament?s website before starting her blog,, in January of 2005. She covers junior and college tennis, spending nearly 20 weeks a year traveling to tournaments. Lewis also writes regularly for SMASH Magazine and the Tennis Recruiting Network.

Aron Pilhofer

Aron PilhoferIn between matches, Aron Pilhofer is editor of The Times's Interactive News Technology group. He has been playing tennis for more than 20 years, and, given that, really should be better than his 3.5 rating.

David Schimke

David SchimkeBetween knee surgeries, David Schimke plays 3.5 tennis and is the editor in chief of Utne Reader, a political and cultural digest based in Minneapolis. He has not taken a set from fellow blogger Aron Pilhofer in nearly a decade.


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Robert Morris, Computer Security Expert, Dead At 78

Robert Morris, a security expert and father of Robert Tappan Morris, the creator of the Morris Worm, died near his home in Lebanon, N.H. of complications due to dementia. Morris spent almost a decade as chief scientist for the National Security Agency and was instrumental in the first cyberattack against Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Army in 1991. Morris was also worked at building tools and systems for Unix research group at Bell Laboratories and laying the groundwork for the Internet as we know it.


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Fly Or Die: Guess Who Doesn?t Like The HP TouchPad?

Erick is a cruel man. Known throughout TC HQ as the "Iron Stampede," his rages against technology products are epic and legendary. You should have heard him go off on Google+ yesterday. He was livid. That's why it's interesting to see him calmly dismantle the TouchPad in this episode of Fly or Die. Gone is the red faced anger, the spittle, the curses. Instead, he tries it out and comes away disappointed and nonplussed.

Source: monfils

Snacking, not portion size, driving U.S. overeating

Over the past several decades Americans have steadily gotten fatter. Although our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are partly to blame, a big reason for our national weight gain is that we're simply eating more.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watch Twitter Explode: Google+ Invites Granted To Early Users

If there's been a question I've been asked more than "do you have any Google+ invites?", I can't remember it. And it's only been a day! Sadly, I haven't had any invites to give out. Google has decided they're going to roll out the network very slowly. Or that was the plan. It now appears that early Google+ users (meaning the one who got access just yesterday) now have the option to invite other people. And as far as I can tell, it's unlimited.


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Keen On? Michael Fertik: Why Data is the New Oil and Why We, the Consumer, Aren?t Benefitting From It

As he told me when he came into our San Francisco studio earlier this week, CEO & Founder Michael Fertik is ?ecstatic? about our new reputation economy. In today?s Web 3.0 personal data rich economy, reputation is replacing cash, Fertik believes. And he is confident that his company,, is well placed to become the new rating index of this digital ecosystem. But Fertik isn?t ecstatic about the way in which new online products, such as facial recognition technology, are exploiting the privacy of online consumers. Arguing that ?data is the new oil,? Fertik believes that the only people not benefitting from today?s social economy are consumers themselves. Rather than government legislation, however, the solution, Fertik told me, are more start-up entrepreneurs like himself providing paid products that empower consumers in our Web 3.0 world of pervasive personalized data.


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DealBook: Natural Gas Bidding War Puts Spotlight on a Billionaire


A multibillion-dollar takeover battle broke out last week over a Houston company that owns 20,000 miles of natural gas pipelines running from the southeastern tip of Florida to the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The man at the center of the fight is a New York billionaire who runs the energy business from offices on the top floor of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park.

George L. Lindemann has quietly amassed a fortune over a five-decade career of buying and selling disparate businesses, like contact lenses and cellphone licenses. Now, the 74-year-old investor has been thrust into the middle of a tug-of-war over Southern Union, the natural gas company he has controlled since 1990.

?Unlike the high-profile hedge fund and private equity guys, he?s more of a throwback, an old-school, publicity-averse deal maker,? said Peter Newcomb, a longtime editor of the Forbes 400, the annual list of the wealthiest Americans, on which Mr. Lindemann routinely appears. ?Despite his extraordinary success he tends to fly beneath the radar.?

That has been, in part, because operating a pipeline has historically been a sleepy affair. But in recent years natural gas has experienced a boom as new exploration fields have been discovered in places like the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and the Haynesville Shale near Shreveport, La.

The potential new energy sources have created a sharp demand for pipeline companies like Southern Union, which transports natural gas to consumers in populous areas like Florida and Illinois.

Energy Transfer Equity, a large pipeline operator based in Dallas, announced two weeks ago that it had reached a deal to buy Southern Union in a complex all-stock transaction worth $4.2 billion, or $33 a share.

Days later, a rival, the Williams Companies, countered with a hostile bid, offering $4.9 billion, or $39 a share in cash. A special committee of the Southern Union board is now weighing the two offers.

Whichever side wins, a sale of Southern Union would be the capstone of Mr. Lindemann?s career. At $39 a share, his stake would be worth about $320 million.

The deal would highlight what admirers say is Mr. Lindemann?s uncanny nose for spotting business trends. Over the years, he has moved deftly among varied industries, buying assets on the cheap, then selling them for rich profits.

The son of a self-made cosmetics mogul, Mr. Lindemann joined his father?s business in 1957 after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Several years later, he led a pharmaceutical company that developed the first permanent-wear soft contact lens. In 1971, he sold that business, Permalens, for $75 million to Cooper Labs.

Mr. Lindemann then shifted into cable television, building up Vision Cable throughout the 1970s and selling it to Advance/Newhouse in 1982 for about $260 million. In the early 1980s, he pivoted into cellular telephones, snapping up wireless licenses around the country. Bell Atlantic bought his company, Metro Mobile CTS, for $1.65 billion in 1992.

The sale allowed Mr. Lindemann to focus on Southern Union, a small, struggling natural gas pipeline company that he had acquired through Metro Mobile in 1990 for $125 million. The company has aggressively expanded through acquisitions in the past decade, acquiring pipeline assets from the bankrupt Enron and a large natural gas business from the Bass family of Fort Worth. Today, Southern Union?s market capitalization is about $5 billion.

Though rarely appearing in the business press, Mr. Lindemann cuts a prominent figure in the haut monde circles of the Upper East Side, Greenwich, Conn., and Palm Beach, Fla. His wife, Dr. Frayda B. Lindemann, serves as vice president on the Metropolitan Opera?s board. For decades, the couple has sponsored an artist development program at the opera house that provides training to promising young singers.

In 2008, Mr. Lindemann sold his oceanfront Palm Beach mansion for $68.5 million, one of the largest private-home sales recorded on the wealthy island. A few months later, he bought a new house several miles up the road for $23.5 million. A passionate yachtsman, he also owns a 180-foot schooner, Adela, which has won international sailing competitions.

His children have carved out more public profiles. His son Adam Lindemann is a prominent contemporary art collector who lives in an avant-garde black concrete town house hidden behind an Upper East Side carriage house. A daughter, Sloan Lindemann Barnett, has been a fixture on the society pages in San Francisco and New York, where she sits on the board of New York University?s law school.

Another son, George Lindemann Jr., was a highly ranked equestrian. In 1995, a jury convicted him of charges related to killing horses for insurance proceeds. He is now an art collector and philanthropist in Miami.

Today, the elder Mr. Lindemann finds himself uncomfortably in the spotlight.

Although Williams?s proposal for Southern Union is priced higher, Energy Transfer?s bid has its own draws ? for Mr. Lindemann. As part of the Energy Transfer deal, Mr. Lindemann and his top lieutenant, Eric D. Herschmann, scored consulting and noncompete agreements, to prevent them from forming a rival company.

The arrangements include guaranteed payments of $50 million over five years for both executives and use of the corporate jet ?for any and all business and personal travel on terms no less favorable then currently.? In addition, Mr. Lindemann and Mr. Herschmann would get continued use of Southern Union?s offices and parking spaces in New York, Houston and Palm Beach.

?I have reviewed a lot of these consulting agreements but haven?t seen one as generous as this,? said Theo Francis of, a division of Morningstar that analyzes corporate filings.

The consulting deals raised the eyebrows of some longtime Southern Union shareholders, who have at times clashed with Mr. Lindemann. In recent years, Sandell Asset Management, an activist hedge fund, has criticized management for what it says are exorbitant pay packages, and the company?s board for lacking sufficient independence from Mr. Lindemann.

Shareholders have also expressed dissatisfaction with the way Southern Union approached a sale. While the company spoke with a number of suitors in addition to Energy Transfer and Williams, it did not run a formal auction that could have fetched a higher initial price.

?This is just George being George,? said Andrew DeVries, an analyst at CreditSights, who has followed the company for more than a decade. ?He has always taken care of himself, but over the long term he has also taken care of his investors.?

In the end, Southern Union shareholders could get a better deal than the current ones. The pipeline company?s stock closed Tuesday at $40.15, nearly 3 percent higher than the Williams offer.

It suggests the bidding war is only beginning.


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Daily Crunch: Bike Path Edition

Quick Bike Hack: Put A Seatbelt Inside Your Tires To Resist Punctures
Hands-On With The Creative ZEN Style M300
The Bracketron All-Weather Soft Case Bike Protects Your Smartphone During Your Ride
The anaPad Is A White Board And Wooden iPad Clone For Kids
RIM, You?re Done Here


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Apparel Media Puts Ads On Your Clothes

As we wrote recently, many of the more interesting startups that have emerged over the past year are improving our lives in the real world better by using data, location and curation as their competitive weapons. Startups like Uber and Airbnb are bringing �industries online or mobile, creating a more seamless experience for consumers. A Chicago-based startup called Apparel Media Group (AMG) is aiming to disrupt the custom apparel printing industry by connecting brands and consumers. Imagine a community that needs athletic uniforms or t-shirts for a kids soccer team and a brand like Honda that wants to target soccer moms with their latest vehicle. AMG helps the team purchase Honda-branded apparel at a discount price and allows Honda to create a deeper connection with their target audience. Historically, local businesses have sponsored community or college teams, but Apparel Media gives national brands a way to target these specific communities at schools, colleges and in communities.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crib safety standards expanded

Cribs made and sold in the United States will face the toughest safety standards in the world, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Tuesday.


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New U.S. Spy Sat: Fast, Cheap, and Just Good Enough to Launch

It was one of the most awe-inspiring rocket launches in recent memory. On January 20, a Delta IV Heavy rocket as tall as a 23-story building blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, apparently carrying a multi-billion-dollar, school bus-size Keyhole spy satellite that took at least five years to fund and build. The noise and vibration from the 1.6-million-pound rocket were so tremendous, that the Air Force had to tell local residents it wasn?t an earthquake.

Dramatic, yes. But there was something wrong with the picture. ?Ponderous,? is how Gen. C. Robert Kehler, former Air Force Space Command boss, described old-school sats last year, as reported by National Defense.

Compare the January launch to the one scheduled for today. If everything goes as planned, the military will finally get the small, fast, cheap satellite of its dreams ? sometime between 8:00 and 11:00 PM EST, weather permitting.

That?s when the first Operationally Responsive Space mission, codenamed ?ORS-1,? is slated to blast off on an 80,000-pound Minotaur rocket (pictured) from Wallops Island, Virginia. The payload is a Senior Year camera, built by Goodrich and based on the model fitted to the U-2 spy plane. Its destination: 250 miles above the earth, in an orbit optimized for Afghanistan. Time from contract to launch: just 30 months. Cost: no more than $100 million.

For the better part of a decade, the consumer electronics business has been in the middle of a ?Good Enough? revolution, where simple and cheap often beats complex and expensive and feature-rich. Now, the Air Force is finally getting on board.

For years, the Air Force has been trying to make spacecraft smaller, simpler and cheaper, build more of them and shrink the time for purchase, construction and launch. In short, to make spy sats as ?operationally responsive? as drones and manned spy planes ? even if that means some individual satellites are somewhat less than cutting-edge.

The new, small satellite doesn?t just share a camera with the U-2. ?The very same computer software system that is used to task airborne ? assets, airborne imagery systems, they will use those exact same assets to task this spacecraft,? said Peter Wegner, head of the ORS office, tells Aviation Week. That?s another way the Pentagon is trying to shrink, simplify and speed up its spacecraft.

The drive (.pdf) for faster, cheaper sats began around the same time China started testing satellite-killing rockets. That was no coincidence. One goal of responsive space is to ?help us counter threats to our space capabilities,? Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn said. ?By building systems on small satellites, using modular components, ORS gives us the ability to rapidly augment our space systems.?

In other words, if China shoots down a satellite, the Pentagon can quickly loft a replacement ? or two or three.

Technologically, it?s not necessarily hard to make satellites smaller, cheaper and more responsive. The problem is managerial. ?Something is wrong with the process,? Kehler said.

The Pentagon officials overseeing space programs aren?t used to accepting anything less than the most sophisticated, complex and expensive solutions to a given problem. ?Very rarely do we say, ?Well gee, this one looks like 60 percent of what we did before, so we?ll just use the 60 percent,?? Raytheon official Tom McDonald told National Defense.

Besides having fewer capabilities than old-fashioned sats, responsive spacecraft also don?t last as long ? just a few years, compared to a decade or more for Keyholes and other big satellites. ?If you?re willing to accept short mission lives, and you are a little less risk averse, then you can do things quicker and cheaper,? said Goodrich?s Charles Cox.

The (hopefully) successful launch of the first responsive satellite should go a long way to building confidence in this new approach to orbital spying. It also helps that the Air Force?s first space plane is itself essentially a small, cheap, nimble and reusable satellite ? and that small spacecraft could prove a popular export for the U.S. space industry.

After all, most nations don?t even have the option of investing more than five years and a billion dollars in a single satellite.

Photo: Air Force

See Also:

David Axe reports from war zones, shoots television and writes comic books. Follow @daxe and @warisboring on Twitter.


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Google Quietly Rolls Out A Range Of Google Product Results On One Page

This morning, we got tipped to check out The tipster noted that it was apparently a new Google site attempting to "create a unified UI to search in multiple channels". Sure enough, visiting the URL brought up a Google page ? but it was a 404 page. Turns out it needs the "www" in order to work. Yes, is not quite ready for prime-time. But it is out there, live! The new service, which Google apparently did launch this morning, is called What do you love? (hence, While it seems to be more of a cute gimmick at this time, the idea is to return users a single page of relevant results across many of Google's products for whatever query is typed into the wdyl search box. The "search" button is even a heart. Cute.


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Google Health, PowerMeter Cut From Life Support

Google Health, PowerMeter Cut From Life Support

The once-promising Google services are being retired because too few people used them.
By Thomas Claburn InformationWeek
June 24, 2011 05:59 PM
Slideshow: The Top 16 Google Services
Slideshow: The Top 16 Google Services
(click for larger image and for full slideshow)
Google on Friday said it plans to discontinue two of its services, Google Health and Google PowerMeter.

Google Health will linger on through January 1, 2012. User data will be preserved for an additional year. The lights go out for Google PowerMeter on September 16, 2011.

More Internet Insights

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Parrot shows off a slew of WiFi & Blue-Tooth controlled technology, from its Minikit Slim to its Philippe Starck-designed speakers (Zikmu) and the AR Drone, a remote controlled helicopter driven by the iPhone's accelerometer and built in sensors.Springpad lets you take information, organize and classify it, and then, through a network of affiliate services (like Netflix, for example) provides more actionable information -- say a movie review, or when a band is coming in concert.As people discover content on the web -- articles, tweet streams, images and more -- Montage creates an easy way for them to aggregate that selected information into a web page. These pages live on the Montage site and can be embeddable as well.
Parrot shows off a slew of WiFi & Blue-Tooth controlled technology, from its Minikit Slim to its Philippe Starck-designed speakers (Zikmu) and the AR Drone, a remote controlled helicopter driven by the iPhone's accelerometer and built in sensors.

"Both were based on the idea that with more and better information, people can make smarter choices, whether in regard to managing personal health and wellness, or saving money and conserving energy at home," said Google senior product manager Aaron Brown and green energy czar Bill Weihl in a blog post. "While they didn't scale as we had hoped, we believe they did highlight the importance of access to information in areas where it?s traditionally been difficult."

The insufficiently popular services join other notable Google misfires, including Google Wave, Lively, and Google Video.

Uses who wish to save their data before it vanishes can go to the respective websites and download their information in supported formats. Google says that in next few weeks, it will be adding support in Google Health for the Direct Project protocol, an emerging open standard for health data exchange.

When it launched Google Health in 2008, Google emphasized how thoroughly it planned to protect personal health data, offering "complete control over your data" and promising not to sell or share users' data without explicit permission.

But privacy worries weren't what kept consumers away. "[Privacy] wasn't actually a significant concern we heard from our users, and it wasn't a significant factor in our decision to retire the service," said a Google spokesperson via email.

Google first expressed interest in health information in 2006, when then VP of engineering Adam Bosworth wrote about the need to organize medical information and make it accessible, a need that Google should have been well-positioned to meet given its similarly worded mission statement.

Google Health had the potential to become a lucrative market for Google: U.S. healthcare spending accounted for $2.47 trillion in 2009, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and health information is vital to clinical outcomes, research, and marketing. It could have been an advertising and data mining bonanza, if it had ever caught on.

Google's retreat leaves the field to Microsoft, which made its own foray into the health information business in 2007 with the acquisition of health search site Medstory and the launch of HealthVault.

Like Google Health, Google PowerMeter died of neglect: "Our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service," explained Brown and Weihl.

The service was supposed to help people save energy by allowing them to monitor home energy usage more easily. But the third-party metering hardware was not simple to set-up and few utilities participated in the project.

But rather than mourning Google's deceased services, we should celebrate them, provided not too much money was wasted. Innovation is messy, and you don't get hits like Android without a few misses.

The Healthcare IT Leadership Forum is a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in healthcare come together to discuss how they're using technology to improve clinical care. It happens in New York City on July 12. Find out more.


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Anonymous Declares War On The City Of Orlando

The hacktivist group Anonymous may be setting its sights on the city of Orlando, Florida next, if an anonymous press release which has landed in our inbox is to be believed (see bellow). The group is threatening to take down a different city-related website every day, starting with Orlando Florida Guide, which doesn't even appear to be owned by the city of Orlando (it is registered to an organization called Utopia, administered by a man named Steven Ridenour). So any random website extolling the virtues of Orlando could be targeted. The DDOS attacks are justified in the press release as retaliation for the repeated arrests of members of a non-profit group called Food Not Bombs, which feeds homeless people in a park without a permit. The leader of the group, Keith McHenry, was also recently arrested. "This is a declaration of war," writes Anonymous in its press release describing "Operation Orlando."


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Monday, June 27, 2011

An Open Letter to LivingSocial: Learn from Groupon?s International Mistakes

Another day, another�unfortunate�piece of news out of Groupon's international operations. Today it's that SoSata, Groupon's Indian site, got hacked.��In a letter to users, Groupon encouraged them to change user names and passwords and assured them no financial information was compromised because none is stored on the site.�Compared to the flood of angry headlines about Groupon of late, this is nothing. But the minor blight comes on the same day that the number two daily deals site in the US, Living Social, is also getting more serious about international expansion. The company has acquired three small daily deals sites: DealKeren of Indonesia, its parent company Ensogo which operates in Thailand and the Philippines and GoNabit which operates in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait. Living Social also announced it's offering daily deals in the Netherlands. This brings LivingSocial's global reach to 21 countries. Assuming Living Social has been watching Groupon carefully, it may be able to avoid making the same costly�international Groupon made�gobbling up sites in far flung parts of the world. That could give Living Social, long seen as the daily deal also-ran, its best opportunity to go head-to-head with the soon-to-be-public market leader.


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Citizen Kushner

From left, Fred R. Conrad/NYT; Marilynn K. Yee/NYT

Left, Jared Kushner in the Puck Building, one of his family's high-profile holdings. Right, the Kushner Companies paid $1.8 billion for 666 Fifth Avenue.

Published: June 24, 2011

ON a recent Monday evening, Jared Kushner, the 30-year-old publisher of The New York Observer, was holding court in the grand ballroom at the Harmonie Club on East 60th Street. The occasion marked the newspaper?s annual ?100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate? issue, and many in attendance were city fixtures, people whose names appear on donor plaques and ballots, not on movie marquees: the developer Richard LeFrak, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the public relations wizard Howard Rubenstein.

Joe Fornabaio/The New York Observer

Mr. Kushner pushing his paper in Pershing Square.

A seraphic figure with neatly sculptured chestnut brown hair and fair skin, the young publisher worked his way through a stream of approaching guests with business-like efficiency. In a corner stood a white backdrop covered in company logos. A velvet rope sat unused nearby.

?Isn?t this fun and glamorous,? Mr. Kushner said, his wry tone and boyish grin suggesting that he found the scene around him neither.

If you knew anything about Jared Kushner five years ago, it was probably that he was the oldest son of Charles Kushner, a New Jersey real estate developer who had spent time in prison for orchestrating one of the more memorable get-even schemes perpetrated in the name of sibling rivalry. He had hired a prostitute to entrap his brother-in-law and captured their encounter on hidden camera to show his sister.

After watching his father?s case play out in the media, with articles full of unflattering, anonymous leaks, Mr. Kushner did the one thing he could do to gain a modicum of control over the press: he bought his way in, paying about $10 million for The Observer, a newspaper read obsessively by New York?s business, political and cultural elite.

He was 25 at the time.

Since then Mr. Kushner has managed The Observer through a recession that left the newspaper business in tatters. He has turned over virtually the entire staff ? including three editors in chief in two years ? while trying to shift to a business model centered on real estate and digital advertising dollars.

If it was a bad time to buy a newspaper, it was arguably a worse time to be doubling down on real estate. He added to his family?s holdings, helping Kushner Companies acquire one of the city?s better known properties, the 666 Fifth Avenue office towers, at the height of the market.

While these moves have elevated his profile in the city, he has warily embraced his place in the spotlight. He is far from the brash, publicity seeking dynamo one might expect to see in someone who managed to buy a New York newspaper at a tender age. He seems uninterested in using the paper to further political ambitions. Unlike Mort Zuckerman, another real estate mogul who moved into the media business by acquiring The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report and The Daily News in New York and aggressively embraced the platform it afforded, you won?t see Mr. Kushner on ?Meet the Press.?

In other ways he has made the most of his new visibility. He married one of the most famous young women in New York, Ivanka Trump. The couple vacations on Rupert Murdoch?s 184-foot sailboat and have appeared as themselves on the CW series ?Gossip Girl.?

Yet every Friday night, you?ll find Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump at home in their Park Avenue apartment marking the Sabbath with dishes like Moroccan meat pie and sweet pea soup that Ivanka, a novice cook, prepares herself. (?I think he humors me,? Ms. Trump, 29, said of her husband?s enthusiastic reviews.)

Mr. Kushner, who saw at a young age how the media glare can scald, maintains he wants to stay out of it. ?I quickly learned that there really wasn?t much benefit to being out there,? he said in a recent interview.

But friends of Mr. Kushner say it was more than just seeing potential in an undervalued media property that drew him to the salmon-colored weekly.

?He was definitely looking to make a reputation for himself quickly, and the newspaper was the opportunity that was there to be had,? said Bob Sommer, who worked as one of The Observer?s top business executives from 2007 to 2009.

?I?d be lying if I said it didn?t have an impact,? Mr. Kushner said of his purchase. ?When I bought the paper I had no idea the level of power and influence it had. I really bought the paper because I saw it as a great brand.?

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 24, 2011

An earlier version of this article described incompletely the circumstances surrounding Mr. Pope's exit from the New York Observer.



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