Thursday, June 28, 2012

Facebook Kills off "Stalker" App After One Hour

I'm not quite sure if you can call this a "stalker" app since you would probably unfriend anyone that would actively stalk you. I guess this is similar to an old phone app for Nokia I think that allowed you to track your friends in real time.

A few days ago Facebook rolled out a little feature called 'Friends Nearby' that was, well, potentially a stalker's dream come true.

That might be why the social network decided to nix the feature just a few hours after its 'release.'

'Friends Nearby' allowed users to activate a feature on their Facebook app that would use your phone's GPS to determine your location and bring up people around your location. However, once the user exited the 'Friends Nearby' page, the location finder would turn off.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Turks turn on Syria; dubs them "Clear Threat"

I guess Turkey has chosen a side and it seems it is against the Assad regime.

Turkey branded its former ally Syria "a clear and imminent threat," on Tuesday as its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vented his fury over the downing of a Turkish fighter jet. 

In his most outspoken criticism of the Damascus regime, Erdogan vowed to retaliate against the "heinous act" and promised a change of military attitude to any Syrian officer approaching the common border.

I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean that 100s of Turkish tanks are massing at the Syrian border but Syria is running out of friends fast. It I was playing Turkey in the Grand Game I would get NATO involved and treat the shooting down of an un-armed F4 Phantom as an act of war and amass troops accordingly. 

Any other provocative acts and you start taking out their air defenses with the help of the US and NATO. Then you start to arm the rebels with heavy tanks and anti-tank missiles and wait for Assad to run for it. As always a democratic neighbor is the most peaceful and profitable in the long run.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not Having Insurance Can Kill You!

Well it seems that deaths from lack of insurance are rising for whatever reason.

More than 26,000 working-age adults die prematurely in the United States each year because they lack health insurance, according to a study published ahead of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. 

The study, released on Wednesday by the consumer advocacy group Families USA, estimates that a record high of 26,100 people aged 25 to 64 died for lack of health coverage in 2010, up from 20,350 in 2005 and 18,000 in 2000. 

The total amount of uninsured is 50 million. So that is a .00052% chance of dying of this "no insurance illness" that Families USA talks about. That is about the same number who die of falling per year. So why doesn't the government just pony up the $3000 or so it will take to insure some of these people dying of lack of insurance? That would be about $78 million which would be a rounding error compared to the billions that are going to be wasted just for the IRS to collect fines from people that refuse to buy insurance.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft's Surface Tablet Looks Like Crap and is 2 Years Late to the Party

I just don't understand why they keep Ballmer around anyway. Again Microsoft is years late and are putting out a product that seems like an also-ran.

Microsoft usually begs for attention. On this day, it played the cool maestro. In fact, the company played the Apple (AAPL) role, using pomp, circumstance, and constructed anticipation to make us believe that something really fantastic would appear. Perhaps the whole thing worked: Something that did seem rather fantastic arrived at about 4:20 p.m. It was the Surface tablet—a computer that had all its software and hardware made by Microsoft. In that moment, Microsoft became not just a competitor to Apple but also a rival to such longtime PC manufacturing partners as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell (DELL), and Acer (2353:TT).

I'm sorry the Surface tablet is not "fantastic" at least by my estimation. It pretty much looks like a slightly bigger IPad with a keyboard etched into its cover sleeve. It also seems to cost a few hundred more than the IPad.

Suggested retail pricing will be announced closer to availability and is expected to be competitive with a comparable ARM tablet or Intel Ultrabook-class PC. OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT.

So an Ultrabook-class PC costs about $800 to $1000 which is pretty damn steep when compared to the  $500 to $700 that an IPad costs. So you are pretty much paying $300 for a keyboard and Windows 8? Sounds about par for the course for Microsoft. Late to the party, too expensive, and it is pretty much a "me too" product. I suspect that the Surface will be thrown right on top of all the Zunes that are taking up space on store shelves.

I'm sorry it just looks kind of like a kids toy and not something that you would use for actual work. I just can't picture it as an "IPad Killer" no matter how I slice it. Maybe Microsoft should make that keyboard attachment compatible with the IPad. That way they can make some money before this thing goes the way of the Kin.

Asians Beat out Hispanics as Fastest Growing Immigrant Group

It seems that the rise of the Asians in America is going to change the electorate in quite a few ways.

The study, called "The Rise of Asian Americans" and released on Tuesday, reveals that Asian-Americans also have the highest income, are the best educated and are the fastest-growing racial group in America.

About 430,000 Asians—or 36 percent of all new immigrants—arrived in the United States in 2010, according to U.S. census data. About 370,000, or 31 percent, were Hispanic.

The same old identity politics will probably not work on this group as well as the Democrats would like. The issue of immigration is a non-starter with this group because many of them are not illegal. You can't hit them with the "rich aren't paying their fair share" crap that Obama keeps peddling because they would be the ones having their taxes hiked. Hmm it might be time for the GOP to put this group firmly inside of the party because they are a natural fit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spanish Banks Charged an Incredible 8.5% on their Bailout Loans

Wow that is almost double what someone will be paying for a 30 year fixed mortgage.

Spanish banks which receive public loans in the form of convertible shares as part of an up to 100 billion euros financial package will be charged an interest rate of at least 8.5 percent, a European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday.

Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Saturday that the Spanish bank restructuring fund (FROB) would inject the European loans into banks though convertible shares, also known as Cocos, or through equity.

I would hate to see what these Spanish banks would have to charge in loans in order to pay off this interest? Hell I wouldn't buy a car if I was charged an 8.5% rate. That is what you are charged if you have poor/no credit.

You would figure the EU would charge a lower rate than Spanish government debt so the banks can do some carry trades with the money. So the EU would charge like 4.5% and the banks then buy Spanish Government Bonds that pay 6.7%. They then pocket the difference in order to strengthen their earnings and prop up the Spanish Debt market. 

Oh well, I guess the EU technocrats in Berlin know what they are doing and I guess they would rather not throw any more good money after bad. It just smacks of ripping off these Spanish banks.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Obama Thinks Private Sector is "Doing Fine"

Wow talk about out of touch.

Mitt Romney and his GOP allies pounced on President Barack Obama's declaration Friday that the private sector is "doing fine," suggesting the president's comments are more proof that he's "out of touch" with the country's economic struggles.

Obama was making a point that more money should be funneled toward fire fighters and teachers and such but it still smacks of not knowing anything about creating jobs outside of the state house. In other words the private sector (which creates the vast majority of jobs) is okay so why should they get tax breaks or stimulus or anything of the sort. Maybe that is true in Obama-world where the government creates all the jobs and chooses the winners and losers.

Bobby Jindal said it best:

"The private sector is so foreign to him, he might need a passport to go visit the private sector," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in his speech. "He might need a translator."

Yeah, the public sector to Obama is Solyndra which is government money wasted on a company that creates a product that is just not cost competitive as the ones made by the Red Chinese. Sounds about right for a President that hasn't created a job that cost less than $1 million each.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Romney Calls Obama's Economic Failure a "Moral Failure"

Hmm this is an interesting way to attack Obama's failure to stimulate the economy.

Mitt Romney called President Barack Obama's handling of the economy a "moral failure of tragic proportions," suggesting he's failed the American people by enacting policies that have been "muddled, confused and simply ineffective."

He didn't mention all the White House finger pointing at nearly everyone except for themselves. Yes Obama "inherited a bad economy" but he had 3 years to fix the problem and they seem to be getting worse. Unemployment is still stuck at 8.2% with double that number underemployed.

Recent college grads have a 53% unemployment/underemployment rate. How was all that Hope N' Change that they voted for in the last election working out for them? They have entered the worst job market in recent memory. I hear that it is even hard for people fresh out of law school to find work.

Yet Obama blames bankers and Congress and a whole host of other people instead of just shouldering the blame for the bad economy. Then he needs to get the Department of Labor and Commerce to figure ways to create jobs without spending more government money.

I mean giving more money to the states so they don't have to furlough people is not actually creating any jobs. Also payroll tax cuts are nice but it still doesn't do much for most long-term unemployed. Some of the stuff seems like a good idea but the majority is just tax the rich and throw money down a hole.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

All Sorts of Different Views of the Transit of Venus

Now this is one information packed source on the different views on yesterdays transit of Venus. I wonder if in 2117 we will have some sort of satellites or something orbiting Venus. Maybe looking back on the earth from the other way?

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun's atmosphere, magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO provides images with resolution 8 times better than high-definition television and returns more than a terabyte of data each day.

On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event--the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event lasted approximately 6 hours and happens in pairs eight years apart, which are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not 
happen until 2117.

The videos and images displayed here are constructed from several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light and a portion of the visible spectrum. The red colored sun is the 304 angstrom ultraviolet, the golden colored sun is 171 angstrom, the magenta sun is 1700 angstrom, and the orange sun is filtered visible light. 304 and 171 show the atmosphere of the sun, which does not appear in the visible part of the spectrum.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Some Live Shots of the Transit of Venus

Well, if you don't want to stare directly into the sun then these sites will have to do.

With millions of expected viewers around the world, the Transit of Venus is today’s event to watch. The rare celestial show — the last to occur for more than a hundred years — will be starting just after 3 p.m. PDT. You can join one of the many of the Venus-watching parties across the country or make a simple and safe viewer to see the event from your own backyard.

But if the weather isn’t cooperating or nightfall has come too fast, you can check out some of the many options for watching the transit online. Here we are hosting the best live feeds of this historical event.