Friday, March 7, 2008

NBA bars Heat's Alexander Johnson 1 game

Breaking three of Andrea Bargnani's teeth will cost Miami Heat forward Alexander Johnson one game.
The National Basketball Association suspended Johnson for Friday's home contest against the Golden State Warriors for throwing his body into Bargnani during Wednesday's 108-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Bargnani knocked his head on the floor at American Airlines Arena and broke three teeth on a harsh foul from Johnson as he drove to the basket with 9:57 left in the third quarter.
"I thought he was going up for a dunk, so I jumped and caught him off-balance," Johnson said. "I was not trying to hurt him."
Bargnani left for the locker room and did not return. He was to be re-examined on Friday.
"I feel a lot better now," he said, confirming that X-rays ruled out any facial fractures.
"Any time a guy leaves his feet like that and takes that kind of a hit and goes down hard, you have to be concerned," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said. "But it seems like he is OK.
"He is a little sore. But we don't expect that he will miss any time at all."
Bargnani scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter.

Stern Says NBA May Have First Foreign Owner in 18-24 Months

March 7 (Bloomberg) -- National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern said someone from outside North America probably will become the first foreign owner of one of his league's existing teams in the next 18-24 months.
Investors from China and the Persian Gulf have asked about buying teams that weren't for sale, Stern said in an interview. No sale is in the works, he added.
U.S. teams are attractive to overseas investors partly because of the decline in value of the U.S. dollar, which has lost against 15 of 16 most-actively traded currencies in the past five years. It has fallen 48 percent against the Euro in that period, with one Euro now worth $1.53.
``Our valuations are high,'' Stern said in an interview. ``But from their perspective, given the increased valuation of foreign currency, they are getting cheaper.''
Foreign investors purchased $387 billion of U.S. companies in 2007, up 54 percent from the previous year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The most active investors include those from Canada, Britain and Australia.
The Seattle Mariners baseball club, owned by the U.S. arm of Kyoto, Japan-based video-game maker Nintendo Co., are the only team in the four major North American sports held by an overseas concern.
Interest From Abroad
Stern said he is basing his prediction on interest from overseas investors, the inevitability of team sales and the league's willingness to accept foreign ownership. The falling dollar, as well as basketball's popularity in China and the NBA's plan to place five expansion teams in Europe within a decade also play a role.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said in his blog on Feb. 29 that he also expects more foreign ownership of North American sports teams because of the falling dollar.
``A quick trip to NYC to shop for currency-induced bargains need not stop on Fifth or Madison Ave.,'' Cuban said. ``It is just a matter of time, and maybe not much of it, before we start to see our sports teams gobbled up.''
In January, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and four Chinese investors agreed to pay $253 million for an 11 percent stake in the NBA's operations in that country.
The group was composed of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka- Shing, Bank of China Ltd., China Merchants Bank Co. and Legend Holdings Ltd. Ka-Shing is the richest man in Asia with a $23 billion fortune, according to Forbes magazine. NBA China will have the right to create teams in the country and own all broadcasting and merchandising rights.
``Investors are looking at all of our activities -- media, digital activities, marketing partnerships with leading corporations, real estate through arena development on a global scale,'' Stern said. ``We want to talk to these people when money is cheap and see if they think sports franchises are something worth investing in.''

Apple launches iPhone SDK based on Mac OS X

n the space of an hour Apple has revolutionised the capabilities of its iPhone, as it tries to appeal to gamers and businessmen alike, however users of the phone will have to wait until June before they can start benefiting. Announcing the launch of its Software Developers Kit at its town hall event in at its headquarters in California, the newly announced SDK will allow developers the chance to use the same APIs and tools that Apple says it uses in-house to develop iPhone applications. The announcement is likely to cause an avalanche of new applications for users of the mobile phone. Apple will allow programmers to build applications that have access to the handset's database as well as applications that are location-aware. Additionally they will also be able to access the device's accelerometer that works on 3-axis sensor for motion control. Showing how easy it will be to design and develop apps for the handset Phil Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing for Apple built an application on the fly in the presentation. Apple has said that rather than build a new piece of code for developers to build applications it has merely enhanced it current set of Mac OS tools such as Xcode and Cocoa. Developers will be able to test their applications on a Mac to see how they perform and use battery life with the ability to change elements in real time. To help developers further Apple has said that it will also launch an iPhone simulator that runs on OS X. Applications will be available to download directly from the iPhone via a new store Apple is calling the App Store. The software is promised for the next software update due in June. Apple will charge developers $99 to publish applications and take a further 30% of the revenue, however Apple has said there will be no charge for applications that are offered for free to end users. Apple has also hinted that it will be encouraging a push towards games for the device and will also be adding in OpenGL support, 3dimensional sound support and support for OpenAL. Apple has said that the software update and Developers Kit will be available to iPod touch users however - as with the update announced at the beginning of the year - there will again be a charge. Apple plans to release the final iPhone 2.0 software, including the iPhone SDK and new enterprise features, as a free software update for all iPhone customers by the end of June.

Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (64-bit)

You couldn't ask for more, or for less. Windows Server 2008’s fine-grained, modular configurability lets you shrink the OS footprint down to virtualization guest-friendly size, and Server Core drops the Windows GUI to dramatically reduce the memory requirements of a virtualized guest. This server OS presents a minimal attack surface for guest and host instances, and generally removes the requirement for add-in server and client security. It isn't a server in a box, but it's Microsoft’s richest server OS by far.» Read Full Review

8.5 Very Good

Manufacturer: Microsoft
CostStandard: $999 with 5 CALs, $1,199 with 10 CALs; Enterprise: $3,999 with 25 CALs; Datacenter Edition: $2,999; Windows Web Server 2008: $469
Platforms32- or 64-bit AMD or Intel x86 or Intel Itanium CPU, with minimum speed of 1.4GHz. Memory and disk requirements vary by edition and features. Author's recommended minimums for Windows Server 2008 Standard are 1GB of server RAM per virtual instance and 40GB of local hard disk for boot and swap. The GUI-less Server Core's requirements are much lower.

Apple to take on PSP and Nintendo DS

Apple has today moved closer to taking on Sony and Nintendo in the handheld market by placing a strong focus on games at its unveiling of it software developers kit of the iPhone. At the town hall event at the company's headquarters, Apple announced support for OpenGL, OpenAL, and 3dimensional sound, all standards that gamers currently develop in. In a move to overcome the limitations of no joystick Apple has given developers access to the mobile phone's accelerometer, a technology that allows the phone to sense were it is on three axes and response accordingly. The move will allow gamers to move the iPhone to move a character or vehicle on screen. Apple demoed a game called "Touch Fighter" where gamers can control a spacecraft around the screen by tilting the phone. Hoping to prove its credentials, Apple has approached a number of games companies including EA giving them two weeks to develop a game for the device to show that it was possible. EA demoed "Spore" working on a similar basis offering controls via the motion sensing accelerometer while Sega demoed "Supermonkey Ball" again with the accelerometer. Earlier this month Pocket-lint reported on a patent has been published which describes a method that would automatically determine which games on the iTunes Store are compatible with iPods or iPhones tied to a customer's iTunes software.

Advice for Apple iPhone start-ups

High-flying venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers placed a $100 million bet on Apple's iPhone on Thursday by creating the iFund.
KPCB partner Matt Murphy will manage that gamble, by heading up a team that will invest in game-changing applications for the mobile Internet. His group will include KCPB co-founder John Doerr and Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, along with high-ranking advisers from Apple.
Matt Murphy is heading up the new iFund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.(Credit: KPCB)
Murphy joined KPCB in 1999 after stints at Sun Microsystems and semiconductor start-up Netboost, which was acquired by Intel. His investment focus has long been on the mobile Internet, working closely with digital-map company Autonavi; traffic-data device maker Dash; and mobile software firm Pelago. He was previously a board observer at Google during its early days, and a director at server software company Peakstream, which was acquired by Google.
CNET talked to Murphy late Thursday about his new charge and the significance of the iFund.
Can you tell me the back story of how this fund got started? And why you were chosen to lead it?Murphy: We've been investors in mobile and wireless for a while. We've got over 20 ventures in that general market sector. More and more as we'd been seeing some of the trends evolve around mobile Internet usage, and post the launch of the iPhone--really seeing how that platform was driving leadership around usage and early Web app innovation--we started to believe that that would be the springboard for a lot of innovation on mobile networks. And that's where users who are looking for a differentiated experience would go.
Internally, somewhere on the order of three or four months ago, we started talking about...looking for entrepreneurs focused on the iPhone. And that led to a decision to approach Steve (Jobs) and Apple. They decided that they were very excited about it. I guess it firmed up about four to six weeks ago. We decided that it was a great idea for both sides.
Is this a novel fund for KCPB?Murphy: Essentially, it's a big signal from us that we want to allocate dollars and a lot of resource to an area like this and the reason why is that platforms don't come around that often. The PC, the Internet, Java. Thinking about how enormous the mobile Internet can become, we felt we wanted to do more to signal to entrepreneurs that we wanted to work with them. And (we wanted to) do it with a company with by far the biggest platform for the mobile Internet right now.
How will you choose and vet companies?Murphy: On the Apple Web site, there's a button for developers to submit business plans. We've done that in a structured way. Generally, when people submit plans to Kleiner, they send us an e-mail and it might include a PowerPoint. But with this one, we're trying to make it more structured with a link from Apple or from KPCB home page and those will come in. And there's a team of partners here led by me that will go through them, and we've got a lot of resource that will take these plans and get back to entrepreneurs as fast as we can.
What do you look for in a mobile application developer? What makes them fund-worthy?Murphy: We're not looking for fun-ware or widgets we don't feel like have the potential to be a standalone application or standalone company. We're looking for the next big ideas. If we view this as the next big platform, like we viewed the Internet, the kind of foundational companies that came out of the Internet were Amazon, Google, Netscape, etc. We want to find opportunities of that scale and magnitude. Obviously, when you invest in start-ups you never know whether they will reach those heights. But the point is to find companies that really have the potential to be a pillar company on the mobile Internet.
What do you think the average size of investments will be? Murphy: From a stage standpoint, we'll...invest in everything from a very early seed investment to a later stage investment that has some traction and customers, maybe a little revenue, and is aligned with our thinking around the iFund.
Areas that we're looking at--the main thesis there is around finding applications that are differentiated on the mobile experience and the iPhone. (We're) not looking for things that take what's on the Internet and port it over to what's on the mobile phone, but really taking into account that it's a different device.
When I'm on my mobile phone, I'm out and about, and I might want to look for something, buy something, share something, and (we're looking for) applications that take advantage of that serendipitous, in-the-moment behavior. That could be across social networking, mobile commerce, entertainment, or gaming. And even communications tools.
What about enterprise?Murphy: It's definitely interesting. The enterprise outside of e-mail has lagged in terms of getting broader application adoption. The fact that the iPhone is now going to sync seamlessly with Exchange makes it even more important of a business tool. It's going to be very easy for people to add rich applications for the enterprise on top of that.
So you will be looking at funding enterprise companies?Murphy: For sure. We're looking at companies that solve the largest addressable consumer need, and that's consumers as individuals and in enterprises.
Doerr joked at the announcement that $100 million would fund like four Google's, but how many investments do you realistically plan to make?Murphy: It's hard to say. Some of it depends on the stage and how much money each of the investments take. But the other important point John made is that if $100 million isn't enough, we can allocate more capital to the initiative. There's not really a hard stop on it.
It's hard to say between doing seed investments as small as $500,000 to $1 million up to doing investments that could be more than $10 million. We're so enthusiastic about the area that I don't think the fund size will be the limit to stuff we can do.
We're primarily Series A investors at Kleiner and that still remains our sweet spot, but the aperture is more wide open to find the best applications companies irrespective of stage in this initiative.
How much input will Apple have into iFund awards?Basically, we want their strategic and marketing insight on what they think their users will find interesting. We'll all be able to see data around what's taking off and what's not ... and where they see demand from their customer set. Then when companies are in the iFund, making sure that they're taking advantage of the collaborative relationship we have with Apple to be successful in terms of technical and marketing support.
Will you have Jobs' input?Murphy: (Laughs.) We've got really broad support at the key executive level around the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of the executives are very excited about doing this together.
Apple is notorious for being difficult to deal with. Some start-ups complain about trying to comply with their licensing programs, about getting shelf space in Apple stores. What does that mean for your iFund companies?Murphy: The iFund is a collaborative initiative. I think it bodes well for iFund companies to have Apple's help and support. Given the relationship at the most senior of executive levels on their side and from a core set of partners here, it's going to be pretty easy to cut through what may be a typical frustrated (experience). I certainly don't know any cases of this.
Will you invest in existing mobile developers creating applications for other phones?We're very focused on companies that are aligned with us around the iPhone. It's hard to imagine a company at this stage going after the mobile environment not wanting to develop to the iPhone platform. If someone is currently supporting a different platform yet is philosophically aligned with us on the importance of the iPhone and that that is a big priority for them, then yes.
There are funds that have emerged to just invest in Facebook application makers. I wonder how you think that compares to what you're doing with the iPhone?Murphy: I understand that Facebook is a platform, although I don't think it's a platform that cuts across quite as broadly as the mobile Internet. That's 3 billion users on mobile phones, 1 billion on the Internet.
What we're focused on in the iFund is finding companies that are going to provide the best user experience, instead of just applications, on the best platform that ultimately will go after this 3 billion subscriber base. I view iPhone as the best platform of the mobile Internet.
The mobile Internet is going to be huge--and how many, many people are accessing the Internet all around the world. The early companies that establish leadership on the iPhone platform are well positioned to have a big impact on an enormous user base and not relegated to being a widget company. We're not interested in widget companies.
Why such a big bet on Apple, when there are other smartphone makers?Murphy: The best way to look at that is that the best developers are going to go to the best platform...and address that user base first, and get deep and highly valued interaction going. And then later on they can branch out in all different ways, just like any company in any medium. If you're an enterprise company you might first address the financial services, but eventually you're going to sell to other verticals as those markets mature. What we have here is a differentiated platform in the iPhone that is the best place to do this.
Are there companies in your portfolio that make for good candidates for the iFund and Apple platform?Murphy: There's four companies that will work closely with the iFund initiative. I call out Pelago specifically as an application that's going to launch in a couple of months that's very focused on the iPhone, and (which) we're really calling as part of the iFund.
The product name is called Whrrl (in beta now) and it's about social discovery--finding people, places, things, and events in the physical world through the eyes of your social network. And doing that with the power of the mobile phone, like having location enablement so it knows where you are.
That's the kind of app that's going to be amazing on the iPhone and it's really taking advantage of the behaviors of the mobile phone and optimizing that experience on the mobile phone.

US loses 63,000 jobs as economic woes deepen

A stumbling US economy lost 63,000 jobs in February, according to a shockingly weak report released Friday as the top White House economic adviser warned the economy could shrink.
The Federal Reserve took fresh steps to pump liquidity into the stressed banking system, making up to 200 billion dollars available to fight a credit crunch related to the most severe housing slump in decades.
The Labor Department report showed the second straight month of losses in nonfarm payrolls, seen as one of the best indicators of economic momentum.
Revised data showed a loss of 22,000 positions in January, compared with a prior estimate of 17,000.
February's loss was the biggest since March 2003, at the start of the war in Iraq, and a major disappointment for analysts expecting a gain of 25,000 jobs. "The payrolls report had recession written all over it," said Avery Shenfeld, senior economist at CIBC World Markets.
"It's nearly unheard of to see these numbers outside of recession."
President George W. Bush's top economic adviser, Ed Lazear, did not rule out negative economic growth for the current quarter.
"We don't really know whether it will be negative or not," Lazear told reporters.
"This quarter will probably be our weakest quarter ... Whether you call that 'a recession' or not is something that we won't know for many months."
Bush warned Americans they would soon be feeling the pinch.
"I know this is a difficult time for our economy," Bush said in a brief televised statement.
"We will begin to see the impact over the coming months. And in the long run, we can have confidence that so long as we pursue pro-growth, low-tax policies that put faith in the American people, our economy will prosper."
The Labor Department said the unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey, fell to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent a month earlier. This is attributed to people dropping out of the workforce, after being unable to find jobs, according to officials.
The labor force available for work fell by 450,000 and the participation rate slipped 0.2 percentage points.
The payrolls report showed an economy quickly losing steam. Private sector payrolls fell 101,000, in a third month of decline, including a loss of 52,000 jobs in manufacturing and 39,000 in construction.
The main gains were in government, which added 38,000 jobs.
Overall, the report signaled a sharply weaker-than-expected performance for the US economy, which according to analysts needs to add at least 100,000 jobs per month to keep pace with new labor market entrants.
"The weakness in housing is starting to catch up to the rest of the economy," said Shenfeld.
The US economy expanded at an anemic 0.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2007 and many analysts say they expect the first quarter to show declining activity for the first time since the recession of 2001.
"The question appears no longer to be are we going into a recession but how long and deep it will be," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.
In a sign of continuing inflation pressures, the report said average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent in February and 3.7 percent year-over-year.
The Fed has been cutting interest rates aggressively since September in an effort to reignite growth.
Minutes ahead of the Labor Department announcement, the Fed unveiled two initiatives to inject cash into the strapped financial market. It raised the amounts available in its Term Auction Facility program in which banks bid for loans to a combined 100 billion dollars this month.
It also launched a series of term repurchase transactions expected to reach 100 billion dollars to pump more liquidity into the banking system.
"This was a good news-bad news story," said Scott Brown, economist at Raymond James & Co. "It's good the Fed is coming to the rescue, the bad news is that they have to."
A number of economists say the rate cuts by the Fed and a 168-billion-dollar stimulus package approved by Congress will help stabilize the economy by mid-year.
"We're looking for a first-half recession followed by a recovery in the third quarter," Shenfeld said.