Trabber Keeper

I got a suggestion recently after my review of my personal favorite travel sites to take a look at a new one: trabber.com. This website is still in Beta stage, so its just an initial review. It starts off very similar as kayak.com in that is searches a lot of travel sites at once. However, the initial disadvantage with Trabber is that it searches only four United States travel sites (AirTran, Expedia, Orbitz, and JetBlue). I'm sure this will change in the near future since the United States is the largest travel market. There are however no shortages of European travel sites which include low cost as well as traditional carriers. For basis of comparison here is the list of airlines found on kayak.com and mobissimo.com.

As impressive as large lists are, I was curious to do a real life example. Since Trabber is predominantly European as they are a European company, I will do a search for a European flight. I'll assume the following: One adult, roundtrip, June 16 to June 23, any time, from Berlin to Paris. Lowest price wins. I will try three consolidation engines, Trabber, Kayak and Mobissimo. Here are the results:

Trabber: I used both trabber.com and trabber.de and came up with a $203 ticket on trabber.com and 143 Euro ($193) on trabber.de, both on SwissAir

Kayak: $225 on Air France

Mobissimo: $193 ticket for SwissAir

Recap: Overall, even though it appears that trabber is limited in its overall United States searches, its European ones are top notch. However, in my case I had to go to the German trabber to get a good deal. In addition, there isn't a function to search for hotels and cars which is the next logical thing to search for. Granted, this is a Beta release, so I'm sure some more features are on its way. As of now however, I'll stick with Kayak, Orbitz and Mobissimo as a first choice as I've gotten good results using these sites, but I will be sure to glance at trabber to confirm any best deal that I think I've found.

What do you think? Do you know of any new up and coming travel sites worth looking at?

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StumbleUpon Ebay...

Looks like StumbleUpon is part of Ebay now. Ebay is beginning to make even more significant efforts to become an Internet conglomerate like Google. As a pretty frequent user of both Ebay and StumbleUpon, I'm excited to see what the future will bring.

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Private Equity at it Again

CDW agreed to be bought out by Madison Dearborn Partner for $7.3 billion. This is a 16% premium per share price over the current share price. This is probably going to be the kick off of another week of PE purchasing. Of course CEO John Edwardson describes this as a new chapter in the CDW's history. In this new chapter I'm sure we should expect to see Private Equity's favorite subject: hyper value creation. Is this going to come with higher volume or prices, or less employees? Let's wait and see.

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What is Popular v. What is News

Ok, here are four groups of lists. The first two are CNN's ten most popular stories on the top and CNN's most "important" stories next. The next two are Fox News' most popular stories then Fox's top stories.

Note: Headlines on top stories changed to match most popular headlines for comparison purposes. Italics indicate story not on most popular list.

CNN - Most Popular

1. Spears 'I truly hit rock bottom'
2. Air passengers may be at TB risk
3. Police: 4 dead in mobile home
4. School president: Fire Professor
5. Obama offers health plan
6. Hasselbeck on forgiveness
7. Palestinian helps U.S. aid efforts
8. Venezuela investigates station
9. Networks getting sneaky with ads
10. 10 U.S. troops killed in Iraq

CNN - Top Stories

1. Police: 4 dead in mobile home
2. Air passengers may be at TB risk
3. Venezuela investigates station
4. 10 U.S. troops killed in Iraq
5. Palestinian helps U.S. aid efforts
6. Obama offers health plan
7. Bush to tap negotiator for World Bank
8. School president: Fire Professor
9. Spears 'I truly hit rock bottom'

Fox News - Most Popular

1. Mexican Audience Boos Miss USA During Miss Universe Pageant Won by Miss Japan
2. Cindy Sheehan Quits as 'Face' of Anti-War Movement
3. Texas Police Probe Possible Murder-Suicide After Mom, Kids Found Hanged
4. Gunman Murders Woman, Sexually Assaults Grandchild in 14-Hour Hostage Standoff in Long Island
5. Rosie O'Donnell Says She May Never Speak to Elisabeth Hasselbeck Again
6. Report: Lindsay Lohan Back in Rehab
7. Alabama Boy Kills 1,051-Pound Monster Pig, Bigger Than 'Hogzilla'
8. 80-Pound Lizard Escapes After Being Shot, Frightens Florida Neighborhood
9. University of Colorado President Recommends Firing Ward Churchill
10. Veteran: Washington State Flag Desecration Is No Prank

Fox News - Top Stories

1. American Al Qaeda Warns Of Hit On Home Country
2. Alabama Boy Kills 1,051-Pound Monster Pig, Bigger Than 'Hogzilla'
3. Texas Police Probe Possible Murder-Suicide After Mom, Kids Found Hanged
4. Pregnant Teen Shares Dark Secret
5. TV Station Accused of Inciting Hit on Chavez
6. Bush Taps Zoellick to Head World Bank
7. Iran Charges 3 American as Spies
8. Eichmann's Passport Found in Argentina
9. Cindy Sheehan Quits as 'Face' of Anti-War Movement
10. Veteran: Washington State Flag Desecration Is No Prank

Ok, what we have here is two long lists. There are obviously some discrepancies between top news and popular news due to top news taking some time to become popular. In addition, CNN makes it difficult because they now sprinkle videos in with their written stories. Despite that there is one interesting fact of both CNN and Fox's #1 on the "popular" list: neither is really front page worthy. CNN has Britney hitting rock bottom and Fox has the news of Miss USA getting booed at the Miss Universe competition. It appears that on CNN's popular list 1, 6, and 9 are more entertainment news than real news. On Fox, 1, 5 and 6 is more entertainment news, also potentially 7 and 8 is more offbeat news, so on Fox it could be said half of the news that is most popular is more entertainment worthy than real news.

While, everyone enjoys all types of news it is quite shocking that the most popular stories aren't those that many would consider pertinent news, ie the Iraq war and other pertinent events. What do you think? What are the stories you first look at when you're on the web? Is it politics, entertainment, international news, or sports news? Do you think we as a society have our priorities not quite straight? Meanwhile, let me check on just how far Britney hit rock bottom and when Lindsay Lohan is getting out of rehab!

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Two Buck Chuck Still Going Strong at 5

Bargain bin wine maker, or vintner if you will, Charles Shaw, more specifically Franzia Brothers Winery's, "two buck chuck" is turning five years old. Three hundred million bottles later, there isn't much sign of slowing down. Congrats Chuck on turning 5 years old, here's to another five years of tasty wine so cheap your 5 year old could buy it with his weekly allowance, if he were 21 that is.


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One Stop Car Shopping...Maybe

In an intriguing strategy move, Saturn dealerships will now have either Toyota Camrys or Honda Accords on hand to test along side the Saturn Aura and Chevy Malibu. The idea behind this is that many American consumers don't even consider GM cars and go straight to either Toyota or Honda. They wish to give the consumers the options right there without going to competing dealerships.

While this is all well and good, a few difficulties remain. First, I don't particularly think that a person considering either a Toyota or Honda will be that swayed at the chance to get their potential car bad-mouthed by a car dealer. I'm pretty sure that the most common experience the consumer will have at the GM dealerships will be a strong push toward the Aura or Malibu while knocking the Camry and Accord down a notch in the process. The only advantage I see for this program is that if a person is committed to a GM car, then the competitors' cars can be used as a bargaining chip to get a better deal. This is the consumer's advantage not GM's however.

Overall, I think in order for American cars to regain the respect that the Japanese cars now have is to put out a quality and innovative product. A car means a lot to many people, so they need to provide cars with great features, good gas mileage and high quality, all while making it desirable at a low price. Once GM and the other American manufacturers figure this out, they will stop pushing customers away to other brands.

[Photo: MissJasmine]

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The World War One Perspective of Memorial Day

NPR and Treehouse Productions made this interesting project for Memorial Day, a tribute to living World War One Veterans. Judging by the typical focus of say, the History Channel which mainly shows WWII themed programs around Memorial Day, not much WWI history is shown. The World War I living history project, is a great perspective and allows for a most unique view of a war that seems like a very long time ago.

Related: Never has so much been owed to so few

[Photo: wjickling]

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Another nice San Diego weekend.
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CKE Restaurants Filing Lawsut, too Angus-Renentive?

CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's is filing a lawsuit against Jack-in-the-Box restaurants alleging that the above commercial is misleading consumers. CKE's complaint is that Angus is part of a cow, not the, nether regions of a cow as the commercial suggests. Personally, I don't know if that many people would fall for that considering that Angus is a type of cow. However you can never be sure, as other Carl's Jr. commercials feature Paris Hilton washing cars to sell burgers, or on another commercial the slogan: "Without us, some guys would starve". Clearly, if these Carl's Jr. advertisements work that well at swaying their consumers to their burger, then perhaps Carl's Jr. should be worried that those same people will stop coming thinking their burgers are really a cow's back end.

What do you think? Is this a frivolous lawsuit or a valid complaint?

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You Booked it For How Much?!

Since its Memorial Day weekend and many people are going to be travelling, I thought I'd put down my favorite travel sites to use to book travel such as airfare or hotels.

Overall, my current site of choice is Kayak.com, one of the new players on the travel booking scene. The reason that I like Kayak is that it doesn't just search a single airline or site, but rather many airlines and travel sites like Priceline.com. Many times when I've been searching doggedly for the lowest fare on tens of travel sites, Kayak will find a lower one in a single search. It's also very easy to filter the results you get for specific airlines or arrival or departure times. This way you can pinpoint exactly the flight you're looking for at the price you're looking for. Kayak also works very well for international travel as well. My second place site that I check is farechase.yahoo.com, it has the same setup as Kayak, but it seems that it doesn't search as many sites and just quite can't find the best deals.

In addition to Kayak, when in Europe, I've had success with Mobissimo.com, which is very similar to Kayak but focuses mainly on Europe. Mobissimo searches on sites that aren't in English so that is quite beneficial as well. Be sure to take a look at Venere.com as well. Venere is a site to find accommodations like hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. They have many choices as well as many pictures and reviews to go with all those choices.

Lastly, before you plan your trip, take a look at Tripadvisor.com, you can find great reviews on cities and hotels to better know what to predict when you go. Also, don't forget to refer to the forums on Fodors.com and Frommers.com, there is a wealth of information to find there.

I've given the sites that have worked well for me, what sites have you had success with?

Here's to exciting travels!

[Photo: zane@inzane]

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The Fastest Growing Tech Companies

Business 2.0 released their annual list of top 100 fastest growing tech companies today. It's interesting to take a look and see some of the trends that the top companies are heading toward. The top ten include:

- Online music and video management (Akamai Technologies)
- Small business new website consulting (Imergent)
- Personal beautification surgery products (Palomar Medical Technologies)
- Wireless phone software (InterDigital Communications)
- Online fraud prevention (CyberSource)
- IT consultants (Perficient)
- Consumer electronics production tools (Lam Research)
- Military body armor and supplies (Ceradyne)
- Computer to Internet consultants (F5 Networks)
- More military body armor and supplies (Armor Holdings)

With a quick glance at this list it's clear that the Internet is still the top dog for growth tech companies. There appears to be a lot of growth opportunities for those people with expertise on the Internet that can assist those without the knowledge as evidenced by Imergent and F5 Networks. Also, most likely due to the Iraq war and the changing nature of future wars, military supply companies like Ceradyne and Armor Holding are benefiting from their innovations. The big surprise for me was Palomar Medical Technologies, while I realize many people are getting plastic surgery it surprises me that many people are getting that much surgery that the demand for equipment is that high.

Do you agree with this list? Are there some missing companies? Could some companies be ranked too high?

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Regarding that Box of Baseball Card (Company) in Your Closet...

Today Topps (the maker of sports cards, push pops and other candies) received another takeover bid. Originally, Topps received a bid originally from Michael Eisner's private equity company. Today's bid of $424 million from San Diego's (well Carlsbad actually) Upper Deck exceeded the original bid of $385 million. It's refreshing to see an acquired company not going to private equity these days.

You probably remember Topps as a maker of your favorite baseball cards growing up. However, after the baseball/sports card craze of the late 80's and early 90's Topps and all sports cards fell into hard times. Recently, Topps has been looking for a buyer for either its confectionery business or sports card business, it appears that both of their businesses will be going to Upper Deck or any other potential buyer.

One of the interesting side stories of this, is what Major League Baseball will do. After deciding there was an over-saturation of baseball cards on the market in around 2005, MLB limited baseball card production to two companies, Topps and Upper Deck. Now that they could be one company MLB most likely will have to give licences to other companies that they previously took licenses from originally. That company will probably be Donruss.

So do any of you still collect sports cards? If you do, you're probably wondering what will shake out after all this merging and acquiring finishes. You may also be wondering what happened to that old box of cards in your closet. Take a look it may be worth something. If nothing else it will be a good trip down memory lane.

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The Financial Life of X & Y

Here's a good article about the financial future of Gen X and Y individuals. Just like generations before us there are trends coming that we will need to prepare for. The article gives a few predictions, that if they are found to be true could cause for different preparations for our future.

- College grads have over $20k of debt leaving school
- Pensions are on their way out 401(k)s and Roth 401(k)s are in to supplement Social Security
- People will continue to educate themselves throughout their lives
- Computers will continue to make a huge impact on our lives

These are a lot of predictions, however all seem very likely. To prepare for there there are some things I try to keep in mind when preparing for my financial future.

- Always look ahead and never stop your education. This can double your lifetime earnings or more, which is no small change.
- Invest, not only that learn what you're investing. Why does a bond differ from a stock, what is the difference between an IRA and Roth IRA and how it can help? Find your investment profile.
- Save money, ie pay yourself. With that money make sure you invest as many banks pay little interest. If you think about it with a 4% annual inflation rate and a 2% interest rate, you lose money over the course of a year.

These are just some of my suggestions that I've tried to follow. What about you? What financial choices have you made for your future? Blow all your money of candies and baseball cards? I've tried that and it doesn't work.

[Photo: Geff Rossi]

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Why Washington is Depressed

Lately if you've done any international travel, you've probably noticed that you haven't gotten as much for your Dollar as you used to. This trend which has been going on for a good part of the last five years or so doesn't show any signs of improving according to Kiplinger.com.

While this is good for the American economy from an import perspective (the Dollar is cheaper, so it'll go a longer way for potential international buyers), this caused havoc when American travelers go abroad. However though if you have enough disposable income to travel internationally, it probably doesn't matter too much anyway. So have any of you thought about travelling this past few years only to reconsider because of the crummy exchange rates?

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Private Equity Keeps Driving

Another day, another buyout. EMI was bought out today by British Private Equity firm Terra Firma.

This $4.7 billion takeover is just another drop in the bucket for the PE industry. This is the second day of PE takeover news, let's see if tomorrow brings a third day of takeovers.

In other Private Equity news, China wants a piece of the PE pie. China, yes the communist China put $3 billion into U.S. PE firm Blackstone. With the Chinese economy booming so much its no surprise that they're looking for alternate forms of investments. This is a positive step for the Chinese economy as more diverse investments mean less risk for Chinese investors. In addition it's good to see money flowing out of China rather than straight in. Before you know it, they'll be purchasing our cheaply made trinkets, that will show them!

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Keepin' Up With the Trends

Google unveiled their trends section of their search engine today allowing you to peer in the minds of millions of people around the world and see what they're looking for. Don't worry they've taken out the adult content as well as any MySpace clutter that may be floating around.

As of now here are the top five searches:

1. Justis Richert
2. Klh threat meter
3. ctmod
4. nba lottery
5. ct mod

I'm going to have to check out this ct mod business. Looks like a Warcraft thing. Just for fun, I'll put the top five things under the labels for this post and see what happens. This could be a good tool to write about things that people are interested in currently. If nothing else it'll be interesting to see what's popular right now. Here I come "AJ Hawk Wedding Photos" (Number #20)!

Update: I just remembered, another search engine I used to use, metacrawler has a real time "metaspy" that shows you what people are surfing at any give point. Pretty interesting stuff.

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Wi-Fi Going to Your Head?

According to Ian Gibson, former chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in England Wi-Fi networks may pose a health risk. According to him students suffered from "burning sensations" among other things due to the Wi-Fi networks.

Seems like an over-reaction to me. Many of us have grown up with microwaves and radiowaves floating around all of us, and we all seem to be doing fine. What do you think? Are you concerned about the sudden abundance of wireless networks everywhere? Are you even concerned about the even stronger waves from cell phones? As for me I suppose I'll continue to surf the net with my laptop while talking on my cell phone in addition to sitting in front of my microwave until I hear concrete evidence otherwise.

[Photo: Mutually Inclusive]

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Let the Private Equity Binge Continue

So keeping up with the daily announcements of Private Equity buyouts, Alltel, Inc. today agreed to be purchased by TPG Capital (Goldman Sachs PE arm) for $27.5 billion or $71.50 per share. Look out Sprint, and US Cellular as the U.S. mobile phone industry continues to consolidate and change.

Private equity (PE) is the big thing these days due to historically low interest rates. Typically, these PE companies cut costs by laying off workers, serving salads without dressing and buying pencils without erasers.

What do you think of Private Equity, if you invest or work for PE you probably love it. As for the rest of us time will tell how many of these deals will shake out.

[Photo: NorthernChild]

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Virgin America Coming to an Airport Near You!

According to this news release, Virgin America, another brainchild of English billionaire Sir Richard Branson will be flying their new discount airline here very soon.

"Virgin America’s first flights will be between its home base of San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK). The airline also plans to serve Los Angeles (LAX), Washington/Dulles, San Diego and Las Vegas within its first year of operations.

The airline expects to serve as many as 10 cities within a year of operation and up to 30 cities within five years of service. Additional cities under Virgin America’s consideration include: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Providence, Portland, Ore., Raleigh-Durham, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose, Calif., Sarasota, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa and West Palm Beach."
It appears that they will be initially starting with mostly West Coast based commuter flights with a few cross country flights."
This is very good to hear. EasyJet and RyanAir, plus many others have been offering cheap inter-Europe fares for years. Its ridiculous that United States consumers do not have that same luxury. The more players involved the more likely that U.S. travellers will get those same deep discounted fares.
I believe this is the first step to making travelling easier for everyone. I would not be surprised if in 10-20 years affordable travel is possible for almost anyone in the World. I think getting even more discounted travel to U.S. travellers is a great first step to that vision. New York here I come!

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My Ten Most Livable Cities

I was looking around on the web and came across this: The Best Cities in the world to live in. It got me thinking, what would I put down at the 10 best cities to live in. A lot of these are based on my own quick perceptions as I've been in a few of them a limited amount of time but this is what I came up with.

1. Zurich, Switzerland
Class, cleanliness and sophistication define this city. If you live here you better fit into that definition as well.
2. Paris, France
This classic city has everything you could ask for culture and arts, fantastic food and of course, high prices.
3. Portland, Oregon, USA
Top notch food, relaxed feel and not crowded. Portland is down to earth and has everything you could wish for.
4. San Diego, California, USA
I live here right now, so I know a little bit more about here. Best in the world weather, great food not a bad place to be as long as you can handle all the people.
5. San Francisco, California, USA
A big city with tons of heritage and culture. Spectacular food including Asian, seafood and others also with the BART its easy to get in and out.
6. Chicago, Illinois, USA
Great hot dogs, plus a great selection of other food. Chicago also has many activities and sights, real estate isn't too expensive compared to other large markets so that's a big plus.
7. Berlin, Germany
This European city is finally emerging from its clouded past to its bright future. Economic prospects are bright. Not many people here own property, so if you have the cash you could find a nice place.
8. Bangkok, Thailand
The quintessential Southeast Asian city. Top food, fast paced and heritage all around. You can live near majestic temples and still be close to modern conveniences. Hope you can get used to the heat though!
9. London, England
London has culture, great food, shopping, and tons of pubs. Its also very expensive. However, if you can afford London, there aren't many places that are better.
10. New York, New York, USA
New York, vendors, museums, Broadway, Yankees, Empire State Building. Not much more you can say!
Obviously this list is very subjective. Even my opinions change, especially as I visit more cities around the world. What do you think? Did I miss a city or overrate a city?

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FYI - Blogger Comments

It seems that Blogger disables comments on posts with their new auto save feature. After you post if you notice comments are missing, go back and edit your post and make sure comments are allowed under "Post Options" then publish before it auto saves.

I'm sure the Blogger folks will fix this quickly.

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Sirius & XM to SiriusXM

OK, this is older news, but have you been thinking about the XM/Sirius Merger (here is another source of info) lately? SiriusXM (as I think they will be called) announced they were planning on merging about three months ago, but this is pending on the Antitrust review. In my opinion, the merger should pass because of many reasons, but for one many people don't want to pay twice to receive their sports, ie how it is now with MLB on XM and NFL on Sirius.
This is the question. Do you think the merger will pass through Antitrust? Michael Powell seems to think so. Mr. Powell is the former FCC chairman. He thinks that it will pass with concessions being made. As long as it can be proved that satellite radio isn't competing with satellite radio but rather with Ipods and Mp3 Players.

This could be a big deal once its announced. In the past months the stocks have cooled off indicating that investors seem to think it won't pass. If it doesn't pass long investors could be ready for a trip for extensive capital losses. However, if it does pass those same investors could be getting new plasma screen televisions.

Have any of you heard when it may or may not pass? Do you agree with the merger? Will you be more likely to subscribe if the merger passes?

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The Old Paris Underground

A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit Europe. One of the places I visited was Paris. Everyone has heard and seen the Eiffel Tower , the Louvre and the like...However there is more to Paris. One of the strangest and most intriguing places is the Paris Catacombs. This historical site is home to over 180 miles of tunnels underneath the City of Paris! Not only that there are millions of bones piled up among the walls of the tunnels. This is a result of overcrowding of cemeteries and the plague. This fascinating attraction will get your attention for sure.
I would recommend this to anyone who is going to Paris. Its a real eye opener on how fragile our lives really are. Plus its really cool in a (very!) creepy sort of way. For more information take a look at this TV show on the History Channel. The Paris one is very representative of the true experience. I will be sure to watch future episodes.

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Will You be Shopping at ATunes Soon?

Amazon announced today it was forming (another) online music store. At first I gave the customary eye roll before I checked it out a little more. What separates Amazon's fledgling idea from the bunch is that they are completely going after open music. If you shopped at Amazon's music store you can buy their Mp3's and put them on any player that you wish.

I see a coming trend with Apple trying to follow suit as well to get music that has less restrictions to what you can play it on, where you can play it, etc...This is great. In a way the people who purchase copyright protected music get penalized by the fact that so much supplemental stuff comes with what they purchased (Like unauthorized software for instance).

At the end, for the music industry to thrive is to provide a quality product at a fair price. Currently they are having difficulty doing this. The digital music isn't very high quality, in my subjective opinion, but even more so, the music has so many restrictions that I think many people get discouraged. So by Amazon getting involved with more open music is a good trend for the industry. Buy a song, and do with it as you wish.

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Thompson-Reuters...When Companies Merge

Today Reuters (One of my favorite news sources) has agreed to be bought out by Thompson to create the world's largest financial news provider, just ahead of Bloomberg. This $17.6 billion dollar transaction has caused a few ruffled feathers. However, the deal makers think this will help "leverage economies of scale". I see two sides of this.

- The first perspective is that jobs will be cut due to redundancies and a large corporate environment harming journalistic integrity.

- The other perspective is a larger company will allow more depth and analysis in its stories, be more far reaching (and make more money for the shareholders).

I'm pretty interested to see how this turns out in the long run. I've always liked Reuters, as I've felt that out of the major news agencies they stick to the facts the most. Definitely more so that CNN or FOX. Thompson sticks mainly to the financial facts so there isn't that much room for commentary there. Overall, I think that Reuters will act as a mouthpiece for additional Thompson data and news. I do believe that since many of the financial news services pull from very similar sources not that much will change. That will remain to be seen in the upcoming months.

What do you think? If you use Reuters or Thompson do you think this will change anything?

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Make Kobold Moves

If any of you reader(s) are interested in watches out there here is a really nice unique watch. Kobold watches is a very young watch companies by watchmaker standards. Only about seven years old these watches are very mature for their age. Founded by Michael Kobold in his dorm room, he is bringing life back to the United States watch industry. Sorry Timex, your products don't cut it as top of the line anymore. Led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes a renowned polar explorer as spokesperson. Take a look at these watches, they are quality and start moderately around $2,000. What do you think, pretty nice? Would you consider purchasing a $2,000+ watch? If you would purchase a watch that expensive would you go with a Kobold or Tag, Rolex or etc...?

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Never has so Much Been Owed to so Few

This article brings up a very somber but realistic point: Over 1,500 World War Two veterans pass away each day. So much is owed to these individuals who sacrificed so much for the greater good of the world. For that I am immensely grateful and appreciative.

So many of these men who fought on a foreign battlefield have never had the opportunity to return. However, for some it becomes possible through the Greatest Generation Foundation. For many of these people the opportunity to go back to a place visited sixty years ago is impossible without outside support. This foundation has made it happen. As stated in the article it allows for loose ends to be closed.

Even for me, visiting Normandy was a very powerful experience. You get a picture of what so many people went through but know in the back of your mind that you will never understand the real picture unless you were actually there. These men were there and I think it is fantastic that this foundation allows them to go back and close a chapter and pay respects to their fallen comrades.

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All Joosted Up

So I've been using Joost for a few days now. I am totally sold. I do believe this is the future of television. There are two reasons for this. One, like YouTube there is a very broad array of channels and programming to choose from. Two, unlike YouTube the quality is very high. Many feeds on Joost right now have very little granularity.

First, let me say even right now in the Beta stages I was able to spend a few hours watching TV. Currently the programming ranges from National Geographic, to Ren and Stimpy. They have numerous music channels from all over the globe thanks to the International Music Feed, not to be confused with the similarly named International Monetary Fund. There nothing like seeing some French Hip Hop one minute and then Taiwanese dance music the next.

Another benefit which I'm not sure how long it'll last is the limited advertisements, there is occasionally a 5 second ad between feeds, which is quite tolerable. So if nothing else, its worth it to try out since its free there isn't much to lose.

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JetBlue on the Way to Becoming Like Peers

One of the two airline darlings (the other being Southwest in my mind) is heading down a path to similarities with its peers. JetBlue, considered for the past few years as an airline that's breaking the mold has reduced their CEO and founder to company chairman. This isn't too much of a surprise since JetBlue has had so many difficulties this past winter regarding passenger delays and cancellations. Coupled with an estimated $40 million dollar loss, someone's head had to roll and in this case it was the head of the company.

While this isn't unreasonable, its a shame. Clearly JetBlue has stepped into the realm of an real American corporation. I believe that JetBlue did this to stop the free fall that their stock has been experiencing since the onset of the "passenger treatment" issues. Despite this, as a person who believes that the capital markets is the best economic system, it still is sad to see one man's passion get taken away in such dire circumstances. But hey, if your lemonade stand is selling sour lemonade, maybe a new lemonade maker will fix it. Or will it?

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The Internet Gets "Joost"

Well, I know I'm behind the times, but here it goes. I just tried out Joost. For those few like me, that didn't know what Joost is, you'll be pleased to know its basically another venue to watch TV and videos online. So you're probably saying, hey I get youtube for free, why would I want something else? Well, remember the slogan, we didn't invent it, we made it better? This will be better.

So where did Joost come from? Its basically a venture between the two guys who got a $2.6 billion payout for selling their first invention, Skype to Ebay. So its basically a pet project of some guys who are and will continue to be wealthier than you. Unless you're Bill Gates, then maybe you'll buy Joost.

So what makes Joost so much different than the hundreds of video sharing sites out there? Starting off the quality of the videos are full screen, so its a lot easier on your eyes. Also, it looks like its actual authorized TV shows, rather than a hodgepodge of random clips. We'll see how long this lasts since this is a P2P site. It could be pretty soon that we'll be seeing Survivor at 5pm here on the west coast.

Overall, my initial inclination is that this is pretty cool. Youtube, I know you've been in the lead for a long time (by web standards) but watch out the competitors are not that far behind.

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Out With the Old..in With More Ebay

Today Yahoo! announced that it was going to end its North American auction site. Really Yahoo? I wasn't aware that you had one.

Actually, I did know that Yahoo had an auction site. However, after repeated attempts to use it, I found it unusable. Since the site developed such low traffic, almost all auctions were listed at the minimum price a seller was willing to let it go for. So in effect that turned Yahoo auctions in to a "Buy it Now" at a certain time site. That isn't the best way to run an auction site. So I do think its a good decision to shut it down. It looks like Yahoo auctions Japan will continue on, so don't worry Gwen Steffani, you can still purchase your Harajuku girls there.

This was only marginal news for Ebay as their stock only went up a little than 2%. So do you think this will solidify Ebay's position as the main auction player even more so?

Me personally, I've never used any other auction site, nor would I want to at this time. However, if you're looking for a replacement for Yahoo auctions and refuse to Ebay, try uBid, for mostly new electronics, or ePier, for everything else. Neither has the traffic that Ebay does, but maybe you'll find a good deal.

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Mi Hyun Kim - A Good Story

I just saw this article on ESPN.com. It's about Mi Hyun Kim a Korean golfer on the LPGA tour. After hearing about about the tornadoes in Kansas she donated $100,000 to United Way. Normally I know most people don't follow golf, let alone women's golf, but this is something worth mentioning. It's always nice when a person can recognize suffering and do something about it. Way to go Mi Hyun Kim!

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The Hong Kong Insiders

One of the stories I've been following is the alleged insider trading scandal of Dow Jones calls. It looks like today, the Securities and Exchange Commission has a small lead. It appears as if a Hong Kong couple were partially behind the curtain. From Yahoo! Finance: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung "engaged in widespread and unlawful trading activity" Whoops.

So what did they do wrong, or are accused of? They essentially bought 400 thousand plus shares of a company which they knew was going to get a takeover bid. So what was the fallout of all of this? This couple who mainly invested in fixed assets before, like bonds and the like all of a sudden invested in (had they not had any knowledge) highly speculative stuff. Their Merrill Lynch portfolio shot up 25 times its previous value. That's pretty amazing stuff.

Immediately after, on May 4, they put in an order to sell. Presumably they money they can extract will now be heading to Switzerland, Isle of Man and many of the other money havens that exist in the world. Aside from this being stupid due to its huge unethical factor, why push your luck for so much? Fixed assets to speculation. Come on the SEC is a lot smarter than that.

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So I Found This Book in the Attic...

This weekend while digging around upstairs in my attic, I found a 1981 copy of the Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. I thought this was pretty interesting as the movie The Bourne Identity came out in 2002 (There was also a made for TV movie from 1988 as well). What makes it even more unique is the author who wrote the book, Mr. Ludlum passed away in 2001. In addition to all this, after Ludlum's death, more "Bourne" books were (ghost)written by Eric van Lustbader.

So let me get this straight, this successful author passes away in 2001. Next, a movie starring a big name actor (Matt Damon) comes out, it does so well it gets a sequel, and then a sequel to that sequel. Then finally two additional books come out based on your character which will probably made into more sequels upon sequels etc...talk about people profiting from one man's death.

No matter, I assume his family or charity of his choice is being paid handsomely. As for me, I'm enjoying my 25+ year old book that I got for free.

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New French Order?

With 53% of the vote Nicolas Sarkozy is now France's new President. Sarkozy, a conservative won victory over Segolene Royal a Socialist. Sarkozy hopes to bring a big change to France. His is more pro-American and pro-Israeli than many previous leaders. He is also the first French President who was born after World War II. He has pledged to treat America more as a friend than his predecessor. This may be a large change for Europe as France is typically one of America's largest critics. In addition, Sarkozy hopes to revive a once proud and worldly dominant society.

One of the more interesting facts about this election is that turnout was 85%, much higher than a typical American election. However, not everyone was particularly happy about this (most likely the 47% who voted for Royal) as there was rioting in Paris in similar locations that suffered from rioting in 2005. Many of these individuals are unhappy with Sarkozy's sure to be coming immigration reform.
I wonder, will Sarkozy lead France to be a main player on the world stage again? Can he bridge the divide between the traditional French and recent immigrants? Will this entice you to visit France in the near future? Or like many Americans do you really care?

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Uncovered Calls?

So as you may have or have not heard, News Corp. ie, Fox News, Myspace.com, Simpsons etc...made a bid to take over Wall Street fixture Dow Jones of the Dow Jones Industrial Average/Wall Street Journal fame. Coming out of all this it seems though the Regulators like the SEC are beginning to check out an unusually high volume of call contracts.

A call contract is basically a deal that two parties put together so that one gives the other some money for the ability to buy stock later at a fixed price. So say you purchase the call option to buy Company A for $10 and the contract costs $1, and on the call date the stock is trading at $15 you get instant $4 profit. If the stock is trading less than $10 then you just lose your $1 contract cost. Simple enough?

Apparently, they've discovered a high volume of call contracts written. According to Reuters.com "September 45 call options traded 3,464 contracts in a range of 30 cents to 35 cents, while 641 of the June 40s traded at 25 cents." The average amount of March trading was 85. Looks like some people may have had a little insight that a big acquisition attempt was coming up and saw a chance to make their customers some money. That could be a profitable email list to get on...

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Go baby go!

Did you just win the Kentucky Derby? The guy and the horse to the left just did. Calvin Borel and all three of his teeth rode Street Sense to win the Kentucky Derby. Street Sense reeled in Hard Spun who had a decent lead up until the final stretch. If I would have bet on Street Sense, for every dollar I would have gotten $5.90. That could have been a nice McDonald's extra value meal.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Who is this man?

"Mexicans! We have not come here to take part in your disputes; we have come to put an end to them... The French flag has been planted on Mexican soil; this flag will not retreat. Let wise men greet it as a friendly flag. Let madmen fight against it if they dare!"

The man above was France's declared ruler of Mexico for four years. He's originally from Austria and he's Archduke Maximilian, not to be confused with Archduke Ferdinand, the man who was assassinated which started the first World War.

As you can see, today there isn't that much French influence in Mexico. The Mexicans fought against the French flag and like many before and after, they had success. As a celebration of this victory, many Americans choose to eat tacos.

Learn about Cinco de Mayo.
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Nice site for a beginner.

I found this site here because I'm looking for a new template for the site. Here's a link for you as well: http://blogger-templates.blogspot.com/

They have various widgets, templates and other goodies for your blog, or web journal.
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The new beginning.

I'm going to try out this blog thing. Hopefully its somewhat insightful, intelligent and humorous. Since this my first real effort, there will be a learning curve. I also plan to be my main reader for the first few posts. Perhaps that will change later on. I will try and keep up on things that I find interesting throughout the day. I personally have many interests and will try to keep up on a wide range of topics. That's the goal, we'll see how it goes.

One of my first steps is to create a good domain name. I'm going to try for a little while more. I think I should be able to come up with something pretty good. If anyone has any suggestions let me know. Otherwise thanks for taking a look and hope you read some more soon.


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