Monday, March 31, 2014

Sony Xperia Z2: Release date, price, specs and best deals in the UK

One of the biggest smartphones to come out of Mobile World Congress was the Sony Xperia Z2. Here's what you need to know about the Xperia Z2 release date, price and specifications. Sony is experiencing stock issues with the new smartphone. See also: Sony Xperia Z2 hands-on review.

Despite only launching the Xperia Z1 a few months ago, Sony has replaced its flagship smartphone with the new Xperia Z2. The device will go up against devices including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the New HTC One 'M8' which will be announced this month.

See also: Sony Xperia Z2 vs Samsung Galaxy S5 comparison review: Android flagship are closely matched.

If you're interested in the Sony Xperia Z2, here's all the information on its release date, price and specifications.

Sony Xperia Z2: Release date

Sony has confirmed the Xperia Z2 will be released in April but the firm appears to be having stock issues with the phone.

"Xperia Z2 will be available in the UK during April and we are expecting to deliver to all consumers who have placed a pre-order through our key partners. We are working tirelessly to maximise stock levels in April but currently we do not expect to meet the high demand across all our sales channels. Please stay tuned for further information and confirmed retail availability." said Sony in a statement.

Carphone Warehouse says it will be available from 14 April while Phones 4U states you can pre-order for delivery on 11 April. Vodafone will start selling the Xperia Z2 on 10 April with a free gift those who pre-order quickly (see below).

Meanwhile, Three is stating that it will be available on 1 May. Unlocked Mobiles originally said stock was expected on 1 April (perhaps an early April fool's joke) but now agrees with Three. Clove is now says that UK SIM-free stock is deplayed until early-mid May.

Read: Price Compare-smartphones-of-2014/">18 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014

Sony Xperia Z2: Price in the UK

Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U are offering the Xperia Z2 for free on contracts starting at £47 per month on Vodafone. That will get you 3GB of 4G data but paying an extra £1 per month on O2 will take it to 5GB. As usual, contracts are 24 months.

Nearly £50 a month is high price to pay, especially when you consider the still new Xperia Z1 is available from £29 per month and the brilliant Xperia Z1 Compact is even less at £27.

Vodafone has revealed the Xperia Z2 will start from, you've guessed it, £47 per month. That on the network's Red 4G plans and as well as the usual Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV acess, the first 3,000 customers to pre-order will get free 32in Sony Bravia TV.

If you don't want to be locked into a lengthy contract (and if you can avoid it you'll probably be better off), you'll have to pay a top-end price for the Z2 - no surprises there.

Sony's official price for the Xperia Z2 in sterling is £599 but online retailers have it on offer a little lower. Clove, Expansys and Unlocked Mobiles have the smartphone pegged for a Galaxy S5 matching £550 which is about right for a new flagship handset.

Note that both Clove and Unlocked Mobiles are offering free accessories worth £120 and £200 respectively for those who pre-order.

Sony Xperia Z2: Specs

See below for full specifications of the Xperia Z2 - not a great deal has changed compared to the Xperia Z1. Key features are 4k video recording, a dust- and waterproof design and the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor.

OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat

Size: 146.8 x 73.3 x 8.2 mm

Weight: 163 grams

Dustproof and waterproof: IP58 certified, dustproof and water-resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes

Screen: 5.2in Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080) Triluminos Display for mobile with X-Reality for mobile picture engine

Processor: 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AB) quad-core Krait 400

GPU: Adreno 330

Memory: 3GB RAM

Storage: 16GB with microSD card slot (up to 64GB)

Wireless: Wi-Fi up to 11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, NFC, microUSB 2.0, MHL 3, A-GPS

Main camera: 20.7Mp with Exmor RS for mobile image sensor, LED flash, 1/2.3in sensor size

Video: 2160p@30fps (4k), 1080p@60fps (Full HD) , 720p@120fps (HD), video stabilization, HDR

Front camera: 2.2 MP, 1080p@30fps

Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 3200mAh battery

SIM: Micro-SIM

Network: 2G, 3G, 4G LTE (Cat 4)

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

DMG Mori subsidiary opens Wichita sales, service office

<Deal Of The Dayp>

Machine tool maker DMG Mori Seiki Co. Ltd. recently opened a sales and service office in Wichita, giving it direct access to customers for the first time.

The local office of DMG Mori Seiki USA Sales Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of DMG Mori, is located at Northrock Business Park, 3450 N. Rock Road, Building 500.

Wichita is among three offices established to work directly with customers, says Jim Shiner, regional sales manager for Kansas, Oklahoma, western Missouri and Arkansas. The others are in Tulsa and Kansas City.

Customers of DMG Mori's computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools primarily include aerospace and agricultural-equipment makers, but include "anybody who cuts metal," Shiner says.

The tools typically sell for between $100,000 and $1 million, he says.

The Wichita office has two salesmen and two servicemen onsite.

"Mori took the strategy of hiring servicemen first," Shiner says, explaining that "you've got to take care of your existing customers."

While the DMG Mori office is new, it has long had a presence in the area through a distributor before opting to do direct sales and service, he says.

DMG Mori is leasing about 3,000 square feet, according to Ross Way, property and leasing manager and partner at Anderson Management Co. Inc., which operates Northrock Business Park.

John Stearns covers real estate, development and banking.

'The Elder Scrolls Online' last-minute pre-order deals

It's the Sunday before Deal Now">The Elder Scrolls Online launches to the PC officially on Friday, April 4 but the first round of Early Access has now started. This means it's time to find out where to find the best pre-order deals to save money on the game but also to start earlier.

The Elder Scrolls Online opened up at 7 a.m. EST on Sunday March 30 for those with 5-day early access and will open 7 a.m. EST on Tuesday April 1 for those with 3-day early access. Everyone else will have to wait until 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 3 to get in.

With that said, there are only a couple of discount offers available for The Elder Scrolls Online. All pre-orders of the Standard Edition comes with the Explorer's Pack and a 3-day early access code. Meanwhile the Imprerial Edition comes with the Explorer's Pack as well plus an exclusive mud-crab pet, rings of Mara, the ability to play as an Imperial and a 5-day early access code.

Amazon is offering the Standard Edition digital download for $59.99 plus a $5 store credit. Meanwhile, the Imperial Edition digital download is $79.99 with a $5 store credit.

GetGames is offering 15 percent off the Imperial Edition making it $67.99 as well as the Standard Edition dropping it's price to $50.99.

You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Residents, businesses could get discount in Chelmsford energy pact

<Discountp>By Grant Welker,

Updated: 03/29/2014 06:34:17 AM EDT

CHELMSFORD -- The town and thousands of its residents and businesses could join together in a contract to buy energy at a discounted rate using a greater purchasing power.

Known as an energy-aggregation contract, the program could save the town, including participating residents and businesses, about $480,000 a year, according to Bay State Consultants, a group that presented details of the program to the Board of Selectmen last month.

"It's really just a group purchase," said John Shortsleeve, the president of the consulting group.

The town's Energy Conservation Committee is expected to make a presentation about the program at Town Meeting, which begins April 28. Town Meeting will be asked to vote to begin the process toward adopting the program, a period of time that has taken a few years in prior cases.

Residents or businesses would be able to opt in or out at any time, Shortsleeve said. If residents approve the program, the town would seek energy agreements on behalf of everyone who agrees to be part of the contract.

A larger number of participants in Chelmsford wouldn't necessarily save the town more money, Shortsleeve said. Savings are affected more by what's known as the town's "load profile," he said -- when energy use peaks in homes and businesses, which often takes place at different times of day.

"It's not a question of bigger is better," Shortsleeve said.

Estimated savings for the town and its participants is about $480,000 a year, according to Bay State Consultants.

Another consultant, Leo Sullivan of Global Partners, said the target rate for participation is about 87 percent of homes and 60 percent of small businesses. Larger commercial properties are less likely to join, he said.

About 80 towns in Massachusetts already participate in such a program or are in the process, Sullivan said. He said Massachusetts is one of five states that allows for energy aggregation agreements.

Chelmsford has already signed on to other programs meant to save on energy costs.

A statewide program that offers solar-power credits along with other state and federal tax breaks and reimbursements includes 42 homes in Chelmsford and 54 in Carlisle. The two communities teamed up last fall to achieve the highest level of subsidies possible under the program.

Chelmsford also began an $18 million energy-efficiency program last fall for municipal and school buildings. Each school is being outfitted with rooftop solar panels, along with more efficient equipment, and efficient LED lighting is being installed in all street lights.

Selectmen Chairman Matt Hanson said at the Feb. 24 Board of Selectmen meeting that he hoped homes and commercial buildings could also be run off clean energy.

"It would be quite an accomplishment if all of our residents and businesses could as well," Hanson said, "and save money at the same time."

Follow Grant Welker on Twitter and Tout @SunGrantWelker.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Amazon cuts back on streaming Scripps and Discovery shows

Coupon Inc., which has furiously added streaming video content to compete with Netflix Inc., is getting more choosy.

The Seattle-based company in the past month dropped programming supplied by Food Network-parent Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. and Discovery Channel-owner Discovery Communications Inc. from its free video-streaming service...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pixely Roguelike 'Quest of Dungeons' is Now Available

<Deal Of The Dayp>You might have noticed lately, especially if you followed our GDC coverage last week, that pixely dungeon crawlers are so hot right now. Back in January, we told you about a new one called , which appeared to be a very straightforward roguelike with a nice sense of humor and a great look. Well, if you've been looking forward to it, Quest of Dungeons [$1.99] officially launched in the App Store yesterday. Here's the trailer.

Based on the early impressions in our forums and my own brief time with the game, Quest of Dungeons is pretty much what I expected it to be, a straightforward dungeon crawler. It's not heavy on features or any massive changes to the roguelike formula, but it's a ton of fun. There's four different characters to play with, plenty of loot to find, and lots of dungeon space to explore. I also really love how quick the character movement is, as sometimes these types of games can be a bit too slow for my taste.

If you're interested in a new dungeon crawler, for a couple of bucks Quest of Dungeons should fit that bill nicely for you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Approval sought for former West Wyoming police chief's plea deal

Approval sought for ex-police chief's Amazon Deal Online

State prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to give final approval to a plea deal that allows former West Wyoming police Chief David Gashi to avoid criminal charges for receiving extra pay and payments.

When the deal was announced last month before trial, Gashi's attorney said he unwittingly received the extra payments due to forgery committed by a former borough employee who is now deceased.

The extra pay, which amounted to $3,706, led to $14,759 in extra pension payments.

Gashi has repaid the money and the charges should be dismissed, state prosecutors said Friday.

Gashi, 70, who served the department for 36 years, retired as chief on Dec. 31, 2011. He and then-police Chief Stanley Sipko were arrested in July 2012 on theft charges on allegations they overbilled the borough by filing for duplicate pay checks. Sipko later pleaded guilty and entered a probationary program.

Friday, March 21, 2014

No major deals? B's still excel

<On Salesp>By Nick Mallard,

Updated: 03/21/2014 06:50:18 AM EDT

Circle March 5 on your calendar.

That date just two weeks ago was the day critics sounded the death knell for the Boston Bruins and their hopes this season.

The experts said the Bruins needed to make a big transaction by that day, the NHL trade deadline. The defense was too inexperienced. The team needed depth. The amount of holes in the roster was akin to Swiss cheese.

Without some kind of big deal, the Bruins would fade down the stretch. If they made the playoffs, a quick and painful exit was imminent.

It can't be argued that the Bruins lacked a splashy move at the deadline. Acquiring Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter, a pair of unspectacular defensemen, was essentially all General Manager Peter Chiarelli did.

Sure, the Bruins had won their last two games as the deadline approached, but prior to that, they had dropped a pair coming out of the Olympic break. Certainly, something had to be done to make sure Boston did more than tread water down the stretch.

The lack of movement at the deadline would surely be Boston's undoing.

What's that old saying? Hindsight is 20-20?

Looking back, it certainly seems that doing very little at the trade deadline was the right thing to do. Since then, the Bruins (47-17-5) have rattled off eight more victories, running their winning streak to 10 games.

And yes, inexperience on the blue line -- the problem many critics felt could be solved at the deadline -- could still come back to haunt Boston. Who knows how defensemen like Matt Bartkowksi and Dougie Hamilton -- crucial to the team's success this season -- will react in extended playoff minutes without Dennis Seidenberg manning a defensive spot.

But that's the future. In the present tense, Boston is firing on all cylinders. The 10-game winning streak matches the Anaheim Ducks' own stretch for the longest in the NHL this season.

Defensively, there have been hiccups, but the Black and Gold find ways to overcome the flaws. Whether it's 36-year-old Jarome Iginla finding the fountain of youth and leading the team in goals with 26 or netminder Tuukka Rask -- and backup Chad Johnson, for that matter -- stealing games, every night there's a new hero.

Depth isn't an issue, at least offensively. Iginla's play resembles his all-world years in Calgary a decade ago, while linemates David Krejci (team-leading 60-points) and Milan Lucic look as motivated and effective as ever.

And Brad Marchand, the team's pesky sparkplug, has forgotten his scoring slump that started the season, having now potted 22 goals, and is clicking seamlessly with Patrice Bergeron (20 goals) and Reilly Smith (19 goals).

And it's not just the top two lines potting markers. Defenseman Torey Krug is the two-way, puck-moving point man fans have clamored over for years, scoring 14 goals this season and providing key minutes on the power play. Captain Zdeno Chara has even gotten in on the offensive end, scoring 16 times.

Behind a solid team-defense philosophy, Rask and Johnson have combined to put up the second-best goals-against average in the league (2.10). Rask is third in both GAA and save percentage and has won 31 games, while Johnson has been sensational in relief, going 15-3-1 with a 2.14 GAA.

Combine a red-hot offense and spectacular netminding and you get a league-leading plus-74 goal differential.

The key to Boston continuing the success lies with Claude Julien. The head coach shrugged off recent comments about the team peaking too early, pointing to several things he thinks his players can do better. That drive will certainly keep the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins from falling into complacency down the stretch.

While there's still a lot of hockey left to be played this spring, it's nice to see the world didn't end following the trade deadline. They're not a perfect team, but the Bruins have embraced the idea of being a team perfectly.

Why change now?

Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter and Tout @n_mallard

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Maine lawmakers reach early morning budget accord

Members of the budget-writing committee approve proposals to plug gaps in current fiscal year and governor's bill to replenish rainy day fund.

By Steve Mistler
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Lawmakers on the Legislature's budget-writing committee have reached a Amazon Deal Online to address a budget shortfall in the current fiscal year.

The committee also voted unanimously early Wednesday morning to pass Gov. Paul LePage's bill to replenish the state's rainy day fund.

Both votes, plus a third to partially address a projected shortfall in the next fiscal year, were taken around 3 a.m. Wednesday. The unanimous votes by the committee bode well for the two-thirds margin of passage of all three proposals in both houses, a prospect that had previously been in doubt.

However, potential sticking points may remain. The exact amount of the shortfall in the current fiscal year is still being calculated by the nonpartisan budget office. Overruns in the state's Medicaid program were believed to be driving the current budget gap, but the exact figure had changed, from over $100 million in January to $60 million as recently as last week.

Democratic lawmakers on the budget committee criticized the Department of Health and Humans Services Monday for not providing more data to justify the overruns in the program. The committee ultimately moved ahead without the department's assistance, relying instead on the pending analysis by the budget office.

The committee's efforts have been complicated by the governor's refusal to submit a budget proposal in what is believed to be an unprecedented move. Typically the governor submits a budget proposal, which becomes the blueprint for lawmakers to make changes.

Last week, Democrats on the committee attached the governor's proposal to replenish $21 million in the state's rainy day fund to a budget bill for the next fiscal year. Republicans on the panel objected to the proposal because it was likely to fail after a presumed veto by the governor.

In the deal reached early Wednesday morning, the budget committee voted to approve a clean version of the governor's rainy day fund proposal. It also passed a budget bill for the next fiscal year that restores about $15.4 million in cuts, including funding for education ($9.6 million), longevity pay for state employees ($4.5 million), the Head Start program ($500,000), student scholarship funds ($600,000) and the Baxter School for the Deaf ($200,000).

More details of the budget deal are expected to be released Wednesday after the nonpartisan budget office completes its analysis.

This story will be updated.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:smistler@pressherald.comTwitter: @stevemistler

Top 10 Best Online Deals On Apple iPhone 5C Available in India

Apple launched its so called cheaper iPhone 5C for Asian markets last year, which was not as cheap as one actually imagined. Thus the device failed in India while the premium variant with the better processor did really good in the market comparatively. In fact, iPhone 5S was better option to go with.

However, slowly the glossy-finished iPhone 5C has also received price cuts in the past because of the fact that it didn't do well in the market. Thus the gradual rise in the sales paradigm of the device has now made us bring Amazon Sales pertaining to the device in India to your notice.

But before going ahead with the deal, you might want to check out the specs of the device.

Recommended: Top 10 Newest Smartphones Under Rs 25,000 To Add To Your Wishlist

The Apple's iPhone 5C comes with a polycarbonate plastic body and features 4-inch Retina Display. The iPhone 5C is powered by a 1.3GHz Apple A6 dual-core processor with triple-core PowerVR SGX 543MP3 graphics. It runs on iOS 7 os which is upgradable to iOS 7.0.3. it is also supported by 1GB RAM.

The iPhone 5C comes with an 8-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, LED flash and 1080p video capture with video stabilization and 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. And in terms of connectivity it features 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and USB support. One of the major drawback of Apple iPhone 5C is that it lacks microSD card slot. However, it comes in 16GB and 32GB storage variant.

You can now take a look at the deals on the device in the sliders below:

Click Here For The New Apple iPhones 5C Smartphone Photos Gallery Recommended: Top 10 Karbonn-Made Dual-Core Budget Smartphones To Buy In India

Monday, March 17, 2014

Disney's Frozen: Exclusive Deals At Best Buy & Target This Tuesday

Disney's Frozen will be in stores this Tuesday, March 18, and only Promo Code Buy and Target are offering these exclusive deals to their customers.

Best Buy customers will receive a bonus with select Blu-ray combo packs. The combo pack, which includes Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy is $19.99 (the DVD is $16.99).

They also have the Frozen soundtrack for $11.99, featuring "let It Go" which won Best Song at this years Oscar Awards.

Target customers will get an exclusive bonus disc when they purchase the Blu-ray combo pack( includes DVD/digital copy - the DVD is $14.99).

The bonus disc has: deleted scenes, the Frozen art gallery and the voices of Frozen.

Targe t is also offering their customers $5 off the Frozen Blu-ray when you buy a Frozen toy worth $20 or more.

All Blu-ray discs will have: "Breaking the Ice - The Real Making of Frozen", a making-of the movie feature and 'D'Frosted:Disney's journey from Hans Christian Anderson to Frozen.

Frozen is the heart-warming, funny, animated film starring the voice of Kristen Bell as Anna, who must free the kingdom from the ice spell placed by the evil Queen.

These exclusive deals will be available starting this Tuesday, March 18, but only while supplies last. Quantities are limited.

Will you be purchasing this movie? Which deals are you interested in? Let us know what you think below.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 3 NFL FA grades: Jags make decent moves (Clemons, Young)

Day 3 of NFL free agency saw the market slow down in a big way, but there still were some interesting moves made, calling for more grades.

So here goes:

DE Chris Clemons to the Jacksonville Jaguars: He is 33, always a concern, but can still rush the passer. It took him time to get going in 2013 after suffereing a torn ACL in the playoffs in January of 2013, but he looked to be back to normal late last season and during the Super run. The Jaguars haven't had a pure speed pass rusher for a decade. This signing makes a ton of sense. He got $17.5 million for four years. Grade: B

DE Willie Young to the Chicago Bears: I like this move for a team that badly needed an edge pass rusher after letting Julius Peppers walk. Young had only three sacks, but he did get a lot of pressures last season after being a starter for the first time. He can be an 8- to 10-sack player. The money wasn't bad either. Grade: B

DT Ziggy Hood to the Jacksonville Jaguars: He has been a disappointment with the Steelers since being a first­round pick. But he is a big body who will add depth to the line. He reportedly got $16 million for four years. That's a lot of money for a guy who is likely a rotation player. He will play inside, which is where he played in college. Grade: C

DE Justin Tuck to the Oakland Raiders: It's a two­year deal for $11 million, so it's not bad. And Tuck played better last season than he did in 2012, when I made him the league's most­overrated player. He might have a year or two left, and he does offer versatility. He had 11 sacks last season and did a nice job against the run. Grade: B-­minus

T Anthony Collins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Collins started last season on the Bengals bench, but came on to play left tackle and did a good enough job that the team opted to start him there and move Andrew Whitworth inside to guard. Collins did a nice job in pass protection and will be an upgrade over Donald Penn in Tampa. The money ­­ five years, $30 million ­­ is a little high, but his Deal Of The Day football is in front of him, a nd those are the players you pay. Grade: B-plus

LB Kavell Conner to the San Diego Chargers: He is a solid run defender who received a three­year deal. This move is strange in that the Chargers have Donald Butler and Manti Te'o, unless they want to sit Te'o. Butler isn't going anywhere. Grade: C

CB Tracy Porter to the Washington Redskins: He has bounced around some lately, but the former Super Bowl hero actually played pretty well last season for Oakland. The Redskins badly needed help at corner, and he will step in and start opposite DeAngelo Hall. He's not a kid anymore, but this move makes sense. Grade: C-plus

TE Jim Dray to the Cleveland Browns: He is little more than a blocking tight end, but that's what they need with Jordan Cameron. People who don't think he can block need to put on the tape from the 49ers- Cardinals season finale and watch him against Pro Bowl outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Grade: B-­minus

QB Charlie Whitehurst to the Tennessee Titans: They gave him a two­year deal for $8 million. Why? Coach Ken Whisenhunt likes Whitehurst, who he had in San Diego. I don't get it for that money. Grade: C-minus

NT Al Woods to the Tennessee Titans: Like Dray, he was on my list of down­the­line free agents who could be steals. Woods came on late last year for the Steelers and can play nose and defensive end. I like this move as they transition to a 3­4 defense. Grade: B-plus

More observations

* I get that receiver Steve Smith, who was released by the Panthers on Thursday, is one of those players who always plays with a chip on his shoulder. But he went a little overboard when he said "there would be blood and guts everywhere" if he plays the Panthers again.

Really? Since his former teammates are the ones who decided to release him? That's just babble­speak. Smith will likely get a look by the Ravens, but he's 35. That's old for any receiver, and he didn't get the big plays last season you expect from him.

* Why do the Eagles need Darren Sproles? When they traded to get him Thursday, most slobbered over the move. I won't. Sproles is slowing down and LeSean McCoy can do most of the things he can do. Yes, he might help in the return game, but that's a young man's job. It's just a weird fit for him.

* Every free­agent period, the Green Bay Packers fans get testy. They wonder if general manager Ted Thompson is doing the right thing not bringing in outside help. Every year, my answer is: He is. Thompson re­signed corner Sam Shields and outside linebacker Mike Neal so far, keeping two players he wanted back. That's the ideal way of handling free agency. Then draft well to supplement what you have. Thompson gets it.

* With the Jaguars signing Clemons and Red Bryant from Seattle, everyone is saying they are now "Seattle East." That's also because their coach, Gus Bradley, came over from Seattle. Familiarity matters, but they are not the only team doing this. The Chargers are signing players Chuck Pagano had when he was in Indianapolis. San Diego signed two former Colts ­­ running back Donald Brown and Connor ­­ who played in Indianapolis when current Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was with the Colts. So it's not only the Jaguars. Teams like signing players they have some idea of what they are like ­­ and not only on the field.

* People wonder how Rodger Saffold could pass one physical but fail another? It happens more than you know. Team doctors look at things in different ways. It's up to the individual doctor. But the whole Saffold thing smells for the Raiders. If reports are true that owner Mark Davis didn't want the deal to happen because of a pending surgery, then he stepped on the toes of general manager Reggie McKenzie. That's never a good thing.

The Rams view Saffold as a much better guard than tackle, which I think is true. Getting him back was a decent move, but why were they willing to let him walk anyway? The deal he got isn't much different than the one he signed with the Raiders.

* The Giants opted to bring back linebacker Jon Beason, who they acquired last year from Carolina. He helped steady a bad linebacker group when he came over, but how much does he have left? He's already just so­so in pass coverage and doesn't run like he used to. They needed to get faster, but this signing will provide a nice veteran starter.

* Smart move by the Texans to re­sign tight end Garrett Graham. They let an older Owen Daniels walk, and kept the younger player. That's how you do it.

* James Harrison's release in Cincinnati is proof that you better be able to run and cover if you want to play linebacker these days. Harrison can't run anymore.

* Vince Wilfork is coming off an Achilles' tendon injury and always has weight issues. That said, he can help a contender if the Patriots release him, as he reportedly requested.

* Anybody taking odds on where Darrelle Revis plays next year when his one­-year rental is up in New England. Good player. Weird deal.

* When Terrence Cody came out of Alabama, a lot of people expected him to become the next Wilfork. He was a major flop with the Ravens, and he's still on the market. Can he revive his career with a new team? He is a big body.

* More mighty have fallen: Former first­round picks Michael Oher and Kenny Britt are still on the market. Britt has a ton of talent, but his off­field problems are well documented. Oher just hasn't played well in his time with the Ravens, not even when they moved him to right tackle. But both are worth a look for a smaller deal.

Monday, March 10, 2014

BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

Jersey: The oddest story of the week has to be the New Jersey teenager who is suing her parents for financial support, seeking $650 in weekly child support plus tuition at a private high school. Really? Rachel Canning's parents say they cut her off because she refused to do chores and honor a curfew, which sounds reasonable to me. As the skeptical judge said: "Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone? We should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope." No kidding.

Novak: My comment questioning Kim Novak's appearance at the Oscars drew this response from reader Anne Russell: "I was so disappointed to see that you have joined the bullying bandwagon with your remarks about Goldie Hawn and Kim Novak. Gossipy comments about an individual's appearance are something I would expect to find on Twitter and other social media that are mired in poor taste, cruelty and 'judgy' mentality. I am saddened to see such unkindness from you."

Trash: This note popped up in my mailbox: "Just returned from a trip and noted that Bakersfield has achieved the dubious honor of having more trash than New York City. Congratulations, Bako! Many people, organizations, etc. are working hard to reverse this trend; however, the Litterazzi seem to be several steps ahead. What's it going to take?"

Trees: The big fundraiser for the Tree Foundation of Kern next week has been postponed. No word on when it will be rescheduled.

Scouts: Who can say no to the Boy Scouts? Troop 147 will hold its 25th annual car wash this Saturday at Brookside Market & Deli on the corner of Coffee and Hageman roads. It will run from 8 a.m. until noon.

Swensen's: From reader Greg Laskowski: "I remember working at Swensen's Ice Cream when it was located next to a hair salon and the Brocks department store at Valley Plaza. It was my first summer job after eighth grade. Dr. Russ Karlen, former mayor of Bakersfield, was one of the owners, along with his brother-in-law, Dewey Langdon. He hired me to show silent movies during the day. People would come in and enjoy ice cream and some Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd flicks. Sometimes, I would have to go into the back kitchen area and splice film when it came off the sprockets. I think people got a kick out of watching the film melt when the 16 mm projector jammed on several occasions. Best part though was the free ice cream I got while working there."

Memories: Gene Bonas offered these thoughts of growing up in Bakersfield. "As a child during World War II, I remember walking with my mother from east Bakersfield to a building on the corner of 23rd and L streets to buy meat and sugar. If I'm not mistaken, this building was a small market and had its meat cooler right in front. One could only buy meat or sugar on certain days and you had to have coupons for each item purchased. In going through old navy coupons family pictures and mementos, I found a couple of five-pound sugar coupons. They, along with three brothers' Navy uniforms and letters, are carefully stored for my grandchildren. A previous writer indicated a building at 21st and L streets was a pool supply store. I believe the building at 2230 L St. was once a pool supply store, too. Maybe one of your readers can shed light on these buildings. I would like to know if the building at 23rd and L was actually a market during WWII."

Email Richard Beene, Californian president and CEO, at His column appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Late deals and last minute holiday bargains from Mirror Travel

<Best Offerp>Mirror Travel's guide to the best late deals and last minute holiday bargains on the web

Comfy: The living and dining area at Dairy Farm House on the Isle of Wight


Alicante - 3nts B&B at the 4* NH Alicante for £298pp based on 2 sharing and flying from Belfast on Mar 14.

Lisbon - 2nts r/o at the 3* Vip Executive Zurique from £149pp for travel in Mar from Heathrow. 0844 493 0758.

Marrakech - 2nts B&B in May/Jun at the 4* Les Trois Palmiers for £139pp (saves £110pp). Flights from Bristol, Manchester, Luton and Gatwick.


St Lucia - 7nts a/i at Sandals Regency La Toc for £1,445pp inc flights from Manchester and transfers. Selected departures between Jun 5-Jul 10. 0800 597 0002.

Corfu - 14nts s/c at the 3* Stema II Studios for £333pp (saves £237pp, based on 2 sharing). Fly from Birmingham on May 23.

Tenerife - 7nts h/b at the 3* Miramar Hotel in Puerto De La Cruz from £279pp based on 2 sharing flying from East Midlands on Mar 14.


Isle of Wight - 7nts s/c in Jun at Hill Top Dairy Farm House near Newport (sleeps 10, pet friendly) from £1,096 in Mar sale (saves up to £198). 0844 7044987.


Singapore Airlines - book by Mar 11 for Langkawi from £670, Koh Samui £695, Bali £695 and Phnom Penh £675 on selected dates from Heathrow and Manchester.


Ireland - book by Mar 6 for 10% off all Irish Ferries 2014 self-drive holiday packages - eg 7nts s/c in Kerry for a family of 2 adults and up to 4 children now from £824 in Jul/Aug inc crossings from Holyhead-Dublin or Pembroke-Rosslare.


Val d'Isere - 7nts chalet board at Grand Choucas apartments from £899 (based on two sharing, saves £550pp) inc flights from Manchester on Mar 9 and transfers. Gatwick departure £999pp (saves £450pp). 0844 557 3119.


Jamaica - 7nts f/b Mayan Treasures cruise on Thomson Dream followed by 7nts a/i at Thomson's new Sensatori Jamaica from £1,849pp inc £50pp on board credit and tips. Montego Bay sailing for Roatan (Honduras), Belize City, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Based on 2 sharing, inc flights on Jan 20 from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester. 0871 230 2800.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

'Scandal' Star Joshua Malina on Show Cast's Decision to Be There for Fans on Social - Lost Remote

ABC's hit show "Scandal" returned from an over two-month hiatus last night to its fans delight, with Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope back on the president's-and her lover's-reelection team, who had their hands busy dealing with a gone-rogue Vice President Sally Langston.

As we've covered extensively on Lost Remote, the show is one of social media's most popular, with heavy engagement between actors and fans happening between episodes and in real-time as the show airs.

Lost Remote recently spoke to one of the show's stars, Joshua Malina, who plays good guy-and sometimes mischievous-U.S. District Attorney David Rosen, about the show's social media prowess.

LR: Why do you think your show resonates so much particularly on social media. Does the topic of politics and corruption create more of a reaction from TV viewers driving them to comment over other topics like romance, crime, etc.?

Molina: Well, SCANDAL is such an everything plus the kitchen sink kind of show, that it encompasses a breadth of topics - politics, romance, and crime high among them. So, whatever floats your boat, you can discuss it or argue about with your Twitter pals.

LR: It has been a norm for your actors and producers to engage social media fans, livetweeting during the show in some cases. What do you think drives the interaction between the face of the show and the viewers?

Molina: Not "in some cases!" Very early on, we as a cast made the decision to livetweet every episode on both coasts. It was a way of telling our fans that if they would commit to watching live, we'd be there for them - to answer questions, provide behind-the-scenes information, and just generally shoot the breeze with the people who keep us employed. And Scandal fans have really responded. In this age of time-shifting television watching, we are getting terrific numbers for live-viewing, and an important part of that is the Twitter crowd.

LR: Do you foresee the potential of integrating social media even more into the actual show and plot, like a scandal born from a tweet or Facebook post, that drives episodes or storylines?

Molina: I have given up the attempt to foresee anything to do with Scandal. Early on I played the "Where's Shonda (Rhimes) Going With This?" game, and I was a repeat loser at it. I have come to accept that there is no predicting what she'll do next. That woman has an unbelievable imagination and a ballsiness that I admire.

LR: Overall, how important is it for popular shows to build online communities to better bolster a loyal following and viewership?

Molina: I believe that the scandal cast and crew's engagement with fans through social media is an integral part of the success of the show. It was a significant ingredient in helping us jump from struggling series to hit. I can't imagine why any new show - or currently popular one - would not pursue the same online connection to viewers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rebels boys takes best Hubs have to offer to claim victory


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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Know Which Online Retailers Offer Coupons Via Live Chat

Can't find a coupon code anywhere? With the growing "live chat" customer service trend, many operators are trained to hand out Online Deals to polite shoppers that simply ask. I did the research and found a dozen of the most popular retailers that'll hand out a code via live chat to shoppers who play their cards right.

This post originally appeared on Rather Be Shopping.

Here is what I discovered (in alphabetical order):

Bass Pro Shops

One popular online store that readily hands out coupons via live chat is, which is a huge shopping destination for hunters, fishermen, and outdoors-men. If you can't find a coupon the traditional way, be sure to pull up a live chat session and politely see if they have a coupon code up their sleeves. A few tips:

  • Always be polite and courteous when asking for a coupon since your words are all you have when trying to score an online discount.
  • [Customer service agent] Debi immediately hooked me up with a coupon code good for free shipping on my entire order. This coupon did exclude boats, but luckily I'm not in the market for a new boat!
  • If live chat fails to bring you a coupon at Bass Pro Shops make sure to check out their Facebook page as they have currently have a couple coupons posted on their wall.

Birthday Express and Celebrate Express

If you're in the planning mode for your child's next birthday party or any other big shindig, be sure to hit up a live chat operator for a coupon at Celebrate or Birthday Here's the skinny:

  • Both websites use the same coupon codes so you can start the live chat feature from either site and the codes will work on both.
  • Leslie hooked me up immediately with a coupon code good for 15% off your $75+ regular-priced merchandise total. Not a great coupon but certainly handy for larger purchases.

Dress Barn

For those who love to shop for bargains at you're going to want to get well acquainted with their live chat feature. Here are a few tips:

  • I got the impression that my operator, Laurel, had a big list of coupon codes at her disposal. I say this because she said "Try PRES14? as if she had other codes up her sleeve if for some reason it didn't work.
  • So if you're buying more than one item, or any sale items, ask the Dress Barn operator for a coupon that better fits your online order. I think you'll be happily surprised with the results.


For those of you not familiar with, they sell athletic footwear, apparel, and training equipment. They are known for their amazing selection but tend to also be on the expensive side so you'll always want to shop with an Eastbay coupon code. Here is how I scored one from live chat:

  • I was having trouble viewing their website and asked my operator, Dan, if they had any current coupons. He told me they did and it was viewable during step four of the checkout process.
  • I told him I couldn't see it on the website and he was able to tell me the coupon code needed to collect 20% off.
  • This is a good strategy for any website you're having trouble using as many retailers will give you a coupon for your inconvenience.


I can only assume that the Foot Locker live chat operators are sitting at their desk wearing a stripped ref shirt with a whistle around their neck.

  • My Foot Locker live chat buddy, Aaron, hooked me up with a free shipping on $75 or more coupon code. Not great, but if you shop regularly at Foot Locker you already know that most of their shoes are priced above $75.
  • I tried to get something better out of Aaron, like 20% off, but he did not have another coupon for me. He said that later in the month he'd have a 20% off coupon, but nothing right now.
  • I asked him if better Footlocker coupons typically come out later in the month and he confirmed this to be true.

Home Depot

Next, I hit up Jen via live chat at The Home and asked her for a coupon code. She was unable to provide one but she did offer a pretty cool service that is worth sharing.

  • I told her I was doing a kitchen remodel and looking for a coupon for a new dishwasher. The washer was already on sale for close to 25% off and no additional savings were available but she was incredibly familiar with the washer and was able to answer all my questions. Very handy if you are doing a big remodel and have a bunch of questions.
  • Jen was by far the most helpful live chat operator I have ever talked to in terms of product knowledge. Well done Home Depot.


I was really impressed with the live chat operator at, who ironically was also named Jill. I wonder if they only hire gals named Jill? But anyways, she really went beyond the call of duty.

  • First, Jill hooked me up with a free shipping coupon and then she dropped the 411 on where to find the best deals. She told me J.Jill was offering their entire "Sale and Outlet" section for an additional 30% off for a limited time. No code needed.
  • I love when live chat operators tell me where they most savings can be found on that particular day.
  • Also be sure to follow J.Jill on Twitter as they are known for dropping exclusive coupons on their feed on a weekly basis.


L.L.Bean is known for their quality clothing and outstanding customer service that includes a 100% satisfaction guarantee. These days they always offer free shipping on your purchase but rarely have other coupons. Your chances increase greatly if you use their live chat feature as they want you to finalize your purchase today. Here's the best strategy:

  • Be polite, maybe even compliment them on how happy you have been with prior L.L.Bean purchases. In other words, butter them up a little then ask for a coupon to help you save a little money today.
  • I was able to get a 10% off coupon code to apply to my purchase. Not huge savings, but well worth the few minutes it took to get my discount.

Lands' End

There is little doubt the live chat feature at Lands' End will pay off for you in one way or another. Here is the direct link to a Lands' End live chat operator. Here is your best strategy for savings:

  • By being polite and direct I was able to score an online coupon for 30% off all merchandise with free shipping on $50 or more.
  • Lori, my live chat operator, was very receptive to helping me save some money and she had excellent knowledge of Lands' End sizing and styles which was a very nice bonus.
  • If you can't find a Lands' End coupon always open up a live chat session and politely ask for one. Chance of success: 95% at the very least.

Office Depot

I opened up an Office Depot live chat session I was not very confident that I would get a coupon code as they can be pretty tight about handing them out. But my buddy Bobbi delivered the goods. Here is your best strategy:

  • I simply asked for a $10 off $50 or more coupon and was given it right out of the box, next time I will amp it up and ask for a 20% off coupon. I got nothing to lose.
  • Also, it is worth noting that over the years I have received tips that the Office Depot Facebook page is also a great resource to score a coupon when 'Live Chat' doesn't deliver the goods.


I was really impressed with the customer service live chat employee "Sweety" gave me. Here is how it went down:

  • After I asked her if she had any coupons I could use, she asked me to make sure my order was in my virtual shopping cart so she could take a look at it and find the best coupon for me. Pretty cool.
  • After I placed my photo-book in my cart, she took a look at it and came back with the very generous offer of a $10 credit on my photo-book on top of the 25% off site-wide offer Shutterfly was already offering.
  • Tip: Make sure you add the maximum number of stuff you want to order in your cart, open a live chat session and start negotiating the best coupon you can get.


For those of you not familiar with Snapfish, similar to Shutterfly, they specialize in taking your photos and turning them into amazing prints, gifts, and cool books and calendars. Your order total can add up pretty quickly so be sure to hit up the Snapfish live chat feature and ask for a coupon code.

  • I simply asked for a coupon code, nothing specific, and my buddy "Shashank" hooked me up with a 30% off coupon. I couldn't help but think of Morgan Freeman as I collected my savings.
  • They typically allow you to stack coupons so feel free to politely ask for a free shipping coupon as well. They often have a free shipping coupon on $25 or more.

Have you had any success scoring a coupon code at other online retailers using their live chat feature? Let us know in the discussion below.

Ask For a Coupon | Rather Be Shopping

Kyle James is the founder of Rather Be Shopping, a website updated daily with the best online coupon codes, printable coupons, and bargains that we can find to all your favorite online stores.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Watch Snoop Dogg star in new MoneySuperMarket ad

Rapper Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion as he would prefer to be known) has made some unusual career choices in his time, but the latest is amongst the oddest: he is staring in an advert for a Printable Coupons comparison site.

He's not the first unusual choice for a financial brand.

The advert for MoneySuperMarket features a nerd cruising around Los Angeles in an invisible car - driving through crowds and performing stunts - before snapping back to reality - and walking past Snoop posing with some girls by his limo. Snoop then says 'Save money, feel epic.'

Watch the video:

Varied career

It's an unusual career choice for the rapper, but some of his decisions have hardly been conventional. Even his choice of name has been unusual. Born Calvin Broadus he was first known as Snoop Doggy Dog, then Snoop Dogg, and now Snoop Lion.

His choice of musical style has sometimes been unpredictable too - including performing a rap for Bollywood movie Singh Is Kinng and releasing a compilation of electronic music entitled Loose Joints under the name DJ Snoopadelic.

Alongside his rapping and acting he has also directed adult films and qualified as a football coach.

Five unusual celebrity choices

And while he's an interesting choice to appear in a financial advert - he's not the first surprise.

1. One of the most notorious was Iggy Pop for the Swiftcover adverts. This originally hit the headlines because the adverts feature Iggy Pop saying he has cover from the company when it emerged that because of his job he wouldn't qualify for it. The policies were quickly changed.

2. Recently Stephen Hawking was unexpectedly signed up for a Go Compare advert - using a black hole to silence the irritating opera singer, Gio Caompario. He was also the face of Egg bank when it was launched.

3. Samuel L Jackson was brought in at an enormous cost to Barclays to wander down a country lane talking rubbish at a reported cost of £15 million.

4. Anthony Hopkins appeared in the Barclays Bank 'big' adverts - shoving the word 'big' in wherever possible. The advert lasted an incredible 90 seconds and was shot by the man who directed Top Gun. It was widely considered to be a terrible mistake, as it coincided with a wave of branch closures and cost-cutting.

5. However, the most unfortunate endorsement was perhaps by the late and much-loved DJ John Peel, who once appeared in an advert for the Equitable Life - back before the house of cards collapsed.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Couponing Tips: Coupons can raise tricky tax questions

DEAR JILL: Two weeks ago, I found a skincare product worth about $40 on clearance for $13. To make the deal sweeter, I had a $3 off manufacturer Deal Today. Score, right? Well, yes and no. This was the only item I was purchasing, so my total with 7 percent sales tax should have been $10.70. However, my total was $10.91. I was a little irritated to find I'd been taxed on the pre-coupon total! While it was only 21 cents additional (and I got a smoking deal on the skincare) it made me wonder if this is happening all over the place and I just have not noticed it before. With all the coupons I use on a regular basis, it would really add up.

With regard to taxing on a pre-manufacturer-coupon total, could the government really be requiring stores to collect tax on something that isn't included in a purchase? Essentially, I paid tax on money I didn't even spend. Please share your thoughts on this, if possible. - Bonnie Z.

DEAR BONNIE: Figuring sales tax with coupon use is a tricky issue. In most states, sales tax is charged on your pre-coupon total, which is what happened to you. The state collects sales tax on the item's sale price. And, guess what - the state doesn't care whether you used a $1 bill or a $1 coupon to pay for your purchases. While we would look at an item and say "I only paid $2 for that," from the state's perspective, it's more like, "This item cost $3, regardless of how you paid for it." A manufacturer coupon is considered a form of payment or currency. The coupon doesn't reduce the selling price of the item - it's just a form of payment.

However, in five states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas,) things are a bit different. These states require the item's final purchase price to be taxed, not the pre-coupon price.

Some states do have exceptions to this - Illinois, where I'm from, is a pre-coupon tax state. However, our tax laws make a tax exception for free product coupons. When you use a coupon for an entirely free product, the law prevents stores from charging tax on something that the manufacturer intends to be free. (This does not apply to situations where a $1 coupon makes an item on sale for $1 free though, only to free-product coupons.)

Now, store coupons? They're a different story. If you're in one of the 45 pre-coupon-total states and use a store coupon, you may notice another interesting thing happen - in most cases, store coupons will reduce your item's selling price, and the post-store-coupon price is what you'll pay tax on. So, for example, let's say I buy a $5 item with a $2 store coupon. The store coupon functions differently than a manufacturer coupon, and it actually reduces the store's selling price of the item. The new "sale" price, post-store-coupon, is $3. So, $3 is the amount on which my sales tax is computed. The next time you shop with a store coupon, pay attention to the cash register as your coupons are scanned, and you just might see this in action. It will show up on your receipt, too.

If you're unhappy about being in a pre-coupon-price tax state, there's really not much you can do - aside from moving to another state, which is more than most people would do to save a few cents on sales tax here or there. But it is interesting to understand how it all works, isn't it?

Smart Living Tip: Some states don't charge sales tax at all - Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. Others charge a reduced sales tax rate on food, or don't tax food purchases at all - certainly a benefit when you're trying to save with coupons.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Yahoo hacked; Lulu's deal; Google earnings rise; Amazon's miss; Nintendo health?; Cree's new board member; Verizon deal OK'd :: Editor's Blog at WRAL Tech Wire

Updated Jan. 31, 2014 at 7:48 a.m.

Yahoo hacked; Lulu's deal; Google earnings rise; Super Sale's miss; Nintendo health?; Cree's new board member; Verizon deal OK'd


The latest technology news in WRALTechWire's Bulldog Bulletin roundup:

NEW YORK - Usernames and passwords of some of Yahoo's email customers have been stolen and used to gather personal information about people those Yahoo mail users have recently corresponded with, the company said Thursday.

Yahoo didn't say how many accounts have been affected. Yahoo is the second-largest email service worldwide, after Google's Gmail, according to the research firm comScore. There are 273 million Yahoo mail accounts worldwide, including 81 million in the U.S.

It's the latest in a string of security breaches that have allowed hackers to nab personal information using software that analysts say is ever more sophisticated. Up to 70 million customers of Target stores had their personal information and credit and debit card numbers compromised late last year, and Neiman Marcus was the victim of a similar breach in December.

    Self-publisher Lulu licenses children's bookmaking products

RALEIGH - Self-publishing company Lulu has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Easy Student Publishing that makes Lulu the worldwide source for the "Creations By You" brand of products.

Raleigh-based Lulu says the products enhance its breadth of self-publishing and image-rich product offerings while also extending Lulu's customer base through new retail distribution channels.
Creations By You products include bookmaking kits that give children everything they need to write and illustrate a one-of-a-kind story.

Earlier this month, Lulu announced the acquisition of Replay Photos, LLC, a provider of licensed sports and professional photography and wall art products. Lulu says the acquisitions and the Easy Student Publishing licensing agreement expand its ability to bring storytelling and expression to people of all ages.

SEATTLE - Amazon's profit and revenue both grew in the latest quarter but its results fell below what Wall Street was expecting and shares of the world's biggest online retailer declined after-hours.

Amazon has long focused on spending the money it makes to grow its business and expand into new areas, from movie streaming to e-readers and even grocery delivery.

Investors have largely forgiven thin profit margins and zeroed in on the company's solid revenue growth and long-term prospects. It's posted losses in two previous quarters due to rising operating costs but the stock hit an all-time high of $408.06 last week.

However, Thursday's disappointing results and modest revenue forecast for the current quarter sent shares tumbling up to 10 percent after the closing bell. In recent aftermarket trading, shares of the Seattle-based company were down $20.91, or 5.2 percent, to $382.10.

SAN FRANCISCO - Google's earnings are still rising at an impressive clip even as a long-running slump in its ad prices deepens and management gambles on risky ventures such as its unprofitable purchase of smartphone maker Motorola Mobility.

The latest evidence of the company's moneymaking prowess emerged Thursday with the release of results covering the holiday shopping season and the advertising blitz it produces. Investors evidently liked what they saw because they drove up Google's stock by 4 percent in extended trading to position the shares to reach a new peak Friday.

Although the company's earnings rose 17 percent during the fourth quarter, there were further signs of deterioration in Google's ad prices despite efforts to close the gap between rates for mobile devices and for traditional computers.

Google's average ad price during the fourth quarter fell 11 percent from the previous year. That was the steepest quarterly drop in 2013. It marked the ninth consecutive quarter that Google's average ad rate, also known as "cost per click," has fallen from the previous year.

Online advertisers haven't been willing to pay as much to reach prospective customers on the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.

However, Google has been tweaking its digital marketing system so mobile and PC ad campaigns are bundled together. In doing so, Google Inc. is hoping advertisers eventually will recognize the advantages of reaching people on the go and gradually begin to pay higher prices for mobile marketing pitches.

    Zynga cuts jobs, buys U.K. mobile games firm

SAN FRANCISCO - Zynga Inc., taking steps for regain its footing in casual video games, will cut 15 percent of its staff and spend $527 million to buy a popular mobile developer. The company also reported a narrower quarterly loss.

Zynga, known for its "FarmVille" and casino-style games, is firing about 314 people, mostly at its San Francisco headquarters, according to a statement Thursday. The company agreed to buy U.K.-based NaturalMotion Ltd. for $391 million in cash and 39.8 million shares of Zynga, valued at $136 million based on Wednesday's close.

CEO Don Mattrick, who left Microsoft Corp. to take over at Zynga in July, is retooling the company to focus on games for smartphones and tablets. The NaturalMotion acquisition adds two popular mobile titles, "CSR Racing" and "Clumsy Ninja" to the three segments Mattrick has targeted for growth: Zynga's "Ville" games, virtual gambling and puzzle games.

    Nintendo hints at move into health care

TOKYO - Nintendo has been unable to arrest a slide in console sales as more people play games on smartphones and tablets. The company's apparent solution? A move into health care.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata vowed Thursday to stick to the company's old ways, refused to resign or cut product prices despite its dismal earnings, but said the video game maker will enter the health care industry.

Iwata didn't give details of what he called his "quality of life" business plans, except that it won't be a wearable device.
Kyoto-based Nintendo already offers fitness games. Iwata promised to disclose details later this year.

DURHAHM -LED lighting company Cree has appointed John Replogle, president and CEO, Seventh Generation, to the Durham company's board of directors.

Replogle assumed his leadership role with Seventh Generation, a manufacturer and distributor of sustainable household products, in March 2011. Before joining Seventh Generation, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Burt's Bees, Inc. from 2006 to 2011 and General Manager of Unilever's Skin Care division from 2003 to 2006.

"John will be a great addition to our board of directors," CREE Chairman and CEO Chuck Swoboda said in a statement. "He has a proven track record of successfully managing global companies and brands, and we welcome the opportunity to work with John as we carry out our mission to lead the LED lighting revolution."

    Verizon gets OK for $130B Vodafone deal

NEW YORK - Verizon says its shareholders have approved its $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless division owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

As part of the deal, Verizon will issue up to 1.28 billion shares of common stock to Vodafone shareholders. Vodafone Group PLC shareholders also approved the deal at a meeting this week.
New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. says buying Vodafone's stake will give it greater flexibility to invest in new technologies. Once the deal closes, it will no longer have to share its wireless operating profits with Vodafone.

The deal, which is expected to around Feb. 21, needs court approval in the United Kingdom among other customary closing conditions.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sky and ITV sign a deal for Sky Go and Now TV

COMMERCIAL TV BROADCASTER ITV has announced a four year partnership with pay TV giant British Sky Broadcasting.

At the heart of the agreement that was announced on Wednesday will be the new pay TV channel ITV Encore, which is set to be available across Sky properties including mobile service Sky Go and IPTV ancillary Now TV.

A range of archive shows is also included in the Promo Code, which will be added to Sky's on-demand service. Following the broadcasters' recent spat with mobile TV service TV Catchup that saw them forceably remove their channels, the Sky agreement will also see the ITV channels stream live on Sky Go, joining Channel Four, which had also objected to the TV Catchup service as part of the same legal battle.

ITV Encore will be the first new channel from ITV in eight years and will showcase "quality drama" from the network, with original programming arriving in 2015. This original programming will set ITV Encore ahead of the existing ITV3, which already shows reruns of classic drama series.

With advertising revenues falling in recent years as the number of channels increases, the move towards premium services to provide "quality" programming has gained momentum. The most obvious comparison would be to Sky's own Sky Atlantic, which shows a range of first run US dramas as well as original commissions such as the cult comedy This Is Jinsy. However, unlike their American counterparts HBO and Showtime, these channels do not require additional payment on top of the basic package.

This is not the first time that ITV has joined forces with Sky. In the 1990s the two shared a five channel bouquet known as "Granada Sky Broadcasting", while more recently they were arch-rivals with the failed Ondigital - later ITV Digital - terrestrial service that was forced into administration after a bidding war with Sky over football rights.

ITV boss Adam Crozier said, "The time is absolutely right to build on our successful partnership with Sky with the launch of ITV Encore, which will be an important part of ITV's family of channels, and will complement ITV3, home to our long-running, classic drama series. ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama."

At present no launch date has been set for the new channel and streaming services, and there is no word as to whether ITV Encore will be a Sky exclusive, leaving cable customers out in the cold. µ

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hey - You People with Self-Control

Tell me NOT to buy the following:

Marble and Block Set (X2)

I might already have two, but the children and I MUST reach new levels of height and complexity. MUST.

TARDIS Bracelet Charm

The future in-laws got me a pandora bracelet for Christmas. It would only be good manners to use it. Thus, I need charms.

Portal Turrets

Look at that Bumblebee one! These come blind boxed, therefore, I must purchase 4 of them at the better to price to improve my chances. It's science.

Wonder Woman Underwear

Do... do I really need to justify this one?

So I should get them all, right? Despite the fact that it WILL cost 30 bucks in shipping plus duty costs at the border?

Apropos of nothing, ThinkGeek is having a buy-one-get-one 50% off sale.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

ElectricCigaretteOffers Is Offering the Best V2 Cigs Coupon Codes for 2014

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Discount retailer Dots to file for bankruptcy - WSJ

Limited-time or "flash" sales on popular websites such as Rue La La and Gilt have eaten into Dots's revenue, which has declined in recent periods, the Journal report said, citing the people.

The retailer, which caters to women aged between 25 and 35 years old and has more than 400 stores across 28 states, has enlisted restructuring advisers at PricewaterhouseCoopers and law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP, according to the WSJ. ().

Glenwillow, Ohio-based Dots is also in talks with asset management firm Salus Capital Partners for debtor-in-possession financing, sources told the business daily. According to the report, Salus provided Dots with about $50 million in financing about six months ago.

Dots's bankruptcy filing would underscore the retail industry's breakneck move from offline to online, which has significantly hurt brick-and-mortar businesses.

Bronx, New York-based Loehmann's, the 92-year-old Amazon Sales clothing chain, filed for bankruptcy protection for a third time last December.

Dots, owned by Irving Place Capital, a middle-market private equity firm, was not immediately available for comment outside of regular U.S. business hours when reached by Reuters.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Space News from

Tuesday's massive solar flare has forced the commercial spaceflight company Orbital Sciences to postpone the planned launch of a private cargo mission to the International Space Station today. Read the full story here: Huge Solar Flare Delays Private Rocket Launch to Space Station.

A massive solar flare erupted from the sun on Tuesday (Jan. 7), rising up from what appears to be one of the largest sunspot groups seen on the star's surface in a decade, NASA officials say.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a video of the huge solar flare as it developed, showing it as an intense burst of radiation from a colossal sunspot region known as AR1944. The sunspot group - which is currently in the middle of the sun as viewed from Earth - is "one of the largest sunspots seen in the last 10 years," NASA officials wrote in a statement. It is as wide as seven Earths, they added.

Tuesday's big flare was an X1.2-class solar event on the scale used to classify sun storms. It occurred at 1:32 p.m. EST (1832 GMT) and came just hours after an M7.2-class flare.

Space weather channel officials at the the Space Weather Prediction Center overseen by NOAA are expecting the flare to spark geomagnetic storms in Earth's magnetic field when a wave of super-hot solar plasma associated with the flare - known as a coronal mass ejection - reaches Earth in the next few days. [ Photos: The Biggest Solar Flares of 2014]

"This is the first significant flare of 2014, and follows on the heels of mid-level flare earlier in the day," NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox of the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., wrote in a statement.

"Each flare was centered over a different area of a large sunspot group currently situated at the center of the sun, about half way through its 14-day journey across the front of the disk along with the rotation of the sun."

X-class solar flares are the most powerful solar storms on the sun. Mid-level storms are dubbed M-class events and can supercharge Earth's northern lights displays, with weaker C-class flares rounding out the top three.

When aimed directly at Earth, the strongest X-class solar flares can pose a risk to astronauts in orbit and interrupt communications and navigation satellite operations.

Tuesday's solar flare did force the commercial spaceflight company Orbital Sciences to delay the launch of its first Cygnus cargo mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

NASA officials told today that the crew of the International Space Station will not have to take measures to shelter themselves from the solar flare's radiation effects.

There are currently six astronauts living on the station as part of the outpost's Expedition 38 crew. The team includes three Russian cosmonauts, two NASA astronauts and one Japanese astronaut.

The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle. The current cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, began in 2008.

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 9:26 a.m. EST to include new details about the effects of the solar flare for astronauts on the International Space Station and its delay of an Orbital Sciences Cygnus cargo mission to the station from Wallops Island, Va.

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