Monthly Archives: March 2011

Amazon in the Music Cloud! The internet retailer beats Apple and Google in the race for the Music Cloud, taking on the sleeping music labels.

On Tuesday Amazon.com launched the “Amazon Cloud Drive”. The service allows users to host all their music in the cloud and stream it to a PC, smartphone or tablet. The problem with this gigantic step is, the record labels are not pleased with that move, because they don’t know how to handle licensing agreements for such service. The lawyers are gearing up.

According to CNN.Money.com, the major problem is that technology is evolving faster than business models. What? Streaming music over the internet is an old hat! One has to wonder how much longer it takes the labels to come up with something. Sony Music and all the others, the times of selling vinyl records is over, don’t you get it? And by now, after 10 years of ongoing declines in CD sales, you should have a business model.

The technology for such a streaming service is around for 15 years or so. There was licensing problem then, just as it is today. Remember Napster and those? Then, the labels could play on time because the infrastructure, internet over a modem, helped them to put the issue aside. Today, streaming music and movies is not a problem anymore and is practiced as good as possible, allowed or not.

The labels, with dragging their heels, are wasting billions of revenue and profit for themselves. Business models for them are almost public knowledge, all it takes is getting up and do it. And, the potential is gigantic, not only for the labels. Looking at it from an economists few, this can create an incredible boost for an economy and is almost public interest.

One of the models that could work is incorporating advertising. Let the artist advertise before every song plays for 10 or 15 seconds. As an example, if you sell Lady Gaga’s newest hit on a platform such as Amazon’s Cloud Drive, she can promote her Ray-Ban glasses or whatever she wears on her nose. There is a lot of room for playing around and make a ton of money. I don’t think an artist would mind some extra money, just like the labels wouldn’t. Of course, they can offer, as an alternative, a higher priced product without the advertising. This is just one opportunity for the labels. They need to step on the devils tale and go. While going along, lots of opportunity will evolve.

I applaud Amazon for taking this “first” step. It is not going to be easy. However, this will hopefully get something going, possibly wake up the sleeping giant. Let them “roar” and complain. Maybe one of these sleeping executives at those labels has a rest of functioning sense of business. Sometimes people need to be forced into their luck.

Start with $10,000.00 and end with $1,000,000.00, Retirement news.

Interesting report. Not all that new , but some good advice.

Jonathan Burton’s Life Savings

Wells Fargo, Chase cancel debit rewards program – Mar. 25, 2011

Wells Fargo, Chase cancel debit rewards program – Mar. 25, 2011.

There goes your free flight. And it is all the governments fault. Or not?

RIM shares drop as forecast disappoints – MarketWatch

RIM shares drop as forecast disappoints – MarketWatch.

Netflix stock rises on Credit Suisse upg

Netflix stock rises on Credit Suisse upgrade The Ratings Game – MarketWatch http://ow.ly/4jOJT

Barclay’s English Premier League: Status of top 5 after Round 30

It’s time to take a look at the status of the Premier League after 30 rounds and before the Euro 2012 qualifier break. As far as the top 5 concerns, not too much has changed. There are still the same 5 teams fighting for the title and European glory. The difference is, the competition became more fierce and and the field came closer together. Liverpool, due to the much increased performance since Kenny Dalglish took over, Fernando Torres left and Suarez and Carroll joined the team, has a shot at 5th place, maybe 4th. That is an incredible accomplishment, considering the status of the club in January.Take a look at my post from January 10th.

Manchester United is still the team to beat. While the times of “unbeatable” are over, the team avoided to get sacked when the times became a little harder after the first losses. Sir Alex Ferguson and the experience of the entire team kept them on top of the league. So far, they were even able to compensate for injuries of key players, another sign of the healthy structure of the roster and Sir Alex’s outstanding work. As it stands right now, Manchester United is the top favorite for the Championship. Next game: @ West Ham

Arsenal remains the main hunter at this point. Five points behind and a game on hand means they can reduce the point difference to two points and make it a one game competition. While they had and have there own small crisis, they were able to take advantage of the competition’s dynamics (United finally got beaten) and sneak up on United. Arsenal is “free” of other worries, since the Premier League is the only remaining opportunity for a titel this season. While the gunners don’t like this fact, it might be an advantage for the remaining 9 games, considering they have a few injury issues with important players. On the sideline, the gunners created a stunner with reactivating Jens Lehmann, due to a major injury misery on the goalie position. Looking at Manuel Almunia’s form, it might even be possible that Lehmann appears in the first team before the end of the season. Everything is possible. Next game: Home against Blackburn Rovers

Chelsea just pushed Manchester City from 3rd place this past weekend. They are now a point ahead of the citizens and present themselves in outstanding condition. The past performances didn’t leave a lot of opportunity for the critics. The win over Manchester City was deserved and accomplished in a classy way. In this condition, it is fair to say they might have a chance to win the championship. Fernando Torres still hasn’t scored, but with other players able to hit the net, they can score at any time. At this point, the only thing that can derail them, is themselves. Some of the players are not too happy with the situation, namely Torres, Drogba and Anelka. Neither one of them is happy with the current situation of limited playing time. Also, the club owner was seen with a sweet and sour face after Torres’ substitution against City this past weekend. Good for Carlo Ancelotti that the game was won, after the substitution. Next game: @ Stoke

Manchester City is, in my opinion, kind of a bummer. Considering the names and the quality of the roster, it is next to ridiculous what the actual performance is. Last week they had to excuse themselves from the Europa League and right after

that from 3rd place in the Premier League as well. I actually thought, in January and February, they will take a very close look at the championship, but since then the tendency is much more downwards. It seems the spending spree will not pay-off and even champions league qualification is questionable. Their immediate competition for the champions league qualification somehow is displaying a much better oiled engine. City seems to have to many “construction areas”. While there is a lot of work to do in integrating all these purchases, it also appears they acquired some unrest with Ballotelli. That one is known for his escapades and Mancini needs to keep an eye on this bird. At this moment, it looks like a struggle for the citizens and even 4th place is questionable. What might help them to secure 4th place is the difficult schedule of Spurs in the last games. Home against Sunderland

Spurs have again delivered an outstanding season. They represented themselves in the champions league as an outstanding and grown soccer team. Harry Redknapp has done an outstanding job in creating an international competitor. I am excited to see them against Real Madrid and I am convinced Spurs will give Real a run for their money. In the Premier League the remaining schedule is a though one. Mid May will determine Spurs’ faith. On 4/16 they play ManC in Manchester and then on 4/20 have Arsenal for a make up game. One thing is for sure, if it doesn’t work for them, the championship will be decided by Spurs. Except Manchester United, they have to play everyone of the top 6 in their remaining games. Those that lose against Spurs, will lose their championship and Europe, one way or the other, ambitions. While I have doubt’s that Spurs can master that schedule, I will cross my fingers for them. From what I see, they created a lot of friends and the team’s and coaches’ work deserves champions league next season. @ Wigan

Nuclear power is not a safe option Thomas Kostigen’s Ethics Monitor – MarketWatch

Nuclear power is not a safe option Thomas Kostigen’s Ethics Monitor – MarketWatch.

What’s your stand on this?

AT&T swallows T-Mobile for $39 Billion!

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AT&T acquires German T-Mobile USA for cash and stock deal valued $39 Billion.  The deal is subject to regulatory approval and can be expected to close in about a year. The deal will give Deutsche Telkom a stake of approx. 8% and a seat on AT&T’s board.

Premier League: Chelsea – Manchester City

Outstanding game at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester City. The “Blues” kept City in check and created their own game based on strong defense around John Terry and David Luiz. City’s inability to create opportunities left Peter Cech with a nice early spring afternoon. His duties were limited to pick-up left over that was not completely cleaned up by Terry and Luiz, which he did with physical appearance  and routine.

On the other side, Chelsea created multiple opportunities to get the lead, but couldn’t keep the cool in front of Joe Hart’s goal. Carlo Ancelotti increased the pressure on the citizens after 70 minutes with bringing Drogba and Anelka for Malouda and Torres. Both didn’t disappoint, however, they couldn’t make the difference in the Man City box. Chelsea had to wait until the 70th minute to go ahead. After a Drogba free kick, David Luiz headed the ball into the net. Ramirez delivered the second, one minute before time.

The win helped Chelsea to pass Manchester City and take 3rd place. Manchester City, like this week in the Europa League, had to experience that it is not enough to buy “names”, it also has to fit on the field. While all the buys are excellent players and good enough to keep everyone from place six downwards in check, it is not enough, and not fitting, to beat the big guns.  In order for the citizens to become a European powerhouse, a lot has to happen.

Liverpool won their game in Sunderland and underlined their ambitions for 5th place and possibly more. Kuyt and Suarez delivered the goals for a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light.

Premier League watch out, Jens Lehmann is back!

Every time you believe you saw everything, something new happens. This week, fellow Jens Lehmann made it back to the Barclay’s English Premier League and Arsenal to help with their goalie misery. Ending his career last summer and pursuing coaching licenses, Lehmann was confronted with the question if he can help out the gunners until the end of the season. For a guy like Jens Lehmann, such requires not much time to think of. Today, he was on Arsenal’s bench at West Brom. Certainly a brave move by Arsene Wenger and the club. Not so much because Lehmann is 41 and already ended his career, but it seems that Manuel Almunia has a mental problem with Jens Lehmann back at Arsenal. The question on whether Lehmann should be back in goal is already up for debate at the Emirates.

Jens Lehmann is a character and his pure presence is already a win for Arsenal. A winner type and a fighter with everything allowed and not allowed, he has turned games around in his career. For the special situation Arsenal is facing right now, he might just be the right guy. The gunners cannot afford another struggle in the goalie position. If Lehmann is fit, he certainly has the stronger personality and attitude for a situation such as this. Think about it, Coach Wenger.

Barclay’s English Premier League: Review Round 30, 1st day – Arsenal falls over Almunia

The clubs in the premier league are faced off in round 30. The bringer in the round is the clash for 3rd place: Chelsea against Manchester City on Sunday. The citizens are motivated to make up for the embarrassment from this week’s Europa league blunder and don’t intend to give up Champions league guarantee.

Manchester United won their game against Bolton, with lots of determination, patience and Berbatov. Even a red card for Evans 15 minutes before time couldn’t stop United to go for a winner. Bolton performed very well, but, while still having opportunities, lost courage after Evans’ red card. With a little more “greed” and pressure with a man more on the field, who knows the outcome.

Arsenal struggled against West Brom and couldn’t take all three points home. Goalie Almunia, obviously with a mental problem because Lehmann is back, helped West Brom to a 2-0 lead. With the courage of despair, the gunners saved a point. Spurs faced hammers and lost two important points in their campaign to rise into the top 4. The savior for the hammers was Robert Green, who delivered an excellent performance. At the end a 0-0 stood in a good game with opportunities on both sides.

Wigan beat Birmingham while Wolves secured a win at Aston Villa. Both needed the points desperately and kept themselves in the race for a place above the relegation line. Other, Stoke – Newcastle 4-0 and Blackburn – Blackpool 2-2. At Goodison Park, Everton won 2-1 against Fulham.

UEFA Champions League – Draw creates excitement for supporters!

The draw of the champions league quarterfinal created some excitement for soccer fans around the world. The premier league clubs Chelsea and Manchester United face off for a battle of England. Alone this set-up is promising soccer at its finest. No less excitement for the third English club in the competition: Spurs are facing Real Madrid! And, they were lucky, the first game is in Madrid. Spurs have a great chance to advance into the semis. While Real is a great team and getting better every month, they are still everything else than solid in defense. Of all the attractive opponents, this is the best Spurs could get. A great name and no further motivation needed and a chance to win. Paradise for every coach and player. Good luck, Spurs!

Barca drew the, on paper, least attractive opponent for the quarter-final. Donetsk is not necessarily a cracker in European soccer. However, they are dangerous and can give Barca lots of trouble. The outcome of this duel is not as clear as it looks like. The first game is played in Barcelona and that is an advantage for the Russians. Barca needs to be ready for a “hot dance”.

While Bayern Munich is probably in tears at this moment, Inter Milan is smiling all over their face. They clearly, if that can be said of a quarter-final, drew the easiest team in the pott. Schalke at this stage, is not a team that can create fear. With all the troubles from the past week and the way things in Schalke go after such events, they will still be trying to force themselves out of the “chicken stable” they put themselves in to. There chance is the goalie Neuer and a goal from Raul. Without those two doing magic, they have no chance.

Inter Milan will make the semi-final and most likely Barca. The two other games are completely open. Awesome!

Japan – Fukushima-Daiichi – The language of reporting softens and other miracles

The language of the nuclear disaster reporting in Japan and around the world softens. While on Wednesday the reporting was full of concern and fear, after the helicopters and water throwers unloaded tons of water on the rods, there is a sound of hope in the reporting from Japan. It seems so easy.

The news agencies around the world are reporting that Japan “upgraded” the misery to a “3 Mile Island” status. That is the point where one becomes skeptical again about the truth of the information provided to the public. Looking over the past days of news and the diverse criteria to grade this mess, it is clear that “3 Mile Island” status was passed at the moment when those rods were sitting blank in a dry pool, due to numerous explosions, basically under the blue sky. That was never the case at the time in Pennsylvania. How can this now be upgraded to that status when it already exceeded that status days ago? Here are a few questions to ask!

It appears that the Japanese government and the “believing” media are trying to save the moment rather than reporting based on facts. Reflecting on the past days and what was reported, somehow the successes of the water sprinkling action seem not to fit in. It looks like we, and most important, the Japanese people, have to wait a few months or years until the entire nuclear mess shows its ugly face.

Japan and Fukushima-Daiichi: Crisis management and public information management the dangerous way!

Japan’s government is hiding valuable information regarding the busting nuclear power plant Fukushima-Daiichi. Who, at this point, has any doubt that something really terrible is developing at this plant? Over the past days, reporting about the status of the plant appeared at times ridiculous and dangerous and made no sense. While reading the international press, it became obvious that the news organizations around the world create their own conclusions, different from statements made by the Japanese government and Tepco, the owner of the plant. For the European press, the plant is experiencing a meltdown since Sunday, at the latest. In the US, so-called experts are more careful with their statements. Frustration about the crisis management of the Japanese is rising day by day, but the word meltdown is still not spit out. While the Japanese government and the owner of the plant, Tepco, try to avoid to inform the world of what is really going on, everybody is able to put the pieces together and can create a picture of the tragedy going on.

First of all, putting up a nuclear power plant today is not a major challenge for an industrialized nation anymore. However, the problem of deactivation, where to put the trash and safety is unsolved. In other words, nobody has a safe option other than digging in the fuel rods. This, most safe option, is currently out of the picture at Fukushima. All that’s left is, keep them cool, in water, and contain them. The containers have leaks. On Sunday the Japanese government stated, they are trying to fill the containers with sea water, however, the water level is not rising. In my play book, if I try to fill a bucket with water and the water level is not rising, the bucket has a hole. It is obvious that the company is not able to pump water into the containers. It was tried to cool the plant and rods with water poured from the air with helicopters. This effort is nothing else than a desperate move to do something. Even this couldn’t be maintained, because it is too dangerous for the pilots. It is also important to know that using sea water is a kill for the entire plant, it cannot be used anymore. This underlines the desperation of the entire rescue operation. Fact is also, no water, or not enough water, means meltdown!

There are other indications that the situation is worse than admitted. Besides multiple fires and explosions, the USS Ronald Reagan, after participating in rescue and supply efforts, relocated after only 24 hours, on Sunday. That is about how long it takes to figure out how bad the situation really is. Also, many foreign countries and corporations are pulling out their people since Sunday and if not, ask them to go further south, out of the danger zone. Furthermore, leaving the power plant and six(!) about to bust reactors doesn’t display a lot of confidence as well. That the workers are back now, can be considered a “Kamikaze” operation and who knows what’s behind that “comeback”.

The Japanese government is very lucky to have such peaceful citizens. Anywhere else in the world there would be riots going on. It is time to inform these citizens, and everyone else, about what is really going on and how bad it is. Then the problem can be approached much better and with international help it might be possible to limit the damage to people and environment. Fuzzing around with this problem can cause incredible damage. While there is not a lot of comparison possible, because of lack of “busted” plants and reactors, the question at this point is, can the damage be limited to “Chernobyl damage” or is it going to be worse. It certainly has exceeded the damage of “Three Mile Island” already.

Happenings around the European Leagues – Ashley Cole off the hook, Fabregas not a happy camper, Bayern and Schalke firing coaches.

Cole off the hook

Ashley Cole just got a break from some of his headaches. After shooting a student on Chelsea’s training ground with an air gun, investigations were stopped. Charges were never pressed. Cole brought an air gun to the training ground and accidentally shot a student. He claimed he didn’t know the gun was loaded. The question is, why did he bring an air gun to practice? Some people!

Fabregas facing not so happy times

Ces Fabregas saw better times. Injury and missing the Carling Cup final, not being fit and playing his “love” Barca, helping Barca to a goal and now missing the FA Cup clash against Manchester United. According to Wenger, Fabregas is very disappointed. Dear Ces, don’t be disappointed, there is worse in life. You will one day lift a trophy as an Arsenal captain and possibly have another chance to play Barca, unless he is leaving in the summer. Is he?

Bayern and Schalke firing their coaches

Bayern Munich has fired coach van Gaal, not immediately, but to the end of the season. Probably because no one else was available. One is surprised van Gaal is playing this game. The Dutch coach has contract until the end of season 2012, but faced headwinds due to a few losses after their last Champions League win against Inter. After the Inter game Bayern lost against the future German Champ Dortmund and the Cup semi final against Schalke 04, both at home. They also lost the important game against Hanover in their efforts to secure second or third in the Bundesliga. Champions League participation for the next season is in jeopardy, which equals an earthquake in Munich.

Schalke is desperately trying to get rid of Felix Magath. The coach/manager has too much power, according to some board members and members of the club. While the club has no chance for glory in the Bundesliga, Schalke is in the German cup final and just advanced to the quarterfinal in the Champions League. Magath has spent Millions on creating a competitive squad and many board and club members don’t like the debt that was created. Debt combined with lack of success in the Bundesliga, Magath’s power in the club and the incredible success of Schalke’s biggest rival a few miles down the road, Borussia Dortmund, has triggered an incredible campaign against Magath. Schalke is known in Germany for their escapades in management and trouble is always luring around the corner. Success or not is not the issue with the club.