Archive for February, 2012

Pedigree, sad dogs lose at Westminster

You know those pet adoption ads that tug at the heartstrings with those sad looking pooches cowering behind cages?

Well, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which held its finale Tuesday with its “Best of Show” winner, wasn’t having any of it – or them.

After 24 years as the premier kennel show’s chief sponsor, Pedigree was replaced this year because the WKC said the dog food company had taken the wrong approach to promoting pet adoptions by showing shelter dogs with sad faces.

“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don’t try to shame me,” show spokesman David Frei told the Associated Press. “We told [Pedigree] that and they ignored us.”

Frei said the show is a “celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message.”

Frei earlier told AP concerning the Pedigree ads, “The …

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Don’t expect gas prices to go down anytime soon

You recall the tale about a frog that is placed in cold water that is slowly heated until the frog is boiled to death?

Motorists may be feeling a bit like that proverbial frog at the gas pumps. Metro Atlanta gas prices — up 3 cents in a week to an average $3.52  — continue a gradual climb that analysts warn could reach as high as $4 a gallon by May.

“Overall, gas prices increased about 3 cents from last week and unfortunately, they are likely to increase again this week, albeit minimal,” said analyst Jessica Brady, a AAA spokeswoman.

The national average price of regular unleaded gas is $3.50, a 3-cent increase from last week, Brady noted. Georgia’s average of $3.52 a gallon and Florida’s average of $3.63, both increased 3 cents from last week. Tennessee’s average price of $3.44 increased 6 cents from last week.

A sluggish U.S. economy that’s lowering demand for oil, Europe’s economic crisis and the early shutdown of numerous U.S. oil refineries for maintenance are …

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Lovers and gun lovers at Starbucks?

Lovers won’t be the only ones meeting over a cup of Caffè Misto at Starbucks today.

In many states, gun lovers, openly strapped, also might be seen dropping in on the coffee shop, much to the chagrin of gun-control advocates who say the popular coffee chain should ban the latter group from its counters.

Starbucks finds itself in the middle of a heated national battle between those defending their right to bear arms openly and those who say society is violent enough without such open displays of firepower.

The National Gun Victims Action Council created an open “Brew not Bullets” Valentines Day open email to Starbucks that supporters can send opposing the practice and the group is urging supporters not to visit a Starbucks until it bans guns inside its shops.

Starbucks says it’s just complying with the laws of 43 states where it is legal to carry weapons openly. The chain has nearly 5,000 locations in those states.

According to pro-guns advocate opencarry.org, …

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Hey data hogs, AT&T may throttle you

Are you someone with a smartphone unlimited data plan who tends to go a bit overboard in using it?

Then prepared to be throttled.

According to a report from the Associated Press, AT&T is cutting data speeds for its heaviest users of cellular data. It’s a practice known as “throttling.”

The biggest data hogs among its 17 million customers with unlimited data plans (about half its smartphone users)  could be affected by the  policy which seeks to manage data usage on its network by cutting data speeds.

Downloads can be slowed significantly so a Web page takes longer to load.

California business man Mike Trang is one of those affected.

Trang “likes to use his iPhone 4 as a GPS device, helping him get around in his job,” the report says. “Now and then, his younger cousins get ahold of it, and play some YouTube videos and games.

“But in the past few weeks, there has been none of that, because AT&T Inc. put a virtual wheel clamp on his phone. Web pages wouldn’t load and maps …

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Wells Fargo offering down payment help

If you’re in the market for a new home and the city of Atlanta is among the places you might be considering, Wells Fargo is offering help with your down payment Saturday.

The mortgage lender is hosting a free “homeownership village” at the Georgia World Congress Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Spokesman Jay Lawrence said the workshop can accommodate hundreds of walk-ins.

“Dozens of people have already walked away today with letters reserving $15,000 to help buy or renovate homes in the city of Atlanta,” Lawrence told Channel 2 Action News.

Wells Fargo has launched an $8 million program to help people buy and renovate homes while also helping the city reduce its high inventory of vacant houses, many due to foreclosures. The bank is working with nonprofits such as Resources for Residents and Communities and NeighborWorks America, in addition to the city.

The state and five major lenders, including Wells Fargo, announced a big mortgage settlement this week to help …

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New mortgage settlement: What’s in it for you?

“What’s in it for me?” is the question many current and former Georgia homeowners were asking Friday, a day after a major mortgage settlement was announced between the state and five major mortgage lenders.

While the answers to that question and others remain to be worked out, there are some clear specifics to the deal, which is designed to help stabilize the the state’s mortgage industry and provide some relief to Georgians facing foreclosure or who have already lost their homes to it.

First, Georgia’s share of the settlement will be about $814.7 million, the majority of which banks will use to either write down balances on loans that exceed a home’s current value, or refinance loans in a way that lowers interest rates to today’s rates and brings down monthly payments, or compensate former customers who lost their homes improperly to foreclosure.

To benefit, you must have been a customer of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial …

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Walmart tells parking lot squatters to bug out

Walmart.

Nice place to shop?

Better place to live?

For some folks in North Dakota, it’s been a big  yes to the latter.

Only the retail colossus says no.

According to the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune, visiting oil workers have been living in campers in a Walmart parking lot in Williston for months, and apparently accepting the accommodations.

But now the store is saying be on your way.

This week store executives warned the squatters that they’d better leave or their vehicles would be towed at their expense.

Some were.

Walmart cited safety, noise and litter as the issues.

A housing shortage in the area drove the workers to the parking lot, even though the accommodations were less than plush. There were no water or sewer hook-ups, for example, and many were crowded into small campers without heat or electricity. Some  lived there for weeks or months.

Walmart said it was concerned with the environment for its customers and employees.

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Report: Newest iPad out in March

Expect the newest iPad, the iPad3, to make its debut in early March, according to the website AllThingsD.com.

The tech website said Apple will unveil the newest version of the popular tablet in the first week of March in San Francisco. It could hit stores within a week after the announcement, AllthingsD speculated.

As far as the changes, Apple enthusiasts can expect “a device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it,” the website said.

Apple said it wouldn’t comment on rumors.

In its first fiscal quarter ended in December, Apple said it sold 15 million iPads, a 111 percent unit increase over the same period a year earlier. The iPad 2 starts at $499 and the price is higher depending on the memory.

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FBI gathered file on Apple’s Steve Jobs

The FBI kept a file on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

The 191-page backgrounder was gathered in 1991 at the behest of President George H.W. Bush, who was considering Jobs for a seat on the President’s Export Council.

Jobs, 56, died last October of pancreatic cancer after stepping down from Apple. The FBI file corroborates revelations that appear in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the man behind the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac computers.

The FBI spoke with many of Jobs’ friends and associates, who “describe him as profoundly talented, creative and hardworking. But his many faults are also acknowledged including the fact that he neglected his daughter for the first several years of her life and that his management techniques were considered by many to be abusive.”

The identities of those interviewed were not disclosed. One person who identified himself as a former good friend said Jobs was “honest and …

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Kodak getting out of camera business

Kodak announced Thursday that it is ditching its digital camera business. The company, which stopped selling film cameras in 2004, said it will focus instead on photo printing.

Essentially, the company that was a household name for generations of novice and professional photographers in the U.S. and around the world has been done in by the digital imaging technology it created.

Digital cameras were the death knell for the film and disposable cameras that were Kodak’s bread and butter for decades, and it wasn’t able to keep up with competition from Japanese digital camera manufacturers.

The company will license its brand name to other camera manufactures. In addition to digital cameras, Kodak’s digital business produced pocket video cameras and digital picture frames. It will also focus on home photo printers, high-speed commercial inkjet presses, workflow software and packaging as the core of its future business, according to the Associated Press.

Kodak has laid …

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