Archive for February, 2012

Smartphones used to fight depression

What if your phone could send you a text message if it senses you’re becoming depressed and urge you to get out and do things to improve your mood?

Northwestern University researchers are developing such a smartphone,  The technology involves determining the user’s state of mind by tracking his or her whereabouts, a researcher told CBS radio affiliate WBBM in Chicago.

The phone would be able to sense whether a person is staying at home for a lengthy period, according to psychologist David Mohr, who has been adapting phones as “virtual therapists” for depression patients.

“It can provide them an automated text message, or an automated phone call to make a suggestion to give somebody a call or get out of the house,” Mohr told CBS.

The conditions of eight depression patients were improved “significantly” after getting the alerts, Mohr said. Wider tests are planned this summer

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Young Americans feel harder hit by recession than elders

It’s hard to be young.

That’s the upshot of a new survey that looks at American attitudes post-recession.

According to the Pew Research Center, 41 percent of Americans believe young adults (ages 18 to 34)  “have been hit harder than any other group, compared with 29 percent who say middle-aged Americans and 24 percent who point to seniors 65 and older,” the Associated Press reports.

What’s more, 69 percent say it’s harder for young adults to pay for college, find a job, buy a home or save money, compared to their parents.

“Young workers are on the bottom of the ladder, and during a recession like we’ve had, it’s often hard for them to hold on,” said Kim Parker of Pew.

Parker pointed to the feelings among young adults and suggested they may have contributed to their role in the Occupy protest movement.

“They are clearly less satisfied with their current circumstances than they were before the recession,” she said. “This may be where some of the anger and frustration being …

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Amazon strikes video deal with Viacom

The battle for streaming video subscribers is intensifying with both Amazon.com and Verizon striking up separate deals this week that could potentially take big bites out of Netflix’s customer base.

Amazon announced Wednesday that it is teaming up with Viacom to allow Amazon Prime subscribers and Kindle Fire users to instantly stream scores of Viacom TV offerings, including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT and Logo.

Prime subscribers now pay a $79 annual membership fee for Amazon Prime Instant Videos, giving them unlimited, commercial-free access to more than 15,000 movies and TV shows. The deal with Viacom is expected to add about 2,000 more titles that that list.

“This deal with Viacom brings Prime customers and Kindle Fire users thousands of comedies, kids’ shows, reality TV and much more from some of the best cable networks available,” said Brad Beale, director of video content acquisition for Amazon, said in a release.

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Costco ranked No. 1 in Consumer Reports survey

Costco is the way to go when it comes to online and in-store shopping.
The retail chain store ranked No. 1 in a recent Consumer Reports survey of 10 stores — besting JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart for its overall shopping experience.

Costco was the only chain to earn an outstanding grade for the overall quality of its merchandise, whether in the stores or online. And it earned above-average scores for all 10

product categories the survey rated — including electronic entertainment, jewelry and sporting goods.

Surprisingly, its website did better than its walk-in stores on all counts, except product quality (the two types tied), and earned top marks for layout, product value, and checkout.

In-store shoppers found a few things not to like about Costco: The chain’s walk-in stores scored below average for selection, checkout (because of long lines), and service, and its shoppers were more likely than those elsewhere to complain …

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Report: Amazon to open retail store

Is an Amazon.com store coming to a corner (or mall) near you?

According to the website Good E Reader, Amazon is planning to open a retail store in Seattle, where it is headquartered, before the end of the year to see if it makes financial sense to roll out a chain of them.

The emphasis will be on hawking its popular Kindle e-Readers and the hugely popular Kindle Fire, in addition to an assortment of accessories.

From Good E Reader:

A source has told us that they are not looking to launch a huge store with thousands of square feet. Instead they are going the boutique route and stocking the shelves with only high margin and high-end items.

The company, which recently launched a publishing division, also will sell books in physical and e-book form, the website said. It is already coming under fire from big publishing rivals accusing Amazon of trying to woo some of their top authors.

Good E Reader says a big consideration for Amazon will be the state taxes it’ll have to …

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McDonald’s pulls ‘pit bull’ McBite ad

McDonald’s latest ad pitching its new Chicken McBite has come back to bite it in the McYou-know-where.

Pit bull owners were greatly offended by the ad’s assertion that eating a McBite was less risky than petting a stray pit bull, among other things.

The complaints started a few days after the radio ad was launched. It triggered a Facebook protest page that received more than 8,000 likes.

McDonald’s apologized for the ad and promised “to do a better job next time,” according to an Associated Press report citing the fast food chain’s spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling. “The ad was insensitive in its mention of pit bulls,” Yingling said. “It’s never our intent to offend anyone with how we communicate news about McDonald’s.”

It seems not a week goes by without a news report of an attack by a pit bull or an owner facing charges because of one. Pit bull owners, however, argue the dogs are no more violent than other breeds.

One complainant told the AP the McDonald’s ad was a …

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Hmmmm … bacon milkshake!!!

Love bacon?

Really, really love bacon?

Then this might be the drink for you.

That’s drink.

Jack in the Box, the sometimes out-there burger chain, has come up with a belly-buster idea to cap it’s “Marry Bacon” advertising campaign.

It’s offering a bacon milkshake.

Kind of sidesteps the old bacon burger and a shake idea, doesn’t it?

If you’d even consider consuming a bacon shake, you’re probably not going to worry too much about the nutritional aspect. Still, your  cardiologist would want you to know: the 16-ounce shake has 773 calories and 40 grams of fat. The 24-ouncer (hey, why downsize?) weighs in at 1,081 calories and 54 grams of fat.

Huffington Post quotes a Jack in the Box spokesperson saying, “The shake is not listed on our menus in the restaurants, so it’s more of a ’secret item’ that people can order. Each restaurant is getting a very limited quantity, so we don’t know how long they will last.”

The same might be said for those who drink one of these.

By the way, if you …

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Coca-Cola ranked 9th in brand capital; Apple tops

Coca-Cola is the only Atlanta-headquartered company to make the 2011 Davis Brand Capital 25 ranking which “provides an indication of the strength and effectiveness of an entire business.”

The annual ranking measures brand value, competitive performance, innovation strength, company culture and social impact.

It is put out by Davis Brand Capital, an Atlanta firm that specializes in the valuation of intangible assets for its clients.

“Brand now functions as the primary container of intangible value,” said Patrick T. Davis, the company’s CEO. “Factors once viewed only internally by company management such as company culture and innovation strength  are now broadcast to customers regularly through brand.”

Apple ranked No. 1 on the list, followed by IBM, Microsoft, Google and Hewlett-Packard.

Coca-Cola moved up five spots from last year.

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Super Bowl safety bet wins man 50K

Talk about a risky investment that paid off.

You know how you can bet on just about anything in the Super Bowl, not just the final score?

One man took advantage of the possibilities and earned $50,000 for it.

According to Shutdown Corner, Jona Rechnitz laid down $1,000 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, wagering that the first score in Sunday’s game would be a safety by the Giants.

The odds on the wager were 50:1 although, as anyone who follows football knows, the real chances of a safety being the first score in any game are much, much smaller than that.

So, Rechnitz’ move, which must have seemed like a neat way to blow a grand, suddenly turned into genius when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was penalized for intentional grounding in his own end zone.

The play was ruled a safety for the Giants, giving them two points _ and giving Rechnitz 50 big ones.

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Madonna’s pay for Super Bowl show? Nothing!

If you caught Madonna’s song and dance act during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl spectacular, you probably figured the Material Girl was getting paid big bucks for her relatively brief time on stage.

Surprise: She actually got paid nothing, according to Forbes.

And that’s not unusual.

Getting a chance to display your talents and everything else in front of so many viewers on TV and at the stadium is considered such a potential career boost that performers are willing to do it for free.

Entertainers with something new to sell _ a current album, a movie, a concert tour _ are more than eager to give it away in return for all that publicity.

And in Madonna’s case, she’s got a lot to sell these days. Her album, MDNA, is due for release in March. Her  film W.E., which she produced and directed, opens this week. Also, a tour is upcoming.

Running the numbers, Madonna’s 12 minutes of stage time have a value that can be calculated at $84 million _ $3.5 million for each 30 seconds, the …

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