Archive for June, 2012

Zoo Atlanta CEO: ‘I’m thankful for my cancer’

Sometimes, the push to make a meaningful change in life comes from an enemy. In Raymond King’s case, the enemy was cancer, which drove him to a new career.

Raymond King

Raymond King

King, 46, spent 22 years working for SunTrust before switching jobs, he said, “from the circus of banking to the zoo.” He became CEO of Zoo Atlanta two years ago, overseeing dramatic changes there, as well as in his own life. He discusses both issues, as well as the zoo’s firmer financial footing.

Q: Would you please talk about your Atlanta roots?

A: I’m one of the few people who’ve never lived anywhere else. I went to Christ the King, St. Pius and Georgia Tech. I joined SunTrust straight out of college. Up until two years ago, I used to tell people that I was the only person I knew who had never lived anywhere but Atlanta and never worked anywhere but one company.

I’m an SOB — son of a banker. My father went to Georgia Tech, as well. When I went to Tech, I studied business. And then I went …

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Gas prices below $3 in metro Atlanta

022112gasprices CC4

(Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Drivers in Stone Mountain, Snellville and Suwanee might be doing double takes on Friday with the official arrival of gas prices under $3 a gallon.

It was just a week ago that experts who follow fuel price trends predicted the average price of gas would fall below $3 by Halloween, but the barrier had already been broken in some areas outside of metro Atlanta.

That’s no longer the case.

At some Kroger, Murphy USA, QuikTrip, Shell and Raceway stations in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, the price for regular unleaded gas was between $2.95 and $2.99 a gallon Friday, according to the latest updates on atlantagasprices.com.

In Stone Mountain in DeKalb, a Kroger on Rockbridge Road at Old Tucker Road and a Murphy USA station on Rockbridge Road near Pounds Road were selling regular unleaded for $2.95.

In Gwinnett, a QuikTrip in Snellville at US-78 E and Rockdale Circle and a Murphy USA in Suwanee on Satellite Boulevard NE near Lawrenceville …

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Hindu follower blasts new video game by Hi-Rez

(Hi-Rez Studios)

(Hi-Rez Studios)

(Updated 11:16 a.m.)

A Nevada-based Hindu devotee has launched a personal crusade against an Alpharetta online video game developer over its newest battleground offering, which the follower says insults Hindu deities and their millions of followers.

Rajan Zed, who identifies himself as president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said Hi-Rez Studios’ new game SMITE trivializes his religion by putting players with “joysticks, buttons, keyboards and mouses” in control of “mythical” Hindu gods and goddesses.

In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chief Operating Officer Todd Harris on Thursday defended the inclusion of the deities in Hi-Rez’ newest game. He said the company hasn’t spoken to Zed about his concerns, nor has Zed reached out to the company.

“SMITE includes deities inspired from a diverse and ever expanding set of pantheons, including Greek, Chinese, Egyptian, and Norse. Hinduism, being one of the world’s oldest, …

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17 Georgia companies among top-grossing black businesses

Seventeen Georgia companies rank among the nation’s top-grossing black-owned businesses, according to Black Enterprise magazine’s annual report.

A total of 230 companies nationwide made the list, broken into seven categories.

Georgia’s representatives, in order:

No. 16: H.J. Russell Co., Atlanta, $270 million in revenue.

No. 19: The Gourmet Cos., Atlanta, $205 million.

No. 46: C.D. Moody Construction Co., Lithonia, $76 million.

No. 59: Carter Brothers, Atlanta, $55 million.

No. 63: Jackmont Hospitality, Atlanta, $50 million.

No. 67: B & S Electric Supply Co., Atlanta, $42 million.

No. 90: TME Enterprises 1, Smyrna, $25 million.

Auto dealers are listed separately, and five Georgia businesses in this category also made the list:

No. 5: Wade Ford, Smyrna, $264 million.

No. 11: The Baran Co., Atlanta, $121 million.

No. 16: Legacy Automotive Group, McDonough, $92 million.

No. 28: Malcolm Cunningham Ford Lincoln, Atlanta, $58 million.

No. 34: Jackson Acura, Roswell, $48 million.

One …

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Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet targets Kindle Fire

Will Amazon’s Kindle Fire feel the heat of Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet, due out mid-July?

Google, in its first venture into the highly competitive world of tablets, announced Wednesday that its 7-inch screen Nexus 7, same size as the Kindle’s, will carry a price tag of $199, also same as Kindle’s.

It will run on a new version of Google’s Android operating system called “Jelly Bean” and will come with a front-facing camera, which the Kindle lacks.

The Nexus 7 also features a 1280 x 800 resolution screen for displaying books and other media available on Google’s Play service. It also features voice-activated typing and audio responses to verbal Internet searches.

The Google tablet, which the search engine company developed with Asustek Computer Inc., so far can be ordered on Google Play.

Kindle has the No. 2 tablet on the market behind Apple Inc.’s iPad, which starts at $399. Microsoft also recently unveiled its new tablet, Surface, which will operate off …

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Report: Morale taking a hit at CNN

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

“What’s wrong at CNN?”

With a Politico.com headline like that, you know what’s coming next isn’t all that complimentary.

In fact, the political website, citing folks inside the Atlanta-based “founder of the cable news genre” and pointing to declining ratings, says there is a big fear that CNN has pretty much lost its way as viewers opt for more partisan programming on Fox News and MSNBC.

In this highly charged election year, those rivals want nothing to do with CNN’s straight and narrow nonpartisan approach to newsgathering and delivery, and their growing audience shares at CNN’s expense suggest their partisan and personality driven strategies are working.

To both CNN insiders and outside observers, according to Politico’s three-page report, the network that Ted Turner started in 1980 is now delivering lackluster and stale primetime programming, which reflects the lack of “a cohesive editorial strategy.” The network is seeing its …

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Orbitz says Mac users not steered to pricier hotels

So.

Does Orbitz really steer Mac users to higher-priced hotels than it does PC users via its search results?

After an article in The Wall Street Journal raised the issue, triggering a tempest in the online travel universe, the site responded to the blowback.

“Not the case,”  Barney Harford, the Obitz CEO, told USA Today.

The type of computer you use doesn’t determine which type of hotels you’re offered, he said.

It is true, he acknowledged, that Mac customers are 40 percent more likely than PC users  to book swank four-star and five-star digs. And they do spend $20 more a night on a room.

But Orbitz says such data is actually used only to personalize a list of recommendations it offers as a customer option.

Research, by the way, shows that Mac users do earn more and spend more.

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Are you ticked off at Facebook over email change?

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

(Updated 2:33 p.m.)

This just in: CNN, CNET and other media outlets are reporting that Facebook also has pulled its controversial “Find Friends Nearby” feature that let users get a digital list of other nearby users.

Previous post:

Are you more than a little peeved that Facebook has given you a new default email address?

The address comes with an @facebook.com extension and replaces the email address you originally chose if you wanted friends to send you messages directly to outside accounts like Gmail or Yahoo.

Now when someone sends you a message, the email will be pooled in the “Messages” section of Facebook, unless you go into your profile and restore your original email as the default, according to the AP.

Facebook told CNN the change has been rolling out for several weeks and eventually all of its 900 million users will have the new addresses.

“We basically defaulted to show your Facebook address as we rolled this out, just to keep it …

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DirectTV cuts back on 3D programming

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Despite more 3D television sets being sold, the availability of programming may not be keeping pace with the sets’ growth in popularity.

DirectTV is the latest to cut back on the hours it is airing three-dimensional  programs due to lack of content, according to an Associated Press report.

The channel, n3D, still offers movies, sporting events, concerts and documentaries, but some of the programming is no longer 24 hours a day as of June 1. The channel regularly repeats some shows to fill the void. Now viewers will see the n3D logo when there isn’t a show.

AT&T’s U-verse cut its 3-D lineup last fall, citing lower customer demand.

DirectTV launched its 24-hour channel two years ago. According to Multichannel.com, DirectTV continues to offer 3D movies on its pay-per-view DirecTV Cinema service. Multichannel also said DirectTV still carries the 24-hour ESPN 3D and 3net, from Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX will provide 3D coverage of the …

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Hilton Head, Charleston offer beach town foreclosure deals

If you’re taking a beach vacation this summer, it might be hard not to wonder (as the waves lap at your toes): “Couldn’t we just buy a place down here?”

Think of all the money you’d save on rent each year.

Think of all the money you’d make renting it out to other vacationers.

Think of the bargains!

The latter point may actually have some merit. (The first two you could debate).

There are some deals out there, according to Foreclosure News Report which, using data from RealtyTrac, lists the top 10 “Best Beach Towns for Foreclosure Bargains.”

Two towns on the list are in Atlanta’s backyard: Charleston and Hilton Head Island, which came in No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.

In the first three months of this year, there were 520 foreclosure-related sales in Charleston, 20 percent of all real estate sales. The average sales price of one of those foreclosure-related properties: $159,065. That represents a 34-percent discount from the non-foreclosure sales price.

On Hilton Head, 159 …

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