Business CELEB HOUNDS_Entertainment NONE TECH

What’s in a name? Microsoft considered Internet Explorer name change

What’s in a name? For Microsoft, enough to consider changing the Internet Explorer name. Internet Explorer development team members revealed renaming the popular Internet browser had been discussed internally, to distance the new version from negative perceptions about earlier versions of the browser.  The information was revealed in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” feature, reports Tech Times.

“It’s been suggested internally; I remember a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it,” wrote Jonathan Sampson of the Internet Explorer development team. “Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today.”

Differentiating the newer versions of Internet Explorer from their slow and unsafe predecessors is a Microsoft priority.

The latest versions of Internet browsers offer better stability, higher performance and wider support, said Microsoft. It might take a while for users to forget about the bad reputation of Internet Explorer, as many people continue to use older versions.

In the Reddit feature, the IE development team also admitted lagging behind Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome regarding browser extensions, but they are looking to improve in that area.

The Metro version of Internet Explorer for the Windows 8 operating system does not support extensions. The team is making sure that extensions will not compromise Windows 8 computer and user security.

Internet Explorer is the most used desktop Internet browser, holding 58.01 percent of the market, according to data from Net Applications. The most popular version is Internet Explorer 8, at 21.56 percent.

Internet Explorer 8 was the browser that came with the Windows 7 operating system. Now that Internet Explorer 11 has been released, a problem could arise if users refuse to upgrade their browser version.

Mac users should not hold their breath–a Mac version of Internet Explorer should not be expected any time soon.

Business NONE TECH_Technology

Despite mixed economic figures stock investors remain positive

As an escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine made headlines once again late last week, Reuters reported on Aug. 17 that the S&P 500 ended last week down only a mere fraction of a point. Wall Street reported that stock activity was moving ahead – not backwards – as the three major U.S. stock indexes posted a second straight week of gains after a correction that evaporated following a brief drop of 4 percent.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields hit their lowest in 14 months on Aug. 15 after Ukraine said its forces had attacked and partly destroyed a Russian armored column that entered Ukrainian territory overnight. Against that backdrop, U.S. stocks – backed by earnings – still look like the best option for investors in developed markets, according to market analysts.

“If you’re concerned about increased tension in Ukraine, that’s the trade – at least for now,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York. “We are the cleanest shirt in the hamper,” he said of the U.S. stock market.

According to Reuters, during the selloff on Aug. 15, the utilities sector remained strong, rivaled only by energy stocks, with investors focusing on high-dividend payers as U.S. Treasury bond yields fell. The Nasdaq Biotech Index ended Friday up 0.9 percent, gaining 4.6 percent for the week.

Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist at Rosenblatt Securities in New York, believes tech, healthcare and large-cap biotechs are in position to lead the U.S. stock market higher for the next several weeks. At a 4.6 percent rate, revenue growth for S&P 500 companies is expected to be higher than estimates going back to October of 2013 even as economic figures remain somewhat mixed.

“If Russia does not escalate, stocks are likely to open above the 1,960 they were at earlier today as people who put on knee-jerk shorts cover,” he wrote late on Aug. 15.

The bottom line is that investors are still positive about overall U.S. demand.



Business NONE TECH_Technology

Investors snapping up high-dividend yielding stocks

With 10-year U.S Treasury note yields on the decline, investors are snapping up high dividend-paying U.S. stocks, according to a Aug. 8 Reuters news report.

The S&P 500 utility sector, whose dividend yield at 3.9 percent is more than 100 basis points above the 10-year Treasury yield, led the S&P 500’s advance on Aug. 8 after concern about the launch of U.S. air strikes on Iraq drove the benchmark bond yield to 14-month lows. The utility sector is up 8.8 percent since Dec. 31, the third best-performing sector for the year, following technology and health care.

“The U.S. 10-year is an attractive yield given the backdrop of very weak yields around the world. Therefore, that does make the dividend-paying sectors increasingly attractive, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, based in Newark, New Jersey. “That’s been the footprint for this market.”

The S&P telecommunications index has an even higher dividend yield than utilities, at 4.7 percent, though a smaller pool of stocks. The sector has been weak this year because of a lackluster performance by its biggest names, AT&T and Verizon.

Reuters reported that telecom hasn’t been as strong – gaining just 0.8 percent in the same period – but two of that sector’s constituents, Windstream Holdings and Frontier Communications, have both gained roughly 40 percent. Windstream Holdings has a dividend yield of 9 percent, the highest in the S&P 500, while Frontier Communications is third highest, with a yield of 6.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Those compare with the S&P 500’s dividend yield of 2.4 percent. These companies have gained 40 percent and 37 percent this year, respectively.

“Where yield lies is where investors are continuing to go because there continues to be no alternative from other income-producing securities,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, Pa.

Also, benefiting from the drop in bond yields are exchange-traded funds tied to dividend payers, including the Powershares Dividend Achiever exchange-traded fund, which rose 1.3 percent on Aug. 8 and is up 3.2 percent for the year.



Business CELEB HOUNDS_Entertainment NONE

Hundreds of authors unite for petition against Amazon-publisher dispute

The latest move in a nasty ebook standoff is between Amazon and the country’s fourth-largest publishing company actually doesn’t involve either: Authors are getting involved.

Amazon claims that ebook prices are at the root of the problem: it wants to lower them, and Hachette does not. In response to that decision, Amazon has blocked the sales of books published by company.

Hachette-published author Douglass Preston penned a full-page petition in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. He calls out the company for holding their livelihood hostage, and customers are suffering in the process. In his piece, Preston says, “We feel betrayed because we helped Amazon become one of the largest corporations in the world. We supported it from the beginning, we contributed free blogs, reviews and all kinds of stuff that Amazon asked us to do for nothing

More than 900 authors have cosigned, putting together $104,000 to publish the ad. Some of the writers included Stephen King, and Hachette-published author J.K. Rowling. Preston says that more authors wholeheartedly supported the letter but were afraid to sign; others signed it and backed out.

On Friday night, Amazon launched The website is solely dedicated to the contract dispute. The online company gives their side, and urges customers to contact the publisher’s CEO to help put an end to it. A number of reports have shown that the dispute has had little effect on readers and whether they choose to buy their books from Amazon.

Neither Amazon nor the publisher have given any sign of giving up their stance. In its latest response to the dispute, Amazon said that, “we will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices.”

Business NONE

Coca-Cola, Pepsi respond to Proposition 65

Coke and Pepsi announced Friday that they plan on asking their manufactures to make changes to their manufacturing processes in order to reduce the amount of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) in the caramel color. Reuters reports that in January, 4-MI was added to the list of chemicals that are addressed in California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement of 1986.

According to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Proposition 65 states that, “No person in the course of doing business shall knowingly and intentionally expose any individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity without first giving clear and reasonable warning to such individual.”

In a statement, obtained by Reuters, PepsiCo spokeswoman Gina Anderson said, “Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns.”

The Coca-Cola Company released the following statement about efforts to reduce the amount of 4-MEI in the caramel:

Extensive media coverage has been devoted in the past few days to some misconceptions about caramel and The Coca-Cola Company’s beverages.  We want to set the record straight, and be absolutely clear:

The caramel color in all of our products has been, is and always will be safe, and The Coca-Cola Company is not changing the world-famous formula for our Coca-Cola beverages. Over the years, we have updated our manufacturing processes from time to time, but never altered our Secret Formula.

We have asked our caramel manufacturers to modify their production process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI in the caramel, but that will have no effect on the formula or on the great-tasting, high-quality products that consumers expect from us. These modifications will not affect the color or taste of Coca-Cola.  

Our commitment to the highest quality and safety of our great brands remains our top priority. And we will continue to rely on sound, evidence-based science to ensure that our products are safe.