had my first

new Harry Potter book sighting in the wild this morning. At 8am. Being carried (prominently) by an unpleasant-looking 40-something woman. Without children. Coming out of Macrena.

Her bookmark was a good 200+ pages in.

Microsoft Expands in Canada Amid U.S. Visa Crunch

Microsoft Expands in Canada Amid U.S. Visa Crunch

Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it will open a software development center in Vancouver, giving it a place to employ skilled workers snagged by U.S. immigration quotas.

It may signal the start of a new hiring trend, with other U.S. high-tech firms following in Microsofts footsteps to Canada, where lawyers say it is easier for foreign nationals to obtain work credentials.

This is a smart move for the company on one hand. Since the beginning, MS has concentrated development in Redmond, continuously expanding as the company grew until it owns so much of the town that there is serious concern that there are not enough actual residents there. Satellite offices at MS might as well not exist at all as far as most of the Redmondites are concerned. Moving Research and Mobile to the other side of the 520 sent a pretty strong signal about their relative importance. Those folks might as well be on mars. Now imagine what it will be like in Vancouver. It is time for this company that has tens of thousands of workers to spread out a bit. I would imagine that they are also losing applicants because of the high cost of living in the Seattle area as well.

However, the one thing that MS is forgetting to state in all of this is that by opening offices in Canada, they are saving money. They could get all the qualified applicants they could ever want if they would pay them well relative to the rest of the industry. Since MS isn’t willing to be competitive with salaries, they have become dependent on the modern day equivalent of indentured workers, H1-B visa holders. Now that congress has been (wisely) closing that loophole, MS is taking their ball and going home. That will show those employees wanting more than a %2 raise from the most profitable software company in existence!

Second Life: on the decline

Virtual marketers have second thoughts about Second Life – Los Angeles Times

At http://www.secondlife.com — where the cost is $6 a month for premium citizenship — shopping, at least for real-world products, isn’t a main activity. Four years after Second Life debuted, some marketers are second-guessing the money and time they’ve put into it.

“There’s not a compelling reason to stay,” said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that is closing its Second Life shop and donating its virtual land to the nonprofit social-networking group TakingITGlobal.

For some advertisers, the problem is that Second Life is a fantasyland, and the representations of the people who play in it don’t have human needs. Food and drink aren’t necessary, teleporting is the easiest way to get around and clothing is optional. In fact, the human form itself is optional.

Their interests seem to tend toward the risque. Ian Schafer, chief executive of online marketing firm Deep Focus, which advises clients about entering virtual worlds, said he recently toured Second Life. He started at the Aloft hotel and found it empty. He moved on to casinos, brothels and strip clubs, and they were packed. Schafer said he found in his research that “one of the most frequently purchased items in Second Life is genitalia.”

Another problem for some is that Second Life doesn’t have enough active residents.

On its website, Second Life says the number of total residents is more than 8 million. But that counts people who signed in once and never returned, as well as multiple avatars for individual residents. Even at peak times, only about 30,000 to 40,000 users are logged on, said Brian Haven, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Others just want to access a larger community than Second Life offers. Between May and June, the population of active avatars declined 2.5%, and the volume of U.S. money exchanged within the world fell from a high of $7.3 million in March to $6.8 million in June.

duh

Apple: No BS iPhone Review – Gizmodo

Apple: No BS iPhone Review – Gizmodo
Gizmodo iPhone review

I think I’ve been a fairly restrained geek for pretty much ignoring it on my blog before now. No, I don’t own one. No, I don’t plan on buying one… yet. Like the gizmodo writer, there are some fundamental things missing for me: MMS being something I use a lot on a phone that cost me 1/4 the price of the iPhone, video capture being a second. The iPhone is missing both low-end obvious features that I use a lot, and also high-end features that I want in a phone that is so expensive. So, I’ll wait.

hollywood reaches a new low

Ok, Hollywood makes movies from books. Hollywood makes movies from musicals. Hollywood has made movies from musicals from movies (The Producers, Hairspray). But now, Hollywood is making movies from musicals from movies from books (Phantom of the Opera). I can’t wait to see the movie from the musical from the movie from the musical from the movie from the book.

more Apple developer badness

Apple distributed a different build of 10.4.10 to those using MacBook Pros to fix a problem with the audio, which in itself is all good. No one wants to have crummy audio on their laptops.

One MAJOR glitch though, since this means that my MBP has essentially a different version of the OS than the desktop machines. Therefore, when I try to build using Rendezvous in X-Code, no machines match my configuration. Therefore, the slowest building machines will build even slower than before.

Sheer freaking genius. Thanks Apple, you’ve now made my builds take about 20 times longer than before. Do you think we’ll see a fix before 10.5? I don’t.

Much of US favors Bush impeachment: poll – Yahoo! News

Much of US favors Bush impeachment: poll – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Nearly half of the US public wants President George W. Bush to face impeachment, and even more favor that fate for Vice President Dick Cheney, according to a poll out Friday.

The survey by the American Research Group found that 45 percent support the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Bush, with 46 percent opposed, and a 54-40 split in favor when it comes to Cheney.

Seattle housing market tips onto the downward slope

Scales tip in favor of home buyers – Seattle Times

Economists’ predictions have come true. Like most of the rest of the nation, the greater Seattle-area housing market has slowed to the point where buyers have an edge.

Of course, you can’t dampen the outlook of the real estate professionals:

But the fundamentals behind Seattle’s market — particularly its strong job growth and dearth of new housing — mean “our area is going to thrive and grow,” Lones predicted.

“If it’s going to be any kind of a slowdown, I think it’s going to be false slow,” she said. “We’re in a very desirable place to live.”

San Francisco is also a very desirable place to live, but it hasn’t become a city of 20 million people because of the cost of living. Palm Springs doesn’t have 10 million folks. The job growth and desirability of a place cannot erase the problems of a real estate market out-of-whack with financial reality.

Reader Feedback | Seattle Times Newspaper

Reader Feedback | Seattle Times Newspaper

Q:
I am moving from Miami to Seattle. Luckily I sold my house in Miami Beach last year. I plan to rent in Seattle since I believe that this market is behind other metro areas by 9-12 months before prices begin to drop in Seattle. Do you think prices will drop returning to more affordable ratios income vs median house prices? Please do not tell me about the great job market. Places like Boston are just as strong in the tech sector and they have seen prices fall 10% YOY. Thank you.
Mon, May 21, 2007 3:23 pm
andy

seattle
A:
We have not seen such drastic decline in values 8 percent in Miami alone for a number of reasons. The biggest of which is that we did not see such rampant speculation by investors/”flippers” boosting prices to extreme levels. Areas that did not increase as much are not likely to decline as much if at all.
Matthew Gardner
Tue, May 22, 2007 12:40 pm

Wow, Matthew Gardner is smoking crack! I don’t know what market he’s looking at, but in my searches for property, at least 50% of properties for sale over the median King Country price were owned for less than two years and had their prices increased 50%-100% which is the mark of the flipper property.