Archive for January, 2009

Charter Communications: more layoffs

January 31, 2009

49 Charter Cable workers staffing the Bay City Michigan welcome center will be out of jobs next month.  The company is trying to find other positions for them but given the tenuous state of the company; the likelihood of  iminent bankruptcy, a position at a different company might be more secure.


Social media Saturday: LinkedIn as hub

January 31, 2009

One of the challenges for me with social media is diffusion; having lots of different kinds of things out there about myself on lots of different sites and not keeping them current or useful.  I haven’t solved that problem but I do use my Linkedin site as my basic hub for my various activities. 

What is a social network hub?

For me, its my most popular and inclusive profile, the place from which people can check out who I know, my website, my blog, groups I’m interested in and my professional background.  It could be a website or blog but I like Linkedin because its more objective than my own content.  While people can link on tenuous connections, that isn’t very useful, it doesn’t tell the world the kinds of people you know and all they see is that you have a zillion connections.  In a sense, that could get you dismissed as readily as someone who has too few connections.

How can I maximize the value of Linkedin as a hub?

The first thing is to make sure that you are re-enforcing your basic message through the various Linkedin features.  For me, I want people to see a professional face, to realize I have a good breadth of business and legal contacts, that I have expertise, that I am connected to groups that re-enforce that message and to see that I am blogging about what I know about in a compelling way. 

There are many aspects to LinkedIn besides serving as a hub and I’d love to read any comments on how you are using it.

Top 2008 verdict: inventor gets $388 million

January 31, 2009

Gilbert Hyatt won a microprocessor patent in 1990 while a California resident.  In 1991, Gilbert moved to Nevada at the time his patent was paying off and he was receiving millions in licensing fees.  It seems the California tax assessor didn’t believe he had really moved to Nevada and hounded Mr. Hyatt for years, claiming he owed them taxes from 1991 and 1992.  They went so far as search through his trash while he was living in Nevada and disclosing information to third parties.  They attempted to claim that his visits to his physicians in California meant he was still a California resident even though these were long-standing relationships that he was willing to travel for to continue.  This suit went through many permutations and California refused to release documents to Mr. Hyatt that would have helped his case.  Here is the breakdown of the award.

*$138.1 million compensatory damages

*$52 million invasion of privacy damages

*1.1 million in attorney fees and costs.

Eight days later the jury voted 7 to 1 to tack on $250 million in punitive damages because they found that the tax agency had acted with oppression, fraud or malice.

Couple thoughts: It will be years before Mr. Hyatt sees any of this money and the courts will probably reduce the total considerably.  Second, the state did a bad job trying to get money for public purposes.  There wasn’t a private motive for the tax agency’s action.  So a public court rules that a public agency has to fork over $388  of public money to a presumably wealthy private citizen?  This whole thing is screwy.

Link to 2008 top jury verdicts

Three more failed banks

January 31, 2009

Oscala National Bank, Oscala Florida

Suburban Federal Savings Bank, Crofton MD

MagnetBank, Salt Lake City UT


January 31, 2009

Super Ads Will Add to Super Sunday Fun

 “This is a fun industry. It makes fun, refreshing products. It enhances fun times (like watching the Super Bowl). And it makes some downright fun – and often funny – commercials.”

Entire blog entry courtesy Sip & Savour, the “blog” of the American Beverage Association.

Spa products recalled: jars explode

January 31, 2009

JAKKS Pacific of Malibu, CA have been selling these “spa” packages to teenage girls at places like Wal-mart and Target.  In essence, they are tiny jars with garish purple lids that have been exploding into people’s faces, causing welts, cuts, gashes and eye injuries.  They are having to recall more than 500,000 units of these products.

Here are the recalled products and the news release.

Oh, did I mention they are manufactured in China?

Model Item Number
Spa Factory™ Bath Benefits™ Kit 37836
Spa Factory™ Deluxe Spa Fantasy Aromatherapy Fountain 37908
Spa Factory™ Spa Fantasy Aromatherapy Fountain 37837
Spa Factory™ Spa Fantasy Aromatherapy Fountain 54892
Spa Factory™ Spa Fantasy Aromatherapy Fountain 54857

Foot pads cure diabetes! FTC disagrees

January 31, 2009

Kinoki Foot Pads have been marketing their product as a panacea.  Not only are they a comfy way to pad around the house.  They cure high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, arthritis and a host of other ailments.  Oh yes, they will also help you lose weight.  Sign me up!  Just one small problem.  Kinoki didn’t have any proof for these claims.   The FTC decided to file suit against them.  Meanies!

News release

Complainer gets job at Virgin

January 31, 2009

Oliver Beale was flying Virgin Airlines on Dec. 7th from Mumbai to Heathrow and he was unhappy with the food.  Big surprise there.  He took pictures of his meals and he included the photos in his letter to Sir Richard Branson along with the following creative writing exercise, “Imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat there with your final present to open,” wrote Beale. “It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans’ stereo you picked out of the catalogue and wrote to Santa about. Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster, Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil.” (a bit Baby Jane-ish if you ask me)

The letter got to Sir Richard who promptly called somebody at his airline and suddenly Mr. Beale was selecting the next meals and wines served on board.  No mention about his pay or whether this is a permanent or temporary position.


Layoffs update: Jan 30

January 31, 2009

NEC plans to cut 20,000 jobs

First Cardinal lays off 57 workers

Philip Morris begins Concord layoffs

Supervalu cuts 90 positions

Ocean Bank to lay off 127

CommScope lays off 230

Codman Neurovascular to lay off 159

Schwab whacking up to 600 jobs

A.H. Belo to cut 500 jobs

Eddie Bauer cuts 70 jobs in Groveport

Finch Paper cuts 43 jobs

Bon-Ton to cut 1,150 jobs

Pep Boys cutting 50 jobs, could cut 401(k) matches

Virgin Air sues Adrants over Hudson crash parody

January 30, 2009 published a fake ad of the plane floating in the Hudson with the tagline, “The Hudson Crash: One more reason to fly Virgin.”  Virgin Air did not take kindly to this parody.  The complaint’s listing of facts reads like a Dragnet episode. “Virgin America employees learned of this advertisement at 11:23pm on January 17, 2009.”  By 8:30 the next morning they had written Adrants to get the the ad taken down and by 11:18am PST, their lawyers had sent them a detailed email demanding the parody or “advertisement” be taken down.  It took another day for Adrants to remove the ad from its site and obviously that wasn’t good enough for Virgin because they filed this trademark complaint in Federal Court for the Northern District of California.  Virgin reveals their extreme sensitivity to the national mood with this sentence in the complaint.

Virgin America like the rest of the country cannot compliment Captain Sullenberger, his crew US Airways enough for their heroic actions.”