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Brier Dudley's Blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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August 28, 2008 3:00 PM

The $30 million video game, and more from Seattle gaming bigwigs

Posted by Brier Dudley

Here are a few morsels from today's Enterprise Seattle luncheon on "Trends, Innovations and the Impact of Today's Economy on the Video Game Industry."

Asked how much it costs to develop titles, Sony Online Entertainment's Matt Wilson threw out a number that drew a respectful silence from the room:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 28, 2008 6:00 AM

New Web site to promote Washington video-game industry

Posted by Brier Dudley

Enterprise Seattle is launching a Web site today to promote the region's booming video game industry.

The site, washingtoninteractivenetwork.org, is primarily an economic development tool intended to help attract companies and talent. But it also includes tools for those already here, including a calendar of industry events.

It's an extension of Enterprise Seattle's research last year into the games business, which found 150 companies in the region that created 15,000 jobs and generated $5 billion in sales.

The economic development group's going to announce the site today during a luncheon where executives from local game companies, including Microsoft and Sony, will discuss the state of the industry.

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August 27, 2008 3:09 PM

Microsoft's new browser: Forget "porn mode," the cookie stuff is what's hot

Posted by Brier Dudley

For some reason, tech journalists and bloggers love it when there's a chance to use the word "porn" in their stories.

Maybe they're hoping to lure more search engine traffic, or just revealing something about how they use computers.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 26, 2008 1:04 PM

First look at T-Mobile's Google G1 phone?

Posted by Brier Dudley

The Android Guys blog has an image and specs providing the most details yet (if correct ...) on the long-awaited GPhone that T-Mobile will begin selling by year-end.

Of course it's an HTC handset powered by Android operating system initiated by Google.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 26, 2008 12:31 PM

Cashback payola: Microsoft top display advertiser in June

Posted by Brier Dudley

Comscore just reported that Microsoft was the top online display advertiser in June. I wonder how long the company can spend its way to the top of the charts.

Comscore said the company's 5.5 billion display ad views in June were "due in large part to its promotional campaign for Windows Live Search, including ads for Windows Live Search Club games and the new Windows Live Search cashback program."

Cashback has already given Microsoft's search traffic a boost since it debuted in May.

June's display ad views put Microsoft ahead of University of Phoenix, with 4.7 billion ads viewed, and Experian, with 4 billion views for sites such as LowerMybills.com and FreeCreditReport.com.

Another local took fourth place - Classmates.com, whose parent company had 3.9 million ad views.

Among display ad publishers, Fox Interactive was the biggest property in June with 52.3 billion ad views served (mostly on MySpace) or 15.9 percent market share, Comscore reported. Yahoo's network was second with 10.5 percent share, followed by AOL's 5.8 percent, Microsoft's 4.7 percent and Google's 1.5 percent share.

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August 25, 2008 11:54 AM

Report: Microsoft shopping Avenue A to WPP, more to the deal?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft and global ad giant WPP have been talking for six months about a deal that could sell Microsoft's Seattle-based ad agency Avenue A/Razorfish to WPP, according to a report in Ad Age.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 25, 2008 10:35 AM

"Internet cowboys" go big with survey startup, eye crowdsourcing

Posted by Brier Dudley

An anecdote that didn't make it into today's column on Survey Analytics:

Chief Executive Vivek Bhaskaran said the company drew buyout interest back in 2005, just as it was getting its stride, from Bellevue market research giant GMI. Bhaskaran and co-founder Kevin Battey bought suits for an all-day presentation to GMI's board.

There was some cultural dissonance. The average age of the board seemed to be at least 55 and one of them referred to the visitors as "a couple Internet cowboys," Bhaskaran recalled.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 21, 2008 1:00 AM

Finally, the Wii gets a "real" racing wheel

Posted by Brier Dudley

Logitech today is announcing a cool new racing wheel for the Wii, but so far there's only one game lined up to work with the $100 gadget going on sale in November.

This isn't just a tiny wheel that you attach to the Wiimote, such as the one that Nintendo developed for "Mario Kart Wii."

Logitech's Speed Force Wireless Wheel is an entirely new controller for the Wii that's licensed by Nintendo. It works wirelessly, using a transmitter that plugs into the console and stows in the wheel when not in use.

It also looks nearly identical to a PlayStation 3 wheel that Logitech announced in July, but it's white instead of black like the PS3 model.

But so far the Wii wheel will only work with "Need for Speed Undercover," a game being developed by Electronic Arts' Black Box, based in Vancouver, B.C., that's also being released in November.

The wheel won't work with "Mario Kart," for instance, and it's up to game developers to decide whether their future titles use the controller.

LogitechSpeedForceWrlsWii_Angle.jpg

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August 20, 2008 3:13 PM

Microsoft keyboards get "cruise control"

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft's hardware group today released two peripherals aimed at PC gamers -- a SideWinder-brand mouse and keyboard.

The keyboard has a new key that Microsoft's calling "cruise control," which sounds perfect for a lazy afternoon at the office.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 20, 2008 3:10 PM

A parade of Atom-based handheld computers

Posted by Brier Dudley

If you're curious about the handheld computers or mobile internet devices powered by Intel's Atom processors, chck out Gearlog's gallery of new Linux and Vista devices shown at the Intel Developer Forum.

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August 20, 2008 2:19 PM

Inc. mag: 15 state companies in fast 5000 list

Posted by Brier Dudley

Today's forecast includes a blizzard of press releases: Inc. magazine just released its list of the fastest-growing 5000 private companies in America.

Ranking on the list are 116 companies in Washington, 17 in Idaho and 83 in Oregon.

Washington's highest ranking company is 48th place Revel Consulting, a Bellevue software consultancy that saw 3,064 percent growth, to sales of $9.5 million last year.

Also in the top 100 is No. 62 SaltWorks, a Woodinville company that sells gourmet and bath salts wholesale, to retailers and direct to consumers. It ranked with 2630 percent growth, to $5.7 million.

Washington and Idaho were skunked in the magazine's list of the top 100 companies ranked by gross dollars growth. But Portland's Integra Telecom placed 34th, with sales of $470.4 million, up 242 percent.

The top company overall is Senior Whole Health, a 181-person company in the Boston area that manages government-funded services to help seniors remain in their homes. Its sales grew 31,525 percent last year, to $147 million.

Here are the Washington companies that ranked in the top 500:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 20, 2008 11:57 AM

Former VC heading Seattle's QL2, priming for IPO or sale?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Former venture capitalist Russ Aldrich is the new chief executive at QL2, the Seattle Web market intelligence company announced today.

We'll see if he lasts longer than the previous boss, Glenn Hasen, who left after about eight months.

Hasen was preparing QL2 to seek outside funding to boost its growth, but he said that ended in a disagreement with founder Kelvin Chin about the company's direction.

Aldrich said it's going to be different this time ...

Continue reading this post ...


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August 15, 2008 10:19 AM

Seattle lawyer's fight with SPU over Google tracks self-defeating

Posted by Brier Dudley

We're running an interesting story today about a Seattle lawyer fighting Seattle Pacific University over an old story in its student newspaper.

Shakespear Feyissa wants the story purged from the Falcon's online archives, but the paper's editors refuse. School administrators are willing to delete the archive, which is surprising for an institution guided by ancient scriptures.

But maybe Feyissa's beef shouldn't be with SPU and the Falcon, but with FindLaw instead. When you Google the guy's distinctive name, the first result is FindLaw's listing of the lawsuit he filed against the school in 2004 over his dismissal in 1998.

The actual Falcon story doesn't appear for two or three pages - basically nowhere land in Google, where only a tiny percentage of Web users will go.

If Feyissa believes he was wronged by the school for throwing him out, he should have pursued it. But by filing several lawsuits, he created public records and news coverage that won't ever go away.

The FindLaw listing is for a breach of contract suit he filed. Feyissa also complained to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights that racial discrimination was a factor in his dismissal. The school being cleared of that allegation led to the Falcon story he's trying to get purged.

Now, by raising a stink about the online newspaper archive, he's only making it worse.

On the all-important first page of Google results, a search for his name also returns things such as his LinkedIn profile, his support for Obama and his activities in the East African immigrant community.

Rising today in the search results are links to our piece, retelling the story of why he was thrown out of the school - a 1998 arrest after a student complained of attempted sexual assault, which never led to charges but put him in jail for five days.

With information at our fingertips - through Google or any other search engine - Feyissa may want to reconsider that old saying, that there's no such thing as bad press.

The silver lining is that his outrage motivated him to pursue a career helping others, as a civil rights lawyer. Better that than P.R.

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August 14, 2008 3:11 PM

Microsoft execs blogging about Windows 7

Posted by Brier Dudley

Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan just launched what promises to be a fascinating blog over the next year or so, as long as it's not overly managed by the PR crew.

"Engineering Windows 7" or E7 will be a channel for the Windows engineering bosses and team members to discuss the enormous project. It also has an evangelistic tinge, with the first entry promoting the upcoming PDC and WinHEC developer conferences.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 14, 2008 2:39 PM

Where's Bill Gates putting his money? The latest public breakdown ...

Posted by Brier Dudley

The company that manages the personal investments of Bill Gates, Cascade Investment, just disclosed his stock holdings as of June 30.

Altogether it lists $4.3 billion in stock. The largest stake is $1.6 billion in Canadia National Railway.

Not included is Gates' Microsoft stock -- he recently dipped below 800,000,000 shares after selling several big batches over the past month. Also listed separately is $36.2 million worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock that's held by the Gates Foundation.

UPDATE: A knowledgeable reader pointed out that the report won't necessarily show all of Gates' investments. He only has to disclose holdings when they cross a certain percentage of a company's total shares.

Here's the list. Remember to add three zeroes to the value of the stock:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 14, 2008 12:29 PM

GOP VP maybe dons crazy Seattle kippah

Posted by Brier Dudley

VanityKippah.com, the offbeat local startup launched last month by Shmuel Tennenhaus, is picking up steam.

The headgear made an appearance at a breakfast event in Pennsylvania with Eric Cantor, the Republican Congressman from Virginia rumored to be on McCain's short list of running mates.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 13, 2008 9:00 PM

Zillow steps up local realty ads; Craigslist 2.0 for newspapers?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Zillow's announcing a new local advertising service for real estate agents, banks and service providers.

The company's providing a self-service console for advertisers to target ads by zip code. It's already been offering them "EZ Ads" since April 2007, but today's upgrade adds tiered pricing and the ability to buy some or all of the ads targeting people searching Zillow for homes in a particular zip code.

Also being announced is a national ad program called Zillow Home Direct. (Update: I misread this in the release - Home Direct was mentioned, but was actually announced previously, in October).

"Zillow is committed to offering local professionals affordable and easy-to-use tools to get in front of our large audience of consumers interested in real estate and buying and selling homes," Zillow's vice president of ad sales, Greg Schwartz, said in the release.

Seattle's best-funded Web startup is also partnering with 282 newspapers, so they can sell ads on Zillow as well as their own products. That may give the papers a little more revenue, but doesn't it seem like a huge risk that papers will lose the community of real estate shoppers and vendors inhabiting their classified pages to flashy Web services like Zillow?

Maybe I'm too paranoid. Papers still reach far more than Zillow's 5 million monthly visitors. U.S. newspaper Web sites had 63 million monthly viewers as of December, and daily newspaper readership is 154.3 million, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

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August 13, 2008 4:17 PM

Kindle needs a light, now Amazon has one patented -- accessory time?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Amazon's Kindle shared the limelight with the iPhone this week, after an analyst on Monday doubled his forecasted sales of the e-book.

Citigroup's Mark Mahaney predicted that Amazon would sell 380,000 of the gadgets, up from his earlier expectation of 180,000, pushing Amazon stock up nearly 10 percent.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 13, 2008 12:49 PM

Microsoft finally gets kudos for spanking Google maps, in Georgia

Posted by Brier Dudley

Microsoft Live Search Maps was the only major Web mapping service to provide good details about South Ossetia, showing Google and Yahoo how it's done, according to an illustrated comparison on SearchEngineWatch..

Meanwhile, Google's trying to tamp out speculation about it's Georgia maps. They're lacking because Google doesn't have the data yet, not because of censorship or a Web attack by militant Russian hackers.

But did Live Search Maps find this drunken Australian sleeping on his parking strip? I don't think so.

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August 13, 2008 11:42 AM

BigScreenLive hires CEO with Apple pedigree

Posted by Brier Dudley

New Zealander Richard Mander is the new chief executive of BigScreenLive, a Kirkland startup producing software that adds usability features for senior computer users.

Mander's taking the place of Cayce Roy, a former Amazon.com executive who started running the company after becoming an early investor. Roy will stay on the board of directors.

Roy said he always planned to step aside if the company found an ideal successor and "this was just a really great thing for BigScreenLive."

Continue reading this post ...


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August 12, 2008 5:09 PM

A long way from Redmond: Latest on ex-MSNBC.com honcho Sorgatz

Posted by Brier Dudley

Rex Sorgatz, the former Seattle man-about-town and MSNBC.com manager, is the subject of a frothy writeup today by Gawker's Nick Denton.

Sorgatz has become an expert on microcelebrity in more ways than one. One of his projects is producing a rate-the-microceleb feature for Men's Style, according to the Gawker piece.

The entry has pictures of him frolicking in the Hamptons, while his Fimoculous blog is running a big picture of Andy Warhol.

As I said, he's a long way from Redmond.

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August 12, 2008 4:37 PM

Washington attorney general wins kudos for online safety crusade

Posted by Brier Dudley

A new report on the role of state attorneys general in protecting consumers online calls out Washington AG Rob McKenna for efforts including a series of lawsuits since 2006 against spyware outfits and fraudulent Web sites.

The report was prepared by Washington, D.C. public interest groups, the Center for American Progress and Center for Democracy & Technology.

Also mentioned alongside McKenna was former New York AG Eliot Spitzer, despite Spitzer's alleged preference for not using another type of consumer protection.

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August 12, 2008 12:46 PM

Boeing gets AT&T, but employees won't get iPhones (updated)

Posted by Brier Dudley

AT&T announced today that it won a $400 million deal to provide telecommunications services to Boeing.

Under the five-year contract, AT&T will provide wireless and network services. That includes replacing multiple networks with a "ubiquitous" IP voice and data network. AT&T will eventually provide Boeing with wide area network services, voice, audio conferencing, Internet service and wireless voice and data services.

And potentially the iPhone. (Update below: Boeing said no to the devices ...)

Continue reading this post ...


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August 11, 2008 3:33 PM

Google says it "pinpointed" cause of Gmail crash

Posted by Brier Dudley

If you've been cursing the Google for its spotty e-mail service today, relief is on the way.

A Gmail help posting a few minutes ago said engineers "have pinpointed the issue causing the 502 errors and it looks as if users should start to regain normal functioning of their account."

Some in the Silicon Valley echo chamber are sugggesting it's Twitter time but that's not a replacement for Web mail.

I wonder what the Gmail hiccups have done to Yahoo and Windows Live mail usage.

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August 11, 2008 11:21 AM

Zones buyout dissected by NYT's deal prof

Posted by Brier Dudley

The New York Times "Deal Professor" feature turned its focus to the management buyout proposed at Renton-based Zones.

An excerpt:

At first glance, the price he is offering appears to be a big premium, as it is approximately 59 percent over Zones' closing share price the day before the transaction was announced. But this price is well off Zones' 52-week high back in October of $11.60, and the share price was trading above $7.50 only a week before the announcement.

It's not the first management buyout attempt at Zones. Here's a 2005 profile of Firoz Lalji, the company's deal-pursuing chief executive.

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August 11, 2008 9:56 AM

More tips, tricks and deals for buying a laptop

Posted by Brier Dudley

After hearing from people wanting help shopping for laptops, I put together a list of 10 tips, tricks and deals.

Do you have any other tips you'd like to share?

Here are the first three from today's column, plus explanatory links and a few more tidbits based on today's news from Intel:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 8, 2008 11:43 AM

Seattle Web 2.0 startup list: Sleepy summer?

Posted by Brier Dudley

Not a lot of change at the top in this month's Startup 2.0 list maintained by Marcelo Calbucci. Zillow's still on top of the rankings.

Big movers, according to Marcelo: Frugal Mechanic moved up 84 positions, Tatango was up 77 and Smart Desktop was up 67. KeenScreen dropped 83 spots, BlogRize was down 77 and Bus Monster was down 75.

The top 20:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 6, 2008 11:59 PM

P.C. MacGoogle: The UW's Shakespearean Dilbert

Posted by Brier Dudley

It won't be the next Harry Potter, but a quirkly little technology booklet has been selling briskly at the University of Washington Book Store and a nearby coffee shop frequented by UW tech staff.

The $3 tract is in the style of an 18th century political pamphlet, yet comments on problems in a 21st century information-technology organization.

Only insiders may recognize that it's a humorous commentary on the UW IT department, where the discovery that it was $10 million in the red led to a management shakeup and 66 people being laid off in May.

"A Failure of Character, or The Ruination of a University IT Department," was written by "P.C. MacGoogle, Layoffee of this Borough."

Continue reading this post ...


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August 5, 2008 11:45 AM

Apple cobbler: Origami Mac delayed, Jobs' MobileMe rant and Gartner's iPhone concerns

Posted by Brier Dudley

No summer vacation for Apple news hounds. Today's highlights:

Continue reading this post ...


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August 5, 2008 11:19 AM

Sonos refreshes line with more power and MIMO, but no price cut

Posted by Brier Dudley

Sonos, the great wireless music system that I wrote about last year, is updating its line today with new receivers and software.

Specifically, Sonos is releasing new software and two new receiver units that use MIMO wireless technology to double their range. The new amplified model also gets a power boost, from 50 to 55 watts, and a 35 percent smaller case.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 5, 2008 10:34 AM

Microsoft distinguished engineer crosses lake for Visible Technologies

Posted by Brier Dudley

A score for Pioneer Square brand management startup Visible Technologies: The company has hired Microsoft's Bill Baker as its chief technology officer.

Baker isn't just another 'softie leaving for a startup. He's among Microsoft's 36 elite "distinguished engineers" and a honcho in its standout SQL group.

The 12-year Microsoft veteran directed the company's SQL Server Business Intelligent Unit and was general manager of Office platform business intelligence applications. Earlier he worked at Oracle/IRI Software, Softbridge Microsystems and Interactive Data Corporation.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 4, 2008 4:22 PM

Three new Mac games, from Seattle hobby startup

Posted by Brier Dudley

NPC Unlimited, a group of enthusiasts in Seattle and Bellingham, just released three new games for the Mac.

They include a shooting game called "Germ Patrol," a word-find game called "Sunday Search" and "Ninety Nine Effect," a science lab clicker that's based on a card game one of the team members played as a child.

All three are released as shareware -- an hour free, then $19 -- from the NPC site and Apple's download store.

NPC was started in 2001 by Hasan Edain, who works in medical imaging in Seattle, and Jeffrey Goetsch, a programmer and massage therapist in Bellingham.

They're open source enthusiasts as well. The games were first written in Sprite2D, a Java framework they developed and open-sourced and share via Sourceforge.

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August 4, 2008 2:21 PM

Property awards: Kirkland gets GIS kudos, Estately edges Zillow at Inman

Posted by Brier Dudley

In a low stakes David vs. Goliath competition, Seattle's Estately today won the "most innovative Web service" award at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.

Among the finalists defeated by the pipsqueak real estate startup was Zillow's Mortgage Marketplace.

Continue reading this post ...


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August 4, 2008 11:59 AM

Bellevue i-TV vendor SinglePoint adds mobile text ads

Posted by Brier Dudley

I didn't realize that interactive TV was so popular, but Bellevue's SinglePoint is seeing huge volume.

Over the past year it processed nearly 100 million "interactions," meaning instances where the service enabled consumers to interact with a TV show to participate in a poll, vote on a contestant or whatever else producers dream up.

That advertising opportunity was too great to pass up. Today the company's announcing a new system for inserting ads into the text messages that networks send to viewers, thanking them for participating and confirming their interaction.

Called SingleBrand, the company describes it as "the first mobile ad-insertion platform dedicated to retrieving and serving ads in conjunction with the scheduled inventory of popular interactive TV shows seen on Bravo, NBC Universal, MTV, FOX, The CW and others."

CEO Rich Begert said in the release that there has been high demand from the company's media partners (which includes most of the major networks) for ad-supported mobile SMS and MMS campaigns.

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August 4, 2008 10:53 AM

HP cutting in Corvallis and Vancouver, shifting to R&D

Posted by Brier Dudley

Great story in the Oregonian about cuts coming to the secretive Hewlett-Packard printing groups in Corvallis and Vancouver.

The gist: Despite saving the company a few years ago, the printer group is coming under the knife. Manufacturing is being pared back or outsourced, and the group in Corvallis, where it developed the inkjet, is looking at another 300 layoffs.

HP's selling its property in Vancouver, with plans to lease it back for a while, and leasing more space on its Corvallis campus.

I'll bet it won't close the Corvallis operation altogether because it has invested so much in exotic equipment, but another round of uncertainty must remind employees of the dark Fiorina days.

At least the company plans to continue doing advanced research in the Northwest (the story mentions that labor costs are 15 percent less in Corvallis than at the printer HQ in San Diego.)

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August 3, 2008 6:49 PM

TeachStreet expands to Portland, founder and his iPhone survive crash

Posted by Brier Dudley

TeachStreet put in late hours last week getting ready for its launch in Portland over the weekend, the education startup's first step beyond Seattle and a test of the site's ability to scale to multiple cities.

The site launched in Seattle in April and began rolling out in the Rose City on Friday, with 25,000 class, teachers and instructors in the greater Portland area. Next on the list is San Francisco, perhaps followed by New York.

It was a lot of work for TeachStreet, but that's not why founder Dave Schappell has bandages on his leg. He was actually taken down by the SLUT tracks, just outside his South Lake Union office, on his way home from work last Thursday night.

A number of bicyclists have learned that the trolley tracks are a wicked hazard, but Schappell may be the first casualty on a motorscooter. His scooter wheel caught in the tracks near the intersection of Westlake and Denny, slamming him onto the pavement.

It was around midnight so there wasn't much traffic.

It's funny, Schappell said, the first thing he checked was his pocket to see if his beloved iPhone 3G was all right.

The phone's fine. Schappell took the brunt of it, emerging with a few scrapes, a smashed headlight and a newfound appreciation for helmets.

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.