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Archive for April 20th, 2009
Microsoft workers should never have to leave campus again to buy a beer, replace a bike tire or heal their spiritual energy through Reiki.
Today, the company is opening a splashy dining-shopping destination called The Commons, a signature piece in a massive expansion that is adding the equivalent of a Columbia Tower to what the company calls the world’s largest corporate campus.
The Commons is a cross between the University of Washington’s HUB, University Village and Pike Place Market.
The complex of 14 restaurants, shops, soccer field, even a pub is the gooey filling in the emerging West Campus, a 1.4 million-square-foot town square of four office buildings that will house the company’s Entertainment and Devices division, which developed video-game player Xbox and music-player Zune.
While the head of Microsoft’s business remains on the other side of Highway 520 — the Windows and Office groups, CEO Steve Ballmer’s office — its stomach is clearly moving west.
“We’ve got a daytime population of over 50,000 people, so when you’re looking at that size of congregation of people, you start thinking about the things they need in their daily lives,” said Chris Owens, general manager of worldwide real estate at Microsoft.
“The Commons … has a lot of features to help people get things done, whether that’s banking or eating or shopping or taking care of their cellphone connectivity, getting exercise, connecting with people socially, without having to get off campus.”
The Mixer, a two-story building, includes a spinoff of Pike Place Market, complete with a miniature version of the red neon clock, hunks of Beecher’s cheese, jars of pepper jelly and Chukar cherries.
The 106,000-square-foot building also houses a post office, a credit union, a bicycle-repair shop and cellphone dealers. Upstairs, a conference center can hold 1,000 people for a meeting.
Across a patio area surrounding a fountain is the Submixer building, which holds a spa where employees can get a trim or a facial, buy scented candles at a Watson Kennedy store and browse an art gallery featuring art produced by employees.
The Spitfire pub, after some haggling, will open up for business shortly, but will serve alcohol only after 3 p.m. by group reservation. Only employees can use the Commons’ buildings.
“It’s really nice. It has a futuristic vibe,” said Hrvoje Benko, a researcher on interactive touch technology at Microsoft Research. “It’s a little mall like.”
Benko, who was eating a free ice cream on a “soft” opening day last week, said he could see coming down to buy lunch a few days a week. He was most excited about having his own soccer field because the fields on main campus are often booked.
The main campus also has food courts and sports fields, but the offices grew piecemeal. The West Campus, which has a capacity for 4,500 workers, represents a new approach for Redmond, Owens said: a master-planned office and recreation complex.
Studio D, a four-story West Campus office building that filled up in March, features a glittery beaded curtain with the images of Capt. Kirk and Spock — William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, not J.J. Abrams’ millennial version — creating the effect that Star Trek Enterprise officers are transporting into the lobby.
For now, workers on the east side of 520 can head west by crossing the overpass at Northeast 40th Street or taking a Microsoft shuttle.
The company is planning to build a bridge over the freeway. The bridge, to be completed next year, would run from Northeast 36th Street on the west to Northeast 31st Street on the east.
Those plans continue even after Microsoft announced 5,000 job cuts and scrapped some real-estate expansion plans in January. Owens said the cuts did not affect West Campus plans.
“We made a decision to do this years ago,” he said. “It’s serving such a large population, it’s not that much of a set of frills to the campus. It’s going to be serving 10,000 to 15,000 people a week.”
He did say the company held down costs by choosing less expensive fixtures and finishes in the new buildings: “We haven’t gold plated anything in that facility.”
He said they were also keeping the opening celebrations subdued in a down economy. “We’re not going to be having Bruce Springsteen come and play or anything like that.”
A new study concludes that children can become addicted to playing video games, with some skimping on homework, lying about how much they play and struggling, without success, when they try to cut back.
In what is described as the first nationally representative study in the United States on the subject, researcher Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University found that 8.5 percent of American youths ages 8 to 18 who play video games show multiple signs of behavioral addiction.
“For some kids, they play in such a way that it becomes out of balance. And they’re damaging other areas of their lives, and it isn’t just one area, it’s many areas,” said Gentile, a psychologist and assistant professor whose study was posted online today by the journal Psychological Science.
To get at gaming addiction, Gentile adapted diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling into a series of questions about video game use. The questions became part of a 2007 Harris Poll survey of 1,178 children and teens. Gamers were deemed “pathological” if they reported at least six of the 11 symptoms.
Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement; irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back; escaping problems through play; skipping chores or homework to spend more time at the controller; lying about the length of playing time; and stealing games or money to play more.
Four times as many boys as girls were considered “pathological gamers.”
Gentile said he started his research with doubts about the possibility of addiction. “I thought this was parental histrionics — that kids are playing a lot and parents don’t understand the motivation, so they label it an addiction,” he said. “It turns out that I was wrong.”
What he found, he said, was that children considered pathological gamers did worse in school, had trouble paying attention in class and reported feeling “addicted.” They were twice as likely to report attention-deficit disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The study found that 88 percent of the nation’s children ages 8 to 18 play video games. With 45 million children of that age in the country, the study would suggest that more than 3 million are addicted “or at least have problems of the magnitude” that call for help, Gentile said.
“It’s not that the games are bad,” said Gentile, who is also director of research at the nonprofit National Institute on Media and the Family. “It’s not that the games are addictive. It’s that some kids use them in a way that is out of balance and harms various other areas of their lives.”
The study said that the findings leave many questions unresolved. The study could not say, for example, whether pathological game-playing caused poor school performance or whether “children who have trouble at school seek to play games to experience feelings of mastery.”
Gentile also said the research did not indicate what the warning signs of addiction might be or how to best treat such a problem.
The episode, “10 Years Later: The Truth About Columbine,” was to air Monday, the anniversary of the massacre in Littleton, Colo., that killed 12 students and a teacher.
Winfrey posted a message Monday morning on her Facebook page, saying that after she reviewed the taped show she decided to pull it because of its focus on the two gunmen.
She urged viewers to keep the Columbine community in their thoughts.
Winfrey said she would air a program about a mother released from prison in place of the Columbine piece. Her company, Harpo Productions, confirmed the announcement.
The father of Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali has denied a report in Britain’s News of the World that he was prepared to place his 9-year-old daughter up for adoption for $300,000 as a “lie made up by foreign journalists playing games with me,” he tells PEOPLE.
The newspaper reported that Rafiq Qureshi, 36, demanded money after it had sent reporters posing as wealthy people from Dubai who said they wished to adopt a child.
Qureshi’s brother Moiuddin, who was present at the late-night meeting at a luxury Mumbai hotel, is reported to have insisted on an even higher figure for the transaction – the original offer was said to be about $75,000 – because of Rubina’s fame.
News of the World, which published a photo of its reporters with Rubina and her father meeting together, reported the uncle as saying: “The child is special now. This is not an ordinary child. This is an Oscar child!” (Slumdog won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.)
National Union chairman Ya’acov “Ketzele” Katz sent a letter to White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel last week admonishing him not to forget his Jewish and Israeli origins.
Katz’s missive came in response to a reported verbal exchange between Emanuel and an unidentified American Jewish leader.
Katz claims that in a private meeting with the unnamed leader, Emanuel said, “In the next four years, there will be a peace agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it does not matter to us who is the prime minister.”
In the letter, a Hebrew version of which was provided to The Jerusalem Post by Katz’s parliamentary aide, Katz wrote: “For many Israelis, this report is a cause for worry because it reveals a condescending attitude toward our prime minister and Israeli public opinion. This is an attitude that Israel does not expect from a real friend such as the US, and all the more so from an Israeli Jew who has succeeded in being appointed White House chief-of-staff.”
Katz went on to compare Emanuel to the biblical Esther, who ended up at using her influence with Persian King Ahashverosh to intervene on behalf of the Jews of the Persian Empire.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Katz wrote, quoting from the Book of Esther (4:14).
Katz was hinting that Emanuel should use his influence to protect Israeli interests, which, he believes, are best served by preventing the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Emanuel was born in Chicago in 1959. His father, Benjamin M. Emanuel, a Jerusalem-born pediatrician, was a member of the IZL (Irgun).
Rahm Emanuel and his brothers attended summer camp in Israel. Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, are members of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel, a modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago. They have a son and two daughters; the older two attend the same Conservative day school Emanuel himself attended as a child.
During the Clinton administration he directed the details of the 1993 Rose Garden signing ceremony for the Oslo Accords, down to the choreography of the handshake between prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
In November, Emanuel said US President Barack Obama did not need his influence to “orientate his policy toward Israel.”
Meanwhile, the National Union said it was never officially notified by the Likud that it would not be entering the new government coalition.
“Basically, we are still waiting for a telephone call,” Harel Cohen, secretary of the NU’s rabbinic council, said on Sunday.
“Up until the swearing in of the new government, we were still receiving signals from the Likud that we were wanted in the coalition,” Cohen said.
He also said that in principle, there was nothing in the Netanyahu government’s platform that would prevent the NU from joining the coalition.
“Obviously, if the present government adopts a ‘two-states for two peoples’ solution, that would be problematic. But so far that has not happened.”
The NU’s rabbinic council, which gives final approval for all of the party’s political decisions, released a letter of support for Katz.
The council, whose members include Hebron-Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, Beit El Rabbi Zalman Melamed and Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, responded to claims that Katz had made “outrageous demands” that kept the NU out of the coalition.
Rather, according to the rabbis, it was a sudden, inexplicable change of mood in the Likud.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama convened his first formal Cabinet meeting, and the said he would challenge department and agency chiefs to look for ways to cut $100 million out of the federal budget.
Back from his fence-mending trip to Latin America and the Caribbean, Obama planned to remind the panel that American families are having to make tough financial decisions and need to know the government is spending their money wisely, too, a senior administration official said. The official discussed Topic A for the session on grounds of anonymity because it was to be behind closed doors.
A second senior official, also speaking anonymously, said Obama would point to cuts already being proposed.
The Veterans Affairs Department has canceled or delayed 26 conferences, saving nearly $17.8 million, he noted, and will be using less expensive alternatives, like video conferencing. The Agriculture Department is working to combine 1,500 employees from seven office locations into a single facility in 2011 – saving $62 million over a 15-year lease term. And the Homeland Security Department has estimated it can save up to $52 million over five years by purchasing office supplies in bulk.
The federal deficit for March alone was $192.3 billion, and $100 million would represent about one-twentieth of 1 percent of that. Obama has brought forward a $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, a proposal that would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade.
Earlier this month, both the passed companion budget plans giving Obama and his Capitol Hill allies a key victory, but 20 House Democrats from GOP-leaning areas abandoned him on the final vote because of unhappiness over deficits.
The Cabinet meeting is being held just days after a series of “Tea Party” demonstrations across the country in which protesters challenged the administration over it’s massive spending to help pull the country and its financial system out of an economic nose dive unseen in decades.
Obama’s nominee to be health secretary, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, still has not been confirmed by the Senate and will not be present, nor will there be a designee.
Adam Lambert from Idol
Tags: Coachella, david hasselhoff, dog the bounty hunter, doug reinhard, ellen pompeo, ellen pompeo pregnant, geraldo rivera, Heidi Montag, jake gyllenhaal, janice dickinson, Jennifer Aniston, kate bosworth, liz rosenberg, madonn horse, Madonna, paris, Reese Witherspoon, Spencer Pratt, tara reid, zac efron
Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo is pregnant with 39 year old hubby Chris Ivery. A rep for the two have confirmed the news, saying, “It’s great news. They’re ecstatic.”
Liz Rosenberg is delusional. Madonna fell off a horse this weekend in Long Island and her publicist, Liz, is claiming it is because a pap jumped out of the bushes and startled the horse. The NY Post has pics proving otherwise. In the picture of her falling off, there is not a photographer close enough to startle the horse. So maybe Liz should just say the queen of freaks made a mistake.
Coachella was this weekend and the wanna be hipsters were in full attendance. David Hasselhoff, Kate Bosworth, Paris Hilton, Dough Reinhold, Jake Gyllenhal, Reese Witherspoon, Tara Reid and Zac Efron were all there looking grungy, sweaty and drunk
Jennifer Aniston is moving on quickly from John Mayer. She is said to be doing Gerald Butler. Rumors sparked last September when they are both doing it up at the Toronto Film festival. They were just friends when they met because of douche bag john mayer, but now that she is single, they’re back on
Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Janice Dickinson, Geraldo Rivera and Rob Blagojevich are all doing a reality show on NBC called I’m a celebrity get me out of here.