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Friday
Feb252011

Apple's New Laptops Feature Faster 'Thunderbolt' Technology

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto | Apple Inc.(CUPERTINO, Calif.) -- In announcing the company's latest line of MacBook Pro laptops, Apple also unleashed one dramatically-named piece of new technology: Thunderbolt.

And Apple says it's as powerful as it sounds. The so-called input-output (or I/O) technology makes it possible to transfer content to or from your laptop at lightning-fast speeds, the company says.

Similar to USB technology, which the laptops also support, Thunderbolt technology was developed at Intel labs, under the code name Light Peak, but makes its debut in Apple's newest laptops.

"Thunderbolt is a new interface technology that is roughly 10 times faster than what you currently have," said Lance Ulanoff, editor-in-chief of PCMag.com. "It's faster than USB, it's faster than FireWire. ...It's fiber-optic based."

Want to download a Blu-ray version of "Iron Man 2"?  With Thunderbolt, it will take you 30 seconds, instead of several minutes or even hours, depending on your connection, said Ulanoff.

Apple says Thunderbolt is 20 times faster than the current USB 2.0 protocol and 12 times faster than FireWire 800.

It not only can move data at high speeds, it can also connect to larger displays without reducing performance, the company says.

"This is potentially revolutionary," Ulanoff said.

But whether people actually adopt the technology at super-fast speeds remains to be seen.

Ulanoff said it's unclear how much other technology will be compatible with the new high-speed technology, and history has shown that consumers don't always leap for the fastest technology on the market.

Apple's new line of MacBook Pros includes three new laptops, starting at $1,199 for a 13-inch monitor, and reaching $2,499 for a 17-inch version, which is essentially the same as the previous version.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Boeing Wins $35 Billion Air Force Tanker Contract

Photo Courtesy - The Boeing Company(ST. LOUIS) -- On Thursday, Air Force Secretary Mike Donley announced that the Boeing Company had won a $35 billion contract to build the next generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft that will replace 179 of the service's 400 KC-135 tankers.

"Boeing was the clear winner," said Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn in a news conference Thursday.

According to the contract's terms, Boeing will "design, develop, manufacture and deliver 18 initial combat-ready tankers by 2017," the company announced on its Web site.

"We're honored to be given the opportunity to build the Air Force's next tanker and provide a vital capability to the men and women of our armed forces," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO.  "Our team is ready now to apply our 60 years of tanker experience to develop and build an airplane that will serve the nation for decades to come."

The new aircraft, which will be known as the KC-46A, is expected to provide the "best value for taxpayers" and support approximately 50,000 U.S. jobs with Boeing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Repairing Your Credit Score? Give Customer Service a Try 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Having a bad credit score can cost a small fortune. Loans cost more, you may fail to qualify for a mortgage and even landlords may charge tenants more rent.

If old late payments are putting a dent in your score, you may be able to persuade creditors to remove them from your credit history, according to Ken Linn of the personal finance site CreditKarma.com.

"If you're a good customer and you've really cured your delinquency in the past, you can call.  It's surprising what a phone call to customer service will do," Linn says.

Linn adds that if the company refuses, "You might want to try multiple times if you don't get a good result the first time."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Obama on Oil Prices: 'Ride Out Libya Situation,' 'It Will Stabilize'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Thursday that he believes that markets can “ride out” the situation in Libya and that ultimately oil prices will be stabilized.

“We actually think we'll be able to ride out the Libya situation and it will stabilize,” the president said in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Thursday.

Mr. Obama’s short comments came during a meeting with his newly appointed “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” when speaking about specific concerns in certain sectors.

Thursday marked the first meeting of the president’s new council meant to advise the president on new ways to create jobs. The president said that he is not interested in photo ops or more meetings, because he has had a “surplus” of those on job creation already.

“I expect this to be a working group in which we are coming up with some concrete deliverables,” Obama said, “I don't think that we have to be trying to hit home runs every time. I think if we hit some singles and -- and doubles, if we find some very specific things that this group can help us on and we can work on together, then we can build on that success, and in the aggregate over time this will have really made a difference at a critical juncture in our economy.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Toyota Recalls More Than Two Million Cars

Photo Courtesy - PRNewsFoto/Toyota Media Relations(NEW YORK) -- Toyota is recalling more than two million cars to fix a problem related to unintended acceleration. 

Toyota is worried gas pedals could get stuck in the floor mat or carpeting of two million vehicles.  In some models, a plastic pad in the carpet needs to be reshaped.  In other models, the floor mat needs to be properly secured to prevent the accelerator from sticking. 

These latest recalls resolve a government investigation into whether Toyota recalled enough vehicles to address sudden acceleration.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

401(k) Accounts Reach a 10-Year High, but Not High Enough

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- There's good news about your 401(k) -- and bad.

Right now the average 401(k) balance stands at a 10-year high. That's according to Beth McHugh, vice president of Fidelity Investments, which administers some 17,000 retirement plans for 11 million would-be retirees. 401(k)s, which have been around for 30 years, are the most widely-used vehicle for saving for retirement.

By the end of 2010, says McHugh, the average account balance had risen to $71,500. Savers who've been actively contributing to an account for 10 years saw their average balance hit $183,100, up from $59,100 at the end of 2000. Those increases are attributable in part to the rebound of the stock market and to the fact that 401(k) participants are saving more: For seven straight quarters, Fidelity says, participants have been increasing the part of their paychecks that they're saving, from 3 percent to a little over 6 percent.

Contrary to myth, says McHugh, most employers did not suspend making matching contributions to employee 401(k)s during the recession. A few high-profile companies, including FedEx, did suspend them, earning headlines. But even during the very worst of the recession, between 2008 and 2009, only 8% of employers reduced or eliminated their matching contributions. And since then, she says, more than half of those have reinstated their matching contributions or have said they plan to do so in the next 12 months. Bigger companies—ones with 5,000 or more employees—are in the vanguard of that trend, with over 70% saying they've already reinstated matching funds or intend to do so.

McHugh refutes another misconception: During the recession, she says, most people did not cash out or take loans against their accounts. Only one out of five participants took out a loan. Even seven out of ten employees who lost their job, were laid off, or otherwise separated from an employer resisted the temptation to cash out their account.

While 401(k)s on average have emerged from the recession in surprisingly good health, many savers on the cusp of retirement are finding that good isn't good enough.

A study commissioned by the Wall Street Journal from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College finds that the median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) has less than one-fourth the amount of savings in that account that he needs, if he wants to maintain his current standard of living in retirement.

The amount of income needed, said the study, is a little over $74,000. The median household can expect to get income of slightly more than $9,000 from a 401(k) and about $35,000 more from Social Security. That leaves a shortfall of almost $30,400.

Even if the householder is lucky enough to have a pension to boot, he's still short by almost $4,000, according to the Boston College study.

Fidelity's McHugh said savers are hardly blind to these facts. They're all too aware of them and are taking steps to compensate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Heinz to Use Coca-Cola "PlantBottle" for Ketchup

Photo Courtesy - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BOCA RATON, Fla.) -- H.J. Heinz Co. announced plans to use more environmentally-friendly bottles Wednesday.

Heinz will start using Coca-Cola's trademarked "PlantBottle" system, which requires less petroleum. It plans to produce 120 million ketchup bottles with the new system, thereby altering a fifth of Heinz's global products.  

The eco-conscious PlantBottles are made with sugarcane ethanol grown in Brazil. Coca-Cola and Heinz intend to diversify the technology over the coming years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Google Chastises Overstock in Search Results

Photo Courtesy - JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) -- Google Inc. has punished Overstock.com for tampering with Google's sophisticated search algorithms.

The search-engine mammoth pushed Overstock.com down in search results, meaning fewer consumers are likely to visit their site after searching for products like vacuum cleaners, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Overstock.com reportedly manipulated search results by promising discounts to college students with .edu addresses who posted links to Overstock.com.

The Salt Lake City-based purveyor of cheap merchandise has since put a stop to the program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb242011

Hewlett-Packard Reports Dismal Growth

Photo Courtesy - Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. released a statement Tuesday showing disappointing growth in the face of poor consumer demand.

The Palo Alto-based computer giant reported a $1.21 per share profit, which disappointed investers hoping for $1.26. HP stock fell 9.6. percent at the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday afternoon in spite of reported 3.5 percent growth this year.

The report comes as an unfortunate close to Leo Apotheker's first quarter as chief executive officer. Apotheker is slated to present a renewed vision for the company at a strategy conference in San Francisco on March 14.

Apotheker took the helm of the company from Mark Hurd, whose resignation last August was prompted by a sexual harrassment scandal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb232011

Supreme Court: Mazda Can Be Sued for Lap-Only Safety Belts 

Photo Courtesy - Mazda Motor of America Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit against Mazda Motor of America charging that the car manufacturer should have installed lap and shoulder belts in the rear aisle seats of some of its minivans can go forward in California courts.

The case was brought by the family of Thanh Williamson, who in 2002 was sitting in her 1993 Mazda minivan in the second-row seat, her lap belt firmly attached, when the van collided with a Jeep. She was thrown into a jackknife position and died from internal bleeding.

Her family wants to sue Mazda, believing that the lap-only seat belt was insufficient and that the company was negligent for not installing a lap and shoulder belt in that rear seat. Williamson’s husband and daughter were also riding in the van, but were sitting in seats equipped with both shoulder and lap belts. They both survived the accident.

Mazda argued that federal regulations at the time allowed the company the choice of which belt to install and therefore the car manufacturer was immune from such state lawsuits.

But a unanimous 8-0 court ruled Wednesday that federal regulations did not prohibit the state lawsuit from going forward.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio