S.F. Uses “Sonic Assault” To Scare Away Homeless

Another Planet Entertainment, the company that operates San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, is using recorded sounds to chase homeless people out of adjacent Civic Center Park. Each night from 11 pm to 7 am the sounds of chainsaws, jackhammers, and other industrial noises are played through the auditorium’s external loudspeakers. Apparently people attending the symphony and opera had complained about the homeless presence.

Dunn Done As Best-Buy CEO

Best-Buy CEO Brian Dunn resigned as the company investigated him for unspecified "personal conduct" issues. Best-Buy has steadily declined as the the leader in consumer electronics retailing under Dunn's leadership, and the company is seeking an "outsider" to shake things up in his place.

Steve Jobs Reveals New Apple HQ

It’s a big ring on top of a mountain. It’s kind-of like the biggest ring-toss game ever. And not only are they going to build the huge circular building to house 13,000 Apple employees, but they’re going to build the mountain, too. The new Apple HQ will be situated on 150 landscaped acres, apparently without roads or parking facilities anywhere near it. Everyone will have to hike in or arrive on burros.

An artist's misconception of the new Apple HQ building, set to break ground in 1012 and to be completed by 2015, and departing for Saturn in 2016.

Microsoft Buys Skype

Microsoft Corporation bought Skype, it’s Web-based chat system, it’s employees, and its 660 million users for $8.5 billion. The purchase seems to have been an impulse buy, as Microsoft has not yet announced how they plan to screw the company up and ruin its user experience by integrating it into products like Internet Explorer and Messenger.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer welcomes Skype CEO Tony Bates to his new position.

Big 8 Corporate Stiff List 2009

Over at CNN Money there is a slide show featuring massive durable goods slaughter as 2009 became the death year for some truly Big Names in consumerism.

Oldest To Die: Pontiac (born 1926) and Max Factor (also originated in the 1920s as a consumer product). Apparently the old muscle cars could have used a little of Mr. Factor’s makeup, as consumer’s found them unappealing enough for GM to pull the plug when undergoing bankruptcy. Max Factor products will continue to be sold in Europe, where glamour hangs-on to its image like Norma Desmond held on to her sanity.

Best Known Pop Culture Item: Kodachrome. Mama apparently finally decided to take it away. The once-mighty celluloid strip fell to just 1% of Kodak’s overall film sales, and was down to just one manufacturer when Kodak exposed the last frame to the light. The era of consumer color photography initiated by Kodachrome in 1935 is over, co-opted by the more convenient but far inferior digital camera. We are all culturally poorer as a result.

Most Geek To Go: Circuit City, because the iPod killed stereo sales, and Wal-Mart took over everything else. Unfortunate because they had a better selection than Wal-Mart. Partially resurrected online under new management, the name “Circuit City” will live on.

Most Likely Not To Succeed: Saturn, the attempt at Toyota-killing that never quite became an automotive threat. Started by GM in 1990, it was initially thought of as the “U.S. Yugo”. Quality improved over the years, but sales didn’t. Another casualty of the GM re-structuring.

Worst Case Of Food Poisoning: Gourmet magazine. Since 1940 the magazine that featured dishes Americans couldn’t cook, pronounce, or get handed to them through the car window.