Thursday, June 28, 2007

Crowd Control: Stores Ramp Up Security for iPhone Release

Friday, thousands of people are expected to gather outside the nation's Apple stores, AT&T storefronts and shopping malls, waiting patiently for hours to buy an iPhone -- no more than two at a time.

At 6 p.m., after chatting with their neighbors on the snaking lines, customers will quietly, gratefully hand over their credit cards to pay for this year's most-anticipated gadget.

Yeah, right.

As the iPhone's release date nears, one thing is certain: Images of the new phone and the frenzy surrounding it are everywhere. So what will all that marketing, buzz and pent-up desire produce? If appropriate precautions aren't taken, experts said, a crowd control disaster.

"We hear about the nightmares," said Lou Palumbo, president and director of the Elite Agency LTD, a firm that handles security for ABC News in New York and the Golden Globe Awards. "Most of them are avoidable."

One such nightmare occurred when PlayStation3 was released to the nation in November 2006. People who camped outside of stores were mugged, at least one person was shot and some customers reportedly were trampled by crowds lunging for the gaming system.

According to Palumbo, the key to avoiding a similar situation with first-day iPhone-buyers is having a plan that exerts crowd control and prevents "bad behavior."

Unfortunately, when those plans aren't put into place, things can go wrong quickly, he said.

"It's not that complicated," Palumbo said. "Most people do these things by the seat of their pants and the end result is people get hurt, crimes are committed."

With all its stores carrying the iPhone, AT&T isn't taking any chances.

In addition to staffing an additional 2,000 sales employees to cope with crowds, the company has also taken security precautions.

"We have 1,800 retail stores around the country," Mark Siegel, AT&T's director of public relations said. "We have planned in great detail how to handle the influx of customers, including the need to work on security."

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WWE Superstar wrestler Chris Benoit and family found dead

Pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife and smothered his son before hanging himself in his weight room, a law enforcement official close to the investigation told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Authorities also said they are investigating whether steroids may have been a factor in the deaths of Benoit, his wife and their 7-year-old son who were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard said test results may not be back for weeks or even months.

Autopsies were scheduled Tuesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in DeKalb County.

Benoit, 40, was discovered dead in his home in suburban Atlanta by Fayetville police yesterday – a day after he no-showed two scheduled matches in Texas over the weekend, including at World Wrestling Entertainment's Vengeance pay per view event in Houston Sunday night. He cited a family emergency as the reason for skipping the shows.

After friends in WWE received several "curious text messages" from Benoit, and WWE officials were unable to reach him, the sheriff's department in Peachtree City, GA went to Benoit's home to check on his family about 2:30 p.m.

After maneuvering through two German shepherds that guarded the home, police found Benoit, his wife and child dead in three separate rooms in the home, according to WAGA-TV. The Wrestling Observer newsletter reported that Fayette County police are operating under the theory that Benoit killed his wife on Saturday, son Daniel on Sunday, and then killed himself yesterday.

ABC News reported that authorities had found "the instruments of death" at Benoit's home – a mansion surrounded by stone walls with a gravel road leading to double iron gates.

MSNBC has reported that a police press conference disclosing preliminary autopsy results is expected to take place this afternoon.

Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the details of the incident may "prove a little bizarre" when they come out. reported that, "The three bodies have been received by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab, in Decatur, Ga., where autopsies will be performed Tuesday morning. Toxicology reports will not become available for at least two weeks."

WWE scrapped their schedule live, sold-out Monday Night RAW program in Corpus Cristy last night and sent fans home. In the show's place, WWE chairman Vince McMahon and the WWE announce team introduced a three-hour career retrospective that included several highlight's from Benoit's 22-year career, as well as emotional testimonials from fellow pro wrestlers.

McMahon reportedly broke the news around 4:30 p.m. yesterday to a locker room overcome with shock and grief. As news of authorities' suspicion that Benoit killed his wife and son came out, WWE scaled back their tribute to the former world champion on the WWE web site. The company is scheduled to hold its regular television tapings tonight.

Benoit, an Edmonton, Canada native, trained in Calgary and made his pro debut in 1985. He plied his trade in Japan for years before become a fixture on the American wrestling circuit in the mid-1990s. He joined WWE in 1999 and won the company's world heavyweight championship at Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania XX in 2004. He was widely expected to win the Extreme Championship Wrestling world title at Sunday's pay per view event.

Benoit became romantically involved with the then Nancy Sullivan, who worked as a pro wresting valet under the name "Woman," in the mid-1990's while she was married to another wrestler, Kevin Sullivan. The Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter said the marriage was known among wrestling circles to be volatile.

Benoit had two children from another relationship that were not in the home during the deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

100 Blogs We Love

Chip Taylor - How big is the blogosphere? In April the blog search engine Technorati reported that it was tracking 70 million blogs, with 120,000 new ones arriving every day. In such a huge universe, the signal-to-noise ratio is bound to be daunting, but we'll share with you the ones we've found worthy.

In compiling our list, we realized that reasonable men and women may disagree on the definition of a blog. For example, we quickly discarded the notion that a blog must be the work of an individual: Some of the best, including--and we hope you'll agree--our own Today @ PC World, are the work of many people. But we all agreed that a good blog has at least some element of voice: The people who write it express an opinion in the words they write and the images they include.

Of course, lots of the blogs we read deal with technology. But hey, we have personal lives, too. We like the recipes at Slashfood, the animation at Cartoon Brew, even the adorably over-the-top photos at Cute Overload.

Know a gem of a blog that we missed? Let us know in the comments below. We're always ready to expand our reading.

Technology News

If you have the time to follow only a few technology blogs a day, these will generally give you the most bang for your click.

Slashdot: The granddaddy of the tech news blogs, and the virtual water cooler of the geek cognoscenti. To be "slashdotted"--that is, to be noticed by CmdrTaco, ScuttleMonkey, or one of the other regulars--is in some circles the Net equivalent of above-the-fold placement on the front page of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

Engadget and Gizmodo: The Bobbsey Twins of the techie gadget universe. If there's a cool new phone, PDA, game console, DVR, or other device brewing, you'll hear about it first from these guys. We only wish we had their inside sources.

TechCrunch: Founder Michael Arrington worked as a lawyer to tech startups and has started a few Web entities of his own. Thanks to those contacts, he often has news of an interesting new Web service before the rest of the world does.

Ars Journals: The blog arm of the venerable geek site Ars Technica offers an intriguing mix of news, opinion, and hands-on trials.

ReadWriteWeb: This site may not have TechCrunch's buzz, but it's at least as good a source for news on the latest Web 2.0 developments.

Scobleizer: Robert Scoble was Microsoft's most prominent blogger, putting a chubby, friendly face on the software giant, until he left a year ago. He remains relentlessly upbeat and personal as he covers technology happenings.

More Tech News

Epicenter: The new-and-improved Wired News produces this worthy blog with quick hits on tech-industry developments from Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

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