Monthly Archives: February 2008

Let’s make a deal

The University Park Lofts auction was called off earlier this week, and it looks like the developers are still hoping to sell the remaining units in the traditional way, if slightly marked down.  According to Raveis.com, one 986 sq. ft. unit was just marked down from $199,900 to $194,900.  Another 817 sq. ft. unit is listed at $164,900, down from $169,900; a third 682 sq. ft. unit is marked at $124,900 from $129,900.

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The coveted Turtle Boy

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T-2 hours or so until the voting for the 2008 Turtle Boy Music Awards ends. This is the best music award in town, and the voting has already reached record levels.

If you haven’t voted yet, get in gear, and get going on that…now.

Vote here.

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The blogs we love, part two

4-rilla is for real/I Heart Peanut Butter Takes on Worcester: Yeah, they’re two separate sites, but as the most prolific blogging couple in town, they garner a joint listing.   One part an open look into their respective private/personal lives and one part a conversation of larger issues, this is blogging at its roots.

Hyphoid Logic: We can’t describe “Mike O’Risal’s” site better than Mike O’Risal himself:  “This blog is about whatever I’m pondering at the moment that I write in it. That may include anything at all. Mundane bits from my personal life, politics, science, fungi, genetics, media, dirty jokes, you name it. You’re looking at the inside of my head when you’re looking at this blog. Please don’t litter and wipe your feet before entering.”  Regardless of what tangent he’s off on, it’s well written, enlightening, and entertaining.

I’m from Worcester: Claudia’s quick-hit entries are always worth a read; we especially love her visuals: Even a burnt pop tart looks nice.

HBML Fresh Garbage: Like its brick and mortar counterpart, this is one of the most schizophrenic, bizarrely visual sites on the net.  You never know what you’re going to see, nor should you care.  Pure junk store porn.

There’s others we haven’t mentioned.  Among them: Worcester Love is doing some of the best work ever highlighting the positives in the area; Papamoka Straight Talk gets more national attention than any other Woo-based blog; Bill Randell is still doggedly going after the airport; and we’d be lost without the forums at Volcano Boy.   Shrewsburied, Save Fitchburg, and Progressive Fitchburg are all doing outstanding local coverage outside the city limits.

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T&G to buyout 20

According to a post on Romenesko, the 20 cuts to hit the Telegram & Gazette will consist of buyouts; those offers will be made in two weeks.

The memo in full:

02/28/2008 01:49 PM
To: Everybody by Server
cc:
Subject: Memo from Steve Ainsley

Dear Colleagues:

As part of a company-wide effort to achieve greater operational efficiencies, we will be offering voluntary buyouts to employees of The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Boston Globe employees will receive offers next week. Telegram & Gazette employees will receive offers the following week. Boston.com and GlobeDirect employees are ineligible for this program.

We are expecting a total reduction of 80 positions, with approximately 60 from the Globe and roughly 20 from the T&G. This reduction in staff is a difficult but necessary step toward our ongoing goals of reducing costs and finding efficiencies that allow for the long-term health of our business.

As you all know, these are difficult times in the newspaper business. The good news is that our on-line revenue continues to grow although not yet at a scale that offsets the downturn in print.

Going forward our newspapers must continue to adapt to changing patterns of media consumption while our on-line business expands our capabilities to present high quality news and information in new formats and new platforms. For these strategic reasons we are excluding Boston.com from the voluntary buyout program. Instead, we will continue to invest in this growing area of the business as it scales up in content delivery, advertising and audience.

We are also excluding GlobeDirect from the buyout program because it just completed a restructuring as part of its consolidation into the Millbury facility and further reductions are not warranted.

Finally, I should note the terms of this buyout – while still generous – are less generous than similar offers in the recent past. For most employees the basic severance payout will be two weeks of pay for every pension year of service with a cap of one-year’s pay. We are offering an enhanced package to some employees � those Newspaper Guild members at the Globe with lifetime job guarantees, in recognition of their many years of service to the company and the value to them of the job guarantee benefit. They will be eligible to receive three weeks of pay for every year of service with a cap of two years pay. This distinction will not be made in any future buyouts that may be offered.

A complete package will be mailed to your homes shortly which will go
into greater detail as to the payout components, timing and healthcare
benefits associated with the package.

I know that it can be a stressful time for eligible employees at the Globe and Telegram & Gazette who must make an important decision about their careers. Our Human Resources and Employee Relations departments are on hand to help you with any questions you may have about this offer.

I’d like to thank everyone for their continued dedication while we redirect our business to future success.

— Steve

(Thanks K)

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Globe/T&G cutbacks: Today?

The latest round of job cuts at the New York Times-owned New England Media Group (which includes both the Telegram and the Globe) are rumored to be coming down today.  The exact numbers aren’t known, but Adam Reilly at The Phoenix reports that a total of 80 jobs are set to be sliced, 60 of them in Boston.

That would leave 20 cuts, potentially, over on Franklin Street, although the ratio of newsroom/other cuts are not yet known.

Last year, the company cut 125 jobs from the Globe and the Telegram; that round had a negligible effect on the Worcester newsroom.

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Throttling the ‘net

A few days ago, the FCC held a hearing at Harvard to investigate whether or not Comcast has been throttling broadband Internet speeds for some users on specific applications, specifically person-to-person file sharing and transfers. While esoteric sounding, it’s a big deal that effects end-users and content providers alike.

One of those who bridges the gap between both is the widely popular and Worcester based Internet TV software Miro. Nicholas Reville, the Executive Director of the foundation behind Miro, says the hearing – and the throttling of p2p internet traffic – is a huge deal.

“It affects our ability to provide a good product for our users,” says Reville. “The most important thing is that it affects free speech for independent publishers…If you’re blocking bit torrent [a file sharing protocol], you’re blocking their speech.” It goes beyond that, though.

“Not only that, Comcast is competing with those people. So you basically have a company that’s part of competing on video also controlling who gets the video. So it’s a totally stacked deck in Comcast’s favor. Certain peoples voices are getting through, and others are getting blocked.”

Reville, and fellow independent media activists, are calling for strong legislation preventing broadband throttling by Internet providers.

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Filed under Council 2/26/08

Longer is better

One week in, it looks like the lower standards for commuter trains might be making a dent in the on-time performance. According to statistics from the MBTA, in the first six days of the new schedule (Tuesday through Sunday), on time performance was an outstanding 91%. And that includes an unheard of 100% on time performance last Thursday. But it hasn’t all been sunshine. On Monday of this week a CSX signal near the Westboro and Ashland stations failed, says MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant, delaying all morning commute trains. And according to the daily commuter rail blog Train Stopping, at least three of the author’s inbound and outbound trips have been substantially behind schedule in the past week. Still, the numbers are an improvement over January’s 69% on time performance. Of course, that doesn’t mean the trains are actually getting there faster, just that they’re doing a good job of meeting the new longer schedules.

UPDATE: We’ve attached one of the MBTA on-time performance charts, for all you raw data geeks.  Feast away.  (Note: 2/18 was running on the old schedule)otp001.jpg

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