Did you know your employers have a vested interest in your waistline? A new study finds that overweight people rack up more dough in medical bills than skinny-minis -- an extra $1,500 per year. And that fattens companies' insurance premiums.
Corporate benefits such as fitness education classes and gym memberships have become increasingly common. For example, a program called LifeSteps, offered by General Motors
Confused by the combination of Motley Fool benefits, which include health club discounts, free pizza day, and a bowl of chocolate bars in the kitchen, the FOOL 50 was up 1% today.
In today's Motley Fool Take:
- Microsoft's Got Worms
- Quote of Note
- Make More Money
- Shameless Plug: Motley Fool Stock Advisor
- Oh Mickey, You're So Fine
- Discussion Board of the Day: Disney
- Music Lovers Hear an Echo
- Quick Takes: Applied Materials, UAL, AOL Time Warner, more
- And Finally...
Well, the company can't blame the naysayers for this one. The nasty "SQL Slammer" worm that made mud pie out of Internet traffic last weekend targeted a known vulnerability in Microsoft's SQL Server database software.
The software giant posted a patch to address the problem in June, so it says it bears no responsibility for the havoc wreaked on individual machines because folks didn't install the fix. Security experts, though, say the Dow component's "Trustworthy Computing" initiative is a farce.
The worm wriggled its way around the globe, just as Microsoft celebrated a year of increased focus on the security of its products. Nice anniversary present, eh? Turns out, some of its own computers crashed thanks to the Slammer, too.
Well, if Microsoft, itself, can't successfully patch its own servers, then how can it rightly expect everyone else to do so? Yes, the patch had been available since June, but because of the extensive testing sometimes needed for installation, the fix clearly wasn't applied as broadly as necessary. And when the company issues patch after patch after patch, it can get a bit complicated, even for the most competent network engineer.
Some experts also argue Microsoft should focus its security efforts on putting out software with fewer flaws and holes to begin with, rather than issuing fixes and patches, and then acting indignant when something like this happens. What a novel idea.
Hopefully, the software giant will learn from being bitten by this worm. No longer can it claim innocence and point haughtily at all the "other" computer companies for not taking its advice to patch their servers. Ironically, the company is now itself just another enterprise marred by a Microsoft flaw.
"The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, 'That is all there was!' But twist them all together and you have something tremendous." -- Victor Hugo, French author
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The market has turned to Disney
It did. Disney posted a 6% gain in fiscal first-quarter revenue, while earnings before one-time charges rose from $0.15 a share last year to $0.17 a share this time around. Every segment, save for the company's troubled consumer products division, delivered top-line gains, while the big winner, in terms of operating profits, was the company's theme park division.
Then again, a 20% climb in operating earnings at the park and resorts comes on the heels of sparse attendance figures in the December 2001 quarter. Travel-shy tourists stayed away from the iconic destinations like a double feature of Disney's Treasure Planet and The Hot Chick. But, they're coming back... slowly.
The company predicts healthy bottom-line growth over the next two years, with profit gains between 25% and 35%. Although, that's coming off the current sandbagged base of lackluster earnings. Still, it's taking steps in the right direction.
Is Disney's upbeat earnings report making you belt out your own rendition of the "Mickey Mouse March"? Will the company ever be rolling on all cylinders? Can you get "Fool" engraved on a pair of mouse ears? All this and more -- in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
There's something new happening in the music world that might actually help bring a reluctant record industry into the 21st century.
Six retail chains are teaming up to offer customers digital music, both in their stores and over the Internet. The six -- Best Buy
Why might this be revolutionary? For one, the record labels have been extraordinarily inept at offering consumers a viable alternative to Napster-like download sites, such as KaZaA, Morpheus, and WinMX. Sony
Echo, on the other hand, has some advantages over the labels' offerings. For one thing, consumers will be able to download music piecemeal, without a subscription. Echo will also market to consumers in stores, and it has the ability to combine traditional CDs with digital downloads in creative ways. "I might buy a Sheryl Crow album, and then get two or three more downloadable bonus tracks for free," Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman told Forbes.
Finally, the labels face tough regulatory issues. While some have teamed up, it's not feasible for the entire industry to get together and set prices. Yet Echo, run by retailers who will set prices independently from each other, has the potential to offer music from all labels.
That brings us to this story's big catch (and you just knew there had to be one, eh?): Echo still needs to work out licensing agreements with the labels, and total success is no sure thing.
Common sense says the labels should see the potential of Echo (it can offer consumers something they might actually pay for, and it might be a partial answer to the rampant pirating on the file-swapping services) and deal in good faith. Yet the industry -- spearheaded by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) -- has been extremely reluctant to embrace common sense when it comes to this issue. Perhaps Echo will change all that.
In another example of how bad things are in the chip-equipment industry, Applied Materials
The world's second-largest airline posted the second-largest loss in industry history today. United Airlines parent UAL
The Wall Street Journal reports AOL Time Warner
The U.S. Senate, in a late-night voice vote, approved President Bush's nominee to replace Paul O'Neill as treasury secretary. John Snow will get to work Monday morning when Mr. Bush presents his budget to Congress.
In local news, the executive board of the Knothole Treehouse Club appointed 5-year-old Timmy Johnson as treasurer. Timmy won a close vote after a resounding speech that included a threat to "tell my Mom what you guys really do up here."
Today on Fool.com:
- For updated stories throughout the day, bookmark our ever-changing News section.
- Websense had an outstanding 2002, so why is the stock off 19% today?
- If you sold your home for a profit, would you have to pay taxes? Read on in our Tax Center.
- A guest Fool says there's growth in the pipeline for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.
- In Fool's School, know where your money goes, and how to control it.
Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Jackie Ross, Reggie Santiago, Dayana Yochim