It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of one of our Fool Community members. La Vona Schamber, affectionately known as DingBatAnnie on our discussion boards, succumbed to brain cancer early this morning in northern California.

Her battle with the disease drew together hundreds of people from across the country, and the outpouring of love and support from her fellow Fools has been nothing short of astonishing and inspiring. She and her family shared her daily struggles with us on the Annie's Foolish Angels board, as her friends raised money and sent gifts. One even sent a bagpiper several weeks ago to serenade her.

Her husband Kenny broke the news to the Fool Community shortly after she died this morning.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

PeopleSoft Spouts Off

You can almost hear PeopleSoft(Nasdaq: PSFT) President and CEO Craig Conway now: "Oh yeah? This whole Oracle(Nasdaq: ORCL)mess is going to derail our business? Well, take a look at this new guidance from us, you chumps!"

Or perhaps Conway would be more low-key, but that seems unlikely from this Larry Ellison protégé. Regardless, PeopleSoft surprised some doubters this morning with a rosy picture of its second quarter, ended June 30. After all, lots of analysts and other smarty-pants predicted that uncertainty surrounding PeopleSoft's future as a standalone entity would prompt businesses to postpone buying from the enterprise software outfit.

That obviously wasn't the case. PeopleSoft says it now expects total Q2 revenues of $490 million to $500 million, compared to its prior forecast of $450 million to $460 million. Analysts were looking for around $443 million. Management also anticipates that licensing revenues will range between $105 million and $115 million, better than its earlier guidance of $85 million to $95 million.

Earnings for the quarter, excluding charges of $0.03, should now come in at $0.13 to $0.14 per share, up from the company's previous forecast of $0.11 to $0.12. Analysts were expecting $0.10 per share. In the same quarter last year, PeopleSoft earned $0.11 per diluted share on total revenues of $482 million, including licensing revenues of $131.9 million.

Today's announcement doesn't confirm a turnaround in the corporate software landscape -- not yet anyway. It does, however, help bolster PeopleSoft's claim to shareholders that its business is strong, and that it can continue operating just fine without any help from Oracle.

And it sends a message to PeopleSoft customers that the company and its products are worthy of their confidence and loyalty. As far as PeopleSoft is concerned, this batch of good news couldn't have come at a better time.

Quote of Note

"Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself -- and thus make yourself indispensable." -- Andre Gide, 1869-1951, French critic, essayist, and novelist

Curtain Call for Netflix?

It's 5% down and 95% to go for Netflix(Nasdaq: NFLX). At least that's how an overachiever may approach last night's news that the DVD rental specialist has managed to grow its subscriber base to 5% of the San Francisco Bay Area homes.

What's in a fraction? Plenty. Netflix has pegged its long-term model on being the DVD rental service of choice in at least 5% of the country. The fact that it was able to realize that level in a heavily populated market like San Francisco is significant, but it comes with bits of both of good and bad news.

You want the bad news first? Sure. San Fran is the company's home turf. It's where overnight delivery of the latest disc releases has been the norm for years now. As a local firm, it gets all of the warm, fuzzy accolades that marketing just can't buy. It won't get any easier after this home court layup. Market penetration for Netflix everywhere else averages out to a somber 1% showing.

The good news? There's a lot of that, actually. Closing out the June quarter with 1.147 million subscribers (and more than 1.1 million of those as paying members), Netflix is no longer an unproven concept. A year ago, the Bay Area penetration was at just 3.2%, with the rest of the country at 0.57%. The trend is growing nicely and so is the adoption of the DVD format as the home entertainment medium of choice.

Even as Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) and Blockbuster(NYSE: BBI) continue to beef up their own online rental offerings, the DVD market itself is expanding. While it might take more than a couple of years for the rest of the country to catch up with the head start that San Francisco has had with its Netflix addiction, who says that Netflix has hit the ceiling in its home market? Five percent isn't the destination; it's just a milestone along the way.

The stock has rewarded its investors nicely. Followers of Motley Fool's research products have been treated to respectable gains since Netflix was featured in November's Motley Fool Select (now Hidden Gems) and last month's profile in the top-ranked Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

Is Netflix immune from the threat of new technology or more experienced potential entrants like Amazon(Nasdaq: AMZN)? No. It all bears watching. But, like a good flick, cliffhangers are often the best parts.

Discussion Board of the Day: Netflix

Is Netflix a passing craze, or is it for real? Can it compete with Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, and the next generation of Pay-Per-View? Is its distribution center expansion really that important? All this and more -- in the Netflix discussion board. Only on

Telemarketers' New Tactic

What, you thought just because they can't call you anymore, they'd stop annoying you?

With signups for the "National Do Not Call Registry" now exceeding 12.5 million, the businesses that do roughly $300 billion in annual telephone sales will simply have to find another way to market to you.

The Wall Street Journal says many of these companies are planning "to flood mailboxes and computers with an avalanche of solicitations" and to throw sales pitches at consumers who call them for other reasons.

These businesses still have time to prepare for Oct. 1, when they must stop calling people on the list. Qwest(NYSE: Q) has already cut back on telemarketing by 40% since last September, according to the Journal, and Allstate(NYSE: ALL) is beginning to redirect efforts toward television and email advertising. AT&T(NYSE: T), on the other hand, told the paper it's still planning on telephoning its 40 million customers. (Whether you're on the list or not, companies with an "established business relationship" may call you for up to 18 months after your last purchase. You can always ask them to stop contacting you, however.)

When all is said and done, we're probably receiving more peace and quiet at dinnertime in exchange for increased email spam and advertising flyers in our mailboxes.

Not a bad deal, really.

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Quick Takes

A new law is in effect today that forces non-European Union businesses to collect a stiff value-added tax for items delivered electronically over the Internet to residents in the 15 EU countries. Companies affected include eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY), AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL), and AMZN). The tax -- which ranges from 13% to 25% -- already applies to physical goods.

The SARS threat continues to dissipate. The World Health Organization today said Toronto is now free from the spread of the virus, and the only remaining area on the list -- Taiwan -- will likely get the all-clear this weekend.

Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) lowered its full-year guidance this morning and said it would close down 26 facilities across the U.S. The maker of blood-disease treatments said 2,500 employees will lose their jobs. Management expects the moves to save $0.10 to $0.15 per share annually.

And Finally...

Today on

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Bob Bobala, Robert Brokamp, Paul Elliott, Mathew Emmert, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, LouAnn Lofton, Bill Mann, Selena Maranjian, Rex Moore, Rick Munarriz, Matt Richey, Reggie Santiago, Kate Southerland, Dayana Yochim