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How to fix your Google results. Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin writes about her efforts to take control of her Google results. Angwin is about to publish a MySpace tell-all and wanted to spruce up her image. "One of the paradoxes of the digital age is that the boundless freedoms of the Internet also constrain our identity," she writes. "Before the ubiquity of search engines you could go on a date or a job interview and construct a narrative about your life that fit the situation. No one in your book group had to know that you were a punk-rocker in high school. But it's much harder to package yourself in the Google era." Angwin recommends linking all the pages you control--your Twitter feed, your Facebook page, your blog--to one another as a quick fix.

Bill Gates's mosquito stunt. At the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference yesterday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates let out a batch of mosquitos onstage to try to make a point about the dangers of malaria. The stunt freaked out and amused TED attendees. Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar twittered his dismay, while conference organizer Chris Anderson came back with this crack: "Gates releases more bugs to the world." (Read more about the Gates talk and the conference on Ethan Zuckerman's blog.)

Could the bottom be near? Ratings agency Moody's is predicting that the housing market will probably bottom out in the fourth quarter of 2008, Reuters reports. "More than three years since the market began correcting, inventories are flattening, prices are coming back down to earth, and sales are approaching stability," the report said. But Time magazine begs to differ: "Only an idiot would think it will last." Time points to continuing unemployment and credit tightness and says the pain will continue.

Small business gets a hand up. That small business bailout you've been waiting for? It has arrived--at least in Lakeport, California. The Lake County News reports that the town's City Council changed guidelines to allow loans of $15,000-$75,000 for local small businesses. "We need to keep our interest rates low," said Councilman Bob Rumfelt, and incur risks "without being criminal." Meanwhile in in Lisbon, Ohio, a small business loan program was extended. So far, since 2002, the program provided 21 loans totaling $205,585, which have created a total of 25 jobs, according to administrator Martina Grimm. Are local officials in your community doing anything to help?

Woz gets back in the game. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is joining a new startup, says the New York Times, which reports that the tech industry veteran could "ignore the call of the motherboard no longer." Wozniak will bring his engineering chops to Fusion-io, a storage startup based in Salt Lake City that is backed by Dell. His previous company, Wheels of Zeus, shut down in 2006.

All in the Family. The New York Times reports on why family businesses might weather the economic storm better than most other companies. According to the article, family businesses may be able to reduce pay of workers more easily and owners feel extra pressure to keep the doors open no matter what because they don't want to be the generation that fails. Last April, Inc. looked at some companies that had weathered not just the Great Depression, but the Panic of 1873. Check it out here.

Sacrificing Profits for Customers. In today's Journal, there's an article about small firms that have resorted to giving away free stuff to lure otherwise hesitant customers. Experts say it's a risky strategy because if give-aways don't encourage more spending, the companies will just end up even more financially strained.

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Last updated: Feb 5, 2009




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