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ces-one-comp.jpgThis being Vegas, there's a lot of flashy gadgets and showing off here at CES. But one company's product stood out yesterday, even though they were tucked away on a side of the show floor that probably receives the least amount of traffic.

NComputing offers "desktop virtualization solutions. The company's L and X series models allow you to have 11 to 30 users work from one PC. Its booth has multiple workstations hooked up to one PC tower. Each workstation was operating independently using Windows XP.
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Hello from Las Vegas! Entrepreneur is here at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show and we'll be prowling the show floor looking for the coolest tech gadgets and resources coming out this year.

One thing about CES is that it's simply humongous. The show takes over the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo, and various hotels along the strip. All of the tech giants like Sony, Samsung and HP converge here to show off their goods, so you might be surprised to learn that there are quite a few small businesses standing up alongside the big boys.

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ces-dayone.jpgThe holidays are over and it's a new year, so that can only mean one thing: the Consumer Electronics Show. Holiday bonuses have been spent, and people are trying to cut back on eating and simply relax, but James Park and I hopped on a plane, cleaned up and set out to schmooze with tech geeks hoping to sell their latest gadget, gorge over free food, and pack in tens of miles up and down the Las Vegas strip and around showroom floors.

 
CES opened in full swing first thing this morning, but James and I hit up Pepcom's preshow Digital Experience event last night at the Mirage.

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This much seems true: Entrepreneurs who start businesses that are in line with their field of expertise, such as startups that follow in the professions of corporate jobs their owners once held, are 40 percent more likely to make it, according to the book Race and Entrepreneurial Success.

But how do you narrow that down and find a niche that no one else has? One way to go is to think big. We're not talking just about dreaming big; we're suggesting that businesses that take into account America's historic weight gain might have an edge.

bjork.jpgIcelandic pop star Bjork is pairing up with a venture capital firm from her homeland to create a VC fund for green-friendly startups, according to Billboard magazine.

Bjork has lent her name to the $826,000, Audur Capital-run fund, which will focus on socially and environmentally aware endeavors that might also help bring some stability back to the Icelandic economy.
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What was popular last year?

No, seriously, that was a real question. I have no idea. If I had to go by my standards of living as the only research, then Butterfinger and Jameson sales were through the roof for this nation.

Instead, I suppose I should rely on Mindy Woolen, public relations for Sageworks, a provider of financial analysis on private companies, aggregates private company financial data in real time from CPA firms.

So, anyway, the point is: we've got ourselves a list of popular and unpopular. And now that we've also got a new year underway (it's very nice to meet you, 2009), let's figure out the past so we can predict the future. Kind of like wizards with logic, I suppose.

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Your dreams of creating that startup that becomes a big hit in the initial public offering arena might be tempered by new data released this week: 2008 was the worst year for venture-backed IPOs since 1977.

According to research from National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters (PDF), there were only six venture-backed IPOs last year, and none in the final quarter of 2008. The half-dozen such startups in '08 compares to 86 such ventures in 2007.

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Television has entertained Americans for more than 50 years. Through those decades, a few shows have focused on employers, but many others have featured businesses by association--by focusing on the lives of employees outside the workplace. And good employees rarely make for funny employees, so the bad ones get the spotlight, and the laughs. I thought I would pull together a small list of some of the worst employees in TV history.

This is by no means a comprehensive list; rather, it's a look back at some of the worst employees from some of my favorite shows through the years. Some were before my time but viewable through the magic of reruns. Others I grew up with and remember fondly. Still others populated my early adult TV-watching years. One show is still in production. And, as you'll notice, some of the employees listed worked for cities, states and reichs.

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As we bid a heartfelt aloha to 2008 and an anticipatory aloha to 2009, we hope, as always, that next year is better than the last. My biggest hope is our capitalistic society is one year older and wiser. That we take and learn from the ruler to the knuckles 2008 delivered. That our forlorn 401(k) plans and our shell-shocked stock portfolios don't let us forget what happened and the pain involved in fixing things.

Dennis Romero reminded us of the top business headlines of 2008, and Justin Petruccelli gave us a look back at the year's biggest flameouts and bailouts. Today, let's look at the lessons to be learned from 2008's economic meltdown and the nearly $1 trillion bailout package.

santa-shopping.jpgMasterCard's post-Christmas SpendingPulse report confirms what many entrepreneurs already know: Spending was down among holiday shoppers. How much? MasterCard says 5.5 to 8 percent compared to last year. Not too bad, especially considering that the Commerce Department reported recently that consumer spending was actually up 0.6 percent in November when inflation is taken into account.

The half-price deal on gas vs. July's peak has given some consumers a reason to break out the cash this winter. In fact, MasterCard says that the decrease in spending at the pump accounts for nearly half of the holiday retail slide.
economy-hanging-on.jpg"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered these famous words in reference to the Great Depression during his inauguration speech in 1933. With unemployment hovering around 25 percent, and regular news of people starving to death, that year is often regarded as the bleakest of the crisis.
business-headlines.jpgAs 2008 draws to a close, it's natural to want to look back at the biggest business stories of the year. Usually, we can look back at the biggest public offerings or the best this and that. This year, however, calls for a more somber assessment. Things didn't go well--for many industries, sectors, companies and people. The word recession even reared its ugly head.

With that in mind, we take a look back at the biggest business stories of 2008, sincerely hoping that this time next year will allow us to look back at the corners that were turned and the benchmarks that were passed on the road to recovery.
flameouts-bailouts.jpgYou don't need me or anyone else to tell you it's been a rough year in the business and financial worlds. But when it gets this bad, you can laugh or you can cry. In this case, you'll probably do a little of both. Here's our list of 2008's lovable (and not-so-lovable) losers.

Wall Street

Of course, none of this would be possible without our high-rolling friends in the financial world. Our precious 2008 will be forever known as the year the markets went to hell, but it all started in 2007 with the first blushes of the subprime mortgage crisis, and the dominoes have been falling ever since.

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As an employer, you see Christmas parties one of two ways: something you have to do or something you want to do.

And the party you throw shows which you believe.

I've been to both kinds. I've had the good food, I've had the bad food, I've shown up in jeans, I've shown up in slacks, etc. And I'd rather not talk about the bad Christmas parties, where you can feel the boss's teeth grinding while he watches his employees eat the Mexican buffet he felt he had to buy just to please someone other than himself, like you love your job 364 days out of the year and on Christmas, should be buying him dollar store gifts.

No, I'd rather talk about the best company Christmas party I've ever been to, in hopes that employers will give a second thought about their Christmas party and employees.

ent-sba.jpgFor a while now, we've been in limbo as we have waited with bated breath to see who would officially take the helm of the Small Business Administration. In August, we heard that President George W. Bush had named Sandy Baruah as the acting administrator of the SBA but never saw the day that he officially claimed the position as "administrator."

On Friday, President-elect Barack Obama shed some light on the future of the SBA with his nomination of Karen Gordon Mills as the new Administrator. Assuming that the Senate approves the nomination, Mills will take office in early 2009.