Quick Hits

Martha’s new Web site: A good thing?Craft queen Martha Stewart has found herself in some serious hot water after being charged with securities fraud and lying to U.S. authorities. Amidst one of the most highly publicized court cases since the days of O.J., and in an effort to land on the good side of public opinion once more, Stewart has launched a new Web site displaying a perfectly composed photo alongside a “personally written” letter from the darling of decoupage herself – thanking fans and supporters for their loyalty. The site, www.marthatalks.com, promises to feature updates as Stewart’s case unfolds and also features a letter from Stewart’s lawyer, which professes her innocence. Viewers may also e-mail Stewart directly through a link on the site.

MGM Mirage Inc., one of the most prestigious and garish U.S. casino operators to hit the Las Vegas circuit, appears to have lost the bet on its online casino operation. The company announced it will shut down its site at the end of the month, taking a US$5 million loss in Q2 to dissolve the MGM Mirage Online division. The site was introduced in Sept. 2001 and was operated on the Isle of Man off the coast of Britain, where online gambling is legal. The company’s relative success with the venture led it to boast that cyber gambling could be regulated in a similar manner to that of its reality-based counterpart. However, Internet gambling has yet to be legalized in the U.S., a fact which partly led to the site’s demise, the company said.

Palm’s Tungsten climbs Everest

Last month, a Rhode Island-based Brown University professor and his team of researchers worked with a group that climbed Mount Everest, armed with Palm Inc.’s Tungsten handhelds to test thinking abilities of climbers. Cognitive and Lingusitic Sciences professor Phillip Lieberman and four assistants studied how a lack of oxygen on Everest climbers affected their thinking clarity and ability to understand sentences. According to Palm, the Tungsten handhelds enabled climber-subjects to self-administer a series of tests that monitored their decision-making abilities. Lieberman said that since the study required a lightweight tool that climbers could use to record voice memos and run the testing software, the Palm handhelds were a natural choice. The results of the study are expected to be released in the fall.