Apple partners with German software giant to develop apps

The partnership aims to develop software for business customers.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple has announced a new partnership with German software giant SAP to develop mobile apps that business customers can use on iPhones and iPad tablets.

While Apple’s consumer product business is slowing, it’s been looking for new growth by tapping into the lucrative market for commercial technology. Apple has a similar arrangement with IBM to develop specialized apps for airline workers, sales clerks and other business users.

Under the new deal, Apple and SAP plan to release programming tools that software developers can use to build apps for Apple’s handheld devices. The apps will tie into SAP’s commercial software, which businesses use to manage inventory, manufacturing, sales and other operations.

Apple has recently begun selling “Pro” versions of its iPad tablets with features designed for business users.

Longest-running Sears store to close in August

The Chicago location will close after 90 years of sales as the company shrinks.

CHICAGO — The longest-standing store in Sears’ chain will close in August after 90 years in operation.

A liquidation sale at the store in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood will start May 19, said Sears Holdings spokesman Howard Riefs.

The store opened in November 1925.

A nearby Sears Auto Center will remain open. Eligible employees will receive severance and have the opportunity to apply for open positions at area Sears and Kmart stores, Riefs said.

Last month, Sears Holdings, based in suburban Chicago, announced it would close 68 Kmart stores and 10 Sears stores by summer.

“Store closures are part of a series of actions we’re taking to reduce ongoing expenses, adjust our asset base and accelerate the transformation of our business model,” Riefs said in an email.

California man found guilty of ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killings

Lonnie Franklin Jr. is convicted of killing 10 young black women in the inner city of Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — A former trash collector in Los Angeles was convicted Thursday of 10 “Grim Sleeper” serial killings that spanned two decades and targeted vulnerable young black women in the inner city.

Lonnie Franklin Jr. showed no emotion as a clerk read the 10 murder verdicts in Los Angeles County Superior Court after a two-month trial in the potential death penalty case.

Franklin also was found guilty of one count of attempted murder.

Jurors were told to return May 12 for the trial’s penalty phase. Franklin could receive the death penalty.

The killings from 1985 to 2007 were dubbed the work of the “Grim Sleeper” because of an apparent 14-year gap after one woman survived a gunshot to the chest in 1988.

The crimes went unsolved for decades and community members complained that police ignored the cases because the victims were black, poor and some were prostitutes and drug users.

Much of the violence unfolded during the nation’s crack cocaine epidemic when at least two other serial killers prowled the part of the city then known as South Central.

The 10 victims, including a 15-year-old girl, were fatally shot or strangled and dumped in alleys and garbage bins. Most had traces of cocaine in their systems.

Franklin, 63, a onetime trash collector in the area and a garage attendant for the Los Angeles Police Department, had been hiding in plain sight, said Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman.

Police eventually connected Franklin to the crimes after a task force was assigned to revisit the case that dozens of officers failed to solve in the 1980s. The DNA of Franklin’s son, collected after a felony arrest, had similarities to genetic material left on the bodies of many of the victims.

Bangor police say 12-year-old stole school bus, went on joy ride

Bangor police said that a 12-year-old boy stole a bus and went on a brief joy ride before a couple of good Samaritans intervened.

Bangor police said that a 12-year-old boy stole a bus and went on a brief joy ride before a couple of good Samaritans intervened.

Cumberland adjusts plan to spray for browntail moths in response to environmental concerns

The Town Council chooses a natural insecticide to kill off caterpillars after residents raise concerns about harm from synthetic chemicals.

CUMBERLAND — Town officials have modified their plan to spray insecticide to fight a browntail moth infestation, in response to residents’ concerns about environmental threats posed by chemical pesticides.

The town proposed using a truck-mounted sprayer to coat trees along three miles of Foreside Road with a chemical insecticide to kill browntail moth caterpillars. The invasive insects defoliate trees and can shed tiny hairs that cause skin rashes and respiratory problems in some people.

Although many residents support using pesticides to curb the worst moth infestation in more than a decade, some worried that a synthetic insecticide could harm people and the environment, including marine life in Casco Bay.

Terry Traver, a licensed pesticide applicator with Whitney Tree Service, said the town decided instead to use a naturally derived pesticide to tackle the infestation.

“We feel like it is a more environmentally friendly approach with some of the residents who were concerned about spraying pesticides, with their gardens and pets,” Traver said.

The natural treatment could be less effective than a synthetic spray, but it is less harmful to the environment, he said.

Browntail moths nest high in oak and apple trees. In May, 2-inch-long caterpillars break out of the nests and start feeding on new leaves before spinning cocoons in late June to pupate into moths.

The caterpillars can do extensive damage to trees and are covered with toxic hairs that can drift through the air and cause a rash similar to poison ivy and provoke respiratory problems for some people. The moths shed their skins five times a season, and the hairs stay in the environment and can cause problems for months after the caterpillars are gone.

Ivy Frignoca, the bay keeper for Friends of Casco Bay, said her office received half a dozen calls from residents with concerns about the spraying program before a public meeting on the proposal last week. Concerns about damage ranged from people and pets to marine animals along the coast.

“As the lead advocate for Casco Bay, when an issue like this comes up that threatens the health of the bay, we have to look into it,” Frignoca said.

The town planned to use Tempo, a synthetic neurotoxin, to kill the caterpillars. Tempo is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates and should not be allowed to run into storm water, according to the warning documents for the treatment. Even though state rules prohibit spraying pesticides within 250 feet of any shoreline, people were concerned that the chemical could find its way into Casco Bay and harm shellfish.

During the last browntail moth infestation, in the late 1990s, communities around Casco Bay used aerial sprays to counter the insects, but that was controversial because of its negative effect on shellfish, particularly lobsters. Cumberland is not considering an aerial spraying program this year.

For the spraying to be effective, the town needs a majority of Foreside Road residents to sign consent forms allowing the town’s contractor to spray on their properties. The deadline for signing the forms is Friday, and the town intends to start spraying next week.

Town Councilor Tom Gruber, a Foreside resident, said in response to resident concerns that the council decided to spray with spinosad, a chemical derived from soil bacterium that is toxic to insects and sold under the brand Conserve SC. The pesticide is less harmful to shellfish and it sticks to soil, giving it less potential to move to groundwater.

The town planned to spray only along Foreside Road, but now is expanding the scope of the project to include 18 private side streets. Private roads will be charged $300 to $500 for treatment, depending on the length of the road, according to a letter to residents from Town Manager Bill Shane.

The cost of the natural treatment is expected to be slightly more than the synthetic chemical, but Gruber said it shouldn’t exceed the $15,000 budgeted for the project.

“After a long discussion and concerns, we came up with a more environmentally friendly plan,” Gruber said.

SAP Partners With Apple To Expand iOS In The Enterprise

SAP has announced a partnership with Apple to bring iOS to SAP’s enterprise customers. Steve Lucas, president for SAP’s Digital Enterprise Platform, says SAP is firmly an enterprise company which has built a cloud platform to access all the software it…

SAP has announced a partnership with Apple to bring iOS to SAP’s enterprise customers. Steve Lucas, president for SAP’s Digital Enterprise Platform, says SAP is firmly an enterprise company which has built a cloud platform to access all the software it has developed — ERP product, SuccessFactors or Concur. With the new deal, Apple hopes to take a bite out of Microsoft’s territory by selling hardware to companies who traditionally shop for PCs. In an effort to push iOS to its customers, SAP has announced a new set of apps for the iPhone and iPad that take advantage of data stored in SAP tools. They’re providing an iOS SDK for its in-memory database product, SAP HANA, to allow organizations to build their own customized apps using the data stored in HANA. SAP is also offering SAP Academy for iOS as a way for SAP programmers to learn to use the HANA iOS SDK. The deal between Apple and SAP echoes the deal from a couple years ago between Apple and IBM.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Maine golf instructors take a swing at teaching golf to veterans with disabilities

The Augusta Country Club hopes to begin an eight-week program in June using adaptive golf techniques and equipment.

MANCHESTER — Professional Golf Association instructor Scott Mann said he often teaches his students to take swings with their eyes closed but never actually tried it himself. Until Thursday.

Mann and six other PGA instructors took part in an adaptive golf seminar at the Augusta Country Club in preparation for a new eight-week adaptive golf program in partnership with the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus.

“It was so different,” Mann said of swinging the club with his eyes closed and covered. “I had to use my other senses and get a feel, and sound and feel was all I could rely on.”

The seminar was led by Dave Windsor, an Atlanta-based instructor from the Adaptive Golf Association. Throughout the hourlong session on the driving range, the PGA pros, wearing pullovers and hats because of the unseasonably chilly weather, took part in drills designed to mimic playing golf with a disability.

Bob Mathews of Farmingdale is the assistant pro at Rockland Golf Course and was the first to try out the adaptive golf simulator. Mathews had his right knee bent in a device with a prosthetic leg and foot and was trying to balance while completing a full swing.

“The hard part was really balance, and it was also very tiring because I had too much weight on one side,” Mathews said. “What we learned is that anytime a veteran can get out and do something, it’s going to be beneficial to them.”

Augusta Country Club general manager Jason Hurd said swinging a club with the adaptive equipment was harder than he thought it was going to be. He hopes to get the program started sometime in June and said the course will set up forward tees in the middle of the fairways to shorten the course and make it more accessible.

“The experience has been wonderful, and we hope for the people that participate in the program that it is a life-changing experience,” Hurd said. “Golf is a great game that people can play for the rest of their life.”

Liz Marrone, a recreational therapist at Togus, said the adaptive sports program has “been really cooking since late 2013” and said the importance of the different activities to veteran well-being cannot be understated.

“It’s not necessarily about the sport or activity, but rather it’s the process and getting there and feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride,” Marrone said before taking some swings while sitting in a chair to re-create what it would be like to play golf in a wheelchair. “Recreational therapy is so individualized, so it is important to find what works.”

After the session concluded, Mann said he was looking forward to implementing adaptive golf at his club in Norway.

“The fact that veterans can still participate in things like this in life is huge,” Mann said. “To be able to bring this element to these people where they can regain their confidence is incredible.”

Windsor, who got his big break in the golf industry at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, said hearing from a veteran about the program’s effect is special.

“When you hear them talk after a program or a round of golf about how they got out there, controlled their emotions and made new relationships, it’s true therapy for them,” Windsor said. “There is such a crossover from the golf course to everyday life.”

It is also gratifying to see them absorbed in the process and learning the game, Windsor said.

“They are getting their families involved and focusing on things away from their upcoming appointments or surgeries,” he said. “It is a true escape for them to feel so much better about themselves.”

Augusta Country Club, off Western Avenue in Manchester, is a membership club, but Hurd said once the summer program is complete, any golfer who participated would be welcome to use the course for the remainder of the season.

Wal-Mart bringing back its door greeters

They were relocated four years ago, but now the company has decided they enhance customer service.

NEW YORK —Those smiley door greeters are back at Wal-Mart.

Four years ago, the discounter decided to remove the greeters at the front of the store and relocate them to other areas. But the nation’s largest retailer said in a blog post this week that it’s bringing back the greeters to a majority of its 5,000 stores by midsummer to improve customer service. Greeters were a tradition started by the company’s late founder, Sam Walton.

At stores that have been selected as higher risks for thefts, Wal-Mart will position a “customer host” who not only will greet customers, but also will check receipts to prevent theft. That was flagged as a growing problem last year. Those workers will be trained to help deter potential shoplifters.

The return of greeters comes as the retailer based in Bentonville, Arkansas is working to improve sales and service amid fierce competition from outlets ranging from dollar stores to online leader Amazon.com. The company has seen gains in a key revenue measure for six straight quarters at its Wal-Mart U.S. division, but the increases have been mostly small.

“Providing customers with an excellent first impression is part of Wal-Mart’s broader strategy to ensure simpler, more convenient shopping,” Mark Ibbotson, executive vice president of central operations for Wal-Mart’s U.S. division, wrote on the blog. “Focusing more on our greeters is one of a whole host of details we’re looking at – it just happens to be a very visible one.”

Wal-Mart is aiming to boost sales by improving the experience in the store through other ways as well. It has increased wages for its hourly workers, made the stores cleaner and has opened up more cash registers during busy times.

Manna Ministries failed to file IRS reports, lost tax-exempt status for year

The IRS reported in April 2014 that Manna lost its federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization effective November 2013 because it had failed to file Form 990s for three straight years.

The IRS reported in April 2014 that Manna lost its federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization effective November 2013 because it had failed to file Form 990s for three straight years.

Earthlings prepare to observe Mercury’s transit of sun Monday

The last time Mercury crossed directly between the Earth and sun was in 2006, and it won’t happen again until 2019.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Earthlings are in for a treat Monday as Mercury makes a relatively rare transit of the sun.

The solar system’s smallest, innermost planet will resemble a black round dot as it passes in front of our big, bright star. The last time Mercury crossed directly between the Earth and sun was in 2006, and it won’t happen again until 2019 – and then, until 2032. NASA says the event occurs only about 13 times a century.

Louis Mayo, program manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, considers it “a big deal.”

“Astronomers get excited when any two things come close to each other in the heavens,” Mayo said.

The eastern U.S. and Canada will see the entire 7 1/2-hour transit, as will most of South America, western Europe and westernmost Africa.

In the western portion of North America, stargazers can join in midway, at sunrise, while those in eastern Europe, central Asia, the Middle East and most of Africa will have to call it quits early when the sun goes down. Australia will have to sit this one out altogether.

Forget eclipse glasses. At barely 3,000 miles across, Mercury would be too small to spot. You’ll need binoculars or telescopes equipped with proper solar filters to protect your eyes.

Look for Mercury south of the sun’s equator. The planet might appear as though it’s hardly moving, but in reality it will be zooming past the sun at nearly 106,000 mph.

Three spacecraft will observe the transit, so if you can’t catch it with your own eyes, check out the space agency online . NASA promises images close to real time from its Solar Dynamic Observatory.

Astronomers have been observing Mercury transits since the 1600s. Monday’s occurrence will allow scientists to fine-tune instruments aboard solar observatories like SDO and learn even more about the sun.