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Published: Saturday, 1/22/2005

Fusion: Warm cookies, cold $$, 20 to 200 million

WARM COOKIES, COLD $$

When Marlene Johnson s mortgage increased by $400 a month, she wasn t sure what to do. Her income from cleaning local houses and businesses was already stretched thin providing for herself and her 14-year-old daughter, Krystal, she said. So she decided to save their house with an old-fashioned bake sale on eBay.

Everybody loves to eat, she said. I was sitting here thinking, what can I do that everybody likes? That s when I came up with the cookie idea.

For $100, customers receive nine packages, shipped for Valentine s Day, Easter, Mother s Day, Father s Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a birthday. Each shipment contains chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, butter and fudge cookies.

Johnson went through a difficult divorce seven years ago, and legal bills left her bankrupt. It was like $35,000 by the time it was done, she said. It was one day at a time after that.

About a year ago, Johnson began selling odds and ends on eBay, but it wasn t until the mortgage increased on her house in Cohoes, N.Y., that she decided to market her baking talents. I usually get up around 5 a.m. when I have a lot of baking to do, she said. I let the cookies cool, and then I wrap them up. If they re going to be shipped, I like to do it immediately so it gets to them fresh.

Priority Mail shipping within the United States is an additional $45.

Small packages of cookie samples are available for about $3.

20 TO 200 MILLION

The recording industry reports a tenfold increase in the number of people legally downloading music from the Internet and the first significant revenues brought in by digital sales. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, also says it will continue its campaign of suing people who illegally download music, a practice it claims severely erodes the profits of its 1,450 member record companies across the globe. The IFPI said Wednesday that music fans in the United States and Europe legally downloaded more than 200 million tracks in 2004, up from about 20 million in 2003. That contributed to estimated digital music revenues of around $330 million in 2004, up sixfold from the previous year. The IFPI said there are now more than 230 online sites where consumers can buy music legally, up from 50 a year ago. Music on mobile phones is also becoming increasingly popular, with Asia leading the way the Japanese ring tone market was worth $100 million in 2004. Industry forecasts for future digital growth vary. Some analysts suggest that 25 percent of record company revenue could come from digital sales by 2010; others put the figure at less than 10 percent up from 1 percent to 2 percent now.

REMOTE BOOT

New software from Toshiba will let you edit documents, send e-mail and reboot your Windows computer remotely through a mobile phone. Toshiba is planning to offer the service in Japan by the end of March through CDMA1X mobile phones offered by KDDI Corp. The idea of accessing personal computers through mobile phones isn t new, but the software has been limited in capability. Toshiba says its Ubiquitous Viewer handles virtually all the Windows PC functions. But making a cell phone work like a keyboard and mouse and trying to view computer screens on a tiny display can be quite a challenge. You need to do a lot of button-punching and scrolling. And in a recent demonstration, the mobile connection failed twice before a document could be copied and pasted as an e-mail attachment. Toshiba is initially targeting the corporate work force, though it says individuals can use it to record TV shows, work security cameras and control air conditioners tied to home networks.

GRAND SLAM

Major League Baseball and its players union reached a five-year, $50 million deal expected to boost the types and quality of fantasy baseball games over the Internet. Typically sites like ESPN and Yahoo license rights to use players names and uniform numbers from the Major League Baseball Players Association. Under the deal, sites will now license those rights from the league and can package them with video highlights, images of uniforms, team logos and other intellectual properties the league owns. Bob Bowman, chief executive of baseball s Internet arm, said the league wanted to develop games that take advantage of broadband and mobile connections. So expect video and player updates to be added to the popular rotisserie baseball leagues. And expect three to four new games that might take less time for busy fans to play.

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FROM THE BLADE S WIRE SERVICES AND STAFF.

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