Monday, December 31, 2012

Is the Sony Xperia X a dual SIM version of the Sony Xperia Z?

1. aveese posted on 8 hours ago 1 4

the bottom part???!!! will this android enable rotating 180 degrees without root???

2. Katrina posted on 8 hours ago 4 0

yo alan, that is a wrong picture of Xperia Z (Yuga).

The picture you posted is Xperia GX (Japan version). Which is already out in japan.

3. Katrina posted on 8 hours ago 2 0

and its not a picture of a TX, cause it has the NTT DOCO. logo at the top, yet they both share the same design.

4. Insignificant posted on 5 hours ago 3 0

This is the worst piece of journalism in the world. If Android Authority (or lack of authority) and iPhoneArena read XperiaBlog properly, they'd know the only thing mentioned about the 'dual' aspect was that it had a textured back like the Xperia E dual.

This makes me cringe.

Furthermore, at least you realise Yuga is not 6", which is what we have known the whole time, but you people keep misunderstanding - there's a 6"+ phablet...And we all knew Yuga and Odin were like the TX and T...(virtually identical).

Just terrible.

EDIT: If you use google translate with the original source, it says dual Sim, however, this is Google translate, and Xperiablog is known to handle chinese/vietnamese sites well.

6. Droid_X_Doug posted on 2 hours ago 0 0

I am curious why dual SIM phones haven't caught on (or, just aren't sold) in the U.S. - they would seem to be the perfect solution to marginal coverage for one carrier with good coverage for another carrier in the same location. Or, business and personal accounts.


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Pets Have Style Too: Gear for Our Four Legged Roommates Best of ...

Pets1_rect540 Giving Props to Prized Pets: Personalized Prints & Portraits Pets1_square72Pets2_square72Pets3_square72Pets4_square72Pets5_square72Pets6_square72Pets7_square72Pets8_square72Pets9_square72Pets10_square72

Pets are some of the most joyful roommates to have ? but their gear can be overwhelming and lacking in style. Ah, but stylish pet products do exist! Over the past year we saw some fantastically styled and space saving pet products. These are 10 of our favorite posts?

? Giving Props to Prized Pets: Personalized Prints & Portraits
? Cozy Handcrafted Cat Beds
? Best Modern Litter Boxes 2012
? 9 Well Designed Dog Toys: Aesthetically Pleasing Things to Chew On
? 10 Well Designed Cat Toys
? Cat and Dog Devices for the Tech-Savvy Owner
? Best Modern Dog Crates 2012
? Texting Dog Collars and Other Smart Tech for Pets
? Space Saving Cat Bed: Cat Crib
? Pads For The Pampered Pooch: The Best Modern Dog Beds

Welcome to Apartment Therapy's Best of 2012 roundup! From December 19 through January 1 we are rounding up our favorite (and your favorite) posts from the past year.

More of the Best of 2012

(Images: See linked posts for full image credits)


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Egypt's president warns against dangers to economy

CAIRO (AP) ? Egypt's Islamist president used his first address before the newly convened upper house of parliament on Saturday to warn against any unrest that could harm the country's battered economy, as he renewed calls for the opposition to join in a national dialogue.

In the nationally televised speech, Mohammed Morsi said the nation's entire efforts should be focused on "production, work, seriousness and effort" now that a new constitution came into effect this week. He blamed protests and violence the past month for causing further damage to an economy already deteriorating from the turmoil since the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak early last year.

In an alarm bell over the economy, the central bank announced soon after Morsi's speech that foreign currency reserves ? which have been bleeding away for nearly two years ? are at a "critical" level, the minimum needed to cover foreign debt payments and buy strategic imports.

Morsi's strongly worded address to lawmakers appeared aimed at sending a message to the mainly liberal and secular opposition not to engage in any new protests, depicting unrest as a threat to the priority of rebuilding.

All sides must "realize the needs of the moment" and work only through "mature democracy while avoiding violence," Morsi told the 270-member upper house, or Shura Council. "We condemn and reject all forms of violence by individuals, groups, institutions and even from the nation and its government. This is completely rejected."

He appeared to chide the opposition for not working with him.

"We all know the interests of the nation," he said. "Would any of us be happy if the nation goes bankrupt? I don't doubt anyone's intentions. But can anyone here be happy if the nation is exposed to economic weakness?"

The mainly liberal and secular opposition accuses Morsi of concentrating all power on the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails, and other Islamists and steamrolling any alternative voices.

The main opposition groups have refused to join a national dialogue convened by Morsi, saying past talks have brought no compromise. They also stayed out of the president's appointments last week of a few opposition figures to the overwhelmingly Islamist Shura Council, calling the move tokenism.

The bitterness between the two sides was inflamed by the crisis of the past month leading up to the referendum that passed the new constitution. Mass street rallies were held by both the opposition trying to stop the charter and by Morsi's Islamist supporters determined to push it to victory. Clashes that erupted left 10 dead. The charter was approved by 64 percent, but with a low turnout of around 33 percent. Civil society groups and the opposition also point to incidents of fraud in the vote they say have not been properly investigated.

Opponents fear the new charter will consecrate the Islamists' power. The document allows for a stronger implementation of Islamic law, or Shariah, than in the past and has provisions that could limit civil rights and freedoms of minorities.

Morsi has depicted his national dialogue as a chance for all factions to have a voice in planning the next steps and drawing up key legislation to put before the upper house, including a law organizing parliamentary elections. So far, mainly Islamists and only a few small opposition parties are participating.

Liberal former lawmaker Amr Hamzawi said the president's speech offered no new insights and failed to acknowledge significant opposition to the Islamist-drafted constitution. Hamzawi was among those who walked out in protest of the Islamists' handling of the draft process earlier this year.

"We need binding mechanisms to amend the flawed constitution, guarantee that the legislative role of the upper house of parliament will be temporary and to ensure fair elections," he said. "We will not enter into fraud elections each and every time."

Morsi's address aimed to set the tone as the Shura Council begins work on a slate of new laws. The upper house normally has few powers but it will now serve as the law-making body until a new lower house is chosen in national elections expected within a few months. Two thirds of the Shura Council members were elected in voting last winter, but few Egyptians bothered to vote, and Islamist allies of Morsi swept the chamber.

The ultraconservative Salafi al-Nour Party, the second strongest party after the Brotherhood's political wing, suffered a blow this week when its founder and chief Emad Abdel-Ghafour resigned to start a new party, Al-Watan. He took with him around 150 members, including many who were elected to office. The fracturing of the party may bolster the Brotherhood in the coming elections.

In his speech, Morsi repeatedly said it was time to return to "production" and "work." But he did not give details on an overall economic program, including crucial questions like how the government will tackle a crippling budget deficit or carry out expected tax hikes or reductions of subsidies.

The impending austerity measures are major concerns in a country where some 40 percent of the 85 million population live near or below the poverty line of surviving on $2 a day. Morsi's government has requested a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to bridge the budget deficit, but talks are on hold after the government reversed plans for tax hikes this month.

Instead, Morsi denounced those who he said were spreading panic about Egypt's economy, saying the country will "not go bankrupt." He underlined that banks were healthy, after a rush to buy dollars the past week over fears of devaluation of the Egyptian pound.

"Those who talk about bankruptcy, they are the ones who are bankrupt. Egypt will never be bankrupt and will not kneel, God willing," he said to a round of applause.

He directly blamed the past month's violence for Standard & Poor's downgrading this week of Egypt's long-term credit rating one level this week to B-, six steps below investment grade.

Morsi presented the country's foreign currency reserves, currently at $15 billion, as up slightly from last year, though he acknowledged they were still down dramatically from around $36 billion in 2010.

After last year's anti-Mubarak uprising, foreign investment and tourism ? one of the country's biggest money makers ? dried up. With fewer dollars coming in, the central bank has been spending reserves furiously to prop up the currency and pay for key imports. The slight uptick in reserves from last year is mainly due to hundreds of millions of dollars provided by the Gulf nation of Qatar.

In its statement Saturday, the central bank announced the introduction of a new auction system for banks buying and selling U.S. dollars, urging citizens to "ration usage" of foreign currency in favor of the Egyptian pound.

Amr Adly, who heads the Social and Economic Justice Unit at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said Morsi's speech failed to outline a real economic recovery plan.

"We need to know the reality of the economic situation and have an idea of the measures that will be taken to address this situation," Adly said. "We are not bankrupt yet because we can still service the debt, but we are on the verge of bankruptcy."


AP writer Mariam Rizk contributed to this report from Cairo


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Chitika: iPad rules ?biggest ever? holiday


How did holiday sales of tablets shake out? Although sales numbers aren?t yet available, we can get some idea of which devices were in most demand. For instance, Amazon?s Kindle Fire, followed by Samsung?s Galaxy tablets and Google Nexus devices were the top three non-iPad products serving ad impressions in December, according to an ad firm.

Although the iPad (both the full-size versions and the iPad mini) accounts for 87 percent of U.S. and Canadian tablet-based ad impressions, the Kindle Fire was next best with 4.25 percent of tablet traffic. The Samsung Galaxy tablets had 2.65 percent, while the Google Nexus family of tablets garnered 1.06 percent of tablet traffic, according to ad network Chitika?

Per data,?for every hundred iPad impressions, the Kindle got five, the Galaxy got three and the Nexus just a bit over one impression.

What about Microsoft?s Surface, which flooded the holiday airwaves with commercials and product placements? For every hundred iPad impressions, the Surface registered a whopping 0.22, according to Chitika.

iPad mini promo (Smart Cover, launching Safari)

By the way, the anemic numbers of the Surface mirror the tiny 0.13 fraction of tablet traffic reported reported earlier.

Obviously, the Kindle Fire did best against the iPad.

The 4.25 percent share of tablet impressions December 8-14 was a twenty percent increase over the same time last year, when the analytics firm announced a 3.75 percent share of tablet traffic.

Kindle Fire HD (two up, front, portrat, landscape)

The Samsung Galaxy, after all the free publicity from its rancorous court fights with Apple, gained only a fraction of North American tablet traffic. The South Korean firm?s percentage rose to 2.65 percent, up from 2.36 percent a year ago.

Google appears to be the dark horse, little discussed, but registering a fifteen percent increase over 2011. According to Chitika, the Google Nexus family of tablets rose from 0.91 percent of tablet impressions to 1.06 percent in December.

Nexus 10 (front, right-angled, home screen)

All of which brings us back to the iPad and the doom-and-gloom forecasts that Apple?s tablet is rapidly being outpaced by Android alternatives.

At least in North America and in terms of advertising, the iPad plummeted an entire one percent ? 87 percent now versus 88 percent in November. No doubt, Apple executives are nervous at the prospect of their closest competitor gaining 0.68 percent in a year.


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Little time left to head off longshoremen's strike

NEW YORK (AP) ? Shipments of products as varied as flat-screen TVs, sneakers and snow shovels could sit idle at sea or get rerouted, at great time and expense, if more than 14,000 longshoremen go on strike as threatened ? a wide-ranging work stoppage that would immediately close cargo ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico to container ships.

Commerce could be brought to a near standstill at major ports from Boston to Houston if the strike takes place on Sunday, potentially delivering a big blow to retailers and manufacturers still struggling to find their footing in a weak economy.

"If the port shuts down, nothing moves in or out," said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. And when the workers do return, "it's going to take time to clear out that backlog, and we don't know how long that it's going to take."

The 15 ports involved in the labor dispute move more than 100 million tons of goods each year, or about 40 percent of the nation's containerized cargo traffic. Losing them to a shutdown, even for a few days, could cost the economy billions of dollars.

In addition to transporting goods, U.S. factories also rely on container ships for parts and raw materials, meaning supply lines for all sorts of products could be squeezed.

"The global economy moves by water, and shutting down container ports along the East and Gulf coasts while the national economy remains fragile benefits no one," Deborah Hadden, acting port director at Massport, the public agency that oversees shipping terminals in Boston. It is not a part of the contract dispute.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said "the livelihood of thousands of Florida families lies in the balance."

The master contract between the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, a group representing shipping lines, terminal operators and port associations, expired in September. The two sides agreed to extend it once already, for 90 days, but they have so far balked at extending it again when it expires at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The union said its members would agree to an extension only if the Maritime Alliance dropped a proposal to freeze the royalties workers get for every container they unload. The Alliance has argued that the longshoremen, who it said earn an average $124,138 per year in wages and benefits, are compensated well enough already.

Federal mediators have been trying to push negotiations along, but there has been no word from either side on the progress of the talks since Dec. 24. As recently as Dec. 19, the president of the longshoremen, Harold Daggett, said the talks weren't going well and that a strike was expected.

The work stoppage would not be absolute. Longshoremen would continue to handle military cargo, mail, passenger ships, non-containerized items like automobiles, and perishable commodities, like fresh food.

Joseph Ahlstrom, a professor at the State University of New York's Maritime College and a former cargo ship captain, called container ships the "lifeblood of the country."

"We don't fly in a lot of products. It's just too expensive," Ahlstrom said. "The bulk of the products we import come in inside containers."

The White House has weighed in on the issue, urging dockworkers and shipping companies Thursday to reach agreement "as quickly as possible" on a contract extension. Obama spokesman Matt Lehrich said the administration is monitoring the situation closely.

If it happens, the walkout could be the biggest national port disruption since 2002, when unionized dockworkers were locked out of 29 West Coast ports for 10 days because of a contract dispute.

The ports only reopened after President George W. Bush, invoking powers given to him by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, ordered an 80-day cooling-off period. Some economists estimated that each day of that lockout cost the U.S. economy $1 billion. It took months for the retail supply chain to fully recover.

An East Coast port freeze would have its biggest impact at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where 3,250 longshoremen handled 32.3 million tons of cargo in 2010. The authority is not a party to the contract dispute.

Other major ports affected would include Savannah, Ga., which handled 18 million tons, and Houston and Hampton Roads, Va., which each handled more than 12.5 million tons.

Thousands of other jobs would be directly affected by the shutdown. Truck drivers might not have any cargo to transport, tug boat captains no ships to guide and freight train operators nothing to haul.

Simultaneously, another labor dispute involving dock workers was playing out on the West Coast.

Longshoremen at several Pacific Northwest grain terminals worked Thursday under contract terms they soundly rejected last weekend. The owners implemented the terms after declaring talks at an impasse. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has yet to announce its next move.

Workplace rules, not salary and benefits, have been the obstacle to a new deal.

The dispute involves terminals in Portland, Ore., Vancouver, Wash., and Seattle, where longshoremen have been working without an agreement since the last contract expired Sept. 30.


Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Washington and Tamara Lush in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.


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Wis. couple says pet chicken alerted them to blaze

MILWAUKEE (AP) ? A Wisconsin couple says clucks, not fire trucks, helped them escape a blaze at their home.

Dennis Murawska, 59, said a pet chicken named Cluck Cluck woke his wife Susan Cotey, 52, with loud clucking from its cage in the basement two floors below about 6:15 a.m. Thursday. The couple's two cats also were running around the main floor.

Murawska said he had been half awake but didn't know about the fire because the smoke alarms hadn't gone off. He realized something was wrong when his wife got up.

"The chicken gets quite vocal when she gets excited," he said.

Cluck Cluck came from a nearby farm in Alma Center, about 135 miles east of Minneapolis, Murawska said. When the chicken began wandering over to his house, his neighbor said he could kill it because it wasn't producing any eggs. But Murawska felt sorry for Cluck Cluck because she had a mutated foot and decided to keep her. He fed the bird and built a coop, and then his wife let Cluck Cluck into the basement on cold nights.

"I spent way more money than I ever should've," Murawska said by telephone. "I guess it paid off."

The couple escaped, and firefighters found the chicken in its cage and one of the cats alive in the basement. Another cat hasn't been found and is presumed dead, Murawska said. The couple and their surviving cat checked into a Black River Falls hotel, while Cluck Cluck is staying with the neighbor who used to own her.

Alma Center Fire Chief Jeff Gaede said the fire started in the attic of the attached garage and was not suspicious. The house was a total loss, but it could have been worse ? if not for the chicken.

"We are used to hearing about a dog or cat or something, but we never heard of a chicken waking up a resident for a fire," Gaede said. "That's pretty amazing."


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SWAC Girl: Family snow day ... sledding, chili, board games

?The day-after-Christmas snowstorm yesterday left 4-6 inches of snow and ice in the Shenandoah Valley and, while we got out and roamed during the storm, the wind-driven sleet stung bare skin and made being outdoors cold and challenging.

?Today the sun came out and, though the temperatures remained cold and the wind blew, it was perfect for sledding on the hill behind our house. Our new son-in-law, who grew up in Atlanta, had never been sledding before so today provided the perfect opportunity for him to take part in this fun wintertime activity. He donned the proper winter gear and chose one of the many sleds that our kids have used throughout the years, and hit the trail.

?The icy surface made fast snow, and sledding runs were exciting as we zipped across the frozen precipitation. Runs began at the top of the hill and continued as far as the sledder was willing to go before climbing back up the hill to take yet another run.

?He caught on quickly and was enjoying the experience as much as everyone else.?

?The longest trail began at the top of the hill at the road ...

?... and continued to the bottom of the hill through the trees.

?Their sleds made a trail that went out of sight.

?Victory! He made it all the way to the bottom. The track to his left is where I went into some briary underbrush at the edge of the woods. There were a couple of bumps during the day, and he had brief encounters with several trees that left a bruise or two.

?It may be winter but the swing is still an attraction.

This was one of the tree encounters. He's not hurt ... he's lying on the ground laughing.?

It was a day filled with fun and laughter and good times, a reminder of the years our children were young and this was an everyday part of our lives whenever we had snow. They could hardly wait to get outdoors, and then did not want to go back inside even though they were about to freeze. We would take off cold, wet gloves and boots and jackets and hats, and lay them around the wood stove to dry.

Some things never change ... today the wood stove was once again surrounded by gloves and boots and jackets and hats as they dried out for the next adventure into the snow. We stopped for lunch, eating chili and drinking eggnog, and played a board game and took it easy before heading out later in the day for night sledding. It was keeper day, the kind that makes memories.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
December 27, 2012


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E-Book Reading Is Up, Study Says -

?The printed page/ was just half a millennium?s brief wonder,? theorized John Updike in a late poem. Exactly when the old order will be completely overthrown is in some dispute, however.

The original thinking was that digital books would triumph very soon, and in some quarters this notion has persisted. ?I?m hearing from publishers that the percent of e-books keeps rising as expected,? said James McQuivey, a Forrester analyst. ?They tell me to expect e-books to reach half of all books sold sometime between the end of 2013 and the first half of 2014.? But in recent months there have been frequent reports that e-book sales might be cresting. That would shift the dynamics, giving breathing space to publishers laboring to make the digital transition and perhaps forestalling what some fear will be the total domination of Amazon.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project will not give much comfort to those who want to hang on, for better or worse, to the printed past.

Sales of dedicated e-book readers may have peaked last year, but the percentage of Americans owning one rose to 19 percent from 10 percent. Readers of printed books, meanwhile, fell to 67 percent from 72 percent.

Regardless of where they do it, the Pew study presented what seems a fairly upbeat picture of reading. Readers consumed an average of 15 books in the previous year. Fourteen percent of the respondents read 21 or more books. The sample size of respondents was 2,252.


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Friday, December 28, 2012

NCKU's i-Transport robot wheelchair helps riders reach full height

NCKU's iTransport robot wheelchair helps riders reach loftier heights

Those who have to use a wheelchair are often bound to the elevation of the seat if they want to reach something, which isn't fair when some parts of our world are still built for standing height. Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University is redressing that imbalance with the i-Transport. Its robotic vehicle can raise the driver to an upright level and shift them into a better position to grab objects that wouldn't otherwise be at arm's length. The added independence doesn't stop with the assistance, either, as the i-Transport carries its own blood pressure and breathing monitors to keep checkups to a minimum. NCKU hasn't said how likely it is that we'll see the robot enter mass production, but we hope it forges ahead -- the potential freedom would be worth the effort.

Filed under: ,


Source: NCKU


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If Chuck Hagel Won't Be Secretary of Defense, Who Will Be?

Will President Obama still choose Chuck Hagel, the suddenly embattled former Nebraska senator, as Leon Panetta's successor at the Pentagon??Several?different?comments?came back to haunt Hagel since his name?surfaced?as the "likely" cabinet nominee, but over the long holiday weekend the opposition expanded from familiar Republican faces?to a growing chorus.?On Meet the Press,?New York senator Chuck Schumer declined to say whether he endorsed Hagel's nomination, and while Politico's Mike Allen is already calling Hagel "toast," The Atlantic's Robert Wright and others quite rightly say the decision is still "in Obama's hands."

RELATED: Chuck Hagel Is Sorry for Calling Another Potential Appointee 'Aggressively Gay'

Still, Hagel's foes have planted enough doubt to make the confirmation process tenuous, maybe even impossible. It's "fair" to say he's looking at other candidates, National Journal?reports.?So if the president looks elsewhere, who are?the alternatives? According to?The Hill, Obama has two names in his back pocket, should Hagel's nomination continue its downward slope: Mich?le Flournoy and Ash Carter, both veterans of the current Department of Defense administration. Flournoy previously served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy between 2009 and early 2012. She also co-founded the Center for a New American Security, a sort of joint-operation (as described by Michael Hastings) between the media and the Department of Defense. Carter, meanwhile, currently serves as the Deputy Secretary of Defense, but early speculation has focused almost exclusively on Flournoy.?The New Republic's Molly Redden points out:

Flournoy's apparent supporters now include the?Weekly Standard?s?Bill Kristol?(who essentially argued that she wouldn't be as objectionable as Hagel), Romney foreign policy adviser?Dan Senor, and Bush Defense Secretary?Paul Wolfowitz?...

Redden points to this tweet of Senor's:

Isn't it strange that the President dropped Rice but is dug in over #Hagel? Especially when he can nominate the highly qualified #Flournoy

? Dan Senor (@dansenor) December 20, 2012

None of these people, it should also be pointed out, work for President Obama. And President Obama, as administration told?The New York Times well-sourced David Sanger regarding the now official nomination of John Kerry as Secretary of State, had "some discomfort" about a round of cabinet appointments with as high a percentage of old white men as the new House leadership. Flounoy would be the first female defense secretary.

RELATED: This 'Jewish Lobby' Quote Could Ignite a Chuck Hagel Confirmation

Hagel's nomination may still prevail, of course. Four former National Security Advisors wrote a letter to The Washington Post on Christmas titled "In defense of Chuck Hagel,"??and?today's Thomas Friedman column?defends?Hagel's stances toward Middle East policy?and concludes that, while Hagel is indeed "out of the mainstream," such is "exactly why his voice would be valuable right now."?


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Thursday, December 27, 2012

PST: Injury sees Dempsey miss out again for Spurs

Last week it took us by surprised, but after getting word of his injury, concern about Clint Dempsey?s exclusion from Tottenham?s team against Stoke proved much ado about nothing. Whereas the first reaction from U.S. Men?s National Team fans was one of concern, word of ?Deuce?s? groin injury help assuage worries the USMNT linchpin was losing time with his club.

But over the Christmas holiday we heard very little about his (or anybody?s) fitness, so when the U.S. international was again excluded from Andr? Villas-Boas?s team for today?s match at Villa Park, there were renewed concerns. Only this time, the concerns were accompanied by a bit of conspiracy.

Where?s Clint Dempsey? And why don?t we know more about his status?

Today against Aston Villa, Villas-Boas has selected the same four players who started at forward and wide midfield in Spurs? 0-0 weekend draw with Stoke. Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe were up top. Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon wide.

And just under an hour into today?s match, the results have been much the same. That Tottenham has continued to struggle without Dempsey will provide some solace for Deuce?s biggest supporters, even if Defoe?s broken through near the hour.

MORE: Wayne Rooney set to miss three weeks for Manchester United

Still, all this fretting exaggerates the influence of Dempsey?s injury. While it?s true that the former Cottager may see slightly less time in a fully healthy Spurs team, he?s not going to be forgotten. Villas-Boas clearly values Dempsey?s contributions, which is why the American was not only immediately inserted into Spurs? starting XI after his arrival but also maintained his place during his early season adaptation.

And paranoia about his injury status may also go too far. Given the nature of groin injuries, if Dempsey was hurt on Saturday, it?s not unreasonable that he?d continue to have problems today. It?s only been three days.

Until we hear more, there?s no reason to think Dempsey?s fitness is a serious concern. Nor is there reason to think he?s fallen out of favor at White Hart Lane.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Computers May Someday Beat Chefs At Creating Flavors We Crave

Does bell pepper and black tea sound appetizing? A computer may think so.

Ryan Smith/NPR

Does bell pepper and black tea sound appetizing? A computer may think so.

Ryan Smith/NPR

Mario Batali, watch your back.

Computer scientists at IBM have already built a computer that can beat human contestants on the TV quiz show, "Jeopardy." Now it appears they're sharpening their intellectual knives to make a computer that might someday challenge the competitors on "Iron Chef."

This is no trivial pursuit. Beating humans in a quiz show was a high-water mark for the computer science field. It meant designing a computer that understood how humans think. Now the plan is to design a computer that can understand how humans dream up new ideas, including new recipes.

"The goal in computational creativity is to come up with new things that have never been seen before," says Lav Varshney, a computer scientist at IBM. (Watch him explain the idea in the video below.)

Why focus on food? "Because food is so visceral," says Varshney. Everyone eats. It helps define our culture."

Culinary creativity isn't just about coming up with something novel. Varshney and his colleagues are hoping to make a computer that will be able to come up with recipes that taste good and don't add to our waistlines.

So how do you turn a computer into a culinary genius? The first step is to give the computer access to a database of recipes that are already being used successfully. "Then we remix them, substitute things, do all kinds of other modifications and generate millions of new ideas for recipes," says Varshney.

How about some chocolate drizzled over blue cheese?

Ryan Smith/NPR

How about some chocolate drizzled over blue cheese?

Ryan Smith/NPR

"The second step is to take those millions of ideas and find the best ones. To do that we try to predict what humans will find flavorful, based on some basic ideas from chemistry and psychology."

For example, they started with an idea known as the flavor pairing hypothesis. "The basic idea is that two ingredients that share a lot of flavor compounds will go together well in Western cuisine," says Varshney. (We wrote about a University of Cambridge study on this concept just last year.)

But Varshney and his colleagues are not just interested in things that are flavorful, but also food combinations that are perceived as novel ? like bell peppers and black tea, blue cheese and dark chocolate ? even turmeric and black currants. They have some ideas from information theory and psychology that will help them come up with more.

The computer has already spit out some interesting suggestions. For example, last week Varshney and his colleagues tried a computer-generated recipe that was a mash up of a Spanish paella and an Indian curry. "It had turmeric and some other Indian spices and potatoes, pork and beef and then it has a kinda of a mango rum topping," says Varshney.

And how did it taste? "I'm actually vegetarian so I didn't eat that one, but the team did," he says. "They thought it was pretty good."

Varshney is hoping that their work will lead to make school lunches more attractive to students. They also hope it will help combat obesity by finding dishes that will satisfy people's food cravings without the accompanying calories.

Varshney says the work to create to a computerized top chef is just starting. IBM doesn't expect the computer will be ready for prime time for five years or so.


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How to set up your new HDTV

1 hr.

It?s not possible for a TV to be set at the factory with the best settings possible for your home. Take 20 minutes or so on your end, and you can drastically improve the picture quality. If you just bought a TV, or just haven't found the time to mess around with your set,?here are tips for doing it right.?

If you really?want to nail it,?we suggest a?setup Blu-ray. They?re cheap, and the?Disney WOW?disc is especially helpful and easy to follow. (A step-up from that would be the $30?ISF HDTV?Calibration Wizard.)

Straight?out of the box
All HDTVs generally?have a start-up?screen that lets the user to choose between a home mode and a store demo mode.?This is extremely important. The store mode is designed to produce the brightest image ? at the expense of black level, contrast ratio and energy efficiency. To obtain the best picture select the home mode. You will still be able to make fine-tuning?adjustments to maximize image quality.

The screen will also ask you to choose your?language, and will ask about using over-the-air antenna or cable/satellite. If you don?t use an antenna, make sure you select cable/satellite.?You don?t want the TV to go into the tuner mode,?because?you won't see an image.

Special instructions for smart TVs
If your new HDTV has Internet connectivity for streaming movies and other content, the next step should be connecting to the Internet. All smart TVs have an Ethernet connection if you want to wire the TV directly. Many also have Wi-Fi for wireless set-up. Follow the on-screen instructions or the?owner?s manual for the proper steps.

Once completed, you should make sure you have the latest version of the TV's software, by performing a firmware update as per your TV's instructions. The update may add new features, Internet services and even apps, and will assure you have the latest and best version of your new HDTV. Don't skip this:?Nearly every TV we test has newer firmware waiting for it when we connect it to the Internet.

Picture modes
Nearly all TVs have picture modes that adjust multiple settings to create a certain look to the image. The best idea is to start with the most accurate setting, then adjust as you see fit. With nearly all TVs, this mode is called ?Movie,? ?Cinema,? or something similar. If these aren?t options, ?Standard? is likely closest.

If you?ve already?been watching your TV for more than a few minutes, switching to one of these modes is going to be a shock. It will seem red (warm) and soft. It isn?t, which I?ll explain as we go.

This control adjusts the bright parts of the image: Clouds, white shirts, snow, etc. The idea is to set this control high enough that the image ?pops,? but not so high as to mask detail, like cloud?textures or shirt?wrinkles. All TVs have a maximum contrast setting, above which you?re not making the image any brighter,?you?re just making near-white objects totally white.

If you?re using a setup disc, the contrast pattern will have a ramp of progressively whiter bars. The idea is to be able see most of these (but not those labeled ?above white?).

If you?re not using a setup disc, find a TV show (ideally a live sporting event) that takes place outside. Skiing works great for this, though baseball does as well (fly balls, any shot of the sky). The idea is to be able to set the control so that you can still see detail in bright white objects. There should almost never be bright white blobs on the screen. If there are, turn the contrast control down until those blobs get their detail back.

There is no average number to use as a guideline for setting?contrast, but it?s almost never 100 percent,?or anything close. Start somewhere around 80 percent and go from there.

This is the opposite of the contrast control. Despite its name, brightness control adjusts the dark parts of the image: Shadows, black hair, black leather jackets. The idea here is to set it low enough that the picture has lots of contrast (as in, the difference in the light and dark parts of the image), but not so far that there?s just huge swaths of blackness on screen during any night scene.

If you?re using a setup disc, the brightness pattern will have a ramp of progressively darker black bars. The idea is to be able see most of these (but not those labeled ?below black? or similar).

If you?re setting this by eye, any night or darkly lit scene will do. Set the control fairly low, down?past the point where you lose detail. Now gradually increase it until you see detail in the darkness. If the picture looks gray or washed out, you?ve brought your brightness too far up.

Generally speaking, you shouldn?t have to adjust these at all. These are holdovers from the old tube (CRT) TV days. With component and HDMI connections, the TV shouldn?t need adjustment to color or tint.

But so you know, color is color saturation. Set too high, people will look sunburned, and everything will seem cartoony. Tint adjusts the green/red in the image (Martian/lobster). Without specific color filters (that usually come with setup discs), you can?t adjust either of these settings these correctly. Skip.

This is a highly misleading control. Generally speaking, sharpness control adds enhancement to the image to make it appear sharp. Ironically, by doing so, it?s actually masking true fine detail in the image. This setting should be set as low as possible. Some TVs actually?soften?the image if you set it too low (bizarre, to be sure), so watch out for that. Look for dark lines on a bright background, like the?edges of buildings for instance. Lower this setting so there isn?t any ghost line next to the dark edge. This ghost line is called ?edge enhancement,? and goes a long way in making the image look artificial.

Once you get used to the naturalness of the image without edge enhancement, you?ll never go back.

Color temperature
This one is going to be tough. Not because it requires any labor on your part, it?s just going to do something to the image that at first is going to seem bad.

Color temperature is how bluish or reddish the image looks. Picture a typical scene of people walking down a street. Set the color temp too cool, and it will look like they?re walking down the street in winter, with that season?s normal bluish tones. Set the color temp too warm, and it will be a reddish warm day instead.

With most TVs, the ideal setting is ?warm? or ?low.? In some cases, this is too warm, and ?normal? is closer. If you?re changing the settings for the first time, and the TV was set in the ?cool? color temp mode, everything will look wrong, and even??normal? will appear to your eye as too warm. Give your eyes time to adjust. Watch on ?normal? for a few hours, and then ?cool? will seem incredibly blue.

This is an LCD-specific control ??plasma TVs don?t have backlights.?Think of the backlight setting as a volume control for the image. Turn it up, and the entire picture (bright whites and dark blacks alike) get brighter. Turn it down, and everything gets darker.?

If you leave this turned all the way up, not only are you wasting energy, but at night your TV can be hard to watch. Modern LCDs are extremely bright, and watching such a small bright object in a dark room can create severe eye fatigue.

For critical viewing, or watching at night, the idea is to get the best black levels, while still creating a watchable image. Once you set contrast and brightness correctly, turn the backlight control all the way down. This will likely be too dark for most viewing. Turn it up to the point where it looks the best. Often, at night, this could be as low as 20 percent, depending on the TV.?During the day, you can?set this as high as you want.

Interestingly, no setup disc offers instructions on how to set this control.?Read more on this in our?buyer-beware article on TV backlights.

For more on what your HDTV?s controls do, read our?Guide to HDTV Settings.

You can catch up with?Geoff Morrison on Twitter at?@TechWriterGeoff. His novel, "Undersea," is now in paperback.

More?from HD Guru:


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Enzyme accelerates malignant stem cell cloning in chronic myeloid leukemia

Dec. 24, 2012 ? An international team, headed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has identified a key enzyme in the reprogramming process that promotes malignant stem cell cloning and the growth of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a cancer of the blood and marrow that experts say is increasing in prevalence.

The findings are published in the Dec. 24 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Despite the emergence of new therapies, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, CML and other leukemias remain problematic because some cancer stem cells avoid destruction and eventually regenerate themselves, a stem cell process known as self-renewal that can result in a return and spread (metastasis) of the disease.

In the PNAS paper, principal investigator Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego, with colleagues in the United States, Canada and Italy, report that inflammation ? long associated with the development of cancer ? boosts activity of an enzyme called adenosine deaminase or ADAR1.

Expressed during embryogenesis to help blood cell development, ADAR1 subsequently turns off and is triggered by viral infections where it protects normal hematopoietic stem cells from attack. In leukemia stem cells, however, overexpression of ADAR1 enhances the missplicing of RNA, which leads to greater self-renewal and therapeutic resistance of malignant stem cells.

The findings build upon previous studies by Jamieson and others that elucidate the effects of RNA missplicing and instability. ?People normally think about DNA instability in cancer, but in this case, it?s how the RNA is edited by enzymes that really matters in terms of cancer stem cell generation and resistance to conventional therapy.?

The described RNA editing process, which occurs in the context of human and other primate specific sequences, also underscores the importance of addressing inflammation as ?an essential driver of cancer relapse and therapeutic resistance,? Jamieson said. It also presents a new target for future therapies.

?ADAR1 is an enzyme that we may be able to specifically target with a small molecule inhibitor, an approach we have already used effectively with other inhibitors,? said Jamieson. ?If we can block the capacity of leukemia stem cells to use ADAR1, if we can knock down that pathway, maybe we can put stem cells back on the right track and stop malignant cloning.?

CML is a cancer initiated by a mutant gene called BCR-ABL in blood forming stem cells that leads to an expansion of white blood cells and their precursors. It is typically slow-growing and often not diagnosed until its later stages when there can be a sudden, dramatic increase in malignant cells, known as blast crisis. Median age of diagnosis is 66 years; incidence of the disease increases with age. Despite tremendous advances in BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapies, the majority of patients relapse if therapy is discontinued, in part as a result of dormant cancer stem cell resistance. This work suggests a novel mechanism for overcoming cancer stem cell resistance to therapy that may prevent relapse and progression.

The estimated prevalence of CML in the United States is 70,000 persons with the disease, projected to steadily increase to approximately 181,000 by 2050. CML is initiated by the mutant BCR-ABL gene, but scientists have not yet identified the cause of the mutation.

Co-authors are Qingfei Jiang, Leslie A. Crews, Angela C. Court, David J. Goff, Anil Sadarangani and Sheldon R. Morris, Stem Cell Program, UCSD Department of Medicine and UCSD Moores Cancer Center; Christian L. Barrett, UCSD Division of Genome Information Sciences, Departments of Pediatrics; Hye-Jung Chun, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, Vancouver; Jane M. Isquith, Stem Cell Program, UCSD Department of Medicine, UCSD Moores Cancer Center and Department of Animal Science, California Polytechnic State University; Maria A. Zipeto, UCSD Department of Medicine, UCSD Moores Cancer Center and Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Milano-Biocca, Italy; Mark Minden, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Canada; Jessica M. Rusert and Lawrence S.B. Goldstein, UCSD Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Kim-Hien T. Dao, Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute; Marco A. Marra, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, Vancouver; and Kelly A. Frazer, UCSD Division of Genome Information Sciences, Departments of Pediatrics.

Funding for this research came, in part, from California Institute for Regenerative Medicine grants RN2-00910-1 and DR1-01430, CIRM training grant TG2-01154, CIRM SEED grant RS1-00228-1, the Government of Canada through Genome Canada and the Ontario Genomics Institute and the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Ratner family foundation.


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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of California, San Diego Health Sciences.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Seahawks nothing short of sensational. A Week 16 NFL quiz

It may be premature to use the headline ?Seattle Reign,? since the Seahawks pounded the San Francisco 49ers, 42-13, in a nationally televised Sunday night game. But there?s certainly good reason to think this could be the year that the Seahawks just might win the Super Bowl for the first time in the franchise?s 36-year history. After all, they?ve now outscored their last three opponents 150 to 30, have one of the stingiest defenses in the league, and boast a tremendously mature rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson who has improved exponentially as the season has progressed. To test your knowledge of Week 16 NFL developments, take this 18-question quiz.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

H5N1: Tanzania: Hunger, malnutrition kill 200 children in Ngorongoro

Via, a December 23 report from the Tanzania Daily News:?Tanzania: Hunger, Malnutrition Kill 200 Children in Ngorongoro. Excerpt:
More than 200 children in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) are reported to have died of hunger and its related complications, the 'Sunday News' has learnt.?
A joint statement from 12 civil society organizations serving pastoralists, hunters and gatherers communities says while 14 children are currently admitted to Endulen Catholic Hospital suffering from malnutrition, over 200 others have died between May, last year and December 2012.?
"The deaths were recorded from May 2011 when a measles attack affected more than 1,000 children. The situation deteriorated when famine struck Ngorongoro Division during the last seven months," reads a statement signed by representatives from the 12 organizations.?
In a rejoinder, Ngorongoro District Commissioner, Mr Elias Wawa Lali, released an official report, dated 21st December, 2012 showing that Ngorongoro Division, lying within one of the "world's heritage sites," was grappling with hunger.?
According to the DC, about 18,500 tonnes of food were urgently needed and an emergency relief comprising 15,560 tonnes of grain (maize) and 2,916 others of legumes, could rescue a population of more than 60,000 residents, mostly livestock keepers.


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Monday, December 24, 2012

Mike Crapo Arrested For DUI - Business Insider


Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) was arrested in Virginia early Sunday morning and charged with drunken driving, an Alexandra police spokesman confirmed tonight. CBS News first reported Crapo's arrest.

Jody Donaldson, the police spokesman, said that Crapo was arrested around 12:45 a.m. on Sunday. An officer observed Crapo running a red light. He was stopped, arrested and taken into custody without incident, Donaldson said. He was released on $1,000 bond, and he has a court date on Jan. 4.

Crapo released an apologetic statement in which he said this "circumstance" would never happen again.

"I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance," Crapo said in the statement. "I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated."

Crapo is best known for being a part of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" ? four Republicans and four Democrat Senators who tried to work on the framework of a budget deal to avert the year-end fiscal cliff.


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Immigrants Welcomed: A City Sees Economic Promise | New ...

If there's one common language that some recent immigrants in Dayton, Ohio, seem to share, it's soccer.

The first Dayton World Soccer Games kicked off earlier this year, an initiative hosted by the city to welcome an influx of immigrants. On the field, a rainbow of brightly colored jerseys represented nearly 20 of the different immigrant communities in the city.

"I've been really surprised to see that there's a lot of soccer going on in Dayton," says Adolphe Bizwinayo, who left Rwanda as a refugee.

The sport, he says, has been instrumental in his transition to the unfamiliar city.

"It just brings this joy, like we are home ... like how we used to play soccer back at home when we would play for hours and hours," Bizwinayo says.

That kind of response is exactly why the city launched Welcome Dayton last year ? a strategy to help immigrants ease into American life. City Manager Tim Riordan credits two reasons for the adopted framework: It was the right thing to do, he says, and immigrants were needed to help restore the battered city's economy.

"I saw immigrants doing things in the neighborhoods," Riordan says. "They were buying really inexpensive houses and fixing them up. I heard stories from hardware owners where the immigrants would come and buy one window at a time to fix up their house as they got money."

An Investment In The Community

Riordan says changing Dayton's culture is an investment in the city. One section of the city, for example, is now entirely designated as an immigrant business zone, and police can check immigration statuses only when suspicious of a serious crime.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, says the relationship between cities and immigrants is certainly evolving.

"What's good about the Dayton program is the way that leaders in those communities talk about immigrants and talk about them as a positive force and contributing," she says.

In fact, a Brookings study finds that immigrants are 30 percent more likely to form new businesses than U.S.-born citizens, which is good news for a city like Dayton, which has been bleeding jobs and population for decades.

Legal Immigrants, That Is

Not everyone, however, is a fan of the city's new approach. Steve Salvi runs the Cleveland-based Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC, a group focused on illegal immigration. He says officials are relying on a naive myth that immigrants will be the saviors of Dayton.

"I think what the city needs to do is focus on helping native residents and make the city a place where people want to come and start a business if they're immigrants or native-born," Salvi says.

One of his largest concerns is that Dayton could become a sanctuary city, a place harboring illegal immigrants.

City Manager Riordan, however, maintains that the term immigrant is not synonymous with illegal. "Frankly, the good people of Dayton didn't have that kind of attitude," he says. "It was the people from outside of Dayton. I got emails from outside Wyoming and Montana telling us what to do, and I was like, 'Eh, that's not your business.' "

The real thrust of the plan focuses on legal immigrants, Riordan adds. For instance, the city wants to help people like Francis Matias, who worked hard to get his Puerto Rican restaurant, Antojitos, off the ground.

"In other states, it's harder. They're following immigrants and they're treated like criminals. Here, it's great," Matias says in his kitchen.

Other cities, however, are now falling into line with Dayton. Tucson, Ariz., and Salt Lake City, for example, are among those also making it official policy to welcome immigrants and help them feel at home.


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