Friday, December 28, 2007

Down The Last Stretch

As we come to the close of 2007, Daily Dotventures is compiling some of the highlights of the year. A kind of "the best of times, worst of times" summary to an otherwise nondescripit period of history.

In the following days, we will be coming out with a series on what made 2007 a milestone year for some, and a regrettable year for others. And without going into a fearless forecast, we will attempt to analyze how 2007 will mark the course of the lives of many peoples around the world.

We invite everyone to review the year 2007 with us as we look back and examine, celebrate and wonder at what the past 365 days have done and will be doing to most, if not all of our lives.

Come back soon for the first "Daily Dotventures: Year At A Time."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"You Better Watch Out!" Things To Look Out For During The Holidays

Santa isn't the only one who should be making a list this Christmas season. And I'm not talking about a holiday shopping list here. With the Christmas rush comes a greater chance of overlooking some mundane detail, which while seemingly trivial may actually knock the spirit off the holidays.

Murphy's law it seems has a corollary - "whatever can go wrong, gets worse during festivities!"

So get your pen and paper and jot down a few reminders - A Christmas watchlist, if you will, of things to do before something goes horribly wrong and you start feeling sorry instead of jolly.

And don't fail to check them twice!

Watch The Wires - Unlike dear old Rudolph (the reindeer, not the actor) whose nose allegedly glows in the dark by some odd organic glitch, the rest of us have to plug into an electrical outlet to get our Christmas lights blinking. Over the years, I've seen too many fiery newsflash of Christmases turning into ashes because of overloaded electrical outlets. Its fine to brighten up one's abode during the holidays, but for goodness' sake, you don't have to make it seem you have your own private nuclear reactor going on inside your house.

"Octopus" connections at electric outlets are a big no-no. Make sure wires don't end up beneath rugs or wedged under anything. When something is plugged in, the wires heat up and if it's pinned down the chances of the insulation getting cut or melting increases which may result in a short-circuit and a nasty fire.

Watch The Labels - Christmas and New Year's are the "primetime of marketing" when everything new comes out and are offered at attractive discounts, even freely at times. Deny it or not, at some point you will be buying (if you haven't already) something offered at you during this season even if you don't need or want it, or worse - even if you don't know what it is! If you don't want to be subjected to this jedi-mind-trick like manipulation, cut up your credit cards, head for the mountains and wait until the fireworks die out after the January festivities. Otherwise, you cannot escape the inevitable - you will be a holiday consumer (insert scary, low-shrill viola chords here).

Your task therefore is to read the fine-print. Watch out for anything, the name of which you wouldn't want located anywhere adjacent to your internal organs. You don't want the doctor telling you later on, "Oh, you have a tetrahydrosubzynamide concentration in your bladder." Remember them lead-laced toys Mattel withdrew from the market since last August? And don't be trying out some new fabric for the sheets this time of year. Most allergic reactions are triggered in December than in any other month because everyone is trying out something new during the holidays.

Also, we're not just referring to product labels here. When dealing with the season of discounts and interest-free buying, you always have to ask "what's the catch?" It's not human nature to read the fine-print, probably because they were written for foot-high hobbits, dwarves and them Keebler elves, what with the font's size and all. Nowadays, its but practical to stoop low and carry a magnifying glass just to make sure you're all square with the deal.

Watch the Birdie - Christmastime is picture-taking time. Now, I've had my turn of being the "official photographer", back when f-stops made all the difference in shooting a good photo. I have heard so many complaints about how they didn't look good with that shot, or that they had their eyes closed or that they weren't smiling in the picture. Ladies and gents, its not the photographer's fault. You know you're having a get-together, you know its supposed to be a joyous occasion, you know there's a cameraman running around. Ergo, you be the one to look good and smile! Otherwise, you'd indeed have a lousy mugshot for posterity. The same holds true when you have video coverage, even more so since you're image is being taken approximately 30 times a second.

Now, there are two ways to ensure you are genuinely smiling during a photo or video shoot (Botox treatment not included). First is to imagine your companions naked. The downside of this technique is it can make you throw up even before you down that bottle of wine, depending on how your companion may be imagined by you as naked. "What's the second way to make sure you're all the smiles during your Christmas parties?" you ask. Read on.

Watch The Time - pun intended on that one, but as they say, and it's so true - "time flies". We're so busy shopping, so busy looking at gift catalogs, so busy reading blogs on stuff to look out for at Christmastime, that we've run out of time. Time to pray, time to visit our relatives and friends, time to be with our family, time to appreciate all our blessings and the time we have together with our loved ones.

Enjoy the holidays with the people you love, whether they are near or far. Hold up a toast for them - for their generosity which sustains you, their quirkiness that makes you laugh, their sound advice that gives you direction, even their bad sides that makes you feel you're a better person than they are.

Celebrations are best shared with someone else and Christmas is the best celebration to be with other people, old or new. After all, the birthday celebrant of this occasion had shepherds and kings come to his crib.

A happy Christmas to one and all!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Here Comes The Holidays!

For several weeks now I've been griping about my snail-paced Internet connection. I couldn't get any work done online. Needless to say the Daily Dotventures suffered as a result.

I missed quite a few events which I wanted to write about. Like Chinese beauty Zhang Zilin winning at home for the Ms. World 2007 pageant last December 1, same day as the commemoration of World Aids Day.

Or the Hatton-Mayweather fight which saw the returning WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather retain victory over the challenger with powerful head shots that knocked Ricky Hatton down twice in succession in the 10th round, urging referee Joe Cortez to stop the fight in favor of Mayweather.

Then there was that ill-conceived siege at the Manila Peninsula Hotel by frustrated-mutineer-turned-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV that miserably failed (again) to overthrow incumbent Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Don't forget the Spice Girls' ongoing reunion world tour. Love them or not, they're back in a big, gingery, scary, sporty, baby and posh way.

Well, like I said, I missed quite a bit because my ISP is, in a word, c-r-a-p! The significant slow down may also be attributable to the oncoming holiday season. More people are sending emails to their loved ones, surfing for bargains, doing online purchases, booking flights, making VOIP calls, uploading video greetings, and so on and so forth.

Not only that, apart from the slow down in Internet connectivity due to increased demand in bandwidth, the holidays are also a time for the hundred-fold proliferation of spam. Every online marketer and their brother are making their mailing lists and checking them twice. It doesn't even matter if you've been naughty or nice. You'll get the spam and chances are there's a "free" gift along with it - READ: malware.

So do protect yourself online this hoiday season. Deck your Internet halls with a safer browser, an anti-spyware, an anti-virus and a firewall. And while we patiently bear the holiday lag online, perhaps its a good opportunity for all of us to ponder the true meaning of the season.

Here's wishing everyone a less-stressful and a happy online holiday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Sort Of Daemon Are You? Exploring The Lore Of "The Golden Compass"

Got a daemon on your back? This is just the sort of thing that the religious is dogging at the upcoming New Line Cinema presentation of the "The Golden Compass" ("Northern Lights", in the UK). Based on the critically acclaimed legerdemain-themed trilogy novels of Philip Pullman collectively known as "His Dark Materials".

"The Golden Compass" stars Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliot, Eva Green, Daniel Craig and 12-year old newcomer Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, out to save their world from evil tyranny - and so on ,and so forth. Its a "Lord of the Rings" meets "Narnia" meets "Harry Potter" with a sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic reminiscent of Naboo in the "Star Wars" movies.

Looking at the trailer however, it doesn't look at all like a Frankenstein-stitch-job of movie elements that sold in the past. The Golden Compass may just be able to stand on its own as the next big (although unfortunately not bigger, nor biggest) magical movie franchise.

So what's up with the daemons? In the film's parallel world, people's souls are hosted within their animal-spirit companions or "daemons". Children's daemons can morph according to the child's infinite potential then gradually settles to a particular form as one ages. If you want to know what sort of daemon you might have, head over to the resource link below and play a short game of 20-questions. My daemon profile is below. In the next few days, you can twiddle with it to confirm or change whether my daemon ought to be a "Xanthia".



Quite frankly though, I don't like spiders.

Anyway, here's a sneak peak at the majestic visual style of the movie.



"The Golden Compass" has evident anti-religious overtones, toned-down however compared to the books, despite the fact that its still basically a battle between good and evil story. Pullman is known to be a self-confessed atheist and some Catholic groups have called for a boycott of the film crying foul at the perceived intent to sell "atheism for kids".

Well, that's exactly what the religious groups bellyached before about the Harry Potter series. Let's see how far this "bad" publicity is going to buoy New Line's $200 million plus gamble.

Personally, I don't think one's faith should be affected nor determined by a 2-hour plus sitting in a dark movie house. If you seek to be indoctrinated, don't watch the movie. On the other hand, if you just want to be entertained, then just enjoy the film.

There's a bit of a name game going on with this movie production. Two Ian's, McKellen and McShane (two mac's at that too), are battling it out as the voices behind the armoured polar bears in the film. Then there's Richards - I mean, how many young girl actors may sport Dakota, of all the 51 US States, as their name? What's up with that?

"The Golden Compass" premieres at a Red Carpet launch in London's Odeon Leicester Square on the 27th of November. The film opens worldwide, December 2.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thundercats Movie by 2010

It's still a long way to go but Warner Bros. much gossiped cartoon-turned-movie "Thundercats" is already snarling, err - buzzing the Web wires. It hasn't even gone into production yet but already a lot of mixed reactions are being blown around.

The 80's cult cartoon creation by Rankin/Bass Productions have been rumored to be due for a Hollywood big-screen makeover as early as the late 90's. Thundercats is about a pride of humanoid-felines tasked to combat the evil mummy wizard Mumm-ra in order to save Third Earth.

Ok so that last description didn't sound really nice. But when you're 12 years old in the 80's tuned in to Saturday afternoon cartoons, watching the Thundercats in action was a pretty nifty treat.

Can Hollywood relive the wonder of those by-gone years? Exactly the argument of some disdained by big movie production outfits messing with what they would like to "preserve" in their childhood. Of course there are those who are just big fans of the series, eagerly awaiting the release of the film. For those unfamiliar with the Thundercats, it would be quite a novel experience. If you wish to brush up on your anthropomorphic lore, there's a wiki on the series that can serve as your reference.


If its any consolation to purists of the original cartoon show, WB reportedly dropped all plans for a live action production. So to those experimenting with the thought of Mel Gibson or Hugh Jackman sporting the red locks of Lion-O, scratch it.

The 2010 silver screen incarnation of Thundercats will be completely CGI animation ala "TMNT" (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) or the recent fantasy epic "Beowulf". And to conjure the computerized magic is seasoned video game director Jerry O'Flaherty. He's gonna need all of his Irish-descent luck to bring to life Paul Sopocy's script to a level that most, if not all, would-be Thunderians will watch and hopefully approve.


Related Resources:
http://thundercats-the-movie.net/


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

TCP Optimizer: Jumpstart That Internet Connection

When I bought my first modem way back when Windows 3.1 was the "meanest ever" operating system (remember that good ol' File Manager?), I became an addict at IRC trivia chatrooms. I'd spend hours online and that's saying a lot considering everything back then was on dial-up Internet. I swear I could not get off the Net.

Nowadays however it seems I could not get ON the Net. The past weeks I've been frustrated by a slow Web. Sites loaded like sloths, connections dropped off frequently. "Could not connect to Blogger.com" - familiar ain't it. Don't even get me started on file uploads - it just seems never ending.

I called up my ISP and ordered for an upgraded service. I'm supposed to be running on a 512-kbps service for crying out loud. My old dial-up seemed faster. Anyway, guess what my ISP said. It will take a while; about two to three weeks. The Internet had become for me a long waiting game.


Internet Gridlock by 2010

According to a recent report, things can get a lot worse. The increasing demand for broadband may bring the Internet to a screeching halt as capacity can be overrun as early as 3 years from now. Admittedly though, the report may be a tad too alarming. However I am inclined to believe the plausibility of the scenario. Already many of us experience the many boos and bahs of a bandwidth-lacking global network.


Optimize The Net

In the meantime, while the powers-that-be line up undoubtedly expensive propositions how the rest of us may continue to enjoy the Internet when that time comes, we have to make do with what we have. There's a nifty tool from speedguide.net which I tried recently and it seemed to have given my connection a corrective slap. SG TCP Optimizer aggregates a slew of Windows system settings that is supposed to improve your Internet connectivity. It's similar to other net optimizers and boosters in the market, except that SG TCP Optimizer is freeware. And as far as I can see, it's free from malware as well.

Just download the program (see resource link below) and enable it. Select Optimal Settings at the lower left-hand side of the dialogue box and ok it. It automatically creates a backup of your registry although it is always best practice to manually backup your system before fiddling with it. It will then ask you to restart your system.

Personally, it was not a jaw-dropping change for me but there was a noticeable increase in some Web operations. I'm ok with that for now. Until my connection upgrade anyway.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stay Awake At Work

I recently got into a gig that requires me to work in a different timezone. It's an online project so I get to stay at my home-office. Nevertheless, for the past 2 weeks my body is still adjusting from the flipping of my body clock. Now, my AM is PM and vice-versa.

Nowadays however, this sort of thing is as much commonplace as an email address in a business card. Today's businesses and jobs exposes us all to the possibility of compromising our sleeping routine at one point or another.

The question therefore is how do you stay awake at work? Not unless you have Morvan's syndrome, it may need a little bit more than just a cup of coffee. Before trying to self-induce insomnia, know that sleep deprivation carries with it serious health risks. That said, here are some known practices for staying awake.
  1. Get enough rest. This is a no-brainer. You want to stay awake? You've got to get enough sleep prior to your scheduled waking hours. The day before my first graveyard shift, I dropped my previous afternoon routine and just went on a sleeping binge. Slip into comfortable pajamas. Darken up the room to fool your mind into thinking it's nighttime. Make sure your room is quiet. Either that or employ a source for "white noise" - the buzzing of an electric fan for instance, or a recording of whale sounds. A cup or two of milk can work wonders. Just make sure that you take the horizontal position for six up to eight hours before you're supposed to be awake.

  2. Eat less. A full stomach triggers most people to rest mode. By eating less, you'll probably be "too hungry" to doze off. Also, what you eat determines your sleepiness. No to carbs. They fill up more. Sugary bites helps. Chocolate bars can give you that push of energy during your night shift. Spicy food tend to keep you hot enough to stay awake but a study also shows chili helps you to sleep better. Personally, I take in a chili rich soup during the last leg of my shift; it keeps me on my toes then later, when I do need to hit the pillows, helps me to sleep soundly and makes me feel more energized when I wake up.

  3. Learn to Power Nap. Short 15-minute to half-hour naps helps in keeping you up in the long haul. The object is to get that benefit of feeling rested without actually dozing off to deep sleep. With this strategy, your alarm clock is your best friend.

  4. Exercise your butts. Sleep requires inertia too, meaning you have to be in a position conducive to sleep before you actually snooze off. So take short breaks and get in motion. Do stretches, push-ups or even lift some weights. The spike in adrenaline caused by the exercise will power you up for your shift.
Now here's a video that gives more pointers for the sleepyheads out there.



Do you know other sound advice on keeping awake? Send in your suggestions.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

2007 World Pool Championships: England vs. Philippines - Daryl Peach Wins

At that moment, it was the most dramatic piece of furniture to watch on the planet. A table covered in soft felt cloth, 4 holes at each corner plus 2 at the sides, traversed to and fro by 9 colored balls of cast resin, set to motion by chalk-tipped wooden sticks, held by the hands of two determined men with one goal in mind - become the 2007 World Pool Champion.

After toppling the Hungarian newcomer Vilmos Foeldes yesterday at his semis match, England's Daryl Peach earned his spot at the finals. So too did Philippine contender Roberto Gomez, after he won over Karl Boyes. It was England versus the Philippines in a classic duel that will go down in pool history as one of the best ever played.

"Superman" (Roberto Gomez' monicker) against the bald-headed "Lex Luthor" (referring to Peach although he sports the alias "Dazzler"). The former had the homecourt advantage. The latter, only his experience in international pool tourneys backed him up.

It was a race to 17. Each cue artist matched the other's stroke. They both made costly errors. They also made incredible shots. I've lost track how many times the object ball hung by the edge of the pocket - frustration wrung Gomez's and Peach's faces. Still, both men demonstrated mastery of the game.

During the first part, Daryl Peach led the game but Roberto Gomez played it close. The game tied 2-2, then 3-3. But when Peach tried to pull away at 3-8 Gomez ran a 5-rack streak to even things up again at 8-8. Again they tied at 12 a-piece. Then Gomez threatened to bury Peach at 15-12 with a barrage of safeties and counter-safeties. The Englishman however stood his ground and went on to tie the match 15 all. Daryl Peach didn't look back since. At rack 32, the final score - Gomez 15, Peach 17.

Daryl Peach is the 2007 World Pool Champion!

This time, the Filipino crowd gave the home-bet upsetter a hearty round of applause, unlike the controversy earlier during Peach's match in the quarterfinals against Filipino pool master Francisco Bustamante. The local fans at ringside even shook his hands approvingly and offered up high-fives. That was perhaps a more satisfying catharsis for Peach - a plus after his winner's reward of the 2007 WPC title and $100,000.

Personally, I wanted Gomez to win. I thought we should have another Pinoy champion. But I've since resigned myself to the thought that the tournament indeed belonged to Peach. Pool is one of the few sports that relied largely, almost solely on skill and circumstance. This time around, Daryl Peach had a few notches more skill and circumstance than Roberto Gomez. The younger Gomez will have his own day to win. Congratulations to Daryl Peach and kudos for a game well played to both Peach and Gomez.

Catch the rack-by-rack report from "The AnitoKid on Billiards | Philippine Sports: Daryl Peach Wins the 2007 World Pool Championship!"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

2007 World Pool Update: Peach's Hairline Win Over Bustamante's Heartbreak Loss

Daryl Peach felt the pressure of the unbelieving local crowd as he stared down at the last 9-ball and finally sinking it to edge Francisco Bustamante in their race-to-11 quarterfinals at the 2007 World Pool Championships. Only a few hands were heard clumsily applauding the Englishman's win.

Bustamante shook his hand, his head turned away.

The unnerving atmosphere in what should be a jovial occasion at the 9-ball tourney, was rooted at the previous rack which held up the match for the good part of 10-minutes. The issue - an alleged foul ball against Bustamante on what was a miraculous combination shot on the 3rd and 9th ball that would have given the Filipino cue player the shot at the semis.

Earlier in the match, Peach commanded over Bustamante as the latter committed costly errors at the pool table. Bustamante however regained his composure and with a valiant uphill climb, later takes the lead 9 to 10 over the obviously worried Peach. With just a score away from the quarterfinals win, a good soft break allowed Bustamante to proceed. A slight miscalculation after sinking the 2-ball stopped the white main ball at an angle short of a clear shot at the target 3-ball behind the striped 9.

This forced Bustamante to bank the cue ball on the rail which hit both the 3 and the 9-ball. With a good amount of velocity the 9 made its way to the corner at the far end and dropped in. The audience burst in jubilance. Peach however unconvinced called for a review. The television replay seemed to show the white ball hitting the 3 and the 9 with the 9-ball apparently moving prior to and faster than the object ball. Thus the foul was called by the officiating referee Nigel Rees and was upheld even after a second review called by Bustamante.

Peach proceeded to win that controversial rack for a tie at 10-10. At the next rack, Bustamante didn't even have to stand up. Peach won it 11-10.

But not without a homecourt crowd in eerie disbelief sharing in the heartbreak loss of their local hero.

Parallel Quarterfinals Results
Hungary's Vilmos Foeldes upsets former champion Mika Immonen of Finland in a convincing 7-11 victory. Foeldes and Peach will battle it out in the semis for the chance at the championship later today.

Best Eight To Shoot For 2007 World Pool Championships

They came to conquer. Out of the 128 of the world's best cue masters from 46 countries around the world, the final 8 will match nerves of steel at the pool table for the illustrious 2007 World Pool Championship title and a winner's prize of $100,000.

The quarterfinals are being held as of writing, which will be followed by two semis matches later in the afternoon. The final showdown between the semis winners will rack up tomorrow, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines 2:30pm Manila time (GMT+8).

Since it opened November 3, 2007 many of the masters already fell. The entire 4-man Australian team and the 12-man USA contingent have been eliminated. Crowd favorites and pool masters like, Efren Reyes (Philippines), Johnny Archer (USA), Earl Strickland (USA) and Ralph Soquet (Germany) were also brought down. From 128, the numbers fell to 64, then 32 then 16. Only the 8 best 9-ball pool players for 2007 remain for the coveted championship.

Four matches are currently playing at the quarterfinals. The Philippines' veteran pool artist Francisco "Django" Bustamante , seeded at number 9, plays opposite 17th seed Daryl Peach of England.

Bustamante is itching for his first world championship win following his exceptional complete sweep of the US Pro-tour Championship and besting USA's Johnny Archer at the finals earlier in June of this year. Among the most popular Filipino pool athletes such as the legendary 1999 World Pool Champion Efren "The Magician" Reyes and 2004 World Pool Champion Alex "The Lion" Pagulayan, only Bustamante survived the gruelling qualifying rounds.

Daryl "Dazzler" Peach comes into the competition fresh from winning the 2007 Euro Tour German Open Championships. On the way to the quarterfinals, he defeated Filipinos Rodolfo Luat and 2006 World Pool Champion Ronato "The Volcano" Alcano.

England's Karl "The Bomb" Boyes competes versus another Filipino Joven Bustamante (not related to Francisco Bustamante). They both debut this year at the World Pool Championships, with the younger Boyes carrying more tournament wins over the up and coming Bustamante.

Number 12 seed and the only former World Pool Champion to enter the last stages, Finland's Mika "Iceman" Immonen (2001 WPC title holder) battles unseeded Vilmos "The Magic Magyar" Foeldes of Hungary. Can Foeldes, the 3-time European Youth Champion come up with an upset and cut Immonen's bid for another WPC crown?

Also at the quarterfinals tables, the final hope of the 11-man Chinese Tai-pei contingent, "Little Monster" Kuo Po-Cheng takes on the third Philippine bet Roberto "Superman" Gomez.

Who is your bet for the 2007 World Pool Championships?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Daily Dotventures' Blogger Birthday Blowout

Because it's someone's birthday today (I wonder who?), Daily Dotventures is inviting all to post here your birthdate along with your blog or website address (no emails please) and your blogname a.k.a. pen name. You don't have to put your birth year if that's your fancy.

Then, on your birthday, we will feature your blog or website here at Daily Dotventures.
No purchase necessary.
No linkbacks required.

How's that for a birthday treat?

This is our way of thanking you our dear readers and fellow netizens for being part of Daily Dotventures. Let's celebrate your birthday online!

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Harrowing Halloween

Have you ever had sleepless nights after watching a horror movie or reading a scary story? Well, there were some news stories on the Web last Halloween week that would certainly keep some people up at night.

"WRITERS' REVENGE"
The Writers Guild of America have called for a strike as it demanded a "better share" of the revenue pie when it comes to works released on new media such as DVDs, the Internet and on mobile devices. It's certainly a nightmare for "talking heads" on television as they rely on members of the 12,000+ strong screenwriter's union to come up with the stuff that makes them "look good" on TV. The popular talk shows like those of Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jon Stewart, as well as comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live are the first ones to take a hit from the impasse as show producers refused to yield to the writers' demands stating that the issue on revenues from DVDs is a "roadblock to negotiations".

What's really scary about this situation? We're gonna be stuck with re-runs and reality shows until this whole thing boils over.

"THE MUMMY REVEALED"
Although it would be nice to see another Brendan Fraser / Rachel Wesiz team-up for another "The Mummy" movie franchise, this isn't about that. The teen pharaoh circa 1333-1324 BC, in the mummified person of Tutankhamun, will be up for public exhibit at his tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings for the first time since the tomb was discovered 85 years ago. The body will be placed in a climate-controlled enclosure to ensure that tourists won't contribute to further damage at the archeological site.

All I can say is... the curse - remember the curse!

"ATTACK OF THE SUPERMOUSE"
Faster and can run longer and farther than your average rodent, stronger appetite but weighs considerably less, able to give birth to what is equivalent to 80-years old in human age. It's Mickey, it's Jerry - no, it's "Supermouse"! Genetically modified mice were developed by a team of scientists at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio that has significantly increased ability and performance compared to regular mice. This gives rise to fears from those against transgenic experimentation of future abuse especially among athletes undergoing gene theraphy and similar human-applied scenarios.

One noticeable side-effect of the research - the supermice were more aggressive. This early on, please ban transgenics from the UFC!

"FALLING HOUSE OF CARDS"
Now that would make a great title for a Grisham thriller. And with the past weeks' turmoil in the global banking sector it certainly serves as a grim backdrop for many a-worried investors. The credit market crisis is still in a downward spiral, as the top brass of such traditionally financial stalwarts as Merill Lynch & Co. and Citigroup, Inc. took early exits after their firms suffered "sickening" losses.

As regulators and financial companies struggle to overcome the slumping market, more heads may just roll.

Did you have a harrowing halloween too?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Routs Rockies for 2007 World Series Win

The Boston Red Sox took 4 games straight in their best-of-seven match-up against the Colorado Rockies to win the Major League Baseball's 2007 World Series Championship.

Let me rephrase that - to CONVINCINGLY win the 2007 World Series.

Appearing for the first time in professional baseball's most anticipated event, the Rockies gave a valiant effort against the Red Sox which previously won the World Series in 2004 - 4 seasons prior to the October 28, 2007 finishing game at Denver.

Down 4-1 at the 8th inning, Rockies' third baseman Garrett Atkins sent a slamming homerun to the delighted fans at Coors Fields for a 2-run score bridging the gap to within one.

Replacing Hideki Okajima, Boston's closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon stepped up to the mound, intent to wipe out the Rockies' bid for a Game 5. An almost homer from the Rockies' second baseman Jamey Carroll was thwarted by Red Sox' rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury leaping up at the fence for the decisive defensive play. With 2 men out, Colorado's Seth Smith suffered three strikes from Papelbon's 90+mph fastballs, thus giving the Red Sox its 7th World Series title.

It was the Rockies' best season thus far with 21 wins out of 22 games highlighted by a 4-0 sweep besting the Arizona Diamondbacks at the National League Championship Series. In contrast the Red Sox came into the playoffs with a 3-1 deficit against the Cleveland Indians at the American League Championship Series before winning the ALCS at 4-3.

Red Sox' third baseman Mike Lowell was awarded the MVP title for the 2007 World Series.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Airbus A380's First Commercial Flight On Singapore Airlines

"It's a great, GRAND way to fly!"
Image by Slivester Chua
Flight SQ380 of Singapore Airlines left for Sydney a little after 8am October 25 to be the first commercial voyage of the biggest airliner in aviation history - the Airbus A380. The historic 7-hour-plus flight of the "Superjumbo" carried 455 passengers from Singapore's Changi Airport to Sydney Airport, which was reportedly modified to handle the new giant of the skies.

Tickets to the maiden flight of the A380 were auctioned off under special arrangements with eBay, which raised around $1.3 million for charity. Passengers paid from $550 to as much as over $100,000 to be part of the inaugural flight.

Boeing's decades of dominance in the large long-haul jetliner category with its flagship 747 line of jumbo jets is now officially challenged with the entry of the Airbus A380. The A380-800, with a maximum capacity of 853 people, is also expected to fill the growing demand for air travel which have already started to outgrow current facilities and is projected to double in the next 30 years.

While undoubtedly an aviation marvel, industry analysts however are wary of the A380's projected performance business-wise. At $320 million dollars, the A380 may be a tad too hefty for commercial airliners. With a current order of 165, it would take more than 2 and a half times more orders for Airbus to break-even. In contrast, Boeing's upcoming Dreamliner 787, although mid-sized and can carry only around 250 passengers, already have orders reportedly upwards of 700. Both the Airbus A380 and the Boeing Dreamliner 787-8 are specified for travel up to 8,200 nautical miles - that's enough for flying non-stop from Hong Kong to New York.

Known for their world-class service, Singapore Airlines (SIA) now touts the tagline "First To Fly A380". SIA Flight SQ380 is the first to offer the airlines' latest features found only on the A380 - cabin suites said to be "beyond first class". Each of the twelve lavishly endowed suites feature their own sliding doors, a 23-inch flat screen TV, and a fold-away full-sized bed.

Talk about flying at the height of luxury!

Singapore Airlines is set to receive 18 more A380 deliveries. Interestingly, SIA is also expecting 20 Boeing Dreamliners starting on 2011. Emirates Airline, have 55 orders for the A380 in the pipeline making it the largest customer of Airbus to date. The Dubai flag-carrier, Emirates is set to receive their first delivery of the titan aircraft on August 2008.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pointers For Advertising On A Tight Budget

A few days ago, I made adjustments to a print ad layout for a friend. The ad was to come out on an expat magazine, which exactly caters to the establishment's target audience. The advertiser is a year-old fine dining restaurant that specializes in Indonesian cuisine. I share here what I imparted to my restaurateur friend.

First, a little disclaimer. I am not what you might call an advertising expert. However, I do believe that common sense goes a long way to maximizing the impact of your ad initiatives.

With that, here are some pointers on getting the most out of your advertising efforts especially when you are on a shoestring budget.

  1. Size matters. The bigger the ad the more expensive it is but you can get better mileage out of your ads if you know that you are reaching your desired audience. In the case of a fine-dining shop advertising on a magazine with a wide readership of foreign expatriates, splurging on a large format ad once in a while makes total sense.

    Like I told my friend, you want to come off stating clearly, "You are welcome here". On the other hand, a rather small ad space merely whispers "psst, hey you, were over here." You don't want to send that kind of message. Go as large as your budget will allow.

  2. Think "Action". With a business-card sized layout, message comes before design. Ask yourself, "what do I want the audience to do?" The answer will lead you to decide on what relevant information to put in to maximize your ad space. You do not want the readers to send you a fax, so don't put in your fax number. This gives you more space to promote your phone number so people will "know how to act" prompting them to call and inquire how to get to your shop, or to make reservations.

    Use short action words like "call", "visit us" or "enjoy here" - you get the idea. Get to the point - it is ok to tell people what you want them to do.

  3. Keep it simple. You have limited advertising space. You want people to visit your place. Not to mention that the publication is printed in black and white. So why the heck will you employ an 8-color ad design with layers of images? Often times you will find that you can do away with the brilliant backgrounds as they do not lend to readability in small spaces.

    Also, script fonts totally do not work in point sizes smaller than 12 or 14. Use simple text fonts instead. You would want to use a "contrasty" design - perhaps a light on dark motif or a thick border line. This will help attract people to your tiny corner of the page. Alternately, you can opt to use a short direct text copy along with the shop's logo and make it "float" on white space for that minimalist look. It's true what they say - sometimes less is more.
As a parting shot, remember that while your advertising budget for print may be rather restrictive, the Web can offer better and more affordable (even free) alternatives for providing exposure for your business. From appending a simple e-mail signature, to getting your own domain and website, to getting listed on online business directories - combining a print campaign with a web-based solution can multiply your business' advertising results a thousand-fold.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Makati Mall Blast Updates

"NO PARKING!"
Vehicles slammed into each other by the blast.
Images from "Disney Cute Land"
Evidence from the site of the explosion that rocked Makati City in the Philippines early afternoon of Friday have been identified by experts to be components of military-type explosives. Traces of RDX, the main component of C4 were reportedly found at the blast area. However, authorities maintain that investigations are still ongoing and as such, no categorical statements have been made 24-hours into the blast incident. As of latest reports, the "Glorietta Bombing" claimed the lives of 9 persons and injured more than a hundred.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered police chief Director General Avelino Razon to get to the bottom of things. The embattled president extended condolences to the victims and pledged financial support through the Department of Social Works. The President also addressed the public earlier today to remain vigilant and endure heightened security measures in the metropolis. She appealed further for unity.

Search and rescue ended late last night. Another body was pulled out of the rubble bringing the death toll to 9. The destruction was extensive with some 100 stores affected. Several vehicles were damaged as portions of an elevated walkway fell to the street under the blast site. A crater as wide as a small house marks the center of the bomb blast which is located near the delivery access way of the mall. Sections of the roof also gave way from the explosion. The site remains cordoned off as investigators continue to sift through the debris for more evidence.

Below is one of the earlier videos of the incident that floated on the Web. Notice that security and police forces have not yet responded.
(Video from "tonyo")




Reports from observers in the vicinity during the blast confirmed that there were no detectable scent of gas in the area, which would have supported earlier speculations of an LPG tank explosion. Furthermore, observers noted from video and photos of the site circulating in the Internet and media that the damage was too extensive and that there were no signs of burning consistent with gas explosions. Heavy dust clouds as can be seen from the above video, corroborate closely to a bomb detonation.

While the media and authorities continue to reference terrorist attacks, none of the known extremist groups in the Philippines have come forward to take responsibility for the bombing. This, coupled with the non-conclusive statements forwarded by police investigators fuel speculation among the various political factions in the country as well as the citizenry.

Opposition groups raise possibilities for the bombing as a diversionary tactic by the administration as recent talks of impeaching the President and accusations of bribery have been hurled against Mrs. Arroyo. Some citizens faithful to the administration however counters the view with opposition-instigated conspiracy theories that supposedly aims to destabilize the government.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Explosion Kills 8 in Philippines' Makati Central Business District

"Authorities scramble to secure
the vicinity of the explosion."
Image from GMANews.TV
As of latest reports, 8 people have died and some 70 more were injured after a strong explosion occurred at around 1:30pm earlier today October 19 at the Glorietta 2 Mall in Makati, Philippines. The upscale shopping center located at the heart of the country's foremost business capital was evacuated, as the site of the incident is currently being investigated.

The cause of the blast is still being determined. Some early speculators pointed at the possibility of a gas tank leak as the incident occurred inside a restaurant near the vicinity of the mall's delivery area. The Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon on the other hand was quoted as categorically stating that it was not an accident involving LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and may possibly be a "bomb".

Police security in the metro was stepped up. The military was placed on heightened red alert. Government officials are asking the public however not to speculate on the incident.

In December of 2000, Makati City was one of the sites of bombings from extremist groups that took some 22 lives. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for today's incident and there are yet no indications that it was an attack.

Meanwhile, representatives from the Ayala Corp., owners of the Glorietta Mall pledged assistance to the blast victims.

More on this story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The 2007 Nobel Laureates: Another Year of Advancements and Controversy

"How about a Literature award
for bloggers? Hmm...."
With the earlier announcement of the Nobel Prize awardees for Economics, all presentations of the Nobel Prize recipients for 2007 is now complete. The line up of Nobel Prize winners, laudable as they all are, do not come without their share of controversy as advancements in stem cell research and the highly politicized climate change agenda had been accorded a spotlight by the award-giving body.

The Nobel Foundation began prize announcements last October 8 starting with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. On October 9, the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics was announced. This was followed by the announcements for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on October 10, Nobel Prize in Literature on October 11, and the Nobel Peace Prize on October 12. The Prize for Economic Sciences was awarded October 15.

The yearly Nobel Prize identifies distinct achievements in the aforementioned categories. Run by the Sweden-based Nobel Foundation the awards are the fulfillment of Alfred Nobel's last will and testament. The famed inventor of the dynamite, Alfred Nobel was a highly regarded industrialist, scientist, and poet. Upon his death in 1896, a sizeable portion of his estate was bequeathed to a fund which "shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind" (see "Excerpt from the Will of Alfred Nobel", nobelprize.org).

Five categories were identified by Nobel himself - Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and the Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize in Economics, officially titled "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel", is not originally part of the awards but rather was instituted in conjunction with the Sweden Central Bank in 1969.

The Nobel Prize consists of the Nobel Diplomas, the Nobel Prize Medals and an amount which for this year totals to 10 Million Swedish Kronor (over 1 Million US Dollars).

This year's Nobel Laureates are as follows:

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007
Mario Cappechi (USA), Sir Martin Evans (UK), and Oliver Smithies (USA),
"for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells";

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2007
Albert Fert (France), and Peter Grunberg (Germany), "for the discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance";

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2007
Gerhard Erti (Germany), "for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces";

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2007
Doris Lessing (UK), "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny";

The Nobel Peace Prize 2007
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Geneva, Switzerland), and Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. (USA);

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007
Leonid Hurwicz (USA), Eric Maskin (USA), and Roger Myerson (USA), "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory".

There were those who raised wary eyebrows with the inclusion of Al Gore for the Nobel Peace award as some view his advocacy of the climate change agenda to be "too propagandist". In a similar fashion, advancements in stem cell research still strikes sensitive chords among conservative sectors.

Nonetheless, Alfred Nobel's legacy continues - a legacy of unperturbed trailblazing in the face of criticism and difficulties, and eventually contributing toward the betterment of mankind.

Find out more from TheNobelPrize channel on YouTube and at the nobelprize.org website.


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Building The Case For An Urban Recycling Co-operative

Earlier this year my son's preschool began a fund-raising program meant to help the school create a buffer fund for the construction of a new school building. Unlike other fund-raisers where parents were asked to sell cake raffle tickets or some other mundane offer, this time - the school began to think green for a change.

And it is certainly a change for the better.

What was different about this initiative is the advocacy towards recycling. Families were asked to donate recyclable materials to the school which would in turn earn them points equivalent to votes in support of their candidate for the school's "Mr. and Ms." event - sort of like a homecoming king and queen for preschool. The idea at the forefront is undeniably cheesy. These are preschool kids for crying out loud!

Nonetheless, the idea of recycling to raise funds was certainly welcomed by most parents. There are those who cower at the idea - perhaps because of pride, perhaps due to fear of the new. Be that as it may, amounts running to tens of thousands were raised from the program - a clear sign that recycling fund-raisers can create a positive impact in Philippine urban communities. Not only is there economic potential in such projects but the desirable environmental effect is there as well.

In the Philippines there is a saying, "May pera sa basura" (roughly it means, "There is money in trash"). The expression speaks at several levels but it is certainly apt for the business potential of waste management especially in urbanized areas which is the primary source of waste matter in landfills. Unfortunately, many people look down on anything involving trash because its something mostly left in the realm of vagrants and the "dirt-poor" of the population.

But there have been exemplary cases of local co-operatives engaging in recycling as part of its awareness and fund-raising programs. One such group is the Batangas Bay Region Environment Multi-Purpose Co-operative (BBREC) which was formed primarily to advocate for sound recycling practices in their community.

Imagine however if many in the metropolis are participants in recycling co-operatives. Imagine the reduction of throw-away waste. Imagine the savings the community will generate. Imagine its sustainability in the long term. Imagine the cleaner, greener, eco-friendly urban landscape.

In commemoration of today's "Blog Action Day", let us take things one step further. Take part in your community's recycling program in the coming days. If your community doesn't have one, then start one.

By this time next year, we will be blogging again about the effects of this one day - when fifteen thousand blogs all talked about the environment, and acted towards a better future.

Happy Blog Action Day to one and all.


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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Freshen Up Your Blog: Making Sure Your Readers See Your Latest Post

"Is it number 1, 2 or F5?"
When I started this blog back in August putting up posts was a breeze. Grab a topic, do some research, write up the piece then just click on "publish post". That was it. My blog article is up and running for the whole world to see.

However, a few weeks ago I started noticing delays. Upon publishing, it takes quite a while (something like six crazy hours!) for my latest posts to show up. The same issue crops up when I perform some changes on the layout of the blog.

Pardon to those eating their meals in front of the computer, but it seemed that my blog is rather constipated.

Seeking Relief

Now I thought this was just a problem with Blogger and it was reinforced by a recent slew of support request at the Blogger Help Groups. Take this particular case in point - "Latest Post Not Showing Up At First Pages".

The symptoms would be that your latest posts won't appear at your blog's front page, however the entry exists at the archives or at the "Dashboard>Posting>Edit Posts" lists. Or, in the case of updating layouts or when adding a new widget or page element, the layout changes appear on the "Template" tab but only your old blog layout shows up when you go to your blog's URL (aka web address).

Furthermore, if you try a simple refresh, deleting your browser cache (read: Temporary Internet Files) or a complete reboot of your pc, the problem would still persist. Then after waiting it out for at least 30 minutes, all of a sudden your changes appear to your relief. Often times however, the updates will not come up for hours.

Languishing in Long Lines

The culprit is not Blogger (although it has its other faults... other many faults) nor is it your browser (though they may have other faults as well). Most likely the problem lies with your ISP.

With the growing demand for broadband, an ISPs primary problem is network congestion. Competition is fierce, broadband costs are going down, bloggers and virtual world populations are going up. These are the signs that bandwidth is taking a beating - the pipes are about to burst and your Internet Service Provider is probably already turning blue from holding it in.

Before this problem of "stale" webpages came up, I often had intermittent disconnections from my ISP. I go online on a wireless broadband network. A few months ago, I often get unplugged from the Web for 2 to 3 days. No use complaining to my ISP as all I get is a recorded message saying that there's "network restoration ongoing".

Then it just passed unnoticed. My connection is a-ok, no disruptions anymore. Business as usual. Only to later succumb to non-updating blogs.

As many join the broadband wave especially households, ISPs scamper to relieve the pressure off their networks. One method apparently being leveraged extensively by ISPs is the use of proxy caches. These are servers that temporarily store the contents of your site so that those seeking your webpages (it works on a per URL basis) along your network can get to your content faster, which in turn frees up bandwidth to be made available for other uses. Unfortunately, the cache may not refresh its stores for an unfavorable amount of time.

Thus the mystery of the unchanging blog sites is solved. However, things remain unresolved. It is sadly a solution that leads to another problem. The question now therefore is, how do we bypass the network cache?

Push, man, push!

There are several ways to clear the cache according to Ron "the Rat" Southern of Most Frequent Blogger Questions (MFBQ). First off, how do you determine if you're behind an ISP proxy cache? Add a question mark to your web address. If you're latest post gets returned, it means you're behind a proxy.

Remember that cache retrieval works on a per URL basis. So if you append a "?" followed by a unique random string (e.g. www.domain.tld/?asdf), the cache will see it as a new URL request on your domain and if there's no match to the string the latest instance of your webpage will show up instead. However, that would be a new webpage stored in the cache for your domain. If you make another update, you would have to supply a new random string. Now that's a very clumsy way of doing things. Effective, yes, but very inconvenient.

Don't despair, there's another way.

Dumping The Load

Now, you might have already performed a browser refresh before but just to again "refresh" us, for Internet Explorer the shortcut is the "F5" button. For Firefox, its "Ctrl-R" (apparently F5 works too... at times anyway). Some say doing refreshes several times in a row works. But to be sure, try a "forced refresh" or "forced reload" instead.

This is done by pressing "Shift" on your keyboard along with the refresh combination. So for IE it's "Shift-F5" or "Shift-Ctrl-F5" (sometimes Ctrl-F5 works by itself). For Firefox, the key combination is "Shift-Ctrl-R". Forced reload effectively sends a command (no-cache or cache-control) along the network to bypass the cached copy and retrieves the webpage directly from the host server.

This knowledge helped me tremendously in seeing how my updated blog shows up on the Web (I hope it works for you too). Unfortunately, not all blog readers know how to do a forced reload. If they're sitting behind a proxy cache (many of them don't even know it) which doesn't refresh properly and sees you're archived blog post instead of your fresh entry, your readership is bound to dip.

Don't Forget To Flush

Only two options are left for "blogists" at this point to make your blog "cache-free". One is to post a conspicous notice for your readers to regularly do a forced reload to get fresh updates to your blog. That's extra work for them but at least they know.

Another one I've come across recently is to use a meta-tag in the headers section of your template. Copy and paste this between the "HEAD" tags on your Blogger template.
<meta equiv="CACHE-CONTROL" content="NO-CACHE">
This in effect would direct cache servers to always have requests directed back to the original web server. Note that these http-equivalent header tags may not always work as not all proxies recognize HTML headers. But since we don't control the Blogger servers (lucky you if you run your own) we can't program the web server to provide http headers to this effect. Any way, I advise you do your own search on the said meta-tag and decide for yourself whether you will implement them on your own blogs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Airbus A380 Superjumbo Jet Arrives in Manila

"Get off my bus...err, plane!"
Photo by Paolo V. Guinto, PFSG

For the first time ever, the world's largest airliner - the Airbus A380 - touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines at about 2:45 PM October 11 (Manila time). The visit is part of it's route proving flight in Asia to show that the mammoth aircraft can be accommodated at existing airports without the need for special modifications.

The "Superjumbo" aircraft dwarfed other commercial airliners parked nearby runway 24 where it made a smooth landing according to visiting planespotters from the Philippine Flight Simmers Group (PFSG) at the Philippine Skies Forums. Mon, a PFSG member said that it was "a pretty quiet plane for its size."

The MSN009 A380 test flight is now at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (Clark International) and will depart for Dubai on October 13.

Here is a video of the A380 landing in the Philippines.


There were discussions on whether the international airport in Manila can hold the enormous weight of the A380. During initial flight tests, the A380's take-off weight was recorded at over 420 tonnes. The aircraft is measured for a maximum take-off weight of 650 metric tonnes. In this instance, the 3,737 meter long runway 24 at Manila withstood the burden of the massive eight-storeys high flying machine.

Airbus (aka Airbus, S.A.S), is a subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS, N.V.) based in Toulousse, France. Development of the A380 began as early as the 1990's. It was destined to rival the dominance of Boeing's 747 in the large commercial jet airliner category. Moreover, the A380 is Airbus' anticipated response to the projected doubling of demand for air travel in the coming years.

Said to be "cleaner, greener, quieter and smarter", the A380-800 model comes in 2 double-deck configurations. The standard three-class design can carry 525 people while the full-economy configuration can hold up to 853 passengers. In contrast, the Boeing 747-8 carries up to 467 people just a little more than half that of A380's capacity at full-economy mode. The A380 is designed to fly non-stop from Hong Kong to New York with a maximum capacity of 310,000 liters of jet fuel.

Airbus encountered numerous delays in the production of the A380. Currently 17 airlines have a total 165 orders for the aircraft. Airbus projects to break-even at 420 units. The first official delivery of the A380 is scheduled on October 15 for Singapore Airlines.

You can watch the live stream of the delivery at A380Delivery.com.


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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Knight News Challenge: $5M Funding for Big Ideas

"Up for the Challenge?"
The Knight Foundation is setting aside 5 Million Dollars for innovative ideas on digital news media. Referred to as "Digital Experiments in Community News", anybody anywhere are encouraged to submit cutting-edge concepts for technology backed community news projects with the potential of making an impact on real communities.

Last years Knight News Challenge awarded grants to 25 change advocates with prizes ranging from $15,000 to half-a-million dollars. The projects varied from innovative blog series to academic scholarships, from simple web applications to establishing entire media centers. Even MTV got a piece of the action with a $700,000 grant for the Knight Mobile Youth Journalism project which aims to place youth reporters in every state producing video news reports on their mobile phones in relation to the 2008 US elections.

Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of Knight Foundation said, "The Knight News Challenge hopes to discover innovative ways of using cyberspace to bring communities together." The foundation will invest some $25 million over a span of five years to fund exceptional community news experiments worldwide. The program is in line with the Knight Foundation's mission to "seed and inspire great journalism everywhere".

Note the following criteria for submission to the Knight News Challenge:
  • Use of digital technology - computers, cell phones, the Internet, etc.
  • Innovative - It must be different from what others have previously done.
  • Access to News and Information - It must provide people what they want to know in a timely manner.
  • Community-centered - The project must affect real geographical localities and create a sense of community in people.
There are three categories for the Knight News Challenge contest namely, General (open-source, open standards), Commercial, and the Young Creators Award which is for the 25 years and younger age group.

One can submit as many different ideas as they can come up with. Be sure however not to submit the same proposal on different categories.

Make your mark. You invent it, Knight Foundation will fund it. Deadline for submissions of proposals is on October 15, 2007. Winners will be announced in the Spring of 2008.

Register now at http://www.newschallenge.org and take the challenge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Kind of Blogger Are You?

According to the blogactionday.org quiz, I'm a "Purist Expert Socialite" blogger. Now I don't know what that means but I've got the badge to prove it!


What Kind of Blogger Are You?


Click on the badge to know what "kind of blogger" you are and sign-up for Blog Action Day on October 15! No matter what kind of blogger you are, you can help make a difference.

Get involved!

Listen Up! MusicLiberation Samples Latest Tunes

"Black is back"
SiD, our young Brit blogger with a passion for sound, created a no-nonsense music blog with an eclectic earful of tunes from upcoming bands and records. With a taste ranging from hip-hop to metal, punk to ska, rock to alternative, and everything else in between, expect the unexpected from MusicLiberation.

What's exceptional about this blog is that you come to realize that there is a universe of music out there that's not restricted to the Grammy winners or the celebrity in rehab or such other "musical talent" molded by the gatekeepers of so-called pop culture. Exploring different kinds of music is one of the things that does liberate the mind and soul. MusicLiberation helps us all in that respect.

It's a veritable gallery of artful album covers and music samplers, although it is stated that availability of links to samples beyond 14 days will be restricted (probably for copyright purposes). Therefore, frequent visits to SiD's blog would be a good thing (wink, wink).

Imagine getting hold of an FM radio station's broadcast transcription. You would be reading some background info on the artists and the album, with occasional music related news or trivia tidbit here and there, you click on the links to the riffs and just enjoy the tunes. If you like the artists' works, head on over to the nearest CD shop and purchase the record. Or click on the related links for more info.


The design of the blog is straightforward. No ads cluttering up the space. Content in the middle, navigation to the right. As simple as controls on a radio. It would be nicer though if good ol' SiD can setup space for quick links to music categories (i.e. hip-hop, metal, rock, polka... you get the idea) so that guests won't have to look over the categories along with other tags. Of course, the Blogger search at the top Navbar can do the trick for you (well, sort of).

MusicLiberation folks! 'Nuf said.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Get Involved! Sign Up for Blog Action Day on October 15

With over 8,000 blogs and a reach of over 5.6 million audiences worldwide (as of writing), Blog Action Day is set to have the world know that the environment is the most important issue in the planet. Come October 15, millions of readers around the globe will read up on their subscribed blogs and, hopefully, come to terms about taking action on the environment towards "a better future".

Blogactionday.org
was launched formally last August 16 and it had since grown in sign-ups to more than 7,000 blogs in a span of less than 2 months. With such popular blogs in the line-up such as DailyBlogTips, GigaOm, Copyblogger, and Lifehacker, the RSS readership of blogs registered with Blog Action Day grew from less than a million to 5,671,653 (and counting).

With only 5 days to go until October 15, can the reach of Blog Action Day blogs hit the 6 million mark or more? It's not impossible and it would certainly be a good thing. And you can be a part of it!

Go to blogactionday.org and register your blog. Commit today! On October 15, 2007 post a blog concerning the environment. Here are some websites to help you get some ideas - http://blogactionday.org/resources. Alternatively, you can donate a day's worth of earnings to official Blog Action Day charities which includes Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy. Or if you want you can give to an environmental charity of your choosing.

Blog Action Day is also holding a contest just for fun (and a small incentive). Whoever can guess closest the number of registered participating blogs come October 15 wins a special prize package from GreenHome.com. My bet - 6,000,101 blogs.

Meanwhile, here's a video on Blog Action Day.


For more information and inspiration read up on Leo Babauta's "Why Bloggers Will Change The World And How You Can Help."

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Monet Masterpiece Marred

"Sacrebleu! Zem nazties
turned my chef d'ouvre inzo a decoupage!"
Claude Monet's 'Le Pont d'Argenteuil' at photosmarval.org
A GROUP OF YOUNG PEOPLE BROKE into the Orsay Museum in Paris over the weekend and vandalized a priceless painting by Claude Monet. The incident was caught on video which showed the break-in happening around midnight of Sunday, October 7 during the annual Nuit Blanche cultural festival.

The youth, suspected to be four male and one female all seemingly intoxicated, trespassed into the museum as the all-nighter festival went on. Even as the alarm was set off, the vandals managed to punch a 4-inch cut into the middle of the canvass that was Monet's "Le Pont d'Argenteuil".

French cultural minister Christine Albanel commented that the vandalism was an attack against French heritage and was "a purely criminal act". The minister pledged that restoration will be undertaken for the artwork.

Claude Monet was a 19th century French artist regarded as one of the prime movers of the art style "Impressionism". The term came from one of his earlier work "Impression, Soleil Levant" (Impression, Sunrise) coined by art critic Louis Leroy and appropriated by Impressionists thereafter.

The vandalised work, "Le Pont d'Argenteuil", was one of seven artworks done by Monet in 1874 featuring the Argenteuil Bridge which traverses the Seine river, according to the Musee d'Orsay website. Monet reportedly attempted suicide in 1864 by throwing himself into the Seine, which became the recurring theme of his masterpieces 10 years later. Monet's work is characterized by bright colors and fluid textures as experienced "en plein air" (outdoors) many of which involve contrasting characteristics of actual objects and their reflections in water, as exemplified by "Le Pont d'Argenteuil".

Security will be beefed up for the various museums in and around Paris. Various breech of French institutions have been cited earlier this year. No arrests were made regarding the Orsay Museum incident.


On a personal note, it seems that today's youth have little regard for lasting cultural heritage. Subjected daily with a barrage of fast moving media, many young people today fail to appreciate the legacy of previous generations. Their understanding exists mostly only at the level of fleeting interaction - things that are transient and can be easily manipulated, i.e. video games, music remixes, spraypainted murals and "photoshopped" web images.

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