Saturday, October 27, 2012

Foods for the over 40

Oats WHY? Oats contain beta-glucans, a soluble fibre that can help lower the unwanted form of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Avenanthramides – antioxidants unique to oats – protect against atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque on artery walls), so giving oats an advantage over other grains. THE EVIDENCE: Researchers conclude that eating just 3g of oats daily is enough to reduce total cholesterol by five to ten per cent. It is estimated that the risk of developing heart disease drops by two per cent for every one per cent reduction in total cholesterol. This is a must for the 50-plus group, as it is in this decade that heart-disease risk shoots up. HOW TO EAT: Either as porridge or by adding a heaped tablespoon to plain yogurt. CHERRIES WHY? Cherries are useful in combating several conditions common in middle age, including gout and arthritis. They are a rich source of the antioxidant anthocyanin. THE EVIDENCE: Gout, which affects mainly men, is linked to raised levels of uric acid, forming crystals within the small joints. In a trial, researchers gave healthy participants 200g of cherries at breakfast. They noted that the rate at which uric acid was excreted increased by 60 per cent. HOW TO EAT: Eat a dozen cherries or drink a glass of unsweetened juice three or four times a week. Eat fresh with yogurt or seeds to ensure absorption of the beneficial vitamins. ALMONDS WHY? Benefits range from improved blood-sugar levels to reducing cholesterol. THE EVIDENCE: A study revealed that 20 adults eating 60g of almonds daily for four weeks showed a nine per cent reduction in blood-sugar, suggesting almonds could offer protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Another study took 22 adults and replaced about a third of their usual sources of fat with almonds. After six weeks they noted a six per cent reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, while their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol increased by six per cent. HOW TO EAT: Choose plain varieties as excess salt can lead to raised blood pressure. OILY FISH WHY? Omega 3 fats in these fish can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). THE EVIDENCE: The best sources of omega 3 fats are salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring. A trial found that women who ate oily fish on a regular basis experienced the lowest incidence of strokes. Fish must be eaten at least four times a week for optimal benefits. HOW TO EAT: Omega 3 fats are sensitive to high temperatures, so cook on a low heat or steam lightly. Eating raw fish such as sashimi will protect the beneficial fats. SOY WHY? Isoflavones in soy beans have been linked to lowering cholesterol, increasing bone density in post-menopausal women and improving male fertility. THE EVIDENCE: In a study, 42 post-menopausal women over the age of 50 were given three 30g servings of soy beans daily. After 12 weeks it was noted that high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good type of cholesterol, had increased by 3.7 per cent while total cholesterol had reduced by 5.5 per cent. Levels of the protein osteocalcin also increased in the blood, benefiting bone density. HOW TO EAT: Consume fresh edamame beans or soy beans in cans. They should be eaten twice or three times a week. Soy can influence hormone levels and over-consumption is not recommended for pre-menopausal women without the advice of an endocrinologist. In men, the isoflavones can have a mild effect on testosterone. TOMATOES WHY? Tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene. They offer a degree of protection against the formation and spread of cancer cells as well as protecting arteries from atherosclerosis. THE EVIDENCE: Research has shown that drinking 150ml of tomato juice after 20 minutes of exercise offers protection against prostate, lung and stomach cancers and heart disease. HOW TO EAT: Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when the sources are cooked, so cooked tomato, in its many forms, is the most convenient way to benefit from lycopene. Look for juice, passata, puree or sauce (fresh, not sweetened). WHOLE MILK WHY? Full-fat milk can help combat the reduction in muscle mass associated with getting older, especially after the age of 50. THE EVIDENCE: A 2006 study found that drinking full-fat milk after exercise helped ensure that muscle mass was enhanced. Whole milk contains 118mg of calcium per 100ml, which is essential for bone health as well as assisting blood-clotting. The daily recommended intake of calcium is about 1,000mg for men and 1,200mg for women. Eating green vegetables, nuts and seeds in addition to whole milk is an effective way to achieve this. HOW TO EAT: Whole milk can be added to porridge, cereals, tea, coffee and smoothies. Get professional advice before taking a calcium supplement – for example, taking too much can increase prostate cancer risk in men. CHICKEN WHY? This is a great source of protein – one 200g skinless breast provides 60g. Helps contribute to effective weight-management and muscle-building. THE EVIDENCE: A study in 2010 revealed that a ‘moderate increase in protein’ resulted in maintenance of weight loss compared with higher-carbohydrate diets. Chicken soup might also be able to combat the common cold. As a skinless chicken breast contains only 1g of saturated fat, it is a useful alternative to red meat. HOW TO EAT: Cut the fat content by removing the skin (breast is 17 per cent fat with skin on, and about two per cent without). The leg, even with the skin off, contains six per cent fat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Internet providers to begin warning customers

Internet providers to begin warning customers who pirate content (CNN) -- It is about to get a bit more difficult to illegally download TV shows, movies or music online. A new alert system, rolling out over the next two months, will repeatedly warn and possibly punish people violating digital copyrights. The Copyright Alert System was announced last July and has been four years in the making. If you use AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, or Verizon as your Internet service provider, you could receive the first of one of these notes starting in the next two months. The Internet provider is delivering the message, but the legwork is being done by the copyright owners, which will monitor peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent. They use a service called MarkMonitor, which uses a combination of people and automated systems to spot illegal downloading. It will collect the IP addresses of offenders, but no personal information. The IP addresses are turned over to the Internet providers, which will match up the address with the right customer and send the notification. The warning system is described as a graduated response. First the Internet provider will let the customer know that their Internet connection is being used do download content illegally. The note will include information to steer them away from their life of crime, including tips on how they can download content legally. There will also be tips on securing Internet connections, just in case you were unaware that your neighbor was downloading season three of "Dexter" using your unprotected wireless network. "The progressive series of alerts is designed to make consumers aware of activity that has occurred using their Internet accounts, educate them on how they can prevent such activity from happening again," the CCI said in its announcement today. After the educational phase, the customers will be asked to acknowledge that they received the warning. If they continue to download content illegally, the alerts will threaten mild punishments, such as forcing the copyright violator to read "educational materials," or throttling their Internet connection so that it is slow, making it harder to download large files. Today's announcement claims that terminating the Internet service is not one of the options. If a customer feels they are being wrongly accused, they can ask for a review, which will cost them $35 according to the Verge. The entire system will be overseen by an organization called the Center for Copyright Information, which includes content owners, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America, as well as individual members including Disney, Sony Pictures, Fox, EMI and Universal. Each ISP will have a slightly different version of the system

Saturday, October 20, 2012


100 things that you did not know about Africa

 The human race is of African origin. The oldest known skeletal remains
of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) were excavated at sites
in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that
were dated at 195,000 years old, the oldest known in the world.

 Skeletons of pre-humans have been found in Africa that date back
between 4 and 5 million years. The oldest known ancestral type of
humanity is thought to have been the australopithecus ramidus, who lived
 at least 4.4 million years ago.

3. Africans were the
first to organise fishing expeditions 90,000 years ago. At Katanda, a
region in northeastern Zaïre (now Congo), was recovered a finely wrought
 series of harpoon points, all elaborately polished and barbed. Also
uncovered was a tool, equally well crafted, believed to be a dagger. The
 discoveries suggested the existence of an early aquatic or fishing
based culture.

4. Africans were the first to engage in
mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland
at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000
artefacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools.
 Adrian Boshier, one of the archaeologists on the site, dated the mine
to a staggering 43,200 years old.

5. Africans pioneered
 basic arithmetic 25,000 years ago. The Ishango bone is a tool handle
with notches carved into it found in the Ishango region of Zaïre (now
called Congo) near Lake Edward. The bone tool was originally thought to
have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has
given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1
 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten
carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and
10 and 5, represent the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches
carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to
nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 - 1 and 10 - 1.
Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches
 and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between
10 and 20.

6. Africans cultivated crops 12,000 years
ago, the first known advances in agriculture. Professor Fred Wendorf
discovered that people in Egypt’s Western Desert cultivated crops of
barley, capers, chick-peas, dates, legumes, lentils and wheat. Their
ancient tools were also recovered. There were grindstones, milling
stones, cutting blades, hide scrapers, engraving burins, and mortars and

7. Africans mummified their dead 9,000 years
ago. A mummified infant was found under the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter
in south western Libya. The infant was buried in the foetal position and
 was mummified using a very sophisticated technique that must have taken
 hundreds of years to evolve. The technique predates the earliest
mummies known in Ancient Egypt by at least 1,000 years. Carbon dating is
 controversial but the mummy may date from 7438 (±220) BC.

 Africans carved the world’s first colossal sculpture 7,000 or more
years ago. The Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned with the head of a man
 combined with the body of a lion. A key and important question raised
by this monument was: How old is it? In October 1991 Professor Robert
Schoch, a geologist from Boston University, demonstrated that the Sphinx
 was sculpted between 5000 BC and 7000 BC, dates that he considered

9. On the 1 March 1979, the New York
Times carried an article on its front page also page sixteen that was
entitled Nubian Monarchy called Oldest. In this article we were assured
that: “Evidence of the oldest recognizable monarchy in human history,
preceding the rise of the earliest Egyptian kings by several
generations, has been discovered in artifacts from ancient Nubia” (i.e.
the territory of the northern Sudan and the southern portion of modern

10. The ancient Egyptians had the same type of
tropically adapted skeletal proportions as modern Black Africans. A 2003
 paper appeared in American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Dr Sonia
 Zakrzewski entitled Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body
Proportions where she states that: “The raw values in Table 6 suggest
that Egyptians had the ‘super-Negroid’ body plan described by Robins
(1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the
distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal
segments than in many ‘African’ populations.”

11. The
ancient Egyptians had Afro combs. One writer tells us that the Egyptians
 “manufactured a very striking range of combs in ivory: the shape of
these is distinctly African and is like the combs used even today by
Africans and those of African descent.”

12. The
Funerary Complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Saqqara is the oldest
building that tourists regularly visit today. An outer wall, now mostly
in ruins, surrounded the whole structure. Through the entrance are a
series of columns, the first stone-built columns known to historians.
The North House also has ornamental columns built into the walls that
have papyrus-like capitals. Also inside the complex is the Ceremonial
Court, made of limestone blocks that have been quarried and then shaped.
 In the centre of the complex is the Step Pyramid, the first of 90
Egyptian pyramids.

13. The first Great Pyramid of Giza,
 the most extraordinary building in history, was a staggering 481 feet
tall - the equivalent of a 40-storey building. It was made of 2.3
million blocks of limestone and granite, some weighing 100 tons.

 The ancient Egyptian city of Kahun was the world’s first planned city.
Rectangular and walled, the city was divided into two parts. One part
housed the wealthier inhabitants – the scribes, officials and foremen.
The other part housed the ordinary people. The streets of the western
section in particular, were straight, laid out on a grid, and crossed
each other at right angles. A stone gutter, over half a metre wide, ran
down the centre of every street.

15. Egyptian mansions
were discovered in Kahun - each boasting 70 rooms, divided into four
sections or quarters. There was a master’s quarter, quarters for women
and servants, quarters for offices and finally, quarters for granaries,
each facing a central courtyard. The master’s quarters had an open court
 with a stone water tank for bathing. Surrounding this was a colonnade.

 The Labyrinth in the Egyptian city of Hawara with its massive layout,
multiple courtyards, chambers and halls, was the very largest building
in antiquity. Boasting three thousand rooms, 1,500 of them were above
ground and the other 1,500 were underground.

Toilets and sewerage systems existed in ancient Egypt. One of the
pharaohs built a city now known as Amarna. An American urban planner
noted that: “Great importance was attached to cleanliness in Amarna as
in other Egyptian cities. Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose
waste. Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumes and essences were
popular against body odour. A solution of natron was used to keep
insects from houses . . . Amarna may have been the first planned ‘garden

18. Sudan has more pyramids than any other
country on earth - even more than Egypt. There are at least 223 pyramids
 in the Sudanese cities of Al Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal and Meroë. They
are generally 20 to 30 metres high and steep sided.

 The Sudanese city of Meroë is rich in surviving monuments. Becoming the
 capital of the Kushite Empire between 590 BC until AD 350, there are 84
 pyramids in this city alone, many built with their own miniature
temple. In addition, there are ruins of a bath house sharing affinities
with those of the Romans. Its central feature is a large pool approached
 by a flight of steps with waterspouts decorated with lion heads.

 Bling culture has a long and interesting history. Gold was used to
decorate ancient Sudanese temples. One writer reported that: “Recent
excavations at Meroe and Mussawwarat es-Sufra revealed temples with
walls and statues covered with gold leaf”.

21. In
around 300 BC, the Sudanese invented a writing script that had
twenty-three letters of which four were vowels and there was also a word
 divider. Hundreds of ancient texts have survived that were in this
script. Some are on display in the British Museum.

In central Nigeria, West Africa’s oldest civilisation flourished between
 1000 BC and 300 BC. Discovered in 1928, the ancient culture was called
the Nok Civilisation, named after the village in which the early
artefacts were discovered. Two modern scholars, declare that “[a]fter
calibration, the period of Nok art spans from 1000 BC until 300 BC”. The
 site itself is much older going back as early as 4580 or 4290 BC.

 West Africans built in stone by 1100 BC. In the Tichitt-Walata region
of Mauritania, archaeologists have found “large stone masonry villages”
that date back to 1100 BC. The villages consisted of roughly circular
compounds connected by “well-defined streets”.

24. By 250 BC, the foundations of West Africa’s oldest cities were established such as Old Djenné in Mali.

 Kumbi Saleh, the capital of Ancient Ghana, flourished from 300 to 1240
AD. Located in modern day Mauritania, archaeological excavations have
revealed houses, almost habitable today, for want of renovation and
several storeys high. They had underground rooms, staircases and
connecting halls. Some had nine rooms. One part of the city alone is
estimated to have housed 30,000 people.

26. West Africa had walled
 towns and cities in the pre-colonial period. Winwood Reade, an English
historian visited West Africa in the nineteenth century and commented
that: “There are . . . thousands of large walled cities resembling those
 of Europe in the Middle Ages, or of ancient Greece.”

 Lord Lugard, an English official, estimated in 1904 that there were 170
 walled towns still in existence in the whole of just the Kano province
of northern Nigeria.

28. Cheques are not quite as new
an invention as we were led to believe. In the tenth century, an Arab
geographer, Ibn Haukal, visited a fringe region of Ancient Ghana.
Writing in 951 AD, he told of a cheque for 42,000 golden dinars written
to a merchant in the city of Audoghast by his partner in Sidjilmessa.

 Ibn Haukal, writing in 951 AD, informs us that the King of Ghana was
“the richest king on the face of the earth” whose pre-eminence was due
to the quantity of gold nuggets that had been amassed by the himself and
 by his predecessors.

30. The Nigerian city of Ile-Ife
was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler with decorations
that originated in Ancient America. Naturally, no-one wants to explain
how this took place approximately 500 years before the time of
Christopher Columbus!

31. West Africa had bling culture
 in 1067 AD. One source mentions that when the Emperor of Ghana gives
audience to his people: “he sits in a pavilion around which stand his
horses caparisoned in cloth of gold: behind him stand ten pages holding
shields and gold-mounted swords: and on his right hand are the sons of
the princes of his empire, splendidly clad and with gold plaited into
their hair . . . The gate of the chamber is guarded by dogs of an
excellent breed . . . they wear collars of gold and silver.”

 Glass windows existed at that time. The residence of the Ghanaian
Emperor in 1116 AD was: “A well-built castle, thoroughly fortified,
decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass

33. The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of
Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”,
was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each
side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each
 with projecting wooden buttresses.

34. One of the
great achievements of the Yoruba was their urban culture. “By the year
A.D. 1300,” says a modern scholar, “the Yoruba people built numerous
walled cities surrounded by farms”. The cities were Owu, Oyo, Ijebu,
Ijesa, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Dassa, Egbado, Igbomina, the sixteen
Ekiti principalities, Owo and Ondo.

35. Yoruba metal
art of the mediaeval period was of world class. One scholar wrote that
Yoruba art “would stand comparison with anything which Ancient Egypt,
Classical Greece and Rome, or Renaissance Europe had to offer.”

 In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a
weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.

 Thousands of mediaeval tumuli have been found across West Africa.
Nearly 7,000 were discovered in north-west Senegal alone spread over
nearly 1,500 sites. They were probably built between 1000 and 1300 AD.

 Excavations at the Malian city of Gao carried out by Cambridge
University revealed glass windows. One of the finds was entitled:
“Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window
glass, Gao 10th – 14th century.”

39. In 1999 the BBC
produced a television series entitled Millennium. The programme devoted
to the fourteenth century opens with the following disclosure: “In the
fourteenth century, the century of the scythe, natural disasters
threatened civilisations with extinction. The Black Death kills more
people in Europe, Asia and North Africa than any catastrophe has before.
 Civilisations which avoid the plague thrive. In West Africa the Empire
of Mali becomes the richest in the world.”

40. Malian
sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An
Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around
1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large
 maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who
inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by
Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.

 On a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 AD, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa,
brought so much money with him that his visit resulted in the collapse
of gold prices in Egypt and Arabia. It took twelve years for the
economies of the region to normalise.

42. West African
gold mining took place on a vast scale. One modern writer said that: “It
 is estimated that the total amount of gold mined in West Africa up to
1500 was 3,500 tons, worth more than $****30 billion in today’s market.”

 The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the
Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with
arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were
plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were
plated with wood, framed in gold.

44. Mali in the 14th
century was highly urbanised. Sergio Domian, an Italian art and
architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: “Thus was
laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its
power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta
 was very densely populated”.

45. The Malian city of
Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 - 5 times larger than
mediaeval London. Mansa Musa, built the Djinguerebere Mosque in the
fourteenth century. There was the University Mosque in which 25,000
students studied and the Oratory of Sidi Yayia. There were over 150
Koran schools in which 20,000 children were instructed. London, by
contrast, had a total 14th century population of 20,000 people.

 National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the
mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to
Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.

 Many old West African families have private library collections that go
 back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane
 have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be
another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some
date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private
collections in Niger. Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about
700,000 surviving books.

48. A collection of one
thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West
African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is
 recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his
friends - he had only 1600 volumes.

49. Concerning
these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the
imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show
 the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years . . .
Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more
than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu
the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about
the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for
150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came
up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”

50. The Songhai Empire of 16th century West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and Protocol.

 The mediaeval Nigerian city of Benin was built to “a scale comparable
with the Great Wall of China”. There was a vast system of defensive
walling totalling 10,000 miles in all. Even before the full extent of
the city walling had become apparent the Guinness Book of Records
carried an entry in the 1974 edition that described the city as: “The
largest earthworks in the world carried out prior to the mechanical

52. Benin art of the Middle Ages was of the
highest quality. An official of the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde once
stated that: “These works from Benin are equal to the very finest
examples of European casting technique. Benvenuto Cellini could not have
 cast them better, nor could anyone else before or after him . . .
Technically, these bronzes represent the very highest possible

53. Winwood Reade described his visit to
the Ashanti Royal Palace of Kumasi in 1874: “We went to the king’s
palace, which consists of many courtyards, each surrounded with alcoves
and verandahs, and having two gates or doors, so that each yard was a
thoroughfare . . . But the part of the palace fronting the street was a
stone house, Moorish in its style . . . with a flat roof and a parapet,
and suites of apartments on the first floor. It was built by Fanti
masons many years ago. The rooms upstairs remind me of Wardour Street.
Each was a perfect Old Curiosity Shop. Books in many languages, Bohemian
 glass, clocks, silver plate, old furniture, Persian rugs, Kidderminster
 carpets, pictures and engravings, numberless chests and coffers. A
sword bearing the inscription From Queen Victoria to the King of
Ashantee. A copy of the Times, 17 October 1843. With these were many
specimens of Moorish and Ashanti handicraft.”

54. In
the mid-nineteenth century, William Clarke, an English visitor to
Nigeria, remarked that: “As good an article of cloth can be woven by the
 Yoruba weavers as by any people . . . in durability, their cloths far
excel the prints and home-spuns of Manchester.”

55. The
 recently discovered 9th century Nigerian city of Eredo was found to be
surrounded by a wall that was 100 miles long and seventy feet high in
places. The internal area was a staggering 400 square miles.

 On the subject of cloth, Kongolese textiles were also distinguished.
Various European writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
wrote of the delicate crafts of the peoples living in eastern Kongo and
adjacent regions who manufactured damasks, sarcenets, satins, taffeta,
cloth of tissue and velvet. Professor DeGraft-Johnson made the curious
observation that: “Their brocades, both high and low, were far more
valuable than the Italian.”

57. On Kongolese metallurgy
 of the Middle Ages, one modern scholar wrote that: “There is no
doubting . . . the existence of an expert metallurgical art in the
ancient Kongo . . . The Bakongo were aware of the toxicity of lead
vapours. They devised preventative and curative methods, both
pharmacological (massive doses of pawpaw and palm oil) and mechanical
(exerting of pressure to free the digestive tract), for combating lead

58. In Nigeria, the royal palace in the
city of Kano dates back to the fifteenth century. Begun by Muhammad
Rumfa (ruled 1463-99) it has gradually evolved over generations into a
very imposing complex. A colonial report of the city from 1902,
described it as “a network of buildings covering an area of 33 acres and
 surrounded by a wall 20 to 30 feet high outside and 15 feet inside . . .
 in itself no mean citadel”.

59. A sixteenth century
traveller visited the central African civilisation of Kanem-Borno and
commented that the emperor’s cavalry had golden “stirrups, spurs, bits
and buckles.” Even the ruler’s dogs had “chains of the finest gold”.

60. One of the government positions in mediaeval Kanem-Borno was Astronomer Royal.

 Ngazargamu, the capital city of Kanem-Borno, became one of the largest
cities in the seventeenth century world. By 1658 AD, the metropolis,
according to an architectural scholar housed “about quarter of a million
 people”. It had 660 streets. Many were wide and unbending, reflective
of town planning.

62. The Nigerian city of Surame
flourished in the sixteenth century. Even in ruin it was an impressive
sight, built on a horizontal vertical grid. A modern scholar describes
it thus: “The walls of Surame are about 10 miles in circumference and
include many large bastions or walled suburbs running out at right
angles to the main wall. The large compound at Kanta is still visible in
 the centre, with ruins of many buildings, one of which is said to have
been two-storied. The striking feature of the walls and whole ruins is
the extensive use of stone and tsokuwa (laterite gravel) or very hard
red building mud, evidently brought from a distance. There is a big
mound of this near the north gate about 8 feet in height. The walls show
 regular courses of masonry to a height of 20 feet and more in several
places. The best preserved portion is that known as sirati (the bridge) a
 little north of the eastern gate . . . The main city walls here appear
to have provided a very strongly guarded entrance about 30 feet wide.”

 The Nigerian city of Kano in 1851 produced an estimated 10 million
pairs of sandals and 5 million hides each year for export.

 In 1246 AD Dunama II of Kanem-Borno exchanged embassies with
Al-Mustansir, the king of Tunis. He sent the North African court a
costly present, which apparently included a giraffe. An old chronicle
noted that the rare animal “created a sensation in Tunis”.

 By the third century BC the city of Carthage on the coast of Tunisia
was opulent and impressive. It had a population of 700,000 and may even
have approached a million. Lining both sides of three streets were rows
of tall houses six storeys high.

66. The Ethiopian city
 of Axum has a series of 7 giant obelisks that date from perhaps 300 BC
to 300 AD. They have details carved into them that represent windows and
 doorways of several storeys. The largest obelisk, now fallen, is in
fact “the largest monolith ever made anywhere in the world”. It is 108
feet long, weighs a staggering 500 tons, and represents a
thirteen-storey building.

67. Ethiopia minted its own
coins over 1,500 years ago. One scholar wrote that: “Almost no other
contemporary state anywhere in the world could issue in gold, a
statement of sovereignty achieved only by Rome, Persia, and the Kushan
kingdom in northern India at the time.”

68. The
Ethiopian script of the 4th century AD influenced the writing script of
Armenia. A Russian historian noted that: “Soon after its creation, the
Ethiopic vocalised script began to influence the scripts of Armenia and
Georgia. D. A. Olderogge suggested that Mesrop Mashtotz used the
vocalised Ethiopic script when he invented the Armenian alphabet.”

 “In the first half of the first millennium CE,” says a modern scholar,
Ethiopia “was ranked as one of the world’s greatest empires”. A Persian
cleric of the third century AD identified it as the third most important
 state in the world after Persia and Rome.

70. Ethiopia
 has 11 underground mediaeval churches built by being carved out of the
ground. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries AD, Roha became the new
capital of the Ethiopians. Conceived as a New Jerusalem by its founder,
Emperor Lalibela (c.1150-1230), it contains 11 churches, all carved out
of the rock of the mountains by hammer and chisel. All of the temples
were carved to a depth of 11 metres or so below ground level. The
largest is the House of the Redeemer, a staggering 33.7 metres long,
23.7 metres wide and 11.5 metres deep.

71. Lalibela is
not the only place in Ethiopia to have such wonders. A cotemporary
archaeologist reports research that was conducted in the region in the
early 1970’s when: “startling numbers of churches built in caves or
partially or completely cut from the living rock were revealed not only
in Tigre and Lalibela but as far south as Addis Ababa. Soon at least
1,500 were known. At least as many more probably await revelation.”

 In 1209 AD Emperor Lalibela of Ethiopia sent an embassy to Cairo
bringing the sultan unusual gifts including an elephant, a hyena, a
zebra, and a giraffe.

73. In Southern Africa, there are
 at least 600 stone built ruins in the regions of Zimbabwe, Mozambique
and South Africa. These ruins are called Mazimbabwe in Shona, the Bantu
language of the builders, and means great revered house and “signifies

74. The Great Zimbabwe was the largest of these
 ruins. It consists of 12 clusters of buildings, spread over 3 square
miles. Its outer walls were made from 100,000 tons of granite bricks. In
 the fourteenth century, the city housed 18,000 people, comparable in
size to that of London of the same period.

75. Bling
culture existed in this region. At the time of our last visit, the
Horniman Museum in London had exhibits of headrests with the caption:
“Headrests have been used in Africa since the time of the Egyptian
pharaohs. Remains of some headrests, once covered in gold foil, have
been found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and burial sites like
Mapungubwe dating to the twelfth century after Christ.”

 Dr Albert Churchward, author of Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man,
pointed out that writing was found in one of the stone built ruins:
“Lt.-Col. E. L. de Cordes . . . who was in South Africa for three years,
 informed the writer that in one of the ‘Ruins’ there is a
‘stone-chamber,’ with a vast quantity of Papyri, covered with old
Egyptian hieroglyphics. A Boer hunter discovered this, and a large
quantity was used to light a fire with, and yet still a larger quantity
remained there now.”

77. On bling culture, one
seventeenth century visitor to southern African empire of Monomotapa,
that ruled over this vast region, wrote that: “The people dress in
various ways: at court of the Kings their grandees wear cloths of rich
silk, damask, satin, gold and silk cloth; these are three widths of
satin, each width four covados [2.64m], each sewn to the next, sometimes
 with gold lace in between, trimmed on two sides, like a carpet, with a
gold and silk fringe, sewn in place with a two fingers’ wide ribbon,
woven with gold roses on silk.”

78. Southern Africans
mined gold on an epic scale. One modern writer tells us that: “The
estimated amount of gold ore mined from the entire region by the
ancients was staggering, exceeding 43 million tons. The ore yielded
nearly 700 tons of pure gold which today would be valued at over
$******7.5 billion.”

79. Apparently the Monomotapan
royal palace at Mount Fura had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. An
eighteenth century geography book provided the following data: “The
inside consists of a great variety of sumptuous apartments, spacious and
 lofty halls, all adorned with a magnificent cotton tapestry, the
manufacture of the country. The floors, cielings [sic], beams and
rafters are all either gilt or plated with gold curiously wrought, as
are also the chairs of state, tables, benches &c. The
candle-sticks and branches are made of ivory inlaid with gold, and hang
from the cieling by chains of the same metal, or of silver gilt.”

 Monomotapa had a social welfare system. Antonio Bocarro, a Portuguese
contemporary, informs us that the Emperor: “shows great charity to the
blind and maimed, for these are called the king’s poor, and have land
and revenues for their subsistence, and when they wish to pass through
the kingdoms, wherever they come food and drinks are given to them at
the public cost as long as they remain there, and when they leave that
place to go to another they are provided with what is necessary for
their journey, and a guide, and some one to carry their wallet to the
next village. In every place where they come there is the same

81. Many southern Africans have indigenous
 and pre-colonial words for ‘gun’. Scholars have generally been
reluctant to investigate or explain this fact.

Evidence discovered in 1978 showed that East Africans were making steel
for more than 1,500 years: “Assistant Professor of Anthropology Peter
Schmidt and Professor of Engineering Donald H. Avery have found as long
as 2,000 years ago Africans living on the western shores of Lake
Victoria had produced carbon steel in preheated forced draft furnaces, a
 method that was technologically more sophisticated than any developed
in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century.”

83. Ruins
of a 300 BC astronomical observatory was found at Namoratunga in Kenya.
Africans were mapping the movements of stars such as Triangulum,
Aldebaran, Bellatrix, Central Orion, etcetera, as well as the moon, in
order to create a lunar calendar of 354 days.

Autopsies and caesarean operations were routinely and effectively
carried out by surgeons in pre-colonial Uganda. The surgeons routinely
used antiseptics, anaesthetics and cautery iron. Commenting on a Ugandan
 caesarean operation that appeared in the Edinburgh Medical Journal in
1884, one author wrote: “The whole conduct of the operation . . .
suggests a skilled long-practiced surgical team at work conducting a
well-tried and familiar operation with smooth efficiency.”

85. Sudan in the mediaeval period had churches, cathedrals, monasteries and castles. Their ruins still exist today.

 The mediaeval Nubian Kingdoms kept archives. From the site of Qasr
Ibrim legal texts, documents and correspondence were discovered. An
archaeologist informs us that: “On the site are preserved thousands of
documents in Meroitic, Latin, Greek, Coptic, Old Nubian, Arabic and

87. Glass windows existed in mediaeval Sudan.
 Archaeologists found evidence of window glass at the Sudanese cities of
 Old Dongola and Hambukol.

88. Bling culture existed in
 the mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found an individual buried at the
Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the city of Old Dongola. He was clad in
 an extremely elaborate garb consisting of costly textiles of various
fabrics including gold thread. At the city of Soba East, there were
individuals buried in fine clothing, including items with golden thread.

 Style and fashion existed in mediaeval Sudan. A dignitary at Jebel Adda
 in the late thirteenth century AD was interned with a long coat of red
and yellow patterned damask folded over his body. Underneath, he wore
plain cotton trousers of long and baggy cut. A pair of red leather
slippers with turned up toes lay at the foot of the coffin. The body was
 wrapped in enormous pieces of gold brocaded striped silk.

 Sudan in the ninth century AD had housing complexes with bath rooms and
 piped water. An archaeologist wrote that Old Dongola, the capital of
Makuria, had: “a[n] . . . eighth to . . . ninth century housing complex.
 The houses discovered here differ in their hitherto unencountered
spatial layout as well as their functional programme (water supply
installation, bathroom with heating system) and interiors decorated with

91. In 619 AD, the Nubians sent a gift of a giraffe to the Persians.

 The East Coast, from Somalia to Mozambique, has ruins of well over 50
towns and cities. They flourished from the ninth to the sixteenth
centuries AD.

93. Chinese records of the fifteenth century AD note that Mogadishu had houses of “four or five storeys high”.

 Gedi, near the coast of Kenya, is one of the East African ghost towns.
Its ruins, dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, include
the city walls, the palace, private houses, the Great Mosque, seven
smaller mosques, and three pillar tombs.

95. The ruined mosque in the Kenyan city of Gedi had a water purifier made of limestone for recycling water.

 The palace in the Kenyan city of Gedi contains evidence of piped water
controlled by taps. In addition it had bathrooms and indoor toilets.

 A visitor in 1331 AD considered the Tanzanian city of Kilwa to be of
world class. He wrote that it was the “principal city on the coast the
greater part of whose inhabitants are Zanj of very black complexion.”
Later on he says that: “Kilwa is one of the most beautiful and
well-constructed cities in the world. The whole of it is elegantly

98. Bling culture existed in early Tanzania. A
Portuguese chronicler of the sixteenth century wrote that: “[T]hey are
finely clad in many rich garments of gold and silk and cotton, and the
women as well; also with much gold and silver chains and bracelets,
which they wear on their legs and arms, and many jewelled earrings in
their ears”.

99. In 1961 a British archaeologist, found
 the ruins of Husuni Kubwa, the royal palace of the Tanzanian city of
Kilwa. It had over a hundred rooms, including a reception hall,
galleries, courtyards, terraces and an octagonal swimming pool.

 In 1414 the Kenyan city of Malindi sent ambassadors to China carrying a
 gift that created a sensation at the Imperial Court. It was, of course,
 a giraffe.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apple parts ways with hacker

Apple parts ways with hacker famous for iPhone jailbreaking

Nicholas Allegra, who was hired last year after gaining fame at JailBreakMe, was let go after not responding to an e-mail offering to extend his employment.

Apple's experiment with employing a hacker famous for jailbreaking the iPhone has ended.
Nicholas Allegra, also known as Comex, was hired at Apple after gaining fame with the JailBreakMe, a Web site that simplified the process of removing Apple-installed protections from the phone -- a practice Apple opposes. When Apple hired him as an intern in August 2011, Allegra was a high-profile member of the jailbreaking community, regularly publicizing security vulnerabilities in Apple's iOS software.
However, Apple ended the 20-year-old Brown University student's employment last week, Allegra revealed today.
"So... no point in delaying. As of last week, after about a year, I'm no longer associated with Apple," he tweeted this afternoon. "As for why? Because I forgot to reply to an email," he wrote in a follow-up tweet.

The e-mail he didn't reply to was an offer to extend his employment at Apple as a remote intern, Allegra told Forbes. After not responding to the original e-mail, he learned that the offer had been rescinded.
"I wasn't too happy about it, but it didn't seem like I was able to fix it," he told Forbes. "So that's what it is."
CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.
Hackers have proven to be popular hires at tech companies these days. Charlie Miller, famous for his hacks on the iPhone and MacBook Air, joined Twitter last month, and well-known PlayStation 3 hacker George Hotz, a.k.a. Geohot, had a brief stint at Facebook last year

more @

FTC offers $50,000

FTC offers $50,000 to robocall killers

A menace to business and consumer alike, robocall removal is now under the eye of the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission is offering a cash reward of $50,000 to whoever develops a solution to block robotic calling on both landlines and mobiles.
In 2009, the FTC banned automatic commercial telemarketing calls -- but solicitation is still a problem as advanced technology makes illegal, irritating calls more difficult to block.
The FTC Robocall Challenge site says that anyone who wants to take on the war with robo-marketeers can submit their idea from October 25 to January 17.
The FTC is asking these basic questions: does it work? Is it easy to use? And can it be rolled out?
If you want to take part, your idea will be marked based on a number of set criteria. The solution has to be tailored for illegal robocalls, and so must permit legal calls including being reached out to by political parties, charities, and health care providers. It must not block reverse-911 calls.

In addition, your idea will be marked on ease of customer use, the variety of consumer phones that can be protected, and whether it can be used by those with disabilities. The flexibility of an idea is also important, as the FTC wants to know how easily robocallers could adapt or counter a scheme if it were rolled out nationwide.
From a commercial perspective, ideas will gain hefty points if they are compatible with today's marketplace -- in other words, would an idea require changes to all phone switches worldwide -- or could it simply be distributed by line providers?
Entries can be in the form of idea proposals, fully functional solutions, and proofs of concept. The winner will get $50,000 and a trip to D.C, where the creator or team will present the winning solution. Runners up are given the Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award, but no cash prize.
Entrants keep the intellectual property rights of their submission.

more @$50000-to-robocall-killers/

MMA in the hood

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cool Cat


(MoneyWatch) With average U.S. life expectancy still rising, if you look after your health it's quite possible you might live into your late '80s or beyond. As a result, people who retire in their 60s could be retired for at least two or three decades. That should be a good thing -- except if you run out of money in your 70s or 80s!
If you're like most baby boomers, you haven't put enough away in retirement savings to maintain your current lifestyle, so you'll need to squeeze as much income as possible from what you did sock away. And unless you'll be receiving significant benefits from a traditional pension plan, which provides a lifetime monthly income, you should be certain to manage your retirement savings so you don't outlive it.

Unfortunately, research suggests many people simply "wing it" when it comes to retirement planning and drawing down their savings. They simply withdraw what they need for living expenses and hope the money lasts.
Hope is never good strategy! If you spend your retirement savings without planning, there's a good chance you'll go broke in your retirement years.

Let me instead introduce you to a better strategy to draw down and invest any type of retirement savings you have, whether a straightforward savings account with no special tax features; a 401(k), 403(b), 457 or cash-balance plan; or a traditional or Roth IRA.
Don't spend savings
When it comes to living off your retirement savings, the most important strategy you can adopt is this: Don't spend your savings!
Can that be right? Absolutely. The concern is that after immediately after retiring, you'll have accumulated a tidy sum to spend during retirement. It'll look like a lot of money, and you may think you can easily afford to buy that boat or take that expensive cruise you've been dreaming about. You might start spending your retirement savings on the things you've been planning for and pull out whatever you think you need to cover daily living expenses.
If you're not careful, you'll exhaust the balance in your retirement accounts before too many years have gone by. You may have plenty of years to live, but you'll be broke and faced with some hard choices, such as returning to work, drastically scaling back your living expenses or moving in with your kids.
Instead of spending haphazardly, what you should do is consider your retirement savings as a monthly retirement income generator. Spend no more than the amount of your paychecks. Since most of us already live paycheck to paycheck during our working lives, adhering to this financial discipline when we retire shouldn't be too hard. If you plan your spending in retirement, there's a good chance you won't go broke.

For the sake of convenience, I'm going to call these monthly retirement income generators "RIGs" for short. These RIGS are critical to creating a financially secure retirement. In order to better understand this concept, it might help to think of your RIGs as vehicles that will go the distance and carry you through a secure retirement. And as with cars and trucks, RIGs come in several models with a variety of extras that can be customized to suit your needs.
But don't feel overwhelmed. There are only three basic types of RIGs you can use to generate retirement income from savings (which I discuss in detail in my latest book, "Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck"). To help you create a financially secure retirement, my next few upcoming posts will summarize these three types of RIGs and discusses their variations. Stay tuned!

more @

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Feds Move Closer to Suing Google Over Search

Over the past few years, enough complaints have come Google’s way claiming it games its search results to rank competitors lower that the company felt compelled to post a FAQ, “Facts about Google and Competition.” In response to its self-posed question “Does Google have a monopoly on search?”, the company says: “No. On the Internet, competition is one click away.”
For federal regulators, that answer might not be good enough anymore.
According to reports late Friday, the feds are getting ready to pull the trigger on an antitrust lawsuit against Google for allegedly using its massive scale to squash competition and keep online advertising prices high.
Based on a wide-reaching investigation that began more than a year ago, Federal Trade Commission staff are readying to recommend that a suit be brought against the search giant, according to the New York Times. If the commission decides to bring a case, it would be the largest anti-trust suit brought by the FTC since a similar legal case took on Microsoft in the late ‘90s. Microsoft lost, but the ultimate resolution dragged on for years. Google did not immediately respond to a Wired inquiry seeking a statement on the FTC’s possible move.
As with Microsoft, the Google investigation has poked into virtually every part of Google’s business. The gist is that as Google has expanded beyond its core search business, into things like online shopping and smartphones, it is using its muscle to favor Google products over competitors. So rather than showing results from say, another shopping engine or restaurant recommendation service, it favors Google’s own versions of those products. In the mobile world, the FTC is looking at whether handset makers have the freedom to pick and choose the Google products they want if they choose to use Google’s free Android mobile operating system.
Even if the final recommendation of FTC staff is to sue Google, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen. Bringing a formal suit requires three of five FTC commissioners to vote in support of legal action. In September, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said a decision on whether to sue would be made by the end of the year. In Europe, a similar antitrust investigation into Google is already moving forward as European regulators look to lessen Google’s grip on the Internet.
In a settlement recently pitched to European Union antitrust regulators Google reportedly proposed to clearly brand all links to Google services returned in a search to mark them as distinct from “neutral” search results. The Texas attorney general’s office has also been investigating Google’s search practices for the past two years.
Google has long denied any anti-competitive practices, and for its part had this to say: “We are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business.” The FTC did not immediately respond to a Wired message seeking comment.
If some websites have problems with how they turn up in Google’s search rankings, web users themselves don’t seem to find Google’s results wanting. Last month in the U.S., a full two-thirds of all web searches were made using Google, with Microsoft’s Bing a very distant second and Yahoo coming in third, according to comScore. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why other sites that don’t fare well on Google would claim that a low ranking equals internet invisibility. But it’s hard to believe that any settlement the company reaches in the event of FTC action could do much to harm its own rank as the world’s de facto default search engine.

more @

Nerd with tits

Kinsey on the set by softbodysweethearts

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apple's Stock Is Dropping

Apple's stock is now down about 10% from its recent pre-iPhone high. Suddenly, the Apple bulls have gone quiet. Suddenly, you don't hear everyone agreeing that Apple's [AAPL 640.91 5.06 (+0.8%) ] obviously going to $1,000 or on its way to becoming the first $1 trillion company anymore. So, what's going on? Why is the only stock that pretty much everyone agreed was a sure thing suddenly going weak in the knees? A bunch of likely reasons (If I've missed any, please add yours in the comments): •The last huge catalyst of this year — the iPhone 5 — is now ancient history, and investors no longer have any massive product announcements to look forward to. Early this year, investors were expecting three big product catalysts from Apple: the iPad 3, the iPhone 5, and the "iTV." The first two have been launched. The "iTV," meanwhile, has disappeared from everyone's radar screen. (Yes, the "iPad Mini" is coming, but that's viewed as a derivative version of the iPad.) If news begins to leak that Apple's going to roll out the iTV later this year or early next, investors might get excited again. Otherwise, it's buy-the-rumor, sell-the-news, and everyone's selling the news. •The iPhone 5's initial sales were disappointing. The first weekend's sales number, 5 million, was significantly worse than the "worst case scenario" put forth by Wall Street's top Apple analyst. Whether the problem was flaccid demand or, more likely, supply problems, the number was well below expectations. And the disappointing launch sales likely mean that Apple will post lousy overall iPhone sales for the September quarter. •Supply problems (and, possibly, demand problems) are creating concerns about iPhone sales in the December quarter. The consensus "whisper" estimate has been that Apple will sell more than 50 million iPhones in the December quarter. A month ago, most people regarded this estimate as conservative. Now, given ongoing reports of manufacturing and supply issues, as well as the percentage of would-be iPhone 5 buyers who are under contract with carriers and therefore can't upgrade yet, it would not be surprising if investors were beginning to worry that Apple won't hit the 50 million number for the December quarter. •Longer-term, increasing competition, maturing markets, and pressure on Apple's extraordinary profit margin may become bigger concerns. Apple's competitors have now arguably caught up with the iPhone, or at least gotten close enough that the differences between brands are only important to tech snoots. Some of the biggest smartphone markets, meanwhile, including the US, have passed the halfway point in terms of penetration, which is the point at which growth usually starts to slow down. These factors and others could begin to put pressure on Apple's astounding profit margin. Companies can continue to grow profits when their margins are declining, and, ultimately, stock prices can follow this profit growth, but stocks don't generally go up when margins are dropping. The good news for Apple investors is that the stock still isn't expensive — and never has been, despite the company's spectacular growth. At $625, Apple is trading at 15X trailing earnings per share. That's about in line with the market's long-term average, and Apple is expected to grow much more quickly than the average company over the next few years. Apple's stock, therefore, seems to be assuming that there will be some mixed news on the horizon. Not terrible news — if Apple hits real trouble, the stock could tank from here — but mixed news. Also, if Apple makes bullish remarks about current iPhone sales when it reports its September quarter in a couple of weeks, investors could get jazzed again. Then the chatter will once again turn to how many iPhones Apple might sell in the December quarter, and the market could get all hot and bothered speculating about that. For those who are worried about Apple's stock, a look at the stock's longer term performance certainly puts the recent decline in context. The stock has more than doubled in the past year. more @

Exotic Dancers Get $13 Million Payback from Clubs

Exotic Dancers Get $13 Million Payback from Clubs It's been three years since the class action began, but it ends with something of a labor law victory for exotic dancers. A federal judge has approved a $12.9 million settlement for strippers who claimed their employers helped themselves to their tips and paid less than minimum wage, among other indignities, the Courthouse News Service reports. Under the settlement, a number of nightclubs will have to treat strippers as either employees or even as shareholders or partners in their ventures. And in California, strippers won't have to pay the defendant nightclubs fees in order to perform, as they had to do before the settlement. The nightclubs, 15 in total, allegedly also fined strippers for a huge list of things, including: for not selling enough drinks, for not being in full costume, for not offering specials, and for not wearing a uniform even though a uniform was not provided. After legal costs, the massive settlement will go to dancers primarily in California and Nevada, with around seven percent being distributed to dancers in other states. more @

Monday, October 8, 2012

iPad Mini design to top Apple's earlier tablets, analyst says The device could be better looking than the latest iPad and improve on how the tablet feels in consumers' hands. Apple's iPad Mini will come with a design that bests the company's current slate, according to an analyst. "Apple did not skimp on the aesthetics of the much anticipated iPad Mini," Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said recently in a research note obtained by All Things Digital. "In fact, we believe the iPad Mini could outshine the new iPad in terms of how the device feels in a consumer's hands." Although White didn't explain how the "feel" might be different, the iPad Mini is reportedly much smaller than the new iPad, making at least one differentiation somewhat obvious. Apple's current iPad comes with a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad Mini will reportedly ship with a 7.85-inch display, making the device itself much smaller. Earlier reports on Apple's iPad Mini have suggested that the tablet will come with the same design ideas as its bigger alternative, including a physical home button and thin bezel. White, however, seems to indicate that more features are coming. Rumors have been swirling for months over what the iPad Mini might offer and when it might finally ship. The latest reports suggest Apple could send out invites this week to a iPad Mini event, and then actually start selling the device in a couple of weeks. Although Apple hasn't confirmed that an iPad Mini will even launch, just about every analyst says that it is happening. And when it does, it could be a sales juggernaut. Just yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources, that Apple has placed over 10 million iPad Mini orders for the fourth quarter.

100-Million-Year-Old Spider

100-Million-Year-Old Spider Attack Recorded in Amber
Looks like this 100-million-year old spider didn’t get to enjoy its final meal. Trapped in a piece of amber, the juvenile spider appears to be on the cusp of devouring a male wasp that was caught in its web. Such a grisly scene between spider and prey has never before been found in the fossil record. The amazing snapshot shows an event that occurred in the Early Cretaceous period, about 97 to 110 million years ago, in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar, “almost certainly with dinosaurs wandering nearby,” as the press release about this discovery reports. The spider is a social orb-weaver spider, formally known as Geratonephila burmanica, and its victim is a wasp of the species Cascoscelio incassus. Both species are extinct today but the fossil suggests that insect behavior from the past is not too different from the present. Related wasp species are known to parasitize spider eggs, so there is some poetic justice in the spider’s attack. “This was the wasp’s worst nightmare, and it never ended. The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them,” said entomologist George Poinar Jr. of Oregon State University in the release. This latest fossil doesn’t just capture the dramatic spider attack but also evidence of spider social life in the Early Cretaceous. Another spider, an adult male, is captured some distance away in the amber, co-habiting on the same web as the juvenile. Males of modern-day social orb-weavers are typically found living on female-constructed webs, where they assist in capturing insects and maintaining the web. Droplets on the fossil web also contain aerial plankton (pollen, spores and dust particles) from the time. A paper about the discovery appears Oct. 8 in the journal Historical Biology.

Tiffany Luu

Tiffany Luu

Saturday, October 6, 2012


3 Things You Need to Know About LinkedIn's Company Pages

It's no longer enough to just drive traffic to your website, you need to engage your web visitors and create an online journey that leads them quickly to the content they're searching for.
LinkedIn [LNKD  118.83    -3.15  (-2.58%)   ] understands the need to engage their members so they recently released an updated version of LinkedIn. The new site is dramatically different than the original version with a clean, easy-to-navigate interface. The new LinkedIn website focuses on engaging LinkedIn members, which will keep them on the site longer and entice them to return more frequently.
The second phase of the LinkedIn makeover is a redesigned version of Company Pages. This new version of Company Pages is a continuation of the site-wide redesign of LinkedIn simplifying LinkedIn's pillar products and creating streamlined experiences across all devices. The new Company Pages are designed to encourage interaction and engagement with the LinkedIn members.
Here's how can you take advantage of the redesign of LinkedIn Company Pages:
1. Create a custom header. The new Company Pages have a sleek design and cleaner navigation based on feedback from LinkedIn members. You now have to ability to extend your brand by adding your corporate logo and a custom header at the top of your Company Page. The custom header is 646 x 220-pixels giving you plenty of room to promote your company. The new Company Pages also have a more prominent Follow button making it easier to grow your LinkedIn community. 

 2. Include more information. The Updates section of the new Company Pages is longer, allowing visitors to your page to learn more about your company without having to scroll to the bottom and click on the See All Activity link. In the past, Updates were limited to just a few of the most recent posts and it was difficult for visitors to view older updates. The new design is also more engaging making it easier for visitors to Comment on posts. In the past, you had to click on the Comment link which opened a new comment window. Now the comment window is prominently displayed under each news item.
3. Promote your products and services. One of the biggest changes in the Company Page redesign is moving the Products and Services tab from the navigation bar to the right sidebar. This change lets you prominently feature products and services above-the-fold on the home page instead of being hidden on an internal page. This change will give your products and services significantly more exposure to your LinkedIn community and encourage more interaction with your brand.
We will continue to see additional updates to that make the site more engaging and interactive as they gather feedback from members. LinkedIn is growing rapidly and attracting your target audience. It's important for you to update your Company Page frequently to grow your LinkedIn Community and build a long-term relationship with your current customers.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Apple Maps stinks, iOS 6 leaks data: Should I get the iPhone 5?

CNET's Ask Maggie offers advice on whether or not to buy the new iPhone 5 given the poor reviews of Apple Maps. And what can users do to reduce their wireless data usage?

With all the news of Apple Maps' deficiencies and data leaks on iOS 6 devices, is the new iPhone 5 even worth it?
That's the question I try to answer in this edition of Ask Maggie. Apple has pulled the Google Maps app from its latest software, leaving the new iPhone 5 and other iOS devices to use its Apple Maps product, which many complain is inferior to Google Maps.
Also, Apple has issued an update to Verizon iPhone 5 smartphones that fixes a glitch in its Wi-Fi software. Instead of connecting to known Wi-Fi sites, consumers were really using data from their carrier plan.
One reader wants to know if he should still buy the iPhone 5 even though the Apple Maps has gotten such poor reviews. And another reader wants to know the best way to protect herself against the data leakage problem uncovered by some iPhone 5 and iOS 6 users.
Should I still get the iPhone 5 even though Apple Maps sucks?
Dear Maggie,
I really want to get the iPhone 5, but I'm troubled by the reports that Google Maps is not available on the device. I've heard that the Apple map service is just bad. I don't know what to do, because I really want the iPhone 5. But I don't want to have to live with a crappy map service. Is there any way to get the Google Maps as an app? Or are there alternative apps that are better than Apple's map service and as good as Google Maps? I'm just not sure if this one capability is enough to make me not buy the iPhone 5 and get something like the Samsung Galaxy S3. What do you think?
iPhone Envy
Dear iPhone Envy,
The answer to your first question is, "no." At this time the Google Maps app is not integrated into the iPhone iOS software anymore. And you cannot download an app from iTunes. That said, you can use the online Web app version of Google Maps, which accesses the service through the iPhone browser Safari.
Apple's Maps app on an iPhone 5.
Apple's Maps app on an iPhone 5.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET )
The Web app version will create a little Google Maps icon you can put on your home screen. So it can be accessed like a native app, but unfortunately, it doesn't act like the real Google Maps app. What this means is that certain features will be missing and even the features that are there may not behave like the native app.
My CNET Reviews colleague Scott Stein posted a story on one such feature yesterday. Previously, Google Street View couldn't be accessed via the Google Maps Web app on the iPhone. That feature has now been added. But it still doesn't behave like the native Google Maps App.
Here's a list of some of the limitations from Scott's piece:
  • Yes, you can move down city streets virtually for a little stroll...but it's choppy.
  • It's easy to look around, but Street View images are distorted.
  • You can't zoom in.
  • You can't just drop a pin.
There is no question that that Apple's move to use its own maps app instead of Google's has been a disappointment to many people. The biggest problem is missing or inaccurate data. Apple Maps uses location information from Yelp, which is less reliable than Google's own database. In Scott's review of the iPhone 5 he noted that searching for a coffee shop only turned up a Starbucks and not a different coffee shop across the street.
Another big loss is integrated transit information that you could get in Google Maps. There are third party apps you can use for this information, such as HopStop
and Embark (both are also free.) But CNET's Kent German and Josh Lowensohn note in their FAQ regarding the maps flap that using a third party app for transit means switching back and forth between the transit information and the Apple Maps app, which offers a map of the area. This makes it more difficult for people who need directions to and from transit stops. By contrast, transit information was integrated into Google Maps, which meant no switching back and forth. The other big complaint about Apple Maps is that some of the information and location of things is simply wrong. Whether this is a problem for you will depend on where you live. Kent and Josh noted in their FAQ that CNET didn't see any major issues in either New York City or San Francisco. This makes sense, given these cities are two of the most well-mapped places on the plant. So depending on where you live, this could be really irksome. The Apple Map problems are particularly bad outside the U.S.
But that doesn't mean that Apple Maps is worthless. There are some very useful things have been added to the app that iPhone users didn't have previously. The most important is turn-by-turn directions. Previously, iPhone users had to rely on third-party apps for this features. Kent and Josh note in their FAQ that some of these apps are free, but the better ones cost money. Meanwhile, Google Android users get this feature for free on every Android handset. (I must admit it's always been one of my favorite things about a Google Android phone.)
Another newly added feature in iOS 6 for iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and the new iPad, users is 3D views. And there is also a flyover feature that lets you feel like you're zooming over a city in a low-flying airplane. These features may not necessarily be that useful, but they do look cool.
You can also see reviews of points of interest directly on your map, which can be useful if you're looking for a nearby restaurant. (Of course, you can't be sure if the app is really giving you all the nearby options and if they're actually in the place that the app says they are.)
Apple has finally recognized that this is a significant problem. And the company's CEO Tim Cook issued an apology to customers and promised the Apple Maps app will get better. In the meantime, he suggested that iOS 6 users use a third party app to augment Apple Maps.
He suggested using Bing, MapQuest, or Waze maps apps. And he even said that users should check out the Google Maps Web App, and a mapping Web app from Nokia. The Nokia version works very much like Google. It's accessed through the Safari browser, but you can download a little icon to put on your home screen for easy access. Again, because these Web apps operate through the browser performance can be less than optimal.
There are also other third party alternatives. CNET's car tech editor Wayne Cunningham has put together a list of five free or mostly free navigation and mapping apps.
. Now to answer your final question: should you go with another device, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, because the iPhone 5 lacks Google Maps?
First, let me say that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a great choice regardless of the maps issue. So if you like the bigger screen and the look and feel of the handset and the Android software, go for it. But I probably would not make the mapping feature alone my sole basis for not buying the iPhone 5 and instead buying the Samsung Galaxy S3. I asked Scott Stein this question too and here's what he had to say:
"If I really needed a solid mapping and navigation solution, because I needed it for my job. Like let's say I was a UPS driver or something, then I would go with an Android phone," he said. "Otherwise, I think Apple Maps is fine. The things it's missing are annoying. But I think they're going get to better. Or I think Google will offer a Google Maps app for the iPhone."
I tend to agree with Scott. It's clear that Apple Maps has some problems. And it is not as good or as accurate as Google Maps. But Apple has a heck of a lot of money. And they have a lot of smart people working for the company. So I think they will invest rather quickly in making improvements. I also think that there is a good possibility that Apple and Google could reach an agreement. And even though I don't think that Apple will integrate Google Maps into the software out of the box, Google could submit an app to the Apple App store, which users could download either for free or for a fee.
Kent and Josh noted in their FAQ that the fact that the YouTube app has recently gotten approval for the iTunes App Store is a good sign that Google Maps may follow a similar path. YouTube had also been integrated in the Apple iOS software since the first iPhone, but it was removed from iOS. (YouTube is owned by Google.)
That said,Apple's customer satisfaction has taken a bit of a hit after the upgrade to iOS 6. The mobile customer research firm On Device recently conducted a poll of nearly 16,000 iPhone owners in the U.S. The survey found that owner satisfaction dropped slightly compared with previous surveys conducted after software updates to iOS 4 and iOS5 were launched. Although the drop is small, OnDevice noted it's the first time they've seen any drop in customer satisfaction after the release of a software update for Apple mobile products.
Still, the map issues don't seem to have dampened enthusiasm for people buying the iPhone 5. Sales are solid and some people are still waiting three and four weeks for their devices.
My advice to you is to buy the iPhone 5 if you like everything else about the device. The maps issue will either be worked out or improved by Apple or there will eventually be a Google Maps app available for download. In the meantime, there are third party alternatives and work-arounds available. While this is not ideal, it's workable. But if there are other things bothering you about the iPhone 5, or you simply like Android and the Galaxy S3 better, then I say buy the Galaxy S3. The bottom line is that you will probably be happy with either one. They are both fantastic smartphones.
How can I conserve data and protect against overages from data leaks?
Dear Maggie,
I switched to Verizon from AT&T for the iPhone 5. This means I had to get one of those Family Share plans. I think I will be fine with the 1GB data I am getting, so long as I use Wi-Fi. But I am worried about the "data leakage" issues that I've read about. I don't want to go over my data usage! Has Verizon really fixed this issue? And what can I do to protect myself if this happens again?
Dear Grace,
Apple fixed the problem in a software update for iOS6. And Verizon issued a statement earlier this week stating that customers who experienced this issue would not be charged for these data overages.
(Credit: AnchorFree )
"Under certain circumstances, iPhone 5 may use Verizon cellular data while the phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network," said Verizon's Torod Neptune in a statement. "Apple has a fix that is being delivered to Verizon customers right on their iPhone 5. Verizon Wireless customers will not be charged for any unwarranted cellular data usage."
You should download the software update and then check your usage to make sure you don't see something out of the ordinary.
. While you can't prevent a software glitch like this from happening again, you can download an app that will compress the data that do you use. This won't fix the problem of wrongly being charged for data usage. But an app that compresses data should help you stay within your data cap.
Apps, such as AnchorFree's HotSpot Shield, can help subscribers reduce their data usage to half. This means that if you typically use 4GB of data, you would likely use about 2GB of data. The amount of data each consumer saves can vary. It depends on what you do online. Right now, HotSpot Shield and other apps like it, such as Onavo only compress text and images. They do not yet compress video or audio, which can be the biggest data hogs.
That said, uploading pictures to Flikr or Facebook or viewing pictures on Instagram or any other social media site can gobble up a lot of data. Checking Twitter constantly or receiving updates from other apps can also be data intensive. All of this data can add up. Apps like HotSpot Shield and Onavo can compress this traffic and help you reduce data usage.
David Gorodyansky, CEO AnchorFree, said that when his app and others are able to compress video and audio, they will be able to reduce data usage even more.
"Now you can use about two times as much data and we're only compressing images and text," he said. "I think you could see a 300 percent improved if we could compress video."
This could save wireless subscribers a lot of money on their data plans. If a subscriber watches a lot of streaming video, he can blow through a monthly data plan within the first week of the month. Nailing down the video compression problem will help alleviate this problem.
AnchorFree and Onavo aren't the only companies offering a data compression app. XVision's DataMan and Webrich Software's My Data Usage Pro are similar solutions.
These apps all work in a similar way. And they provide you with details about your data usage. With HotSpot Shield you can get live usage information. And you can see which apps are using the most data. Onavo also allows you to set alerts so that if a certain app is hogging your data, you will get a message warning you.
HotSpot Shield also provides another feature as part of the app: secure Web browsing. Through its mobile VPN, it provides a temporary IP address and encrypts data so that users can browse safely on unsecured networks. This protects passwords, financial information and all other personal or sensitive data while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The company has offered secure Web browsing on laptops and desktop computers for years. More than 70 million computers use its software today.
The iOS mobile version of the software has been out for almost a year, and the Android version came out in May. Since then, the company says that it's been downloaded more than 1 million times on iOS and Google Android devices.
The bottom line here is that if you are on a capped data service, you should definitely download one of these free apps so that you can preserve and save as much data as you possibly. And if by chance there is another data leakage and if Verizon doesn't catch it, hopefully your data usage will still be below your cap since your data will be compressed. I'll keep an eye out for when any of these apps add video compression to their capabilities. When that happens, it will be a huge benefit to all data customers.
Ask Maggie is an advice column that answers readers' wireless and broadband questions. The column now appears twice a week on CNET offering readers a double dosage of Ask Maggie's advice. If you have a question, I'd love to hear from you. Please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put "Ask Maggie" in the subject header. You can also follow me on Facebook on my Ask Maggie page.

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Foxconn workers reportedly strike over iPhone quality demands

Workers at a key Foxconn facility producing iPhones went on strike earlier today, according to a report from a Chinese watchdog group.

Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 workers at one of Foxconn's factories in Zhengzhou, in China's Henan province, reportedly went on strike earlier today over what a watchdog group says were onerous demands on quality in producing Apple's iPhone 5.
In a news release, China Labor Watch says the workers, who mainly do quality control for the factory's production line, were asked by the company to improve the quality of their work to the point where production deadlines could no longer be met:

According to workers, multiple iPhone 5 production lines from various factory buildings were in a state of paralysis for the entire day. It was reported that factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard. This led to a tremendous amount of pressure on workers. On top of this, they were not permitted to have a vacation during the holiday. This combination of factors led to the strike.
Foxconn manufactures products for Apple as well as other technology companies including Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The company employs 1.1 million people. The reported incident is the latest worker-related action to affect production at one of its facilities. Last month a riot involving as many as 2,000 people broke out after an alleged altercation between a guard and a worker. The plant in question was shut down and reopened a day later.

The reported demands on quality could have been a reaction to widespread reports of cosmetic damage, found by early buyers of Apple's latest iPhone, which went on sale late last month. New iPhone 5 owners found nicks on the aluminum antenna bezel, and in some cases warping of the antenna band, despite the product being fresh out of the box. Apple has stayed quiet on the matter, short of a purported e-mail from marketing chief Phil Schiller to a customer saying "any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color," and that it was "normal."
CNET has contacted both Apple and Foxconn for more information and will update this post when we know more.

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